Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Great Wall

We went to the Great Wall right after the Ming Tombs and it had started raining. We went to a section near Beijing where it is possible to park very close to the Wall. Usually this is very crowded but due to the rain, it was deserted. This day was in complete contrast to the next, which was a beautiful day. As you will see in the photos of the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, the crowds were all out enjoying the beautiful weather. But I am getting ahead of myself. At the Great Wall, it was wet and not very crowded.

From the parking lot, we could see the wall and many of the guard towers. Each tower was situated such that signals could be passed from tower to tower to where they needed to go. Soldiers patrolled from tower to tower.
This is a close-up of one the towers in the previous photo.
Looking the other way, you can see people climbing up to the towers.
That is where we are headed.

We climbed up from the parking lot and stopped off to get some coffee and cookies. We hadn't had lunch and the sandwiches that were available were all non-vegetarisn. So we settled for coffee and cookies. The coffee was very welcome in the cool rain.

Fortified, we headed up.
Remember the first watch-tower? Here it is from a higher altitude on the Wall.
Those buildings in the foreground are where we came from. Now here is where we need to go.
These buildings that surround the parking lot and the access to the Wall used to be military barracks. That is where the soldiers lived. But now they are preserved as used as shops and other amenities for tourists.
The Wall is quite well-preserved here. I believe that one can arrange parties on the Wall after hours.
Just as in many other locations world-wide, there is a section with locks. Lovers lock the locks and throw away the keys to preserve their love.
This is a close-up view of the watch-towers.
I wanted to go up to the third watch-tower, the one you see at the top of the photos with people climbing. But the steps were wet and steep and while I had no trouble going up, I wasn't particularly thrilled at the thought of going down. So half-way up, I quit and we left.

I may go back to another area of the Wall. I believe that in some of the other areas, you have to hike a bit to get to the Wall from the parking lot. And if it isn't raining and slippery, I may climb a bit further.

The next installment will cover the Forbidden City.

More Tour de Fleece

I want to start off with a big shout-out to my friends who are at Retreat 2.75 in Marshfield this week. I am virtually there with you and dreamed I was there last night.

I have been spinning pretty regularly for the Tour this year. I got off to a late start but then spun every day till I had to travel. As it turned out, my trindle shaft broke on the day I was leaving :-( so that slowed me down a bit.
But fortunately, Trindleman provides a lifetime guarantee on all his trindles so it has gone to him for fixing. In the meantime, I wound off the yarn on the trindle onto a toilet paper roll. I still am not exactly sure how I will join the cops together. I left the loop used for making the next chain open in case I need it. I found a tiny binder clip and used it to keep the loop open.
I also left a long single on the beginning of the second cop. I need to have 3 plies to make this yarn so I will figure something out when it is time to join.

Spinning is continuing on another trindle with the same weight arms. Of course, this trindle is lighter as it is a MicroXL but once you get some fiber on it, the actual weight of the spindle doesn't matter. It gets dwarfed by the weight of the fiber. Here is the wound off cop along with the new spinning.
I have finished the blue and am onto a long length of purple. You can just see the blue under the purple on the trindle.

Yesterday I took a break from spinning and decided to ply instead. I was home for a bit and had nothing else to do during the day barring a couple of errands. So I pulled out the Hansen and plied my Blackberry to Raspberry Fiber Optic gradient.

Part-way in, the battery died :-( So while it was recharging, I plied a bit on the Swan. I call this the never-ending plying project. It doesn't seem to progress no matter how much I ply. But I figure at some point it has to end so I use it to fill in time.

The colors came out a bit retina-searing. I tried adjusting them but it made things worse so I am using the photos as is. They really aren't as bad as they look in this photo.
I should finish the gradient today. One bobbin is done so I have to Andean ply the second bobbin onto itself to finish.  Who knows when the other will be done?

Then it is back to ply-on-the-fly on the trindle. I am in my purple phase for a bit till the colors change.

Back to plying!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Red Rock Canyon shawl is a FO!

