Some Progress

When the batt showed up from Spunky Eclectic, I really had no intention of doing anything with it in the "short term". For me, that means it should have sat, in the box, for at least 2-3 months. You know, until all the other stuff was done. Yeah, right.

I'll admit, peer pressure got the better of me. All the other clubbers were doing some really wonderful stuff with theirs, so I just had to open the box and at least *LOOK* at it. As soon as I did that, I was sunk. (refer to last few posts for conformation). Once it was all done, I was just atwitter trying to figure out what to *do* with it. I knew the colors would be stripey, and therefore it needed a pattern that had an element of angularity to it. I really wanted to make another Tuscany shawl, but after a quick swatch, I gave up. Wrong pattern. Totally. More studying, swatching and playing around led me to settle on Adamas.

Whaddya think?

Briefly ...

The spinning is done, the plying is done. The yarn is in the sink in the bathroom.

Today, it went from this:

to this:

Any suggestions as to what I should make? It's just over 600 yards of laceweight. I was thinking about another Tuscan shawl from No Sheep for You. It'd be a nice gift for my mom's birthday next month.

Isn't she Spunky?

The mailman is well and truly my friend. When a package comes (fiber, yarn, tools, whatever), he makes the long-ish walk down the driveway to leave it on the porch. I've been home when this happens pretty regularly, so I get a nice big wave as he passes by the picture window. (Note to self - post a picture one day!)

On Thursday, the first installment of my Spunky Club showed up. It's 4 oz. of a beautiful 100% organic merino combed top, handpainted in the colorway "Twilight". I'd managed to resist the siren call of the package for about 24 hours - but last night, I cracked. I opened up the box and braided up the bump.

Pretty, no? The braid somewhat disguises the fact that there are two distinct personalities to this roving - a green one and a red one. When I unbraided it and laid it out this morning for "strategizing", I decided to try and meld the split personality into something more coordinated. It's destined to be a 2-ply, fingering-ish weight yarn. With the help of my scale, I ended up with two bumps that look like this:

Both are approximately 55 grams (overall bump was 110 grams) and that means I should easily get 350+ yards of fingering weight.

I then began splitting the "green" half of the roving and pre-drafting a bit so that I could get started spinning. I'm doing a modified short-draw woolen technique for this stuff. There's a distinct difference in slipperiness as the color changes - anything with a strong color is much firmer; the undyed and lightly dyed sections are absolutely effortless. It's given me food for thought about how I deal with fiber once I start dying my own. So, about halfway through, my bobbin looks like this:

Almost as soon as I started, I remembered that I have one bobbin that I don't like. It slides back and forth on the flyer just a bit and has a bit of chatter. Tensioning this bobbin is finicky. Every time I use it I say to myself, "you should mark that bobbin or something so that you don't use it."

Guess which bobbin I'm using.

Adventures in Spinning

I've been doing a moderate amount of spinning since I got back from SOAR last year and I've found that I really enjoy it. I'm still enamored with the process of making yarn, but not so much with doing anything with the yarn. It nets out to an overall increase in my stash, but also a "compacting" of the fiber. Spun yarn takes up a lot less space than raw wool/fiber.

As always, the engineer in me wants to deconstruct everything and fiber is not safe from this process. I've been busily reading Deb Menz's book Color in Spinning and I'm bracing myself to get started working my way through it. She has a lot of great exercises in the back of every chapter that are designed to help the reader understand what she means in each section. I've got lots to learn about hue, value and color - and how they interrelate - and that should really help me to get everything I want in a yarn/garment.

However, before I dive in to dyeing, I want to do some fleece processing. I've got two fleeces waiting for attention - one from friends down the road (literally! I even helped with the shearing) and the other from Windswept Farms. Chris doesn't know about the second one. I have a thought that I can manage to wash one/both of them on Saturday and then perhaps get them carded into batts by the following weekend. I'd like to have a go at making my own rovings (ala Deb) and both of these are just right for that. The dark fleece wants to be left alone and knitted up - and maybe I'll do some overdying of the second.

Anyway, I'm thinking spinnerly thoughts while working furiously on a shrug for this weekend. Another party next weekend, and I'll need to work up another little thing for that. And birthdays, and late Christmas presents - and I need some handspun for both.

Man - where does work and sleep fit in to this?

Can't talk ... must dash

The car is coming in abut half an hour and I'm still packing. I love going home day - I get to live twice. A quick jaunt in the shuttle, relax in the airport lounge for a while, watch 5 movies, then home.

First off, coffee. Second, a run in the trees (I can smell them already!) while the laundry spins. Then, lunch, in the car, and away.

Looking forward to a weekend of delicious food and wine with the handsomest guy on the planet. Sunny and 70s in the lovely Russian River area.

Must remember to bring aspirin. See you next week!

The glamor of business travel

Many people have a rather romantic notion of business travel. I get to expense meals and drinks, I stay in nice hotels and I get *travel*! It's a tremendous opportunity to see places that I might otherwise never go and experience things that just don't happen at home.

On the face of it, that's a true statement. Reality, as always, is different.

Since I work in the world of technology (hardware and software), one of my biggest tasks is to solve problems. In techno speak, we call that "bug squashing". On this particular trip, I was more successful than I could ever imagine.

Behold, the outcome of today's Bug Scrub.

We found the bug:

We squashed the bug:

Yup, it's all about the perqs when you're on the expense account.

Home tomorrow! (and I fixed my nupp)

All the tea in China

I'm on the road again this week - this time the trip is blissfully short. Leave on Monday, to arrive in China on Tuesday night, work on Wednesday and Thursday, then back home on Friday - to arrive before I left. It's a little extra time to make up for that whole day I lost on the way out.

Not surprisingly, I like to drink tea when I'm over here. In the restaurants, it's the childish Chrysanthemum tea. Slightly sweet, very aromatic - just wonderful. It's difficult to find Genmai Cha outside of vegetarian restaurants, so I have to dip into my "personal stash" for cups of that. But, after a day at work (and before meeting colleagues for dinner), I love a cup of Lemon Ginger tea. And, in this lovely hotel, my post-work libation looks like this:

Those crazy fruits on the table are Asian pears. Their texture is very similar to an apple (and they're sized/shaped the same was as well) but, flavor-wise, they're very mild - pear-like. Sometimes I like them; sometimes I don't. Over here, I generally like them.

My other excuse for tea today is because I don't have enough time to do much on this:

It's the edging plus five repeats of the Winter Year of Lace Kit - an Estonian shawl design by Nancy Bush. I started this on the plane ride over and, really, I don't have too much to show for it. I may even need to tink back the last two rows because I'm spectacularly unhappy with one of my nupps. I think I missed a loop. It's rather fiddly to do the nupps, but they sure are pretty.

I doubt this will look any different between now and my return. Partly because of jet lag, partly because work is a 24-hour-a-day proposition over here, and partly because I fully intend to sleep all the way home on Friday.

Wish me luck.

Spare Time

Once again, I'm off to China. I made quite a few trips last year (nine, I think) and I've fallen into a pattern on the morning of the trip.

1. Get up a little early.
2. Have a cup of coffee
3. Go for a (short) run - this really helps to relax me for the 14h on the plane
4. Pack at least six knitting projects

I've gotten to the point where I can knock out a pair of socks on every trip. Easy. I also like to work on lace shawls (no beads - turbulence, ya know?). But, I can never make up my mind *what* I want to bring, so there's a flurry of winding, printing of patterns, rummaging. You get the picture.

This time, I'm faced with a serious dilemma. I've got an argyle sweater that I've been working on for my brother. It's an easy and clear pattern, but the intarsia of the argyle is a serious pain. It goes verrrrrry slowly. I also lost the piece of paper that had all my pattern notes on it, so I have to keep the back piece around for reference. All this translates into "big". Bulky. Not the kind of thing you (necessarily) want to take on a plane.

Separately, I need to knock out both a shawl for my mom and a pair of socks for my dad. I'm not sure that I'll be happy with patterns or yarns for either once I start. Geez.

Guess what I'll be thinking about on today's run.

See you in China.

Spindling Along

A package showed up for me earlier this week but I'd not gotten around to opening it until today. Yes, it's true - I'm one of those people who can actually let a box sit, unopened, for quite a long period of time. That is, *if* I know what's inside. (I'm as messed up as everyone else in that last week leading up until Christmas. Don't get me wrong!)

Anyway, since I knew what it was, and more importantly, I knew that I didn't want to be distracted by it right away, it let it sit. The distractions were sufficiently managed (as of today) so I allowed myself to open the box. Inside, was this:

Yesiree, Bob, that there is a Golding Lignum Vitae ring spindle. A 2", 0.65 ounce spindle, to be exact. Since I got my wonderful Bosworth at SOAR (a 42 gram rosewood), I've been wanting a spindle that's more suited to laceweight. I could manage it with the Bosworth, but it's just a wee bit too heavy for a really fine single. The occasional "plunk" of it hitting the floor (it is called a DROP SPINDLE, after all) was not only frustrating, it caused heart palpitations.

Enter the Bosworth. As soon as I opened the box, I started looking around for something suitable to get the spindle through it's break-in period. I rummaged around in the Big Box of Spinning Stuff (BBOSS) and pulled out a the sample of Polwarth/Silk top I got courtesy of Francine at Rovings (also from SOAR). It's just a small amount, can't be more than 1/2 an ounce - just enough to get me started.

It's been a few months since I spun anything on a spindle, so it took a few minutes to get back into the groove. Once I did, the fibers just slid past each other and I spun off a really nice, really fine single. The spindle is just a DREAM.

FWIW, I've also got about 5+ ounces of the Polwarth/silk blend in a lovely grey that's been keeping another corner of the BBOSS warm - and I think this may be my January challenge. Whether it's on the spindle or on the wheel, I know it's going to be great. Let's see that again - this time from another angle:

In other news - my drum carder shipped. Plus, I got another present today from Windswept Farms. Darn this "work" stuff.


I broke my foot back in early November of last year and that forced me to essentially stop exercising, refereeing, even traveling for a while. It was an absolute shock to nearly every part of my life.

When it happened, all I could think about was the things I was losing - mobility, speed, even freedom. Little did I realize that losing the ability to do anything would end up giving me the ability to have everything. That's a pretty round-about way of saying that breaking my foot last year was probably one of the best things that could have happened.

Amazingly, being forced to slow down and really *think* about what I was doing allowed me to evaluate all the things I'd put on my plate by ejecting them. I basically was given the opportunity to start over - and rebuild something much more sane.

Yesterday, I started rehab. I ran. For the first time in about eight weeks, I ran.

I'm sick with a chest cold, coughing up lungs, and the weather is cold and damp - but that run was one of my all-time best. The trees were glowing green with moss. The trails were all manner of reds and russets and browns and blacks that only redwood debris can produce. Absolutely stunning. Everything smelled alive and clean. Glorious.

Today, my cold is worse (I don't think I did myself any favors) and I didn't go out, but I'm hoping to sneak in a few miles over lunch tomorrow. I remember now what I had. Time away has made it all better. Now I get to finish rehabbing everything else.

Handspun goodness

I challenged my fellow alumnae from Maggie's SOAR class to spin something up in December that we'd acquired at SOAR and show it off. It took me a while to clear off some bobbins so that I'd have lots of room to do whatever I wanted.

First off the bobbins was some pre-dyed roving from the color in spinning workshop I took with Deb Menz. I had about half a bobbin's worth, so I wound it off on my hand and did an Andean 2-ply using my Bosworth spindle. It lofted up beautifully once I'd finished with it - almost twice it's size. Amazingly enough, it looks just gorgeous and the colors play against each other beautifully. Deb is not a fan of plying singles back on themselves - but I think this on is a winner. I've got about 150 yards of a heavy-sport or DK weight.

Next off was some long-aging merino top from Louet. This either came with the purchase of a wheel from The Woolery or had been destined to be thrums for mittens. Regardless, I again had two bobbins that were each about three-quarters full. I plied them together off the bobbins, then did the remainder using Andean and my trusty Bosworth. It didn't loft up nearly as much as Deb's stuff - I suspect this is because I wasn't doing as much of a long draw as I did with Deb's stuff. Regardless, it's squishy and lovely. About 350 yards, sport-weight.

So - bobbins are clear and I'm ready to go.

I took 8oz. of 100% Merino roving from Lambspun in Fort Collins, CO, and started spinning away. My plan was for a 3-ply, DK weight so that I could knit-up a nice vest (or something). It's a lovely green called Mountain Moss - a nice blended solid that is majority green with chasings of blue and yellow. The color is very rich and deep, absolutely amazing. Actually - it looks like this:

The picture isn't great, but the color is close to correct. Here's a better view of that amazing 3-ply:

I knew that 3-ply, from the bobbins and NOT Navajo-plied, makes for a wonderful, round, yarn, but I'd not gone entirely through the process with such wonderful fiber. Here's a slightly better look at the two skeins that are dry:

After plying up three skeins worth (~300yds x 2 skeins, plus one ~100 yd skein), I simply wound off the remaining singles and finished them off. I've got just about 100 yards of a lace-weight single that I'll be using to test out Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles. Need something special for my mom. :-)

All in all, I'm amazingly pleased with how these turned out. The are *very* even and squishy. Really, truly, nice. I'm looking forward to knitting up a nice vest with them.

New Year, new post

I'm ashamed to see how long it's been since I posted anything here. However, given the personal disaster that was the back-half of 2008, perhaps it's better that I wasn't posting. Bad juju, angry words and general unhappiness are not the kinds of things that I'd prefer to share with the world - so let's just put that all behind us, shall we?

Starting the year afresh, rather than making formal Resolutions, I'll just take a moment to share some of the things that are on my mind and calendar for 2009.

1. Run another marathon.

This went totally sideways when we moved house back in '07. I'd been mostly trained up, and had even picked the event, but the rush of moving/selling/packing made it impossible. Calendar conflicts in '08 prevented me from doing that same marathon a second time. I don't know that I'll shoot for the same one, but I do certainly plan to do at least one this year. I need the goal.

2. Make refereeing a sane part of my life.

I fell in love, REALLY in love, with refereeing about 8 years ago. When I fall hard for something, it has a tendency to take over. That happened here, and this past year, I realized how insane my passion for this had become. While it was (and still is) an enjoyable activity, it had clouded out other things that I loved (running, knitting, spending time with my husband). I also got a serious wake up call when I had to deal with people who clearly did not love the game - rather, they loved testosterone. It's put me off of the game and I've got a hard decision to make - whether or not to continue. This is definitely a horse, from which, I have fallen. However, even if I don't get back on, I'm not sure I'll miss it.

3. Make my work/life balance sane.

Less time traveling, more time with my husband. 'nuff said.

There's a vacation on the calendar for most of May, I've got a number of fibery and yarny clubs happening, and I'm already switching my head from New Product Goddess to Patron Saint of Sustainability. It's a GOOD change - and this year, I'm going to simply embrace life.

It's easier when you don't fight the current, ya know? Looking forward to looking like this again.

Happy 2009. And only 248 days until SOAR!