Friday, December 7, 2012

ta da! woodshop, socks and the season

This is a great time of year (and I don't mean the holiday stuff, but the season itself)
I like the way the woods changes so slowly, no colored leaves, but lots of brown weeds and hanging on thingies, with birds flitting in and out..not reached the totally bare, dark limb look of January look, just a gradual shriveling up-really, that is pretty  ; )

Yep, I am cheerful. I thought it was too hard, too much to physically demanding (in my condition) but tada! my woodshop finally has a floor! and "sort of" insulation. I still have some insulating to do and plastic to staple up over the insulation (paneling will have to come later) I was able to double the size of the shop, from 12 x 12 to 12 by 24 (taking away the sheep's part of the barn, they now have to use the front shed instead, but they really don't care) and reuse and remount the south facing glass so as to retain the solar heat gain that I am so thankful for on sunny days in the winter.


You can't know what this means if you didn't experience the "before" situation...but lets just say that a crampled jumble of tools on an uneven dirt floor that was muddy when it rained, and uninsulated ceiling and metal walls that were colder than a well diggers feet in the winter had gone on long enough (8 years) and was not conducive to productivity or happiness. I finally was able to obtain the lumber and enough salvage materials to get started, and I took my time and didn't get hurt.
I am happy! I have already done some of my best woodworking in the last few days, and really look forward to each day in the shop. I appreciate all the help I got, including the local building supply (shop local whenever possible) who delivered some of the bigger lumber and placed it just where I needed it and my family who supplied the encouragement.
My pink sock project lacks 1/4 inch of ribbing, and I have started spinning on the dark blue romney. (I don't have rules about finishing one project before starting another, maybe I should)

Friday, August 10, 2012

ply on the fly, unplanned projects and hot sox

First, I am getting caught up with spindolyns, and should be able to get back to making specialty spindolyns by next week, yippeeeee!!!! Thank you all for your patience and encouragement  ; )

~the evolution of a random knitting project~

When you are laid up, you sometimes get so discouraged that you almost  don’t even feel like playing with fiber…almost. At these times, I find that starting a random, unplanned project that has no deadline, no commitment is a no pressure way to slide back into getting your serious spinning and knitting groove back. Working on perfecting my “ply on the fly” technique on the spindolyn™ sounded like an entertaining task. (first incidence of randomness)

In a sort of  sulky mood  I looked around for some fiber to spin using this variation on the Navajo three ply technique that I wouldn’t feel destroyed over if I, well, destroyed it. But I didn’t want to have to gather up my crutches and hobble in to the living room cupboard where my main stash of fiber and spindles live. Day to day living, and making my way too and fro out to the shop is enough hobbling for each day (hence the sulky mood.)

Peaking out of a basket in the corner of the office I spied this plastic bag of great, fluffy roving that I got from Susannah at SAFF last year. It is a hairy, cheery blend of bright yellow, orange and hot pink. I like how the colors look together, but the hot pink is a bit hot for me, so I  separated it out from the other colors, thinking it would be a good fiber to sacrifice on some “risk taking” sort of spindling. (second incidence of randomness)

I commenced the ply on the fly, taking a few minutes to get a rhythm  and technique going that seams to work best on the spindolyn. (I will get a video up of this some time soon) It was pretty mesmerizing and in no time, I had this much spun and plied and ready to knit. I could have packed more onto this “melody” size spindolyn™ but it was starting to slow a bit from the weight, and I was anxious to get to knitting, because it seemed “ripe” to knit.

P1060391

That is the whole fun of “ply on the fly” it is ready to knit, right off the spindolyn™ and that is a pretty instant gratification! But how much can you knit from this amount of spindling? and what to knit? It is a pretty hot color and it occurred to me, that I am going to probably need something “hot” on my poor toes of my broken foot, as it will probably be extra cold this winter, and a sock toe would make a good swatch (third Incidence of Randomness; or I will call this 3rd I. R.)

