Binge Spinning

Last Tuesday I bought eight ounces of fiber at our guild meeting, immediately went home and started spinning. I’m a binge kind of person. Just never knew it would be spinning. Food, stash acquisition, even drinking at times, but spinning?

The fiber is 50/50 merino and silk. There were some lessons in that fiber. It was the silk that started going static on me, or was it the merino? The fiber spread out and opened like a flower while drafting and spinning. Attaching itself to anything I wore. I wonder if that messed with my washing machine? Another story. Every piece of clothing I wore was covered in fine fiber I was hoping our washing machine would take care of.

What to do? I could spray the fiber with water but thought differently. I got a big sheet of paper and put that on my lap, it worked. I tried spinning fine, but since I’m still a beginner, my fine is not as thin as I thought. But I might be down to sport weight. Of course this makes me wonder about spinning fingering weight. Perhaps another spinning lesson would help. If I spin any finer I feel like I’m making thread. I’ll keep at it and one day will turn another spinning corner.

Not sure if this is true, but there might be a sweet spot of fiber weight. I hate the sweet spot phrase but it seems so appropriate here. Every time I reached that sweet spot, the fiber shone and seemed absolutely perfect. It would take lots of tries to see if I am on to something. Could be there are lots of sweet spots in a fiber and could be that changes with the spinner. I’m too old to experiment with that, considering all the variables, and would rather use my time in other ways.

For now, see what I accomplished:


Finally the color is cooperating somewhat. Imagine a little more pastel. I did overspin, a recommendation. I did another experiment with this fiber. I spun the singles counter clockwise. I’ve read in several places now that this might be advantageous to continental knitters. I did ply clockwise.

The same fiber in another color is spun the regular way, the singles clockwise and I will ply counter clockwise. Then I will knit exactly the same cowl and report back if there is a difference that someone like me would even notice. I don’t doubt there might be a difference, but honestly, I’ll never be expert enough or German enough to be that OCD. But there might be a surprise in this experiment.

Here is the other color:



The cowl uses very little yarn and is called Zuzu’s Petals, a design by Carina Spencer. Apparently I like her designs because when I looked I noticed I had others by her.

No pictures of the plied yarn yet. And it will all have to wait until Wednesday. The next couple of days are booked and I’ll write about those upcoming adventures later in the week.

One adventure I did not have plans to go on was dealing with the washing machine today. It’s not spinning anymore. Is there a message?

As usual I tried fixing it but the problem is tools. There are several screws in the back that need to come off, but I don’t have the right little allen wrenches. I put the blame on my son who loves to use my tools but with time that particular tool drawer is missing lots of useful pieces. It’s a magic drawer to begin with. One can put an infinite amount of tools in it and no matter what, there is always room for one more. At one point I noticed that some drawer overflow has landed in the cabinet below. But let’s ignore that. It took me a few hours to clean and organize this magical drawer because though it holds a lot, it does not stay organized.

Back to the non-spinning washer, I imagine some belt problem. But I’m not about to fix that. I will actually call someone. Even though the garage is an embarrassing mess, I don’t have a repair in me at this point. When our newish fridge gave up a few months ago I called a few appliance repair folks from the phone book and the one I liked most immediately asked if this fridge was in an unheated garage (check), and told me to wait out the cold weather. And he was right, the fridge turned back on when it got warmer, apparently a fridge can get colder but not deal with temps colder and warm up. This guy saved us lots of money and this is the guy who’ll get a phone call about the washing machine.

Our heater might be acting up, too. But we just changed the filter and we hope to get lucky. As long as the heater turns on and off, no matter what noises it makes while doing so, nobody will touch it. This modern living is not as easy at times as we think.

My health is somewhat deteriorating. I’ve had shortness of breath for a while. Yes, I should have gone seen a doctor with the heart issues I have, but what can one say to a person that starts knitting faster hoping not to run out of yarn that way. You see?

I’ve had a mild cold or allergies since December. Constantly sneezing, coughing, tickly throat, definitely feels like allergies. But I also have breathing problems while walking uphill. OK, OK, I always have breathing problems while going uphill, but this is more severe. Almost asthma like or heart attack like. I used to have asthma, could it have come back? Or is it a pulmonary embolism? My mind is going in many directions with that, but a lack of enough air can do this to you.

