Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year?


That's ½ of my maple tree resting comfortably on my neighbor's shed, thanks to today's high winds. It's also resting comfortably on the utility pole in the corner of my yard, and I've therefore lost my landline telephone service. Still have cable and electricity, (obviously, or you wouldn't be reading this), but I wonder for how long. Phone & power companies have been notified.

My neighbor is apparently away for the holidays. What a lovely gift she'll be coming home to. (Sorry, neighbor!) Now I wonder just how much this is going to cost me....

I heard and watched the whole thing happen -- quite dramatic. I'm just thankful it's not on either of our houses or cars. But the day isn't over, and the high wind advisory has been extended until 10 p.m. Exciting times!

And a Happy New Year to you, too!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's appalling....

I have several appalling things to report, not the least of which is the appalling lack of blogging that has taken place here recently. No guarantees on any improvement in that situation, as the first quarter of 2009 promises to be nightmarish, as far as work is concerned. I do, however, still owe you all a report about my weekend at SAFF, (waaaay back in October), and the fantastic week I spent in New York City for Thanksgiving, (was that already a month ago?!). I would love to be able to blog about both of those lovely times over the course of the next week or two, preferably before the New Year. We'll see what happens....

It's also appalling that my second finished knitted object of 2008 was not started nor completed until last week. Nothing like squeaking one in before the end of the year so I can still call myself a knitter!

Here it is, as a WIP, being modeled by a coworker:

And here is the finished object:

  • Yarn:
  • * Main: Lion Brand Cashmere Blend (in Navy)
  • * Stripes: Lion Brand Cashmere Blend (in Cream)
  • Gauge: 4.25 stitches per inch
  • Needles: U.S. size 8 (5 mm) Clover bamboo 7" DPNs
  • Pattern: cast on 84 stitches in main color, join in the round, K2,P2 every round for ~1", then knit every round for ~4", add stripes where desired; decrease & finish according to Super Simple Hat Calculator
  • Size: ~20" circumference
  • Recipient: Diego
  • Raveled here

This was knit for 13-year-old Diego, one of the 8 children of my office’s sponsored Christmas Mother. Diego is a Dallas Cowboys fan, (I know -- appalling! Insert gasp of horror here!), so I made a hat for him in the enemy’s colors. Turned out quite nicely, I think, despite that major design flaw! My good Christmas vibes must have overpowered the bad hate-the-Cowboys juju. ;-)

What's not appalling is that I have lured another unsuspecting person into the abyss that is fiber crafts. Saturday night I had dinner with a coworker who's going through some difficult times right now, and while eating our Thai food, I "innocently" suggested that she might want to give knitting a try, to help relax her. One stop at a craft store later, and before she knew it, I'd cast on for her and shown her the knit stitch. I stuck around to make sure she was okay with the first few rows of her garter stitch scarf in a dusty rose merino worsted-weight yarn, and after I returned home received a call from her around midnight thanking me for teaching her, and letting me know she was "having a blast" (her words). If that's not music to the ears of a fiber-enabler, what is?

She called me again today and told me that she was already close to finishing her first 200+ yard ball of yarn, and would need help joining the new one, and she also wanted to buy more yarn to start a scarf for her son. (My internal dialogue: "You mean, I can take you to an honest-to-goodness yarn shop?? Be still my heart!") So, we're heading out this afternoon to buy more yarn. I gotta tell ya, this doesn't suck. :-)

And so, although this hasn't been a banner year for my knitting, I'm still quite pleased, all in all.

Here's hoping I can share more of my recent exploits with you, before 2009 is heralded across the threshold. But in case I don't get a chance to say so before then, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Counting down...

Sorry for the extended blog silence, but, at least now there's light at the end of the tunnel -- I've started a countdown:

As you were.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another spinning FO

You may recall that about a month ago I shared a photo of some fiber that a fellow River City Knitter asked me to spin up for her.

Since then, I've taught myself how to navajo ply, (YarnHarlot has a good description of the method, here), then I spun up the singles of this Lisa Souza hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester (aka "BFL") top:

and then navajo-plied, skeined, washed and dried the yarn.

Here is the finished 3-ply:

I think it turned out okay, for my first navajo-plied handspun. I realize that you reduce yardage quite a bit when you turn a single into a 3-ply, but I do so like preserving, as best as possible, the color sequences that the hand-dyer originally intended:

The colors in this "Joseph's Coat" colorway are so contrasting that if allowed to "barber pole" in a 2-ply, I think the resulting yarn would have turned out much muddier.

The final measurement is about 168 yards, but I haven't yet counted wraps per inch. My guess is maybe sport-weight?

So, experienced spinners, does 168 yards of a 3-ply sport-weight from 4 oz. of fiber seem about right to you, or does it seem a bit scant, like it does to me? Other than the obvious "spin a finer single", how would you recommend I extend the yardage? An airier/loftier fiber prep? I'm always looking to learn and improve....

Anyway, I hope the recipient likes it.

Lots of upcoming fiber events this fall:

This weekend, for the second year in a row, I'm attending SAFF. I need to be in Greenville, SC all next week for work, and since that's less than an hour's drive from the Asheville, NC area, I decided to go down a few days earlier and partake of the fiber festivities. Should be fun!

How many Virginia readers are going to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in Berryville this weekend? This is its 3rd year, and I've still never attended. Next year, for sure! (I hope.)

In two weeks is Stitches East, but I'm not sure if I'll be attending. I may just stay home that weekend, since I've got a lot of other travel (business and personal) in store for me over the next month. And I certainly don't need any more yarn or fiber, especially after SAFF. But, we'll see -- I may want to jump on the River City Knitters bus trip just for the camaraderie!

So, if all goes well, I should get out at least one blog post this weekend about my SAFF experiences. After that -- who knows!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Yay, me!

I won a 2nd place ribbon at the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia, for my 2-ply skein of spindle-spun Corriedale (plied on my e-spinner):

Along with ribbons, they give out prizes. My prize was a lovely 2 oz. alpaca/merino/angora pin-drafted gray roving from Thistledown Alpacas. That totally rocks!

Since I knew I needed to be there today at 4 pm to pick up my skein, I didn't arrive until around 1:30, and started off by watching a little of the sheep dog trials:

...conveniently located near all the food vendors. So I had a lovely lunch of teriyaki chicken kabob and a spring roll (mmmm). And for company, I ran into L-B, who sat with me and showed off her lovely loot while I ate. Nice loot! After lunch, we parted ways and I began my pilgrimage from tent to tent, visiting lovely vendors and admiring their enticing wares.

Since most of my knitting peeps attended the festival on Saturday, the only other friend I ran into there was the lovely Queen Bess -- it's always fun to run into her at fiber festivals.

In the skein & garment tent, I had to get a shot of the "Best in Division"/"Best in Show" garment:

I had actually seen this on Ravelry a week or two ago, so I wanted to get a shot of it today with its ribbon, in case the winning entrant didn't get a chance to go to the show. It's an Alice Starmore pattern knit with Kauni yarn, which is perfect for fair isle, with its glorious color changes. Lovely autumn colors. Incredible knitting.

I visited every vendor, but was good and didn't go too crazy with purchases. I do have two more drop spindles to add to the collection:

The spindle on the left is a 0.8 oz. lace spindle made of oak, and really spins quite nicely and makes an uber-thin single. It has a notched shaft, (rather than a metal hook), which is new to me, but I like it. I purchased it from The Drafting Zone (Bowie, MD). It's made by a woodworker whose name escapes me, who designed it for his wife who does re-enactments at Mt. Vernon.

The spindle on the right is an Anne Grout glazed ceramic spindle. I must confess that I own three of her spindles already, but those three are top whorls. This one has a bottom whorl, a type of spindle I'm less skilled with, so I thought the pretty whorl will inspire me to practice with that tool:

In addition to my prize of alpaca blend roving, I also came home with some merino and a border leicester/mohair blend, but as the hour was late and daylight was waning, all my photos came out blurry or out-of-focus. You'll have to trust that it's pretty. :-)

I also got a FFF 2008 t-shirt, but again, no decent photos to be had tonight. It's brown.

