October 2005

My apologies to anyone who got confused by the half-entry that I posted accidentally. My main plan for my evenings this week is to clean my apartment rather than knit or spin, but I’ve got this picture for you:


I have (finally) discovered the power of the mohair-silk blend, this being some Douceur et Soie in garnet. My impression four repeats in is that it’s a little finickier than my ideal (although some of that could be remedied by using pointier, slicker needles), but it’s so soft and fluffy…

I’ve been making lots of green things this week. I’d suggest it might be a reaction to fall, except that the leaves outside my windows are still green. (And it’s not like I’ve been much of anywhere except my apartment this week.)

After setting the twist, my green romney looked a lot like my hair:


Since, for probably the first time ever, I hadn’t started spinning more singles as soon as I put the two-ply in the bath to set, I took the suggestion of the SpinningFiber community and added some more plying twist.

Presettingtwistafter adding twist, before setting the extra twist

all twist set

Hey, it worked!

Instead of actually spinning more of the romney, though, I started on the alien yarn. I was curious about how it’d spin up, and it was closer…

Alienyarn1030thin & thinner singles, 85 yds

I’m debating about keeping this as singles, or maybe plying it with plain black (if I can find such a thing). I’m concerned that plying it on itself might be too muddy.

In the interest of having something not green on here, I present a picture of Mel:

Mel_nestyes, I know, the blanket is green

Unlike last time, yesterday’s attempt to make a hat for the Dulaan project actually produced a hat:


It’s Lamb’s Pride worsted, held double, knit on 8mm needles. I started with 60 stitches and decreased to 55 after the ribbing, figuring that it’d be an appropriate size for kid/small adult. It turned out just slightly too small for me, so I’m sure it’ll fit someone…even if they have to wear a second hat under it.

I’ve been home sick for most of the last week, with the Virus That’s Going Around. Alas, it seems that all of my tea and soup and blankets have extended the pre-hacking-cough part, but I’m still not enough better to last more than an hour or two at work. (I may wind up taking the trolley tomorrow, since the walk to work was a lot of what tired me out yesterday, when I lasted all of an hour and a half at work.)

Since I can’t sleep all day, and I haven’t been focussing well enough to do much work reading, and housework proved too much after Sunday, I’ve gotten some more spinning done.

108 yards of romney

The color shows up pretty well on my monitor, somewhere between grass green and olive. It’s a little hairy, which is in part because I didn’t want to pay all that much attention to it and in part because it handled differently from the other fibers I’ve spun (whether that’s because it’s romney or because it’s top, I’m not sure). I am, however, pretty pleased with my consistency. It’s a solid laceweight with only occasional neppy bits. I’ll try to eliminate the neppy bits with the next batch…

On to the question, then, since everyone was so helpful last time:

How insane would it be to attempt to knit the Fiddlesticks Peacock Feathers Shawl with only 1000m (~1100yds) of yarn? The pattern calls for 1260 yds, but that’s as 4 skeins of Jaggerspun Zephyr. I could skip a pattern repeat in the middle if necessary, or maybe make the crocheted loops smaller…but if anyone knows of someone who’s knit the shawl with less than the recommended yardage, could you point me to them?

(The reason: I have been looking for the right yarn for several months, and it’s nowhere to be found. Basically, I want the green version of the Black Onyx Socks that Rock yarn in which I knit the Flower Basket Shawl, but none of the Socks that Rock greens are quite what I want. So I’ve e-mailed with Kathryn at Fleece Artist about custom-dyed laceweight bluefaced leicester, which comes in $35CAD, 1000m skeins. If I can possibly get away with only buying one, that’d be much easier on my budget. Plus, I wouldn’t have the extra ~800m of yarn. Hey, anyone want 3/4 of a skein of evergreen laceweight BFL?)

This evening, I came up with a new way to entertain the kitten. He’s been feeling slighted, I think, since I’ve been home sick for so long, which means I’ve been here and not up to playing for hours at a time. So, while I was cooking dinner (vaguely-Southeast-Asian stirfry), I stuck the handle end of the bouncy-wire-with-cardboard-tips toy in my back pocket. Since it bounces a lot even with minimal movement of the handle bit, it kept Mel entertained the whole time. It was kind of funny; I could hear him purring behind my ankles.

I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to pick up my spindles again. I started all nice and responsibly with the orange merino-silk that I was spinning a month and a half ago, and then my will broke down.

I wound the corriedale from my other spindle off onto a tp-roll bobbin, and then I pulled out my new romney:


Mmmm, green.

Perhaps my cold has made me forget something obvious, but I have a question:

What is there on a spindle or spinning wheel that could possibly be pointy enough for fairy-tale characters to prick their fingers? I can’t imagine all of that fuss being made over the hook at the top of a spindle, nor can I imagine anyone stabbing themselves with the shaft of a spindle like my Bosworth drop-spindles. I haven’t used a lot of wheels (okay, I’ve spun on one wheel, once or twice), but I don’t remember there being something sharp that someone could accidentally stab themselves with.

