Saturday, March 30, 2013

Another attempt at plying on a spindle

This post on Ravelry made me re-think my spindle-plying approach. So I decided to wind a multi-strand plying ball and see if spindle-plying might work.

Since I had already started plying, I butterflied off the plied yarn onto my hand and then started winding the ball with the plied end.
Then I continued winding the multi-stranded ball with the two singles together.
I put each singles ball into its own bowl and I was able to stop and start without tangles by putting the plying ball right next to the singles balls with very little yarn between them.
And there is the multi-stranded ball with the two cores of the singles balls next to them. I had to end with an Andean plying bracelet to get the last singles on the second ball. If you remember, this the fiber where I had to toss a bunch of the singles because they got tangled on the bobbin. So one single was significantly shorter. Now apparently the hard works is done and I can ply easily. I will probably start today.

Now on to something completely different. I had an adventure yesterday. I went to the Cao'an fabric market, which focuses on household fabric and soft furnishings. I wanted to buy a mattress pad and some towels but I also wanted to check it out for future reference.
It is gigantic. We spent most of our time on the first floor which is for soft furnishings - bedding, cushion covers, upholstry, curtains, etc.
This photo looks down one of the cross aisles from an intersection. It just goes on forever and is lined with booths that sell various things.
Looking 90 degrees from that view down one of the cross-aisles that bisect the main aisle, you can see the depth of the market. Remember the aisle goes on behind me also.

Booths tend to be clustered by the type of thing they sell. All the sheet vendors are clustered together. They will custom make bedding for you from samples - so you can get a complete bed-set with pillows and shams and comforter and anything else all custom made. It takes about a week. But I wasn't looking for custom-made stuff. Here is a booth that sells table coverings - table clothes, runners, etc. as well as things like tissue box covers, pen holders, and other small items. All the booths are jam-packed with goods.
You can get quilts made to order with various fill.
One of the options is silk.
In front of the sign is a silk batt.

The second floor, where we did not spend any time, is devoted to clothing. You can get jeans, suits, anything made to order there. And then lastly, the top floor is devoted to household decor like carpets, china, decorative objects, silk flower arrangements, picture framing, etc. We spent some time wandering around and checking out various stores but I didn't purchase anything there.

I came home with 4 bath towels and 4 hand towels and a mattress pad. You can negotiate with some of the vendors. Others won't. And you have to check the quality of what you are buying because it varies from booth to booth and there is no standardization. I have to see if the towels are good. They seem heavy and absorbent and are 100% cotton but we'll see how they hold up to washing and use.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Here it is!
It drafts really easily and I am enjoying seeing the colors coming off the roving. It is making a very elastic, lofty single so I have hopes that my objective will be met!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Finished the Corriedale

I finished spinning up the Corriedale single today. I decided to wind it off right away. For some reason, where the cop gets narrow, the fiber gets fuzzy and I was worried I might lose a bit if I let it sit. So I wound it off into a plying ball, which I think is a relatively safe storage medium.
There is the spindle, all dressed up in a creamy white. I don't know how much that is because I didn't weigh it. I guess I will at some point.
And now we present the nekkid spindle with the single all neatly wound up. I think I will spin some silk later and ply it with this to make a nice laceweight scarf or shawl. So for now, this ball will just sit and wait till its partner is ready for the plying dance.

Next up are 3 balls of Ferndale Fibers roving. Two are in this color - Paradise. And one is Stormy Sea. I am thinking of making a 3 ply which will yield a vaguely self-striping yarn.
There are all 3 of them. This is roving so it should be easy to spin long draw on a supported spindle. The Neal Brand Tibetan seems to spin a bit slower than the Malcolm Fielding dervish so I think I will get a loftier yarn which should make a nice 3-ply.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Come shopping with me!

