Making Time

Isn’t it interesting how we carve out time for the things that matter most to us?   When I first began hanging out with the rude jerk inside my Wii Fit, I hated the knitting time I was losing.  Last night, I was two minutes late for the NCIS season finale because I was boxing. 

Of course, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve found a few minutes to spin every day since Saturday either.   Two ounces of Corridale, most likely to be plied with some crochet cotton with beads strung on it…

I’m an addict.  I’ve known this about myself for years.  I think reading was my first addiction; I devoured books and was reading long before I ever went to school.  I don’t know what came next, but I’ve been obsessed with horses, running, the oboe, tennis, roosters, Winnie the Pooh, weight lifting, baking, dark chocolate, craisins, candy coated sunflower seeds, loose tea, key limes, alfredo, pesto, cookbooks, knitting, spinning, scrapbooking, stamping, photography, dogs, fire trucks, fancy dresses, pearls, charm bracelets, teddy bears, wine with bubbles, shoes, Vera Bradley, history, The Civil War, fine china, antique flatware…

You get the point.  I tend to go overboard when I get into something.  Sometimes, I outgrow the phase – teddy bears are a great example.  Once I packed up my college dorm room, I think the urge to collect novel bears faded pretty quickly.  However, most of the time, I remain at least kinda’ interested in the former rabid fascinations.  But there are only so many hours in a day, so when something new tickles my fancy, something has to give.

I don't mean to be greedy, but I hope I have more than the one bloom this year!

As I look forward to having the current study move into another room and become a hobby room, I’m going to have to make some hard choices.  (Personally, I think a huge addition with a room for each of my obsessions would be the ideal solution, but then the Knight would want space for his hobbies too, so…)  I know some of you are naturally minimalists, and I envy you.  I know some of you have downsized, and still others have had to make room for new additions to your household.

What do you do with old collections that house gifts from special people?  What do you do with all the supplies from one crafting category when another catches your eye?   

Oh – and if you see my knitting mojo, tell it to enjoy the vacation, but at some point, I will want to actually DO something with all this yarn I’m spinning… 

… like knit socks from the new book by the woman who finally wrote instructions I could follow to do two socks at the same time.  Nichole is giving a copy of said book away, so be sure to say I sent you!

The One I Want

Okay, so the most accurate statement is one of my searches is over.  The Knight is back to insisting I’d be happiest with a sedan, but that’s another story…

The Bellus on the right with its new sister

I was bound and determined to buy a new wheel yesterday, whether we bonded or not.  I was tired of shopping and not sitting down to that magical feeling that THIS is THE wheel, and I was becoming distracted by the weaknesses in my stalwart little BellusAnita sweetly assured me she had a good feeling about my shopping agenda, and while I am often oblivious to my own intuition, I honor everyone else’s.  With all of that going for me, I headed to Stony Mountain Fibers  with my mad money in hand.

Does she look familiar?  She should.  I had a feeling it was fortuitous to get to spin on the Majacraft Aura before her North American debut, but it wasn’t love at first sight.  I liked her, but I think there were several factors at play that distracted me that day.   Nevertheless, yesterday we hit it right off.

Barbara had some great, older pop ‘n rock music playing in the shop.  I’ve always loved soundtracks and musicals, but Grease was the first one that I found on my own, so to speak, so it was more than a little ironic that at one point, You’re the One that I Want caught my ear.   Maybe I’ll name the new wheel Sandra Dee or Honey. 

She’s Majacraft’s Aura.   Part of what won me over on this, our second introduction, is that what is now MY wheel was put through her paces at Maryland Sheep & Wool by Glynis, half of the owner/director team for Majacraft.  All that was left to do was to figure out which bobbin ratio made everything perfect for me.   I was able to spin yarn so fine it was scary, which might also read that as soon as I was comfortable with this beauty, she gladly produced a single that would be a fine laceweight when plied.

I learned to spin on a Fricke S-160 DT, so I suppose it’s natural for me to prefer a delta orifice.  (The place on the right where the yarn meets the wheel, if any non-spinners are following along.)  A true delta orifice lacks that curlycue in the front, which Majacraft sweetly calls the halo ring.  Rightly so, because this wheel is heaven-sent.

See that white cord?  That’s unique on a Majacraft wheel, and simply put, it is double drive in a fashion we can all understand.   I’ve linked to the Mechanics page that came with my wheel, because there’s no way I can explain it better than they do.  Dear Barbara read it to me while I was spinning, and helped me figure out what fine adjustments were needed to make this wheel truly my own.   No more feeling as though my wheel is snatching the yarn from me!

