UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

November 29, 2008

It’s not too late to click it, click it good.

Filed under: discussion, fiber — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 6:18 pm

I saw a commercial where the woman could not book a vacation online because she was afraid the price would drop. I have never had that problem for that reason. Vacation prices do not drop in my experience. The longer you wait, the more it costs. I do, however, have that problem. I cannot seem to click it. 

[You should all pause here for the mental replay of the Devo song, “Whip It”. Thank you.] 

I went out to the kitchen gadget store in Berkeley last week and to get rice from Vik’s. (If you live near here, Vik’s is moving soon, so you will want to check their website before making an excursion. The sign said 4 blocks.)  I admit that I planned to buy things. I came home with a lot more stuff and spent a lot more money than I had anticipated. Most of the new things are extremely cool and I am pleased. I only feel a little ill from buying them. I know we needed the rice. But having already spent a bunch of money “out of season”, I am struggling with buying more things.

I want to subscribe to the “Fondle This!” 2009 fiber club from Susan’s Spinning Bunny. I know it would push me out of my comfort zone because of the new fibers and accompanying patterns. I know I enjoyed the prompting last year for the Spunky Eclectic fiber club— prompting where the new box jumps up and down shouting, “Spin me!” (Even though I did not enjoy most of the selections.) 

I am having trouble clicking the button even though I have the money.

[If you were waiting for the song reminder…. probably, “Stranded” by Heart, because it starts with “Standing here, helpless. Where do I go…” ]

[You should all be glad I am as old as I am, because the song could easily have been the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”.]

So. Here is my request. Come and tell me that I should buy something I really want because it will add to my personal happiness.

(Obviously in this economy I should clarify… I have the money available and it is not a choice between this and something essential. I will not be sitting here in the dark, being cold and hungry because I spent too much money frivolously. There are days when I sit here in the dark being cold and hungry, but that is a personal defect stemming from my complete inability to spend money.)

Bagging a Knitting Bag is harder than it seems.

Filed under: discussion — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:28 pm

I finally find a bag I really like. It has these hexagons on it and they look like tortoise shells. It is constructed like a rug, so I know it is going to be durable. It has suede handles (fabric handles are a failure point in my experience). So I go and look for it. The place selling them says their online store is broken. So I point it out to my husband and say, “I like that. If I could tell what it costs, I would put it on my Christmas list.” So he went and found a price. $340. No way can I ask for that! I was thinking it might be worth $80 or so. But I apparently have excellent taste. I can identify the most outrageously priced accessory without any sort of context what-so-ever. That is ridiculous.

Could you imagine carrying a bag like that around? I would be afraid the bag would get stolen in and of itself. I certainly could not use it for a knitting bag since most groups meet in places with questionable floors. I would need a bag to carry my precious bag in. 

I could use a good portable container for knitting. I have a fold-open cloth basket/bag thing but it is so deep and black on the inside that I think of it as a black hole. (I once misplaced 8 skeins of acrylic yarn while I was making a fancy colorwork hat. The basket looked empty. I really wondered how I had lost an entire tub of yarn like that.) I have a tote bag for when I go places. If I am going somewhere to knit, I usually cram my yarn and project into a plastic canister and set it in the tote bag. If I am needing to go somewhere and not take up gobs of room, I grab one of those handled gift-bags because they are small and stand up on their own. 

Also: I have started faving patterns on Ravelry that are not free. Obviously I am not going to actually buy a pattern (they are never my size; if I have to do all the work anyway, then I would prefer to start from scratch) but I do like some of the ideas presented. Double-breasted jacket is a good idea. Moroccan colorwork socks are really cute. If you are watching the RSS feed of what your Rav!friends are doing, please do not consider this an endorsement. I just like the picture shown. I realized that if one of my friends talked about a book or yarn or pattern positively, I was more likely to investigate further, even if it was subconscious and much later. That would be why I did not tell you which bag I had liked.

November 28, 2008

When uplifting a project stops needing a forklift.

Filed under: discussion, knit — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:06 am

Yesterday, I sat down to work on the matching mitten and it stopped being something I was unhappy to be working on. No idea what changed, but it was fun. I got past the dreaded ribbing without spending every stitch resenting the fact that it was ribbing. I still have a lot left to do on it, of course, but suddenly it feels like something I get to work on. 

It is all in the attitude. 

This is a conversation I drafted but did not send: [It is about me not having problems with Navajo plying but being convinced I cannot crochet.]

One of the things I’ve noticed about crafty skills is they are all much easier if no one tells you it’s hard first. Have you seen how many knitters tell new knitters that purling is hard? Then that’s a whole new generation of people who struggle with purling. Spinners tell new spinners that plying is hard and lo! it is. I didn’t hear that until much later and plying is my favorite part— that’s when it becomes yarn to me.

I tend to tell people including myself, “This can’t be hard. Children can do it.” and “Don’t overthink it; this is supposed to be fun.”  It’s amazing how effective that is. (And it amazes everyone who knows me because positive thinking is not my strong suit.)

It really helps me when I need to do a crochet edging if I don’t call it that. Thus how the Navajo plying succeeded, I watched an itty-bitty video clip, realized they were just pulling it into loops and away I went. Later I read that was a crochet chain and realized if I’d known that, I would have told myself it was going to be hard and been very tense and critical while I was learning.

On the other hand, Andean plying didn’t turn out so well when I tried it, but I’m blaming that on loosely-spun part-mohair singles being unexpectedly grabby. I practiced with a pile of commercial acrylic yarn first and that worked just fine.

November 27, 2008

Moss Balls, Books, Blue Cowls

Filed under: spin — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 7:13 pm

I have a decent handle on the spinning now. I know when I am doing well and I know how to deal with errors.  So. The next step is where someone can explain how to wind a ball of skeined handspun yarn without it taking 2 hours. I started at 4:50 pm and it is 6:40 now, I got 8 ounces into 2 balls. But I spent at least 35 minutes untangling knots. I need a third hand too. When I am winding with the left hand, tensioning/guiding with the right hand (because the built-in guide does a horrible job) the swift is spun by the ball winder. This creates really tight yarn balls that are hard to knit from. If I have someone else cranking and guiding the yarn while I spin the swift, that works quite well. Maybe this is why people want grandchildren? Someone young enough that turning a crank is still fun in and of itself. 

I think that “Stonehenge” colorway has a yarn name. I want to call it “Moss in the Dark”.

I read two knitting related books today. I bought them two months ago and only now did I open them. Franklin Habit’s It Itches. The art is less crisp than his online comics, which I thought was less appealing. Some of the comics were less appealing as well because they appeared to be about regular people instead of his characters. Humor stops being funny if it cuts too close. As a spiky personalitied person, many things cut me that would not bother others who have stayed well within the mold. Hey! I could have a contest! Let me send you a book I didn’t like! Yeah! That will be fun! I am sure you are all clamoring to email me your physical addresses. 

The other book I read today was Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. I got this because I wanted to know  where BrooklynTweed was getting his ideas. It was phenomenal. Probably the best practical knitting book I have read. It talks about how many “tips and tricks” found in other books were derived. It shows the kinds of methodologies used by various ethnicities of knitting. It explains how to do different types of sleeves and how to attach them. This was the book I wanted 3 years ago. It tells you again what parameters should shape your knitting, but then encourages you to find your own specific pattern. “This is how to do a neck yoke. These are common motifs found in Norwegian and Swedish yokes. Here is an intarsia yoke that is completely different, so you can see how to find your own way. This is the methodology behind Bohus yokes.” But the best part was the explanation about how to purl without bringing the yarn to the front! 

[“Bring the yarn to the front” is my most hated part of knitting. I know most of it is residual anger from when I learned out of books and, of more than 20 books found at my local library, exactly none of them shows which way to bring the yarn to the front. Topologically there are 16 ways, so this is not exactly trivial. It is my deep-set belief that people do not dislike purling, they dislike the alternation between knit and purl stitches because no one bothers to explain that the yarn always moves between the needles, so “bring the yarn to the back” to knit the next stitch will be like a football field goal where the ball is kicked between the posts and over the crossbar to be good.] 

Spinning-wise, I finished the first third of my singles from the blue merino+silk fiber. I want to make a 3-ply yarn. I am thinking about knitting something kind of like Romi’s “Ice Queen” which is a (Knitty pattern) lacy feather-and-fan cowl with beads. I would obviously skip the beads. (Though I wonder if beading the face rimming edge would help hold it in place?) I kind of want it to be like Franklin’s mom’s mobius which was a floofy thing. My yarn is going to end up a lot thicker than the laceweight mohair in both of these examples though. 

No knitting yet today.

November 26, 2008

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish (Dyeworks), Blue Fiber.

Filed under: spin — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 4:54 pm

fiber pic link

I started spinning some Red Fish extra-fine merino+silk (80/20). It is blue. I am spinning it very thin and planning to 3-ply. It is going to be for me. It calls to me. I know I want it to be something that sits next to my face because the color brings out my eyes. 

I got the smaller drive band out for my wheel so I could go up a ratio. I am faster spinning and drafting well-prepared fiber, and Red Fish is amazing stuff. When I pre-draft even regular BFL, I get to treadling so fast that my wheel shakes and my legs get sore. So it was time to take advantage of the higher “gear”. Theoretically the smaller drive band is only necessary for the highest ratio, but in practice my normal band slips on the second-to-highest ratio whorl. Obviously this is going to cause havoc when I want to go to the highest ratio. I know I can cut them and re-melt the ends, but I might order a spare instead. 

I am knitting on the companion mitten. I have SMS— like SSS… Second Mitten Syndrome, similar to the problem sock knitters have. I know I can make one of those; I proved it. Why would I want to do it again?

Holiday plans include winding the rest of the finished BFL into balls so I can start the Francis sweater when I am done with the mitten. I might not make much progress.

November 23, 2008

projects status: m’Envy and Stonehenge sweater

Filed under: knit, project lists, spin — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:43 pm

Let me see. 4 days ago I had no idea which of the umpteen fingerless mitt patterns I wanted to do. I picked one, based on the pattern matching the yarn I wanted to use and the instructions being relatively easy to print. I had omitted it because the designer’s yarn choice was really appallingly poor. I know I have strong opinions about yarn, all knitters seem to, but cables in a space-dyed tweedy yarn really do not seem worth the extra effort because no one can see them. So I have cast on for the first “Mitt Envy”. It looks like I will need to start again because I am unhappy with the resultant fabric. Still thinking. I have other yarn choices available or I could use different needles. 

I finished plying the last of the CMF BFL “Stonehenge”. This morning I washed the yarn. It is outside in the shade drying now. That plying session was the worst one yet. I normally slightly over-ply because I prefer to knit with that and because there is a bit of untwisting that happens while the yarn is spooling. This time I had to go back and add twist (essentially re-ply) because the singles were not mating at all. No idea what it was. The yarn still looked a little underplied when skeined but hopefully the washing and thwacking will help even it out. 

I had quite a bit of single left on that, but I wound it onto a fake bobbin (TP tube) and will either ply it up for some random yarn project (I have a collection of bits of single now) or maybe when I am knitting the sweater there will be a point where I need just a little more.  With that yarn,  I plan to knit myself a “Francis”. There may not be enough yarn though. The Francis is a top-down raglan with a cowl neck added on to picked up collar stitches. I know I have plenty of yarn for the body and the collar, but I am a little unsure about how much sleeves take up. 

I got a definite reprieve on the shawl project. It stopped being a Christmas thing and started being a February thing. It will still be late, but I no longer feel like I am already procrastinating.

PS: I had to look up the plural of status. There appears to be some dissent. Officially as a Latin-derived word, the plural is “status” (albeit with a different pronunciation), but American dictionaries suggest “statuses”. Because it is a different part of speech, it does not take the strange plural like octopus/octopi or virus/virii.  Thus, the post title should be correct although it looks definitely odd to me as an American.

November 19, 2008

Four Jagged Thoughts

Filed under: spin — UndyedYarnpire @ 6:54 pm
  1. [Printing is one of the most annoying things about computers.]  Patterns within someone’s blog should have a downloadable version! It took me ages to grab just the pattern text to the Woodland Shawl. I do not want a gajillion comments. It fit on 2 pages, but before I excised the pattern, more than 30 pages. 
  2. I am giving up on the local “fiber community” after an incident yesterday where a forum topic said, “Everybody except [________] join…” and no one has complained. I might be tactless, but I would not have been rude like that. I have talked with several people outside of that community and no longer feel like I am the only voice decrying what happened. But if you have been considering commenting or emailing, this would be a good time to make friends. I am feeling lonely. 
  3. Spinning is proceeding on the CMF BFL “Stonehenge”. I have 2 ounces of single left. CMF sent an email today saying their prices are going up in January. I think they are already expensive considering the shipping costs.
  4. Across the board, I have seen fiber prices double since I started spinning a year ago. It must be supply and demand though. Yarn doubled in price when knitting became popular.  It is hard to justify the difference though and I am glad I stocked up. 
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