Friday, November 30, 2007

Spinning but not yet a spinster.

One of the reasons I was interested in Sonya's spinning wheel, was last May, I acquired some fleeces.

(don't bother to look, I didn't blog about it!) And I have a good hope of acquiring more fleece from the same source next May. It only made sense with all this free wool around, I would want some way of turning it from raw fleece into spun wool.

I proceeded, in the early summer to wash/scour the wool with no directions.. (except—don't agitate, Use lots of detergent, and warm, but not hot water.) I now know there are things I can do that will result in easier to spin wool--but another spinner reported that she once washed a fleece in a washing machine in a laundromat—so I wasn't obsessive about how I scoured the wool the first time I tried—my bad!

I have no idea of what breed the sheep are.. (they are just sheep)

I am a city girl, born and bred with in NYC's 5 borough's.. What do i know of sheep? Actually I know one breed.. Jacob's sheep. (a breed that looks like sheep described in the bible.) These can be found in the Children's Zoo of the Bronx Zoological Gardens.. The only sheep i know, are zoo animals!--(likewise, I only know cows)

In NY State, (both on Long Island and upstate) there are plenty of dairy farms, and there are cows..(I suppose there is an occasional bull, but mostly what you see from a car (going past fields at 60 miles an hour) are she cows.

It is udderly clear they are she cows! Same is true for most of New England, and New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Every once in a while you pass a farm that has a sign, “Angus Cattle” (they are short legged, stocky black cows) and I know Angus is a breed that is used for meat, but in NY State, herds of Angus are herds of cows!

Dairy Farmers often have Notices.. “Pure Bred Angus” on this farm,(black cows), “Pure Bred Jersey's”(reddish cows)on an other farm, or “Pure bred Holsteins” (black and white cows) elsewhere, but sheep farms are less common--and “Pure Bred X” (where X is a variety of sheep!!) are even less common!

My sheep (possessive aren't I?) are communal sheep. They live a life of leisure, eating grass, apples, (there is an old apple orchard where they live-- and they get to eat all the wind-falls) and sweet hay. There primary occupation is to entertain children. (Well they might not think so.. they think it's to eat and have fun.) When they die, they die of old age, (not at butchers!).

The down side? The pastures are sometimes weedy (there is a lot of burdock in the fleece!) and the fleece are filthy. (I easy washed several pounds of sand out of the one fleece I washed, (plus vegetable matter, and all sorts of sheepy things (lanolin, 'dandruff', etc), though the fleece were pretty well skirted (and there wasn't too much dag). (-->first attempt!)

So starting with my home scoured, and simple carded, and not the best wool in the world to work with, my first attempt at spinning is, well not very well spun!
(<--details of first attempt)

I am still learning How to:
Consistent, evenly treadle (in the right direction!)
How to adjust the tension –so the fly wheels whizzes, and the bobbin follows at a slower pace
How to draft.
Watch not only the draft, but the bobbin.

Right now, I've spun all the wool I've carded, and I have to go back and find some good lock of wool, and card them (and clean out the vegetable matter) and try again!

Come the new year, I think I'll take a spinning class--and buy some roving. I am sure better materials will help! --Not that practice isn't needed! But I suspect my home carded wool would be challenging for an advanced spinner.

In the meanwhile I have 2 more fleeces, that still need to be washed, and combed, and carded and I think I'll follow Yarn Harlot's detailed delicate process for these----I will still be working with an unknown variety of wool, but it will be easier to work with, if I treat it better!

(<--second go)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Give what you can...

Have you contributed to Doctors without Borders (via Yarn Harlot's blog) ? If not, why not?

If you are cash poor (like me) donate yarn, or pattern, or a tool...

Some lucky winner is going to get 5 skeins of Katia Ingenua.. (750 yards of a mostly mohair blend (78%mohair, 13%nylon, and 9%wool)--but even luckier winners have won even better prizes.. you should go look!

What have you donated?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Round and Round she goes...

And where she'll stop, no one knows! (well I don't know yet, for sure!)

Not quite a full circle yet--and more than a full circle will be needed! But perhaps not a full 540° of arc. The short rows are working as I hoped--the stripes remain evident.. They have changed, but the hem edge still has nice wedges of color.

As I mentioned, this scarf/shawl was inspired by one seen in a knitting magazine ad (you can see the original here—note it is a PDF—top row, right side)--I think mine is superior, (not because of anything I have done, but because of the lovely yarn-- this design makes the most of the Noro yarns long color way.)

Mine is clearly a knock off Inspired by the other... but it is different.I am not documenting the details, but basically, it's a series of short rows, to make wedges of knitting. The spacing of the short rows has changed as the number of stitches have increased, the wedges have changed shape along the way.

And at the same time, I am making a series of increases (1 increase at the hem edge every time I complete a short row wedge), with the basic knitting being done in a double garter stitch.. The fabric is soft and loosely knit.

I tend to be a process knitter.. I enjoy seeing how patterns, yarns, increases, shaping and all the other details of knitting come together to create a design. I rarely wear shawls--and I wear scarves less often.

I wear hats even less, but I continue to design and knit them.

Socks are about the only thing I both knit and wear!

And really, I've only been knitting sock in earnest for the past 5 years!--before that, I didn't know about knitting 2 on 2, and had a very bad cast of second sock syndrome.

I've been enjoying knitting this spiral shawl, (even now when the rows are getting longer and longer with each 'wedge' that is completed!)

But I had no real plans to wear it! I was enjoying the process.. (the finished product? um, i dunno...)

What I did have plans ons, was my DIL's spinning wheel. (a folding Lendrum)

I knew she was spinning less, (I am amazed she get anything done for her self!) Her teen age son is not horrid, but he is a teen ager.. and then there is Miss B, age seven, and Master C, age 2 and some, who is, a wonderful, funny, clever child, but he is a normal 2 year old.. (ie, he is a holy terror!)

Besides, she works, and does Art, (I am, at my best, an artisan, more often I am a crafts person) but Sonya is an Artist—And while my son is a pretty good guy (he cooks, he cleans, he does laundry) he also works full time, and the bulk of the daily routine seems to fall on her shoulders!

Well, as I was saying, I decided to be a good friend to Sonya, and Help her, by storing her spinning wheel for a few years! (Thankfully, she was open to this idea!)

She, in response, will HELP me, by accepting the spiral shawl once it is finished! (Isn't she wonderful? As an other knitter, I know she appreciates hand knit goods.. and she wears scarfs and shawls!--(much more than I do!) I get the fun of knitting it.. (with out the chore of storing it!)

Well, I have the wheel already.. So I have to make an effort and get this scarf/shawl finished in a timely manor!

(Some time soon, my adventures in learning to spin!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Long time, No see

When I haven't blogged in a while, (like now) it's not because I have nothing to blog about.. Rather I have too much..

I still haven't blogged about my adventure with my neighbor:
renting a truck, driving about, and transporting the new (to her) TV.
(it was a sort of a comedy routine! it could be titled: 2 fat old ladies, the truck and the TV.)

And I haven't blogged about Ravelry, or about meeting other knitters via Ravelry.

Nor did I blog about my trip to San Fransisco--This crystal pitcher (above) is a recycled memento of the trip--to visit my son and his family.

This trip could be the source of many topics, including:
Sight seeing (a very little)
Knitting, (a bit) yarn porn, (a bit) spinning, (quite a bit!)
Grandchildren (of course, mine are the best! And my stories about them are the best!)
Food (my DIL blogged a bit about the food, but she didn't brag...I could blog about all the food (it was all very good!)
--and about the philosophy of food.. (natural vs prepared, vegetarian vs ominivorian, traditional vs. new ideas)--food offers a host of blog subjects!

I could make a few blog posts just about a few of the many books of her's I skimmed, (she had, um Planned ahead, and had many of her books handy --while re-organizing the book shelves!)
I could blog even more about The History of Knitting (not a glowing review) a book I read, and have borrowed--as well as borrowing Nicky Epstein's book Barbie and Me (all the better to knit for my granddaughter)--another subject that is worth a whole blog post!

I also skimmed most of Anne Zilboorg's book the Knitting Heretic, much of the book covers things I have previously read about (or by) her, and since our philosophies are very similar, there was little in the book that I disagreed with—or failed to understand.

I could blog about Hats--I both skimming the Interweave book on hats, and Anne Zilboorg's book on hats, I feel ready to knit more hats.. and to really get to it, and write my own book about hats!

Sonya suggest that I blog more about my life.. In some ways a boring one, but in other ways, a very rich one (if not always a happy one)--but the life and times of neurotic knitter seems to fascinate her!

I don't know how many of these subjects are going to get blogged about.. some, I suppose, others will slip away...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

180 degrees.. or about 25% done!

180° done, 360° more to go...

This shawl is sort of like a capelet.

At this point, you can see the 'front'--the cast on/last row of work are about 'shoulder seams'-there is no seam, (nor will there be) but if when worn, the cast on row will sit about at the shoulder seam, and (as will the 'stripe' now being knit)

The scoop is the neckline is clearly visible.
The shape is a C (tilted over and lying on its back) --or half a 'donut' --or half a circle with the center scooped out! Which description works for YOU?

As I continue, with more short row wedges, I'll be knitting the back. Which will be the same as front, only it will continue to get longer/deeper.. (from neck edge to hem)

Eventually, I'll have a full circle. (360°) If I were knitting a caplet, I would stop at a full (or even an almost full) circle.

But for this shawl, I'll continue on, making another half circle.. (360° + another 180° for a total of 540° of knitting!)

The last half circle will be deeper (longer rows of knitting and longer from neck edge scoop to hem edge) which will UNDER lap this first half circle.

So while I have one third (180°) of the wrap done, with each segment of short rows, I am increasing, and getting longer and longer rows, (more stitch =more knitting) and only about one fourth of all the knitting done.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

100°? 110°? Well more than 90!

And more still since the photo was taken..

It's beginning to look like a collar, --and will be worn sort of like a wrap around collar..

I think I am up to at least 140° now.

I figure a clock is 360°, and from 9 to 3
(or 3 to 9 if you insist on traveling clockwise!) is 180°

But my knitting is laid out counter clockwise, so I'll proceed to go backwards.. (not that this will surprize any one who knows me!)

9 to 6 is a right angle (90°) and that can be -divided into 3 parts (9 to 8, 8 to 7, and 7 to 6)

So 'each hour' equals about 30°.... I have knit from 9 to 6 and past 5, but not to 4--

9 o'clock to 6 o'clock is 90°, to 5 o'clock is another 30°, (120°!) to 4 o'clock, 150°--but.. I am not at 4 o'clock yet.. but I am closer to it now than I was when I took the photo! I hope to be to 3 o'clock before the night is out!..

I am looking forward to see how the strip will change the rows of knitting get longer.. I think there will be, because of the short row, some stripping, right up to the end.

Then I'll continue round to till I've made a complete counter clock wise revolution --9 to 3 is the front, and 3 to 12, and back to 9 will be the back.. then again from 9 to 3 for the overlap--or rather the underlap! The start (and narrow end) will be on top... the wide end will be underneath.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I know I haven't posted anything to my blog for a few days.

I've written a few posts, but I –well I've been a sour mood, and the post went beyond acidic to positively vitriolic, and I've elected not to share them--most of them shouldn't see the light of day!

Some will be sweetened up, and appear sometime in the future. Others, I suspect will never see the light of day—the topic include knitting groups (and group behavior at its worst) TV commercials, medicine and sexism (that one will get rewritten and published) and the Pidge and the uproar about how expensive it (supposedly) is--and how impossible it is to knit (NOT!)

I've been knitting-- the Ocean wave socks have a heel (I photographed them when they only had half a heel, but the second half was finished Sunday.

The Ripple scarf plods along.. (about 20 inches now) (no photographs)

And a HUGH ball of an old NORO yarn (a mostly rayon blend) that has been sitting (not put away, but left out, in sight, for inspirations) has finally found a project.

The design I'm knitting is a rip off.. a copy of scarf/shawl that has been seen (well seen by me!) in the back of several knitting magazines.... a spiral that starts narrow, increases and turns, making a full circle, and then another half circle (540° in all) --it's as simple as can be, short rows of double garter stitch (K1, P1/P1, K1) with the yarn doing most of the work—and doing a lovely job of it!

It's going to be tedious, all those short rows.. (and it will get worse with every inch.. ) already, there are 18 inches of hem for a mere 4 inches of neck (and I am figuring, a loose neck is 18 to 20 inches, + another half neck –27 to 30 inches at neck line (which will be some 100 or more inches of length at the hem end. --I could make the hem end narrower, but I want a soft drapy fabric..and a slightly ruffled edge--Unlike the spiral wrap I've seen photographed in the ads.

So my scarf/wrap isn't attempting to be a duplicate --but it clearly takes inspiration from the one I've seen

The Noro is slightly thick and thin, and its being worked very softly on a size 5(3.75mm) needle.(and was a lovely gift from Barbara V (aka the KnitWit on several knitting boards, but blogless)
When I measured wraps per inch 1 inch =23 wraps, but 2 inches =28 wraps (or 14 per inch!)
The truth lies somewhere in between—since the thick parts of the yarn aren't to be found every other inch.