Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I've been doing

Long time, no blog post!  This spring has really gotten away from me.  I feel like the entire month of April really didn't happen.  Would you like to know what I've been doing recently?  Well, it has been a whole bunch of things but very little knitting. 

When I say very little knitting, I really mean very little knitting.  Amazingly, I've only had one project on the go for the last month or so.  It is the wedding shawl for my friend (Oh, what did you say?  Her wedding was last weekend?  Ooops).  I had a slight problem with the original yarn/pattern combination.  When I say problem, I mean ran out of yarn about a foot and a half too short.  So the stole (which was lovely if only I had had more yarn) was frogged and I started a Swallowtail shawl with the yarn instead.  I got through the bud pattern of the main portion of the triangular shawl and just had the nupps, bind off and blocking left to do.  This past weekend, the almost complete shawl came to the wedding but the pattern didn't.  Again, oops.  I'll be sending the shawl to her later. 

So if I haven't been knitting, what have I been doing?  Spinning, thinking about spinning, processing fiber, and drop spindling.  Some of you might think that spinning and drop spindling are the same thing (and they are) but I have projects going on the wheel and multiple drop spindles so that counts as two things.  On the wheel, I've been going through some Polwarth fiber I got at SOAR last fall.  Now, I really like the softness of this fiber and I would spin it again in a heartbeat.  (You are sensing a BUT here, right?) BUT I think I would want buy it raw and process it myself because this fiber has nepps and second cuts all over.  It's really frustrating to be spinning and then have little bumps in your knitting.  Sure, you can pull them out but I can't spin a foot of yarn without having to stop and do that.  I've gotten through 6 ounces of the 1.5 pounds so far but it is taking me much longer to do because I keep stopping and pulling out the nepps.  It would be really nice to have it all done by the end of the month but I know that isn't going to be happening! 

On the fiber processing front, I'm working on a small Cormo (I LOVE THIS FIBER!!!!!!!!!) fleece that I bought at Maryland.  The fleece was coated and it was skirted well so there is very little VM. 

(picture of Lily and cormo fleece)

Because cormo is a fine wool that will felt if you look at it funny, I decided to wash it in lock formation in lingerie bags with tulle separating the layers.  I also wanted to preserve the lock formation because I'm going to be combing this fiber.  So far I've only washed and combed a couple of ounces and am hoping to do more tonight and tomorrow. 

On the drop spindle front, somehow in the past couple of months, my spindle stash has grown by 3 spindles.  That brings the total to *mumble, mumble, kind of a lot, mumble, big number, mumble*  One of the spindles came from the Spinning Loft in MI.  Beth has some really lovely spinning tools available.  Back in 2009, during the Tour de Fleece, one of the prizes offered was a resin spindle with 4-leaf clovers in the resin.  I absolutely love 4-leaf clovers because they are so easy for me to find.  My mother and I both can walk across a patch of grass and find one.  That spindle called to me but the maker of it lived in England and the shipping made me think twice.  I regularly googled "4-leaf clover drop spindle" to see what things might come up.  Imagine my surprise when I saw one for sale at the Spinning Loft!  It was instantly added to my shopping cart and a couple of days later, I found some fiber in the stash and started spinning. 

(spindle and fiber)

The fiber is a silk blend with possibly wool, camel, or yak.  I didn't write what the combination was because obviously I would remember it.  Ha. 

The next 2 spindles came back home with me from Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.    Both of the spindles are trindles, those funky looking spindles with 3 arms and beads at the ends of the arms.  If you haven't seen one before, they are for sale on etsy and there is a picture of one in Respect the Spindle

(picture of the trindles) 

I bought the trindle with the square beads on Saturday then wandered the festival to find the perfect roving to spin.  I ended up finding a 100% silk roving at Carolina Homespun in a beautiful dark purple.  The trindle is really light and spins so long that the resulting single is like a cobweb. 

After I went back to my friend's place, I kept thinking about the other trindles.  Lust might have been the right word, actually.  I went back on Sunday morning and bought the one with the round beads and fiber from the same shop.  The roving is a delightful 100% BFL and definitely falls in my blue/green palette.  Right now, this spindle is my "around town" spinning project. 

What else have I been doing?  Sewing up a (temporary) storm.  One weekend, it was all sewing, all of the time.  I sewed up a dress (without the zipper), half of a dress, a bodice, and a bolero (didn't finish the sleeves yet).  I hate to say it but then those projects came to a screeching halt.  Thankfully, mom helped out with putting the invisible zipper in the one dress so that is finished.  What is needed for everything else is a spurt of finishitis (aka feeling of "must finish everything in sight!").  I did finish up a couple of small projects from scrap fabric.  Have you seen those neck ties that you soak in water and tie around your neck?  It is a great way to keep cool in the summer so I made a bunch out of scraps.  I'm hoping to use them while riding. 

Speaking of riding, a new horse came to the barn.  His name is Loxley like Robin of Loxley.  This guy is a 17.2hh (!!) bay Warmblood. 


For those of you who don't know horses, a hand is 4 inches and 17.2 hh means he is 70" tall at the top of his shoulder (the withers).  I am 5'3" which converts to 63" so that means the top of this horse's withers are 7" taller than I am.  My horse, Java, is 15.2 hh and looks like a very small horse next to Loxley.  Jazz, one of the other horses at the barn, is 15 hh and looks like a tiny, petite, little pony next to him.  Of course, she is absolutely in love with him.  She goes for the taller guys!  Whenever you add a new horse to a herd, reshuffling happens with everyone's rank in the herd.  The first week, the head mare, Cali, (16.3 hh) hated Loxley's guts and wouldn't let him anywhere near her herd.  This week, however, she is in heat and likes any and all guys. 


The poor guy is just confused by the whole thing and Java is sulking in the corner because his woman is no longer paying attention to him.  I think all of the reshuffling might be over and my horse is back to his normal #2 position because he was acting very possessive of his woman.  Ah, the drama.  It's like high school all over again. 

Speaking of horses, I've started taking individual lessons again at the riding stable down the road.  My horse is getting older and I've ridden him for so long that I feel like I'm losing some skills.  It's funny how we all settle into ruts.  Riding the lesson horses is a really good because they are so different from each other.  Hopefully I'll be riding Loxley regularly so having experience riding other horses is a good thing.  My work schedule has settled into a routine so I'm able to take the lessons either on Tuesday or Thursday mornings and then go right to work.  So far it has been working really well. 

Also speaking of the barn, have I ever mentioned that the owner of the barn has a woodworking shop there?  He is a fantastic woodworker.  Well, I have a tendency to either go on big travel trips or redecorate.  I haven't gone anywhere big recently (by big I mean Europe or some other 2 week vacation out of town, not weekend trips) so my redecorating urge is a little insistent right now.  What does this have to do with woodworking?  I've been wanting a new dresser (and desk and bed) but cannot find the design I'm imagining anywhere in the stores.  I can, however, find plans to make what I'm picturing.  Do any of you have this happen with your knitting?  You can picture the sweater but can't find the pattern?  You can probably guess what is going to happen.  Yes, I'm going to try to build the dresser.  Thankfully, Leon knows what he is doing and teaches well.  He isn't convinced about making the bed but I bet I can wear him down.

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