Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Making progress...slowly

Hey, Jenn! I am really liking this Finn! The colors are soooo nice and this is going to be one soft yarn, I can tell. I'm spinning it semi-worsted, using a long forward draw and just letting the twist 'snap' into the drafting zone. Fluffy stuff, indeed! I'm not even trying to spin terribly evenly and I'm trying my best to get thicker-than-normal singles so I might end up with a worsted weight yarn this time. Maybe.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, hopefully with decent pictures. My camera is so high-tech, even the kids have trouble with it; so you can imagine how hopeless I am with it. I can turn it on and point it at something. I can use the close-up zoom lens thingie. That's it. Oh, and connect the funky cord to download the pics. That is ALL.

I am freaking hopeless

I need a Keeper. I really do. My poor dd does her best (which is a really most excellent 'best') to fulfil my needs for a Personal Secretary. But not even she can keep track of all my fiber; bless her for continuing to try. It's a wonder she isn't emotionally damaged from keeping track of her mother and all her junk. I've got fiber stuck EVERYWHERE in this house. It more resembles a jumble sale/barn/storage unit than a home, thanks to my Fiber Habit.

I found the missing fiber...top...roving...whatever...(from the previous post), late last night. Only to discover that some much-loved hand-dyed Finn top was now missing! I nearly had a heart-attack over that one. It was very precious to me, not only because it is gloriously soft and JUST the colors I wanted, but also because Jennifer of Laughing Rat Studios dyed it up. She does lovely work and her fibers are always easy to work with - and she's a such a sweet lady, to boot. I finally found the precious stuff after a frantic search up and downstairs a few times, yanking open drawers, doors, boxes and bags located in about 5 or 6 places ::pant! puff!::

Poor Jennifer - she about had a heart attack, too, as I'd written her a bit earlier (before my 2 mad hunting rampages through the house), asking the poor girl if she'd ever sent the stuff to me! You can have no idea how awful/bad/stupid & horrible I felt, having caused such heart burnings for this lady. She's had enough troubles lately as it is, and here I was causing even more :-(. My stomach still hurts thinking about what I put her through. Thank goodness it was relatively brief, lasting only about 20 minutes.

Fortunately for us both, my 2nd 'mad rampage' had the happy result of my finding the beautiful Finn top. Wanna know WHERE I found it??? Well, remember my freak-out over the itty-bitty moth? Where I used my Food Saver to vacuum bag lots 'n' lots of fiber? Yeah. In that pile. It was the very first thing I'd bagged. On the bottom of the pile. In my bedroom closet. Plain sight.

I can't believe God ever trusted me enough to give me 2 precious children - it's a wonder I haven't mislaid them as well, the poor loves. But my saga doesn't end here...oh, no...it gets better (and isn't that just thrilling?).

This morning I lost my new blue Salish locks I just got in the mail from Dori Ann! GAH!!! Somebody help me! Put me in a round rubber room with just my fiber and wheel - I'll be FINE! I promise! Can't lose anything in a round room, right???

Yes, I found the Salish. Finally. Don't ask. I'm not telling.

What a STUPID start to the day. Even though it began last night. The question I can hardly bear to ask myself is: "What else is 'missing' that I don't yet realize?"

Anyhoo - here's a pic I'm posting of the two "lost" fibers. I figure I ought to have the pics just in case these things (bite my tongue!) get lost for real. At least I'll have proof that I HAD them. Once upon a time.
Look how LONG those Salish locks are! They're about 7" inches long, but the fiber itself is SO fluffy and soft. I have no idea how I'm going to spin these up, let alone combine them with the Finn top, but I would LOVE to have a 3-ply yarn composed of 2 plies of the Finn and a single ply of the Salish. Thing is...the Finn is, like, majorly short-stapled. That means it will have to have a very tight twist just to convince it to be yarn, but the Salish will have to have a very low twist to keep it from turning into steel cable. I have NO idea what the plied result will be. Probably horrible, as most of my experiments are. I really hate sampling the Salish because I have less than 4 oz, but I've got to do it or I'll end up with yet another It's-Not-Supposed-To-Look-Like-This! yarn.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Wonderful. I've done it again; lost a big pile of fiber that I'd gotten out to finish spinning up this week. AGAIN!

