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Archive for March, 2013

"Fweedom Rings" spindle from Tilt-A-Whorl, with merino-tussah cop.

“Fweedom Rings” spindle from Tilt-A-Whorl, with merino-tussah cop.

Outside of the initial excitement of the Easter Beagle and Bunny visiting and leaving loads of sugar for the kids to get high on, this has actually been a very boring day. I know that sounds like a complaint, but really, it isn’t. For most of my adult life, the word “excitement” has translated into drama, money problems, the car breaking down just when you need it most, unexpected bills…the list goes on. Rarely did it have anything to do with something good, so I always said that I couldn’t wait for life to be boring, because it would mean everything was basically on an even keel. So even if I’m bored out of my mind, I don’t make the mistake of wishing for something exciting!

Today, I was actually bored. There were no chores that needed my immediate attention, the children (mostly) behaved, hubby was busy with things he needed to do and was out for a good part of the day, and I really didn’t have anything to do. So, I spent most of the day spinning.

I had two ounces of a merino-tussah silk blend roving sitting here, and I decided to put it on a drop spindle a few days ago, and that’s what I spent today working on. I’ve got a respectable amount of cop on the spindle now, and I’m very happy with the way this blend spins, not to mention the spindle itself. The roving drafts out so smoothly due, I’m guessing, in part to the silk in it. It’s a beautiful single, nice and shiny and soft. Once I’ve spun it all, then I have to figure out how to ply it. There’s a method I can use called Andean plying, which involves wrapping the yarn around my hand in such a way that allows me to work with both ends of the yarn at the same time in order to ply them together. I may let it rest on the spindle for awhile instead, though, as there is a shop on Etsy, Straddle Creek Spins, that carries a handmade Andean plying tool, which would free up my hands a bit if I bought it. It’s not an expensive item either, but the shop also carries Mayan spinners, and I need three of those too! Yes, I know, I am tumbling down the rabbit hole even further. The Mayan spinner is a different type of spindle, and the reason I need three is that I want one, but the girls have both shown an interest in spinning, and from the videos I’ve seen on Mayan spinning, they would definitely get the hang of it much faster than they would the drop or supported spindles, especially the three-year-old! I’m going to hold out until I can afford to buy everything at once, which will cut down on shipping. Roving is fairly inexpensive at my local yarn shop, going for about $2.50/ounce, so for about $5, I can get them each an ounce of roving to spin or entangle as they will, without getting into my own! If they like it, it’ll be something they can do to spend time in my studio, which is apparently something they really want to do, since my studio is generally off limits. Forbidden fruit, and all that. Besides, I’d like to share some interests with them that don’t include electronic devices!

The spindle is from Tilt-A-Whorl, another Etsy shop (has anyone noticed my pattern here? There are a lot of Etsy shops that get me in trouble!). The spindles are made of plastic from DVD cases and CD clamshells, and glass beads. This is the only Tilt-A-Whorl spindle I own, but I fell in love with it. I loved the rainbow of colors against the black background. It spins like a dream, a good, fast spin. No, I haven’t stopped practicing with my supported spindles, but I decided I really want to see how this merino-silk yarn turns out once it’s spun and on the niddy-noddy. I have a good feeling about it!

My youngest expressed her interest in spinning by “helping” me to spin on the Russian spindle a few days ago, and my oldest got to do a little spinning on my oldest spindle, which I call the beginner’s spindle. She seemed to like it, so I’m hoping to get together enough money for the Mayan spinners very soon!

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The Story of the  Silver Harness

North of the Rainbow Bridge

I just got word that my friend’s Malamute passed away today. It was very sudden. Holly was eight years old, a beautiful black and white Malamute that my friend rescued from the street years ago. I never got to meet her in person, but her mom, along with a few others, were among my first cyber-friends when Thor came to join our pack six years ago. I had joined a list forum called Sibernet, for Northern breed owners, rescuers, and breeders. I knew Siberians and other northern breeds are unique among dogs, and I wanted to make sure that I did everything correctly with Thor, even before he got here. Holly’s mom was a member of the same list, and always full of encouraging advice.

Eventually, having become friends despite never having actually met, and wanting to talk about other things as well as the dogs, a number of us formed another group on Yahoo. We were all owned by Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, Belgian Tervurens, even a cat, and we all became good enough friends that we had each other’s phone numbers and addresses, some of us met in person where it was possible, became friends on Facebook, and in general, no one who saw our posts teasing each other, encouraging each other, crying on each other’s shoulders, no one would know that few of us had ever actually met. Often, I had more in common with these people I had never seen than I did with people I’d known my entire life. We had conversations about so many different things, but the core, always, was our dogs.

I felt like Holly was one of my own dogs. I’ve read about her and heard so much about her over the last six years, she was just “my” dog that lived somewhere else, if that makes any sense. If you have a close friend with a dog, you probably know exactly what I mean. A part of you shares in that dog’s life, and vice versa. Holly has been part of my life for nearly seven years, and to hear that she was gone was a shock.

