Sunday, March 28, 2010

More spindling - and other stuff

The blue-green yarn plyed, on to an Avi Wassermann spindle. All of it! Well, it is a big spindle, and I did buy it for plying. I paid attention this time to the fact that it is a centre weighted spindle, rather than rim weighted, and yes, indeed, it was harder to get going but went on spinning for longer. As more yarn was wound on, this got more and more marked, but had barely reached the point of being a problem when I ran out of yarn. So, highly successful. This will now be wound off, and washed, and then no doubt left to mature for a while before turning in to something. Might make a cowl....

And still on the subject of spindles. When I was at SOAR last year, I bought my first Grafton Fibers spindle, a very pretty little thing. I always check spindles before buying and this one worked perfectly in the booth.

Got it back to our room, tried it later with some fibre that I just happened to have hanging around, and - ugh. Wobbling all over the place. I decided that I must have bent the hook somehow in transit.

Got home, tweaked it a bit, seemed fine, started spinning something - more ugh, wobble, wobble wobble. This went on - and on. Very mysterious, these are supposed to be good spindles, and I am supposed to be a reasonable spindler. So, WTF?

Couple of days ago, I tried again, same thing. This time, I got mad. This was not an insoluble problem, I was not going to be beaten. I tried rotating the position of the hook. And suddenly, I saw what the problem was. Sort of with the design of the spindle, but primarily, operator error.

If you can bear to look at the bad photo - talk about wobble! -

See the shape of the hook? My normal practice is to take the yarn from under the whorl to the back of the hook and catch it round the hook that way. Do that with this spindle, and the yarn lodges in the slightly exaggerated lower bend, and hence it is not centred, leading to - wobble! When I shifted the hook round so that the notch was to the side, and thus I was leading the yarn up straight in to the hook, all became clear. (And that also explains why the spindle was perfect in trials, because I was always beginning afresh, hooking directly in to the fibre supply. Well, duh.)

A pretty, functional spindle; and a very slightly chastened spindler!

OK - an easy day today after a couple of days out. So, knitting and iPod, maybe? I sorted out a couple of socks that had got a bit discombobulated during Friday's AH sock class, but then knew it was time for some serious thinking about the mohair waistcoat.

People have looked at it on the needles with a puzzled air. Yes, it is a weird construction, but I have always known the shape I was aiming for with the basic garment. It was where to go with it after that stage that was the conundrum as far as I was concerned.

The blue-green is the basic waistcoat. I need more yarn that I have to do what I intend (as I have now decided) which is to go the crochet route. So the brighter green must come in to play, but also some beautifully and serendipitously matching silk from Chasing Rainbows. After all, if it doesn't work, I can easily riiiip and go with Plan B......

Now, in the background of that photograph. Something strangely shaped and violently purple.

A cat tunnel. Well, another cat tunnel. When they were babies, we got the Snowshoes a little, yellow tunnel, that crinkles. They love it and still play with it. Some time ago, we got them a bigger one, as befits their adult status and size, but they didn't like it. Then, yesterday, we went to a Cat Show, and found on one of the stalls, a larger version, or rather, longer. With pop-holes. And lots of crinkle.

We didn't need television last night, I can tell you!

We didn't go to the Show to show, I hasten to add. Or to look for kittens....I have been persuaded to get involved with the Snowshoe Breed Advisory Committee, and I actually think it could be very interesting. I have no axe to grind, and I am very good at being (and I am terribly sorry, but I can't resist this) a dogsbody.

(Oh, and we also bought them a cube with dangly bits. We are such sad people......)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring is sprung

Actually, today is a bit grey and mizzle-ish, but all of a sudden there are lots of daffodils out - crocuses have been so for a few days now. There are catkins bobbing on twig ends, reminding me of primary school days when we used to go out and gather them for the "Nature Table" in the run up to Easter.

For quite a while now we have been enjoying a cock blackbird sitting over the other side of the lane singing away at all hours, starting quite early in the morning. He has a particularly penetrating call, so we can easily hear him through closed windows; but other birds are tuning up now, and it won't be all that long before a real dawn chorus gets going.

We had a small, spring-related mystery last night. Getting ready for bed, with the window newly opened, we both of us quite distinctly and definitely heard a lamb bleating. Now, this is not at all an unusual thing, but we had neither of us noticed any sheep and lambs being put in to the meadow opposite - but when we went to look this morning, there was nary a one to be seen. In any nearby field! Ghost lamb? Or one wandering? We shall never know.

Ruby. Ah, Ruby. She has discovered the pond (aka "bucket", yes, I know....) She keeps on arriving in the porch with her latest trophy. So far, several pieces of duckweed-encrusted polystyrene, a ditto plastic bag (so good of her to clean the damn thing out for us....) And two frogs. Separately. Two at once would be beyond even Madam Ru, I think. Such fun. I await, trembling, the spring crop of baby bunnies.

