making the time

It wasn't all work over the weekend.  I managed to string together quite a bit of time to myself.  They were found moments.  It is the same for so many of us.  Everyone I speak to says that they are busier now than they used to be.  I remember when I had time enough to make almost all my clothes, to read book after book, and do so many other things.  As I read your blog posted resolutions, I see over and over the same wish, that we can separate ourselves out from the harried, hurried world that we function in and make time for things that we find important.  Maybe it's a movement.  Priorities first, not to bitch and whine, but to make the most of what we can and to find a way to do better.  Pollyanna wasn't all that wrong, (nod and a hug to Norma..) it DOES feel better if you look on the bright side. 

The stuff:
Saturday was the last Spin In of the year.  I think that everyone that showed up was surprised at how many of us were there, at least double the normal number of spinners.  I hadn't prepared anything ahead of time to take to spin, figuring that I'd continue with some merino / alpaca & silk that I'd carded up and have been spinning on the Schacht.  When I pulled out the Joy to make sure I had a couple empty bobbins and through in my fiber, I found, behind the wheel, the last 2 oz. package of lovely cormo / angora that Anne had dyed for me last winter.  I'd spun the other 4 oz. way back when, but this one package, I'd misplaced.   With a little help form a friend, I split it down the middle, spun each half on separate bobbins, plied and skeined it.  I'm thinking another hat, in the shape of Gretel, but different.  It is very soft.

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I plied up some spindle spun alpaca / silk..

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and some of the merino / alpaca / silk

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Then lit a fire, opened a bottle of wine, and sat down to enjoy and contemplate.

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and my little old Bu.... well, she'd settle in for a nap if I'd stop flashing that light in her face.

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a "me" weekend

And a wonderful one, too!  Saturday and Sunday, ALL day, BOTH days, I sat spinning with seven women in a workshop taught by Celia Quinn.  It was a Comprehensive Spinning Workshop.  We were given nearly 6 dozen different fiber samples to spin.  Some familiar, some not.  Some carded, some raw.  Some in roving.  Natural and man made, animal and vegetable.  We spun each sample using different techniques, discovering what worked best for that fiber and what felt right.  From the end and the fold, long draw and short.  Sometime Saturday afternoon, I discovered something I didn't know about myself.  I found that I had been using the long draw with my left hand for some fibers and always with my spindle and my right hand for others.  If I hadn't sat next to a lefty, joking about handedness and space needed to keep from whacking one another, I might not have noticed.  Interesting the way we learn to accommodate and do what comes natural.  Celia passed out little taklis (tiny metal spindles).  Fast little buggers for spinning the cotton samples.  I hadn't used a supported spindle before.  I will now.  She demonstrated the chakra. We used two different types of distaffs with flax, then spun it from the fold without.  The two days went fast, a whirlwind tour of fiber possibilities. And,  I have a bunch of new tools. 

In the evenings, I've knitted on Clapotis.   Time for knitting is short now.  By the middle of the week I'll be on elf duty.  At last count, I have more than a hundred assorted sized wreath bows to tie next week.  It'll cramp my knitting time and my hands. 

I can't seem to get the color right in these pictures. 

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The yarn sitting on Clapotis isn't the Artisan 2 ply that I'm using, it is the sock yarn I dyed in the same color way.  I don't know what I was thinking when I took the shot.  Here's the yarn.

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sp. sp.. sp... spindles!

or scoring big at Rhinebeck!

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The Ledbetters, aren't they beautiful with the antique button inlay?  They spin as beautifully as the look.  And from sweet Carole, my first Greensleeves, in the most amazing spaulted maple I have ever seen.

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While I stood at the Carolina Homespun booth, test spinning spindle after spindle, Marcy handed out this advice: Buy both, spindles cost less than a wheel.  True.  She's good, and I'm easy.


the spindler's kate

One of the items that C wanted to take to the VT S&W last weekend was the Spindler's Kate.  He pulled a board of spaulted maple from our wood pile and made six beautiful boxes.  That meant I had to get busy and spindle up a couple sleeves worth of singles to demonstrate.  When it came time to ply, I decided to bring along my Jenkins Turkish spindle.  It holds so much and the little center pull ball is very convenient for handling.  Here's how it went.  Perfectly.  That little skein? Not quite so little, there are 90 yd in it.  That was all the fiber I had in that little batt I'd carded.  Merino. Silk. Alpaca.  I'll make more, different, but more.

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The more I spindle using this method, the more portable I see my spinning becoming.  I find my spindle is traveling with me to the mail box, while waiting for skeins to wind, sitting on the bench across from the barn, wherever.  Perfect.

ps. I am STILL working on the new website.  The Spindler's Kate will be on it. As soon as I can figure out the shipping module.  Sheesh!  It's always something.


the spindler's kate

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This is the best tool I've made since I started spinning / spindling.  The one thing that confounded me, was the plying.  Oh, I could ply alright.  I could Andean ply. I could wind my single onto a bobbin or into a center pull ball.  I could take two or three balls of singles and wind them yet again onto a felt ball and ply from that.  I could do it many ways, but ALL of them required extra time and extra steps and extra frustration.  Why?  Why, when I could do it in one step and ply back onto my spindle or onto a wheel. 

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That means no more little tiny skeins of yarn to splice together.

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Who'd want to do that to cashmere and silk?


I am a spindler

At least once a day, I find myself reaching for a spindle to try a bit of this or that.  Maybe it is some fiber I have blended and want to see how it spins up.  Last week, while spinning at a local fair, I bought a bag of beautiful grey alpaca fleece.  It hadn't been touched but was fairly clean and mostly free of vm.  I pulled a spindle from my bag and spun a small sample to "see" it.  Lovely.  I tried a 2 ply, then a 3 ply.... 

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When I got back home I tried carding it, alone and with some merino and silk. 

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2,3,4 ply and a thicker softer 2 ply

Tuesday, a small package arrived containing a note holding a bit of flax and some hemp.  Out came a spindle. 

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Here's the hemp as a 2 ply.  It is coarse.  Of course.  I use twine in the garden, sisal probably.  Hemp is much finer, not nearly as hard.  My first thought was to use the single with a lucet to make a bit of braided rope. The lucet wasn't handy so I Andean plied.  It's not soft enough to want to do a lot of it that way, wrapped around the soft parts of my hand. 

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spindle sleeve

I posted my drinking straw on the spindle idea on the Weekend Whirls blog.  Rose came back with something she had seen at Nancy's Knit Knacks.  So much for original thought.   I had tried to slide the yarn off the spindle shaft and onto a straw at some point, but found that the fine singles caught and pulled on the edge of the straw.  Winding directly onto the straw eliminates this problem and also the additional step.  Try both.  See what you think.  This video, although a sales pitch for the Spindler's Kate, is interesting.  Check it out.

http://www.nancysknitknacks.com/videos/Spindler%20Kate%202.asf


spindle sleeves and beading

I am crazy wild for spindling, can't seem to get enough of it.  I love the way the fiber moves through my fingers, the whirling spindle, the satisfaction of winding it on.  Most of all, I love handling all the different the beautiful woods.  Not much down side.  Not much.  There is one thing that I continue to struggle over, the removal of the yarn from the spindle.  I've tried a number of things.  I've wound it from the spindle onto toilet paper rolls, bobbins, and into center pull balls.  I've Andean plied.   Finally, I think I have hit onto something that works for me.  I posted that I was sliding a bright red plastic straw onto my Hardy, then winding the yarn directly onto it.  Works great.  When I was ready to remove the yarn, I slid the straw from the spindle onto an old metal knitting needle and into my lazy kate.  The other ply on my kate was wound onto a toilet paper roll.  Easy.  Yesterday, when I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee, I replenished my straw supply.  Aside from the fact that they are not a beautiful compliment to my spindle, I can't find much of a down side.

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My Spring Things Shawl seemed a bit small, so following Susan's suggestions in the pattern, I have added a couple pattern repeats.  Two more rows and I begin my first beaded edge pattern.  I'm going for the nupps.  And for the beads.

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lovely things

Dsc_0386_2 Yesterday, when I returned to my office, these where sitting on top of my paperwork.
How, what, and why..?  C came in and told me he had found them in the back of the van, between bags of cement.  What?  That made no sense.  By morning we had pieced a story together.

Monday, he had stopped at Home Depot to buy some Arbor Vitae and bags of cement for a job.  Cheaper there than wholesale.  A Sparrow (my guess a Chipping Sparrow) must have made her nest in one of them.  Poor bird, imagine not only having your tree disappear, but also your nest with eggs.  How distraught she must be.  The trees were packed in the truck at a reclined angle, eggs rolled out and settled between the bags.  Makes sense, but no less sad.   I've checked the trees and haven't found any sign of a nest, but these birds are not good builders, at best their nests are flimsy.

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I wrote the other day that I had purchased another Hardy spindle, and that I love it.  I do. I haven't wanted to knit or to spin on anything else the past few days.  It is a pleasure to spin, to look at and to hold.  Barneswallow Farm's llama and silk fiber I bought to spin on it is no slouch either.  It is very soft and beautifully carded.    I have one small bobbin and another spindle almost ready to wind off.

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hurry up, slow down

Most of the day was spent in the field, putting up shade houses and covering the hosta beds with 60% shade cloth.  Up and down the ladder, all day.  Climb up, unroll some cloth, bungee it to the structure, climb back down, move ladder three feet and repeat.  Over and over.  Temps hit 90.  Mother Nature must be laughing.  That we had a fire going on Monday is not lost on me.  By the time we were finished it, the temps were down to 86.  Time to jump into the pond.  The water has NOT had time to warm up.  Heart stopping.  Refreshing.  Back stroking out is one thing, but having that icy cold water stream past your belly, oh my...! 

I took a breather and came in to have a cold drink and go online to find Wendy's pattern for toe up socks.  I'm at the point where I have to make the gusset or heel or whatever comes next in a toe up.  While waiting for the dial up to get where i point it, I spin.  The Schacht sits next to my desk.   

I'm working on a pound of 50% alapca / 50% wool that I bought at the RI Sheep & Wool festival last Saturday from the Twist of Fate Spinnery guys.  Thought I'd see what their processed fiber felt like.  Pretty grey.

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Spins up nicely.  I'm thinking three ply.

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In answer to some of your comments from yesterday, the paw prints were Coon.  The bear, however, did go through the outhouse, tossing everything, EVERYTHING, out onto the lawn while he finished off the sunflower seeds.  So far, I haven't heard a mountain lion this year.