Friday, June 24, 2011

Knitting in the interstices

I keep waiting for things to slow down, and they keep not slowing down.  The good news is that it's different craziness, instead of more of them same.  (At least, I think that's good news.)  Younger Daughter is still in school - today's her last day - and I've been going in to work to finish packing up my office.  But today is her last day, and as of Tuesday my office is packed (to the tune of six full boxes of shredding, two huge blue recycling bins full of old readers and paper, and twenty boxes of books and files), so things are finally starting to feel like summer.  We're even getting (quiet as it's kept) sun in the afternoon.  Hooray! 

In all of that, there hasn't been as much knitting time as I'd like, but last weekend, on Father's Day, Younger Daughter had a feis to go to, which means plenty of knitting time for me while waiting for her dances to come up.  She has to do some sitting and waiting, too, which is hard when in full regalia, including warm dress and wig.
She concentrating, can you tell?  All in all, though, she's pretty cheerful about it.
And we love getting to watch her dance.
(She's especially cheerful because her hair is now long enough that we can get a ponytail wig for her, instead of always having to wear the full wig - it'll be much lighter and more comfortable.  Question: when did I become the mom who puts a wig on her kid?  Answer: when I became the mom whose kid loves Irish dance.  Life is strange, sometimes.) 

During all the waiting, I finally finished the Rivendell socks, knitted out of my very own handspun, three-ply, sock yarn.  Hooray!
(Note the dog nose in the corner.  Hope springs eternal in the breast of a dog, and when Tilly sees me put my socks on, she becomes convinced that it means a walk for her.)

Here's where Ravelry is so lovely.  By the time these were finished, I'd completely forgotten where I got the fiber for the yarn, or even what kind of fiber it is.  But Ravelry knows all!  It's a superwash Blue-Faced Leister from the Sincere Sheep, bought at the Dixon Fiber Festival last October.  Spun on my Lendrum, three-ply.  Knitted on size one needles, in size small.
I really love these socks.  I loved them the first time I saw the pattern, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to knit a pair.  I'm guessing I'll knit another pair sometime sooner rather than later.  Like the Kimono socks that I so love, it's hard to imagine having too many pairs of these.  I knitted them on the small side, because I'm finding more and more that I like my socks tight - they wear better and feel better in my shoes.  I think I got these just right.

But my favorite part?  It has to be these little droopy leaves, and the way they transition into the little travelling stitch motif.  Love them.
Aw, heck.  I should be honest.  I just love the whole pattern.  And I'm pleased and surprised with how evenly the yarn turned out - it actually felt like sock yarn!  Except more bouncy, somehow, which is nice.  The BFL spun up like a dream, and it's plenty soft on the feet.  I think it'll wear well, too.

I have been spindling plenty (the wheels still sit, sad and lonely, though), and the second round of spinning classes started last night (each round is two sessions).  Everyone was spinning by the end of the night, and I'd bet money that a couple of them will be past the park and draft stage by next week.  The best bit was that a student from the last session dropped off a hat that she'd knitted out of her handspun at the store - it's beautiful!  And I got to show the students in this class what someone can do with two and a half weeks of spinning experience.  I'll try to remember to bring my camera for a picture next week.  Most of what I've been spinning is little bits of things for class, but I have also been working steadily on the silk/cashmere stuff I've had tucked away for ages.  I'm using my new Golding, and getting a very fine singles from it.  I think that as a two-ply, once it's bloomed (and judging by the last batch I spun, this'll bloom a lot in the wash), it's going to be a very nice lace-weight yarn.

Meanwhile, now that school is out and the office is packed, I've been indulging myself in lots of time spent (finally!) learning Spanish with the Rosetta Stone package that we got last year.  We have Level 1, and I'm determined to work my way through it in the next week or so, and then to spend the summer trying to actually use what I've learned.  Meanwhile, I'm talking to myself in "Spanish" as often as I can (I find that I have to use the verb "to drive" quite a lot as I schlep the kids hither and yon); the only way to learn a language is to use it, even if I'm just talking to myself.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Week by week

That's the only way to go right now, it seems: week by week. 

Last week brought Younger Daughter's school's spring concert.  This year they tried something different and did a musical - Seussical, actually (or, to be precise, Seussical Lite; this makes sense, as they make a point of including even the very very little kids in the spring concert).  Younger Daughter was a Bird Girl.
She had a blast, which is the most important thing.  And she was particularly excited this year, since Rick's parents came out to see her musical!  Audience composition is important.