It is a dreary, drizzling Saturday morning but I need to go food shopping. Not only do I need to buy groceries, I have to go and get cash before I can get groceries. So let's go! We need shawls and umbrellas and a shopping bag or two.
This is our route. We start off on the blue route and go to the HSBC building where we will get cash from the ATM. Unfortunately, this being Saturday, the closest entrances to the building are closed and we have to go through the IFC mall entrance and then backtrack to the ATM. On the way, we pantomime putting a card into an ATM and say 'ATM' hoping that the security guards will understand. They do. Whew!

On the way back, we decide to photograph some maps and signs that help people navigate in the area.
The bottom has a map with information about the various locations.
The top has directions to some of the buildings with arrows. There are bus stops and signs to various streets for cars.
Backtracking along the blue route, we diverge at the corner of the apartment complex to go around it to where we buy things.

We go through the apartment complex as it is a short cut rather than going all the way around it. We enter here.
There is a big sign with the name of the apartment complex on it. The entrance is rather grand!
As we walk through the grounds, we see trees in bloom.
This cherry blossom is particularly pretty.
We exit through another car entrance and turn left and left again at the intersection to buy milk and yogurt at the Jia Deli
With those in our bag, we backtrack again to the fruit stall, where we buy bananas. We have oranges and longans at home so bananas are all we need today.
Since we always buy from the same vendor, we greet her with 'Ni hao' and she cuts 6 bananas off a hand for us. Leaving the fruit stall, we are faced with the little strip mall where we do most of our shopping.
We walk back past Paris Baguette Cafe. We don't need bread today, but if we did, this is where we would buy it.
They have pastries and cakes and sandwiches also. But our next destination is the wet or fresh market. It is called a wet market because the floors are frequently wet.
They sell fruits, vegetables, staples, fish, eggs, wine and cooked food here.
The vegetable stall we frequent is to the left of the one seen here. In the back, we can see the shelves of staples at one of the other vendors. We buy cashews, moong dal, flour, cereal, some herbs, cans of beans, cheese and other basics at that stall. To the right is the stall where we can buy rice and various oils. Many vendors have dried beans and nuts. There are about 3-4 vegetable stalls and 2-3 fruit stalls inside the market.

Our vegetable vendor always gives us a little extra. Today we get fresh coriander. Sometimes we get ginger or garlic or hot peppers. She asks us what we want and we pick based on what we need. She greets us with 'Ni hao' and gives us a basket. We put what we want in the basket and she weighs out each item and prices it.

Once we buy our groceries, we walk back through the apartment complex to get home.
We put the bags on the table while we divest ourselves of shoes, umbrella and other sundry things
And here is the haul before we put it all away.
The greens on the top are new to me. I thought I'd experiment with them to see how they taste.

Time for lunch!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring is springing here

Magnolias are in bloom but, like all magnolias, they come and go quickly. This is especially so because the temperatures here fluctuate a lot. So I thought I would take some photos to preserve them for prosperity.

Also, because the ground doesn't freeze here, we have had pansies in bloom all winter. I love pansies with their cute little faces and cheery colors. I hope they make you smile as much as they make me smile!
This bed is outside my office building.
And these are outside my apartment building. I love 'face' pansies. They are so cheery!

I've shown you the landscaping from up on our balcony. Here is a view from ground level.

Last, but not least of all, I am making speedy progress on the NZ Corriedale on the supported spindle.
That is all the fiber that is left. Maybe 2-3 more evenings to finish up. See that cop. Remember when it started?
That was back in December. Now the spindle is dressed in a chubby cop.  This fiber was lovely to spin and a dream in the fingers.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spinning again!

I pulled out the dervish last week and spent a good bit of time spindling in the evenings. I found it very easy to sit and spin for 20-30 mins and make progress. Each time, I did about 4" or so of the fiber.

I tried to do the fluffing technique that Beth Smith demonstrates in this video. It starts at about 3:15 in the video. I didn't spin it from the fold, but from the end and I found I didn't like it very much. Beth says you can, but I think I am more comfortable spinning from the fold.

I then went back to my usual technique of pulling off a length of top and just spinning from the ends but using a draw-back technique rather than a draw-forward technique as I would do on a wheel.
I found this a lot more comfortable and successful in getting a fine, even single. You can see the size of the chunk of roving I was working with. I did about this much every evening.

This close-up shows the fine, even single
Nice, isn't it. I found this very calming and satisfying to do. I wasn't aiming for speed, just doing. And it gets done.

Lastly, if you read the last post and the pictures were missing, please accept my apologies. I moved them into a different album and was unable to get to Blogger to fix the post. It is fixed now. They should be visible and I won't be moving them again. I am sorry about this. I have been having problems with the VPN service I subscribe to. On my laptop and iPad, it tends to act up sometimes where I can only connect for 30 seconds before it disconnects. Without the VPN service, Blogger is blocked and I can't do anything with it. So I made the mistake of moving the photos without thinking about the consequences. When I realized that the links would be broken, I couldn't get to Blogger to fix them. Mea culpa!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring is coming

Yesterday, the temperature here hit 80F. It has been getting warmer slowly during the week with yesterday being the warmest day. Today the temperature is back to 50F so it isn't quite summer. But they are getting warmer.

We took the opportunity to open the doors to the balcony and the kitchen, creating cross ventilation across the front of the apartment. It did cool down in the evening so we didn't have to do the same thing in the bedroom.

We also vacuumed the balcony and cleaned off the chairs and table and briefly sat out in the evening. I think we will have to do this every time we use it because the dust from the pollution accumulates and comes into the house otherwise.

I took the opportunity to take some photos from the balcony.

This is the view looking down. You can see the landscaping in the apartment complex and the pools that will be filled with kids in the summer, I suppose.

Looking to the right from the balcony.

You can see some of the other buildings in the apartment complex. There are a few different styles based on when they were built but they all have that salmon color.

The haze is from the pollution. The high that we have been experiencing is definitely trapping the pollution as the numbers have been a bit high. Today, with the change in weather, it has dropped down quite a bit.

This view is to the left. The building that frames the photo to the right is the same one that is in the previous photo to the left. The haze is more visible here. But one can see the mix of shorter, older buildings with the taller, newer skyscrapers.

No spinning beyond the aborted spindle plying. No knitting either. It was a busy week work-wise and we are having a very social weekend. So lots of cooking but not much fiber work.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Breaking news

This is the second time I have tried it and I don't like it. That is all. Spinning on a spindle is lovely. Plying is a nuisance.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The tale of a tangled bobbin

You have heard me talk about it, you have seen it and you may have felt the pain of it yourself. But when lovely handspun gets all messed up, it is hard not to feel sorry for oneself.

I had full intentions of rescuing as much of the yarn as I could. I tried to have the patience to do it, but finally yesterday, I gave up.
Here it is, in all its sad glory. I haven't cut away the remaining fiber yet. But I will.

I wound the other two bobbins onto the plying ball, but not without some problems. The issue, as I discovered, is winding the fiber on wider than the bobbin ends. I did curve it up so that the fiber was within the bobbin end at the end, but was wider in the middle. You can see it here in this photo
See the middle two bobbins on the top? They are fatter in the middle than at the end. What happens is that as you wind off, the fiber slides off the end and becomes tangled. With bobbin #3 (the second one from the right), I caught it relatively quickly and was able to recover with just a couple of broken off ends and some rescue work with an empty bobbin. No fiber went to waste though I had to splice it a few times. Bobbins #1 and 4 - the ones on the ends - had no problems because they were not built up like that.

I also found a really good way to wind off a bobbin, without any sort of extra kate - makeshift or otherwise. I stuck a chopstick through the bobbin and wedged it in the crooks of my knees. Like so.
And so I ended up with two plying balls. One a bit smaller than the other, so there is some Andean plying in my future.
The one on the right was the second one that I finished yesterday. Can't you tell? ;-)

Now I can get started plying and not dread the thought of fixing that messed up bobbin.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A stroll through People's Park and Nanjing Dong Lu

Warning: long and picture-heavy post follows.

To celebrate the beginning of March, we went out on our first sightseeing trip today. It was a day of firsts. I took my first subway trip in Shanghai. The subways are clean and well-marked with signs in English and Chinese. The announcements are in both languages also.  They announce the name of the station coming up as well as what lines you can connect to (assuming it is a junction). No, the announcements do not sound like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons.

Another interesting feature of the subway system is that there are barriers at the edge of the platform. In some stations, there are gates where the doors of the train open. The gates open when the train is stationary. In other stations, there is just a gap where the door will be. This prevents people from getting pushed onto the tracks accidentally when the subway is crowded at rush hour.

Each subway station has multiple numbered exits, which is nice because you can remember which exit you came in at and therefore need to use to exit. Also, the exits indicate where you are going to exit so you can pick the right place to exit based on where you want to go.

All bags go through a metal detector. Then there is the usual entry gate that is controlled by your ticket. The subways also have the same strips that are in the sidewalk, for the blind.
I took this photo on the sidewalk on the way to work. You can see the intersection where another strip takes off. They end in dotted squares, which are also used to mark some intersections.

We went to People's Square and Park first. It used to be a racecourse but is now a lovely park with tree lined walks and manicured lawns. The lawns and flower beds are maintained by old-fashioned elbow grease. I saw teams of gardeners weeding the lawn by hand.
Exterior of People's Park Metro station. This is one of the exits/entrances. The first thing I saw as we walked out was...

There are a number of museums and modern buildings surrounding and in the Park. There is the Shanghai Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Shanghai Theater.
I have no idea what building this is, but I liked the looks of it.

 I think this is the Shanghai Art Museum.

The park has signposts all over, with directions to the various interesting spots

 We headed for the waterside promenade.

We walked across the crooked bridge and ended up in a crowd. We couldn't figure out what it was all about. Lots of people looking at signs in Chinese. So we left and headed for the Museum of Contemporary Art or MOCA. The entrance is flanked by two identical sculptures. This is one of them.

MOCA is a very modern building. We decided not to go in today.

As we continued our walk, we were asked by two girls to take their picture. After taking the photo, we chatted with them for a bit. They were music students from Harbin in north-eastern China, visiting Shanghai on a holiday.

The next building was the Shanghai Urban Planning Center, I think.

This took us to a park entrance diagonally opposite from where we entered. The first thing I saw was another US export.

As we left the park, I looked back and saw this view. Pretty, isn't it?

What looked like a classic British phone booth is actually a wi-fi hotspot. I saw a few more of these as we walked along.

Crossing the street took us to Nanjing Dong Lu (Nanjing Road East). It is a pedestrian mall lined with stores. There is a trolley system that goes up and down the mall, if you don't want to walk.
Nanjing Dong Lu is a bit kitschy and quaint. It has modern stores and buildings juxtaposed with what look like older buildings. I liked some of the architecture that maybe dates back to Shanghai's pre-modern days. There are stores with quaint names.

We only went inside the Shanghai First Food Hall.
 The Food Hall consists of 4 stories of food related boutiques. The first floor is International Foods and included bakeries with macarons, chocolate, nuts, fruit, etc. The second floor was Traditional Foods and had dried fungi, dried seafood and cured meats, dried fruit, children's foods, snack foods, and... a McCafe! We bought some dried mango at one of the stalls. It is not clear if this is all one big store with boutique type stalls or each one of the stalls is a different vendor. The third floor and fourth floors were cafes and restaurants.

I loved the lights that hung between the escalators.

Some of the other buildings that caught my eye follow.

 We walked along Nanjing Dong Lu to the next Metro stop which was about 5-6 blocks along with our meanderings into and out of the stores. Then we caught a Metro train back home.