This post brought to you by a late-night, cold-induced online perusal of wheel prices.

I’m home sick today, so I figured I’d take advantage of the sunlight in my living room to document some recent knitting.

This is the giant felted totebag I’m making out of green naturgarn, plus the felted bowl I’m knitting from knitpicks wool of the andes. Mel is conveniently obscuring the cable on the felted bag, but you’ve seen it before…..including with the cable hidden under the kitten.

I’m going to go back to sleep now. I hope everyone else is getting better–I don’t want to recover from this and then catch something else!

So, the stuff. I had a budget of “preferably less than $30, definitely no more than cash on hand,” including admission and gas in the latter. My shopping list was “laceweight or fingering for a shawl, in variegated green or maybe red or brown, plus sportweight yarn for socks”. I had intended not to buy more spinning fiber unless it was a new variety, since I haven’t spun in a month and a half, but I figured some cormo or bluefaced leicester might be nice. (As it turned out, I saw no cormo roving, and the only bluefaced leicester I saw was colors that weren’t quite exciting enough.)

What did I buy first, then? This:

green romney

It is a breed of wool that’s new to me, and it is in a great set of colors. (Why can I not find laceweight in those colors?) What it isn’t is roving. I was on such a fiber high or so overstimulated or so tired or something that it wasn’t until after I’d bought four ounces of this stuff that it sank in that it wasn’t actually roving. I’m sure I’ll still be able to spin it, but it looks as though it’ll need a bit more prep than I’m used to. Oh, well. Learning experiences, here I come. (Eventually.)

The next thing I couldn’t leave without was six ounces of this:

I don’t know what breed of wool this is, but it’s pretty soft, and the colors!

A goodly while passed before I bought anything else. I think a lot of that while was in the animal area, where there wasn’t as much for sale, which probably helped. In the last vendor building I went to, at about 5pm, I found this:

black alpaca and bombyx silk

While I was in the middle of that purchase, I saw Sue again, and she told me that Anj was at the Spirit Trail booth, which I’d been looking for and had totally missed. So off I went, to become their last sale of the day as I bought this:

exactly the sock yarn I wanted

Since I was taking pictures of newly-acquired cool stuff, I figured I’d throw in a shot of the notepad my secret pal sent me. The cover looks like the frog in the bottom corner.


I spent today finishing the copy of Trickster’s Choice that I’ve borrowed from Kirsten and generally doing nothing. It’s been wonderful. As much as it would’ve been fun to spend another day at Rhinebeck, this was way better for me. (Maybe I’ll go to both days of Maryland next spring, though…)

Yesterday was a gloriously beautiful day, perfect for a drive and then wandering through a sheepandwool. We (Jill, Laurie, Sean, and I) got started a bit later than we’d intended and thus arrived a bit late, but there was still plenty of time for fiber overload. Our late arrival did mean that I somehow missed the entire bloggers’ meetup, but I still ran into Parker and saw Chantal and Anj and Sue.

And I saw lots and lots of fibery and fiber-associated animals. I spent a lot more time in the animal area at Rhinebeck than I did at Maryland…

border collie puppies, which were in an enclosure in the vendor area

no, I’m not sure why the rabbit stayed in the cardboard box, or, for that matter, what it had to do with fiber


another goat

an angora rabbit–that black shape to the right of its face is its left ear. so fuzzy!

an alpaca

Jill, attempting to pet a pair of alpacas

a llama with great markings

Anj with her bag of fleece

the view from the parking area. check out the beginnings of fall foliage!

the billboard as you come off the highway on the way to the fairgrounds

I didn’t take pictures of the vendor areas or the food building, but we spent a fair amount of time in both. The cheese was tasty, the wines tasted really odd after the half apple that was a late afternoon snack, but the maple cotton candy that we all shared was great. It looked a lot like a batt of undyed silk… We skipped the Gem and Mineral building and the Halloween Tunnel in favor of trying to catch all of the fiber stalls. (I’m not sure how accurate this impression is, but it seemed to me that Rhinebeck had more nonfibery stuff than Maryland did.)

Anyway, at around 5:30, we finally left the festival for the car, where we had dinner, and then set off for home. Sort of. We had been admiring the scenery so much on the way up that we decided to drive over to one of the nearby large hills/small mountains (toward a decent-sized mountain, but I don’t think we quite got there). And then we drove up it, and most of the way back down, and partway back up, and then back down. At which point we realized that we didn’t know how to get back to the roads we’d used to drive up, and the maps were in the other car. So we took a nice, roundabout route home that involved going southwest on route 209 and somehow approaching Stroudsburg twice, and didn’t get to West Philly until about 12:30am. But we got to see mountains and deer and stars (whole constellations, even!) and some much nicer scenery than is visible from the throughway. And, hey, I wasn’t driving, so I managed to nap for a while.

Next post: what I bought.

I’ve spent the last couple of days with a shape-note setting of Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” running through my head. We used to sing it sometimes in the shape-note group in Oberlin, usually pitched high enough for me to sing the bass part. I really liked the way the chorus of “rage, rage, rage, rage, rage, rage, rage…” would resonate in my chest. I had meant to photocopy that tune and bring it to shape-notes tonight, but I’ve been busy and distracted and didn’t even bring my books. (I did, however, pick up a copy of a brand new song by my friend Eric, since someone else brought copies of it for us to sing.)

I was reminded more than usual this evening that shape-note singing is a more clearly religious activity for a lot of the other singers. I suppose it should be obvious, since so many of the words are shared with hymns or psalms, and there isn’t a whole lot of secular music that talks about Jesus so much, but I really don’t think of it that way. If I did, I probably wouldn’t go, since my religious background is pretty secular Judaism and my belief system is basically secular humanist. But I enjoy the music, both for its aesthetics and for the way it’s a group of people singing together, making something richer than any one of them can create on their own, purely for the pleasure of doing so. (I really like the roundsings at Swarthmore, and social contra and English dances, but they’re harder to get to and less conveniently timed, so I don’t go as often as I’d like.)

I think it was while we were singing “China” (a setting of the first three verses from this), which is about why not to mourn the dead (because they’re with God) that I started thinking about one of my favorite passages from Ursula Goodenough’s The Sacred Depths of Nature:

Does death have any meaning?

Well, yes, it does. Sex without death gets you single-celled algae and fungi; sex with a mortal soma gets you the rest of the eukaryotic creatures. Death is the price paid to have trees and clams and birds and grasshoppers, and death is the price paid to have human consciousness, to be aware of all that shimmering awareness and all that love.

My somatic life is the wondrous gift wrought by my forthcoming death.

I find that more comforting than I find organized religion, but I still miss the group hugs at the end of the Oberlin sings.

…getting a package from my Secret Pal at the end of a long day, and then taking it home and finding the Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, a great notepad shaped like a frog holding a radio, and some candy.

…coming home for a goodly chunk of the afternoon and curling up for a nap with my handknit blanket and my eight-month-old kitten in my lap.

…deciding to just wear weather-appropriate clothes to Rhinebeck on Saturday. I don’t want to risk mud on my handknits, so I’ll go with normal clothing. I’ll at least take my bright orange [woven, commercially] scarf with me, though.

After having a grand time on Thursday evening knitting at Anj‘s (and staying out way too late), I stayed out late again on Friday. I wound up working too late to go home and nap before my evening plans, so I went out to a bar in Northern Liberties* with a couple of my labmates. Upon finishing my dinner, I walked over to the Electric Factory to see the Decemberists.

The show was good. It was the Decemberists, after all, and they played The Mariner’s Revenge Song, complete with cardboard whale eating the lead singer:

The overall experience, however, was not so great. I’d seen the Decemberists twice before, in much smaller and somewhat smaller venues, and I really prefer being able to clearly see the face of the singer. Even if it does come with more crowding and more smoke. (I could also do without the [need for the] projection screens farther back and on the side wall.) The thing that really upset me, though, even more than being late enough that I missed half of the first song and didn’t meet up with my friends until after the show, was the security.

Okay, I like the idea that nobody with a gun is going to get into the concert. Some sort of security maybe isn’t such a bad plan at a venue that size. But you might want to think twice about a plan that involves confiscating umbrellas on a rainy evening. Also, ballpoint pens? Since when are ballpoint pens a security risk? But the real problem? What the hell do you think I was planning on doing with my bamboo circular knitting needle? It’s not as pointy as a pen, it’s bamboo and thus breakable, the cable isn’t strong enough to strangle someone (I’m assuming that, anyway; it’s not as though I’ve tried), and it was IN my KNITTING! And, well, if you’re going to look in my bag and make me take my bamboo circ out of my project, why the hell do you not care if I have my pocketknife in my jeans pocket? I have to say I’m glad they didn’t make me leave my micra in their cardboard box (they let me keep my umbrella, too, since there hadn’t been a fuss over it and it fits in my bag), and I did get my needle back. On the other hand, it got wet enough during the show that I need to refinish it, and the fact that it was outside also meant I couldn’t knit during the concert. So I was standing on the balcony, without the friends I was expecting to be hanging out with, fidgeting instead of knitting.

Oh, well. Saturday definitely compensated for the unexpected alone-time, though, since I spent the entire day making jams and bread with Anj and Parker. It was so very nice to play with bread dough again… This wonderfully cool and rainy weather is making me want to make lots of things like soup and biscuits and roasted veggies.

Anyway, we were mightily productive, but I took a few minutes to pull out my camera to try to capture the lovely colors in a more permanent, less edible fashion. Only one of my pictures came out satisfactorily, but I rather like it.

lemon marmalade

Sunday’s only trip outside was for this month’s oh-so-thrilling co-op shift of bagging dry goods, plus some housework. Well past time, and I’m off to do some more now.

*Should you happen to go to Standard Tap, I recommend the chick pea and sprout sandwich. It was quite tasty.

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