“Wait, mom, you have a blog?”

“Wait,” my son said, “Mom, you have a blog? Like a real blog?”

“Of course I do, honey,” I told him, taking another sip of coffee, and wondering exactly what makes a blog a real blog.

“Well what is it about?” he asked.

“Oh, you know… yarn! What else would I write about all the time?” He pondered that soberly, nodding. After all, he was standing by my shoulder in my office, where in arm’s reach there are 3 skeins of finished handspun yarn totalling almost 2,000 yards, a small sample batt for a tweed I did for Helen, a dyed tussah top I decided to spin for myself, a toilet paper tube covered in random spindle-spun oddments, several notebooks recording yarn data, a handspun, handwoven plaque commemorating the opening of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco’s Avenida Sol location, a small all-but forgotten work in progress, 4 spindles, a half-empty box of business cards covered in photos of yarn and fiber, 2 lint rollers, several smallish tufts or twists of various kinds of commercial fiber, and a folder displaying paperwork proving Franquemont Fibers is a legal entity.

Well, and the odd Happy Meal toys, Lego constructs, and so forth that my son routinely brings me. I’d called him in to bemusedly show him a picture I had run across of someone’s Lego sheep farm (which of course, now I can’t find). Right now, there’s also a melting wizard’s hat made from Floam atop an empty jar of dry-roasted sunflower kernels, and a superball where one side’s Spongebob and the other side’s Patrick. And a big bottle of Advil, along with my coffee in the cup Chad gave me a while back, featuring (as Edward has noted) “the bad F-word.” Best coffee cup ever. The picture’s facing away from me, too, as a caution to others — if you can see this, careful: it means Abby’s still drinking her coffee.

As I continued to drink said coffee, I scrolled through a post or two in my blog. “Kaylee!” he laughed at one photo. He is, of course, totally inured to yarn. As he’s gotten bigger he’s realized that, yeah, everybody does not live in a world as filled with yarn as he does — but I’m not entirely sure it’s dawned on him that there are folks who really think it’s interesting enough to do things like read about in a blog, or that people other than his family have such books and magazines. I can’t fault him there — I’m not sure I really believed that until, oh, 3 or 4 years ago. So for him, the interesting thing about my blog is the very thing I sometimes feel a little awkward about — pictures of cats, talk about my family, and that sort of thing. You know, the fluff and the personal.

“Do you have any pictures of Inanna?” he asked me.

“Why yes,” I said, “I do.” We scrolled through the pictures together, reminiscing. She was a good cat, and we still miss her.

The online world has been a huge part of my life since long before my son was born. I was a BBS’er, then a sysop, then a UNIX sysadmin, a USENET news admin, a developer of web crap once the web came around and took over… I must have 16, 17 years worth of public online presence, all with my own name. And my son says, “Wait, mom, you have a blog?” Part of me reacts by thinking, “Kid, a blog is the least of your mother’s online life, even if it is the most recent,” and yeah, as long as I’ve been online, I’ve known that stuff is all out there, that someday my kid would find various kinds of online records of his mother’s existence, and most likely shrug ‘em off and think, “Yeah, whatever.”

Thinking back even further, there’s my childhood’s worth of journals — which sadly I no longer have — and for reasons I can’t entirely put my finger on, I used to always view those as potentially open to the risk of someday being Wildly Public Information. A cringeworthy thought when you consider that includes my adolescent and teenage years, and those journals were last seen in the ownership of my ex-husband (one assumes, however, that they’re simply long gone). Or letters. It occurs to me that I’d have essentially no written record of all that time, given the loss of my journals, if it weren’t for Ayse having happened to save so many, and then sent them to me a couple of years ago.

Sort of like the lost journals, there was also a hard drive (2GB Seagate 15150, I remember it well) that contained a home directory filled with years of things I’d written, and one day it died — but we kept it around for ages and ages, thinking someday perhaps we’d send it to some hard-core data recovery joint, but then when I tried a few times, I used to keep getting “Uh, and it was… UNIX? Huh.” Those data too, then, written off.

So where am I going with this? Well, I don’t think I’ve drawn any real conclusions about what a real blog might be. I will, however, assert this is one. Whatever one is. But beyond that, you know, there’s just no telling about the permanence of any kind of data. You don’t know. Would I have guessed, 20 some odd years ago, that a letter I sat writing in a pissed-off teenage angst would outlast and outlive my carefully worded and considered journal entry in a nicely-bound, sturdy book? Never. And apart from the question of permanence, what ends up being of interest is also unpredictable. To my son, it’s that I wrote about the cat when she died. To me, well, I don’t even know — trying to decide is like trying to look objectively at my own life. An interesting exercise but arguably senseless navel-gazing and I might as well get up and do something, or just react viscerally.

One thing I do know for sure, though, is that I’ll be trying, all my life, to leave words behind me. Words words words! as someone once nicknamed me. I know I value words left behind for me, by folks who are gone now — including the me I used to be. So, I dunno, what’s a blog? Words words words. With pictures, and people can leave comments, and all sorts of random people can see it. Some you know, some you don’t. And when all is said and done, maybe it lasts and maybe it’s gone in a puff of splattering disk bearing. You never know.