The family unit swears up and down they don't know what happened to it, don't know what I'm talking about, and didn't find it shredded to bits by the family dawg.

They're probably not kidding, either. I am so unorganized, I couldn't find my way out of a paper bag with a flashlight and written instructions. Heaven only knows where I've got all my fiber stashed, but I just KNOW I got it out to spin! An' it ain't there where I put it!

This roving was really pretty, too; a riot of Spring-y/Summer-y colors that I wanted to finish up before the snow flies (I just HATE, HATE, HATE Winter). Well, maybe I'll find it when the ice and snow have me so depressed I can't stand it any more. Then, those bright colors might cheer me up a tad. :::shudder:::

Did I mention how much I hate and despise Winter? I am so totally dreading it, like I do every year *sigh*

Friday, September 26, 2008

I think I'll go eat worms now...

Okay. So the "best laid plans of mice and men oft gang awry". I should know that by now, especially for a non-expert spinner's plans. HOW I wish I could afford classes by a Master Spinner! I have just got to figure out how to take into account the effect TPI (twists per inch) has on both singles and the plied result! I know that how one spins the fiber; woolen, worsted or a variation of either type also has a big, big effect on the final result. I'm afraid that ONLY a Master could show me how and that's just exactly what I can't afford :-( Winning a lottery sure would come in handy about now. :::sigh:::

I really, really need to know how to create the type of yarn I need for whatever project I have in mind, whether it is sock yarn, lace-weight or uber-bulky stuff; whether for a single, 2-ply or a freaking 10-ply (yes, I have lots of bobbins...but where would I find a big enough lazy kate?!?).

Case in point are the last 2 batches I've spun and plied up; the all natural, 4-ply, marled yarn in the previous post and the one shown below (my son's 3-ply Blue-Faced Leicester sock yarn, purchased from Miss Babs).

Both yarns were spun worsted on my largest whorl (5:1 ratio), the one I always use for the long fibers. Apparently, I didn't spin each single very consistently, either, as is rather obvious from the way the plied yarn looks, darn it! Some areas are rather tightly and smoothly plied (the way it OUGHT to have looked!) and other areas are so loose :-(. Boy, am I bummed.

I feel so bad, having practically ruined a gorgeous, perfectly dyed BFL top. I WISH I had had the wit to take a picture of the unspun top first (before destroying it) - you should have seen it - it was GLORIOUS! The picture on her site doesn't even come close to the beauty of the actual fiber and dye colors she used. The pale, pale grey was an actual silver (!); the sheen of the BFL is just indescribable. I thought it looked a bit like like silk! I'm almost too ashamed to send a pic of this yarn to Miss Babs - she'd probably refuse to sell anything else to me. I just hope this doesn't look too crappy once it's knitted up. I also failed to strip and prepare the top correctly for the fractal stripe look I wanted so badly - and yammered about so much in an earlier post :-(. All around - this yarn is pretty much a TOTAL failure. Yarn it is, but NOT what it ought to be. I think I'll go eat worms now...

May the Spinning Angels have mercy, and come to my aid!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wheee!!! It's DONE!

It's done, it's done! You know that yarn I've been spinning (and blathering about) since time began?? The alpaca-merino-silk 'bumpity-bump' stuff (2 bobbins), the hazelnut superwash merino stuff (1 bobbin) (both fibers from Leah at Yarn Or a Tale), and the dark chocolate brown llama stuff (1 bobbin)? C'est FINIS! I am pretty pleased with the way it came out, too. It is 4-ply worsted-weight (more or less). I was going for heavy worsted, but I just can't seem to spin thicker singles no matter how hard I try! I was hoping that a 4-ply marl would be good enough - I just didn't think I had it in me to spin up a 5th bobbin to get a heavier weight! Anyhoo - I got exactly 800 yards (780yds from the original plying + 20 yds from the "leftovers") - an amount I could hardly believe. I filled up my monster plying bobbin 3 times before getting through it all!

Anyway - it has gone to its new home (to a dear, sweet lady whom I admire very much). I had hoped to get it done before the cold weather blew in; after all - one needs warm garments before Winter gets here, not after. As slowly as I go sometimes, I figured it would be Christmas before I finally finished. I'm quite slow when spinning worsted, and every. single. bit. was inch-wormed (oof!). I learned a lot (and how).

