Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Road Trip

Guess where?   We're in the 'Bad lands' .  It doesn't seem so bad to me. Maybe I am seeing things with rosy glasses It could be the wet spring: the rivers are high, the fields are green, the lilac is in bloom, the sky is blue, the air temperature is just right. There doesn't seem to be much 'bad' around. The dinosaurs are dead but their bones remain. That's good.  The landscape down in the river valley is dramatic, that's not so bad.  And the Tyrell Museum is a kids dream. I could spend hours describing things, but there is a reason for this road trip: Masters Spinners Level Two residency at Olds College, which just happens to be during Olds Fibre Week! So I will skip the road trip highlights and blog about the course...and fibre. But later. I have an exam to study for first.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Navajo Churra - Is it only good for rugs?

"What the heck is this dirty fleece doing in this garbage bag? Either throw it out or get on with it, for gads sake." This was followed by more muttering, sounds of stomping (of the four-hoof variety) and bags being thrown around the room. So ended my all of two minutes, peaceful chance of revival. Six days and nights of non-stop activity and Priscilla, Queen of the Fleece, had chosen this one and only moment of R & R to bellow out those words from the guest bedroom.  
Upon peeking into the bedroom, I saw that she was referring to the Navajo Churro i had picked up at my first Fibre Fair, where, I perhaps overly excited to see fleeces for sale in large green garbage bags. Whole fleeces. There was Romney, Shetland, and Navajo Churra which I had never seen before. I stuck my hand in the exotic Navajo Churro, piched, pulled and squeezed. It was soft and clean. I bought it without hestitating and then proudly dragged the bag around the room with me as I hunted for other fibre treasures. A sheep farmer spotted by Navajo and tossed her hair while declaring "That's only good for rugs." I sheepishly tried to hide it as she informed me of all the other fleeces that were good for a whole variety of other things. The implication being that Navajjo Churra was good for nothing...but rugs. And I had thought it soft. So much for my skills at checking out a fleece. 
And so it stayed in the guest bedroom in a, err, natural state. Now Priscilla, Queen of the Fleece, was demanding that I wash it. So I did. It still feels soft to me.  

Navajo Churro was brought over to the Americas by the Spanish and the Navajo quickly adopted it. They are hardy and produce a double coat; a long hairy outer coat and a soft downy inner coat. It washed easily in small batches as there is very little lanolin in the wool. I decided to experiment and pulled the long coarse hairs away from the soft downy wool. You can pull them apart or use a coarse comb I used a horse comb (see an earlier blog), separated them and ran them through the drum carder. The white is the long coarser hairs and the grey the soft downy wool. It still feel soft to me, but now I can get three different types of wool from the one fleece, a soft wool, a tough wiry coarse wool (good for warps and rugs) and a mixture which would be good for outer wear.
The fleece probably would have rotted away if Priscilla hadn't made me wash it. I should thank her. But I won't.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to host a hot flash party - and why you would want to

Last night I held a Hot Flash party and invited women of a certain age from the neighborhood. Everyone was given instructions: come prepared to entertain the others: a poem, a song, an hot flash re-enactment; anything related to the theme.  
Food and refreshment included: soy beans; almonds; Bloody Mary drinks; red wine; chocolate covered ginger; smoked salmon, candied salmon, salmon salad.
Door prizes included:

  •  age-defying cosmetic samples (ask your cosmetic sales women for freebies, they all loved the idea and contributed free samples);
  • a male pharmacist immediately got right into the theme and suggested an ice pack and aspirin (for the husband's headaches); 
  • a USB memory stick (all hot flashing women need more memory); 
  • a key chain holder that beeps and flashes when it hears you whistle; 
  • chocolate (of course); 
  • a copper ring (to help prevent arthritis); 
  • sleep-eaze pills (a favorite); 
  • herbal pills (to prevent hot flashes); 
  • fans (small electric to hang around your neck or Chinese paper fans. 
Name tags were made from unneeded Kotex self adhesive pads. Bloody Mary's were served and after chit chat, we drew names for the entertainment. It was great! Jane read out her wonderful poem on aging (she called it doggerel but it was pure poetry), Vallie had memorized a long poem that was quite touching, Rioko, of Japanese, descent told us that there was no word in Japanese for hot flashes as only 7% of women in Japan experienced hot flashes compared to 55% of N.A. women, Leslie who teaches Gender Studies told us about her PhD student researching the use of period-be-gone pills that young women are now taking to by-pass periods, and on it went. We had a great time, learned new things and laughed and laughed.
Do's: eat soy, almonds, sunflower seeds
Don'ts: coffee, chocolate, aged cheese, red wine

Monday, June 14, 2010

Franklyn and Delores

Thank you Materfamilias for introducing me (and now all of you) to Franklyn and Delores. Franklyn is a male knitter (apparently very keen on lace work) who has a marvelous blog which I have linked to on the right hand side of this blog page under the name The Panopticon. Read it and laugh! This guy has a wicked sense of humour. Take the last post in which he shows a picture of his muscular chest and arm showing some sort of rash which resembles a lace knitting chart. It seems he has been knitting too much lately. And Delores is a, well, she appears to be a sheep with bad ass attitude who has moved in with him.  
Photo by Franklin (or maybe by Delores), of Franklin, borrowed from Franklin's Blog The Panopticon
Eureka! I immediately recognized this phenomenon where a hobby can take on a life of its own, move in with you, and take over your life and your home. In Franklyn's case it was a sheep named Delores who moved in with him. In my case it was also a sheep, albeit one that had been, well, fleeced. I suspect she was looking for her fleece that was stored in my loft for, oh, well over 12 years. A naked sheep named Priscilla (and yes, she is aptly named, a little prissy, always expecting perfection and always disappointed with the lack of it) who came looking for her fleece. She found it and is taking her naked revenge by whispering into my ear, things like:
"A serious fibre artist has a serious stash. This is NOT a serious stash."
or muttering:
"More fleece. Frankly, this is not enough fleece. Not nearly enough"  
Priscilla has made herself at home in the guest bedroom surrounded by fleece. While Delores might wallow in my stash, not Priscilla. Priscilla has a clipboard in hand and a pencil tapping against her furrowed brow and estimating the number of fleeces stored in there ... and in the loft, and the laundry room, and how much space is still available. Heck, Priscella is running the house like a warehouse. You will hear more of Priscella in coming blogs. Franklin, if you are reading this, for gads sake, do not let Delores read this and give Priscilla any ideas. I think it best if they are kept isolated.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Knit in Public day & Men who knit

Knitting in Public (KIP) day is coming. There is one in Victoria, one in Duncan (Whippletree Junction), Nanaimo (Mad about Ewe), Errington Public Market, Courtney and, heck, just about everywhere. Find a KIP event near you. Dates vary but happen in the coming week. I hope to be at one but I will take my spinning public. 
Tis a strange thing to actually have a day that is a dedicated Knit in Public day. I mean since when did knitting have to be deemed needing a support group? Our knitting ancestors must be turning in their graves wondering where they went wrong that their descendants are cowering in their houses secretly knitting, needing the safety of a crowd to come outdoors.
Of course, if you are a man, which I am not, but if you were, and if you were so knitterly inclined, then, perhaps the need for knitting support, safety in numbers and on a sanctioned day, is understandable. Here's an article on truck drivers with an urge to knit, although I notice this photo from the article shows a trucker INSIDE his truck in private (Photo courtesy of Wall Street Journal article by Jennifer Levitz).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Now what?

Finally. I managed to finish the last of the Gotand fleece. It was beautiful to spin, soft, light, silky and smooth. I tried to sort it by shade and came up with three pronounced shades: light oatmeal, light gray and dark gray. Here's the stats:

  • Weight: 774grams (@ 1lb. 10 oz.)
  • Yardage: 967.5 meters...I think
  • Single ply whorl ratio: 8:1
  • Ply ratio: 6:1
  • Twist angle: 200
  • Wraps per inch (WPI) single: 12
  • Wraps per inch (WPI) plied: 6
  • Spinning method: Drum carded, stripped and worsted forward draft
All his looks confident when seen in print, but know this: I am not confident in my own stats. It is all a little by guess and by golly, but a starting point if I want to try and do some more.
And the BIG question now facing me is 'Now what?'. What to do with it?