Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drop Spindles

One of my readers, my sister actually, asked what a drop spindle is and what it does. Well, here you go. A drop spindle is a small tool that you use to spin yarn. It makes yarn just like a spinning wheel only you power it with a twist of your fingers instead of treadling with your feet. And you have to manually roll the yarn you spin onto the shaft of the drop spindle. There is a picture of a woman using her drop spindle above this text. In the right photo she's setting the spindle to spinning and in the left she is drafting the fiber and letting the twist climb into it.

Lots of places in the world a simple drop spindle is used to make yarn. And many of those spinners can out spin a woman with a spinning wheel today. All your clothes, unless you wear leather, is made of some kind of yarn. Your jeans, your dresses, everything. Some are woven and some are knitted. But all is made from some kind of yarn. If it's really tiny they call it thread but it's still spun and it's still yarn. Until the spinning wheel was invented in 500 - 1000 AD all yarn was spun with a drop spindle. Until very modern times most still was. Spinning wheels were and are expensive. Most people couldn't afford one. So you had to spin all materials that were to be woven or knitted with a drop spindle. You probably would begin learning about the age of three to five. Yes, I'm serious.

This is taking making yarn to the very, very basic core of the process. The reason I wanted to learn to do this is that it is portable. These are most of my drop spindles. The wooden one on it's side is the one I used to spin the orange/yellow fiber. Most of the ones in the glass are small and can be used to spin light, fine, fibers. I'm going to try some silk. It's strong and easy to spin. It's so strong you don't really have to spin it to knit with it. You could just pull it out to the thickness you want and just knit it. But I'm going to give the small drop spindles a try. Especially since I made the three on the right. I really should see if they work.

In the meantime, I finished knitting my sweater but it needs seam seaming before I show it off. I'll get to that one of these days. Maybe tonight. Who knows?

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm Getting There

Last year at the end of the year I made it my goal to finish all the projects I had started. Not just the projects I started in that year but all my unfinished projects. Well, I finished some knitting projects and some sewing projects and some crocheting projects. I did finish all the projects I started in that year. But I have two needlework projects I have never finished. One is crewel embroidery and one is cross stitch. I'm not sure if I will finish either of those this year but I will finish all the projects that I started this year. I have this sweater and a pair of socks for myself that I started in the spring.

I did a yarn substitution on the sweater and came up short for the dark teal and the light rust colors. I used this particular yarn because I knew it was always available. What I didn't realize is that not all the colors are always available. So I ordered the blue and it's being shipped as I type this but the rust, which makes a band all the way around the front/back/front, I'm not so sure I have enough and they don't have that color right now. So I'm on the list to be notified when the yarn stock goes up. I got a notification they were getting more in but when I looked not in the rust color. So I'll finish the other front, sew up seams, sew in ends, and see if I can be patient enough for the rust to come in or use up what I have, and since the sweater is striped use another color with the rust on the band. Sigh, and yes, I did order one ball more than I figured I needed.

The socks: I have figured out where I left off in the pattern but remembered the instructions for one of the stitches used is funky. I did figure it out but now I have to figure it out all over again. So I need a couple of hours with some quiet and nothing to do so I can unravel the sock pattern mystery. When I get started I won't stop working on them until they are done because I don't want to figure it out again. I'm at the increases for the heel gusset on the first sock so I have a long way to go.

And on the home front I got a reminder that your kids can scare the devil out of you even when they are grown. I got a call from Shannon 's husband, Will, that she is in the hospital in Oklahoma City where she is going to school for her job. She passed out in class and threw up so they called 911 and hauled her off. She is fine. It looks like a case of food poisoning. I'm glad she's okay but this ol' gal got a good scare there for a minute.

And I just found out it's Friday not Thursday so have stuff to do I thought I would be doing tomorrow but must be done today. I think there's a warp in the space time continuum.

What a day!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I have a clothes line. I've used one for years. But when we got Charlotte she pulled all the clothes off of the clothes line. So now I have a new umbrella style clothes line out of her reach. I didn't realize that there were advantages and disadvantages to different types of clothes lines.

I had just a single rope tied from the house to the gazebo. This worked well until the willow tree overgrew it and Charlotte got tall. The advantages were that there was a single row of clothes so they dried really fast and it was easy to hang stuff up. The disadvantages were that it would sag in the middle with heavy stuff so you had to be careful how you loaded it up and it would hold just one load of clothes. And you had to move your container of clothes pins and laundry basket with you as you hung up the clothes.

When I was at the cousin reunion in Washington my cousin had a clothes line that had a t shaped brace at either end with rows of clothes lines between. But the lines were spaced pretty far apart. So it was almost like having a single line with the advantage of more space so you could hang up more than one load of laundry at a time.

Now, with the umbrella type I can stand in one place and just twirl the clothes line. Easy. Also it will hold at least three loads of laundry at a time if you fill it. But the lines are pretty close together. And the ones near the pole are very short. You can only hang socks and undies on them. So I usually don't do more than two loads at a time and use every other line so the clothes aren't so crowded.

I think what you chose is simply personal preference and how much space you have for your line. But I think hanging clothes outside have so many advantages over the dryer.

1. You don't need any fabric softener to make your clothes smell wonderful. I feel cheated when I have to dry sheets and my pajamas in the dryer. Even Darryl's shirts smell good when he doesn't.

2. They will dry faster than the dryer in the summer. Light stuff will dry almost so fast I can take the first stuff off the line by the time I hang up the last of the load.

3. You save energy.

4. You can use less chemicals in your laundry. I am careful about bleach use because it kills the good stuff in the septic tank. So I can use less bleach because the sun does the job. And on breezy days I don't need fabric softener because the wind does a pretty good job. Better for stuff that touches my skin and the environment.

5. Less ironing. Yes, the wind does a fine job of removing wrinkles and if I don't get the clothes off the line when they are dry they don't wrinkle again as they would if I left them in the dryer.

So if you don't have a clothes line I recommend you get one. Even if you can only use it on your days off you will find it a little bit habit forming.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crocheting Going On

So I have this crocheted basket with cotton yarn in it. I love these baskets and had planned to made a few more. I don't like knitting with cotton yarn but don't mind crocheting with it at all. Most of the yarn is blue or greens. But there were a few partial balls of bright yarn so I picked up a crochet hook and started using them up. I opted for a bowl shape because I could use the yarn without planning ahead too much and worrying about running out of any one color. And I made the little bowl in the photo above. I stuck an African Violet in it so you can tell the size.

Well, I felt compelled to stop at some point and had a small amount of the orange and purple left over. So I made this tiny bowl. It sits next to me and I use it for tossing in small knitting things as I go. Such as bits of yarn that are snipped off after weaving in ends. Or maybe stitch holders, stitch markers, or stitch counters. It's a very handy tiny bow. and I love it.

So I was helping my friend and neighbor with the annual West Side Women in Action do that happens every year. They were short handed so I pitched in where I could and manned Linda's booth for her so she could schmooze and make sure all went smoothly.

They have a raffle and there are tons of raffle prizes every year. Enough for every person there to win one or two. They are a generous lot with generous friends. The proceeds from the raffle benefit the WSWIA scholarship fund. So I bought my 15 tickets. As did almost everyone there. I won six prizes. Including lunch for two at Mountain Mike's Pizza and a $25 gift card for Staples. I was also running the gifts to the winners. Then we were asked to pull a ticket and hand the ticket and prize to the announcer then run the prize to the winner. I felt so guilty winning so much that when I pulled the tickets I looked at the number to make sure it wasn't one of mine. There were three of us running the prizes so I won one prize because another runner pulled my ticket. There was a table of ladies with businesses in Patterson and they were meditating and thinking positives thoughts about winning. Every single one at that table won at least one prize. There were 10 at the table. I think since most of the day I was manning a booth right behind their table I was getting the Patterson good vibe over flow.

And for my sister who wanted to know what a drop spindle is and what it does I will do a post about that just for you later in the week.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Drop Spindle Spinning

So I took my drop spindle with me to Canada. I had already started using it at home but was determined to do a little spinning with it every day, even while on a trip. Which is kinda the point of learning to use the thing in the first place. It's very portable. And not as slow as you might think.

So I finished spinning this fiber in Canada which is interesting because I bought the fiber in Canada last year. In Kamloops as matter of fact. So there is something symmetrical about the whole thing. In any case I was not too sure about my ability to ply these singles on my drop spindle for a couple of reasons. First is I'm not so sure about how even it is and how well I'd do if the singles broke. The second is because I'm not that good at plying yet anyway so I don't want to confuse myself with learning another technique when I don't feel I've mastered the basics yet.

So I brought it home and plied it on my wheel. The result is 314 yards of a sock weight yarn. I believe I began with 4 ozs of fiber. So when I finished it put it on a small table next to the last yarn I finished spinning and was still admiring but has a pattern with it and a goal in mind when I noticed that they go together pretty well.

I don't have any idea why blogger is doing this but I don't know how to fix it. I might have to start all over as I've had nothing but trouble with this template.

Oh good, it stopped. Anyway, I noticed that these two look pretty nice together. I have forgotten how much is in the darker hank there but since I haven't wound it into a ball yet it's easy to find out simply by counting the loops. Each loop around my niddy noddy is two yards. So I count the loops, multiply by two and I know about how many yards I have.

So now I'm thinking I might have to do some color work socks or something. But then there will be enough left over for another pair of color work socks. What the heck am I going to do now? And there is that new sock book I bought in Canada with all that cool color work in it. Hmmm.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm Still Here

On my recent trip to Canada I took several projects with me. A sock project that I had put down and now have to figure out where I left off and what was hinky about the instructions. I figured out where I left off but didn't have the patience to figure out the instruction thing again.

Spinning with my drop spindle. I had put the roving into small bits to spin small amounts at a time and it was my goal to spin three of these bits a day. I did that and managed to use all I had left of the roving.

The sleeves for a sweater that I'm knitting for myself. The sweater has stripes and I didn't bring enough yarn so I had to stop when I reached the point of needing that color again.

Kelly gave me some yarn she didn't like and of course being a yarn pig I took it. But I'm not enamored of the of the colors. But I did cast on a plain sock, because I had nothing to knit on the plane, and finished the socks quickly. I decided to chuck the finished socks into a dye pot of Kool-Aid because I could do inside and didn't need any special equipment. I used two packages of red thinking that it usually comes out pretty light and I wanted to be sure it covered the muddy colors in the socks.

As you can see there is nothing muddy about the color red they are now. I do wish I had only used one package of Kool-Aid. Maybe the rest of the stripes would have shown up. But it is what it is and I now have a nice pair of bright red socks. And they smell good.

This is the back of a Christmas present I have been working on for a while. I'll take a picture of the whole thing but can't post it until after Christmas. All the materials for the project were purchased at the same time. But after it was finished I can see two different shades of gray in it. I hope the person who gets it doesn't mind because it is my first lace project and it is made of handspun alpaca. Spun by Darryl. It's lovely yarn. All of the fleece came off the same animal so I can't figure out the color thing.

And I took this photo in Kamloops when we were headed to dinner to celebrate Q's birthday. This is the brightest rainbow I have ever seen. It almost looked like you could touch it. And when we parked the end of it was right over a local bank branch. That must be where the gold is stored.