Sunday, October 22, 2006

Crazy Spinning

So, what do you do when you have about 4 deadlines, you've had a sucky couple of days and you're in the mood to get rid of some stress? You drop everything and spin, of course! Especially if you haven't used a spinning wheel in about 4 years (I use my handspindle all the time, but the wheel's been gathering dust). Well, it was a good spinning week. I was first inspired by meeting THE Mama-E whose fabulous yarn and fiber have become favorites at the shop. She has even created a Cloverhill Exclusive Colourway in Chris's favorites of purple and green. So, when I got home after meeting the lovely and talented Erin, I looked through my sock yarn and found to my delight a braid of her hand-dyed fiber in a beautiful color called Pink Flamingo. So, I got busy and got most of it spun Wednesday evening then finished Thursday morning. I plied it Thursday afternoon and took it in to show all my dear shop-pals. They were so sweet as I pranced around like a little kid showing off--"Lookee lookee its my first EVER handspun yarn!"
I've been playing around with spinning for years and have miles and miles of singles on bobbins and in sandwich bags and on handspindles, but this, this luscious pink stuff is my first completed yarn. I was simply inspired! I am so excited! I have rediscovered spinning to be a wonderful foil to knitting. Calming to the mind, tactile, rhythmic, colorful, etc, but in a totally different way than knitting. So, I am off on a totally new fiber adventure that so far is meshing perfectly with the knitting. I have already started spinning the Interlacements merino top I bought a while back and am about halfway done. I am trying out a lendrum wheel and so far I like it a lot. There are a few things I like better about my used Ashford Traditional, but I am actually spinning more consistently on the lendrum. I've had fewer screw-ups. Whether that's just the sudden extra practice or something about the wheel I haven't figured out. The biggest advantage of the lendrum is that it is a traveling wheel. I can pack it up easily and take it to spin-ins, classes, etc. So, we'll see. Just because I'm silly and so very proud, here's another photo of my pink-flamingo before it becomes hat for Sara:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Very Little to do with Socks

It was one of those days. You know the kind I mean. Everything went wrong. No one could find socks, everyone needed something ironed at the last minute in spite of my pleading the night before to get things ready. My patience unraveled completely. I found myself locked in one of those arguments with my teenaged son. You know the kind I mean. I was actually shouting at him about controlling his temper. Yeah. The world had gone crazy. I got everyone where they needed to go and even got them home again, but I was still out of sorts. There was nothing for it. I put myself in time-out and went to my room.

The weather was beautiful-all bright blue skies with flaming foliage below, but my still-thin skin was used to the humid summer air that is as fat and plump as a down comforter. This thin, clear stuff left me chilly on days like this one. The heat was not on yet, so in addition to everything else, when I went to my room, I was cold and achy all the way to my bones.

I stood in my closet to change my clothes. I was drawn irresistibly to my knitted things. I have lots of fleecy sweatshirts and running jackets, but they were too high-tech and put-together for today. I needed something comfortingly imperfect that would accept me in my utterly unreasonable grumpy state. Something with pills and maybe a moth hole. So, I looked over my sweaters and chose the oldest and most worn. It was my first real, original design and as it slipped over my head and settled into its place on my body, I felt somehow better. LIke an old friend was embracing me, but one who didn't need to hear words to understand how I felt. My breathing eased for the first time that day. From there I went to my dresser and chose socks in the colors of the forest, so I could hide out a while. I also chose leg warmers that were unbelievably boring to knit but I couldn't resist the beautiful yarn, so I finished them. They made me feel like a survivor instead of a victim. Thus ensconced and feeling not only warmer but somehow more myself, I took refuge under my covers and had a lovely good cry and a nap.

When I woke up, the earth was quietly spinning again, whirring along on its old axis and the air felt fresh and clean, not cold and menacing. I fingered the stitches on my knitted companions, grateful for their friendly familiarity. I have always found comfort in the act of knitting, and in the act of giving my knitting to others, but today, my knitting literally comforted me. I was able to remember that with a vision, a little knowledge, and the endurance to do the same thing 50 or 60 thousand times, something beautiful and lasting can be created. The dropped stitches can be picked up, a new ball of yarn can be added, and the stitches will hold if the needle falls out.

I got out of bed, folded up my cozy treasures and went to do some knitting of another kind.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Well, Soctoberfest is off to a good start for me. I joined this knitalong to finish up a bunch of unfinished socks. So far I have another pair of charity socks complete. When Afghans for Afghans needs socks, I'll be ready! I'm 3/4 of the way to finishing Sara's Socks that Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

I also have my New Valentina (Silk City's coned version of Touch Me) Einstein Jacket on the needles and am making good progress for class. The chinese lantern is nearly finished and the 5-color challenge has been a lot of fun. I have swatches for a hat and scarf. I think I know who I'll give the whole ensemble to. Knitting for someone in particular has its own kind of fun.

Oh yes, I can't forget my toe-up explorations for Stitches East. I think I finally have an introductory toe-up sock that I can teach in an hour with decent results. I am going to test it on a couple of friends who are beginning knitters. I will post a tutorial when I get it perfected. It was a good experience to try and simplify and look at the experience from the eyes of someone who was a complete beginner. I'll keep you posted on how the class goes. Stitches is month away, so my preparations are in earnest now.

I am knitting a ton right now and so far my handa are holding up all right. Shew. I am still experimenting with two-dimensional knitted birds for the ATC (artist trading card) exchange my pal Kristin is moderating. I am using a leaf design as a starting point, and it is working pretty well.

I posted a comment on the Socktoberfest site, but something I forgot to mention is that for me, socks are still a little bit magical. Every single time I finish a heel turn, I have to put it down and smooth it out and just admire my creation for a minute. It is absolutely the coolest thing ever! I would estimate I've made 50 pairs of socks and it still pleases me afresh every time.