Just so you know, that pale orange was spun at MDSW, and the bright coral is what I spun at the shop.  I’ve since stripped that from the wheel and have some blue Cormo on there.  Some of you who know me well will appreciate that I fell in love with a wheel that came home with a bobbin dressed in shades of orange.

That’s specifically for Anita.   Top, the huge Aura bamboo (drive wheel and bobbins are bamboo, one of my favorite renewable resources), and bottom, the seemingly limitless Heavenly Handspinning bobbin we love so dearly.  I think that while they are shaped very differently, the Aura bobbin will still hold all I care to spin onto it, with the advantage of double drive and its ability to stay the course as a bobbins fills.

I could write for days, but that only takes away from my spinning time.  Oh – and the silly Knight wanted to know why I didn’t trade the Siren (aka: Bellus) in.  In case anyone else is wondering, here’s a little list of whys:

  1. He is my first wheel. 
  2. Anita has his sister or cousin or something, and we’ve plied new layers of friendship in learning to spin together.  (Okay, I tempted her into spinning, she learned and then helped me take spinning out of the classroom and into my life.)
  3. I might still want to ply on the Bellus, because plying has always delighted me, and Irish tension plies like nothing else.
  4. It’s a novelty.   You can’t walk into your local (or nearest) spinning shop and find one.
  5. At least two of my friends have hinted that Siren can live with them if he needs to relocate.
  6. It is lighter and more forgiving of banging around, should I ever opt to take a wheel to the beach or something.
  7. It’s arguably the best beginner’s wheel out there, because of price and its very simple design.  I don’t know that I would have ever figured out all the parts to a wheel had I started with anything fancier.

For the record “everyone” was right.  I did sit down with the Aura yesterday and everything clicked.  I wasn’t distracted by a single treadle Matchless at a bargain price, and there was no Lendrum that was almost as nice at a much cheaper price.  I never even spun on anything else in the shop, and I am quite certain that while I will continue to enjoy trying out other wheels, I’ll walk away shrugging it off because MY wheel and I just fit.  There are no extra flyers or different bobbins for lace to buy.  If I don’t ply with the Bellus, I’ll need a lazy kate (hint, hint to the Knight for my birthday), and truly, that’s it. 

And yes, I paid dearly for that bond and the limitless potential for art yarn, chunky yarn, and other things I might never want to spin.  However, the Aura also did what I wanted in my next wheel flawlessly, and that was all that mattered.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go spin.

Tulip Faerie Fiber

I am beside myself with glee.  Anita and Kathy have chatted about batts in group emails before, and I thought they were neat, but…  I get it now.  I totally get it and want – no, NEED more batts.

This wonderful blend of soft, fluffy fiber comes from Beth of Blue Mountain Handcrafts.   She has a special Flower Fairy Spin a long on Ravelry, and is offering the “kits” in different flower/color options via her Etsy shop (linked above).   If you spin, think about joining us!

Don’t mind the super-sized tulip stitch marker.  I just love the detail Anita puts into her markers.   Since not the first one of my tulips got to bloom this year (thanks critters that eat my garden!), I now have a faerie tulip to ward off the naughty flower munchers…

The kit even includes wildflower seeds.  Isn’t that fun?  Isn’t the card lovely too?

And because you need a point of reference, Gretchen is glad to step in.  (Yes, that white smear in the bottom of the photo is Sissy being possessive and making sure she’s closer to me than Gretchen is!)

Somewhere, I read a legend about Jack Russells being used as steads for faerie princesses.  I sure wish I could find it again.

Tilt o Wheel!

I think the best kind of adventures are sometimes the spontaneous.  Late Friday night, Rosanne suggested that I might pop up for lunch and to swap up the completed shop sample for another to cast on.  Of course, we lunched at It’s About Thyme.  I had the steak salad and finished with the citrus cheesecake.  Heaven.  Love the wait staff there too. 

But you want to hear about the shop!  It’s very close to ready.  It’s bright, it’s cheery, and the big chair closest to the door is MINE, so vacate it when I walk in, okay?!  No, no, I’ll share.  I know my way to the back, and the chairs at the table in the classroom aren’t uncomfortable either. 

