A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Updates and Things You Might Not Know

Lily of the Valley

Those following my progress on this shawl have come to love her as much as I do... the Textiles a Mano cotton/rayon yarn is very shimmery and drapey, and it looks like she will be done and ready to accompany me to a Saturday evening wedding, a high school friend of DD's is marrying into the large and fun-loving family of an old friend and former co-worker - what could be the makings of a better party?!

The edging pattern from Jean Schrouder is just the perfect finishing touch for my Lily, except that I decided I didn't like the swallowtail effect at the bottom center and am going to redo my corner-turning to have one large point. My fervent hope is to finish the edging tonight, so that I can steam-block the shawl tomorrow and take her to the County Fair with me on Friday, so that Amy and Sharon can meet her in person. Although really, I am more looking forward to meeting them in person and to getting to see Amy's just-completed spinning wheel... a hand-painted treasure that you must go and see right now.


Now that you are back, I can show you a spindling update:

Here are my two, contrasting spinning accomplishments - the big, red ball on the left is obviously my beginnger yarn, a Blue-faced Leicester hand-painted roving full of tights and looses, bumps and lumps. The turquoise yarn on the spindle is so much more even! Though I had tried to spin it before I knew what I was doing wrong, and cast it aside in disgust, when I went back to this roving after finishing all of the red, and tried again, it slid through my fingers like a dream, giving me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Still not anything fancy, but there is definitely hope.

What I have learned from spindling so far:

1. It really is essential to prepare your fibers first; I discovered most of the way through the red roving that I needed to divide it into thirds, rather than the halves my teacher had suggested, to have smooth results.

2. The hands really do try to remember their ancestral memories, and you just have to be patient and let them.

3. The connection between brain and hands cannot be overlooked, either, which is why reading about spinning and observing others spin is so valuable... at some point the brain is going to remind the hands: "remember, when ... was pulling the fibers just so (or pinching just so, etc.)", and the hands are going to move into position adjusting to the brain's advice, and see that they have found their way further along to the results they are seeking. I also noticed that, being tool-using primates for so many, many centuries, our brain tries to help us accomodate things like disabilities, and still be able to use our hands. One of my GED students was practicing diligently last night for her math test today, and seemed a bit embarrassed that I observed she was counting on her fingers while re-checking an answer... too bad I didn't think to tell her till later, working on this post, that we were given brains and hands for a reason, and they should be put jointly to use.

4. It is perfectly ok that spindling is a little slower; after all, what's the hurry? Better to enjoy what I am doing, sitting in a more ergonomic posture than I am able with the wheel, and even eventually being able to walk around while spinning. I have noticed that blogging can make me (and maybe some of you) a tad bit competitive about my knitting achievements, wanting to keep up with the KALs, be amongst the first to make the next great new pattern. Really, this isn't all that different than rushing out to buy the fall fashions shown in Vogue or Glamour.... and spindling has helped to ground me. Yes, there IS one sweater in Interweave Knits that I want to make and wear this fall, but I am thinking now in terms of what will go with my lifestyle and the clothes I already am planning to wear this fall and winter as I search for the yarn, and holding back from the temptation to plan a huge multitude of projects I probably can't humanly expect to get to before my desires change once again.... and enjoying the increasing speed and skill I am developing on the spindle.

Where am I still stuck?:

1. I still occasionally have the yarn break, although now I can tell in advance if I am heading towards too thin or too unspun, both conditions which could lead to a break, and can mostly make a correction to prevent it.

2. I have found that winding on past half full or so on my spindle affects the balance and the first half usually goes better - now I need to learn what to do about this!

3. I am still going in fits and starts, although getting better spin on the spindle, and quicker draw, and uptake. I need to learn what will make the entire sequence flow more smoothly. Which is where Amy comes in - she has offered to watch and give advice while we are working at the fiber guild's fair booth.

Other Random Things You Need to Know

I am sick. Well, maybe you don't really need to know that, but a summer cold/sore throat thingie snuck up on me yesterday, making me quite miserable by evening, overnight, and this morning. Neena's recipe for a detox bath sounded appropriate, but I didn't have the ingredients, so I used some bath salts I had with ginger and mustard in them, and it may have helped. I went to work, but only briefly, and am resting up this afternoon.

The peaches and figs are ripe around here!

The kiddos got successfully moved over the weekend, and DES called while I was preparing to drift off to nap-land, to tell me he got the job he interviewed for yesterday, as Front Desk Manager at the Northern Queen, one of the prettiest hotels in Nevada City. Now, cross your fingers that DD will have equally good news about her application as a preschool coordinator, and that I will be hired as handwork teacher...

Lastly, animal lover that I am (and DD adored pandas all the while growing up), I had no idea that their babies were bright fuschia. Check this out.


Blogger margene said...

Oh yes, spinning IS about the spindle for me, too. It is about the connection to the fiber and enjoying the process and while you may have that with a wheel, it just isn't the same. I'm with you on the posture problem, my biggest concern about the wheel. I am now able to walk a bit while spinning and can talk a bit, too. Using the right fiber (try as many wool yarns as you can) and preparing it properly can't be underestimated. We have a lot to learn but it is enjoyable to do so.

4:19 PM  
Blogger margene said...

Oh and the shawl is fabulous!!! Nice choice for an edgeing.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

You are so tempting me to do that shawl!!1

Looks great.

Keep up the good work with the spinning.

5:49 AM  
Blogger SheKnits said...

Good job on the spinning! Even if things aren't turning out the way you'd want... I'd still buy them. I need to get into this.

I hope you are feeling better... prayers said and fingers crossed for those jobs desired!

6:52 AM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

Lily is just beautiful! Hope your cold breaks up and leaves quickly! And you know I'm keeping you and yours in my prayers for the jobs!

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Imbrium said...

*sigh* I seem to have wandered away from my spinning - I want to finish Mountain Peaks so much, I can't seem to bring myself to do anything else when I get a precious free moment. When she's finally done, I'll get back to it.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

You are progessing nicely, Birdsong! Your lessons learned and lessons still to learn sound spot on to me.

I *suspect* the spindle getting off balance once beyond the half full mark will work itself out with more practice probably.

8:32 AM  
Blogger CjSachiko said...

Great post about the spinning progress. You inspire me to keep on with my efforts as well!

9:09 AM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

Goodness gracious, they ARE fuschia! Who knew? So cute.

Not that I'm ever going to learn to spin, but I love reading about your process. That thick & thin red ball is exactly what I was looking for (and found) last night for my beginner mittens, so it might be 'beginner' but it's a sought after yarn.

Hope your summer cold gets better quickly! Eats lots of tomatos.

10:33 AM  
Blogger FaeryCrafty said...

I hope you feel better. I just got over a nasty summer cold myself. It's no fun.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

What exactly do you mean by "half-full"? "Full" on a spindle isn't always what you think it is: It's not like a bobbin, where full is up to the edges of the bobbin. A given spindle weighs a certain amount and can be supported by a given set of yarn diameters. A given yarn diameter can support a given set of weights. While the weight of the spindle plus the weight of the wound on yarn is within the set of weights that the yarn diameter that you are spinning can support, everything is happy. When the weight of the spindle and the weight of the wound on yarn becomes greater than that yarn diamter can support, you have trouble with the spindle - it starts flipping and spinning funny - and with the yarn - it starts snapping and not behaving. At that point, your spindle is "full", regardless of how much yarn you have on it. All things being equal, a yarn that is thinner will cause the spindle to be full sooner.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

You are making such improvement with your spindling! You are right, it is more about process than product.

The shawl is gorgeous!

I hope you feel better soon.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Here's the irony. As you become more practiced in spinning, the more even your yarn becomes. We pay big bucks at yarn stores for stuff that looks just like what you have just spun. The better you get, the harder it is to spin "novelty" yarn. Keep your beginning efforts. They will become important to you as you look back on progress in the years to come. I'm just passing on advice that I received in the beginning.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous SpiderWomanKnits said...

What a great post Birdsong. I love your thoughtful interaction with spindling. I have always believed that creativity is a partnership between (wo)man and (her) his tools the results being the harmony that is born from an understanding and acceptance of the medium. I haven't tried spindling yet but your post tempts me :-)

Have a wonderful time at the wedding. It does sound like it will be great fun!

8:01 AM  
Blogger The Purloined Letter said...

Fantastic shawl! I can't wait to see it blocked. Lovely, lovely.

Congrats on the spinning! Isn't it fun to learn?

9:52 AM  
Blogger CjSachiko said...

Hi again,

Just thought you might be interested in our little spinning roving swap since you're a drop spindler too. Thanks for inspiring me to keep spinning.

3:59 PM  

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