Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American Idol Finale

And spinning time... I got one of my fiber club subscriptions today, and I loved it. So Spunky Clubs Fields of Screams became this.. The 4 oz behind it is half spun. I'll finish it in the morning before work.

As for American Idol, I'm just glad Lee didn't pass out on the stage though that would have made for exciting live TV! And I wonder if all contestants have to sign a contract saying they'll sing corny songs together for the rest of their life on the show..

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Krafty Kitty

For years we didn't have a cat. Oh sure, they're lovely creatures but in reality, it's much easier to not have litterboxes, and to be able to have fresh flowers, and breakables scattered around the house. Then one day, we thought there was evidence of a mouse. So Bella came home. This little tiny fluff ball of a kitten, took over the house, terrorized the dogs, and developed a fetish for fresh sushi from my fish tanks.

(yes that is an 80 pound german shepherd scared to death of a tiny little 1 pound kitten!)
But there is nothing she likes better than yarn. Familiarity may breed contempt but she is more interested in the mechanics of spinning than she is untangling skeins of yarn. Picture this. I sit down at my wheel, to spin the roving du jour, cat is not in sight. I start spinning, and all the sudden a needle pricks my leg. Then a black shape lightly leaps into my lap, and attacks the yarn spinning onto the wheel. I remove her from my lap, only to have the cycle repeat, generally this time with some cat hair getting spun into the yarn.

I think she's trying to learn how to spin. I think if she could reach the pedals she'd probably be able to spin with ease. As it is, she simply is content to take credit for all the yarn.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rationalizing Rosie

You can rationalize anything, right?

Love, war, a house, a move.. A 5th spinning wheel..

That you really don't need- or do you..


1 - You need a travel wheel, ok, so she's a little big, but she does fold down.

2 - You need a wheel with replaceable parts to travel with. She does have that. Definitely.

3 - You need a wheel for art yarn. Cause you'd like to someday learn how to really spin art yarn. And you are totally stuck with having old fashioned orfice based spinning wheels.

4 - You need a wheel named Rosie. Obviously!

5 - You need a wheel with amazing grain to the wood.

6 - You need a wheel that you can put a quill on.

7 - Everyone needs a 5th wheel to have a 5th project going on.

8 - You need to support the economy.

9 - You need this wheel to live out a perfect day.

A perfect day, a vision of a perfect day is what it really amounts to. A vision of myself at the ocean, walking my dogs, jumping in the waves, and enjoying the peace, only to come back to my little cabin with a fire crackling and a spinning wheel there waiting to help me capture waves of roving into yarns of the ocean. Someday that will be my life every day. But this summer, I am vowing to have a perfect day. Just one perfect day. With my Rosie spinning wheel by my side.

Completely rational thinking.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Now that the Great Sock Mountain is Conquered.. Maybe I should learn to weave!

Weaving! What a lovely ancient thing to do! Weaving! Tapestrys! Cloth! Rugs!!!!! What could you not accomplish with a loom, a bit of yarn, and some time? Everyone should weave. Especially ones who own an insane amount of yarn, and a spinning wheel. And a loom.

Oh yes, I own a loom. Sitting there, in all her glory, taking up as much space as a loveseat, she proudly provides a place to..

Hang laundry. Or yarn. Sometimes roving.

Originally she was made for many other things. She is a 4 harness (read complex, with lots of moving parts), Cromaine Crafts loom. She is old, solid and beautiful. Before living here, she belonged to a Textile masters student. Her life changed, Loomy went on Craigslist, and through a bit of fate ended up here.

I cleaned her up more, and here she sits. Waiting patiently to be a productive member of society again. 200 years ago, this beautiful loom, or one very like her, would have been a huge part of her life. She would have woven broadcloth, linen, she would have clothed the family, and been the difference between life and death. We take all of this for granted today. Our ability to quickly run to the mall, Walmart, or Target has taken away the reality that for thousands of years, spinning, weaving, and knitting were a daily task that everyone shared in.

I wonder if the weavers and spinners 1000 years ago found it a challenge or a chore? Did they love it, or hate it? Maybe a little bit of both.

All I know, is when I look at Loomy, I picture the hands who made the garments to clothe the family. I can hear the thunk of the working loom and see the cloth appear like magic. Someday she'll weave again. For art's sake, not out of necessity. Until then, despite the floor space she takes up, she has a cherished place here, in her retirement home, even if sometimes she's covered by roving.

Fiber Fiber Everywhere and Nary a Thing to Wear!

The good part of having a lot of fiber is that we have a blizzard and lose power, we have additional insulation in the house. And if Walmart goes out of business, we have a way to make clothes.

Then there is the fact that the cats love to snuggle in fiber. And of course it's squishable art! A squishy squooshy, palette of color, texture and gorgeous possibility.

But could there be too much fiber? Nah! Never! Which is why on Saturday, I attended Shepherd's Harvest Festival in Lake Elmo MN. I love this fest! Normally I go both days, but my paying job has been horrendously busy and didn't allow me to go on Sunday. But I certainly still had enough time to shop. And shop some more. My goals this year:

1 - Not buy any fleece. Nope! Not any fleece. Cause I still have a ton to process here.

2 - Not buy anything I can dye at home.

3 - Not buy anything that required a cage or food.

With those goals in mind what did I buy?

A pile of roving, all soft sqooshy and lovely. And I also got 3 gorgeous little baskets that hold anything from the TV remote to a water bottle (clever eh?!)

Alas, even though I did meet my goals, these new acquisitions did cause my poor wool closet to explode. Which lead to todays project. Sort through the wool. I also wanted to get a bunch ready to send to a mill for processing.

Now pride prevented pictures of the 'during' part of my wool remodel. Simply picture a living room where 27 sheep, 12 alpacas, and a bunch of kool-aid have exploded into a riot of squishable stuff.That would pretty much cover it.

Tonight, 10 hours later, I am left with remants of wool laying around, 2 rubbermaid containers still hanging out (the resident fiber there is going to a new home) , and an organized closet. It'll stay that way till the new wool typhoon hits..

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But look at how pretty the closet is! And think of all the possibilities!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Back to the Dilemma

After that lovely interlude in wood aka my herd of wheels, I am back to the sock.

So I kind of forgot the stitch markers. And really, do you need them for the decrease? I'm not sure but I decide to wing it. Is anyone surprised here? I can hardly follow a pattern, and definitely don't like to (which is why I failed miserably at my sewing stage, I cut out all those darts or diamonds, or whatever they're called) so I just decreased when I felt like it looked like it needed to be till I counted approximately the correct number of stitches. After that, I knitted around and around, to uncover a gap similar to the one in the cuff. Obviously faulty yarn there.

Two days of late night knitting later, at 2:46 AM I was done! Done with a sock! That was of course after totally not understanding the toe graft so I just closed it by single crocheting (knew my hooker roots would do me well someday!) along the edge.

One sock done! My goal of 2 years completed! Maybe not perfect, but it is a sock. With air conditioning vents.

Off I went the yarn store to buy another skein of Noro (ok 2, be quiet!) and to bask in the glory of MY SOCK! I walked in there, and looked at their sample sweaters, scoffing, saying HA! I could knit that. After all, I knitted a sock!! With AIR CONDITIONING GAPS! That I designed! Without stitch markers! On purpose!

Now to do the other, but first I think I need to knit this Noro stuff into a scarf. And maybe spin some. I'd really like to do a sock out of the Noro silk garden sock yarn I brought home too. Or maybe handspun! Or....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Study in Wheels..

While contemplating my sock marker dilemma, I take some time out to play with a spinning wheel and some cashmere, silk, alpaca blend roving.

I have 4 spinning wheels. Would you like to meet them? Good, cause I knew you really were dying to.

First let me say, I don't name my spinning wheels. I have too many pets to name spinning wheels. They're instead known by their given name. Given by the company I mean. Second, each is different. Someday I'll go into their backgrounds fully, this is just a quick intro.

In the front left hand side is my Little Mystery wheel. She is solid oak, 19 inch wheel diameter and if I can balance her correctly spins like a dream. I bought her on a whim off of Craigslist. She's pretty, solid, and charming. Who knows what her story really is..

In the middle, is my little Missouri spinning wheel. She was built by a craftsman in the Ozarks and hitchhiked home with me from there. She is adorable, a low ratio slow spinner but makes lovely soft yarn. I call her my fairytale wheel.

To the right, is my Country Craftsman. This is an awesome wheel. I bought her used on Ebay in an attempt to replace an earlier CC, and I have never regretted it. Smooth as silk, and super at spinning lace. Right before writing this, I was spinning laceweight yarn to make into sock yarn eventually. I love this wheel.

In the background is my pride and joy. My 24 inch Jensen production wheel. When I was shopping for my 'ultimate' wheel, she was what I came home with. The person who owned her didn't get along with her great, I, loved her from the first time I sat down at her. She's spectacular and such a solid spinning wheel I can't even describe it. Lightening fast and effortless.

And yes, of course you need more than 1 wheel to spin, I mean, you need more than 1 needle to knit, more than 1 book to read, more than 1 fish tank to stare - ok, maybe that's just me, but in any case, my wheels are all distinct personalities, and I doubt I'll ever stop looking at and collecting wheels. They are an artform all their own. Each one brings me a little closer to the heartbeat of the craft. The craftsmen who turn these wheels, the people who have spun on them before, and even the people who have admired them as a piece of furniture with no real use. All of those are wrapped up in these wheels.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tomorrow is another day

Or as Scarlet so succinctly put it, "I'll think about it tomorrow!".

But tomorrow is indeed another day, and I am set.

Exhibit 1 - New sock making book titled: Socks are easy 3 ways or something like that.

Exhibit 2 - New Addi Turbo lace needles, with glossy sharp gold points just waiting to make yarn pretty.

Exhibit 3 - 20.00 skein of Angora/Merino sock wool. After all, it's easier to use expensive yarn than cheap (strangely true).

Exhibit 4 - An entire day to devote to sock making. Ok, in reality I should be devoting it to cleaning but whatever.

Exhibit 5 - An Ipod with twenty zillion Kenny Chesney songs on it to listen to.

10:00 AM Well armed, I sat down on the couch to start knitting. I expertly cast on the required stitches and then the book wisely said: "Join". Join? Join how? Why? WHAT? Oops. I didn't know how I was supposed to join this into the magical circle that will magically make a sock appear on the magic loop. But obviously this books thinks I know things already, like how to join 2 straight lines to make a loop. Sure.

Insert Youtube video on joining in the round.

Back to sock. First 10 rows are easy, I'm knitting away, but then I realize that my join is disintegrating, and looks horrid. I rip the sock out and start again.

2nd Youtube video, new joining technique.

Cast on again. Knit again, yucky gap again.




Cast on again, knit again, decide to yank the life out of the yarn and ignore any gap in the hope it will go away.

12:30. Ribbing of cuff completed.

I am insanely proud - as long as I turn it so the gap isn't visible. Minor detail.

2:00 Cuff is completed. I am making an ankle sock, either because I like them, or because, more likely, I like a minimalist approach to knitting (aka I get bored knitting quickly).

And then I realize I am at the heel. The heel.

I realize the first part is easy, except I don't have a clue how to SSK. It sounds like some weird defunct group, one I wouldn't want to join, and I decide to frankly ignore it. Or rather research it later.

So I make the heel, and get to the gusset. The directions call for you to use the front needle to pick up the right hand stitches and stitch them down. Ok - first of all, which is the front needle? Second of all, which is the right side? I mean, this is a circular object.

3:30 - 4:00 Youtube vids on gussets. I charge bravely forth and get the entire thing done in one fell swoop (after I decide what is front, and what is right), but promptly realize I totally forgot to insert stitch markers. So do I rip out my lovely gusset, or continue on markerless? Any guesses?

Sock after 10 hours of knitting.