If a dog is a part of your family, you know that eventually that day will come when you have to make a horrible, gut-wrenching decision that will tear your heart out, but is the best thing that you can do for your pet. We all know it. They just don’t live as long as we do. And you will make that decision, because you won’t want to watch your baby suffer when s/he doesn’t have to. And you will hate that you have to do it. And nothing anyone says can make it any better.

I believe in the poems about the Rainbow Bridge. They will all be there, all young, all pain-free, romping and playing until their beloved humans arrive, and the humans and dogs will cross the Bridge together. Holly will be there, waiting for her mom and dad. I believe that wholeheartedly, and I will have a candle lit for Holly tonight, to help light her way to the Bridge. Wear your silver harness with pride, pretty girl. You will be missed, so much.

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Tibetan spindle, on the left, Russian on the right

Tibetan spindle, on the left, Russian on the right

Vacation is so nice. My oldest is on spring break this week, which means I don’t have to get up early in the morning to take her to school, although the baby has taken this as an invitation to somehow get through the gate and come upstairs to wake us up as soon as she gets up, which could be anywhere between 5 and 10 am. Fortunately, there have been fewer 5s of late, which I will attribute to the fact that big sister is also on vacation, and going to her room to annoy her is much faster than coming to wake up Mom!

Vacation also means that I’ve been able to actually do things in my studio, especially since hubby has made friends with a neighbor who also likes video games, which lets me off the hook on being in the man cave constantly. Not that I mind being down there, since my recliner is very comfortable and I have downstairs projects as well as upstairs ones, but I like my studio too, and not having to pack up what I want to work on to haul it downstairs. Inevitably, I will forget something, or several somethings, and wind up running up and down the stairs like an idiot. Much easier to just work in the studio to begin with!

So I’ve been learning to use my supported spindles, and have picked up two new loom knitting stitches. I have an e-book, Fleegle Spins Supportedwhich is so big it’s actually sold on a flash drive all by itself. Great book, full of videos and pictures, and I love Fleegle’s sense of humor. Beyond that, there are tons of videos on YouTube on supported spinning, not to mention all the groups on Ravelry. So I’ve got help. Which is a good gorram thing, because the learning curve on a drop spindle is different from the learning curve on a wheel, which is different from the learning curve on a supported spindle…you get the idea. Learning the wheel was easy for me, the drop spindle took me a lot longer. I’m starting to get the hang of the Russian spindle, but the Tibetan spindle has a lot longer spin, so I’m thinking I might try her out today just to do it. I’m using a fiber sample that came with some other roving I bought a few months back and had tucked away for later. That’s now my practice roving for my spindles. My wheel, at the moment, is dedicated to spinning Sibe fur. Once the bobbin is full, I might give Anansi a break and spin something else on him. I have a gorgeous roving from Russia that’s waiting for Anansi.

Both the Russian and Tibetan spindles are from the same maker, Woodturnerva on Etsy, as is the little bowl they spin in. The Russian is a little slower-spinning than the Tibetan, which, on an easy, light flick will spin for more than 20 seconds. The Russian is getting a little faster now that there’s some actual yarn on it, adding some weight, but it’s still the difference between a Clydesdale and a Thoroughbred as far as speed. Both beautiful, though! I’d been lusting after both of these spindles for awhile before buying them. I didn’t think I had any interest in supported spindling, but I’ve discovered that if it’s spinning, I’m interested, the same as weaving. Besides, there are so many spindles out there that are absolutely gorgeous, and they’re small enough to collect. Wheels are gorgeous too, but they’re considerably bigger, and significantly more expensive! Still, there’s a Majacraft Aura wheel I’d like to have one day…And don’t get me started on Golding’s! I’ll never be able to afford one of their wheels or looms on my own, but hey, if one of my followers is independently wealthy, my birthday is this week, and if you’re feeling generous… 🙂

The new stitches for loom knitting are interesting. One is called a bobble, and it’s essentially a knot of e-wrapped stitches done on one peg, one right after another, resulting in a raised knot on your knitting, which can be used to make a pattern. I’m going to need to swatch it, because I didn’t when I first tried it, and I don’t have any idea if I did it right because I didn’t swatch. Duh.

The other stitch is called the crown stitch, which came from Purlingsprite, and I did swatch that one last night while following her video tutorial. Awesome looking stitch, but takes some work to do.

Crown stitch

Crown stitch

There’s a slouchy hat pattern that includes the stitch that I might actually try. I’ve got the right loom for it, so we’ll see. I still have another sleeve to do for hubby, the scarf to finish for my friend, another sock on the sock loom, Bryony’s throw blanket to finish, more Sibe fur to spin…maybe I’ll get to the hat sometime next year!

 

 

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My long oval CinDWood panel loom!

My long oval CinDWood panel loom!

Let me begin by saying, I hate knitting. I do. I own knitting needles that I have willingly picked up on my own…and have put back down again. Needle knitting is so slow to me. My mom was fabulous at it. Growing up, I rarely saw her without knitting needles somewhere in her vicinity, if not in her hands. I learned the basics from her. But it was so slow to show progress, at least in comparison to crochet,  and I was a kid and so had no attention span to speak of, unless I was reading a book. I decided I hated knitting, and down went the needles. I didn’t touch them again for years, until a few months ago.

I realized that what I felt about knitting as a child might be different from the way I would feel now, as an adult, and so I tried again. I bought some straight needles, some circulars, and some double pointed needles, and made another attempt at knitting.

It was not very different.

Don’t get me wrong: I did learn some new techniques from a friend of mine, and I even took the initiative to learn some new stitches on my own. I tried, but still…the enjoyment of knitting completely eluded me. Down went the needles again.

Then I found the sock loom. And the other AKB knitting boards. And re-discovered the Knifty Knitters I remembered playing with as a child. And CinDWood Looms. And suddenly, knitting is fun and fast.

The Ravelry loom knitting group members swear by the CinDWood looms. Everyone loved them. I had them, but hadn’t yet used them, because I really liked the fine gauge of the AKB’s. But AKB’s long afghan loom can only be used for double knitting, which is all well and good if you want a thick afghan about 38″ wide. But I wanted to make a lighter weight, wider afghan. Single knit, thank you very much. The only loom I own that can do that is CinDWood’s 36″ panel loom, which can do double knit or single, because it’s a long, narrow oval with pegs going all the way around. So it came off of its hook to finally see some use.

I wasn’t really sure I’d like the nylon pegs. I knew I wouldn’t dislike them: they had to be better than the plastic Knifty Knitters. I love my Knifty Knitters, yes, but the bright, primary colors of the looms always make me feel like I’ve taken my daughters’ toys to play with, where CinDWood’s looms are made of unfinished MDF and set with matching nylon pegs. And I do love the pegs. Awesomeness. I managed to whip through several rows quickly, without losing any stitches, without catches or snags, and the pegs are so much bigger and easier to see in some lighting situations than the AKB looms. It’s so well-constructed and light, compared to the similar AKB loom, which outweighs the CinDWood by at least a pound, if not a little more. When it falls over, which it’s done twice thanks to me, it’s like Mjollnir hitting the ground. It’s loud, and the floor vibrates from the impact.

The loom lives up to everyone’s promises, and my happy expectations. I still love my AKBs, but they serve a different purpose than my CinDWoods now do. Now that I’ve finally started using it, I’m wondering why I took so long! And though I still despise needle knitting for myself, I have been eagerly sitting down to play each evening! For me, that’s saying something!

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My fingerless mitts!

My fingerless mitts!

Hmm. That title sounds an awful lot like a football term, so I would like to go on record as stating that nobody in my house follows the sport. I used to watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, but now I just catch those on YouTube. I am not a football fan, and after the whole thing with Michael Vick, when I discovered how many felons are playing for the NFL, well, that was the complete end for me. I don’t like the message that sends to our sports-hero-worshipping children.

It’s been awhile. First quarter ended on Friday, which meant that a good portion of us went to a bar on Friday night to both celebrate and drown our sorrows. Grades will hopefully be out by the end of this week, but I’ve already confirmed that I failed introduction to veterinary technology, and will have to take it again. I was at a middle-to-high C after midterms, but my biology grade was significantly lower, so I focused all of my attention on biology, idiotically thinking that I would be okay in intro. Obviously, I was wrong, and I knew it the second I laid eyes on the final.

I’m pretty sure I did all right in English. It’s a subject that I’ve always been good at, unlike the sciences and the maths. So I’m waiting nervously to see grades and crossing my fingers that I did well enough to keep my financial aid!

I haven’t been entirely fiberless during this traumatic period; I had to keep my sanity somehow! So there is nearly a full bobbin of Sibe fur spun up on Anansi, and as Thor is due for another grooming and another bath, I can probably rest assured that there will be plenty more undercoat forthcoming for me to card and spin. I also have a friend who dearly loves the color orange, and I have two cones of really neon orange acrylic, so I’ve started a Tunisian crochet scarf for her. I’ll never use those yarns otherwise; orange isn’t my favorite color! The girls and I each got a pair of cute fingerless mitts that took me a couple of hours each to make on a knitting loom, and hubby wanted a set too, only he wanted his to be long enough to act as sleeves. I only managed to finish one of those so far, and haven’t even started the second one yet. The yarn I’m using for them is really thick and really hard to work with.

I also finished…sorta…the sock that was on the loom. I say sort of because if you look at it from a distance, it’s definitely a decent sock, but up close you can see all the errors I made, and there were a lot! Still, I learned a lot and the next pair will be better, maybe even (gasp!) wearable!

I spent most of last night and today organizing the studio, since this is also my study space and it needed it. I think it’s as organized as it’s ever going to get, so I finally took some pictures of it. I’ve seen fancier ones that I drool over, but this one is mine!

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