Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Latest Spin... luxury fever...

Such a luxurious fiber as the Wellington Fibers "mystery roving" (I wrote about here: The latest spin... gourmet) requires a luxury spindle to spin with. So I've taken out my only Golding (a visit their website just about makes me faint), which I purchased a few years ago at Rhinebeck (shorthand for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival--coming up in October. Yippee!).

This fiber is a joy in every sense. It's been a feast for the eyes and now it's a feast for the fingers and heart. I love everything about it and it's turning into a fine beautiful yarn.

I'm spinning thin and Navajo plying it. It's coming out about fingering weight and will make lovely, soft, hand warmers that I will use while knitting on the "J" train platform this winter waiting for the train's arrival. In the picture, the spindle is wound with plied yarn, a length of which is unwound for illustration:

This is a very pleasant experience. Once again I must thank John Kerr for the gift of this fiber.

Perhaps this close-up will do a better job of highlighting the yarn:

The Golding spindles, of course, are works of art. It was very hard to choose just one from the several gorgeous spindles on display but I did manage to hone in on this one. What a delight...

One feature of the Golding that I absolutely love is the ribbed shaft. It creates traction for the fingers, allowing them to set forth a revved up spin that I find I cannot get on a smooth shafted spindle. (But I do love my Kunderts. Love them!!) That, and the metal rim around the whirl really sets this spindle in motion. It spins and spins! I'm hoping the ribbing will show up in this picture:

Needless to say, I'm in heaven! :)

Off topic... a visit to Coney Island...

As I mentioned in my last post, I was on vacation last week. On Monday, an almost spur-of-the-moment decision to visit Coney Island was rewarded with a relaxing, quiet and gorgeous day at the famed beach. Sunny and warmish but not hot. There were very few people there being an off-season Monday afternoon and it was utterly relaxing. Since the amusement parks are now only open on weekends, the only noises were those of nature: surf and gulls. I am so glad I went... and it's so easy to get there too. I get on the G in my neighborhood, take it half way across Brooklyn where I transfer for the F which goes right to the beach.

I waded for a good long stretch--I found the water surprisingly pleasant. Wading in the Atlantic gives me a sense of connection with the coasts of Europe... I mean... just on the other side of the "pond". :) It's grand. Such a big puddle. Well, huge. Something about it takes my soul back to some long ago dawn. Very peaceful. The gulls know this.

After a good walkabout and wading I headed back up to the boardwalk, found a bench all to myself and knitted for a good three quarters of an hour. I took the blanket with me. Knit on the train going and coming too.

I took some pictures which I'll share. I put them in this animated slide show to save room. I hope it doesn't slow you down too much when loading. Each picture will display for 5 seconds. There is a pic of my feet in the Atlantic to prove I was there. ;) There is a Thin Man poster pic--the brim of my straw hat looks ominous as a shadow. There is a picture of alien handwriting in the sand... footprints... amusements... sand... water... gulls... Enjoy...

Knit wise... the baby blanket...

I've been on vacation all week. A 'staycation' if you will, since I stayed in town. I've been able to play in the fiber box as much as I like and fiddle with the strings (piano and cello) as much as I like. And it's been fabulous! :)

Monday I went to Coney Island--I'll cover that in a separate post.

I started almost every day by tending the birds then heading out the door with my thermos of coffee. A spin around the corner to pick up the paper and back across the street into the park to catch up on the daily awfulness of news--and believe me I did not spend much time on it. Just enough to stay abreast. The paper was quickly set aside for more important and more enjoyable matters: knitting.

Several squirrels inquired of my project. They were happy with the few peanuts I tossed out. I also had inquiries from a few humans. One lady who stopped by said her nephew knit and he found that it was very relaxing. Yes, indeed.

The blanket is coming along nicely. I don't think it's soft enough for a baby's skin so I've decided to line the back of it with something softer. If I had enough time I'd knit a backing but I'm not sure the time is going to be there. I'm also toying with the idea of filling it with polyfil or something like that to turn it into a baby quilt. It does get cold up there in Vermont.

Picture at round 7 follows. I'm not sure how many rounds I will knit. I purchased 8 skeins and have 3 or 4 left. I decided to work with 4 different colorways and have been breaking off mid-skein (or more or less) to attach a colorway that I think will work best at the current location. So far, I'm pleased with the results.

I spent part of this week attending to "fall cleaning" in the apartment. Moving things around and un-'stuff'-ing and de-cluttering somewhat and even cleaning! I removed one "stash" cabinet from the living room and in the process had to decide what to do with the set of circular knitting needles that were housed therein. It's always been a problem these circulars. So unwieldy to store. For some reason I've not taken to the notebook method of storing them. Seems so... against their nature.

So, with this week's luxurious non-commitment I found myself improvising. Yesterday I went down cellar and found a dowel and small piece of 2x4 which I turned into this circular needle tree/sculpture. I used my needle gauge to select the right drill bits. To me it looks like a ship. It looks like a switch board. It looks like a sculpture. It's a disarray of organization. It makes me laugh. So I like it. I'm envisioning a "deluxe" model using a wooden coat tree as a basis.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A couple of quick updates... the blanket... and the jam...

The blanket is coming along nicely. I'm not crazy about one side of the squares that it's made of. The join to the adjacent square creates a line of stitches that stands out a little bit. Some are more noticable than others and that's due to the yarn. Noro is not consistenly even in thickness. I tried a few experiments to see if I could get rid of the ridge of stitches but to no avail. So I'm following the pattern. Truth be told I don't find it that much of a distraction and finishing and blocking may sort it all out in the end.

Fun, fun knit. I like these modular type projects in which I can set easily obtainable milestones for myself. Lemme see... train to work today... I think I can get 3 squares done. Gonna go out to the park with my morning coffee... might get a whole side done. Before you know it... This is what I accomplished on it this week:

The cherry jam that I was going to report on... Delicious!! Next time I will use a smidge of pectin. Other than being a little runnier than I'd like, it's fabulous. The flavor is wonderful and I've been enjoying it muchly these past few weeks. On toasted english muffins with real creamy butter. Swoon.

I got the recipe from Tipnut (A fabulous site. Follow this link to 100 jam and jelly recipes) and she got it from Caviar and Codfish. You'll find the recipe there.

I also threw in a whole clove. Next time I'll throw in 2. If that's not enough, next time after that I'll throw in 3. :)

The latest spin... a bit of difficulty...

The skein that almost wasn't! I had to fight for this one, let me tell you.

Perhaps you'll recall I mentioned the difficulty of spinning this New Zealand very thin: I was getting some breakage during the ply stage. I was doing Navajo ply which tends to be my default at the moment. I thought more twist would solve the problem and forged ahead spinning a bobbin about 2/3 full. Well, the same problem with breakage reappeared--several times. How disheartening. I was quickly getting discouraged! The thread would break quite predictably at the same location in the Navajo ply-up: on the current loop, right near the last loop as I was pulling the new one through. I had to give up. I set it aside for the rest of the week thinking that after letting go of it somewhat a solution would present itself.

So I ended up deciding to discard Navajo ply for this project and go with regular 3-ply from 3 bobbins. I wouldn't want to spin a whole 3 bobbins full only to find out it was going to be worthless, so a test was in order. To test out my new angle I decided to wind what I had into 3 center-pull balls. Center-pull balls... of singles... very lively, well twisted singles... right. I knew this... We all know how well behaved they can be... and they didn't disappoint. Wouldn't you know I started plying and the centers would pull out in little blobs and get all snarled up. Ugh. Slow going at times.

It hasn't been easy but the skein is now plyed and hanging up to dry after a good soak in Eucalan. After unsnarling the first few tangles there were some pretty smooth patches and it went along well. There were other snarls to come but somehow I was able to get them all unfolded and as they say, all's well that ends well! I very much love the end result.

Here it is all plyed before I gave it a bath:

This is the little tool I made to keep the 3-strands straight during plying. I'm sure there's a name for it and I thought I knew what it was... but at the moment it seems that I don't know what it's called! So I'm simply calling it my 'plying eyes'. I made it from the lid of a coffee can. A novelty paper punch (the same one I use for my yarn tags) created the 3 note shaped holes where the yarns flow through: