A September RIFF | 9.23.22

A September RIFF | 9.23.22

The Autumnal Equinox occurred last night at 9PM and it is as if Mother Nature flipped a switch… the arrival of autumn did in deed bring autumn-like temperatures! This morning it was a very chilly and hushed silence talking Sherman for his morning walk. No birdsong, no crickets chirping… just one sniffing pug to break the stillness of the morning.

It seems like a good day to do a bit of RIFFing… so let’s get started:

Remembering —

I saw this tweet this morning and my heart broke a bit. I know what my fall/winter is going to be full of… finishing reading her Wolf Hall/Thomas Cromwell series.

I have not explored any of her writing beyond Wolf Hall, but she has a sizable body of work to explore.

(when I have brief moments of) Insight —

My new painting class began yesterday and I have spent much of the month focused on the “sequence” of watercolor. From saturation of the page, keeping a wet edge, layers, damp and dry work. And to make things remarkably clear for myself – I have done a variety of “neutral” paintings. And on Wednesday… it all began to click! And I did what I feel is my best representation of all these skills combined. Good thing because the first thing Mr. Surowicz mentions in the first lesson of the new class is how important a “shades of grey” study is before you begin a new painting. I did some work to get my watercolor paper ready to paint, but today I am going to do a rough sketch (or two) in my sketchbook and do some value studies before I begin the “big painting” and I am so very excited!

Finding (answers) —

This week, Jane asked me a very good question: “I’m trying to think how many oz. of fiber it takes to spin enough yarn for a sweater” 

Such an excellent question and I thought I’d share how I make a determination about that very thing. Way back in my very early spinning life I asked that very question. The short answer given me was to “weigh a sweater I wear” and that will give me a rough idea of what I will need. Seems simple? If you think that is a clear as mud… you are not alone. For me, figuring out “how much yarn will I need for x project” was the greatest mystery of spinning! Until I discovered Felicia Lo, that is. Felicia is the magic behind Sweet Georgia Yarns and she is an avid spinner! She also blogs… and her blog is one of the best resources I have found to answer all the “mystery” questions of spinning I might ever have! Anyways, she gives a very clear and easy to understand method of determining how much yarn a sweater might take… that would be any sweater, any gauge, size inclusive, and how much “extra” to calculate. (Actually, this method would work for ANY item you want to knit… not just sweaters!)

I hope this helps you, Jane… as well as any other spinning knitters out there!

Friday (Jabs) —

Yes, that’s correct… later this morning, I am heading down to Rite Aid to get a couple of “jabs”… the new and updated COVID booster (thank you, Pfizer!) and a flu shot as well. I have sort of cleared the deck for the weekend, just in case I am feeling a bit puny from said jabs… but I am so thankful that scientists have made our lives so much better thanks to the wonder of vaccines! (And I am still in awe of how it is possible that I have yet to catch COVID!)

Have a great weekend everyone! See you all back here on Monday!

 

Currently | 1.7.22

Currently | 1.7.22

In December, as I began thinking about my word for this year… one of the things that I also spent some time contemplating was this blog. I thought long and hard about its future and I determined that I still had things to share, contributions to make, and, especially, the connections I have made here over the years! But, this blog does not write itself and that means that I have to make an actual effort to… well… create content to post here!

I have sort of mapped out a plan of post topics to help me “jump start” my creativity and so this First Friday it begins!

I will be doing quarterly “Currently” posts as a check in with myself… what am I doing. (or most importantly…what am I not doing and what should I be doing!)

Unpacking: My word! January is always such a fun month to spend looking at all the possibilities a word has and in the unpacking of the word, I always always find things I did not previously consider about the word. And I just love writing down definitions, writing down the “stream of  words” that come to my mind as I unpack the word. Good things for January! It is the one month that I really like being at my desk!

