Tuesday, July 31, 2007

100% Spoiler Free

Well, Octopus knits kindly nominated me as a

Ah, shucks :) I'm supposed to nominate some other bloggers of distinction, but I have to admit I read about um... (quickly checks favorites sidebar on web-browser) 60 or so craft blogs (THAT'S where all the time goes!) and I've been seeing these cropping up everywhere so I know it would take some time digging around to figure out I wasn't doing any duplicate nominations AND (is this a run on yet?) I'm about to head out of town... so I'm going to echo Octopus and say how much I enjoy the blog community. You all inspire me! Y'all rock!

I have a little confession to make. The other day I went to the bookstore and was just browsing and I saw a BIG book on the shelf. Just out of curiosity I opened to a random page and started reading. Okay, interesting, but I can walk away. I've heard about this stuff before. But that page stuck with me. I just had to know, even if it was hundreds and hundreds of pages long...

Who was the real Shake-speare? H*rry P*tter fans don't kill me. In college I had two excellent professors for my Shakespeare classes. Opposite in temperament, but both witty, engaging, brilliant, and insightful. We laughed (Shakespeare sonnet set to punk rock guitar) we cried (Macbeth set in the context of the Holocaust... no, it wasn't sad, it was just that bad). We read and read and read and in the end we loved the bard even more. However, these two men could not agree on the identity of Shakespeare. They took opposite sides of the debate. At first I felt that this "looking for the real author" thing was bosh. But now I'm starting to wonder. Sorry Dr. Hamlin.

Anyway, I've got my snacks packed and my new book in hand so it looks like I'm ready for those 11 hours of travel I have coming tomorrow (no knitting, as I am afraid those TSA people will take away my needles). I'll have limited internet access while I'm away - I'll be back August 7th :)

btw - you can visit the web pages of one of those two professors here and here. Lots of great stuff for linguaphiles and curmudgeons.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Contest Alert :)

Just a note to say that I came across some more summer contests. This one asks you to supply a suggestion for a non-pooling sock pattern (hmm... considering that I have yet to ever knit a sock, I probably won't be too helpful here) and this one asks you to describe how lucky you are! Well, maybe someday I'll be lucky enough to win a contest...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

First Tries & FO

Meet my first yarn. I post this as encouragement to any other beginning spinners out there. I think it has every problem typical of a first try: extremes in thickness - everything from cobweb to bulky, over and under twisted sections, which resulted in both extremes of tension when plying. To top it off I tried to even it out with Navajo plying. Hmmm... note to self, Navajo plying is best for even singles. However, I was happy to see (as I was winding off) that my evenness had improved throughout the single :) Mistakes really are a great way to learn, so I'm finally giving myself permission to make them. The joy of creation has overcome at last.

Book bag with reclaimed bamboo handles, eyelet lining, grosgrain ribbon trim

I think I mentioned that there might be on FO soon... it just turned out to be a sewing FO rather than a knitting one. I realised the other day that my reluctance to seam Orangina was coming from a lingering (previously subconscious) doubt about the ribbing. I tried to twist a column of stitches to avoid the dreaded ribbing gap, but it just made another gap. So I'm swatching different techniques for the ribbing before I tink back again. That lovely lace deserves a nice crisp ribbing to finish it off.

In the meantime I've been having fun replicating one of my favorite book bags in fun summer colors. Two fat quarters was enough to make a bag big enough to hold Fagles' translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey as well as The Children's Homer and my notes for the summer reading club I'm leading for some kids from church. It has been a refreshing reintroduction to teaching -They are so cheerful and curious. Next time I may show them how to use a drop spindle. I think I have an excuse after the recent scenes with Penelope weaving and Helen spinning :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wheel In the Sky Keeps on Turnin'...

Some very kind folks over in Ravelry's "Spinning Knitters" group are helping me get my wheel figured out (thanks so much!) but it's going to be a while before I can get the repairs done to get it going... so somewhere I got the notion to try spinning with a drop spindle in the meantime. I didn't know much about this type of spinning so I had fun poking around the internet trying to figure out all the lingo (high whorl, low whorl, Turkish?). I ended up at Spunky Eclectic's intro page. Her explanations where so helpful and straight-forward that I ended up buying her recommended beginner's spindle, Cascade's "Little Si." I was very impressed with her service! My spindle came superfast, and she wrapped it in some fun teal and purple top that I have been using to learn.

The first attempts - for your amusement :) It has gotten better (um, I think), but it is still thick and thin and I'm using the "inchworm" or "park and draft" method where I stop the spindle and hold it still while I try to figure out how to draft the fiber. I think I did actually spin for about 2 seconds today (and I mean that literally). But spinning is REALLY addictive. That's why you hear people saying things like "I've been spinning for a year now, and in the last 4 months I finally started getting a usable product." Somehow the process is so meditative that it sweeps away the fixation with product.

I also got a little bit of ammo: Spunky Eclectic's basic wool blend and a top from Flawful that reminds me of koi. I was tempted to hide the Flawful cuz I want to buy most of her stuff as soon as I have the money and I don't want any competition for the one of a kind fiber goodness - but really, it's better to spread the love around right? (And don't be buyin' the "Mild Child" before I can, okay? It would be perfect for a BSJ, which is what got me started on this in the beginning.)
For anyone who is interested, there are some great video tutorials for learning to spin with the drop spindle here and here.

This project is waiting in the wings. I won't start it until I have finished Orangina. And I won't finish Orangina until I have one of those days where I feel like I have the ability to focus totally without the potential for emotional breakdowns. We must only seam in the right state of mind. Here's hoping that that day comes soon...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Little Help?

My generous MIL recently gave me this antique wheel and I'd love to get it up and running... if I knew how it was supposed to work! Your comments would be appreciated - specifically suggestions on how the belts should be placed (how will I get different ratios on the flyer and the bobbin) and what that little wheel at the top is supposed to do... I have tried to use the right terminology for things, but I may be way off so feel free to correct me.

Front view: please excuse the thing hanging off the left maiden - someone wired an old leather piece to it to prevent it from getting lost - the leather piece (the shape of a guitar pick) is actually inserted in a slot in the maiden and then the end of the flyer/bobbin sits in a hole punched in the leather. You can see that the one on the left has been repaired.

The bobbin/flyer combo on the right can be set up just like the one on the left there is the corresponding hardware - it is not in position now because the leather piece is broken on that side.

Back - as you can see it has a little wheel assembly on the back.

A closer view

side 1

side 2

Accessories? The following pieces came with the wheel but do not have any obvious spot to fit into/onto it. The top two both have holes drilled through them.
One last hint - it is marked "John Sturd Evant."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Vacationing Like I Mean it...

I thought this would be the summer of bloggling, but strangely it hasn't been, despite all the crafting that has been accomplished. I can't complain though, because the days have been filled with friends, family and travel. My mother came on Sunday to whisk me away to the lake to play while Mr. M completed a week of training. We sewed, we cooked (okay, mom cooked... I have to break this habit of expecting her to do all the work when she's around - really I can do more than cut up the vegetables for the salad!) we stuck our toes into the "freshly melted" lake water and went out for milkshakes at a place where the sign by the door says - "Don't talk about yourself - we'll do that when you leave." Later we picked up a chick flick - interesting in the "I have a degree in English which allows me to dissect anything too vapid to be entertained by" sort of way.

Our friends we were visiting live in a town that is so small that the little stores multitask to stay afloat. The video place at one end of town is also an ice cream shop - the video store at the other end does take-n-bake pizza. It cracks me up. Rural life is one of those special things that will always be with me. I'm no farm girl, but growing up in a little town in the richest wheat country in the world has rubbed off on me.

Being liberated from my household chores, I was able to make some more progress on Orangina. I offer this picture in the way of evidence that I am making some sort of progress on something :)
Now defining my blog persona has been an interesting process - am I a journaler? An essayist? An artist? (A whiner?) Should I write down what I'm thinking... the whole mess... or should I refine it into something? Should I be disciplined? Scattered? Is it humorous? Too goody two shoes? Photos semi out of focus? Underexplosed? Whole knitted project in view?
I'm overthinking... I think... anyway, as much as I love artistic shots of knitting, I also really like down and dirty posts - the ones that show how garments get tweaked (or wholesale tortured) into what they become. I scower other people's blogs, blessing those that take time to explore the knitty-gritty. So I'm abandoning my "knitting photography as art" stance for this post... to show how I cheated to make this a fitted tank. Nothing to it really. I blocked the living daylights out of the back (before I even knit the front) because I panicked about my gauge and wanted to be sure it could be at least big enough to get on before knitting any more. With the front I realized that I couldn't block above the armholes that aggressively... I have rounded, sloped forward shoulders so the back fit like a dream, but the corresponding front needed to be about 5 inches narrower. I could have opted not to block at all (I've seen some unblocked that looked great) but with my yarn and gauge the pattern would have disappeared, not to mention it would have looked awkward to have the front and back so drastically different. I let the thing sit for days before I finally decided to try a compromise, block the top front gently, and the bottom a bit more to get that classic tank fit. It worked out perfectly. The "bend" in the pattern is not noticeable when the garment is worn, but it's just enough to keep me from having big wings of fabric hanging around my arms! Since the photo I also got the ribbing done. Would I jinx myself if I said an FO is on the horizon?

Monday, July 2, 2007

And The Winners Are...

I'm back! Utah and Arizona were lovely. We had a great time photographing Upper and Lower Antelope canyon, The Wave, and The Burr Trail... as well as reading each other three Nero Wolfe mysteries (its a looong drive). My knitting project came of the needles on day 3 and the dropped stitches ran like crazy. After that I didn't have the heart to try fixing it, so not much was accomplished on the crafting front. However, I have a feeling I will be crafting like mad now that I have some time at home. There may be an FO later today or tomorrow if I can control the urge to start 3 or 4 new projects...

Yesterday brought my little contest to a close so there is, of course, an announcement: Senora Fuerte and Octopus Knits are the winners! If you ladies would email me at englishmajor AT hotmail DOT com I will send you the superfun knitterly prize questionnaire which (combined with a close reading of your blogs - squee!) will allow me to unerring select the bestest of prizes for ya.