Thursday, June 29, 2006

Neutered Computer

As I mentioned sometime back, my laptop has decided to stop speaking to my digital camera.

Well, I am smarter than (some, low-tech) cameras. So I figured out how to use the memory disk for the camera with my husband's computer, and that's how I've been able to continue the stirring and moving photographic essays you've seen here in the past months. (pardon the sarcasm)

Recently, however, my husband's computer has proven less then helpful with this.

I should probably mention that the cats get fed on top of the counter, because the freakishly picky dog likes their food better than his own.

And sometimes, when two cats don't get along, a tussle can occur around dinnertime.

And sometimes, when a tussle occurs, things can get knocked off the counter.

And sometimes, when things get knocked of the counter, they fall apart and roll away.

Things like mouse balls, for example (hi, you freaks who got here googling that expression! What a disappointment, huh? wanna learn to knit?)

So while I'm looking for the mouse ball for my husband's computer, there are varying states of guilty feelings in the house. (all from past photos, but appropriate none-the-less)

We have "I could never do anything wrong - I'm too cute"

We have "yeah, maybe I did, but if I look sorry, will you feed me?"

And we have "omigosh I'm so sorry, please forgive me I'll never ever ever do it again I swear - what was it again?" (aka "dog")

And all of this is a great shame, because I've really been quite productive lately.

So now it's time for a game of "Let's Pretend".

Oh, come on - be supportive - with the rainstorms flooding my home I've been more Queen Migraine than Princess Amie lately. Play the blasted game.

Thank you.

First we have this lovely sock yarn I spun up last week.

I know - it's gorgeous, isn't it? It's fiber from Spunky Eclectic that Shelia sent me from SPA last year. I think it was the Mermaid colorway? Or Waternymphs? Or something? Amy - can you tell from the photo? (thank you again for humoring me)

Next we have this tank top - observe how the striping looks completely random, and yet isn't.

And it's so soft, too...

There's more spinning - this gorgeous wool/angora blend.

I really love green and purple together (ha - like you couldn't tell that from the tank top!) and there's just a tiny bit of angelina in the blend that's always a little surprise when it comes up. It's spun so fine that the angelina is actually thicker than the single a lot of the time, so it's been a fun challenge. I haven't yet decided what to do with it - either socks or gloves, and I'm probably going to make it a three ply - two of those and then one pure angora (that of the drum carding adventure last week)

And finally, put on some sunglasses for this -

this sock toe is so much fun, bright colors like that, and with the fair isle all over - I'll probably write up the pattern when it's all done, but for now, isn't it pretty?

Thank you for humoring me. Should I find the mouse ball, I will fill in your imagination with actual photos, but in the meantime, you're my very favorite reader because you're so willing to play along. Good job.

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Our Dog is Stuck"

This morning I was sitting quietly knitting on my deadline knitting (see? proof that I am doing something other than daydreaming about the cruise:)
when suddenly, all hell broke loose.

The neighbors' dogs are all much chattier than Oscar, so I'm used to hearing them barking at each other, but suddenly there was Trouble (Oscar's best friend, the 100 pound not-all-that-open-to-strangers German Shephard next door) and his roommate (the 10 pound toy poodle, aka afro that barks, one of two dogs that have bitten* my pitbull - the other being a cocker spaniel) both in hysterics, and an additional barking that didn't sound familiar.

I looked out the window and could see one of the feral children (that very little boy, as a matter of fact) standing just off of Trouble's property, looking... well, rather pensive.

I ran to put pants on so as to avoid any unneccessary trauma, and by the time I got outside, a whole herd of feral children had gathered, but the hysterical barking hadn't stopped. When they saw that I'd come outside, the alpha feral child said "Our dog is stuck."


It seems they have a "little" German Shephard puppy. (little is relative, she's nearly Oscar's size, but Trouble is a solid big boy) The puppy had gotten off leash or collar and wandered into Trouble's yard. She was smart enough to stay out of the reach of Trouble's rope, but not smart enough to just turn around and leave. She was in a panic, bouncing around and barking frantically, but unable to bring herself to just leave the other dog's territory. So the Afro-that-barks was on the deck yelling, Trouble-the-beast was on his rope barking, and this poor puppy was just barely staying attached to the planet. Apparently, she knew she was in trouble (with a little t), and she also knew she wanted to meet Trouble (with a big T) and she knew the feral children wouldn't be able to keep her safe.

I rounded the corner, she saw me, and launched herself full force for my lap (which was still upright and not actually in lap format). I managed to shuffle the puppy out of Trouble's territory, told the kids not to let her near him because he might hurt her "not meaning to" (I hope) and everyone shuffled off on their merry feral way.

Where was my dog while all this was happening?

Well, it's just barely ten a.m. yet, and Oscar is a not a morning dog... he's still asleep.

(lifesize photo of the Afro-that-barks. Trouble did not want his photo taken, and while he likes me, I'm not sure he likes me enough for me to push things)

* incidentally, I am thoroughly unhappy with the past tense of "to bite". It just sounds wrong no matter how I word it. Bit? Bitten? blech.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Magic of the Solstice

Today is June 21, the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year...

And magic happens then.

The world changes, however imperceptibly, from more light to less light, from hotter to cooler. Nature begins preparing itself for winter.

And you can begin preparing yourself for something special, too.

Something that, like the summer solstice, can refresh your soul, inspire you, and change your outlook.

Something like...

A cruise, perhaps?

You may have already seen Mama E mention Sea Socks 2007, and don't you think today would be the perfect time to sign up? You know, in honor of the solstice and all?

There's more fun still to be announced, but I can say in addition to E's scrumptious yarns, you'll be getting some fun patterns by me, designed specifically for her yarns. Plus I'll be there teaching a few classes (and knitting and meeting you and talking and enjoying the cruise, cuz I ain't no fool!).

It's a great price for a fabulous fun deal, so get thee to the Sea Socks blog immediately to have all your questions answered!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Purple Haze

Anna asked some questions in the comments for the last post about the storage bobbin process, so I must need to clarify my process.

First, of course, I start with the roving.

I spin that up into singles. This time, I spun on my Lendrum, which (for those who don't know) doesn't have hooks, but has a sliding loopy thing (you can see it clearly here - the white thing at the top slides back and forth fairly easily). I do have a Woolee Winder for my Lendrum, but it doesn't have the ratios I wanted for this particular yarn, so I went with the Lendrum fast flyer. That makes it sound like I was really picky and scientific, but the last thing I spun was sock yarn, then when I went to spin this, I picked a ratio at random and liked what I got.

Once I've got the singles, I wind them onto storage bobbins. I have a bobbin winder (a gift from my often too generous husband, but if a guy's gonna have a fault...) but you can make one cheaply, or buy them off e-bay regularly for under $30. I got my storage bobbins off e-bay too, they're "antique" (big woop) and I got 25 for under $20 or so. You can get them from Halcyon for around a buck each, give or take... E-Bay or Halcyon, you wanna check the weaving section. As you see in the past pictures, I'm pretty good at loading a bobbin, so I don't use the storage bobbins to balence my uneven packing, but to allow me to mix the yarn more completely. For one thing, some folks really notice a difference in bobbins - I have one bobbin that drives me bonkers - and using storage bobbins allows me to spin a whole project on only one bobbin. It also allows me to mix darker sections of the roving more easily with lighter ones, by breaking up a full bobbin's worth of singles into (in this case) four smaller parts. Plus, twenty five real bobbins would have required me selling my husband, and then I'd lose out on all the cool gifts. So I fill a bobbin, wind it onto storage bobbins (keeping track of the order in which they were spun), and repeat as needed.
Just like shampoo. Only different.

When I've got all the singles spun and on the storage bobbins, I set them up so I'm plying oldest to newest. I set it up with enough storage bobbins so that I can move onto another when one runs out, with enough to fill the whole wheel bobbin I'm plying onto. That looks like this.
All the bobbins should be facing the same way (the yarn should wind off in the same direction) and they shouldn't touch anything else as they spin. Yes, that's a very high tech plastic basket from the dollar store and equally high tech cheap knitting needles from a huge lot off e-bay - over 30 needles for $5. I took what I wanted and donated the rest to a school. It's my lazy kate. No, it's not tensioned, and I don't need it to be. I've used the tensioned Kate that came with my Lendrum, and didn't care for it.

(gasp! naked bobbins!)

Once the plying is done, I wind the yarn onto my 2-yd niddy noddy and tie it in three or four places (these hanks were four each because of their size) to avoid tangling. I take it to the bathroom where we have a little quiet chat about what the yarn is going to be when it grows up. This is when the neighbors get a little scared of me. First I run the water as hot as I can stand and put the yarn in. I put a little detergeant in (usually Eucalin, which I quite like, but was out of, so I used my own shampoo for these.) I squish HARD. I don't rub the yarn against itself, but I do some serious squishing. Then I take the yarn out of the water, squeeze out most of the extra and get serious.

I whack the yarn against the side of my bathtub with all my strength. This sort of settles the twist around the hank, for lack of a better explanation. Some spots might be more tightly twisted, some more loosely. Give the yarn a firm talking to in this manner, and it promises to straighten up and fly right from here on out. For no other reason than I like the rhythm of it, it's five whacks, move my hand a quarter of the way around the hank, five whacks, move my hand, five whacks, move my hand, five whacks. You may whack in your own private way. I will spare you a picture of what the bathroom looks like when you accidentally catch a shelf-full of bathroom bottles with the yarn on the upswing. But during the whole process, water goes everywhere, and it sounds a little like a gunshot when the yarn hits the tub, or so I'm guessing from the fact that the cats and dog all end up at the farthest point in the house from me at this point. Because I used a soap (the shampoo) and not Eucalin (a no-rinse detergeant) at this point I did the whole scalding hot water/fierce squish/whack thing again, but with no soap at all. Wanted to be sure it was clear of detergeant.

Then the yarn gets hung in the tub until it stops dripping, where it gets moved to another room.
See how I've twisted the neck of the shower head up to hold the weight of the yarn? It's purely a coincedence that each and everytime I've taken a shower after whacking yarn the ceiling has gotten wet. Seriously, it's a plumbing issue, not stupidity on my part.

Once it's dry, you can twist it up into hanks and put it in a bowl, or (golly!) even knit it into a sweater.

I'm resisting the urge to knit it now, because I'm waiting for a package of yarn relating to a deadline, and I need to be able to focus fully on that when it arrives.

But there it is, three hanks, pretty even considering that wasn't my goal. I think they're all pretty close to 8oz, and one is 292 yards, one is 294 yards, and one is exactly 300 yards. So not too much varience.

After finishing that, because I wasn't allowed to begin knitting it, I spun something else.

This is a gorgeous romney roving I bought at MDSW 2005 from Ozark Carding Co. The wool itself is freaky filthy. I finish playing with it and my hands look like I've been gardening. But the color is amazing - just like a nice verdigris on copper.

I grabbed a wad (technical term) without weighing it out or anything, and I'm allowing myself to spin it at my fall back weight, but I'm spinning it woolen, and I'm really more of a worsted girl.

I admit I can't explain it, but I also admit it's not the weirdest thing I've gotten into my head, so I'm just going to put it out there.

I've decided I must have a snood.

No. That's not quite right.

I've had dreams of snoods for three nights. (Ironically, when you google "snood" you get info about this game, which I already have on my computer, yet has not even remotely haunted my dreams)

So this yarn will become a snood. Just because.

Here's a quick view of the difference between the snood yarn (below) and the purple yarn (above) to see what my comfort level is (below) compared to me trying to spin thicker (above). For those who don't recognize it (hi, mom!) that's a WIP gauge, and the cut out there is exactly one inch.

