Sunday, October 31, 2010

Over Again - Until the Next Time

I never claimed to be useful with a camera, even when I schlep it all over the place.

Witness the only non-yarn, non-bead pictures taken at SOAR: my little home for five days (I changed rooms after the second day because weird sound dynamics caused me to hear very loud, crystal clear snoring when in bed) which I photographed perhaps an hour before setting off.
The layout of Lake Lawn Resort (aptly named as you can see below, with both lake and lawn visible) is in the form of a circle-like shape with windowed passages connecting the various buildings. Very pretty in the mornings, and much nicer walking along the diameter than the circumference.
This was for me a very spinnerly SOAR in that I made more yarn out of the classroom than is my wont. Bad picture with early morning sun skewing the colours, but the pinkish skein to the right below is actually part deep fuchsia and part deep, rich orange from a cochineal dyebath.
I also dyed the skeins I spun in the bunny and goat classes, and I spun extra-curricularly too (I usually knit in Swillville).

And when I got home I heaved the huge pile of my daughter's mending off the Supercard and combined goodie bag and class left-overs from SOARs 2009 and 2010 to make three lovely bumps.
I get out of the carding habit, as I have so much that's ready to spin right now, this instant, but it's really fun, especially when there's colour-blending involved. The pinkish bump starts off blue-purple and fades through yellow-green to red-pink. I could make my own Noro-style yarns; I know Phreadde did an intensive study some years ago, but I'd probably just be kinda haphazard about it all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SOAR Wh*re

Overall, the SOAR community grows yearly with the newest crop of first-timers, or SOAR virgins. Of course, that must make the rest of us SOAR whores.

I think it has a nice ring to it.

We need t-shirts or buttons or something.

After three days of cutting up Pendleton blankets and cashmere sweaters and carding and ravelling cashmere sweaters (entertaining as it is to see a sweater disappearing into a spinning wheel orifice, I don't think any county fairs are likely to include a shawl-to-sheep contest any time soon) and plying and cabling and boucléing, I have quite the little collection.

I'd forgotten how much I love making garneted yarns.

The best thing about this class with the always-informative, gracious and lovely Judith MacKenzie is that my inability to toss out a file-drawer-full of silk blouses from the eighties has been vindicated, not to mention the fibre-based eBay habit (there was an unrelated and shorter but no less obsessive bout with lampwork beads on eBay some years later) in which lust, avarice and weakness caused me to acquire cones of luxury fibre yarns way too thin to knit with (unless carried with multiple other fine coned yarns of which I had plenty, see phrase beginning with "lust" above. Yes, recursion probably captures the essence pretty well), as we cut silk scarves into strips and plied them with thin yarns, the bumpy partially-hidden pale pink skein above being one such exemplar.

And the very matted multi-coloured angora that was too expensive and pretty to toss or give to nesting birds and squirrels, but too matted to spin comfortably can now be separated into spinnable fibre and mats for garnetting.

You'd think I had nothing to spin, no stash, nada.

No handpainted merino-silk rovings, nor cashmere (natural white, fawn, brown or dyed in clouds or rovings), yak down (bleached or unbleached, carded or combed not to mention in blends), alpaca (suri or huacaya), lama, silk (bricks or tops, tussah or bombyx, handpainted or undyed), optim, seacell, tencel, bamboo rayon, kid mohair (in locks or roving), yearling mohair, camel down, blue-faced leicester (handpainted or natural brown), cormo, corriedale, columbia, polwarth, or even dog.

You'd think so, wouldn't you?

Fortunately in just nine minutes I can become one with the throngs salivating at the still-closed doors of the SOAR vendors' market.

Narrow escape, that.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I managed to make a couple more pairs of earrings before leaving for SOAR.
I've already given away the red tigereye pair (the lovely Anne has them); I believe I still have the spice jasper pair. Not to worry, I'm sure I'll find another victim, uh recipient any time now.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm always so surprised at just how optimistic I am about what I can achieve, because invariably I can't. Get done what I was certain I could.

Take this sweater.
I was pretty certain that it could be completed by some time Saturday night (along with SOAR packing and organizing the house before leaving and explaining what needs to be done to my daughter who is taking care of my kitten (and oh yes, the house too), and not only that, but get it dyed before bedtime too.

I got a few rows into the raglan yoke.

I had been planning to drive myself, but it turned out that there was room in Amy's car, so I had six hours of back-seat knitting time.

As we pulled into the driveway of the resort, I had picked up perhaps seven of the button band stitches. Still feeling optimistic, though I realized that I'd left the dye at home.

Hopeful as ever, I was aware that I knew People who I was pretty sure were bribable. Luckily, they were.
They didn't have black dye, but were happy to mix up some eggplant.

The SOAR Gallery opens tomorrow night, so I'm hoping it will be dry by the morning in time to hand it to the nice young women who are running things this year.

Oh sure, no worries, it'll be dry!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Still At It

Beading-wise, I'm still making little things, earrings mostly, with the odd beaded bead thrown in.
The close-up shows all flaws, unfortunately. I think I need more powerful glasses .
I wish I could photograph these better, but white things are just impossible.
With the pink sweater still not blocked (I have other priorities. Like knitting the next one), it's even odds as to whether I'll get my cardigan done in time to overdye it. I'm using up all sorts of oddments and left-overs, yarns that were spun from batts comprised of SOAR samples and other odds and ends; invariably ugly, even to this lover of the sludgey colours.

Endless drain-sludge greys.

Hence the need to overdye.

On the other hand, I'm basking in the smug virtuousness of the frugality relating to using up those odds and ends. (I am coming to realize that even if I never spin the fiber I have or buy more yarn, it's going to be awfully difficult to get that much use out of the so many potential sweaters represented by the yarn I already have. Still, there's nothing like a challenge. I should buck up a bit because I'm also realizing that I may not live long enough to make them all).

Right now I'm a couple of inches from the armhole on one sleeve and the body, and an extra couple of inches away on the second sleeve, so it's looking doable.

The thing is, raglan yokes alter the very physics of the universe: they make time glacial. Top-down sweaters take forever to get started, but once you hit the Great Divide and stop the raglan increases, the rest of the sweater is complete almost instantaneously.

Conversely, working bottom-up it may feel as if progress is brisk until Three Become One, and then even though you're decreasing eight stitches every other round, your children grow up and make you a grandparent before you can even begin to think about neck shaping, and you start looking into retirement homes, and then suddenly (those last few decrease rounds at some point make a significant dent in the total stitch count) you've used up all the sleeve stitches and you realize you haven't decided how to finish the neck or what size your buttonholes need to be and oh yes, it's not quite tea-time just yet after all.

Time dilation.


I was recently rebuked for Lack of Kitten Pictures.
Isis broke the thingy that keeps the mirror upright so that you can see how that necklace sits. Now it's only good for lying on the floor and confounding kittens. Does pretty well at that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Don't Know What To Put Here

This time next week I'll be among my tribe, basking in the glow of SOAR goodness, not thinking about my plumbing issues. (No, it's not fixed. Yes, it's probably much, much worse, thanks for asking. No, I'm not in the mood. Why yes, I am glad I'm only paying for one college tuition this year, because jeeez!)

In the Good News Department, the Amy Sale was rather good for me, new Macbook good, and even when it was over, it wasn't quite over, because a few sales came with orders for matching earrings, so I got busy.
(One earring sale came with an order for a matching necklace; it's in the queue).
I'm quite charmed by these earrings, a variation on a style I was obsessing with a few months ago. The colours help too. Not my usual palette, but I am capable of breaking out once in a while.

I'm really glad I did the last-minute beading for the sale, because both new necklaces from my last post sold.

And then I made a bunch of earrings because I'm going to need them Real Soon Now.
Since I'm teaching tomorrow, I also had to work up some samples for the instructions.
And if the sale wasn't full of enough goodness, I finally managed to get rid of the bad-juju Ott light given to me by a not-missed-at-all ex that's been brooding in a basement closet. It's probably the cause of my plumbing woes. No, I didn't toss it in a dumpster (for one, those fancy bulbs probably need all kinds of special recycling), but managed to exchange it for actual money.

And my kitten's Squinty Eye Syndrome (officially Horner's Syndrome) is improving, not that it appears to have bothered her. She's as insanely cute as ever. (My daughter wondered exactly when we'd get over our obsession with the kitten. A friend thought it might be a few years yet).

But wait! There's more! I finished my raspberry sweater with probably ten grams of yarn to spare (but no picture yet).

For the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, I have only one item for the SOAR gallery, and it's not even slightly impressive - just a utilitarian sweater. The yarn is delicious, but still. I don't think I'll be able to complete anything gut-wrenchingly spectacular in the days before I leave, even with the bonus of being a passenger rather than the driver, and having those extra knitting hours.

Eh, I'll live.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All About Indecision

I'm still in two minds about my neppy fibre.
As yarn, it's not without merits: it's soft and lofty, but man, it was annoying to spin. And the bag says "975g" which is a whole lot of spinning. On the other hand, I could knit a dress with that. It's always nice to have options. In truth the colours are less appealing than when I bought the roving, but as I've mentioned before, I'm not afraid of the dyepot.

Still undecided, I did some last-minute sale-beading (Amy needs my stuff by Thursday evening for the Saturday sale).
The large soft green beads in the larger beaded beads are grossular garnet, very rustic, and the remainder are glass.

I really like this necklace, and am tempted to keep it if it doesn't sell.

I believe the pendant is some sort of jasper (if not, then agate. It seems everything unidentifiable is jasper or agate. My money is on jasper this time), and the stripey beads are lamp-worked. The fillers between the beaded beads and others are yummy deep fuchsia fresh-water pearls.

I do have a few more pendants, a few more striped beads, and a ton more pearls, but I'm out of the large, soft pink beads in the beaded beads, so duplicating this exactly is iffy.

It would go really well with what I'm wearing today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Little Ones

Next week is Amy's Sale at which I get to try to sell my beaded jewellery.
My inventory is pretty decent, all-in-all, as I've been adding to it continually during the year.
Still, it's always nice to be able to add a few pairs of earrings at the last minute.
Some of the Panspora beads had been made some time ago, just resting in a baggie.
Some I made today.
And some were made in the past couple of weeks.

Now I'm debating what to do with the oddies: try to make another one the same to get a pair of earrings, or combine with coordinating beads for a pendant or semi-mismatched earrings, or (if there are big enough families) into necklaces.

Jury's still out.

Julia came for a short visit this weekend, and as we're both pretty damn good at knitting while we talk, I finished a sleeve. No photo, but it's true.

The worst of my plumbing problems may be over (we're waiting for the grout to be completely dry before it's truly tested) and all I can say is that there must be some sort of weird karmic balance in the world of water and pipes, because fixing the water supply to the tub in the second bathroom (and the incidental and unwanted water supply to the basement floor) resulted in a drip-drip-drip (sound; nothing visible) to the commode in the master bathroom. I'm a light enough sleeper that use thereof has to be preceded and followed by turning its water supply on and off. A little irksome.

And the plumber insisted it was the flapper.

I may not be trained in the plumbing sciences, but I'm a pretty decent problem-solver, and logic is not foreign to my thought processes. If the toilet tank is allowed to fill after a flush, but the drip stops (with a full tank) after the water supply is turned off, I fail to see how it's the flapper that's the problem. If it was the flapper, the dripping would continue until the tank was empty, but it doesn't, so it can't be.

The guy who did the leak-fixing work may or may not have been competent (the test will be one of my daughter's marathon showers; she insists they can't be hurried, followed by an inspection of the basement floor) but I'm definitely dissatisfied with his professionalism (minimal courtesy, audible swearing, leaving a mess, not bothering to arrange a time to return to complete the job which he insisted would take a single day, not telling me that he hadn't finished in a single day), not to mention his lack of communication. It's left a sour taste, quite frankly.

My remaining annoyance? This company has done work for me before, big work (in terms of cost), two to three times the size of this job. They've never had to ask more than once (as in giving me the single invoice) for payment, but somehow this time they needed to leave three messages on my answering machine on Saturday asking if they could come and pick up the check IMMEDIATELY.

You'd think I'd been a past non-paying nightmare.

Sour taste indeed.

The actual drama this weekend sounds way cooler and more dangerous in summary than in detail.

My son was stabbed at his high school homecoming game.

What actually happened was that a kid with a pocket-knife on his keychain thought it would be funny to wave it around as if he was going to hurt someone. My son saw and heard the keys but not the blade and blocked the kid's jab, so the knife went straight into his arm between the hand and the wrist.

It was quite a deep wound, and there was lots of blood, though fortunately it missed the main artery. The ER doctor didn't think that there was tendon damage, but we'll see the hand surgeon to make sure. We're hoping that no surgery is necessary; two stitches were quite enough, thank you.

He was annoyed at the blood on his clothes, and after we ascertained that it wasn't life-threatening, his main concern was being late for his part in the elaborate scheme of cars and clothes and rides in preparation for the after-party. He had his priorities, after all.

Thank goodness for the foolishness of teenage boys. We all need a bit of drama now and again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Two Thoughts, Two Guesses, Two Minds, Two Sides

As I was plying while waiting for the plumber for whom I had left work early and who was already late, I had this thing in my head that felt like a second thought. I was plying the yarns from the nasty neppy second-cutty roving I spun on Saturday and which was waiting for me to get over (or at least past. Ish) my depression at how it disappointed me which is why I was only plying on Wednesday. That, and I've been busy.

Anyway, I thought about plying, and about how it hides a multitude of sins, and how I'm really a pretty decent spinner after all, and bad roving really shouldn't be the boss of me and honestly I'm sureI could ply the yarn into a delightful, soft tweed.

It's drying now, and I'll re-evaluate once it's done, but I'm second-guessing my second thoughts all over again.

Luckily my time off from work was not wasted, although the plumber was not a magic-worker, which means I'm home from work again today, and highly unimpressed as the shutoff that he installed last night as a stopgap for The Faucet That Could Not Be Turned Off not only shut off the water to the faucet in the tub in the kids' bathroom, but also to the toilet and sink in mine, so I'm doing the bucket thing. No, I don't pee in a bucket, I pour a bucket of water to flush. Luckily my shower still has cold water, much as I love scalding showers. I seriously don't understand the pipes in this house.

Did I mention the word "unimpressed"? And they're an hour late this morning.

Not happy.

Anyway, back to the time not wasted.

I love finishing things, especially if they've been on the pile for ages, and if finishing them means I'm that much closer to starting something new and exciting. That's almost redundant, as new things are pretty much by definition exciting mostly.
I finished a cuff.
And a pendant.
Which has a pretty wrong side too.
And another pendant which also has a pretty wrong side but which I neglected to photograph.
And then I wondered about those so-called spade beads, the use of which had thus far eluded me.
I'm in two minds as to whether this is an attractive use of them, but I think it's perfectly valid with Brownie points for being two-sided.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Before the 2008 election brouhaha concerning lipstick and pigs, I was working for a company that made cool science-heavy drug discovery software (I learned a lot of chemistry so obscure that Google had no idea) that was to modern software in terms of look and feel the way DOS is to OS X. As part of its downhill spiral (a year or two of which I was lucky enough to witness from the inside) the new CEO promised to make things better, newer, faster, sexier, more efficient, more profitable, and not just do the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.

Yeah that worked out well: more than half the people there when I left have since been laid off, and from what I hear, it hasn't stopped.


There have been classes that I've taught that I've turned into kits, some with more modifications than others. If the instructions contain numerous variations and I don't plan to provide beads for every combination of choices possible, then I need to prune them; conversely if the kit (as is usual) is for a particular item (you can teach a technique class and chat about uses and colour choices and bead choices and finishing, but that's not useful for a kit which needs to have an end goal), the instructions may need to be expanded somewhat.

So for Calathid, which I taught a few months ago, it occurred to me that it might look more interesting and more floral (though still fairly abstract) if I played with colour gradations.
I also needed a better sample for the photo for a class proposal for a national show. I hoped that it wouldn't just be lipstick on a pig.
There are three different colour combinations, and I'm pleased with the results, but this was more effort than I'd been anticipating, and I have to confess that finishing it amounted to quite the act of will and self-discipline (not normally words in my lexicon when it comes to beading or knitting where I'm more likely to fall on the self-indulgent side), as each segment took somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half to complete. (There are eight in total, plus the toggle section).
Before I started, I was considering other colour-ways as well. Now I'm rethinking my Full-Sized Samples strategy.
Painful as it was to complete it, I needed some consolation after my day of spinning on some roving which was very unpleasant; partly my fault and partly not.

Most of the time I buy fibre in small amounts, but every now and again I'll indulge in a sweater-amount if that's the only way it's available.

A few years I bought a large bag of slow-change roving from a vendor from whom I've bought quite a bit, in a colour-way somewhat less saturated and paler than my usual sludge, and I started spinning on Saturday.
I spun all day, almost a full bobbin, and it was full of second cuts (which made lumps) and neps (possibly because not all the lanolin had been washed out). And I hate the colours. When I dug in the bag, along with the lovely mauves, taupes and greens, there were way too many creams and beiges, all of them neppy, all of them sticky with lanolin. The few colours I like? Not neppy, not sticky.

I tried to disregard the annoyance of stopping to pick out neps as I spun, but I couldn't get away from the blah colours, and spent quite a bit of spinning time wondering what would be the best colour with which to overdye it, which in itself is a bit depressing when the whole point of the roving is the supposedly fabulous colour gradation - but I'm sure someone would love it; just not me.

I hate to toss a hundred dollars of fibre, but the spinning is no fun either, and life's too short and the stash is too big to waste time on spinning something that's Not Fun.

I guess what I'll do is separate out the good parts and make pretty yarn that I can use (sport-weight or dk-weight three-ply yarn), and consider spinning the rest of it really quickly into either a fat two-ply or a really fat singles yarn that I'll use for fulling.

I might be able to convince myself that I've been meaning to make bags or baskets or oven-gloves or something.