Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I think I mentioned that I've been spending a lot of time with my spindles lately?  Well, it's not only because spindles are great fun.  And it's not only because it turns out that Abby Franquemont is right, and spindles are, in fact, slower by the hour but faster by the week.  (She is right, though; I've been getting more spun on my spindles lately than I've managed on my wheels.)

While those things are, indeed, true, the main reason is because the owner of my beloved LYS, Yarning For You, has decided to give spinning a whirl (get it? get it?  gosh, I'm twisted)(get it again?)(I could spin this out forever)(heh).  She is now not only carrying some lovely sliver and spindles from Ashford, she is also offering spindling lessons, starting in a few weeks.

And when I say that she is offering spindling lessons, what I really mean is that I am teaching spindling at her lovely store.  You can see the announcement on her website on the link above.  (And if you live anywhere near here and have been interested in spindling, now's your chance!)

Actually, I'm pretty darned excited.  I really do love my high-whorl spindles a rather unreasonable amount, and I love teaching a pretty unreasonable amount, so getting to combine the two is a lot of fun.

But it also means that I'm playing with all kinds of things right now, trying to think of as many ways as possible to explain what I already know how to do.  I think that's one of the things I most appreciate about teaching - it forces me to articulate what I know and, if I'm going to do it right, to articulate it in several different ways.  Doing that, in turn, means that I have to think about all of the other ways someone might try to do or understand what I'm doing.  It's an amazing brain exercise.  I got to test run it a bit at a store staff meeting this Monday (and if any of you are reading this, thank you for being such gracious guinea pigs), and I think it went well.

So I have been spinning.  I spun some alpaca.
That's an ounce there, on my spindlewood spindle.  I slid this cop onto a knitting needle, spun another ounce of white alpaca, and then plied the two of them from a shoebox, using my heavier Golding spindle.
I ended up with a very respectable hank of yarn, which still needs to be washed before I can say what the wpi and yardage are, but I think it's a sport-weight yarn.  I'm thinking I'll knit a hat out of it.
My second new spindle also came in the mail today.  It's a trindle - sold on etsy (in the Trindleman store); this one is jasper beads and blackwood.
I'm very happy with it, and I'm thinking we'll spend some time bonding tonight and tomorrow.

So there it is!  A new adventure - I'm really excited, and tremendously honored that my friend is trusting me with this new venture in her store.  I know what a huge deal that is for a small business owner, and I just hope I do her proud.

Tilly isn't worried, though.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And now for something completely different

In addition to the knitting, I have recently become reinspired by my spindles - so today's post is a quick update on some knitting projects, and then much blather talk about my spinning.

First, I think I mentioned that I started the Alhambra socks, which were the last sock club installment from the Illuminations sock club.  I made it all the way down the leg before stalling out on the heel flap, not because I can't do it, but just because it's felt like too much effort to get my head around knitting stranded colorwork back and forth (e.g. while purling).  I've done it before, and I know I'll do it here (I have a theory that this is one of three pairs of socks I'd like to finish before Sock Summit so I can wear them to show off), it's just that it is one thing too many right now.  But this loveliness will pull me back in very soon, I can feel it.
Isn't that beautiful?  I rotated it so you can see more of the motifs.
Yup.  I love these socks.  They will get finished, no doubt about it.

I also cast on for a hat and a shawl which I will show when there is something more to see (I apparently got a bit excited about doing something new! and exciting! in the face of grading (what's the opposite of an exclamation mark? I need one here) and conference program planning).

But meanwhile, I also got re-bitten by the spindle bug.  Not because I don't love my wheels - in fact, I have finished one bobbin of the gorgeous Corriedale that Erica sent me:
And I will get to the second half soon.  But, for reasons which I will share sooner rather than later, it's spindles that are pulling me back into their whirling orbit.  I finished the first spindle full of a gorgeous fiber that I started far too long ago, a silk/cashmere blend, if I remember correctly, from Twist: Yarns of Intrigue, and I plied and set it.
That's 100 yards of 2-ply laceweight loveliness (5/8 oz), spun and plied on my Golding spindle, which I love so much that I apparently bought another one when I wasn't looking.  Oops.  The new one came today, and I am already plotting which fiber to use it with.

