Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Socks from Handspun

I had seen triple-plied socks from three different colors on someone's blog earlier this year. They used bright crayon colors. I liked the effect but wanted something no quite so bright. When we got together to dye in late Spring, I dyed one ounce each of Bluefaced Leicester in blue, pink and yellow, the three rovings here in the foreground. The colors are a bit Easter eggy and I kept telling myself that if I hated the final yarn, I could mute it down in a light black bath.

Twice before I have made socks from triple plied yarns from rainbow dyed rovings. Both times they didn't fare well with wear. For one thing, I spun the singles too thick and I wasn't careful with the washing - it only takes one mistake to ruin all that work. This time I accepted that I was essentially spinning lace weight singles and considered it practice for my newly acquired interest in lace. It took a month to spin and ply.
At the point of knitting, I was stricken with indecision. I couldn't decide if I wanted to do a traditional knit 2, purl 2 rib on the leg or just straight stockinette. I was knitting on them at the retreat and took a straw poll. Hands down, the rib was favored - except for Mim and me. We liked the confetti appearance of the straight stockinette, but I kept knitting the rib since most who favored it talked about the fit. As you can see I actually ended up knitting more than two socks to get my pair.
My socks are done and I couldn't be more pleased. I love the silky feel of Bluefaced Leicester and in spite of not using rib for the leg, they seem to fit just fine. Wear will tell. I don't have a very good scale so wasn't exactly right on my 1 ounce weights. Two of the three bobbins had substantial singles left, which I Navajo plied and inserted as corrugated rib at the top. They are blue jeans perfect and there is no black bath in their future.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

8th Annual Spinsters Retreat

Two weeks ago today our guild met at the Davis Creek Camp-
ground for our 8th annual Spinsters Retreat. It's the second weekend in September and the weather has been all over the map, from freezing to delightful, which it was this year. We set up our spinning circle under the pines and then chased the shade as the sun moved overhead. This is about a quarter of the circle.

Saturday is the Swap 'n Sale and it starts from time people arrive and goes all day. This year we had five tables, one which is all free stuff. That's where I put the yarns that came with my loom, and I was so pleased when Virva took them because they were perfect for what she was weaving.
Mim does such a good job with her hand-dyed rovings. She was able to sell enough to pay for the seven bales of hay in the back of her truck that we picked up on our way down.
This is the one that came home with me. It's just plain combed top wool, but she also had some bluefaced leicester and some fine merino. I've spun up a couple of greens and I think they'll go nicely with this purple in hats. I sold a couple of hats at the Brewery Arts Center since it reopened, so I need to be thinking about making some more.
It's not just wool that Mim dyes. She does a wonderful job on silk as well. I'm knitting this scarf from a 1.8 ounce bump of silk that I bought from her a while back. Since I don't have much, I'm making it narrow.
I gathered up my stuff for the retreat so I could pack the car the night before. When I pulled out my Lendrum bag, I was stunned to see that it was covered in moth larvae. I have moths again! I went through everything and tossed out the stuff that was most badly infected and scrubbed up my bag. Since the last infestation, I've put most everything in plastic bags and was relieved to see that they were unaffected. Yesterday on my way home from town, I stopped at the grocery store and bought 3 pounds of dry ice. It's in the bottom of this bag and I've placed the remaining infected wools on top where they will stay until next weekend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Catching Up

The awaited package has arrived. This is two years worth of Mickey Mouth, so it came to over seven pounds, at a cost of about a dollar an ounce. No, it's not cheaper to raise your own fleece. I was so pleased when I opened the bags and felt the sliver. His fleece is just as wonderful as it was three years ago. I know it will age and coursen, but it hasn't happened yet.

I think of Mickey as oatmeal, or whatever you call not quite white. I love to spin it - good thing. I have seven pounds!

Reading: Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: on the tracks of the Great Raily Bazaar by Paul Theroux. This is the same trip he took 33 years ago. While I didn't read the book this is based on, I did read Riding the Iron Rooster, and after hearing his NPR interview, knew I was in for a treat. It's measuring up.