Photo from Gypsyknit's Etsy site

I can’t wait to share it with the rest of you.  There are bags EVERYWHERE, in splashes of color.  Kathy‘s Sock It bags are sprinkled all around, and I love the new addition to her line, the larger bag for larger projects.   LINK to Dog House Yarn’s blog post about the bags…

However, the bulk of our time was spent on my first visit to Misty Mountain Farm, not at all to be confused with Misty Mountain Campground.  (Oh Robin… isn’t it time to camp there again?  Gretchen needs a Rudy fix, and I think I’ll soon have a new wheel that wants to sit and spin with you…)

I don’t have photos for you because we got a special treat of which I cannot speak until next weekend or later.  (Remind me.  It’s worth the wait and I apologize for the tease.)  Because not a single online photo exists of said secret, I felt it best to be a nice guest and leave my camera in my purse.

Luckily, the internet will fill in most of the voids.  You won’t get to see Leanna at work, creating hank blanks to get dyed up for those of you headed to Maryland Sheep & Wool, but I can show you photos of the wheels I tried.

Get food and water (or your beverage of choice), because this is going to be a looooong post.  If wheels aren’t your thing, we’ll chat tomorrow.

We’ll start with the Kromski Fantasia that stole my heart a week ago.  I actually spun on the walnut version, which is dark where this one is light, and then the “swoosh” in the middle is light. 

Pros:  Smooth, beautiful and user-friendly.  The magnetic flyer attachment is fun and practical!   I was able to thread the leader through the orifice without a hook, which ALWAYS makes me happy for some stupid reason.

Cons:  Quirky as it is uniquely beautiful.  The flyer is square where others are more rounded.  (See page 3 of the assembly instructions if you really are interested.)  Even the flyer hooks are square, and slide on little pieces of leather. 

Verdict:  Oh, it’s lovely to look at.  I wouldn’t be disappointed if I’d ordered one without spinning on it, but it’s not my dream wheel.  I don’t know what it is about Kromski’s treadle braces (that honey-colored piece in the VERY bottom of the photo), but both Rosanne and I have consistently found them to put our legs in uncomfortable positions with every Kromski we’ve tried.  I did readjust my seat height and closeness before I spun on the wheel, and that helped enough that for the few minutes I enjoyed a test spin, it wasn’t bad. 

There was also a bit of a vibration at the flyer that I was aware of, but this was a brand new wheel, assembled in anticipation of next weekend’s big event.  For the price  – just under $500 – I don’t think there’s a prettier wheel on the market. 

Oh – one other thing.  The wheel AND the flyer are weighted, so that flyer will keep going forever once you stop spinning.  I had trouble remembering to keep my feet on the treadles until both hands were on the flyer.  Okay, I’m blowing it out of proportion, but not much.  Still, worth noting, as is the wheel’s striking beauty.  If ever the Knight builds me a fiber room, don’t be surprised to see a walnut Fantasia on the wall as art, if nothing else.

Anita giving a Majacraft Suzie a whirl at Stony Mountain Fibers, fall 2009

I should stop here and note how I test spin.  First, it’s all about the looks.  I open the doors and try the radio – oops!  wrong product.  I do check the baby out and try to figure out where all the nobs and such I might want to adjust are.  Then, I treadle.  If my feet and legs aren’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna’ be happy for long.  Then, after several minutes of the foot test, I move on to spinning fiber.  I like to spin fine and fast, and all the wheels I tried yesterday did that with great ease. 

I think that’s a pretty standard approach.  Do you do anything differently?

Image courtesy of Spinners Choice

Next up was a used Schacht Matchless, single treadle.  Pre-owned is truly more accurate here.  Linda, the shop owner, isn’t even sure this wheel was broken in by its previous owner.  Even though I love a double treadle, I very nearly came home with this baby.  I treadled on it in double drive, but I spun on in Scotch, because that’s what I know best, and that’s what the other wheels I tried were.

Pros:  Another beauty.  See the slips of walnut in there?  It really does spin like a dream.  If you’re going to be at MDSW, visit Linda early, because if the price she gave me – $500 – is the festival price, this baby is leaving the dance early with a happy partner, I’d bet.

Cons:  It wasn’t silent.  Again, it wasn’t broken in, but I also had trouble making the treadle do precisely what I wanted it to at the precise moment I wanted it to happen.  I know it’s rude to talk about a lady’s weight, but this wheel is hefty.  She definitely wouldn’t want to travel much, not with my back problems.

