Solstice Approaches

Honestly, there are plenty of times — many of them in December — when I find myself thinking I clearly did better living closer to the equator. It’s partly the shorter daylight hours and the sad, oblique nature of what sunlight you seem to get. When you couple that with a frantic rush to finish lots of things by the end of the year, then throw in a heaping pile of holiday, it’s like a nasty conspiracy aimed at getting me down. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of winter, and it’s been a struggle to find Christmas cheery ever since my dad died. You’d think you would get used to people being gone — and you kinda do, I suppose, I mean this will be Christmas number five since he died and it’s sinking in — but it’s still a total buzzkill at times like this, especially when thanks to the season, you try to do something like go outside for a breath of fresh air and some sunlight or something, and all you get instead is cold and bleak.

Deep in my brain, I always know that once the corner is turned and days start getting longer, my mood starts to improve in short order. But simply knowing that doesn’t eliminate the mood. Mostly, I push through the darkening of the year by dint of sheer momentum, which I fuel with loud music when it flags.

But, although I’ve been sadly remiss on the blogging front, lots has been happening. Momentum, it would seem, is reasonably effective. I’ve managed a few classes and a few deadline projects, and one of those is big. A lot has been non-bloggable. But I think I’m through most of that at this point. Just not without casualties.

A major casualty is my workspace. Actually, both of my workspaces.

Due to deadlines, I’ve just been pushing through getting stuff done as things become more and more chaotic in my work areas. It’s truly unpleasant. At this point, I have to haul huge piles of things out the hallway, and spend days on straightening. I thought I’d get to it this week, but… I haven’t; work intervened. Maybe next week. Of course, then, kid-home-from-school and Christmas will likely intervene. Argh! It’s going to take a lot of loud music. That much is certain.

So, maybe you’re wondering what kind of deadlines, eh? What would be so all-encompassing and nonbloggable that it would leave me with so thoroughly trashed a set of workspaces? What would keep me from even blogging about not one, but two, new spinning wheels?

Oh, okay. I have some new spinning wheels. The first one is my walnut Lendrum Saxony that I’d had on order for a while.

I got to pick it up at SOAR, and Beth took it home for me, then drove down with it just before Halloween. Plus she brought the other wheel, but we’ll get to that. The Lendrum Saxony comes unfinished, and my better half’s been wonderful about working on the finishing for me, which is just plain ol’ oil. Why? Because my mother-in-law has a fabulous old walnut table (and other dining room stuff) made from beams salvaged from a 16th century monastery, and that’s what she has used tending to it for decades. She reports it has really been the right thing for that wood in our wildly variable Ohio Valley humidity and temperature, and I believe her. So we’re going with the old and low-tech solution.

It’ll take time and lots of coats and it isn’t going to be a high-gloss finish. But I know it’ll darken nicely over time, and it’ll happen faster than I expect. Things always do. I was astounded a few weeks ago to look at Beth’s new Journey Wheel. Mine is so much darker than hers, and mine’s not quite five years old.

But, anyway, the Lendrum is a wheel I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a good while. As a few folks have been mentioning and asking me about, I did get Gord Lendrum’s prototype “stupid fast flyer,” as a few of us have been calling it. This flyer isn’t on the market or available — it’s a beta test kind of thing, and hopefully Mr. Lendrum won’t kick my butt for blogging about it; seeing as how it was seen and tried out by a number of folks at SOAR I think I can get away with it. It is indeed stupid fast. So fast nobody with any sense wants one. So, you know: stupid fast. It’s like driving a car that doesn’t go under 30 mph. It can be stopped, or at the slowest, going 30 (but usually, it’s going about 110. You have to be some kind of mutant who can exhibit telekinetic powers over it to make it go 30). So parking it, you have to go from 110 down to 30 using the power of your sheer force of will, and then straight to stopped. Just right. And if you don’t….

…this happens in about a half a second. I’m not exaggerating. Plus, to park it successfully, you have to establish physical contact with the flyer so you can use your brainwaves to safely bring it down to about 30mph, and the way you do that is by sticking your hand — your SMART hand even, the one you like to use to control twist and stuff — into the flyer that’s rotating at, no lie, like 4500 rpm. It’s a little like making a leap of faith that it’s going to be totally fine to stick your hand into the hub of a propeller.

I adore the flyer. I just love it. But, you have to realize, this is because I’m stupid. I don’t want a thing about it to change, really, because… because it’s so totally badass. But yet there is no way I would recommend it go on the market. Sane people would hate it. I’m about a month into coming up to speed with it, and I still have a ways to go before I really own it. All my wheel-spinning habits are so ingrained now, complete with little things to slow down my drafting… and it’s like learning to spin all over again. At 110 miles an hour. You know. Stupid fast. Reckless endangerment speeds. It’s fine for the track, but no wheelies on the freeway, know what I mean?

Well, so. I also had a terrific opportunity to pick up another big Saxony — this one a 30″ Schacht-Reeves. Beth brought that one down for me along with the Lendrum. The irony here is getting two fabulous new wheels while in the middle of deadline madness. So I used the new wheels as bribes for myself — “Just finish this up and then you can play.”

Mmmmm. I picked up this fiber at SOAR but didn’t get a chance to actually sit and spin it until recently, seen here on the Schacht-Reeves.

It’s BFL from Gale’s Art, and it was really a delight to spin.

So it’s kicked off a bit of a BFL binge for me, but we’ll talk about that in an upcoming post. I’ve also had lots of spindle spinning to do.

Beth pitched in. Such a friend. All of these spindles, and more besides, are off right now being photographed. Off where? Photographed for what? Well, now that I’ve handed in the manuscript and all, it’s bloggable. They’re off at Interweave Press, being photographed for use with said manuscript… which sometime in fall of 2009, will be a book about spindle spinning.

So, you know, what with having lots of spindles not at home right now, I’ve had to restock. Fortunately I’ve had help. Just look at this fabulous early Christmas present:

It’s the most fabulous Moosie ever. It just plain is. See what I mean about a BFL binge, too? Yup. BFL binge.

I’m still down a lot of spindles for the time being, but I have picked up a few (and I’ll blog more of ’em). Like this Greensleeves Loki, seen here with some slubby cotton going onto it.

Okay, the truth is, the only reason I spun that cotton on that spindle is because I liked the colour combo. I just thought it went really well.

Well, realistically, I’m out of blogging time today. On the bright side though, I mostly have blogging mornings back now. Just in time for hectic holidays!

Tune in again in a day or so for some fun and exciting info about plying and finishing. No, I swear, it’s going to be exciting. And informative.

22 thoughts on “Solstice Approaches

  1. It’s good to see you back here!
    I’m looking forward to the exciting and informative info about plying and finishing, and I truly can’t wait for your book to come out!

  2. Welcome back to blog-land! Best wishes getting through these long grey days, and getting through the piles in your workspace. I’ll be doing the same here, on a smaller scale!


  3. Wow. What a beautiful wheel – and I can’t wait for the book to come out! Congrats on both.

  4. yay, a post!
    i am SO sending you a photo of my workroom right now, so you’ll feel better.
    normally, i love to sit there and spin but i had to move my wheel out before it got crushed in the avalanche.

    maybe your son will be happy to help you sort stuff and put things away? just an idea . . maybe he’ll do it for weaving strips, hahaha.

  5. OF COURSE you’re publishing a book on spindle spinning. YOU THINK WE’RE SURPRISED? Feh. 😉

    I’ve missed your blog posts. But I’m so happy for your success both in the ms department and wheel department. I’ve been focusing on knitting and haven’t spun in weeks and oh, your post makes me ACHE to do it! TONIGHT!!

  6. HOLY COW!! BOTH the Schact AND the Lendrum??? Wow! Those two were on my want list until the Jensen grabbed me at the fiber fest. I was really Jonesing for the Schacht, and was starting to save for it.

    That walnut is gorgeous, and I think you’re exactly right about the oil. It doesn’t need any shine.

    Congrats on the book! I know how hard getting a mss together must be. You’ve been one busy cookie.

  7. I’m glad you reviewed the stupid fast flyer so resoundingly. It makes it so clear that I shouldn’t do the work of talking Gord into something like that. 🙂

    Missed your bloggy face. Congrats on BOTH wheels.

  8. Well if that yarn doesn’t bring a little sun into the house I’m not sure what will. so pretty.

    I am also voting for longer days soon…. looking forward to being able to walk again in the early morning hours. Though thankfully I am much fonder of winter than you are.

    And I am so glad you have a stupid fast flyer to enjoy! You are very brave. 😉

  9. welcome back to blogland. I’ve been seeing you in random blog-by’s (kinda like a drive-by), so its been very evident that you have been very busy.
    have a great holiday, enjoy the new wheels.

    and for those of us anxiously awaiting, does this means new batts for sale are in the future?

  10. stupid fast flyer. Putting your Good hand into it.

    Dude. Thats gotta hurt.

    Oh and BFL, so last spring. Sorry eh.

    CBB is the new BFL.
    (clown barf Batt)

  11. Welcome back!

    Putting your hand in the stupid fast flyer to stop it…isn’t it like running out in front of a freight train and hope to all you hold dearly that it really will stop before mowing you down?

  12. Aww, man. I’m probably not enough of a “somebody” to get a stupid fast flyer. But I really want one, because I have a terrible time getting enough twist into stuff at the speed I’d prefer to draft at.

    Good to see you popping up again, I’ve missed you. And woohoo, I can’t wait to see the book!

  13. Ooooh, a Franquemont book on spindle spinning! Can’t wait!

    I want a stupid fast flyer with a woolee winder that could be powered by the battery you charge by working out furiously on a stationary bike. Or eating broccoli.

    And I want to walk up to strangers and say “clown barf batt” by way of holiday greeting…

  14. Lord! That is one knock out wheel! Actually, that sucker is my dream if you find it missing..just saying.

    Humm, maybe I need to get more involved in spindles. I think I will by mid-2009! Yippee!

  15. Oh good, book in progress. Look forward to seeing it, hopefully in time for 09 gift giving. Been wondering when there would be book news….

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