Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fourth Spin (3rd got parked, a "WIP")

I was dying to get my hands on this roving, just because of the multitude of colors and not yet being able to predict (at all!) how something might spin up. Way more than halfway through it, I had Jenny demonstrate, yet again, how she holds the fiber and drafts. This time I thought I saw an "A-hah!" in there somewhere, and tried how far away she holds her fiber hand. Well, lo and behold, that actually creates a clear cut drafting zone triangle. She's been saying she has trouble spinning thicker than what seems to be her default weight, and of course I've not been too adept at spinning finer because my default weight has been thicker. Trying her way of drafting, mine became thinner also. But there's no REASON why it should, I just haven't figured out yet how to modify the hold so I get a little thicker single, and so far she hasn't seen any need to.

But I sure do like her way of drafting, it's faster for sure. So now it's like learning something all over again. I see where I'm getting slubs built in, but that'll come with practice, I'm just counting on that with blind faith.

Here's what's left of the roving, as it came.

Here's the single on the ball, being plyed onto the spindle using both inside-pull and outside of strand. This worked pretty darned well, despite much grumbling regarding this method generally. The trick was having a core in the center of the ball. I mounted it onto a plastic spindle that I borrowed from a bulk-purchase package of 100 blank CDs, and set it onto the seat of a camp chair. Worked great.

I processed the yarn by soaking in "Soak" wool wash, somewhat hot tap water, then spun it in a salad spinner, whacked it bare (without wrapping into a towel) onto a flat surface about 5 times each end, and all the cursing I'd done about it not plying up well... you have to reserve judgment.

This is the best shot, and my favorite. Looka all da colors!! Yeoowwwza, this is going to be one interesting skein! (Photographed right after processing, not yet dry). Click to enlarge.

Another shot, showing the inconsistencies in finished yarn thicknesses. Again, can click to enlarge.

And a close-up. I just can't get over all these colors and especially the way they happen out from the plying.

NOT shown, because a couple hours later, having checked my "crop" again, I see several strands that have super-thick (good 3-inch lengths) of spread out slubs, and I mean big. But I lost the good light for photographing and just when I thought I had it, my camera battery died. I'm half awake from a nap that blew off my day (yet again) and didn't get a photo of it. Later or something. I'm just blown away by the color combinations in this colorway, which is Printemps hand-dyed combed top of BFL purchased from Squoosh on Etsy.

And Blogspot is not letting me add a link right now, so it's> click on "Sellers" in search by, type in Squoosh, click on that solo choice, then click on combed tops.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Whining and Complaining Again

Well, I'm getting to the point where I want to be DONE with this blue and red spin. And I'm pretty sure the rest of this yarn wants me to be done with it also, because I'm embarrassed to say I can't seem to get a stupid simple scarf made. One that will go with the hat, but also just be a comfy, wumfy neck warmie scarf on its own.

The thing is, I hate wide scarves because my neck isn't any six inches long and I don't like stuff doubled up around it. Reminds me waaaaay too much of when I was little, and in those days the favorite remedy for EVERYTHING was that your mother would smear greasy Vicks Vapo-rub, still packaged in the dreaded cobalt blue jar, all over your neck, THICK! And then she'd cover that with a flannel rag that she'd wrap around your neck a zillion times and secure it with a couple of diaper-sized safety pins, and then feed you Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup (or Chicken Noodle if you were really snargly), and then put you to bed where you'd lie there as stiff as a board, terrified to go to sleep in case one of those safety pins came undone and stabbed you in the neck or throat.

The other reason I hate wide scarves is that they never fit under my coat collar without bunching everything up. My collar sure can't lay over a fat, thick, bunchy scarf. The ONLY thing I do like about wide scarves is in case I were to be driving home from somewhere on a freezing cold, dark night with high, icy winds, and run out of gas or something and not have my cell phone or be able to get reception, and have to get out of the car and walk to somewhere, and need it to wrap over my whole face like they do in the Middle East. But that just doesn't ever happen.

The original scarf (a twisted drop stitch) was way looser knit, but Jenny said it looked too narrow next to the hat, and Peggy said the kind of stitch was too different from the hat, and they were both right. Either it had to be wider (in that loose weave drop stitch pattern) or narrow would be okay in the ribbing that the hat's made of. I opted for the latter.

Well, I've tried close to TEN different combinations of ribbing, in size 13 needles and even tried a 15 to make it a relaxed scarf. They all sucked. I even tried the same pattern my first spin's scarf was made in, and that sucked also. All of them were just too tight and stiff and stuffy feeling. And THICK!!!

Finally, I kept looking at the hat and IT didn't bunch and curl, and IT was 2x2 ribbing! So the only difference was, IT was made with size 11 needles. Well, I was under the distinct impression that the smaller the needle, the tighter and bunchier would be the knit. But the hat isn't bunchy. It's floppy and relaxed. So hell, why not frog the thing a 9th time and try the size 11 needles. So that's what I did this morning.

