Tuesday, January 31, 2006

S is for...

Spinning class Sucked. Oops! We're not up to the letter S yet? My bad. Cheryl and I went to the intermediate spinning workshop at The Fiber Loft on Sunday and it was awful and pointless. To give you and idea of what we're talking about, we were taught the long draw by way of the instructor doing the long draw and saying "See, here's how you do it!" We were also taught to spin from the fold in the same manner: "OK, fold it over, and there! I'm spinning from the fold, now you do it!" While she seemed to be a very experienced spinner, she was just not into teaching, leaving class members struggling while ignoring them completely as she chatted on and on. I don't think she gave hands on help to a single person there - Cheryl was off her seat more times to help a fellow student with her Traveller than the instructor was.

However, it was worth it in that I got to meet Cheryl, who is very good company. She picked me up on her way down from NH, and and I really enjoyed getting to know her. It was fun to have someone to talk to about fiber and spinning and life in general. I think we learned more about spinning from sharing our own personal experiences on the drive than than from our instructor.
Thank you Cheryl for the very good company.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

B is for.....


I have been breastfeeding my PumpkinBoy for over 2.5 years now. It is has been a huge part of my life since he arrived, and no one could be more surprised about this than me. I never thought I would be what the breastfeeding community calls an "extended nurser". It was all I could do to make it though the first few days and weeks. I am proud of myself that I stuck with it. I am proud of myself that an average-sized 7+ pound baby turned into an off-the-charts hulk of a infant and toddler, gaining all those pounds and inches his first 6 months on nothing but mother's milk. I am proud that I found the energy and courage to pump breastmilk at work 3x a day for the first year of his life so that he could have it at daycare. I am proud that I am still able to give him that comfort and connection today, even though I am so ready to have my body back to myself.

I think it is sad that our culture has turned breastfeeding into something political, and that it is not readily accepted as just feeding your baby. I hate that moms use nursing or not as yet another stick to poke each other with when comparing and competing our mothering "credentials".

I just went through all of the photos we have taken since PumpkinBoy arrived in June of 2003, and I cannot find one photo of me nursing him. This amazes and saddens me - it is practically ALL I DID for the first months of his life. Man, I can't believe that!

Anway, I leave you with another photo from ProjectBreastmilk, courtesty of Amber Parmley, that kind of reminds me of my little dude.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sheep to Yarn

Many of you asked to see the yarn that came of the fleece from my last post. Here it is in a center pull ball of singles, ready to be plied. By the way, am I the only one who is just utterly mesmerized by the pattern that is created by the ball winder? I could just stare at those layers forever. Or maybe I'm just way too easily amused.

And here it is plied up (this color is the more accurate one):

So, from a greasy grimy fleece, we get nice clean fluffy yarn. I will now admit to a bit of spinning heresy - I don't really like spinning Romney. In a couple email exchanges with some of you, I likened it to spinning pubic hair. Yes, it is super easy to spin (I finished spinning this stuff while actually watching Lost last night, barely keeping an eye on my hands, no small feat for a newbie to spinning like me) but the fiber running through my fingers feels wiry and coarse - really the pubes analogy is quite accurate. So I was mightily surprised to discover the resulting yarn is soft and fluffy and pleasant. What magic causes that to happen? This stuff hasn't even been given its final bath yet

The Intermediate Spinning workshop at the Fiber Loft is this weekend, I am excited to enhance my knowledge and get some hands on help for things I feel I've been struggling with. I am also pleased that I will get a chance to meet Cheryl from over at SeedStitch.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I've Been Fleeced

I received much helpful advice on fleece puchasing from my previous query - I thank you all. Once again, Adrian has proven that she is my spinning fairy godmother. After a nice email exchange, she packed up a box for me so I could get a sampling of different raw fleeces from her own stash. The box arrived Thurs, and I was so excited to open it. Adrian not only sent me little bundles of 4 different fleeces (including llama!) but all kinds of little baggies with fun stuff to play with blending, like silk noils, soy silk, some angora, and all kinds of other goodies - I am in awe of her kindness and generosity.

