Thursday, March 27, 2008

I've been busy doing fibery things the past few days, but the biggest project is one I can't blog about. Once it's finished and in its new home I'll post about it, but for now, it must remain cloaked in the deepest mystery.

I can show you this, however:

Another pile of contract spinning, the first batch they sent me with COLOR. Total of 30 oz of two different hand dyed colorways of some kind of medium-fine-ish wool, very nice to spin after loosening up the roving a bit. I got on a roll this afternoon, and spun all four balls of turquoise on the left this afternoon! Eight ounces in one afternoon! I should be able to get another ball or two spun this evening as well. It would be great if I could get all four remaining balls of roving spun this evening, so I could mail the box tomorrow morning before we head out of town for the weekend, but I don't know if that is realistic.

In other news, I have an exercise update. It has now been four months since I joined the gym and started going to spin (bike) class. Where am I now? Happy!

I'm still going to class 3x per week, and enjoying it. I got a pair of padded bike shorts last week, and yesterday bought myself a pair of real bike shoes. I feel very official now, and the shoes especially make a HUGE difference in comfort and power when riding. The soles on bike shoes are very stiff, and support your foot much better than sneakers. My sneakers/running shoes tended to allow my foot to "fold" around the pedal at the arch, which made my feet ache, and sometimes the ache translated up my legs all the way to my back. Not good, but I think the proper shoes will prevent this (it did last night, the first time I wore them). I was not willing to shell out the $100+ that bike shoes usually cost (yikes!), but the local bike shop had this pair at 50% off, so that was a little more reasonable.

So, still exercising, and I've also made some effort to improve my diet. The food part has been less successful since I live with a picky (and somewhat anti-vegetable) eater, but even with just exercising and being aware of portion size, I have lost 11 pounds! And all my pants are loose! Yay!

Monday, March 24, 2008

I finished spinning and plying the Royal Hare merino top this weekend, and I love the way it came out. It's super soft and squishy, and the colors are so vibrant. I like the way the colors interacted after plying. They blended nicely, and didn't get muddy or overly muted. They did tone down a bit, but I think that's all to the good. The blue and purple were quite bright, but look fabulous marled together. I'm still planning to weave with this.

It came out to (some amount) of yardage and 4 ounces. As you can tell, I was too lazy to count the revolutions as I wound the skein off the bobbin, and I'm still to lazy to do it now. I just got back from the gym, and I'm wiped. The only reason I know the weight is that's what was written on the wrapper from the bundle of top. I'll update this post tomorrow. I haven't measured the wraps per inch yet, either, but I'm guessing it's about 30-40. Hard to tell because it's so pouffy.

I'll close with a picture of the Easter egg I had yesterday, and the interesting way the dye bled through the shell.

Dare we hope this is a sign of things to come?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nothing much new. I dyed a pretty skein of yarn yesterday, to see if it would cheer me up.

It didn't. Being laid off still sucks. Today was my last day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Emma loves dresses. The pouffier and longer, the better. More princess-like, you understand. Since she's growing a mile a minute, she's outgrowing lots of her clothes. There are a couple consignment shops in town, but they are still somewhat pricey, and don't often get in things her size.

To address the issue of having something for her to wear, I bought fabric for a couple dresses last week. She had definite ideas about length and color, and I had definite ideas about price per yard as well as the lack of pink fake fur and scarlet sequined knits. Eventually we came to an agreement. Here's the first of two dresses, which I made on Saturday.

It's a heavy cotton, with a slubby multicolored rayon thread about every half inch. I like the fabric, it's machine washable, and think it will hold up to school and playtime. She can wear it now with a shirt and leggings underneath, and she will be able to wear it this summer as a sundress. At $2.00/yard from the clearance bin, the total cost of this dress is about $4.00 (1.5 yards of fabric and a zipper) plus four hours of my time and a commercial pattern that will be used again. That beats anything I've ever found at the consignment shops in this town.

So that's what I did Saturday. Sunday, I finished spinning the first two ounces of the merino top I won.

My camera refused to capture the colors correctly, but they are so beautiful. There's emerald green, teal, royal blue, and violet. Gorgeous deep jewel tones. The top was almost-felted, but I did some aggressive predrafting and it opened up and is spinning well at 60 wraps per inch.

I split the top lengthwise and spun one half straight through, for long stretches of each color, and split the second half lengthwise again for shorter stretches. When I ply them together, it should make a nice marled yarn, which I will use to weave. I was going to knit some lace, but the fiber is so bouncy that I think it would be better woven. I have a feeling that knit lace wouldn't hold its blocking and would just rebound into a lace-blob. It's dreamy soft, and would make a nice stole or something.

So that's what I did with my weekend. It was fun, I felt productive, and got lots done (including putting up a new clothesline).

Today was Monday, and what a sucky Monday it was. That is not a phrase I use lightly. It feels like swearing, which I don't do. (Yes, I'm square.) The morning started off well enough. I finished the report I was working on last week, did some other things, then half an hour before it was time for me to leave, I was called into my supervisor's office to have a meeting with her and the department head. They said I wasn't in trouble, but they weren't smiling.

Turns out that there isn't enough work to go around, and as the most recent hire and the only one who's not full-time, I have to go. I'm not fired, but I just can't work right now. For at least two and a half months. Perhaps during the summer field season, they said. I will be the first person they call, they said. They are extremely happy with my work, they said. They hate to let me go, they said.

This is not how my life is supposed to be. I hate worrying about money. As someone anonymously commented on my last post, it is indeed a good thing that I didn't buy that lottery ticket. My stars have slipped back out of alignment.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Note to self:

When you have a cheap cotton rope clothesline that has been out in the elements for a year and a half, and it starts to RainSnowHailSleet while the line is fully loaded, don't say to yourself:

"Oh, this won't last long. I'll just leave the clothes out there and they can dry again after the rain stops."

Monday, March 10, 2008

OK, seriously. I need to go buy a lottery ticket or something.

Isn't that a lovely picture? From the left, that's 4 oz of Royal Hare merino top (colorway "Pacific Emerald") and a wrist distaff made of handspun/handdyed Sea Island cotton, from Ted; the prize for a contest he ran last month. Did you know that Jonathan Bosworth, of Journey Wheel and spindle fame, is also one of the few modern woodworkers to have made an oboe da caccia, an obscure Baroque woodwind instrument? I didn't either, but now I do, thanks to Ted's contest. The yarn on the right is two skeins of Seacoast Handpainted Superwash Sock in "Maine" and "Sugar Plum", and a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy Sock in "In Vino Veritas." This is from Kris (proprieter of Sonny and Shear); prizes for two of the birthday contests she ran around the beginning of the year (Seacoast Handpainted), and the February contest in her store's newsletter (Smooshy).

Now, I'm not complaining, but I think three out of these four prizes had the winner picked by random number draw. My stars must be aligned.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

OK, so I think I get the whole mp3-player craze, now. I've been listening to Weavecast podcasts, and they're great! Plus, most are about an hour long, so one will take me through an entire workout should I choose to listen at the gym.

An aside, though- is the mp3-player craze really a craze any more, or is it just the way things are, like having a cell phone? Part of almost everyone's standard gear... I do have a cell phone, but I have never sent a text message. I don't even know how.

I'm so behind the times.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I've been doing some more production spinning for Tanglewood Fiber Creations again, and this time she sent me a pound of pure chocolate brown cashmere...

One evening's work; eight ounces down, eight to go. Actually, it's ten ounces down, six to go, since I spun another 2-oz ball this afternoon after I took the picture. I'm spinning this long draw, medium fine, and it's going beautifully.

Except for the Falkland I spun last November, I haven't really had much experience or success with long draw spinning. I've dabbled in it, but always preferred worsted-style for smooth yarns or my semi-worsted version that I call "popping the twist in" for fuzzier yarns, where I hold the fiber stationary with my left hand, draft forward with my right hand, then let go and let the twist just reach the fiber mass before drafting again.

However, this cashmere has a short staple (about an inch and a half), is very fuzzy, and extremely soft. I tried popping the twist first, but that was only marginally successful and also slow, because of the short staple. I'm paid by weight of fiber spun and not time spent spinning, so I want to be as efficient as possible.

So I tried long draw. You know that saying about practice making perfect? Well, by the time I was halfway through the second 2-oz ball of fiber, I had it down. I struggled at first with drawing too fast, not enough twist, getting the singles too thin, twist going in too fast, and slubs. Oy, the frustration with overspun thin spots snapping and slubs not drawing out then drifting apart as they went onto the bobbin! That first 2-oz batch is reasonably even and is a stable yarn, but it took a long time.

Now, after 10 oz, I can draw out a full sweep with my left hand, watch the slubs level themselves as if by magic, and just feel when the section of singles is fully spun and ready to wind on to the bobbin. There is a definite change in the feel of the singles when it's ready. It gets somehow solid feeling; more springy and less spongy.

There are several good things that will come from this spinning job, I think. I will become a better spinner, I will get to spin more, and I will get to spin fibers I would not otherwise have. I mean, I'm working on a POUND of cashmere!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Question for the weavers:

What's a good plain wool or wool/alpaca blend yarn, not too expensive, suitable for a stole/shawl, that can be warped for twill, or possibly huck lace, at 8-10 epi?

Many thanks. Carry on.