Straw into Gold, Part 2

I have homework. Since in our second spinning class, we’ll be learning how to turn our newly-spun fibers into relaxed and ready yarn, I needed to finish spinning what I had, then wind it onto a niddy-noddy. Our teacher suggested making the niddy-noddy out of pvc pipe. This is a great idea, since I don’t know of anywhere in town to buy one, and I won’t have to wait to have one shipped. Also, this gives DH a reward for driving me to class.

So, after class, we drove to Lowe’s and got our pvc pipe and connectors. That evening, we measured and cut the pipe. This part was interesting. I’ve seen pictures, but since I’ve never seen a niddy-noddy in the wild, I had no idea how big it should be. Based on how big a store-bought skein of yarn usually is, we settled on about 15 inches. It does look very big, but we can always cut it shorter if we need to. Making it longer won’t really be a problem either, if we need to do that, since there is enough left over for another of 18″ or more. Taking a wild guess, we cut each cross piece about 3 inches.

niddy-noddy made of pvc pipe

diy niddy-noddy

I am using a wheel of Noro “Rainbow Roll” roving. (See picture on previous post.) This is great to start with, since a lot of the work has been done already. I still don’t know how to take a bag of roving and turn it into something spinnable. I hope that will be addressed this Saturday. (The class is only two Saturdays.)

It was so exciting to be making my first strand of yarn! I wanted to keep that thing going forever, but eventually had to admit that my spindle seemed to be full.

drop spindle is full

I think it’s done now.

So now I need to figure out how to wind it onto the niddy-noddy. I have never niddy-nodded before, so this could be entertaining.

Buttercup to the rescue

Never fear; the cat is here.

Buttercup came over to supervise, so all will be well. After all, who knows more about yarn than cats? (Except maybe sheep.)

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Straw into Gold

Saturday is basically the only day I can knit. The rest of the week, I’m trying to get a lot of other things done, but on Saturday, I can carve out a large block of time, turn on the radio, and focus on the knitting project.

This is the main reason my cardigan project is going so slowly. Instead of spending 40 hours a week designing it, I’m spending six. The subheader of this blog isn’t “Plodding through the design process” for nothing.

And now, even that snail’s pace has ground to a halt, but for a Very Good Reason: This past Saturday, and next Saturday too, I am taking a spinning class!

No, not exercising, and not Sufi dancing. For the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to learn how to spin roving into yarn.

 

 

spindle & wool

Saturday spindle

 

I have wanted to learn how to spin all my life, and I am finally getting the chance!

So far, it’s been wonderful. My teacher is extremely good. She obviously knows what she’s doing, and has thought the process through so she can break it down into very easy-to-grasp steps. We in the class feel like super-talented spinners, but I believe that this is really just because she is teaching so well.

Last Saturday, we learned the park-and-draft method on a top-whorl drop spindle. Next Saturday, we’ll be turning our work into real yarn. I imagine that she’ll also be answering the questions that came up for us during the week, and maybe teaching some other drop-spindle techniques.

So, my Saxon Braid is on a two-week hiatus, and I couldn’t be happier.

Time to Knit

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)

There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)

A time to run,

A time to sit,

A time to sew,

A time to knit…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sorry; I couldn’t resist.

But this Saturday, October 1st, I suddenly felt like Knitting Season had opened.

I don’t know whether it was because the temperature was cooler, here in southwest Virginia, or because the calendar said, “It’s October now: time to get serious about winter coming on.” I suspect it was because the light has changed so much. Living in the woods, I am acutely aware of the angle of the sun, now that it never quite clears the treetops, and the yard is full of shadows all day long. In summer, the sun is fully overhead, and the yard never gets a break from full sun from dawn to dusk. As I write this, it’s 11:AM, and I’m looking out my window onto shadows which just two months ago would have been there just after sunrise, and completely gone before 8:AM.

So, on Saturday, I got out my Saxon Braid project and we got reacquainted. I looked over all my notes, and found where I was and what I’d been up to. I worked a few rows and checked my progress. It all looked good, but something was off.

I am starting this thing at the shoulder seams. I’ve read that higher-quality blouses usually have their seams slightly forward, because it’s a more attractive look, or something. I forget why. Maybe it was because they make the shirt fit better. Whatever it was, when I read that, I decided that this sweater would have its seams slightly forward, too.

