Saturday, September 29, 2007

I don't often plug other people's blogs - mostly I figure that anyone who reads my blog is already aware of the ones I know of. I follow a large number of blogs, but these are the ones that I think of as "focused" - not all over the landscape as I tend to do. In case you missed any of these gems:

Beadlizard - Sylvia posts marvelous pictures of birdlife on the San Francisco Bay, and also of wonderful knits. She has a facility for 3D visualization that I can only marvel at (being a 2D thinker myself - it's no accident that my favorite knit project is a shawl).

The Doily Underground - jp is a recent addition to my list, with knitted doilies that seem to float in mid air. I tend to look at jp's work as any journeyman might a master-of-the-craft's - someday I may get there, but I'm not there yet.

Habetrot - Marcy has an incredible collection of pictures and postcards of sheep, shepherds, spinners and knitters. She posts descriptions and background information with grace and humor.

String or Nothing - The blog of the knitter behind wiseNeedle (an excellent resource of yarn reviews), her posts give interesting commentary on her own knitting, as well as interesting insights into the history of knitting, as she posts about her own researches.

Twosheep - June alternates between speaking about cooking and speaking about yarn - dyeing, spinning and knitting with. I have picked up a number of wonderful tips in each field from her.

Woven Thoughts - Sara is another master-in-her-field of whom I can only stand in awe. If I ever really get into weaving, it will be because Sara has dangled one too many pictures of weaving with silk. I have no interest in weaving in general, just weaving with silk.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Catching up on odds and ends:

1. Snowball has been unstapled. She'll have a scar, but after the shaved bits grow back, no one will be able to tell.
2. Fall is coming. The turkeys are wandering through the yard, much to the dismay of the dog. There were 3 adults and 11 youngsters when the youngsters were half the size of the adults. There are 3 adults and 10 youngsters now that the youngsters are pretty indistinguishable to the casual glance. I wonder what happened to the 11th one? Coyotes are around; someone may have decided on an early turkey dinner; the flock crosses the road every morning; who knows.
3. I'm getting some spinning done every day on the charcoal grey, but it doesn't seem to be getting anywhere.
4. School is progressing. I'm into my class for the fall and it's coming along. My first paper got an A - always a nice way to start class. A friend asked me if going to school was worth it, and I wasn't sure how to answer the question. I'm at the stage that's always awkward, whether it's a knitting project, embroidery, spinning, school (?) where I'm more than halfway, but only just. The shiny new is worn off, but I'm not close enough to the end to feel that second wind, that big PUSH to be done. This is the most dangerous stage of any project, the time when I'm most likely to abandon it and wander off to something else shiny new. All I can do is remember how I felt when I started, the goal which did mean something at the beginning, and trust that I will get to that second wind and be glad when I'm done.
So, yes I think school is worth it, even though at the moment, I'm at the stage where the annoyances and difficulties are all I seem to be able to focus on.
(Although it doesn't help that I found that a school in Syracuse is NOW offering a degree I would prefer to have taken than the one I decided on, although it wasn't offered when I started. Pooh! Shiny new, anybody?)
5. Girl Scout cookies are once again taking over my life - why did I say I'd be the service unit manager again? I'm training my replacement though, hurrah!
6. Spinning and knitting are happening, although relegated to the corners of my life. Pictures to follow soon.
7. I'm starting to gather the seeds from the Tango lilies that I've promised Cathy. The bulbs aren't quite ready to dig, but soon.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Do you suppose it might be time to do some plying?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ok, so I've been working on bobbins of this stuff sporadically for quite some time. I've got two pounds of it, ok?
Despite the possible suspicion that I just keep taking pictures of the same singles in different configurations, this really is a single I finished this weekend at Fingerlakes Fiber Fest and the one I started while waiting for my son's Scout Master to arrive.
Targhee, dyed in Wild Raspberry, from Sweet Grass Wool, spindle spun on a Bosworth mini.
It was funny - I was wandering around the fairgrounds at FFF and getting stopped by people who wanted a five minute potted lesson on how to spindle spin. I obliged, and sent people off to see Jonathan and Sheila. Some of them apparently arrived at the Bosworth booth.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Artisan's Vest
This is the Artisan's Vest. With ends not tucked in and unblocked, but I have finished the actual stitching. The actual knitting started in about February of 04, when I moved to a colder clime than I had lived in for some years.
Unfortunately, this was a victim of combined circumstances - the weather was warming up about the time I finished knitting, I had a slight error that I needed to correct, I needed to switch gears into crochet and all my hooks were in storage, and we moved from the rental house into the permanant dwelling with all the attendant confusion that implies.
By the time I was ready to think about fixing the error and moving into crochet, this poor thing was nowhere to be found. Consequently, I moved on to other things, and have only recently had this one start nagging me. It was covered with dust.
Sometimes I wonder why I get stuck on things like this - it took five minutes to fix the error and an hour to finish the crochet edgings around the front/neck edge and the armholes. I still do need to weave in ends and block it, but I'm on a roll and it may very well happen this weekend. Depends on how the homework goes. I'll keep you posted.
Artisan's Vest, Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book, Lamb's Pride yarn.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Poor Snowball