So I decided that the hot part of the color should be on my toes, and toe up socks would probably be the way to go. I could see how far one spindle of Navajo plied yarn would get me in knitting a sock. Next step, see what size yarn we are talking about. 24 wraps per 2 inches. Now this was pretty silly step, because once again, I didn’t want to go look for needles, and the nearby ones were a set of US size 2 double pointed bamboos. Those’ll work. (4th I.R. )

P1060393

 

I cast on using “Judy’s Magic Cast-On” and started knitting a toe.

P1060394s

And this is when I really got excited about ply on the fly. It does seem slow when you are doing it, but then, like magic, you are ready to knit!!! that will keep me going while I am recouping.

And this is how far that the this amount went in the knitting…

 

P1060483s

And now that I look at it, I think I will spin the next spindle full with a bit more of the orangey, then ending with the yellowy (5th I.R.)

And this is how an unplanned project full of random decisions has turned into a planned pair of hot sox.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back on the barstool again

Well, it’s not exactly a barstool, but a tall stool in my woodshop that I can sit on for brief spells to run the power tools to make the spindolyns. I have found that I can prop my broken foot in its ugly boot cast into the trash can to keep it kind of elevated. You still have to walk some, to move from this tool to that, and of course, back and forth to the woodshop out in the mule barn, so the amount of time is limited, when you are supposed to actually be staying off of it all-together.
But I told you that to tell you this; some progress is being made(!) and that cheers me up. I am about half way caught up, and I would estimate the turn around time on current spindolyn orders is going to run between 2-4 weeks, depending on how well the healing goes.
Funny thing about that stool. I picked it up at an estate sale for a couple of bucks, because it was taller than your average stool, and a lovely retro creamy yellow metal and I thought it would make a great fern stand on the front porch. But then when I was unloading it from the back of the truck, I realized that it was really very heavy duty and larger than I thought with a wide flat seat, and decided it would make a great stand in the shop for my belt sander. But then when I got it out to the shop, I never got around to putting the sander on it, because I started using it alternately as a table for setting my water bottle on, making notes or sketches, or for sitting up on when my feet got tired. Now I wouldn’t trade it for anything, wish I had three of the the same thing, because it is a perfect tall height and sturdy size.
I do have a cheapie wally world folding stool in the kitchen to sit on while doing dishes during my foot convalescence but it is really too short and awkward to reach the dish drainer, and dishwater runs back down to my elbows. This got me to wondering about just what is a “standard” stool height, and I discovered after googling bar stool sizes that there several heights, starting with dining height, then counter height, then bar height, then tall bar height, then spectator height, which is the tallest. The other thing I learned is that bar stools are expensive, very expensive. Something to watch out for at yard sales, in case I was to happen to get old, or break my foot again or something.
Meanwhile, back in the shop, there have always been wren’s who make nests in the mule side of the barn, but not generally on the shop side. But since I have been absent so much, one has moved in and made a nest up on a high shelf. She is not real happy with me for coming back to work.

P1050262s

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

delay, delay, delay

Well, I was going to entitle this post "I take it all back" (being too hot to spin, that is) but then a series of unfortunate events has conspired to make me fall quite behind, so I need to explain that first for any customers that might have concerns.

First, for the month of June, middle Tennessee did not have a single day that was below 100 degrees. We had three days that were 109, but mostly, it hovered around 104. I know that everyone has been hot, so I don't want to sound like a whiner, but my wood shop is in the old mule barn, which has a metal roof and metal sides, has no insulation and no ac. It is, actually, open to the elements and hotter than an easybake oven in the afternoon. At least this summer. In summers past, it was pretty comfortable, and I just made sure to do most powertool work early in the mornings.

But his extreme heat limited the hours I could work in the shop on spindolyns, even with fans going. Those few cool hours had to be shared with all of the farm chores, which have been compounded by the drought. The drought has meant that the animal and garden water has had to be hauled, and they needed watering three times a day due to the heat. Our household water has had time consuming complications, too, so I had slipped behind, time wise, but was feeling confident that this past weekend, with the predicted cooler weather I could catch up.

Good news~ we are getting rain, and it has cooled off and I am so thankful!
Bad news~ Before the rain started, I was up the creek bed looking for a possible additional water source and slipped and my foot went between two rocks and I fell backwards and broke my foot. It is, well, I won't go in to it, but it isn't great.