Batt Club!

Yep, you read that right — batt club! It’s almost a pun.

I’ve decided that with what remains of summer, I’m going to do a small batt club subscription deal. What does this mean? Each month I’ll do a special run of limited-edition batts which will only be available to the batt club members. If you join, then in the first week of July, August, and September, I’ll ship out the club batts (there’s that almost-a-pun again) and you’ll be on the receiving end of some luscious fibery surprises.

July’s club batts will be luxury sock batts containing superwash wool, silk, and nylon; August will be non-superwash luxury batts containing fine wools, silks, and luxury fibers; and September… well, to ease us back into the school year and that sort of thing, September’s will be a serious luxury blend, containing fine wools, silks, and cashmere, with matched hand-dyed silk. There will be no mohair or angora, as some folks have allergy issues with those fibers.

Everyone will receive the same fibers, weighing 6-8 ounces total, and shipping is included in the subscription cost, which is $90 for the 3 month run. You’ll save about 25% off what you’d pay if you were buying the batts at retail. I have 10 slots open, and I’m taking sign-ups in email to abby@abbysyarns.com. If you’re one of the first 10 people to email me, I’ll invoice you via PayPal, and you can pay with your credit card through them (or any other paypal means).

Signups are open! July’s shipment will be going out on the 5th, so make your move!

ETA: Batt club is FULL! The first round of batts goes out next week. Thank you ALL for your interest!

ETA More: Okay, okay, I’ll take another 10. But the first 3 have already signed up, I mean, talked me into it, so, 7 slots left!

ETA Still More: Okay, now we’re *really* full. If I tried to do any more, there’s no way batts would be going out next week!

Contest Results! And eye candy.

As of this writing, there have been 82 responses guessing the yardage on this bobbin:

And the finished skein is dry.

I’m sure you have all been waiting with bated breath for this, too. It was rough on me waiting to skein it and finish it, let me tell you! I skeined it yesterday, so I know what it measured before finishing… but now, now it’s time to re-skein it neatly and see how it came out.

Secretly, I have been hoping it would be enough for a lacy cardigan for me. Because look:

it’s really my favourite shade of green.

It would even go with my car.

(okay, okay, so that photo of my car’s paint is almost 7 years old. So’s the car. It’s still mostly that colour.)

Holy crap, look at me 7 years ago, with my first ever (and likely only ever) brand-spankin’ new car off the showroom floor. Huh.

Oh, why yes, I am stalling. Here’s more stalling. Look how that Autumn came out:

I don’t think the photos are really doing this one justice. It’s very drapy, with an understated sheen — it was superwash/tencel, and there are 385 yards there (Hi Wednesday, that’s 352 meters) in a skein weighing 136 grams (also known as 4.8 ounces).

This was an 80 gram (2.8 ounce) Falkland that I hoped might sorta go with the Pagoda, but it really didn’t. 265 yards (242 m). Just that yardage would have bought me the remainder of the Pagoda… but no, it’s not right. I think I’m going to be stuck with yellow, when I get to dyeing it.

Oh, very well. I’ll stop stalling. Right after this, which is drying now:

Here’s the glittery single:

It’s a leftovers bit from some other sock batts. I’m calling it “Hummingbird.” There are 2 ounces here, composed of, as I say, some leftover bits from other sock batts — superwash, silk, and multiple colours of firestar. It came to 330 yards (301 m). This yarn, I have to say, is one of my favourites that I’ve spun in some time. It’s sooooo pretty.

Well, okay, I’ll stop stalling. It looks like that green CVM / tussah silk blend yarn, which is decidedly laceweight if on the thick side thereof by my standards, weighs in at 146 grams, or 5.15 ounces. And it is…

1,026 yards. Which is to say (Hi Wednesday!) 938 meters. Or metres; but lest we get started on that spelling debate, I’d like to point out that my own personal style uses -ize, -er, and -our. You know, so I would, for instance, scandalize the neighbours at the theater, rather than scandalise the neighbors at the theatre. I do not know why these are my personal spelling conventions, but they have been for a long time.

Anyway, yes, 1,026 yards! From 146 grams / 5.15 ounces, meaning the yarn, roughly a 60/40 blend of CVM and tussah silk, came out to be a roughly 3200-ypp yarn. And at around a thousand yards, not an easy row to hoe if I want to make a lace cardigan for a chick my size. Fooey! Fooey I say! Fooey!

Mind you, I didn’t really need another lace cardigan to sit on my WIP stack.

You guys were great with your guesses. And I’m amazed. We have a first place winner, with 1025 — off by only one yard. That’s Karen of Cook’n’Knit, who needs to bring that young rocker lad over to party on with my son, dude! Karen, you get first choice of the three prizes.

In second place, with a guess of 1037, off by 11 yards, we have Ellen of Sheepwreck. Ellen, you get to choose from the 2 prizes remaining when Karen’s had her pick.

And in third place, betting her birthday, we have Moonrose Sammi, who you’ll all be seeing a little more of in an upcoming post. Sammi, you get whatever Karen and Ellen don’t make off with — and you’ll take it and like it!

I’m astounded — many of you were closer than I was. I thought I had about 1150 yards.

Rainy Day!

It’s an utterly bleak and gray rainy day. I’m thrilled.

Unfortunately, they’re saying on the radio that even if it rains all day today and all day tomorrow, it won’t likely be enough to make a huge difference to the crops, and we’ll still need several more inches of rain, soon. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Thank you all so much for your responses to my 100th post! You still have through Friday to weigh in on the contest if you’re so inclined. And I have still not skeined, finished, dried, and measured that bobbin — and it’s killing me! The suspense! We’ve got votes from the 500s to the 1200s for yardage, and my old friend Wednesday (hah! You’re old!) pointedly notes she really can’t guess at the meters on account of all the yards. This is pointed, because she knows full well I grew up as much metric as SAE, and am prone to switch between the two at random, and have generally tried to be conscientious about using both when I’m referring to measurement type stuff. My excuses are that a) I am lazy sometimes, and b) my skeiner measures yards. However, I am duly reminded and will make an effort to remember to include meters on my numbers from here on out!

Oh, so yesterday I was chit-chatting with Pippi, who updated her store, but did not include any more Pagoda! I hate her so much! So I told her so. That resulted in me promising I’d take at least one in-progress photo of what I was doing with the Falkland Pagoda, even though it just looks like a giant sack of nothing. Or as my mother-in-law has joked, a toilet seat cover! Everything looks like a toilet seat cover when you do it in the round on a set of circular needles. This shawl is not in the round, but nonetheless…

What I can tell you about it is that structurally, it’s a triangle shawl knit from the top down, but getting longer. So there’s a set of central increases — a mitered corner at the centerline. Doing it this way means the long colour repeats I spun into the Pagoda are triangle stripes throughout the fabric. Meanwhile, to counterpoint that (or deal with my tendency to grow bored with one single pattern), I’m doing sections of different patterns, delimited (that’s a geek word for “separated”) by eyelet stripes. These pattern sections are also triangles, but they’re at a 45-degree angle to the triangles that appear because of the striping effect.

I had decided that the final section would go to having all one pattern for the outermost or lowermost edges… and now I see that I won’t have enough yarn to make that happen. So, since Pippi is all out of Pagoda, I thought I’d see if my own Falkland inventory didn’t happen to have something that sorta worked, maybe kinda.

And that looks, in the fiber, like it could match the pink-purples. Or work with them. However, sadly, with the first bobbin of single spun up, the answer is no, not at all. So I probably will have to dye some Falkland yellow and work with that. Given that dilemma and the lead time involved in turning some Falkland top yellow with maybe flecks of pink or orange here and there, I decided to finish something that had been sitting on my table for… since… when did the spring IK come out? Since then.

You see, I’d never actually done this entrelac thing, and I had some problem yarn — a chain-plied tussah silk seconds for “Indian Summer,” which had blurred too much and I lacked confidence in the light brown dye in it (since discontinued). So I simply followed the directions in the magazine and used up the yarn.

I was right to be suspicious of the light brown dye. It ran in the hot water wash.

So, I gave the entire thing a half-hour acid bath at about 180 degrees F, rinsed it very aggressively, and then ironed it to the point of mostly dry.

I’m actually happier with this colourwise than I was with the yarn. I mean, the yarn wasn’t bad. But there were pink overtones I didn’t like so much. The running brown changed those, as did the hot iron.

And really, this was a fun little learning project, with a pleasant end result.

Having that off the needles, of course, allowed me to cast on something else. I took this leftovers skein here, which Chad tells me our cat Paimei has been bringing to him in his office with some regularity, and started fiddling with it.

I think it was somewhere around 125 yards, and was the leftover merino/tencel from this sock yarn. That should be quick and entertaining.

Oh, right — and I’ve been working my way through my “Spin Me” stack. Monday night, I wrapped up the second bobbin of a fine laceweight merino/tussah leftover, and spun up these fellas:

This was another of the superwash/tencel batt trials. There were two, one of which had been through one more pass to even out the colours more. The superwash/tencel batts took more passes than I really felt like doing, oy! Pictured above is the more-blended one, which spun up into this single:

while the second one, less blended, spun up into this single:

which brings us to the end of Monday night’s spinning. Tuesday night, also known as last night, I was thus forced to have a ply-o-rama. It would seem I took no pictures of the 350 yards of merino/tussah, nor have I weighed it, nor anything! For shame. But I did snap this picture of the superwash/tencel once I plied it…

And supposing it ever dries, well. You know. Same goes for that merino/tussah one. This Autumn coloured yarn here came to 385 yards (352 m) before its long long hot soak and whatnot. Simple hot soak for… well, I can’t be sure; the truth is I forgot about it and when I went to take it out later it was far from hot. Ahem. I followed that up with a cold rinse and hung it to dry on the towel bar, as it was, by then, evening and a thunderstorm. That’s why it isn’t dry yet. But I can tell it’s going to be rather nice. Maybe nice enough to make me willing to blend superwash and tencel more. I can’t say for sure yet.

