August 2009 Archives

Sampled Wool


I brought home a couple of locks from the fleece my fiber buddy and I are splitting, and today I washed up one of them as a reference.

Washed and unwashed locks

That's washed on top, of course. Both locks were about the same size; this stuff poofs up very nicely in the bath. And the lanolin is very light, which is welcome. I just gave it one go-round in the soapy water (well, I actually use shampoo, because if it works on my hair it should be OK for fleece), and all the grease was pretty much gone.

The fleece is a cormo, entry #1193 from Sue Reuser, who as far as I can tell pretty much doesn't know how to produce a bad fleece. I'm thinking I may buy direct next year, if I have any need of fleece at all (which seems a little unlikely given how much fiber I have now and the fact that I'm going to two more fiber events before the end of the year).

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Wool Auction

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Today we joined some friends and drove down to Monterey for the Monterey County Fair and Wool Auction. Actually, mostly for the Wool Auction, though appropriate fair food was also consumed (Noel: corn dog; me: funnel cake and cotton candy).

I loved this fleece, but it went for way more than I could have possibly afforded:

Lovely grey fleece

Also, looking at it, I realized that I really do not want massive amounts of coloured wool. This was light enough that it would dye decently, but still, being grey took some value off it for me, as lovely as it was.

Not that there was not plenty of fleece:

Fleece preview

Anyway, for the next few hours I sat and followed along on my auction list while knitting away at my latest project, which is the Icarus Shawl that was in Interweave Knits a few years ago. It's a nice, mindless lace pattern for most of the shawl, so modulo needing to be able to count while the guy was calling all sorts of numbers out, I made decent progress.

(I'm knitting it in some laceweight hand-painted alpaca I bought a couple of years ago and wanted to use up. There's nowhere enough shawl to use all 2400 yards, but I have a sort-of plan for the leftovers.)

Knitting while the auction goes along

Fiber buddy hlf bought three fleeces, one of which we're splitting (um, I think it might be the one under her at this point; she was a little giddy). We dropped them all off to go to Morro Fleece Works. It will eventually be delivered around November or later.

hlf hugs the fiber

I think I'll end up with a few pounds of pencil roving, which is nice and easy to spin. Although I am happy with the fleece and excited about getting the end result, the drawback to buying at auction is that prices are very high (in auctions, the winner always ends up paying more than the object is worth because by definition nobody else was willing to pay that much). I think I like events like the Spinning at the Winery day better; the pressure is lower and the prices are better.

After the auction, we had lunch then made a brief tour of the livestock pavilion. This sweet grey alpaca flirted with us when it kind of looked like we might have edibles in our bags (if we did, the alpaca wasn't getting any).

Alpaca says hello

And then the long drive home in the usual terrible Sunday traffic. I forgot how backed up it gets even on 101 coming North. I was always driving against it back in the school days; Noel was the one who'd get hit with that stuff coming back from a weekend with me in SLO.

I was intrigued by this place:

Out of business

I guess they had really sold out, then.

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A few people have e-mailed me lately asking why I opted out of a recent high school reunion (20 years), or why I opted out of a recent college reunion. The answer is multi-part, but the primary reason is this: I am the most Google-able person in any graduating class I have been in.

Seriously. Type my name into any search engine, and my web site is the first result. I have one of the more unique names on Earth, and I've been creating content online since before the web was created. I've had my own domain since the early 90's, and I've had this domain since about 1995 or so, I've lost track. I live a high school and college reunion every day. My classmates get online, they go to a search engine, they type in my name, and bingo! I get this e-mail:

Hi, Ayse!!!! It's been soooo long! I can't believe I found you on the internet! I just got cable internet and looked up your name! What a blast from the past!! Remember when we did [thing]? I've been doing [things] and living in [place] and always wondered what happened to you!

Some of the pieces change, but it's pretty much the same thing. Some of these classmates stay in touch and we get to know each other again, in the cursory way you get to know somebody who hasn't bothered to stay in touch with you for twenty years, or even somebody you didn't know all that well to begin with. They add me as a Facebook friend, I return the favour. You know the routine. It's great, I love getting e-mail from people I actually know wanting to say hi, and it is nice talking to old friends. But it happens often enough that it's not as if I needed to go to a reunion to find out what happened to my old classmates.

Which brings me around to the next reason, which is that a lot of people just couldn't be bothered to stay in contact with me. It was about ten years after high school that I winnowed my contact list and thinned out the number of people I was willing to make an effort for. What I did was just stop keeping in touch with people who hadn't initiated a contact with me in five years. Despite my introvert nature, I have a lot of friends, some close and many more distant, and staying in touch takes time and energy on my part. I don't see any real reason to spend time or energy on people who can't be bothered to reciprocate when I could spend it on somebody who obviously does want my company. By definition, if one of my classmates hasn't bothered to even drop an e-mail saying hello, I see no reason at all to fly across the country to see them in person.

