Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Anyone out there?

I've been thinking about blogging quite a bit lately (gee, I wonder why). When you think about it, blogging really is a little bit bizarre. I wonder if it's something that's done mostly by extroverts who have a need to connect with the entire earth? I am decidedly an introvert and so I feel a bit "exposed" by blogging. If anyone ever does comment, I think I'll freak out (just a little bit).

When I was younger (high school, college) I always kept a journal. I still have them. As I got into the "real" world I found it much harder to find time to journal and I got out of the habit. That's one of the things that appeals to me about this experiment in blogging, getting back into the habit of journaling. The weird thing about this is that it's so PUBLIC (and I don't know if there's anyone even reading it). This pushes me a bit beyond my comfort level in some ways -- being so very out there.

What appeals to me about the bloggers, especially the knitters and spinners, is the sense of community they share. I can't even remember how I first stumbled on it, but the first blog I ever started reading was the Yarn Harlot. I was hooked, not only because Stephanie is a gifted writer and gut wrenchingly funny, but because of her compassion and caring for this whole group of people, most of whom she had never met in person. In time, I discovered other blogs, always because of a link or a comment that took me there. But in all that time, I've never once commented on a blog or done anything other than lurk in the background. Which means that even though I feel in some ways that I "know" the blogger, they likely don't even know I exist. I wonder if that feels a bit weird to someone like Stephanie who tours and is now meeting all these folks who have read her blog. I guess that's part of being any kind of a "celebrity." Even the knitting kind.

Ok, enough navel gazing. I've been wanting to try lace knitting forever and finally bought some Alpaca Mist lace. I've tried to start a #$%^@+ scarf four, maybe five times and it's driving me nuts. I finally decided that maybe part of the problem is the needles. I've been using basic old clover bamboo needles and I think the tip is way too blunt for lace. Plus the yarn sticks like crazy. Last night I ran over to my favorite LYS, Borealis Yarn, and found these cool plastic needles. Normally I don't go for plastic but these felt really good, have nice pointy points and are even flexible. Can't remember the name of them but I think they come from New Zealand? And they were even cheap...I mean inexpensive. Can't wait to try them out tonight.

I've also been working on a log cabin something from Mason-Dixon knitting. I say "something" because I'm not sure what it's going to be. A blanket? Pillow? Bedspread? Curtains? (just kidding...maybe). I like the log cabin stuff because it's quick and portable (and because I'm a quilter wannabe who HATES to sew). I travel quite a bit for my job and I try to have one very portable, self-contained project handy at all times. The log cabin knitting is a nice break from socks and I can use up all my leftovers. One of these days I'll get the camera out and post some photos of what I'm working on.

Want to get in on an easy spinning swap?

Just a quick post to encourage anyone who might happen by (not that I've seen any evidence of that so far) to join a new spinning/roving swap. You can get the details at:

What I like about it is that it seems like a good one for a first swap. It's not long, there aren't tons of stuff you have to do, it doesn't seem too expensive, etc. If you like spinning, or think you might like spinning, or even thought about liking spinning, go on over and check it out!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The spinning wheel is coming, the spinning wheel is coming!

Took the plunge and ordered a brand spanking new spinning wheel on Saturday. After spending many hours at and trying several wheels (Detta is a very patient woman), I finally decided to order a Kromski ( I love the look of this wheel and it spins beautifully.

I also gave a very hard look at the Majacraft Rose and it was hard to choose between the two (and they're about as different as you can get). Finally, price won out -- the Rose is twice as much as the Minstrel and I just couldn't justify spending nearly $800 on my first wheel. Maybe when I'm spinning for a living...

I ordered my Minstrel unfinished, which means I have a big job to do when it arrives, but I figured finishing and assembling it would be a good way to get to know it intimately.

I celebrated my purchase by buying more roving, a corriedale sliver that is SO easy to spin. I spun a bunch Saturday night (on the borrowed Ashford Traveler) and decided to do dyeing on Sunday. I should take pictures and upload them, but I'm still figuring out how to do that. The dyeing was fun, the manchild helped for awhile but then went back to his den when he got bored. I only have four colors, so was a bit limited with what I could do. But I had fun and this was the first time I've ever dyed roving. I can't wait to spin it and see how it turns out.

The spinning has improved immensely with the corriedale roving. I think I tried some fibers that were a bit too difficult to start with (a superwash wool and a merino/angora blend). After I've practiced some more with the corriedale I'll go back and give them a try again.

Counting the days (hours) until the wheel arrives.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The great Minnesota get together...

Well, I said that the state fair was worthy of its own post, so here it is.

Each year, for the twelve days preceeding Labor Day, the entire state of Minnesota gathers a few hundred yards from my front lawn and parties from about 6 a.m. to about 11 p.m. Or at least it seems that way. The state fair is literally known as the "the great Minnesota get together," and we Minnesotans love our state fair. The fairgrounds also happen to be about a 1.5 miles from our house so we get all the "extras." Extra traffic, extra noise, extra parking shuttle busses driving by, etc. Our normally quiet little neighborhood booms with fireworks and the echoes of the latest rock band every night. I swear that in rare instances you can hear a cow moo. Or maybe a sheep baa. Or both.

