Slow progress

So many things conspire to keep us away from the needles and knitty noddies and these pages.

Deadlines, fresh interests, the occasional detour into a good read (where is there another one just like it?), household chores and the pursuit of new boots have intervened. 

There's been knitting, a new design, which has me bursting--and miraculously spinning (thanks to the Sunday Spinners!)--but it's all so slow going.

The above is yarn spun from a Fleece Artist roving purchased eons ago that's been languishing on a bobbin these many months. But it's progress.

Spinning: Speaking of twist...

If it weren't for Ms. Cheryl Oberle, my spinning wheel would get about as much use as the juicer. As it is, the group of spinners she gathers monthly are so talented and informative that it behooves a lazy spinner to shoulder the Big Wood and head out the door.

For example, did you know you could purchase modular spindles with screw-on shafts, so you can keep spinning without unloading your spindle? Or that a drum carder has a feature called a licker-on? Heavens!

More startling is that the Big Wood has produced a second ball of plied yarn this year. From Fleece Artist Silk Wool Sliver (65% wool/35% silk).

Thank you, Ladies. You are an inspiration!

Holiday miracle: The magi brought yarn!

Not only that...plied yarn!

I have no idea where the roving came from. Ashland Bay? The niddy noddy, a Jenkins, I believe. Notice the teethmarks. Can't imagine who did that.

The yarn is wonky and idiosyncratic; there won't be any ribbons at the county fair. But it could knit up into a fun granola-girl beanie for one of the youngins we know. And there was pleasure in the spinning. You know the zone, where it feels like you're playing Bach (but you're really spinning "Mary had a little lamb")? 

May the holidays spin up something warm and magical to delight your heart. Warm fuzzies to all!

Tour de Fleece report

As you can see, the most attractive element in this photo is the buckeye burl spindle I bought from Gypsy Wools. The roving I'm spinning is a good starter fiber, a nice, not-too-slick Wensley/Lincoln--local, I believe. I'm spinning it as part of my half-hearted participation in Ravelry's Tour de Fleece, running in sync with the Tour de France.

The above has been a treat to spin, but the result I fear is vaguely, hmmm, pubic. Perhaps plying will help.


Spinning a 4th of July


That I am finally spinning respectable yarn should inspire fireworks.

No doubt the bombs, whistles and sundry explosions rocking our neighborhood this weekend had more to do with the birth of this great country, but one can pretend.

And, to be perfectly truthful, there was a lot more cooking and consuming than yarn production: Homemade cherry-almond granola (the wonderful Carmen's recipe), grilled wild-caught, honey-glazed salmon spiked with Durango Hickory Smoked Sea Salt, wilted kale over grilled polenta, mixed-grain cheddar bisquits (courtesy of the in-house baker), wild rice salad with blue cheese in a white-wine vinaigrette, and to wrap up a long, delicious weekend with cookies-and-cream ice cream from Paleteria Chihuahua. Yo caro hilado!

By George, she's spinning!

This isn't going to take the blue ribbon at the state fair, but it might be worth plying and knitting. I love how the Black Hills Woolies' roving spins up into this cool, natural multi. There may be a hat in some young man's future.

How I finally learned to spin--I think

Maggie Casey

I have owned a spinning wheel for, hmm, let's say seven years. In that time, I've watched women, who have never spun before, spool out the most amazing yarn their first time spinning.

That some people are naturals is a given. Like the woman sitting next to me this weekend in Maggie Casey's spinning class. She had never spun before and was turning out the prettiest plies you've ever seen. I've spun pounds of yarn and let's just say, you ain't going to get shawls made from my handspun to glide through a wedding ring.

It's not that I haven't had good instruction. Many a fine spinner has tried to show me the subtle movements required in getting fiber to take twist evenly. All that pinching, pulling, tugging and drafting while fiber is being sucked onto the bobbin, or breaking, or creating giant python-swallowed-elephant blobs. It's certainly not the fault of the wheel. I managed to find a used Schacht Matchless single treadle online, an early model from the 1980s. Though for the past couple of years, it's been out of commission, the victim of small children and a kitten who enjoyed derailing drive bands. Physical coordination has never been a strong suit.

But after spending two solid days trapped in a gym with Maggie Casey and 13 other spinners, something clicked. Suddenly some of the rubbing-your-head-patting-your-stomach moves started happening, accidentally then volitionally. Suddenly it felt good and not maddening.

You can see the wonky result below. Here's to a summer of spinning garden- and creek-side in the presence of drowsy, purring cats.