Archives for posts with tag: spinning

I demonstrated drop spindling with my Turkish spindles at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival this weekend for the third year running. Many adorable alpacas to look at, as usual–even a few that submitted to light cuddling–but the crowd seemed decidedly sparser than in past years. It was nice that I got a lot more time this year to talk to and teach each individual person who came by, but it was surprising. Maybe the great alpaca pyramid scheme is finally starting to crumble.

Best quotes of the weekend:
“Oh, the lady who made it isn’t here? Well, can’t you sell it to me while she’s gone? I’d pay, like, $25 for it.” –young blonde fashionista who wanted to buy a white pure alpaca handknit lace cowl being displayed in the fiber demo area–the Flared Lace Smoke Ring pattern, if I’m not mistaken, worked in a heavier yarn

“I don’t know if I can do this drop spindling thing. It looks fun, but my cats would go crazy for it. (Pause.) I have eight of them.” –a nice lady keeping those crazy crafter lady stereotypes alive and well

“But the wood just feels so good!” “That’s what she said!” –an exchange between fiber demonstrators following the most (inadvertently) suggestive nøstepinde-fondling I have ever seen in my life or ever hope to see

And here are a few photos:
Well-dressed man leading cranky alpaca:

Ooh, topical!



Me in action! Note I’m wearing a goofy novelty t-shirt from the neighboring stall. It says “Suri.” I want my entire wardrobe to consist of novelty alpaca gear someday. A few other items I liked: a baseball cap that said “SPIT DEFLECTION UNIT,” another that said “No spitting below the red line” (with red line drawn just above the brim of the cap), a t-shirt saying “Beans there, dung that!” with a picture of alpaca poop and a smiling alpaca, thong underwear saying “ORGLE ORGLE ORGLE.” Oh, and a shirt that was basically Three Wolf Moon except with a trio of alpacas.

There was also a breeder called Green Bay Alpacas!!!! I can’t tell you how badly I wanted a green and yellow t-shirt with their logo.

And I didn’t see this at the show, but found it online just now. Look out, Sartorialist, I’m coming to getcha.

You may have gotten to the end of this post and wondered what the “grass mud horse” bit was all about. Here you go. I found out the other day that alpacas are apparently a symbol of resistance to Chinese internet censorship! Love it. My Suri shirt is now a protest shirt.

Also, I’ll be in Boston and New York for the next two weeks or so. Is there any exciting crafty stuff I should check out while I’m here?

Alpaca time!

I’m going to be demonstrating drop spindle spinning at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival again this year (look, I’m on their webpage now!) I had a great time last year and although I’ve been doing way more knitting than spinning in the last six months, I plan to bring my family of Jenkins Turkish Spindles to entice people into spinning. (How ’bout that referral program, Wanda?) Because so many people asked me about my spindle last year, I think I might make up some cards to give away with spinning info/resources:

Anything I’m forgetting that would be helpful?

Anyway, if you happen to be at the festival browsing for alpacas that day, please stop by and say hi 🙂

This morning I woke up late to an empty house. The weather outside was classic autumn weather, cool, gray, drizzly. As I made my coffee, even with the windows closed, I could hear the lion at the zoo roaring from about half a mile away. Auuu–auuu–auuur. It was a strange, sad, peculiar sound, coming over the blazing yellow treetops, over the hills and houses and neatly raked leaves. Inside, the infestation of ladybugs continued, and the lion’s roaring was punctuated with the tinny tapping of ladybugs buzzing against the lightbulbs and windows.

It’s been a beautiful weekend so far. On Friday night, we headed out to the High Noon Saloon, where the Halloween concert was one of the best I’ve been to in the past few years, and the costumes made it even more fun.

Here are two of the winners of the costume contest. I love that Beaker outfit.

I started out in the beard hat, but eventually got too hot and put on the kitty hat instead. Rahul wore a ski mask topped with a trucker hat. Here we are with a couple of friends–they are dressed as a witch and what I thought must be some European soccer player but is in fact “a bunch of things I found at Walgreens.”

The lineup (local bands pretending to be other bands):

We arrived around 8:45, during the Low Czars’ set as The Kinks. They did a fantastic job–very tight, lots of energy, and they dressed up nicely. I was impressed with the fake gap the lead singer put between his front teeth to impersonate Ray Davies.

Next up were the appropriately nerdy band The Shabelles as Weezer clones “The Buddy Hollys.” They played lots of my favorites from the blue album, and their pigtailed female lead singer took the place of Rivers Cuomo.

Apparently Nothing played Nirvana. They were a kick! The lead singer had this ridiculous fake-looking shiny blond wig on to play Kurt Cobain, and the classic grunge outfit as well. They played 99% of Nevermind (skipping “Polly”) and their set featured some guest appearances from Courtney Love and a crowdsurfing Zombie Kurt Cobain.

Tangy played as “Manchester United,” covering songs from the Manchester 80s and 90s music scenes: The Stone Roses (I was thrilled by this, they’re one of my favorite bands) and Oasis. They claimed they’d play The Smiths, too, but I don’t remember hearing any Smiths songs. I was a bit distracted, though, because their guitarist thought it would be a great idea to toss soccer balls into the audience, so I ended up mainly paying attention to the rambunctious soccer game in front of the stage so I wouldn’t end up with a ball to the face, or with someone’s drink spilled all over me.

Last up were The Gomers as Spinal Tap. They set it up so their drummer “died” between the songs! I was kind of hoping they would lower themselves onto the stage in big pods, but I guess logistics didn’t allow for this. It was after 2 AM by this time, and I’d started the complaining-nonstop-about-my-feet portion of the evening, so we left partway through their set. Here are the Gomers. (Most of my other concert pictures didn’t come out very well.)

The next day, I was up bright and early (well, at 9 AM; that’s early considering I went to bed at 3) for OMG A FIBER FEST!!!11!!!!1

The Wisconsin Spin-In was nearly 2 hours away. Mary’s Hindi teacher kindly offered to drive, since he wanted to check out the charkha selection–we’d been teaching his daughter to spindle and wheel spin; being Indian, he had spun on a charkha in school, and was thinking of getting her one so she could try it as well. I guess the charkha thing didn’t work out (apparently even the best, top of the line charkhas in India top out around $75, while the cheapest one at the show was the Babe’s Fiber Garden Liten Spindle and cost around $120). They did get some other fun stuff, though, like some sparkly pink roving and lavender soap.

In a curious juxtaposition for a charkha-shopping trip, there was a gun show located next door. I was curious about it, but ultimately didn’t end up going.

Here’s the Spin-In marketplace:

My excellent companions:

Some stressed-out alpacas, who spent the whole show making urgent humming noises, biting each other, and putting their ears back:

And last but not least, an overview of my amazing haul. I thought I’d have kind of a remorseful shopping hangover this morning from buying too much, but when I woke up, I still felt really excited about each and every one of these purchases, and looking forward to using all of them. Click through to the Flickr page to see annotations of the photo listing what the various goodies are.

Particularly exciting finds (well, all of it is exciting, but a couple of things to call your attention to): the Spinner’s Control Card, which I balked a bit at first at paying money for (it’s just a little piece of acrylic, and I found out it’s $1 cheaper from the same vendor online!) but I love it already. It would be easy to make as a DIY project, if you’re willing to put some work into it. Basically, it’s a clear piece of plastic with lines on it corresponding to a wpi measurement. You can just lay your yarn over the card every so often as you’re spinning and compare it to the thickness of the lines to make sure your grist is consistent. It’s faster and easier than doing the WPI “the proper way,” so it’s really good for just checking quickly on your yarn every now and then.