I really haven't decided what I'm going to do with the charcoal yarn. It's fingering/laceweight and I'll probably get about 4 skeins like this one out of the fiber I have. That would be about 2000 yards I think - enough for one of the larger shawl patterns I have waiting about, or maybe a vest? Lacy T-shirt pattern?

I know a lot of people spin for specific projects, but I never really have. I tend to fall in love with fiber of color (not so much the pure whites or ecrus), and sit down to spin it. I wind up with yarn I like, which is an end in itself.

In the meantime while I'm spinning, I'm busy knitting with yarn I bought or yarn I spun a year or two or five ago. Sometimes I never do figure out a project I want to use a yarn for. It's perfectly good yarn, I just don't have a reason to knit it. Those yarns eventually get passed on as gifts, given to the busy charity knitters, or sent to SquidKnits for her high school students.

Monday, September 17, 2007

first charcoal skein
This skein is probably something less than 550 yards of the charcoal merino/silk and the tussah silk dyed by Just Our Yarn. I don't know the exact length because I measured it before washing and I don't know how much it shortened yet. It was 556 yards before washing. I do like the way that the bits of tussah silk glint among the charcoal.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Odds and ends:
1. No knitting and not much spinning is happening chez nous.
2. Cat 1 is currently sporting an E-collar and 4 shiny staples on her right flank. She is trying to slink through the house, but said slinking, being usually carried out right next to walls and under chairs, is being impeded by the E-collar scraping on everything.
3. Cat 2 is a nervous wreck. The scraping and bumping noises are driving him nuts. S scraped his bowl a tiny bit on the counter, and cat 2 jumped a foot.
4. My fall class is now 11 days old. I've turned in my first 2 page paper with research citations, etc and am halfway through reading the other 16 2 page papers with citations, etc. with an eye to making comments on as many as I can intelligently do and today I only need to finish that and read 8 sets of instructions from my instructor to decide which project to work on for the rest of the class. Hence #1, along with other impedimenta.
5. After a week, the soccer coach has finally given the potential team members a schedule for practices. It says he has practice or a game every weekday from now until midNovember, but at least we know this, rather than having him told each day "show up tomorrow" with no apparent end in sight with the possible exception of being cut on Wednesday or Thursday or maybe Friday depending on which parent one talks to.
6. The drama coach, having promised the parents on Tuesday that she will not keep the students late, then kept them five minutes late on Wednesday and 20 minutes late on Thursday. Hmmmm.
7. Fall is starting to happen. The maples are changing color, except for one small tree locally which has seemed stressed anyway and which has taken the first opportunity to dump its leaves and is standing there in all its naked glory. A couple more nights of chilly weather and I may have some fall pictures to take, not to mention needing to put the quilt back on the bed.
8. We're finally getting some rain. Just in time to turn the parking lot field at Fingerlakes Fiber Fest into a mudhole. O Goody.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I have a lot of grumps right now, and I dont' seem to be able to write a post without whining. I should have my camera back tomorrow and will be able to take pictures of things that actually are going well. Maybe I can write about those in a more pleasant frame of mind.