Anyway, as soon as it is safe to be up and about and back to the shop, I am sure I will catch up, I just wanted spinners to know that there has been and will be a delay.
Meantime, I have some lovely, half done specialty spindles that I can polish on.....just might be a few days before I can get some help or get back out to the shop and get the bases drilled and brass cut to finish them...and then there are those outstanding orders that are setting on the work bench half done. Well, frankly, it just kills me.
I just don't handle this sort of thing well, I really, really hate to know there are people waiting on their spindolyns, and I never was a "sit around when there is work to be done" sort of person.
Fortunately, an elevated foot does not prohibit spindolyn-ing or knitting, or sketching new designs....all I have to do now is work on the anxiety produced by guilt at being late.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

hot weather spinning, angora and improvements

How hot is too hot to spin? As the years go by, I am starting to think....
maybe never.
(leaving out extremes, of course, I am just talking about average summers as we have known them, not as they appear to be morphing)
Anyway, now days, most folks have central heat and air, so summer spinning is really not a question of comfort. But if you are like me, and don't have such modern amenities, you may have discovered cool places to sit and spin, maybe with your feet in the water. Or maybe you have figured out a way to use a very small fan pointed just at your face so that it doesn't blow the fiber around. If you are really jonesing to spin, you could always wear one of those cooling neck wraps...which got me to thinking about knitting something for that purpose....has anyone ever done that? What is inside those neck wraps, anyway, that keeps them cold but not dripping?
Old fashioned shade is a pretty nice thing, too. Here you can be pretty comfortable if you are elevated above the chiggers and oriented in such a way that catches the breezes coming down the holler.
Which brings me to the bunnies.
Summer is always a time you have to be extra concerned about the Angora rabbits, making sure they have plenty of water, and shade, and breezes to be comfortable till their favorite season arrives. And because I check on them so often in the summer, it makes me want to spin angora, which is kinda crazy and perverse since it is one of the very warmest fibers, many times warmer than wool.
So that is what I am spinning right now, and I as I spin, I am still turning over in my head different possible ways of prefelting singles of angora before you ply it with wool......

Oh, and about my shoulder, it is better! It turns out that in order to give it the rest it needed, I needed a shoulder brace that actually fit, and guess what worked the best? An old fashioned 6 inch wide ace bandage. I watched a couple of videos on youtube on how to wrap your shoulder, and figured out that the problem with wrapping it without assistance is just the getting it started part. So, I sewed an upper arm sized tube in one end, slipped it on and voila, very easy to finish the wrap yourself. Wrapping it while I worked, then applying the ice, then rest and the herbal anti-inflamatories have done wonders. Interestingly, so has kayaking, which you wouldn't think, but I think it loosens the arm up some.
The third element that has helped me on the road to healing is transitioning over to natural anti-inflammatories: white willow bark and curamin, they seem to help increase circulation in a way that the over the counter nsaid s don't... upward and onward!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Disability, Beethoven and Me, ambidextrous spinning.

