Where to start, where to start? I have both spinning and knitting content today. First up is the spinning, because I know you've been waiting to see the new wheel and what I can do with it.
Here is the wheel in the new office, please forgive the blue sheet back-drop - my file cabinet is super ugly (anybody have a creative suggestion for how to dress it up?). I love-love-love this wheel. This last week, while still waiting for the last of my sweater yarn to get here, I spun up 4oz of hand painted roving (100% wool, no idea what kind) into a light-ish fingering weight yarn (click for larger picture).
I need to make a wpi measure so I can better know my final product. I really debated plying this as chained singles, but I was afraid to lose the yardage, good thing too because I wouldn't have had enough for socks. This skein, and one slightly smaller one, total 500 yards (I just know it's lighter than fingering weight, but I refuse to call it lace weight). The second skein has several bands where the colors plied at the same time, instead of plying with another color. It will make for some interesting socks.
The last of my sweater yarn came in on Friday. I was waiting on the main color, Harrisville calls it "Suede", I call it gray. I had swatched with the little bit of gray Weaving Works had when I picked up the first batch of yarn; I was ready to dive right in and go. Well, I was ready to dive right in after I made an hour's worth of calculations on size adjustments (I'm bigger than the "large" size, snort). This sweater is different because it is knit in the round from the bottom to the top, then steeked in the middle. THEN you pick up stitches up the front right, cast on 6 for a steek, pick up stitches down the front left, cast on 6 for a steek, join with the front right and knit in the round the front middle of the sweater. Spooky, I know. Because of this construction I wanted to pay special attention to where the pattern fell when I added a few inches to the circumference. Actually, I think this made it a little easier, but until I had actually done it and kind of sketched it out I was a little afraid. I suppose time will tell how well I did. Once the math was done I cast on (it took an hour) and dove in. What you see is one weekend's worth of knitting. Any bets on when I'll finish?
What if you were 4 years old and you got to go to a special candy-only store all by yourself with more money than you'd ever spent on candy before? What if the person who owned the candy shop was happy to see you and let you spend hours in the shop sampling all of the different candies to see what you liked best? What if that candy-shop owner treated you like the princess you've always expected you might be and made a whole whopping bunch of candy just for you, exactly the way you like it, and then you got to take it home with you?
It might feel something like my Saturday, only I'm a lot older than 4 and I know how extreeeeeeeeemly rare it is to have all of your fiber-obsessive dreams handed to you on a plate with a nice cup of coffee to boot.
I went to see Heidi Parra of the Artful Ewe on Saturday. BLING (the worlds best enabler) came with me. We picked up my new spinning wheel, a Schacht Matchless double treadle. I am in love with the wheel, and in awe of Heidi. I don't even have appropriate words to describe the day, and I don't have pictures because I was too worked up to remember to take them. There is the new wheel; there are carded batts of cashmere, silk, alpaca, and baby llama; there are also carded batts of wool, silk, and cashmere in renaissance colors. As I tried out the wheel she handed me Shetland, angora, yak... I don't even remember it all. Heidi will be at the Whidbey Weavers Spin In at the end of the month - seek her out, you won't regret it.
As if that weren't enough - Janine hosted a Dulaan knit in Saturday afternoon. BLING and I were woefully late, but we had a wonderful time. TMK and I played "dueling wheels" as she also has a Schacht Matchless. Her love for her wheel is what made me start thinking about buying a better wheel. I swear (even though other coincidences would make it look otherwise) I'm not trying to copy her. The Knit-In was great fun and I got to touch base with some women I'm really happy to be friends with, and some others who I hadn't met before. I really like knitters.
This was the very best fiber day I've ever had.
Shortly after buying my spinning wheel in November 2005 realized I needed a good chair to sit on while spinning. I wanted something with a straight back and a padded seat. I found this chair at a local thrift store for $4.00. The padding was spent and it wasn't much to look at, but I knew I could improve it and it was the right size and shape.
In the last year I've spent hundreds of hours spinning and the lack of padding (on the chair, I have plenty) has had a toll on my sit-bones. With the near completion of the new office/spinning/guest room I was motivated to finally replace the foam and change the seat fabric. Cruising Reprodepot I found the perfect pattern and was able to buy just one yard. This weekend I put it all together. Removing the old fabric was the hardest part, there were two layers nailed in tight. Once it was off and the crumbling foam was bundled into a garbage bag I traced the outline of the base onto some chair foam I picked up at Friendly Foam and cut it out with a utility knife and a pair of cheap scissors. I spent a while deciding which part of the fabric I most wanted on the seat, and which orientation it should be in. Then I started stapling, beginning with one in the center of each run and working from there. There are a couple of uneven spots, but nothing too noticeable and I think I did pretty good for my first try.
Fabric $12.00 +shipping
Tools: Heavy duty stapler & staples, hammer (for flattening the few staples that didn't want to lie down), screw driver, utility knife, scissors.
Time: 1.5 hours
Happy spinning to me!
It's time for a new project, something that I can really sink my knitting teeth into. Having had recent success with a few fair isle projects, I think I'm ready for a truly big and challenging fair isle sweater - for me. Initially I had thought I wanted to knit something from Dale of Norway; I really love the pattern for the baby sweater I knit last summer. I looked at all of the DoN patterns I could find at my local LYS, and checked on-line to see if there were some I was missing. None of them really fit what I had in mind, most had some patterning with lots of plain SS. I really want to knit something with all-over pattern, and multiple colors. The sweater also has to flatter me (color-wise, boxy fair-isle sweaters by nature won't be that flattering on me). I finally found what I was looking for in the Estonian Garden Cardigan pattern by Harrisville. I'm going to have to size it up one notch, but the pattern makes it easy (just cursed the whole project there) to do. I picked up most of my yarn yesterday at Weaving Works, they carry Harrisville Shetland on cones for weavers, so I got it for $2.20 an ounce. The main color (a gray called Suede) is on order, but there was enough in the shop for a sizable swatch. Anybody want to start a betting pool on my completion date? I could probably knit it in two months...but I doubt it.
Almost a year ago we started a home project to reclaim a room from entropy; it seems fitting that it took this long to finish. With the help of good friends (knitters and knitting enablers) I demo-ed two walls ripped the floor down to the concrete pad, and put up new drywall. It took 10 months to rest up, and 6 months for BLING to sell her comic book collection, allowing us to finish the room.
It is important for me to digress here and direct your thoughts to BLING and her comic books. Selling this collection is like selling your stash; it held a lot of memories, and represented a different time in her life. Also, like S.A.B.L.E. (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) stash, it took up a cubic yard of space and was easily measurable as a percentage of a ton. Last weekend, with comic book money in hand, we went to Lowe's and bought DuPont Real Touch Laminate Flooring. This, my good friends, is a big deal. She did it willingly, and with a calm heart.
Back to the project! Last week BLING spent her evenings sanding and mudding the drywall (I promised to do cleanup in exchange). Friday, after dinner at Leena's (yummmm) we primed the walls and made our final shopping list. Saturday was painting day, two coats of "Lion" - which is more of a pale, warm, avocado green. With the walls dry and Sunday laid out before us like a promise, we began to lay the floor.
First thing off the bat, I rechecked my math for the amount of flooring we'd need. Anybody who was at my birthday where I completely #()*^! the check will not be surprised that I was off by one full box of laminate. So we started the day with a trip to Lowe's. The first row (left to right, under the window) was a breeze. The boards clicked together like they should and we only ran into one problem when we cut the end piece. The boards only fit together one way and I cut the needed length from the wrong end. It wasn't a big deal, we could start the next row with it and every thing was fine. The next row took 3 hours, one complete and total melt down on my part with crying, running nose and one well executed run through the house warbling about how I'm too fat to do anything well. Many of you will understand. In the middle of my fit BLING picked up all the pieces and put them away (she listened when I cried we'd have to hire the job out), I reconciled myself to a second attempt and discovered the boards were not where I left them. More crying, more hiding under the covers. I told myself it was OK to call the handyman next month and went back to the room and the boards were back down (she listened - again). Devastated that the offending boards were back on the floor I threw myself at them with an angry passion, determined to make them go together. I tried this way and that, I followed the directions to the T. They say to fit the short end into the plank to the left, lift the row up and click it to the first row with a sharp rap of the hand. I rapped and I hit and I slapped and I cussed and everything hurt and was wrong and miserable. Please remember that I was well into the 3rd hour and we had only 5 pieces down. BLING said "how about the rubber mallet"? "Why not" I thought, if I broke a board it could be the permission to stop that I was looking for.
@$&*% Dupont, they left 4 words out of the instructions. It should read "click it to the first row with a sharp rap of the hand THAT IS HOLDING A RUBBER MALLET".
We celebrated Presidents Day by trimming out the room and moving all the stuff into it that was formerly in the "cat room". Once shelving is up in the new storage room (where we will also store the dogs during the day) we will have a lovely office/spinning/GUEST room! Are we proud? Yes! Will we do this again? Probably not.
Everybody wants love, but love is not a thing you get, it is a thing you give. I love.
Autumn in our kitchen, hooked up
to a discman (Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin),
I become the music with earphones on:
no noise-as-usual inside my skull,
I can do things so the doing seems to be coming
from not-me, I am so expert and prolific
at rutabaga soup, peeling and chopping with such prowess,
spicing with panache, fussily tasting and adjusting,
even cleaning the pot and utensils, wiping the counter,
the sink, the cutting board - so happy, my darling,
that I despite myself have made something good for you
you will never have to suffer or work for.
Look, it's waiting in your favorite blue bowl
with fresh bread and wine beside it.
Come, sit, my loveliness, my blessing:
Come, sit, and eat it with me
Earphones - by Michael Ryan
Having just had an "ah-HA!" moment relating to the plying of chained singles, I decided I needed to spin some singles that were worthy of this new technique without risking the singles I had spun from some of Heidi's
crack carded bats.
I carefully escaped from work 15 minutes early (having worked a full 8 hours or more I'm sure, I'd never fudge it just for fiber, really, no really) and hauled myself to Weaving Works for some roving. Being frugal (as is my general practice, please don't ask how much I paid for my new Kenneth Cole bag) I selected 3 analogous shades of green and grabbed about an ounce of each. I wanted the greens to slip together, blending and parting in a planned, controlled, thoroughly random way. I held them together as I predrafted and spun from the three ends, letting the pull of the twisting yarn select which fibers came next.
The singles were really lovely, and because of the analogous greens could have been plied together in any method. I wanted to work on plying chained singles, so that's what I did. It went very smoothly; I never had even the slightest hiccup. I'm pleased with the end result, it looks just like my grass (which never gets enough water).
When I saw the Snickers ad during the Superbowl it made me feel funny. The whole thing is of course a put-on, but say it happened, isn't it more of an "oops!" than anything else? It seems like what I feared (violence = appropriate reaction to possibly gay overtone) is where Mars/Snickers was actually going. See John's AmericaBlog post for a write up of the ad, and the accompanying web site (vote on three endings: fey, poisoning, or assault). I'm open to what other people think, tell me what you see when you see the ad.
I did some pretty amazing (to me) spinning over the weekend. I've been
playing with color and different fibers, and finally figured out how to
ply chained singles. That new bit of skill hauled my end product a lot
closer to where I want it to be. I even took some good pictures of
one of the experiments I spun - but I forgot to email them to myself
and I don't have them to post. I'll leave it to tomorrow, when I can
show you what I did and talk about how I did it.
I also spent some time thinking about my knitting and what I wanted from it. I'm pleased that it is taking more to challenge me. I found that I was needing more resources to try and fill this gap. On a trip to a local bookseller I found a copy of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting by Sheila McGregor. This is a book that I would have not even looked at two years ago, and now I'm excited to touch it. I want to play more with stranded knitting and couldn't wait to finish reading the book before I cast on for a little baby hat (for Dulaan) with a corrugated ribbing edge, and three small patterns in yellow, green, and white (on a dark blue background). I'll post pictures when I finish it - probably sometime this week. I may pack up all of my WIPs and put them in storage for a bit, and just let myself play with knitting.