Planning: Some January sewing! I think this is the *second* winter that has passed since I determined that I’d like a pair of corduroy pants… (THIS is exactly what these posts are going to help me do… be more accountable on the things I “talk” about wanting to get done! HA) Anyways… I simply love Sew House Seven’s Free Range Slacks and I plan on getting the pattern cut out this weekend so I am ready to start sewing on Monday! I also really need a couple of “nicer” sweat shirt-style shirts. I have had the Cosmos Sweatshirt pattern for a while now and I have these two lovely pieces of French Terry from Blackbird Fabrics. FOMU (that’s Fear Of Messing Up) has stymied me however. But I did not buy the fabric to just look at it! So I am breaking out from the fear and at least getting them washed and dried today! Then I will plan my next steps… I have not sewn knits is so long. (but thankfully Sewing YouTube has dozens of helpful videos!)

Shaking up: Friday Happy Hours! Boy, have they felt stale as the year ended. So I have been spent a little bit of time finding some new recipes and ideas to “spruce them up” a bit! Phase One starts tonight with a something freshly baked… stay tuned! (And I will be posting an update on IG! What??? LOL)

Speaking of Baking: In November I began making a “bucket” of dough and have been using Zoë François/Jeff Hertzberg 5-minute bread recipe. It keeps is the fridge for 2 weeks and makes it so simple to just pull out a bit of dough to make a loaf of very good bread! I expect this to continue as the dough can be used for pizza as well! It is nice having home made pizza every other week! (A favorite of ours is one with a chicken breast that I have previously cooked and shredded, some artichoke hearts, a drizzle of olive oil and some parmesan cheese!)

Watching: Call the Midwife and loving every second of it! (I also watched the first episode of Around the World in 80-days with DAVID TENNANT… so far, so good…and DAVID TENNANT!) These have been my “companions” while I have been spinning… and they are such very good company!

Spinning… with a plan in mind: I started a “sweater spin” last year and it sort of lost its sparkle. I love the fiber but the sweater part of the spinning has been the issue I think. So I changed the sweater plan… drastically! I knit Romi’s Morinne sweater (Rav link) some years ago and I love the design and fit so much… but the yarn I knit it with… not so much. It pills horribly and now after some years of wear it really looks like hell. This change in sweater has spurred on my spinning… as has the excitement of opening a little bit of fiber each day from Hipstrings Base12 Advent spin… which I thought was just spinning with no plan until yesterday… I think that this will make a lovely Hitchhiker (and I am sure that I will have more than enough yarn to knit a generous one!)

Bandwagon Knitting: I know that I said I was NOT doing any bandwagon knitting this year… but I should know better than to every say never… because on Wednesday night I jumped on the Musselburgh Wagon and began that fiddly little cast on. I am not through all the increases yet so I have not quite gotten to the “mindless knitting” portion of the hat… but soon!

And there you have the things that are currently filling the minutes of my days! What about you? Tell me one thing that you are really excited about!

Have a great weekend everyone and I will see you all back here on Monday!

Very Good Things | 7.2.21

Very Good Things | 7.2.21

Summer Slow Down continues  despite the cooler temps and some really good “soaking” rains we’ve had over the last day. Truthfully, it was a welcome change from 90+ degree days. I understand that our heatwave was nothing compared to what many are experiencing, but still… too hot is too hot and for me temps in the 90’s (and upward) are just too hot! There is no rushing to do anything in the heat but the cooler temps are a very welcome break before we head back to those warm temps next week. All that heat means I have been spending lots of time indoors, but that is okay… I have plenty to keep me occupied inside! (And I don’t mean housework… although, I probably shout! Ha!) But how about some good things to close out the week and welcome in the holiday!

First up, I have had little Wiz K. a week now and wow! There was a very tiny learning curve on how to adjust it but once I figured it out, I was off to the races! I did a bit of trial spinning with some of the leftover fibers from my MDSW classes… I sorted out my “normal” spinning quickly, and once that happened it all just sort of fell into place. So I grabbed a braid of fiber (from my favorite Hipstrings!) divided the braid in thirds and started spinning!

One third of a braid, in process!

The Sparrow is completely silent, which is shocking to me, but I love it! It is easy to adjust tension and take up, and starting and stopping is a breeze! I have only spun with it plugged in and the “start/stop” speed control is genius. It is separate from the e-spinner, so I can have it closer to me for ease of reach. There is a slight delay on starting and stopping so there is not an abrupt yank of the fiber, but rather a smooth start and a smooth stop. I have the “speed” set to 40, but it can go much faster… much faster! Likewise it can go slower as well, so I think this could be an excellent e-spinner for a new spinner! Changing twist direction is as easy as the flip of a little switch, so easy! It comes set up in Scotch Tension, but can easily be switched to Irish Tension, if you needed to. I like that bit of versatility… and I don’t think you’d need an e-spinner to do much more than that.

One genius controller!

Now, let’s talk about one wee draw back, if you can call it that…. the battery. I have yet to spin with the battery because I need to plug something else into the battery to increase the output so it (the battery) stays on. Some people plug their phone in, but I think I will get a little USB light and use that instead. Why is this necessary? Because the Sparrow hardly uses any power – so little that the battery does not register anything using it so it turns itself off! Yep… that is right, it is one efficient little bird! I have not filled a bobbin yet to determine the capacity, but Daedalus says their capacity is 5 oz of fiber,  which is larger capacity than anything I currently am using but I will update you once I have a full bobbin.

The battery!

For the price, I think this is an excellent “starter e-spinner” but it is also would be an excellent addition to your wheel collection… (small foot print, silent, portable, and it spins incredibly!) The price for the e-spinner is $400, which includes the wheel and three bobbins. That price does not include the speed control, which is $110. But!! Once you have the speed control, it is interchangeable with all of the other e-spinners Daedalus makes… so it is a one time investment. The battery pack is an additional $110 and again, it is interchangeable with all the other Daedalus e-spinners.

Now let’s talk more about the footprint, shall we? It is minuscule! The space it takes up on my table is 5″ x 7.5″… yes that is it! So if you are looking for something that can get a good bit of spinning done and not hog up all the space in your room… this is the bird for you! I have two “manual” wheels, lol, a Schacht Matchless and a Schacht Flat Iron. I thought my Matchless took up a reasonably small bit of space, but it now feels like a behemoth in comparison! And as for that Flat Iron… well, I think it is time that it moves on to a new home (so if you know anyone who is interested in a wheel… let me know!)

I am impressed with the quality of the wheel and with the dedication that Dave and Rebecca have to customer support. They have a very active FB Group where questions are answered very quickly. This has rapidly become an invaluable resource for me, because you can search a question… and find an answer quickly without having to ask again. Plus, the community there is incredible! They are a helpful, supportive group! I love watching Daedalus e-spinner owners cheering on those trying to get their first e-spinner. If you are thinking about an e-spinner… a Daedalus product would absolutely be my recommendation!

But… it was not all spinning this week! I have another drawing to share! I was disappointed in last week’s attempt… but I thought I could do better so I tried again. This time I focused on just what I could fit onto my page… and I took my time. This outcome took me all week… I worked on it for probably 30-45 minutes at a time. I kept reminding myself that it was layers… not one and done. I am very happy with the outcome! Is there room for improvement? Yes… but, there is also a great deal of pleasure in my finished drawing! I also added some supplies to my arsenal… I got a box of semi-hard pastels, some charcoal pencils, tortillons and blending stumps! Summer of Art continues!

Just a corner of the original

One happy drawing, which is not really as grainy looking as this image appears. 

The other amazing and incredible and very good thing is that my sweet Winston turned one this week.

Cute… but where is the cake???

I know I am entirely prejudiced, but he is just the most beautiful boy! (and he looks so much like his momma!) (Also, what is not to love about a first birthday when no one cares if you have anything on but your diaper! LOL)

And the final good thing this week? Well, it’s all about going from winning at the “Pandemic look” to suddenly public ready… yes, I finally found the courage to make an appointment to get my hair cut… and I could not be happier that I did! (and thank you all for your incredibly kind words on IG… you all are just such wonderful people! XO

Oh… and as for the Great Makeup Debate? The winners are a tiny bit of tinted moisturizer, a tiny swoop of brown shadow, a couple of coats of mascara, a little pop of color on my cheeks, and some lip gloss… simple, easy, and it is just right! I feel ready, and not at all made-up or overdone!