And the Bosworth Mini spindle in the middle of the picture. It’s a lovely piece of work, rim-weighted, with the grain of the dark wood showing through clear and beautiful. It’s made from Morado, and weighs 22 grams/0.77 oz. I love spinning on the wheel, so I wouldn’t have bought this, except that I heard through the grapevine that Jonathan and Sheila Bosworth will be retiring soon, and their spindles (widely considered to be top of the line, the creme de la creme of spindles) will soon be very scarce in supply and high in demand. I told myself that if I ever did become a spindle spinner at some point in the future, I’d really kick myself for having the chance to buy a Bosworth spindle and not doing it–and with the quality and reputation of the product, I shouldn’t have any problems unloading it for retail or near-retail value in the future if I changed my mind.

As it turns out, this spindle may have converted me to spindling (at least for fine yarns). I’m having a great time spinning the lustrous raspberry-colored Corriedale-silk from Handspun by Stefania. Spinning on this spindle is a wonderful, a real pleasure–it spins fast and stabilizes quickly, and it cheers me up just to look at the beautiful wood as I wind on the singles. I wonder if I should have bought more of them. Maybe three of them. (What do you think, Mary?)

Sooo… fiber fest over, I headed home and Rahul and I went out to the Halloween Freakfest party on State Street (infamous for the rioting, mayhem, and tear gas in previous years) but decided to skip the $10 admission fee and just people-watch from the perimeter for a while.

On the way home, just two blocks from our house, we saw a couple of young guys going from car to car, accompanied by the sound of broken glass. “Are those guys breaking into those cars?” I asked and Rahul biked up to see. I looped around and came back–they were still heading up the street and I could see that they were carrying drumsticks and apparently banging on the passenger side of the cars. “Hey! What the hell are you doing?” I yelled.

“Don’t worry about it,” yelled back one of the guys, and fixed me with an intense stare. I got kind of scared and biked away to find Rahul, who had vanished in the meantime. I found him around the corner, calling the police. Unfortunately, by the time he got off the line and we went back around the corner, the two vandals had run away. We went to take a closer look and it seemed like they hadn’t actually broken windows, but had broken or broken off a number of side view mirrors and dented car doors with their stupid drumsticks. I just hope one day those two morons find themselves having to file an insurance claim for property damage. Scratch that, I hope they find themselves having to pay out of pocket for bodywork as many times as the number of cars they thoughtlessly damaged last night for fun. If only I’d had my camera with me!

“What do we want?”


“When do we want them?”


This was the rousing call to undead political action that echoed through the streets of Madison, Wisconsin last Saturday at the 2008 Zombie Lurch. Like dead rights activist Reg Shoe, whose livejournal can be read here, these fine members of the postmortem population were lurching for zombie rights (and delectable brains.)

We stopped by to see them and saw an impressive zombie “Thriller” synchronized dance routine:

The zombies included hikers who had met with some kind of unfortunate ancient evil on their backpacking trip, a scientist who had been bitten by a rabid possum, and a zombie holding a “Zombies for McCain” sign–unfortunately, I didn’t get close-ups of most of them.

Check out the zombie biker at the left of this photo:

A neuroscientist was monitoring the situation while protesting zombie brain waste:

Local news story here, youtube photo montage with excellent soundtrack choice here. (You can see the top of my head (in turquoise bike helmet) in the foreground at 1:36. I’m faaaamous!)

The zombies started at the Capitol building and lurched down the main drag, State Street, until they reached the university. Every so often, the calls of “BRAAAAAINS” would be interrupted by a moan of “BUUUUSSSS,” and the seemingly chaotic mob of zombies would flow smoothly over to one side of the street to let the bus go by.

A woman standing outside Ben and Jerry’s said to me in a puzzled, wondering tone, “What would ever possess a group of people to get together and do something like this?”