Speaking of blending, that’s really what I ought to be doing right now. So, without further ado, and without telling you more of what I’ve determined thanks to all your wonderful responses to my 100th post, I must now finish my last coffee and head into the studio, lest there be no new exciting batts for Friday’s shop update. Yay, batts!

Oh, and actually that reminds me — a sale! I’ve just marked a whole pile of handspun and handpainted yarns to 15% off, now through July 3. Or, well, starting in about an hour. And your shipping’s on me if you let me know you came from my blog, at checkout time. It’s here:

http://stores.ebay.com/Franquemont-Fibers

100! 100! 100!

I guess I’ll start off with some light eye candy, having finally gotten halfway decent photos of some of the laceweight tussah silk singles.

Let’s see, according to my records (this is last week’s evening spinning, mostly), those 9 come to 3,320 yards, and this…

…which was horrible to photograph, is 600 yards, so that’s just shy of 4,000 yards of laceweight silk singles last week, plus…

…a chained single (aka Navajo plied) coming to 200 yards.

These were all from seconds from my tussah silk dyeing — seconds, because the silk got too beat up, or was under an ounce when all was said and done, or something. Stuff like this:

which turned into this:

So, it’s not like those aren’t spinnable, nicely so even… they just didn’t make the grade to be Franquemont Fibers product as fiber. Thus, instead, every single one of ‘em became enough yarn to make a nice scarf, and in some cases a shawl.

Since the sun came out today for a bit so I could take these photos, I also snapped one of those Pond Scum batts!

I really wish I could come up with a way to get these photographed next to the scum on one of the ponds across the road, but I can’t — the pondscum only looks the colour I was after from a distance. Ahem, but anyway, the Pond Scum batts are superwash/silk/mohair. I like them more than I expected to.

Oh, let’s see, here’s what I did Saturday night! Remember this?

Well, unbeknownst to all y’all, I embezzled some of that blend and put one large batt of it into my “to-spin” stash. It was a superwash/tencel blend, and I really liked the blend, but it was high-maintenance to produce so I don’t think I’m going to keep doing it. Though I enjoyed spinning it, so… perhaps. This one is “Sea Breeze,” and there was a Pink Lemonade one as well, but that went to its rightful home.

I really, really like how this one came out. I got 330 yards of 2-ply yarn in a middling sock weight grist, which is actually probably enough for a pair of socks. Except I might like it more than socks. Anyway, it’s destined to be something for me. The carded blend with tencel in it is interesting — the shine and glimmer from the tencel is there, but it’s more distributed, meaning that the yarn looks relatively matte until the light catches it, at which point it glints in a crystalline way, rather than looking wet-shiny like the commercial combed top merino/tencel blends tend to do.

But by now perhaps you are wondering about the title of this post. I’ll explain.

Here it is, June of 2007, and this post right here is my 100th post in this blog! What a whirlwind it has been since going live last November! I guess blogging is a little bit like plying — it takes forever to build up on the bobbin, so to speak, and while you’re doing it, it seems like it’s taking forever, but then when all is said and done, there is more there than you thought, and it makes sense that it took as long as it did.

To demonstrate what I mean, let me show you this blend of California Variegated Mutant and tussah silk. It looks really, really luscious, like you could just dive right in and get totally lost. So you get started, with a clear vision in mind for where you’re going.

Is that… a toe of some kind on the bottom left? Why, yes it is!

And voila, just like that, surprise! Distraction. But then you knuckle down and get to spinning

Friday night you finish spinning two out of four batts onto your first bobbin. There’s a little disappointment when you stop, and you feel like the blend is just not quite as luscious as you felt like it was, and there were a few tiny neps and noils around, and… fine. Do something else for a bit. Let’s look back at what I thought this blog was going to be like when I started it.

The first big surprise for me, looking back, is realizing that despite having thought, in November, that I’d gather up lots of my legacy content and clean it up and put it online here, I ended up producing mostly new content. But it was a fun stroll through memory lane all the same, and I’ve no doubt I’ll do more as time permits. Here are a few things I did gather up from other places I’d posted them, and put here:

I know that way, way back, archived in all sorts of scattered places, I have hundreds of other things I’d like to gather up and post too. I expected to clean those up and have them online as part of the first 100 items, and it’s amazing to me that I haven’t.

Perhaps it’s because instead of just getting on with that second bobbin, I did this instead with Saturday afternoon.

It was quickie, leftovers, needed to be done and cleared of the “spin me” pile anyway. 220 yards of 2-ply sock yarn from a test of that superwash/tencel top.

Speaking of the “spin me” pile, wanna know what I’ve got for titles in my “drafts” pile? Dig on this:

  • What Do I Need To Start Spinning?
  • Make Your Own Spindle!
  • A Little Bit About Working With Batts
  • Spinning A Cabled Yarn
  • Yarn Tech: Plies
  • Measuring Your Yarn, ala Mabel Ross
  • Some Timed Spinning Results
  • Is It True You Hate Art Yarn, and Spinning Without A Purpose In Mind?
  • Spinning Wheel Drive Systems
  • Some Customer Results!
  • How Can I Spin Laceweight Yarn on a Wheel?
  • So What’s Really The Right Fiber To Start With?

