Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I could have sworn I updated more recently than that, but...apparently not. I did take a bunch of pictures, but they are all still on the camera. So, let's see. Friday night I got to the end of the first two balls on my Noro scarf. Saturday I worked on super sekrit knitting for the SO's birthday, which is Wednesday, since he ended up having to go to work. When he got home I hid that project and cast on a Just Enough Ruffles scarf in Malabrigo Silky Merino, colorway velvet grapes, which is just gorgeous. Yum. Sunday was more Noro scarf as we were in company and busy and I needed simple knitting. Monday, I was off of work, so there was more super sekrit knitting, since he was not. Then I got called into work, went to the grocery store on my way home, and knittted on the Noro scarf for the rest of the evening. So, that's where I am on the knitting front. Lots of scarf. Not much else.

I did sit down to swatch for my sweater, but it occurred to me to check the yarn requirements before I got started, and I discovered that while I did have what the book says it will take, I only had about 50 yards to spare. This seems like asking for trouble to me and I did not dare use any of it to swatch. Time to contact Webs, see if they have any left in that dye lot (unlikely, as the SO bought it for me in October) and if not, get a couple of balls in another colorway to use for swatching purposes. If I knew how much it would take to do the pentagons, I guess I could do the pentagons all in one color and do the body of the sweater in another, and hope it looked like a style element. But I'll have to think about that.

Thursday I gave the finished and blocked Whispering Pines shawl to the SO's Mom, and she was well pleased. I'm thrilled with the end product, and do have pictures, though I'm not sure how clear they are. I was a little punchy by the end of the blocking and may not have held the camera adequately steady. It's so beautiful, though.

I said something about Nature's Yarns in her presence and she wanted to go, so I met her there on Monday morning and we shopped and gabbed for a while (a long while, actually). She picked up a bunch of things but only actually bought a few, while I bought three braids of brown "Colonial Wool" (the shop lady said it was Corriedale) because my spinning needs work.

I have been spinning with great enjoyment but very little success. The first thing I spun was some Merino I got at Nature's Yarns, and I...should have listened to all the sources that said Merino was not a good beginner fiber. The first bobbin was uneven, overtwisted, and generally bad.

I thought about the problems I was having, and I went looking for some spinning videos on youtube and the joy of handspinning website, and I got a pretty good idea of what was wrong with my drafting technique. The next time I sat down at the wheel I

The second bobbin was better, but still way, way, overtwisted and kinky and not much fun to get off the bobbin. Winding it off onto a center-pull ball turned out to be not so much of a good idea. I'm not sure the ball is usable for plying purposes. I'm not sure I'm eveng going to bother to ply, I was going to just for practice purposes and because I have heard that plying will hide a multitude of sins, but I have several problems. One - the center pull ball is not very nice. Two - The other bobbin of singles is considerably shorter, or so I anticipate, than the second bobbin, in which I got the hang of drafting a little bit better and managed to draw the wool out much thinner. So, I will have to think on that for a while.

But, last night (after getting said mess off the bobbin to free one up), I started spinning the Corriedale, and while working with it was a little freaky (it is almost the same color as my own hair and the long staple length made it seem even more hairlike) it WAS easier to draft, but more importantly, my singles were still kinking up before I got them on the bobbin. I had thought this was happening because I couldn't draft fast enough, but when it happened on the Corriedale too, I thought, maybe I'm wrong, and so I tightened then tension to increase the take-up onto the bobbin, and lo - no more kinks. At least, not many. When they happen they are single kinks and not inch-long corkscrews. I felt both dumb, and elated. I think part of the tension issue was that I was testing the tension using my worsted-weight leader and when I was drafting out much thinner singles, the tension that worked for that worsted leader didn't work for those thinner, more twisted singles. I am slow.

Actually, I'm fast, which is another problem with my spinning. I need to work on keeping my treadling at a controlled pace. Actually, there are several things I am trying to pay attention to in order to improve my spinning.

--Watch not only the fiber in my hands, but the fiber between my hands and the orifice, to see how it is behaving between leaving my fingers and going into the orifice, so that I don't spin along thinking I am doing great, only to look at the bobbin and find that it is full of corkscrews.
--Stop the wheel when I start to lose control of the drafting triangle. Don't keep treadling while trying to sort it out because the twist just builds and builds and then I am in trouble.
--Treadle at a steady pace. I have an exercise bike for speed. Spinning is not a race.
--When I get frustrated, STOP. Walk away. Come back later. Working while frustrated just makes things worse. I tense up, I jerk on the fibers, and most importantly, I treadle faster, which adds more twist even more quickly and just kinks things up faster. It's not worth it. Just stop, and go away.
--Understand that it is a learning process, I have no teacher, and that it is okay to suck at the beginning. Breathe.

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