Read on Vacation:
A Good Year, by Peter Mayle: Yet another story in France, but it was delightful and is what I think of as the perfect beach read. Russel Crowe stars in the movie according to the book cover.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. I started this book months ago but lost interest. I'm glad I picked it back up again, but oh my, what a different world for women in cultures not based on the Judeo-Christian ethic. I am reminded again that I lucked out on the birth lottery.
Shosa, by Isaac Bashevis Singer: This was a reread for me, but the book has been on my mind for years and this vacation was its time. It's a love story in Warsaw on the eve of the Nazi occupation. Again, I am stunned at how powerful religion is to culture. I bought this copy. I have to reread some sections.
Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons: I'm not sure what this book was supposed to be - I have always enjoyed her writing, my favorite being Colony. The last chapters were just plain concocted, but that's my opinion. I can't recommend it.
I finished three nonfiction books but they were personal interest subjects so I'm not listing them.
Listening: All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot, read by Christopher Timothy. I'm listening to this on my commute and it is an absolute delight. It's narrated in the Queen's English, with the characters assuming their local Yorkshire accents. My mother and I read this when the book was new and I know it's really a collection of short stories, some touching, some funny. It's so much fun to have these characters brought to life in their own dialect. I laughed for miles this morning at Chapter 27. I can see where Monty Python had the raw material for their humor. And having sheep of my own now has given me a new appreciation for these stories.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Dish Towels

Done - with most of this being on the learning curve. Leigh said the pattern would pop with wet finishing. I think my wet finishing wasn't the one she had in mind. With the distraction of babysitting, I cut the cloth off, ziz-zagged the pieces on both ends and the middle and threw them in the last load of laundry - the towels. They're finished all right. Another time, I would hem stitch first, then wash. I had a little trouble with the ends

They actually looked like dish towels when I folded them and that's where they are now - in the drawer with the others. I cannot believe how much I like their feel and I'm looking forward to correcting my mistakes on the next towels. For one thing, I warped first, then decided on size - won't do that again. Also, I didn't calculate my own sett but relied on a chart - won't do that again either. And after having my too heavily-weighted floating selvedges break - they both broke - I know that I'll use them again. Alexia crawled all over me and the bench as I finished the second towel. Gwamma - what are you doing? Weaving dish towels. Why? I don't know.

The morning after~

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Learning the hard way

I have learned so much today. I don't know where to start. This cotton is from partial cones that I bought from a sale years ago. Only one was labeled at 8/2. I assumed all the cones were the same, and looking in the Weavers Companion, I saw that 8/2 cotton was sett at 16-20 for plain weave and 24-30 for straight twill. I sett this warp at 24. However, the weaving went at 18 picks per inch so the Ms and Os pattern is pretty lost.

Since this is all practice, I decided to use a contrast color for the first towel and no contrast for the second - just curious. In the Weavers Companion, two pages before the "Setts for some common yarn styles" is the "Using inch wraps to determine sett." I didn't bother to check, since I had the yarn size on the inside of the cone. However, when I did do the wraps, it came out to 28 wraps per inch. Twill is calculated at 2/3 the wraps per inch, and doing the math, I came up with 18. Since I was beating at 18 picks per inch, I've decided to put another warp on the loom at that sett and see if I can't produce a square beat. Ugh~

I put on floating selvedges and to weight them, used empty jelly jars. I was in the middle of the first towel, and was wondering if I really needed them when the right one broke so I was left with just the left one. I had thought the jars might be too heavy, but what a great way to find out if the floaing selvedges were of any benefit. My selvedges were consistently awful. Selvedges? Fuhgetabout.

We're babysitting tonight so my new loom has already gone into its first time out. My friend Linda has the same loom and I need to see how the braking system is assembled before I put on a warp. I'm confused. It's been a day of confusion.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Doin' Stuff

I have had a lot of things on my to-do list for a really long time and I thought I'd knock a bunch of them off on our staycation. I quickly realized that I was missing the point of being on vacation in the first place.

I really wanted to get my LeClerc Artisat assembled. Here it is, and since this is our spare room, my plan is to fold it up and slide it into that dormer area behind when guests come. I paid for a loom and bench, and I received in addition two boxes of books, a warping board, an inkle loom and one very very large box of odds and ends of yarn. The yarns were materials and bright colors that I knew I would never use. I was thrilled to adopt them out to my friend Virva, a weaver from Finland who loves color. Have you ever know someone from a Northern Climate who didn't?! I'll share about my new weaving library another time.

And look at the simplicity of this tie-up. I have only woven on Gilmores so I didn't know it could be so easy. I haven't even put a warp on this loom and already I'm planning on trying other tie-ups on it.

I also finished getting this 24 epi warp on my 24" Gilmore. Oh, funny - I just realized the epi and loom weaving width are the same. I have mostly woven at 8-10 epi, so this was a whole 'nuther experience - lots of little threads and they seemed to multiply as I worked. I was thrilled to only have three threading errors.

I bought these partial cones years ago at a weaver's sale and I have no idea what to expect. I used the Ms and Os threading and tie-up from the Weavers Companion, but when I looked at Sharon Alderman's book the other day, her threadings and tie-up are different. This assures me that I have no idea what I'm doing or talking about most of the time. After crawling around on the floor to change the tie-up, I became married to idea that when this warp is off, I will restore this loom to standard tie-up and for ever after amen, the Artisat will become the loom of "other."
Fixin' to make deviled eggs for the guild retreat.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Cat for Charlie


This might be just the thing for Charlie, his own BFF.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gifted Hats

I was pleased that the hats and mitts for the girls turned out so well. I entered the hat on the right at the fair and it got a blue ribbon. I called the colorway Rocket Pop. Remember those? I'm not sure you can still buy them.



Friday, September 12, 2008

The Theme was Fiber

The Gathering had an underlying theme of fiber. On his invitation, Ian suggested people bring their projects. He also asked Amy if she would be willing to teach drop spindling and she agreed. Amy and Ian's daughter Sharon are looking at the yarn she just spun. She is a natural and took right to it.

Grandson Logan wanted to learn to knit. What power of concen-
tration! He was absolutely determined, and you can see him practicing on the sofa in the first picture.
Daughter-in-law Missy, Logan's mom, also has been wanting to learn to knit. Because I'm a handspinner, I don't have much of a yarn stash. I did have a couple balls of Rowan merino/silk from a birthday exchange a couple of years ago, and along with a pair of needles that had belonged to my Mother, she got started.

Sitting around, knitting with the girls the next afternoon, you can see that Missy was just another one of the knitters. She called me the next evening - Sharon, how do I tie on second ball?!!
Our friend Holly brought the cut-pile rug that she had set aside, oh, about twelve years ago. She was able to complete enough of it for the colors and patterns to really show. I know she was pleased with the progress. BTW, That's the back of Logan's head - he's still practicing knitting.

Alexia expressed her interest in fiber by laying on the "Turkish" rug from Costco to watch a movie on one of the five laptops in the house.

What power of concen-
tration! What flex-

Sunday, September 07, 2008

We Celebrate

Seven years ago I rode out with Linda to a spin-in at Mim's. We had driven forever when suddenly this vista opened up. I fell in love and my life was changed forever, because by the end of the day I knew I wanted to live out here too.

I brought Ian out and he felt the same way. We contacted the realtor that Mim suggested, who is a neighbor, and within weeks we owned our own parcel. We would drive out on weekends, sit in our two chairs and imagine the future. BTW, that's not our dog.
Larry suggested a contractor and by spring our house was under construc-
tion. Larry also sold our house in town, but recommended that we not list it until we were ready to move. It sold the day it was listed, the Saturday of Black Sheep Gathering, so we had to conduct the negotiations and sale by cell phone and faxes at Kinkos in Eugene, Oregon at a buck a page -ouch. We moved into our house in August 2002. Just one year had passed.
Ian had a vision that we could gather our friends and family over the long weekend of Labor Day. I was skeptical, but oh me of little faith, they come - Ian's own "Field of Dreams." This is our second year. Between Friday and Monday, everyone of our seven children and grandchildren managed to get here. We invite family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. The little trailer is Amy's - both she and the trailer are members of Sisters on the Fly.
The high point of the weekend had to be our unantici-
pated visit from 11-year-
old Audrey riding bareback on 22-year-old Mercedes. Her mother was here, so she decided to ride the couple of miles over and surprise us. At the top of the drive, she gave a huge wave that would have made the Queen Mother proud. The kids were thrilled and the adults became kids.
It was getting close to dusk, so after she had something to eat, Mom sent her packing. She had to cross a paved road to get home and we don't need Edward Abbey's "Brave Cowboy" part deux out here, which could happen. Someone asked her why she didn't use a saddle and she said she liked riding Mercedes bareback because it was like riding a sofa.

This is the picture of Audrey that I have. Check out her boots. The picture that I wish I had, and no one got because no one expected her visit, was her royal arrival. You can see why she stole the show.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Morning after The Gathering

Our Gathering ended this morning after our last guest drove out at 5:45 - our first guest arrived last Friday at noon. This is our annual opportunity to celebrate our family, friends and their dogs but it's just too much for Charlie. We kennel him - look at his little cat condo, complete with window and sleeping platform. We take all our animals to Fantasia because our animals like them, plus it absolutely beats keeping Charlie locked up in our walk-in closet for four days. I drove in to pick him up, but where's Charlie????

I was chatting with the ladies about his carrier and food. He heard my voice, he shot out from under the cat bed where he had been snoozing and looked wildly around for my voice. I'm selfish. It was gratifying. Cats sparingly dole out their demonstrations of attachment and affection.

Unless you are The Master. I came back in the house from the front porch to get a different book. Clearly Charlie is back at home on Ian's nap.