So let’s hear it: out of all these subject lines, which one would YOU most like to read next? Or, well, how about “soon,” instead of “next?” A few of ‘em have been lingering because they’re slow going, very technical, or require spinning to be photographed.

This is not unlike when you finally spin up that second bobbin of the CVM/Tussah blend on Sunday afternoon, and immediately set about plying, but 15 minutes in, you decide you’ll have a pint while you’re at it.

Because just look how much there is to go.

(no, don’t look at the couple of silks from the “spin me” pile behind the lazy kate)

Half an hour and a pint of Harp later…

Hey, that’s great! Looks like lots of progress! Except…

Back to work. But you can have another pint while you’re at it.

While we’re straw polling here, and while I’m going down memory lane, I got to thinking about which of the articles I’ve done are ones I’m genuinely happy about, and why. I was going for a top 20, and I managed to pull off… an top 16. In no particular order, here it is:

  1. The Louet Victoria Review I assigned myself this piece as much as a writing exercise as anything else, and approached it in a principled manner, modeling it after reviews I’ve really liked in non-fiber publications, taking pictures and notes, coming up with a test plan, and so on. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.
  2. Can You Explain Spinning Wheel Drive Ratios? In this case I’m proud of brevity. Brevity is a challenge for me (no, really?)
  3. What Are Batts, Top, Roving and So Forth? Again, brevity! Well, relatively. In retrospect though, I think it needs pictures.
  4. Drop Spindle Basics Video This is essentially a demo routine I’ve done for US audiences since I was about 8 years old. It’s my first sort of principled bit of video.
  5. Waylaka While I’m nowhere near my parents’ caliber of ethnographer, it’s hard to be one about one’s own life, especially when it’s about a subject that’s essential to the core of one’s own sense of self. I’m resolving to do more writing like this in the next hundred posts.
  6. Choosing Your First Spinning Wheel This one took me months to pull together, and sat in my drafts pile for what felt like forever.
  7. What Difference Does Drive Wheel Size Make? An important mechanical question that we don’t talk about much.
  8. Chullu Knitting Geeze, does this one need cleaning up. I still like it, though.
  9. The Queen Is Dead, Long Live The Queen More of that emotional stuff, a remembrance of my old lady cat.
  10. The Salmon Electric I admit it: I just really like this yarn. And I’m fairly pleased with the process post.
  11. Woolen vs. Worsted I’m pleased with this mostly because I want to see more discussion of the subject as a continuum.
  12. The handspun yarn pricing discussion is another thing I just want to see discussed and thought about. Am I trying to tell everyone what to do? No. But I do think folks considering selling their wares ought to think about some of these things.
  13. Stupid Tangled Bobbin Hah. Oh yeah.
  14. Pagoda processIn this case, it’s largely the photos I’m pleased with.
  15. Memorial Day Again, emotional writing.
  16. Making a Tweed Blend It took longer to document and write this up, by FAR, than to make the blend.

So, yeah, I guess we’re making progress here after all. Another pint and half hour in, there’s actually some content on the blog, er, I mean, yarn piling up on the bobbin.

Of course, this is also where it becomes clear you’ve got uneven amounts between the two source bobbins. Not like you didn’t know that would happen, but even so, it’s more than you expected.

I guess another pint wouldn’t hurt, for this home stretch.

So let’s hear it: what are your favourites from my first 100? Pick any number — I’m totally curious. I have a hard time looking at my own generated content, within a matter of months, and telling if I actually like it or not. In general, if an article took lots of work and many edits, I seem to feel more positive about it than if it didn’t — but, some of the articles that people have told me that they’ve really found helpful have been ones I took almost no time with at all, like the half-hitch one. And I always feel like simple yarn porn and eye candy is a cop-out; I always want to be producing Brilliant Technical Articles, or something. And as my draft list might indicate, I’ve also got a problem with being unwilling to declare something finished, or good enough.

When it comes down to the end, there’s always some fiddling. With producing yarn, at least, I’ve gotten pretty good at accepting this and moving forward. If this weren’t a fancy custom blend, I’d just toss what’s left on the one bobbin…

But nah, I’m not gonna be a total waylaka about this. I can fit that on here.

And what’s more, I’ll be glad I did.

A quick butterfly pulls a bunch (about half) off that bobbin, and after splicing it in and grabbing the end from the bobbin again, back to work. The butterfly, having a cross in it, won’t tangle too easily. I’m in the home stretch here and just want to see how this yarn is going to come out, after all.

And finally, then, we approach the moment of truth — the singles are all gone, and the bobbin is full.

Look! Something to show for the seemingly endless effort. I mean, not that it wasn’t fun and interesting and not that I don’t enjoy it; but it was still work. Looking at it there, just one bobbin, I feel like, “Is that all there is?”

But you know, it’s a full bobbin. And 100 posts is a lot.

So, what’s the contest? Well, first, the prizes: featured items from blog articles.

The tweed from the tweed blend tutorial:

Merino/Tencel Testers Pair, about 4 oz total:

and, not pictured because I can’t, 4 ounces of a you-ask-for-it custom blend, that I’ll make for you if you win.

All you have to do to win is…

…guess how many yards are on this bobbin.

I don’t know either — I won’t find out till later this week; I’ll force myself to be patient. I play this guessing game with myself with every bobbin I fill, incidentally.

Now, here’s the dirt. I’m looking for how many yards of yarn I end up with once I’ve finished the yarn, which I intend to do with the hot-cold, hot-cold fulling wash. I’ve got no clue — because I didn’t write it down — how many ounces of fiber there are. Well, I’d guess it’s around 5-6 ounces, or 150-175 grams. I really can’t be sure. It’s on a standard Majacraft bobbin. You have until this Friday, June 29 2007, and you must post your guess as a reply. The closest guess will get first pick from the 3 prizes; #2 will get to choose from the remaining 2 prizes; and #3 will get the last prize. If for some reason a winner can’t use the prize he or she gets, like if it’s fiber and you don’t spin, well, we’ll figure something out.

You Know You’ve Been A Fiber Geek Too Long When…

  • You regard being down to a pound of silk as being totally out of silk.
  • You panic about whether or not the resupply is going to be here IN TIME. In time for what, exactly? You know. In time.
  • You’re down to half a bump each (or 12-15 pounds) of 5 different kinds of commercial wool top, and are worrying you might be pushing it waiting a couple of weeks to restock it on the grounds that…
  • …you really need to clean up your yarn room, because the mound of trash fiber on the floor is definitely larger than the cat.
  • You’re going to throw that trash fiber away.
  • The only room in the house without a fiber project in it is the bathroom…
  • …and that’s got fiber catalogs in it.
  • You aren’t sure how many spinning wheels you have, and are afraid you’ll be off by more than 5 if you guess.
  • There’s at least 50 pounds of prepped fiber, interesting fiber even, not just white raw materials, sitting in your studio, but when you go to see what you’ll spin next, it looks like there’s nothing there to spin, so…
  • …you’ve got to prep more.
  • Heck, you might as well buy more too.
  • You’ve got a lint roller in every room, to keep you from eating cashmere by accident.
  • You leave the studio without de-fibering yourself hardly at all, and go somewhere in public… at which point you realize people are staring at you and you’re literally covered in fluff from head to toe.
  • You know off the top of your head which lint roller refills are interoperable with what rollers… and that all of them are not interchangeable. Nope, they aren’t.
  • When you put your hair up, you do it just like if you were securing a skein.
  • You think of yourself as having a 3-foot staple with a harsh feel to it and high micron count, definitely not next-to-skin soft.
  • You don’t wonder anymore if you can spin the random fibrous things you encounter in odd places like the supermarket. You don’t wonder, because you know. You know, because you’ve tried.
  • You keep thinking it’s going to be great to hit the bookstore and look for a few new yarn type books, but then you get there and realize your shelves at home are larger than the yarn-related sections at most stores. Yes, including the knitting, sewing, weaving, crochet, and magazines. Sigh.
  • But on the bright side, several of the books they do have are by friends of yours.
  • Your mother’s in town, and she asks you for a cable needle. You tell her you don’t have one, because you swore off knitting cables many years ago. She looks at you in horror with the words unspoken on her lips: what have I wrought, unleashing upon the world a child who grew up into a woman who has no cable needle? This doesn’t seem at all strange to you, until someone else points out most mothers would probably reserve that level of shock for, say, not having silverware.
  • As a result of all that, you both have to go to the nearby award-winning famous yarn store. While there, you both shop for projects and yarn… and end up saying “I give up, the right yarn isn’t here, let’s go raid my stash instead.”
  • The yarn you were looking for is in your stash.
  • The hardest part of winter is the static, because it makes your fiber recalcitrant.
  • The hardest part of summer is picking what projects and fibers won’t kill you from the heat.
  • You can’t leave home for 8 hours without taking enough fiber, yarn, and projects that are already in progress to last you a month.
  • You dream fondly of the apocalypse, thinking how great it’ll be when everyone suddenly cares about textile production because without it, they’d have no clothes.
  • Your child actually speaks the sentence, “That’s just my mom. Don’t talk to her unless you like boring yarn and stuff,” and he’s probably right.
  • You have smaller variants of pretty much every type of textile equipment featured on TV shows like “How It’s Made” — except for the really esoteric ones like suction-based devices to turn things right side out after seaming, and you know you’d probably pick one of those up too, if you ran across one.
  • Despite your 3 feet of hair, you have more soaps for fiber than you do shampoo and conditioner.

Let’s hear it — I know you’ve all got more.

I promised you eye candy…

So here we go.

Let’s kick it off with some storm eye candy! We needed the rain, because…

My poor lilacs. Do you think they’re dead? I’m afraid so, despite the evidence you see there — a hose, a watering can — that we tried. So this morning’s storm was welcome, and I hope we get more.

Of course, it did make photo day a little tricky. Almost none of my orange and pink silks would come out right no matter what — those really need good sunlight. And that’s a shame, too, because I have a slew of really delightful laceweight tussah silk singles, like this one.

375 yards / 1 ounce, 28 wpi.

And a few chain-plied multicoloured silks, like this:

200 yards, 1 ounce, 25 wpi.

At least Peacock here came out allright…

Superwash, tussah silk, alpaca, and firestar nylon — the return of the sock blends! I pilfered an oversized 3 ounce batt from this batch, for myself. I’m not sure what for, ultimately, but definitely to spin it (though at the moment, I have more laceweight tussah singles, and a really beautiful CVM/tussah in emerald green, on the bobbins).

Who was it who was asking me about pond scum colours? I did two, after looking at pondscum around the area over the past month or so. First, a silk…

and second, a set of batts… but those pictures didn’t come out so well, alas. However, these Sargasso Tweed batts are really cool:

Falkland wool, which poofs impressively due, I understand, to the fact that Falkland sheep are actually Polwarth/Corriedale crosses.

My Blaze tussah came out looking good too. This is Edward’s favourite of my colours.

…but just look what horrors happen trying to get this Geranium-coloured silk to photograph!

If you think that’s bad, you oughta see the Mai Tai yarn.

Lastly for now, the blended-wishfully “The Grass Is Always Greener” here…

…is Merino, tussah silk, and alpaca. And really springy, if not as springy as the Sargasso Tweed.

I’m totally disappointed about my laceweight tussah photos, too. There’s over 3500 yards of that stuff that I’ve spun this week, and won’t be able to show you until there’s better light. O, cruel fate, finally bringing rain just in time for picture day!

When weather’s sunny again, I’ll have to put these next to the geraniums. They really do look the same.

So what does it seem I’ve gotten done this week? A bit over 2 pounds of tussah silk dyed in 1-ounce hanks, 2.25kg or about 5 pounds of luxury batts, 3500 yards of silk singles, 600 yards of a wool single tester, one full bobbin of that aforementioned CVM/tussah (no you can’t have it! Mine! You wish you could have it!) done fairly fine, and I’m approaching the end of the improvised shawl I’m knitting with the Pagoda, and realizing that to finish my grandiose plan, I’m going to need more yarn. ARGH! I’ve got fiber to match it… that isn’t dyed. Maybe I can force Pippi to do more of that delicious Pagoda. Otherwise, I’ll just try to match the yellow, I suppose, and use that for the end.

So, are you all annoyed with me for how I haven’t taken a single picture of that shawl in progress? I’m sorry; it’s just that it’s simply a large sac-like object hanging onto some size 3 circular needles, and looks… like nothing. I refuse to show it in its present state.

So far, incidentally, it seems nobody likes those morning shows. C’mon, somebody has to like them, right? Can the large radio conglomerates which own the airwaves now really be so far off base? Like some of you who’ve commented, I also listen to public radio in the morning. That kind of talking I can enjoy — but the “morning zoo” kind of thing, not so much.

Talking About the Weather, and Other Inconsequential Things

I seem to have become mired in an early-rising sleep pattern, about which I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I could parrot back what my late father always used to say about being the first one up in the morning:

“I like being the first one up. Nobody else is up for a while and I’ve got the whole world to myself, and then I get to get the whole house up and running and get everything moving and that makes everybody’s day start off better.”

I used to argue with him that I much preferred the time to myself when it was late at night, and everyone else was asleep. But just maybe the mornings are growing on me. You know, just as long as there’s plenty of coffee. I see his point — when you’ve got the morning chores all taken care of and the day well in hand before anyone else even starts stretching and yawning and cranking their eyelids apart by whatever means necessary, well, I guess you just feel like you’ve got a jump on the day, and whatever it brings is most likely well in hand. After all, you have time, and there’s nothing more precious than that.

My father, though, was always a morning person. Or so I believe; I wish I could ask him. There are plenty of stories he (and others) told me over the years, about things that happened to him due to usually being the first one up. Like meeting my mother on a dig on the coast of Peru (or at least, that’s when he remembers meeting her, though she remembers him from a prior anthropology class), or being the guy who finds the new litter of barn kittens born in the night, or knowing it’s a snow day before anybody has to go out to the end of the very long driveway in the pitch dark blustering chill of a New Hampshire winter morning to wait for the school bus that never comes.

Me, I dunno — I’ve long thought I could do without having to be the one to get up and stoke the fires that burned down in the night (of course, I haven’t had wood heat in my adult life), and I’ve always had this problem where if there are dishes in the sink in the morning, I get crabby and stay that way all day because the first thing I have to do is the dishes, for some pathological reason. But lately I haven’t minded any of that, and I’ve been unsuccessful at falling back asleep after early morning waking.

This morning, it brought me cool, crisp weather, not muggy or hot, slightly cloudy. And then in the distance I heard a thump or two. It could have been the cats up to their usual tricks (those tricks are often what wakes me early, as it happens), but it wasn’t. In moments I could tell it was thunder. With coffee brewing, I walked down to get the paper, and on the way back up, the first droplets of rain hit me. Looking to the west, I was treated to the kind of melodrama that only a sweeping sky can show; the kind of pending tantrum for which no wide-angle lens would be sufficient, and which you know you could never photograph anyway, because half of the drama is the smell in the air, the way everything feels when you can see rain sheeting down a mile or two off and coming your way, and the breeze on your skin turning into a full-on wind.

