Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spin great yarn with this one weird tip

I was reading the back of Respect the Spindle, and thought of that ad. Really, the best way to get better at spinning is - wait for it - to practice! I know that when I was spindling more often, I was able to whip up a two ply sock yarn like no one's business. Now that I've been using my wheel more, it's a lot harder.

I have the single ply, the two ply, and two of the three plies for the three ply done. I need to buckle down and spin up the last 3/4 ounce, but it may have to wait until tomorrow. (I'm almost done with the plain part of my shawl, and I want to get to the edging.) I'm excited to see how the three ply turns out - it's been a while since I've done a three-bobbin three ply, as opposed to navajo ply. I hope the effect of round-flat-round shows up when I knit the three yarns. I may have a motif for at least the neck of the shawl. I found an eyelet pattern that kind of looks like a double bladed axehead, but the decreases don't emphasize the eyelets. I think if I move the decreases to the outside of the pattern, it will look more axehead-ish.

Sadly, my allergies are in full force and I have to keep stopping spinning or knitting every few minutes to sneeze or blow my nose. Because of where I am in my cycle, I can't take allergy medicine right now, so I'm just miserable. Blech!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nel Sole

I got my wine, and we drank it yesterday with a homemade pizza, crostini and a movie from the 60's starring Al Bano. The wine is Al Bano's Platone, 2002. Delicious, and goes really well with food. It has a kind of woody flavor: woody, but not oaky, if that makes any sense. Velvety smooth, with an unidentifiable fruit flavor. We think it's tart cherry, as opposed to sweet cherry. A great purchase. I only wish I could get it in town!

Currently, I have one shawl, one sock, and two sleeves on the needles. I'm also darning a pair of DP's socks, but I just have to finish the toe and I'm done. The sock is the second of my diamond waistcoat socks, which I would like to just finish already, and the sleeves are to Uinen, my Sprossling cardigan. I've just stalled out on those two projects, so the shawl is a nice change of pace. It's Cladonia, by Kirsten Kapur.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Know ye not Agincourt?

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell is one of the better books I've read recently. It's everything Gates of Fire wanted to be. GoF (to me) went too heavy on the "these guys were great soldiers, but just guys" shtick. I don't need to know everyone's nickname, with a ridiculous story for each one. That kind of thing smacks of effort, as they say. It tries too hard, and I couldn't get lost in the book because I could feel the author thinking.

Bernard Cornwell is a good writer, and I love his Richard Sharpe series, but I hadn't actually read anything else by him. I saw a recommendation for this book, from the same place that recommended me GoF, and I decided to give it a try. Awesome. Lots of grit, but not fake grit. Slimy churchmen, but good ones too. I'm only to the battle of Harfleur, but I love this book.


In knitting news, I have my swap partner assignment and have begun the project. I really hope she likes it - it's in her queue - and I think I might make a few other smallish things too. Depends on time. I'm not quite sure what to do about extras though...I don't know if I have any yarn she'd like, and it's hot to ship something chocolate. Well, I have time to figure it out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ply me a river

Well, I've decided to go traditional three-ply with the cormo/mohair. I found all of my bobbins, so this shouldn't be a problem.

It's pretty steamy outside - and inside! - so my interest in spinning or doing anything with fiber is waning. I am darning DP's socks, and hopefully I'll have them all finished by the fall. It's not that far away! Halfway through June is pure craziness.

I haven't been able to pick out a pattern for my shawl yet. I still want to incorporate the pentangle, and of course I need to work in something axe-like. I want to make the thing interesting to knit, but not so difficult that I can't memorize it and have to keep referring to the pattern. Yargh! Maybe I should just ball some yarn up and start swatching already.

In other news, I have a case of wine coming my way from CA. In researching an awesome Italian pop singer, I found out that he has a winery. Sadly, all six liquor stores I called did not carry it, and didn't seem interested in ordering it. Outside of Italy, it's distributed through a company in Germany, and I wasn't about to pay $76 to ship a bottle of wine that might be garbage. Then I came across Beltramo's! If you haven't checked this place out, please do. Great prices, inexpensive and fast shipping, and a good selection.

Now I'm off to decant my coffee concentrate!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Carding it is

I almost can't believe it: I have been able to successfully blend with my drum carder! Ever since I bought it, I've had no end of troubles, and last year I put it into the top of the closet to forget about it.

Well, with my scheme to blend the sheep shares fiber with the polwarth, I realized I couldn't blend it all by hand and finish it with any enthusiasm left to actually spin it. So, I broke out the ol' drum carder. It's a Louet Roving Carder, which was all I could afford when I decided to buy a drum carder. Cruising around youtube, I discovered a video of someone with my exact carder. Using the video, I've been able to blend up the two fibers - no thick spots, and the only neps are the ones that were in the fiber to begin with! I'm so happy.

I've adjusted the scheme a bit. I'm going to try some number magic on the shawl: a singles of the polwarth, a two-ply of the blend, and a three-ply of the cormo/mohair. I've carded up the blend and spun one bobbin of it. It spins so smoothly... I think I'm going to go with a navajo ply for the three-ply, mostly because I don't know if I can find all my bobbins. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weather or not

I have the day off today, and it's supposed to be 91 - but t-storms throughout the day. I need to get the pool summerized (is that a word?) but every time I go to do it, it starts raining, or I have somewhere to go, or I have to work. Blargh. Yesterday would have been perfect, but DP was babysitting at my sister's all day and I was at work. After work, we went over to my sister's for a cookout, so we didn't do anything last night - not that I would have wanted to anyway. I hate the dusk mosquito swarm that comes out every evening, and I won't willingly go into it. All I need is some dang sunshine today, and I can get the pool cleaned and filled. Of course, it will only be in the 60s for the next week, but I can't control that. Dang weather.

In other news, I got the fence up around my garden. Thank goodness! The rabbit's had munched the strawberry plant down to one leaf, and they had their sights set on my other veggies. I got the fence up on Saturday, and on Monday, I saw the rabbit hoard descend. They were all around the garden, but couldn't get in...though one enterprising fellow stuck his nose through the chicken wire and munched a few leaves that were up against it. Hopefully they won't have gotten in when I go to check it today.

Knitting wise, I wasn't able to find another cardigan to make, so I started spinning up the green/yellow Polwarth I got from Briar Rose fibers. It's beautiful stuff, and my plan is to spin up three ounces of it, then blend two ounces with my cormo/mohair roving from Sheep Shares, then spin two ounces of the Sheep Shares alone, and make a shawl out of it. The Folklore and Fairytales group theme for the summer is Camelot, so I'm thinking Gawain and the Green Knight. I just need to come up with my motifs and hope I have enough yarn :)