I got up early this morning, determined to Be A Responsible Home Owner and do some much-needed weeding and shrub-trimming in the front yard before it got too hot. Quick but satisfying breakfast (Melody’s Maple Granola, yum), soul-empowering Morning Coffee, gardening clothes, and, because I like to sleep without my toes being bitten off, (somewhat abbreviated) cat worship x 5.
mainlining enjoyment of Morning Coffee, I wandered over to the window to peek at the outdoor thermometer:
I do believe that thermometer reads about 110 degrees F. YIKES.
Oh, come ON, Mother Nature. Give a girl a break. It’s 8:30 in the morning, for dog’s sake.
Le Magnifique Gardinier Français across the street is probably peeking out her front window, shaking her head, muttering polite malédictions at the imagined scourge that is American laziness. Her Welsh husband, the embodiment of I Will Stop Doing All The Things When I Am Dead, will no doubt come knocking on our door, asking in his charming Dr. Who accent if he might help me out by trimming the Monster Sentient Shrubs by our front door.
Shamelessly cowering inside, I silently creep up to take a photo of the Monster Sentient Shrub from behind…
Yes, he is in his late seventies, if he is a day. Yes, I am sure he has arthritis/bad hips/bad back from the way he walks.
Yes, this is the same delightful Welshman who did not let any of that nonsense stop him about a month ago when I came home to find him mowing my lawn.
Oh, the shame of it. Here I am, at least twenty years his junior, married to a gal thirty years his junior, both of us more than able to mow a smallish lawn, and I pull into my driveway to find this gent halfway through mowing our lawn in the 80 degree F heat. To my chagrin, he wouldn’t let me finish the job; he shooed me inside, and proceeded to not only finish up the front lawn, but to mow the side lawns and the back lawn as well.
Oh, and he weed-whacked the edges so they were tidy as the TARDIS’s front doorstep.
I tried offering him cold water, tea (hot/cold), or juice to drink, and a fresh loaf of M’s trademark sourdough bread as a thank you. He politely refused all of it, and blushed at my stammered, repeated Thank You’s.
So you see, I really do not want a repeat of The Welsh Gardener Saves the Day. It is just too humiliating to think that we didn’t do the work ourselves simply because it was “too hot”. (Our Welshman is not stupid. He has lived a long life of farming and construction work, and looks spry enough to chase Tessa around the block. Methinks Not To Worry, as Our Welshman can clearly take care of his own lovely, generous self.)
I will let you know if I go out to fetch the mail and find my front yard suddenly looks like a cover photo for English Garden magazine. (OH FOR DOG’S SAKE, look at the headline smack in the center of this cover:)
The cover copy reads: “Hearts of Gold: Generous Gardeners who conserve, care, and share.” Good Grief.
Full disclosure: The thermometer in the first photo above is mounted on the wall outside the back patio doors. For part of the morning, it sits in the baking heat of the full sun. Thus, the temperature it gives is always several degrees higher than the actual outside air. Still: It’s somewhere over 90 degrees F. At eight-thirty in the morning. IT’S HOT.
I know that there are many spinners and knitters who prefer not to handle wool over the summer months (something about “sweaty palms”), but I am not one of them. I have been rediscovering the magic of wheel and roving, spindle and top, after not spinning much of anything for over a year (baaaad year, apparently). I am spinning for at least a half-hour a day lately, sometimes more than that. I’m also trying to knit a little each day as well.
I have a goal, you see: I want to Finish Something. I want to Own a Finished Object: Something that started out as a wad of fluff, perhaps, or maybe as glorified string. I want something to post on my Ravelry project page so that it doesn’t look as though I have abandoned the whole idea of making things and run away to Barbados. (Tempting, I admit, but knowing myself, I wouldn’t be able to bear the plane ride without knitting in my hands, sticky wool and all.)
My current project is a test of my skills in spinning-to-spec: I have a hank of yarn that I bought in some fascinating locale, delicately scented (no doubt) with the aroma of Sheep, and it is gorgeous:
3-ply California Variegated Mutant yarn, by Mt. Airy Farm (and yes, there is a bit of blue sparkly spun into the plies!)
Naturally, I have no idea where I got this yarn. I do have the label, however, informing me that this luscious skein is from Mt. Airy Farm in Marshall, VA. A closer glance at the label, and I’m thinking, no wonder this is so lovely, it is 313 yards of smooshy 3-ply California Variegated Mutant yarn, “from our flock located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains”. Is it, now? (smush, smoosh, smooose)
In the same bag as the yarn I stored a bump of wool that looks to be a close relative of the CVM yarn: the same soothing light mushroom color, the same softness and smoosh. Unfortunately, it has no label, and as I have no idea where I bought it, I don’t have Clue #1 if the bump belongs with the yarn, or just got shoved into the same bag.
Mystery Bump of Woolly Virtue
That is a really magical bit of woolly, right there. And the yarn is really nice yarn. There is only 313 yards of it, however. But…I am a spinner. I bet I can make a yarn out of that bump of puffy fibre, a yarn that will be fairly close to the other in feel and grist. I snipped off a little sample of the yarn, so I could see what I might be getting myself into:
At the top of the photo is a snippet of what the finished yarn looks like: plump, bouncy, smooth, with just a slight inconsistency in grist to keep things interesting. The three individual plies are immediately below the finished yarn on top, and above the loop of finished yarn at the very bottom of the photo. The first thing I noticed was that the three plies are different from one another: the bottom one is tightly spun and a bit thinner than the others; the middle one is super-lofty, and looks as though it has barely been spun at all. The third ply (second from top in the photo) is somewhere in between the other two in loft, grist and twist.
So. All I have to do, it seems, is spin three plies, each about the same in terms of number of fibers drafted, but different in terms of how loose or tight the actual spinning twist is.
(“All I have to do”. Sure thing.)
I started with what for me would be the hardest part: Spinning that middle ply, the lofty, airy, barely-spun ply. I can spin a fine yarn with a tight twist any day; but one with hardly any twist at all? That requires a level of skill in setting up the wheel and maintaining consistent control over drafting that I feared I did not have.
Aside from the bit of yarn at far right that needs to be put through the spin cycle again, well, it looks as though I am more or less in the right neighbourhood.
The actual yarn sample is draped over the bobbin at left–see the loop with the knot above the bobbin’s core?
Apparently, as long as I am present to what I am doing, and listen to what the fluff is trying to tell me, I will be (more or less) all right.
A CHISPA OR TWO
~ A River Is A Person, too…at least in New Zealand, it is.
~ This, from Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea… Haunting and wise and beautiful.
Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying, life:
Bright the hawk’s flight
On the empty sky.