Monday, June 28, 2010

I forgot to mention...

It's a grey day, mid-sixties, and I haven't seen the sun yet (and this is why they talk about "June gloom" in San Diego). I'm actually fine with that, I like this kind of weather (although I admit to liking it just a titch better in the actual winter), but it's not so good for taking a reasonable picture of my latest sock (finished last night, just need to kitchener the toe shut and cast on for the second one). I was lamenting that fact when it occurred to me that I never got to write about my adventures in Ohio -- I got so distracted by what came after that I completely forgot. And they were good adventures! There is so much to cover that I won't get through all of it today, but I'll make a start.

It feels like a really long time ago now, but it was only just Memorial Day weekend (which, come to think of it, is a month ago, isn't it?). I flew out to Columbus on Friday, where my lovely SIL was waiting to pick me up (it was actually a little bit of a miracle that she was there to pick me up on time; did you know that Columbus has two, count 'em, two international airports? ask my SIL how she now knows...) and whisk me away to Wooster. Wooster, home of the Great Lakes Fiber Festival, which was our destination.

On Saturday morning, we got ourselves moving bright and early, since we were both taking classes. I was taking a spinning class on woolen and worsted spinning, for which Anne kindly agreed to loan me her lovely Joy (since I didn't want to try to pack a wheel on the plane, this actually was the thing that made it possible for me to take that class -- thanks, Anne!). We drove into the fairgrounds, searching for a parking space, and grabbed the last open one we saw, only to realized we'd parked right next to Anne, who was standing and looking at all of the knitting and spinning gear her car had disgorged, apparently wondering where to find extra hands for the incipient schlepping. Luckily for her, that's just what we had. So off we schlepped to our classroom space, where Anne settled in to knit, until someone came and told her that her class was in the other building.

I had really been looking forward to my class. I've been trying and trying to figure out how to spin woollen. In essence, spinning is characterized along a continuum between worsted and woollen, where worsted spinning is done using fibers which have been carefully aligned with one another, spun with no twist in the drafting zone (this results in a dense, smooth yarn with very little air), and woollen is done using fibers which are not aligned, spun in a way that allows twist to enter the drafting zone (this results in a fuzzy, light, and airy yarn). (Fellow spinners, does that sound about right?) For whatever reason, I naturally fall into spinning in a worsted style -- I have this Grand Theory that this has to do with having learned how to spin on a drop spindle (which has to be done worsted), as opposed to a supported spindle (which lends itself to woollen spinning), but I'm guessing that now that I've put that out there, seven people will promptly tell me that they spin woollen on a wheel, but learned to spin on a drop spindle. Alas for Grand Theories.

In any case, I've been struggling and struggling with spinning woollen -- I just canNOT, for the life of me, convince myself to let twist in the drafting zone, and as soon as I do, I lock up all my fibers and end up with a giant wadded mess. Not fun. The class started out with worsted spinning and I bided my time, hoping that we'd actually get to the woollen stuff before our three hours were up (and knowing, as a teacher, just how badly timing can work out sometimes). We got there towards the end of class, and I was absolutely sure that I wasn't going to get it in the short time remaining. I listened, and the teacher said pretty much what I've heard and read before, but I wasn't going to waste my chance to figure this out, so off I went. I made mess after mess after mess, until the teacher finally said something about pinching off the fiber while building up some twist, then letting go and allowing the twist to run into the fiber, then pinching again while drafting the fiber with the twist inserted. I don't think I'm saying it right, but somehow that thought clicked with everything I'd learned in my takhli class (where I finally ended up spinning cotton with a long draw), and bam! I was spinning woollen. It was so. much. fun. Seriously. I'm not great at it yet, not by a long shot, and my woollen-spun yarn isn't nearly so even as my worsted spun stuff, but it's fun! I've been practicing when I can since I got home, and it's looking a bit better each time.
Thick and thin, yes, and I'm still definitely not distributing my twist very well, but it's yarn, and it's spun woollen using a long draw. Yay!

Then class was over and my SIL and I went off with Anne to have lunch.
Then Anne and Geri headed back to class (it was an all-day class), and I went off to see the show. OK, I'll be honest, I homed straight in on two of my favorite people in the world: Chris and Christy, in the Briar Rose booth. It was SO good to see them.
I have to admit that I kind of thought about tucking my Briar Rose t-shirt into my luggage so I could sneak into the booth and work with them again. I have such good memories of doing exactly that at Sock Summit! But I didn't, I was good. I did buy some yarn, though, and when we all went out to dinner that night, Chris shared some of her new cashmere with all of us, which is unreal in its softness (and of course, I don't have a picture, and I can't find a link -- maybe Chris will see this and let me know if there's any more coming?); I keep petting it, but it may have to turn into mitts for Rick, who deserves something for hanging out at home with the girls while I do fun stuff like this. (Note to self: as soon as the sun comes back, take pictures of new yarn.)