I have to say, the drive alone is worth spending a precious weekend day at such an event. The rolling hills and lovely farms are so inspiring. I loved this one:

(click for big)

...... I love fiber festivals! And now it looks like I'll get to go to SAFF again this year, since I'll be in the area for work. Something tells me that, with two full days wandering around there, I may not be as good at that one. Should I rent a U-Haul?


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hold on to your chairs...

...I have a scarf update.

Breaking News -- it's longer:

I'm about to finish the first ball of Noro Cash Island, and the scarf currently measures about 20" x 5", so should be an optimal 60" long by the end of the third ball.

I'm really enjoying knitting this. I just do one or two sections at a sitting, and can even put it down mid-section and figure out where I am when I pick it up again later. Yet it maintains my interest as it grows and the colors change. A fun knit. It'll probably end up as some family member's Christmas gift. And when I finish it, I might just start another. Maybe.

Here's a couple of shamelessly self-indulgent close-ups:

Is anyone else as excited as I am about next weekend's Fall Fiber Festival? And look at that weather forecast:

If the weather really is that nice all weekend, I may go both days! Can't wait!

But I must also visit the State Fair at some point, possibly Friday afternoon, to see this year's TNK ribbon winners. Patsy, Amy, Jon and Lou all won ribbons again for their sewn, spun and/or knitted crafts. They are my heroes!

I will end this short post, so that I can go back to playing with fiber.

But before I go, I must say two things:

  • Rest in peace, Paul Newman. Your sparkling blue eyes will be missed.

  • Go Redskins, beat the Cowboys!

That is all. Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ziggy-Zaggy Knitty-Spinny

Two posts in two days (in less than 24 hours time)! Can you stand it?

Don't get used to it!

This morning I took Iris Schreier's workshop, sponsored by our River City Knitters knitting guild, and learned modular knitting using Iris' Zigzag Modular Scarf pattern (P57).

Yesterday afternoon, as I was driving home from the spinning guild meeting, I was mulling over the fact that I still hadn't settled on what yarn to use for this morning's workshop. So on impulse, I veered off the Powhite Parkway onto the Grove Ave. exit and stopped at Knitting Basket, to see what they had in the way of ArtYarns (or anything else, for that matter). I was hoping for some Supermerino, but they only had Ultramerino. Ute suggested Noro Cash Island, which I've since decided is a brilliant choice for this scarf. Noro's long stretches of color are perfection for any striped, multi-directional or entrelac knitting project. That's Basic Yarn Knowledge 101, but I really didn't want to use the scratchier Kureyon or Silk Garden. I hadn't considered Cash Island, and its softness (60% wool/30% cashmere/10% nylon), coupled with its signature Noro self-striping, made it a perfect chioice.

See what you think:

Modular (or multi-directional) knitting is fun! I can't wait to keep working on this. Once you get past the set-up sections and figure out how to read the knitting, it's fairly mindless, which is PERFECT for my feeble brain. And I adore the look of garter stitch fabric, especially in this type of tweedy yarn. I also love the ease of knitting every row, which makes the project even more popular in my mind. I may actually finish this, rather than relegate it to hibernating ("zzz") status on Ravelry. Wonders never cease.

Iris shared her basic formula for knitting this type of project if one wants to stray from the pattern and increase or decrease the number of cast-on stitches -- also handy to know. She also had a little trunk show again, which was just as fun and inspiring the second time around, getting to see and touch all those pretty garments and yarns. Plus we got to hear about how she got her start as a knitwear designer and her philosophy as a yarn designer and manufacturer -- all very interesting. At the end of class, she signed our books, and I was sorry I only had one in my possession (Exquisite Little Knits) for her to sign. I am motivated to get the other two (Modular Knits and Lacey Little Knits). We also got to flip through all the proof pages of her upcoming book - Reversible Knits, and there are some great patterns in there, too. I'll be adding that to my wish list, for sure.