Below are some pics that the giftee took for me (as I'm too freaking stupid to remember to do it myself, bless her generous heart).

An update on the rain from over a week ago: okay - looks like the weatherboys were wrong (so what else is new?). We got about 9.5". But that was a LOT. I am SO happy we didn't get any more!

Friday, September 12, 2008

There's Nothing Like a Little Water...

to get trapped in one's neighborhood. "They're coming, they're coming! We can't get out, we can't get out!"

::coff:: Forgive me. I've read LOTR too many times....

So far, we've had over 10" since it began raining overnight, with plenty more to come. Oh, well - more knitting time! More spinning! More mopping! Unfortunately, the roof is leaking by the chimney *sigh*. And it isn't a little leak, either. grrrr! However, that isn't as bad as the poor people who've been flooded out of their homes already. Poor souls! I just hope and pray that doesn't happen to us: my fiber! my yarns!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I saw a moth. A tiny, brownish moth. Next to my fiber room :::shudder::: I tried to chase it down, but it evaded me. Dear Heaven! I don't know that what I'm seeing is a wool-eating moth, but...oh, man. My stomach is just doing flip-flops.

I am so sick with horror I can't even *think* straight. There is no room in my freezer to store the fiber. No room at all! Unlike the Harlot, we are NOT vegetarians and so it's, like, totally full of actual food. HALP! Somebody! Anybody!

On another depressing note, it appears that I've divided my "New York" BFL top incorrectly! Now, why did I have to start this new experiment with my favorite colorway??? Only *I* would be so intrepidly stupid. Couldn't I have just tried it on some other, less favored, roving?!? But, noooo! That would have been too freakin' smart!

Heaven only knows what this sock yarn is going to look like, but it probably won't be as nice as it would have been had I paid attention to what I was doing :-(. I am such an unhappy camper this morning! That's what I get for having had a good day yesterday.

Almost done!

Well, okay - the plying won't start for a few days - maybe even a week or a bit more, but...! I've only got to finish up the chocolate llama single, and that's about halfway done and then... and then...! Woo-hoo! Skein-winder, here I come, done at last! And just in time for cool-weather knitting! Just to let you know, the chocolate single is not as dark as it's showing up in the photo, but I forgot to use my flash. Stupid - and so typical of me. I will try to do a better job of color management once the plying is done. I promise.

Okay. Maybe I'd best not crow just yet. My luck, something horrid will happen and I'll have to start all over :::shudder::: It doesn't bear thinking about! I haven't said much about this lovely chocolate llama, but I got the roving from Nancy Mercer of Naked Pines Ranch. It's a great little place, and her husband's even put up a wool-processing and dyeing shed! It couldn't happen to a sweeter person, though. Nancy's a lovely lady who is very talented and one of the busiest women on the planet, I swear. I can't imagine how she gets done HALF the things she does, yet she's cheerful, no matter what's going on. Me? I'd be a basket case. NO doubt (just ask my better half).

To take a small break from spinning the llama, though, I thought I'd try out some new stuff I got from Miss Babs; a glorious BFL (and you all know that one of my favorite wools is Blue Faced Leicester, right? (that's pronounced: Lester, btw). It makes a fabulous sock yarn; strong yet soft.

Well! I thought I knew everything there IS to know about BFL. Boy, was I wrong! This stuff is actually shiny! And the colorways Babs dyes her fibers in are just wonderful! Here's the direct link to the colorways. In some of the photos, the shine shows up a bit, but still doesn't do it complete justice. I have 6 of her rovings and only wish I could have ALL of them!

What I'm hoping to end up with is a 3-ply fractally-striped (wish me luck!) fingering-weight yarn. This effect creates a yarn in which the colors mesh into subtly blended stripes rather than plain, ordinary stripes. Usually, to get a bold, but ordinary, striped look, one has to Navajo ply the yarn to keep all the colorways more-or-less "together", but - fun as Navajo plying is - I don't want to do it that way. The only other way (and ridiculously difficult) is to take infinite, painstaking care to spin each single EXACTLY alike (groan!), which is a near impossibility. Yes, I know it can be done - I've done it! - but never again, if I can help it. LOL

