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August 15, 2006

Hankie Panky

Though I have been knitting obsessively for years, and have so many projects and so much yarn in the wings, I recently got the spinning bug and unfortunately, it's stuck! I really didn't expect or want to get into spinning - I'm just someone who likes to know how it works. I took a glassblowing class for a weekend in the late 90s - loved it, but never need to do it again. So, I took a three-hour spinning class in March, stomped around frustrated for 2.5 of those hours and thought, "phew - I don't think I like this." I was told to practice on my drop spindle for 15 minutes a day - that's how I would figure it out. The wool sat in a bag in my knitting corner of the couch for two weeks taunting me. When I finally picked it back up, I tried to remember to breathe, read a bit about drop spindles, and off I went!

I've spun up some lovely hand-dyed wool and merino, and am working through a pound of corriedale on my little spindle, which has now morphed into three spindles. I have another pound of BFL waiting for me too - the fiber stash begins! Then those enablers over Knitty.com posted about a sale at the Yarn Tree. There were those mysterious silk hankies I'd read about and knew that yes, they would be mine at such a price! They arrived a few days later looking quite plain in their undyed state, and I began to dream about KoolAid.

I'm not much of a color person - when I made pottery, my glaze M.O. was to just dunk in a glaze. No painting of designs, no mixing colors - simple was my way. But I've been searching for the right handpaint mix of pinks and reds for another clapotis, so I figured I could do it with KoolAid. I did my research and went on the hunt for pretty little packets of sugar free KoolAid. Who knew it was so hard to find? I come from the land of the giant grocery store that carries zillions of choices of everything - in this land where I live now, we have moderate grocery stores - nowhere near the choices. I had to go to two stores to get what I wanted - wading though the "invisible" style, the big boxes I'd never use, and realizing all the single packets were sugar free!

As you can see, my experiment was fairly successful, though I may overdye some of the hankies from the bottom of the stack. I used the microwave method, put the stack in a pyrex baking dish wrapped in plastic wrap, and poured the dye over the pile. The instructions said to then nuke in 2-minute increments until the solution was clear - mine was clear immediately! The dye barely reached the bottom of the 4oz stack of hankies - given the amount of liquid in the pan, I was quite surprised. That silk sure takes dye.

Right after I took this photo, I sat down for one second with all the hankies on the towel on the kitchen floor. Suddenly I realized it was too quiet around here, and found my little wrecking ball of a kitten had made off with a stack of hankies!

Why that was appealing I'll never know, but the stack was rescued and the towel was moved to a closed room to continue drying. The strand at the bottom is one hankie I stretched per AmyKnitty's article - next post I'll show it to you spun up!

August 31, 2006

Spinning Sp - Identity Revealed!

Here she is in all her glory - I think her name is Me and she's got the greatest hair!

secret pal

She's saying "Oh yes, this is all my own handspun..."

September 5, 2006

The 11 Sweetest Words...

Have to be (for this drop spindler anyway) "Baby, how 'bout I buy you a wheel for our anniversary?" SQUEEEE! Outta nowhere! Okay, maybe I did whine about my sore arms that I killed with marathon spindling over the long holiday weekend - but only once. And I had already clearly established that a wheel is the one and only thing I want for Christmas, so it was out of the blue to think about it for this month! Okay, so not really that out of the blue - DH did just buy a himself big LCD TV and surround sound system when he went alone to Costco on Sunday. (note to self - it's NEVER a good idea to let DH go to Costco alone - even if I am at death's door coughing up a lung.) He, for the first time ever, was paid the promised bonus, and apparently he's celebrating. Can't find any fault there.

I think he was disappointed I didn't jump right up and pick a wheel to order - I suggested that I'd like to hold off til a fiber festival in October so I might see and try a few different wheels. I'm not sure though that I can wait - or that trying wheels at the festival will be good for me. I get performance anxiety - I learn best if I'm left alone to RTFM and muck around. So, the research begins - what tremendous fun!

September 18, 2006

SIP and Social Skills and Stress Busting

Zowie - just back from a quick trip to see my rockstar mom who's just had her second knee replaced. It was great to see her, help out, and relieve my sisters who have managed mom's surgery, two businesses, and kids.

Of course the first thing I packed was yarn, and projects, and supplies for my sis to try felting, and spindles and fibers to play with. I got a LOT of mileage out of the silk hankies - my mother was amazed by them. As I was describing my spinning and plying attempts, we were talking about singles vs. plied, and I did something new... I had balls of Butterfly cotton, Lopi, and Cascade 220 with me - I pulled them all apart, untwisted, and poof - I broke them all down to their natural state. I'm really not sure why this delighted me so much, but then I'm pretty easy to delight. It fascinated my mom.

There wasn't much time to knit or spin, and I forgot the pattern for CeCe that I wanted to work on, but then I hit the usual Bermuda Triangle I find when I fly to Florida, and spent most of Wednesday in airports. The final bit of my first half pound of Corriedale was just the thing to keep my head from spinning off! Now I'm chuckling at that term - how appropriate - and not intentional. Anyway, I spun for what seemed like hours, and entertained many at several gates while trying desperately to get home.

This fiber thing, whether knitting or spinning, is amazingly good for this mostly anti-social* hermit. I NEVER talk to people on airplanes - never. I spent the whole day gabbing it up, whether it was with the 10-year old triplets who watched me spin or the gang of us going from gate to gate trying to get a standby flight and being berated by hostile gate ladies! When I finally boarded and found my seat, it was next to a very fun guy who was part of our gate gang - and we had a grand old time yukking it up about all sorts of crazy things. What fun!

*I'm not THAT bad... but given a choice, I'd choose going home and getting in my jammies after work so I can knit/spin/snuggle cats over socializing any day!

September 29, 2006

Niddy Noddy

My first time. I bought this cute little n.n. with my first sale order from Yarn Tree this summer, and finally got to use it winding up the sample of nylon they sent me along with the order. Think suntan stockings from L'Eggs - very long fiber legnth, funky to spin, but plied up pretty neat. This was the perfect skein I noddied - with the first I had an errant strand going the wrong direction that I tucked neatly away in the hopes that neither DH or the cats would notice. I had to stand in front of the computer screen staring at the directions while winding both small hanks.

Niddy Noddy with Nylon

I read somewhere that someone from England was using jellies to dye her yarn, and we have many more Jello choices than KoolAid, so I tried some lime with this nylon. I got a faint tinge of green - not enough. So I pulled out my enormous used-to-want-to-be-a-pastry-chef collection of Wilton gel food colors, and applied some turquoise to the skeins:

dryingcloseup

Fun and weirdly variegated and destined to be a Turkish String Bag for mom to use at the beach. Not turquoise, but fun anyway.

September 30, 2006

Note to Self

Yup, another one. This time it's: always call to confirm hours, especially if you're driving more than 20 miles to look at spinning wheels at a shop that's only open one Saturday a month. Even if you did call them last week to chat about their one Saturday a month, and knew in advance that the wheel people there would be off at a family wedding so she couldn't really tell me anything about the wheels.

