Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spinning my wheels

Yes, that would be what is known in the trade as a double entendre. Not a very good one, I admit, but I'm goin' with what I've got.

The brief story on work is that it's the same. The crises are the same, so the talk about them is the same, which is my least-favorite kind of situation: one in which we talk again and again about how bad things are, and how there's nothing more to do about the bad things than we're already doing, but what are we to do? (This is not unlike American politics, come to think about it.)

So, I worked my tail off all week last week with the stated goal of taking a few hours off on Friday morning to go to Encinitas before the next big crisis meeting. Why Encinitas, you ask? Well, because the wonderful women at Common Threads have decided to bring spinning to their store, and were having a spinning open house, complete with lots of women from several guilds from as far away as Orange county there with their wheels, some of which were even available for neophytes to try. I was there.

In fact, I was so there that I arrived some time before any of the spinners did. Apparently, I was a bit eager (I also wanted to be sure to be back in time for my meeting, while still getting maximum spinning time). So I poked around, and then watched happily as spinners galore arrived and began to unload wheels. The first to arrive was a Majacraft, and two travelling wheels whose names I didn't catch, made by a man in Massachusetts, which fold up into lovely little boxes that have carrying bags. Then two Ashford Kiwis arrived, and the owner had her Louet Victoria set up. Life was good.

I did my part, chatting to two other watching women who had been thinking that spinning was maybe interesting, but had never tried it, and who were shocked at the wheel prices that were being bandied about. I promptly snagged a spindle from a nearby basket (I so wished I'd brought mine, as they are much prettier), and told them that a spindle was a much easier entry point than a multi-hundred dollar wheel. I also pointed them towards the lovely roving that the store had laid in, after snagging the most beautiful one for myself (I'm an enabler, but I'm not foolish). Of course, in the interests of honestly, I explained to them that I only got my spindles a little while ago, and I love them, and I'm thinking it might be time to add a wheel to my collection. But I'm thinking I did my part to lure innocents towards the dark side. Janice, are you proud?

Then I got to play on a Kiwi. The woman who'd brought it apparently does demonstration spinning at places like Renaissance Faires, and clearly loves not only her craft, but also teaching people about it. I got a quick run-down on the parts of a wheel (which made me feel much better about approaching one; this must be the academic in me -- information first), and then I had at it. All I can say is what I said last time; spinning in general, and a spinning wheel in particular, is more fun than a basket full of kittens (and a lot less poky, to boot). I finally ceded a wheel to one of the other nice observers, bought my roving (in spite of the longing looks of another woman standing there who informed me that if I'd let it go even a little bit, she would have snatched it immediately), and raced to my meeting. The roving is an interesting merino/tencel blend, dyed in beautiful, almost goth-y, purples. Oh, do you want to see it? OK:
The picture doesn't really do it justice. It's quite lovely. Now, you could all say to me with some justice that it was rather ludicrous of me to buy more roving, given that I already have a small stash of gorgeous roving, and only two spindles upon which to spin it. You might say that it was a particularly senseless thing to do, given that it involved denying the purchase of the roving to another woman who might have very much enjoyed it (just so you all know I'm not a complete meanie, I will tell you that the woman who dyed the roving was there, and took an order for another one just like it from the person who wanted it; I just love a happy ending). You might be right but for one thing.

The woman who owns the store has decided to set up both of her Louet wheels in the store for customers to use, assuming that they're willing to buy the Louet bobbins to spin on. How very cool is that? And while she didn't say anything like this, it does seem to me that if one is going to use someone's wheel for free in their store, one ought to use it to spin roving purchased at that store, no? Hence the grabbing of the gorgeousness while the grabbing was good. And, as a matter of fact, I was back there yesterday with Older Daughter (with whom I was running errands that just happened to take us further and further south until, my goodness, there we were in Encinitas! And I just happened to have my new roving in the car! How providential!), and I spun for almost an hour. Which I should mention is a long time if you're new to this spinning thing. Here's what I produced:
Yes, it is uneven. But for my first real time spent on a wheel, I'm pretty pleased. Note the weird squiggles in some places, where the yarn didn't wind onto the bobbin right. I was sure that was me. For one thing, every time someone walked up to me and said something, I completely lost the whole drafting rhythm I had going, and a couple of times somehow got the wheel going backwards for a turn. But when I got home late last night, there was a message waiting for me from Nancy which said, call me, I've got an insight on your spinning. I called her today, and it turns out that the band which should have been on the spindle apparently wasn't, which meant some pretty wonky behavior. All she said was, if you were doing that well without everything set up right, you were doing well. Which was nice to hear. I told her I'd be back (apparently I'm a sucker for compliments, however untrue they might turn out to be).

