Archive for September, 2010

Feeling A Bit Like Alexander…

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I woke up at 4:30 AM for no reason at all and couldn’t get back to sleep until 6:30AM….tired, I rushed to work (forgetting my lunch and realizing too late that I lost my bathing suit from when I swam last night), got to work and promptly noticed that sometime on the way I had managed to break off part of the sole of my shoe…..so I was walking around a little off kilter all morning….I got given lots of extra to do during my preparation time, dealt with many “surprise” issues, and an unexpected mini-flood…used the first part of my lunch hour to check around the pool to see if my swimsuit had been turned in (it wasn’t).

Frazzled, I checked my car for my bathing suit, found a rotting banana in the trunk (don’t know how long that’s been there!), I drove home to eat my forgotten lunch and check here once more for my bathing suit.

It’s nice to sit down and breathe on a day like today.

I ate my lunch.

I found my bathing suit (it must have flown across the room when I unrolled my towel).

I’m heading back to start fresh for the afternoon–with a different pair of shoes!

Fingers crossed I will survive until the end of choir practice at 9:30pm.

Added at 10:00PM

Swimming was just what I needed, followed by dinner with a friend, and time for knitting before choir practice.  I guess it’s all about balance.  Without the crazy time, you won’t appreciate the calm.  What’s best is that there’s always a fresh start tomorrow.

How Peculiar!

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

On Friday, at a top secret location, at an undisclosed time, a group of knitters met secretly.  Part of the mission was to knit.  Part of the mission was to teach knitting to others.

A more recent member to our little group brought with her this interesting package

She claimed that it contained circular needles which would be useful for her hat project that she was going to start.

When we opened the package, we were surprised that although there were needles and plastic cords attached, that they were not actually circulars!  Although they wouldn’t be helpful for her hat project, they are pretty neat.  May I introduce to you the PONY TOTAL KNITTING SYSTEM! (4 items in one package!!!)

Needles, stitch holder (the cord), row counter, and point protectors!

I’ve never used a row counter, but I can see where it would be very useful!

To avoid losing stitches, the needle points fit into a little hole in the knob at the end of the cord.  It’s quite a tight press fit, and I think it is pretty secure.  It could potentially save lots of time and frustration!

All of this, in a convenient little package!  I asked this anonymous member of our secret group where she acquired these needles.  She admitted that they were a very cheap purchase from a garage sale.

Have you seen them before?

Midnight Spinning

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

In the quiet midnight moments, when the world is still, I have taken to unwinding while sitting at my spinning wheel.  The whir of the wheel turning, the repetitive pedal pushing, the rapid rotation winding freshly spun singles onto the bobbin, colours merging and blending from black to green, from purple to blue, slowly filling bobbin after bobbin….all of this has calmed me….quieted my brain…over the past few busy days.

What’s wonderful about this type of meditation/relaxation is that there is something to show for all of the midnight moments.  I now have a lovely one of a kind skein of yarn.  The colours remind me of peacock feathers.

there’s lots more purple than the top picture shows:

I think this might become another baby sweater.  It’s all superwash wool, easy to care for.

The roving (Longwool top in nightgreens and nightviolet colourways) was purchased from slimchicken’s etsy store.  I alternated spinning various lengths of each colourway, then plied two bobbins worth together.  There were a few lumps and bits of roving that appeared to have felted–it strikes me as odd, since it is superwash, but apart from the few felted bits, the roving was a pleasure to spin, and I’m sure the finished garment will be really pretty too.

Autumn’s Here

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The seasons are changing….

I know this because there’s colour in the leaves, and darkness in the clouds.

The wind howls and whistles through my partially closed windows.

Shorts suddenly look a little ridiculous, and knee socks start to look much more appealing.

Days and nights are equal, but not for long.  Chili and soup are lunch time favourites.

Knitting takes on a sense of urgency, like squirrels gathering acorns, I have an intense need to knit and gather mittens, hats, socks….anything that covers extremities and protects from the elements.

Please tell me I’m not alone!

Twitter To The Rescue

Monday, September 20th, 2010

This weekend I snapped…..

It was Spin In Public Day, and I was considering hauling my wheel out somewhere and spinning in the sunshine.  However, when I went to my wheel, I found that my drive band had snapped!  I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s someone or something sabotaging my spinning, but there’s no proof, and really nobody would spend that much time to cause me this much frustration.

I guess with enough stress for enough time anything (or anyone for that matter) will snap.

note to self (and others): do not leave a drive band under tension between spinning sessions.

I had replaced a drive band before (blogged), but didn’t really want to go searching for more tubing.  There’s got to be a way to fix this band.

What do you do when you’re looking for rather obscure specialized information? Last time when faced with this issue I looked up different suppliers and sent out a bunch of emails.  This time I tried something different.  I consulted Twitter!

If you’re not familiar with Twitter, it’s a social networking tool, a way to communicate with people in short (140 character) messages.  You can follow people who are interested in things you care about, and just about anyone can follow you too.  Sometimes you know people, sometimes you don’t, but if you are needing advice, there’s bound to be someone willing to offer their 2 cents to help you out.

I’ve been on Twitter for about a year, and I’ve developed a network of spinners and knitters whom I follow, and who follow me.  I threw out my query to the Twitterverse, and sure enough, within minutes, there was an answer!

@KLgrant1971 (from Wiltshire England) suggested the following ideas

“Pair of tights or a stocking like a fan belt repair? Super glue and duct tape?” and then added…

“I’m not a spinner, but hubby’s dad was a mechanic & I picked up a bit of knowledge by osmosis! Hope U find a solution! ;-)”

So….I set about fixing my drive band/finding a replacement.

First I tried to melt the ends of the current band, and stick them together.  Plastic melts right?  Is my drive band plastic?  It turns out that mine is rubber, and that does not melt.  It catches fire, and makes a stinky smoke and a hot ash, but doesn’t get sticky at all.  Rather disappointing!  (If you try this, be sure you have water on hand, and beware of the stink!)  I was glad my candle smells like cranberries.

Next I tried to tape the ends together.  I didn’t have duct tape, so I found the next best thing, really sticky scotch tape–this kind is really flexible, so I had high hopes.  I had to cut bits off of each end of the drive band due to the whole burning/stinky ash attempt.

For a while, things were looking good.  The tape held, but the loop made a clicking noise every time the tape went around the bobbin–I think the tape made the drive band too stiff in that area.  For a while, it became a self shifting mechanism as the band slid itself (against my wishes) from the largest part of the bobbin down to the middle size, then the smallest, and finally off of the bobbin entirely.  It was worse the faster I spun.  After a little troubleshooting and experimentation the whole band snapped once more, and not where the tape was!

Rather than patching the whole thing and trying again, I took a bit of a break.

After removing myself from the frustration for a while, I went back to my wheel today with a new approach.  Stockings!  I’m sure we all have a pair or two with a hole in them, tucked at the back of your top drawer because you knew that they’d be useful someday.

To repair a spinning wheel with stockings:

  1. cut off one leg of the stocking.
  2. cut that stocking leg in half from toe to top (don’t try to rip it, it will rip around the leg)
  3. Thread the stocking around the wheel where the drive band goes.
  4. Stretch the half stocking all around the wheel, and tie it so it will stretch to fit the bobbin.

Before declaring victory, I spun a bit yesterday and then again today just to be sure that it is still a working solution.  I am actually amazed at how well this works.  I don’t know how long lasting it is, but for now I’m back spinning again thanks to @KLgrant1971 on Twitter.

P.S.  I’m @sticksandstring on Twitter.  Feel free to follow me!

Has twitter ever helped you solve a problem?

Football Friday

Friday, September 17th, 2010

I knew that I’d have lots of time to knit today, so I started a brand new project.  I boarded the bus this morning and cast on in two shades of green worsted weight wool from Topsy Farms on Amherst Island.  I improvised the pattern from something that I remembered from Folk Knitting In Estonia, by Nancy Bush.

Making the pattern continuous while increasing for the thumb gusset proved too difficult for me, specially when riding a bus.  To solve the issue of concealing the increases I alternated colours to form a checkerboard pattern on the gusset stitches.

Knitting continued through the football game…which ended in a tie, but both teams seem to have interpreted that as a win, which isn’t entirely a bad thing.  Exhibition game.  Confidence builder.  Team bonding.  All in all it was a gorgeous day…bright sunshine…cool breeze…leaves turning colours….and lots and lots of knitting.