Which brings me to the third reason, which is that the timing of all the reunions in the last couple of years has conflicted with other things I wanted to do. Like the incredibly engaging series of seminars on building systems I took over the last three weeks (ask me about fire suppression). I already have planned travel back east for holidays later in the year, and we've had two unexpected and sad trips to Minnesota already this summer. We have an unbloggable but time-consuming event coming up in this week and possibly stretching on for more than a month. We have out-of-town guests, and family visiting. There are a few wool shows I want to go to, such as the Monterey wool auction this weekend. Then we want to actually have a little vacation together at some point, for the first time in years. Adding a weekend trip or two would require a really compelling reason.

And lastly, reunions aren't fun. The food is always terrible, there's always retrospective music (but pop, not the stuff I ever listened to) played too loud, and everybody wants you to play the role you had in high school or college. When I was at Smith I worked reunion weekend a few times, and nobody ever seemed to be having huge amounts of fun. The 5-year reunion I went to at Smith was OK, but I was getting over being seriously ill and I didn't need the extra stress of being around a bunch of people who hadn't treated me very nicely the first time around, even to see the ones who had been good friends. I had planned to stay an extra day and enjoy Northampton, then take the Peter Pan to the airport for old time's sake, but instead I called a cab and paid to change my flight because I just wanted to be home.

I go to Ithaca at least once a year. I visit Minneapolis regularly, too. Heck, we often drive across the country. I'm on Facebook and a dozen other social networking sites. I answer my e-mail relatively promptly. I think that's good enough.

Another Finished Yarn


So, finished my fourth-ever skein of yarn today. The Ashland Bay merino/silk was a really nice yarn to spin, but I have to say I kind of wish I'd plied it on the wheel; the spindle was a bit tedious.

Anyway, I did finally finish plying it last night, right at the very beginning of a dinner party. It was pretty heavy, the yarn plus spindle weighing in at a total of 6.0 oz.

Plied onto the spindle

This morning I wound it off onto my swift to make a nice big skein, then washed the skein in hot water, whacked it against the wall a couple of time to help distribute the twist through the yarn and bloom it up a bit, then threw it into the dryer (on the sweater rack) to dry off.

Then I went outside to turn the compost and play with the chickens, so I would not constantly be checking the dryer to see how it was going.

I came inside to a nice, even, fluffy yarn. It's about 24 wpi, which is somewhere in between laceweight and light fingering -- the yarn itself varies in thickness and it's hard to say exactly what weight it came out to. I have 555 yards (from 4 oz), which is enough to make a decent sized scarf thing; I'm thinking something lacy and large.

All skeined up

And because I just can't get enough, here it is with my novelty dime:

I love this dime

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Plying Away

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Sunday night I finished spinning the singles of this merino/silk I've been working on, at long last. Then I spent yesterday evening making a plying ball. Basically, I put the two full spindles into coffee cups and wound the singles off them and onto a firm ball. I didn't use a core -- some people seem to find it easier to start with a rubber ball or something, but I didn't have one that was not all spitty from dogs -- so I just started with a little bundle of fiber as I would for a non-center-pull yarn ball.

I did find that the newer method of wrapping the copp works better: you can see that the completely horizontal method results in collapses (and resulting tangles). This is especially true with slippery fiber like silk.

Making a plying ball

I had a ridiculous mismatch in the amount of yarn on the two spindles, in no small part because my spinning got quite a bit thinner as I went. But also because I just put more yarn on the second spindle, I don't know how (I thought I measured it out evenly). So I tried using a plying bracelet to handle the leftover yarn, but there was really too much for it to be workable, and I lost quite a bit to tangles and chaos. In the end I had this lovely plying ball all ready to be plied from:

Plying ball

That's a ball of two plies running alongside each other, so all I do is feed off the ball and onto the spindle. I could have plied this on the wheel, but after doing the singles on the spindle at such length, I wanted to keep it all on the spindle.

I've even sort-of decided what I'd like to knit with it, but I'm not sure I'll have enough.

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Switchback Cowl


Since last weekend I've been haphazardly knitting at a Switchback Cowl (pattern by Kira Dulaney, who gave me a copy as a thanks for a ride home from spinning group last Friday).

Switchback Cowl, 3 repeats

I've gotten 3 12-row repeats done, mostly going so slowly because for whatever reason, this week has not been conducive to sitting and doing anything, much less knitting. I'm really liking the pattern, how simple it is (easy to keep track of and hard to lose your place) and how complex it is (not boring). I'm also using up some of my homespun yarn, the 200-someodd yard ball of Dorset left over from a class that I'd been looking for a pattern for. When Kira showed her sample of the cowl at spinning group (4th Fridays in Berkeley at knit-one-one), I knew I'd found the right thing to use it on.

There's one catch: I like the natural Dorset colour just fine, but it's not a colour I usually wear next to my face. I think I'll see how it comes out when I finish and block it, and maybe I'll end up overdyeing it with some reddish shade.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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