Archives for posts with tag: point reyes

So before I go on to talk about some more spinning stuff, I’d like to ask you to take a look at my friend Fee’s new Etsy shop,, to see if anything catches your eye. As she blogged about here, her husband, who is only 35 years old, recently discovered that he has a tumor in his colon and will need to have an operation very soon to have it removed. They’re still waiting to hear about whether it’s malignant, and her friends in the Bloomington knitting community are all wishing the best for them. Fee opened up her Etsy shop to raise money for medical bills, so I wanted to help spread the word… she currently has some very nice original artwork (some knitting-related!), a knitting pattern, and a handknit cowl for sale. I hope you see something in her shop you might like.

Anyway, far off in Madison, I’ve been spinning and spinning. When I went to California over the summer, my dad and stepmom and I had a really wonderful day in Point Reyes–we saw fawns and tiny songbirds in the marsh, and had the good fortune to watch a whale playing in the waves, very close by, for probably a good hour. In Point Reyes Station, we stopped in at Black Mountain Weavers, where I bought a 3 oz. bump of locally dyed mohair-wool roving. It was all kinds of colors all carded together, and I was very curious to see how it would spin up; the base color was a warm mahogany brown, but shot through with streaks of bright red and blue and yellow and purple.

As it turned out, it was fun to spin–the fibers were slightly coarse and drafted smoothly with just a little coaxing. It spun up into a really interesting tweed with a lot of visual depth. (I’m taking Abby’s definition, because she’s the expert, but it doesn’t have neps/flecks in it, so I would have called it more of a heather.) From far away, it reads as brown:

When you look a little closer, though, you can see the streaks of brighter colors in the yarn. Mohair takes dye really well, and I’m assuming the really shiny bright colors are from the mohair part of the blend:

Here’s a picture of the singles on the bobbin.

It’s about 12-13 wpi, so more or less a sport weight yarn, with a shiny, slightly fuzzy surface. I treated this as an experimental sampler, so most of this is spun worsted, short forward draw, but other parts are spun over the fold or long draw. It’s about 136 yards total. (Honestly, I don’t quite understand how people can charge so little when they sell their handspun! Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but it takes me hours to spin up even this much yarn, and it’s not a large amount.)

Also, I think I discovered what kind of spinning wheel I have! I bought it used at Yarns Unlimited–someone was selling a couple of old spinning wheels, but the shop owners didn’t know that much about them. A patron at the shop told me she thought it was an Ashford Wee Peggy, but I think that’s just based on the fact that it’s a castle wheel. When you look closely, it doesn’t look too much like the wheel in the photos on that page.

However, browsing through that page about New Zealand-built spinning wheels, this castle wheel, by H. H. Napier/Glenfield Industries, caught my eye. It says this type of wheel was made on Auckland’s North Shore in the 1960s. Look at this and compare the shape and placement of the mother-of-all, treadle, legs, etc., even the spokes on the wheel. Doesn’t it look just like mine? I love the fact that his initials are H. H. too.

It doesn’t help me too much with the things I was wondering about–where to get extra bobbins, for example. I have two bobbins and one of them has a pretty small whorl, so it spins at a fairly high ratio (good for finer yarns) and gets less use than the slower bobbin. I’d like at least one more larger bobbin–actually, I would really like to have at least four bobbins so I can do a three-ply easily, but judging by the paucity of information on the internet about this wheel, I don’t think I’m going to have too much luck with finding extras. I’m also mildly curious about how much my wheel is worth, in case I decide to trade it in one day for a wheel with easily available spare parts.

More stuff in my setup: You can see my orifice hook dangling from the wheel in the picture above. I use a Dritz loop turner for the purpose and I love it–it has a little latch over the hook that works perfectly for grabbing onto the leader. Also, I just put on a new drive band, made of a long strand of Plymouth Encore tied in three places. I read somewhere that jelly yarns make nice drive bands, so maybe one of these days I’ll try that out.

I own one spinning book: Maggie Casey’s Start Spinning. I also checked out the Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning and Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning from the library. Of the three, I think Teach Yourself Visually is my favorite; in addition to the absolute basics about wheel and spindle spinning (like in the Maggie Casey book, which is an excellent introduction to spinning), it gets into some slightly more advanced (but still practical) information–construction of novelty yarns using different plying effects, and appropriate methods for spinning different types of fibers, like cotton, vicuna, and angora. Alden Amos is amusingly opinionated, kind of the Elizabeth Zimmermann of spinning, but the book gets very technical about things like mathematically figuring out slippage percentages in a double drive wheel system–not the type of information I personally was looking for, but great for a certain very select audience.

(Actually, I have a note to add: after reading some of the reviews of the Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning book, I’m starting to doubt whether it’s a good source of information. Since I haven’t compared all the different types of wheels personally, or tried the methods the author suggests for certain types of spinning, I can’t speak to those criticisms personally, but one of those negative reviewers seems pretty knowledgeable and pretty certain about what’s wrong with the book.)

I took a refreshing few weeks off from the powerful lure of the Internet and now I’m just a wee bit overwhelmed with trying to catch up with work, seeing what’s happened in blogland, and trying to pack up my house.

I battled food poisoning of some sort (probably brought on by eating too much kebab at a really great Afghan restaurant my parents took me to), finished the Loquat Shawl with one day to go, and tried to model it during a crazy heat wave–my dad said it was 107 degrees where they live.

My camera didn’t like the light and the pictures didn’t come out that great, but they’ll have to do.

I fulfilled my bridesmaidly obligations–fetched and carried, walked down the aisle, did my toast, and toted a Maid of Honor Emergency Kit around with me everywhere. A word of advice to any other first-time bridesmaids–everybody wanted safety pins for one thing or another; they will be the most useful thing in your purse. The groom needed one for his boutonniere, one of the wedding guests needed one because her dress started to come apart during the reception, etc.
Other things in the emergency kit, most of which were useful at some point:

  • ibuprofen
  • Pepto-Bismol tablets
  • bobby pins
  • Kleenex
  • baby wipes
  • granola bar

I wish I’d had bug spray, too, because the mosquitoes were out in force, but this is not something that will be applicable to most other weddings.

The wedding was beautiful, a 70-person affair in a little wooden chapel by a mountain lake. It was small, short, informal, and intimate, in stark contrast to the grand party of multiple ceremonies and costume changes at the wedding I went to the previous weekend. The cabin where we were staying didn’t have electricity or potable water and was only accessible by boat, so there were some good times after the rehearsal dinner when the boat motor broke down and the 8 people in the boat took turns rowing across the lake by moonlight (we were saved after 45 minutes by a neighbor who came by and gave us a tow). Thank God it was informal, and that my hair is pretty low-maintenance, because there was no real opportunity to iron my clothes or blow-dry my hair before the ceremony.

I slept in a sleeping bag in the cabin attic with the mice, and ran down the granite slope to swim in the clear, cold lake the morning of the wedding.

Sarah ended up wearing the shawl during the reception, not during the ceremony. We danced in a meadow and ate olallieberry pies and her dearest wish was fulfilled when we set up a fight in the meadow, complete with hats and lasso and fake gun, between a Viking and a cowboy. She watched her sister (in a cowboy hat) roping her uncle (in a Viking helmet) and turned to her mother-in-law and said, “This is just how I always imagined my wedding day would be.”

It was lots of fun–how all weddings should be.

So, aside from that, I saw family and friends (between the wedding and family visits, I somehow ran out of time and didn’t get to meet up with everyone I had hoped to see) and got to go play in the Bay Area a little bit. The best part was when my parents and I went up to Point Reyes and, while we were walking on the beach, saw a humpback whale frolicking in the water! It was out there for a long time, so we saw its tail and back and face and lots of puffs from its blowhole. Plus we saw pelicans, spotted fawns eating grass in the marsh, turkey vultures, egrets, various little birds, and what was possibly a seal turning around in the waves.

After that initial terrible heat wave, the Bay Area spent the rest of my visit living up to Mark Twain’s adage “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”–I was freezing most of the rest of the time I was there, as the temperature hovered around 60 or below, with chill winds whipping in from off the Bay. But I did some of my favorite things–I saw friends and family, went to Thai Temple, Chez Panisse, the Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley Bowl, the Ashby Flea Market, Stonemountain and Daughter, and a pub quiz at the Missouri Lounge.

I finished a Branching Out scarf for Molly in the llama yarn I got from Yellow Wood Llamas, and we spent a craft-shopping day at Lacis, General Bead and Artfibers, topped off with yummy crepes from Ti Couz. (This was the only day I actually made it into the city the whole time I was back home.) I did stop off at the new yarn shop in my old neighborhood, K2tog, but only for a few minutes while I waited for Molly (sorry, Kristen, I was going to look you up but didn’t have time!). I got fabulous but expensive Japanese stitch dictionaries (one knit, one crochet) at Lacis, some earring supplies and vintage blue glass buttons at General Bead, and some more Kyoto (the glowing red color) and Golden Chai (a silvery gold color) and yarntastings at Artfibers.

Back at home again now; in the last week, I sewed a dress and a shirt from Simplicity 3835, the ubiquitous Built by Wendy pattern, spent a long day helping our friends Steve and Jeanne move out and clean their place, packed some stuff, made a yummy beet and tempeh salad, and went on a 25-mile bike ride along beautiful, empty rural roads to Unionville and back… that was a heavenly morning; the sun was shining but not too hot, blue and white flowers were blooming in the meadows, the corn was high and green, the roads were empty and filled with the sounds of birdsong and cicadas. Aside from one giant hill and a time when I lost balance while getting started and very slowly fell off my bike and bruised my hand, the ride was easy and stress-free. (There were a few places where Rahul said dogs like to come out and chase you, but we didn’t see any this time, thankfully.)

I’m looking forward to coming back to Thursday knit night this week, and I hope to have some time to put up pictures of the llama scarf and my Built by Wendy FO’s–the dress I made from blue striped shirting is very uniform-like and I’m not sure how to fix it, but perhaps I’ll have some adornment ideas soon. I may have to consider the blue version my muslin, and make it again with a cuter fabric, like Mari’s. It came out pretty well overall, though–i.e. it fits and I didn’t make any really horrible mistakes! And it has pockets. I strongly approve of pockets in a dress.