Still spindling, and will report more thoughts on that subject soon. But I've got an Alston class with the focus on spinning for and knitting socks on Friday, so as well as sorting out supplies, books, thoughts on my usual sock knitting habits, I thought that I had better provide information and hopefully examples of two circs and magic loop.

Well, I have printouts from the internet, but in all other respects, total failure. I really did go in to it believing that of course I could do it, I just preferred not to. Not. Total failure. Ah, well. I have cast on for a picot cuff - it can be my next sock on the needles anyway, a super yarn from Natalie at The Yarn Yard from Woolfest last year, Tasteful and elegant shades of grey brown and creamy white rather than my more common screaming pinks, greens, purples and reds. I'm going to enjoy these.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The last five miles were agony..........

Finished! The pretty blue-green merino etc mix fibre all spun up on to the two spindles.

As I said before, this was not a true comparison as the two spindles were from different makers. They were of a very similar weight and a slightly less similar size. In completing this exercise, I have pushed the capacity of each of them way beyond the point where I would have stopped in normal circumstances. With both spindles, it ceased to be a pleasure, although for different reasons!

With the Woodchuck bottom whorl, I started out enjoying the process, and finding the spindle effortless to use. But as it filled up, it became harder and harder to get sufficient momentum and I ended up having to twirl more than once before stopping to wind on. The yarn became harder to keep fixed in use as well - I had to wind spun yarn round the shaft several times to avoid slippage.

With the IST top whorl, I managed to continue being able to flick the shaft on my knee to get it turning for the greater part of the process, but eventually the cop grew so long that there was not sufficient free shaft left to do this. At this point, spinning became much harder work, although I did not usually have to finger-twirl as often as with the other spindle. Winding on became an issue as well, although slightly easier to resolve - as long as I took the yarn from the bottom of the cop straight up into one of the grooves in the whorl, there was no slippage.

I was spinning a fairly fine yarn, so as the spindles grew heavier, there was some breakage going on - I would have probably stopped at that point with each of them, but wanted to see if I could get all the fibre on. (I had originally thought that if I finished the blue-green, I would continue with white to cram as much on as possible, but the spinning had become less than pleasant long before I reached that point, so I was glad to stop!)

I had no serious problems with either spindle becoming unstable as it loaded - the bottom whorl did so slightly more often, but that was probably operator error!

In the end, I managed to cram around 20 grammes more yarn on to the bottom whorl, some of which can probably be accounted for by the shaft being a bit longer.

So - absolutely nothing proved!! But actually, an interesting first step. I'm merrily spinning the cormo on the Goldings, both still functioning fine, and me enjoying the process. Another report, then, at a later date.

A nice week so far - reasonable weather up until this afternoon, when it has been raining a bit. An excellent discussion at Book Group on Tuesday, where we had been reading "A Book of Silence" (at least, I think that is the title) by Sara Maitland. We had issues with it, but found a lot to discuss on the topic of silence - or rather, solitude or peace.

I've also been reading "Thursbitch" by Alan Garner, a long time favourite of mine. Beautifully written - but I didn't understand it!

Then yesterday to Leeds, for a long and most enjoyable lunch with the coven and its Australian member, obviously a rare treat these days. Good job the train fare, courtesy of the finally-acquired bus pass, was cheap, as the lunch was exorbitantly expensive for what it was. Still, worth it - the company was grand, and so nice to be off the leash for a time.....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mish mash

I'm energetically spindle spinning still, but not as yet with anything further to show or report. But other stuff arises (and I shall probably not make any apology for gratuitous cat photographs.....)

Firstly, this.

Great, or what, on many levels. I so wish I could get to see it, but unless it tours, it is unlikely. It is going to challenge our perceptions of older people, of Shakespeare, of theatre in general (although it has to be said that theatre has always been one of the arenas where age was no bar to appreciation of skill, talent and so on.

Now, that was a grand way to start the day!

I've been meaning to burble on about podcasts for ages. I've been an addict for a long time, and have always been particularly pleased when British ones have appeared. I used to enjoy BritKnitCast (and have never forgotten going to have a post-flight rest, newly arrived in San Francisco, and hearing a Guild friend's voice in my ear!) Sadly, that disappeared some time ago. As did Knitcast, although that has just regenerated. Knitty Nora's Knitting Natter comes and goes, and all power to her elbow - I'm always grateful when the mother of relatively new twins can find the time to burble in my ear! Then came - and long may she continue - the wonderful Electric Sheep from Hoxton Handmade. If you have never heard this, do give it a go. I should maybe warn that there are a few more "ums" than one might choose, but really, it soon is forgotten - the podcast is very funny, intelligent and irreverent, and a highlight of my listening week.

And now there is another highly promising new kid on the block, Yarns from the Plain (the Cheshire Plain, to be exact, so not a million miles from home)that I am enjoying mightily. All we need now is a UK based spinning/fibre podcast, but no, it ain't going to be me any time soon!

The benchmark, of course, has always been Cast On, which although on hiatus at the moment, remains a firm favourite. The most professional of all, and straddling both sides of the Atlantic, as Brenda Dayne is an American domiciled in Wales. So best of both worlds, really.

I confess to other regular favourites from further afield, though - Sticks 'n String and Cogknitive, in particular, although I also sometimes listen to Lime and Violet (although that is way less appealing than it used to be and rapidly disappearing up its own fundament) and also Stitch It! (although I am not always sure why.....)

But before anyone thinks I spend all my time glued to my iPod, I mainly listen to these as I settle down to sleep - if for no other reason than that the device switches itself off at the end of a podcast, whereas with an audiobook, it just moves on to the next, meaning that I end up lawd knows where in the story with a flat battery. (Kind of the story of my life, really......)

I haven't given urls for any of these, they are all on iTunes.

OK, the unapologetic cat pics.

Barni just adores being under things, but he might not have chosen Neelix!

Slightly fuzzy, my fault, not his, although he could be forgiven after all that squashing. But I rushed to get the photo of the resigned expression before he moved.

That's all, folks......

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More spindling

My camera first. I took it to the shop a few days ago, and of course, it behaved itself absolutely perfectly. If there is a fault, not realistic to have it repaired because of the cost.

How I hate that!!!

So, I recharged the battery, and will continue to use it unless and until. It switched itself on a couple of times just now, but my hand/finger was near the button each time, so unclear - I think that maybe there is a slightly loose connection causing the problem, and that sooner or later I will have to get a new camera, but the good news was that they have gone down in price, so it would be doable.

Anyway. I have been doing a lot of spindling. I started out as I said I would by hand combing the cormo, but found that hard going for some reason. So I broke out my Peter Teal combs. Now, I had been idly considering selling those, as I had used them so rarely, but doing the cormo has disabused me of that notion. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed using them, and the lovely prep that comes off them even if you do it in a slack and idle manner not at all according to the approved, and excellent, Teal method!

This is how far I have got to date.

I had meant to do another photo showing the yarn, relative dimensions and so forth, but, hey, I forgot. To give some idea, this is a small Golding, not much more than six inches long. The yarn is fine and smooth - well, except where it has been Got At. Last time I picked this spindle up, the yarn had developed a whole load of little curls over the cop. And actually, the other spindle was half way across the room.

Now, just who could have perpetrated such a crime, I ask myself? H'mm.......

But when the culprit is that beautiful, I find I can forgive it most things - at least there were no teeth marks on the spindle shafts........

Other than that, things trundle slowly on. We have been enjoying a patch of lovely spring weather - cold, but mostly sunny, and the signs of spring are all around - birds much more tuneful, crocuses popping up, catkins on trees and hedges, ghastly old bones being dragged home through the cat flap.

Better that new bones, I guess.

Onward and upward.....

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I've been brave....

I was asked to get a photograph of something to go with a Journal review I have done, so I risked using the camera. I survived, sadly found no lurking Herdwicks, but the poor camera is even more eccentric than before. So I really must get it over to Halifax to be looked at.

Anyway, enabled me to play catch up a little bit, and to gloat/swoon/drool at what arrived in this mornings post (not a good photo, but the others were even worse, so it will have to do.)

The latest yarns off the Timbertops. The green is the mohair blend that might or might not go with what's on the needles at the moment, if I need it (or might not - until I finish stage one, see what yarn I have left, what I might fancy doing to make it other than a stocking stitch waistcoat, I shan't know.) The other is the mix of - um, and here I am having a major senior moment, but I think merino, bamboo and nylon from Traci Bunkers . I know it is a new blend, and I am assuming that it is nylon because I have spun it three ply for socks - but if and when the label turns up, I can be definite! It was super to spin, anyway. Knitting it up - we shall have to wait a while and see, as I have a queue.......

While I was photographing those -


Got a super shot of Neelix. I actually checked his pedigree form the other day, and he is thirteen. Skinny as a rake, despite the large intake of food (the vet talks about the Siamese gene in spades) but not so dusty for an old guy. Still beautiful!

But then - my Golding spindles arrived. Oh. My. God. What little beauties. I do, of course, already have a few Goldings, but I am always taken unawares by their qualities. These are small and delightful, just their bog standard (hah!) range, ebony and walnut, but so well crafted, and they spin, I dunno.

Golding ebony/walnut spindles

I also have to say - super service. Emails replied to promptly, spindles dispatched when promised. Two weeks door to door, so to speak. Hell of a lot better than some I could mention.......

So, the project can continue. These are little spindles, which I suppose is silly in a way, but there we go. It will just have to take me a long time to complete. I have a small amount of lovely cormo fleece that I was given at SOAR, so that is my fibre of choice for this. It is washing as I speak, and then will be hand combed. There should be plenty for a little lace shawl (yes, I know....)

I am feeling very virtuous - I have cleaned downstairs now (well, kind of) and made a huge vat of soup for supper - and for tomorrow's supper as well, as I am having a day out and an evening out and didn't want to have to cook in between the two.

Maybe the cormo will be ready on Friday.......