Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I had a quick weaving project on the go over the past couple weeks, to put in my Etsy shop.

Quick in terms of time actually spent working on it, that is. I did most of it (measuring the warp, sleying, threading, beaming, and weaving) in two days during the week before Sock Summit. I just got around to twisting the fringe yesterday. So it was a three day weaving project, spread over three weeks.

The warp is Jaggerspun Superfine Merino 18/2, and the weft is my own handspun; the Strawberry-Rhubarb laceweight that I spun from top purchased from the Zarzuela's Fibers Etsy shop last year.

Warp: 18/2 merino, used double (4 oz, plus 0.6 oz loom waste)
Weft: handspun merino laceweight, bought as hand dyed top (45 wpi, used 1.7 oz)
12 epi (remember the warp threads are doubled)
on the loom measurements: 14" x 75"
finished measurements: 13" x 70", with 5" twisted fringe

The pattern is one from A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. I quite like the way it came out.

I do like the "right side", the side I was looking at as I wove, more than the reverse, though. It's the one on the right in the picture above, and looks like a diagonal basketweave, while the reverse is a very subtle zigzaggy pattern. They're both nice, but the basketweave pops more.

I also really like the way the weft works in the piece. The marled yarn and its long sections of subtly shifting color intensities is really pretty.

And it's long enough and wide enough to be worn as a stole,

as a regular scarf,

or (my favorite) as a doubled-and-looped-through scarf.

The fabric is lightweight enough that even folded in half width-wise, then doubled and looped, as in that last picture, it doesn't feel overly bulky, just snuggly and cozy.

Using my own handspun is incredibly satisfying.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I've been doing a lot of spinning in the past couple years, and when I sat down to my wheel on Saturday afternoon, I realized that it was getting hard to treadle. I started troubleshooting- it wasn't wood rubbing on wood from the treadle and it wasn't the drive wheel sticking since it would spin freely when the drive band was off. I narrowed it down to the flyer mechanism, specifically the bearing hub that carries the back end of the flyer spindle in the back support. The shaft itself was also a bit draggy and the bobbin didn't spin as freely as I would like.

I took the rear hub off and cleaned it by flushing WD-40 through it. It worked really well to hold it at an angle and use the straw attachment on the can to spray in the top of the front and let the WD-40 run through and out the bottom of the front. I did it several times, and the black gunk and fiber dust that came out was incredible. I've never cleaned inside this piece before, so it's likely that this is the first time it's been cleaned in 21 years.

While I was at it, I also used some 0000 steel wool and WD-40 on the flyer shaft to smooth out any gummy spots.

Then, I figured since I had the wheel in the garage, I might as well clean the drive wheel axle. Since it was there, you know. Before I knew it, my wheel looked like this:

I partially disassembled it so I could more easily access the main hub and bearing. I ended up not taking the drive wheel completely off, since the pin through the hub into the axle was really firmly in place and I didn't want to damage anything, but other than that, this wheel is really easy to break down and put back together. I flushed the brass bearing with WD-40 (more gunk! yay!) and gave all the wood a coat of Danish Oil, since it's been a year and a half since the wood has been treated.

Hello, beautiful...

This is my favorite part of the wheel. The walnut inlay is so pretty.

So that was my unexpected Saturday. I didn't plan to take my wheel completely apart, but I'm glad I did. Sunday, I had a marathon spinning session, spinning 24 ounces (a pound and a half!) of fine cashmere singles in ~8 effortless hours. The time spent thoroughly cleaning the wheel was well worth it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I finally finished plying my green sweater yarn yesterday. This was stalled for a long time, but once I actually sat down to do it, I finished all the plying in one night.

Amazingly enough, this is the sum total of leftover singles.

Two of the final three balls came out exactly even(!), and the remaining one only had 7 grams on it, which I chain-plyed into a 10-yard mini-skein.

After a quick swim in the tub, and a swing on the clothesline on a sunny afternoon,

I ended up with this lovely pile of loveliness.

I have 1850 yards (44 oz) of 3-ply, in twelve skeins, which poofed up a bit more than anticipated when washed. I'm not exactly sure why that happened, as I did sample, and I treated the sample the same as the final yarn. I think maybe my singles got just a smidge thicker than my sample, as I was long-drawing with delicious abandon and thinking "not laceweight! not laceweight!"

It's extremely springy and boingy, and will make a wonderful sweater, though I may have to rethink the extensive cabling I had planned. I think that might make the sweater too heavy. Perhaps a plain stockinette background, with one cable up the front and sleeves or around the neck. Must think...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We took a post-Sock-Summit quickie trip to the coast, to Newport, Oregon. It was really fun. This is actually the first time in the eight and a half years I've lived on the West Coast that I've been to the outer coast. (Eight and a half years? I've been out here eight and a half years? Almost a decade?) Yes, we lived on an island in the middle of Puget Sound for a big chunk of that time, but I never made it over to the big coast.

Pretty. So, so pretty. La Grande is a great place to live, but my heart longs for a coastline.

We stayed one night in Newport. Like I said, it was a teaser trip. We went to Nye Beach,

went to the aquarium,

(how cool is that tubular aquarium!), had a truly horrible overpriced fish and chips dinner with terrible service (for the first time in my life, I left no tip), saw the sea lions at the pier,

and generally had a nice relaxing time. As we left, we drove up the coast sightseeing.

We stopped a couple places to get out and look around, but since we were traveling all the way back to La Grande that day, didn't want to take too much time. We did stop a while at Cape Foulweather, and saw two gray whales from the top of the cliff, which was cool. I definitely want to go back.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sock Summit was so much fun. I don't yet know how much of my yarn sold, but even aside from that, it was great. This is the first fiber festival type thing I've ever been to, and I'm so glad I went. The energy, the enthusiasm, in the convention center was unbelievable. Everyone was friendly and excited to be there. The air fairly hummed.

Thursday was the set up day, and I spent the day at the Yarny Goodness booth unpacking yarn (my own and others). The market opened for the students and teachers at 4:30, and it was crazy. The horde that descended on us when the doors opened was overwhelming - the roar as they opened the door was our first clue. Yikes! I did take a tour around the marketplace before it closed, mainly because the Yarny Goodness booth was too crowded for me to be any help. So. Much. Pretty. Yarn.

Friday I hung out at the YG booth some, and did a bit of shopping. I also participated in the gathering to set the new Guinness world record for the most people knitting at once. The previous record was shattered.

I don't know the final official count on how many were there, but the previous record was only 256 people, set in Australia only two months ago (sorry, Australia). The room had a maximum capacity of 1600, and it was pretty close to full, from what I could see.

On to Show-and-Tell. I finished up the pair of socks I was working on last week. I actually finished these last Wednesday. Emma and I had a fun time on the bus, by the way, and it's something I'll keep in mind for the future. In the six hours it took to get to Portland (an hour and a half longer than driving, but so nice not to have to do the driving!) I knit the entire sock except for the turned hem/top ribbing (which I did before we left) and kitchenering the toe (which I did at the hotel). Just plain stockinette, but it shows off the striping nicely.

They fit great, and only used 2/3 of the skein of yarn. Each sock is 35 grams, and the leftover ball is 32 grams. So now I am confident that my skeins are the right size, even if someone makes taller or bigger socks, which was one of the purposes of knitting these. The finished fabric is nice and soft and smooth, and the yarn was great to knit with - not splitty at all. I'll enjoy wearing these.

My time at the Sock Summit Market was also productive, though I'm happy to report that I stayed within my budget. And what I did get will keep me happily occupied for a long time.

The four skeins of yarn on the left were unexpected "payment" for helping out at the Yarny Goodness/ Spindle Cat Studio booth, and did not count against my budget. They are:
  • Spindle Cat Studio - 50% superwash merino, 25% superfine alpaca, 25% nylon fingering weight, 100g/430 yds, dyed in a lovely mix of light sagey greens
  • Fearless Fibers - 100% superwash merino fingering weight, 4 oz/550 yds, colorway Midnight Passion (deep purples)
  • Sleeping Dragon Yarns - 100% superwash merino fingering weight, 450 yds, colorway Mossy Frog (blue-greens)
  • Socks that Rock mediumweight- 100% superwash merino, colorway Farmhouse (red, gold, green, blue)
The rest of that pile was what I bought:
  • Fiber Optic: Three bags of pencil roving, each 4 oz., bought at The Fold. Two are 75% superwash merino 25% nylon, and will be used for socks, in colorways Superstition (greens, blues, and purples) and Black Coffee (browns, with muted greens, golds, and reds). The third is 50% superwash merino 50% bamboo, colorway Deep Sea (greens and purples), and I don't know what I'm using it for yet. Possibly something woven. Lovely sheen on the bamboo blend. The three small bags in the front are free samples.
  • Village Spinning and Weaving Shop - 1 oz of silk hankies, colorway Opal (blue, green, purple).
  • Yarny Goodness - a skein of OnLine sock yarn from Pam's destash sale, just because. I've used this yarn before and liked it, and I needed something to knit for the world record attempt.
  • Lantern Moon - a small bag, bought at the Actual Size booth, to hold fiber while I'm spindling, which leads me to.....
  • Spindlewood Company - I got a new spindle! I got this at the A Verb for Keeping Warm booth, a Spindlewood square mini. It's sooooooo pretty.

The whorl is cocobolo and the shaft is ebony, and it is beautifully crafted. The attention to detail on this is amazing. The shaft has decorative turnings, and the wood is silky smooth. Not only that, it spins like a dream. I bought this on Thursday afternoon, during the student/teacher preview. I knew that if I waited until Friday so I could think it over, it would be gone, gone, gone.

So Friday I was on a quest to find something to spin on it. That's when I kind of fell down at the Fiber Optic display. I didn't mean to get three bags of fiber, but I couldn't decide which one to get. So I got two, and they were such a joy to spin that I went back for a third. Ah, well. It's still cheap entertainment, when you consider the price for that many hours of happiness spent spinning.

And spin I did.

Over the course of the weekend, I spun the first quarter of the Superstition pencil roving. I'm going to chain-ply this for a 3-ply yarn, and knit myself pretty socks.

I spun most of the rest of the day Friday while I walked around the market and enjoyed the displays, while I talked to people at the Yarny Goodness booth, and even later that evening on the TriMet train (I was apparently quite the spectacle, and got my picture taken by two different people.)

While I was walking around, I also found this little Lantern Moon bag that is perfect for a spindling bag.

It's just the right size to hold some fiber, and loops right over my arm and snuggles into the crook of my elbow. It keeps the fiber out of the way of the spindle so it won't get wrapped into the yarn by accident, which was a problem as I was walking around and spinning out of my tote bag. Plus, the lining is a silky fabric, and lets the fiber slide out without sticking or fuzzing. It's just right.

More spindle pictures? Sure. Twist my arm! My new Spindlewood square mini is quite happy to join my Cascade Tiger. Aren't they pretty?

The Spindlewood is made of very dense woods, so even though the two spindles are approximately the same size (though the Spindlewood does have the square corners), the Spindlewood is more than twice as heavy. They are 0.75 oz (21g) and 0.3 oz (8 g) respectively.

I decided a couple months ago, when my finger was poised over my mouse button to buy a Golding spindle online, that I am not going to buy spindles online. Instead, I am going to buy each in person. I don't need or want lots of spindles, and that way I can pick out a special one, try it out, and every time I use it I will remember the fun time I had at the event or place where I bought it.

So the Spindlewood will remind me of Sock Summit 2009, and the Cascade will remind me of weaving the practice shawl for Sheep-to-Shawl last year and teaching Emma to spin.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

There is a LOT OF YARN in Portland, Oregon right now.

There are a LOT OF KNITTERS in Portland, Oregon right now.

It is amazing.

I had lots of fun.

Details Sunday when we get back from our side trip to the coast and I download the camera.

Fun fun fun fun fun!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Emma was in a right state yesterday when I picked her up from daycare at noon. I could tell that she was tired and hungry and hot. She cried and whined the whole time we were biking home, that her legs were tired and she wanted to just watch a movie.

Now, I was tired and hungry and hot as well. I was in no mood to deal with a tantrum. I announced that we were both having Quiet Time as soon as we had eaten lunch. That, of course, sparked a whole new level of hysterics.