Anyway, I'm trying it out on the New York colorway: very pale silvery grey, med-to-dark grey shades, dark green shades (sorry I don't have a pic, yet). I'll try to put one up sometime this week, if I get time. I know the colors sound strange, but they are breathtakingly beautiful in 'real life'. The colors are so subdued, quiet and peaceful (which is not really a "me" thing; subdued, quiet and peaceful, I mean), but they work together beautifully. I really hope this turns out well! I'd like to knit one of my men some socks from this! My poor son keeps growing bigger and bigger feet (and hubby does not appreciate handknit woolen socks - I know...he's baffling), so my young fella will probably get these. He'll love them, too. He nearly weeps every time he outgrows yet another pair of his beloved handknit socks.

Getting back on track.... To get one kind of fractal stripe effect, separate the roving/top lengthwise into 3 pieces of equal width. Set one 1/3rd strip aside to be spun as is, with no further separation. That will provide you a single with looong color stripes. For the second 1/3rd strip, split into 2 equally wide, lengthwise strips. There, you'll get somewhat shorter (but same-colored) stripes for bobbin #2. For the third single, separate that last strip into 3 equally wide, lengthwise strips. This last single gives even short stripes because... (No, I'm not deliberately insulting your intelligence here! Just being thorough.), because the amount of fiber in those skinnier strips is less than the roving strips for bobbins 1 & 2.

Spin up 3 singles (now quit whining - you know it's worth it) and ply them together, gloating over how lovely your fab yarn looks. And how NO ONE ELSE on the planet has yarn quite like yours!

Tip: I like to "finger crochet" all my strips (not together though!) and keep them bundled and marked for which single they go to. It would be just like me to mistake a strip #2 for belonging to the pile intended for bobbin #3. I would be SO ticked at myself if I did that. Well, that's all for now, and my eyes won't stay open any longer. G'nite, all!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Just to put things into perspective

My frantic feelings for the 'loss' of my nearly-full bobbin has very quickly dwindled into utter vapidity in comparison to the very real loss of my friend.

I refer to Rabeka, whose baby girl died one day after she was born. The wee one's name was Josephine Kay. And so...'Beka and her husband, John, had to make the long, sad trip back home from a special hospital, empty-armed and aching, sorrowing for their pretty little girl. Dear God! What sorrow!

I hope it is a good, long while before I even think of complaining about 'loss' again.

May our good God grant them comfort and hearts' ease, in due time and in bountiful measure, once their storm of grief has calmed.

May Our Lady, Whose birthday it is today (Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother Mary!) also comfort Rabeka and John, wrapping them and their young boys in Her gentle care, ever pointing them to Her Son; "Do whatever He tells you." Mary Most Holy, pray for us, now and at the our of our death! Amen

Thursday, September 4, 2008

So...how many times am I allowed...

to change my mind? Having eaten my heart out over the 'loss' of that almost-full bobbin of alpaca, now that it's found again, I've decided that it isn't dark enough! three weeks of heart-burning for nothing! It's lovely - oh, very. It's a glorious, glowingly-warm, mostly cinnamon-brown color, mixed with just a hint of brownish Shetland (to make it hang together b'c the alpaca is sooo slippery). The Shetland really isn't a brown-brown, but more of a grayed-brown, which goes well with the 3 other bobbins.

BUT! It ain't dark 'nough :-(. I've got a gorgeous baker's chocolate llama roving that is nearly as soft as the alpaca, and I've spun up a bit of it 'just to see'. Wow. Not only is it MUCH easier to spin, what a difference that darker shade makes in contrast with the three other, much lighter, singles! I think I definitely have to go with the dark chocolate llama! Yummy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I need a swift kick in my...

um. You know.

o-kay there. I found my "missing" bobbin full of alpaca/shetland. You know. The one that was the 4th single of what was to become a 4-ply gift of yarn? Thought I ought to mention something about it. In case anyone has been feeling sorry for me. Not that I wasn't doing a great job of that already.

Yessirree! There it was, hiding under some freshly-spun BFL that was very, very similar in color to the alpaca blend. Apparently, the 2 colors were so similar (at the first careless glance, that is) that I didn't realize I was hiding one with the other!

I am soooo stoooopid.

*sigh* I will now FINISH the freakin' thing before I manage to lose it again.