Spinning with friends

I spent a lot of time on my spinning wheels over the past days, starting with the weekend.  My friends from Seattle were back in town and four of us went to the Aurora Handspinning Guild’s spin-in day.

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There were a lot of people, most industriously spinning, some more focused on the fiber shopping possibilities.  It made me excited to rejoin a spinning guild.  I used to belong to the Snohomish guild before we moved to Oregon, and now that we are moving again I hope to join a guild near the new house.  I spin so much more when I’m with other people – on my own I tend to turn to sewing instead.

The next day we got together at Leslie 2’s house.  You couldn’t ask for a more relaxing spinning setting.

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The weather was PNW spring crazy, sunny on one side of the house and hailing on the other.

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The Leslies spent much of the day organizing fiber.  Leslie 2 hauled out every bin and bag of raw and processed fiber she had, and she and Leslie 1 went through every bit of it. There were piles to take to the processor, to donate, to process herself, and to dye.

They also washed some of the fleece to see whether it was going to be worth keeping.  The sun came out long enough to put some out to dry at least a bit.

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The bins were sorted logically and repacked and we were all very impressed with both her progress and the size of her stash!  She loves to buy fleeces, some of which she cleans and cards on her own, and some of which she sends to small mills to be made into spin ready fiber.

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I had my finish for the week, this bobbin of a very spring green merino.  I’m not sure what I will ply it with – something will come along.

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I’m now working on some subdued rainbow humbug BFL fiber I dyed in January.  Its plying partner is also up in the air.

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I don’t know why I don’t spin more on my own.  I used to do it constantly.  Somehow I need to get back to the regular habit if I’m going to meet my six pounds goal in 2017.

 

 

We interrupt the silence to bring you a smidgeon of crafting news

Life has gotten a bit crazy lately.  We’ve spent a lot of our non-working/sleeping time house hunting, and now we are in the throes of house buying, with all the paper gathering and emails and phone calls that entails.  In the meantime, the kids still needed to eat and have clean clothes and get to track and Cub scouts and who knows what.  Some balls have been dropped, and getting anything crafty done has been one of those balls.

But I did abandon my responsibilities last weekend for another trip to join my fibery friends.  We rented a place through AirBnB and raced off through the rain storms to catch the ferry to Anderson Island for the weekend.

 

There was a lot of spinning on my part.  I finished the blue two ply yarn in the pic below, and filled another bobbin with the third single I needed to make another yarn.  I also worked on the I-cord edging on my Volt wrap.

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There was also a lot of learning.  Paige taught us all how to do two color brioche knitting, and Leslie 2 was quick enough at it to knit a shoulder wrap/cowl thing.

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We also learned it takes a great deal of junk food (and pineapple cider) to fuel so much creative effort.

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It was hard to leave and go back to the real world.  But we had a satisfying pile of progress to show for it.

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Saga of the Christmas wedding blanket

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The centerpiece of our recently completed finishing weekend was Seattle Leslie’s blanket.

Or rather, her sister-in-law’s partial blanket.  Intended as a wedding present for a son, it was handed to Leslie as a pile of red, green and cream rectangles after Leslie made the strategic error of saying she’d finish it up when her sister-in-law hit a time crunch.

So Seattle Leslie’s big goal for the weekend was to get all those squares sewn together.  And hey, Portland Leslie and Paige like (don’t hate) seaming.  So while I spun and embroidered, the three of them sewed many rectangles together.  Some of those rectangles were rather rough, and the sizes were more “identical” than identical, but they plowed through, and the blanket grew.

So did the doubts about the back and edges.  They just did not look good, and no one was happy about it as an intended-to-be-cherished wedding gift.

Which is when we came up with the idea to add a fabric backing, to treat it as a quilt and hide all those uneven edges and knots and yarn ends in the middle of a yarn and flannel sandwich.

Leslie and I hit the nearest fabric store Saturday evening, where I promptly freaked out at the thought of paying $15 a yard for flannel – it isn’t woven with real gold thread! it’s freaking flannel! – and dragged her to JoAnn’s where the magic of sales and phone coupons turned the $75 price for backing at the first store into $18.

And it was a lovely soft and cuddly flannel after its trip through the washer and dryer for pre-shrinking.

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We seamed to get a wide enough piece, then spread it out on the floor for pinning and folding.  We cut it about two inches wider all around, then folded in the fabric edge and folded that over the blanket edge.

