Archives for posts with tag: buffalo

Congratulations to commenter #7, Flowox, who won the drawing for the buffalo fiber! She is a beginning spinner with both carders and a drop spindle to assist her. I’ll probably get the package in the mail next week–have fun with it!

For some reason, was really fond of the numbers 9 and 19, which it generated twice each (picking non-spinners Gleek and Hilary) before coming up with winning #7.

So I think I may have fixed the situation with my Butterick dress by sewing on some little lengthening pieces on the front and back waistlines. The print is probably busy enough that it won’t be too noticeable, particularly once the buttons are on to further disguise the area. Fingers crossed! I hope to have a nice summer sundress to show off soon. But to compensate, several more, non-dress-related frustrations have happened to me since my last post.

It’s still 80+ degrees here. To make matters worse, our AC broke, so my apartment has been sauna-like, at least 85 or 90 degrees, for the past couple of days. I set the thermostat to 50 degrees, and I think there may have actually been hot air coming out of the vents during the night, because it felt pleasant and refreshing to go outside in the 80-degree air when I left the house.

I went to knitting night last night (finally got the day right!) and had a great time, as usual, except for having to frog approximately 50 bazillion stitches of the lengthwise scarf I was knitting because I wasn’t paying attention and knit too many rows.

Afterwards, I went down to a local bar called Crazy Horse to meet up with Rahul and his business school friends–he’s graduating this Friday, so this weekend is all about the crazy blowout farewell parties–where he accidentally spilled an entire pitcher of beer down the backs of my legs and all over my knitting bag. While it was very wet and unpleasant, I think the knitting is OK, and the school paid for the beer. Silver linings!

And today, worst of all, I got stuck inside my house today and had to be rescued by the DHL delivery guy.

At least a week ago, our door swelled or the doorjamb shifted or something, and it’s now a total pain in the ass to open. The bottom part will move, but the top of the door is firmly wedged into the frame and sticks every time you try to open it. I called maintenance a few days ago to come and fix it, but they hadn’t gotten around to it yet. It hadn’t been a serious problem for the most part, but today was beyond the pale.

Normally, yanking violently on the door for about 30 seconds will do the trick, but I was inside for a good five or ten minutes using my entire weight to pull at the door handle, with one foot braced on the doorframe, rattling and cursing and shouting at the door to OPEN, GODDAMN IT. I got an iron spatula from the kitchen and tried to insert it between the door and the door jamb to pry it open, feeling increasingly panicked and claustrophobic from the 90-degree heat and the tantalizing sunlight shining through the tiny sliver at the base of the door…

I looked through the peephole and saw that the DHL delivery guy was picking some packages up from my neighbor.

“HEY! HEY!” I screamed through the door. “HEY! EXCUSE ME! Can you please help me open this door?”

“I was just about to offer,” he said, because he had probably been watching this door pulsating and hearing my screams of impotent rage for the entire time he had been standing there.

“OK, are you ready? Stand back!” he said, and with a mighty kick (or probably just a firm push–it’s much, much easier to push a door open than it is to pull it), the door finally swung open and I was free, free like a bird. A humiliated, weakling bird who can’t even open the door to her own house.

The maintenance guys apparently came by today to fix the AC, but they didn’t say if they’d fixed the door at the same time. If they haven’t yet, until they fix the door, I’m going to call the apartment leasing office people to drive out and open the door for me every time I need to get out of the house. That should be a good incentive for them to prioritize this in the maintenance queue.

I also just had a totally awkward experience in the cafe I’m sitting in. I was sitting here at this great corner window seat, doing work, minding my own business, when a mom, a dad, and their college-aged daughter came in and sat down at the table beside me, effectively fencing me in. They started discussing the daughter’s summer plans and it rapidly became a crazy family meltdown. Mom and Dad were yelling at the daughter and the daughter was sobbing and alternately putting her head down on the table in despair and yelling back at them. Topics included:

  • “You’d better come home for the summer unless you find a real summer job in Bloomington. And I don’t mean one of those 20-hour-a-week jobs, either.”
  • “I don’t care if you paid for a lease through August, you should have thought of that when you signed a 12-month lease.”
  • “How could you possibly have put 700 miles on the car in this town? Are you letting other people drive it?”
  • “I want to go to Boston over the summer. This guy I know from the J. Crew store said I could stay with him. His name is Jake. He has an apartment there. And he’s my age, so it’s OK, he’s not, like, some 25-year-old sleazebag.”
  • “Mom, Dad, oh my God, I’m, like, almost 20 years old! Don’t you trust me? What would I do at home, anyway?”

It was really awkward sitting there, and the mom kept glancing at me, but I felt like it would be even worse if I packed up all my stuff and left instead of pretending to be completely absorbed in my work and not noticing any of this. Not to mention I had the plum window seat and I didn’t want to be forced to abandon it because of their drama. Thankfully, they eventually got either tired or ashamed and left the cafe, and the person next to me is now peacefully reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

I was born on April 18, 1980, the 74th anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. This was also the date Paul Revere rode, the date Billy the Kid escaped from a jail in New Mexico, and the date Albert Einstein died.

Despite the fact that I’m far, far from home and major Pacific Rim fault lines, my first present of the day for my 28th birthday was a commemorative earthquake at 5:30 AM! A 5.2 earthquake centered about 100-odd miles southwest of here, in Illinois. I was asleep and registered it only as a huge, loud, scary noise that woke me up. Rahul said the ground was shaking, but I didn’t think there had been shaking, just a noise–I thought it was a tornado, to be honest, and eventually got up to look out the window for funnel clouds or toppled trees. I couldn’t get back to sleep for an hour or so, so I’m super tired now. Ugh.

I had other things to write about before the earthquake came and got in the way!

First: I finished the third variation, took pictures, and published the pattern for my The Water Is Wide scarf! Go take a look–it’s now available for sale through Ravelry! I also put up the non-outtake photos of the main scarf–a mini-tour of scenic spots on the IU Bloomington campus. I hemmed and hawed over the price for a bit on this one, since I think people might find it steep for a scarf pattern, but in the end, I think this is fair considering there are 3 (or 4) different reversible scarf patterns included in the price, and it’s more than just a stitch dictionary pattern applied to a rectangle.

Second: I didn’t enjoy spinning that second bag of buffalo down roving that much, so I would like to give the rest of it away to one lucky reader. I suspect you might enjoy spinning it more if you had some hand cards or a drum carder and could better prep the fiber, or blend it with some wool. I have about 35g left, a bit over half an ounce. If you’d like it, please comment on this post to let me know you’d like to enter in the fiber drawing. I will use a random number generator to pick a winner out of the comments a week from today, Friday, April 25 2008.

The bad news first: Rahul lost his Very Plain Hat at the Little 500 on Saturday. That was quick.

The good news:
I already spun up most of my fiber purchases from Saturday, and I am in looooove with the lac-dyed Corriedale. The buffalo, surprisingly, not so much. The second bag of it turned out to be less well-prepped. I was finding it really hard to spin and hairier than the first bag. So I’ve probably spun only about a quarter of the second ounce.

I haven’t checked out the WPI yet on either yarn (and I know my grist is not very even), but I’m guessing the buffalo is about a DK to worsted weight, mostly, a two-ply with a lot of twist. I was hoping for downy softness, but it has too much hair and VM to be really soft–perhaps a few hours picking stuff out of it will improve the feel of it. It might turn into mittens, combined with some green Cascade 220, or maybe with some gray handspun I have lying around. I haven’t decided yet. I have about 65 yards of it. You can see the lumps and bumps where I was having issues drafting the second bag of fiber.

I think the Corriedale is an aran to bulky weight. It’s a two-ply, spun much softer and bulkier than I usually spin, and it’s squooshy and plummy and gorgeous. Most of these pictures came out slightly too blue–the yarn has more red undertones. It took a lot of rinsing to get all the excess dye out, but I think it’s pretty clean now. It’s next-to-neck soft, and I have about 100 yards of it, so my plan to make a scarf out of it should work. Oh, and I soaked it in grapefruit Eucalan and it smells really delicious, too. Look at all these pictures. I love it!

Also, Knitting Daily has their Reader’s Choice awards posted. You can download 5 free patterns between now and Wednesday afternoon, so go get them while you can:

Cable-Down Raglan, by Stefanie Japel

Nantucket Jacket, by Norah Gaughan

Sunrise Circle Jacket, by Kate Gilbert

Tweedy Aran Cardigan, by Norah Gaughan

Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn A. Clark

I’ve knit two of these (the Sunrise Circle and the Swallowtail Shawl) and highly recommend both of them!


So we went to Tales of Hoffmann at the IU Opera Friday night, and sadly, it was not a resounding success. I looked up halfway through the first act, and Rahul and our friend Trevor were both fast asleep, not having been captivated by the singing, flying glow-in-the-dark wine and beer bottles, the song about a crippled dwarf, the manufacturer of magical eyes (yet another Blade Runner-ish element in this opera), or the tale of doomed man-robot love. Trevor left after the second act, and Rahul complained bitterly that I was making him stay for the entire opera. On the plus side, I enjoyed it, and I got to wear my Swallowtail Shawl, which I knit sometime last year and haven’t ever gotten a chance to wear since then. It’s Handmaiden Sea Silk in “Forest,” one skein, and is fastened with a beautiful Perl Grey shawl pin from Robynn. Afterwards, we went to a couple of local bars (Bear’s Place and the Root Cellar at FARM) to meet up with friends.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I met up with Kalani, Nicole, Leigh, and Norma at the Sample Gates, and we drove about an hour northwest, for a field trip to The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN. It was so much fun!

We saw a sign for Live Nude Bait on the way. (also gold panning and cigarettes!)

The weather was somewhat cold (around 40 degrees) and rainy, but thankfully a lot of the fair was indoors, and all of it was at least under a roof of some kind.

We saw some sheep being sheared!

One of the more experienced shearers was teaching a woman how to shear sheep, grabbing a sheep and flipping it over onto its back in one deft motion, like a judo master.

sheep rush

He righted it again and when it was his student’s turn, the sheep did not want to be turned over. It dug in its heels and resisted.

resisting sheep

Mostly, though, once the sheep were upended, they lay there quietly as the electric clippers buzzed.

Inside the fair, there were piles and piles of raw fleeces and rovings all over, and skeins of hand-dyed yarns dangling from hooks or piled in bins.

We saw fluffy angora bunnies:

We made friends with alpacas and llamas:

Doesn’t this one look like it’s on the red carpet at an awards show?

I’m actually sort of afraid to take pictures of llamas, particularly flash photos. They always stare at me intensely and put back their ears, and I’m afraid they’re going to spit at any minute.

We saw this antique New England braiding machine (from the 1800s, but I forget exactly when–1816, maybe?) whirring around. On a related topic, apparently there’s going to be a conference for owners of antique sock knitting machines, this June, in Nashville, IN. I see people using these around town every so often, at fiber arts events or in the yarn shop. They seem like fun.

We saw Kalani’s Shibuiknits patterns for sale at one booth, and thought she should surreptitiously autograph them and put them back on the rack. Here’s the famous designer herself, posing with her patterns!

I saw this sort of creepy-looking needle-felted creature–not sure if it’s a bear or a dog. The sign says: “Hello, My name is Secret. I’m named Secret because I have a secret. It is up to you to figure out what it is. You may have to pick me up to find out. Good luck!”

When you pick it up, the secret is that there is a smaller needle-felted creature embedded in Secret’s ass.

We ran into Elli, from our knitting group, and Wendie, who lives up in Indy. I was looking at a sign on a table and a woman there said “Excuse me, are you Huan-Hua?” Startled, I said yes, and she introduced herself as Holly, one of my test knitters for the Botany Baby Sweater! I saw Suzanne, who runs one of the yarn shops in town, and Diane, another spinner and knitter from Bloomington, and met an indie dyer I’d seen posting on Ravelry.

Here’s a group picture we took outside:

From left to right: Nicole, me, Kalani, Leigh, Norma, and Elli. Leigh is clutching a large ball of roving. She bought two balls of roving. The funny thing about that is that she doesn’t spin. (Yet.)

Here’s an equally important group purchase picture–the trunk of Nicole’s car, packed full of our purchases for the day.

Here’s what I ended up buying:

A skein of golden-orange Creatively Dyed Yarn, fingering weight. You can get her yarns at the Loopy Ewe, too. The label says it’s color number Gras #102, 100% superwash merino wool, approximately 500 yards. It’s a four-ply, low-twist yarn and will probably become lace of some kind. However, I’m not sure if it’s correctly labeled–it really doesn’t look like superwash merino to me, as it has a bit of a halo and shine that suggests alpaca or mohair. It also gave Leigh instant pricklies when she held it against her neck, suggesting it’s probably one of those fibers, not just wool. Or it might be a longwool sheep–I think she said it was “Wensleydale merino”–Wensleydale and Merino are two different breeds of sheep, as far as I know, but if it’s pure Wensleydale or a blend, that would explain the shine (it’s a luster longwool breed) and texture.

I got 4 oz. each of some naturally dyed rovings from Handspun by Stefania. I got stuck in this stall for probably half an hour, full of indecision–should I get indigo-dyed Jacob? Cochineal-dyed handspun? A handspun mitten kit containing fluffy white Great Pyrenees dog fur? I thought their prices were really good for handspun–$35 for a handspun mitten kit.

I finally settled on Corriedale dyed in lac (the bug that gave lacquer and shellac their names)–the base wool is a mixture of gray, black, and white, which is what gives the roving that range of dark to light purples:

and also a Corriedale-silk blend dyed in cochineal, madder, and Osage:

But my prize find was 2 oz. of buffalo down for $5 an ounce! I saw it elsewhere at the fair for $18 an ounce, and even that was apparently a bargain, since they’re selling it online for about $25$40 an ounce. I haven’t seen a lot of guard hairs in it, though there is a pretty good amount of wood and burrs. It’s from Jehovah Jireh Farm. I was also tempted by some gorgeous, autumnal-colored roving, a sample of which you can see on the right in the first picture, $12 for 8 oz. of a 50-50 wool-alpaca blend, if I remember right. But I stupidly repacked my bag before leaving and left my checkbook at home, and only had $25 in cash, so I was prevented from buying from a lot of the vendors, including this one–the buffalo plus alpaca-wool would have decimated my cash supplies, so I stuck to just the buffalo in the end.

Thing is, I hadn’t touched my wheel in months, so I felt really guilty about buying new roving and I was determined to turn at least some of my fiber into yarn before the day was out. And I did it! I must be the world’s slowest spinner–it took me about 2 hours to spin one ounce of buffalo fiber. It wasn’t the easiest fiber to spin, because it pulls apart into fluff really easily when you try to draft it, so before I got the hang of it, I was breaking it about every 30 seconds. It’s still awfully uneven, but I’m hoping it will improve once it’s plied.

But here are the fruits of my labor:

A very high-twist single in order to keep the fiber together, as fine as I could get it without breaking the fiber as I spun (not that fine, really, probably a little lighter than fingering weight), to be plied and made into who knows what at the end. I hope it fluffs up at the end, when it’s plied and set–I have a tendency to overspin and produce kind of ropy yarn. I’ll probably have some tiny amount of yarn at the end, 25 yards or something, but hey. It will be handspun buffalo down yarn!

I also went home with a major yarn crush on Briar Rose Fibers, but was so overwhelmed with the beautiful selection that I ended up not buying anything. Thankfully, they also sell their yarns online and go to a lot of different fiber fairs around the Midwest, so it wasn’t my last chance–I can think of an actual project to make and buy an appropriate yarn and amount based on that, instead of wildly snatching up everything from their entire booth like I had wanted to.

I also fell in love with Sea Silk in Peridot, a color I’d seen pictures of online and suspected I would like. I did. A lot. I’m not sure sea green and silver are great colors for me, but who cares? SO PRETTY. Again, though, it’s available online, so I can wait.

Before I forget, too, I took some experimental videos with my digital camera at the event. Flickr just started offering free video hosting, so here are the videos! I don’t think I can embed them, since I’m using free hosting on WordPress, so you’ll have to click through. Sheep shearing, and sheep waiting to be sheared. Turn up the sound–the main reason I took these was to capture the hilarious bleats and yells from the sheep waiting to be sheared.