heart like wheel

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, spinning and fiber, Uncategorized

i went, i saw, and i was slain.

this is marcy’s alden amos wheel. she left it alone in a huge room full of spinners for the better part of saturday. so i tried it.
i do not hold myself completely responsible for the shameful thoughts that passed through my mind while she was gone—who could blame me? suffice it to say that marcy is really, REALLY lucky that i drive a compact.

i’ve been thinking about getting a production wheel since rhinebeck, when monica and i had 4 days to talk over, in depth, the pros and cons of the wheels we have, and what we might gain from graduating to something faster and more powerful.

we both have similar interests in spinning—we both like to spin fine and to put ourselves and our tools to the test. we are fascinated by all the minute difference between fibers, and testing all the little manipulations that cause changes in the spun yarn—we can talk about that stuff for hours. we both spin to knit, so we like to be exacting most of the time. we both own the same wheels now, and are finding similar limitations in using them for spinning very fine yarns. we are both kind of searching for a more perfect wheel. we talk about it a LOT.

we are such geeks. and we SO don’t care.

therefore we were both delighted to have a chance to try out several wheels we were not familiar with at SPA. even better that we were sharing a room and could then go over all the little details we noticed about each one.

there was carol’s reeves wheel.

we tried this one first. it is very nice. i didn’t want to fiddle with the tension carole had set on it, which was so whisper-light that you would think there was nothing happening. the ability to set the tension so low would be a great thing for spinning cashmere and angora, or any short fiber—it is possible to have virtually no tug at all on the yarn.

then i spun for a little bit on juno’s merlin tree canadian production wheel. sadly, i do not have my own picture of this robust beauty, but you can see it here. very nice indeed—good for people like me who treadle fast. (yeah—i noticed at SPA that i am a regular lead-foot on the wheel . . .). this wheel has a lot of appeal, but i found the angle of the treadle to be a little too exaggerated, making it hard to pump, even for me, the leadfoot. i’m sure this is something that can be adjusted to the individual.

and then there was marcy’s wheel. i have never been overly-fond of the horizontal wheel structure, or an antique-looking wheel, preferring the more modern look of the schacht or the joy. but let’s face it—all that sort of thing goes right out the window when you are working on the wheel that you are destined to own marry. i mean. this thing was dreamy. the treadle moved with only the slightest push, the tension was set just right.

i was jealous as hell.
i saw that ad; i could have bought that wheel. but i didn’t. i had ever spun on one.
heh. but now i have. NOW, i’m on the prowl for one . . .

unless dave builds the perfect accelerator wheel for me instead . . .
i did put a bug in his ear about it. we’ll see.

thankfully, there were a few things to distract me from making away with marcy’s wheel while her back was turned.
like watching carol have fun

(i really REALLY hope that carol will love this picture the way i do—i know it’s blurry, but she, kim, and chris are having such a blast—they make me laugh and crave a martini every time i look at them!)

and the knitters—there were tons of knitters. it was hard to get pictures that did not have motion blurs, but then, i like that about these—it was a veritable hive of activity.

i got lots of spinning done myself and some knitting too—but i’ll have to show that tomorrow because the light was already faded by the time i got in today (it was, of course, raining when i got back to ohio).
i also have another few little treats to show you—bits of fiber i bought (i promise, it IS just bits), and things that arrived in the mail while i was gone.

i stopped in albany for a few days with my family on the way back and we had a nice time together too, so, all in all a wonderful trip, and i hope to go back next year.

under the weather

Posted on 29 CommentsPosted in lace/shawls, projects, Uncategorized

i am trying not to think about the fact that we are having a blizzard. it’s more snow than i’ve seen since i moved to ohio. we just haven’t been getting much snow. but today—well, today the sky is hooded and the world is closing in. earlier it looked like this

and later, like this. there is no street in sight. the plows have stopped coming our way, probably to concentrate on more important roads.

i don’t even want to know what that strange tinkling sound is that comes from all the windows, as if a squadron of angels is hovering around, tossing thin icicles at us. it’s well below 32°, so what’s up with the chunks of ice that are falling from the sky?

normally i would not be freaking out about this. i would be smiling to myself and planning all the cozy knitting i’ll do when i get away from this desk for the day.
but it’s less than 36 hours til i leave for new england. i’m supposed to drive over 800 miles to get to SPA between thursday and friday, and all the news coming in is about bad weather. i don’t think this would bother me so much if we’d had even ONE iota of snow before this week.

