Friday, September 28, 2012

How far I've come

My first attempt at spinning was a disaster.

It all started when one of the ladies from my old knitting group schlepped her folding spinning wheel to the group. Mind you, we met on Thursday evenings in the cafe portion of a Barnes&Noble book store at the time. And if we weren't strange enough already to other patrons, playing with our sticks and yarn, we certainly became strange then. But she sat there, unfolded the wheel, grabbed some pretty blue roving (at the time I only knew it as wool) and happily spun away while she chatted with the others.
....While everyone else had lost interest in watching what she was doing, I was hooked. At this point I had become good enough at knitting that I didn't need to look at my fingers anymore while working a plain sock, so my eye were glued to her actions. I watched with rapt attention as her hands did this pulling thing, and her feet quickly treadled the peddles in front of her. The roving in her hand was sucked onto the bobbin and soon she had to grab more from her bag.
....Eventually I started asking her questions, like how did it work, what was she doing, how did she stop the yarn from untwisting when it was all done, what was the fiber she was working with? And then she said those 5 magic words "Do you want to try?"
....At first I just giggled and shook my head like most people do when you offer them something. You know what I mean, I'm sure. Someone asks you if you want something and you politely shake your head and tell them "no no, that's alright." when in fact you are so intrigued by the idea that you're practically buzzing with wanting to try. But Lise insisted, removed her bobbin of pretty roving, slapped on a new one and told me to get my butt over. She showed me what to do, then moved over and had me sit down. At this point our group had stopped working and watched me with amusement.
First try at a wheel
....I sat down, and with Lise's instruction began spinning. It was a disaster from the get go. First I didn't treadle enough, so when I'd draft out the fibers they would break. Rejoining them took forever and usually the wheel would suck in the yarn when it broke off so we had to go fishing for it. Then I treadled too fast and the yarn began kinking back on itself...badly. My feet and hand's just couldn't get a rhythm going. Lise said there was nothing wrong with stopping the wheel and drafting out a bit to get the twist out. And that is what I did. Now here is where it get's really bad.
....    Lise didn't mention that I could turn the wheel a little by hand to let the spun up yarn wind onto the bobbin; I quickly ran out of arm length but not twist. So in my head (and I'm not sure what neurons didn't fire together that day), the longer the distance between my hands and the wheel, the more over-twist I can let into my roving. So I asked my friend to hold a bit of the single to the side. Then I asked her to pass it on to my sister. Then I asked my sister to pass it on to the lady sitting next to her who had stopped knitting at this point to hold her sides as she laughed hysterically. Then I stood up. Then I held the yarn really high above my head. Then I stood on a chair. I can still draft out yarn and get over-kink out. I'm 5'5" if that helps you visualize it any better.
....At this point the yarn is going from my hand (held above my head again) to the lady sitting three chairs away, to the wheel. Not only is my knitting group laughing hysterically (I think my Mom stopped breathing for a moment), but the other patrons of B&N are also chuckling and laughing. Lise is laughing so hard she's crying and has taken several staggering steps away. And finally, just when I think we'll have to cut the yarn off, she turns the wheel slowly by hand and it winds the yarn slowly onto bobbin. I was able to climb down from the chair, and stopped messing around with the wheel.
First spindle handspun
....By the next group she had brought a spindle along with some roving, showed me how to use it, and it turned out to be a much better experience. Mostly because I could spin the spindle, and then hold it between my legs while I drafted out the fiber (known as park and draft).

So as I sit there, lovingly petting my new Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel every 5 minutes (yes, I'm one of those people) and contemplating what I should spin up next, I can't help but think of that first experience from 2009. I still have that first skein sitting in a bin around here; the thing looking more like a super thick dreadlock then a skein of handspun yarn.
It was a interesting shove into a whole new wooly world, and I'm glad I took the plunge.
Current wheel project

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Oregon Fail

Yesterday my Mom, sister, sisters friend, and I made a little road trip down to Oregon for the Flock and Fiber Festival. We were going to pick up my Schacht Ladybug wheel. I was so excited that the night before I was contemplating going to bed at 8pm just so that Saturday would come sooner. Instead I made it all the way until 10pm. xD But I digress.

A trip that should have taken 2.5 hours each way, took more like 7. 

At 9am on Saturday we gassed up the car and headed out to the freeway. We made very good time (in my opinion at least) because there weren't that many car on the road. I don't blame them, who the heck wants to be driving around at 9am on a Saturday?
We went a little bit past Chehalis when the tire pressure light came on. So we pulled into the nearest gas station, put air into the tire, Maggie and Lucia got some snacks and coffee and we tried to set off again. But the tire pressure light was still on. Mom thought one of the tires might have a leak in it, and didn't want to drive on the freeway. So we took back roads to the nearest Les Schwab...which was 22miles back the way we'd come. =.= Guy at Les Schwab said that if too much air is put into a tire it can make the gauge act up. So he let some air out, and put us back on the road.
We hit the freeway again, and were probably 10 miles past the gas station we had stopped at when the light came back on. And then turned back off. And then came on again. And this time it stayed on. Mom panicked again, so we got off the freeway and drove 15miles to the left to yet another Les Schwab.
They people there were going to replace the tire that had presumably a hole, but it would take an hour because there were 7 other people before us. At this point it was 12:55pm.
We sat around the tire center for an hour and of course I didn't have anything to knit...or to spin. The ONE day when I looked at my simple sock project and though "Naw, I won't need that because I'll be busy running all over the Fiber Fest" we get stuck for an hour at a tire center. It was horrible.
But the guy looked at all four tires and couldn't find anything wrong with them. So he looked at the cars computer, and there was the problem. The computer was making the tire pressure gauge act up. So he reset it and send us on our way.
An entire 2 hours of my life and time wasted for something as simple as a computer reset! =.=;; Story of my flippen life.
We suck at this road trip thing. 

