Thursday, February 28, 2008

Time alone

I was just reading Stephanie's blog about being alone in the woods and it brought back memories of my time at Visitation at the IHM motherhouse in Monroe. I stayed in one of the tiny hermitages to get some writing done. And I did -- it was wonderful.
It was also the first time I had ever been alone for that long. I actually lived with my parents until I married the first time. After I divorced, my children were always (thankfully) with me. And then I married the man who is my love, my life partner. So being alone for more than about a day was not something I'd done.

What I discovered was not only that I am pretty decent company; I more profoundly found time to play. I wandered down to the pond and spent a long time really watching the tadpoles, wading in after them. There were no set times for anything -- meals, bed, waking. I painted really bad pictures, I watched the moon rise, I wrote in the middle of the night, I ate dinner in the middle of the day.

Although I haven't done it again recently, I have carried the memory of play with me and I find it now and then in my "real" life.

Harbingers of spring

The last issue of Piecework reminded me that I had knit the cover mittens 12 years ago for a friend's 40th birthday. The gauge is off -- I'm a better knitter now than I was then.

But the project was truly a labor of love, and had its own challenges -- mostly, charting a poem or saying that would fit into the mitten graph and make sense. Although it's hard to see in the photo, these read:

Through winter storms'
bluster and blowing snow
drifts piled mountain-high
to touch the ice-blue heavens
true friends bring us
the warmth of blazing hearth,
outstretched hands and laughter.
(My friend's name and birthdate)

On another note, the snow is still thick on the ground. I slid off the icy roads yesterday (no damage, no worries, just a little adrenaline rush). But spring is just around the corner.

How do I know?

That's how.
So festive, so cheerful.

And yet, so inciting violence.
Happy thoughts of spring.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Teaching lace ...

On Saturday, I'm scheduled to teach a class on knitting the Ice Queen. The people who are currently signed up for the class are experienced knitters -- just not with lace. And while I may knit a lot, I'm not necessarily an experienced teacher.

So, I have a question -- if you were taking a class in lace knitting, what would you be looking for? Chart reading? How to "read" what you've knitted? Fixing mistakes?

And what little bits of information, tips or tricks do you think it's essential to pass along?

Any advice will be gratefully accepted.

And possibly followed.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I am... the fleece police!

OK, now doesn't that give you visions of me in a shepherdess outfit, brandishing a shepherd's hook as if it's a billy club? The reality is a tiny bit different ...

Yesterday was the Spinner's Flock Fleece Fair -- for spinners and knitters, the equivalent of being a squirrel let loose in a peanut factory. (Yes, I know it's an odd analogy, but I didn't want to use the cliched kid in a candy store, and my brain is a little fried from hours at the emergency room this weekend with my brother.)

There was roving ---
There were spinning wheels -- There was handspun yarn ---

Spinners, teachers and shoppers --

And miscellaneous "stuff" --
It was great!

So what does this have to do with fleece police? Well, someone needs to make sure the products are all really handspun, that nobody has hung his or her skeins of yarn over someone else's, that the fibers are all grouped together appropriately, etc. Mostly, it's a great excuse to do some early shopping.

Which, of course, I did.
I scored several balls of roving --
I really like this one from Spinning Moon Farms -- it's 70% Corriedale and 30% mohair. I think it will make fabulous socks. I've spun Edie's roving before to make my daughter a hat, and the colors were amazing. Meet Janice -- a lovely and clean (I mean amazingly clean) Border Leicester fleece from Linda Koeppel's flock. I think I could just shake out the little bit of chaff that is in this. I'm really looking forward to processing it -- but since I only wash wool outside, it will have to wait for spring.
Spring is coming at some point, right?
I also succumbed to the temptation to try needle felting. A couple of the members were demonstrating -- And so I bought some foam and needles to get started. Actually, Scott and I are working on a collaborative project for his next woodturners' guild meeting, and I want to needlefelt a bowl.

I'll keep you posted how that turns out -- those of you who know me know that I am a bit of a klutz, and these needles came with warnings about tetanus shots. I just hope I don't bloodstain everything I try to make.

And my real score were these --
A boatload of old Spin-Off magazines. The earliest is from winter of 1985, before I had started spinning. I cannot wait to go through all of them -- not only as a spinner, but as a magazine editor. I'm fascinated with the design upgrades and changes throughout the years.

