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!!

All the good reads

All the good reads

This week I hit the good reads bonanza – I finished Michael Chabon’s Moonglow and started two excellent books – in my ears is Nathan Hill’s The Nix (which I am LOVING!!) and the other excellent book I started this week is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which I am reading via Overdrive on my iPad.

So much good reading! So.much!

I enjoyed Moonglow – I laughed, I cried, and really loved this journey through the memories of a grandparent. I highly recommend this book and gave it 4 stars.

Knitting has also been on the very good level – post-holiday crunch knitting is all completed and I have got back to Rock the Lobster to get this finished. Sleeve one was completed on Monday and yesterday I managed to get a good start on sleeve two. It is at the perfect point right now, just mindless knitting – no counting yet, no remembering to decrease.

I also finished swatching for an upcoming project and I really love how this process can take me in an entirely different direction than was the original plan. I think this is where I have learned how to “make a swatch lie to me” to “get gauge” to knit a project – I have more than once done this and the end result was a sweater that did not fill well and I really did not like very much. I have discovered that if you look at swatching in a different way, you have better success. What gauge makes the best fabric? That was the “aha” moment for me – getting a fabric I like. I will be starting a new sweater as soon as I have Rock the Lobster done and I am excited about that which is just the perfect incentive to finish this up! Can I also say that I am in love with this yarn – Sheepspot CVM which will be coming soon. It is light and airy in feel, yet it will be a hard-wearing fabric. I have been giving these swatches some good abrasion and they are holding up well, are not stretching out, and have good structure without being heavy – and NO PILLING!! I know, I am seriously in love with this yarn!

I would have picked up Rob Roy last night, but the lure of The Secret History won over knitting (yes, it is that good!) The hat has been in a bit of a time out because of pattern confusion, however, I only have one pattern repeat to complete and although Mary shared there was more confusion on the crown decreases, she graciously shared her pattern notes here if you are knitting along. This hat is for Steve and I would like to get it done before we get more cold weather so I hope to finish this up today.

That is all I have for today and, as always, I am joining Ginny’s Yarn Along where you will find plenty of knitting and reading inspiration!

In which we give thanks for wool

In which we give thanks for wool

When winter arrives in Pittsburgh, it arrives with a vengeance. I was greeted this morning with the stellar temperature of 8 whole degrees. (although they are forecasting for it to be well into the 50’s by next Thursday so this cold will be short-lived – which is just insanely crazy and if I was not already coming down with something, you know I would by this time next week!)

But, when it gets this cold – I am so thankful for wool! And, as my slippers from last year have a hole in one heel and I have not tried to darn/mend it yet – I cast on a new pair of my “go to” slipper yesterday. I have one done and am onto the second – it should be done shortly and my feet will be so happy.

Once that slipper is done, I will be working on swatching for a sweater. I have some incredible CVM yarn from Sheepspot and this will be something work related (I mean really, how great is it having a job that requires you to knit!!) Anyways, I have two sweater ideas that I think might work for this yarn – the first is a simple cardigan from Yellowcosmo and the second is Kathleen Dames latest knit along sweater – Basic Cable. I will be swatching for both this afternoon and we will see which swatch wins! Either way, you will find an article about my swatching journey later this month on the Sheepspot blog.

Last month, Caffeine Girl Creates asked me about the size of my Peace Cowl and I wanted to share with all of you my thoughts on how the finished cowl wears. My cowl ended up 8″ x 68″ – so it is BIG! I went up a needle size because my handspun was a bit thicker than fingering weight and I did not want a dense, heavy fabric. Would I want this cowl this big if I were knitting it out of a worsted spun yarn? No, I do not think I would, so I might reduce it a few inches, however in my woolen spun Columbia, I simply LOVE it! It is light but so incredibly warm! I put it on yesterday morning and I wore it all day long. For not having a project in mind when I spun the fiber up, I’d say this was an excellent match of yarn and pattern!

I have some Dorset Down handspun that I was trying to use in another project which has been languishing on the needles as it is not a good match for a couple of reasons – my spinning was not very uniform and I am not sure I have enough yardage to complete the project. However, I think it might work well in the Peace Cowl pattern, so you can look for that to be repurposed in the coming month as well.

Now how about some links?

Tomorrow is Saint Distaff’s Day! So, if you have not used your spinning wheel in the New Year (or in a while…) this is the perfect opportunity to do so!

I am completely smitten with Selbu Norway. (And Selbu Mittens too!)

The OA and The Oa – I love them both!

Field Guide No. 2 is coming!

Water

Alien Trail

If 2017 is your year to try double knitting the Om Shanti Cowl is the perfect little project!

I love these Night Creatures Mittens!

That is all I have for this first week in January – I am off to have a bit of hot tea and to finish those slippers! See you back here on Monday!

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