Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Radio silence.

I haven't been updating for the past month because there hasn't been much to say with direct relevance to Firefly Mountain Yarns. I'm just filled to bursting with happy news, though, and it is indirectly related, I swear! Fiber exploits of every kind!

I'm going to try to be essentially chronological here, but I might get a bit excited and skip around. (HINT: SPINNING WHEEL!)

I ended up spinning those 2 oz of BFL. They came out in a very smooshy and lovely bulky yarn which I knit into a pseudo-Calorimetry which I know will come in handy as it's starting to get cold now.

As you know, dear readers, my spindle recently broke. Also, it was my birthday on the 22nd of September. I was going to be in Washington that week, so birthday celebrations were happening before I left. I get a box in the mail and, joy of joys, a notice from the UPS man that he has something for me, too! I had been warned about the box in the mail by my mother, who said it was "from her but not from her". It was from her and... Paradise Fibers! I love Paradise Fibers. I've ordered from them several times and always had great service. I'm all excited and I open my box and there's... get this... a POUND of baby camel top in gorgeous natural caramel brown. Let's just all consider how awesome my mother is for a minute. There's also half a pound of Targhee, which I'm also very excited about since I had expressed a wish to spin some different types of wools and I've never spun Targhee before. AND it is naturally white so I can do all kinds of fun dyeing with it. I call her up and thank her profusely and tell her how excited I am about the camel and the Targhee and she says "and?"

And? There's more?

I tell her that's all that's in the box, and doubtfully say that I guess something could have fallen out, but probably not because the box is pretty full and there's not that much extra room, so maybe they shipped it separately?

That night I get back to my apartment around 1 AM (what? It was a Friday night and I was celebrating my birthday!) and find a HUGE box sitting outside my door from Mr. UPS. I dragged it inside, opened it... and called my mom right then, even though I knew I'd wake her up. (HINT: SPINNING WHEEL)

Yup. My mother bought me a spinning wheel for my birthday. Here I am all thrilled over camel and she's bought me a SPINNING WHEEL.

She's a Babe Production wheel, double treadle, in black. I have named her Penelope and acquired for her a little sheepy buddy from the Lavender Ewe. He sits just above the maiden and I'm calling him Odysseus.

(Warning: gratuitous spinning wheel/felted sheep pictures ahead)

I resisted the temptation to set her up immediately, at 1 AM, but the next morning I put her together and took several pictures. You must forgive the mess in my apartment -- the big box is the box Penny came in, and the rest of the mess is a box of yarn, bits of discarded yarn, and sheets of patterns thrown recklessly around. I'm such a bad person. Teleri, my cat, is completely fascinated by the wheel, as you can see.

Now a picture of my first singles on the wheel. I've never used a wheel before and I did a really poor job for a while -- but I caught on pretty quick, and then took a ridiculous number of photos of the bobbin with my singles, even though it's black merino and you can't see anything about the singles at all.

Before I finished spinning up all three bobbins of singles so I could ply, I had to go to Washington (more on that later) and when I came back... Odysseus the Sheep was waiting for me!

(Still with the mess...)

This is pretty much my favorite picture ever. Just look at him, all sheepy and googly-eyed!

Plying was fun all around. Not only have I never plied on a wheel before, I've only ever plied using an Andean plying bracelet, which is really cool but time-consuming and makes my fingers hurt. Using a lazy kate was a new experience, and a really, really nice one. I plied up a skein and was about to start another when I decided that I probably could spin some more singles, since I still had a bunch of merino. (I STILL have a bunch of merino. I haven't decided what to do with the rest yet.) So I rounded off each of the three bobbins with another half ounce or so of merino and then plied that. The second batch was much, much nicer than the first. I think I really am getting the hang of it!

(Five points to anyone who can tell which skein is which.)

Ahem. Before I can really move on, I need to stop and tell you about Seattle. (Whatever happened to chronological order? This problem could have been avoided if I had just kept you all updated instead of waiting a month for a monster post...)

I was in Seattle for a week because of my master's program in Library and Information Science. I'm in the long-distance program, so I had to visit for a week and now I never have to go back to campus again, which is kind of too bad because Seattle is a really neat town. (But also good, because that's $400 I don't have to spend on a plane ticket and can spend on yarn instead!) Three really excellent things happened in Seattle.

