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October 2008

walk with me wednesday.. into a monochromatic world

P1050434a  Autumn against a grey rainy day.. what a beautiful relief to the kaleidoscope of color that comes with a New England fall.   The colors seem richer, a palette of tweeds vs. the bright primaries of a sunny autumn day.  Yesterday began that way.  The mist and rain set off the golds of the tamarac.  The russet of end of season oaks and coppery beeches dotted the hills.  'Like lollipops', Chris said.  By late in the afternoon, the temperature was falling and the wind had picked up.  This morning we woke to a monochromatic world.  What a difference, I went looking for color.





The pictures were taken about 7 hours ago.  Seven snowing hours.  It doesn't look like it plans on letting up soon.  I'm looking forward to a warm up the end of the week.  The weather caught me of guard.  I have porch furniture, and planters and the dock to put away.  I hope this isn't a sign that winter will be a copy of last year.

change in the weather

Thanks for your comments.  Sounds like spinners are a pack of whackers, or a whack of thwackers or...

After weeks of clear blue skies, the grey days are beginning in Northern New England.  Freezing rain and snow are forecast for the next couple days, a nor'easter.  The thought sends a  shiver down my spine. I guess I'm never ready for this change in the seasons.  This year in particular.  Don't get me wrong.  I love winter and I love snow.  Not yet.  Lots of trees still have their leaves.  Snow on top means bent trees, snapping limbs and, please no, power outages possible.  The change in the weather signals that the time has come to gather up my projects for the dark days ahead.  Let them circle my chair, a wagon train rounding the campfire. 

I'm taking note of books that other bloggers are reading.  Stocking up.  With both us at home waiting for our feet to repair and the television blaring the financial news, I've had some time to read.  It has been a relief to plop myself down somewhere else and lose myself in a book.  Here are some I'd recommend:

Finding Nouf 
- Zoƫ Ferraris
I heard a review of this book early in the summer on NPR.  It was in the library system with a short wait.  Good mystery set in contemporary Saudi Arabia.  Wonderful depiction of family and in particular, life for women in the Middle East.

The Sparrow
-Maria Doria Russell
Carole sent me this recommendation.  Thank you.  Science fiction rolled in with religious philosophy as are many of this gender.  Wonderful character studies.  I found myself waking up thinking about some of the descriptions and ideas in this book.

The Red Tent
-Anita Diamant
I may have been the last person I know to read (I listened to this one) The Red Tent.  If you haven't, do so. 

The Fire
-Katherine Neville
Twenty years ago I read The Eight, twice.  This is the sequel.  So far, just as good.  Historical mystery, mysticism, chess.

whacking wool

P1050425 Is "whacking" a technical term?  or "thwacking"?

Are you a wool whacker?  Or.. do you coddle your washed skeins, handling them gently as you hang them up to dry? Do you wash your skeins by hand to set them, or  put them in the washing machine? 

I've been giving these questions a bit of thought lately.  Somewhere, in the back of my mind, is that article from Spin Off last year by Judith MacKenzie McCuin*, where she suggests using a toilet plunger while washing handspun yarn to set the twist.  It had sounded rather harsh to me.  But, that was before I met her and found her to be a very reasonable person.  Keeping this in mind and still not sold on the plunger idea (mine is relegated to plumbing only), I've begun whacking my woolen yarn.  After a not so gentle wash in scalding hot water with a bit of shampoo, I rinse, again in hot, hot water.  Then, I toss it into the washer on the 'spin only' cycle.  This saves hours and hours on the drying.  Then comes the whacking, or the setting of the twist.  My basement has a metal column, a lally column, in the middle of the room.  If I remember correctly, it was once covered in some sort of red carpet, probably shag if it was the match for the rest of the house when it became mine.  Twenty years ago, I striped it off (delivered it to the dump) and scraped the column, never getting around to painting or covering it.  Today it is my whacking pole.  Not only do I find that the yarn does seem to even out from the mistreatment, but I find it rather satisfying.  Who'd 'a thought?

I'm not suggesting that this treatment should be used for everything.. it most certainly should not.  These days, I'm collecting tools.  This is a good one.


This brings the total number of skeins I've spun and whacked for the Rhinebeck Sweater to four, just over a pound and nearly 800 yards.  It is heavy stuff.  Spinning as I go has been fun and a treat for my hands.  All the changes in hand motions have kept my wrist from getting too sore.  Even the knitted pattern was easy to switch out.  Rows 1&2, the k2, p2 rows, were knitted English. Rows 3&4 were stockinette, and knitted Continental.     

Now, for the fun part.  This is what I found in my button box.  I love the larger buttons.  They look blue with the sky reflecting in them this morning.  Gorgeous day.  They are a dark brown, nearly the color of the darkest brown in the yarn, with light brown dashes.  They'd be a strong statement.  The smaller pewter buttons mimic the stitch pattern and are sized well for the sweater.  They are bright against the dark wool.


hmmmm..... ?

*Summer 2007  on wet finishing yarn

little bits

P1050423d One morning at breakfast, Judith MacKenzie McCuin asked me what I  planned on making with all of the little sample bits of fiber I had accumulated at SOAR.  Good question.  I was at a loss.  Actually, it was something I'd briefly thought about, and more or less scoffed at the idea that they were much more than samples to play around with.  "Some people make a project with them" she continued. "You probably have a lot of fiber".  I'd taken her class Creating Silk Blends the day before.  She knew I had samples.  Truth is, I do have quite a lot of fiber to think about.  During the three day class I'd taken with Deb Menz, Creatively Carding with Color I'd accumulated bags, ounces of blended colorful bits of roving.  SOAR Vendors had put more little samples of fiber into the Goodie bag that participants received.  One night we found small baggie of lovely Suri alpaca at out place at dinner.  Sometimes I use these bits of things to sample on my spindles.  It seems like a good way to get the feel of a particular spindle.   I don't have a firm ideas for this yet.  Or, I guess, whether I'll even do a project.  I figure the best way for me to begin, is to start playing with / spinning some of it.  Maybe it will let me know what should be. 

 this = that

This little ball of roving is one half of the ounce of roving in our Goodie bag.  The cop on the spindle, the other half.  I divided the ounce of roving by splitting it length wise. I'll spin them inthe same order then ply them together. 

 Notice the way the yarn is yarn is wound onto the spindle?


I used the same method you would to wind onto a nostepine.  If you were to slide it off the spindle, it would be a center pull ball.  Don't try it with anything spun fine.  Guaranteed it'll be tangled mess where the ball collapses in on itself.  But, the thing is about winding on this way... it maximizes the amount of fiber that you wind on each rotation.  Less winding, less time.   Something was said in Abby's class that made me want to try that. 

That's the great thing about classes and gatherings .. there are so many little things that you pick up.  

mystery solved

The first 200 yards spun, of what is no longer mystery fiber, knitted up quickly.  I was anxious to get the Rhinebeck Sweater underway before leaving for SOAR.  That way, if the yarn wasn't what I hoped when knitted, I'd have a chance to swap it or the pattern with something more to my liking.  Turns out that I like it very much.  It has been a while since I spun a worsted wt yarn.  Funny how easy it is to get stuck in a spinning slump / habit.  Lately mine has been lace wt. spinning. Compared to that, it doesn't take long to fill a bobbin or two.  Thursday, as I was getting down to the last of the yarn, I spun and plied another 200 yd. to take along.  I have an old grain bin / chest that I use to store fiber.   I was pretty sure I had at close to 3 lbs of this particular fiber so wasn't particularly worried about having enough for the sweater.  I was curious as to what type of wool.  Rustic certainly, not what you'd call a luxury yarn by any stretch of the imagination.    The mystery was solved when I dug out the bag. I'd bought it from a VT farm, at the VT S&W in 2001.  The receipt said 4 lbs.  


Yarn: Homespun 2 ply Romney x Border Leicester