Friday, September 07, 2007

You know, mostly ignorance is bliss, but occasionally it gets downright puzzling. Our eldest offspring started high school this year. Among the avalanche of paperwork attendant to such an event, we received an invitation to join the local group of parents dedicated to keeping underage students and alcohol separate. Since this is a topic we tend to believe in, we started reading through their list of things-to-pledge: I won't serve alcohol to minors (check), I won't allow students to congregate at my house without keeping an eye on them (check), I won't allow anyone else to serve alcohol to minors at my house (check), I will notify other parents of alcohol misuse that I become aware of (well, ok, check), I will lock up all my alcohol (well, ok, all three bottles of it - we don't tend to drink much, not because we're dedicated teetotalers, but just because it doesn't happen very often, check, I'll figure out something), I will lock up all my cleaning products (huh?).

Ok, we're talking about teenagers, not toddlers. When I had toddlers, all the cleaning products were kept in my bathroom on upper shelves with the best childproof lock I could find. Presumably we're not talking about childproof locks (teenagers, remember?) we're talking about lock and key. What on earth are teenagers doing with cleaning products that the stuff has to be kept under lock and key? And if it's under lock and key, how am I supposed to carry out my parental duty of torturing my children by making them learn how to clean the house on a regular basis?

I could figure out how to lock up the liquor, although short of putting it in a combination safe I don't really see any way of ensuring that a key couldn't be found by a dedicated individual seriously bent on locating it - I'm not taping it to my person for the next six years. But locking up the cleaning products? Why?

Never mind, I don't really want to know.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

We're back into school mode and that means I'm back to spindle spinning at various points in time when I wait for kids to get out of doctor's appointments, out of music lessons, out of after school activities. This is Wild Raspberry Targhee top from Sweet Grass Wool. On a mini Bosworth of course.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In the category of "I've been working on that. Slowly." we have Bombyx silk, dyed in peacock colors (the green and purple don't really show in the picture, but they're there). This is a three-ply yarn and this is the third skein. One of these days I need to measure the skeins and see how much yardage I have and how that compares to what the peacock feathers shawl wants. Memory says about 1500 yards of laceweight, but we all know how flakey my memory has been lately.

Sylvia, I think you're right about the mixed single needing more twist. It's an artifact of the mixing of fibers - the merino/silk paired against merino/silk is fine but the merino/silk paired against the pure silk isn't. The pure silk wants more twist than the merino/silk does and I'm putting the same amount into both. I'm not sure what the effect of adding more twist to one part of the single vs another part of the single would be - any insights?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Here's the merino/silk with silk stripes. I'm planning a 2-ply yarn, one single of merino silk; one single of merino silk alternated with the tussah silk. I'm hoping for a muted shading of color here and there in my yarn.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Marcy, don't hate me when I say I'm adding this to the charcoal grey. Tussah silk I picked up at Fingerlakes Fiber Fest last year. It looks like it would be slightly matted but I realized after I started spinning it that it's just the tussah vs. the bombyx I've been spinning most recently. In actuality, it's a lovely prep and spins very nicely. I need to find what I did with the label so I can tell you who it's from

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sylvia, I think you're absolutely right.
This is what the merino silk looks like on the bobbin.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

It's been a long time since I've had spinning on Saturday Spin-in, but today, I have, for your delectation, 50/50 merino/silk in color charcoal. It's lovely stuff to work with.
Last year I worked on a dye experiment, taking a bump of white Rosemary wool (from Dunnose Head Farm in the Falklands), putting it successively in a navy blue dyepot and a crimson dyepot (rewrapping it from inside to outside between times) and then spinning the resultant dyed fiber into five skeins that ran the gamut from navy through various shades of mixing and pales to crimson.
I then spent about six months looking at the skeins trying to decide what to do with them.
Baby surprise jackets seems to be my answer. This one starts with the navy blue section (at the ends of the sleeves and across the top of the back and heads toward the pinker shades.
The next one will start at the crimson end and head for blue territory, and then I'll see if I have enough yarn left for a third in the center section.
Garter stitch, she do eat up the yarn.