Mother of Invention

Okay, so Saturday I sat down to spin. This probably was not the best idea, because I was hot and vexed, but that was exactly why I wanted to spin — I wanted to do something that would calm me down.

But it didn’t, then again, spinning on my wheel rarely relaxes me, because it’s so “touchy”. In the time that I was spinning on it (about an hour) I had to replace or fix nearly half a dozen things. (Easy things, like drive bands.)

I was pissed about this too. I wanted to spin, not fix a wheel. If I wanted to fix a wheel, I would have taken a class on wheel repair. I mad at my wheel, mad at me, mad at the world. At one time the tension was set so tight that the treadle was stuck in the up position. (The treadle is the part that you work with your foot.) Generally, this can be fixed by pushing hard on it, so that’s what I did. I slammed down on it with my foot, hoping that it would work, and that I could take out a few of my frustrations on it.

But that didnt’ work I cracked the treadle. It when down to the floor, and the part that was left was about four inches still hooked onto the treadle arm.


All my anger turned to sorrow in an instant. I’d broken my beloved spinning wheel, and it probably couldn’t be repaired. I was heartbroken. I flew up to my room, and spent the next hour in a vale of tears. (It has been noted that I’m a bit of a drama queen, it is also worth noting that none of the family noticed this, and still hasn’t.) When I got up, I swore off all the “antique nonsense,” and committed myself to the painstakingly slow drop spindle, till I could save up enough money to buy a wheel. (Which probably would have been in the post- education and indentured servant years.)

But I am a spinner, it is written somewhere in the stars, “Garret, he shall be a spinner.” But how would I do this, properly, without a wheel.

Well, I still had a wheel. The wheel part was fine, everything above the table was still more or less intact. (That had been spared one of my temper tantrums, though barely)

I got to thinking, what makes a walking wheel, or a table top wheel work? They have no treadle, but yet they still spin. They are the earliest ancestor of the drop spindle, and are only available in antique form. (It probably helped that my best friend was just given a walking wheel, so this was on the brain.) They work because you move the wheel with your hand, while the other hand does long-drawl — which I’d thoughtfully learned just a little while ago.

I tried it with this wool I was working on plying. Man does it work! And fast too, which was great for plying, because I’m generally treadling as fast as I can, and still waiting for  the spin to catch up. And also, this way is a lot easier on the shin-splints that I am starting to develop. Though it is hard on my now sore shoulder, and my back hurts a little bit from hunching forward.

I think I’ve fixed the shoulder issue. I simply turned the wheel around, so the part that attached the treadle arm to the wheel was facing me, instead of the other way, and now I can turn that, instead of throwing the wheel around. I was even able to finish up this Icelandic wool that I bought last May.

Though I still hope to get it fixed. (Dad, I love you, wanna do me a favor, since you’d be sooo good at it?) This wheel, prior to my hissy fit, was actually worth some money, and could be worth something if fixed. My father bought it for way less than it was worth, because the seller, an old friend of his (not a spinner) that he doesn’t really like anymore, wasn’t able to sell it for his already underpriced price. (My dad somehow convinced him that it was way overpriced.)  It is a Saxony Flax Wheel, which is a rare type, and made even more rare because I’ve got an undamaged distaff, which I’ve been told is worth more than the whole wheel. I think I could sell or trade them both for a better wheel to a friend of mine that I know through the Great Lakes Fiber Fair. (It was her wheel that I first spun on, and she’s got one, just like mine, minus distaff.) So, we’ll see what she thinks next spring. If I remembered where I put her card, I would give a link. She’s an independent seller from up near Toledo, and always has the same booth, every year.

But for now I’m fine with it. I suddenly feel like I was given the gift of a spinning wheel, though I already had one.


He’s Back

Hello everybody! I’m back, and while I had a wonderful time, I am so happy to be back home, where I know where we keep the paper towels, and where if I want to read Sense and Sensibility, it’s right there on my shelf.

I had a great time though. I got back on Friday, and my internet was being pissy (not unlike myself, maybe as a result) so I wasn’t able to say anything. That’s a shame because I’ve got so much that I want to tell and show you. I knit a bunch, and I’m working on more WIPs then I’ve had in at least a year. (Maybe a few less, but it feels like more) I want to tell you about this really cool sweater that I took out last night, and the disaster that befell my spinning wheel. (The disaster being me.) I want to show you the really old yarn I got, plus the cheap (but good!) stuff that I bought on vacation, but forgot to bring back. All this is swirling in my head, and I can’t think of which of these threads to take up first.

Let’s start with the knitting I did, both there, and back.

The Shawl

In Knitter’s Almanac, Elizabeth writes:

July is travel month.

