Sunday, January 25, 2009

Moving Right Along

One of the great attributes of weaving is that it is accomplished quickly. Yesterday, I resleyed the scarf warpp to 30 ends per inch and lo! it's warp-faced!


Furthermore, it's done!


A little narrow, and the yellow isn't a color I wear often, but done. Woven. Finished. Completed. Done.

As well, the second mitten was finished yesterday. I even found the yarn label, so I can tell you these are made of Ironstone New Wool. The basketweave cuff is lovely, but a bear to knit at this gauge - quite stiff. This cuff won't be letting any cold breezes near my wrists.


So now I have a hat and matching mittens. I feel almost pulled together.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Finger in the Dike

All the snow recently has had a deleterious effect on my gloves. Apparently, the set screw on the handle of the snow shovel has been wearing away at the fingers of these gloves. I bought the gloves at Rhinebeck the fall before last, and I've already darned or duplicate-stitched two holes in the finger tips. This past weekend was the last straw.


Monday night I finished frogging and putting away the first attempt at new mittens, and then commenced anew. A couple of months ago, I made myself a Canadian-Winter Hat from this yarn, and now I'm holding three strands of it together for the mittens. I'd tell you what the yarn is, but the labels have disappeared. It's a very softly spun single plied with a think black nylon binder thread. I believe I held two strands together for the hat (I'm too lazy to go get the hat to check). Holding three strands together gives a good, firm fabric - not so firm I can barely stand to knit it, as with the first try at this pattern, but firm enough to protect the yarn from too much wear (I hope) and to protect me from the ravages of bitter winter wind.


The first mitten is complete. It fits. I like it a lot. It may be the first mitten I have ever knit, not being a big mitten fan up till now. I've weighed it and the remaining yarn and I have enough to knit mitten #2; I was a little concerned I might run out. So, perhaps by Sunday night I'll have a pair of mittens to match my hat. Sam would approve.

Of course, the winter coat this hat and mitten set complements is beginning to look quite tired. I predict that by next winter, I'll have a lovely set of hat and mittens, which will not go with any winter coat in my size in any store within 100 miles - what do you want to bet?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekends are for Weaving

But first, some of those details later...


Here we have a lovely cabled scarf, about two-thirds done depending whether I want to stop at 6 repeats or go for 12 (for which I think I'll need another ball of yarn). This is Lisa Lloyd's pattern Tilly from her great book, A Fine Fleece. The yarn is Louisa Harding Grace-Silk & Wool, a scrumptious half-silk, half-merino yarn, bought at 40% off at my LYS's holiday Midnight Madness sale. Alas, it's a relatively softly spun single, so I think it might pill. That's why I went for a cabled scarf; I'm hoping for less wear and for the cables to hold everything together. We'll see. There was no way I was resisting such a blue, however.


I was inspired by Laurie's mittens to try a pair for myself. I figured I could hold three skinny yarns together and end up with an interesting bulky to match the required gauge, not to mention a quick knit. Well, yes, I could get gauge, after frogging it once after trying to knit this in the round, because I could not wrap my head around mittens that start out being knitted flat and then are joined after the cuff. What you see is the not-yet-sewn-up knit-flat cuff. But the resulting fabric is very, very stiff, and I think I'm going to frog this all together and try with different yarns and only two of them. So much for a fast knit.

I've been spinning! ... as you might imagine from my last post. [I should get a new wheel more often; I think I got more comments on that post than any other I've written.]


The new wheel, she goes good, and she's slowly bringing me into compliance with her wishes. I am simply fascinated with this groove in the flyer - see how the yarn fits exactly? Decades of spinning fine yarn have worn that groove. There's one on the other side of the flyer, too (double my delight!) and even grooves on the inside of the flyer arms, where apparently the yarn was laced for easing production of very, very fine yarn.

Speaking of fine yarn ... OK, I get the spindle love now. This is a 0.7-ounce Greensleeves Loki with some Spunky BFL. This is the same BFL that was driving me up the wall when I was trying to spin it on a Golding spindle. Apparently, the fiber prefers the Greensleeves.


Finally, a three-day, mostly snowy weekend has driven me back to my loom. I've been procrastinating for months about weaving the scarf warp I dyed in a Sara Lamb workshop at SOAR, but yesterday afternoon I dusted off (literally!) the floor loom and warped her up with no problems.


Except I chose the wrong sett. This scarf is supposed to be warp-faced, meaning none of the weft should show. Do you see that thin blue thread? Yeah, me, too. It's not supposed to show at all. (That big white weft is toilet paper; you use it at the very beginning of a warp to spread out the warp threads evenly.) So, I have to resley the reed to a closer sett, probably twice as close as I have it now. Not a big deal, and I'm actually very happy to be weaving again.

In fact, I've just been wandering from loom to wheel to spindle to other wheel to knitting to frogging to spinning again, with occasional stops to make tea and see what birds are at the feeders. It's a lovely way to spend a weekend.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The scene: A peaceful, snowy Sunday morning. Earle's at work, as he almost always is on Sundays. I get up late, make myself some tea and oatmeal, and settle in to the computer to check email and banter on Ravelry and such. Just a nice quiet day. I plan on putzing around the house later, maybe repot some plants, knit a little, call a friend, whatever. Take a nap, even.

But no.

There's an email from Marcy, entitled WAKE UP!!!! Let me quote the message in its entirety:

Go lookee wheel naow! Buybuybuy! CPW !! Go gettit.

A bigger font than that, even.

CPW stands for Canadian Production Wheel, one of which I want. Note that Marcy, in her excitement, neglected to tell me where, exactly, the wheel was or where it was advertised. I wrote Marcy back, saying, um, where, exactly? And then went on to Ravelry, where I discovered that Eva, somewhere in Massachusetts, had posted that she was, alas, selling her wheel.

Well, in between more frantic emails from Marcy, I establish that Eva lives in Hudson, only an hour from me, and that I could come see the wheel that very afternoon.

I did. She's beautiful. It only took me half an hour to figure out how to get her to spin (Eva doesn't spin, yet, and I've spun maybe 10 minutes on a double-drive Saxony, at most, ever), but a little oiling, a little adjustment of the driveband, and whee! She spins! She takes up! She goes fastfastfast!!!

And now she's mine. And I'm hers. I'm sure you can see why.


So much for a quiet Sunday.

P.S.: Thank you, Marcy!!

P.P.S.: Thank you also for everyone's kind comments on my last post; I've been meaning to get back to you all, but you see, there's this cobalt-blue, cabled, wool/silk scarf and the 5+ pounds of Romney roving and the several tries at mittens and well, I've been busy. Details later.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The new year

I'm having a hard time dealing with my own mortality these days. Given my age, my family history, and a usual lifespan, I can expect 30 more new years. Not enough. Not nearly enough.

Especially since I'm so imperfect and so slow. I don't know why I can't accept that often what I make - sweaters, yarn, even mittens - is not quite right the first time and must be redone. Or that a sweater is a big project, which may have something to do with my frequent boredom with them part-way through. I'd hate to list for you all the projects I started in 2008, and where they are today. They're almost all - maybe 70%? - still in the WIP stage, stuffed in plastic bags and knitting bags in some bin somewhere, or scattered around the living room or the bedroom. I don't know why I have so little stick-to-it-tiveness when it comes to knitting.

Spinning gets finished - I just hung up to dry the first of what will be many skeins of lovely, springy Romney 2-ply, for a textured jacket, I think - but I'm not really very good at it. I spin a lot, but I'm not pushing my boundaries and getting better; I'm just making the same sorts of yarn I made three years ago when I finally figured out how to spin. Well...I have gotten more consistent and better able to spin the weight of yarn I want, but I have no patience right now to learn woolen spinning or how to spin on a spindle. I can do both, barely, but I'm certainly not competent at either.

Maybe I should knit hats and scarves and mittens for a while, get my mojo back. I spun some lovely subtle dark kid mohair/merino into a perfectly good bulky three-ply a couple weeks ago, and knit two good hats from it. Then I spun a pink merino/tussah/alpaca batt from Abby Franquemont in a decent fingering-weight two-ply (21 wpi - that's fingering, right?), and knit a rather nice Branching Out scarf from it for a friend. No photos, sorry, but as you know, my photography skills suck, too. But it was very nice to start something, several somethings, and have them make it all the way through spinning and knitting successfully, quickly, turning out just how I envisioned them before I started spinning. I suppose small accomplishments like these are to be savored, yes?

It does not help that a muscle in my lower back is strained and making it difficult to sit for any length of time (say, longer than 15 minutes) and that it's been frigid or icy or snowing like mad the past week, making it hard to go for a long walk. Walking is how I usually treat these occasional bouts with a sore back.

This general malaise has gone on for quite some time, as you'll see if you read back through the getting-on-for-three-years' worth of posts here. Time to do something about it. I've gotten fairly good over the past half-century (yikes!) at nudging myself, kicking and screaming, into a better stage of life every so often, and I suppose it's time to do it again. I can see traces of stick-in-the-mudness creeping into me, something I associate with getting old, and I intend to resist.

You know, that double-coated gray Shetland lamb fleece I've got would probably be perfect for learning to make rolags, and then for practicing a woolen long draw. Sigh ... Kicking and screaming, here I go!