My Ladybug
But we got to the Festival, I paid the remaining balance on my wheel and it was being assembled for me as I was shopping around. I got to see some of the sheep, and my resolve to own one or two is even stronger now. They are just so cute! And some only come up to your knee!! It would be like owning a medium sized dog. A dog that doesn't bark and eats grass and grain and gives you fleece.
With the fest closing soon we made it back to the hall where my wheel was, and bought it; right from under someones nose. The guy was looking to buy it too, but I was there first and I had made arrangements already, darn it. >=D Mwahaha.

The trip home as much better with no incidents. I even got to drive back about halfway through; it was nice being able to go 70 mph =).
We might go again next year, and hopefully this time the car isn't going to act up and rob us of 2 hours. Stupid car.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A bag of skittles is more organized!

Yesterday was the first day of school for most kids here in the state of Washington, so I took Thing 1 to school; it was her first day of kindergarten.
We arrived at 8:30, and hurried inside. A staff member directed us to the cafeteria, but since Thing 1 had already eaten at home I didn't see the point in sitting there so I asked the staff member if we could just go to the classroom. The lady very nicely explained to us that teachers don't really want students to go to the classrooms yet because they are getting ready; fair enough. So we waited in the cafeteria until a lady with a microphone said that K-2 should go to the Gym where the teachers would pick them up. The names were hung up on the walls and Thing 1 went to stand under her teachers name.
There were 6 other classes in the gym, and a ton of parents and younger siblings. It was a bit crazy. I assumed that all the teachers would come in, that someone with a microphone would ask for silence, then the teachers would stand at the start of the lines, and one by one every class would leave the gym and go to their classrooms. Nope! 'cause that would make sense and why would we want that?!
Instead, the first 4 kids in Thing 1's line vanished and a parent waved his hand in my general direction and said, "The class is going this way!" If it hadn't been for that man, I would still be standing in the gym with the girls.
The hallway was chaotic. There were parents and students and teachers everywhere. We finally got to the classroom and had to then stand in the hallways for like 10 minutes while the teacher stood by the door and said hello to every single flippin' child and spoke to the parent briefly. She said hi to Thing 1, confirmed who I was, checked a sheet next to her, then told me a few things and it was done with. Then I walked back through the chaos with Thing 2 and we went home.
Now why the hell couldn't the teacher open up the classroom and let kids sit there? That's what they did with my sister when she was in elementary school. If you were hungry you went to the cafeteria to eat, if you weren't you sat in the classroom until the day started. Simple. Easy-peasy. Buuuuut no. We're going to make the kids go all kinds of ways and confuse the hell out of them; I'm 24 and even I was confused!!
There was no organization what so I said, a bag of skittles is more organized then that school.

It's going to be a fun year. =.=

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Friggen pissin' me off....(and art yarn)

Fastest way to loose me as a customer forever? Don't follow through with stuff.
As you guys may know I'm making payments on a spinning wheel. When the youngest of the two girls I watch, Thing 2, threw away my piece of paper where we'd been keeping track of our payments (I couldn't fault the 2yr old for wanting to help me with cleaning out my purse...who could get mad at a 2yr old holding a hand full of trashed papers asking "Ga'bage?") I sent an e-mail to the shop owner. On July 3rd I received an e-mail saying that her tracking sheet was somewhere on her desk and that she was hoping she'd have everything cleaned up that weekend. By August 20th I still hadn't gotten a reply. How flipping big is her desk?! So I sent her another friendly e-mail. Another excuse, and still nothing. I am becoming incredibly cross with this lady. It should not be that difficult to hunt down a piece of paper and tell me how much I still have left on a $656 spinning wheel. That's a lot of money to spend at once...especially when I don't make a whole lot to begin with. To say that I am displeases would be like saying the sun is only a little bit warm. And I certainly will not be doing business with this shop again.

My school is also ticking me off a little bit. Their degree just became far more complicated and headachy for me so I'm transferring to a different college. I'll be starting with them at the beginning of January which is winter quarter. That means I'm taking a bit of a break from school, but only 3 months worth. I could have probably scrambled around to get into Fall Quarter, which starts on the 24th of Sept. but honestly, that was way more scrambling then I'm willing to do. Especially when it means that I'd have to quit working so I could get to one of my classes in the afternoon. I'd rather work for a little bit longer and then start school full-time again.

On a completely unrelated note: I'm making art yarn. Now this might not seem strange to some people, but I don't art yarn (well, most of it anyways). There are some skeins that people make that make me think "wow, that is so pretty!" and then there are skeins that people make that makes me think "Did you even try to make this into something resembling yarn?" These skeins usually look really horrible, in my opinion, and I don't understand how someone can call it "art" yarn. Thing 2 is more artistic with a pixie stick.
But after seeing a tutorial on how to incorporate hand made angora flowers into art yarn I figured I'd give it a try too....with felt. xD bought myself some felt sheets in red, yellow, and white and made little red and yellow flowers. Pulled some sewing thread through the middle, leaving 2 longs ends, and then incorporated the ends into the roving as I was spinning it. And the flowers stay in place pretty well. Now of course I'm not recommending that people yank on them, but just knitting or crocheting something with them won't make the flowers all out.
Of course I'm also thinking of other yarns that I could make with this method, where there is just enough cute to make it "artsy" but not too much crazy to make it unusable ('cause I'm sorry, but some of the art yarns out there should not be used to knit something...ever). I'm thinking of stars or snowflakes in blue roving. Or ducks. xD