Once Anne's class was over, we all wandered around the marketplaces for a while. Anne had already bought fleeces for her spinning class (they came on Sunday but wanted to be sure not to miss out on the best fleeces -- don't they look like they have the most fun ever? They do.):
I had decided, however, that I was not, I repeat not, going to buy a fleece. Even though I'd kind of thought that I might -- first fiber festival and all, you know? But no, I decided that I would be mature and grown-up (and I also decided that if I tried to take a fleece onto a plane and put it into an overhead bin, someone would throw me, the fleece, and its smell off that plane instantaneously; better part of valor and all).

I held firm. I really did. Right up until I was staring at the most astonishingly beautiful Coopworth fleece ever (I'm not the only one who thought so, either -- it was sitting right there with the Best in Show plaque). Even then I held firm, until Anne came up and sat on my shoulder and said, "I'll split it with you." Man, does that woman know how to dangle temptation.

And even then I was a grown-up, and I said things about "sleeping on it" and "deciding in the morning" and "don't want to make you buy half a fleece you didn't want to start with". And we walked away. We'd made it about twenty feet when we turned back and saw another woman, bending over OUR fleece, throwing her hands up in delight. I swear we teleported, we got back there so quickly. It turns out that she was the woman who had raised (grown?) that fleece, and was deservedly celebrating her win. The game was up, though. (Geri was politely smothering her laughter; I guess she might know me better than I wish she did.) Five minutes later, we'd written a check, and the fleece was ours. We were pretty excited (and maybe a little giddy and sheepish)(pardon the pun).
Can you blame us, though? This fleece is seven pounds of gorgeousness.
Look at those colors! We left it with its erstwhile owner, who processes fleece; as Anne said, who better to trust with it? We'll each get half of it back (probably about 2.5 pounds each by the time it's been finished) sometime towards the end of the summer. Plenty of time for me to work on that woollen spinning technique, right? I figure this is going to be a sweater, just for me. Or else I'll just pet it. Because I've got to say, this fleece makes me pretty happy all the way around.
Is that so wrong?


Willow said...

At least you didn't have to take it on the plane with you. I recommend just petting it for awhile. The fleece will tell you what to do.

I'm a baby spinner. I don't know much about it, really. One day, I'll take a class...

Nana Sadie said...

Honey if it makes you happy it can't be wrong.

Now that doesn't mean I understand it.
But hey, you and Anne both, can't be wrong, can you?
I'm so glad you had a good time for your first fiber fest!

lori said...

*singing* Jocelyn bought a flee-eece, Jocelyn bought a flee-eece! I say life is short, we should grab happiness wherever we can, and if it's in a fleece, well, that's pretty cheap.

Unknown said...

fleece can be addicting, ask me how I know...

twinsetellen said...

So many great emotions to relive with you - first long draw, first fleece, seeing those unmistakable Briar Rose colors...

...and first woolen yarn, looking pretty darn good. Isn't it wonderful how fluffy woolen yarn is?

Jane said...

I can thinkof nothing better than seeing a fleece right through to a jumper. Enjoy every moment of it

Gwen said...

Happy! Happy! Happy!

And you tried, you really tried to leave it behind.

Nice job catching your first woolen yarn, too. I'm still spinning as it happens.

Mary Lou said...

And no stinky luggage - that's a good deal. It's an investment and supporting small women owned businesses. Let's see, do you need more rationalizations?

Laurie said...

Hm...I've lived in Columbus over 30 years, and I'm trying to figure out where the second international airport is. LOL!!!

Wish I had been able to go to the fiber fest - it looks like a great time was had by all.

"June Gloom" in San Diego? This is fascinating - my husband lived out there for two years, and he swears there was never a day that was less than perfect in that entire time. Whenever I complain about Ohio weather, he tells me if I lived in San Diego it would always be "perfect". I must ask him about the gloom! :-)

elizabeth said...

That is not wrong, not wrong at all! I'm already excited thinking about the fleeces at SAFF in Asheville this fall!

Oh, and I learned to spin on a spindle and continued spinning worsted when I got a wheel. It took awhile for the woolen technique to kick in, and I still fight myself from pinching!

Rachel said...

If it makes you as happy as you look in those lovely photos, it certainly can't be wrong!

knitspot anne said...

omg, that first picture?? i saw it and though, "that looks like the grange hall at wooster!" then i wondered who that old lady was and why she was in your photo, hahaha.
SO not funny, once i realized . . . i got over it though, hee-hee!

EGunn said...

Sounds like a great weekend! I'm glad Anne helped you get your fleece; you're going to love working with it!

It's funny...I always spin long draw, and yet I also have a really hard time making a nice woolen yarn (I know anything long draw isn't technically worsted, but my yarn is dense and the fibers are pretty aligned, whatever that makes it...). I'm glad it's clicking for you!