Aged couples such as we pay no heed. We do not wish to become part pf traffic, let alone a statistic. We sit snug in our snug yard, letting travel mean nothing more to us than a faint swish from the main road — swish of families headed inexorably north, satisfied and exhausted south. We shall hold our fire until later, when crowds thin and the mosquito retreats.

When you set out on the annual family trip naturally you have to take your knitting; something has to keep you sane in face of the possibly quite ferocious situations you will be up against in the next two weeks.

Try a shawl.

So I did, and with very good results. Though not the pi shawl that she’s talking about, but the Baby shawl, which is earlier in the book.  (Both are in Knitter’s Almanac, as well as Knitting Workshop.) It’s knit in a plain blue cotton, that I ripped out of a sweater over a year ago. I’m working some alternating lace pattern  that is holding my interest well. This is destined to be a shawl/blanket for my soon-to-arrive nephew. (See below, and to answer Joe’s question, I didn’t knit anything for the shower, she got stuff before it, and will after it. Hell, two out of three projects on this post are for Oliver.) I hope to edge it in a dark blue cotton.

Next Up, something else for Baby, and something else from Elizabeth. (Getting tired of it yet, I’m not.)

The Square Baby Blanket

The same Blanket, during a power outage early Saturday morning

This is the Square Baby Blanket, also from KW. This one didn’t go with me on vacation, but stayed at home, biding it’s time. I’ve been working on it a lot since, and it’s pretty fun, and I really love the colors. (Also, so does my sister. The were, to quote “the exact colors I wanted.” Score!) It’s almost half way done. It needs maybe two episodes of Dawson’s Creek to get there. It’s knit out of a mid-level acrylic. (Less soft then that Caron nonsense, but less prone to splitting, and I like it better over all.) It’ll be a little bigger than I thought, due to my odd, and very loose gauge. (I am in the running for the world’s loosest knitter, which makes me very popular amongst a few other knitters.) I plan to edge it in I-cord.

Last but not least, something for me that I’ve been kicking around, knitting on it in stolen moments. This sweater is like my concubine. (While the other two are my wives?)

The Gansey

This is knit out of a lovely wool. (Galway Worsted, in well, a green color.) I love the heathered-ness of it. It’s from KW, and I really love working on it. I took this with me on vacation, in case I knit  seven times faster than I usually do. I bought the needle there, one of the only things, I remembered to bring home. (They had Clover bamboos half off!) I’m attempting to work my initials on the back, like the original Ganseys did.

There, I think I’ve said enough for today. Any Questions?

Lake Wadsworth News

(With my apologizes to Garrison Keillor.)

It’s been a nice week here in my hometown. The weather has been beautiful, if not a little warm, though things did cool down to below eighty on Friday. A day below eighty in July is a rare thing, and something to be treasured. I savored the day by treating myself to a six inch sub and a cup of soup, which, with a drink, was purchased for the low price of 5.35.

Yesterday was a beautiful day too. It was about eighty degrees with a wonderful breeze that made you feel that life was worth living. A blue sky that was puffily dotted with cottonball clouds.

We had my sister’s baby shower yesterday. It was about a medium sized affair with a variety of people attending in a little pavilion on the side of a wooded trail. We greatly overshot the food requirement, so I’ve got some green bean casserole left over if anybody wants any.

We were still decorating when the guests started to arrive, but that was probably due to the fact that nobody listens to my suggestions. I said to write two-thirty on the invitations, but for all of us to act like the party was starting at two, so that way we’d probably be ready on time, and could greet people warmly, instead of giving a quick hi-ya and a look that said, “what the hell are you doing here, couldn’t you be late like we are.” (I’m sorry that was such a bad, and unintentional pun.)

One woman won three of the prizes, but I felt that she should have been disqualified after the first win. I was able to get eight for the baby alphabet game, which is good, considering that I’d never been around children, and if all goes according to my plans, I won’t be for long. There was an utterly priceless moment, and I’ll let this picture do most of the talking.

Damn, I thought this would be a better picture

See that, four grown men having a contest, drinking milk out of baby bottles. (There was a younger kid too, but you can’t see him, and this is much more funny.) This was utterly hilarious, and I’m still laughing about it as I write this. We had a co-ed shower, and this was one of the boy’s games, drinking milk out of baby bottles. The third one from the right won, who oddly enough, is to be the acting father.

(Joe, have a field day with this.)

In other news, I leave tomorrow for a 1-2 week stay in Athens Ohio. This is a haphazard vacation that I’ll be taking, so undefined that I don’t even know how long I’ll be staying. (We’re going to see how one week goes.) So expect posting to be light, if at all for a little while.

For vacation knitting, I’m taking a shawl, a pair of socks, and the start of a Gansey. I think that should be enough, though I will be in a yarn friendly house, who understand things like circular needles and wool. (And Buffy.)

I’ll I’ve got left to do is wait for tomorrow.

