I Have Moved!

What seemed like a possibility or a probability, has happened. I write in a new place. Not as happy as I thought I would be, but it’ll do. If I didn’t hopelessly confuse or alienate you, please come on over and have a look.

Unfortunately, it might not be possible to follow me via email yet. Trying to figure that one out.

Today’s post, over there, is about Stitches West. O.M.G. what an experience I had. The post is full of photos and loading might be a bit on the slow side, so come laden with patience.

Hope to see you there: http://www.geminiatwork.com/

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Moving?

I’ve realized that I need some sort of web presence again for “Tales of the Shtetl,” Stephen’s grandfather’s book. And since I’m paying for the privilege of a hosted site, I thought I might move this blog with me. Not sure how I feel about this, but I’ll give it a try. If you want to keep up and stay in the loop, head on over to Gemini at Work. I believe you can sign up to follow me there, too. Check the rss feed in the right url field.

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Binge Spinning

Last Tuesday I bought eight ounces of fiber at our guild meeting, immediately went home and started spinning. I’m a binge kind of person. Just never knew it would be spinning. Food, stash acquisition, even drinking at times, but spinning?

The fiber is 50/50 merino and silk. There were some lessons in that fiber. It was the silk that started going static on me, or was it the merino? The fiber spread out and opened like a flower while drafting and spinning. Attaching itself to anything I wore. I wonder if that messed with my washing machine? Another story. Every piece of clothing I wore was covered in fine fiber I was hoping our washing machine would take care of.

What to do? I could spray the fiber with water but thought differently. I got a big sheet of paper and put that on my lap, it worked. I tried spinning fine, but since I’m still a beginner, my fine is not as thin as I thought. But I might be down to sport weight. Of course this makes me wonder about spinning fingering weight. Perhaps another spinning lesson would help. If I spin any finer I feel like I’m making thread. I’ll keep at it and one day will turn another spinning corner.

Not sure if this is true, but there might be a sweet spot of fiber weight. I hate the sweet spot phrase but it seems so appropriate here. Every time I reached that sweet spot, the fiber shone and seemed absolutely perfect. It would take lots of tries to see if I am on to something. Could be there are lots of sweet spots in a fiber and could be that changes with the spinner. I’m too old to experiment with that, considering all the variables, and would rather use my time in other ways.

For now, see what I accomplished:

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Finally the color is cooperating somewhat. Imagine a little more pastel. I did overspin, a recommendation. I did another experiment with this fiber. I spun the singles counter clockwise. I’ve read in several places now that this might be advantageous to continental knitters. I did ply clockwise.

The same fiber in another color is spun the regular way, the singles clockwise and I will ply counter clockwise. Then I will knit exactly the same cowl and report back if there is a difference that someone like me would even notice. I don’t doubt there might be a difference, but honestly, I’ll never be expert enough or German enough to be that OCD. But there might be a surprise in this experiment.

Here is the other color:

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The cowl uses very little yarn and is called Zuzu’s Petals, a design by Carina Spencer. Apparently I like her designs because when I looked I noticed I had others by her.

No pictures of the plied yarn yet. And it will all have to wait until Wednesday. The next couple of days are booked and I’ll write about those upcoming adventures later in the week.

One adventure I did not have plans to go on was dealing with the washing machine today. It’s not spinning anymore. Is there a message?

As usual I tried fixing it but the problem is tools. There are several screws in the back that need to come off, but I don’t have the right little allen wrenches. I put the blame on my son who loves to use my tools but with time that particular tool drawer is missing lots of useful pieces. It’s a magic drawer to begin with. One can put an infinite amount of tools in it and no matter what, there is always room for one more. At one point I noticed that some drawer overflow has landed in the cabinet below. But let’s ignore that. It took me a few hours to clean and organize this magical drawer because though it holds a lot, it does not stay organized.

Back to the non-spinning washer, I imagine some belt problem. But I’m not about to fix that. I will actually call someone. Even though the garage is an embarrassing mess, I don’t have a repair in me at this point. When our newish fridge gave up a few months ago I called a few appliance repair folks from the phone book and the one I liked most immediately asked if this fridge was in an unheated garage (check), and told me to wait out the cold weather. And he was right, the fridge turned back on when it got warmer, apparently a fridge can get colder but not deal with temps colder and warm up. This guy saved us lots of money and this is the guy who’ll get a phone call about the washing machine.

Our heater might be acting up, too. But we just changed the filter and we hope to get lucky. As long as the heater turns on and off, no matter what noises it makes while doing so, nobody will touch it. This modern living is not as easy at times as we think.

My health is somewhat deteriorating. I’ve had shortness of breath for a while. Yes, I should have gone seen a doctor with the heart issues I have, but what can one say to a person that starts knitting faster hoping not to run out of yarn that way. You see?

I’ve had a mild cold or allergies since December. Constantly sneezing, coughing, tickly throat, definitely feels like allergies. But I also have breathing problems while walking uphill. OK, OK, I always have breathing problems while going uphill, but this is more severe. Almost asthma like or heart attack like. I used to have asthma, could it have come back? Or is it a pulmonary embolism? My mind is going in many directions with that, but a lack of enough air can do this to you.

Finally, I made an appointment with my doctor for Tuesday. Usually, following a lifelong pattern, I will show no symptoms then and will feel better than ever. Will keep you posted.

 

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Finally: Rain!

Waking up to the excitement of rain this morning. It will do little to help the horrible drought we’re in, but it is a drop or two in the bucket, and California will take every drop it can get. It did not keep us from taking a two mile walk, but we ended up soaking wet and were glad to get into a warm house.

In my future today is spinning. I started last night and could not get to sleep because I did not get enough spinning in. At the Foothill Fibers Guild Meeting last night Lisa Souza gave a presentation and we all succumbed to the fiber fumes she brought along and I ended up with two 4 ounce bundles of fiber made of 50/50 bombyx silk/fine merino in the colors petroglyph and water gardens. And here I was going to show restraint until Stitches. Really?!

As promised I will show you the Steve West shawl, but, and this is a huge but, there is no way I can take an appropriate picture in this rain or the dark house, so you’ll have to settle for an awful blocking picture. But even with the colorful distraction of the mats you might get the idea.

I just found out the Tibetan monks are in town for their yearly visit. One of their projects is a sand mandala they then destroy to show the transitory nature of material life. The last part of this sentence is plagiarized. I’m always in awe that these folks take so much time to create these exquisite paintings knowing they will not last.

Yesterday when I was contemplating destroying/unraveling the shawl I saw a similarity. Except I did not know beforehand I might destroy the shawl, and it took me way more time to knit this shawl than it takes the monks to do the mandala. And there would have been a totally different message in my destruction. So perhaps I’ll quit the comparison.

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While I’m doing photos, let me show you a small shawl I made for my friend’s 96th birthday:

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I will only show half of what I bought last night because one of the colors did not photograph well at all. That’s a shame because it is most unusual and my favorite one.

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And that’s it for today. Some cooking and lots of spinning and Netflix waiting for me.

One more photo. Did I ever show you my Schacht Matchless? If I did, well, it’s well worth another look.

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Whatever Happened?

Do you ever go to a blog and then see that the last entry was a month, a year, a decade ago? Then wonder what happened to that person? Did they die or just made a switch to facebook or some other social network? I fantasize about them, give them their unique stories depending on the mood I’m in. But honestly? They probably only got caught up in their lives, like me.

Why has it been over a month? Well, the holidays always play a trick on me. They go by way too fast. I always remember my childhood when the days until Christmas took forever. Feeling and shaking the boxes under the tree, just knowing the day will never come. Nowadays that day comes way too fast. Probably how my grandmother felt trying to get the presents together.

This Christmas was kind of cool as Hanukkah came so early, I got to relax and not worry. I leisurely knit on anything and everything I felt like, no pressure.

Then the days between the years arrived. That’s what my grandmother called the time between Christmas and New Year. Always a strange state of mind for me. Sort of like being a lame duck president, this time is the lame duck time of year. No way one can get last minute stuff done one had high hopes for at the beginning of the year. And no need to start anything new, since there is time. It’s that time of year when I get hopelessly confused about what day of the week it is, too.

I eventually just give up and wait for New Year’s Eve. That carries lots of baggage for me. For no reason whatsoever I feel that night should be significant. I try to ignore it every year and then panic and make last minute plans. Having become a little smarter with age I made some plans ahead of time. I invited a couple of friends that feel the same about this strange evening. We had a meal together and then played board games. Board game is more correct. We played ‘Dominion.’ Yes, still my favorite game.

January has been speeding along, but I don’t mind because I’m going to Stitches West. I even signed up for a class: Saami Mittens. Let’s hope the yarn fumes are not so overwhelming and I’ll survive the experience financially intact.

I have been knitting Steve West’s shawl called Bolting. I used 4 skeins of fingering weight yarn from Blue Ridge Yarns called Transitions. That’s 1200 yards in case you didn’t know. At the end one row took as long as a TV show, about 40 minutes and more of Netflix streaming. I’m sure there are way over 800 stitches to the row. And I even made the shawl bigger as I noticed I have some extra yarn to play with. Not such a great idea. It’s blocking right now, but you have to wait until tomorrow when I get to upload the pictures. This is written on the iPad which doesn’t allow me any fancy maneuvers.

Nothing happened to me except life carrying me along.  Looking for my next big project is my biggest challenge at the moment, so life is good.

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Promise Fulfilled

Last night heralded in a new season. Gone are semi warm days, lights are finally making lots of sense. And now I’ll admit to loving all the little christmassy lights everywhere in December. Forget all the consumer hoopla, but give me your lights. Just the thought of January and February with the colorful lights all being gone and the dreariness. No, will not go there now, but instead fully embrace the garish decorations.

Before going to bed I took some pictures as points of reference for the morning, just in case it would be needed.

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Yes I know, not very impressive. So let’s catapult forward to this morning:

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Same tree, more snow. I love the quiet, the reverence nature forces on us. Taking deep belly breaths. Yes….

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I love the do not disturb sign nature has hung out, but I also love to see a sign of my existence by disregarding the sign. Others are no better and soon there are footprints and hoof prints and paw prints and tire prints and….

This is a day to learn navajo plying or chain plying as some call it. At least I think they’re both the same. It’s a bit difficult to work on two skills at the same time. I’m getting used to the wheel, but have so much left to get accustomed to. Which whorl to use, getting the right tension, treadle and foot rhythm, drafting, on and on. And then there are plying skills. Of course that assumes I had the skill to make singles to begin with. But ever impatient I’m forging, or rather, forcing my way toward yarn.

A new spinning wheel would seem sufficient to most as a project. But we’re talking about a Gemini at work here. I signed up for level one of the masters knitting program with The Knitting Guild Association.

Impatiently waiting for my chosen yarn to arrive to knit my projects with. Did I say this is only level 1? This might never go any further than level one because level two requires putting your seaming skills to the test. If I’ve never said it before, rest assured there is nothing more hateful in life than seaming, for me. There is a physical aversion that is so strong that I can show you parts of a finished cardigan, at least finished in that all knitted parts are done, that still sits in a basket because I’m avoiding seaming. It’s that bad alright. Oh, it has been resting there for years. 8?

On to navajo ply in a winter wonderland.

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There’s Something in the Air

While in southern parts of this Earth people are celebrating the warmth of summer, we’re heading into snow. It could not have been any more obvious today. Shopping for oil for my spinning wheel, my brand new Schacht Matchless spinning wheel, yes, you’ve read right, I took the plunge a few days ago, more on that later, back to the store: there was this special atmosphere, almost christmassy, holiday like. Every store was crowded and everyone was getting ready for the big one tonight. Everyone was acknowledging one another instead of the typical everyday stupor people are in, running around without noticing a thing. We’re all into this together today. The promise of snow, the usual electricity outage that accompanies the first snow, the magic. I like that, it gives me hope. As I’m typing tiny little snowflakes are falling. Mind you, not a lot, and no winter whiteness yet, but we’re promised to be enjoying it tomorrow.

I’ve been so neglectful of this blog. Yes, I did write a few entries, but only in my head. As it has been getting colder the room the computer lives in right now isn’t heated, so writing for an extended period of time becomes unpleasant.

And there have been some unpleasant experiences I had no idea how to share. Still not sure how to write about it. Best I’ll give a link to the news story at the end.

As many know, our son Toby was on the Tahoe Hotshots this year. The most amazing time in his life and though the work was excruciating hard and difficult, he was thriving. The party on the evening on the last day of work was accordingly full of fun and singing and playing and whatever young guys do after a hard season of work. As Toby was heading back home with his girlfriend driving, others were headed back to the barracks with their designated driver. But then the unthinkable, unimaginable happened. And here I’ll take you to one of the online stories: http://yubanet.com/regional/Fatal-collision-involving-USFS-firefighters.php#.UqJwLd0vvzA

There have been no follow up stories so far and I’m left with speculations and a million possible scenarios but nothing making sense.

My life besides obsessively checking for news every day of the accident consists of fiber. Recently I’ve started hosting an evening of knitting for members of our fiber guild. It’s been a blast. And lots of holiday knitting. Hanukkah having come so early this year has me relaxing now.

Our daughter Liana came for Thanksgiving with boyfriend and we had a wonderful time and she got reacquainted with knitting.

My wheel is calling loudly to spin some more. Gotta abide.

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