Knitting Like A Sailor

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mad as a March Hare

I worry about my kids. Their mother is kind of a nutter. I know from experience, she's been driving me nuts for years. Seriously. I have proof. 4 pictures of my kids in their halloween costumes. Did I take them before dark? Of course not, it was too early to get them in costumes. Did I take the pictures inside? Duh, no, I want action shots. There's no action inside! Why are these pictures so dark? Hmmmm.....guess the grandparents will get pictures from the day after, with the kids redressed in their costumes.

Today in biology I learned that the contractions of the heart muscle are not controlled by the nervous system. Because the heart has it's own stimulation apparatus, it will continue to beat as long as it has oxygen, even after brain death, even when removed from the chest cavity. This explains SO much. I wonder how long I've been brain dead. My guess would be for about 6 weeks, which coincides with the entry into my life of Stoichiometry, and the mass exodus of the joy in my life. I've barely knit, spun or done anything but study stoichiometry. I spent the weekend holed up in the bedroom with the laptop, all my chemistry books, manuals, idiot guides, calculator, a box of 48 pencils and a pencil sharpener. The small children kept asking Loverboy when mommy was coming home from school. He finally brought them back to prove I was actually in the house, and all I could do was yell at them because they scattered my homework climbing over it to give me a hug.

I apologized, Liam accepted it with his usual huh? and kept on going, but Gwen was really hurt and upset, so we had a mommy/gwenny girls only sleep over (at 1pm) in my room, with popcorn, a chick flick (3 year old speed - Aristocats) and popcorn, while I sat slightly behind her and tried very hard to type and turn pages as quietly as possible. I wasn't quite quiet enough, but she was mollified with some paper and a pencil so she could do her homework too. Which was way bester than Timofy's homeworks. I asked her if mine was better than Timothy's too, and was told no, that my homeworks was not bestest AT ALL, MOMMA. My homeworks was NAUGHTY.
What's one to do with naughty homeworks? Put it in the corner, naturally, and snuggle a little girl while we watch silly cartoon cats dance around. That taught it a lesson! And Mom learned one too.
I might be brain dead, but at least my heart isn't, so I think there's hope.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Experience is the name everyone gives their mistakes. ~O.Wilde

Ran across that quote today when I was researching the effects of Perestroika on the Russian public, and how it effected the economy, specifically artisans who made their living spinning and knitting. Special, innit?
That, basically, is what I have been doing since I last posted.
Oh, and writing the ever present formal lab reports for chemistry. Yee-Hawwwwwn.

I have managed to get in a bit of non-school reading, so far it's been:

  • Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans, Gladys Thompson
  • Big Book of Handspinning, Alden Amos
  • How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Everyday, Michael Gelb

I'm quite enjoying all three. I'm a little surprised by the Thompson book, I had expected it to be more dry, an instruction book. It's not, it's more of a journal of her travels through the UK in her search for traditional family patterns, her talks with the owners/knitters of the patterns, and the patterns.

I didn't expect to like Alden Amos's book, I'd heard from just about everyone that I asked that he's overbearing, opinionated and somewhat biased in his beliefs. I can see where someone who was very sensitive might think that, but I am very much enjoying what he has to say. He seems to cover a topic broadly (like fiber prep, he gives the basics of the big four) and then in the next chapter comes back and fills it in. At first I found this a little confusing because he started the next chapter talking about something I thought he'd already covered, but once I stopped looking at it linearly, and started following along, listening to his "voice" as though it were a conversation (albeit one sided) it was much easier for me to read.

About the bias, well, he's telling us how he does things. He gives plenty of history, but ultimately the methods he describes are the methods that he personally has worked with and finds to be the most effective. I don't really see much of a difference in his presentation than other authors, Zimmermann, Stowe, Righetti, they're all opinionated too. Peter Teal's handcombing wool for worsted yarns, now there's a tart character. All in all, I'm enjoying the book and information enormously, and have a difficult time putting it down.

