a strange and glorious spectacle

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, projects

this morning i opened my eyes to the feeling of a foreign presence in my room, which at first, was troubling in its unfamiliarity. why were my eyes so uncomfortably squinched up?
there was a sort of visual cacophony going on, but without the sound—what the heck?

i mean, oh my.
i tried to calculate just how many days had passed since we’d had sun last, but i came up empty. i really cannot remember. but i’m happy we have it today. all day. this wasn’t one of those ohio jokes where the sun shines brightly for all of, oh, 15 minutes at 10 am. no sirree, this has been a day full of sun.

sure it’s windy

brett’s flags are flying straight out most of the time.
and cold—the temperature has dropped eight degrees just since i sat down to retrieve my photos and start writing (about 30 minutes). it was 26 when i got up this morning and now it’s 11, and that’s with full sun all day. brr.

but it’s so pretty, who could complain?

we had spinning class this morning, as usual. anne marie brought cranberry-orange muffins, mmm. i worked on my briar rose BFL

i’m almost done with the first one-third of the fiber (that’s sort-of a warning that this project is gonna take a while). linda’s been working hard on drafting more evenly with the merino top she’s spinning (she getting bumps and too-loose spots in the plied yarn). we talked about adjusting the length of her drafting zone to accommodate the shorter fiber. i think one of the most common ruts newer spinners get stuck in is to treat every fiber the same, whether due to success using a technique in the recent past, or because it’s comfortable and they long to be productive.

the truth is that almost every batch of fiber requires an adjustment of technique, but we can pretty much count on having to make shifts when working with fiber from a different breed entirely. in time we learn that this is actually the long-term enjoyment of spinning, but at first, it can be frustrating or, as in linda’s case, she just didn’t really know to explore it that way.

sometimes just a small change in handling can increase consistency a lot. though top does not have twist added during processing, it will tend to twist a bit on it’s journey from the basket or bag to my hands. i find that when working with top or sliver, it must enter my back hand with no back twist (not even a little) to be ready to pass into the drafting zone, or the front twist (the singles) will want to grab the fiber in “lumps”. the straighter i’m able to keep the fiber as it moves along, the easier it is to keep the spinning consistent. it’s not such a problem with woolen preparations that i can tell, maybe because the fibers have a lot of air between them and don’t tend to lump as easily.

since at the moment we’re all spinning with top, everyone went home today with that to think about and practice with. i also asked them to visit abby’s blog to read a couple of fascinating articles about plies and spinning for a purpose (click the links to the reference articles too).

it turned out though, that this wasn’t linda’s only problem; on closer examination, we found that her bobbin wasn’t turning freely on the flyer shaft because the little plastic grommet on the end had gotten misshapen a bit. geesh. just goes to show that sometimes the equipment is at fault . . .

after they left, i took advantage of the beautiful light today to take some photos. first i dragged david’s coat of armor christmas sweater over near the window for a picture

the sleeves and body are done and i’ve got the collar on the needles. i think i’m just barely gonna squeeze it out with the yarn i have left. i hope so, because then i can work on sewing everything up while i wait for the extra skein to arrive from the goddess chris. once i have that, i can knit some pockets for it.

while i was over there with the sweater, i hung the new ornament anne marie gave me on the tree

isn’t that just adorable? the bell actually rings, too.

i always think the tree couldn’t possibly hold one more, and then i see a good spot. i took a few minutes to reminisce over the ornaments. i have ones that go pretty far back—i’ve lived on my own since my first year of college.

a few readers have already commented on my kliban cats; those were purchased for my first tree, in 1978, when affordable was the key decorating concept.

there are five or six different cardboard klibans, each cost probably 25¢ back then. my favorite is this maniacally grinning st. nick.

(bartender, i’ll have whatever he’s having)

the next year my cousin’s 8-year-old daughter brought me some handmade ornaments from school. she used to visit my apartment several afternoons a week and i taught her to knit a bit

i was so touched to receive them and worried that they wouldn’t last long, but here we are using them almost 30 years later. she has children that age (or older) now . . .

there are tons more that i won’t bore you with but i do have one special one that i feel lucky to own

i know for sure this was my very first attempt at needlepoint—my favorite part is the stained-but-intact gift tag, written in my mother’s hand, with those groovy 60s snowmen waving away on it. i must have been young enough that my handwriting couldn’t fit on the card . . .
i inherited this back when my grandparents gave up having a large tree and asked me to take their ornaments for my tree.

i’m still working on socks late at night, though i know this pair won’t be done for christmas gifting

but i found an alternative gift for my nephew: i took the tesserae from my brother’s birthday pile to put in my nephew’s christmas pile, and i’ll put the new blue pair in my brother’s pile to send in january.

i worked a little bit on the second lacunae sock

but truthfully, only because i really needed a change. that’s enough break though—i have a sweater to stitch up.

23 thoughts on “a strange and glorious spectacle

  1. I have the same Kliban ornaments, from the same era, when I was a starving student! I got them from the bookstore I worked in, with my employee discount. Mine came in a box of 20 or so, with 4 or 5 designs. I still hang a few of them on my tree, and since my kids found my old book of Kliban cartoons, they finally get it. Love to eat them mousies…

  2. oh, it was so nice to see the sun today! i can’t remember when we last had it for any length of time either. even though it’s cold, the sun makes everything better (if a bit ironic for the first of winter!) i love that sheep ornament – adorable.

    now, back to my own chirstmas knitting…

  3. Oh, we have the Kliban cat ornaments, too! And at our 1980 wedding, we received two or three sets of Kliban cat sheets.

    When we’re feeling really romantic, my husband tells me “If I had two dead rats, I’d give you one”. 🙂

  4. Great cat ornaments! I have a book of his cats and remember them well. I have some inexpensive cardboard Victorian Santa ornaments from 25 years ago that I will always love.

    I know that part of your friend’s problem is her bobbin, but when I spun my first merino I had no luck until I tried spinning from the fold. A remarkable difference!

    Merry Christmas!

  5. I share your feelings about your tree ornaments. I still have ornaments from my first living-on-my-own Christmas tree (1965). I was living in NYC at the time, and there were two Scandinavian stores with many, many ornaments made of paper, ribbon, or card stock (inexpensive!). And I also have a dwindling number of childhood-vintage ornaments, many made by my very artistic aunt. Remembering those moments, or those people, every year is a Christmas treat.

    Weather: During my last two years of high school and my college years our home was in a Cleveland suburb. I remember one spring when in March and April and into the first week of May we had something like 5 days of sunshine. Lack of sun became an evening news item.

    Your knitting is fabulous, as always.

  6. Oh my goodness, it’s COLD there! I love seeing your ornaments. We just decorated our tree, which is topped with the tin foil star that Rick made for our first tree together 16 years ago. I don’t think it’s ever going to get replaced with a dignified one of any sort 🙂

  7. Anne- I love that sheep ornament, and would love to get one.
    My tree is very nostalgic, and every year I add an ornament or two for each of the kids, who are not kids anymore, but the idea is they will have a collection started for themselves. I will keep the sheep and knitting themed stuff.

    I have a Kliban cat piggy bank and a mug too.

  8. oh my gosh, those cat ornaments made me smile. My grandmother loved anything with those cats on it. I think there may even have been some of those on her tree when I was little. Congrats on the sun, I always want to just turn my face into it and bask after it has been dark for days.

  9. We had sun yesterday too, for the first time in 2 weeks. Miserably cold, but sunny. Won’t last long, the rain moves back in tonight and will stick around the rest of the week. Makes for good knitting weather though, if I didn’t have to work to support my knitting habit.

  10. Loved your post – I look so forward to reading your blog and have enjoyed knitting your patterns. Thank you for taking the time – like our Christmas ornaments I look at my pieces of knitting through the year and it brings back the memories of what I was doing at the time. I knit your spectator socks while “spectating” my son”s recovery from surgery (for some reason I find that cool that the name fit what I was doing) Have a great Christmas and thanks again.

  11. I LOVE the little sheep. I bought several of the sheep that Bath and Body Works was selling, but mine aren’t nearly that cute or realistic. Go visit this web site to see the most adorable sheep ever. I have my heart set on buying at least one, if I can choose, and my daughter is in love with the Highland Cows…

    Merry Christmas Anne!

  12. Hi Ann, I agree with Linda…I, too, look forward to reading your blog everyday and am grateful for your taking the time to do it. And, I too, have the same Kilban ornaments…not sure who gave them to me, but I love them still!


  13. That sheep ornament is just adorable!

    And we haven’t had the snow here, but it sure is cold! The sun was shining all day and it was still below 20!

  14. We had that same sun today in NY and it was awesome! I love your tree. We have that kind also – with a hodgepodge of different ornaments. One of my best gifts ever was from my mom a couple of years ago – she sent me 3 huge boxes of our families stuff, so I have some from prior to my birth even. It’s such a trip down memory lane when you decorate.

  15. Ha. As soon as I saw the Kliban cat I had that song going through my head, and there in the second comment (from Miranda)… “Love to eat them mousies”.
    (Mousies what I love to eat. Bite they little heads off, Nibble on they tiny feet.)
    Great tree… how wonderful to have so many memories on it.

  16. I read your spinning tips three times. I am a self-taught spinner (I couldn’t find anyone in San Diego to teach me, so I bought a wheel and started playing), so sometimes the tiniest tips make a huge difference to me. Believe it or not, that “no backtwist” comment resolved an issue I’ve been having.

  17. I was always the type who shunned handmade decorations for the tree, but now that my kids have started making them, my tree is covered with them (or was, since it’s January 7th!), and I love it. They’ve got their own special box, and I hope to have them a long time.

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