Meanwhile, there has been knitting. I have been testing Anne's new Violets Rising sock pattern, and have completed the first sock. I made them Older Daughter size, but her feet are now so big they're almost my size, so I modelled them for the pictures. The different color toe is not part of the pattern; it's a reaction to my fear that I might not have quite enough yarn to finish the second sock. I'm using the Dream in Color Smooshy that I used some of to knit my SIL's Christmas mitts. This is such a fun pattern; it reminds me a little of the Marie Antoinettes, in that you do need to keep the chart handy, but it goes so fast because of that; there's just no chance at all of getting bored, and the results are so pretty -- I kept waiting for the next violet to appear, and was thoroughly charmed each and every time (apparently, I'm easily amused).
I love the violets on the top, and the vines towards the bottom, all very curvy and organic.
You've got to go see them knit up in the yarn that Anne's using; it's for a sock of the month club that allows buying only one month, and I tell you, I'm tempted. The colors and the pattern together are perfect. I'm really looking forward to casting on the second one. I finished the first this morning while at Older Daughter's swim meet (she swam all four 50-meter events, even fly -- I was very proud of her; then all the kids swam not one, but two relays, and a couple of them even went for a third!), and with luck, I'll start the second tonight, after I finish the laundry, and vacuum at least the main rooms. I'd far rather be knitting.

Tomorrow, I do not have President's Day off, so I will be teaching classes, as usual. Let's see how many students make it, shall we?


Anne said...

Yeah, swim meets. Spent all day Sat and Sun in chlorine heaven at the regional championships for the end of our short course season(you all are swimming long course right now? weird) but I get too amped up to knit much. I'm enjoying spinning vicariously through your posts. As we were separated at birth, I know I am having this experience too, and when I get a chance to get back to spinning this summer (or maybe even spring break) my own work will be much improved as a result.

NTK said...

Mmmm, that makes me want to take up spinning. I have been thinking I'd buy myself a spindle as a congrats-on-surviving-the-semester present, but I may wait and make it a congrats-on-moving-and-unpacking present.

I'm kind of hoping that some of my students don't show up tomorrow. I'm grading papers - two left! - and the median grade so far is an F. Yikes. This is not going to be fun.

Alwen said...

I'm a purple-lover, and I completely understand the other woman's comment. I don't even spin. But it's fun to watch others learn.

Nana Sadie said...

I don't spin, and don't intend to.

That being said, that is the most gorgeous roving...I would have scooped it up at once myself. And set it out to drool over the rest of my life!
Congrats - you're on your way!

Bea said...

I think the spinning looks really good...You'll be jumping to buy a wheel very very soon I think...

The socks are fabulous! Love that colorway on Anne's blog.

Do let us know how many students show up! I have to work too.

Anonymous said...

1 - "more fun than a basket full of kittens" - sure, but which one sounds cuter?

2 - "rather ludicrous of me to buy more roving" - even with your further explanation, I would have said cheaper than hallucinogenic drugs (in the short term and the long term!).

3 - "sat and spun for about an hour" - Older Daughter should get a medal for patience. Oh, yes, that's right, she is getting those lovely socks!

I will not be lured into spinning, I will not be lured into spinning, I will not be...

Courtney said...

I've been out of the blogland loop for a while, and I'm looking forward to catching up on your entries! They're always such a fun read.

Every time you talk about spinning, I want to try it more and more. Years ago I was at a Renaissance Faire here in Georgia and saw some women spinning and dying their own yarn, and I was enamored. I worry that I might not be coordinated enough for it, though. :/

Isn't the peacock feathers shawl gorgeous? I can't wait to find just the right peacock-y colorway for it!

I cheered for the beagle when it won. They're such endearing dogs! Thanks for sharing the Terrier pun; I'm not ashamed to admit that I've reused it a couple of times since hearing it. :) Credit given, of course.

I hope the "same old" problems from work get some new solutions soon. I know how frustrating that can be.

Have a good Monday!

(end novel-length comment)

patrice said...

It cracked me up that you refered to the wheels arriving at the store rather than the spinner/owners of said wheels. Looks like you are not long to be wheel-less yourself. I have made a conscious decision not to venture into the spinning world since I already have way too many fiber obsessions to deal with now. I am very impressed with Older Daughter's stamina to hang out for an hour while you concentrated on your spinning. And that store is not so big that she had space to wander - did she have a good book with her? Did she start to develop her own obsession by fondling all their beautiful yarns? My kids would never have lasted that long. And frankly, what errands could have pulled you all the way to the coast? ;)
Good luck with the work crises - hope they settle down soon. Don't those profs know that you have other things you could use that time for? Important, fiber-y things!

EGunn said...

Your roving is beautiful! And my first yarn looked a whole lot like yours, except maybe a little less even, and a little more overspun! I still like it, though. I'll have to post a pic sometime.

And, it's so nice that the LYS lets you spin there! I'd have loved to try out a wheel or two before buying my used no-name for cheap. I have to say, though, that I'm sure they know what they're about...a few hours with pretty roving, and you'll be done for!

Sorry you had to teach today! Hope it was a quiet class, at least. =)

Willow said...

The roving reallhy is wonderful. And your spinning is just fine especially as you are a new spinner. Keep the sample of your first spinning as a memento.

I am currently spinning Shelty dog hair. This is truly a labor of love. Because, you know, even if it has been washed, cleaned, and spun, it still smells like dog hair.

I'll trade you.

Rabbitch said...

That roving is yummy.

Welcome to the dark(er) side.

Anonymous said...

Amazing the errands you can find...

Sounds like a lovely spinning hour!

I know all about those work conversations. Ours have been about impending budget cuts and frozen positions. I'm sure you've had that conversation a few times yourself.