Thursday, January 31, 2008

lost in the redwoods

There once was a girl from New Hampshire
Who was blog-free until the picture
Was perfect and taken
'Cause she was done makin'
900 yards of yarny pleasure!

redwood pile

(Yes, I know that was painfully bad. But after almost a month, I figured I owed you guys poetry. My sincerest apologies that that was all I could muster on short notice. Here, look at more of the pretty!)

Redwood Closeup

I finally, finally finished. It's my marathon spinning project, and the plying and setting weren't over until this week. 925 yards of Spunky Eclectic BFL in the Redwood colorway. That's 91 grams of 30 wraps per inch Navajo plied laceweight yarn. It started out as 4 oz. Where did the rest go, you ask? Well, a gram or two is reserved for sampling for my next BFL project, and the rest was lost in a tragic accident that involved trying to fix what wasn't broken, a bendy drinking straw, and an embarrassing tempter tantrum. It is now worm food, and we shall speak of it no more, because it looks like I have enough for Seraphim.

(By the way, I'm assuming that anybody who reads this blog is on Ravelry by now, since the entire yarny world is, and I can't imagine that anybody would have heard of my blog and not Ravelry. So I'm linking there. The waiting list is down to about a week, so if you're not there, sign up now!)

Here's another closeup.

Redwood Detail

The yarn looks a lot more perfect in photos than it really is. Most of the imperfections happened during plying. I mostly attribute that to my grand klutziness, and am ever so grateful that there isn't any footage of me plying anything. There are plenty of knots, from where things got tangled because the twist in the singles was largely dormant, and the plying twist was fresh, and things got a little wild and crazy. But I guess it's not too terrible, since I didn't make a great effort to hide imperfections in the photos, yet they don't dominate. Spit splicing will be my friend once I start knitting.

The yarn was spun on my 13 g. Bosworth featherweight drop spindle, and plied on my 1 oz. Ashford drop spindle. (I can't be the only one constantly amused by how fluidly knitters and spinners, or at least those of us who are American, switch between metric and imperial measures. I never was much good at foreign languages, no matter how much I tried, so I feel proud that I can be at least partially bi-unit-lingual. Multi-measual? Let's just say, I use both sides of the ruler. Who ever knew math could be so sexy...)

I really enjoyed spinning this yarn, but there was a fair amount of frustration, too. I'm frustrated that it's split up into 6 skeins, because of the limitations on what I can comfortably fit onto a spindle when spinning this thinly. I'm frustrated that I have only 2 arms, and only slightly ashamed to say that there were moments when lips, teeth, and feet were used to try to keep things under control. Particularly while plying. Arms, wrists, and shoulders, too. And maybe some tongue. For these reasons, and plenty more, I decided to take the plunge and buy myself a wheel. It was sort of a self-birthday gift, though it hasn't arrived yet. (Word is that it arrives at the shop tomorrow, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it finally gets to me next week!) I'm so thrilled that I'll soon have a tool that will let me really expand my horizons, and I want to thank everyone who has bought a hat pattern from me, because there's no way I would have been able to afford it without emptying my Paypal account to cover part of the cost. I have a whole slew of spinning projects I'm really excited about, playing a lot with combining color in interesting ways, and I can't wait to dive in and share them with you.

On a completely different note, I've had enough 1x1 twisted rib for a lifetime. The slowest socks I've ever knit, but once I got into the rhythm I had a blast knitting them. They were certainly worth the effort:

LisaPomatomi done!

They are of course Cookie A's lovely design Pomatomus, knit in Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn, in a colorway that has November in the name. This is my second pair of Smooshy socks, and I just adore the yarn. The colors, stitch definition, and elasticity are just about perfection. My biggest complaint is that, when wet, this is some of the smelliest yarn I've yet encountered. Not really a complaint as much as an amusing observation. But seriously, hold your nose. I don't ever want to visit that Smooshy sheep farm in the rain!

Coming up in February: fewer embarrassing limericks, the return of an old and loved project, a super duper mega exciting sock pattern, something lacy, and lots of spinning. I'm off to watch the debates and do some colorwork. mmm...

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Partly work and partly play

Yesterday was Saint Distaff's Day, as well as my birthday. Growing up, it was difficult to find really interesting historical events or birthdays that fell on my own birthday. My brother shares a birthday with JFK and Bob Hope. Me? Well, I suppose Millard Fillmore isn't all that shabby, but he's no JFK. I eventually learned that I also shared a birthday with Zora Neale Hurston, which completely redeemed a childhood without a cool birthday partner. It's still my favorite birthday coincidence, but now I can also be smug about the fact that I share my birthday with a Spinning Holiday! Spinning holiday may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm ignoring that part, and just calling it fate.

Want to belatedly help celebrate my birthday? Spin some fiber, and pick up a copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God.

My major fiber related goal for the year is to knit as much with handspun as possible. I got a jump start on that by casting on for my very first knitted handspun project a couple of days before the new year.

Orchid Lace mitt - handspun

That's the beginning of my second Orchid Lace Mitt, designed by Anne Hanson. The yarn is a light fingering weight 2 ply BFL, spun and plied on my 1 oz. Ashford drop spindle. The pair is almost done, with just the edging left to go on the second mitt, and two little thumbs. I'm going to have a bunch of yarn leftover, and am not sure what I'll do with it. Maybe I'll just stare at it...

handspun BFL

I've also been working on making more yarn, so I have more handspun for that knitting from handspun goal.

Redwood Singles

Yes, that's the same Spunky Eclectic BFL I've been spinning and blogging about for weeks (months?) already. But I'm on the last spindleful! That photo is actually from 2 spindles ago. I've found that I can comfortably get about 18 grams on a spindle before I feel the need to wind it off. About 16 grams to go, and then it's time for a big plying party.

Alex has been doing his part, too. After seeing me sitting on the floor, cursing at my broken swift one time too many, he went to Sears and figured out how to fix it for me. The clamp was broken, and I thought I'd prefer a floor swift, anyway, so he built a base for me:


swift fix, closeup

That's a 10 pound weight, a huge socket, some epoxy, carpet backing, and a huge rubber band that came with our new snowshoes. (So glad we saved them! You never know when a huge rubber band will come in handy.) Most of it is self explanatory, but the rubber band was an after-thought addition, when I tried to use the swift and we discovered that the action of lifting the wood block to open the swift took it up and out of the socket. The rubber band keeps it in place, so I can handle the yarn with one hand, the swift with a second hand, and don't have to use my feet to keep things where they should be. Very clever man I live with, eh?

One of my other fun birthday gifts this year is the NH primary. I live in a town that is small enough to have a town square and lots of exciting grassroots politics, but big enough that the major presidential candidates want to visit us. I also happen to have office windows that face right out onto the town square. The primary is today, and yesterday downtown was abuzz with campaign signs, some chanting, lots of carn horns in support of various candidates, and even one candidate in the flesh, as well as the very exciting spouse of another candidate. Yesterday I got to press my face against office windows and observe the excitement, and today I get to vote. How exciting is that! Not at all fiber related, but I need to share my excitement, and make sure that all of my New Hampshire-ite blog readers are voting today. You are, right?