I set out to wash the bag you see above - about 6oz of raw Romney fleece. Here it is set free (and yes, it smells wonderful - rich, thick, sheepy scents - my husband thinks I'm a freak, but PumpkinBoy seemed to really enjoy seeing, smelling and touching the wool.)

A little pre picking and sorting later, I put it in a hot hot bath with a good dose of dish soap:

Ick. Pretty gross, huh? I would not recommend this to anyone who is easily freaked by some"natural" griminess. Luckily, that is not me.

I seem to have failed to take a picture of the cleaned wool prior to carding (WTF!?), but here are two shots that reinforce the idea that if dirt and grime freak you out, you should not be doing this. Here is my leg after carding for a little while, as well as the paper towel I kept in my lap to protect my pants.

As I sat watching the BBC on PBS last night, (can I just say, I'm so glad they've started airing Coupling again - I adore this show, and was so sad when they pulled it so that American television could butcher it) I carded it all up, and here it is ready and waiting in fluffy little rolag clouds.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Like an Old Friend

Hello, my friend. It has been a while since I've seen you, and I missed you. It is so nice that we can still share a comfortable silence and that we can finish one another's sentences without pause. It's like we just saw each other yesterday.

That is what knitting Rogue for a 2nd time feels like - meeting up with a close friend who you haven't seen in some time, and just slipping back into the rhythms of your friendship without missing a beat.

I think when I finished my first Rogue, I could not stop saying "I love this sweater". I am still smitten with this knittin'. Two sleeves done at once (the only way to go) and I'm a goodly amount into the body already, although it was feeling camera shy tonight, and would not let me photograph it without turning orange, or blurring its cables and otherwise misbehaving. You'll have to take my word. Won't be too long now Reen!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I was a little nervous taking this online quiz. Being an English Lit. major, I had to make sure I still had some chops. Knitting content soon, I promise. Had a very busy weekend.

True English Nerd
You scored 86 erudition!
Not only do you know your subjects from your objects and your definite from your indefinite articles, but you've got quite a handle on the literature and the history of the language as well. Huzzah, and well done! The English snobs of Boston salute you. (Me here - what does it mean that I AM and English snob from Boston - am I saluting myself? Hee hee)

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 89% on erudition
Link: The Are You Truly Erudite? Test written by okellelala on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Friday, January 13, 2006

What I've Been Spinning

As I mentioned the other day, I've been doing a good amount of spinning. Here is a little pictorial for you, as I keep PumpkinBoy company while he eats his cereal this morning.

Blue Faced Leicester, dyed by me. A big (200+ yds) hank of two ply, and two little sample skiens of my attempts to spin a fatter, lower twist single - which is VERY hard to do (at least for me). My hope is to create a bit more singles, and then use the rest in a thinner application and navaho ply it, then use all three yarns in a little "spinning sampler" scarf for myself. Kind of an exercise to see the effects of what each different method has using the same source of fiber.

And we have the finished product of my first Alpaca. A soft and fuzzy two ply. I finished carding my fawn colored alpaca sample last night, but have no photos right now.

And last but certainly not least, some "BunnyCrack" in Dandelion, that I had to get after seeing Cassie's. This stuff is just, YUM.

I have also signed myself up for an Intermediate Spinning class over at the Fiber Loft at the end of the month. I will be happy to get some further guidance and advice from those more experienced than I.

It going to be both dry and in the 50's today, so I'm off to be outside as much as possible - PumpkinBoy is done with his cereal and ready to get out of this house.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


First, I want to say thank you to all of you who commented on the vest - I think that marks a record for me for comments. I tried to respond to each of you individually, but Blogger doesn't give me email addresses, and I was unable to track down many of your emails. Many thanks are coming your way from me, even if you didn't get an email reply.