1. I walked to a yarn store called Weaving Works. I had very low expectations. This place blew my mind. Not only did it blow my expectations right out of the water, it totally shattered the complete idea I had of "local yarn store". Holy cow. That place is really something. I, um, may have fallen down and acquired some fiber there. Some yarn for socks for my sister (shh, don't tell her. I owe her after a failed dyeing experiment last summer), and... well, they had a Shetland fleece, and I do love spinning from the lock, and it was cheap!, and and and...

I didn't buy the whole thing. I am very proud of this.

I also bought some lovely lovely Coopworth in three shades of natural brown and one natural white. I think it's going to be a fine colorwork sweater, if I can ever get my act together and design it (not to mention spin the yarn.........). And, um, there was some lovely merino/silk (I have since identified it as this Ashland Bay merino/tussah silk in Sea Mist) and it was REALLY cheap (I won't even tell you how cheap or you might be jealous), so I bought four ounces. Ish.

2. (What, there's more??) I got to hang out with my very cool friends Jules and Joe. That was great fun.

3. I've been applying for hundreds of jobs for months and getting hardly a nibble. I applied for about five jobs the whole time I was in Seattle... and I got one of them! That's right, I'm employed! Not, perhaps, as employed as I would like, but I am teaching an English class at a local community college, and it's something, at least. Good for my pride, anyway.

So back to the spinning. I finished up the black merino (it came out to a dk/worsted weight, three ply, purposely way overplied and blocked severely. I was going for that really tight spiral you get on nice sock yarns sometimes. It totally worked.) and couldn't decide what to do next. I had that camel (oh... the gorgeous camel...) but I didn't want to start on it until I was sure I was ready and wouldn't waste any of the gorgeous fiber. Also, I wasn't sure what kind of yarn I wanted to make from it yet. I figured I should do a little more playing around with my wheel first. I considered the Shetland (don't feel like washing it right now), the Targhee (haven't decided what kind of yarn it wants to be yet), the Coopworth (should really get an idea for how much yarn I'll need before I go ahead with that huge project), my back reserves of alpaca (just not in the mood) and finally settled on about 4 oz of anonymous wool that had been sent with the wheel, I guess to play around with. It was nice but not too nice -- I didn't feel bad that I didn't really have a plan for it. I decided to dye it and then spin some of my own hand-dyed roving on my wheel for the first time. I, uh, just forgot how long it takes fiber to dry in cold temperatures... (I haven't turned my heat on yet.)

I am running low on dye, so I decided to do a light colorway rather than the vibrant ones I usually go for. I wanted something dreamy, a little reminiscent of a rainy day, in blue and purple and green. I think it came out rather well.

The picture, now, the picture did not come out rather well -- which has a lot to do with the fluorescent lighting in my bathroom and the fact that the fiber still wasn't dry yet. But. You CAN sort of get an idea of what my favorite thing about this fiber is.


This skinny, smooth, unimpressive roving turned into a gigantic mass of smooshy, crimpy love. It is ridiculous how smooshy this stuff is. I am shocked beyond words. Do most undyed rovings do this when you wash them? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME? It's so delicious I could just eat it, and certainly can't stop wandering into the bathroom to pet it whenever I'm in my apartment! (It's still not completely dry. It's been days. Days, people.)

To help you figure out what colors that is actually SUPPOSED to be, the weird yellowish-green is actually a very pale green-grey, and the purple's a bit pinker.

I don't actually mind how long it's taking to dry, to be honest. In a frenzy I picked up the merino/silk and started to spin, and it's like a dream. It spins more easily than any merino I've ever used, as the staple length is much much longer, which is a little strange... but I'm not complaining. I've spun probably a little more than half of it so far, over two bobbins. I'm trying to decide whether I want to go for a three ply again. I think I do. And I think this will make the most spectacular shawlette once the yarn's done. I think it should come out about fingering, maybe a little heavier. (Sample? Why would I do a thing like sampling?)

Odysseus is pleased. So, I must admit, am I.

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