spin cycle

blame it on the monkeys

No, not the ones on my back, but the ones in the barrel. The ones that life sometimes gets to be more fun than...?

It is really sad when life throws so many fun events your way, in such rapid succession, that you can't find the time to blog about the fun events that life has thrown you.

So, in order to get you all up to speed and appropriately envious...

The junket to Victoria, already documented here, was just the beginning.

Then there were a few days at home. Just enough time to dig out from underneath the pile of e-mails and administrative stuff that had piled up in my absence. Then it was off to another retreat, this one right in my hometown!

Fred the Buddha supervises the view from my little monastic cell.

It was quite a hoot to rent a room and sleep over less than a mile from my house. But in past years, I've always dropped in on this event as a day-tripper, and felt torn between home and the action. This time, I could just hang out and not worry that I was missing any of the action!

[The main hang-out room was only ever this quiet at 6 a.m.]:

It was such fun to play tourist in my own little town.
There were dewy morning walks through the forest:

And then popping out for a postcard view:

The spinners at the retreat offered their wise and kind advice, and with a little extra time on my new wheel, I got another great 2-ply skein of handspun complete! I'm in love with this colorway.

[When I got home, it got a bath.]

I can't decide what to knit out of these precious few yards. Any of you handspinners out there have any great patterns for a scarf or cowl out of variegated 2-ply?

In the meantime, I think I'll just wear it around like this:

like a record, baby

She knits! She spins! (Or, in the words of the Harlot: "You made string!")

Two days ago, I was not a spinner. Or not so much that I would cop to it in a conference full of fibernatics. Sure, Teyani got me going on a Turkish drop spindle, and I've logged a few comfortable hours on our bar stools, spinning by hand over cocktails (very good for the tension, I find.).
1499159-1346345-thumbnail.jpgBut Maisie the wheel hasn't had any action since she came over from Amsterdam. She's sat obediently in the corner, biding her time and enjoying her cleaning and oiling … but it's been a lonely half a year, with only Louise the Dummy to talk to.
"Does this sweater make my hips look too fat?"
"Oh, grow a head."

Clearly, something had to be done.

So I signed up for a spinning class at Madrona this year, thinking that would provide me with the deadline I needed to get my butt in gear and learn how. Yet, life being what it is, I didn't get a lesson on the wheel until 30 hours before class. And since the Universe is a kind and gentle place, I got the kindest, gentlest introduction I could imagine, in the form of a mini-lesson from Emily of Denise needles. We should all be so lucky to have such a positive spirit to launch us in every new venture. I'd shriek "Mommmmmeeeee!" when the wheel got away from me, or when my fiber broke on the bobbin, and she'd calmly send me on my way again. Thanks, sweetie. [Just you wait: I'm making you proud!]

Then came Thursday, Day 1 of Madrona, and the incomparable Janel Laidman with her handpainted Blue Faced Leicester roving – and I tell you what, the gal's made a spinner outta me.
[She, and the fabulous folks to my right and left and across the way in class, who were gracious enough to provide encouragement and soothing noises, and tips just when I needed them! Thanks Naomi, and Caryn, and Katie, and all the kind spirits who put up with a total newbie in class.]

We took space-dyed rovings and learned how splitting them (or not) and changing the direction of colors can help us control the striping sequence of the yarn we're creating.
So we spun singles with different amounts of color:
Colorspun1.jpg and then we plied:
Colorspun2.jpg (While I'm thinking: "Plying? How the *&@%? do you ply?" Seriously- this is like walking off the street into a dance class and after 15 minutes of easy walzing, Arthur Murray busts out the rhumba records. "I'm dancing as fast as I can!")
So I learned to ply, and – surprise! – I LOVE it!
This is one of my favorite things happening in yarn, when 2 plies change color independently - and now I can create it myself!

Dudes, I feel like after a life of take-out and restaurant cooking, someone's just unlocked the door to the kitchen.
1499159-1346296-thumbnail.jpg So Maisie? It's you and me, babe.
"You spin me right round, baby, right round - like a record, baby, right round round round."

i made string!

Teyani, you did it!

1499159-981962-thumbnail.jpg

Fiber: an insanely gorgeous Bombyx silk/Merino (I know, don't get me started) in colorway "Tartan."
Turkish drop spindle made from Bolivian Rosewood (ach!).
Both from Crown Mountain Farms.

Teyani, the Intrepid Fiber Wizard indeed, cast her spell upon me at Madrona Fiber Arts last winter, thrusting a drop spindle in my hands and (wicked, wicked creature that she is), told me I was "doing beautifully." And of course you should learn on something glorious and wonderful and absurdly amazing like Bombyx silk and merino! Yeah, people say it isn't as easy to spin as plain wool, but shouldn't the fiber be so FABULOUS that it motivates you?

Vixen.

Boyhood actually had to remind me of the lovely g&t waiting for me, as I spun my way to my first wee skein.