I am also playing with what I think is some Merino from Chris at Briar Rose Fibers.  I have a little bump of this in stash, and I picked up my small Spindlewood spindle (bought when I was at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute nearly two years ago), and got started on that.
Isn't it a gorgeous spindle?  Look at that wood.
I do love beautiful wood.

I am also over half an ounce into an ounce of chocolate brown suri alpaca that I bought at last fall's Dixon Fiber Festival (does anyone else get just a bit freaked out by how much suri alpaca fiber resembles human hair? or is that just me?).  The plan is to spin that, and then to spin the ounce of white suri alpaca that I also got and ply them together.  (I think I need to find myself a nostepinne for plying - any recommendations?  I'd also love to find a small sample niddy-noddy of the one-yard size; I can't decide whether to look now, or to wait until I'm at Sock Summit and get something there.)  I am thinking that yarn will become a little cap, maybe?  I'm spinning it on the larger Spindlewood spindle that I won as a door prize at GGFI, but I somehow am not bonding with that spindle the way I have been with my other two, so it may become a pretty spindle to look at, rather than one of my workhorses.  Pictures of that yarn next time, along with the very very fine cotton I'm spinning on my takhli, and the very very fine wool I'm spinning on my kuchulu

I don't know why I forget how much I love my spindles.  Last night, I spun a half an ounce of what will probably be a fingering-weight two-ply in a little over an hour.  That's not too much longer than it would take me to spin the same amount worsted (woollen's a lot faster) on my wheel.  And I find that I am not as uncomfortable spinning for a long period of time with the spindles as I can get at the wheel - sitting is just hard for me, but with a spindle, I move around more than I do with a wheel.  I guess what I'm saying is not that I'm giving up my wheels, but that I'm glad I have my spindles, too.  (Including the new one, and the other new one that's coming in the mail early next week, I think.  You can't do that with wheels!)

So, more pictures next time, including some from Tehachapi (I'm going up there again on Saturday).  And very soon, coming to a not-apolitical blog near you, a little righteous indignation vis-a-vis publicly-funded education and state budgeting priorities.  You know you can't wait!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Daybreak (as in, I can see some)

Today is the last day of classes.  Two more to go, and I'm a free woman!  (Read:  I can spend the next week grading papers, calculating final grades, filing final grades, and dealing with students who don't like the final grades that I filed.)(What can I say?  Freedom ain't what it used to be.)

But that's not the daybreak I'm talking about.  Nope, I'm talking about Stephen West's Daybreak, or, to be most accurate, my version of his Daybreak.  (Beverly, here it comes!)

I have no modelling shots yet, although I wore it yesterday (and got compliments).  I have thought about asking Older Daughter to wear it so I can take some pictures of it in action, but she has been very solicitous in complimenting this shawl and in asking whether I might like her to take it off my hands, so I'm a bit worried about handing it over.
To recap, this is the Daybreak Shawl, knitted in Socks That Rock mediumweight, in two of this year's sock club colorways (Aubergenius and Pinky Swear).  I used size 5 circular needles (the Signatures that my SIL gave me; they do not disappoint).
The shawl ended up having a lovely drape at this gauge, without feeling insubstantial or holey.  And I really, really love these colors together.
I think this will be one that I wear a lot; I'm actually glad that the weekend forecast is for cloudy gray weather - Daybreak, here I come!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A day late

I do have pictures of Daybreak to share, and I had a busy and fun weekend, but I think that today I want to wish a belated happy mother's day to all of you who are mothers and to those of you who have mothers.  And to my mom, of course.

I spent some time yesterday at various periods trying to think of what to write about my own mother on mother's day (or the day after mother's day, as the case may be); I don't know about you, but there's something daunting about trying to describe someone so important.  There are so many things I could say.  I could say she's classy (you've all seen the pictures, you know what I mean).  I could say that she's generous and thoughtful, always the first to laugh at a joke (although the last to remember one).  I could say that I have never seen anyone leave her house hungry.  She gets by on less sleep than anyone I know, and gets more done, too.  And she's always up for whatever's going on - you couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic and willing partner in adventure.  I could say all of those things, and more. 

But if I had to boil it down to the heart of the matter, I would say two things.  Because of my mother, I have always known that I am strong enough, all by myself, to take on anything that I have to; I can stand on my own two feet in the face of any challenge.  But, because of my mother, I also know that I don't have to; she's right there behind me, all the way.  And in the end, I think that says it all.

Happy mother's day, mom!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Portland, here I come!

This is just a flying post, because it's Wednesday, and I really do have this goal of posting twice a week and Wednesday somehow seems like the middle of the week and therefore a good day for posting.

It was also the day of Sock Summit registration.  Which means that noon Pacific time found me in my office, with the door shut, email shut off to conserve bandwidth, credit card and class list in hand, waiting for the "register now" button to appear on the Sock Summit site.  (OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I was pretty much staring at the computer, class list and credit card in hand, starting at about 11:15.  Thank goodness I had a friend on email who could keep me company, because goodness knows no-one around here would have understood what I was doing!!)  Honestly, you would have thought I was about to ski for Olympic gold, the way my heart was pounding.  I was like Secretariat at the starting gate, except I was not leaning back against the fence.  I kept reminding myself that Sock Summit is fun with or without classes, that the list of available classes is insanely long this year and filled with amazing options, that the less money I spend on classes, the more I have to spend in the marketplace - and I believed all of that, I really did.  But there's something about being poised over the refresh button that gets the juices flowing.  (Or is that just me?)

I am dying to hear the stats again this time, because I think that the site only barely managed to avoid crashing by a hair.  It certainly hung up, but once I was in, things went very smoothly (none of the heart-stopping glitches of last time), and I got everything I wanted!!  (Well, again in the interest of full disclosure, there were a LOT more classes I wanted to take, but I decided to at least attempt to be sane, which meant leaving some open time to hang out with people and to shop in the marketplace, as well as choosing not to take any spinning classes so I wouldn't have to stress about getting my wheel to Portland.  I may regret those decisions later, but right now I am at peace.)

The schedule, you ask?  Here it is:
KnitteRx (1 hour class on knitting ergonomics)
Even Cooler Socks, with Lucy Neatby (6 hours on doing stuff with socks I've never done before)
The Deeper Meaning of Socks (a 1 hour lecture with Anna Zilboorg)
Sock Yarn Stories (a 1 hour lecture with Clara Parkes)
Writing Sock Patterns (3 hours with JC Briar)
This is Your Brain on Knitting (1 hour lecture with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee)
Kilt by Association (a 3-hour class on kilt hose)
Perfect Rib (a 1-hour class with Cookie A.)

How cool is that?  The only one that I may regret not taking is a class on recreating traditional folk socks - it's a 6-hour class on Thursday, and I think it would be really interesting to learn how to "read" a historic sock in order to recreate the pattern.  Next time, maybe?

Is anyone else going?  What classes are you taking?  Where are you staying?  (Note: I still have no plane tickets or hotel room.  That's the next step.)

In other knitting news, I have finished the Daybreak Shawl, and will (with luck) block it tonight.  Given that our humidity levels were around 7% yesterday (I think today they made it into the teens), it'll dry pretty quickly, I think.

And in non-knitting news, I got the coolest cookie cutter in the mail recently from Stella, after I admired the little breads that she was making for her kids' lunches.  So I made some bread dough - very plain, just white bread with millet - and cut out shapes and baked them to freeze.  Tell me what you think:
I made a few coyotes for good measure, but the frogs just took the cake.