The Michael Gelb book. It's interesting. Very full of information about Da Vinci, so far I haven't gotten into it enough to know if it's a useful tome. I think it might be, but time will tell. I found it while I was looking for B-day and X-mas gifts for Kevin. I bought him two books on Da Vinci's notebooks. Fascinating stuff, he had plans for an accelerated flyer in there.

I have been knitting. I swatched this:

"this" being a 3ply, 14wpi yarn spun from a Romney X Montadale fleece. It's not quite that color, it's a little lighter, but I had to darken it up to cut down on the shine. Yup, those little white spots aren't lint, not variegation, it's pure gloss.

I also started the shawl for mysteryshawlalong2, I've finished the first chart. Here ya go-

I'm doing the shawl in Knitpicks dye your own lace weight. I dyed it shades of green from emerald to tourmaline to deep forest. Unfortunately the new to me camera I have didn't come with color as an option for the photo editing, so it's showing up blues to me. For the more astute readers, yes, I'm knitting it with two strands, I'm alternating them because I inadvertently put one skein on top of the other in the dye bath. As a result, they took up differently and do not match well. I don't want to put them through another bath, they've had two, and while the second one helped it some, it wasn't a lot. The strands started clinging to each other, calling at all hours just to say whatcha doing? I miss you...following each other around, sneaking behind their backs and reading the other strands was getting ugly, and since I don't want to encourage a felting obsession, they're done drinking dye liquor.

I might wet the shawl down when it's done, and pound a little dye into the too light spots. Maybe. Otherwise, I'm fine with it. It's not for me anyway. It's for my big sis, NC's reigning tae kwan do weapons champ in the woman's age 40-49 color belt class. I'm struggling to avoid the whole my sister can beat up your sister game.

(but you know she could! neener neener neener!)

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Waiting for all the bloggers to get back from a fiber feast really, really sucks. Esp when the ones who have returned somehow managed to return sans pictures and haven't even posted their loot now that they're back in the land of fresh batteries.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I apologize for being cryptic

The situation has been resolved. To those involved, a deep, heartfelt thank you!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Where to go, and how to get there