Whatever the reasons–delicious brains, camaraderie, Halloween, a sense of humor, raising awareness of Election Day next Tuesday–it was fun! Our friends Steve and Jeanne were visiting us over the weekend, and even their dog Nola got into the undead act:

Back in the land of the living, here’s what’s on my needles (STILL Flicca: I’m perhaps 1/3 of the way through the sleeves now, and then I’ll have to set them in and knit the collar and front bands. This cardigan is taking forever):

And here’s what’s on my wheel:
3.5 beautiful ounces of hand-painted merino in “Tapestry” from my new favorite Etsy seller, Bee Mice Elf. I’m currently trying to produce soft, thick, knittable, self-striping singles, but I have a tendency to spin too fine:

She also sent along this little sample with my order:

It’s the same stuff I spun up for my Quantette, and I also spun up some of her merino in the “Early Drop” colorway last month–spun over the fold for extra bounce, and twisted into a two-ply:

She doesn’t have too much listed in her shop at the moment, but you can special order a 4 oz. braid of any of her fall/winter color collections anytime, and they’re all totally gorgeous. I think the Quiet collection is my favorite, particularly Pensive Plum.

The Urban and Coastal collections aren’t up on her photostream yet, but you can see them in her sold items by clicking through those links.

Look at this great poster I found linked on the Malabrigo Junkies ravelry group a few days ago:


So we had an excellent time yesterday spinning. I loved Mary’s Turkish spindles–two normal-sized, one tiny and adorable, all from Jenkins–they are beautifully turned, spin fast and smooth, and make a centerpull ball when you’re done, ready for plying! Rosemary Knits made a clever homemade version using Brio Mec construction toys.

Along with spindles and tons of fiber to share, Mary brought along some delicious homemade samosas with 4 kinds of homemade chutney (mint, cilantro, tamarind, and tomato) and yogurt!

Her friend’s daughter brought chocolate chip cookies to share and exuberance and energy to spare. Her 5th-grade art class sounds pretty great: apparently they’ve been wet-felting llama fiber and dyed sheep’s wool, and talking about natural dyeing with onion skins, etc.

We all took turns with spinning on the 2 different kinds of spindle and wheel. I can’t say that the Jelly Yarns drive band worked very well with my wheel, unfortunately–it would start out nice and tight, but kept stretching and popping off after a minute or two of picking up speed. Perhaps I didn’t tie the knots right… I was never a Girl Scout, and have likely missed out forever on valuable knot-tying and cookie-selling skills.

In any case, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning!

Rahul and I went for a nice bike ride in the Arboretum later. The leaves are starting to turn, and thinking about all the beautiful Autumn colors around me, I’m eagerly awaiting my next Sundara Seasons shipment, sock yarn in a color called Roasted Persimmon over Green Papaya–the color looks pretty different in all the photos I’ve seen so far and I really want to see how it looks in person.

In the afternoon, I spun up some yarn: a magenta-purple chunk of a Miss Babs BFL batt Mary shared with me. I loved it–the fiber was so fluffy and light and nicely prepped, it spun like a dream. I Navajo-plied it today and it’s hanging in the bathroom to set the twist–I wound up with about 60ish yards of DK/worsted weight from 1.5 oz of fiber.

And yesterday evening we had a truly remarkable coincidence.

To preface this, on Thursday, we’d gone to a dinner outing at Africana arranged via a new Livejournal group for Madison-area foodies. (When I sat down, the woman sitting next to me asked if I was on Ravelry! She’s a knitter too and recognized my name.)

Last night, we went to the Magnetic Fields concert at the Overture Center–fun, if perhaps a bit heavy on the Gothic novelty songs and short on the yearning, bittersweet, melancholy songs I like best. Though they did play a really nice version of “Take Ecstasy with Me” from Holiday, one of my favorite albums.

As we were leaving the concert, Rahul noticed that two of the women from the Madison foodies group (the Raveler and her roommate) were leaving the concert as well, so we biked up and said hi. We talked to them for a few minutes, then their companion introduced herself, and it turned out she had gone to junior high with Rahul! This was in a town of 35,000, in Southern Missouri, almost 500 miles away–it’s not as though they had both gone to school nearby in Wisconsin or something. Totally wild.

The last big excitement for the weekend (barring anything unexpected and really great happening tonight) was that we went to a restaurant called Yen Ching this morning for their Sunday dim sum. I don’t even really know if you’d call it dim sum, since it’s more Northern-style breakfast foods, but I loved it and it reminded me strongly of home–they had much better food, in my opinion, than Hong Kong Cafe, which is unfortunate since the latter is just around the corner from us.

My favorite of everything we got was the sweet soy milk with you tiu, which translates literally to “oil sticks”–I think they called them crullers on the menu. It shouldn’t be hard to make, but I’ve been to plenty of restaurants where they burned the soy milk or gave you an impossibly tiny portion. The worst offender served it in a mug. In my opinion, properly made, it should be a huge, steaming-hot bowl of sweet and slightly fragrant soy milk without a trace of bitterness or burned/smoky flavor, with hot, crisp, freshly fried you tiu to break into little pieces and dunk into the bowl. You spoon them up after letting them soak up the soy milk for a moment, and they’re wonderfully juicy and soft. Yen Ching did it perfectly. The you tiu were crisp, so fresh out of the fryer that they burned my fingers when I broke them into pieces, and the soy milk was delicious and came in a very generous portion.

We also tried steamed pork buns (plain pork, not the barbecued pork you would expect in a Cantonese-style restaurant), har gao (a little surprising in a Northern-style restaurant, I guess, but very well done–the shrimp tasted fresh and sweet, and the skin was delicate), won ton soup, steamed buns, fried buns (to my surprise, these were essentially the steamed buns, sliced and deep-fried and sprinkled with sugar, a bit like rusks, not at all what I was expecting), and siu mai. Aside from the steamed and fried buns, where our problems could be attributed to user error in ordering, I had no complaints about any of it; I really enjoyed the meal.

If I haven’t been eaten by ladybugs in my sleep, hopefully I’ll actually have some pretty pictures of craft-related content to show next time. Have a lovely, lovely Sunday!

(Edited to add: I wrote earlier and then apparently accidentally deleted a small saga about the ladybugs invading our house. Hence the closing ladybug comment, which I just realized makes no sense without the preceding ladybug story. I removed about 20 ladybugs from our living room yesterday and around 15 today. They’re EVERYWHERE! All I can say is I’m glad they’re ladybugs and not roaches or centipedes.)

My parents (Dad and stepmom) came to visit me in Madison! Now they’re in Chicago (or possibly on their way back to CA by now). I miss them! It was kind of a whirlwind, last-minute, chaotic kind of trip, but we managed to fit in a good trip to the St. Vincent de Paul Dig ‘n’ Save, where you buy clothes for $1.00 a pound and junk for 35 cents a pound. Rahul and I had a great trip there before where I came away with a ton of good stuff–among other things, a really cute boiled wool rust-and-green colorwork jacket, a Brooks Brothers seersucker skirt, an adorable Vera Bradley zippered pouch with tiny owls on it.

This time around I found a trove of cute patterns from the 70s and 80s, including this one, Simplicity 4867–how awesome is the top right view? It reminds me very much of wikstenmade’s beautiful Tova top (right down to the similarity of the model’s hairstyle to Jenny’s!) Also Butterick 4631, a collection of yoked peasant tops with pockets. This one, Simplicity 5497, is very, very dated, but the asymmetrical ruffled button front seems like it might have potential. I couldn’t find the last one online (McCall’s 4866), but it includes a very cute dress and blouse with mandarin collar and round pintucked, button-up yoke.

I also got a brown leather Fossil/Relic purse in pretty good condition, and a blouse that turned out to be a little too small. The purse + shirt + 4 patterns cost me $1.35!

Anyway, although my parents have left, I have plenty of stuff coming up this next week to distract me. Mary and I are going to teach her Hindi teacher’s kid to spin Saturday morning (she’s 8 years old and wants to learn to spin cotton on a charkha! and weave! just like Grandma!) and then Rahul and I are seeing the Magnetic Fields on Saturday night. My uncle will be in town next week, as will an old friend from Berkeley, though both are here for conferences and I don’t know how much time they’ll have to spend on social events. Monday night is also the next meeting of the Madison Knitters’ Guild and Vivian Høxbro is coming to speak; I think I might go and see her.