But I'll start at the beginning. It's my 7th anniversary - DH and I are 100% MFEO* and I'm damned lucky I met him. We always do a round trip drive to the Outer Banks on the best beach day each weekend - it's our mini-therapy every week and we have a routine with the 1.5 hour drive. We headed out this morning with the plan that after leaving the beach, we'd head for The Woolery in Murfreesboro, NC. Say it out loud - what a fun word. Having already called, I printed directions from their website this morning confident I'd get to at least be with real wheels in person. We fished - we were leisurely. We both caught anniversary bluefish - I think it's been at least two years since we've caught anything surf fishing. It would have been more fun if I didn't have to rip their lips off getting the hooks out - but they both swam off when released. An hour or so after I mentioned that it had been a while since we'd seen dolphins, as we were leaving the beach, a large group popped up close in to shore and had a lazy and what I assumed waas happy swim - nice. Tanned and filled with yellow sun energy, we headed off on an excellent adventure into the boonies of North Carolina.

The road to Murfreesboro is lined with cotton fields. Now I've always loved the way the fields look when the cotton's popping out, this time, on a journey to see about a spinning wheel, that cotton practically called to me. It was all I could do not to leap from the car at a stoplight to pick some out of its prickly husk to play with the fiber. And couldn't help but think of poor Sally Field and her family in that movie, picking cotton til their hands bled. But the cotton - so fluffy and white.

That fluttery feeling - anticipation, excitement, nervousness - was in full swing as we pulled into "town" and started looking at addresses - there it is! Looks kind of dark. It IS dark. Unbelievable! We stared in the (dirty) windows, cupping our hands to see piles of fiber, wheels galore (not the Joy or Lendrum, but a Traveler, Louet, and Kromski plus more), and books, yarn on cones - a bonanza of fun stuff. Behind locked doors. Two hours from the beach - and another 1.5 hours home. UGH!

Not to be defeated, we had a late anniversary lunch at Waffle House and headed home, whereupon I snuck out and got DH an edger while he mowed. You reach a point in marriage and home ownership that gifts are all about making life easier. He currently uses one of those evil weed whackers with the string thing - he curses it every time he uses it, and he makes the edges of the yard look like he chewed them.

Nice day - and there's always the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia that I'll drag DH to next weekend!

*Made For Each Other

October 1, 2006

Secret Pal Booty

This is my first SP - and what fun it's been. Surprisingly. Fun to think about little things to send, to stalk a blog to discover something about my upstream pal, and to wait with delight for my downstream to find me. And boy did she - look at this bonanza of beautiful bounty:

boxhaul

Pretty boxes in boxes - and tissue paper that Bluefish the kitten has been diving in and out of all day, and a group shot of the entire haul - which included a yummy bag of Marrakesh Express coffee beans, notecards with my name, and a pretty jar filled with fiber - the Kid Sliver you see below.

spunky

And this still anonymous pal knitted me up this lovely basket - it's got structure, beadazzled corners, and a pretty fabric lining. Thank you! In the back of that photo you can see some yummy turquoise Wensleydale in South Seas. The photo on the top is some Spunky Eclectic BFL in Water Nymph - I want the job naming colroways. Below is the Sliver - man - too gorgeous for words, and two big braids of it in that little pot. There's also a bag of some dark teal stuff - looks deep and long-fibered.

Whoever you are, you've made my day, week, month - thank you, merci buckets, gracious and tank you beddy beddy much! Incredible! Read the previous post to find out why it will be a while before I spin lots of this - I'm saving it...

October 2, 2006

The Berries of Poke

It's begun - I'm competing with my backyard birds while beating off mosquitoes for the ripe purple pokeberries on three of the weeds growing in my yard. This will be my attempt to experience a full circle moment, wherein I dye yarn with the fruits of the yard as my hippie mother did in the early 70s. She managed this feat in her early thirties, while raising four children, running a house in the woods while salesman dad was away. I will have a huge advantage and luxury - I have only cats to herd. She recently sent me a bunch of her old dyed wool rescued from storage - labeled with things like pokeberries and goldenrod. Full circle indeed.

Can't wait! If the color turns out anything like the juice on my fingers it will be beautiful. If I can gather enough berries. The neighbor just decided, after a summer of wild growth on his property, to mow and trim. The pokeberry bush in his yard is no more.

I have about two cups of berries so far (frozen) - with the prospect of just another cup or so before it's too late. Wonder how much BFL roving I can color with it.....

October 9, 2006

Fiber Festapalooza

Or My Very First Fiber Festival. The Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia to be exact. DH, who is still more anxious for me to get a wheel than I am, drove us almost three hours each way through the nor'easter that sat over our area for two days before the Festival and continued through it. I haven't seen that kind of mud since the Grateful Dead concert I went to in the early 80s, but then we were TRYING to get as dirty as possible... Luckily I had my duck boots and good outerwear as did DH, so we slogged into the fields - he was much pickier about his route, I plunged in and got much muckier (and had more fun IMO).

The parking lot guy said only 30-40% of the vendors were there - at least there were some, and they must have waived the $5 entry fee because of that. We went through all the tents once, where despite the weather we were a hardy, happy bunch. Passed by the lamb sandwiches (!) to get fries which we ate while watching a dog run the sheep herding course. Do the same sheep get chased all day long? They must have been recently shorn, and it was a wet cold day, and it just didn't seem like they were having as much fun as the dogs.

Now it was time to buy - but really, it was so overwhelming, and there were sooo many choices - I'm glad I started small. I can't even imagine Rhinebeck - or how I'd survive it. You'd probably see me drift over your head in a cloud of fiber, or more likely, passed out from the sheer thrill and conquest of it all!

I scored lots of wool for my wheel when I get it, some alum for my pokeberry experiment, which, as fun as it sounds, will now be very small and will probably involve 2oz of silk/merino. Here's the loot:

On the top is 70/30 Merino Tencel - super silky, shiny, soft. Just above and below in close-up, some sort of wool batts (?). Spread out, it makes a 16 inch square of messy, chunky wool. I got two each of these two colorways and look forward to playing with them. DH picked out the camouflage colored one.

On the right above is some Llllllama - I just like to say it. My mother tells a story of going to a llama farm with dad, where she marched right up and kissed one on the lips (we're like that), and then saw the sign saying DANGER - STAY FAR AWAY FROM THE LLAMAS! Llllllama lama ding dong. Lllllama - say it with me. Below is two pounds of Corriedale Cross - not sure exactly what that means, but it's very soft and thick and chocolately - the photo doesn't show it richness. This will be my initiation to the wheel wool - I can just tell that it wants to help me learn to spin.

We did see wheels, mostly Louets, with a Kromski, Majacraft Rose, and finally a Lendrum. The sheep to shawl ladies, even though they had a lot of work to do, were very generous and entertained my very beginner questions about their wheels. I admit a fantasy of winning the woven shawl they'll produce. After coming home and agonizing some more about which wheel to buy, and almost pulling one of four choices out of a hat, I firmly declared that the Lendrum was my pick. With DH's credit card in hand, not wanting to make an anonymous order on the web last night, I am armed and ready to BUY IT AS SOON AS THE SHOP OPENS TODAY!!!

October 12, 2006

So much time, so little to do!

Wait - strike that - reverse it please!

I've been on a psychic cleaning binge, which means that I've been removing clutter and finishing things dying to be finished. I organized all my knitting magazines into one place, in chronological order by mag. I had a major "put it away" session this morning. Lo and behold, I think I've found my brain under all that mess! I get so full of life stuff sometimes I have to stop and dump and clear and sort and file to get going.