Finally, I made an appointment with my doctor for Tuesday. Usually, following a lifelong pattern, I will show no symptoms then and will feel better than ever. Will keep you posted.


Finally: Rain!

Waking up to the excitement of rain this morning. It will do little to help the horrible drought we’re in, but it is a drop or two in the bucket, and California will take every drop it can get. It did not keep us from taking a two mile walk, but we ended up soaking wet and were glad to get into a warm house.

In my future today is spinning. I started last night and could not get to sleep because I did not get enough spinning in. At the Foothill Fibers Guild Meeting last night Lisa Souza gave a presentation and we all succumbed to the fiber fumes she brought along and I ended up with two 4 ounce bundles of fiber made of 50/50 bombyx silk/fine merino in the colors petroglyph and water gardens. And here I was going to show restraint until Stitches. Really?!

As promised I will show you the Steve West shawl, but, and this is a huge but, there is no way I can take an appropriate picture in this rain or the dark house, so you’ll have to settle for an awful blocking picture. But even with the colorful distraction of the mats you might get the idea.

I just found out the Tibetan monks are in town for their yearly visit. One of their projects is a sand mandala they then destroy to show the transitory nature of material life. The last part of this sentence is plagiarized. I’m always in awe that these folks take so much time to create these exquisite paintings knowing they will not last.

Yesterday when I was contemplating destroying/unraveling the shawl I saw a similarity. Except I did not know beforehand I might destroy the shawl, and it took me way more time to knit this shawl than it takes the monks to do the mandala. And there would have been a totally different message in my destruction. So perhaps I’ll quit the comparison.



While I’m doing photos, let me show you a small shawl I made for my friend’s 96th birthday:



I will only show half of what I bought last night because one of the colors did not photograph well at all. That’s a shame because it is most unusual and my favorite one.



And that’s it for today. Some cooking and lots of spinning and Netflix waiting for me.

One more photo. Did I ever show you my Schacht Matchless? If I did, well, it’s well worth another look.


First Yarn

As promised a picture of my first ball of yarn. Most likely I’ll keep it as a reminder of the beginnings of my spinning career. I hope that pretty soon this yarn will look totally ridiculous and that progress is made. Last night was spent treadling very slowly and there was more success. Now I have to wonder if there is enough twist. Was knitting that difficult at first? I believe so, I seem to remember worrying about even tension. I could not knit uneven if I tried nowadays, just as people say that after mastering spinning one can’t produce an uneven yarn. But, for now, I’m only producing what I call art yarn. I’m seeing the silver lining. But without further ado, I present you with my first yarn:


The yarn is pretty kinky in many spots, but hey, do better.

It’s our anniversary, 33 years. 33!!! It all started in San Francisco, in the county jail. Sounds better than the real story. We were both working there and an inmate introduced us. Stephen was already a lawyer then and I was doing my psyc internship with NCSL, the Northern California Service League. I should stop here before I start drowning in memories and nostalgia sets in.

Usually I’m a fan of nostalgia, but not lately. With the massive heart attack much changed. I have no words for the changes yet, but everything feels different since then. I’m wondering if Stephen notices the changes. Remembering feels different, less relevant.

One highlight of the day was a trip to the farm. An email offering basil by the pound had me drooling, or perhaps more swooning. Next to marjoram, basil might be my favorite aroma. One had to cut the basil oneself and bending over was not good for my back. Of course I had to get lots to make into little basil pies to freeze and use in winter. All I did was mix basil with olive oil and use the vitamix to get a basil paste. Here is part of their basil patch:



and the kale patch on the way to the stand:



The kale will be turned into kale chips with the dehydrator. So why did I only buy one bunch? Now I’ll have to go to the Saturday market after all. We arrived at the farm with 2 big bags, one was going to be for basil, the other for whatever else tempted me. We left with 5 bags full. One particular surprise was fennel. I love fennel fritters. And the price? $1 each, and they were huge. We ended up with lots of basil, kale, fennel, lettuce, arugula, beets, onions, red and yellow, zucchini, turnips, radishes, chard, and whatever I forget right now.

I’m hoping to make the fennel fritters in the next few days and take pictures for you and share the recipe. I’m new to food pictures and hope I can do the recipe justice.

The zucchinis will be spiralized and used instead of noodles with pesto or a raw tomato sauce. We are already getting tomatoes in our garden, but probably not enough yet to make sauce with. I’m still using them in salads only.

