Saturday, March 31, 2007

Er Duh.....

I’ve always avoided vests. There are several reasons for this. Among them are a prejudice of The Adored One and the idea that my arms need to hidden from the masses - both for modesty and because that much white flabbiness is far from comely.

So, no vests for Elysbeth. Not even that darling little Ribwarmer. Of course….the Yarn Harlot and her recent Green Ribwarmer inspired envy, a desire to make one (I have all of EZs books), and a sigh of regret.

Until it dawned on me that it was a Winter Garment, and would be worn with Long Sleeves Under NEATH! -Slap forehead- So now the Wensleydale I was spinning, and having yardage doubts about will be repurposed.

How something this evident escaped me shows that while I may be brilliant, I am not always smart. Perhaps it is a Universal Reminder to give others a break when they too, miss the blatantly obvious.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chirp Chirp Chirp

The Lent resolution is for the Birds! It's cramping my style. I have 2 things I desparately want to cast on and can't! I really want to try a new techique for socks. Drat! Phooey. Pbbt!

And the snooze alarm...well...I was sick, I slept in instead of exercising more than one day in a row. And then I moved, and you know how sleeping someplace new is. Even as a professional *new place next month* person I don't sleep well the first couple of days somewhere new....what is that noise, what is that light, etc. etc.

I like sleeping, I'm good at it, I've spent many hours of my life doing it, and I enjoy it. It's hard to give that up in the morning. Sigh.

However, you will notice that KFYS allowed Sock Yarn. Perfect for the 52 plunge. So I engaged in Yarn Love with this mushroomy variegated from Ellens Half Pint Farm purchased at Alfred Station Knitting Studio. I love the ladies who run this. Again, I ordered a book from her at full price, because, well, I want good things for her. And a ball of Online Supersock cotton Beach Colour 946. Not my usual type of sock yarn but I thought...change, hmmn. Okay, I confess it was all about the colours.

I can tell you I will not be making
this. Between the scarred knees and the spider veins, it would be perfect for Halloween.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The View from my Soapbox

Let me start by saying "Life is Good.” Don’t think I’m a misogynist or anything like that. I’m just annoyed.

Before the Napoleonic Wars, all fiber arts were a chore. Just like washing dishes, sweeping floors, prepping the house for festivals. House servants had quota for amounts of fiber to spin between the other chores. Village women couldn’t *just* carry the load to the market, they had to knit while they walked. Artists often included knitting in images to symbolize the *feminine* virtues of industry, domesticity, and frugality.

Then came the change, the industrialization of fiber arts. They became the time filling recreation of wealthy women. There is a romantic story of Prince Albert reading to Queen Victoria whilst she knit. The Arts and Crafts Movement led to more elaborate fancywork as hobby.

Eventually feminism swept “domestic arts” under the rug. Looking at old spinning books from the 1960s at my library, I look at the people and think *ick, I don’t want to be them.* (Don’t get me wrong, I am certain they were lovely, caring people. Just a little too crunchy for me). But even these books have a faintly apologetic air to them. As if being interested in fiber arts were vaguely naughty.

Getting to my peeve….
Recently at work the topic of my *wasting time knitting* came up. The complaint was made that it was frivolous to spend my 4 minutes waiting for images to transfer from one machine to another by knitting on a sock. Apparently my time would have been better spend playing sudoku on the blackberry, dozing in the back exam room, flipping through a magazine, or even just staring into space converting oxygen. The implication being that because I chose to spend my *waste* time playing with string, I should not be taken as a serious professional. You will note that on our campus it is acceptable to take 7 minutes 4 times a day to go smoke, but one should not use those same 28 minutes to turn a heel. (Before I get bombarded with hate mail, I don’t have anything against smokers, unless they are also litterers, pick up your butts people. Otherwise: Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em). This complaint especially chaps me coming from people who can stretch 45 minutes of work into 2 hours.

The fact that TAO can get winter socks at the store doesn’t make my pastime meaningless. Fine motor skills and the discipline to see something through a complex series of steps make me a more proficient worker, not a less valuable one. Additionally, knitting hones my problem solving skills. Pattern errata, the shape of my 40s cheesecake body vs the androgynous model, and the ability to see when something is off course all build my situational assessment skills. Finishing projects and having them be useful gives positive re-enforcement that is lacking in work environments. It’s a confidence booster.

Do I want to go back to the times when women carried an entire faggot of wood on their back? No. But I do want to be taken seriously, regardless of what I do to fill the down time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Thank heaven for frogs

I was destined to be a knitter. Both my Maternal Grandmother and I shared Frog as a Totem animal. However, the rest of my energy menagerie varied differently from hers.

This morning I wished I could *frog* the first hour. I am in the middle of packing to move from one temporary housing to another. This consists of first packing everything I can *do without* for 2 or 3 weeks. Then pulling out everything that is mine (vs the rental agency) so that I won't forget it and living in the resultant clutter. Aargh. I will find a better way someday.

So I get up this morning, moving slowly because I fell down the stairs yesterday, make an egg, can't find the greek spice (it's packed). And decide *oh well, I have t-b-sco and I like that on eggs. Better on hashbrowns with catsup but... So I reach in the fridgie - doing 3 things at once, and promptly put Soy Sauce on the eggs. Alrighty then.

What does this have to do with knitting? Well, I finished my grey socks last night. The ones that I had originally frogged back because of design issues? So I knit them using a whole different new design. Yes, well, too flippin big! Gnashing teeth.

I had to decide, throw them in a drawer and ignore them? Try to find a gifter for them? Bite the bullet and rip Again?

After this morning, I opted for Ripping, this is because, while they are just socks, and I have oodles of other UFOs, this is something I can Control. While I may not like ripping, and the yarn is looking a little tattered, I can decide to fit these socks just so.

I may not be ready to take on the Universe, but G-d/dess knows I'm armed with DPNs.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Got a little time...or how to stretch a project...

I have finally started spinning fiber purchased specifically for socks, with plans to spin, ply, knit The Adored One socks. Although the colours so far are more mine than his, hmmmn. : ) This of course, takes much longer than simply purchasing sock yarn and knitting away. It even takes longer than purchasing yarn, dyeing it, and knitting. Sigh. The things we do to save money. : )

Wheel: Krominski Sonata on the 2nd ratio
Fiber: Superwash wool and Tencel from The Spinning Bunny
in Anshan's Biscotti currently making singles at 32 wpi. 4 oz Because I am still really new at spinning I split the roving into 6 foot long sections, split those again 6 to 8 times, and am spinning it in the American Longdraw Sliding Supported. I wanted to practise my double draft ala Mabel Ross
(it looks so magical) but this is not the fiber for it. At least not once I've split the roving down. I did the roving splitting because of the colours and how I wanted them to work up.

For a fab article on the drafting techniques check out the November 13, 2006 post of the Spinning Spider (Jenny in Vermont). I learned so much from this post. And continue to learn from her blog.

Chair: Folding dark coloured wooden chair with black pleather seat purchased from T----t. It works well for me because the seat is rather shallow which allows me to lean against the back and not have the seat front cut into my legs when I treadle. $19.95. I did take a plain old bed pillow in a plain pillowcase and slid the pillow case over the back support to hold the pillow in place for just the right amount of cushion. The seat is about 16.5/17" from the ground. That one inch less height made a big difference in my comfort. Very affordable, portable, and working well so far.

Any one going to Maryland Sheep and Wool? See ya' there! (I'll be the one with the desperate to escape look, I loathe crowds).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spinning Zen? Homily? Masterful slinging of ….

I was reading a Very Good description of the hand carding process (Handspinning, Art & Technique Allen Fannin 1970)
and I was struck by a chord. Yes, it was late, yes I was tired, but I think it merits some pondering…

Perhaps, when we are being yanked around in life, meshed, threshed and rolled; we are being carded…

Carefully prepared under tension to lay in an even and airy rolag then tenderly spun into glorious yarn destined for some lovely creation.

Or maybe not.

Friday, March 09, 2007


So you know how you feel when you teach someone something? And they get it? Do you see this darling little top down raglan jacket? Repeat after me...*it's her third knitted thing ever*

Okay, so you know how you feel when you teach someone something and they get it so much faster and easier than you did? On the one hand I'm glad she's naturally talented and diligently works on her projects, on the other hand, I feel sorta stupid in comparison. She knit it out of Andean Silk and actually finished the knitting in about 2 1/2 weeks. Then there was the delay while we waited for the Yarn Crawl to find the perfect little buttons. She did Magic Loop on the sleeves to cut down on needle buying and did all the finishing herself. Round of applause please.

Oh, and a Lent Update, this not casting on thing is tough! And I did have one brief fling with the snooze button, but it was only once on one single day.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Selbu Knitting - Beware

Funny how seeing Yikes! led to wanting to make mittens. I've never wanted to make mittens. But am seriously considering asking for this book next holiday. (post yarn diet)

Looking at these pictures Knitting Museum Did Not Help.

and did you see...the Socks.

Complex knitting takes more time, thereby costing less, therefore being appropriate for budget conscious women.....right?

Getting caught up.

Look at the gathering of wheels. Crikey!

I gate crashed a Genesee Valley HandSpinners Guild meeting in Feb. and encountered several fabulous people. Spinners are very generous in the sharing of knowledge and quite encouraging.
They were having their annual Spin In meeting. As you can see, it was well attended. There was even a Norm Hall wheel there. I did not take my wheel, but I had the ubiquitous knitting and made good progress on the back of my Vogue Cardigan.

The Rochester NY Yarn Crawl was very successful. We ate fatty foods after careful hoarding of the WW points (not me, someone with more discipline than me). We went to three Rochester stores, each with a different flavour. I wanted the new knitter to get the feel for how different the stores can be. We were *again* snubbed and ignored at the store with the higher end yarns (will they never learn), greeted warmly and helped just the right amount by the mid range store, and got lots of ideas in one store that has many samples but not yarns of my lifestyle. I actually feel rather bad about the last store, I have been several times, they are very helpful and friendly, but it's just not a match for me. A wide variety of high end Novelty yarn. I prefer flamboyant ideas to eye catching dress. Secondary to that, I wear civvies so rarely that I need classics.

What are the fuzzy caterpillars? Since we had to drive 80 miles to do the Yarn Crawl, we - being practical women - ran our errands as well. Grocery store for unavailable ingredients, Electronic store for returns, Craft store for notions, and Chain store - starts with T ends with t - for household stuff including two self cleaning dog brushes that made nice beginner hand cards for my first rolags. Yay, cheering, throw confetti. The self cleaning option on the brushes let me get my fiber off without vigorous doffing. The fiber is a Superwash from Leah in my Want to Believe group.

I did not break my yarn diet on the crawl. I did pick up a pattern and several back issues of Spin Off however. And humilated myself by accidentally breaking a high end sock needle. I was feeling it for sproingy-ness (since the new Bryspuns are NOT the old Bryspun dpns) and it snapped! But the yarn store lady said Lantern Moon was very good about replacements. Pheew, because they were $22.00. That will teach me not to fondle expensive needles.

The KFYS 2007 is going well indeed. TAO bought me sock yarn for Valentines. I purchased Malabrigo and Debbie Bliss odd balls to finish UFOs, and roving to expand a project. Of course, it is only March.