Plied at last

In preparation for our move back to Portland, I felt compelled to spin as much fiber as I could. You know, uh, cuz fiber is so heavy.

I didn’t ply my singles, however, because I wanted to let the singles relax a bit before plying them together. So when we got home, I found myself plying like a madwoman. We haven’t completely unpacked yet so I don’t have all my notes on these recent spins. Oh well.

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Nest Fiber Club, “Primavera” in superwash merino. Chain-plied.

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This is Hello Yarn’s “Slither” in BFL/silk. This was spun fractally and loosely plied.

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This is from A Verb for Keeping Warm in “Octotillo.” One piece was superfine merino, and the other was 80% merino/20% silk. We stopped off at this store in Oakland on our way home. Most of it is a two-ply, and the grapey purple is the leftover, which I then chain-plied. More details about our visit to this awesome store later.

Pansy Spinup

I bought this Spunky Eclectic “Pansy” from a recent destash, and I had to spin it up as soon as I got it. It’s Romney, which I’ve never spun, but I was always curious about this breed after seeing so many Romney sheep at the Oregon State Fair last year.

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Seasoned spinners often recommend starting with a long wool like Romney because its long staple fibers make for easy drafting. And they were right. This spun right up, and it is probably one of the most consistently even yarn I’ve spun. I also like how there are undyed sections in this combed top. With the long staple fibers, I found that as I spun, the white would slowly be drawn into the color, producing different and unexpected tints. Conversely, when I think I’m just spinning an undyed section, a tiny sliver of color would be drafted in, adding a hint of color that deepens as I continue to spin. I know that as I get better, I will be able to better control how these colors combine, but I hope that I never get so good that I am no longer surprised.

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Romney is easy to spin, but it’s not the softest next to the skin.  Also, there’s something about this yarn that has a twine-y feel to it. Perhaps, I’ve put too much spin in them. I wish there was more information about how to best spin fiber like this. I love The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook  by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson. It’s my go-to-book for learning about the different breeds of sheep as well as other fiber from other animals. It’s really comprehensive and provides a detailed account of different breeds, their fiber characteristics and includes photos of how they spin and knit up. But, I wish there was more specific information out there about how to spin the different breeds.

I’m in the process of plying now, and I’m hoping that once I have finished the yarn, some of the twist will relax and there will be a little more spring to it.

Still, I love these colors and I’m hoping that these delightful Easter Egg colors would lend themselves to a little Liesl for Little A.

Big Alice Delight

One of the first bumps of roving I purchased when I first learned to spin was this beautiful roving by Big Alice Dyes, a local Portland dyer. I had saved it because I didn’t want my awkward hands to spin lumpy yarn that would eventually be used to knit up a coaster or a dish towel. I wanted it for ME. And so, it sat in my closet for a very long time.

It’s not because I’m now such an awesome spinner that I finally decided to break it out. It was just that I couldn’t resist seeing how the colors would come together when spun up. One thing that I’m starting to realize is how the color intensifies when it is compressed into a twist. It’s not just the energy created by the twist but also the layering of color that makes handspun yarn seem so alive and electric.

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How beautiful is this yarn? It’s brown bluefaced leicester. It’s not visible here, but I love the blue that is over-dyed and how these little blue filaments find themselves wrapped up together with the wine, burgundy, mossy greens and yellows.  I am planning on spinning a 3-ply yarn.

The sad thing now is that Big Alice has moved to San Francisco and no longer dyes fiber.

Please, Big Alice, if you get this message, please consider dyeing fiber for spinning again.

Sweater in July

Since moving to San Antonio, I’ve been knitting like a fiend. I’m taking this time to really try and learn the craft of knitting, and there is just so much to learn.

I finally completed a sweater for myself. Just in time for the 100+ degree  weather we will be getting in August. I don’t care. I love it. And I have worn it out a few times already. IMG_2654

This is Hannah Fettig‘s Trail Jacket. I love the elegant, simple spare lines of her designs, and I already have a ton of her patterns queued up on ravelry.

It’s meant to be a jacket (obviously duh-noted!), worn loose and boxy. I decided to knit it with some negative ease so that I could wear it more like a regular cardigan.

This is a quick knit and a real confidence booster. I learned a lot from knitting this simply designed sweater. I am liking the raglan sleeve knitting from the top down. I don’t know how to seam yet, but I like that I can try the sweater on as I knit and then gauge how I want to modify it. I’m filing this project away for possible future modifications.

Film wasteland

Now that we’re in San Antonio, where summer temperatures routinely hit 3 digits, we have been trying to come up with things to do during the sweltering afternoons. A summer movie matinee with little A sounded especially fun, and V and I both loved the idea of sneaking off during a weekday afternoon to introduce A to the big screen.

Well, easier said than done.

This sweet little scenario requires a suitable film to show a five-year old, but the only ones out there are sequels to films we would never watch or films coasting on manufactured excitement–3D! Computer generated!

We just watched My Friend Totoro  on DVD. The film gets me teary every time. What I love about it is that the story pays attention to the small details of childhood, relationships, and the inherent magic of the natural world. There isn’t a simplistic conflict between good and evil. There aren’t cheesy stock characters with strained one-liners. The film takes its time to tell a story about two young girls who move with their father to the country to be near their mother, who is sick at a hospital. As the children explore their new house and surroundings, they stumble upon wood sprites and creatures. The film is charming, fantastical yet emotionally true. There isn’t a pat ending because the film treats its audience with respect.

Why aren’t there more films like this? Children are smart. They don’t need to be spoon-fed stories that wrap up neatly in a bow.

Please. Someone in Movieland. Make a film for children that expands their world rather than scripts them into recycled cliches.

San Antonio!

We have finally arrived in San Antonio, Texas after a five-day drive that took us through Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico. So much has happened in past two weeks since we drove away from our house on NE Cleveland Ave in Portland. That life in the cool, lush green climate of the Pacific Northwest seems to have belonged to someone else. Our lives have “jumped a groove,” to quote a line from Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine, and we’re on a totally new trajectory. So much to write about. In the meantime, our strangely prescient fortune cookie fortunes:

Little A: “Let the spirit of adventure set the tone.”

V: “Make sure to laugh everyday…it’s good for your health.”

Me: “It’s time for you to explore all those new interests.”

A momento

My daughter goes to a Montessori school, and I love how the Montessori approach cultivates a tactile awareness of the world. The emphasis on practical life and sensorial activities ground the abstract ideas that children learn later in life to the materiality of the Now.

As a going away gift to her classmates, I wanted to leave a little something for Little A’s darling Montessori school, where they learn to finger knit while listening to Little House on the Prairie. The image of five and six year-old children quietly at work while immersed in the story is too sweet to bear.

I want to be a part of that scene and share in the pleasure and pride in creating with one’s hands, and so I spun this blue faced leicester roving from Woolgatherings into a three-ply yarn. I hope that whenever her friends and teachers work with this yarn and feel its spring and plushness, they will remember little A and feel how much she loved them.
I am feeling sad for Little A. She doesn’t know it yet, but she will miss this place.

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