I have an old hand-me-down robe that, I was surprised to discover, has forward-looking shoulder seams. So I put it onto my dress form, and have been using it to determine how to do the shaping of the sweater Fronts. I held my little growing sections up to the seams, and decided how many stitches to increase as they work their way toward each other.

It all seemed to be going well when I stopped in July. But when I picked it up again in October, I discovered that it wasn’t going as well as I’d thought. In June & July, I positioned a piece on the robe’s shoulder seam, then focused on how well the section toward the center was expanding in that direction. In the beginning, the section near the arm was right up against its seam, and all was right with the world.

This Saturday, I held the knitting up to the robe, and couldn’t figure out how to position it. If I held it up straight, so the outer edge lined up with the armhole seam, and the cable looked like this | |, then the center shaping was way off. If I aligned the cast-on edge to the shoulder seam, as I knew I had been doing, then the shaping was pretty good, but the cable looked like this  \ \   (or  this  / /, depending on which piece I was looking at). Oops.

Everything looked fine and lined up nicely for the first inch or so, which is why I hadn’t noticed it earlier. But now that the pieces are getting longer, my mistake is becoming more obvious.

There’s a reason why sweaters worked from the bottom up usually bind off their shoulder seams step-wise. It’s to take the slope of the shoulder into account. But it’s been about thirty years since I knitted a sweater by following someone else’s pattern, and I forgot that (ahem) little detail.

If I’d ever designed a bottom-up sweater, I’d have known to take it into consideration. But all my previous sweaters have been top-down, following Barbara G. Walker’s methods in Knitting from the Top. Actually, my first design was an adult raglan based on the baby raglan in Maggie Righetti’s book, Knitting in Plain English. (She went on in great length in the book about the benefits of knitting top-down, but then provided only one top-down pattern in the book. I adapted this baby sweater into a full-size one for my husband. It didn’t turn out TOO badly, but it fit me better than it did him. I still wear it occasionally.)

So I got out my trusty Fishermen’s Wool* and spent the rest of the day making swatches for various ways of casting on sloped shoulders. I do know why professional knitting designers almost always work from the bottom up. The hassle of writing a top-down pattern is just too bad to bother with. But I really, really want to do this sweater this way, so am struggling through the hard part, knowing how happy I’ll be with it later. But for now, I have to re-invent the wheel just to get started. I will persevere, but it looks like I’ll be wearing the craft-show sweater for a while longer.  : – (

Maybe I should put this one on hold and start the Cestari sweater, which I’ve been considering working from the bottom up. OTOH, since I’ve never designed a bottom-up sweater before, I’m sure to run into snags with that one, too, and will probably end this winter shivering, with frostbite and two UFOs.

—————

* Good news about this! I’d written (here) that I hoped Lion Brand would provide more natural-fiber yarns, since I don’t like the look or feel of acrylic yarns. (They’re fine if you like wearing plastic bags, I guess.) Recently, Franklin Habit posted something on Instagram about Lion Brand Organic Wool. Yippee!! (Not only mentions it, but praises it.) I haven’t been in the yarn section of a store where Lion Brand is sold in a very long time, due to the still-huge size of my stash, so I hadn’t seen this, but will have to give it a try! This move of theirs in the right direction must be encouraged. And not just wool, but organic wool! I can’t wait to see it.

And I highly recommend reading Franklin’s blogs and attending his classes, if you are so lucky as to get that chance. I could write an entire post about him, but this one is already too long; maybe another time.

Fine, Thanks. How ’bout you?

Did you have a nice summer?  Good, good. Oh, that sounds like fun.

 

Me?  Well, not so much. Being a semi-invalid* most of the time is bad enough, but when the temperatures soar to where it’s too hot to move anyway, well, then, nothing much gets done, despite my very best intentions.

 

Especially knitting. I couldn’t handle that this summer. Last winter, I moved from the in-law suite, where I’d been living since 2009 (no stairs, for one thing), to an upstairs bedroom (warmer and easier to clean). This was an excellent decision for the winter, but the suite has the only air conditioner, so I roasted up here this summer. I can knit year-round in air conditioning, but I couldn’t even bear to think about knitting this summer. It was so bad that I couldn’t even bring myself to post the last 3 (I think it was three; I’ll have to check) cable swatches that I didn’t manage to post last May or June.

 

Here in the Roanoke Valley, the temperatures are beautiful these days. It still feels warm & summery, but comfortable, too. I still wouldn’t be interested in starting to knit, but I know that it’s the Autumnal Equinox, and very soon I will be wishing I had my cabled sweater. So I’d better get moving and start making some progress on it.

 

First step: Announce my plans here.

Second step: Actually start doing something.

 

What do you mean, I have that backwards? I’m supposed to DO something first, then report on it? Pah!

 

* Pronounced in-VAL-id.

 

“Wheels of Glory” Goes Here

AAARRRRRGGHGHHHHH!!!!!

Ten minutes ago, I remembered I hadn’t yet published today’s post, Wheels of Glory, so I opened the WP app.

10:30 I read Wheels of Glory, decide it looks fine.

10:32 I click <Publish>

10:33 The sidebar says “PUBLISHED 15 DAYS AGO.” I click <Preview> and check the date. Sure enough, it proclaims, “Posted on 29 June, 2016.”

Years ago, I tried Tumblr, and looked into Blogger & whatever else was available at the time. WP is so superior to all of them. But this latest aggravation is enough to make me want to quit WP. Too bad it’s still the only game in town, as far as I know.

The most recent posts, in order, (not including the “__ Goes Here” ones) are:

Cable Swatch

Another Cable Swatch

Third Cable Swatch

Fourth Cable Swatch

That’s More Like It!

Unwrapping a Treasure

Wheels of Glory

To see more of my rant on this, see Curiouser and Curiouser and How Did That Happen?.

After this, I’ll be doing my posting in a different way, without saving any posts as drafts, so this shouldn’t happen again. If it does, then something very strange will be going on! OK, something very strange is already going on. But — “very more strangerer.” :-p

How Did That Happen?

After my rants from yesterday (here and here) about WP messing up the order in which my posts appear, because they’ve been published with dates other than the dates on which I actually published them, I was prepared to fuss about today’s post, too.

But I published Unwrapping a Treasure today, and it was published with today’s date on it!

I know the order of these posts matters only to me. My posts are boring. When I wrote the tagline for this blog, “Plodding through the design process,” I knew what I was talking about — I knew how infrequently I knit, and how unlikely it is for me to stick to a regular blogging routine. I did hope that the posts wouldn’t be as pedantic and dry as they have turned out to be; somehow, my natural sense of humor doesn’t seem to come through my writing. And, so far, I’ve written a lot about nothing.

So, it isn’t because my writing is a great work of art that should be preserved in all its glory. It is because no matter how bad my blog is, it should be presented as I intend: The WordPress software shouldn’t be making changes that I am not authorizing.

What if the blog was meaningful? What if the order in which the posts were published mattered? If this is happening to me, then it can happen to other bloggers as well, and might really mess up somebody’s writing. This needs to be fixed.

It’s sad when you have to comment that something was done as it was supposed to be done. But it was, and I’m glad. I just wish that the others had been dated correctly too.

Unwrapping a Treasure

When preparing to wind one of the new skeins into a ball, I encountered something I’ve never seen before.

Manufacturers have various ways of tying the loops of skeined yarn together. Sometimes they use thread or fine yarn. Often they use the yarn ends from the skein itself. This does double duty, keeping the skein together and securing the ends.

But there is always a knot. Sometimes they’re nice enough to make a slip knot, but most just tie a generic knot tightly, which is very hard, sometimes impossible, to untie. I usually spend the effort to untie the knot, sometimes spending ten minutes prying it loose. But I have been defeated occasionally, and had to resort to cutting especially recalcitrant knots.

When I opened the skein of Quebecoise from Schoolhouse Press, I found this:

Unique skein-tying

Unique skein-tying

It is self-tied, using the ends of the yarn and not any added-on string, but THERE IS NO KNOT! It’s wrapped in an extremely clever way so that the loose end is held by the wrapping. It is every bit as secure as an ordinary wrap-with-knot. But all I had to do was find the end, work it loose, and pull. Genius! I wish they would all do this!