STILL!!! It's STILL thick and bunchy! This ribbing is just three freaking blobs of thickness that curl up on themselves, each rolling into a tight wad of snitty annoyance.

Here's what I mean.

Okay, here's a view of it from the side, standing on edge. I mean, even the fact that it WILL stand on edge tells you what's hate-worthy about it. Would you want something wrapped around your neck that will stand on edge?? Well, after I took this picture, I laid it flat on the table and stood the ruler on end, and the thing is 3/4-inch thick!!

Nothing floppy about this scarf. I keep thinking if I get more length knit onto it maybe it would become more floppy. But I don't think so. I also thought maybe if I were to wet it and block it on a big cardboard box with a zillion pins pulling at it all along its length, maybe it would stretch out and be floppy. But who wants to go through that? And I don't think it would stay floppy anyway. It would just BOING BOING BOING back to its snitty tight little self. And I'd hate it.

Well, I don't know how many more times I can frog this same yarn, because it's been a good eight times for sure (probably more) already, but that's what's going to happen to it yet AGAIN!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Hat Knitting Spirit Guides were kind to me

Well, when I got my first attempt on this hat off the needles and measured it? Hah! It was well beyond the 28" I'd previously thought. I have a 22-inch head.

This time I decided to do the obvious, and measure. I'd read to make a hat two inches smaller than my head to account for stretch. So now I had something to go by, because while other people can apparently tell by plunking a yamulke-sized start on their heads, obviously I can't.

So I frogged the whole cow-sized thing all the way up to the square. Now, I always have a problem frogging "up to" somewhere, because I can NEVER pick up all the stitches, let alone how they're supposed to be. Sure as shit, I'll get all the stitches onto my needle, and be missing at least one or worse yet, have more than I should. I'm just now getting to the point where I can see what's not right, but even then, I usually don't know how to fix it. Well, this time I not only had the right number of stitches, but they all looked right on the needle. The creepy part though, is that I'd somehow stopped frogging at the exact same square corner where I'd started the increases on in the first place.

That's when I first started thinking, maybe the Hat Knitting Spirit Guides had congregated, because... well, luck like that just doesn't happen to me. And that's not conceited either to think that ANY spirit guides would care about a newbie knitting a hat. I mean, they're called Hat Knitting Spirit Guides for a reason.

I'm figuring it went something like this. Way back when, one of them was floating by, and I caught her attention when I was sitting here at my computer, knitting by the pictures on a website. She'd noticed the unmistakable telltale kink of multi-time frogged yarn heaped into my bowl on the floor, and then noticed me snag the yarn into the wheel of my chair before I did. At that point, she decided to stick around and watch what promised to be a really funny show. So as I was holding two hands worth of very tight knitting in one hand (really tight so those crammed Ocker cast-on stitches wouldn't burst off the needle while I hit the down arrow key to see the next step), she put out the call that summons the other Heavenly Yarnies...

"Hey, Yarnies! If you can break free, you just gotta zap on over here and watch this. I got some idiot who's sitting here, and she has newly spun frogged yarn trailing all over a dirty, dried-mud floor with bits of hay in it. So now she's unwittingly rolling her chair around on it. Back and forth, over and over... Omigod! Now one strand has worked its way up into the wheel, and on top of that, she's doing the whole freaking thing wrong! Arrrrgh, you gotta watch this!"

So always up for a good laugh, the other yarnies checked their own charges, still listening. "Okay, she's done this Ocker cast-on okay so far, but now for some unknown reason, she's trying like all hell to shove her crochet hook through these crammed stitches around the hole. Like Hellllo? There's no room! Wait, WTF??? Eeeyyowwww! Shit, she's trying to dig out the freaking loop itself! Sheeeeeeeee-ut! "

Whereupon, the other Heavenly Yarnies now heard that she'd actually summoned up her earthly energies because she's transmitting. "Hey there! PSSSSST! You don't want the freaking LOOP! The LOOP is what makes the damned circle! Omigod, STOP pulling on that loop!" (Later I found out you're supposed to pull on the tail.)

So at some point, a couple other yarnies flitted on over to watch, whereupon the most recently departed (hence the most earthly-relating) probably said, "Awwwwwwwwww? She's trying so... HARD!" [sniff sniff, snort, chortle]. "You guyyyys, I mean, look at the 24-hour rollback, this is her 4th try. Awwwwwwww."

I'm guessing that after watching me coax the yarn out of the chair's wheel, and gather up all the yarn that had been merrily sweeping the floor and picking out bits of hay among the dried "mud" (okay, prolly some dried horse shit cooties in the mix) and other stuff that you track in from a barn, maybe one of them took pity. Because, fast forwarding to now, when suddenly I was winding up with the original 48 stitches exactly? AND they all looked like they came from the same row? AND finding myself at the exact place where I could just start knitting again??? Well, something was just not normal about that.

So that's what I think happened because the hat went fast from there. I brought it to Jenny's so I could knit it while we talked and though I was planning to do a cuff, when I tried it on after more rows at her place, she said, "Oooo, it looks really cute as it is! I'd stop right there!!"

I went into the bathroom and looked, and it really did look pretty cute! Well, I'd already learned you can't tell with the needles on, or at least I can't, so she showed me some new bind-off that's good for stretch, and assured me that we could undo it if the hat had to be longer. So I did that.

Back into the bathroom only this time sans the needles which really don't let you see what's real. It actually fit! But what I was really interested in seeing was if all the things I'd hoped for in this hat would also be there because (a) this is my first hat, (b) I spun its yarn; and most importantly, (c) having gone from a "guide" and not an actual pattern, I had specific criteria. I wanted it to NOT be so tight that it smashed down my hair. Yet I wanted it tight ENOUGH so it wouldn't slip around. I wanted it NOT to scoop up the bottom of my hair since my cowlicks win out in any kind of scooping. But I especially wanted it not to scoop at the bangs either because that makes me look like the Village Idiot cartoons in Mad Magazine. Last test, I wanted to be able to bend my head waaaaaaay back and not have my collar shove the whole hat forward over my eyes. I just hate that!

So now, really thrilled because it passed all those tests, I was pissed that I hadn't brought my {ta daaaa} "highly pocketable, brand new Canon SD990IS camera that I gave up features for, specifically so I could have it on me all the time." But never do. Jenny had Ken's camera though, so she took a series of bathroom shots of my brand new, multi-frogged, kickass hat. We laughed at most of them because... (okay, Jenny just admits this straight out without trying to say consoling things when you know they're not true)... I photograph horribly. I mean, horribly! I either look like a drunk Mexican hooker or an ugly Arab. {PC explanation called for here}, Arabs aren't ugly, a lot of them are absolutely gorgeous. But photos make me look Arab, and they make me look ugly. That's an ugly Arab, any way you cut it.

So here's the hat, finally, FINALLY finished!

Now, on this next shot, the odd looking placement of a straw was because that's what was holding my half-finished scarf together.

So that's my first hat. And it's the first time everything just kept going right. So I'm convinced the Heavenly Yarnies took pity on all the problems I'd had. I love this hat though. It's actually starting to look a little ratty already because I've been wearing it to do feeding/barn chores. And just the way it works out, I'm often right under Cloud's face when I'm ducking under her strand of fencing, so two things happen. A little hay falls out of her mouth onto my head, and she crowds me so I bang into her chest, head first. So I think I'll have to make another hat like this just for barn chores because should I ever get invited to the Oscars, I'll want to wear this hat. And if they ask me "who" I'm wearing, I can say that it's a Heavenly Yarnies creation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is not good. This is just not good.

Well, I was sitting here at my computer because there's good light, and I was waiting for the phone to ring, and the kitchen one has static 90% of the time and I'm too distracted by yarn to call the phone company and tell them to fix it since I have another phone 12 feet away in my office.

My office chair has wheels. I had my yarn in a Farberware metal bowl on the floor, which keeps it from rolling around. A strand got pulled too long, and laid on the floor. And my chair kept rolling over it. I don't know how long that went on, but I think for some time.

That sucker was really wound up in there! I didn't know that my chair had such complicated roller feet. I thought for sure this was going to be another time I'd have to cut the yarn. But I kept rolling the wheel because a whole loop got sucked up in there (two strands on one side of the wheel, and a big loop as the "end" on the other side). Well, I got the loop sliding around the wheel part (which, of course, is embedded in the housing so you can't reach the other side). And then it snagged. The photo is what I ended up with. I could only pull on one end and hope it would unsnag from whatever mysterious crevices are up in there.

And it did. The yarn got dirty. (As you can see, my chair pad has a HUGE residue of dried mud and God knows what else from coming in from the barn after mucking Cloud's stall, then traipsing through snow and ice (which is water when it gets inside). So the yarn got dirty. But it's okay. I brushed it off. Gonna wash it anyway once I'm done knitting it.

So here's the second thing that's not good. The hat was supposed to have a circular shape on the top. Well, it doesn't. It has a square. (I prefer to think of it as a diamond so rotated the photo so it looks like a diamond, just ignore the blank canvas parts where it's just blank canvas).

Okay, I think what made it square was that I forgot I was knitting in the round. So on the non-increase rows, I purled. Doh! I was after stockinette but decided that was a lucky mistake, I liked the garter stitch top.

Here's the top.

Okay, that's not all. After a while of purling, I decided there wasn't any reason why I couldn't pretend it was a design feature, and switched to knit, knit, knit (stockinette if doing it in the round). I had no idea how big the hat would be, I was guessing. But I did stop doing increases. Omigod.

It's a good thing. The hat measures 28" around. And that's with zero stretch on it, stuck on the cable (which is only 24" needle tip to needle tip. It would fit a head bigger than any human's, even big men with gigantic heads. Nobody has a head that big. Except maybe Bush, but that's only figuratively. He could just as easily be described as a pinhead, which is smaller than most people's heads, and you know what that means. In any event, this hat is huge.

Here it is from the side, perched on a roll of toilet paper as a prop.

It's not as long as it looks, it's just huge so it looks longer than it is.

So I decided now was the time to switch stitches again, and do 1x1 ribbing. I called the yarn shop and asked what's the tightest ribbing, thinking maybe I could make a whole new style. They said 1x1. After a couple rows, it still wasn't going to fit, so I called back to see if I could switch to way smaller needles and end up with a tam. But they were closed by then.

I hate to say it, but I see possibilities for this hat. If I were to FELT IT!! It's that big.

I can't imagine felting anything made from homespun. I mean, you want to felt something, you just go buy cheap yarn. But after all that spinning and plying and especially when you thought it was uneven as hell and it turned out to be pretty consistent? You just don't go around felting your 2nd plyed spin.

I think I made some big mistake on a stitch also. Can't figure it out. I don't know if it's a dropped stitch or it got otherwise messed up, but the hat, as is, is toast city anyway. Before I rip it out I'm going to take it to Jenny's on Thursday and just see if she has any ideas. Maybe we can bind off so I don't have to contend with those needles, and really measure it and see just how much too big it is, then maybe rip PART of it out, but not all.

I'm going to call it a learning experience.

As for starting at the center and being able to pull that loop tight so there's no hole, all I can say is next time I'm going to tie something to that loop. It gets pulled into the stitches. I almost couldn't find it. It was a struggle and I'm actually not sure I found it. I found something, and pulled like hell, and the hole closed. So I think I lucked out and it was the loop.

Damn, all of this is going to take a shitload of time to learn.

I'm so Freakin' Far Over My Head it's Ridiculous

Okay, I wanted a scarf and hat, matching set out of this 2nd spin. I don't know why. I hate "sets." And I hate "matching." Let's just say now that I'm an old lady, I get to wear purple AND I get to have matching. Sets. Matching Sets. (This kills me, it's just one of those things.)

So I only have 184 yards out of my 8 oz. Northern Lights Field Berries roving. That's it! I spun it pretty thick, although way more even than I thought. I wanted a scarf though that wouldn't take much yarn. I happened across one on Ravelry that she called a "drop stitch" scarf. I followed her link, and there was this really neat video from the DIY network's "Nitty Gritty" where this gorgeous Asian lady shows you how to do both a Drop Stitch and a Twisted Drop Stitch. I liked the twisted. (This is absolutely consistent with me.)

Okay, I started it with the 9 stitches. Decided I didn't want her fringe, so called upon the pattern of the only other scarf I've ever knit... "my first spin." I used ONE row of full decreases, I just wanted a flare, not a ruffle. (This ain't a ruffly yarn.) I did about 5 rows in garter and actually, got pretty far along. Decided it was too narrow. The scarf seemed to want to be wider because it really knits up FAT! Frogged the whole thing. Started over with 10 stitches. Again I got pretty far along, but something wasn't the same. I didn't like it at all. Oh, I know what it was, I thought I'd get cute and add in occasional rows of garter stitching. I did that on both starts. Well, there was a reason. I have so many splits in the yarn, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to weave that many in with this loosey-lacy drop stitch pattern. Well, I decided I didn't like that either. Frogged the whole thing a 2nd time. (All this is after knitting a significant swatch).

TIME OUT, TIME OUT! There was another drama that happened, very worthy of note. I wish I'd taken a picture. But I wound a big fat ball on my horse's hoof dressing brush's handle (looks like a nostepinne). And very optimistically started using it as a center pull ball. Well, it barfed out a disgusting tangle of yarn out of its center that was hopeless. Okay? Just this abortion of yarn tangle. So I had to cut the yarn. No choice.

Back to the scarf. I now have the ball lying on the disgusting mass of yarn ball barf in a Farberware metal mixing bowl. (Couldn't separate them, I didn't want yet ANOTHER freaking split.)

Okay, now back to the 9 stitches. Now one stitch doesn't sound like much, but it is 1/2 inch with the scarf relaxed, and a lot more with it pulled tighter (makes no sense but trust me, two different scarves. One stitch. Besides, it was dawning on me that this pattern is SUPPOSED to conserve on yarn. Oh yeah? I figured it out. Almost a yard per row!!! With only 9 stitches per row!

Okay, so here's the 9-stitch scarf so far.

And a lengthwise view.

And the freaking thing twists clockwise if I hang it, so I hung it to show how much it twists. Here's the twisted scarf. (Please cock your head to the left until I get the picture turned, I must have not saved it after I rotated it.)

... The scarf with the twisted drop stitches. (Duh, I wonder if that's why the whole scarf is twisting, all its stitches twist. Not sure if there could be any relationship, but I'm suspecting so. Anyway, it'll be lying against my chest or back, so I'm just playing "GET OVER IT."

Well, shit! It dawned on me... as much yarn as this scarf is eating up, I better figure out what I'm going to do for a hat before I knit much more scarf. I mean, this may need to be a short scarf. Maybe the first person to ever create a scarf had the same problem, and she said to her equally ancient husband-master, "Shit, this thing is scarfing up all my yarn!" And so she named it "Scarf."

Okay, so it's now back to Rav for patterns. This may sound bizarre, but I didn't find a hat I liked. I mean there are hundreds of pages of hats under Patterns--Search-->Hat. Basically I don't like hats because they screw up my hair. Jenny can go around with her hair flattened by a hat, and she looks fine. I look like a wet seal.

So I didn't want a tight hat, in fact I wasn't sure what kind of hat I would even find half-assed acceptable, but whatever I was going to knit with this precious HOMESPUN YARN!!! I wanted at least SOME chance that I'd wear it.

So this may sound even weirder because as a knitter I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I really don't. But I ran across a hat that had the description along the lines, "Lifestyle - Knit From the Top Down... you can knit any hat, any size, any shape, and try it on as you go and make changes as you go." There was a link. So I went there, and it looked really confusing, I mean there were two pretty complicated looking things I'd have to learn from this website (which actually is NOT written for a beginning knitter, it makes some very broad assumptions of knowledge... like "WHERE" to increase. And "DO YOU KNIT A FIRST ROW AFTER THIS WEIRD CAST ON BEFORE YOU START INCREASING?" And a lot of things like that.

Anyway, I decided to give it a shot.

First weirdness: You cast on with a crochet hook, in this really strange way, then transfer your stitches to your knitting needle. But what that claims to let you do is pull on a loop which, in turn, closes the hole you're creating at the top of your hat, BECAUSE...

You are kitting from the top down, on TWO circular needles. It's really weird, you switch from knitting on one circular needle to knitting on the 2nd circular needle. Jenny showed me magic loop on socks, which was weird enough, but this is way weirder.

So anyway, I've frogged this thing no less than SIX times, all for different reasons. I didn't know where to put the increases (the pattern just says "mark your increases" and it just says "increase 8 sts every other row," but it doesn't say where.

Oh! I forgot. There IS no "pattern." It's just a method. Supposed to be for people to design their own hats. She gives generalities for a beanie, a pillbox and a beret, but no row by row detail. "They'll figure it out, it's so obvious."

So here's what I have so far. The center circle. I DID have two sets of circular needles, in fact I have them in two sizes. 10-1/2 and 11. Well, this is fat yarn, so I'm using the 11. And let me tell you, the 2nd set is NOT bamboo. It's some sort of a Turbo Needle that sounds sexy, but it's like they made it out of mercury from a thermometer. I can't possibly find the words to describe how slippery those needles are. And with this method, you have to keep stitches on one circular needle while you're INCREASING a bunch on the other circular needle, and watch so they don't fall off the one you're not knitting with, because they will. With the Turbo needles, you really learn how to contort your fingers in ways that would get you committed into medical research texts.

Here it is. I'm actually pretty pleased with it.

Ya think I have ANY CLUE what I'm going to do with this? NADA!!! I have literally zero idea. I did draw a hat I'd really like to have. I don't think it would crush my hair that much and it would really work great as a rain hat because it has a brim. It's in my head. It's a combination between the 1930s and Huckleberry Fin's lover if he had been old enough, with just a touch of Israeli thrown in. But I don't know if you have to felt brims. So I don't think I can make that hat with this yarn.

So I guess I'm going to just figure it out as I go. I think once I get enough circle going, I'm going to start doing a ribbed hat, and hope I pick the right place to start that so the thing fits loosely enough not to crush my hair, but tightly enough to stay on.

In any event, at least IF this top of the hat works out, at least it won't have a pointed top so I look like some sort of pixie or elf wannabee.

So anyway, the hat is being knit a whole lot tighter stitched than I wanted, but I guess that's the breaks. I only have two sets of the same size circular needles, and the size 11 is the biggest. So we'll see what comes of it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I have plied (or plyed) Yarn! And it looks KNIT-ABLE!!!

First of all, I don't know if anyone else has this much trouble positioning photos in their blogs, but I can place my curser somewhere and the photo goes at the top anyway. Well, fine, I can move it later. Except half the time I get one-letter wraparounds so you have to
one letter at a time.