The first spinning class went well last week (I think).  By the end of the class, all of the students were making yarn using the park and draft method.  And one of them had even progressed to trying to draft while the spindle was dangling and spinning; she did pretty darned well, even if she did learn first-hand one of the reasons why the name 'drop spindle' makes so much sense.  We're meeting again tonight for the second half of the class, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how everyone did over the week.

The goal of tonight's class is to learn about plying.  To that end, I decided to show them several different possibilities for plying spindle-spun yarn.
What you see there on the left is two knitting needles with cops (I slid the cops from the spindle shaft onto the knitting needle), ready for plying.  Between them is a ball wound with two plies at the same time, all ready to go (it's wound around a rock, to make starting the ball easier).  And on the right is a center-pull ball, ready for plying from both ends.  In class, I will teach them Andean plying using their spindles full of yarn (and the one that I need to go spin right now).  That should give them four reasonable ways to spin, two of which are limited to making two ply (or cable-plied) yarns, and the other two of which can be used for more than two plies, if desired. 

All of the spindle time (every bit of that yarn was spun between last week's class and last night, on top of all of the usual stuff that goes along with having out-of-town visitors - we went to the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA, btw, and if you like Tim Burton and live within reach, it's a pretty nifty thing to see! - preparing for Younger Daughter's birthday yesterday, and for Rick's birthday and Father's Day this weekend) means that my poor wheel has been banished to a corner.
It sits there, with the second half of my lovely fiber waiting to be spun and plied (and glowing beautifully in the errand sun - it hasn't gotten much above the mid to high 60s around here lately, with lots of June Gloom in evidence; sun?  we don't need no stinking sun!).  Soon, my precious, soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's June WHAT?!

Honestly.  How does this happen?

Well, I guess I know some of the answer to that.  You'd think that the end of the semester would bring some kind of calm and order to my world, but it rarely works that way.  The only differences, I've found, between summer and not-summer, are that a) I don't have the order of my classes to help me keep track of what day and week it is, and b) I don't get paid to do all the work I do during the summer.  Like packing my entire office up to move to a new building.  (Which is not all bad, of course - new buildings do have some nice features - but in this case, it also means that I will have less than half the amount of filing space I have now, and about 2/3 of the shelf space; you can imagine the flurry of panic and pitching this is causing among the faculty.)

But there are other good things going on.  My parents came down for a visit last week, which was wonderful, and the reason they came was even more wonderful.  Check this out:
That's Older Daughter, in her middle school promotion ceremony.  What does that mean?  That means that my daughter is going to be (already is, she says) a high school freshman.  When did that happen?
She was pretty happy with herself, and with good reason - she graduated with Honors (and only missed High Honors by, I kid you not, 1/100 of a point).  Go, girl!

I have been knitting, too, and while I don't have any good pictures of it, I wore my new tank top in to the office today.
Not too bad for summer, right?  It's cotton, and therefore machine-washable and cool, and it fits beautifully (which you really can't see there, but it does).  I even had to learn to crochet a little bit to get the edging done (and I think I might go back and put an edging around the bottom in the white color, just to help keep it from rolling up).  I can't remember all of the project details right now, but I'll get them into Ravelry.

And I've been spinning out a lot.  My first spindling class is this Thursday, and I have been working on a (brief) handout, as well as a little mini-syllabus (complete with student learning outcomes) to keep me on track.  With only two hours to get folks spinning (the second two-hour class is focused on plying), there's a lot of ground to cover!  Of course, spending this much time spindling means that I have the perfect excuse justification legitimate reason to spend some money on spinning (right?).  For example, minutes after Erica posted her pictures of this, I snagged it.  My pictures of it don't compare to hers, so it's worth checking it out.  It's at my house now, calling my name, but I really want to make sure I get it right, which means contemplating exactly what "right" means in this case.  I have a few thoughts, and I'll get to it soon, I hope.

I also headed over to my LYS today, at my friend the owner's request (it turns out she wanted me to ply her yarn for her, and, me being the sucker that I am, I did - note to self: resist blandishments), and as I was there (plying her yarn, have I mentioned?), a box of books arrived, containing her new order of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.  I got one, of course.  Bedtime reading, here I come!