I actually love the fair and we go at least twice every year. This year we went yesterday, the opening day. I'd never gone on opening day, also known as "Thrifty Thursday." Geez, there are A LOT of people who go on opening day, especially opening morning. And this was in the rain, no less. As the day progressed, the weather got worse and worse, climaxing with softball sized hail and tornado touch downs -- no kidding. Ok, not on the fairgrounds, but not so far to the south of the Twin Cities. All I remember is looking up and thinking "boy, those clouds are moving fast" when the heavens opened and dumped several thousand gallons of water on us (me, the spouse and the manchild). The manchild, even at 13, is nervous about storms anyway but I have to say I was right there with him on this one. The wind blew, the rain flew horizontally, the lightening flashed and STILL there were people walking around. We Minnesotans are a hardy bunch, I'll tell ya.

This year I plan to go and study the sheep. One of my goals to be a better spinner is to learn more about different fibers. What's the difference between a Merino and some other sheep (whose names all escape me at the moment)? Can you tell a difference when it's still on the hoof? I also wonder if Minnesota has alpaca judging? I want to see alpacas. I've actually hung out with alpacas in the "wild" when I got to spend some time in Peru about 10 years ago. I love alpacas. My life goal is to retire to a little alpaca farm, raise wool, spin and knit. Hmmm, does one "raise" wool? You get the idea.

I had to laugh because one of the coupons in the "Fair Deals" coupon book is from a booth which is offering $5 off a $15 "medium stuffed lama toy." I am so there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ok, spinning is tougher than I thought...

I love spinning, really I do, but I thought I was getting pretty good and all of the sudden my stuff really sucks!

Evidently I'm not spinning it tight enough so that it keeps breaking on the bobbin. First it was too tight, then it was fairly decent, now it's too loose. Aarrgh! It doesn't help that I just got back from the state fair (a Minnesota cultural phenomenon worthy of its own post) where I saw, not only gorgeous handspun, but a charming woman who was demonstrating the perfect technique for spinning. Watching her, I think I know what I'm doing wrong -- I think I'm letting it feed onto the bobbin too fast and not getting enough twist. Practice, practice. I think it will help when I get my own wheel. Right now I'm borrowing two -- one really isn't working and I really don't like the other one that much.

Now to a report on my trip to WEBS. It really is an amazing store. I also do a little bit of weaving so it was interesting to be in a store with so much weaving stuff. I spent most of my time in the back of the store which is where they have the discounted stuff. It was sort of like spending the day at the garage sale of your, gorgeous yarn everywhere you look! I spent more than I should but I can't believe how much yarn I got. The stash was enhanced considerably. Pretty much blew the yarn budget for the next several months. Besides, I'm saving for a spinning wheel!

I'm trying something new and signed up for a roving swap. You can find it at I've wanted to try a swap before, but this one actually seems manageable. Seems like a good one to cut my teeth on, so to speak.

I'm off to try to figure out how to add a button to my blog...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Goin on a Pilgrimage

The titles are always the hardest for these things. Such pressure to be clever!!

I've been up to my eyebrows in work related stuff and ended up working most of weekend. Next year's plans and budgets must be finished tomorrow and I'm STILL pulling together way too many details.

The reason they have to be finished tomorrow is that on Wednesday I leave for a short business trip to Conneticut. I've already scoped out how to get to WEBS and my fingers are already itching to fondle all that yarn... I've never been to New England, so I'm looking forward to that too. I get into Bradley about 1:30 and don't have to be anywhere until 8:30 the next morning, so I can spend all afternoon at WEBS. And they're even in the middle of their big summer sale! Is that bliss or what? I'm so psyched.

Of course the manchild is not happy about my going away for four days. It's nice to be missed but I swear I can never predict how this wonderful 13 year old child of ours will react to much of anything these days. Thirteen is an interesting age...clingy and independent at the same time and you're never sure which one you're going to get.

What little knitting I did over the weekend involved VERY easy things like dishcloths and socks, things I didn't have to think about much. Even so, I finally gave up on a dishcloth I started last night after the second time I had to start over.

Still not doing much spinning because I have yet to get the Ashford to work right. Since I don't own it I'm a bit hesitant to whack the hell out of it, even though that's what the Ashford folks recommended. The center crank still refuses to budge. It's like the damn thing is just fused in there. It takes the force of an elephant to keep the wheel going for any length of time. I'm still saving my pennies and trying to decide between an Ashford Traveler and a Kromski Minstrel spinning wheel. I need to find a spinning board and ask what people think...

In the meantime, back to budgets.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I have gone to the dark side...

It seems mandatory these days to have your own blog if you are a knitter or a spinner. I am both so I guess I must. I am in great company and feel honored to be counted among the likes of The Yarn Harlot, Panopticon, and many others. I'm not a huge technocrat so I'm still in awe of these folks who are able to have all these cool sidebars, buttons and knick-knacks. Ah well, I'm always up for learning something new.

"On the needles" include a really complicated fair isle bag that came from an old issue of Knit magazine. IT'S TAKING FOREVER! But it's gorgeous so I guess it's worth it. I'm also knitting up some "Ballband Dishrags" or is it dishcloths? They're fun to play with and everyone likes to get them as gifts. "On the wheel" is not much at the moment. I'm a pretty new spinner but absolutely love it. I can't believe how much I love it. At the moment I'm trying to get a borrowed, 23 year old Ashford Traditional up and working. It's still a bit sticky in places and I haven't been able to get the darn thing apart to oil the crank. I dream of getting a new spinning wheel. Literally.