Fallen Down the Rabbit Hole

Some people stalk knitting patterns (“what should I cast on next?”).  Some people stalk yarn (“oooo pretty”).  I’m stalking spinning wheels.  It’s become my new obsession.

I’ve narrowed down my latest favorites to a Kromski Sonata, Kromski Minstrel, Ashford Traveler and Louet Julia.  I hope to make a final decision and buy one by Christmas. I have time.  Suggestions are definitely welcome!  My criteria are – double treadle, castle style, lots of ratio options and accessories so I won’t outgrow it soon, no more than 550 euros, and preferably possible to set up for both double drive and scotch tension (although I know the Sonata and Julia are only scotch tension).  Oh and it should appeal visually too.  If looks were the highest criteria I’d go with the Traveler.  I don’t know why, but I just like it’s looks the best.

Anyway, I did sit down today and spin up an entire 100g of BFL combed top in one sitting.  And now it’s all gone! I’ll have to get more asap.  I am in training for the 1 day spinning bootcamp coming up in 3 weeks.

This is my 3 bobbin EVER.  I’m pretty proud of it.  Now I’ll have to ply it with the other full bobbin I have of this wool.  Oooo I’m nervous about this.  I’ve never plied anything before.  Time to go stalk youtube for how-to videos….

And, at the same time, this has grown in the back garden.  It’s a dahlia, but I don’t know anymore which type.

Knitting and Stuff

Friday a friend of mine said “there hasn’t been much knitting on your blog lately”. Well, that doesn’t mean there’s no knitting happening chez moi!

Mostly I’ve been working on something I can’t show you.  Sorry.  And I’ve been practicing my spinning! Check this out.

I don’t know what kind of fiber this is.  I’m guessing BFL.  The staple is pretty long and it’s really soft. I bought quite a while ago with the idea of spindle spinning, which I never got the hang of or enthusiasm for.  This wheel spinning is going better and better every day that I sit down to practice.  However, I can’t wait to go to my day long lesson in September.  I wish it was sooner, but it’s still a month away.  I’ll just have to keep bumbling along til then.

And I’ve cast on my black hoodie.

This is the center back, with decreases to make waist shaping.  The pattern is Piscataqua and I’m making it with Imperial Ranch Erin worsted weight yarn, 100% wool. This is the same yarn/ranch that provided the yarn for the last Olympic sweaters for the U.S. team.  It’s really nice to work with! It could have a little more twist for my liking, but still, it’s soft and holds its shape enough for some cables.  I meant to cast this on and have it finished by now – you know, work on a black sweater in the summer when there’s more light – but I’ve been working on the sweater-that-can’t-be-shown and only started now, in August.  August is still summer, I hear you say.  Oh yeah?  Not in these parts…

Doing the Mazurka

I bought a spinning wheel! It’s an old style Kromski Mazurka, the original version with the bobbins you can’t buy anymore.  It did come with an original bobbin and 2 homemade ones that will also work.  I bought it from a woman who, I found out, has at least 6 other wheels. I picked it up from her house in Den Haag, so not so far away.  She also gave me a quick lesson on how the wheel works, which was very helpful to a novice like me.

I decided to take it apart and put a darkish finish on it and clean and oil it up.  Here are the photos of the process.  It was actually really easy to take apart and put back together.  I took a lot of before photos to help me remember how it should go back together.

Before:

And after:

What a difference cleaning and oiling made! It spins so much easier now! In fact, I sat down and played with the tension and tried to make yarn and after just 30 minutes, I WAS MAKING YARN!

If you read the bobbin from right to left, in the beginning I was making fat blobby yarn, then in the middle it got a little better but the tension was all wrong and I was having to unwind it and take out twist very often.  It wasn’t feeding into the bobbin nearly fast enough.  I tightened up the drive belt and tried again and voila! on the far left of the photo it’s actually pretty consistent and useful YARN! Super cool.

The other day I went to the Gamma and bought a cheap floor mat to set under the wheel because the wooden legs on the wooden floor just scooted all over the place.  She now has her “spot” in the living room.

Now I can spend my time practicing and trying to be even more consistent in how thick or thin, and the amount of twist added.  Yesterday a friend on Ravelry sent me a message wondering if I had seen this class, coming up in September – Bootcamp for Beginning Spinners.  It’s a full day of intensive spinning lessons.  I signed up within 15 minutes! It sounds perfect for me.

So I’m off on a new fiber adventure.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing lots more about it.

Oh and the previous owner had named her Copelia.  It sounds like a fine name to me and unless another name pops into my head in the next weeks that I like better, or suits better, it will stay Copelia.  Copelia dancing a Mazurka in my living room.  Nice.

Buying and Selling

It seems that lots of knitters are also wannabe shop keepers.  We hoard our yarn that we’ve bought here and there, without an idea of what to make with it but we bought it because it was just too beautiful to leave behind.  And when we have more than is reasonable for space/budget/partner understanding, we sell it on to other like-minded knitters.  We buy and sell and trade yarn with almost as much enjoyment as knitting with it.

I have so much yarn now that I’m in danger of reaching SABLE (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy).  Yes, this is a subject discussed on Ravelry.  I love all of it.  Some more than others.  I decided the other day that if I can in any way justify buying a spinning wheel I have to sell some of my stash.  I have to get this monster under control.  If you are interested, and are on Ravelry, you can find my destash page here.

