Monday, June 30, 2008

A taste of Miami

This weekend the Northwest got a flash of summer heat that we don't usually get until August. Saturday's temps were in the nineties and hundreds, but it was Sunday that was truly miserable as moisture came up from the south and shot the humidity up from the low 30s up into higher levels we're not used to. In the evening thunderstorms came through, including one that the carpool had to drive through to return from rehearsal. I figured it was Nature's way of giving those of us who are going to Miami to sing at GALA a taste of what to expect.

Thank goodness for A/C. It made the house livable so that I could take care of a few chores. One was defrosting the little freezer I have. I got rid of a bunch of old food and cleaned the floor while the freezer sat out on the back porch. The water from the drainage attracted some sugar ants but once the water was gone the ants returned back down to their dens. The cats weren't too thrilled with having to walk through the puddle to try to get back in the house from taking refuge in the garden shade.

This summer I don't expect to do much knitting unless it's socks. I ripped out the leg of the first of the Knitters Without Borders socks when I couldn't figure out how I made the heel and the heel of the second one looked much better than the first. I tried doing the two socks on two needles again and after untangling myself on the third row bagged it and went back to my one sock on two circs. I have other sock yarn waiting for me to work up; they'll most likely come with me to Miami.

At home I'm hitting the spinning wheel and working on the pile of fiber I have accumulated over the last 9 months. I have a boatload of stuff waiting for me to work on. The latest I finished spinning up the singles was 5 oz of superwash merino 54s yclept Plumalicious. Those are set aside now to "cook".

I plied up some singles of some of the blended roving named "Vine Maple" from Ferndale Fibers. I'm seeing how I need to continue to practice. I've started a spreadsheet similar to that done by David Daniels of Cabin Cove for my Spinup 2008. The Raspberry Cremosa and the Parade yarn are in; soon I'll add others I've done this year and we'll see how well I do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just because

Several bloggers have been doing this meme. Yarmando, my favorite sock minion, said to take it from his if I liked, so I did.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

Nineteen ninety-eight was a year where I felt sort of lost. I remember feeling disgusted with the attention of the Lewinsky scandal and elated with Mark McGwire's record hitting season. I was out but not really in the community. I wasn't singing or knitting; the only regular activity was going to a monthly potluck.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today? (not in any particular order)

-- Feed the cats -- Bring Robert's birthday present to work -- Do some dishes that were set soaking last night -- Make a reservation for the motel I'm staying at for my niece's wedding. -- Spend some time outside to talk with neighbors and enjoy the nice day.

3. Snacks I enjoy:

-- Cheetos Puffs (the super puffy kind, not the harder ones) -- Peanut M & Ms -- Dry roasted peanuts -- Honey nut Cheerios

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

-- Talk with Warren Buffett about money management and good sources for a money manager. -- Establish an education fund for music outside the schools. -- Establish a program that would provide child care and young child education for single parents. -- Sponsor fiber workshops that would be affordable and pay the teachers well. -- Set up a comfortable household that would be placed in a beautiful setting where I could have my friends.

5. Places I have lived:

-- Portland OR (4 different neighborhoods) -- McMinnville OR (college)

6. Peeps I want to know more about:

??? When I want to get to know someone I try to read their blog archives from the beginning. It gives me a better feeling for that person than reading their responses to a 5 question meme.

Sucked in by spinning

I went to the Black Sheep Gathering this last weekend with Susan and Gail. Mobility kept me from getting around to everything comfortably but it was a joy to see the wares at the vendors booths. This year I decided that I would look for different things instead of gravitating toward things that made me feel safe. This not only included different kinds of fibers but also different colorways that normally I would not touch. I came home with wools, mohair locks, a silk bell, angelina, suri alpaca and cotton (the last two courtesy of Susan who generously shared in her goodies). No Woolee Winder though. I couldn't swing it and get fiber. It wasn't the most cost effective way of getting fiber but I want to learn how different fibers spin up. Summertime is feeling more like spinning weather than knitting weather. And if nothing else it's giving my legs a good gentle workout.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A master of words

Words. They communicate a little or a lot. Those who can't use words well struggle with everyday things while others seem to be so skilled with words that you wonder if they were weaned on the great wordsmiths like Mencken, Faulkner, or E B White. The ones who write words have time to ruminate, to ponder and erase, to write retractions.

Tonight's weather: Dark. Continued mostly dark tonight with widely scattered light in the morning.

Stand up comedy has few truly gifted wordsmiths. The medium is brutal to those who can't figure out what to say. The less talented rely on wisecracks, cheap shots, and the shock of the taboo. The ones who shine are the ones who can take the ordinary word and make it extraordinary.

Take refrigerator-freezer. It's too long; it should be refrigideezer.

George Carlin, who died of heart failure on Sunday, was one of those wordsmiths. His love of language was evident in everything he did in his performances. When I listen to the records he did during the seventies, I hear a joy of the world he hears around him of the noises that we call words.

How about cheese fon-don't for those who don't like cheese fondue?

His lament of how he couldn't perform his take on the voices he heard in the neighborhood he grew up in (Morningside Heights in upper Manhattan) struck me. He couldn't do the voices of the Puerto Ricans, the blacks, the Italians, the Jews because he was an "Irish white guy."

Hey man, where yo' ass at? Shee-it, my man ain't got no ass. How you keep dem pants up man? Shee-it, man ain't got no ass.

His paean to baseball versus football is a classic that makes every baseball lover adore him. His discussion of how to deal with all of his stuff appeals to every person who has ever had more than the bare necessities. And of course, there is his well-known list of seven words you can never say on television. His observations of the everyday were moments when you wanted to say, "Duh! I could have thought of that!" But you didn't. George did.

Now I've heard of a semi-boneless ham. It has a bone. And it's a BONE. Ain't no semi-bone. It's like military intelligence: it's mutually exclusive.

Who empties the wishing well?

I heard about an ad for a semi-truck driver. Now maybe it's someone who doesn't finish the course. Or it's a little guy: "Hey guys! Hey!"

There are three asses in the world. I've numbered them one, two and C. I never could number things. But there's one, the fat ass. Then there's the everyday you-seen-one-you've-seen-'em-all ass. Then there's the unfortunates like me, no ass at all. Gotta have a fat wallet and three handkerchiefs in your back pockets.

I've read his words but they don't have the same zing as when he spoke them. He presented his observations with a bevy of voices and faces. I imitated his voices as I repeated his lines.

You'd never see black guys in Harlem saying, "Oh gee whiz we won the big game today." Instead you'd have red-headed Irish guys named Duffy who'd be saying, "Hey man, what's playin'. Gimme some skin, man. You see what they doin'? Shee-it, man."

He was an angrier man as he grew older and at times his bitterness was hard to hear, but you listened because you knew that somewhere in that bile was that love of language. He said that we often use the word that is synonymous with loving someone to hurt others. It was better to use words to be kinder, to convey joy, to foster understanding. And of course, to laugh.

Hope you're having a good talk with God, George. I'm sure you have plenty to say.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It started with a song (and went on and on)

It's a pleasant evening for spinning. I sat on the front porch and watched folks come and go. Tonight was mystery fiber from Fantasy Fibers on the Louet. At first I thought it would end up being a cat bed but I'm now thinking it would make a nice sweater along the lines of the Adult Surprise Jacket. The link is through Ravelry, so if you're not a member, just google it. It's a classic.

Back to Knit Camp

Saturday was going to be hot. Hot and muggy. Hot and sticky. And if you are in Vermont, AC's are not that plentiful as in, say, Miami. Fortunately there was one in the conference room we were in at the Paradise Inn so those of us who were prone to meltage in temperatures above 75 had a refuge. A few ventured off to the Inn's pool but a good portion of us stayed and knitted. Folks helped folks out with their many different projects and much chocolate and mac and cheese was devoured.

Sadia showed folks how to spin on a handspindle. As she had a huge collection acquired over the years, she had a good number of students working on the roving I had brought for folks to play with. Some played and set it aside but a couple hung in there and were spinning long after the demo.

When Sadia wasn't demo'ing basic handspindling, she was playing with her new spindle. She plied her yarn by Andean plying, which I had not seen before. She was kind enough to show me how to do it. It's not hard and nice to know how to do if you want to do sample lengths of spinning.

In the meantime, I spent my time at my wheel working on the Parade roving from StitchJones. I had hoped to have it all spun up and ready to be plied but still had some to spin. The spinning went quickly and the plying worked up well. It was an experiment with splitting the entire roving down the middle to match up colors and while I didn't match up the entire length the color changes were still very pretty.

Overall it was a wonderful gathering. We missed several participants who had come to last year's event, but we got to meet new folks and put faces to names. I hope to come to it next year. It's a magic time where people of different places and spaces come together to share a craft.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It started with a song (continued)

Our next stop on the fiber field trip was Golding Fiber Tools. I had seen one of their spinning wheels in the "flesh" sotospeak and just loved it, so I was excited to be able to see the workshop and items in their home environment. Tom and Diane Golding were very happy to give us a tour of the place and show some of Tom's handiwork. The pictures are beautiful but seeing it all in person makes one really appreciate the beauty of the work.

To give you an idea of his work, the window of his shop gallery is a prime example of what he has done with a simple circular shape with a pentagrammic motif. The outside is adorned with swans and the interior is framed with beautiful knotwork.

A wheel is far out of our budgets (no one placed an order) but the handspindles were a more affordable way of indulging in a piece of art. Sadia was definitely trying them out. I was a little more hesitant but tried out a few before settling on one dubbed "Swan Lake", a lovely 1.9 oz cherry that was perfect for doing heavier yarns and plying. A few of us picked out spindles and took our treasures home.

We headed then to WEBS in Northampton where we met up with more Knitcampers. The look on their faces at seeing me there was priceless. Some were there for the first time so were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of yarn available. Having been there last year, I wasn't quite so besotted with the deals available and was in search of cobweb weight yarn. I was a little disappointed that there were only two options available in the weight I was looking for: Jaggerspun Zephyr and Misti Alpaca Lace. I was working my swatch of the Melanie in Lane Borgosesia Cashwool and liking how it was working up, so I was loath to switch to a different fiber. So I walked out of WEBS with a tiny crochet hook for beadwork, stitch markers, and charting tape. I don't know who won for having spent the most, but it was fun seeing the faces of the newbies.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It started with a song

A couple of months ago, people on the GLBT Knit list were getting ready for the Knit Camp East. Food lists were being compiled, requests for demos being posted, and a general excitement of getting to meet friends known only online was building. Soon after I had sung to the Yarn Harlot, I was getting requests to call in and sing to the group as I had said I would not be able to make it to Knit Camp this year.

Originally I had thought I would not have been able to make it due to limited funds. But when the call came through, I had received funds from Daddy Bush, making it possible to get a ticket to fly over. I thought that instead of announcing I was coming to the entire group I would make it a surprise instead. So I contacted the camp's hosts and conspired to make my entrance. They very generously offered a bed for me to sleep in for the weekend so I didn't have to worry about accommodations. From there it was a case of keeping the secret for two months until June.

The day arrived with a forecast of heat being posted for Vermont over the weekend. Vermont hot? Yes. And it was hot. More humid than I was used to. My flight stopped at Dulles airport where the place was uncomfortably sticky and delays caused my flight to Albany end up being an hour late. I picked up my car and drove to Bennington for the gathering. I was the first to arrive of the group to my hosts so prepared for the first of several surprisings. Other campers started to arrive and were delighted to see that I had indeed made it over to sing in person.

The next day was field trip day. A group of us went to the Green Mountain Spinnery and got a tour of the place.

It starts with the raw fleece. These are bales of fleeces brought in. GMS prides itself in having as ecologically safe a processing method for making its yarns, so more and more of its fleece purchases are from organically raised sheep.

The fiber being processed that day was cotton. After washing and drying, it's run through a picker a couple of times to clean out vegetable matter and such.

The fiber is then put through the machine that cards it into sliver, then roving.

The sliver (pronounced SLY ver) can be seen on the device on the very top of this pic

This is the roving being wound onto bobbins prior to spinning.

The roving is then spun into singles.

After plying, the bobbined yarn is steamed to set the twist.

Next: Golding Fiber Tools

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm here

If you're a regular reader and notice that I blog mostly on the weekends and saw that I hadn't posted last weekend, well don't worry. I'm fine. I was out on a trip over the weekend to surprise a great group of folks who thought they would be hearing my voice over the tinny speaker of a cellphone and got a live performance instead. More to come when I have a few hours to post.