Verdict:  Did I mention I very nearly brought it home anyway?  Nothing at all wrong with this wheel, and I can see why it’s so highly praised.  The Ladybug  with her red plastic wheel is a distant memory right now.  I want to try her once more, but she really is this grand lady’s kid sister, at least in appearances.  The Ladybug is much lighter though, so…

Julia, Julia.  I didn’t love Julie & Julia the movie as much as some of you did, and I don’t even like the Louet Julia.   At $750, she’s not in the same price range as the other wheels I tried, and I’d say that’s ridiculous. 

Pros:  Lightweight.

Cons:  Priced far above her value, in my eyes.  No visual appeal, and I found her less stable (because of her weight, I’m sure) than my Bellus.  

Verdict:  She’s adequate, but really, for the price, there’s SO much more out there.  Unless you really need a really light, full-sized wheel, I can’t see why she’d appeal to anyone.

Photo courtesy of Misty Mountain

Last, but to my surprise, far from least, is the leaning Lendrum

Pros:  Spins almost silently, right out of the box.  Folds nearly flat for storage or transport.  Because of the lean, you can see the bobbin quite clearly as you spin.  Orifice hook has a great little hole, right on the wheel.

Cons:  Crickets chirping…  The lean, maybe, when I’m not spinning?  It is a little heavy, but not prohibitively so.

Verdict:  I like him very, very much.  (Yeah.  Masculine.  Don’t ask.  I don’t know.)  For the price – less than $500 – I seriously don’t think there’s a better wheel on the market, lean and all.  Anything else is going to have to out-perform him, or I’m going to join the ranks and own a wheel that tilts at spinners.

So, today Lendrum is the most likely candidate, but I still want to try a Schacht Matchless double treadle, the Schacht Ladybug again, the Majacraft Rose and I think that’s it.  I’m a little put off by Majacraft’s off-center orifices, but I love the way they look and treadle.  Still, those wheels (except the Ladybug) cost a lot more than the leaning Lendrum, so they’re going to have be THAT much better than him to make the final cut.

I didn’t talk about bobbin size.  That’s in part because nearly everything pales to my Bellus, and I will likely ply on the Bellus, so… 

Here’s a quick ranking, as to where my head is on the wheel search at this very moment:

  1. Lendrum
  2. Majacraft – but I need at least an hour with that offset orifice to know for sure if it’s a contender at all
  3. Schacht – something double treadle

Photo from Schacht

What will knock the leaner out of purchase’s way?  Beauty, frankly.  I don’t find the Lendrum repulsive, but it doesn’t make me swoon the way the Fantasia does either.  The Ladybug and the Lendrum are in the same mess.  Some days, the red makes me want to whistle, as in whistle while I whirl, not a catcall.  Other days, it makes me think cute and castle wheels don’t go together.  Still, both are top contenders, along with the more expensive, beautiful Majacrafts and the Matchless.  Go figure.

I am hoping to make it to the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival, but I don’t have firm plans yet.  We have plans Saturday evening, so that would be a very long day, and the Knight would have to drive me up on Saturday morning and we’d have to leave after a late lunch.  Sunday would still make for a long day after our Saturday night out.  My back is always a wild card too.  Are you going?

Spin Love

They say your wheel(s) choose you, or that you just KNOW when you find the right one.  Be still my heart; I’m a gonner.

Cathy inadvertently introduced me to the brand new Kromski Fantasia this morning, and I’m smitten.  It’s the wood hues, the shape… it’s pure lust, based only on appearances.   I have no idea how I’d like changing ratios by changing bobbins.   Talk to me, spinners!!  (Non-spinners, feel free to tell me how pretty she is…)

So, I think we all know what my weekend will look like.   I need to check in with my local Kromski dealer and see if she happens to have one on the way (the website says they begin shipping on the 12th.  From where?).  She also taught me to spin and has patiently watched me try 318 wheels (okay, so maybe not QUITE that many), so she’ll have a good idea of what changing the bobbin to change the ratio (how slow/fast you spin, which impacts the thickness of the yarn, to grossly over-simplify it) will do to my frustration level.

But tonight, I’m knitting another pair of baby booties, right after I do the Wii Fit Plus thing.  Yes, I really do enjoy it!  Sunday, I’m going to make a necklace with some League friends…  I’ve never tried to do more than make stitch markers, and I didn’t enjoy that one bit, so…  I hear our hostess and jewelry maker has a beautiful home, and I know I’ll have good company…

What will your weekend hold?

Spin Me ‘Round-round

Alternate title – Look Kathy, No Wheel!

Fiber, unknown wool.  Purdy pink, long, strong fibers.   The crappy stuff at the bottom of the shaft was spun long, LONG ago, maybe two years or so ago.  The finer, tighter-spun stuff at the top was the recent effort.

Here’s the question…  What am I doing wrong when I wind on?  (For the non-spinners, that’s when I take the long length of yarn I just made and wrap it on the shaft.  It shouldn’t slide on down to the bottom as mine has.)

See the way the yarn just stays up near the disc portion on those?  THAT is what I can’t do.  I’ve tried applying more tension as I wind on, but that doesn’t seem to do the trick.  A Ravelry pal said to try the football shape (the orange yarn, above?), but I’m really at a loss…

Sissy didn’t have any ideas either.

While I can’t say I love spinning with a spindle, I have lost my hatred for it.  I really feel the need to master this little beast, so all input is appreciated.

And Jessi?  It only hit the floor once, and I had an assist there.  Gretchen didn’t think that spindle should be in my lap if she wasn’t…

So, any Easter plans?  I’m looking forward to the warm weather, finishing up a project I almost started and finished at the beach, and getting back to work on the blankie.  I also have to face our taxes, but let’s not talk about that, okay?  Tell me about chocolate bunnies and pretty eggs and new Easter dresses instead…

Gnome Christmas

What?   You thought Christmas was over?  It is, most places, but I had to finish up my Gnomespun polwarth

That’s the pretty braid Ann brought me back from Rhinebeck.   I love the colors!

Navajo (3-ply) on left, two-ply on right

I spent several days discussing how to ply it.   In the end, two-ply won out, because the yarn is SOFT, and I wanted to make the most of it.  Yeah, the colors “stick together” a bit more in the tiny bit of navajo plying I did, but not enough to make me sorry I two-plied the bulk of the yarn. 

Excuse the rough-looking hand

Those of you with some fiber-reading skills will note the vast difference in twist.  Both yarns are balanced, which is to say that when the skeins were hanging to dry, in loops, there was no interest on either side of the bottom loop in bending to see the other side of itself.  (Think helix?) 

So, I’m asking my fiber mentors…  The way I see it, a navajo ply is more akin to the “hard” twist in Socks That Rock, which makes the yarn wear well as a sock, but takes away some of the drape in a shawl, while the two-ply, albeit close to under-spun (to accentuate the softness of this yarn!), will have great drape and won’t be too friction resistant.  Do I have that right?

Ironically, the three-ply (navajo plied) isn’t much thicker than the very light fingering of the two-ply.  THAT surprised me!

What to knit?  I was thinking maybe something like this…  (Sorry non-Ravelry folks…  It’s a scarf-shawlette-thingee…)

To those awaiting a Sissy update, well… that’s next.  Hopefully, I’ll get that post up in the next hour or so.

Here it is, the latest update…

I’m Pining…

Okay, it’s not on a bobbin yet, but it will be the next thing I spin.  That’s 4 ounces of Merino in “Pine” from Smoky Mountain Spinnery.  Isn’t it great when your family appreciates and supports your hobbies?  My sister used to knit, so it’s not totally foreign territory, but it really means a lot that she spent a few minutes on her vacation shopping for something special for me.  She also chatted with the shop owner, who is more than willing to support phone orders, just so you know…  Thanks, sis!!!

There’s still stuff from the holidays I wanted to share, but time is passing us by, and I’m really delighted with my latest finished object.

Redwood Whip

Pattern:  Fresco Basket Whip Cowl is free in Classic Elite’s newsletter.  It’s a lovely little pattern, but it does require some counting, whether you read the chart or use the written directions.  (Kudos to designer and Classic Elite.  I can read charts, but prefer to start with written directions and then switch to the charts once I have the hang of it, so I’m always delighted when I see both options.)  I actually followed the pattern as written, aside from using a different weight of yarn and a larger needle.

Yarn:  It was a swap gift from Darcy.  Depending on the light, the yarn is browner than that.  I hope the subtle shifts in the color shows up on your monitor, regardless of how accurate the hue is.  Anyhoo, the yarn is Malabrigo Silky Merino, in the redwood bark colorway.  (More kudos to the folks at Malabrigo.  You know I like a named colorway.)

I can’t stop writing about this yarn.  Must.Have.More.   It didn’t pill/fuzz/shed the way the other Malabrigos have while knitting, so I’m hoping that it will wear well too. 

That’s unblocked, by the way.  The pattern page on Ravelry shows a gentle “point” on the edges, but I was too eager to wear this baby for blocking, even steam blocking.  I just gave it a tug or ten to make it long and lean, and then wore it yesterday morning for several hours.

Needles:  Susan Bates #8 circs, 29 inches.   While the pattern called for sport weight and #7s, I went with this luscious DK weight and #8s.  I couldn’t be happier.  No, these aren’t my favorite needles, but with the color of yarn, I didn’t want to use my Knitpick Options, especially not with the Harmony tips, which were the #8s I had ready for use.  (The color of KP’s cord is too similar, as are the Harmony wood tips.)

Verdict:   Yeah, the edges roll a bit since I didn’t block it, but who cares?!  It feels like warm silk (duh?) on, and it doesn’t seem to make my hair all fly-away.  What else matters?!  I can see myself making more of these, but the drawback is that my stash is lacking in both sport and/or DK weight yarns, AND in semi-solids, which I think this pattern likes best.  It is my first wimple-style cowl, and it was a huge success in that respect.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention there’s a KAL for this project on Ravelry.  Some have noted that the pattern as written – no yarn or needle substitutions – leaves the neck exposed in the back if one pulls it up as a wimple, but an extra repeat or making the last repeat a full repeat (rather than the half as written) should fix that problem.

Aren’t they beautiful girls?!  Sissy is such a great model too, with that long, lean neck of hers.  I spent much of the weekend on the sofa with those sweeties.  We also went out to celebrate a trio of birthdays Saturday night, and that was about it.  (If I was just a smidge more immature, I could point out that my sister has set a dangerous precident of giving ME a gift at someone else’s party.  Of course, I also FINALLY got to give her husband the last of his Christmas presents from us, as the USPS finally saw fit to deliver said item…)

I also finished a book and started another.  While I enjoy your Goodreads that show up in my inbox, I’ve switched to I’m Reading on Facebook.  It’s not as fancy, but it’s easier for me to remember to use it.  Feel free to add me if you’re using the same application.

What’s ahead for your week?  We’ll skim right over the frozen tundra woes and I’ll note that I hope to have that book review for you, a spinning FO, and a Sissy food report.  Here’s what I need from you…  I know I have a diverse group of readers, and I love that!  I’m contemplating tracking Sissy’s serious food allergies via her own blog (I know, right?!), and I need to know if anyone will bother to read my blog if I do that  how many of you care about her digestive woes?

I already bore some of you with my spinning chatter, but I do realize there are some of you who do care and are curious about Sissy’s journey to true health.  Selfishly, I do want to record our process, for a variety of reasons, but mostly, just because it is going to be a very long process.

Sis hates to leave the farm as much as the rest of us

Just to clarify a bit, we’ve FINALLY found a vet who specializes in nutrition and she shares my conviction that Sissy’s underlying problem is a series of food allergies.   Until I know who/how many want(s) what information, I won’t toss out details, some of which aren’t really fit for reading while you eat or sip, unless you have a cast-iron stomach.  In case you can’t tell, I’m leaning towards giving the DIVA her own blog.

Whew!  Lunch is here and if your eyes haven’t glazed over yet, bless you!

The Great Thaw

We’re thawing out around here.  Our road was finally plowed, sometime between getting home yesterday and leaving for work this morning.  You don’t need photos of snow melting, but trust me…  it’s not as pretty as fresh-fallen snow.

Now, before the week gets totally away from us, we need to jump back to Friday morning.   I was expecting a special package from Anita, and showed up well before the snow.

That’s my most-special lazy kate, hand-crafted and designed by Anita and her DEAR husband.  It arrived unfinished, so I still need to pull out the wax and rub it down, to match my Siren (my spinning wheel).  Of course, ‘Nita’s Sissymonster knew her favorite auntie had last touched the pressie, and she was trying to figure out how THAT works, when ‘Nita was nowhere to be found…  (Yeah, that’s a shadow from my hand in front of the flash on Sissy’s neck.  I told you yesterday that I don’t do well with indoor photos.)

Since I have a lovely, diverse group of readers…  A lazy kate holds bobbins (the rather spool-looking things on a wheel that hold the yarn?), and Anita and her dearest designed this one specifically for our long, big, fat Heavenly Handspinning bobbins.  Anita and I also find plying easier when the bobbins are horizontal, so there you – er, I? – go!!  (That’s a shot of the top rod, showing how they slide out easily.)

But wait!  There’s more!   I also have the proto-type for the clever-crafty-couple’s first yarn yardage measurer.   I started to edit and crop this photo too, but then Anita couldn’t see wee Gretchie sniffing and missing her too.  No, it’s not assembled yet, but that basic line counter goes on the bottom of that piece hanging on the right, and then the yarn is tensioned around the rods, and you have a measuring tool to figure out how much yarn you’ve spun!

Neither Anita nor I had accurate results the first time we tried using a fishing line counter as a yarn measurer, but we learned it was faulty tensioning, not a bad concept, so this little jobby will take care of that.

Then, I arrived home to find snow already sticking to everything in sight, but there was also another very special box on the front porch.  Sue and her pack sent some very special presents indeed, and what with the shower of gifts and snow, my Christmas spirit soared!

Doesn’t that look JUST LIKE my Mooo?!   Sue really is quite a talented stitcher, and I’m a bit jealous that she can finish her own works into pillows.  When I was doing cross stitch, I had to pay a seamstress to finish mine or just do wall hangings, which I could manage on my own.  (No sewing required…)

These photos REALLY don’t do these beautiful pillows justice.  Doesn’t this one capture Gretchen’s adorable little “let’s play!” pose well!?  I am still trying to find a safe,  happy spot for these pillows in our home.  The girls are fascinated by them too, so it has to be a home high, high up, where Sissy’s slobber can’t reach them. 

Sue, I simply cannot thank you enough for your perfect gifts.  They truly are heirloom treasures, but I also can’t stand to have them out of my sight, so I look forward to finding them just the right home.  Together, you, Anita and the snow brought Christmas to my heart this year.  I am blessed beyond measure with dear, talented friends!

And no, I’m not going to ask if you’re ready.  I’m not, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve anyway, and somehow, it will all come together well enough and it will be Christmas… ready or not.

Wild Pear Gem

An afternoon with no rain, Flickr playing well with others, and some mail that piled up makes for a yarn-crawlish post.   Grab a cuppa’ (it’s chilly here), your favorite snack, and settle in!

We’ll start with the long-neglected last Loopy Sock Club package that arrived a couple of weeks ago.  This is the last of this season’s sock club, but it’s also my last after two years in the club.  To the best of my recollection, I’ve not knitted with the first yarn from ANY of the packages, so there’s little point in putting my name in for the lottery for next year.  I’ve gifted some of the yarn, sold one offering, and I really do like some of it, but…

The yarn is a rich color that reminds me of the fur-girls.  It’s Numa Numa’s The Usual in Red Bartlett Pear.   I’m thinking that eventually I will knit these socks with this yarn, but once it swims into my stash, who knows?!

Then there’s my first Creatively Dyed Sock Club kit!   This is a sneak peek at a new technique Dianne is doing.   I’m quite certain this “Wild Thing” yarn will get knitted up in that pattern, right after 2010 becomes the current year.   I’m leaving the pattern tamers right there with the yarn and the pattern too, so there will be no excuses!

Now, I know spinners like a WIP (wraps per inch) tool, but do other knitters really use them?  I definitely didn’t, not before I started spinning.  I mean…  There’s swatching and there’s a label around the yarn, right?!  Karat Stix made these little cuties.  Obviously, they were part of my Loopy kit.

Still with me?  Moving right along…  Next up, we have some beautiful Gypsyknits BFL roving in Gem-Spin that grew up to be yarn.

I wanted to make the most of this beautiful yarn, but in the end, I decided to navajo ply it because I didn’t have enough of any solid that would work with it.

I love how muted the colors are.  It reminds me of the beach, where the sky and earth and ocean seem to just slip together at some point out on the horizon…

A little larger than life, and those aren’t wrapped, but draped across the WIP tool, so it’s really about sport weight.  I’m pretty pleased with myself…  Three-ply, sport weight, with about 214 yards.  I’m thinking I’m going to do Anita‘s Mermaid scarf.

Ready for Thanksgiving, if you live in the States?   We are!  We’re going to have a not so traditional pot roast tomorrow, because that’s what the Knight wanted, and he’s cooking, so what’s not to love?  I’ll add a couple of pies – because the extras can always go to the firehouse – and we’ll have a quiet day at home.

Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating!