This morning, the electric tea kettle broke. (Helllloooooooo, Monday!)
Our microwave is perched above my head, so I don’t like to heat liquids in it for fear of spilling hot stuff all over myself. And let’s face it, a watched pot really doesn’t ever come to a boil.
After finally accomplishing a large mug of hot tea, I decided there was only one way to start this week:
With a spindle.
That’s a woolly batt that Naomi (enting on Ravelry) sent to me, and this morning I spent some very happy time plying two strands into a very lovely yarn. I couldn’t believe all the different hints of colour that Naomi had managed to card into that 26oz batt: greens, teals, blues, reds, browns, all sorts of colours were hiding underneath the main coat of purple.
I learned a new plying trick!
I’d seen Abby spin Andean-style on a bottom-whorl spindle several times, and when she is plying, she does this thing (that’s so eloquent, “she does this thing”) where she puts the back of her spindle-hand under the length of yarn coming off the spindle as she plies. She moves her hand back and forth along the yarn, from spindle to fibre-hand, so that the yarn is actually going over a ninety-degree angle at the edge of her spindle hand. Then she winds the newly plied length onto her fibre hand in a figure-eight pattern around her fingers, catches the spindle, and winds on.
I tried this. I dropped the spindle. I tried it again. The yarn came off the spindle hook. I tried it again. It WORKED.
I discovered that moving the back of one hand back and forth along the length of yarn-that-is-currently-plying really does help to distribute the twist more evenly. This skein turned out to be one of the best-plied yarns I have ever done. Letting the spindle “turn the corner” over your hand allows you to ply a length twice as long as if you just let the spindle drop vertically. Winding it on your fingers helps you to take a second or two to examine the yarn for issues and to manage the tension properly.
In short, it WORKED, and it worked rather well, actually. I was able to ply twice as fast as previously, and the end result was much more evenly plied than previously.
I tried swinging the spindle in an arc, as Abby does, to try and get an even longer length going, but that led to The Flying Spindle Trick and great amusement on the part of the Royal FuzzyButts.
I think I’ll stick to just practicing the non-swinging sort of plying for now, even if it doesn’t amuse the FuzzyButts quite so much as a full spindle careening across the carpet.
Actual Knitting Content!
I spent a lot of time knitting this weekend. I caught an evil cold on Thursday, which meant I had to cancel my weekend-away plans with a group of fabulous knitting friends. This was fairly devastating, as the Plans included a lakeside cottage, ten smart funny women, homemade chili, carrot cupcakes, kahlua, cookies, chocolate, wine, knitting, spinning, yarn, and oh, yes…
…one extremely adorable little girl, who clearly already knows how to check the label for cashmere content.
Sigh. I missed a weekend of badass women, tubs of yarn from Indigodragonfly, and oh,yes: Baby Snorgling.
But everything is for a reason. Friday afternoon, after I would have left for the weekend away, we found out that Nicholas’s great-aunt Jeanne was in the hospital for something sudden and serious. By Saturday morning, it was clear she wasn’t going to make it, and by midday Saturday, she was gone. Nicholas’ family is close, and Jeanne was pretty spry and healthy for her age, so I was glad I was home to be there when he got the news.
I was also extremely glad that I was a knitter. Sometimes, like this morning, I deal with stress by spinning; sometimes, though, there is nothing quite like throwing one’s self into a charted knitting pattern with tons of shaping rows to keep track of.
I knitted all but about eight rows of that this weekend, plus another three inches last night. Kept my mind focussed, kept my hands busy, kept me sitting down and resting so I could get over the cold, kept me (more or less) out of trouble. (Yarn: Merino/silk handdyed by Holiday Yarns. Scrumptious.)
I LOVE KNITTING.
Oh, and I also finished a pair of Simple Thick Socks on Saturday night.
It’s my standard stockinette, no rib, pattern, modified for DK weight yarn so I can have warm toes. The yarn is Indigodragonfly’s merino/cashmere/nylon crack (same yarn as what Miss J is rolling in above).
And I ALSO finished another inkle-woven strap for my tote bag.
Finishing Fever, I haz it.
Earlier this month, I asked you to send me emails telling me about yourselves. A writer is always curious about who’s “out there” reading, but more than that, I am very conscious of how much time I spend with what is essentially a roomful of strangers. I wanted to get to know you better, you who come and hang out here with me a couple of times a week. I also wanted to share some of the stories I received here on the blog, so that you could get to know each other better!
What I discovered is that each of you is waaaaayyyy more interesting than I think you realize you are. But let me get out of the way so that Séverine, who lives in France, can tell you about herself in her own words:
Here comes my yarn. My mother died 4 years ago, and during her last illness I knit a lot, because that was something I could control and start over if necessary, as opposed to life. I discovered knitting blogs around that time, and more and more of them were becoming spinning blogs. I resisted at first – I don’t need another hobby, I’ve too much to do already with toddler and soon to be born baby, etc. But the following year, I burned out and had to take a sick leave for one year. I spent a lot of time sleeping, and taking care of my preschooler and his baby brother, but I also decided to start spinning, so I ordered a Tom Forrester linum spindle and got some fiber, and found someone to show me because it didn’t click with the info I had till then. Mind you, there is no such thing as a LYS that carries fiber and spindles, and offers classes here in France, and I didn’t know many people who could show me so it took some time. But since then I’ve never stopped spinning or knitting, and my house is overflowing with fiber and handspun.
What I love about spinning ? I adhere to all that Abby says about how basic it is to human civilization, and the indispensable survival skill it is. I also love all the metaphorical thinking that is associated with it – the three Parcae – and with weaving, the next skill I want to learn. An incredible amount of textile metaphors are woven (ha !) into literature, which is my professional pursuit as an academic, and spinning has given me a much deeper understanding of those. There is deep wisdom in this, and spinning offers a time to meditate on it. That’s what I like best about it : is a very tactile activity, you get to play with beautiful colors, but most of all it lets you / makes you think about some fundamental things like filiation (interesting how the latin for thread and for son evolved so as to become so close in sound, and in French threads and son are written the same way, though pronounced differently), transmission, collective strength (those fragile fibers that become a strong thread once they are twisted together) etc.
This comes as a clumsy thank you to you for your good words and interesting blog.
Best wishes from Séverine (Cidrolin on Ravelry)
Thank you, Séverine, for telling us a bit about yourself! I love how you phrased some of the above, really amazing.
If you would like to share your story with me, email me at wiseheartATgmailDOTcom. Let me know if it’s OK to put your story in my blog, or if you want to keep it “just between us.”
Prayer Flag Project Update
I’ve gotten a lot of comments and emails and messages about my idea for the Prayer Flag Project. Some people have already let me know that their yarn is on the way…WOOOO! I’m so excited.
At first I was wondering why some folks were worried that I was “getting in over my head.” Then I realized that they were envisioning me being buried under piles of itty bitty skeins, flooded with yarn goodies from across the globe.
I love you guys. Just so you know: Before I printed that post, I did a little estimating, based on post readership and comments and a few other things. I estimated how many folks might send in yarn, and I came up with a number that I thought I could handle in a reasonable length of time. (Keep in mind that the average time-to-completion for a sock yarn blanket is about two years. Not sure how the prayer flags compare size-wise just yet, but methinks not bigger. Smaller. I think.)
However, I promise, PROMISE, that if I start to feel overwhelmed that I will put out a call for More Knitters to help knit the squares. PROMISE.
The other point made was that some folks wanted to participate a bit further, more than spinning up yarns and sending them in. That was the reason some folks wanted to knit their own squares to send in: They wanted a deeper experience of the spiritual side of a project based on the idea of “prayer flags.”
I had to think about that one for a bit. What I have in mind requires a certain degree of consistency amongst the squares, or it won’t work as well. But after thinking about it for several days, I may have come up with a way for those who want to do “some of the knitting” to help out, to lend their intentions to the project even further. I have to do some sketching and some swatching; I think what I’d like to do is come up with a little pattern for the thing I have in mind and then post it here on the blog…and go from there. I’m thinking of something small but knit in two parts; you knit both parts at once, then send one part in for the project and keep the second part, to hang in your home as a connection to the central piece up here in Canada. The more I thought about it, the more fun that idea seemed to me.
Hee. As you can see, my little brain has been busy. I love this sort of art project, and I am so very, very grateful you are excited about it too.
Random Goods and Sillies
Meet Marnie’s Alien. Marnie is Marnie MacLean, the designer. I think she’s going to make a pattern for all of us so we can populate the Earth with this little dude’s relatives.
Charlie says he sends kisses to everyone for V-Day, even though he’s a dog and he doesn’t know what V-Day is. (Charlie is Mary-Heather Cogar’s German Shepherd. Adorbs.)
And last but not least…remember back when ZoeKitteh discovered a ball of my Malabrigo yarn and ran around with it until it got hopelessly tangled? Yep. Well, Jesh likes to untangle things. At least, that’s what she claims. She told me to send the tangles to her, no problem! Here’s Jesh when she opened the package:
Um. Jesh…I’m sorry. But you SAID it would be FUN for you!
OH WAIT. ONE MORE: Teasel the cat likes to play with the hose.
OK, I’m really done now.