Long way of saying I've finished some knitting/spinning pictured below for your viewing pleasure:

Via Diagonale

Cascade 220, a little more than one ball each of tan and red

Tweaks: I cast on less stitches than the pattern, double-knit the handle for sturdiness, and felted the whole thing. It's a great, strong fabric - I see carrying spindles, etc. in it.

Felted Via Diagonale

In closeup:

Spinning, spinning, and more spinning on the drop spindles:

1/2 lb Corriedale roving, two plied:

That's all of it above - it's something like 480 yards. My plying skills are improving - here's some lovely merino, about 94 yards:

I sent the same amount of this roving to my SP - can't wait to see what PixelDiva spins up with hers.

Gratuitous kitten picture - Bluefish in action:

November 1, 2006

Flashing!

These first three photos are my fiber in its natural habitat - except of course the pile that's on my desk in a pretty box that I forgot all about... You see up there my dining room hutch-y thing that I may now designate as THE spot, the top of a chest in the office, and all over the bookcase in the living room. My spindles and in-progress things end up there, especially now that we have a kitten in the house!

Group shots - this is almost all of it (except the stuff on the desk) and you can see that Indigo is supervising. She was quickly bored and quite irritated that I was using her sunny spot for my photo shoot.

That's merino/tencel above on the left- so silky and shiny, and a pound of BFL on the right, waiting for my wheel to arrive (when oh when will it come?).

That's LLLLLama on the left and Bombyx Silk/Merino on the right - 4oz of each to play with.

On the left is a half pound of Corriedale - I spun up the other 1/2lb into a nice two-ply on my drop spindles, and will probably do the same with the rest so I can maybe make a vest... And two pounds of chocolately, soft Corriedale cross - definitely waiting for the wheel, and I'll either make a bazillion socks or a vest for DH.

Random little bits of stuff on the left - some have their own closeups, and the white stuff on the top right of that photo is Tussah/Merino/Alpaca - so light and sooooo soft there are no words. On the right are those crazy wool batts I got at the VA Fiber Fest. I just love looking at them!

4oz of silk hankies I dyed with koolaid - I love this stuff and I'm definitely saving it for the wheel. I have another 2oz undyed to play with too.

I didn't get around to a group shot on the handspun and I'm going to edit this one more time later so I can add the missing fiber from the desk - it's all the pretty hand-dyed stuff!

How long do you think it will take to spin all this stuff once I get my wheel? We're going to family for turkey day and I couldn't sleep last night wondering if I should be ordering tons of fiber to take with me on the plane. Of course the wheel is going - silly question!

November 3, 2006

Limboland

I have absolutely nothing exciting to say as I wait in this wheel-less limboland. I know The Woolery will send me my Lendrum the minute it arrives, but as they told me when I made the order three weeks ago, the Lendrum man is reliably backlogged. I'm knitting away on a Tubey and some samples for a designer, but my mind is whirling with thoughts of spinning. Not the kind of spinning that my drop spindles can satisfy. Not that I have any clue, as I've spent approximately four whole minutes (total) at a spinning wheel in two different sessions, and both times (in public places, mind you) freaked out, got performance anxiety, jumped up and ran away to hide.

So, instead of pretty yarn pictures, or a wheel in action, I leave you on this Friday evening with the incredibly photogenic, thinks she's so clever, just discovered she can get into the bathroom sink, truly irresistable beast that is the Bluefish. PS - How horrible is the light in my bathroom? No wonder I look so awful in the mornings!

new spot

November 7, 2006

Okay, now what?

Just kidding (sort of) - it's here! (she's here? he's here? I'm not sure yet) The UPS man, who has been on my street 5 out of the last 6 times I was home for lunch, was nowhere to be seen at lunch today. But, here's what I saw when I hit my porch after work:

lendrum dt

And after assembly, ta-da:

I managed to tie on some old sock yarn to play with, and I think I've figured out that the brake has to be set just so to get the yarn to take up. The Woolery sent 8oz of white Wensleydale to play with, so that's what I'll experiment with tonight.

I guess I assumed there'd be a manual included, but no. I'm a teeny bit intimidated by this - but why? It's MINE, I can do anything I want with it, and I'll most likely produce some craptastic yarn tonight (if any at all), and I'm home alone. Right? On to it!

November 8, 2006

Life Lessons....

In spinning - amazing. I have a spinning wheel! Putting it together and then attempting to work it sans experience AND any sort of manual or good reference book caused me to work up a sweat real quick. So I summoned all my grownup skills through the evening and: took a break after assembling the wheel to eat something so I wasn't trembling with both excitement and hunger, tried just treadle-ing for a while, then played with some sock yarn to get the feel of it, and then the Wensleydale top that came with the wheel for a bit. In my most adult move of the evening, I stepped away from the wheel before I hurt it or myself, remembered the same feeling when learning to drop spindle, and spent the rest of the evening gazing at its beauty and marvelling (reveling?) at just the mere fact that a spinning wheel is now living with me!

So, without further ado, the promised first attempt - the craptastic* yarn:


I had the sock yarn soooo tightly twisted, and loads of trouble figuring out the take up part, but zowie - I got some twist into some fiber and I'm off! Here's hoping Amazon gets me my Spinner's Companion real fast!

*The vocabulary I've learned through the knittyboards is so darned useful!

November 9, 2006

And She's Off!



Much more bettah now! Who knew a rubber band could be so important. Once I got that back on, I was in business and managed to almost fill my first bobbin with Corriedale, spun at the lowest ratio, thick and thin, playing with long draw, inchworm - and mostly somwhere between the two.

While I clearly have a LOT to learn, it felt good and worked about as well as when I first started drop spindling. On the spindle I draft with my right hand, but it felt somehow more natural on the wheel to draft with my left, holding the fiber in my right. I switched back and forth - I haven't quite decided yet. I found myself speeding up with my feet when I got "in trouble," like joining new fiber, or trying to better regulate the twist. Do you hold your breath when you're concentrating? I do, and it's always a struggle to remind myself that breathing makes things so much easier!

Besides the wonderful act of spinning on my lovely new Lendrum, I'm still so darned tickled and surprised that it's living with me! I steal glances at it all the time, admire its craftmanship, daydream about pretty fiber - what more could a girl ask for? Great man, great house, great cats and now - a spinning wheel!!! Okay, a better job would make it all perfect, but one can't be too greedy, right? And I don't have to come to my job tomorrow - I'll be spinning!

Here's a random photo for you... I'm easily amused, and recently got the biggest pomegranates I've ever seen - so gorgeous I had to take a picture. That's Indigo and a small spice jar for reference. And I had chat with a little old lady at the grocery store who was also taken by their beauty and told me she used to buy them for a nickel. We discussed the poster the grocery store was displaying that suggested submerging the opened pomegranate in water to remove the little jewels, and how that seemed so silly because part of the fun of the whole deal is to pick all those little seeds out. We also compared styles - do you eat the seeds as you pick them out, or do you stockpile until you've cleaned the whole thing and then eat all at once? This applies to picking crabs too. If you stockpile, you have to be prepared for everyone within miles to want your gorgeous pile of stuff. I've never been a stockpiler, always an eat-as-you-go type, but this time I picked a whole pomegranate while making dinner. Nirvana - I could have BIG spoonfuls of the crunchy little yummies instead of one at a time. Little sistah - I'm now a convert!

November 19, 2006

Random Sunday

For some unknown reason, I've been waking up at 3AM, forcing myself to stay in bed til 4AM, and then getting up and having what feels like a full day before I have to go to work. This has been going on since Wednesday - ugh. But I've gotten a lot done - some spinning, almost a whole moebius shawl, and the beginnings of another funky cable sample. Plus lots of housework too, in prep for our holiday trip to a sunny place where we get to see both my family and DH's in one fell swoop. Couldn't have planned that better - we save tons on airfare.

The moebius - what magic - incredible stuff here. I wish my brain worked like Cat Bordhi's - how did she ever figure this out? It's Blue Heron Petite Rayon Boucle in Water Hyacinth - only a few more very long rows to go. I'll finish this on the plane.

In spinning news, after trying the Welsh Top that came with my wheel (it wasn't Wensleydale as previously reported, but hey, it was at least a w sound), which is very coarse and hairy and more to Indigo's liking than mine, I went thin with some unidentified dyed roving. I think I'm so worried about putting too much twist in that I'm not putting enough. Don't the colors in that wool look remarkably similar to the moebius? I see a trend here, and it's unconscious so far.



 


I've also discovered that white wool is incredibly challenging to photograph well, even when the sun finally did come out this week. Daylight Savings Time sure makes it tricky to find times to take pictures - it's impeding my blogging. The good news is that it ends two weeks early for the first time this year - big yay!

I've spent a lot of today cat proofing - Bluefish the wrecking ball hesitates at nothing. She jumped on the counter and up onto a shelf from there, which she rode down from the wall as it crashed into the lazy susan full of seasonings and the crock with all of my utensils in it. Amazingly, and lucky for the Fish, nothing broke. Can't imagine what trouble she'll get into while we're away.

In the final exciting news of the weekend, we have mice in our 81 year old house - imagine that. Mice bold enough to, in broad daylight, come up on my counter to munch on the cinnamon sugar that lives by the toaster. I didn't witness this - DH did, but I now understand it's not crickets that Bluefush lays in wait for in the kitchen, it's the mice she can hear behind the dishwasher. Fun. This is the first time in my whole life I can't call the landlord to get rid of the mice. One of the many things that reminds me I'm a grownup now. Not gonna think about it til after turkey. And I'll come home with a tan, which always makes me feel better, so I'm sure the solution will come to me then.

December 4, 2006

Priceless!


That slapping forhead moment when you figure something out, right before you kick yourself for being so stooopid! I have no pride, so let me illustrate with a personal, it really happened to me moment:


The first time I attempted to ply some yarn on my fantabulous new spinning wheel, I spent a good 15 minutes trying to figure out how to tie the ends of the two singles onto the bobbin. I mean, I worked up a sweat trying to figure the darned thing out. I (unsuccessfully) poked the orifice threader thingy* in from the wrong side from every conceivable angle to grab those singles so I could tie them on the already situated, empty bobbin. I licked the end of the singles like you do when threading a needle and tried to poke it in that way. At this point I was stomping around and sighing heavily, and still sweating. Brain really hurting now. Here it comes - the lightbulb moment - why would tying on to ply be any different than starting to spin some fiber?? You know, like use the leader and thread it through the right way? Luckily, one of my other favorite pastimes, besides the obvious fiber ones, is to laugh heartily at myself. You can bet that, after I cooled down, I had a good belly laugh.


This is my latest yarn - some domestic wool that I was trying to spin thin. For some reason I'm terrified of putting in too much twist, so I often put in too little. It's not so bad, pretty colors, and I used a bit I had started on my drop spindle to finish two-plying about 94 yards of it.

I am a very unscientific person, and by that I mean that I keep no notes, am known to knit a whole project with the wrong needles because I thought they looked like the right ones (currently, a moebius bag to be felted), couldn't tell you a damned thing about past projects, and get to the end of recipes to find something like "now add the reserved sugar" from way the hell back in step 2 where you put it all in already. But I'm making strides to keep better track - behold the Notebook of Spinning (wah -haaaaaAAAA):

I'm quite proud of it. It lives in the living room, the same room the wheel lives in, and already has three pages filled! See how clever I am? I taped the label from the bag of fiber on the page! I feel so organized. It just goes to show you - it really IS the little things. I'll get a lot of mileage out of this notebook.

*Hook - it's called a hook! I knew it would come around again.

January 9, 2007

Silk, silk, and more silk.

It's been all about the silk, all the time here at the Dream. Since New Year's Eve I've been working on 4oz of silk hankies I dyed with kool aid this summer. It takes a lot of time and physical effort to get these babies stretched and prepped for spinning, and when they're all predrafted and wound into little bundles (next time, I won't wind - just puddle little piles) they look spectacular, like this:

Cotton candy clouds, so light, so shiny... Singles looked like this on my first bobbin,

which was funkier and slubbier than the second when I started getting the hang of it a bit more. Took me a week to spin it all up, and two more nights to ply it. I've got gobs and gobs of the stuff, and once it relaxes a bit this morning, I'll wind it into a skein to see what kind of yardage I've accomplished. It's pretty fine - maybe between lace & sock weight - and I may ply it back on itself once again for something more substantial. We'll see. However it turns out, I love it, and it's my first official dye job.

Speaking of dye jobs, I've saved those pokeberries in the freezer since this summer, and I've got 2oz of Bombyx Silk/Wool from The Yarn Tree cooking up right now. I'll let it simmer until I have to get ready for work, and soak in the dye til I get home tonight. Cross your fingers I get something reasonable. It looks quite magenta in the pot.

And one more moebius for you - this one has a TRIPLE twist! It's amazing how quite simple these babies are once you get the cast on down. It's Lamb's Pride Worsted on size 10s - single stranded. I don't have much sense about stripe and/or color placement, but it's good and fun enough to live on my dining room table as a centerpiece for the time being:

Is it only Tuesday? How in the world will we get though a full work week?

January 18, 2007

YARN! I made YARN!

Hear Tom Hanks chanting FIIIIIIYYY-YUH when he finally manages to get his fire started in Castaway. Picture me jumping up from my wheel this morning like a gymnast, into that dismount, arms raised in a V, back arched, I did it celebration (I’m known to jump up from my desk in that pose when I do something smart, or off the couch at the end of a row with the right number of stitches in lace)! And then I danced around the wheel like it was a campfire, chanting to my silk, singing my powers to the cats before work this morning. Can’t think of a better way to start the day than to tame those silk hankies – I can use that success all day! I did it – I now have 4-ply silk yarn, ready to begin its life as a Clapotis soon. I just didn’t have the energy to get to it last night, particularly after starting to watch the typically entertaining first American Idol show of the season – ick. So they had 10,000 people at that tryout, and we saw what, 12? I couldn’t take the pseudo-drama of it all, so I turned it off. Don’t need personal interest stories at this stage, thank you very much.

