May 31, 2006

BLOGGING BLAHS

One of my Dear Readers wrote to me last night to ask what's happened to me. No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth; I've just been suffering from the blogging blahs.

Last week on Thursday Linda K and I met again to walk around Green Lake. Here's a bit of local color:

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I'd seen this man around the Lake, at other times. This time I asked if I could take his picture. He wears his obviously handmade apron that reads 'SPANISH LESSONS' on the front and back. When he has students, they walk along the lake path and speak Spanish. (Since I majored in Philosophy and damn near have a master's degree in the subject and always loved studying the ancient Greeks, I can't help but point out that this peripatetic mode of teaching dates back to Aristotle, who believed in strolling through the gardens with his students.) While I was taking his photo I chatted with him a bit and asked if he gets a lot of students. At first he scoffed, "What's a lot?!" But later he said that he gets "a fair number." And while I was photographing him, a student came up, ready to get on with the Spanish lesson.

The first time I saw him (and that would be a couple of years ago, now), it gave me the idea to make a similar apron, only mine would read 'KNITTING LESSONS.' Do you think I'd get any takers?

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Here's a shot of Linda spinning some very colorful roving on her Mongold spindle as we walked around the lake. She had quite a long length of roving that she tucked into a sandalwood bracelet that she wore on her wrist. The sandalwood bracelet is a souvenir from her recent travels in India. So fragrant and so exotic.

While Linda spun, I knitted on a child's gansey that I plan to donate to the Dulaan Project. Around and around and around in stockinette stitch, this was the perfect knitting project for a walk around Green Lake.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to our cabin in the San Juan Islands. I went with the intention of practicing my drop spindle spinning for an hour a day, and of reading all of Spinning in the Old Way. Here's a shot of me spinning before the fire, mug of green tea at hand for right mood and right atmosphere:

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I practiced my spinning outdoors since the ground is very soft, and generally has a good carpeting of evergreen needles. The cabin, you'll recall, has a cement floor and I didn't want to run the risk of damaging my brand-new Bosworth mini spindle. I was so impressed with Linda on our walk around Green Lake, in that she dropped her spindle only one time. During my practice sessions over the weekend, every time the spinning would start to go well for me and I'd start feeling confident, the fiber would thin out and bam!, the spindle would drop. My intended hour a day lasted only 15 to 30 minutes each day, as that was all the frustration I could tolerate. It can only get better from here, right?

In Two Swans Yarns news: Today I'm working on adding to the website the additional colors of Meilenweit cotton/wool/nylon blend sock yarn that came in yesterday. Of course I got in the chartreuse color -- doesn't everyone need a pair of chartreuse socks? But I'm even more excited about the self-striping version that's turquoise and chartreuse!

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Posted by Karen at 10:37 AM | Comments (5)

May 11, 2006

KNITTING & WALKING

Last Thursday, due to some miserable traffic, I was a little late getting to Green Lake for our appointed walk, but Linda K was patiently waiting for me. After all, she had her knitting to keep her occupied:

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I was surprised that she was knitting, because she'd talked about drop spindle spinning while we walked. But she thought knitting would be easier, for our first time around. She's got a wrist ball holder, and two balls of Koigu. She's knitting the two strands together into a hat.

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Green Lake is my favorite walk: 2.8 level miles. There's usually lots of good people-watching and good dog-watching, too. We paused in our knitting to dodge many baby strollers, and pet lots of dogs. I got three rows done on my Salina sweater. Three rows in the approximately one hour time it took us to walk around the lake. Obviously, one doesn't walk and knit for production knitting. I used my wrist ball holder that I bought recently at Lacis in Berkeley. I suppose I can't say it enough: It's always good to have a stockinette project like this ever at the ready.

And, in addition to the people-watching and dog-watching, Green Lake is just a serene place to get in touch with the cycle of the seasons. At one point we saw four little yellow tufts floating on the water:

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Goslings!

Posted by Karen at 09:31 AM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2006

FIRST WEEK IN MAY

We started our Feral evening last Monday night with an hour of drop spindle spinning. I clutched my Ashford drop spindle and my little bag of Romney fiber and watched, completely intimidated, while the rest of the group easily and fluidly coiled their roving 'round their wrists and spun fine laceweight yarn on their gorgeous hardwood spindles. I also gratefully accepted pointers from Linda K and Janine. (Janine was there with a beginner Schacht spindle, and let me try hers with her merino roving, although I was all thumbs and had the roving matted into lumps in no time flat. She was patient with me, though.)

Evelyn had commissioned a fellow to turn some hardwood nostepinne, and she brought those. I bought two:

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The one on the left is made from pear wood, and the one on the right is walnut. I am buying these in the anticipation that someday I will have spun enough fiber that I'll be ready to ply it, and then I'll have a nostepinne (or two) ready to ply with.

Yesterday morning, Lizabeth (who has served on the Guild board with me) came over for coffee. She's just spent the last six months living in Japan, and brought with her a bag load of show and tell about Japanese knitting, including an armload of books and magazines, and some interesting yarns. We had a blast looking over the patterns. The gansey style sweater and Aran sweater patterns all were gorgeous; the Fair Isle ones tended to be a little bland. We had a good laugh over the title of one book, that was printed with an English subtitle: Knitting for a Walk. The patterns in it were for accessories, like you might wear out, well, on a walk: hats, purses, scarves and so forth. However, at least half the items in that book were crocheted! So one has to take the translation "knitting" not so literally.

Take a gander at these yarns she bought in Japan:

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The label reads, in English: Excellent Mohair - It had the Gradation with the long pitch Newly. How about warmhearted?

Huh?

We've popped out the center of the ball on the left, and you can see the "gradation." This rather boring-looking yellow laceweight mohair actually is a variegated yarn, with pink and purple stretches in it. (I suppose these are the "long pitches"-?) Lizabeth said this is typical of the put-up of variegated yarns in Japan: The balls are wound so that just a single color shows on the outside, but the inside might be wild.

Today I'm meeting Linda K at Green Lake to try my hand (and legs) at knitting and walking. I think Linda K plans to walk and drop spindle spin. And the weather couldn't be better for it - sunny and a high of 70 degrees.

In Two Swans Yarns news: I have ordered copies of High Whorling and Spinning in the Old Way, both by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, and expect them in one day next week. High Whorling was strongly recommended by Evelyn; it was the book that convinced her that she could spin laceweight yarn on a drop spindle. And if it worked for her, I'm hoping it will work equally well for me.

And yesterday afternoon I uploaded my May Specials page.

All for now -- gotta figure out what I'm going to knit while walking the Green Lake path.

Posted by Karen at 10:02 AM | Comments (4)