Category Archives: Knitting, Spinning, & Weaving

Rhinebeck 2017

What will stick in my mind about Rhinebeck 2017? The bloody roosters next door that started crowing at 2:30 the first night. The next they started at 11:30 PM. No more roosters.

And the fact that there were more wheels! We had so many more spinning wheels in the house this time. We are aspinnerating people, muah hah hah.

We were in a different house this year, which was somewhat uncomfortable. It slept more people, but it was oddly supplied. There were next to no chairs. Also, the heat wasn’t on despite it being late October, and the a/c units were duct-taped into the windows so bugs were crawling through. Some bedrooms didn’t even have curtains. A lot of people remarked on how hard the beds were, as well. We won’t return, I think. (We missed the Civil War-era house we’d been in the last year. I think it missed us, too. I hope we go back to it next year.)

One of the highlights of this Rhinebeck for me was visiting the Golding booth, which I had missed last year. I was just going to admire, but Ceri and Megan got me to sit down at one of the wheels to spin on it, just to have the experience of spinning on a Rolls Royce of wheels. It was incredible. And as a bonus, I spun longdraw, which is not only very relaxing but a good measure of how a wheel spins, since you need to be pretty synchronized with the wheel and its settings to accomplish it. Apart from how good it feels to spin that way, I enjoy sitting down at a wheel and spinning longdraw because it stops passersby. It looks effortless and is super impressive. I get more people interested in sitting down and trying to spin that way.

The festival itself was terrific. There were over 38,000 people on Saturday alone, and it felt like it. I wrenched my back first thing when we arrived while unloading a rigid heddle loom I’d brought to hand over to a buyer; that plus the unseasonably high temperatures and the crowds knocked me out by 2 pm. I ended up sitting on the hill in the sun and playing with a new spindle.

My list of things to look for was short: Hit Clemes & Clemes for a flicker brush; Into the Whirled for fibre; maybe a new spindle somewhere; and a shawl pin. Clemes & Clemes ended up having their own booth this year at the front of the building ITW was in. I got their last flicker brush (it was only 10:30 am!), and chose a new orifice hook for my Mazurka. Further down the row at ITW I grabbed a bag of odds & ends fibre and a braid of Falkland. Later that day I bought a Snyder Turkish-style spindle because it had f-holes in it (!!!), which is a bit on the heavy side for me at 36 grams… but f-holes!!! I decided against a Miss Marple Teacup from the same booth because I had just bought the Snyder spindle. (A decision which I regretted for two weeks, until I contacted Greensleeves Spindles and asked Elizabeth to make one for me. A delightful experience, and I highly recommend Greensleeves Spindles for all your spindling needs. Gorgeous to look at, gorgeous to spin with.) I found a pretty green ceramic shawl pin the next day at 50% off, to complete my Rhinebeck list.

Along the way I bought a bag of four different types of cotton sliver, two braids from Greenwood Fibreworks, an ounce of dyed longwool locks, a super-high-speed Kromski whorl, and a pretty pair of earrings. And I sold that 32″ rigid heddle loom, since warping it killed my back every time. I love weaving. I do not love the tedious setup.

Best of all, I got to hang out with my Ravelry mama group friends, whom I only see online most of the year. Great weather, excellent companionship, beautiful things to see. It was a wonderful trip.

Adjusting

Sparky’s beginner watercraft course is from 10 to 12 every weekday in Lachine. This means I don’t have time to come home again after dropping him
off. Well, I could, I suppose, but then I’d have to turn around and drive back. (Why Lachine when we live on the South Shore? Because they were the cheapest and have a terrific reputation.)

Yesterday I tried to set up in a cafe with my laptop to work. I had great hopes for this. People seem to have excellent success with this sort of thing, and it was my fervent hope that I could get work done while I had to be out there.

Reader, it did not go well.

I’d forgotten that standard chairs are all wrong for me. They’re terrible for my back, and cafe tables are all the wrong heights for typing. My energy was taken up feeling that my feet weren’t flat on the ground like they’re supposed to be for stability, my lower back was tipped backward and stressed the exact way every osteopath has told me *not* to do, the table was too high, my wrists were super awkwardly angled over the uncomfortably high keyboard. More energy was used trying to ignore the music being piped in despite having earphones and my own music, the unfamiliar food smells, the *people* all around… it was kind of nightmarish. I was very glad Sparky had an amazing morning. But if I kept doing this, I would accomplish nada this week because I would be coming home exhausted. I got next to nothing done in the cafe, and was so drained when I got home that I couldn’t work then either, let alone after picking Owlet up from camp. It was, in short, a disaster, and not sustainable.