But the silk. Oooh, the silk. The yarn barf was there waiting for me this morning, and I was resolved to get it done. In recent years, every thing in my life seems to be there to teach me patience, calm, and peace, and these hankies sure did their part to humble me a bit more. I didn’t get my brain in the right place to start, so I struggled and cursed for about 15 minutes trying to get it sorted out. Had a little talk with myself about my short fuse, and took some nice slow, deep breaths. Scissors were briefly involved, and with great calm intention, I slipped the remains of that center pull ball over my wrist and FINISHED!

Did some more talking to myself about how satisfying it is to work calmly and determinedly through a problem, and how much, much simpler that road is than my usual head blowing off my neck routine. And about the fact that this spinning thing is about pleasure, and my head blowing off doesn’t qualify as pleasure, so I’d better work on that. I’m listening, universe!

I’m getting a spinning callous – on my right forefinger, where the fiber flows over it as I’m drafting or plying. The silk is incredibly strong, and perhaps the callous got kick-started by all the hankie stretching. I like battle scars, but it’s a real PITA when working with silk, and my cuticles-gone-wild didn’t help so much either. My fiber addictions have seriously cut into my manicure time – who wants to wait for nails to dry when I could be spinning? Or knitting. I’m down to just using that fabulous Crabtree & Evelyn scrub and moisturizer set anymore. It may sound like I've been whining about al this silk, but it's been great fun to experiment, and I've been very single-minded about it - just wanted to see what it could be!

February 9, 2007

Yes she will!


silk clappy


I can't decide if you should bow down to my yarn estimation powers or rub me to try to catch some of my dumb luck! (The man didn't tell me it was poorly draped - but it's a daylight shot AFTER work today!) This is how much was left:

Phew!


I don’t think there are many more joyful things than wearing something I made – something that I dyed, stretched, spun AND knit is like heaven – I’m wearing my silk my Clappy as I type and I couldn’t be happier. Okay, maybe if someone opened me up a yarn shop I’d be happier, but you know what I mean. To recap: this is 4oz of silk hankies from the Yarn Tree. I dyed them last summer with Kool Aid – my first fiber dye job ever.* I began stretching those 4oz of silk hankies on New Years eve, and continued stretching through the next weekend when I also started spinning. After a tangled setback, I managed to get about 410 yards of 4-ply from those hankies that never seemed to end. The end result, another Clapotis (an all-time perfect pattern) is, amazingly, just what I pictured when I started the whole adventure – slubby, funky, pink-y, useful – fantastic! I knit it on size 5 Denises - good stuff.

It did occur to me, however, after I sought help from a chiropractor yesterday for my weird shoulder, that it was indeed stretching those hankies that torqued my right side. If you’re going to stretch hankies, do it with great care, take lots of breaks, and stretch a lot. Not that I mind a trip to the chiro – I could get very, very addicted to having my neck cracked. I spent 13 minutes on an aqua massage table too – wonder how I could get one of them for my house. I finally made the call yesterday after doing some neck rolls and hearing fantastic crunching sounds in one direction – ouch. A box containing my new PowerBall gyro arm & wrist excerciser and my GripMaster also arrived today - I'll be the knitter hulking out of her handknits someday soon!

Mind you, I'm NOT complaining about the silk, or my shoulder, or any of it - it's all been well, well worth the learning, the blood, sweat and tears, the celebration dances along the way, and a finished product I'm in love with. I will, someday, even spin more silk hankies, especially seeing as I bought a couple more ounces before I knew what I was in for! No, really - next time will be better, faster, smoother - bionic for sure!

tulips


These tulips were from the girls at work for my birthday and match my silk perfectly. Pink has taken over in my life in the last few years. As the anti-twin, I spent most of my life vowing never, ever to wear pink because it was (is?) twinnie’s fave. I wore black and red, she wore pink and pastels. I had Snoopy notebooks, she had Holly Hobby. Now I just can’t get enough pink. It didn’t even sneak up on me – just one day, out of the blue, I HAD to have a pink sweater. And I now have more pink sweaters, and pink earrings, and a wire bracelet with pink beads I knit, and this silk, and I don’t see stopping. What is it about pink? I’m not talking Pepto Bismol pink, but all the other amazing corals and magentas and poppy colors. And yes, I still quote Pretty in Pink on a regular basis – Molly Ringwald saying “I can do lots of things” is a standard.

Next epic – the pound of brown cormo cross from the VA Fiber Festival. I’m slowly filling my first bobbin with what will be my three-ply yarn. Though the merino/tencel waiting for me in the cupboard is pretty appealing too. Must order more bobbins. I'm still goo-goo eyed over the infinite possibilities I have ahead in the world of fiber - the fun never stops, and I can plan on learning and doing different things forever!

*I was known for almost 20 years for my tie-dyed baby shower gifts – I did gazillions of onsies, but finally retired after my little sis had her daughter 3+ years ago. My fingers refuse to play with those little rubber bands ever again. But I certainly will enjoy them again, as I plan to torture the grown recipients of all of those onsies with photos of them wearing my tie dye - preferably right around when they start dating. (This is just one of the many reasons I shouldn't be a parent!)

March 20, 2007

Captain America's Wool



I've been busy plying,, and this 314 yards of worsted weight yarn is the result. It's my first three-ply and it's so yarny I'm thrilled. I've been knitting a swatch so I can make CA his cabled vest and I'm surprised at how evenly it knits up. I'm currently deciding between a 5 and 6 needle - the smaller one makes a nice dense fabric, and this is to be a warm vest.... A Knitter told me over the weekend it looked like worsted so I couldn't go below a size 6 needle. Don't tell me I can't do something, especially if I like how it's coming out. But I'll wash this swatch and see how it blooms - my gut is telling me at the moment that 6s will be the ones. It spent a lot of time being shown off and fondled over the weekend.

I'm spending waaaaay more time with this swatch than usual for three reasons: 1) I'm in love with my yarn -it's sproingy and firm and I just love it, b)I just finished a knitting weekend with Sally Melville and Cindy Taylor and I want to make things that work and fit, and 3) I've made two gorgeous cardigans that just don't fit the man. I'm even trying out different cable patterns here - this is big stuff.

I have SO much to say about Knitapalooza that my brain's spinning and I want to make sure my words do justice to the amazing weekend, so I'm working on that post. I will say now though that if you ever have the chance to spend three days with knitters, do it!

May 7, 2007

Sheep & Wool Sheep & Wool Sheep & Wool!

I've braved the largest fiber festival in the country and survived - what a scene. Getting dressed to mingle with several gazillion fiber freaks was like getting ready for a date, and I spent time laughing at myself as I made, and discarded, a name-tag so everyone out there who was dying to meet me would know who I was (the dork with the name badge), tried on several outfits to maximize the opportunity to show off handknits (dork trying too hard), and went with my usual long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans with my original Clapotis (for warmth).

I flew up to Baltimore to meet Captain America, the world's best husband. The TSA and vendors in the Norfolk airport must have been taking happy pills - everyone was grinning and by the time they had my knitting needles out of my bag, I had my foot up on the conveyor to show off the handknit socks I was wearing. I was in Southwest's B cattle call line, so I took a seat in the middle between a giant man and a tall man in the third row so I could get right off the plane. I'm a little skinny thing - the flight was less than an hour - cool.

CA was surprised at the loooong line of cars going into the fairgrounds - not me. We parked in another county, but it was a reasonable day and the walk was lovely. I know I read about a knitblogger who was going to be there in her yellow VW camper and CA spotted it - damned if I can remember but hey - great yellow camper!!

