Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spinning, Spinning, and more Spinning, but not much knitting

What is it about the spinning that makes me pick that up, and not my knitting of several semi-complete projects? I keep spinning on the new Eichheim which is just wonderful, but I discovered the point where the single breaks and needs to be wound onto a toilet paper roll for safekeeping.

The first batch of the CVM in blue-green, has been plyed, washed, and whacked only to find out that what I thought was going to be worsted weight, turned out to be bulky. That is a quarter...not a dime!
What I am spinning now seems much thinner than my first skein, so we will see. It is amazing what happens between spinning and skeining! I used dimes for these photos.

I keep picking up the basic spindle, and still, it is short spinning. So for the white wool/mohair blend, I have been using the cd spindle mostly. I will try the basic spindle again as my skills at very fine spinning improve, since it is pretty lightweight. Any suggestions?

I think I will look through my stitch library to see if I find anything worthy of the alpaca yarn I have. I only have 1600 yards and it is pretty lightweight, so I think I will look for something somewhat airy or easy lace. Once I find a nice stitch, I will swatch and then try another "Knit to fit" sweater I learned with Christy at A Knitted Peace.

Speaking of Alpaca, I looked at the website for the ranch where my alpaca donated her fleece and they have two cameras which are always on. One is in the yard where they gather during the day and the other is in the barn. You can even sign up your e-mail address to be notified when babies will be born and watch. How cool is that! Check out Stargazer Ranch Alpacas in Loveland, CO for yourself and see how cute they are on the hoof and everything you didn't know about the animals. As a city girl, I often forget about the creatures where the great fibers we knit come from. The following photo was from the Estes Park Wool Festival a few weeks ago.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Catching up

I realized now that I never revealed my yarn purchases from my recent trip to Europe. You all have seen my sock yarn that I bought with the needles in Prague, but here are the rest, purchased in a small shop in Volkach, Germany. I was a little disappointed that the shop had only commercial type yarn and no handspun/hand dyed or really unique yarns to fondle. I was glad to see, however, that most of the towns we stopped in for touring at least had a yarn store at all. A big thing in all the shops was yarn for knitting the colors of the favorite soccer teams of the area into scarves. Not being that type of fan, I concentrated on sock yarn! I also wish I had more time to try to chat with the owner, but I had only about 10 minutes between the Wine Tasting and getting back to the bus. Maybe, if I had more wine (or less) things would have gone differently.

On a different note: Last Friday, I entered cell phone HELL when I lost my cell somewhere between the Food Court at the mall and driving home from work. I cleaned out my car, purse, locker, pockets and looked throughout my workplace, to no avail. "Why don't you call your number and see if anyone picks it up??," everyone said. Well, of course, when I had checked my phone for messages, the battery was very low..... so I turned it off while I was at lunch!!!!! It still has not turned up, so I called my provider and transferred my service to Alison's old phone. I had to reenter all my contacts, as well as erase 2 years of hers. But the worst part was the 162 photos she had on her phone, most of which had been taken in the dark at every bar in Kansas City. This had to be done one at a time, which was a real pain.... but mission accomplished. Alison, if you are listening, I did save several of the people I recognized......

To make the cell phone cozy in my possession I made a cover for it which is nearly done. Do you think it looks like a knitted sausage?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spinning Practice

I have been spending a bit of time over the last few days with my new spindles. I love love love the Eichheim because it spins long and smooth. I like the notch in it and the fact that he bends the hook ever so little to balance the spin. There is also a small brass tack on the underside to balance the wheel, just as our tires on the car have balancing weights. The end result is wonderful and I will be using this spindle mostly.... so far, until I buy other wonderful spindles.
The basic spindle doesn't spin long or smooth and should have been passed and learn. Just to compare, I used some of the same roving on my original cd spindle from my first class and found that now that I can draft as I spin, even it is better than this new wood spindle.
As for my knitting, I decided that the laddering in my booby socks is unacceptable.
I frogged back to before it became noticable and will continue from there. I had gotten as far as turning the heel and working on the foot, when I said to myself "Who am I kidding...I don't like the way these look....I wouldn't give them as a gift this way and wouldn't want them for myself this way." I have always just plowed on through errors and I feel I came to a major turning point when I came to this decision to frog it back. I guess I am maturing as a knitter and the finished product matters, as well as the process. I posted the inquiry about avoiding ladders with so many purl stitches on the Ravelry Magic Loop forum and got a few suggestions like:
wrap the yarn backwards on the first stitch (which I am trying) and also turn the socks inside out, working from the inside, instead of the outside ( which I also am trying on the multiple rows of purl stitch). I hope this combination of changes will result in no ladders. To be continued.......

Monday, June 16, 2008

WWKIP Day/ Estes Park Wool Festival

Saturday was WWKIP Day (world-wide knit in public) and it also was the Estes Park Wool Festival. What a happy coincidence to have them both at the same time and finally I found someone to go up with me this year to Estes. Stacy and I have taken a few classes together at A Knitted Peace and have gotten together to knit a few times outside of class. It was a gorgeous Colorado Day with blue skies and crisp air. We arrived early in the morning, just as the shopping was opening. We tried to stay organized and visit each booth, but of course the distractions were everywhere: wool, colors, equipment, ideas! Stacy bought some Rick Rack II from Interlacements to make a shawl like mine....she chose beautiful pastel shades. My goal was to get a new drop spindle or two and roving to practice my hand spinning.

What I bought was a basic spindle, about 1 oz. and another more decorative spindle from Tracy Eichheim (1.5 oz) with hummingbirds. Tracy spent a long time chatting with me about the physics and mechanics of his spindles and it was a great choice. It spins long and steady.

I bought some natural wool/mohair blend roving and then some naturally dyed blue/green roving from a sheep variety that was recommended for beginners: CVM which I think stands for California Variant Mutant! There is a lot of crimp in this fiber and it is pretty easy so far to spin. The basic spindle was probably a mistake as it doesn't spin very long and doesn't seem very well balanced. It might be user error, but I will keep spinning with it to practice..

Lunch was delicious lamb kabob in a tortilla. We had to keep telling ourselves that the wool was really a byproduct of the industry and the primary usage is meat... it was very delicious and a good choice.

I tried on so really cool felted hats by Ruth Walker. This one is called Toque de Ville. Felting seemed to be a big thing at the market. Needle felting and molded felting. That is all I need: another hobby!

Then we went to the Alpaca tent and fell in love.......we were petting both yarn and creatures here and I broke down and bought 4 skeins of natural alpaca wool about 1600 yards. It is soooooooo soft and cloud like. It is somewhere between fingering and sport so I will have to swatch like crazy to see what gauge it is before I pick a pattern. The best part is that we met the Rancher from Stargazer Ranch Alpacas who raised the particular animal who "donated" the fleece for my yarn. How special is that????? My alpaca is named Capella and she did a great job growing her fleece. Stacy also bought some alpaca to make a sweater for her husband in pretty shade of tan.

These are llamas in the above photo. Alpacas are a lot smaller like this:

After we spent to the limit, we walked through the animal tents and visited with sheep, llamas, angora rabbits. It was great visiting with the owners of the animals, because they were so passionate about what they do and their animals.

We drove into Estes for some ice cream and we sat by the stream, eating, knitting and spinning in public.

All in all, a perfect day.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Photo Tidbits from the Europe Trip

Warning: this is a very photo heavy post.

I finally finished labeling my photos from my trip. Good thing I didn't have to develop film as it turned out to be 320 shots total- after deleting a few! No, I won't put them all on this blog but here are a few favorites:
Seen in a window on a Prague street. I laughed out loud at the thought of anything American being TYPICAL!!!

I photographed more than my share of cherubs and gargoyles!

Me and mom on a Prague overlook.

Prague's Jewish quarter , the Josefov, was not destroyed during WWII because Hitler wanted to keep it as a Museum to a dead race. Last laugh is ours luckily. This is the Jewish Town hall with one clock showing Hebrew letters in place of numbers. To the left is the Old-New Synagogue

The Jewish Cemetery is about 11 feet up above street level. There was only limited space alotted, so the cemetery is built layer upon layer with the stones brought up with each layer till it looks almost like a row of dominos.

Loved the Marionettes in the shops. This couple were the dearest.

After Prague, it was on to Nuremberg, Germany with its place in history, both ugly and beautiful. The guide was very open to both and the younger generation of Germans seemed both knowlegeable and apologetic for the past.

Then Bamberg.

Then Wurzberg to visit the Residence, a wine tasting, lunch

And yarn shopping of course

Arriving in Wertheim with its fortress on the hill, Medieval Market Square, and homes remembering it original Jewish families

Relaxing and knitting as we sailed on the Rhine, looking at castles, vineyards and blue sky

Some nightlife in Rudesheim with wine of course

Cochem and the Reichsburg Castle

Bernkastel, vinothek---it was all you could taste and drink at the Vinothek, but of course, it was 10:30 in the morning, so sanity prevailed.

Last stop of the ship and last meal with Petar the greatest waiter ever. Trier and the Porta Nigra, the roman city gate

Verdun, France, site of the Battle of Verdun where thousands of French and Americans died in WWI. We were there on Memorial Day and witnessed the ceremony of the laying of the wreaths at the memorial.

We drove on to the American Cemetery with acres and acres of markers from this battle. Christians and Jews alike, buried side by side. The dates were all in about a 6 week period from late Sept thru Nov 1918. I even located one marker from a casualty from Colorado.

Last stop Paris: Sex and the City, Le film! Our first night in a cafe with friends from Tulsa, the obligatory Eiffel Tower shot, great shots from the hotel, including Sacre Coeur in the distance and the cemetery of Montparnasse. From the bus, I captured the pyramid of the Louvre. Unfortunately, it rained in Paris, so sightseeing and walking was cut short. Will have to go back.

So, in a nutshell, those are some of the highlights from our trip. Except for the Bronchitis which both Mom and I ended up with once returning home, we were healthy throughout the trip and enjoyed the leisurely pace. Better get to work to make money to save up for my next trip, wherever that may take me....................