Just Because

Plans for the vacation have been finalized. I’ve got a date, a ride, I’ve gotten the time off, and I’m starting to pack. I’m leaving Monday.

So, next week, and possibly the week after, expect posting to be a little light, if at all. I hope to knit a lot, but you know how it is when you’re on vacation, you always make plans to do all sorts of things like knit. (Why wouldn’t you if you’ve got the whole day free?) But you really don’t knit much. I hope I’ll be different.

Other than that, I really don’t have much else to say. I had a really good day today till I came home, but that isn’t unusual. (A stack of dishes, a stack of work, a messy house and a bunch of people who are in a bad mood for no good reason, sigh. There are days where I just wish that people would be like me and just make themselves be happy.)

It’s raining here, which is great because maybe now things will be a little more green, and a little less brown. Just the other day I noticed how very brown everything looked. Weeks of no rain and crushing heat will do that to plants I guess. I haven’t had to mow for about a month. It’s a little cooler today, which I’m loving. I’m missing days with things like, well, jeans.

And that’s all for today.

What I did on my Summer Vacation, Part one of many

Lots of time this summer has been dedicated to things that I shall refer to as “not knitting”. However, considering my output so far, I would also have to say that I’m getting sufficient knitting time. I feel like I’m knitting enough, and that I’m doing enough other stuff, so I think I’ve finally achieved balance, at least for a little while. (You can’t stand on one leg forever.) Either that, or they’ve perfected the twenty-six hour day and someone forgot to tell me.

Lots of time has gone to cooking. I always try to talk about cooking, but I never get very far. I mean to, but I never remember to take pictures, and I never use a serving dish or anything, so while the meals are pretty tasty, they don’t exactly look like gourmet, if you know what I mean. Once I drain the spaghetti, it pretty much just stays in the colander till I haul out the Tupperware. (Which is actually Gladware.) Also, my meals generally aren’t things that I’d want to brag about.

I’ve also spent a lot of time working in the garden and keeping it, as my friend Vinny says, (cursing alert) “Wet as fuck” (Descriptive). It’s odd that Vinny even keeps a garden, and a nice one from what he says, because when you first meet him, you instantly think that he’s more interested, not in cucumber dust, but in another, pricier dust — he doesn’t exactly look and act like he cares about, or eats green beans. (Still, he’s a pretty interesting guy who’s company I enjoy.)  But the garden is doing well this year, despite its rather late start, and I’m really looking forward to eating some kind of a vegetable that wasn’t bought from a supermarket. (Also eggplant. I miss eggplant.) I had a bit of a blonde moment last night, I was watering, and then I put the soaker hose on the green beans because there is a million of them, and my hose won’t reach far enough. When I stepped outside this morning, I saw the brown grass, thought of needing rain, thought of it helping the garden, and then thought of the hose. I was running around my yard at nine in the morning, wearing nothing but my underwear, and laughing my ass off, turning off the hose and surveying the damage. I don’t think anyone saw me though, which is good because the guy in the back already doesn’t wave to me.

(By the way, to any of you who know me, if you want any green beans, come over in maybe two weeks,  you can take as many as you can pick. I don’t even like the things, but we always plant them because they do so well.)

I’ve watched a lot of TV so far this summer, it being to hot to sit outside and spin. I’ve re-watched 1.5 seasons of Buffy, and watched half a season of Dawson’s Creek, and numerous episodes of Friends.

I’ve read a lot too. There have been a few Knitting Potboilers, the knitting murder mysteries that I’m embarrassed to admit that I waste my time on. They read a lot like that bestselling by the number’s series.  (By Janet I-can’t-spell-her-last-name-that-starts-with-an-E) I’ve read Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. I’ve read Sex and The City, by Candice Bushnell, (I’ve realized that I could write a similar book, only instead about the dating habits of New Yorkers, write about the habits of the Midwest population.) and Un Amico Italiano — About that Luca Spaghetti from Eat Pray Love. I’ve also read Of Mice and Men, and A Tale of Two Cities, neither of which were all they were cracked up to be. (Though I was into A Tale of Two Cities by the end of it.) Last but not least, The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope, and I don’t know why more people haven’t read that one, it was good, but a touch wordy.

(See, I’ve been busy, all of this, plus knittng, housework, and work.)

Now, if you’re still with me, let’s get to the reason that you’re here, knitting. First up, the baby blanket.

This is EZ’s square baby blanket, from, Knitting Workshop, what else? It’s knit out of some unmentionable yarn that is machine washable, fairly soft and starchy, on sale, and had the exact colors I wanted. (My sister’s a little particular about what kind of blue she’s using.) (Also, Joe, leave me alone.) It’s a little less than a quarter of the way done. (And I started it late Sunday, can you believe that? Vodo) I love me some Garter stitch.

This a swatchcap. Yes, a cap that is my swatch, a method that EZ thinks very highly of. This is the first time that I’ve done it, thinking, that while it’s a good way of telling accurate gauge in the round, that it was, well, a time sucking dumb ass idea. (Still thinking it’s unnecessary.) This whole Knitting Workshop thing is all about me trying new things though, and this is one of them. I didn’t want to graft, but I did it, and I’m glad I now know how to do so. This shouldn’t be any different. Not to mention, it’ll be another gift to add the “keep the holiday’s sane” box. I have to make some kind of a half-hearted attempt.

Someday, that little cap will grow up to be a Gansey, and I hope that day comes sooner than later.

How have you spent your summer? Couldn’t be better than mine!


Who Am I?

Two finished objects in two days!! Can you believe that! Have I turned into Wendy or something? Can you believe this? (Overlook that I went weeks without finishing a thing.) I’ve also made great progress on my other project that I started just last night, a baby blanket (still garter stitch, I must ride this till it drops dead) and it’s already an easy five inches, though I am getting about 4.5 stitches to the inch. Still, I can’t believe this! I’m giddy! I can’t remember the last time I was giddy! I can’t stop using exclamation points!!

I’ve finished up the Tomten Jacket in a rare moment of stick-it-to-it-ness. (I haven’t sewn on the buttons though.) I must say that every time I knit this pattern (this is the second baby one, third overall) that it becomes a bigger and bigger pain in the ass. There, I said it, this is not a fun pattern to knit. (Namely because, as far as I can tell, she leaves out a big part in the pattern.) Or at least it’s not fun for me to knit. Still though, it is cute.

This is the fourth pattern for KW. The mods I made were changing the gauge, (pretty big change) using stripes, decreasing the sleeves faster, and putting button bands on it because I couldn’t face the thought of sewing in a zipper, and/or I-cord around the whole thing.

I still have to put buttons on it. Does anyone have any good suggestions? I’m thinking about going shopping and looking for some kind of snow man buttons. Or plain white ones that I have in my drawers, which we all know is probably what will happen.

Surprise, A Surprise!

There is nothing nicer than meeting a nice goal. Don’t you know it? And this Zimmermann project has a lot of goals, so every time I finish something, anything for it,  no matter how small, I feel like I’m on top of the world.

A little Baby Surprise action?

I love this pattern. I really do, to an almost unhealthy degree. I almost have it memorized. I’ve knit it, I think three times, or maybe four. I’ve lost count, which is odd, because I’ve only been knitting these for about six months, so you think I would have remembered, but such is me.

I’m about to be an uncle soon (head rush), so, as that, and resident knitter, I must churn out scads of sweaters and booties to appease the demand. I also have to knit seven sweaters that are all identical up till the armhole, but I digress. Thankfully this pattern is in KW so it’s “aloud”, as is the Tomten Jacket and two baby blankets, so I think I’m good in that respect.

The only intentional mod, though there were a few mistakes that I chose to ignore, was changing it from five button holes to three. Don’t ask why, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I didn’t want to sew FIVE buttons on, though I wasn’t to crazy about three either. I also like the number three better, but five is a close second. (I know, totally odd.)

This is project number three for the Zimmermann project, and the first from Great Garter Stitch. (By the way Cheryl, where are you!! What are we going to KAL*  too. If you want to back out, or do it at a much later date, just tell me so I don’t start the project without you!)

Of course though, the expectant mother, mia sorella, doesn’t really care for the sweater. She said the cut was “too girly”. Bite me. Of course, that was from the mistakes that I was too lazy to fix, and now am really not going to change because it would involve taking off the buttons and re-putting them on. Oh well, she’ll appreciate it when the baby’s already thrown up on all of its other clothes. (I wasn’t trying to sound like a bitch there, it just happened.)

In other news, I’m almost done with the Tomten Jacket. I’ve about half a sleeve to go, then sew buttons on the already knitted bands (done perfectly I might add) then we’re done with this one. I would post a picture now, but it feels a little redundant to do so when I’m so close to the end.

(I swear to you that I do things beside knit)

I’m still into the garter stitch, so I think I’ll just try to ride this pony till it drops dead. (So to speak) Up next will be a baby blanket, from KW, that I’ll use to keep myself entertained till vacation, where I’ll take a shawl (a baby shawl), some sock yarn, and the start of  a sweater, which may be a bit much, but I’ll have a few days, where I’ll have my mind, and what I bring with me, to keep myself entertained. Sound like a good plan?

Also, where have all of you been? You all cheer me on till I actually start this project, and then leave me, feeling once more like I’m chirping to no one. Remember, de-lurking is delightful! (for me)

*For non-knitting readers (which is about the same as knitting readers) KAL stands for Knit A-Long. It’s where you and another knitter(s) pick a pattern, and you all knit it at the same time. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds.