Sunday, February 26, 2006

Winter's first snow

I hadn't realized how long it's been since I've written anything here! I get too busy reading about what OTHER's are doing, and not getting any of MY work done!

I've just got back from a trip to see my mother and relatives around "home". I left there long ago, but we still think of it as home, even though they have moved from the place I grew up! Strange. However, it was good to see Mom again; she is doing really well after her surgery. It was a year ago exactly when she had it, and she can't even imagine what a difference it makes to the quality of her life. She is back to her old busy self. Good to see that. And I visited with some of my aunts and brothers and nieces -- had a good time. But it's good to be "home" here too!

I traveled by Greyhound, and probably won't be doing that again anytime soon. They've increased their prices substantially since my last trip. They've eliminated the run I liked to take, so had a 3 and half hour wait to change buses! It was cold, and crowded, and not fun at all! I wasted too much time on that crate (with a driver that didn't know how to change gears)!

The worst thing is that Greyhound Canada has just eliminated 80 people from our call centre, and now all calls will be routed through Dallas, Texas -- like they know anything about towns in Canada! They might be nice people, but still -- how ridiculous!

On the knitting front, I finished a pair of socks for my grand-niece. I meant to start them long ago, but --- Anyway, I did them on the bus a little, finished them at Mom's and gave them to her. She is only 3, the cutest thing, but they are a little big (her mother didn't measure well). That is alright; better than too small! I got some pics here. I don't have a full length photo, but wanted you to see that I didn't want them to be identical. So I made the toes and heels with different colours. I should have started the socks further along so they won't be that close, or one from the other end of the ball, and they would have been reversed. Next time!

I took along some spinning with me, and my spindle. I have to have things to do!! So while watching the Olympics, I would spin. I got two nice large skeins done; I have one more to do. I still don't know what I will do with them. They are a nice colour, and I have some others that may go well together. I keep thinking I need a sweater, but shall see.

I came back home at about 7 am (after a 13 hour bus ride!) thinking I would have a nap, because I had my spinning class to attend. But I had to check emails --- and well.... so I got to lay down later than I should have, and was awakened by my ride! So that was a quick dash out the door (luckily I had everything gathered together) and had a good class. We studied worsted spinning this time; I have always preferred to do worsted over the years, so this was easy. I am liking carding a bit more now that I know what I am doing! I still prefer combing, but that will be in another level. We were given some samples of fleece of an unknown breed, with a lot of yolk on it, but lovely stuff nonetheless. Also, some Lincoln fleece -- nice!! Almost like mohair, and I can see using some of it for reinforcing socks. There was some Gotland too, but I need to wash it first, and spin it up. It does look like it should be nice.

All in all, a good day.

Oh, when I got home, I find that we received a lot of snow while I was gone! I kept telling everyone that we had NO snow at all --- I lied! We have several inches, and it is quite cold. There should be a Chinook Monday, but that will be short-lived. The good thing is that Spring is only about 3 weeks away, and that usually means the snow starts leaving; the farmer's almanac says our seasons are going to be delayed by about 30 days at least this year --- something to do with the tsunami of last year. The whole world is all unbalanced!!

I've noticed that, haven't you?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Yarn from Cheeses

I have mentioned several times to a number of people that I like using these cheeses or wheels of unspun rovings and spin them into my own yarn. In Canada, during the war when sheep wool was scarce, they used the undercoat from buffalo to make yarn. The name stayed, but now they are back to using wool from sheep. Many mills make these wheels; check around. They use these to spin the yarns. I find them in thrift shops quite often. The idea is to knit directly from these wheels-- because of the twisting that happens when you pull up a strand from the side of a wheel, it is enough to hold together. There are normally 6 strands wound around the wheel, and are quite bulky for those great fall sweaters we love!

The first thing to do is to separate those 6 strands. You can't just wind them off the end of the wheel, because they will twist. I rigged up a knitting needle through the sides of a cardboard box, so I can pull the strands off as the wheel rotates. It takes time, but eventually you get six neatly wound balls of singes!

I like to wind them around my thumb, remembering to keep the end sticking out so that I can use them as a centre-pull ball when spinning. That will give it some twist as it comes out of the ball, and then I only have to add a bit more.

There will be more pics of the spinning on another day!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mysterious Ring

That mysterious red thing is now finished, and it was interesting to do. You can see it completed here (I learned that red is hard to photograph):

This is called a Moebius -- it has no outside or inside surface. If you follow it around, you will see that the outside becomes the inside, and then the outside again! It is never ending. While it is not that difficult to knit, it was miserable to get started! Remember when you did your first circular knitting, and you made that little slip of not insuring that your cast-on wasn't twisted? And what happens if it IS twisted?

Well, this has an intentional twist in your circular knitting, but only one twist (half a turn) which results in that twist at the front. If it is wide enough to just fit your shoulders, it can serve as a perfect shoulder wrap. A long one can be worn as a scarf, and hangs rather neatly. And if you make one half turn along the length, you can double that ring into a cowl, or even pull it over your head as a hood! Very versatile!

However, I did say it was maddening that I couldn't get that first row knit up. I have been thinking of doing one of these for a long time (after seeing several things made by Cat Bordhi. I never actually tried doing anything, but kept thinking about how this would work. Eventually, I just had to sit down and DO IT! I cast on with some thick junk yarn, and then worked the second round, and all was well! Hey-- this is easy!

And then I cast-on with the red, to make a proper sized moebius. I determined the number of stitches to cast-0n... and it was all wrong. Rip out. Try once more. Rip out. This one is really HUGE! Okay, re-calculate, this time only half the number of stitches... rip out! This is so frustrating! I didn't have a bit of trouble with that stupid little sample I made! I'm not giving up!

So it finally decides to allow me to knit those first and second rounds; these are the critical ones. After that, I'm well on my way! It was a snap -- and boring; I was doing knit and purl ridges. So I introduced some YOs just for some interest, and finally tried a sideways lace edging. I found I made one little mistake, and will do it differently for the next one.

Next one? Oh, yes! I will do this again, this time knowing a bit more, will be able to create more of a pattern right where I want it, and the way I want it. I also will make it a little wider, to wear as a full hood, or even a shoulder wrap.

Of course, you know that this is not for me!! That is NOT my colour at all!