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Question Roundup, and Being a Fangirl ZOMG!

First things first: a quick question roundup, mostly about Julia! A few folks have asked, as Ted did:

Um…will you be doing a side-by-side comparison of Julia and Victoria?

Well, now I will, for sure! That’s a great idea. Why didn’t I think of that? Stand by, I’ll do that this coming week, in with reports from the road test on Julia.

Fiberlicious says:

It figures that this would come out just one week AFTER I gave in and bought a Sonata.

Torture me – tell me that this new Julia will also accommodate a bulky flyer for plying (the only reason I didn’t get a Victoria). You can insert the razer blade right here – just above the point where my thumb meets the wrist….

We’ll have no playing with razor blades in my house! Those things are sharp! If that talk keeps up I’ll have to lock up the needles too I suppose. But… since you’ve asked… although I don’t think there’s a bulky flyer yet, there’s definitely room in the flyer area to accommodate one, and I’d be surprised if one weren’t in the works.

Alisa wants to know:

If you don’t mind me being ridiculously curious — how does it compare in overall size and bobbin size with the Victoria? I like the wider range of ratios offered by the Julia, but I’m curious about how much of a difference there is in the size of the drive wheel.

The bobbins appear to be the same. My Victoria bobbins are a hair longer, but I think it may just be a difference in finish.

As to size, well, Julia is a full-size modern castle wheel; Victoria is a tiny travel wheel. Victoria has a 15″ drive wheel, while Julia’s is 20″ in diameter. Julia is portable, but not “that might as well be an oversized laptop bag” sized, like Victoria is. You could think of Julia as being both a full-sized Victoria, and a flyer-lead S-10 that goes to 11. I mean, that has 20:1 as a stock ratio. Hey, I wonder if that’s why she’s the S-11? In brief, I would say Julia’s the S-10 for people who want flyer lead. In another 20 years, I expect we’ll be seeing lots of people who’ve had Julias for ages, just like the S-10 folks are now. But more on all that later. I’m behind anyway.

About 11 AM on Friday I decided to tear myself away from Julia and go for a drive, possibly overnight. I threw a few essentials into Ginny, the Mommy Car (it’s perhaps ironic that we call her that, given what she is, but that’s what we call her) — laptop bag (with its usual selection of just-in-case laceweight yarn in it, plus extra needles, plus a spindle or two), the Victoria, a bag full of random fiber and some spindles, some stuff I felt like spinning, my actual in-progress “I’m waiting and I don’t feel like waiting” knitting, plus a clean shirt and socks. Just the essentials; after all, the Mommy Car is already full of projects in case I ever have a flat tire or something.

I feel I should explain how this comes to be the case. It is by design, and it is planned. And it has really come in handy — I mean, just last year, when my car battery died completely and the manchild and I were at the post office, someone gave us a jumpstart and instead of going home and potentially getting stranded if there was a problem since Chad was out of town with Trucky, we went straight to the mechanic to see about getting Ginny fixed up, and wound up waiting there a while. Imagine if there had not been a fresh set of Addi Turbos and some Kidsilk Haze in a bag in the back seat. This could have been disaster, instead of mild inconvenience.

Truly, I praised myself extensively for that purchase of yarn and needles, and for leaving it in the back seat of my car for months on end. I remembered buying it — I was at a new independent yarn shop, one which was clearly making a concerted effort to provide community and a social focus and a broad range of products. I mean, let’s be honest here — do I need any Kidsilk Haze? No, I do not. I do not technically “need” any sort of millspun yarn, let alone a laceweight one. And I probably have another set of those exact Turbos somewhere too. But, I absolutely do need (and need is the right word) a selection of independently owned small business catering to communities of yarn-addicted nutjobs. I need to be surrounded by those. That being the case, it is a moral imperative that I visit such shops and make purchases, as that is how they come to be there when I need them. Me buying Turbos and a skein of lace yarn when I don’t need them is like buying insurance against the day when I absolutely, without question, right this minute will be totally screwed if I can’t find a 16 inch size 0 US circular needle, realize I don’t have one, and have to go get it, and no, mail order will NOT do the trick.

There are those who would say that “can’t find a 16 inch size 0 circ” does not constitute a real emergency, and is not worth insuring against. And then there are those who, if they’re reading this, are nodding their heads vigorously in agreement and understanding. This brings us to why I was packing up the Mommy Car and planning to hit the road. Even beyond the handful of folks who totally understand why I’d store emergency projects in the car, there are a couple of folks in the world who actually crusade in favour of such activities; who will take it on the road and preach it; who will tirelessly lobby in favour of such practices, and attempt to explain them to anyone willing to listen (and maybe even those who aren’t so willing). You know… people who exhort us all to engage in inexplicable knitting acts, rather like suddenly driving to the next state over on some yarn-related jaunt. It’s an important part of my yarn ethos to try to maintain contact with and support for people like that.

Arriving in Ann Arbor and finding the library, I was thrilled to immediately run into Jofran, who I’d met at my spindle class a couple of weeks ago. This worked out wonderfully for me — I threw my shawl down on a chair to hold my spot and went to grab a bite with Jofran and her elite cadre of Ford-employee yarn types. By the time we got back, the whole room was full and it turned out we’d been just in time to snag those third-row seats.

That’s when I met Becky, of Middle Kingdom Fiber.

Becky’s just started making these spindle cases, which she’s thinking about selling. They are so clever…

See, check it out: a spot to secure a hook, if your spindle has one, and spots to slip knitting needles (say, dpns) into to carry along, and the case is padded and firm-sided, and has elastic closures… soooo clever. My big beef with travelling with hook-having spindles is that the hook catches on stuff and it’s hard to just cram it in my bag like my Andean-style low whorls, and this solves that so nicely. I tried really hard to order one of these from Becky, but instead she gave me the one other one that she had. I’m afraid I gave her a totally hard time insisting she has to make them and sell them. I mean, I’m going to need more than one.

As an aside, I can neither confirm nor deny rumours that I may have dragged an unsuspecting knitter out to my car and forced her to learn to spin on the spot, with random fiber that I had to hand. In case of emergencies. In the car. We just finished talking about this, so I’m not going to go on and on about it, but supposing that I did do such a thing, it just proves that it is wise to have emergency stash and projects in the car. You never know when you might need to do something like that, after all.

I also got to see Kat, and catch up for a little bit — and she told me what she’d been getting up to with respect to the stuff we did in class a couple of weeks back. She’s been working on long draw stuff, and liking it — and see, that’s what is so great to hear, and why it’s so great to be able to teach!

And I met Spinsanity Shannon, and her daughter, and she gave me a butterfly spindle! Just look at this:

I was really sorry to miss meeting Shannon when I was at The Spinning Loft, so it was great to get to meet her Friday night. There just aren’t enough times when so many of the yarn dorks in a given area show up in one place. Really, we need to schedule more things that cause that to happen. This particular event, at the Ann Arbor library, was such an event. The library folks seemed to be referring to it as “the yarn program.” So, what was the deal? Who got everyone off their butts and into a single location (well, two — there was a conference room in the basement, and a room with a big screen on the second floor)?

This is where she kills me and says that’s not a flattering picture. But, you know, I think she fits right in with the chicks in the paintings behind her… is that painted chick at the far left working on a giant checkered scarf? I think so.

Stephanie’s talk — this is the first one of her book signing and talks that I’d been to — was, well, just like reading her blog, except in real life. She posted (that is, spoke), after which some readers are done and go home, and other readers comment, and perhaps socialize in the comments. It’s utterly awe-inspiring how Stephanie remembers everyone, and pays attention, and cares; I think perhaps people don’t realize that about her. They don’t realize she reads all her comments, and replies to many in email; they don’t realize she reads other people’s blogs (and in fact, pretty much everybody’s); they don’t realize just how much she cares about her community.

I find her inspiring, for that as well as her tirelessness, sense of humour, and breadth of knowledge. I find that, in conversations with Stephanie, she routinely utters something that seems small and casual, but is actually the crux of a major knitting quandary. It’s the thread you can take hold of and tug at such that the whole mystery will unravel. She has the gift of making people able to see things, making them envision themselves doing that thing, making them want to, and then, somehow, giving them what they need to keep at it even when it’s totally going south — and then when people succeed, she’s emotionally invested in their success. She has whatever mystical quality is that made me, while in labor with my son, not punch my midwife or birthing assistants, and instead just go ahead and have the baby.

So, that’s why I got in the car and drove across the state and into the next one to give her a hug and force her to sign a copy of her new book for me.

Thank you, Steph, for taking it out on the road. You know, and for being one of the very, very few people in the world who has never gaped at me strangely when I’m trying to explain about being the child of yarnthropologists, and who not only doesn’t think it’s weird that I have emergency stash and projects in the car at all times (yeah, my husband’s truck too, to his chagrin I fear), but actually even expects it of me, and urges me to push that tendency even further. It was great to see you.

Also, this morning while I was walking through the kitchen something struck me, and I realized I forgot to tell you about the time when I was like 6 months pregnant and a hormonal rage came over me, causing me to run up to what I thought was a large box full of packing peanuts, and give it the hardest kick I could muster. I expected a delightful shower of styrofoam all over the garage… but instead, it turned out the box was full of broken parts from someone’s ’71 Coupe de Ville, and my foot did not do anything to them, and instead, I dislocated the knee I was standing on, and fell on my ass. I just thought you ought to know about that.

As for the rest of you, you should totally go see Steph if she’s in your neck of the woods. Even if you aren’t a yarn dork (although, if you aren’t, I’m not sure what you’re doing reading my blog, when you get right down to it). While it could be argued that I’m not a good judge of what’s funny even if you don’t like yarn, I’m pretty sure she is — and you would be amazed to see what yarn type folks will do for their Harlot. Frankly, I think we’re all lucky she likes yarn instead of golf or woodworking or something.

20 thoughts on “Question Roundup, and Being a Fangirl ZOMG!

  1. “Frankly, I think we’re all lucky she likes yarn instead of golf or woodworking or something.”

    Yes. We are.

  2. Stephanie’s cool and all that, but if I’d been there I’d have been squealing “ZOMG you’ll never guess what, Abby’s here, there’s Abby, I’m actually IN THE SAME ROOM AS ABBY!”

    Yes, I am a total embarrassing fangirl.

  3. You and me both Eve – although I would be squealing about the both of them.

  4. There are those who would say that “can’t find a 16 inch size 0 circ” does not constitute a real emergency

    *raises hand* — but only because I hate 16″ needles. Being unable to find a 24″ one or some DPNs, now, that’s an emergency! 😉

  5. Someday she’ll be touring in the summer when I can actually get away and drive to another state…because people don’t tend to come to Iowa. I wish I could have been there to see all of it! I would have had you cornered and asked you everything I’ve ever wanted to know about spinning and yarn.

  6. That’s a gorgeous spindle! (You could totally spin on that low-whorl, coulnd’t you?)

    I just bought a Greensleeves yesterday.

    Becky’s gonna kill you when her server crashes because of all the people wanting a spindle case. (Though I’d settle for a pattern so I could make one myself… Have to put the sewing machine to some use.)

    And as for the box of parts… Oh, honey.

  7. Man. Now I am even more determined that I sort out my life before Stephanie lands in Northampton, MA at the end of the month. I mean, damn.

    It’s the principle of the thing. All knocking at America’s door, saying “please let me in! There is a woman who posts audibly, and she’s signing books! And there’s a yarn crawl first! I will stimulate your economy, America!”

  8. Abby,

    Who did you have dinner with? We are not elite – we just like fiber.

    Thanks again for lending be your Bosworth she is safe here. Please drop me a line where to send her and I will get her back to you.

    It was so nice to share some time with you.


  9. Abby, you and the Harlot are cut from the same cloth, I suspect.

  10. Thanks for the test drive information on the Julia. I’m a relatively new spinner (2.5 years) currently looking for another wheel, so I’m devouring as much info as I can get of personal spintime experience.

    I have a third-hand Louet S10 (my first wheel) and a Majacraft Rose as well as 21 spindles (three of which are from SpinsanityShannon) and all have some sort of fiber in the works, meaning that I really need more tools, right?

    So I was wondering what you’ve heard about this wheel…I found it on someone’s blog (sry…can’t remember) and it looks fascinating. There’s a UTube video embedded in the website.

    I look forward to your take on this one.

  11. ok, my favourite part of this post was the bit where I bellowed “HOLY CRAP!” at top volume, because I thought I read that you were 6 months pregnant. Sorry, sorry, sorry everyone. Nothing to see here.

  12. Wow two of my favorite people. cool.

  13. Hey! You hung out with a “bud” of mine! Becky is an awesome spinner, beginning designer and all around good person! Her cat likes its food “fluffed” too. I don’t know if I’m more jealous that you met Becky or saw Stephanie!

  14. You’d be proud of me – I had just finished my mammogram and was sitting there shivering in my hospital pseudo-gown, knitting on an afghan, and waiting on the results (fine, thank you). Surprised the hell out of the mammo tech, I think (so what do normal people do? just sit there twiddle their thumbs?).

    But you remind me that I need to go dig out some WIPs and stuff them in the car/briefcase/office – life is full of moments that would exceedingly boring, if I didn’t have my knitting along. Now if I could only cart my loom along, too…

  15. Just popped over from the Harlot’s site after seeing your photo! Totally cool! And I would have been just as excited to see you if I’d been there! I’m so hoping to go to Indy to see her on the 29th, but after last weekend’s Road Trip to Greencastle, my husband may not let me out of his sight again. (I came home with a Jensen wheel. I swear I don’t know how it happened.)

  16. Abby you are famous now (or is it infamous?) I’m plotting to make it up to Madison to see Steph! Oh my those poor Borders employees think its going to be like the Harry Potter release….they don’t know what is decending upon them!

  17. Glad you had 2 good trips across the state line, sorry I wasn’t there yet!

  18. I dunno. I’d be ok with it if she liked woodworking.

    *ducks and runs, giggling*

  19. I have arrived. A callout in Abby’s blog. WOO HOO!

    I can’t believe that two of my favorite fiberistas were in my favorite town – and I wasn’t. And, you won’t get any argument about car stash from someone who not only caries projects in the car ‘just in case,’ but also takes a ball winder and swift with her wherever she goes because, well, you never know when you might acquire a hank of yarn that must be addressed RIGHT NOW!

  20. That’s what she is….The Doula of Knitting. 🙂 I didn’t tell you that I had four of mine at home…the twins I chose to have in the hospital cause I was a scaredy cat. They were both breech.

    I just got a Spinsanity spindle for my second daughter. My third daughter was jealous so I gave her a dowely thing and have her twisting yarn like you showed us in class. That seems to be keeping her happy.

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