It doesn’t help the stash balance when I go to interesting places and end up buying yarn.  I always say that yarn bought while on vacation doesn’t count.  But I still have to find somewhere to put it!  I never did show you what I bought in Finland.  It wasn’t much since I was trying to be good.

I bought this yarn from Tuulia, who’s company name is Knitlob’s Lair.  The blue/green is sport weight wool.  The multi skein is sock yarn with 75% wool, 25% poly.

Then, when we went to Vassa to look around, I bought 2 skeins at a yarn shop.  It has dog hair in it.  Actually, 30% dog hair.  I bought it for the uniqueness of it and I think it will make a fine pair of color work mittens.  It’s actually pretty darned soft.

And that’s all the yarn I bought to bring home and knit with later.  I did buy 2 big skeins of Finnish wool that I used in the Swing Knitting class.  Here’s a photo of my project in progress.  I’ve set it down now while I finish some other things first.  I really like the gradient dye.  It’s going to be a large rectangular piece which I will sew into a bag and will wash and felt it.

And that’s all I bought in Finland!  Good, right?

So, I’m busy trying to sell stash yarn (and I did immediately sell off 5 skeins), and up pops an ad in the Dutch Spinners group on Ravelry.  OMG.  You know, I’ve been stalking spinning groups and spinning sites for 6 months now and nothing ever made me want to put down my money before.  But this was just perfect. In every way.  Here she is.

I will pick her (all spinners call their wheels either him or her, mostly her) Tuesday night and this is the photo from the owner.  It’s a Kromski Mazurka.  Now, I’ve fallen in love with the look of the Kromski Minstral and this Mazurka is kind of the grandma to that newer wheel.  What a perfect wheel to learn with and at a steal of a price.  The owner is also going to show me a few things about it when I go to her house Tuesday.  I can’t wait!

Which leads to my last recent purchase…some fiber to practice with of course.  I bought this at Penelope Craft Thursday.  100% merino.

And now I’m done buying.  For now.  Until I need more fiber.  And sell more stash.

Another Traveling Shawl

Last week, after coming back from Berlin, I finished this little shawl.  It was my travel project and was supposed to last me another month! I guess I’ve been traveling too much.

The pattern is from Joji Locatelli, called “Imagine When”.  It uses ~150g of fingering weight yarn.  I used a skein of Wollmeise in color Digitessa.  It weighs 154g and I had 6g leftover.  Just enough!

I knit this as part of the Yarniacs Colors of Fall KAL and as part of that KAL you had to “style” your project.  Well, it’s just too hot right now to even think about wearing wool around your neck.  So I put some clothes together on a hanger and that would have to do.

This color is so specific I think I can only wear it with black or grey or brown.  I really like the fact that it is reversible and I don’t have to think about right or wrong sides, and it was very simple to make.  And of course the Wollmeise yarn is fabulous.  Looking for a good travel project? Pick this one!

Speaking of the hot weather, here’s a photo I took this morning when I went out for a run.  I managed to run for 1k and walked another 4.6k.  It was just too muggy and warm.

Berlin with Bowie

Last weekend DB and I and 2 friends took the train to Berlin, mainly to see the David Bowie exhibition. P. is a maniac Bowie fan and this was his birthday present from K.  DB and I just went along for gezelligheid.

We left Amsterdam at 7am Friday morning and rode the train for 6 hours.  We talked, ate snacks, and I knit my travel project.  We checked in to rooms in a really nice small hotel in the North-Center of the city. Already Friday afternoon DB had bought an album (on vinyl), I had bought chocolate and we drank beer.

Saturday morning we were up early because we had tickets for a particular time slot at the museum.  Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos of the Bowie exhibition.  On the one hand that made me a little sad, but on the other hand it freed me from thinking about taking photos and to enjoy the event instead, and also freed me from annoying people putting their cameras/phones in the way.

The exhibition was mainly about his costumes, but was a full emersion experience with headphones with music and voiceover, videos, and pictures and artifacts from Bowie’s life.

The costumes were just amazing. They were all exquisitely made down to every detail.  Here is a photo from the V&A web page.  I just loved this exhibit.  It made me feel nostalgic, and in awe of this creative genius.  The exhibit will be in the Netherlands, in Groningen, at the end of 2015.  We’ll be going back!

We also saw, on another floor in the museum, an exhibit by WeiWei, the Chinese dissident artist. After seeing Bowie, this was so different and kind of a let down.  I understand that the topic was to demonstrate the way that he has been dealt with by the Chinese government, but both DB and I asked ourselves, if he wasn’t treated in this way, would he still be a famous artist?

I really like Berlin. This was the 3rd time I’ve been there.  If I had to live in a city, this is one I could live in.  We spent most of our time in the old East Berlin.  There are so many great shops and cafes!  And markets.  We were there last time in January and it was ice cold and snowy.  What a difference the weather makes!  There were no people out and about in January.  In July the city is humming with people, outside at cafes, beer gardens, shopping. It has a nice buzz going.

I didn’t take a lot of photos during the weekend (compared to my usual clicking habit) but here are some of the best.

The above photo was taken at a flea market Sunday morning.  They are boxes full of old black and white photos.  I couldn’t stop myself from looking through them, wondering, who are these people? are they still alive? what were their lives like? why are their photos here in this box?