I lost my mind immediately as expected. Things I know about myself but choose to occasionally overlook for an event of this magnitude: I have trouble with visual overload. I have no sense of direction, so going into one building and coming out turned me completely around each time - good thing CA was in charge of steering. I'm not so good at crowds. I am incredibly indecisive and sometimes a little too practical for my own good. I needed absolutely nothing going in.

We did all the outside buildings (pavillions?) when we arrived. I was surprised at the amount of yarn - it never occurred to me that there were so many small producers out there. I hadn't given a thought to patterns, have tons of stash, and so didn't spend a lot of time looking at it, though I did accost someone in the STR line so I could question her about its mystique. (I'm not sure I figured it out - but I only saw her skein.) I was there for fiber, if anything, and I have to admit that not only was I worried that I might find something more delicious at the next turn, but that I was sure I'd do it wrong when it came to buying some. Didn't occur to me to observe - do you just pull a hunk of roving off the balls or out of the bags? Do you wait to be helped? These are things I need to learn before my next attempt.

About 45 minutes in, this called out to me, and I'm not even sure what it is beyond 3 2oz, carded batts - fluffy pink clouds of softness:

pink clouds


It was now past 1pm, the time of the knitblogger meetup - and I had no idea by this point where I was supposed to be. I'm not a particularly social person - most nights I'm in my pj's after work with my knitting and my cats. But fiber is changing that, and I find myself wanting to hang out with knitters - amazing. So even though I was feeling shy and dorky, I called Mel, had her describe her surroundings, and managed to spot her right off. She's exactly like I imagined - gorgeous and fun and she knows about the greeting squeal - I think it's a tribal thing. She's a pro - with her cutie husband Tad they were there for the second time and had the place scoped out and a systematic approach. I was all anxious and jangly and they were cool as cucumbers. Best thing about the festival for sure. Can't wait to see the picture of us! (hint hint)

We ate a funnel cake, hit the exhibition halls for more stuff, stood in the loooong line for this (worth the wait):

mascot


The t-shirts are gorgeous - great design, great colors. Yes mom, I got you a mask too! CA didn't think it would be a good idea to take the masks on the plane - something about security not thinking they were as funny as I do, so they're coming home with him later this week. I also bought a funky silk/wool scarf felty kit, and I think that's it. I wish I had been alone to make a stealth run at the end to pick up a silk bell and some of the "party wool" in a tub I saw but didn't just buy, but I was being nice to CA.

I wonder if the S&W people would consider a day for claustrophobics like me - I didn't like cramming into the little booths....

We wandered out past these two characters - they win the silliest haircut prize:

haircut


Besides these guys, there were so many sheep - bigger sheep than I've ever seen, soft, copper-colored sheep, goats, alpacas, angora bunnies like silver poufs, amazing animals. We managed to keep just missing shearings, but saw some clipping that triggered a memory of those hand clippers from back when I had a pet lamb....

A very sheepy, fibery, exciting festival - I'll go back. With a better plan, more research, and the hopes of actually taking a class. I feel like I'm still just at the outside edge of the spinning world - I need to break all the way into the circle (in my own mind anyway).

June 25, 2007

Now We're Cooking with Gas!

Or at least blogging from my corner of the couch, the place where all knitting and most other things happen in this house, because yes, I managed, finally, to get wireless! Zippity dooh dah. Here's how I did it: spent hours booting and rebooting and searching technical websites on the other computer over several weeks. Since about the second week of June I've taken a more desperate approach - avoiding the damned thing, and practically the whole room it was in altogether, with occasional delusions that if I just did that one thing, it would work, followed immediately with desperation and more avoidance. Until today, when I realized I could start with the lowest common denominator, the cheapest fix, and I bought a new adapter at Radio Shack (only because I was on a rare and stealth mission to the mall - no new summer purse, but a wireless card. I strongly dislike Radio Shacks, but I was desperate and braved the land of geeks.)

Anyway, $60 later, with absolutely no other pain whatsoever, here I am, in business on the couch. Yay me.

I have aboslutely nothing spectacular to talk about, and no fabulous new knitting to show you, so I took garden pictures. This is the clematis I hoped might be white:

2nd purple clematis


A second type of purple - just as great! The other has four-petaled flowers.And morning glories galore - the ever-reliable Grandpa Ott's, and several new colors from the mix I planted. Love these things - they grow fast and make me happy every single morning.

GO's morning glory


random gloy


random glory 2


And my favorite thing in my garden every summer, my biggest joy, and also the one that causes me the most trouble and heartache - the tomato. I have two plants left from the batch I started from seed this year. I've grown all kinds - grape, cherry, roma, heirloom, purchased plants - all of them. And all I ever want is a good, fat, juicy slicer for my tomato sandwiches. And that seems to be the very hardest thing to get. I skipped the relentless cherry/grape vines - they never stop and I have tomatoes coming out of my ears. Nothing fancy this year - I did Burpee Early Girls and Big Beefsteak I think, and I'm down to two of one or the other - not sure which anymore. Despite too many cool nights and some blossom drop:

TOMATOES!


With more to come - I think tomato blossoms are happy and beautiful:

Tomatoes to be


I'm obsessed with my garden - I dote, I admire, I encourage - so satisfying when it works.

I have a new dove pair on the porch - they spent most of this weekend deciding if it would work, building the pile of sticks that doves seem to prefer, and noodling around together up there. I don't think I wrote about the original mom, who was tending to her second set of eggs in the same spot. One morning in May, I was up at 4:30 and looked out the window to see her sleeping in the nest. I was knitting at 5AM when there was a horrible commotion and I ran to the window just in time to see the neighborhood alley cat making off with the mom dove. After he crashed the nest to the floor which crushed the eggs that were very near hatching. Awful. Horrible. I don't know why the universe decided I needed to see it all. I looked for her every time I went in or out for weeks. That event was the beginning of my apparently appointed role to bear witness to baby bird tragedies in the yard this spring - I found other unhatched and broken eggs and a baby who had probably fallen from the nest. I can only hope someday to know why I was chosen. So it's great that the doves are here - and I can now worry about them every time I come in and out.

I think the end is in sight with the cable swatches for Melissa Leapman - I believe I have the last two patterns in hand and one of them in process. When these are done, I will return to my little green tee. The design issue on the back has been rolling around and fermenting for a while and I think I know what I'll do to make it work, but my brain is a very dangerous place to keep this sort of thing, so I'm looking forward to pulling it out and getting to it.

Oh yeah - I've spun up a bobbin and a half more of the brown wool - not too exciting, but it's going swimmingly and I look forward to the day when CA wears it! I'm denying myself other spinning til I finish these three bobbins-full - that should give me close to 1,000 yards. I've found a rhythm with it and don't want to mess up by adding a different rhythm or fiber to the mix.

I've even made some inquiries around finding a way to make fiber my work... If you're reading and you're a yarn rep, I'd love to pick your brain!

July 11, 2007

In Memory of Momma Dove #2

Yep, that pesky neighborhood cat got the second nesting dove on my porch sometime between breakfast & lunch on Monday, and I just feel terrible. I knew the cat knew she was there, even though I haven't seen him since his massacre in May. I spent many nights falling asleep thinking about ways I could protect the dove - spikes, aluminium foil, a net, anti-varmint spray - but I did nothing. Mostly because I know you can't stop a cat on a mission... I had one of those cats who, back when I was making a lot of pottery, would not allow any other potter's work in my apartment. Anytime I brought something home, she'd find and "kill" it, smashing it to the floor. I bought a beautiful Malcolm Davis shino teapot - I was mad for it - and within 24 hours, my little Spike had found it, stashed on a high shelf behind lots of other pots, and smashed it.

Anyway, I feel like I set Momma Dove #2 up, and if any of her friends decide to investigate this lovely spot to make a nest, I will, even though the thought kills me, drive her away. Captain America is as sad about this as I am - we both enjoyed greeting her anytime we were on the porch and marveled at her tolerance and dedication as we watered plants hanging right next to her and generally banged around out there. RIP momma.

In fiber news, I'm up to the armpits on Cece, and boy, all that shaping in lace has tested my feeble brain! I persevere, and tonight I'll cast on for the sleeves - wheee! I also managed to fill another bobbin with CA's brown wool over the weekend - one more bobbin, a little plying, and I'm ready to make his vest. Whee again! And today I will mail off the final six cable swatches for Melissa Leapman - big WHEEEE!

September 30, 2007

Ennui

I'm stalled on the first sleeve for the Whiskey pattern and I've spent the week groping around for anything else to play with. Part of that has to do with knitting a smaller circumference piece - I have to turn the work more frequently than when working on the body, so I have to stop more frequently to untangle all the balls . I might not fight with the tangles so much if I was willing to snip the yarn more frequently, but I'm lazy and it already looks like it will take me as much time to weave in all those ends. Or maybe I could be more methodical about turning the work one way and then the other, but I simply can't seem to store the direction of the last turn in my feeble brain long enough to do it the other way the next time. So I curse and untangle. Another part is that I've exhausted the "one more row" to see the next color change energy since i know darned well what's coming next. Not stalled, just slow. My tension is more even on two circs for the sleeve - interestink.

brown%20wool%20002.jpg

Here's 722 more yards of Captain America's brown wool. I sure hope that the 1000+ yards I've spun is enough to make him an XL cabled vest since I'm quite bored with spinning it now, and I'm pretty sure I'm not yet a talented enough spinner to make more of it if I don't do it right now. I'll employ the usual methods of making sure I don't run out - knit faster and hold my breath. These hanks were all pretty with no weird bits sticking out, but a certain monster cat had a bit of fun when I wasn't looking.

I had to re-wind the largest hank in the photo so I could add more twist to the three-ply. I don't know why I'm afraid of the twist - don't beginning spinners usually over twist? Should I twist more since I'm plying? I hope to get the answer to these and more questions from my Mabel Ross DVD that I was finally able to watch a portion of this morning (without it hanging, thanks to new equipment). I was able to watch only a portion of it because, even though I was on my second cup of coffee, it put me right to sleep. She's got a very soothing and slooooooow voice and manner, and freaky spider fingers, but she's just a little dry. As soon as I turned it off, sure enough, wide awake again!

Tonight I decided I had to have a break and a mindless pattern to work on in between bouts of tangles, so I decided to swatch for the Minimalist Cardigan from IK Fall 07. Unfortunately, after an hour of energetic searching, I gave up, in a sweat, on finding the size 7 bamboo circular needles I know I own, and also the size 7 tips to my Denise set. Arrrrrgh. I even looked in the upstairs bathroom to see if perhaps this little monster had a secret hiding spot for all my size 7s:
brown%20wool%20001.jpg
Bluefish, or more often FishyFishy, is our wild child. She's a beeee-yooooo-teee-ful cat but we forget it most of the time because she's such a goof. Anyway, she didn't take my needles.

Fine, I settled for my least favorite needles, Addi Turbos. Early in my knitting life, I unfortunately hung around a few Turbo addicts and stocked up on a lot - a LOT of them before I realized I like wood or plastic much better. I'm sure I was attracted to their supposed speed, but I've mellowed and realized it's not so much about speed, not that these needles afford me that anyway. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything about the glare of these shiny silver needles, but it irritates me. The only thing going for them, IMHO, and it's a big one, is that fabulous cable and join. Their new lace needles aren't as glare-y, and I used them for the ribbing on my Whiskey sweater with no big issues. I'm also using a Susan Bates Quicksilver circ on the sleeves, which to my surprise I like very much, since I really can't stand the same needle in straights - another thing I stocked up on before I knew any better. Amazing that I have more than 50 sets of needles and I never seem to have what I need for the next project. It's also remarkable how poor my memory of needle purchases is, given that I have at least four or five sets of size 5 dpns - go figure. I know it's hard for yarn shops to carry tons of different needles, but a good selection of wood AND Turbo would be nice. Love the Addi Naturas, but they're very hard to find around here. Must remember to put the new KnitPicks Harmony wood needles on my Christmas list.

So now, at least, I've cast on and done almost all the ribbing for the cardi - whew. I feel better. It's also perfect since I'm about to start four full days of database training, and while I've just been made the Queen of said database*, parts of this training are going to be old news for me. I've already told my boss that if he wants me alert and getting real smart, he'll have to put up with my knitting. He completely understood - told me he hears better when he's doing something with his hands.

*I've so wanted to be the Queen of our database for seven years now - but because of various power struggles and bogus job-protection tactics, I've not been allowed to be involved with its design. The department that kept such tight reign on it for so long is now almost completely full of new people and good energy, and they all know I know more about it than anyone else in the building. Very satisfying, finally. Told my boss I was going to be ruthless in cleaning it up, setting policies and procedures, and fixing all the stoooopid problems we've created over the years. Yay - wish me luck. Wish me a big fat bonus check too - I'm technically an executive secretary and this is above and beyond my call of duty!

And finally, wish me happy eighth anniversary. I think it's a good thing that I feel like Captain America and I have been together forever, and I'm absolutely certain I'm a very lucky girl (not the very freaky girl I once thought I was - you know, the kind you don't take home to mother). Love you, baby!

August 8, 2008

You know how it goes when

When you put something off, and then put it off some more, and then keep putting it off, it becomes bigger and bigger and bigger and soon it’s larger than life and completely impossible and you just can’t figure out how you’ll ever get back to it and oh my god what’s the problem it’s just a blog? So yup, that’s where I’ve been since MARCH! Not to mention doing mad crazy mail merges that involve IF statements that go on for pages (really) and producing pages for an online membership system through a database designed for fundraising that makes it as hard as humanly possible to do so in a straightforward fashion.