Oh yeah.

And one last little thing I learned this weekend.

Even if it's 90 degrees out (32.2 C)

Even if there's no circulation in the house and it's stuffy and muggy.

Do not.

I repeat DO NOT

Attempt to drum card angora with a ceiling fan on.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I don' kno' why-yi-yi I love you like I do...

This is the first bobbin. It's what you saw partially filled Monday evening when I first started spinning up the roving.

I am not obsessing over thickness or evenness, just trying to keep it vaguely "a bit thicker than my normal comfort zone"

This is the second bobbin. I can't get a good representation of the colors, which go from a deep purple, through a bright purple, to nearly white, to bright yellow, to deep gold, to a burgandy to a rich purpley-red. I'd have to take a photo every fifteen minutes to show you all the colors, though it does stay mostly in the purple family.

This is the third bobbin. The roving is so springy, I'm already daydreaming about what colorways the company (no website, sorry) might have at the Fall Fiber Fest
this year... They sold their rovings in prepackaged bags of sweater-sized lots and this colorway (Iris) just spoke to me.

This is the fourth bobbin, as it stood five minutes ago. 15 ounces done since beginning Monday and I'm anticipating finishing the final nine ounces by Saturday. Then onto plying. I'm looking forward to seeing how the colors look even more muddled up by plying.

All set for plying, here are the ten storage bobbins so far. I should have 16 or 17 by the time I'm done spinning the singles, then I'll ply them together oldest to newest into a two-ply.

My reasons for doing this are both colorwise - there seems to be a little more yellow and green as I work towards the bottom of the roving, and this will balence that; and also one's spinning tends to gradually move towards ones comfort zone through long projects. I'm aware of that, so I think I'm battling it, but it means that my first spun will be plied with my last spun and balence that out as well.

I think it's going to be a terrific casual sweater that I'm apparently going to have to keep close eye on, judging from all the covetous messages I got this week...

I don't know why I'm so determined to get this spun up this week... I just am....

DONE! Friday at 3:10pm. So 24 oz of wool spun in less than 10 hours of spinning!
Let the Plying Begin!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Generally when life starts getting to me and I start feeling overwhelmed, I can't knit or spin. I know many who knit through the hard times, I am not one of them. Add the hot summer weather to that, and you'd think I collected chopsticks for all the good my knitting needles do.

But this spring-into-summer I've had an extra blessing - some wonderful new friends who are all interested in learning to spin. Watching the spark as they first 'get it' when they're drafting, watching the glow of romance when they sit down at the wheels that are right for them... They are so inspiring to me, I've been spinning up a whirlwind.

You saw this on the bobbin a few days ago. It's three ply sock yarn, and I would have sworn I spun up 4 ounces, but when I weighed the finished hank it was only 3. Crap. Maybe she likes short socks. Ah, well, I have more of the fiber, so I'll spin more if she needs it.

This is just a tiny hank for a friend who's having a rough time right now. I blended together dark blue wool (the same as the blue in the above hank, actually) to remind her to stick to the basics, with light blue silk to remind her she has the strength to shine, and white angora, so she never forgets to rely on the warmth of friends. It's bumpy and soft at the same time - like life.

And this is all for me.

I decided I wanted a big, soft, cushy sweater, maybe a turtle neck, just for me. It will be very simple, for wear with blue jeans and bumming around. And this is the wool to do it with - a gorgeous fluffy, spongey roving I bought at the VA Fall Fiber Festival last fall.

It'll just be a simple two-ply, letting the colors blend where the will. I'm spinning it slightly larger and softer than my fall-back comfort yarn (what I spin on automatic) and the test yarn (which I should have taken a picture of, sorry) was exactly what I wanted. I think I'll full the sweater slightly, so that it can still be soft spun without pilling too much, but again, it's just for ultra comfort casual situations. Not those white tie affairs I frequent so often...