david began dropping gentle, concerned reports about the impending bad weather into our conversations starting on monday. i poo-pooed all that, since i grew up in the northeast and was used to bad weather. he’s asked me four times if i have any plans to cancel the trip. he’s not really a worry-wort by nature, so his suggestions are starting to sink in and make me feel less confident.

but you never know! it could all change, right? it is the weather we are talking about here . . . i’m going to reserve my judgement til tomorrow night at least.

meanwhile, i’ve been working very hard on the starlight wrap and finally got the edging done for the second time. it still buckles a bit, but this time i am confident it is an amount that will block out nicely.

i’ve been wondering how the join for the other half of the shawl would go. i began the piece with a provisional cast-on and jumped right in on the first row with patterning, in order to set it up so that i could pick up the provisional stitches and work a purl row.

now working with the provisional cast-on has one small drawback—the stitches that you pick up are the bottom edge of the beginning stitches, and thus are a half-step “off” in alignment from the beginning stitches. this is not very noticeable in the body stitches, but causes a small misalignment in the edging.

when i stretch it a bit, it is barely noticeable, so i think i will not obssess about it.

the other small issue i needed to solve was that my lace pattern has an edge of 3 sts on one side and an edge of 2 stitches on the other side. when i picked up, that needed to be reversed to make the pattern work out. that’s where having the first purl row came in handy; i made the adjustment and then all was well when i began working the pattern on the next row.

the lace is a one-way pattern, so i was concerned about picking it up mid-motif and working it in the other direction. i can see where that one spot differs ever-so-slightly from the allover pattern, but the busyness of this lace hides it very well i think.

so now i am off an running with the other half. i just might tote this along to SPA after all. i’m undecided; the lace pattern requires me to pay attention more than i’m used to—for some reason this one is not as intuitive for me as, say, fir cone. so i thought i’d just pack socks to knit, or maybe a new hat.

(i still want a shoulder-length stocking hat, even though debbie says i should NOT wear one . . . )

and now i’ll leave you with a lovely valentine, which i am lucky enough to gaze upon daily, and which i have been all too selfish about sharing with you.

because, well, red lights aren’t just for christmas.

on not knitting my shawl . . .

Posted on 23 CommentsPosted in projects, spinning and fiber, Uncategorized

i had the whole day off today and instead of knitting steadily away on the startlight wrap, i puttered about in my workroom. i plied up these two bobbins of singles, half of a batch of roving i’d started spinning last week.

it’s beautiful—vivid and streaky without being variegated per se—just lovely stuff. i can’t wait to see how it washes up. i’ll leave it on the bobbin for a couple of days to set the twist, then skein it and give it a bath.

i also worked on getting my joy wheel ready to take to SPA. i wanted to spin on it a little since i hadn’t used it in a while. i filled up a couple of bobbins spinning beckie’s white romney wool. while we were in rhinebeck the wheel was showing symptoms of needing a new driveband, and today it was still emitting that little rattle we heard. finally today i got around to changing that. the join is hardening while i write this, so i’ll know in a bit if that little noise is gone. i’ll ply the white wool up to test it out.

i meant to work on the shawl last night, but then got sidetracked by looking at stitch patterns for these two yarns

which will become socks. i want to use the pink/gray twist for a pair that is a girlie take-off on ragg wool socks—mebbe something cabled, but definitely with ribs.
and the red, well, that one can only be lace, and something extravagent at that. so far i came up with a lot of nuthin on both fronts, but i was a bit tired.

so i started a hat at 1 am, having lost enough time to no knitting for the evening. on saturday nights i let myself stay up as late as i want, and knit on this til about 4 am, while watching a movie.

i’m hoping it will look good on me when it’s done (not likely, but the color will please maureen). the shape is sort of a flat-top fez-beret (don’t even ask me what that means!). i love this yarn; it’s handspun and soft, and the rich red has lots of depth. i only had a little bit of the darker red, so i used the brighter red to put some streaks in it, and will do the top with that too.

and now, i think i’ll head off to finish up that white wool. i’ll still have plenty of time after that to work on the startlight wrap.
and then, the weekend will be done.

now you see it—now you don’t

Posted on 19 CommentsPosted in lace/shawls, projects, Uncategorized

just got back from the thursday night knit club at the library, and since i was there, i took a few minutes to stock up on books. i usually feel lucky to find 3 or 4 that i’m interested in, but this evening i hit the motherlode and came home with a bag full of goodies

i’m excited—there is plenty here to last through the long car ride to new england next week, and then some. and i finally found the alchemist on audiobook—something i’ve had on my list for a long while but didn’t see on other trips. i know i should use interlibrary loan to request specific books, but somehow, the process confuses me and i always give up on it. it’s kind of fun to fly by the seat of my pants—many times i have been faced with shelves of nothing familiarly “good”, and so tried something i might not have read otherwise, that i ended up enjoying.

oh, and i did knitting there too. i brought a small thing that i need badly to finish for myself (is that grammatically correct?).

my cashmere mitt. it’s so easy to make lots of progress on something small and proven. i need that.

because. well, i know i said i would wait and reserve judgement for later, compare notes on one needle size versus another, but in the end i said goodbye to all this

i just couldn’t live with the edging that bulged like this along the width of the shawl. it really bugged me. so i banished it.

it’s not a disaster.
i always feel a LOT better when i rip out something that doesn’t satisfy me; it is literally uplifting for me. i don’t like looking at something that is just not quite right if i know i can fix it. it nags at me. and it was either rip out, or live with it for at least a couple more weeks.
i know a little buckling will block out, but i also know that more than a little doesn’t block out well enough for me. and since this type of garment will be around for years, i’d like it to be something i will gaze on with pride—or at least satisfaction.

it took all of 2 minutes to rip out 2 or 3 evening’s work, but it felt great. ahhhh—nothing like a clean slate. now i’m not getting rid of that edging, because i do like it very much. in fact, let me tell you all the things i DO like about it, because there are many (nighttime lamplit pictures are the worst, but it just so happens that i actually get an accurate record of the yarn color here, as well as a good view of the opaque/solid changes in the piece, so forgive me).

well, first of all there are all those points—they’re just fab. i also love the progression of scale between the stitch patterns in the shawl from small to large to medium—it definitely has the drama i was hoping for. and the cohesion between patterns is also pleasing to me—it’s a wonderful study of diamond and triangle shapes of all sizes, both in the positive and the negative spaces.
working with an overabundance of similar shapes is something i learned from looking at kaffe fasset’s work in color, and my appreciation for how stitch patterns can interact with each other in a piece, is constantly expanding. i have such respect for a beautiful stitch pattern, and finding ways to make patterns speak to each other is a simply a delight.

when i began thinking about this piece, i had a picture in my mind of a simpler stole in a single stitch pattern, but then as i thought about it more, i wanted to pay a much bigger homage to the starlight lace pattern (the main body stitch). the concept evolved into sweeping stole with ends that have a (hopefully) dramatic light/dark contrast so that when it is lifted against the light, a striking picture would show itself.
and this, to my own amazement, i think i have accomplished. i LOVE the mix of solid and sheer parts—it seems balanced and well-placed, and really, just what i was hoping for. i am so excited about this i can hardly sit still to knit the rest of the shawl.

now, in the bright light of day (why yes, that IS sunshine you see there), my task is to get back to the step-by-step work, and reknit the edge so that i can move on to work the whole other half of the shawl.

this is a piece from which i learned a lot more than i thought i would. i pushed the origianl idea past its initial concept to something far more visually complex (though not more difficult to execute). and i am taking the design further toward my ideal than i might have been able to before, and in a purposeful way, that i actually planned. working for years from sheer instinct, and seeing what works and what doesn’t, is finally paying off. i feel like i am maturing in some way that is very freeing. i know that another project in my probably not-too-distant future will make me touch down again, but for now, my exitement is pretty high, and i want to stay awake for a week designing new stuff.

in the meantime, back at the ranch, look what came in the mail yesterday

i haven’t even had a chance to look at it (much). well, ok, i did flip through real quick-like. but didn’t see much i was interested in other than the photography. i’m sure a closer inspection will give me something to chew on for a bit.

oh, and ooh-ooh!—deb over at Fearless Fibers has just released a new laceweight merino yarn and debuted new colorways along with it (i know, it’s SO unfair of her!), some of which she is also offering in her sock yarn collection. so GO.