And then to top it all, a package arrived. Finally received my Amish swift, a beauty. And just in time as I was contemplating starting yet another project. Don’t judge, let me explain first. I’m part of a shawl mystery KAL. KAL being a knit along, the mystery part is that I have no idea how the final product will look like. Why would I do this as there are many patterns out there I would love to try? Because I can’t say no to anything. Saw it on ravelry and just had to join. The problem is that the new clues come out every Friday and I have been long done knitting that. Now I’m in waiting mode. Of course, there are lots of other started projects, but we will not talk about them today. My browsing found this beautiful shawl in yarn I happen to have and with needles that are new to me. My new signature needles. And I have them in the right size and length. How fortuitous is that? I was meant to knit this, right?

Have a look here and see why I fell in love. And I got to use my new swift to wind the yarn. Could life be any better? Here is where I start getting worried. Life is so good, it can only get worse. I’m obviously not one on the cheery side of life. Always looking for trouble and finding it.

Before I sign off here I would like to post a picture of the two of us (Stephen and yours truly) from a long time ago in Italy on a ferry. I’m unclear about the details of the trip, but know that Denise Anton took the picture. Our dog then: Athena. Our future: wide open, anything was possible then. Lots of great and horrific times since then.



Happy anniversary Stephen, to us!


Yes, yes, I know, it’s been a while. But I have an excellent excuse and some not so excellent ones. The best: a friend gave me her spinning wheel. Need I say more?

Knowing nothing about spinning or wheels or what wool or other fiber to use to spin, it’s been quite a trip and learning experience. For starters, is the wheel functioning properly? Is it an easy wheel to learn to spin with? Heck, I don’t know, never touched a spinning wheel before this.

Click here for a picture of the wheel. The wheel I have was made in 1969 by Anthony Cardarelle, I know because his name is engraved in the wood. Apparently he died a year or so later, in 1970 (?) and the Clemes brothers who had been working for or with him, continued with the wheels.

Immediately a major problem presented itself: how to re-hook the treadle to the footman.  As you can see, the picture of the spinning wheel was of no help. But a phone call later I had the fix. Lacings from a baseball mitt. Apparently this connection had been broken and was fixed with some sort of electrical wire that was way too stiff. But the leather did the trick.

Other than that I see nothing that needs immediate attention. The thick leather coming from the maiden and holding up the orifice could be renewed, and perhaps the belt could be, too.

I’ve tried spinning and am challenged beyond anything I might have ever tried. My yarn gets twisted and twisted while I am holding on to it for dear life. I’m not letting it go to the wheel apparently. Then I let the twist go into my wool and end up almost across the room and the yarn is still not on the bobbin. Eventually….

But Houston, we do have yarn. See?!

first yarn

Yes, I know, too much twist. I told you! But this is my first attempt, not that the other attempts look any different. But the fun factor is very high! Spinning, just like knitting, gets all the good hormones flowing I am so fond of.

This Saturday is a local spinning meeting and I will go, along with the wheel, and see if others find any fault with the wheel and can spin on or with it. Can’t wait to find out. Plus some suggestions how to get rid of so much twist. I tried with tension, nope, didn’t make a difference. Tried spinning slower, I mean I have been racing along treadling like a maniac, in the hopes of getting the yarn on the bobbin faster, ha…. Also, it’s hard to go slow for me without going into reverse. You see my many problems. And let’s not forget the time I actually started spinning my hair along with the wool. Oh the disasters I’ve had already. But I am still at it.

So far I have spun my knitpicks wool (blue-green), some wool (un-dyed) I had around the house from when the children were small and we did crafts together, and then plied my two attempts at spinning together, washed the whole thing and am waiting for everything to dry.

But before you get jealous, I doubt it is knittable. But it looks nice. And yes, I did let the yarn rest a day before going on to the next steps.

My knitting has suffered a little, it’s not like I split in two and can do both at the same time. I wish. Besides looking at my started socks with my new needles from Signature (check them out here), I joined a KAL making my first shawl. This shawl has been a huge challenge for me, not as big as spinning, but right up there. It must be my age and the loss of an ability to count and never having been good at following directions.

Now the farmers market is calling and a visit with my friend who gave me the spinning wheel.