By the time I got home, I had completed one mitten–ends darned in and all!  There was even time to complete the cuff to mitten number two before arriving back to Kingston.  I was impressed with myself:  1.25 mittens in a day.  And now it’s time to rest my aching knuckles.

Glow In The Dark Yarn

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

So, a friend of mine has been going on and on all summer about “glow in the dark minions”, and how much he wants one.  This was long before I had seen Despicable Me, and I really had no idea what he was talking about, so I smiled and nodded, and went on with my day.

However, after my crazy road trip this summer, a few things lined up that allowed me to make his dreams come true.

1:  I saw Despicable Me at the drive in theatre in Wellfleet Massachusetts, and saw the minions in context.  I get it now!

2:  I saw a knitting pattern for minions! (ravelink) So cute.

image source: kat-knits.blogspot.com

3:  I bought glow in the dark yarn in Salem at Seed Stitch Fine Yarn.

image source: seedstitchfineyarn.com

It really does glow…

Anyway, I got to knitting up a little minion for my buddy.  It is a quick project.  I spent a few minutes over a few evenings, and ended up with this cute little guy.

I decided against the button eyes to make goggles because I didn’t have any buttons, and also because I wanted the eye parts to glow in the dark like the rest of the little guy.  I embroidered the goggles along with the rest of the face.

The overalls are knit in light blue sock yarn, and the hands and feet are knit in black sock yarn.  You can use anything though, as long as the yarn weight matches that of the body.

Here’s proof that he glows!  (It’s hard to take a picture of things glowing in the dark…it looks way better in person)

What would you make with glow in the dark yarn??

P.S.  If you are looking for this yarn, Seed Stitch Fine Yarn does accept online orders!

FO: Mittens for Evan

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

One month ago today….

I was on vacation, meeting alpaca.

and dyeing roving on the fire.

Today I’d like to present to you the result of all that spinning

I have completed a pair of mittens for Evan (my traveling buddy) to commemorate our adventure, and remind him of his introduction into the crazy world of fiber arts.  (He spun the white fleece on a drop spindle at our campsite)

The mittens have 2010 on the cuff (palm side) and on the back of the wrist they have alpacas!

All of the black stranded colourwork is done with alpaca that I bought on our trip.  This means that the inside of the cuff is extremely soft and fluffy.

I like how all of the colours stripe and blend together.  The mittens don’t match perfectly, but I think that adds to the charm.  They are one of a kind, and will be making their way to Providence this fall for his birthday!

Spinning and Cloudgazing

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

I am really enjoying these autumn skies.  The clouds shift so quickly….

….and keep distracting me from my spinning wheel!  Soon enough these clouds will be full of snow, and it will get dark so fast that I will not be able to capture them.

I hope you take time to look up and admire the colours and fluffiness of these clouds while it is still warm.

What’s on my wheel?  Why it’s a combination of superwash fibers from slimchicken’s etsy store.  The colours are Nightviolet (which seems more predominantly purple and blue mixed with black)

and Nightgreens (which seems more predominantly green and black)

I purchased 2 oz of each colour, and I am alternating sections of roving as I spin.  I’m a little unsure (as usual) about what this will end up looking like, or what the finished product will be.  That’s all in the fun of spinning.  Lots of time to contemplate possibilities….

….and get lost in the clouds.

Stormy Skies

Monday, September 13th, 2010

After work today, I was sitting down to spin some new fiber.  It is lovely and dark, blue, black and green.  Out the window, it appeared to be sunny, but then I heard rain, and loud rumbles of thunder.  It wasn’t just rain, but a torrential downpour of rain.  Big drops of rain.  The kind of rain that soaks you to the skin in 10 seconds flat.  The kind of rain that makes giant puddles that cars splash through and you can see their wake.  The rain obscured the view of distant trees and houses, and all the while, the sun was still shining.

I could hear kids screaming about a double rainbow, but I only saw one.  I’m not sure if it can be seen in the picture, but I know that it’s there.

The most amazing fluffy clouds passed by leaving a clear blue sky.  We must have been on the edge of a pretty big storm.  I’m amazed how fast it came and went.

Back to the spinning wheel I go, now that the stormy excitement is over.