Friday, December 21, 2007

Dangerous Words

Here I was, sitting calmly and carefully at my desk, working away the last day of work before the holiday break like a very good little busy beaver - when I saw the most incredibly dangerous e-mail flash across my computer screen:

Webs Year End Blowout Sale!

What is it that the Harlot likes to say? That she had an accident, and slipped, and accidentally swiped her Visa card on the way down?

I have two words for you, my ducks. Well, actually four words.

Highland Tweed.

Three Pounds.

Order total: $27

When they say 'blowout' - they mean blowout.

( I feel a bit feverish.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thank God For Leftovers

It's just been that kind of day. You know the kind that starts off really really well - and you're enthusiastic about where and how the day is going to go - and then with a BAM! - one thing after another starts to happen and domino right the fuck downhill?

Yeah - that kind of day.

So I was late leaving the vet's office (they had an emergency cat come in that needed help ASAP - the psychotic thing had attacked its own tail and had actually split the tail in half - urgh) and so was late back to work - and came back to the office absolutely starving because I had correspondingly missed lunch. But at least there were holiday party leftovers for me to eat in the upstairs fridge. I didn't even mind that the meatballs were burned - at least, I didn't mind much. It was better than the ryekrisp cracker that was otherwise going to be my total meal. Thank God For Leftovers.

I'm still buried under order cards - even bringing them home to work on a few nights this week - but yesterday after skipping the leftover-producing holiday party I threw myself on the Dean's mercies and got permission to take these puppies home with me over the Christmas/New Years break and finish filling them out later. Phew! So given that lovely bit of holiday grace - not to mention the lap-full of work-related histrionics that was dumped my way this morning - I've been slacking shamelessly ever since.

Our 2007 Christmas Tree. This has nothing - nothing - to do with this post, but I've got sneak it in here nonetheless somehow! This will be a trend for the rest of the photos in the post - so just get used to it now.

Eating white-chocolate peppermint candies given to me by a co-worker was how all the slacking started. (Ugh - too many white-chocolate peppermint candies can make you feel SICK!) But I've taken my slacking to much higher levels than just candy-eating -- surfing Ravelry to check out the various types of yarn that domesticat's Drunken Bees socks were knitted in (that lovely pattern is way up in my personal queue!) - and then after seeing novamade's amazingly beautiful version, ordering the pattern for a Wonderful Wallaby to knit for none other than the Munchkin. I have at least ten or so skeins of that ol' workhorse, Lion Brand Wool Ease, in a medium-dark olive green (scored at $0.85 each on clearance!) that will be perfectly soft & utterly practical for such a knit. And with a wee little 'guin snuck in on the pocket, I think it will also be a major hit for my little Munch.

I've also been eyeing a new-ish sweater to knit for my Big Guy - one that would not call for 10+ skeins if Rowan tweed yarn (at a cost well over $75 for the sweater!) like the amazing knit Jarrett does - but something a bit more practical and therefore possible. But I dunno. It's just currently a glimmer of an idea.

Paperwhite bulbs, my knitting basket, and a sippy cup. I was going to move the sippy cup before taking the photo, but then I figured with a shrug - why lie? Sippy cups are everywhere in my house, currently - so hey - tell it like it is, right?

I've also spent some time today slacking by browsing Ravelry photos and online photos of Snicket Socks, as I think these will be the next pair that I knit for myself (- after I finish my design socks that I'm working on with Gryphon's yarn, that is). I purchased THE most beautiful skein of 'Green Tea' Sundara sock yarn as a birthday treat to myself - and so far during our conversations Ms. G. Tea has implied that she wouldn't mind being transformed into snicket socks. As I happen to have a deep, deep hankering for snicket socks, I was thrilled to hear her say so.

My spinning basket. This basket currently contains: some superwash/tencel that needs to be spun; a bobbin of this tencel blend that I've spun up so far; my first skein of handspun (superwash) merino dyed by Jessie; a bobbin of some extra superwash merino; and a loose tiny skein of Real Vermont merino/alpaca/& something else that I can't remember singles.

Luckily for me, my unpleasant day is almost over, and my evening promises to go much much better. We are having a lovely Cooks Illustrated dinner tonight (skillet lasagna - the best EVER lasagna that I've probably ever had - and the fact that it takes only 30 or so minutes from start to finish to make and uses only one pan is even better) and the wonderful & fabulous Kim is coming over to hang with us. We will eat, we will knit, and I will have a single, luscious glass of merlot. And all will be well.

The longer I have this Christmas ornament, the cooler & more appropriate I think it is that I own it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I'm almost literally buried in work at the moment - I've got thousands and thousands of books to order before vacation kicks on at COB on Friday, and nary a spare second between now and then to rest (or blog). Add to that a near constant headache from squinting at order cards all day, holiday stresses, and a very very cranky toddler and you get...............................desperation knitting and late-night spinning-wheel distributor online surfing on my part!


I'd post pictures of our luverly Christmas tree and my most recent yarn purchase (a birthday present to myself from Sundara!) plus my hubby's birthday gift to me, but alas our camera is currently engaged in more honorable pursuits - it's at the law office being used for Real Work Purposes and not documenting my knitting as usual.

Once the camera comes back, I'll take some quickie pictures and post what my world currently looks like.........and spill all about my exciting upcoming combination birthday/Christmas present - - a new spinning wheel! (Which I'm currently in the process of deliberating, debating, picking & choosing. But I'm leaning - this week, at least - towards a Majacraft Rose.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.....

.........over here at Chez Sticks. Decorations are slowly but surely starting to go up.....................

Our lovely mantle. Stockings to show up soon. Not handknit, however, but handmade nonetheless.

The annual lighting of the stairs.

Some quiet time is being found here & there for stress-relieving spinning.

'Mars' colourway - superwash merino & tencel blend. Spun as thin as humanly possible - by this human, that is - as I'm going to try and navajo-ply this for socks. Purchased as retail therapy after a bad day at work from a very nice woman via Etsy.

And even better (for stress relief, that is) - finished handknit gifts are starting to pile up...

Fingerless gloves for T - the wonderful woman who serves me a robust mug of life-giving coffee every morning. (Do these look strangely avian to you too?)

'Driving' gloves for A (a One Skein pattern), who also works at the coffee shop and who is wonderfully cheerful to me every morning when I'm still trying to figure out how to properly open both eyelids at the same time, before I drink my morning cup of eye-opening joe....

Virtually 90% of all Christmas shopping has been done (I'm a firm believer in easy shopping & purchasing streamlined gifts as a general rule - so don't hate me for this - - join me!!!!), and only one handknit item remains to be knitted. Even better, it's a weeny & fast handknit item, and is intended for someone who has been extremely gracious about receiving late gifts in the past - so if it doesn't appear under the Christmas tree this year she not only will not be upset, she probably won't even be surprised.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I actually **have** been knitting!

I have, I have, I have!

And I have proof!

Two pairs of fingerless gloves (Fetchings, for those of you who wonder) made with some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

Yarn purchased by T, gloves knitted for T and her younger sister. I also received from T as thanks for the glove knitting a $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. I quickly and greedily spent my gift cashola on this. We're eating meals from my new purchase every single night this entire week. YUM. Tonight is either N. burgers & N. fries or else her recipe for chicken breasts with bacon and white wine served alongside gnocchi. Double-yum.

This is the beginning of my new take on the Green-Tea Raglan.

(Remember what a saggy, stretchy miserable nightmare that was?) This is knitted in some greygreen alpaca that is nicely soft. I had originally bought the alpaca for a different sweater (the cable-down raglan from S. Japel) , however given alpaca's drape/weight/reluctance to work with cabled patterns, I have decided to switch it from that to this one instead. I'm going to modify the neckline considerably into a combo deep v-neck that flares into a boatneck style. Stay tuned for progress reports/shots.

This is some 'Venezuela' Traveller yarn that I bought from Gryphon when Kim and I were up several weekends ago for the spin-in.

It had been intended for a hat for a co-worker of mine, but was deemed to feminine a colourway (my husband was the single vote on that one, in case you were wondering) and that was all the encouragement I needed. Now it's on it's way to be a hat for ME ME ME ME! My co-worker will get a hat in a darker green/more unified colourway after the holidays have passed us by. In a move that I like to think of as minor genius, I'm knitting the hat as a huge version of the sock that I'm designing for Gryphon. I've been struggling with the transition between ribbing and leg pattern - made even more difficult by tiny yarn and tiny needles - so upping the entire process to nice fat needles and nicely fatter yarn has made my quandaries flash right on by - and now things are just zooming along at a perfect speed. When I'm finished with the hat I'll be adding on a knitted i-cord border for extra stability. And because I've never done that before and this seems a perfectly manageable project for trying it. As things are starting to chill down here, a nice squooshy hat couldn't come along at a better time.

In the interest of keeping my sock design a surprise a wee bit longer, I'm only showing you the inside of the hat/sock so that you can ignore the design bits while still luxuriating in the beautiful colours that Gryphon managed on this one. Sorry it's so dark - I took the pictures in the evening, which was the only time I was able to lay hand to camera. Of course these days 'evening' means anytime after 4 PM........

Last but not least, I'm leaving you with the package that our turkey arrived in this year. We decided to try a local restaurant's deep fried version - having heard such rave reviews about the deliciousness of said preparation - but not wanting to risk burning our house down by trying it ourselves. We agreed that the turkey was okay - about the same as what we could make at home ourselves - only we could roast a traditional style turkey in the oven for about $35 less. I only realized how the tin was labeled after I went to put all of the leftovers away. I love it. Love it love it love it. My little neck of the woods can sometimes be such a FUN place to live.

Examples of this - primarily through pictures of the cemetery that is across the street from me - to come soon.

p.s. for some reason when I went to adjust my primary 'frame' where my text and pictures are displayed to a wider version than what I previously had, I somehow bumped all of my side-bars that you can usually read on the right of the page to waaaaaaay down at the bottom of everything. I'm attempting - slowly but surely - to fix this. But it will probably take quite a bit of time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last Weekend Discussed This Weekend

Last Saturday Kim and I kicked off our pre-holiday weekend starting with a Little Gingerbread Endeavor.

(And for those of you who are wondering, the answer is yes, red wine does in fact make gingerbread-house construction that much easier & more enjoyable.)

The gingerbread house (complete with a string of mini Christmas lights stuffed in the back to make the butterscotch-candy-pane windows glow becomingly) will reside in the library for the next few weeks.

Sunday we went to Gryphon's house for a spin-in. It was - in a word - glorious. Not only did we walk away with a lovely amount of fiberish booty from Gryphon's in-house shop, but I also walked away with a borrowed wheel for the next few weeks.



(An Ashford Traveller double-treadle, for anyone who is wondering.)

Using this lovely little beauty I finished spinning both the dark purple & pale purple superwash bundles that I bought from Jessie a few weeks back. I was so excited by my progress that I went ahead and plied them together last night with amateurish yet exciting results for yours truly - and the resultant lovely huge skein is currently lightly weighted and drying in the kitchen. I will show you probably far far too many pictures of it when it is dry.

Dark purple superwash singles in all their wee loveliness.

It might not sound it, but I have in fact been knitting in addition to all of this spinning and gingerbreading - - and once I get the camera back in action and pictures taken, all of my recent FO's and two newly-cast-on WIP's will be shamelessly paraded in front of everyone.

Shamelessly. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

A little regrouping down time

I love my job. Sometimes though, I love even more the fact that I get to take vacation from my job.

Like next week.

I looked at the calendar and realized that I am already 'given ' Wednesday - Friday off as paid vacation - and that by spending a mere two of my vacation days (which I have several of saved up so far this year) I could get a whole week off of work.......two days of which would be just me, the DVD player, and my knitting/spinning.

So send in my vacation notice I did, and take the time off I will.

Even better, this vacation time will be following what promises to be a FANTASTIC weekend - tomorrow Kim and I will spend the day making a wonderfully ornate gingerbread house, and Sunday Kim and I are driving up to Gryphon's house for a 4+ hour Spin-In. (Our first.) We're not only excited by the opportunity to get in some more spinning, but also by the opportunity to get some tips and tricks from the other spinners there while also trying out some different wheels than the Ashford Traditional that we currently practice with. (Gryphon owns a grand total of 7? 8? wheels, dontcha' know. Including a great wheel that I most certainly will NOT be brave enough to test out!!!!)

And then, to think that the day after such a wonderful weekend I'll get to spend two full days home alone with only myself and the pets for company, with all sorts of knitting and swatching and spinning and plying to occupy myself...........not to mention just a wee bit of hand-carding.

Remember this bundle of grubby fleece?

Fun fun fun fun fun.

Thank goodness I gave in and did a wee bit of retail fiber therapy yesterday during the middle of a Very Very Very Bad Day At Work - as the following beautiful bundle of superwash merino/tencel is now making it's way towards my house:

FatCatKnits handpainted merino/tencel superwash - 4.3 oz. In her 'Mars' colourway.

A girl has got to keep herself properly occupied, you know.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Loaner is Loaned

Kim came over on Sunday and we had ourselves quite the fiber-filled day amongst the other norms of your basic family weekend. (Grocery shopping, lunch w/ a 2-year old, dinner, laundry, etc.)

We knitted.

(No pictures. Use your imagination on this one. Socks & a Fetching were worked on.)

We spun.

(Kim's first handspun! Real Vermonter wool/mohair/alpaca
blend in Jessie's 'Berry Picking' colourway.)

We photographed.

Elizabeth Zimmerman's BSJ in some Paton's SWS for a good friend's new son.

I love these buttons.

They were found in a huge 'button box' that was given to me by the wife of a co-worker who was retiring & moving across the country to Oregon. Cool buttons. Cool wife & ex-co-worker!

We un-plied and then re-plied with amazing results.................
(my s-spun yarn that I accidentally s-plied) (same yarn after un- then re-plying)

We photographed again because we were just too-happy with our results.

Singles, and 2-ply. My first ever handspun. (!)

Then last - but not least - we did some more knitting (Kim - Monkeys out of some Claudia handpainted in the 'Butter Pecan' colourway) and some unraveling of a thrift sweater (Me - 100% merino wool in a pearl-ish grey shade that I'm going to turn into a cardigan along the lines of this.)

We had a very good day.

At the end of the evening (with both boys fast asleep, I might add - that time change sure tuckers out even the grownups!) I persuaded Kim to take home the loaner spinning wheel for the week so that she can keep working on the Berry Picking. It's looking LOVELY and she's really liking the spinning - as am I!

I can quickly see where we're going to need a 2nd loaner wheel sooner rather than later. Either that, or she's simply going to need to move in to the guest bedroom upstairs.


Friday, November 02, 2007


As anyone who has recently peeked in my general direction lately has undoubtedly noticed, I have started trying my hand at spinning.

I'm absolutely thrilled to pieces with my new obsession but am not terribly good at it. However happily for me this seems to be a very common deal amongst new & intermediate spinners, so I have lots of cheerful company & lots and lots of blog posts to read on the topic.

So today, being almost physically unable to do any real work (this week has been a bit of a train wreck between crazy students in the library & a crazy waking-at-6-AM, temper-tantrum-throwing-toddler) I decided to catch way way up on my blog reading. And so I started reading some of my new favorites (Enchanting Juno) and some of my old favorites (Claudia's Blog) that I haven't read in several weeks with an eye towards any mention of spinning. {N.b. - as far as blogs go, I have favorites and then I have favorites. You know - the ones that you like to read yet let go unread for weeks, and then the ones that you like to read and somehow make/find time to read anytime/everytime you see that there is a new post....}

And I did some back reading in Claudia's blog and first came across this post where she shows her "fiber room" which totally made me drool like a Saint Bernard with a can of Alpo waved under his nose. Just LOOK at that bookcase stuffed with yarn and fiber and knitterly books and mags. Doesn't it make you drool too? Then I looked back even further and came across this post which talks all about plying. Something that I had just tried, in fact, and was pretty disappointed with my results.

I thought I had shown just the tiniest bit of improvement in the whole spinning thing, and so was very sad when I saw the over-spun, over-plied, hard, tight mess of yarn (and I use that term loosely - it's so hard and dense that there is no soft springy goodness left in it - it feels more like cheap rope that you need a hacksaw to cut through) that I was left with after I had tried to ply it.

Handspun singles that are still totally identifiable as a new spinner's work. But still, not as glaringly horrible as the very very first bobbin of work that I produced. Progress was made - however slight - and I was happy.

Overspun, overplied 2-ply yarn. Horrible. Uneven. Plied way too tight. Plied way too loose. Horrible.

And after I read Claudia's lovely advice/direction on how to ply, it hit me. I had plied the above yarn incorrectly. WAY incorrectly. Apparently you are suppose to spin the yarn in one direction (a non-spinner would consider this to be, say, counterclockwise, while a spinner would say that it had been given 'S' twist) and then you ply it in the opposite (i.e. clockwise or 'Z' ) direction.

I spun in the same direction as eventually I plied. Overspinning adding to overplying all in the same overly-tight direction. Hence why I could barely fit the horrid mangled mess through the orifice of the wheel, why it sprung into what looked like a skein'd Koosh ball when I was done tying off the skein, and why it looks so appalling in the above picture.

So what to do now?

I think I might bite the bullet and un-ply the yarn and either re-spin the singles again if they seem to need it or else just ply in the correct direction with the singles as they are. I hot-water soaked the yarn to set the twist after I plied it the first time, so I don't know if this is actually a total loss or not and if I'd be much better just chalking this up to inexperience and exhaustion (I was so excited to be done spinning my first true bobbin-full of fiber that even though it was 11 PM and I could barely see anything due to absolute exhaustion, I went ahead and plied the entire thing anyway.) or can actually salvage this pretty cotton-candy coloured stuff with a re-spin, re-ply attempt.

Any advice, from absolutely anyone who knows about this sort of thing, would be greatly greatly appreciated.

In the meantime, I've got new bumps of Piece of Vermont fiber to be eyeballed and fondled, and as soon as Gryphon's package arrives with my new hand-carders and baskets (today? today? let it be today!) I've got a full pound of washed fleece to start carding out. I also have 1/8th of a shrug back and a full sleeve to finish on Belle (not to mention the super-cool edging around the neck) plus the leg of a sock to finish designing, plus a 2nd embossed leaves sock to finish up for the daughter of a friend plus a shawl for a co-worker's retirement (thank GOD she retires in August of '08!)

In case anyone was curious, above is a picture of one of the (3? 4?) baskets that I have ordered from Gryphon. Locally handmade and collapses almost completely flat. Isn't that just too amazing for words???

Plus about a million pairs of Fetching that I have either agreed to or planned to knit in the past 24 hours. I knit myself a pair (FO pics coming soon) in 2 sweet evenings worth of knitting and so decided that they are my Christmas gift to hand out to many this year. I also have a finished EZ BSJ to post about - now that I have finally (!) sewn on the required buttons. However taking proper pictures requires not only sunlight (and my free time these days has lately only appeared after 9:15 PM) but also the ability to focus my eyes - something that I"m lately also lacking.

Which reminds me, I need to pick up my boxes of replacement disposable contacts this weekend. Must away to call the eye doc and make sure they're in before driving dangerously close to the fabric store to pick them up. No need to risk temptation if the desired object isn't yet on the shelf!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Eat. Wash. Spin!

(Just not necessarily in that order.)

Porcini-mushroom roast chicken

Parker house (wheat) rolls & mushroom gravy

Fresh green bean & shiitake mushroom casserole. Not to be missed.
Taken from the Nov. 2007 issue of Saveur Magazine. Page 42.

After all the work I did this weekend, I was very very hungry.

But OH, I had such a good time working up that appetite!!!!

First on Saturday I re-read the relevant section in Alden Amos' Big Book of Handspinning (despite the fact that I keep messing up poor A.A.'s name - I keep calling him Amos Alden - this book is still SO on my Christmas/birthday list!!!!) and then I pulled out one of the two (TWO!) fleece that Oma sent me a few weeks ago and decided that I was going to wash it.

To try this the first time, I went with what looked like the more amusing fleece - the crazily-curly 1st place winner - which was a Lincoln/Shropshire mix - from the Northwestern Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Association Field Day.

Here my pound of curly locks sit, in their plastic bag with Mr. Frog happily watching over them.

Following Alden's directions, I filled the tub with HOT water, added a large capful of appropriate detergent, and then carefully let the fleece sink down and slowly slowly slowly patted it along in the water from one end of the tub to the other. Back and forth. Back and forth. He said to do this as if you were herding a bunch of kindergarten younglings down a very narrow museum hallway. This is what the tub & fleece looked like after a few trips were made up & down.

UCK. See that kind of scummy film on the water? Double-uck! This is just about where I stopped thinking that magically Oma had gotten me a fleece that was naturally part white and part brown, and realized that the "part brown" locks on the fleece were in fact part green, and were most likely green from sheep feces.

Triple uck.

I drained the tub, and shuddered.

Then I filled the tub again with hot water (with the fleece resting & draining safely above), added in only half the amount of soap this time, and repeated my sinking, patting, and herding. This time around the water was much cleaner, and the tub refuse was much less disgusting.

Then the third time I filled the tub only with hot water as a last-step rinse.

And while I have no doubt that the slightly yellowish cast of some of the curlier tips on the fleece means that I have not gotten out all of the grit and muck, I think I have gotten as much out as I currently feel safe removing. (Being new at this, and having NO idea of what I'm doing, I'm quite worried that I'm going to felt this entire thing in my enthusiasm to get it really, super clean. I will - however - wash it at least once more after it is spun and plied just to be on the safe side.) I laid the fleece out to try on the guest bed, turned on multiple fans, and walked away.

I had expected it to take a full three days to dry - as A.A. says it should in his tome, but apparently A.A. never reckoned on the drying power that a 93-pound dog has on a pound of spread-out damp fleece. If said dog spends the night on the drying bed, your fleece will be bone dry the very next morning, and won't seem even the slightest worse for wear. AMAZING. Please note that I would only recommend this for dog owners. Certain insane-cat owners {coughcoughjessiecoughcough} should probably avoid such things at all possible costs.

I think that some carding will bring this curly mass of white loveliness around lickety-split. I have borrowed a drum carder from the art department of campus, and spent a good hour or so this past weekend cleaning it as best as I could, but the thing is just SO disgusting and dirty (I wore gloves to clean the drum carder, but not to wash out all that green sheep shit - what does that tell you about how filthy & nasty the drum carder was?) that despite it being cleaned I still don't feel safe using it. Isn't it lucky for me, then, that Gryphon is an Ashford dealer (I chuckled when I said that to Kim feeling like someone who was doing something illegal - "Woooo hooooo!!!! We've got a dealer in the neighborhood!") and can easily send me a pair of basic but oh-so-useful-and-necessary Ashford hand carders! Plus - you know - a few locally-made yarn storage baskets that she now has for sale. Just two. Or three.

I also was lucky enough this past Friday to find my missing spinning-wheel piece when I went and re-poked around the storage building where it had spent the past year or so. With some help from Peggers I found a necessary (and totally missing) correctly-sized nut lying around our workbench that was needed to keep the treadle leg in place, grabbed some light machine oil, and got the piece in good working order. I then promptly dropped everything and tried to spin, and butchered some of the deep red fiber that Gryphon sent my way over the summer along with a loaner drop spindle. I loathed the drop spindle (so much so that I simply put it down & felt no compunction to keep trying with it whatsoever!) but loved the fiber. The result is the overly-spun little unbalanced skein below. {SIGH} My first ever baby handspun!

After messing around with the red, I tried my hand at some hand-dyed roving that I purchased at a county fair over the summer. Despite the butchering that happened while I played around with it, I had the most WONDERFUL time with both it and the red roving, and after watching a few video clips on the Joy of Handspinning website have picked up a few tips about what I am doing wrong (drafting over too short a distance, mainly, I'm also going to try and pull 'up' on the fiber to draft it instead of pulling 'down' as I have been doing. I'm also going to try to pre-draft my commercially prepared bump and see if that helps) and am going to take another crack at the rest of the fiber I have left either tonight or tomorrow night.

This is what I produced after sitting down a few times Saturday & Sunday with the county-fair roving that I purchased. Reminds me of cotton-candy colours! Still exponentially overspun, but at least a bit more even in thickness (at least in lengthier spots!) and a bit better overall. Once I'm finished with this bump of fiber, I'm going to 2-ply it and see what fun end result I get.

I only have a single drive at the moment, and so am wondering if maybe a double-drive would help some. I am consciously trying to treadle v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y - - so much so that my wheel will sometimes stop, I'm going so slow. This is why I'm wondering if the double-drive will help........or will that just speed me up and increase my horrid overspinning? Ah well - 'tis so much fun that I don't at all mind that I'm making wool versions of DNA every time I let the tension go on the yarn & it doubles back on itself!

In fact, I'm having SO much fun that I went right out and ordered several bundles of dyed fleece from Jessie - one in the most amazing chartreuse/purple/midnight blue blend - I can hardly wait to see what that turns into when I get my hands on it!

I also, after reading her two part posts on plying experiments, bought a double-bump set of hers in a super-bright/deep purple and a nicely-pale lavender complimentary colourway.

See why I couldn't resist the temptation to try some plying experiments of my own?

Fun fun fun fun fun!

My Christmas/birthday wish list is just growing by leaps and bounds every day now!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Still raining

It's still raining here (woe that I could send some of this steady, soaking rain over California's way!), I'm still missing crucial pieces from the loaner spinning wheel, and I'm still adrift in a sea of stockinette.


My shrug is getting closer and closer to being finished in that the huge swath that spans my back is probably only 2 inches away from completion. I'd show you the picture that I bribed my husband to take showing this miraculous progress, but it unfortunately makes me look like a chunky linebacker after a huge pasta dinner, so I'll refrain from showing such amazingly unflattering pictures of myself in public.

The worst part of getting this close to finishing the shrug is that once I actually make the back section long enough I'll have to truly acknowledge the fact that the pattern is almost certainly and truly LOST back in the Outer Banks. I have searched for it high and low, but alas - still for naught. I don't know what to do. Wing it, based on the other half I've already knitted? Plead with the designer to send me the basics for the ruffle along the front (the only info I really & truly need) - plead with a fellow Belle Shrug knitter that I met via Ravelry to take pity on me and send me the missing specs and instructions?

My hemp paper bag is coming along well - my previous attempt at a increase/decrease - slipped stitch - decrease/increase technique was successful but simply too messy with this stiff hemp twine, so I have changed techniques entirely and am now working in single sections in a slightly nontraditional way - with much happier results. Hopefully an almost-finished shot to come soon.

I am also back to working on my design-a-sock project for Gryphon and Knitty with so far happy results - but alas in my enthusiasm to get started on it the unthinkable happened:

Can't see what happened? Look down at the bottom of the bag - just below where the bamboo needle crosses the "M" in PREMIUM. Keep going down. Keep going..........keep going.................

............see how there's NOTHING ATTACHED at the bottom of that bamboo needle?

*snap*! It made such a sad little sound when it just broke right off in my hand. I kind of caught my breath in a little sob, and then looked up in bewilderment like a small child does when the unthinkable happens to them.

I still have the original packaging, and I seem to remember somewhere that Addis come with a lifetime guarantee if you have the original packaging. Does anyone else seem to remember this hope-inspiring bit of information as well?

I was able to switch over to dpns with nary a problem - and it turned out to be a blessing in the end as the pattern stitch I'm using has a "traveling" sort of tendency where every so many rows you have to move a stitch from one needle to the previous or vice-versa - - very annoying to do when using two circular needles but easy as anything to do with dpns. So if I can get the circular needle replaced with a minimum of fuss then all will be well in the end, I feel fairly safe in saying.

Tonight Kim is coming over for dinner (and then bath & story with the Munchkin) and then after he's safely in bed she and I get to sit and knit and chat - and I get to wrap my head around a little challenge that Laura (of Fiber Dreams) sent my way! She's currently knitting a beautiful blue pair of socks that have a slightly little tricky two-cable-needle cable in there - and she and I got talking about cable needles and cabling without cable needles. So she sent me the cable specs and I'm going to mess around tonight and see if I can't figure out how to do this particular 5-stitch cable, 2-cable-needle cable without even one cable needle - and post appropriate pictures here for anyone who is interested to see.

If nothing else, the pictures that Kim will be able to take of me struggling along making a huge tangled mess should be good for at least a laugh or two!

Friday, October 19, 2007


The wheel got a nice Murphy's bath last night, followed by the first of many bathings in lemon oil.

It's a wee bit happier now:

Now that I had a good chance to look the wheel over, I find that it's missing a few pieces. Most importantly, I'm missing the conrod that connects the wheel to the treadle. I'm also missing the tension knob, a fourth bobbin, and the base to the Lazy Kate. Obviously I can live without the base to the Lazy Kate (more honestly, I can make my own) and I can obviously totally live without a fourth bobbin for now - and I can probably figure out how to jury-rig a makeshift tension knob for the time being. But I cannot do without the conrod.

I'm going to go back to the storage spot and do some more poking around the next time it's open to see if I can't find these missing pieces - and if not............?

..................check around to see if I can order the conrod & tension knob from an Ashford dealer on line?

What else would the spinners out there recommend that I also get? A decent drive band? The wheel now has nothing fancier than a knotted cotton string - but I've read on the Ashford site that they now offer a 'polycord' version that doesn't slip and makes pedaling much much nicer. And anything that makes spinning much easier/nicer sounds great to me. Also, the flyer is only a single drive - would those of you in the know out there recommend that I get a three whorl flyer, or maybe even a lace flyer? (Ooooohhhhhhhhhh..........spinning lace. It boggles the mind to think that maybe possibly someday I could learn to do that...............)

Spinners? Serious education is needed here, por favor.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

dirty, dusty, grimy might not be a beauty queen at the moment, but for the time being, it's mine and I'm going to have tons of fun playing around on it! The drum carder (poor abused thing that it so obviously is) is for the two half-fleeces (an Icelandic & a......something else that's fun & curly that I forget this very second) that Oma sent my way - I need to do some washing and carding before I can do any spinning, and when I saw the carder just sitting there in the dust and grime and dirt and it was offered to me along w/ the wheel I certainly didn't turn it down!

The wheel (an Ashford) could maybe possibly end up mine forever, but the carder is only a temporary figure passing through my life. 'Sokay. I can live with that. I'd prefer the wheel over the carder in the end anyway!