Friday, February 06, 2009

It's snowing. Again.

That was the view from my office/spare room window yesterday, and it's the same today. Some of that melted, but more fell this morning; in fact, it's falling now. Normally I do the shopping on Fridays, but after 30 minutes at 20mph I'd done 1/4 of the journey. Not worth the time. It's difficult for people with 'proper' winters to understand why 2–4" of snow is disastrous here, but... we don't have snow tires. Graders or snow ploughs are used only on the main roads (ie highways). Everywhere else they rely on a mixture of grit (to provide tractions) and salt (to lower the freezing point of the slush), and the prolonged cold plus this much snow means the gritters haven't been out. I didn't have a problem driving on packed slush/ice – I indulged in a practice brake/skid on a quiet stretch of road to remind myself of what it felt like and how to handle it - but I'm not happy when people who might have problems are cruising down the road 6' behind me at 30mph. So here I am :-)

First, a finished object. The Swallowtail I now think of as Beads 'r' Us.
Knitted as part of the Tuesday Spinners and Cake-eaters 2009 Optional Challenge, this is my handspun, hand-dyed tussah. As it's my second Swallowtail I wanted to learn something new, so I decided to try beading (8/0) with a crochet hook (0.6mm). I went a bit mad. There are beads on every k3tog, at the base of every nupp, and running down every vertical in the border (on half of these there's a bead on *every* stitch, as I beaded the purl stitch before knitting it, then beading the knitted stitch). That's nearly two 13g tubes of ruby beads. I was increasingly unsure that I liked it until blocking, when I started to think it might be alright because the beads became much less... concentrated as the fabric stretched. And then I put it on and decided it's alright after all. I've got to keep it for a while because if I am asked to do a workshop on shawls/lace, I need it as an example of beading. But after that I might just auction it for Natalie (The Yarnyard's) 'pay it forward' p/hop for MSF.
I promised some fibre...
Last year, when I knew very little more than that I wanted to spin, I ordered a fleece. A REALLY good fleece. One of Treenway's handpicked New Zealand fleeces. This is Polwarth. It's beautiful. SO beautiful that I have been too scared to do more than wash a few handfuls of individual locks, one by one, which I combed and spun laceweight. It's lovely, and it's incredibly slow. So on Monday I just... snapped... and decided I was going to get to grips with this. No point in leaving it to fossilise: I just have to try. This mass is a laundry bag-full of individual locks washed and dried en masse. It may or may not look like a disaster to anyone who processes fleece regularly – I have next-to-no clue about this – but I can easily pick out individual locks, which I'm flicking to spin from the lock. Here's a lock pulled free from its friends.

Here I've flicked open the butt end with my very finest handcard-equivalent, a dog-grooming thing with teeth finer and more delicate than my finecloth handcards. The polwarth is almost as soft as butter and I want to be gentle with it.
And here's the same lock, flicked open at both ends. I've just started spinning these from the ends (comparing butt to tip) as I'm a bit of a worsted freak and this does it so well. I like what I've got so far, but I think there may still be some grease in the wool: it's not moving as freely as I think it could. Or it just might be that merino-style crimp. I will wash some more in Fairy liquid to check; it will certainly strip the grease, but I don't want to use it to wash the entire fleece. I wouldn't use it on my hair, so why would I use it on my wool?

For Christmas I gave myself (colour me embarrassed) membership of the Socktopus Fibre Academy. We've been set the meme 'My Top Ten...'

1. Fibres: I've spun tussah silk, BFL, merino, jacob (in the grease), silk cap, romney, polwarth, camel top, silk hankies, alpaca, alpaca, a wool/angora/silk top, filament silk, pygora. Not all that much experience, but I suspect you can pick my favourite to date from looking at that list. Silk. I love it. Shiny, smooth, and for me so far it all spins like a dream. Second place would be a tie between fine merino on a light spindle, and the pygora cloud from Terry at Rainbowyarnsnw.com.

2. Spinning technique: I haven't tried enough of them and lack of practice means I'm not very good at some of those I've tried, so it's too early to tell. I loved the longdraw-gasm, I like the way that top spun longdraw-ish from one end just flows into singles and onto the wheel.

3. Plying technique: hmmmm. I recently discovered the joys of true 3-ply, feeding the singles from the Schacht tensioned lazy kate across the back of my hand and through my fingers. I have to try Margaret Stove's method of weaving the singles through the fingers, too.

4. Dyers: my tastes change from day to day at the moment. Which is why I'm learning to dye for myself :-)

5. Colours: for the last 20 years I've worn more and more 'sludge' colours. Olive drab, dusty purple, murky browns and maroons, black and dark grey. I love them still, but recently I have gone red: I actually bought a red sweater, and I've knitted red silk (of course) shawls. I love purple, too. But when I dye, I dye things scarlet and gold and emerald dragonfly green and turquoise and gunmetal purple.

6. Book: too many to list. There's a link to my Librarything profile on this page somewhere; I've got just over half the holding up to date.

7. TV show/movie: I think... for jaw-dropping wonder and complete absorption, it has to be Mirrormask. But I wouldn't choose to part with the Princess Bride, or Stardust, or our Miyazaki collection, or The Crow, or M*A*S*H (or the tv series, for that matter), and I watch Step into Liquid regularly.

8. Spinning mag: got to be Spindlicity.

9. Time of day: early, early morning. When the sun isn't up, but the sky is lightening and the world is freshly made for me.

10. Indulgence: confession time... wine. Really good wine, ideally Spanish or Italian reds. Brunello di Montalcino for a start :-)

Speaking of which, if I don't get some work done today I can't justify wine with dinner. Even if it is Friday.
Was that creative? I hope so, because I have to justify my Kreative Blogger award from Goldentracks. Thank you!




2 comments:

theyarnyard said...

What a lovely shawl, and from handspun too.
I think you richly deserve your award. :o)

La Cabeza Grande said...

Spinners and Cake Eaters. I love that, right along with your Swallowtail. I do wish I had the patience for something as lovely as your lace.