So, you can see that my Sunday afternoon is well spoken for. If only I didn't have that pesky work thing tomorrow -- I could spend the whole day in fiber heaven.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A few of my favorite things ...

In a shameless, admitted attempt to be the number one item on my blog, Scott went out of his way to make Valentine's Day lovely. Usually, we go out for a great dinner at the Evan's Street Station and exchange cards. This year, when we got to our table at the restaurant, this was on the table ---

A little bit of springtime in the midst of this. See the little flakes falling?

Well, maybe not. But trust me, they're falling. Again.
And then he gave me this ---

He knows I'm a sucker for dichroic glass. This man -- my partner, lover, best friend -- has really made me aware of how blessed and lucky we are in our marriage. We both have previous bases of comparison -- this relationship really is my favorite Valentine's gift.

I also finished this --

I was totally charmed knitting the Flower Basket shawl by Evelyn Clark. It's a Fiber Trends pattern and is simple, easy to "read" your lace so that you can fix mistakes, and was a pretty quick knit. I used two skeins of Schaefer Heather in the Margo Jones colorway. I loved the yarn and loved the color -- my only complaint was that there were several areas where a ply of the yarn had broken and frayed. Other than that, though, it was really lovely.

Last, but not least, in my book, is this ---

All the members of my knitting group have used these as knitting gadget cases for the past two years, and Brenda bought me three of them the other day. These little pencil cases are the absolute BEST knitting tool cases I have ever used. The fine mesh at the bottom keeps everything in, but is transparent so that you can see your stuff; there is a little pocket on the inside at the top where you can keep small or often-grabbed things like folding scissors, sticky notes and darning needles; and it sits upright on the table. I love it. Sad, isn't it, the little things over which I can geek?

Tomorrow is the Fleece Fair in Chelsea -- lots of stuff to buy, lots of fiber to fondle. I'll be working as the "fleece police" -- hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Old tools, new tools

It's official -- my computer has died. Luckily, its precious memories live on in its child -- our external hard drive. However, one cannot live on memories alone. I need a replacement.

This is not an exciting purchase for me to contemplate -- it does not compare to, say, a trip to Threadbear in Lansing. This is more like replacing the water heater -- an expensive necessity. But it is a necessity -- I cannot keep working from Scott's computer whenever it's not busy doing his actual business stuff.

I have to say, I'm also feeling annoyed. Irritated. Ticked. The late computer was only 3 and a half. I know the computer geeks out there (like my son) will assure me that that is old for a computer. But, see, for $1,500, I expected a longer time together.

This has prompted comparisons between this tool -- so necessary when one's profession is that of editor -- and the tools I use in the other, unpaid part of my life. I have knitting needles that are older than my children. They have never broken. In fact, I think I've only ever broken a couple of Brittany Birches and the cable ends from one KnitPicks Options cable. Not bad for more than 24 years of knitting. And we're talking, what -- $10?

I also have a couple of spinning wheels. I've had them for a long time. I understand them. In sentimental moments, I like to think they understand me. It's a beautiful relationship -- when I am stressed, they help calm me; when they have a problem, I can actually make them better. They do not require an examination by a computer student, followed by a terminal diagnosis I can barely understand.

And I have to say that I think my knitting and spinning tools help me produce things of beauty. Colorful yarns, cabled sweaters, lace, the top for my wedding dress.

I'm not sure that anything I produce on the computer, this much more expensive and complicated tool, ever compares.

Well, maybe the occasional poem.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Too sick to knit

Scott and I have both been down with a flu so nasty that we've each had to take an entire week off from work. I don't think I've ever done that before. However, it's hard to be productive when you're underneath the wheels of the truck that's running you over every day. I didn't even have the energy to knit until today. However, now that I'm back at it, I'm working on the Flower Basket shawl in Schaeffer Heather. Great yarn, lovely to knit -- and I would show you some pictures, except ...

My computer has also been sick for a week. It kept shutting itself down with a long Windows error message. One of my son's friends thinks it's a Windows update problem and is trying to fix it. For now, I'm on a borrowed computer, and no pix. But soon. Sigh.

Tomorrow, I'm going to summon up the energy to go to the Spinner's Flock meeting. I'm not sure I can muster up enough zip to take the spinning wheel along, but I can at least knit.

If you're in the Ann Arbor area and want to spin, maybe I'll see you there.