Sunday, February 24, 2013

Plying balls

I decided to tackle the plying balls of the gradient this week. You may remember the giant mess that one of the bobbins had become. It is still a mess but I am working on it slowly.

I started with the easy one. The other single that was not on the bobbins. I wound off each cop onto a toilet paper roll and then onto the plying ball. Here it is partially complete...
And here it is all complete. It only took one evening to do this.
Then I went back to the mess and started unwinding. The ends of the bobbins are a mess, the center is nice and clean. I am spit splicing the ends of the various bits together so I don't lose too much of the fiber. There is a bit that will become the center of a future plying ball.

This one is of course taking a lot longer. Once I am done with this bobbin, it will go quickly as the other two bobbins are in good shape and now I know what not to do.

Today is a beautiful day in Shanghai. Nice and warm with the sun shining bright. It is the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration and today is a big night for fireworks also. Apparently fireworks will bring wealth in the New Year or so we heard.

I took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures outside. It looks so much nicer when the sun is out. A grey sky just makes everything look grey.

That is our building in the foreground with Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center in the background. I took this while walking back from the market. I also took a photo of some of the grounds, which are quite extensive.
This is looking the other way from the first picture. There are lawns, a couple of club houses, outdoor pools, a stream with waterfalls and bridges, tennis courts, a children's daycare/elementary school and lawns in the compound with about 10 buildings. Each building is actually 2 buildings. As you enter the lobby, one building is on the right and the other on the left.

Back to sorting out the bobbin!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New acquisitions of the paper kind

Two beautiful books popped into my hands today. One of them is Chez Panisse Desserts that has been on my wish list at PaperBack Swap for a long time. It is in pristine condition. This book's recipes are focused on fresh fruit as the basis for the desserts, given the locavore tradition established at Chez Panisse. No pretty pictures though!

The other book is a wonderful new book on spinning all sorts of yarns. It is by Sarah Anderson, whose video on Navajo-plying is the one I learned from. This one is full of pretty pictures!
Sarah covers all sorts of yarns - from basic to creative.
There are tabs that organize the material, making it easy to find the section you need.
The pictures not only cover the yarn itself but also how it looks knit or woven.
All the samples are in white, so color is taken out of the equation completely. She also covers carding, combing, drum carding, flicking, washing and other fiber preparation topics. In this section color does come into play. She shows a few examples of how to blend color in rolags and punis.

I can't wait to immerse myself in this book and practice some of the techniques described in it.

I sat next to a gentleman on a flight the other day. During the course of our conversation, somehow the subject turned to spinning and he started quizzing me about it. His wife is an ardent knitter and he wanted to surprise her with a wheel. So we talked about wheels and why I thought he shouldn't surprise her - a wheel is a very personal thing. We also talked about the different types of wheels and where one gets fiber - from keeping one's own fiber sources to buying the already prepped and dyed fiber on the internet. I showed him my Spring Shawl starting from some of the early spinning pictures to the actual WIP. And then I realized that I had no pictures of my wheels on my phone! I pulled out my laptop and showed him the Hansen but couldn't find a picture of the Tina.

Well, I just rectified that situation. I now have photos of the Tina on my phone. She is so beautiful that I can look at her all day. And here she is, in all her glory...

Friday, February 15, 2013

A mostly knitting week

I am making slow but steady progress on the Larimar shawl. I am really enjoying knitting this as the yarn is soft and silky yet weightless and the color shifts are beautiful. There is a sheen to the yarn that also adds pleasure.
I tried to take a close-up of the fabric to show the luster. It is hard to capture it but I think you can see it in this photo.

Here is half the shawl so far, showing the colors.
I have a bit more of the plain knitting and then I start on the lace border. So far the knitting is easy and I can just watch the color flow from my fingers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I love knitting handspun!

I re-started a handspun shawl over the weekend. I had started knitting Viorica, but didn't have the mental concentration for the lace right at the beginning. So I frogged it and started knitting Larimar, which begins with a lot of stockinette. That is just up my alley right now.

But I love the feel of the fiber and the almost weightlessness of the shawl. It will be a smallish shawl, I think. It is soft and silky and just fabulous.
There is a band of eyelets right where I am knitting, then more plain knitting before the lace border. I love the way the color is developing also. It really looks like the fiber that I started with.
 I had an interesting spinning discussion on the plane the other day. My neighbor wanted to buy his wife a spinning wheel as a surprise and was quizzing me about spinning. It was a refreshing way to pass the time on a flight. I showed him the pictures I had on my phone of my spinning and knitting. I couldn't find one of my wheels, though. I have remedied that and now have them on my phone. The flight flew by!

Have a great week!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Don't do as I do redux

I hope all of you realize that I document my mistakes here just so you don't have to make them! Here's the latest fiasco. I figured I could ply the gradient on my Swan so I wanted to wind off the cops and create plying balls. So far so good. But how to anchor the spindles so that I don't lose or gain twist as I wind off?