Since we're on the topic of knitting, of which I've neglected for months, it seems, I thought I'd share a few other humble little works-in-progress I have going:

Here's a Spiral-Ribbed Bed Sock (an Interweave pattern from an old issue of Spin Off) that I've been working on, a little bit at a time:

yarn is Dream in Color Classy in "Pansy Golightly"

I like this pattern because it calls for worsted weight yarn and it doesn't have a heel, (basically one long tube that's closed at one end), so it will be fairly mindless knitting until decreasing for the toe. Somewhere around the ankle, I'll also have to start moving the first purl stitch in each row over one, every four rows, to start the spiral. That's not terribly challenging, I don't think.

You'll notice I'm using two circulars to knit this sock -- my first time using that method to knit in the round. I have to say, I love it. But, size (and the tool) matters. I started out using 16" circulars, and as many people have told me, they're just not as comfortable to knit with doing this technique. It can be done, it's just not as pleasant. And I'm all about the pleasant. ;-) So these are 24" Addi Lace needles, which are divine to knit with. I want 2 pairs of every size and length they have. Doesn't mean I'll get them all. I just want them all.

I'm taking my sweet time and not feeling any urgency to finish those bed socks, so don't expect an FO photo anytime soon.

One more thing I've worked on in the recent past, although I haven't touched it in at least a month, is the Prism Long-tailed Wrap. Here it is as an amorphous blob:

colors are fairly true in this photo

Here's a close-up, (colors a little washed out):

yarn is Prism Kid Slique in "Smoke" colorway

It will be pretty once it's done, but I'm not sure when that will be.

All of these are out on my Ravelry projects page, if you need more details.

And since I'm feeling particularly prolific today, I'll share a couple more things in my fiber queue.

This is just a basic ball of Lion Brand self-striping sock yarn I picked up today at Ben Franklin.

But it won't be made into socks. Instead, I'm going to use it to learn and practice navajo-plying. In yesterday's spinning guild program, it was suggested that we use a self-striping commercial yarn so that (a) you don't ruin a perfectly good handspun while practicing, and (b) the color changes in the yarn will help you practice when to close the loop when plying. So, when all is said and done, I hope to have a not-too-terribly-ugly ball of this in a much-bulkier navajo-three-ply on top of the four plies it already has. And what starts out as 438 yards should be reduced to one-third, or about 146 yards. I'm interested to see how it turns out. Might make a cool-looking hat, after it's done. Or it might go straight into the trash can, depending on how things go.

Another spinning project in the queue was handed to me today at the end of our knitting workshop. A fellow River City Knitter who is not a spinner has somehow found herself with some roving:

and was looking for someone to spin it for her. Robin H. volunteered me and my electric spinner (thanks, Robin H! I'm volunteering you to hook me a rug!). Actually, it should be a fun project -- the white roving is about 10 oz. of babydoll wool, (I'd never heard of that breed, until just now.) It's still got a lot of lanolin in it, so should be really nice to spin. It's also got little bits of VM throughout, but the pieces are so small that I'll probably not trouble myself to pick them out, unless they're really big and obvious. (If you more experience spinners reading this disagree, please speak up!)

The multi-colored roving is some Blue-faced Leicester from Lisa Souza, which should also be nice to spin. I think I might wait to spin that until after I learn how to navajo ply, so that I can preserve the color sequences.

And that, my friends, takes us to the end of my fiber update, for now. Not sure when I'll post again. It could be a day, a week, or a month, as lately, I tend to write when the spirit strikes, when time allows, and when I have something interesting to say or show. And that magic trifecta doesn't always come together frequently. So, if you get tired of seeing the same old post at the top of the blog for days and days and days, might I recommend Google Reader?

Hope your weekend was wonderful. Have a great week, my friends!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is this thing on...?

...tap, tap, tap....

Apparently, I've lost my audience, which is what I deserve for not blogging for weeks. But I'll write a new post and send it out into the universe, and see what, if anything comes back.

First of all, I have some finished yarn to show ya:

Those were all spun and plied on my electric spinner. All are wool of one form or another and purchased from various sources.

Casey approves, and has adopted them as a pillow:

Here's one more skein I've recently finished:

It is 100% Corriedale pencil roving from Crown Mountain Farms in their "As Above, So Below" colorway. The singles were spun on two drop spindles; they were then plied on my electric spinner, skeined, washed, whacked, dried, and reskeined.

Here's the obligatory dime photo:

The skein is 1 oz., 112 yards, and about 20-24 wraps per inch -- roughly laceweight.

