Syndactyl Salutations

Thoughts on writing, knitting, and the world around me.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Let's Talk Socks

I've made a couple of pairs of socks in the past few months, but you haven't seen them yet. Sorry about that. I do not knit quickly even when things are going well, even less so at other times. Being at Kripalu qualified as "other times."

Mountain Colors Bearfoot Sock in "Crazy Woman" purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool May 2005.

Started October 5, 2005 -- Finished December 31, 2005.

Pretty sure these are my favorites so far, super soft and comfy. I wish I had made the cuffs a bit taller, but I had never used Mountain Colors before...actually, yardage concerns should totally never come up for me, I have size 5 feet.

Mom socks take 2, aka birthday socks. Regia sock yarn. Started January 5, 2006 -- Finished February 10, 2005.

I knocked the first one out in less than two weeks (which is fast for me), but went back to work shortly after starting the second one, so they took a bit longer than I expected. Mom does not have size 5 feet. If these look at all familiar, it is with good reason:

Mom always mentioned how much she liked my pair of these whenever I wore them, so I went back to my LYS to see if there was more of this colorway. There was, and matching mother-daughter socks were eventually born. Note sock size difference (oh and color intensity, I wear mine a LOT and it's beginning to show), I get spoiled knitting socks for myself, so socks for others feel like they take much longer.

I am working on my first Jaywalker (maybe I'll take a progress photo tomorrow) and am about to cast on for a pair of socks for my middle sister, the only one of my immediate blood relatives not to have a pair yet.

I am also working on other UFOs, but they are probably best not mentioned in detail.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Spin Me Right 'Round...Well, Maybe Another Time

So, I know I mentioned that my mother gave me a gift of a spinning workshop, right? It was this past weekend, all day Saturday and half the day Sunday. Saturday went well, Sunday did not.

Saturday we got acquainted with the wheel, getting it to spin, learning the parts, and so on. I used my mom's wheel, I have no idea who made it, only that she's had it for a while, it's a little beat, and it only has one bobbin.

It took me a bit to get the treadling rhythm, the instructor had us practice treadling the wheel for a while before we spun anything, which was probably a good idea. She started us spinning pencil roving, I have no idea what type of wool it is, but it smells like Murphy's Oil Soap. I had a couple of minor hiccups at the start, but before long I got the hang of it. The photos below are all from Saturday. The quality isn't the best, but I'm amazed I managed to remember to take photos at all.

My first bobbin! It was actually relatively evenly spun, all things considered. I had to wind it off the bobbin in order to continue spinning. It's actually more brown than grey.
My second bobbin, partially wound off, almost forgot to take the photo, see? This is actually more cream-colored than white.
Saturday's plied skein, cell phone for scale. I didn't have a whole lot of trouble with the plying, other than the fact that I was plying from a ziploc and had to stop and do some minor untangling at one point.

Sunday has no photos. I was so frustrated practically from start to finish that it's amazing that I didn't burst into tears or dismember the wheel or something equally as unflattering. I certainly didn't need photographic proof of it.

We started by carding some single-washed locks of Leicester Longwool fleece (still with lots of lanolin) and making rolags to spin. I managed to do this, sort of. My arms got more of a workout than I expected, but I could see it becoming easier over time, I suppose.

After we had our rolags, we were supposed to spin them. My two classmates did, with seemingly little frustration. I, on the other hand, could not get my brain to embrace both the treadling and the drafting at the same time. I could NOT get the wheel to maintain momentum! I was apparently concentrating too hard on trying to get the wheel to spin, and as a result, not only was it not spinning, but I wasn't really drafting either. And when I did get the wheel to go around more than twice in succession, I would draft too thinly and my rolag would break free of the "yarn" I had on the bobbin.

My success with fiber from a drum carded batt with less lanolin was only marginally better. By the end of four hours, I had two tiny balls of really terrible yarn. I left my mom's wheel at the museum (she works there) and the only thing from the weekend that's made it into the house is Saturday's skein.

I'm not going to give up entirely yet, and I certainly have plenty of practice fiber. I came away with probably another three times as much pencil roving as I've already spun; two decent sized batts of drum carded fiber; a plastic grocery bag of Leicester Longwool fleece; and a plastic grocery bag of unwashed fleece to practice washing and, provided I don't turn it into a giant piece of felt, carding and spinning.

So, any of you spinners who may stumble across my sob story, any advice on keeping the wheel spinning in the right direction (so as not to need to keep restringing the double band) while drafting roving at a rate that will allow me to spin something other than filament weight yarn?

Help. Please.

P.S. Yes, I got a digital camera. More photos to come soon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Not a Good Weekend

Yeah, so my laziness on Saturday was actually the beginning of a long weekend of intestinally dodgy illness. Very unpleasant Saturday night, ending up with the most severe case of chills I've had in a long time: blue lips, blue fingertips, chattering teeth...

I slept most of the day on Sunday, only to wake up late afternoon to find out that one of the people I love most in the world's father died earlier in the day. I emailed him and called him, but I still wish there was something else I could do. Can't though, he lives in another country, and even though he came home, his family lives in another state. I'm really sad for him. I hate feeling this helpless when someone I care about is in pain.

Didn't end up going to work yesterday because I still had the queasies, but I was back at it today, and this evening I managed to finally get an article turned in. (It's frustrating when things I'm working on just won't come together.)

Still working on my mom's birthday socks, the knitting slowed down considerably once I started my temp job, I'm still working on getting the work/life balance back.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Lazy Saturday

I have things I should probably be doing, but I'm not doing any of them. Instead, I'm on the couch, laptop on my lap, sqinting at the grey skies, listening to the rain, rewatching Corpse Bride, and eating too many caramels.

I had a very productive Saturday last weekend and in two weeks I'll be here (pdf link -- courtesy warning per Norma) taking the Beginning Spinning class. The class is a generous just because gift from my mother, and I'll be borrowing her wheel. It'll be interesting to see how it goes, since the spindle spinning just manages to make me feel clumsy every time I try it. That, and I only manage to spin THREAD, pretty wool thread, but itty-bitty all the same.

The point is, that I am using those past and future Saturdays as my excuses to basically squander this one. I could go camera shopping, since I did deposit a (small) paycheck yesterday, but I'm not even up for doing that, somehow.

But it's more than that, really. It's the mail as well. Just in case any of you were wondering, letters from prison aren't much fun. Especially when you know you really should write back and be as encouraging as possible, no matter how upsetting the situation is, or how carefully you feel like you have to choose your topics of conversation. So, yeah, there's that, and it has managed to paralyze me. Maybe one day it won't, but for now it makes for lowkey, unproductive weekends.

Enjoy yours.