Ann suggested sticking them in a cup of rice. Brilliant!
That worked reasonably well and I was able to wind the cops off the two trindles onto toilet paper rolls. The TP rolls here are more sturdy than the ones in the US and I expect to use them many more times than I would in the US where they crush very easily.
Now that I had the two singles in the correct order, at least the beginning part, I decided to start winding my plying balls. I took the bobbins with the first single and stuck a chopstick through them and stuck them in a cup of rice also. The first bobbin wound off pretty well. The second one, though, is a mess.
The problem with this bobbin was that it was over full and the ends were slipping off. The problem arose because the strands at the bottom got messed up due to friction with the rice. It is all fuzzed up and a tangle. I have been breaking off the fuzzed up part and rejoining the end onto the plying ball but it takes patience. I need to do it in small segments so that I don't lose patience and mess it up further.

Next time I will just let the bobbin roll around on the ground between my feet and see how that works.

I took some more photos of New Year decorations. I asked around about what actually happens during the festival but it appears that, like Christmas, the actual festival is pretty low key. People go to their family homes and spend it with family. The city is quiet. There is not much traffic on the streets. Stores close early today and tomorrow - the first couple of days of the festival.
This was in the lobby of the IFC mall. Goldfish and gold coins are a common theme.
I was in HSBC yesterday, fixing a mistake that they made. They had a clementine tree in the office.
Their lobby had a decoration with cherry blossoms.
And lastly, the decoration in the lobby of my office building. That is all for Chinese New Year decorations. Let's see what else strikes my fancy after the New Year holiday!

Happy 2013 to everyone! 春节快乐 - Happy Spring Festival!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A mid-week dose of fiber

Happy Hump Day!

I thought I would liven up the middle of the week with some pretty colors.
I made a collage of the color progression in the Fiber Optic Autumn Harvest gradient. The next color up is brown which fades into black. You can just see the brown beginning to appear in the bottom shot.

And I put Ru's gift to use. My current knitting WIP is inhabiting the project bag in high style.
And here it is, all snug as a bug in a rug. Did you know the bag is reversible? That Ru, she is very creative! If you want to make one just like it, she has instructions on her blog.
Yes, I know the green clashes with the rest of the picture. Unfortunately, that is my current WIP. Once it is tucked up inside, no one will notice the color clash.

Back to your mid-week madness!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A really boring week (or how to make the most of one bobbin)

The pollution here was higher than normal, but not as bad as Beijing. There was a cold front that brought pollution down from the north and then a stable weather system that kept it here for a few days. We've had rain the past few days, off and on, and the pollution is gone. But I have a sore throat and cough so I vegged out on Friday and yesterday.

I didn't get time to do anything fun this week. No spinning or knitting. In fact, I feel as if all I did was go to work and come home and go to bed. Oh well. I did pull the Hansen out last evening and have almost finished the Fiber Optic Blackberry to Raspberry gradient - well one half of it. I spun it from Raspberry to Blackberry.

I just realized that I have not given you the story of my one and only Hansen bobbin. I started off by spinning a single from an Into the Whirled Romney braid (bought at Rhinebeck 2011). I wanted to spin a relatively thick yarn (worsted or bulky?) to make a pair of mittens because I lost one of mine shortly after I came here. That went very quickly. And there was no sign of any more bobbins to come because they are all in my shipped luggage.

So I pulled out the next braid I had: a Sweet Grass Mountain Top Targhee. I had bought this when Woodland Woolworks went out of business. They had a sale on all their fibers and I bought a few different types to try out.

I split it and spun a single on top of the Romney. This one I spun from the fold for a medium weight, lofty yarn with no specific purpose. I wanted the colors to create a tweedy effect so that is why I spun it from the fold. OK, that one was done. No more bobbins in sight.
The top picture is the braid, the second is part-way through the single and the bottom one is the single when it was almost all spun up.

The next braid I pulled out was the Fiber Optic Blackberry to Raspberry gradient. I split it and started spinning it worsted - with a short forward draw. I am learning - slower spinning is the way to go. It makes the one-and-only bobbin last longer. But I am almost done with that.
This sequence is the braid in its entirety on top, then the split half all spread out, then the middle part of the single on the bobbin and finally, the last bits left - the current state. I didn't take a photo of the beginning because it blended with the previous colors and didn't stand out, especially because it was so much thinner than the Targhee.

Fortunately the Hansen bobbins are gigantic. They hold a lot of fiber. So after this is done, I am going to split the last of my braids - a Fiber Optic Autumn Harvest gradient and layer it on top of the Blackberry to Raspberry gradient. This one will also be spun worsted - short forward draw.
 When I get the other bobbins, I will replicate this bobbin - in the same order of fibers and same grist (I hope) and then ply them.
 If I find that I can't remember, then I will start at the top and spin the second single of the Autumn Harvest, ply it; spin the second single of the Blackberry to Raspberry and ply it; spin the second single of the Sweet Grass and ply it; and then lastly the Romney. This way I will be able to see the first single as I spin the second. Which way I go depends on how long it takes to get the other bobbins. Right now, the earliest it can be is the first week of March. Fingers are crossed that it happens then.