I just bound off the Red Rock Canyon shawl. I don't think I told you that I named the Self Stripe Study shawl. As I was knitting it, I realized that I had seen those colors together before and I had.
This is a photo of Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. And this is my shawl.
Another view.
The shawl is not yet finished. I haven't woven in the 2 ends and blocked it. That will happen in the next few days.

I could have done a couple of rows more, I think but I liked finishing on the dark red and I was afraid I'd run out of yarn. This is what I have left.
The bit on the right is the Sea Pearl and the other two are the Polwarth handspun. I am  happy with the size and the couple of rows won't make a huge difference. I may crochet an edge on it to make the edge a bit more substantial. So I may use the yarn for that. It is too hot to wear it now so that will wait till I actually start using it.

More later... it is time to move on to Tour de Fleece spinning :-)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fiberlicious acquisitions

Over the past few months, I have been buying a few fiber related things and having people hold them for me till I was able to collect them. So when I arrived last week, it was like Christmas.

First up, a gorgeous stole kit from Mary Scott Huff. Mary is a very talented fair-isle designer and put these together for a class at Madrona. You can see the finished stole in the blog post that I linked to. But here is the kit.
At some point I have to start knitting the kits I have collected. But I have the Swan pullover in China and will probably knit it this fall/winter.

Then I got a gorgeous Enid Ashcroft Tibetan spindle. The shop is empty because her spindles sell out in minutes. I lucked out and got this on a destash.
She is light but fast. I can't wait to spin on her!

And last but not least, a couple of braids of Fiber Optic's Swamp Muck gradient. I'll bet swamp muck has never looked so good. Someone on the Fiber Optic Ravelry group challenged Kimber with an inspiration picture of swamp muck and Kimber came up with this. I love the colors!
Finally, yesterday's progress on the Tour
I have spun a few more yards of singles since the photo was taken. I have decided that I like to spin a number of yards and then ply it all. It makes for more smooth plying and spinning because you get in a rhythm with each one.

A Tour de Fleece diversion

I am interrupting the Beijing trip details to talk about fiber. The Tour de Fleece started on June 29th. I was in many minds about my goals for this year. I thought I might spindle on a couple of spindles - supported and suspended. But eventually I narrowed it down to a simple goal: learn to do the ply on the fly technique.

I had this Rambouillet braid that has a lot of different colors. Really bright different colors. Really, really bright different colors. Get the picture. It would become quite muddy if I tried to ply it as usual and it just called out for a chain ply.

What is ply on the fly? It is a technique where you spin a length of fiber, make a chain and then ply it as you go. It was invented by Tammy Rizzo a few years ago and I have been intrigued by it but I never had the inclination to sit down and figure it out. Well, the time had come.

I downloaded all the ply on the fly videos that I could find to my iPad. I started spinning the fiber on my trindle and then I didn't spin for the first 4 days of the Tour. But then I picked it up and immediately got hooked. I spun a length and then watched this video
Then I watched this one
and then I sat down and did it. Voila! I was doing it.

Since then, I have been spinning daily and learning to do the technique better. One thing I learned about myself is that I prefer to spin a long length of single, winding it on the spindle as I go. Then I unwind it off and butterfly it onto my hand before plying all of it. It seems to go smoother to do it this way rather than alternating the two more frequently.

With that as a prequel, here are my Tour pictures so far...
This is the fiber. I warned you. It is bright but the colors are so pretty. This is why I wanted to chain ply it and preserve the colors.
Since the fiber is Rambouillet I am plying it rather tightly. I want to make sure I get a nice smooth round yarn which will not pill as easily as Rambouillet is known to do.
Day 5 spinning.
Day 6 spinning. Yes, there is very little progress but that is YARN! I don't need to ply it!
And last but not least, day 7. I have been photographing my progress at night and then posting it to the appropriate thread in the am. It is easier than trying to do it all at night. I am a member of three teams and so I need to post the pictures in at least 3 team threads.

Actually, I just finished spinning and plying that fiber in the photo above. That will go into the day 8 progress photo.

I have also been making stitch markers based on this tutorial. I have given away all the ones I have made so far. I will make more and photograph the results one of these days. It is a lot of fun. I should make some for myself.

I will probably go back to a Beijing post and then alternate with Tour updates. But who knows? Maybe I'll find something else to write about.