Friday, July 29, 2011

Barberpole quartet

I so enjoyed lining up my 4 singles of FoxyMaple in the espresso set I bought on a special outing with my best friend Bob 16 years ago:

This is how I stored all my singles from specific colourways throughout the Tour de Fleece, one after another as they were finished so I would know to ply 1 with 3, and 2 with 4, the better to even out any gauge changes.  I don't know how I never noticed what was obvious after I'd taken that picture and bagged the singles with their appropriate mates.

Not sure I want that particular sugar in my tea.

In unrelated news, I spent last evening spinning and then plying the brown fiber I was obsessing about yesterday.  It was awesome.  And typing that reminds me I gotta go get it out of its bath so it's dry and wound in time for Monday's KAL start!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Free mystery KAL: imminent, details below

Yarn pic digression of the day:

I am so happy to have this green wool all spun! It's probably too scratchy for anything next-to-skin, but I'm thinking of the brown fiber that gave me so much trouble when I first started to spin and imagining how awesome they would look knit up together.

Not obsessing too much about that though because I have other things going on.  Like, I've finished the last test of the Escapist shawl for the mystery KAL, and will be posting the first clue on Monday.

That's Monday, August 1st, get yer needles ready!

Escapist Shawl
A triangular shawl in lace inspired by the rustic yet lovely versions featured in practically every BBC period production I've watched for escapism purposes over the last two years, released in four parts this August much like said BBC period productions.  Unlike said productions, you will get a choice of two alternate endings (both happy.)

Fingering: Twisted Fiber Art ‘Tasty’ self-striping or semisolid, (80% superwash Merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon, 380 yds/100g), 165g or about 630 yards
Sport Weight: St-Denis ‘Nordique’, (100% wool, 150 yds/50g), 210g  or about 620 yards
4 stitch markers 
3.5mm, 100cm circular needle or size to obtain gauge

Stocking Stitch: 28 (21) sts/30 (26) rows = 4”, before blocking in fingering (sport)

- Use 1-4 solid, self-striping, or variegated yarns.  A single solid shows the texture beautifully, while a hand-dyed semisolid paired with a matching self-striping yarn treats the stitches more subtly. 
- For ease of running in ends, recommendations are given in each part for the location of colour changes; in the two-colour version, Parts 2 and 3 could be done in the second colour, in the three-colour, Parts 3 and 4.
- In Nordique, the gauge given produces a thick, warm shawl that stops an inch or so above the elbows (the fingering-weight shawl, if knit in a superwash yarn, will block out longer.)  If you have spare yardage to accommodate the change, you will get a larger shawl with a larger needle.
- I will be improvising my KAL shawl in a fairly bulky handspun on, I think, 6mm needles; if you want to do the same, I will share my adaptations as we go along!

Yardage Guide for Tasty or other fingering
Part 1 – 165 yards
Part 2 – 165 yards
Part 3 – 135 yards
Part 4 – 145 yards

Finished Size
This will vary based on yarn base and tension while knitting, but my shawls blocked out to approximately 56" for the wingspan, 26-28" down the middle, and  perhaps 80" along the bottom.

Not difficult, but not absolute beginner.  You will have to know how to K2tog, ssk, and yo.  Counting is minimal as the lace patterns do not form a motif and the lace repeats extend no farther than four rows, but you will want to count fairly frequently so you don't miss a yarn over.  If you do though, and you catch it before the next row, it's super easy to pick up a running thread as you carry on such that nobody will ever know you aren't perfect.  I knit my last test over 6 days (between 20-24 hours I think), aided by the luscious Tasty and a set of lace-tipped needles.

Not comfortable committing to a mystery knit?  Too busy for a shawl in August?  Not to worry.  The whole pattern will be available in one unit, still free, in September.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fleece and Fiber

Appropriately enough since the Tour de Fleece was in full swing at the time, my much-drooled-for copy of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook arrived a couple of weeks ago. 

This is just a beautiful, beautiful book.  Even if you don't work with fiber it's more than satisfying as an up-close examination of the huge genetic variety within the world of one particular animal, and a celebration of how human beings around the world have been able to utilize their local resources.

The cover gives you a clue of what's inside. Not just the history and use of each animal and its fiber but knitted and woven swatches, loops of spun and plied fiber, and samples of the actual fleece both raw and clean, for every single breed the authors could find.  All photographed in the most peaceful, lovely way over large pieces of solid-colour fabric set onto a wooden surface.  Swoon.

In this respect, it's more exhaustive than Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Wool, to which it will inevitably be compared, but there is plenty of room for both on my shelf (no matter how many other books have to move elsewhere to make that true!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hubie takes the wheel

I have a chance for a spontaneous vacation today so I'm grabbing my shawl sample and taking it. While I'm gone, Hubie wants to try his hand at spinning.

This doesn't bode well... but I'm going anyway.  Four hours of unfettered knitting, people!

Monday, July 25, 2011

FoxyMaple: the beginning

Early on in the Tour de Fleece, I had trouble with what to spin because I knew I would most certainly underwhelm the potential of any fiber I chose. I had to make decisions based on odd criteria like, Do I definitely love these colours together or are they even remotely iffy for me?  (usually: definitely love.) Can I replace this easily?  (usually: not a chance.)

One easier decision was two exclusive braids from two different segments of the Twisted Fiber Art club:

See how similar they are, in spite of being different?  The lower one is called Foxy, and the one with the hits of green is Maple.  Maple was a particularly huge hit in its club and I bought two more braids of it in a different base, which is why I dared to risk messing with the one shown here. 

My idea: you can only knit so big a project with 100g of yarn.  But if you have 200g, that's a big scarf or shawl and maybe a matching hat or fingerless gloves.  These two colourways looked like they might go together pretty nicely, and if I spun them together right from the beginning, I'd get my 200g of yarn.

My technique: first I tore each colourway into four pieces lengthwise, and set one strip of Foxy over one strip of Maple, carefully matching where I started and stopped because one was a little longer than the other (in the event, the longer, single section was my starting point and made said start soooo much easier.)  Then I coiled them together.

I'd found while spinning something else that fiber in a braid that's been crammed into a confined space with a lot of other fiber gets pretty compressed, making drafting at the wheel a literal pain.  The fix: teasing the fiber open along the width, all the way along its length.

The two colourways didn't get attached to each other at this point - both are superwash which I suppose would make a difference - but they did play nicely together.

The result was delicious.

This really, really makes me think of a cinnamon danish.  I should probably have breakfast so I don't go any further down the path to the bakery. Moving on...

Here is the first of the four, spun up.  Pretty, yes? 

Stay tuned, because next week or so I'll show you what it looks like plied and skeined, bwah ha ha ha ha.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The end of my working holiday

I did have a vacation this week, though I didn't take much of a break from knitting or spinning or pattern-editing.  It seems hard for me to do that somehow.  Though my production went way down, I haven't missed a day of the Tour de Fleece, and even spun the day of the funeral...

... in the car, owing to my not having realized that it was actually a rest day.

Another day, I got to go over to Karen's house and meet her lovely blue spinning wheel.  I actually got to spin alongside another person on a wheel! The only other time I've spun alongside somebody was also with Karen, last year when she was teaching me how to use a spindle.

Here is what I made, with her wheel not very well lit in the background:

One more day to go with the Tour and I will be spending it plying everything I've done for the past two weeks.  This will doubtless produce some panic since Karen showed me her stash of plied and ready to use handspun and I realized the awful truth: after you've spun the fiber, you still have to knit with it.  And yet I bought more yarn today.  Me: my own worst enemy.

I had two goals for the Tour de Fleece this year, the first being to learn how to use my wheel, which I seem to have done so effectively that the other day I nodded off while spinning and then jolted awake to find that my hands and feet had kept on doing what they needed to do without producing errors.  (only after registering that did it occur to me that I could really use some sleep.)

The second goal was to get through all of my fiber stash, which isn't going to happen, though I did make a pretty impressive dent in what I have and considering what has been happening around here that's a big deal.

On the knitting front, I finished a sample I'm quite pleased with for something that's been nagging at me for a few weeks, yippee! and was grateful again for my vanilla socks when my friends decided to settle in for some time at the side of a river on a hot day.

I absolutely love being able to whip out a sock wherever I happen to be stopped for a bit.  When I carted a different one (which I plan to rip back, having decided the stitch pattern is ugly) through a museum on Thursday, three people asked me about it.  One of them was about five and wanting to know what I was doing; when I said, "Knitting a sock", he said, "Cool!" and I had to agree.

What I am doing now though is working on the last test sample for the Escapist mystery shawl.  You know, in case you were wondering whether that was still on for the first week of August.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy with a side of joy

My box from Twisted Fiber Art arrived the other day:

If I wasn't using some of it for my last test of the Escapist Shawl, I wouldn't know where to start, but as it is...

The rest is all for socks.

(speaking of which, I have a pair almost to the toes.  not to jinx myself or anything.) 

The base yarn for most of the box is superwash merino/cashmere/nylon and can I just say YUM?  because that's pretty much what I'm humming under my breath as I work my way through Clue #1.  Yum.  Yum-ola, and not because it's called Yummy - that's the sock yarn; this is fingering called Tasty - but because it is.  Highly, highly recommended.

Also recommended: buying new yarn when the going gets tough.  I did that on one of last week's toughest days and I hope to reap the rewards of same sometime next week, at which point I will reveal the extent of my good luck and brilliance-in-irresponsibility.

Less likely: casting it on for a project.  I seem to be a wee tad backlogged for some reason I choose not to think about.  But aren't we all?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saving graces

Here is a good thing about knitting: you can be anywhere in any situation and find somebody to obsess with about it and they don't remotely think of you as crazy.  Which is really very useful when you have just said goodbye for the last time to somebody who is dying after months in the hospital.

Yep, about an hour after doing that last week, while still in an extraordinarily surreal place, I found myself near the knitting magazine section of a bookstore next to a woman who was looking over the titles with a copy of Kathi's Fearless Fair Isle Knitting under her arm.  I didn't think twice about talking to her.

Me: You know what, my friend wrote that book and I knit one of the samples for it.  Do you want to see which one?

Her: YES.

Then we talked for a bit about the whole fiber thing - she is seriously into weaving, which puts her into the same supply stores I frequent, which led to some enthusiastic drooling over supply stores - and then I moved on and thought Wow, I didn't have to think for about four whole minutes there!

I must say it is hard for me at least to spin while grieving, so I haven't done as much with the Tour de Fleece as I wanted.  But I am spinning.  And knitting.  Mostly things inspired by this whole long ordeal.  At the funeral people kept asking me what I am writing now and I said, A blog, and knitting patterns.  And I actually felt pretty pleased I was able to answer that much.

Posting will be a bit sketchy this week as I'm having to work on a laptop with the world's tiniest keyboard and for some reason photographs are being difficult to upload too - could this be the universe telling me to take a break already? - but I will check in again in a day or two. 

In the meantime I hope you are all well and doing lots of crazy things with yarn shopping and crafty overcommitment generally, because honestly: is there anything better, short of ice cream?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A break for bereavement

Hugs is going on hiatus for a few days owing to a death in the family; I expect to be back here and posting more ridiculous projects and procrastinations sometime next week (or maybe I will take a much-needed vacation out of town, in which case I will get Hubie to stand in for me.)

While I'm gone, I hope you'll consider possible stash yarns for the free mystery shawl knitalong I will begin posting sometime early in August, the exact date depending on when my Twisted Fiber Art yarns arrive so as to allow me another test run for yardage.  As I mentioned when I described my trials and tribulations developing this pattern, it was born of the many worries I had when conditions first began to worsen seriously for the man my family is now mourning, and I would love to participate in a collective knit of it while we adapt to life without him.

The essentials:

it should take around 650-675 yards of fingering weight (I used just over 600 in heavy fingering) but I might take that number up a little after I've completed my fingering weight runthrough

it’s a top-down triangle (which is to say, the rows get longer the farther along you go, sorry!) in variations on super simple lace patterns - if you can K2tog and yo, you can do this - separated by borders to make it easy to run in ends, with a different border along the bottom

by 'run in ends' I mean I designed it to be adaptable to using up stash, including different colours if you wish and to some extent fibers

the lace patterns are sufficiently un-elaborate to accommodate variegated or self-striping yarn and I'm using some of the latter in this next runthrough paired with a semisolid, but I think it will be cleanest in a semisolid or solid

the result is an elegantly (in my one-colour version, anyway) rustic reversible shawl a la the BBC’s period productions, the like of which I spent many an hour watching during this very long illness and the tumultuous year preceding it

which explains why the shawl is called 'Escapist'.

Hugs to you all, and see you soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Deco: the progress report

Two weeks ago I was gripped by an idea for a pattern that won't let me go - most annoying because every time I think I've worked it out it suggests some improvement to me and I have to rip out and start over - and between that and the spinning it's been a struggle to get going with Deco.

Thankfully I am nothing if not persistent:

I've finally made it farther than I did on my first try, which means I'm once again pulling yarn from a perfectly-wound part of the cone.  Huzzah!

Kate Davies writes patterns beautifully and I am totally in love with the yarn I chose (St-Denis 'Nordique') which does everything I want, is feltable, is incredibly flexible across many needle sizes, and feels not scratchy - a lot of ask from a feltable wool.  In fact, while knitting away at Deco in the car on the weekend I found myself concocting a pattern of my own for it which would require me to buy even more than the four cones I already have; I suspect the pattern is incidental to the opportunity to choose more colours.

Ideally I would work a bit on the cardi every day, and in fact I think I should make that a specific goal, like the way I made spinning every day of the Tour de Fleece is mandatory except on rest days.  But I don't think the gas meter replacement guys are going to understand why it was more important to get another row or two in on my sweater than to clear out the storage room so they can get to the exterior wall in the morning. 

Work: cut out for me. 

(after the spinning is done.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Midwinter in summer

I won fiber in a door prize at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair last year:  250g of hand-dyed Polwarth, which I hoped one day to be skilled enough to spin.  A week in to the Tour de Fleece, I've spun it.  Not expertly, but more consistently than when I started, so it'll do.

When I got it out of its bag it looked like a giant squid, which is what I named it when I first plugged it into Ravelry.  

But when I spun up the first of the four lengths I tore from it I saw the colours matched my vintage coffee set whose pattern is called Midwinter.

New name: duly bestowed.

I spun the first two strips in one day because I Could. Not. Restrain. Myself.  but then of course my wrist hurt from all the tugging and pulling to draft it at the wheel.  I'd been spinning superwash merino for a few days, you see, and Polwarth is a bit stickier, especially if 250g of it have been dyed and then compressed into a bag. Looking at the other two I decided to pre-draft by pulling the fibers wide, not out.

I don't think you could top this for a sofa cushion or cat bed, do you?  I'm almost tempted to draft out the rest of my fiber like that and just leave it around as home decor, but there's still a lot more Tour to go and I have to spin something.

The other singles looked pretty much like the first, okay on the surface but full of little mistakes that revealed themselves in the plying.

Like for example, tearing dyed fiber into strips so as to produce solid patches of colour in the ply only works if the strips are exactly the same width, and if the singles are spun in exactly the same size.  Otherwise, you get a whole lotta barber pole effect.

Fortunately I like barber poles, and bulky barberishness is a big step up from mangled shreds of roving. Bonus: I learned enough in Midwinter to be doing a little better still with Foxymaple up in the corner there.  I'll tell you about that one later in the week. In the meantime - have a great Monday!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The want list

June and July have been incredibly expensive months, so naturally I have been wanting to buy crafty things.  Seriously: I thought treating myself to a no-holds-barred order from Twisted Fiber Art would be the big indulgence of the year, but then bigger things popped up, culminating in a total breakdown of the dishwasher.

Ten minutes after the new one was installed I compared its cost with the dollar value of the time I might spend washing dishes in day, even at my highest-ever wage.  I had really better enjoy the knitting time this purchase bought me because dang. That woulda been a lot of delicious fiber.

Since the dishwasher requires me to exercise unprecedented levels of self-restraint, I thought I'd share the Wants that are torturing me.  Maybe somebody else will enjoy treating themselves as much as I would and I can enjoy them vicariously.

First up: Biscotte et Cie is offering a kit for Harry Potter socks - Professor Slughorn socks, to be precise (scroll down at the link to see them.)  The kit features Felix yarn, yer basic superwash merino/nylon blend, which I can attest to being not remotely basic when knit with. It's suuuuuuch faaaaaabulous yarn.

And while I have a few skeins of Felix left in my stash and could compensate by knitting with two colours of some of them, I wouldn't have socks made with yarn called 'Parchment.'  So even though I have 12 pairs of socks to knit this year already, I can't stop thinking about this kit.  I look at my e-mail about it every day.  I think I have to have this kit. GAH. 

Next up: it occurred to me I might possibly run out of fiber before the end of the Tour de Fleece, and I'm not sure whether I will be in close proximity over the next couple of weeks to fiber for sale (of course I will, but obviously my brain needs excuses to let me shop) so I went to Etsy to look at the pretty pictures and - whoa

every time I saw colours that made me reach out to the screen with a grabbing motion, they turned out to be from Two Sisters Stringworks.  Indulge me and just click on that link and tell me I'm crazy whydontcha.  And it's not just the colours - the actual fibers are unusual and interesting. The only thing stopping me from ordering both Pond Scum and One Dreamed of Oranges is the knowledge that shipping from Vancouver is ugly. Oh, and that dishwasher thing. Urrrrggggghhhhh.

Topping it off: my KnitPicks catalogue arrived yesterday.  How long is it since the mail strike ended and I still don't have my 3+ missing issues of The New Yorker?  but I get catalogues aplenty. Anyway I looked at this one and stopped in my tracks at the sight of...

... the new Chic-a bags.  Okay, we have long since established my deep and abiding love for all bags Tinyhappy, hand made and full of positive energy, but what you may not know that I am a complete sucker for big bright 50s kitcheny prints.  I just, wow.  Love those bags.  Totally impractical for me because I have (almost) more bags than I can use. but.  Did they put catnip on those pictures or something?? I can't stop looking.

Okay, I'm going to take a walk: just linking that stuff for you guys has me all twitchy. Or maybe I should unload the dishwasher?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Take it outside

I am so enjoying spinning for the Tour de Fleece, possibly because I haven't done any of it in the house.

On Monday, I spun singles from the last of the Twisted Fiber Art club roving I started on my spindle before Christmas:

... and then on Tuesday, when I was out all day and had to bring my spindle, I spun the fluffy green wool I bought in Kitchener last September...

I just love this photograph.  I really, really do.  And the green stuff - the bag is marked 'carded wool' and cost just $6 for 100g - is an absolute dream to draft.  It's incredibly difficult to resist going on with it but I have to, because I will be out of town for a few days over the Tour and I've gotta ration my easy-to-spindle fibers.

Yesterday I plied the singles from Monday, using my idea for threading the ends out of sealable plastic bags and wowza, it was great!

After some experimentation I found the best thing was to sit the bags in my lap and with my left hand index finger keep the strands separate until my right hand fingers and thumb were ready to draw them forward. They had nothing to tangle on, and no time even to look at each other before I wound them together; also, I was able to stretch out the twistier strand at any given point, to match the length of the other.  Well, in theory; a few supertwists did get through though they don't show here.

Anyway, it's a lot cheaper and way more compact than a freestanding Lazy Kate - plus, I can do as many plies as ever I please, once I can spin fine enough singles.

Today I'm going to do more of this.

It's Polwarth, also purchased in Kitchener last September. I thought I might need a change from my Twisted superwash merinos.  The dye isn't completely set so my fingers were dark grey when I was done, but ohhhh was it worth it.

Hope your day has lots of outside in it too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The tale of the terrible tangle

Last week I decided the only way I was going to get to work on Deco during the cardi KAL was if I parked it inside the passenger seat of the car for summer day trips, so I did that and on the weekend I finally got going. Yay!  Then, about three rows in, I noticed my yarn was tangled.

How that happened:  After the first two frogs, I rewound the yarn around the cone, but looser than it had been before.  Pulling my working yarn off the cone from the bag I've been storing it in, more of the coils came off than were needed - coils from many, many previous winding points.  More and more, in fact, as I knitted merrily along without noticing the problem.

When I did spot it, I had to pull a whole hunk off the cone just to fix the tangle. I worked on the knots en route to Dinner Out, cursed myself for not bringing it into the restaurant (for which I would have been cursed had I done it), worked on it after Dinner Out and before Ice Cream Out, after Ice Cream Out (I had mango sorbet, and it was very nice) and after I got re-installed on the porch.

Here is what it looked like on arrival in my chair there:

And half an hour after that:

I tried to take a picture of what it looked like half an hour after that, but the sun was nearly down by then.

Here's the thing.  You can untangle a knot for just so long before you start weighing the value of continuing. You want to rescue all that yardage, but you also don't want to compromise the integrity of the project with a patch of wool that was worn and sad before it even got knit in. Plus, how much knitting time are you willing to lose?  And on the other hand, once you've invested 90 minutes in getting out a knot, don't you kinda half to go on and get the job done so you haven't lost 90 minutes of knitting time for nothing?  And on the other hand you wish you had so you could get more done in a day - who wants to run in ends when working on a cone?? The whole point of a cone is not having to run in ends!!  But of course the fourth hand knows that running in two ends takes about 3 minutes of which 2 are spent locating some scissors and a darning needle.


I only lasted the extra half hour, which put me I think at 2 hours of untangling before I went inside and got the scissors.  The yarn I was releasing from the knot was just an absolute mess by then anyway.

Yesterday I was in the car a lot again and after running in ends on one distracting Top Secret project and doing my daily spinning time - yay spindle - I had about an hour free for Deco which put me about half as far ahead as I would have been had I just cut the knot in the first place.

I'm not going to cry.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Not waiting

My normal setting is to work first, then play, but this summer I'm making a conscious effort to Not Wait.  All those things I spent the winter dreaming of doing when the weather got better and the pace eased up?  I'm just doing them. I'm not worrying about the fact that the porch needs another scrape and paint, or that my trusty Adirondack chairs are begging for a fresh coat of stain - those projects will sort themselves out later. Right now, it's summer, and I'm going to enjoy it.

Okay, I'm still putting work before play, but my mindset is a bit different. I'm just very, very aware of how lucky I am to be in a time and place of perfect summer weather, and I'm taking my spinning and knitting outside. My house has always reminded me of a sweet little cottage and this year I'm treating it like one - a place where you are just happy, even if you're doing a lot of little houseworky chores like washing the dishes or throwing in laundry.  (The washing the dishes part is made even more quaint at the moment by the fact that the dishwasher went bust a few days ago and I can't get to the appliance store till tonight; when the new one does come in, I plan to be cottagey by using my rediscovered counter space for baking homey treats.)

This picture of one of the Tavener socks in progress captures my feeling, I think:

Just sundrenched.  And all that stuff past the heel?  (they're both past the heel now, by the way)  Knit at a neighbourhood barbeque.  Bliss, I tells ya.  Hope you're having some of the same.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tour de Fleece: adventures in spinning

The Tour de France started Saturday but I started spinning in earnest on Friday, double checking everything I learned last week to be sure I could actually produce something viable with my wheel.

Saturday's work doesn't look viable to me in terms of yarn - there is a lot of thick and thin, all at unpredictable intervals...

... but it has a reasonable amount of twist and it wound onto the bobbin, so it seems I have the basics down.

Sunday, I spun the rest of my learner's fiber (thus launching the worry about what colourway I will make the least of today) and instead of leaving the singles on the bobbin I wound it, as I had the first, with my ball winder.

In theory this was to help with plying later, but in fact I just didn't have the energy to look up again how to attach a leader and had to keep my sole bobbin-with-leader free.  Noting those instructions is today's job, or possibly tomorrow's.

Having got this far, I decided to ignore the value of letting the twist rest for a day, and prepared to ply.

In The Intentional Spinner, Judith MacKenzie McCuin suggests not using the lazy kate that comes with my Ashford Joy as it's not set at a great angle for plying, but to use some other version - even if it's just long steel knitting needles run through one side of a box, through the bobbins, and through the other side of the box.

Here is my version:

The diecast John Deer tractor replica is there to keep the box from shifting; it was the heaviest thing I could find that would fit inside, and if it weren't for the yarn occasionally catching on the wheels it would have been  a perfect choice.

I can't say I will repeat this plying setup, wheel-catching aside; there was a lot of yarn twisting around the needle business that slowed me down.  However, the slowdowns inspired this brilliant tool:

Need to take a break from plying for moment, either to detangle yarn from a needle or to resolve some crisis or other?  Just clamp off the twist with a clothespeg.

At this point I made I think my best discovery about the Joy, and one I will pursue with my next full bobbin: if you disengage the cable thingy and turn the wheel sideways, you can quickly and comfortably spin the singles or plied yarn onto your fingers for a neat little ball.   Without ever leaving the porch where you've sat happily enjoying the way birdsong blends with a treadled wheel, swoon.

This results in a ball you can stuff into a little sealable plastic bag with a hole poked into the side for the end to feed out of while plying.  Ha! Take that, box pierced with steel knitting needles.

They may not make for gauge-consistent knitting, but aren't these pretty?

And now back to pondering what on earth I will spin today (and hoping that is my biggest problem.)  Have fun yourself - especially any Americans, wherever you might be, on your country's special day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Canada Day with Hubie

You don't have to tell me how to celebrate Canada:

With British import chocolate.  Happy mrmph Canada Day chomp gulp!