Saturday, March 29, 2008

I didn't actually intend to buy anything

But hey, that never stopped me.

I taught a Fair Isle knitting class this morning at the Yarn Basket-- we were covering knitting with a color in each hand, tension, weaving in ends. For Corey and Michele, it was also a chance to learn continental style knitting -- which they did in, like, a minute. They're busily making the White Witch mitts from Knitting Daily. Of course, having spent the morning looking at the mitten pattern, seeing the pretty colors people chose, etc. -- I'm feeling the need to make a pair. So I told Beth I'd take my earnings in yarn, please. I'm going in this week to pick out some.

I didn't have time to choose any today, because Scott and I drove down to Bowling Green to the Black Swamp Spinning Guild's Market Days. They had lots of fiber --

I brought some home --

It's Polwarth, tussah silk and angora from Linden Lane Farms -- Liz Cowdery is a member of my spinning guild, so I was happy to give her the business. (You can probably assume that I mean that in both senses of the phrase)

I also picked up a couple of magazines and some information about historical re-enacting events taking place over the course of the next few months. I've done a little Civil War-era demonstrating, and I like it. Except I don't really like the battle re-enactments, so that does limit things a bit.

I'm beginning to develop an interest in the early American/Voyageur era -- feeling the need for a new costume. I'm abysmally uninterested in current fashion, but hey, let's talk bonnet styles of the 19th century, and I'm right there.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white ... summer?


We woke to this --

It's pretty. I guess. But really, right now, I'm looking more for ...oh, I don't know....

The mail brought my fiber from Sivia Harding's auction -- it's organic cotton that is naturally colored. Pretty. And it will give me something to do with my little charkha. I don't knit that much with cotton, though, so I'm not sure what to make with this. I don't think it's enough for anything too large.

I'm working at home today, so at least I didn't have my usual 1 1/2 hours of driving each way. And of course, during lunch, I had time to finish these.
Wool socks. I'll be wearing them in July at this rate.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A very good fiber day

Today was a very good day -- for friends and fiber.

I got an e-mail from Sivia Harding saying that I was the high bidder for two balls of Fox Fibre organic colored cotton she was auctioning off, along with other stash items, in memory of her father. All proceeds are being donated to Doctors without Borders, an organization I wholeheartedly support. As a thank-you, she very generously threw in a free pattern of the bidder's choice -- I'll be casting on the Shetland Garden shawl before you know it.

Tonight was my wonderful knitting group meeting at Trees of a Feather. This is like walking into Cheers -- if they don't already "know your name", they'll find it out quickly. It's fun, it's about fiber; what more could you ask?

Then, I got home to find that Scott had purchased this -- Nice detail on the mother-of-all --

Scott is a woodturner, so he appreciates the craftsmanship of old spinning wheels, and he's getting into repair and creation of wheels. (At this point, imagine my fist thrust into the air accompanied by a resounding, "Yesss!") He found this wheel at a local antique mall -- and it was underpriced. (Again with the "yes") It needs a little bit of work, but it should be ready for me to use it at a historical re-enactment in May.

We are trying to figure out a little history about it, though. It's not in Spinning Wheels and Accessories by Pennington and Taylor, as nearly as we can tell. It appears to have the mark, "I HOAR" or "F: HOAR" on the end of the table --
It's not a great photo, but it gives you the general idea. Any thoughts?

See? Good fiber and friends day -- I'm especially appreciative of my best friend, who knows that the way to my heart is woolly.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy spring? Not so much ...

Remember the robin? Spring? I shouldn't have knitted the d*mn spring socks -- obviously a jinx. We woke to this --

a foot of snow.
I watched a squirrel doing the breast stroke through it to get near the bird feeder. He looked so hungry, I couldn't resist --

Sorry Steph.

So, I pulled out a skein of Trekking XXL and started on another pair of wool socks.

Which brings me to this -- my profound philosophical ruminations on socks, knitting and the nature of the universe. I bought Cat Bordhi's book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, on my birthday last year. It's a great book --I have deep, deep admiration for the way this woman's mind works. I'm glad I have the book and I would recommend it to everyknitter. So, yesterday, I sat down to make socks and looked through the book to decide which pattern I'd like to try.
Here's the thing -- the socks are great, the "engineering" is amazing, but I found that I don't want to actually make any of them. I knit a lot of socks; I love knitting socks. I really love wearing handknit socks. But, for me, part of the joy of making socks is the almost total mindlessness of them. They are the vanilla ice cream, black coffee, white bread of my knitting life.

Sure, I may put a stitch pattern in the leg -- note the spiral rib in the Trekking socks. But basically, they are just socks. I don't need to think about what I'm doing -- knit the cuff, knit the leg, make a square heel flap, turn the heel, knit a foot, make a toe. Et voila, sock! And they are perfect because just when one part gets boring, it's time to do the next part.

So, no disrespect to Cat Bordhi, but I think when I want challenging knitting, I'll stick with the Shetland lace shawl I'm making from Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting. I think it will be beautiful, and I won't wear a hole in its heel.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Insomnia knitting

Once again, I am out of bed in the middle of the night. And here I was having such a lovely time staring at the ceiling and worrying about work. There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of a looming deadline, the panic over whether photography is in, the mental proofreading where you wonder if you had the details of the cover story adequately fact checked. Ah, the glamor of publishing.

My solution? A trip through Ravelry -- in many ways, it's like spending time in a small city. Where everyone likes to knit.

I can check out other people's patterns and get inspired. Check out Phazelia's work -- just beautiful. And there are beginners who need a helping hand. There are the dramas about a yarn supplier who has possibly faked her own death,

and there are the knitting celebrities.


Now, of course, I should probably get to work on some actual knitting -- but if you don't see me with needles in hand, you'll see me at Ravelry. If you haven't joined yet, please come on over and check it out -- we're having a great party here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's Spring, and the world is mud-luscious ...

i love ee cummings and that is one of my favorite of his poems -- and today the world is indeed mud-luscious. It's everywhere -- including my entryway. But mud brings these --

and for me, there is nothing at all that says "spring" like a robin. I'm feeling a twinge of hope that we may also have sunshine and warmth at some point.

I've finished my Tofutsies socks. They're just a Quaker rib-type top with a plain foot. Mindless knitting for the train. The yarn is OK knitting -- nothing spectacular, but I am very happy with the finished results: the socks are light and very comfortable. Perfect for slightly warmer weather. (If I knit spring socks, spring will come?)

And when I was in Chicago, I bought some merino laceweight at Loopy Yarns -- I want to make a shawl for spring -- any suggestions? I'm thinking maybe something from Victorian Lace Today? Or Stephanie's dewdrop shawl. But I'm open to other ideas ...

I also got some Trekking XXL -- it was a 60% off sale and really, can you ever knit enough socks?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Right Brain, Left Brain?

If you have not seen this yet, go check it out. Is the dancer spinning clockwise or counterclockwise for you? I have always thought of myself as left-brained (you know, the whole word/language thing), but I am telling you, this girl spins clockwise when I look at her -- which is supposed to be a sign of right-brain dominance. In fact, I really thought my sister was pulling my leg when she said she saw her spinning both ways, depending on what she was thinking. Finally, I took her suggestion and did some math calculations while I was looking at her, and there she was, spinning counterclockwise! Go check it out and tell me what happens for you!

We were in Chicago last weekend -- did I bring a camera? Of course not. But we went to the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Cultural Center. The latter, housed in the former Chicago Public Library, is a tribute to language, to poetry, to books. That people spent the money and artistic effort to build this paean to the written word warmed my soul.

Of course, we had to find a yarn store. So we headed to Loopy Yarns on Wabash. I bought sock yarn and some lace weight for a summer shawl. And a cute little knitting pin. Everyone who worked there was delightful, the double entendres and laughter were flying around the cash registers -- I'll be back next time I head west.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Better Together

Have I mentioned that Scott is a woodturner? (If you've talked to me for five minutes, I'm sure I have.) In fact, his woodturning is what brought us together -- in a way.

Picture a funeral, a hand-turned urn -- the need to transfer ashes from the utilitarian box to the urn. Trust me when I tell you that you need two hands for this. Enter Scott with the urn and me with a paper funnel. This would be the Readers' Digest version of our first date.

So anyway, Scott is a woodturner. His woodturning group issues a monthly themed challenge -- this month it was to make a collaborative turning with someone else. Scott and I have collaborated before; remember the Christmas ornaments ? For this challenge, we decided to do something that reminded us of trees at sunset --

The base is turned cedar, the vessel is felted from Cascade and then needlefelted with hand-dyed roving (Corriedale).

Unfortunately, we were out of town during the woodturning meeting, so we have no idea whether anyone liked it. Fortunately, we were out of town in Chicago -- more later.