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Posts Tagged ‘spinning’

Wheels

Lately, I’ve gotten back to spinning. It seems that I tend to spin obsessively for a few days, and then ignore the spindles and the wheel for months. Now I’m trying a new thing: moderation. Just spinning for a little bit, every day, focusing on smoothing out my technique.DSCN0406

I’m still working on some batts given to me by the friend who passed along the  spinning wheel. This came from one of them and is a merino/silk blend, with a few sparkly fibers thrown in for fun. I’m not so much of a sparkly-loving person, but every so often it is fun to work with a little glitter.

I also recently purchased some fiber at the Kid ‘N Ewe festival in Boerne, Texas. Boerne is a few miles north and west of San Antonio. I carpooled down this year with two other women, which was lots of fun. I’ve only ever spun on my drop spindles and a somewhat cranky old single-treadle Ashford Traditional, so at the festival I made a point of trying out some different wheels. Coming home after testing out all of the new wheels, I sat down at my fussy old wheel, started spinning up some of the fiber I bought, and promptly decided that I had my cranky old wheel running better than most of the wheels I tried at the festival! So, rather than saving up the $600 or so I would want to spend on a new wheel, I got on the Internet, did a little reading, and ordered the $36 flyer upgrade that is available for my Traddy. The original flyer only has one ratio, but the upgrade has three. (The “ratio” refers to the DSCN0407difference in diameter between the wheel and the base of the spindle; it affects how fast the spindle turns as the spinner treadles.)

The new flyer is wonderful! I’m still getting used to it and fussing with it a bit,  but already I can spin much faster. Initially, the whorl closest to me rasped quite a bit against the maiden, which was super annoying. I pulled the new flyer off and took it to the hardware store, where I found a metal washer that fit around the end that was causing the trouble. Much quieter! You can just barely see the washer in the photograph – it’s the little shiny bit in between the post and the flat round disc at the end of the flyer assembly.

While I’m on the subject of after-market modifications, I though I’d post a photo of my bicycle. A few weeks ago, I stopped by the shop where I bought the bike. They had some bicycles out front for sale, including a few of the same make, model and color as mine. I don’t think, however, that there will be any mistaking my bike for the ones currently being sold! At this point I’ve swapped out the saddle for a more comfy one, added the fancy “clipless” pedals (along with DSCN0409 some equally fancy cleated shoes that connect to the pedals) and put on a bell to warn pedestrians before I zip pass and surprise them. The rack on the back is great for hauling stuff home. My pannier clips to it on the side, and I also have a set of bungee cords for strapping odd items to the top of the rack; coming home from the hardware store with odd things sticking out from the back is always fun! I also have a decent headlight and a fabulous tail light for riding after dark, along with some fun reflective tape. The green tape happens to match the obscenely bright green windbreaker I got at REI – just the thing to go with red hair! Two weeks ago I also got around to adding some decidedly un-cool looking fenders, to keep rain and mud off of my legs. I’m considering the fenders to be extra theft insurance. The less cool the bike looks, the less likely it is to be stolen.

So I’m still having fun zooming around town on two wheels. Wave when you see me – you won’t be able to miss the bright green jacket!

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Knitting is a fairly useful craft. Sweaters, socks, even lace shawls – they are all fairly functional. Crochet, not so much. I have a crocheted snood that I wear on a regular basis, and some crocheted socks that are quite comfy, but most crochet is relegated to decorative function only.

Tatting – now I haven’t quite figured out what is is useful for. At least it is easy! It is also quite cheap. High-quality mercerized cotton thread for tatting and crochet generally doesn’t run more than a few dollars a ball (this is what initially attracted me to thread crochet as well) and basic tools are fairly inexpensive as well, although antique and vintage tatting shuttles can go for quite a bit. Yep, you guessed it: I spent my weekend learning to tat.

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Speaking of thread crochet – a few weeks ago I picked up a Japanese book full of thread crochet patterns, mostly doilies. The book have so little English that I’m not even sure what the title is, although I can tell that the designer’s name is Ondori. I can tell you that the international crochet chart symbols are everything they’re cracked up to be. The patterns are beautiful and the charts wonderfully easy to read! It is the kind of book that makes one want to sit around and make doilies all day.

I’m also on something of a spinning kick. I’ve spun quite a bit here and there, mostly sampling the differentDSCN0066 types of fibers available, but not generally enough of anything to do a project with. A few nights ago, however, I finished and skeined about 200 yards of heavy two-ply laceweight in a 50/50 merino-tussah silk blend that I bought from Lynn’s Texas Fibers while at Kid ‘N Ewe last fall. The fiber is lovely and silky, and as you can see from the photo I’ve spun and plied it quite loosely in order to preserve that lofty silkiness.

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Lest anyone think I’ve been slacking off in the knitting department, I also have to show Attempt #3 at making a shawl out of my Habu bamboo laceweight. My first and second pattern selections refused to play nicely with the yarn, so now I am seeing how it goes with the Hidcote Garden Shawl. So far, so good… which is what I said regarding the first two projects… I really do like the yarn. Knit up, it has a drape and flow that is like nothing so much as water, and should make a nice shawl for hot summer days.

DSCN0067I’m also on another pair of socks, of course, even though we are well out of sock-wearing season. This pattern is out of the Holiday 07 Interweave Knits. This is my second project out of that issue, which was quite good and sold out very fast. I guard my copy very carefully, and intend to make a few more things from it still.

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Seen from my bike:

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A hang gliding class! You can’t tell from the photo, but they are at the top of a nice hill. I’ve seen this class a few times now, either standing at the top of the hill, or hauling the glider back up from the bottom. One of these days maybe I’ll actually see someone in flight!

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Many thanks to the kind folks who have commented, emailed, and given me in person some good bike routes around town! I’ve been having lots of fun, zipping around without being stuck in traffic, and exploring new routes. Now, if I could only figure out how to reduce and balance the 40 lbs of stuff I haul around to 5 different schools every week…

On the knitting front, the border on the Lightweight Mountain Peaks shawl is progressing.DSCN1119 It has reached the stage where it looks a bit like a strange sea creature. I have other things in progress, of course; socks and another sweater are both well underway. However, they are not so photogenic.

There is a reason why all of my knitting is progressing so slowly this week. The reason is that last weekend, out of the clear blue sky, a spinning wheel fell on me.

DSCN1120 Ok, not really, although it feels like it. Here’s the story:

Last fall, I learned how to spin, using a drop spindle. Since then, I’ve been slowly spinning away as the mood struck. Spindling can be a very peaceful way to spend a morning while camping, or a nice activity to keep myself occupied while something cooks on the stove. I have two very nice spindles, and a very funny plying set-up that involves my dining room chandelier.

Then, last week, an email popped up in my inbox, from a knitting friend who had a question for me. Could I use a spinning wheel? she wanted to know. She had a wheel on loan from a very nice friend of hers, but no longer had need of it, so it was decided that she would pass the wheel on to another spinner – lucky me! So, instead of dutifully knitting away on my projects, I’ve been having fun on the new spinning wheel.

And now, more fun with DPNs. Since I’ve gotten the knack of anchoring a bun DSCN1131 with a size 9 bamboo DPN, I’ve been having fun trying out new hairstyles that use hairsticks. This one is an “orchid” bun. I’ve also heard it called a “cervix” bun, but I don’t see it. Anyway, it is another type of bun that really stays put – I wore it this way for about 12 hours the other day, and if barely shifted the whole day.

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Spinning injuries?

As a musician, I’ve heard quite a few good stories about conductors injuring themselves and others with their batons. Just a few weeks ago a colleague managed to impale the base of her left thumb with her baton point. Knitters, too, have exciting tales full of DPNs drawing blood. Somehow, however, I’ve managed to escape hearing stories about spinning injuries… until yesterday, when I was whacking a wet sample skein at high speed against the bathroom counter, and got my knuckles a bit too close to the edge. Hey, at least nothing’s broken.

The ironic part of this little story, of course, is that since I can’t knit for a few days, I’m doing lots more spinning!

At Kid ‘N Ewe last fall, I picked up two batches of dyed roving from Lynn’s Texas Fibers.DSCN1066 I couldn’t resist. She had such lovely color blends, and a great name! I’ve sporadically been spinning up some of the merino roving I got from her. The color comes out a nice slate blue, just heathered enough to have nice depth. However, the stuff is a bit of a pain to spin, enough so that I purposefully misplaced the bag of roving and have given serious thought to selling the spindle, which is not my favorite. For some undefinable reason, it is not fun to spin on.

Enter my spinning mishap yesterday.

After I got done icing my hand and decided that I did not need to go to the doctor, I figured that I would break out some Corriedale roving I picked up down at Yarnivore a few weeks back. I started spinning it from the fold on my nice Charis spindle, and before I knew it, DSCN1069 the spindle was full. However, I couldn’t ply it because all of the dowels on my homemade Lazy Kate were full, so I had to switch gears and ply up the dreaded blue merino. I plied it, washed it, very carefully whacked it around a bit, and it turned into the nicest stuff! Now I’m looking at the big pile of heathered blue roving and hated spindle, and thinking that I’ll grit my teeth and spin up the rest of it, just so I can knit something with that soft, lucious, yummy, springy slate blue yarn. It’s not like I’ve got anything better to do for a few days.

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