That Winning Loosing Post-Pandemic look… oy! lol

A fresh coiffure does wonders for a body!

That is all I have for this week… I will be back next week (but maybe not until Wednesday!) Have a very Happy Forth, everyone!

My New Spinning Obsession

My New Spinning Obsession

I had the unbelievable fortune to take not one, but two of the online class offerings from MDSW last week.

My first class, Twist with Maggie Casey, was mind-blowing. For a long time… too long…I have spun the same default yarn. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing if you always make the same thing… but if you want to make different things, you need to make different yarn.

BFL, Shetland, and Merino

Enter Maggie Casey! I spent 3 hours with her helping me see twist in an entirely different way… and as a result twist and tension have become my new jam! The fibers she sent for her class were just incredible, as you can see!

I loved that she started at our “default” yarn and had us make tiny adjustments from that point. It was dramatic to feel the difference and to see the difference on the bobbin!

And if all that wasn’t enough, I then spent two hours with Judith MacKenzie learning about Columbia Sheep and especially their amazing fleece! I learned about processing wool… washing, carding, flicking, and how amazing fiber makes processing so much easier! (and better quality fiber means better spinning!) Judith sent a gorgeous box of fiber… some washed locks to flick, a batt that I made rolags from, and even some unwashed locks to wash myself! (Have Dawn Dishsoap, will wash fiber! Purists out there…if Dame Judith says Dawn works and I believe her!) This fiber washes up completely white… bright white! And I learned why Columbia wool likes to be dyed! Columbia wool has “dye sites” which is how the fiber draws in dye from the tip and the color is pulled down the fiber in a corkscrew fashion on each strand of fiber (I Googled this to learn more, but I found nothing. However, if Dame Judith says it, I absolutely believe it!) It was also fun to see a familiar face in the virtual class!

On a side note… Columbia Fleece are enormous! If you’d be interested in splitting a fleece with me, let me know! 

Columbia in all forms!

Unwashed locks on the far right…it gets so clean!

Flicked locks… puffs of white that begs to be spun!

These rolags… long draw heaven right there!

I did a bunch of sampling this week and I was inspired to move beyond sampling and use my newly learned techniques to spin up the Chickadee fiber from FiberNymph Dye Works and I am blown away! I have a full bobbin and still have fiber to spin! Three ply sock yarn that is actually sock yarn weight has been achieved! I am so excited and hope to finish the bit of fiber I have to go today and ply next week.

This mixed BFL is going to be gorgeous yarn!

I got the second Backyard Birds shipment this week and the Polwarth/Silk fiber is gorgeous! The Colorway…Blue Jay and I am thinking shawlette currently because I don’t know that I could get a shawls worth of yarn spun, but who knows!

I love the hint of blue in the complimentary color fiber!

And that is all I have for this week! Have a great Mother’s Day weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!

 

 

 

Fri-nally!

Fri-nally!

Steve and I are, apparently, creatures of habit. On Tuesday, we began talking about  Friday Happy Hour, which continued into Wednesday and Thursday with confessions of how much we were looking forward to it.

I am not sure we need an AA intervention, but one thing is certain – Friday night is one thing we both look forward tremendously. Meal planning (or rather un-meal planning?) discussion has been our dinner conversation all week.

I promise you there will be icy cold martini’s – and I think I might be able to convince Steve to use the Barrel Aged Gin from the Grand Traverse Distillery… (although he is messaging me asking if I think Margaritas sound good…lol)

On the knitting front – I have a special project that I will share with you all next week. Something different for me – but I am surprisingly happy with how it turned out. Stay tuned on Tuesday for all the details! All other knitting has been ignored. I know. It is a sad state of affairs!

I have been working on some spinning at night – which is very slow going. Why? It is a beautiful Rambouillet from Sheepspot Fiber Club and I am working on consistency and spinning fine. Yes… I am trying to channel Beth Smith for this one – I want a nice 2-ply actual lace weight yarn! I have a long way to go yet!

Now, how a few links to close out the week?

That is all I have for this week! See you back here on Monday!!

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