Saturday, June 10, 2006


After a very fun evening Friday watching my brother play a lecherous drunk (he was the best one), I got home Friday night Saturday morning around 1:30 am. WAY past my bedtime. I had plans to meet Coleen, and Eunny at 9 am at Panera for coffee before we got on the road to head to The Mannings Spinning Day which means I spent the night waking up every few minutes in fear that I would over sleep, which also meant the cats thought I'd finally had the good sense to turn nocturnal like them, and I was up to play, and I'm the coolest trampoline mommy ever. Ahem.

After small doses of caffeine, we hopped in Coleen's car and headed out. Somewhere up the road it was discovered that Coleen had stashed Erin and Cheryl in the trunk, and I'd like to firmly deny that this didn't come up because I asked a truly stupid question... but I can't. Yes, we were an hour up the road before I asked if they were coming separately. No, I didn't see them in the car. Yes, I should have been able to deduce...

In my defense, Coleen is quite spunky, and I bet if she'd wanted she could have bound and gagged those two with no guilt at all.

Once we got there, we knew we were home. It was a gorgeous location, with dozens of like-minded folk. There were people and wheels of all kinds spread out on the lawn enjoying the gorgeous weather.

There were demonstrations of how to prep and spin linen, spinning a great wheel, and how to waulk wool, including singing the waulking song (Coleen waulked and sang, I found myself answering spinning wheel questions for my friends, and for the total strangers who assumed by the way I was bossing everyone around that I worked there).

We also all got to try lots of wheels, and in fact two love connections were made. I was very good, and didn't buy another wheel, but did find the first Schacht I've ever really liked. It was a Schacht Reeves beautiful cherry saxony. I don't dislike the Schacht Matchless, but am fairly uninspired by it. The Schacht Reeves, though.... very lovely.

There were a few animals too, including this beautiful young llama gal, and her friends the jacob sheep. All of whom were fairly camera shy, but had a pretty nutty stressful day what with all those weird people coming up and trying to take their pictures. The llama assured me I was not among them when I finally convinced her to take some alfalfa from me.

All in all, the day was a total blast, with lots of fun, more laughs than should be allowed, and some really terrific friends.

Plus, anything that makes Eunny pull a Home Alone face in glee is worth the trip...

Thanks, girls. I'm crazy about all of you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Winds of Time...

Has it really been a week?

Gosh. The AC Man husband was home for twelve hours, and in his time home made it possible for me to spend the rest of the week lying by this.

For the record, it was set at the highest temperature it will accept. I didn't want frost, I just didn't want melted lungs either.

As you can see, Aslan was enjoying the air as well (he would have liked it a little cooler, actually, and with the inclusion of a personal massuese).

Back in Oscar's room, you can see who gets the large, comfy cushion, and who gets bullied to the back corner.

Oscar was definitely hit by the heat harder than anyone else, since I have the sense to sit in front of a fan and not think a cat could beat me up, and Trevor and Aslan are inherently jungle creatures.

But he's feeling much better now and he and Trevor have been wrestling around the house as is their norm (it's okay, I stop things before Oscar gets hurt) and generally just being best friends as cute as they come.

I've been knitting a few things that you'll see far down the road, and spinning this, for someone special. (regarding this classification: giving me gorgeous, yummy, hand-dyed yarn makes you my friend. Not tackling me in the parking lot when I steal gorgeous, yummy, hand-dyed yarn out of your hand and swear that eventually I might give you handspun in return makes you someone special.)

I stole traded for her tourmaline colorway, you should get some good stuff too.

This guy has nothing to do with anything, except that if I'd had $500 in my pocket at New Hampshire he might be sharing Oscar's room right now. He and I made good friends on my bathroom runs, and he was for sale, and how could you resist a face like that?

You get to look at a picture of him (in my heart, his name is Henrique) for a moment, then head over to Rob to look at her big haul as the winner of 20060 socks. She's also got a brand new kitty, and she has no idea what she's in for... the quirks, the neurosis, the insanity, and all of it so far surpassed by love to degrees she never thought possible....

Marriage is love.