We got home, I made quesadillas for lunch, and Emma disappeared into the living room while I was cleaning up. Things got very quiet.

About five minutes later, she appeared dressed in her pink princess dress and took my hand. She said she "had a message for me in the living room."

I had to laugh. All my grumpiness and irritation - immediately gone. Poof. Evaporated.

Can you see the message?

The girl is clever. My code word "Quiet Time" has definitely been cracked.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I did something this weekend I haven't done in a long time. I pulled out my cross stitch supplies. I haven't stitched in years, but I suddenly just felt like making something.

I didn't, however, feel like jumping right into one of my unfinished projects. I did pull them all out and look at them, and I really should finish them off because they're pretty. The two big ones are Great Blue Heron from Crossed Wing Collection, and Gathering Place by Stoney Creek.

Anyway, I didn't feel like doing a big project. So I made a little piece of frivolity.

I charted out my snail avatar and stitched it up. I thought it would be cool to have a "nametag" at the Sock Summit, and this is sort of an unobtrusive way to do that. Am I a dork? I'm afraid I may be.

It's about 2" x 2.5", and is stitched with two strands of floss over-one on 28-count Monaco. I was originally going to make it into a pin, but Emma was quite emphatic that it should be a necklace.

So in addition to making the twisted cord to go around the edge (4 strands of 5/2 perle cotton doubled on itself), I made a twisted cord for the necklace part (2 strands of 5/2 cotton, doubled on itself). It's entirely hand-stitched around a base of cardboard and batting. I love the way the twisted cord finishes off the edge.

I'm not entirely sold on the necklace idea, and attached a safety pin to the back in case I decide to remove the neck cord and wear it on my tote bag instead of around my neck.

Monday, August 03, 2009

So things are going along. I'm actually still working part time, because they dug up a project that I can work on. So it could be worse. I imagine we'll manage to squeak by until Shaun starts getting paid again at the end of September (love that 9-month contract).

The afternoons off are nice, and I am getting back to working on yarny stuff. Silver lining, I guess?

I have made two socks (but not a pair):

The bottom one is Dream in Color Smooshy "In Vino Veritas", in a waffle rib pattern (one of my favorites for socks). Gorgeous mottled burgundies and purples.

The top one is my own hand dyed yarn, knit as a test for a new yarn line I'll be carrying in my Etsy shop. It's a 75% superwash merino/25% nylon lightweight sock yarn that knits up well on US size 0 or 1 needles. The colorway for that sock is "Sunny Day", and it's a mini-stripe. This is just plain stockinette to see how the stripes work, but I like it, the yarn was great to work with, and the sock is very comfy. The yarn base passed muster, and I'll be carrying it.

There's not much listed in my shop at the moment, because almost my entire inventory is going to be at Sock Summit! And so am I! Pam at Yarny Goodness is going to have a booth there, and I'm going over to Portland to help her set up on Thursday and provide an extra set of hands if needed during the day on Friday. I'm not going to any of the classes or anything, just the market, but I'm looking forward to it.

Shaun is in Friday Harbor this week, and he has the car, so Emma and I are going to have an adventure and take the bus to Portland on Wednesday, and Shaun will drive down to meet us. I've never been on a non-charter, non-school bus before. I'm very much looking forward to not having to drive that long drive.

And I'm very very much looking forward to a couple days of fiber immersion! Yes, I have put myself on a strict budget.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I really don't understand how it can be that Emma is getting so big so fast. Wasn't it just yesterday that she was gazing up at me as she nursed, with my finger clutched in her little fist?

Our local county fair was this weekend, and Emma had a very special event on Saturday. I'm so not ready for this.

Her first horse show! She got second place out of a group of five kids in the "Lead Line - 6 and under" performance class! She's riding Cookie, and her teacher Jenny was in the ring with her (holding the lead line, hence the name of the class) as she demonstrated walking, stopping, and trotting. I'm very proud of her. The fact that she's interested in an expensive pursuit like horseback riding is Shaun's doing.

After her show class was over, she and I moseyed over to the rides (more like oozed - it was 103°F) and had a couple rides.

This was her first time on the Ferris wheel; she was too scared to go on it last year.