And to think it’s picture day today — the day when I photograph my week’s achievements and get ready to list my new inventory for sale. I guess it won’t be happening outdoors in full sunlight today, for the first time in rather a while! But that’s great news; we needed the rain badly. I hope it rains all day.

Driving Edward to YMCA camp in a lingering drizzle, I tried yet again to find a radio station with upbeat music and no morning show. Yesterday I listened to one local classic rock station for literally half an hour hoping they’d play a single song. No. Not a single song. All yapping. Yap, yap, yap. Might have been a few fart jokes in there. That’s it. And that’s what all the morning shows are like. So I got to thinking — am I seriously the only person who detests radio morning shows? Are these things really that popular? Do people find fart jokes and marginally veiled innuendo and nonsensical jabber about trivial celebrity news that enthralling first thing in the morning? And if so… why? Why wouldn’t you rather have tunes? I can see, you know, having quickie traffic reports and things like that; but I simply do not understand the appeal — especially in the morning — of the 2-person “Hey Bob, did you hear the one about the fat chick?” *insert canned noisemaker sound* “Why no Jack, tell me the one about the fat chick!” shows.

Enlighten me.

Then when I get back from the post office run and so forth, I’ll show you lots of pretty pictures.

The News Today, Oh Boy!

It’s pushing 100 degrees Fahrenheit here again today, still with essentially no rain. It’s officially being called a “moderate drought” now, and it’s pretty much for sure there’ll be negative effects on crops — and they’ve said “corn” out loud, which is terrible. What if the sweet corn is all mealy? Talk about a summer disaster!

Apart from my own selfish woes, it is really sad to see, with fields of stunted crop and brown expanses of basically no hay and sad-looking pasture animals. We’re down something like 6.5 inches on how much rain we normally would have gotten in the past 6 weeks. Those of you in rainy, even floody, places, feel free to send your rainy thoughts to the Ohio Valley.

On the other hand, the really good news is Cardzilla’s new motor should be in tomorrow (thank you, Bob at Lebanon Electric Motor). I opted to buy a new, identical motor, and see about having the gearbox on the old one repaired and keeping that one around as a spare. I hate not having spares! You’d think I’d know by now. And I do; but that doesn’t mean, apparently, that I always provision appropriately.

As soon as the motor is in and Cardzilla’s back up to snuff, I’m going to be thrilled to be getting back to blending. Since I’ve been dyeing silk like a madwoman, I’ve been generating a ton of silk seconds (where the final weight is too little, or it just got too beat up in the rinse or something else causes it to fail quality control). Normally I use these in blending, but I’d piled up rather more of them than I really meant to over the past couple of weeks, so I decided to spin up a few of them for example purposes and sale. In retrospect, I should have taken “before and after” photos, too! So I probably will for the remainder. Here’s a teaser “before” shot:


Once those dry, I’ll show you how came out — they’re laceweight singles, and they’re really pretty.

Oh, have I mentioned that Kaylee is getting big?

And ever more inclined to stick her face directly into the camera lens. This occurred while I was trying to take a one-handed “fixing a plying problem” shot, of course. Kaylee felt strongly that she was more important. That’s why she’s glaring, and her eyes appear normal size.

I haven’t forgotten about the plying series! I’m just working on the “common problems” photos, which is tricky! See:

After a while, it can be hard to force problems to occur when you’ve gotten so used to avoiding ‘em! That’s the start of uneven wind-on. I need to really overexaggerate this somehow; that’s just not dramatic enough at all.

Lastly, my cuticles are all messed up. Too much sticking them in acidic exhausted dyebath to carefully remove silk, I fear. To look at my fingers, you’d think it was the dead of winter!

Whew, what an ebay shop update…

…and I’m not even DONE with it all yet! So far I’m done listing 4-5 pounds of merino, 4 pounds of domestic, 4 pounds of tussah silk, almost a dozen handspun yarns including some you’ve seen featured here, and there’s still more handspun yarn, specialty fiber, and the millspun handpainted yarns to go.

Here are my favourites so far:

Neon Dawn here is an example skein, chain-plied, that I spun up to demonstrate what this fella looks like. I mean, uh, to see for myself. Because I could. I admit it. But now I’m going to let it go.

I like this combo despite knowing there’s no chance I could wear anything made from it.

Oh, what else… Ivy here was one of my attempts to match Jeepy’s colour (I can’t).

Harvest, shown below, I think might become a fave.

This “Sunrise” silk…

and the Harlequin silk…

and this Day Lily which really does look just like the roadside wild day lilies around here…

and mass quantities of Dandelion…

and the Bramble merino

and this camel/silk and its brethren…

…it’s been a fiber and yarn pr0n-tacular week. Oh, and that reminds me, loyal blog readers, if you’re making an ebay purchase, let me know you came from my blog and you’ll get free shipping on anything totaling over $20.

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