Sunday, October 26, 2014


I am in a very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of mood these days. On the one hand, I think I have too much stuff and am busy de-cluttering. Some of the things that are burdening me right now are my yarn, my knitted sweaters and my fiber books. I love all of them but they are taking up too much space. I am not ready to get rid of them yet but I feel a weight on my shoulders when I think about these.

I have happily donated lots of things from my kitchen and my wardrobe (and more are packed up to go to Goodwill). These are things I have parted with regularly for years. If I don't use it for a couple of years, it gets donated. But knitting books, hand-knit sweaters and yarn are not in that category. They don't lend themselves easily to that sort of black and white decision making.

At the same time, I was ecstatic to get my stuff from China. As you may remember, this came by sea and it was packed up in late August in Shanghai. I missed many things that were in the shipment - my Hansen bobbins, my Hansen orifice hook, my niddy-noddy, a couple of my smaller purses (would have loved to have had those for Rhinebeck last week), my cheap headphones that I wear at night (story to follow), my lemon squeezer, and my chapati and idli making gear.

Re: headphones - I go to sleep listening to podcasts. Over the years, I have realized that this destroys headphone. I go through them about every 2 years or so. Therefore, I will not use my expensive headphones at night. i buy the cheapest ear-hook headphones I can find and use them till they die. Usually one side will die out and then the other. Back in August, the one I was using was working fine so I put its backup in the sea shipment. Of course, as soon as I landed here, the one I was using started acting up. When it is in the process of dying, the sound will sometimes come on and off in the side that is failing which is a very weird sensation. I was very happy to toss the failing one and start using the new one.

Anyway, back to the philosophical struggle. I knit a lot and if I kept everything I knit, I would have a house full of hand-knits. I give away a lot of shawls but it is hard to do this with sweaters. I am just donating 2 sweaters that no longer fit me that were knitted in the 90s. But I have another one I knit earlier that is still something I love and wear. How many sweaters does one person need? Occasionally a family member will ask for a sweater but I am not surrounded by sweater lovers. They like to wear sweatshirts and fleeces rather than sweaters. Or, they are too concerned about the shape of the latest season and  I won't knit sweaters that won't last 2 seasons because the wearer doesn't think they are fashionable enough.

I am actually resisting knitting more sweaters because of this but I really like knitting sweaters. I think my handspun is good enough now for a sweater. But what to do with the old ones?

Most of the stuff in the 32 boxes has been put away. The kitchen stuff needs to be washed so some of it is still on the dining table. Linens have to be put away as do books and fiber/yarn. Gosh, I have a lot of knitting needles!

However, I have been in a fiber-y mood after Rhinebeck and being re-acquainted with my tools has only intensified the mood.

I finished up the yarn I started in the 2 classes:
 First up, a gradient yarn made up of solid fiber. This is a very simple and crude gradient to illustrate the process. I took yellow and rust fiber - 2 ply. First 1/3 is 2 plies of yellow. Second 1/3 is one ply of each color and third 1/3 is 2 plies of rust. It will be better if I had done a 3 ply - or if I had blended the colors to achieve a more subtle gradient.
 Second, a fractal spun yarn. I divided the fiber into half. One single was one half. I divided the other half into 1 quarter and 2 1/8ths and spun them in order for the second single. One of the epiphanies I had in the class is that I don't have to spin it this way. I can actually spin 1 single of the half, the quarter and the 1/8ths in order. Then chain ply that single to create the yarn. This way I have shorter repeats at one end of the fiber and longer ones on the other. This would make great yarn for triangle or circle/half-circle shawls where the shorter stripes can go at the top and the longer ones on the bottom so you get roughly even stripes all the way through.
 Abby gave us fiber to warm-up - adjust our wheels, get used to spinning, etc. I made my warm-up into a leader which I will put on one of the bobbins that has nylon twine for a leader. Judith McKenzie and Maggie Casey both recommend hand-spun leaders so I am gradually spinning leaders for my bobbins. By the way, a warm-up period in class is a wonderful idea.
 You have to look closely at this skein. The white part is the thick and thin fiber that we spun in Jacey's class. It is loosely spun and a single. The colored part was also spun thick and thin but with more twist and then plied into coils. I made a single sample skein of both parts. You can see the coils! I didn't think I could spin either thick and thin yarn or coils but I did both!
 I also started a new spinning project. The one I was in the middle of in China can be continued because I now have the fiber. But I was in the mood for color and now I have enough bobbins to spin 3 projects on the Hansen - one on the WW (the white fiber I am spinning long draw for a DK/worsted weight), this colored one on the Hansen jumbo flyer and something on the lace (I am not doing anything on that right now). Being Halloween week, I decided to get into the mood with a colorway called Moldy Pumpkin from Gale's Art. I got it at Rhinebeck in 2012 or 2011.  I analyzed it based on Abby's class and found that it has a repeat. I've folded the fiber for the second single so the repeat shows up in the picture. I am going to try and make a self-striping yarn out of it.
 It is spinning up beautifully and fast. It is on a Humbug base - which is grey/brown (?) and white BFL blended together. I've spun about 2/3 of the first single already. I am aiming for a heavy fingering-sport weight yarn. Not too thin. The photo is the the spun single and what is left of the fiber.
Lastly, I played with the Zoom Loom a few times last week. It took me 3 tries to get a decent square. But I undid the two failed ones (I hadn't woven the last row on the outside so one of the warp threads just came off) and rewove them. I found this leftover Dale that I used in a fair-isle hat. I'm going to make as many squares as I can and then sew them together to make a scarf. The Zoom Loom is like a potato chip. You can't make just one square. It is now taking me about 30 mins to make one but it gets faster with each square (the first one took me close to an hour and was a fail).

I'm ending with a couple of shots of the Turkish votive holders I bought in Istanbul. I lit them for the 2 nights of Diwali (it is actually 3 nights), but I ran out of tea light candles.

They look very boring without lights inside but are gorgeous when lit up.

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