Friday, October 22, 2010

"Oh Honey, You Shouldn't Have!"

Good news, the search is over! My sweet husband has bought my birthday present. Admittedly, he's a couple of months early, but that hasn't stopped him from handing back my present after I showed it to him and kindly saying, "Enjoy it, Honey, it seems well balanced." Well, I think I will.

To provide more details... I was trolling craigslist, as I often do, when I spotted an ad for a Golding drop spindle. My note to Ann, owner of the spindle, started with "You had me at Golding". A deal was made, a rendezvous arranged, money was exchanged, and a new-to-me drop spindle came into my life.

Meet my new baby, Midnight Sky:

It is a hefty spindle. I like my spindles to be on the large side, as it allows me to create more yarn in one shot.

So I thank Ann and, of course, my husband, for making my day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Some Bunnie Loves Me

I promised my sweet husband, right before I left for the guild meeting yesterday, that I would return with less than I left with. Really. The man deserves to see that happen once in a while, don't you think? So to accomplish this, I left with four bins of fiber, and returned with four bins, but one was empty. I am so proud. "How did you do it?", you might ask. Really, it was nothing. Two of the bins were filled with needle felting fiber for my friend Kristi to use in an upcoming free needle felting class to be held at her house. Ah, you're doing the math, now, aren't you? Well, there was the matter of a little pre-guild deal that I couldn't resist doing with my friend Cheryl. You see, she's got bunnie fiber. OK, that's not right either. She had bunnie fiber. Now I've got it. Carefully packed into Bin #3.

Here's what it looks like:

Don't You Want to Stick Your Face Into This?

There's a grand total of four pounds of this luscious fiber waiting for me to start blending it and making something very cool. I am hard put to resist dying it, but if there's one thing I learned this summer from my dying adventures, it really is best to do your dying in the summer, when everything can dry outside. I'm not well set up for winter dying.

Going, Going, Gone!

Yesterday we went to my Uncle John Pettinger's 100th birthday party. My cousin Richard and his wife Peggy were going to be there, so I decided to give Peggy her Christmas present early, just so she'd have something to work with when it gets cold:

It all started with a super soft grey wool. I carded it with lots of Tussah silk. Then I spun up some off-white fiber from alpaca and mohair. And then I plied those two yarns together into what you see here. We'll have to see what Peggy comes up with, so stay tuned for an update. It may take her a while, though, because there were 870 yards!

I Am Wiggling My Toes

So, I made this amazing fiber. OK, I didn't make it. Some alpaca and some bunnies did the work. But I caused it to congregate in such a way that the result was pleasant to look at, delightful to touch, and a pleasure to spin. But as we all know, I cannot knit. Nope, that isn't true either. I should not knit, because I cannot follow a pattern. I see "K2" and my eyes start to glaze over, and when I see the words "stockinette stitch" I throw down the offensive pattern and wonder why people are using such big words.

And yet, I like knitted stuff. So at spinning guild, I do my best to reel in the lady knitters... "Ooooooh, isn't this lovely carded fiber nice? Can you knit? Really? Because I can't. And I would loooooove to trade some of this loooooovely fiber for your knitting skills."

This is what the fiber looked like before I spun it into yarn. There is still some of this left on etsy, but I cannot guarantee that I won't go wild and end up consuming it, so if you like it, you'd better get it now:

And this is what it looks like as yarn:

Lucky me, this month I had returned to me the most amazingly soft socks. Georgia made them. They are thick. And, well, I don't know if you can tell, but in the picture below, I am wiggling my toes. It is utter decadence. I feel like I should go back to bed, get all comfortable, and then just lie there wiggling my toes. I am having difficulty not sitting here making cooing noises. I am so utterly happy.

 Yeah, I shaved my legs for this

Georgia, if you're out there, I just want you to know how much I love my new socks. They are so comfortable. The bunny is already starting to fluff up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grandma's Got Her Mojo Back

I spin it, my Mom knits it. She lives with us. Up until I started spinning, she always knit with acrylic yarn. But then she experienced the bliss of alpaca. Mind you, I did have to be reminded to wash the alpaca before handing it over to her (occasionally I got so excited with what I was doing that I forgot). And she didn't actually start knitting with the alpaca until I demonstrated an ability to make consistent yarn. But once I got there, she's been knitting handspun yarn exclusively. In fact, when we went to the Hemlock Fiber Festival in September, she didn't even bother buying yarn there. "Oh Dear, we've got enough at home."

Unfortunately, Mom's eyesight took a turn for the worse in February, and we've been fighting to get it back ever since. There is nothing so sad as when someone from the Association for the Blind informs you that you are legally blind. We were so disappointed with that news that we had to go to McDonalds for $1 hot fudge sundaes.

So, let me tell you a few of things that we learned about eyesight. I know, this has nothing to do with spinning, but if you can't see, you can't spin or knit. First, if you notice a dramatic change in your eyesight, that could mean your eyes are switching from dry macular degeneration to wet macular degeneration. Neither is good, but dry is slower acting than wet. There are no medicines for dry, but there is a treatment for wet.

The treatment - uggh - is shots in your eyes. Once a month. My Mom is the ultimate trooper, but I can tell this is not a pleasant thing because each time we go, she gets a little antsier in the waiting room. She offered to trade places with me the last time. The good news is, the shots appear to be helping - her vision is improving - and she's taken to knitting again. We are waiting for tools from the Association for the Blind that will help even more.

So that's a second thing I want to mention. I don't think that eye doctors necessarily think to mention the Association for the Blind, but they're out there, and they have a mission. They would really like it if you didn't go blind. And if you are going to lose your eyesight, they have lots of ideas for helping you while it's still around. So, if you find yourself losing your eyesight, contact the Association for the Blind and see if they can help you out. A lot of the tools that they will provide Mom with are free, though, I have to admit, we're waiting and waiting for them, so getting them isn't fast. They interview you to understand your financial situation, and then they submit you to different programs to see what they can do for you. How's that for nice?

Now I'll mention a third thing. Mom noticed the change in her eyesight right before an appointment. They looked her over and said, "Nope, your dry macular has not gone wet." And that was that. Now, my Mom is a petite little thing, not the least bit pushy, and I didn't realize that there were additional tests that could have been done. So we sat around for two months until we finally decided to go back and look into more powerful glasses. When we spoke to the eye glass department, a very nice man insisted that we make another appointment with the optometrist. Really, I thought he was just being pushy. But when we made the second appointment, they concluded Mom did have wet macular degeneration. And after that, they did another test, one where they filled her up with some interesting sort of toxin and then peered at her with a bright light, and then it became very clear what her problem was.

So, for my last piece of advice, and this one has definitely worked well for us over the years - if you think something is wrong, then there probably is, and you should not assume that you are being tested as thoroughly as you might be. You should push harder, defend your health, because you are the best advocate for it.

Mom's first projects - scarves!

It Is Your Duty When You Travel To Find A Knitting Store And Take Pictures

I left the state. And when you leave the state, you are expected by your fellow knitters and spinners to find a knitting store. I think you're supposed to buy something too. So I bought a pattern. Of course, I'm looking at the pattern and thinking, "Perhaps I can get my Mom to knit this, so that I won't have to." Anyway, here are the pictures of the lovely knitting shop called Fengari Fiber Arts that I found in California:

You're probably wondering how I managed to walk out of there with a mere $4.00 pattern. The answer, my friends, is that I have quite a stash of my own already. Also, if I were going to knit something, I would need a LOT of fiber. More than I could afford to buy here. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful store, and they were very nice to me when I asked them to sell me the absolute simplest pattern they had for a baby sweater.

Oh I Been to Californy With A Spindle On My Knee!

Good news - you can spin on an airplane. Well, if you use a drop spindle. There's not enough room for a wheel. And people get CRANKY if you hang over the side of your seat into the aisle while you're spinning. That didn't stop me from spinning in the aisle, but there certainly were a lot of people who blew past me as if I were doing an injustice to the world.

So yes, I went to California, and I carried my spinning with me. When we got to Atlanta and were delayed for two hours, I was delighted. I sat near the gate and spent my time spinning, chatting up fellow delayed passengers, and listening to the stories that various people told to try and get bumped up to a better seat or given a seat in the first place. My personal favorite was the man who came up and explained that he had a pacemaker. Nope, that didn't work. The only one that worked, in fact, was the man I like to call "Mr. Frequent Flying Scowler". Mr. Scowler hit the gate with determination, explained that he was a frequent flyer, and demanded a seat. A bulkhead, first class, or, if all that was not possible, then an aisle seat. He was the only passenger who seemed to make any progress. And at first, I was rooting against him. Really, he seemed to think the entire airline should stop for him.

After a while, though, I decided that Mr. Frequent Flying Scowler deserved a seat. He actually stood at the gate, scowling at the gate ladies, for almost two hours. You have to give him credit for standing by like that. Eventually the gate ladies offered up some money to his fellow passengers, and he got his seat. Toward the end, he was smiling. I wanted to take his picture, but my camera is terribly big and conspicuous, and I did not want to risk having him scowl at me for two hours.

Hemlock Fiber Festival 2010

My Mom and I did the festival this year. No grumbling menfolk this time, just us. And of course, it was lovely. I bought two things, some pygora fiber, described in another post, and a lovely spindle. The spindle, unfortunately, appears to be just for show - I wore it out with my first round of spinning. It wiggles and jiggles now. I have come to the conclusion that the best spindles, for me at least, are the ones made by the masters in wood, who make it balance perfectly. Mr. Golding, Mr. Bosworth, I salute you. And I guess I will stop buying pretty spindles that can't stand the heat.

You have to admit, it's the cutest spindle, isn't it? I'd probably buy it all over again, even with its wobbliness.

Here are some of the other sights at the Hemlock Fiber Festival:

This weekend all the fiber-holics are going to Rhinebeck. I'm staying home, though. I'll stick with buying local for now.

I Am My Own Best Customer

Sigh. I've been busy doing work. "Work", that four letter word that allows me to "eat." I had to take a break from the fiber arts so that I could get a lot of work done. But I couldn't stay away forever. Recently I've been unable to stay away from my own fiber. So I started spinning up the cherry colored fiber, and now I'm trying to decide what to do with the yarn.

I'll tell you, I'm a girl who likes to do things in quantity. So I spun up the yarn and now I just don't know what to do with it. There's not enough to make something big, not that I could anyway, given my limited knitting skills. And so I have to ask myself, "Hot pink socks?" Well, I can't think of a color of sock that I wouldn't like, so why not hot pink?

The first yarn is a pygora/wool blend. I like the color, but was disappointed that the fiber didn't feel softer. It's a 50/50 blend, so I thought the pygora would really stand out, the way bunny fiber does if you blend it with other fibers. It's still nice, though.

So I'm thinking of making socks with the pygora blend. I don't think there's enough of it, though, so I thought I'd use some brown wool yarn with it. As for that lush hot pink... man, that's really killing me. It's incredibly soft and sparkly. I was going to ask my Mom to make a baby sweater out of it, but - please forgive me for saying this out loud - it's just too nice to part with. Socks? Yes, that's probably what will happen to it. Maybe the other pinks, which are derivatives of the hot pink - I mixed orange wool in - would be good for the baby sweater.