Now I need some advice from you spinning types. It has come to my attention that we are approaching early spring, a time when many farms do shearings. If you knew of a newbie spinner who was interested in purchasing her first fleece, to wash and (hand) card on her own, what kind of advice would you give her. Do you have any farms you could recommend (especially New England farms)? I might know somebody who would appreciate the advice ;-)

In the lull since Butterfly has been done, I've been doing some spinning. I finished spinning the gray alpaca, and it made a soft and lovely 2-ply. I have another 1oz sample in a fawn color that I got to wash and will get to break in my hand cards with - yipee. I've also been enjoying spinning some hand-dyed by me Bluefaced Leicester. Sadly I have no photos, as the whole "dark before I leave the house and dark when I get home" thing is still happening. Damn winter. There is a glimmer of hope though, as I noticed for the first time this week that there is still some lingering sunlight as I walk out the doors of work around 4:30 each day - we are certainly headed in the right direction!

Photos of spinning and Rogue progress to come closer to the weekend.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Here she is.

Project Specs:
Pattern: Butterfly, Jade Starmore
Yarn: Hebridean 2ply, as provided in kit from above link
Needles: Susan Bates #3 29" (magic looped when circumference got too small)

I am immensley proud of myself. This was my fist foray into fair isle, and to put it mildly, was a bit of a leap for me. I enjoyed all of this project - all of it. It was slow to materialize, and I took my time and all of my knitting on it was mindful, and it surprises me that that mindfulness didn't wear on me. I would put it aside for stretches when I needed a break, and pick it up and wonder why I ever let it sit.

I will most certainly knit fair isle again, but a project like this has to be long term for me, so it will probably be some time before I tackle something as complex as this again.

The steeks, while scary in theory, made so much sense as I constructed them that by the time it came to cut them, I felt very confident and not freaked out at all. It all worked beautifully, and things are holding together so well that I don't even plan to cross stitch the facings down (that and Margene said it was OK!)

I love the buttons, and can heartily recommend The ButtonDrawer for a great selection and nice prices.

And for all you who like the seamy underbelly of things, here is Butterfuly bearing her insides for all to see

And now, after previewing these posts and looking at the photos over and over, admiring my bad knitting self, I see my fatal flaw - something here is not quite right. If one of you notices and can tell me what it is, I promise to take the time to fix it. If no one sees it (please, no withholding to be polite) then it will stay as is - if you nit-picking knitters out there are oblivious, then the unwashed masses out there will be too. And if one of you notices something NEW that I didn't see, well then screw you - I never saw it!

Purchases and Patience

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the buttons for Butterfly. I hope to see them today, but mail doesn't come until close to 4pm so the waiting is killing me! Hopefully I'll be posting her debut this weekend.

In the meantime, I figured I will share what I bought with one of the gift certificates I got for christmas. Dear brother and his wife (for whom I'm knitting Rogue #2) gave me one for Webs. I bought this:

A pair of hand carders and a little over 2lbs of "2/6 Donegal Tweed" in a pretty pale blue with tweedy dark blue flecks. That is a whole lotta yarn - but no ends to weave in!! I'm thinking it will become Spin Craft's Aran Cardigan with Saddle Shoulder. Which is a neat pattern, because you customize it to suit your yarn - so I know it will work with this stuff.

Thanks for the awesome Xmas gift, M&M!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A is for Alpaca

I have joined the year long ABC-Along hosted over at How the West was Spun. I really like this idea, so lets get on with it:

A is for ALPACA:

On the Yahoo Spinning Group there was a little burst of the giving of free alpaca samples. Lucky me, I got in on it. Above is about 1oz of Pewter Huacaya Alpaca from Alpacas D'Auxvasse.
I also have another fawn colored sample on its way from someone else that I can't remember right now.

This stuff is so soft. It has been a challenge for me to spin, as it is very slippery and seems to need a good amount of twist. I'm spinning on the highest ratio my wheel has, and taking it slow. The above represents about 45 minutes worth of work - slow going. I find as I draft it slips and gets too thin and have had a lot of breakage. It has also been difficult for me to make joins with it. All of this difficulty is due to my inexperience, and I was just finding a groove yesterday when nap time ended and I had to drop it.


In other non-letter-A related news, I have finished Butterfly! She is soaking as I type, prepped to get a good blocking. The buttons are on their way, and once I get them sewn on we can do a little photo shoot. Her completion means I will be winding yarn to start Rogue #2 today. Yipee!