Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I can't believe it's been a whole month since I last posted! You would think that after a month I'd have a lot to show. Unfortunately, there's not much progress on the knitting front. That's partly because life is still pretty busy, and it's also partly because . . .

I started spinning!

Two weekends ago I got a down-and-dirty lesson in spinning with a drop spindle from Theresa, another knitter/spinner here in Houston who makes the most fabulously beautiful things. (She recently won first prize ribbons at the Texas state fair--one for a beaded shawl she made out of her own handspun, and another for an amazing lace tablecloth. Both were really breathtaking.) I bought some fiber from the Fiber Denn (without even knowing what I was really buying!), got a lesson from Theresa, and came home with some borrowed spindles to try. Since then I've been spinning a little bit here and there, and so far I've made four little skeinlets:

They proceed from left to right in order of when I spun them. My first pathetic skein is on the left--see how overspun it is? The skeins got progressively less overspun as I practiced more. I was also able to make the most recent skein a little more consistent in thickness. Although it's not perfect, I'm really pleased with my progress.

I have inexplicably had a bee in my bonnet about spinning for a while. I don't know why I suddenly developed an interest in it; for a long time I couldn't have cared less about spinning. I admired handspun yarn and could appreciate, on a general fiber-lover level, the kind of skill and expertise necessary to make handspun. My friend the Boll Weaver told me that spinning is very "zen" and that I'd love it. But I never was very interested, I think mostly because I've never been at a place in life (literally or figuratively) where I've had the time or inclination to start a whole new fiber hobby with a whole new learning curve and a whole new set of tools.

But during the past few months, I've started getting really interested in handspun. I like the idea of making unique yarn that no one else has. And I love looking at the beautiful things that Marnie spins up. So I wrote to Marnie to get some tips on starting, and I also remembered that Theresa spins and could actually give me a demo. (Before I talked to Theresa, I really had no idea how spindles worked. At all. Since yarn automatically winds onto a bobbin on a spinning wheel, I assumed that yarn automatically winds onto the shaft of a spindle, too, and for the life of me I could not figure out how that happened. Shows how much I knew just two weeks ago before the scales fell from my eyes!)

I got a lesson from Theresa two Sundays ago. And now . . . look, Ma! I'm spinning!

Here's a bit of detail shot:

As you can tell, the best and most recent skein is on the left. After my second attempt--my first solo spinning, without Theresa there to keep an eye on me--I decided to try for a thicker yarn and concentrate on consistency. There were a few hiccups in the third skein, but the fourth skein turned out much better. I still haven't moved very far beyond the park-and-draft stage, but on the fourth skein I was able to do some "real" drop spinning for a few seconds at a time.

And here's the fiber that started it all!

It's about 4 ounces of Shetland wool in the "Phlox" colorway from the Fiber Denn, and it's almost all spun up at this point. I was thrilled with the wool--it's nice and soft, and the colors are beautiful--so I regret mangling it so much with my clumsy beginner spinning. I might order some more to save for when I'm a better spinner so I can give the wool the treatment it deserves.

Of course, in my wisdom I started a new hobby just as the holidays are rapidly approaching. I'm torn between wanting to spin more to practice and needing to get a move on my knitting for holiday presents. The holiday presents will probably win out, but I hope to spin a little bit here and there, and maybe I'll keep improving.

GPG's mom's Silk Garden scarf is done. Pictures of that to come soon. In the meantime, though, have a happy Halloween tomorrow!

Monday, October 01, 2007


No new photos for the moment, unfortunately; I worked all day on Saturday and spent yesterday trying to recover before another week of work. In lieu of me posting anything, I'm providing a few links of interest:

* A gorgeous afghan--I've always wanted to knit something like this, but given the state of the stash and my current rate of knitting, I'd be an old lady by the time I finished.

* Totally cool short-row socks, perfect for socks that self-stripe or pool/flash.

* I had this shrimp appetizer at a friend's house earlier this year and it was DELICIOUS. My friend graciously provided the link so I can try making it myself.

* Knitted amigurumi grass from Mochimochi. If I can get my act together, I'll make the grass to go along with her woodins from this quarter's Knitty as the Christmas present for GPG's nephews.

* A very good translation of Anna Karenina. Yes, it was an Oprah's bookclub book, but that doesn't discount the fact that it's Tolstoy and I'm really enjoying the book so far.

Hope everyone has a good week!