Last summer I tore my rotater cuff repairing and expanding my falling-down office. I really like this space with its windows and plants and room for my spinning wheel so much it was almost worth it.
But it is easy to get depressed when months and months go by and you don't get better, only worse.
When the pain started affecting my spinning, it felt tragic. Now it has slowed down my spindle making to where turn around time has expanded to 2 weeks. I hate that. When a person decides to order a spindolyn, I get excited for them, I want them to have a new spindle and play with it as soon as possible, as I know I would.
 MY APOLOGIES for the delay, sincerely.
I am doing everything rehaby that I can find to do to help my body repair the injury (ice, heat, rest, brace, nsaid, yoga, vitamins, herbs, meditation, etc,) I am open to suggestions. Surgery is out of the question without insurance, and the way I scar, that is probably not a great option anyway.
So I watched a really interesting documentary online recently "In Search of Beethoven" and  besides all the great historical perspective, it made me think a lot about how frustrating a disability is that gets between you and your art and the way you cope with it is the only thing that keeps you from offing yourself (which he considered often) I can better understand why he had a reputation for being grouchy and "letting himself go" I am feeling pretty grouchy right now myself.  Anyway, his perseverance is an inspiration, especially since he had no chance of getting better, and I do.
     Considering this, I decided to try and learn to spin better drafting with my right hand. I am left handed, but have no trouble drafting with either hand on the wheel. It just doesn't seem to matter, and I often switch drafting arms just to rest the other. BUT, I have another confession (telling people about my bad shoulder seems like a really personal confession of defeat, btw)I can not seem to draft right handed on the spindolyn.
     It is darn skippy and crazy awkward how odd it feels to try and draft on the spindolyn with the right hand. I am primarily a left handed spindolyn drafter. There, I said it.
       So, I have discovered that I can still spin if I put my bad left shoulder in a brace and a sling and twirl the spindolyn by the side of the whorl all the while minding to keep it loose and not tense, and draft with the right (wrong) hand.But it is slow going.
      Not because of the strange left arm set up, but because my right hand is having to learn to draft upward. It feels silly and like I am new at this, and that is GREAT! It is like the gift of being a newbie all over again. You just can't borrow or buy that feeling! It makes me feel like I can relate better to new spinners, and I am very proud of this small amount of uneven yarn I have gotten spun drafting with the right (wrong) hand...tada!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Spindles, New website, and reflections on gift knitting

Welcome 2012! I wish for everyone plenty of time for all their fiber projects this year.

New Spindolyns...
I have finally got the new spindolyns up on the website. After much experimentation, I decided on 4 different sizes,
from smallest to largest; the (new) soprano, the melody, the concerto and the harmonic.
The mezzo has been enlarged a hair to hold a bit more, and the weight removed from the center so that it spins faster and then renamed the soprano (a recycled name, but it just made more sense)
The concerto is a bit fancier and a special thanks to Mary (FleeceFriend on Ravelry) for helping me with the name.

New Website
oh yes! (almost forgot) for some strange reason, folks in Germany get a 404 when they try and visit the www.knittinganyway.com website, even though it is up and running here..
So while I figure out whats up with that, I have put up a blogger page for them at
http://www.spindolyns.blogspot.com/
    It could be that it has been up on the web since 1999 and was originally designed in Microsoft Frontpage, which of course now is totally outdated.
I have been "afeared" to learn a new software, but I think the time has come to start over, so if you are visiting and see anything weird, it is because I am trying to rebuild the original knittinganyway from scratch (wish me luck! : 0  and let me know if anything is totally wacky while you are browsing)

On Gift Knitting
Much has been written about knitting for others and the spiritual benefit it is for the knitter and the recipient. There are chemo caps, and prayer shawls, and afghans for afghans, and many, many other ways that knitters can contribute of their time and talent.
I was thinking as I knit a few dishcloths for giving away this year the difference between knitting for those we know and those we don't.
One of the intended recipients of a dishcloth that I was working on happens to be a "modern" young woman (an old fashioned phrase, I know, but I can't think of another way to say it) I had found some unknown, unlabeled, cotton  in my stash that was a perfect match to her kitchen curtains, and short on time, I wanted to do something personal for her.
 I was thinking of her while I knit and it occurred to me, that unlike me, she mostly eats out, and if she rarely cooks, it would be to microwave something out of box, which she would serve most likely on a paper plate, or pop the dirty dish into the dishwasher.
 With this dawning realization, it occurred to me that she might not "get" her gift. Oh, maybe she might recognize it as a dishcloth, but probably not that it was handknit, in a special pattern and in yarn that matched her curtains, and I kind of doubted that she would immedietly recognize the scrubbing value and niceness of a handknit dishcloth.
For just a bit I set it aside and worked on something else.
I thought of all the knitted things that would suit her better, for which I had neither the time, the yarn nor the money.
And that is when I realized, that sometimes, knitting for someone else is just because you are thinking of them, and it doesn't have to "fit", it is the thought(s) that count, the loving thoughts of that person that are looped into each stitch, whether they know it or not.