Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I used to be good at math....

When my father gave me his old spinning wheel, he included the lazy kate and 3 bobbins. This worked great as long as I was spinning 2-ply yarns, but left me unable to spin 3-ply - I needed at least one more bobbin. At the last Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, I picked up two more bobbins and happily spun my first 3-ply yarn - some alpaca that I spun and hand dyed in shades of blue as a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law. (It turned out beautifully, but I didn't think to get a picture. Argh!)
I don't know about other spinners, but I've never had my bobbins of singles come out even when I'm plying. In the case of the alpaca, I had singles left on two bobbins at the end of the project. (What with the pressure of Christmas fast-approaching, I skeined what I had, dyed it, and called it good. About 250 yards, as I recall.)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I washed a good-sized handful of cotswold fleece, carded it, and started spinning singles. I was trying to get something a little thicker than sock yarn for a change, so I worked hard at making my singles thicker, and planned a nice fat 3-ply yarn. I filled one bobbin, then another, then started the third, all the time eyeing the 2 bobbins of alpaca singles and thinking "Oh, no problem. When the time comes, I'll just ply those off real quick, and be ready to make my 3-ply cotswold. Good thing I bought those extra bobbins!"
So, there I was, 3 bobbins full of cotswold, 2 bobbins each 1/4 to 1/3 full of alpaca. I sat myself down at my wheel, ready to roll.
Anyone spotted the problem yet?
I own 5 bobbins. I have 5 bobbins loaded with singles.
What on earth did I think I was going to ply those singles onto?
After I finished pounding my head on the wall, I realized there was nothing for it but to ply the alpaca off onto a handspindle. After a brief search (anything less than 3 hours is a brief search, in my book...) I finally located one of my spindles. (For the record, it was in a plastic bag, tucked inside another plastic bag full of handspun laceweight being knit into a shawl, tucked inside another plastic bag full of alpaca roving, tucked into a box full of UFOs, under a box of odd balls of worsted weight yarn. Easy peasy. Once I eliminated the other 42 bags and boxes, of course.)

There, dammit! Plied at last!
(Note: this is one of my homemade spindles - I used a little wooden wheelie-dealie from Michael's, an old paintbrush handle with the business end pried off, and a miniature cuphook. I figured there was no sense investing a fortune in spindles until I decided whether or not I even liked spinning. And then, of course, I was used to spinning with my homemade gizmos, so there was no sense in buying anything fancier. I prefer to think of myself as frugal, though I have heard people mumbling "cheap" when they thought I wasn't listening...)

And now, I can get on with the cotswold!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring is sprung. Finally.

The snow is melting! The snow is melting!
Of course, it left some devastation behind...

We'll be rebuilding this poor smashed hoophouse over the next couple of weeks. A lot of the framework is bent & twisted, and all the plastic needs to be replaced. Sigh...

On a happier note, the chickens are enjoying the warmer weather. After a winter all cooped up (sorry, couldn't resist) they're sunning themselves and taking dust (mud) baths.

Big Red (well, honestly, what would you have named him?) saw me and came over to check me out.

He called the girls over, too.

I'd like to say they like me for my sweet charming self...

but, the fact is, I cheated....

Grass is to chickens like chocolate is to knitters...


Originally uploaded by mangofeet

Norma has her lovely crocuses. I have these...
I have no clue what they are. They look a lot like dandelions, only a little smaller, and grow in wet marshy soil.
Anybody know?

(ETA: We found an answer! It's coltsfoot - turns out to be a medicinal perennial, but it's also an invasive species. Just my luck that my first flower of spring is a noxious weed....)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Too tired to knit...

And that's really saying something. I don't think I've ever been this tired in my life...
My new job is working in a store that isn't open yet - so I've been assembling fixtures, painting, tagging and loading shelves with product, rearranging, then rearranging again, etc. It's actually fun, but very physical. Rumor is, we're going live next week (about a week ahead of schedule), so we're all really scrambling.
I did manage to get some fleece washed over the weekend. It's part of a Cotswald fleece I bought at Vermont Sheep & Wool year before last. I've never worked with Cotswald before, so I'm anxious to see how it spins up. Got the drum carder out the other night & carded part of what I'd washed, but my hands are so sore from various papercuts, splits, cracks, etc, that turning the handle was a real ordeal. And I strongly suspect that my hands are currently too rough to be able to spin. I'm planning to really slather on the lotion for the next couple of days so that I might be able to spin by the weekend.
I'd never used a drum carder before (used hand cards in my youth, and what a pain in the butt that was...) so I was really pleased with how fluffy the wool ended up. I'll try to remember to take some pictures, but I seem to have a permanent case of camnesia.
Hopefully the lotion-slathering won't make me too dangerous at work - I have visions of everything slipping through my fingers. Luckily, I'm working in Domestics - the sheets & comforters will hit the floor & be okay, but those ceramic soapdishes had better watch their step...