Other crap: I’ve finished the back and one front of Flicca. Still no pictures, though.

This fake A-Ha video made my day: Band montage!

In response to my blog post mentioning that I’d heard Jelly Yarns make good drive bands for spinning wheels, I got a free sample to try out. Isn’t that nice of them? I’m looking forward to giving it a spin.

And my parents said they kept wondering when I was going to post something about the election. Well, there are other venues that do the ranting better (how could I even scratch the surface of this whole Sarah Palin debacle?) so for the most part I leave the political talk out of here, but I did want to share this story that I saw for the first time recently: McCain calls his captors “gooks” and refuses to apologize. (On the topic of Vietnam PTSD, did you know he also addressed a crowd recently as “my fellow prisoners” rather than “my fellow citizens,” and didn’t seem to notice the slip-up?)

Guy Aoki, the president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, sums it up pretty well, I think: “If Sen. McCain had been captured by Nigerians, could he call those people ‘niggers’ and think he wasn’t going to offend everyone who is black?”

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.)

  • spun a lot! Pictures to come–I made a cabled yarn from my indigo-dyed Coopworth, a fluffy little bit of Navajo-plied yarn from my black llama batt, finally plied the rest of my stormy handspun singles, and spun singles from lovely Michele the llama‘s roving–her fur is just as lovely as her personality. I am in love with her fiber–caramel-colored, fluffy and wispy, with bits of shimmery white, and easier to spin than the silky black fiber. I’m trying to make a fairly lofty worsted two-ply–we’ll see how it goes. Oh, and I predrafted a lot of the green roving (the green I got on sale is 8 oz. Coopworth dyed with fustic and indigo).
  • cooked a big batch of sauce with tomatoes from the farmer’s market, and a nice dinner last night: roasted cauliflower and fingerling potatoes (also from the market), a wild rice/brown rice mix, and a chickpea stew with kohlrabi greens and Moroccan-ish spices.
  • Started brewing beer! We enjoyed many bottles of delicious home-brewed beer courtesy of our good friends Jeanne and Steve back in Bloomington. Since we live quite close to the Wine and Hop Shop now, we thought we’d give brewing a try. The nice man assured me that we wouldn’t go blind from misbrewed beer, unless we somehow manage to distill the alcohol. It was kind of an aggravating experience (lugging big buckets of water/sanitizer mix, trying not to contaminate anything, running out of room in the wort pot) but might be better next time, once we have the whole setup figured out. Right now, the bucket is on the landing and fermenting fiercely. The house is quiet and all I can hear is a steady, somewhat alarmingly lively gloop gloop gloop sound from CO2 escaping the air lock.

WordPress just ate my goddamn post so I’ll just tell you that I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival today with Mary (aka turtleknitter) and had a great time. More details later, when I stop being pissed off. (Note to self: never, ever click the “Toggle fullscreen preview” button. It will delete your entire post and the “autosave draft” function is apparently completely meaningless)

Anyway, a few photos that require little explanation…
Here’s Mary in front of the barns.

I finished my Cherry cardigan and wore it today! Buttons: 5/8″ gray shell. I’ll have to take some better photos later. But you can kind of see it in these two photos… me petting a giant fluffy bunny:

and me and Mary and some mohair:

Here is a strange Christian wool vendor proclaiming “No sales on Sundays.” I got used to the blue laws in Indiana prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays, but I’ve never seen Sabbathday restrictions on wool sales before.

A sheep in a jacket.

A scary devil sheep (actually a four-horned Jacob, I think)

A tiny pocket sheep (actually a Shetland). WANT!

Here are some freebies I got from one of the booths.

From left to right: Sheep!, Dairy Goat Journal, and Backyard Poultry. Dairy Goat Journal has some especially inviting stories this month–let’s take a closer look:

  • Make Goat Cheese Easily
  • Nubian Judging Quiz
  • What Are Wattles?

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.