Last week I was spinning up a 50/50 blend of cashmere/silk, with plans to submit it to the Fall Fiber Festival Skein & Garment competition. Well, disaster struck when I went to ply the luxury yarn, (don't ask - it's still too painful to discuss), so this wool is a last minute substitution.

Here's my entry all ready to go, along with my entry form and $2 entry fee:

high hopes

This is turning into quite the yarn-centric weekend for me, so it seems.

Iris Schreier, a published knitwear designer and the talent behind ArtYarns, is in Richmond this weekend teaching workshops for the River City Knitters knitting guild. At the last minute, Robin H. talked me into attending a mini-workshop Iris gave last night (Friday) at Lettuce Knit, which was quite fun. Iris handed out tiny skeins of ArtYarns supermerino samples, taught us a few of her very unique knitting techniques, and passed around knitted samples from her three previous books as well as from her new book coming out in April. We actually got to see a few pages from her new book, which was cool. Oh, and she has a new yarn coming out that is a machine-washable cashmere/merino/nylon blend. She passed around a crocheted baby blanket made from it that had already been machine-washed, and it was just lovely, and so soft. Can you imagine - a machine-washable cashmere yarn? Think of the gift-giving possibilities!

Another cool thing she showed us was her way to do a mobius cast-on by using a modified long-tail cast-on, which did seem less complicated than Cat Bordhi's mobius cast-on. I hope I can try it sometime. If you have Iris' book 'Exquisite Little Knits', it's the cast on she does for the belt ring, but converted to a long circular needle (at least 36").

Today (Saturday) I attended the Clothos Children spinning guild meeting, my first time attending an actual meeting other than their silent auction back in April. It was a much smaller group this time, and quite nice. They have a show-and-tell session, which is fun, and then a little instructional program, and this time the program was about plying. Some very helpful tips and suggestions were offered, and a demonstration of navajo plying was given. I'm very motivated to learn that technique, and am eager to start practicing next weekend. Once I learn how to navajo ply, I will probably ply everything I can that way, if I have enough yardage, and especially if the colors in the fibers dictate. I'm not a big fan of the barber-poling effect of plied yarns, and when I buy a gorgeously-dyed fiber, I want to preserve the color sequences that attracted me to it in the first place. Plus, it will be lovely to ply from just one bobbin without having to wrestle with a tangly center-pull ball. (See above-mentioned cashmere/silk painful fiasco.)

Tomorrow (Sunday) I'm attending Iris' morning workshop for her zig-zag scarf, which should be fun. I have to admit that I have not been a huge fan of the look of many modular knitted items, but the techniques are really cool, so I'm ready to give them a try. And after seeing some of the knitted samples from ArtYarns designers like Iris and Sharon Sorkin up close and personal, I believe I'm a convert. Keep an eye out for Sharon's Sequined Mohair Lace Vest pattern (I120) (Ravelry link) -- the photo on the pattern sheet does not do it justice. In person, it is gorgeous enough to wear in a wedding or to the opera. And another pattern I loved, (not sure if it's released yet), is for a gorgeous cabled cashmere scarf, where the cables are different on each side. Beautiful and inspirational. The yarns themselves are exquisite, with a price tag to match. But there seems to be some very decent pattern support, so that one can create a beautiful heirloom knitted item with just a skein or two, and therefore worth making a splurge, now and then.

It's getting late, so I will end this. If you're attending tomorrow's workshop, I'll see you there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Boss comes to My Hometown

Oh, one more thing, before I go on vacation...

...I saw The Boss again last night:

Twice in one tour - what a treat! But when they announced he'd added dates, including a show here in Richmond, how could I not?

Another great show. Springsteen was very playful last night, with lots of crowd interaction, taking of requests, pulling young fans on stage, handing out drumsticks, and an unheard-of 8-song encore at the end of a power-packed 3-hour show that never stopped save the brief departure prior to the encore. I was on my feet for most of it, and came home with ears ringing, sweaty and exhausted. And blissfully happy.

My friend and I had great seats - very close to the front, at lower level stage right. My only complaint is that the sound was horrible. Not sure who is to blame - Springsteen's sound engineers, or the Richmond Coliseum. Probably a combination of both. I've seen him there before, back in '05, but our seats faced the stage head-on back then, where all the speakers face, and the sound back then was sublime. Last night there was so much buzz and reverb that it was really hard to make out what the song was, until he started singing the lyrics, which at times were also hard to hear. Because of the sound issues, the singers and instruments sounded out of tune, at times. Such a shame. The reviewer in the local paper also had the same issue. So much for the press having the best seats in the house.

Anyway, if you're a fan and would like to see more photos and two brief videos, I invite you to visit my Flickr photoset.

Enjoy. I definitely did!

And now I bid you adieu for a few days.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I've been plying...

...and now I've got me a basket o' bobbins that I need to wind off, wash, whack and dry. Once that's all done, I will display the skeins in all their glory, and share the who/what/where etc.

I'm learning that if spinning singles is as enjoyable and zen-like as knitting a beloved project, then plying is like seaming the pieces together and weaving in the ends -- a bit of a chore.

Here's my dilemma. Many, many (most) of the indy-dyers on etsy and other places sell their lovely, hand-painted rovings in 4 oz. increments. And usually, you can only get that gorgeous colorway you love in just one 4 oz. sample. Either they don't reproduce their colorways, or else if there were multiples, someone else has bought the others and you are left with just one. (Sorta like that sale bin of sock yarn at your LYS -- what can you really do with just one skein of Koigu?)

Okay, 4 oz. of fiber is still a decent amount -- you can make a hat, or maybe some socks or mittens, with 4 oz. of yarn, although I think for the latter two items, I'd prefer to play it safe with 6 oz.

Of course, I'd get more yardage with singles than with plied yarn, but considering that I can't seem to spin anything fatter than laceweight, I think that for the time being, everything is going to be double-plied. And once I learn how, I will probably do some navajo three-plying as well, so as to preserve color sequences. But then that cuts down one's yardage to a third of what came out as singles. So, again, more fiber for more yardage seems to be necessary.

So, let's say you are able to get a nice 8 oz. sample of that gorgeous colorway you love. Or, perhaps you're using an undyed, natural-colored fiber, perhaps from a fleece you acquired and had processed (or processed yourself, you industrious fiber artist, you). Or you dyed up an 8 oz. quantity of fiber yourself. (My, aren't you a Jill of all trades!). So, bottom line is, you find yourself with 8 oz. of the same fiber - brilliant.

Here's the next problem. Let's say you've got yourself an electric spinner with a bobbin capacity of 4, maybe 5 oz. When you were buying those little 4 oz. increments of fiber... (okay, let's stop talking in the 2nd person, and move back to first -- this is me we're talking about, after all). So, when I was buying and spinning up 4 oz. of fiber, I could fit the singles all on one bobbin. However, if I wanted to make a two-ply, I had to make a choice -- do I split the fiber and spin it on two different bobbins and ply it together, or do I spin it all on one bobbin, wind it into a center-pull ball, and ply it to itself?

I've done it both ways, and both ways are mildly problematic for me. Not earth-shattering, mind you, but annoying enough to take some of the bliss out of what I was feeling when spinning the singles. If you spin the singles on two different bobbins, invariably you get more on one bobbin than another, and then after you've plied them both together, you've got extra singles on one bobbin. (Here I am, back in 2nd person. Switching to first again.) What I've been doing in those situations is taking the extra singles and Andean-plying them on one of my drop spindles, to make a little mini-skein. Sure, it's cute, but I'd really rather have that yarn back in my bigger skein.

If you spin the 4 oz. all on one bobbin and wind it into a center-pull ball, you've got some wrestling ahead of you. There doesn't seem to be any way around dealing with the challenge of the energized single and how much it wants to tangle. Of course, one could wind the single on a niddy noddy, skein it, wash it and set it before plying, but really -- do I want to add another labor-intensive step to this process? I have found that if I try to ply directly from the center-pull ball, there will be tangling, so I've ended up adding another step, which is to take both ends of the ball and wind them together into another center-pull ball, before plying to add more twist. This works okay, for the most part, although winding the two ends into that second center-pull ball always produces a bit of frustration as I fight to ward off the tangles and the occasional broken single. Don't believe what anyone tells you about how long a single sits on a bobbin and how it "sets" the twist and tames the energy. Not true! Plenty of energy left, after days (weeks!) of sitting on a bobbin!

So, here's what I'd really like to do. I would like to spin up larger amounts of fiber (8 oz., with 4 oz. of singles on each bobbin), and be able to ply them (using a lazy kate) onto one bobbin. This of course, requires a bobbin with a capacity for 8 oz. of yarn. Wheels with jumbo flyers, (Lendrum, Ashford), come with bobbins that can hold that capacity. I don't own it (yet), but there is a jumbo flyer available for my Butterfly electric spinner; however, it does not come with a WooLee Winder, so I'd have to be changing hooks throughout the plying process -- another annoyance. I'm still not ready to buy a more traditional wheel, especially not just for plying, but even if I did, there is no jumbo WooLee Winder for the Lendrum or Ashford, that I know of.

There is, however, a jumbo WooLee Winder for the Roberta electric spinner. I didn't go with that spinner to begin with because I was dissuaded by what I'd read about the very strong draw-in of the bobbin-led Irish tension (like a Louet wheel). But that jumbo bobbin is enticing me to consider it as a second "wheel", just for plying. I do have room on the coffee table for another spinner after all. Dare I?

Another tool I'm considering, if I really want to get serious about cranking out the production spinning, is a dedicated skein-winder with a yardage counter, which would be so much faster than winding off every bobbin (especially 8 oz. bobbins!) onto a niddy noddy. So, I think if I up my plying capacity, I will definitely need one of these....

And then there's a postal scale. It would be nice to know exactly how much a particular sample of fiber or handspun yarn weighs. There have been many times I've wanted to know exact weights and didn't have an accurate or precise-enough scale to measure.

And let's not forget the drum carder I've been considering. Making my own custom batts would be a real kick!

See -- this is the problem with hobbies. Hobbies beget more hobbies. Tools beget more tools. It's never-ending. Cha-ching! Scary....

With all this yarn production I'm considering, the next obvious question is, what will I do with it? The funny thing is, I'm not knitting much (at all?) right now; I'm just enjoying spinning too much. I'm not sure I want to go so far as to start selling handspun yarn, (and I'm not sure I'm good enough for that, anyway). All I can think of is, maybe I could spin yarn for the peeps in my knitting group. I wouldn't want to do it for pay - that just takes the joy out a hobby. But if someone bought the fiber, (their choice of colors and fiber blends), I could spin it up for them. Of course, I'm not sure how well I'd be able to meet their needs, that is, if someone wanted a three-ply fingering weight, they may or may not get that. My inexperience, at this early stage of my spinning "career", means that a knitter would need to be satisfied with what I'm able to create, which may or may not be what they had originally intended. Which is why I couldn't take payment.

It's just something I'm considering; not even sure if I'd have time, but I like to think I would -- I do enjoy it. :-)

Anyway, back to that photo at the top, and managing reader expectations. I am leaving tomorrow for a short vacation down at the beach, and won't be back until late Saturday. I'm not taking anything more with me than a couple of drop spindles, a little fiber, and one or two knitting projects, (ever the optimist). Therefore, since I get most of my spinning production accomplished on the weekends, it could be at least another 10 days-2 weeks before I have any finished skeins of yarn to show you. Just sayin'.

And maybe by then I will have figured out a solution for my plying capacity problem. Maybe I'll even have a new tool or two. :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Phun with Phake Photography

I've been wasting time this lovely Sunday morning over on, where you can upload a photo of yourself and through the magic of the interwebs, it shows you how you'd look in the hairstyle and clothes of different eras.

Some of these make me sentimental, because they really look like my mom:



Some just crack me up:










(the little flower on the chin can't save this atrocity!)


And some are scarily close to hairstyles I've actually worn:




My sister totally had this hairstyle not too long ago:


But not this one, thank God:

And if I ever wondered how I'd look as a blond, here are a few options:


(big bangs are back!)

Such an amusing waste of time. Such an amazing, ageless face I have!