I decided that today would be different. Last night I pulled out and prepped some SweetGeorgia BFL (Songbird! I’m planning a two-ply: one ply spun end to end, the other ply a four-repeat fractal!) and packed my spinning box. I would bring my small spinning wheel and sit by the water, spinning and listening to an audiobook.

My view across to the canoe club.

Finn! One of my comfort fibres to spin.

And that is exactly what I did. Apart from a tiny bit of social anxiety about spinning in public and possibly having to field people, it was lovely. I sat on a park bench that was the perfect height, right by the water next to an oak tree that gave me dappled shade. There was a perfect breeze. I listened to Pride & Prejudice. I finished the Finn I was spinning to make up the missing yardage for a cardigan (it’s only two or three years after I spun all the rest of the yarn; maybe I’ll even knit the sweater someday) then started the Songbird after sampling to see what whorl and drive and braking methods I wanted to use. I have come home relaxed, and psyched to attack the project I’m working on that’s due by the end of the week.

It’s such a major shift from yesterday that I’m really excited about this plan, and I intend to do this every day that it’s nice enough to be outside. Adjusting my expectations of when to sink energy into working for the maximum output has made an enormous difference.

I had forgotten how much I love the sound of water against jetties, buoys, and the sides of boats, and the smell of the lake, too. Part of me is already hoping Sparky will do this again next year.

Lammas Report

We are halfway through summer!

1. The Tour de Fleece happened. I co-captained the Clan Kromski team again, and while I feel I was not as engaged as in previous years thanks to work and kids, I got some nice spinning done.

TdF 2017 yarns!

2. HRH came home from basic training, and everyone was very happy. He did excellently, of course. Now he’s full-time at the unit for three weeks to finish up the last block of training, and if that goes well, he’ll graduate to being an official qualified naval reservist. Next up will be his ship training, which will probably be next summer, although there’s plenty of theory and study to be done along the way.

Dad’s home!

3. The kids have completed two two-week sessions of day camp. Sparky did guitar for the first session, including a lovely improv with the teacher at the open house, and violin for the second session, with a lovely solo performance with that teacher as well. Owlet is loving it, hugging every counsellor she passes there while protesting at home that she hates camp. Uh-huh.

4. Owlet is back at day camp for one extra week, while Sparky has started a two-week session of mornings doing an Intro to Canoe & Kayak course at the Lachine Canoe Club. He kayaked for the first time at the grade six sleepaway camp long weekend he did in mid-June, and raved about it, asking if there was some way he could do it again. He is wildly loving it. He’s never expressed interest in any sport before; he may have found his thing.

5. I was asked back for Part 2/the expansion of the scriptwriting project I handled this past spring. That was terribly nice. Although the can-you-do-this-by-the-end-of-the-week deadline wasn’t as enjoyable. I hit it, though, because I am awesome. And then had to rush to handle the stuff that had to be displaced on the schedule because of it. Sigh. My other ongoing contract carries on apace as well.

6. I now have green hair. Part of it is green, anyway. I did it for my birthday, and I love it.

Green!

La!

Spinning October 2016

While I was at Rhinebeck (there’s a post I still need to write; the good thing is I have notes) I picked up a couple of braids of fibre from Spunky Eclectic, a dyer I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t had the chance to try. This is the one I chose to spin first.

The blend is called Panda; it’s 60% superwash Merino, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon. This colour way is called ‘No Pimiento’ and is a gorgeous blend of pale and spring greens. The braid looked almost golden in places, but that was the reflection of the bamboo.

Spunky Eclectic Panada blend in 'No Pimiento'

Spunky Eclectic Panda blend in ‘No Pimiento’

I spun it on the Symphony in double drive at the 16:1 ratio for a 32 wpi single, and plied it in scotch tension. I ended up with 316 yards of traditional three-ply yarn at about 20 wpi.

'No Pimiento' yarn

‘No Pimiento’ yarn

I’m really happy with it. It reminds me of the colours of the green curtains my grandfather wove, which are currently packed away because all our windows are too big for them.

Tour de Fleece 2016: Day 1!

They ride bikes, we spin yarn. It’s all wheels, right?

I wanted to have my wheel clear for the first day of the Tour, but yeah, that didn’t happen. I handed the manuscript of the book in Thursday evening, and Friday was a blur, really. I slept horribly and so I was having trouble staying awake in the afternoon. And then there was that concert thing Friday night, it being Canada Day and all. (It was excellent. Really great. And our replacement principal cellist asked if we’d be interested in a cello club, a monthly get-together for playing stuff. Um, yes? Sign me up. I love group classes and cello choirs.)

So Day 1 of the Tour had me plying the last 3/4 of my FatCatKnits BFL in the London Fog colourway in order to clear bobbins.

It went from this:



To this:

Before a wash to finish the yarn, it’s 466.5 yards, 20 wpi. I loved the experience and the feel of the finished yarn, but I’m not thrilled with the colour. The three-ply barberpoling from a randomly applied colourway… I’ve got a greenish pinkish greyish yarn. If I do this colourway again — and I probably will, because I loved the original braid and it was on my wish list for over three years — I’m going to either split it lengthwise so the plies match up, or spin end to end and then chain ply it.

Whatever. It will make a nice shawlette to tuck into the neck of my velveteen fall coats. I was hoping for socks, but I think it’s too soft. Even though I plied it super tight.

Catching Up

[Good grief. This has been sitting in a drafts folder since April 12.]

I had a concert. It was brilliant. The Grieg piano concerto was fantastic, and the Schubert ninth symphony was better than I expected it to be. (It was also REALLY LOUD.) Right up to the week before the concert I was still thinking I should have dropped out at the beginning of this rehearsal session when I was having so much difficulty with the material; I’m glad I stuck with it. Next: my recital in June, and then the Canada Day concert.

Yesterday I had my second meeting with the team I’m working with on this project. It was just as excellent as the first one was. We reviewed the first two chapters I’d written, and the feedback was so positive. It’s really nice to be so comfortable. The packaging guy was in town for this one, and it was good to meet him too; he said a coupe of very complimentary things about how I was functioning in the meeting and how pleased he was that the team had coalesced so well. And he suggested that if I was interested, if there were any projects that came across his desk that he thought I’d be good for, that he could call me. (Yes! Yes, please do that!)

The team sent me home with swag for the family, too. It was heavy to haul home — there’s just over half an hour of walking involved in my commute to and from downtown for these in-person meetings — but everyone here was delighted. In theory the two huge hardcover books are for my reference use, but HRH buried himself in one right away because it was directly applicable to something he’s doing right now.

We outlined the fifth and sixth sections of the book, so now I have the second and third to cover and have these two on the horizon as well. I am hitting the right tone and level of detail they want, which is good to know; I wanted to have this review meeting of the first two chapters I finished rough drafts of before going into the next set, just in case I was really missing the point somehow.

In non-work news, I am finally going to get to Rhinebeck, which is an enormous fleece and fibre festival in mid-October. (The actual name of it is the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, but no one calls it that.) Ceri, Megan, and I and a bunch of my online mums group are going to meet there; we’re all renting a house for the weekend! (A few houses, actually; people kept saying they were going to go, too, and more houses had to be booked. It’s crazy, and so exciting.) It’s going to be a ridiculous amount of fun, and my phone already knows how to autocorrect Rhinebeck to RHINEBECK, all caps; that’s how exciting it is. For some reason I thought Rhinebeck was much further away. Google tells me it’s just about four hours. That’s not taking border-crossing times into account, but still — that’s closer than driving to visit my parents. And there’s a Rhinebeck thing; people knit sweaters to wear while there. So I am going to knit a sweater. An easy one, mind you, but a real sweater. Once this book is done, that is. I’ve already swatched two different yarns, even, and know which one I’ll be using.

Cello, work, yarn stuff. That’s a pretty decent summary of what’s been going on.

Recent Spinning

I’ve been so busy with work these past two weeks that my yarn-making has slowed to a standstill. Yesterday my cold was so bad that pretty much all I could do was sit on the chesterfield, so I dragged the wheel over, set up some BBC living history documentaries on the iPad (Victorian Pharmacy, only four episodes, but traces the evolution of sixty years of medical and general services offered by the local pharmacy; I loved it), and spun all afternoon.

The braid was destashed unidentified domestic wool, dyed in a great colourway I dubbed “All Hail the Mantis Shrimp.” My guess is Falkland, possibly a lower grade of Polwarth. It was a joy to spin. No splitting or predrafting, just end to end spinning across the top.

I’m chain-plying it; this is an earlier photo, it’s about three-quarters done now. I like the slight heathering that’s happening.

Just before this one, I was feeling pretty run down, which is typical of early January after the holidays. I needed something that was kind of a mindless spin, so I grabbed a packet of the KnitPicks fibre I’d ordered to try in the huge November sale. This was ridiculously easy to spin. No matting or felting, and while it’s not the absolute softest stuff I’ve ever spun, it’s softer than I expected it to be. (Apparently I am a bit more of a fibre snob than I’d thought.) 28 wpi singles yarn; no idea of the yardage, because I haven’t skeined it off yet (it’s my least favourite part of spinning). The colourway is “Tidepool,” and is a greeny-blue. It’s really hard to capture in photos.

The colour is closer to this picture: