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December 2006

2006, the meme

The year, in review..following the meme's rules of posting only the first sentence and first photo of each month.

Simple..  A is for Abu.


It started like this...  

It could have been any number of things that made me anxious today as I started out on my hike through the woods.

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I'm behind.

Sometime after lunch, Saturday, after listening to others tell of making numbers of trips to their respective cars to deposit fibery purchases, I believe I bragged commented as to the fact that I had not bought anything.

I loved this project.

"make hay while the sun shines"
I'm taking advantage of every minute, in every way.

Last week the sock and I took another trip to the mountains.

I can't figure out if there is something wrong with the internet today, MY internet connections today, or just more lousy phone reception.

The first sock for Socktoberfest is finished.

The months of strong, bright colors have faded away.

I'm here... somewhere under the piles of red and silver bows, acres of white branches lit by miles of white lights, gilded reindeer and colored balls, poinsettias of every color (peach, come on, what kind of holiday spirit orders peach poinsettias for a local hospital?? someone did..), Christmas cactus, boxwood trees and alberta spruce.

There it is.. not my favorite pictures.  Not by a long shot.  It gave me a short time to look back for myself.  It was good.

solstice..bring in the light


The precise moment of the 2006 solstice will be December 21, 2006 at 7:22 P.M. EST (Dec. 22, 00:22).

It's uphill from here(doesn't that mean that it is getting harder, uphill?? when really I mean the days are getting longer and I'm thinking that's good, but downhill sounds so derogatory). 

There are three times during the year when I particularly like to have a fire burning, a bringing in of the light.  The winter solstice is one, New Year's Eve another.  It must come from a part of the collective conscious as I am quite sure it wasn't part of my upbringing nor any religious affiliation.  As I grew older, it just felt like the right thing.  Before Google, before the computer, I never knew the time of the Solstice.  It didn't matter.  Was it the night between the 20th and the 21st or the 21st and the 22nd?  I'd ask friends and get different answers.  The point is, it doesn't matter, the spirit of the celebration is the point.  Steph posted a long list of celebrations we have to mark the passage of the seasons, the return of the light.  It's good to see them all written out, nice and orderly, proof that we are all of the same cloth, no matter how different we believe ourselves to be. 



It's all about the fabric.  That is what we are making, isn't it?  Color, texture, weight, softness, drape, these are words used to describe the characteristics of the fabric we knit.  It's what we anticipate when we design and or spin a yarn.   How the yarn is knitted,  the pattern stitch and the needle size we choose determines the final fabric.  Before I began spinning, I designed yarns by blending two or more strands of like or different yarns together.  It's a great way to get interesting textures and colors.  The yarn I'm using for the Everyday sweater is a hybrid.  I made it several years ago.  I had purchased about a pound of mohair heavy, wool blend roving.  It was a mix of dark blue and purple wool, with gold mohair.  As I spun the singles and watched the yarn gathering on the bobbin, I realized that I would not have enough to make the sweater I was envisioning.  I needed to stretch it.  A lot.  I set out looking for a fine lace or fingering wt. yarn to ply it with, thus doubling my yardage.  I tried an orange gold merino 2 py, and a black one.  What I settled on was a very fine wool, baby boucle, in a brightish blue that matched one of the colors in the roving.  The resulting fabric, knitted in a simple stockinette stitch, has enough texture and color to keep it interesting.  The mohair and looped boucle keep it light in weight though not in feel.  It will bloom more when washed.  It is an interesting yarn, creating an interesting fabric.  From not enough, I have more that enough to make a sweater.


walk with me wednesday

Truthfully, I did not walk to see this.  I'm carrying my camera with me, as per usual.  These days, I take them as I see them.  I stop the car, get out and enjoy the views.  I won't be walking for at least a few more weeks.  I'm optimistic.  I did tear my Achilles tendon, and have done it more than once.  And, there is the tendonitis.  I have a fine ski boot looking thing to wear to bed to keep my foot positioned the way the Dr. ordered. He did tell me that I should wear at least a 1 3/4" heel.  Saying that to the Queen of Birks took courage.  I'm sure he didn't realize (or do you think he spotted the granola?).  Time will pass.  Keep up your walks, I'll go with you, enjoying your insights into the landscape around you.

So here's my "walk", and in spite of the gloomy weather, I enjoyed it.  Lovely stark stuff.  What's with all the fog this late in December?





Just think of the time I'll be able to make for knitting. 

learning, always learning

The more things I learn, the more things I need to know and more I find I don't know.

Take carding, for instance.  There are some fibers that I have carded that I am very pleased with.  They card up the way I expect them to be.  They are basic, easy wools.  I think that's why they are successful.   That's one of the things I think that I don't know about yet. 

  • A couple Sunday's ago, Jenny Bakriges challenged each person in the class to take a variety of fibers that she chose and that we, in this case, I knew little about.  We were to card them and spin them for an imaginary project also of her choosing.  I was given a bit of INGEO, a (miserable*) fiber made from corn.  One online description has it as "a fiber entirely derived from corn, with the final product a “natural plastic".  Felt like it, too.  The article goes on to state that it has great drape and so on..  It has a melting point of 170 F.  I found this description on a fiber site: INGEO (In-gee-o), which means Ingredients from the Earth, is made in the USA and represents a new era in fiber as one of several emerging products created from annually renewable resources.  It is one of those clever names that hints at it's origins and sounds good, like Canola oil, a derivitive of Canadian oil, a name having nothing to do with rape seed.  I gathered that it is a recycled bi-product of the sugar industry, corn syrup.  Recycling.. sounds like a good thing.  This past weekend I decided to card it with the green multicolored wool top she included in the challenge bag.  Darn stuff made a mess in the carder, sticking in clumps to the licker.  I carded and spun just enough to say I had, put the remaining into a baggy for later experimentation and went on to my next learning experience.
  • The next project I made for myself showed me that I know very little about carding with silk.  I had small portions of three different tops leftover from the same class.  I had maybe 5-6 ft. of the natural oatmeal colored coopworth, 3-4 ft of the mixed burgundy colored superwash top, and maybe 10" of silk top.  I put onto the carder in layers, sandwiching the silk between the wools.  The first pass gave me lines of the silk, colored and natural.  I wanted a more uniform blend so I separated it into four strips and recarded each of those.  That's when the trouble started.   I was getting fuzzy balls of what can best be described as wool bunnies jumping off the carder.  I got rid of them as they formed and finished the remainder of the fiber.  The results were a good blend, but the silk had nupped in places.  The resulting yarn is fine, I left the nupps in.  However, I know that I do NOT know enough about carding with silk. 

I ended up with 100yds of 2 ply yarn from the 1.4 oz of blended fiber.  More for the stash.  I had hoped I would have enough to make a pair of wristers or something... If I'd spin up the corn stuff and use it there would be, but 170 F?? Not for my hands.



* could be if I knew more about INGEO, I'd like it.. time will tell.

onto another project..

I was on my knees in the hallway closet, I think making room for the ladder so so I could climb up to the attic to look for some holiday stuff, when I noticed that I was eye to eye with another one of my plastic stash bins.  Somehow this particular bin had managed to hide itself a couple stories above the tower of bins in my office, and as out of sight would have it, it was well out of mind.  Good thing I noticed it. Good thing they are sort of transparent.  I think it was the sight of a couple schacht bobbins that caught my attention.  I'm always hunting down bobbins.  But the really good part of this story is, that if I hadn't opened the bin, I'd have spent untold hours hunting down some handspun that I'd been thinking about lately.  There was a lot of it, nine skeins.  I knew I'd made a sweater's worth a few years ago.


Back then, I hadn't come up with a match for a pattern and had stored it away until.. well, whenever.  But, then a few weeks ago, I'd started thinking about knitting the Everyday Cardigan.  Cindy had worn hers one Tuesday night, and it had gotten me thinking about some others I'd seen.  It was perfect for this yarn.  Both in texture and color, there is a lot going on.  It's not soft enough to wear close to the skin.  A warm cardi, something to be worn over a long sleeve shirt, perfect.  And the pattern had to be simple.  Between the darkness and the irregular patterning of the colors, any stitch work would probably get lost.  I swatched.  I started.


I talked it over with  a few spinner / knitter friends at a guild meeting Saturday.  It's a boxy pattern.  I needed to and have added, a few short rows at several intervals along the back to keep it from having that gap effect.

I could have been decorating Podo.  So far, he's got his lights.  Step one.


Friday and back to our originally....

The other day, in the middle of doing several of these...


I walked downcity for a bit of lunch.   Those of you who have lived in the part of the country  I'm talking about, will have recognized it instantly by that one word.  I've walked in this city for over thirty years.  This is the first time I remember seeing this:


Sadly, that doesn't mean that I've never SEEN it before.  This time though, I SAW it.

walk with me wednesday

I've been suffering and babying (apparently not enough) a bad Achilles tendon for several months.  Between my walking and then all the time spent on my feet working the past couple weeks, it finally let go.  Last Friday night and each evening since, I have spent icing it.  I tell you this to explain my walk.  It's barely a walk at all.  I'm saving the time I have on my foot for work.  This post is no more than a walk around the perimeter of my house.  I was lucky.  It snowed off and on all day.  The colors that remain were highlighted by the brightness, the whiteness of the dusting.  I got up from my office, looked outside, and there was magic.


P1020841    P1020849 

P1020843    P1020842


spinning with Jenny

Sunday's class with Jeannine Bakriges was very good for me.  But, as I sit here and try to formulate a post on what I learned, I'm finding that it isn't anything that I can write much about.  A good class, a good teacher, presents tools, new or otherwise, and opens the door to new possibilities.  That happened.  Jenny showed us the American long draw, the short, and forward and backward draw, how to open up the fibers, drafting and holds, spinning from the fold and from a flicked lock.  We spun the same fiber using differnet ratios and learned how to determine ratio.  She discussed treadling speed.  It wasn't really new ground.  Not much in spinning is 'new ground'.  Presenting tools and the encouragement to play with them opened us up to changes in the way we approach our projects, a reminder that there is more than one path to follow. 

The class began with Jenny having us spin a single and a 2-ply at our "comfort level".  That's the way you spin when you just sit down and begin, not much thought, the weight and twist that just feels right.  The (maybe) rut that we sit in.  Then we made alterations, we spun a thicker yarn, and a fine one.  Each time we varied we made a single, a 2-ply and a 3-ply sample. Some examples were spun from the fold, some not.  The more I spun, the free-er I felt.  I can't remember the last time that I sat down to spin a thick yarn, something for say a size 11 or 13 needle.  It felt great to know that I can.  And, I can make it lofty or dense.  Same goes for the fine yarns.  Do I want a smoothly spun silk yarn or maybe a softer one.   The following are my samples from Sunday's class.  Nothing finished, not a product, but a look at some things I might want to try.   

Processed multicolored roving. Spun from the fold:
1. long draw different wts. 2 & 3 ply
2. short draw  different wts. 2 & 3 ply
3. small whorl, long draw 2 & 3 ply

Sample1 1.Sample22.

Sample3  3.


Sample4  1.Sample52.

1. experimenting with weights and twist, 2 & 3 ply
2. initial comfort zone spinning





from the fold and not, 2 & 3 ply

I'd say it was a very good class.

under the season

I'm here... somewhere under the piles of red and silver bows, acres of white branches lit by miles of white lights, gilded reindeer and colored balls, poinsettias of every color (peach, come on, what kind of holiday spirit orders peach poinsettias for a local hospital?? someone did..), Christmas cactus, boxwood trees and alberta spruce.  I'm somewhere under it all, and the piles are still growing, GROWING.  The Christmas stocking is finished.  Last I saw it, Sam was stretched out on top of it, napping.  Very cute.  Too bad, I ran on by on my way to the office, workshop, plantroom... maybe it was the laundry.  Don't give up on me.. I snuck away yesterday and took a great class with Jeannine Bakriges.  More on that, later.  I've got to get to the library for a few more videos, entertainment while tying more bows.

P1020822  P1020825

P1020833  P1020823