Friday, November 30, 2007

Fiber on Friday

What's this? Fiber Friday? I have some finished yarn photos for you! It's as if it were "Fiber Friday" or something!

But first, a word to the non-spinners. A long time ago, before I decided I wanted to spin, I used to read people's spinning posts and feel a bit bewildered by all the different terminology. I felt a bit left behind, if you will. I know it wasn't intentional on the part of those bloggers, and I stuck with them through the spinning (even if I didn't quite read the posts, but simply tuned in for the "oooh, pretty yarn pictures" factor).

So, to the non-spinners reading this, hang in there, this is still a knitting blog, and I sympathize if you're a bit weirded out by the sudden prominence of the word "spinning" in my topic tags. You don't really want to see a few more inches of Cobblestone, though, do you? Because that's all that's happening around here, I swear. Socks? Hats? Other holiday knitting? It's not happening. Cobblestone is on the needles and wants to be worked on, gosh darn it. (I've actually finished the body and started a sleeve, but I don't have a picture. Besides, it would look like a very small version of the body anyways, so my point stands).

That said, how about some fiber?

Thanks for all your hints and suggestions about the overplying of the blue lagoon yarn. I've decided to leave it as-is for now (partially because I lack any easy way to wind a center-pull ball).

Blue lagoon.JPG Blue lagoon dime shot.JPG
Look, a dime shot!

I also spun up all of the not-quite-4-oz. of the "autumn lake" roving. It went really, really quickly, quite possibly because I love the colors. I love how tweedy it turned out. I'm also glad that it's not quite as overplied as the previous skein was.

Autumn lake yarn.JPG

I don't exactly love that there are only 100 yards; I would have liked something longer. Nor do I like that it's a bit scratchy and scraggly, but that might be because I was playing around with letting the twist eat up the yarn.

Autum lake 2.JPG Autumn lake 3.JPG

Looking at the close-ups, I'm thinking the singles weren't very tightly spun; at least, they don't look that way in the closeups. I wonder if this is why it's scratchy and why there are so many fibers hanging out from the singles? Hmm.

Speaking of fiber, I'm highly suspicious of all the mysterious packages that have arrived at my door in the last half hour. I've seen a mail truck, a DHL truck, and a FedEx truck dropping things off. Good gracious! It's a veritable delivery parade out there. Now I only need to see a UPS truck to collect the full set. You'd think my birthday were on Monday or something, and that I'd be entering a whole new decade to boot!

(My birthday is on Monday, and I'll now have to say that my age is 3x, instead of 2x. I'm going to feel very old, I think. I also suspect I don't get to explore these enticing packages Coffeeboy has ordered until then. One of them, though, has a suspicious marking on the box, and two have really interesting return addresses that I shouldn't have looked at. Bad me! - but this is what happens when one works from home and receives the mail, I guess.)

Happy Friday, all, and have a good weekend!

Monday, November 26, 2007


On Sunday afternoon, I finally felt well enough to sit by the wheel, so I plied up the two bobbins of pretty blue fluff. Indeed, the bobbins hold about 4 oz. of fiber, as you can see from this crammed bobbin!

Blue lagoon bobbin.JPG

I then wound the yarn onto my makeshift niddy-noddy, also known as two posts and one beam from my sweater dryer. It bent a bit, but made an excellent substitution for the tool.

That's 119 yards or so.

I had read on the internet (while I was sick and couldn't spin) that it can be OK to overply the yarn, that overplying gets corrected with hot water and whacking. So I decided to go for the overplied side of things. Apparently, though, I took that little tidbit too far! When I removed the yarn, it went sproing! into a mess of coils and overplied yarny goodness.

Overplied twistiness.JPG

A soak in the tub, followed by a few very fun whacks against the side of the shower, seemed to remove most of the little coils.

Soaking in the tub.JPG Hanging to dry.JPG

As you can see, it's still quite overplied. I must have been a bit ply-happy when I was at the wheel. I didn't use the plying head, but just a regular bobbin, and the same whorl I'd used to spin the yarn, which made plying go so much more easily. (Until the flyer started sqeaking and I had to clean it, but that's another story). We'll have to work on the plying! In this picture, the yarn is still pretty wet, so I can't give you the pretty all-skeined-up shot quite yet.

Overplied closeup.JPG

I can't decide whether I like it like the overplied look or not. I really like the blue-lagoon colors of this yarn, and I'd like to make a hat or something out of it. It could make a really funky hat as is, or a really nice and lofty hat if it weren't plied so darn much. I'm half of a mind to reply it once it's dry, to get something that looks a little less squished. How, exactly, does one go about replying something?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

I have a cold. Which means I've been curled up reading old, favorite books (An Acceptable Time, by (the late and beloved) Madeleine L'Engle), collapsing after getting the stuffing started in the slow cooker yesterday, and napping in front of Thanksgiving Day football, occasionally sitting up to knit Cobblestone.

That's about 11 inches. Juniper says "hello," by the way.

Coffeeboy (who's a wonderful cook and who loves to cook, by the way) did most of our holiday preparations, in the end, including: our favorite cheese-nut loaf, orange and white sweet potatoes in the slow cooker, cranberry sauce, and the best yet: pumpkin bread pudding. Oh goodness, that stuff is yummy. It turned out to be all right that we didn't have anywhere else to go after the conference in San Diego, and that we didn't have social obligations here in NC, because of the aforementioned cold.

The conference in San Diego was great, but a little long for those of us who had to present on Friday evening (before the conference really started) and Tuesday morning (after almost everyone had left). I think both Coffeeboy and myself had a wonderful time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We also got to relax in the hot tub at our truly spiffy hotel.

Today I've been feeling a little better, a little more upright and less horizontal. Upright enough, at least, to fill you in on some fiber-news.

First, I took some pictures of my 3rd skein of yarn, the first I made on my very own wheel. I kind of like how some of it's quite uneven and some of it is very even, plus, the fiber really glistens. I'm thinking one day I'll dye this (I've been imagining a moss-green shade.)

Third skein a.JPG Third skein b.JPG
Click to make 'em bigger in Flickr...

After that, I decided to spin up some of the pretty blue stuff I bought at SAFF. I worked on that last week before the conference; in fact, I forgot to take a picture of the fiber before I started spinning it. So you'll have to survive with this:

First blue bobbin.JPG

I find it really interesting that the fiber looks so much darker on the bobbin than it does in its unspun form. Any thoughts on why?

Last night I spun up the rest of that fiber, but I haven't gotten around to plying yet. My previous experiences of plying is that it's actually pretty hard work on the feet and legs, and given that don't quite want to be sitting up, I'm not sure I feel like plying right now. But I think this fiber will make a very pretty yarn, and not bad at all for a fourth go-round. More pictures of the pretty blue singles:

Second blue bobbin.JPG

Finally, I have some roving to show you. This came from the lovely Jessica in NJ. She gave this to me when I saw her and spun with her a few days before my proposal defense (she let me use her wheel, too!). She dyed the fiber herself, with really gorgeous colors: navy blue, browns, greens, a little purple in there too.

BLF roving.JPG
So pretty! Thank you, Jessica!

I also couldn't help but purchase 4 oz of this lovely-colored English Leicester roving from Etsy (The Fiber Station), in a colorway aptly named "Autumn Lake."

English Leicester roving.JPG

Oh dear. Now I can't decide which to spin next, they're both so pretty! I wonder if I'm ready to try for sock yarn? Either of those would make some gorgeous socks! Maybe I should content myself with spinning a consistent and thinner yarn before planning anything dramatic like socks. Hmmm.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

WIPs roundup

While I've been spinning, I've also done a bit of sock-knitting lately.

See? We have these Retro Rib socks, coming along nicely.

Lorna's laces ribbed sock.JPG

And also this oddball here, the Cascading Leaves sock by Jeanne Townsend of the Yahoo knitalong group:

Align CenterCascading leaves sock.JPG

I'm using Great Adirondack Yarn in their wool/silk/nylon blend, and it feels heavenly! The colors are knitting up a bit odd, but everyone I've asked says they kind of like it. I kind of like it, too, but I also kind of think it's an odd fit between pattern and yarn.

I have one other pair of socks, but I didn't take their picture, as they are currently suffering from "procrastinating on kitchener stitch syndrome," poor things. It's been a couple of weeks they've had that particular issue; maybe I'd better put them out of their misery soon.

Finally, remember how I finished a sweater recently? Well, I started another one: Cobblestone!

Cobblestone sweater begins

I'm using Mission Falls 1824 wool that I bought years ago to make Rogue. Turns out I need a few more balls to make a guy-sized sweater, and goodness knows if I can find the right dyelot anymore! (Yeah, I know. Another dyelot problem? But this one I know about in advance!) I'm thinking of using a different dyelot to do the yoke; that should hide the change in color fairly well).

I'm thinking of bringing Cobblestone to the conference this weekend (the American Academy of Religion, meeting in sunny San Diego this year), in order to get through the many inches of relatively brainless knitting I have ahead of me. It's still small enough where it might make sense, at least for a little while, to have it with me.

... Speaking of conferences, I made a little mistake yesterday:
I sent an email yesterday to a whole bunch of major scholars in my subfield about logistics for a conference, and I've just now seen that it had a couple of typos. I checked carefully to make sure the dates and times and logistical details about travel were correct, but not that I'd spelled the title of the conference right! Oops! Earlier I was quite worried about this but now I feel a little less anxious. No less embarrassed, but less like hiding is necessary!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Study in contrasts

I'm now back in the beautiful, mountainous "boonies" where my honey and I now live. After spending a week with my academic colleagues in New Jersey, I fully re-acclimated myself to a more, shall we say, cosmopolitan environment, and I felt a bit sad about leaving. Don't get me wrong, I was excited to see Coffeeboy (and the two cats and Coffeeboy's dad, not to mention the lovely new wheel!), but this switching back and forth from the big ole' northeastern seaboard to the small-town life is definitely a study in contrasts.

Certainly, I've really enjoyed getting a taste of the small-town experience these past three months, but I wonder if a lifetime spent almost entirely in major metropolitan areas hasn't affected me in ways I was hardly aware of. It'll be interesting to see if I like the quiet better for this time surrounded by people, or if I'll miss the people more. The move has certainly been a learning experience, a good one, and I'm looking forward to learning more of what this particular set of contrasts has to teach.

As for this past week, what can I say? In many ways, it was quite stressful, as evidenced by the fact that my stomach felt odd much of the time and I didn't sleep well (whether because of couch-surfing, being away from my own bed, the proposal defense, or the readjustment to grad student life, or all of this, I don't know). Despite the stress, I also had a simply a wonderful week. I got to experience sunny, crisp, cool fall weather with maple leaves blowing and crunching underfoot, something I always love. It felt absolutely great to reconnect with fellow grad students, shoot the breeze with them and faculty about things academic and things non-academic, get advice and feedback from professors, and to attend a workshop/seminar with a visiting scholar. I even feel like things are all right (and fixed if they had been broken) with people I'd parted from awkwardly, and that leaves me much more centered. Now that I know how keenly I can miss the stimulation of intellectual life at the university setting, I can think more clearly about how to take positive steps to alleviate some (but never all) of the loneliness of dissertation-writing. And perhaps it will give me even more impetus to find perspective in the woods.

Or on the spinning wheel and the needles!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


That's right, folks! I'm ABD! They passed my dissertation proposal, so I suppose I am now all but dissertation!*

The consensus of the faculty was that might be piled a lot higher and a lot deeper on the way to that Ph.D., in that whichever chapter I write first could well become the whole dissertation. Hearing that was not unexpected; my advisor had warned me that the chapters were vast. I now feel like I have a Very Important Decision to make about where to start. Hmmm.

Some plain socks on the needles might help. All the socks I brought with me to work on have relatively easy patterns, but patterns nonetheless. This has resulted in my getting almost no knitting done, as it hasn't been as relaxing as it could be. I'm craving plain vanilla knitting here, folks (or spinning, but the wheel's at home). Besides, I need to start the plain socks before the conference next weekend!


*I might have been ABD in the reckoning of my department after I finished my exams, because finishing the exams (and turning in the necessary paperwork) results in a little M.A. diploma in the mail. I guess that's not quite the same as ABD, but it's fun nonetheless.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Early Birthday: Wheel!

Just as I'd hoped it might, my big 3-0 birthday came a few weeks early this year, thanks to Coffeeboy who coordinated with my entire family to get me a wonderful present:

My spinning wheel.JPG

Thank you so much, family! I'm going to have such a wonderful time learning to use this new fiber "toy"! Coffeeboy was totally right that I'd enjoy having it be a present from all of you.

These amazing, generous people are all participating in getting me that used Lendrum and accessories I saw listed on Craigslist. Yesterday, I and my visiting relatives went to pick up the wheel, which I managed to avoid trying until after lunch and a stroll around Asheville. Late thtt afternoon, we brought it home and I could try this:

first singles.JPG

As you can see, I had a busy evening last night spinning up part of a bobbin of singles. I'm not sure what the fiber is; the wheel came with some unlabeled, undyed fiber that the seller included. (She said she included some romney and some Blue-faced Leicester, but I'm not sure which was which!)

I'm very happy with the way the wheel spins; it seems easy to control (for a beginner), solidly made, and intuitive in terms of its construction. The bobbin and/or the flyer seem to be making some sort of awkward clicking noise that's a little annoying. I don't know if the Lendrums we used in class made noises a lot, mostly because I was too concerned with the actual act of attempting to spin to worry about noises. I'm also wondering whether or not it's possible to put a darker stain or color on the wheel without too much mess or trouble?

I won't get too much of a chance to practice on my new lovely wheel in the coming days, as I'm leaving for my academic home this Sunday - my first visit back since moving! I'm very excited to connect to the world of academia again and to see my friends and colleagues. There's a very good reason for this visit: I'll be defending the proposal for my dissertation!

I leave you with a few fiber-related questions: I now wish I'd perused the fiber options at SAFF more carefully, but I didn't want to bite the bullet and buy fiber I might not use, lacking a wheel. Now that I have a wheel, though, I'm going to want some fiber: spinner-readers, what fiber sources and types do you recommend? Also, what are some great spinning blogs I should add to my bloglines?

Have a great weekend!