I KNOW there's a "preview" button, but it doesn't show things anywhere near the way they lay out once you hit "Publish." And then there's this other thing that happens. After I bring in a photo or a few, suddenly the software throws a bunch of hard returns after each paragraph, even paragraphs where no photos have been. I delete all those in the edit box, and then the photo moves. Each new photo? A bunch of totally unwanted returns. This is the screwiest software I've ever seen, and I even have a website on NetSol, which is another do-it-yourself publishing setup with the expected limitations. But this one? Totally unpredictable insanity.

Okay, done with that rant. Except I'm not done with the photos yet and I'm removing no less than 38 returns between each two paragraphs. Really!!

Picking up where I left off, I plied up the rest of the two singles where I had the big fat wad and a smaller one on paper towel holders. I went as far as the smaller one lasted, then decided to treat the remainder on the fat paper towel holder as a separate skein and deal with it later. I gotta get a plying spindle (loooong shaft) and would even consider a CD/dowel spindle for that. Anyway, I got quite a bit onto the niddy noddy (LOVE that niddy noddy!). Then washed (and rinsed even though it says not to -- there were freaking bubbles in the yarn that made noise when you squeezed it and that just didn't seem right). And salad-spinnered it. And wrapped it in a bath towel, and whacked it about 5 times on each side.

The whacking is fun, except it makes me really sad. The first time I whacked yarn, Bella Dog who I've decided is way more Pitbull than Boxer and can look reeeeally vicious when some delivery person comes... when I whacked once, and onto the floor no less, she immediately stuck her tail between her legs, put her head down and ran out of the room. She did it in a way a dog would do it if a dog had been hit. Or beaten. I have no idea what happened to her before I got her at the Rescue. She's somewhere between 3 and 5 years old and from time to time I see telltale signs that make me think somebody's hit her and she knows what that is. In any event, someone has punished this dog, because when I come home if she's made a mess somewhere or gotten into something, I know it before I even get the keys out of the door. She looks absolutely guilt-ridden, won't make eye contact (except to steal glances at me to evaluate how bad this might be) and sometimes even hides. It's really sad to see. I know someone has been really strict with this dog, and I think I'm putting it very mildly. So while I hate that, if she HAS done something bad, when I discover it, here's what I do. I make full-on eye contact with her (in dog language, that's a challenge/confrontation). My expression is angry and disappointed (it's been proven that domesticated dogs read human facial expressions... their living depends on knowing what we're thinking). And I raise my arm straight out and point at her. Total silence. Just the glare, the expression, and that intimidating point with the whole arm and the finger stretched out as far as I can get it. (Hey, I gotta do something, otherwise she'll keep doing the bad things.) Oh, she knows. She knows that I'm not at all happy with her. But that's all it takes. She winces as though I've just hit her. It's sad, but I'm glad she's that sensitive.
Anyway, living with a dog 24 hours a day, you learn to communicate on big and little things, and I kept telling her it's okay AS I was doing the whacking. She finally got the idea I wasn't going after her even though I sure as shit was a human whacking... something! At which point she started thinking it was a game she should join into, I almost think like prison mentality. "Play with them and they won't single you out." And she somehow decided there for one session that the game is who could make the most noise. I'd whack, and she'd slam her big heavy solid rubber livestock grain feeder bowl against the cabinet door, then look at me to see if that was a good thing. I'd whack again, she'd slam it again. Then later, she decided it wasn't the game, but there was SOME game inherent in all this, so it became easier to bark every time I whacked. Omigod, think of what THAT would sound like to a neighbor! Whack! (Hysterical shrill bark). Whaack! (Hysterical shrill bark).

Anyway, I know what's coming next, I can feel it. She's shown signs that she might be thinking that towel is a tug toy. I just know these things. Hmmm. Maybe I oughta whack her just once with it.

So I hung the whacked skein onto the hook and OMIGOD!! It was a PERFECTLY balanced skein. Not even a hint of a turn in the skein! I was shocked. I did NOT take photos of that skein, darn it. I may never see a balanced skein again. But it was one fat, nice, hunk-o-yarn, I'll tell ya. I really loved the way it felt. I thought this would be super scratchy yarn, but I'm starting to think maybe not.

Anyway, I took the skein (photo-less) and looped it over the back of my camp chair, and wound it into a ball. Except hey! (reeeeally cagey smirk)... I found THE perfect Nostepinne! I mean, it's even a better nostepinne than what I could buy for God-Knows-How-Much-Ridiculous-Amount-Of-Money-That-Could-Go-Toward-FIBERRRRRR!!!! It is such a fantastic, kickass Nostepinne! Lookie!!!

This is a Hoof Dressing Brush I bought from Dodge Feed & Grain for $3.79. (It's for painting a horse's hoof with medications.)
I mean take a looka dat handle!

5/8ths inch diameter at the top, about 10/8ths at the bottom near the brush metal, and 7 inches long, all smooth wood, from the tip of the handle to the metal brush encasing.
$3.79 !
Well, I now know what and how a Nostepinne works, and this shape just could not be better, period!
So here it is again in action. I don't know how it'll be for a thin yarn, but it sure is great for a fat yarn. And the brush makes a pretty good hold-onto part.

And that's one fat ball of fat yarn, too. I held my breath as I pulled it off but it LQQKS like it's going to stay put! I tucked the outside end in among strands, and pulled out what appeared to be "the" center strand. Hah! Either it's a fake-out strand that stood out from all the rest and looked like it was "the" center strand OR it really is, but just way long. But I'm gonna have to use it, I've pulled too much out, and can't find any other strand that looks like it could be "the" center pull strand. Even if it means yet another knot (not). I mean weave-in. I'm going to cut all those knots out because I do know how to switch to a new thread without a knot.

Okay, so having learned, I did take pictures of the smaller skein, which was the remainder of the fat wad on the right-sided paper towel tube after I exhausted the small wad. So here's the yarn.

And another photo that shows the worst of it, meaning just how fat the fat parts are in some places vs. how skinny the skinny parts are.
Aw, shit. I forgot the obligatory penny stuck under a wrap. That always gives a pretty good feel for how thick what you're looking at is. Anyway, the yarn ranges, best I can tell, from about 9wpi to about 4wpi. I'm calling it an average of 7wpi because a lot of it is in that range. That is, unless I see a pattern I love that's another wpi, in which case I'll call it that. But that's what I've got. A whole range of wpi to choose from calling it.
And finally, a close-up (sorta) of my Niddy Noddy so you can see the wood.
Lookie dat patina! I love the way Kromski does stuff.

And for Vicki, Peggy or anyone else who doesn't mess with this stuff, this is what a Niddy Noddy is for. This one makes a 2-yard-long skein. Note that two of the ends of the cross pieces have a non-bump side and two have the bump on the end. The non-bump sides are so you can slide the skein off, even though it's under tension. Such an ingenious invention, this...
So now what to MAKE with the yarn? All told, I have approx. 184 yards. Out of 8 ounces. And that includes the trial ounce Jenny showed me how to ply with. That's everything except what I think will end up to be another 2 yards, once plied. (The part I had to cut off when I tried plying center and outside pulls direct from the paper towel holder, bah.) So it's just a fat yarn. I did find one scarf pattern that's a no-brainer and said it was great for "showing off" thick/thin yarn. Well, if you have this degree of thick/thin, I guess showing it off is probably reverse psychology, and sounds good. Except that pattern "as is" would not tolerate the number of knots (weave-ins) I will have, so I'm thinking of combining it with another pattern and I guess you'd call that "designing" a scarf. Actually, I call it "finding a way to get that stitch into the scarf without dealing with the knots" which would be really hard with the pattern as is.
So once I figure that out, sho 'nuff, I'm gonna do another post because this is a fun time for me, learning something so totally new. It's a work in progress, all of it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Clean the Freaking House Before Trying Plying!!

Well, a couple of weeks ago I plied (or is it plyed) two very small balls at Jenny's, which she put into two coffee mugs and ran the yarns through the handles. That went just fine. But now I've just finished spinning the Blue and Red Louet Northern Lights (2nd spin) which is a freaking 8 ounces. Well, it's seven if I deduct the two small balls we did a trial on, which weren't even an ounce.

Now I'm plying the rest, and this is a freaking nightmare! So far I've had singles break twice midstream plying, and three hopeless tangles in a single (looked like a beehive, I mean THAT kind of tangle). Overspun thin parts. Bah, humbug. So we have knots. I swore I wouldn't have knots, and ever so carefully left unspun fiber on the ends of each spindleful as I wound each off and did great splices. But KNOTS! Oh, I have no idea how many, I'm not counting.

First of all, whatever a Lazy Kate is, if it has anything to do with plying, I'm buying one. No. I know what I should have done. I think those suckers are expensive, and if I get a wheel I'm not sure I'd need one. I think they're built in somehow, not sure. Maybe bobbins do it or something.

Well, I stored the yarn on paper towel cores, and I should have wound these two (two) lots into balls. And then put each ball under a planter, and run the yarn out through the holes. Oh, no. I decided to go right off the paper towel cores. Well, everyone seems to say "Why not? You can just put them on a broom handle." Well, I'll tell you why not. Because it's a freaking mess.

This morning I swore I'd clean off the table, go through papers and... just this whole mishmash of shit I've just stuck on the table. I have bills to pay, notes to keep somewhere safe, phone numbers, marketing lists. Reminders of URGENT things. But oh no, I thought, "Well, I'll just ply up this finished yarn so I can wash, whirr and whack it. It'll dry today and by tonight I'll see what I've got. And of course, it'll give me a chance to try out my brand new, gorgeous, mahogany/birchwood Kromski niddy noddy. And act like I've done this before, and impress myself in the mirror.

So I didn't. I not only didn't clean off the table, I didn't even do the dishes. I mean, this is where it just has to be done, and I crave yesterday's perfectly neat, clean counter tops.

Okay, Setup #1 was on top of two chairs, one on each side of the table. I ran the broom handle over them, and figured that was clever, this would be easy. NOT! No tension. Rumply plies.

I'm not saying it's pretty. I thought it would work great.


(Okay, don't even say anything about there being a huge wad of yarn on one paper towel core and a not-so-big one on the other. I know. I know.

So here's setup #2. The right paper towel holder really wasn't left trapped, just in the photo.

I now moved the chairs over to the sink, with the broom stick on top of them and VOILA! Two cabinets over the sink, on each side of it, have doors that open up FROM the sink. That means knobs. Tension! So I opened those doors and ran the yarns straight up and over the knobs. (Me standing at the other end of the room, walking to and fro). Oh, screw the mess, this was driving me nutty. But don't think it didn't occur to me that I shoulda done the kitchen before I started this "just a short time" project. Obviously with all this set up like it is, I not only can't clean the kitchen until I move everything back (unhooking yarn from everywhere) but... well, it was just a dumb mess to work around with something like yarn. Add now the dog bowl and toys which my beastie incessantly wants to move around into unsuspecting places. I think she thinks that if I trip on one, I'll be on the floor again, and she can come lick my face without having to stretch or reach. In any event, trust me, it's worth it to start something like this when you have places to set things, without moving other things. Especially wet things.

So I wasn't happy leaving well enough alone. I re-arranged everything, only this time I not only used the two cabinet door knobs, but tried to tension the yarns around parts of the chair. This was like walking into a huge 4wpi spider web.
Meanwhile, GUILT! At this point, the horse needs water, I'm dreading shlepping 8 gallons minimum out to the barn, true. But can't fill them anyway until I move the plying setup and put away the clean dishes to free up that sink. Which is the only sink that won't make the gallon jugs tip over because of some stupid garbage disposal that I can't even use anyway because of Septic Tank -- just a bad combination, garbage disposals and septic tanks.

So here's setup #3.
Now I've added what I said above. And broke another freaking single! Now I know why camera people were touting that wide angle lens when I bought mine that doesn't have it. I wish you could see how this yarn wraps around the room, lol! I tried getting farther back, but then you can't see it at all. I think just from this mini-glance at it and a little imagination though, you'll get the idea.

Okay, so I've never packed a spindle this fat. In fact I don't think I've even ever seen one packed this fat. And that includes the spindle guru-ess, Amy who lives in the Midwest, but knows how to really pack a spindle. But I was determined not to have another knot by stopping before I used ALL of the yarn on that left paper towel holder.
So I put it on the niddy noddy. First time for that. All was right except... except... one crossover. Well, who knows WHAT that would do when it comes to skein time. I had to unwrap tons of wraps, and re-do it. But fortunately nothing tangled. My niddy noddy has a shitload of yarn wrapped on it. I'm a little afraid to pack it any fuller, so tonight's decision is whether to tie it "as is" or push my luck and see if I can cram the rest of the big ball onto it.
That's another thing. Do I dare take that wad of yarn off the right hand paper towel holder and hope like hell I can treat it like a center pull ball? I don't think so. I think that really WOULD be pushing my luck. Maybe try treating it like a center pull ball while it's still ON the paper towel holder.
This will be interesting. As for how much twist in the ply? Hah! Don't even ask. I'm just hoping it's knitable and that it'll have the appearance of an "intentionally" rustic yarn.
It ain't over, this is the next morning at 6am.
Last night I tried another trick I've read about. Slip the inside thread out, and wind that AND the outside thread together into a ball, then just ply off the ball. Priscilla Gibson-Roberts writes in Spinning In The Old Way that she plies right off her nostepinne that way. Well, I tried it and DOH!!! The yarns totally cross over one another each time the outside yarn wraps around the ball! So how the hell do they do it?? That crossover happens between the nostepinne (or substitute) and your fingers that are holding the two singles. Arg. Anyway, I'm afraid to try that trick again, I ended up having to cut both lengths off because it became a hopeless mess.
So back to the drawing board. I think I'm just going to make it easy this time (easy?) and make a 2nd way smaller skein on the niddy noddy. Count the wraps, then wind off half, cut, wind the 2nd into a 2nd ball, and ply from two teensy balls. I mean I have so many knot-ties at this point, what difference would two more make? Nada.