Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday 2006

This wonderful year of 2006 is almost over. In the northern hemisphere, we are in the depths of cold and long nights. It's known as "winter". Even though it doesn't officially start until December 21, we've already experienced the worst of winter. The weather forecasters have all said this is going to be a mild winter -- somewhere. But about a month ago, we were hit with -30 and -40 degree temperatures, and that is mighty cold! We also got a lot of snow.

Then it dispersed, it warmed up, and we have enjoyed very mild temperatures, with lots of sunshine, and melting snow! That's right, the snow we had is almost all gone. There were a few puddles here and there, some water running in the gutters, but most of the snow has just "evaporated". It's gone. This doesn't seem like winter to me. When we used to get winter, it would snow, it would turn cold, and that's how it stayed until spring. Now, we got this... something's not right in this world.

I am taking a couple days off work next week, and with the Christmas holidays, it amounts to about a week. So I will be going home to see Mom and the rest of the family. Even though I was there in September, it seems like such a very long time ago. Being so far from everyone, I don't get to see them as much anymore, and I have to say that I do miss them. When I was younger, there was adventure in the world, so much to see and do, and I needed some independence. I think I've had enough of that now! hahaha -- I need family more. It will be good to be back there.

The Christmas season was always enjoyable when I was growing up. It started early in December with St.Nicholas day, and that is when we got a present. Then school ended and we had a very long winter break -- about a month, if I recall correctly. All during the worst of the winter months, there was a lot of socializing, lots of dinners everywhere, and mainly visiting and thoroughly enjoying the pleasures of snow and dark and people. That doesn't happen much anymore; not here in the city, that is for sure. It's very different. So now we have shopping, gifts, expenses, rushing, eating too much, frayed nerves, and "when will this end"!! Not the same.

My wish for you all is that you will be able to spend this holiday time with good friends and special people, whether family or not, and that you take some time to be quiet and reflect on all the good things you have, and how very lucky you are. May the new year bring more of that into your life, and may there be peace for us all. Most of all, there should be more than enough fibre in all of our lives, to warm, to caress, to make us content! And of course, the time in which to do it.

This was taken outside my office, which is just across from City Hall, and where the Olympians were presented their medals in '88. Those were different days then.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

New Discovery!

Well, this is new to me at least. I don't think there is anything new in this old world, and it's all been done before. Sorry to burst your bubble. But there are new things in MY life, and that is very exciting.

For a very long time, I've been thinking about how spinning works, and why it happens. That's just the way I am. I've been spinning with a spindle, and a wheel for a long time. I'm now taking the Master Spinner course, and learning a lot more of the fundamentals that I didn't know, and learning how it should be done properly. I am a self-taught spinner, so have developed some inappropriate habits.

However, since doing the analysis of spinning while lying in bed, not able to sleep, I've some up with some absolutely astounding theories! Of course, by morning, I have forgotten them all, so have to start from scratch the next night! I do sometimes get up and write them down, or take up a bit of roving or yarn, and try it out myself. It's odd how it all works so perfectly in my head, but when my hands get involved, there are all kinds of complications! hahaha

So I have developed a theory of twist, and how it comes into play in much of our fibre work, without us knowing it. It causes us some grief too, and helped explain why some yarns seem to split, and why yarn for crochet is different than for knitting. Some people look at me as if I'm from another planet when I start to tell them about this; I now don't say anything, and let them struggle with the problem.

So this week, a co-worker wanted to knit a hat. She has several wheels of the unspun, which she likes, but she had trouble with them coming apart with the slightest tug. Since these are unspun, they have no integrity of their own without any twist. So I told her that I will take it from her and put in just a bit of twist, enough to hold together, but still keep it soft and lofty -- something like a lopi-style yarn. So I did take it home, and accomplished just that! I'm so excited to see what she thinks of it! And it was so cool doing it!

It may not be easy to see the size of the yarn from the photo (I need to include some reference in my pics), but it's a nice soft lofty 2-ply yarn, about 5-6 wraps per
inch. I have almost 8 oz in the skein, since it had been partially used. It's in natural white, but I don't know the breed -- probably the usual generic sheep that we have around here.

The cool thing about all of this is that I didn't use a wheel at all for this. I also didn't use a spindle to create any twist. What did I use? Well, actually, I didn't use any tool at all, except for my little ol' hands! I did use a ball-winder and an umbrella swift eventually to make the skein. But I have had this idea for a long time, and had to put it into practice. And it was such fun doing!

Of course, it's been used for a long time in industry, and is nothing really new. But we've forgotten that there are many other ways to accomplish the same thing, and the early settlers in this country didn't have the luxury of having a lot of equipment, but they did have the knowledge to make whatever they required. I've been able to use the basics of twist, and apply it to my advantage in making some serviceable yarn! And to me, that's quite wonderful!

I'm in the process now of writing it all out, with explanations of why it works. I am also thinking of building a tool to help in this process (it's a guy thing), but now need to find someone with a workshop to carry out my plans. I'll tell you all about it later on.