I've had a few people ask where I got some of the things I bought and what I have planned for them, so here's the list and the links.
  • Grey Romney/Border Leicester fleece. I bought it off of Ebay, but the lady who grew it is Dee Heinrich at Peeper Hollow Farm. She is a new to me shepherdess, but it appears as though her fleeces did well at some shows this past summer. My intentions are to wash it, and then sample with it, spinning from the flicked lock vs combing it. Elaine Benfatto has a great essay on plies and plying twist in her blog archives that caught my attention last year. Since reading it I've been looking for a lustrous grey longwool fleece large enough to spin a many plied worsted spun dk-ish weight yarn to make an aran or gansey from. I have a gorgeous romney/montadale cross, unfortunately the ewe threw her coat and got into a mess, so her fleece weighed out at 4 pounds. Not enough for experimenting and making mistakes in my opinion. I plan on spinning as much as possible into the same yarn, so I'll probably have matching something or others for someone around here. Of course some of the fleece will find it's way into the dye pot, and on the carder, and in a blend, that's what I usually do with the oddments (the odd length, different crimp, off handle bits that just about every fleece has, and perhaps some wool that has to be skirted out, but is too good to throw away) It's been a long time since I've dug into a raw fleece, I'm really looking forward to it.
  • The carders, swift, the russian lace book and the Stowe book are from the Village Spinning and Weaving shop. I had not ordered from them before, and if everything goes as well as it looks (I already have the tracking number and am bugging the heck out of UPS tracking the progress, it's slated for an Oct 7th delivery date) I'm seriously considering ordering some of the rovings they have there. Nothing fancy as far as colors go, but I like to do my own prettifying so plain, good rovings are a staple to me. They have Targhee. I like Targhee. Enough that I debated even mentioning it.
  • The Walker books are from knitpicks. Do you really need a link? I think we can all find them ourselves, thank you. I bought enough of the white wool of the andes for a sweater, enough of the white fingering weight merino for a sweater, and I really for the life of me can't remember how much of the white lace weight merino I bought. Not enough for a sweater, I've retained enough sanity to refrain from that.
  • I bought the mosaic sock kit, the twined sock pattern, the Hazel Carter Rosy Fingered Dawn kit and the Spider Queen pattern from Blackberry Ridge woolen mill. If you can quickly scroll past the scrappy jacket ghastlies at the top of the page, the links to the things I like are at the bottom. I'm not a fan of mixed media such as quilting and knitting, although I have used an old, ugly, felted afghan as batting. I intend to make the Spider Queen first. I have the pattern in the copy of Ms. Carters' shetland pattern book, unfortunately that shawl has a slightly different centerpiece and I don't like it. At all. But this one I like, and if it turns out the charts are the same and the sample shawl was wonky, I still won't regret buying the pattern. Must support the Shetland Lace designers. Rosy Fingered Dawn may become Mauvy Fingered Dawn, as I've seen pictures of a few completed shawls. Some were gaudy, some were fine, I'm hoping it was the photography skills of the posters. I'll know when I get the yarn in my hot little hands.
  • The yarn. Wow. It's from Handpaintedyarns. It appears to be a singles yarn, 850 yards per 100 grams, $5.95 per skein. I bought two each in Buscando Azul LC, Damask Rose LC, Emerald LC, and Indigo LC. I think the LC stands for the cooperative it came from, or the dyer. Whatever, LC makes some gorgeous colors. I almost bought geranio, and I'm seriously, seriously considering buying olive dusty, sauterne, and one of the violets, even though my order has already shipped.
  • Last, but the polar opposite of least, is the patterns and book I purchased from here. I had thought about purchasing the book in the US, but I really wanted some of the pattern packs she lists in her projects section. Particularly Unst, and the Ring shawl, her newest limited edition. I have not seen her pattern packs being sold anywhere else, and since I had to get them from her site, why not get the book too? She has some special deals that as far as I can tell are permanent. If you buy the book from her, you receive either a pattern you choose from a selection she lists, or two inox needles of your choice that they carry. For any three pattern packs that you buy, you have your choice of a free pattern, same choices as the one for the book. They don't defray the expense once one considers international shipping charges, but they're nice to include them. I did choose the surface mail option, since the other options put the total dangerously close to too much. When I got up the next day, there was an email from them letting me know that they'd already shipped my package, so I'm looking forward to it's arrival, in two and a half months.

As far as I'm aware, that's the sum total of my orders. I'm not positive that I didn't forget anything. Knitpicks and Blackberry Ridge do not include a copy of the invoice when they email the receipt of order confirmation. All my ordering was done in the wee small hours, and I know particularly at Blackberry Ridge I had several things that I put in and took out of the cart, so something may have been missed. I think I ordered another Hazel Carter pattern from them, but I can't remember. Maybe my next order should include some of those whatchamacallit pills that make you not forget stuff.

As an interesting aside (well, I find it interesting, and it IS my blog) I noticed a few things about myself while shopping. I must have a reason to buy something. Duh. No, seriously. I have to have a logical, clear need or reason for buying something before I will allow myself to buy it. I want it, I like it, and it's pretty don't cut it. Once I make the decision to buy something, I look at as many choices as feasible (and online that's quite a few) decide what I require, what I can compromise on, what I like/want/is pretty, do a price check, and often reevaluate myself out of buying anything. The Heirloom Knitting products were difficult for me. I left the shopping cart sitting open for over an hour, hanging at the point where I had everything entered in and all I had to do was hit one button, and it was a done deal. Why was it so hard? Not only was I not being economical, but I was going about it in the most expensive way possible save for having each item shipped independently, and it was a purchase that I had no guarantee of ever being capable of using. When I finally decided to click, I closed my eyes and squinched up my face, telling myself that the cart has been sitting there so long it's timed out by now, if it's timed out I won't redo it, I'll just let it go. I clicked. It went through.

I know I will enjoy everything I bought. I have need of most of it. Tangled skeins piss me off. I have many fibers that are too fine for my drum carder, and my old hand carders self destructed.

Speaking of self destruction, I'm on my way to bed before it happens to me. Night, happy shopping.