I zig-zag stitched all around to anchor the binding, and we all took turns knotting yarn through the intersections of knit rectangles to finish it off.

Leslie was so happy to have it done and without having to crochet edges or worry about the back.  We were all pretty happy with the finished blanket, and I am pretty sure I’m going to make one of my own someday.

 

 

Finishing weekend 2

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I just spent wonderful weekend in Seattle with my fiber friends.  It was the second finishing weekend of the year, a time when we dig out WIPs that have been languishing and dig in to get them done, along with a lot of catching up and some fabulous food.

Finding knitting projects was a little difficult for me as the last finishing weekend took care of most of mine that needed just a bit of seaming or ends sewn in.  Plus I frogged so many of my knitting WIPs.  Quilting WIPs weren’t going to work as I didn’t want to haul my machine and all the necessary bulky quilting supplies.

But I did have my blue sweater that just needed one sleeve sewn on, and my Volt wrap.  And there were some embroidery projects to sort through for possible finishing contenders, and spinning fiber in progress.  So in the end I had plenty to do.  Enough that it took several trips to get all the bags and bundles out to the car.

It was such a great time!  So much laughing and helping and exchanging projects and sharing ideas and accomplishments.  Portland Leslie likes to seam, and Seattle Leslie and I needed a lot of that.  Paige loves to sew in ends (so weird!  so handy!) and I was useful with machine binding.

Have you heard of Slow TV?  I hadn’t – apparently on Netflix there are hours and hours of Norwegian television that takes a topic and sticks with it through every possible second.  There are eleven hour celebratory hours of a boat traveling a Norwegian canal.  Eight hours of knitting talk. An entire multi-hour train trip captured on film.  And our personal favorite for weekend viewing, five or six hours about wood chopping.

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Everything about wood chopping.  How to stack, how to chop – and all the possible variations of both.  Wood deliveries, wood tool, music with chopped wood, contents on wood stacking, how to cut a piece of wood so that it is a burner for tea and a stool.  The apparently bitter controversy over bark up or bark down in the wood pile.  It was both tedious and mesmerizing.  And all in Norwegian and subtitles!  We had it on for hours, and yes, I’m aware of how crazy that sounds.

Another highlight was the tour of Seattle Leslie’s fiber stash.  It is impressive!  Walls of IKEA bins full of spinning fiber, and more cases and boxes and bins of the yarn she has gathered since the days when she worked at a yarn store and was paid in yarn.  We treated it with the respect normally given to museum visits.

We ate, and drank gallons of tea, and laughed, and got so much done.

I finished my embroidered undersea scene that I started in a class I took a couple of years ago.

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I also got the last four oz. of my Ashland Bay merino spun and plied both bobbins into finished skeins just needing their bath.

My Volt wrap is just two rows away from needing the attached i-cord edging, and my blue sweater has its last sleeve attached. Just needs a zipper now.

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Everyone walked away with a lot they could cross off the WIP lists.  The photographic evidence of all we accomplished:

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That blanket at the bottom was a major team effort and is going to get a blog post all of its own very soon.

We are already planning the next get together.  There is talk of an AirBnB in Olympia in the new year.  Can’t wait!

It takes a village

Or at least a determined friend and a deadline.

In March of 2009 (!) I started knitting a shawl pattern called Aeolian.  It is a popular pattern – Ravelry currently has 4385 projects linked to the pattern.  And I was deep in the throes of my lace knitting addiction.  The thinner the yarn, the more complicated the charts, the more I loved it.

And boy, Aeolian had 6-7 charts, it had beads, it had nupps (soon to become my nemesis), it called for size 2 needles, and I knit it from a cone of the finest yarn I’d ever cast on, a 50/50 linen and cashmere cobweb weight thread-like yarn.

It went so well for quite a while.

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Then, at some point, I wandered off.  Squirrel!  And I didn’t pick it up again for two years. By then it was taking 30 minutes a row, but progress was happening and I could see it grow, and I worked through more of the charts and though I still detested doing nupps, I got better at them so I didn’t dread those rows.

But something shiny must have caught my eye again because back it went into the dark hole of hibernating projects for two more years until I had a brief burst of working that got me to the last chart and the beading.  It took nearly an hour a row by then, but I got to the last chart, and then it went back into the drawer.

2013 was the last time I pulled it out.  My Ravelry project page reminded me of my neglect occasionally, but it stayed shoved in the back of my fiber dresser.  Lurking.

Then this summer my friend talked about how she needed to start a wedding shawl for a niece whose wedding was relatively soon – close enough to make it a bit of a speed knitting slog – and I had a eureka moment that would solve her deadline issues and get me out from under the Aeolian forever.

So I sent off the pages of pattern printouts, the vials of beads, the needles, and that 90% finished Aeolian to Leslie and sat back, relieved.

She finished it!

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And it is so beautiful!

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It is going to make a wonderful bridal shawl.

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I just don’t get him

My husband called me into the office tonight to show me a picture on his phone – a newborn baby boy.

“Oh, he’s so cute, whose is he?”

“Amir’s.”

“Wait, your Amir?”

“Yeah.”

“Your best friend Amir?!”

“Well, yeah.”

“!!”

Here’s what I don’t get.  Amir is, see above, my husband’s best friend.  Granted, they don’t see each other that often, because Amir lives nine time zones and nearly 7000 miles from us, but they are close, talk all the time, and when they see each other it is like they just hung out the day before.

And I didn’t even know he and his wife were pregnant.  I mean, this husband of mine, who knows I quilt and knit and am dying to have excuses to make adorable little baby things – and that I think Amir and Libby are terrific and definitely craft worthy – and he never mentioned this huge imminent event that I could have been sewing or knitting for all this time.

“Didn’t I mention it?” he said to me.

I know it is an unfair stereotype, but still I want to shake my fist at him and shout that he’s such a guy.

But I don’t have time because I have a baby quilt to make.

I think one of these will be involved.

Back to OFFF

Each year a couple of my friends and I get together and go to a fiber festival.  It used to be Blacksheep, in Eugene, but the spring pollen combined with the straw dust made it impossible for one of my more allergic friends to survive happily.  So now we go to OFFF each September in Canby.

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I actually prefer Blacksheep, because the arrangements for viewing sheep judging and other displays are better for knitting/spinning while watching.  OFFF doesn’t seem to think that people might want to sit in stands for a while to watch the events – maybe they believe only the people showing animals will sit there for long periods?  There are little to no seating arrangements most of the time.  But I always liked learning what made a Romney or BFL a really good example of its breed, or why one bunny was top over another that looks equally fluffy to me.  The announcers were good at filling in the info gaps for those of us who could probably tell a sheep from a goat, but not always.  At OFFF, even the llama obstacle course was moved to the opposite end of the barn this year, away from the stands we used to be able to sit in to watch.  And the judges aren’t wired for sound, so it isn’t possible to hear much of what they are saying.

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Also, I miss the evening parade of fiber fashions that Blacksheep had each year.  And the Shetland sheep costume parade.  And the wood fired pizza at the restaurant nearby.

Those complaints aside, OFFF is a good time.  We bring our camp chairs to the lawn under the giant shade trees, wander the booths and barns for two days, and always go for Thai food for lunch.  We knit and spin and shop and catch up, and then go back to one friend’s house on the river to talk and craft some more.

Last Saturday, my sister and niece came along to check out the animals, and later in the afternoon my husband and kids showed up to do the same.  The animals cover the range of fiber creatures, including angora and cashmere goats, tiny Shetlands and massive Romney sheep, alpacas and llamas, and the bundles of fluff angora rabbits.

The weather was also perfect – blue skies but not too hot, and nothing like the windstorm that blew vendors canopies away a couple years ago.  Speckle dyed yarn and yarn felting seemed to be the new crazes with a lot more booths devoted to them, and I spent a lot of time wandering looking at wheels, because despite the fact that I have a perfectly good wheel, I can’t help lusting after the beautiful alternatives I don’t need but still want.  I definitely have wooley winder envy!

There is also always a fiber craft project display.  My favorites this year were both felted octopuses (octopi?)

I was VERY restrained in my shopping this year.  That 27 pounds of fiber already in the stash stayed in the forefront of my mind, and I bought just two luxury spinning tops, one of yak and silk and one a combo of angora, silk and cormo wool.  I got only one skein of sock yarn, because those bins at home are also rather full and a pottery soap dish to replace the plexiglass one in my bathroom I’ve always hated.  For me, it was the equivalent of coming home empty handed.  I just kept reminding myself that I’d bought most of it before, it would be there again, and I have a very busy life and way too many hobbies.  It kept the credit card in my wallet.

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Now there is nothing to do but rest up for next year.

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