Sunday, January 13, 2008

Spinners coming out of woodwork

I met Judy at the last Farmer's Market for the season this year. She was spinning on a great wheel and I was on the porch of the Blacksmith Shop spinning on my Symphony. We talked briefly about other fiber folks in the area and I expressed frustration that as a full-time employee, I could never seem to hook up with anyone because they always met during the day, during the week.

She decided to start a Yahoo Group so folks in the Northern Neck who were into fibery stuff like spinning and weaving could keep up with each other and communicate. She apparently knows more than one person into this stuff and so the Northern Neck Spinners and Weavers Group was born.

Several of us wanted to get together. And Sally offered to let us use her studio which is across the street from the Subway/Bouy in Heathsville. Sally picked a date and we met yesterday for the first time.

Five folks brought their wheels and everyone had a different one. It was really neat to see them all in action and hear about how we all dearly loved our individual wheels. Two ladies came who were knitting (one working on her very first socks -- I think -- which looked better than my third pair.). Another, Faye, just sort of watched us all until I talked her into trying out a spindle.

She took to it like natural. I sent her home with a bit of roving and one of my Bosworths and arranged for her to drop it off with Sally when she gets tired of playing with it. She claims she really doesn't need another hobby... but we all know how that goes.

I thought it interesting that three of us were spinning long wool fibers. I had brought the bit I had combed from Curly a Lincoln and another lady was spinning Lincoln and the third was working her way through some Leicester Longwool. Sally had a bump of something she purchased from a mill years ago and Judy was working with some alpaca (if I remember correctly). I also brought along some of the merino blend from Paradise Fibers that I had purchased last year (3 pounds of the stuff). I'm still determined to spin enough for a sweater.

We decided at this point that rather than do anything formal (like a Guild with officers, and dues and such) that we would be happy to keep things informal and fairly irregular and just get together from time to time as the mood struck.

I'm still kind of hoping we can do something in conjunction with the Rice's Inn/Hughlett Tavern folks. Perhaps at some point we can organize a Sheep to Shawl Demonstration during a Farmer's Market and then sell the resulting shawl and donate the proceeds.

Judy knows a woman who has Merino Cross sheep that were covered and have recently been shorn. She is going to find out costs and such and I think I'm going to invest in one of these fleeces.

I am saving up my money to buy a small floor loom. I really do think I will like weaving and I could create items of wearable goods faster than I do by knitting. Sally is going to figure out what she would charge for lessons and let me know.

I completed my second band on the Inkle several weeks ago. I used a cotton/wool sock yarn and it came out very nicely.

I want to make a band for a drum next. That will be a very long warp. And by then, I should be good enough to make Ken a new guitar strap and I might even get around to making some belts for Holiday gifts for next year.

I also finished the yarn that went from greens to reds. It is not, unfortunately, fine enough for socks (unless you wanted really bulky socks) but it is perfect (I think) for a scarf. So it may be destined for scarf-dom.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

First, let me say that I'm feeling better.

I'm also feeling much more focused (not totally where I would like to be yet, but closer).

I'm throwing things away! No, trust me, this is a good thing. I've been slowly attacking the piles of stuff that has accumulated over the last four years that has no more business in my house. Stuff like empty boxes (not good boxes for shipping and such, just empty boxes from odd things like a coffee press). I have decluttered the coffee table (twice). I started decluttering a corner of my kitchen and found missing cookbooks, a cut crystal dish and, unfortunately, mouse poo under all the bits of paper and jars of expired vitamins.

But I'm not obsessing about the cleaning either. It's just one of the more noticeable aspects of my recover. Give me another week and I might tackle a closet!

I'm also spinning.

This is the second bobbin of a project for my mom... which I may end up keeping and redoing as I think I screwed this up.

Here was the plan. She asked me to spin sock yarn in a color other than brown (seems like the only yarn she saw me spin was brown, for some reason). She wanted it in superwash. So I ordered 8 ounces of plain white superwash from Paradise Fibers. I should have gone ahead and ordered a pound... but that's okay.

Anyway, I decided to do a Christmas/Yule theme and used green and red with a yellow highlight and dyed the roving with one end predominantly red and the other green with the yellow making the connection in between.

Once dried, I split the roving down the middle and broke it into manageable bits of about a yard long each. Each half and bit was numbered from end to end... so that the mostly red pieces at one end were number 1 with the two halves delineated as 1A and 1B. I then numbered each yard going down the two halves... end up with 1A through 5A and 1B through 5B. I spun 1A through 5A first starting with red and ending with green and got 4.2 ounces on one bobbin. Then I started on the B part in the same order.

When I ply them together, the colors should (in theory) pretty much line up.

Now, what I realized as I started into the second bobbin is that I made a small boo-boo when it came to planning for sock yarn. Doing color gradations works great for something like a scarf... but there should be two socks (and in this case four since there will be 8 ounces of fiber spun). So I actually needed to split the roving into four lengthwise sections and spin 2 ounces on one bobbin, then 2 ounces on the other, and then ply those together to make one skein. THEN do it again to make a second skein for the second sock.

The way I've done it, well, it will work if you want to make fun non-matching socks, but it won't work if you have this hangup about color coordinating like I do.

So I may just keep this yarn for myself, knit a holiday scarf for myself or as a gift for next year and start again. Mom's birthday isn't until the end of February. I think I'll have time....