I have spent a lot of time with many bits of fiber since March, and finished that 8 oz of plain purple wool (that I started in July of 07 - sheesh), which I consciously tried to put more spin than ever into, and thought I was twisting the bejeezus out of, until I plied it and set the twist and found lots and lots of underspun and underplied parts.

purple%20close.jpg

I can’t be like most beginning super-twisty spinners – noooo – I have to go the opposite way. I did, however, figure out how to make my lazy kate work for me while plying, and had a much easier time of that than ever. I have no memory how much yardage I got on the two-plied yarn, but it’s a LOT of yarn.

purple%20wool1.jpg


Then it was on to two Crazy Batts I got way back in October of 06 at the Virginia Fiber Festival. I really wanted to try long draw spinning, and understood that rolags or batts are the way to go with this method, so I made a stab at it. But, these bats were full of uncombed locks and a whole bunch of other varieties of weird wool, so I did what I could and turned out some very interesting yarn in the process.

orange%20batt.jpg

The colors match my orange dining room with a lovely Arts & Crafts rug called Tulip Light Festival with browns and greens and pretty red/orange tulips and I’d love to make it into some sort of interesting wall hanging, but then I’m not so good at that visual arts stuff, so it’s decorating my dining room table and fits in quite nicely there.

obatt%20close.jpg

My nephew, Flat Stanley Jack, helped with the spinning and we had a grand time together.

flat%20stanley.JPG


I’m almost done spinning about 6 oz of pretty pink wool batts, also of an unknown variety, that I got at my first (and only so far) Maryland Sheep & Wool in 2007. My long draw went much, much better with these very well prepared batts, and I’m happy with this soft pink two ply. I started spinning with a backwards draw because that’s just what felt right, so long draw isn’t that far removed from what I’ve been doing, but it is fun to not worry about slubs or thick parts so much. It’s tricky to keep my forward hand from wanting to smooth the yarn – I guess I remain a worsted girl, and I must admit, if woolen yarn isn’t good for making garments, I’m not sure what it IS good for. ( I could have SWORN I had a photo of my sample skein, but will go without in the interest of getting this post UP.)

Phew. I wrote a post. So much more to say – so more soon. The garden has been a major adventure this year, and I have pictures to prove it! Here's a preview of the echineacea we put in:
ech1.jpg


September 22, 2008

Backwards

I'm a back-drafter. I'm a 100% self-taught spinner on my Lendrum DT wheel, and my natural inclination is to do a backwards draft. I've never figured out the inchworm trick, and when I try to do a forward draft I'm awkward and uncomfortable, so I do it backwards. I manage to turn out yarn, so it's not a bad thing, but one day, I'll manage to take a class or two and learn some new tricks.

Here's some merino tencel that I decided to spin from the fold, for no other reason than I heard it was a slippery fiber and I have wanted to try that trick.
merino%20tencel.JPG

I pulled off sections a little longer than staple legnth, folded them around my fingers and did my usual backwards drafting. I did 3.8 oz of this stuff and ended up with 145 yards of three ply that I did navajo style - a technique I've been working on and feeling pretty darned good about. Close up:

merino%20tencel%20close.JPG

I have another 3.6oz of this same merino tencel which I'd like to try to make a decent sock yarn from - and will try to spin right from the roving instead of from the fold.

Then there's the lovely pink wool from three fluffy batts that I attempted to spin woolen with the long draw, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I had overloaded two bobbins and wanted to cram the rest of the wool onto those two so I could do a two ply, so I, as advised in Aldon Amos' book, rewound the bobbins by running them back through the wheel. Before and after, aided by my trustee assistant, Bluefish:
bobbin%20rewind.JPG

After the repacking of the bobbins, i was able to get the rest of the wool spun onto them and ended up with this:
pink%20wool1.JPG

Which is 6oz turned into 376 yards of two-ply. Close up:

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I'm starting to build quite a stash of handspun with no plans for what I'll do with it, but I'm sure it will someday let me know what it wants to be.

I've just finished CeCe #2 from ChicKnits, and after the first disaster with the wrong yarn and the wrong size, I'm thrilled with the results of this one. I'm still not as enamored of Calmer yarn as some knitters seem to be, but it's growing on me. I must remember to wear a proper undergarment for photos, but since I don't wear one unless absolutely necessary, here's the model shot:
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I'm easily seduced by fabulous patterns but don't often take into account how I might wear them, and I feel like cropped things cut my short torso in half, and perhaps they're for the younger crowd, but this one is growing on me and I just have to learn how to wear it properly.

Just finished Charlene Schurch's corded ribbed socks too - these were a pretty quick knit and could have been even quicker if I was the sort that paid better attention to what I was doing.... I knit them both together from the cuff down and split them up to do the heels and feet. For the first sock, I managed to knit all the way to the start of the toe decreases before I realized I can't count and hadn't done enough gusset decreases so I ripped back and corrected that issue. Then on the second, I forgot to turn the heel before picking up stitches for the gusset, so I had to rip back and redo that too. And then since I can't possibly bothered to stop and check the pattern, and I can't possbly be bothered to remember which decrease slants which way, on the second sock I did half the toe decreases backward, but in the end can't tell a whole lot of difference, so I refused to rip back anymore! Absent minded knitter - that's me. But this Mountain colors yarn is soooo soft and squishy and comfortable - I think I'll get a lot of use out of these this winter.

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Next up - some merino/tussah silk/alpaca I've been spinning for a three ply sock yarn - almost done with the third bobbin now and hope to ply tomorrow night. It's undyed - gotta decide if I want to do that or make some nice natural colored socks for wear with khakis.
and now I've got the sock bug - next up are a pair for Captain America I'll cast on for tonght and will probably do in plain two by two rib since he's a pretty plain guy. But it's some lovely Knit Picks sage green yarn - good for his manly feet.

September 4, 2009

I had no idea

I'm writing from Bozeman, Montana, where Captain America and I are passing through on our way from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone and Teton National Parks on our 10th anniversary Epic Adventure.

Driving today, first along and then inside these great mountains, I realized I have simply never given much thought at all to mountains. Just never considered them - never gave them a thought. Being a born and bred beach girl, I've done coasts and islands, and a francophile, Paris twice, but oh, never this.

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I've been saying things like "I'm converted" about the mountains, but that's not really right. It's not like I'm switching from beaches, but shazam - add mountain girl to my bio. Captain America, who planned this magical tour, has had this in his soul since Boy Scouts at 12, and now it's in mine. Big sky country meant nothing to me before - but we drive into Yellowstone with my eyes wider and my heart bursting and I get it.

We kicked Glacier National Park's butt - these two total novice hikers decked out in all the very best gear did most of the Grinnel Glacier Hike Tuesday (before very responsibly turning back before the point of pain) and a good lot of the High Line Wednesday. We've seen big horn sheep and a lounging moose close up, mountain goats and a grizzly mom and cub from far, far away, and kayaked around the lake in front of Many Glacier Lodge where we stayed.

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I've made it to three great yarn shops now - Knit and Nosh in Helena, and Yarn Shop and Fiber Place and Stix in Bozeman. Bought me some Alchemy mohair laceweight that will remind me of the amber waves of grain we've seen for miles and miles, two ounces each of local Montana Lincoln wool to spin - some natural gray, some dyed barely processed salmon-y pink stuff, and two balls of Simply Shetland silk lambswool laceweight - mmmmmmm. Stix is, hands down, the most beautiful shop I've ever seen, and let me tell you, these Montana shops are BIG - one owner said of course - they have long, cold winters here! I've barely knit, even though yarn was the first thing I packed - there's just too much to see and do. This was on the Empire Builder train - the first part of the adventure in our sleeper car:

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In a word - Glacier National Park is a serious Bucket List item I didn't realize I had on mine, and I'm damned glad to make a check mark there, We'll go back, and I'll have more to say.

About Spinning

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