a new family portrait

wheels

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that the new wheel has arrived and it is a Majacraft Aura. It came on Thursday, March 27. That morning I finally received a tracking number from the Woolery. It was being sent directly from the Majacraft workshop in New Zealand, and I hadn’t heard anything for almost four weeks. When I looked up the tracking, I discovered that it had already traveled from California to Ohio, and I spent all day Thursday watching its slow progress from Cleveland to my local office. It was agonizing! Around the end of the day, I got a notice that it wouldn’t be delivered until Friday. Unacceptable! I would be leaving early that morning to go to Pittsburgh for the festival and didn’t want to wait until Sunday night to open the box. So I called the post office to ask if I would be able to pick it up. They said yes. But they’ve done this to me before — saying on the phone that I could pick up a package, but refusing to give it to me when I get there. I got myself so worked up on the car ride over, preparing myself for a fight. But thankfully the box was waiting for me and I took it home!

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Even though I had plenty to do that afternoon (we were leaving at 8 am the following day, but luckily the car was already packed), I wasn’t going to leave that box unopened. I was able to get it put together without too much anguish. There were a few parts of the instructions that were oddly vague, but in the end I was able to get some yarn on it before having to resume my packing. From the beginning Olive had decided it was her wheel.

olive01

When I got home from the show I continued to fiddle around with the settings. It didn’t feel great at first and I was disappointed. The treadling wasn’t as smooth as I had imagined it would be (did I mention I did not have the chance to try this wheel before I bought it?). I think I was feeling overwhelmed by the newness of it all. I chose this wheel because I wanted something that was different from the wheels I’d had in the past. Everything else had been scotch tension and this was a double drive! Why buy a new piece of equipment that is the same as what you’ve already got? So basically I got what I asked for and now I had to figure out how to use it. I read about other people’s experiences on a Ravelry forum and was able to make adjustments that helped. Feeling more confident, I decided it was time to spin in earnest.

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My first yarn off the new wheel was a 2-ply of Blue-faced Leicester locks and a mohair single. I guess I just wanted to jump right in there and see what this thing could do, so why not curly locks AND a thin yarn AND plying? I hadn’t spun locks in so long, so for just that reason I love the way the yarn turned out. I also love that the curls didn’t have anywhere to get snagged on. The sliding loop thingy is great. No more peaks and valleys created by the hooks. The delta/pig tale orifice is nice too. It’s just cool and weird. It really holds the thinner yarns in place and you can wrap around it twice to lessen the tension. Another thing I noticed (not sure if this is specific to this wheel, double drives, or random chance) and love is that the yarn packs down so tightly. I used to hate how fluffy the bulky yarns were on the bobbin. So much wasted space! I’m still working on bulky yarns. I am finding it easier to spin thinner yarns than chunky, so there is still a lot of work to be done.

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The second finished yarn was a mohair/Merino blend that I couldn’t resist buying or spinning. Such a gorgeous luster. Ugh! It was wonderful to spin on the wheel. I have never been great at spinning anything below worsted weight, and this might be a light worsted if I’m lucky. But it was enjoyable and doable. At some point I may get another whorl with higher ratios for finer spinning, but even on the highest ratio I can spin finer than I expected. It’s exciting!

Did I mention Olive has claimed the wheel?

olive02

check it out!

Olive makes her onscreen debut in this excruciatingly long video! A full 2 minutes of Olive sometimes paying attention to and sometimes ignoring a skein of alpaca yarn as it goes whizzing past her head. When I say my studio is “pet friendly” that may be an understatement. “Pet infused” may be a better description. Enjoy!

cats are people too!

My mother volunteers for an organization called Cats are People, Too! here in Ohio. Each year they hold a fundraising event called the Spay-ghetti Dinner where they have many gift baskets to raffle off in addition to the meal. You can read more about the event at their blog.

This year my mom asked for one of my tea cozies to put in her basket. She selected her favorite pot from my collection and I got to work. The one she chose was an odd shape with a squat body and a flat top, so I had a few different ideas. Of course it ended up nothing like my original vision. I started with ribbing to keep the fabric tight against the curve of the pot. For the body I used a stitch pattern called woven stitch. At the top the pot was totally flat with a rim at least an inch wide, so I had to change the angle of the fabric fast. I decreased and changed over to reverse stockinette stitch. After I finished the knitting, I went back and added a little embroidery stitch in yellow and used that yarn for the button loops. The purple, yellow, and blue-green were inspired by the original colors on the pot itself.

purple teapot sweater

purple teapot sweater

And for cat lovers, here is Olive in her relocated basket. She will sit in it now that it resides in front of the window.

olive in her basket

in front of the window

friday’s question

me & olive On Wednesday I got my camera out to take photos of a new hat. And while I was snapping a few shots, guess who showed up? Olive. She seems to be everywhere I am. When I sat down to type up this blog post, she immediately jumped into my lap. She fits herself snugly in between my stomach and the edge of the laptop. Every once in awhile she puts a paw on the keyboard. Sometimes she rests her head across my wrist. She’ll even sit on my lap while I’m spinning. It doesn’t seem to bother her that my knees are going up and down beneath her. Sometimes I change my plans so I won’t disturb her. Oh, cat.

Question: What is the most distracting thing in your house? What keeps you from getting work done? If you have pets, do they follow you around when you are at home?

 

 

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and there’s her contribution to the post. I’m not sure if she’s really that clingy or if she’s just cold. Probably cold.

2011 Revisited

While everyone else out there in media-land is doing year end countdowns, recaps, reviews, and best-of lists, I thought I’d try that myself. So, what happened this year? I can’t remember off the top of my head, so it’s a good thing I’ve got Flickr to help jog my memory. I’ve gone through all my photos for the year and selected one or two of the most meaningful for each month (so, lots of pictures to follow). How was your year?

JANUARY

blocked shawl
My first shawl. Knit from handspun/dyed BFL. I use this almost every day at work.
birthday cake!
The most amazing birthday cake I have ever put together. It was for Rich.

FEBRUARY

table set-up
Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival.

MARCH

Olive
Olive, our little black cat.
weaving with roving
This is Rambouillet that I hate spinning, so I wove a giant rug.

APRIL

Table set-up
A Knitter's Fantasy, Youngstown, OH.
April & Dad
April & Jeremy's wedding in For Lauderdale, FL.

MAY

new mitts on new hand
The new hand model with Vertical Veins mitts.
Great Lakes Fiber Show
Great Lakes Fiber Show, Wooster, OH.

JUNE

matched set
A matched set knit from Cosy-dyed Falkland.

JULY

wool room
Organizing the wool room.

AUGUST

front gate & sheetwall
Gryphon's Rest camp at Pennsic XL.

SEPTEMBER

helios
Helios, handdyed Corriedale roving.

OCTOBER

me & my table
Fall Festival at the Apple Castle, New Castle, PA.
spinning
Showing off the Wristler.

NOVEMBER

booth at Indie Knit & Spin
Indie Knit & Spin, Pittsburgh, PA.

DECEMBER

gwenerin logo
New logo designed by Erin Flynn.
craft sale booth
SAA Fine Art & Craft Sale, Youngstown, OH.

indie knit & spin

Back from Indie Knit & Spin in Pittsburgh, PA. We had a great, supportive group come through during the day. And of course it was a pleasure spending the day with like-minded people and talking about wool. We’re all jazzed up and planning for next year.

booth at Indie Knit & Spin
Booth at Indie Knit & Spin, Nov. 2011

I took this picture of Olive last weekend while I was photographing my fibers. She always finds the sun spots and she’s always squirming around when I try to take a picture.

sunny cat in motion

woolroom rejuvenated

We’ve lived in this house a year now. And my “woolroom” has been the dumping and cramming of junk room [see this post from July 20, 2010]. But two weeks ago Rich and I emptied everything into the dining room/kitchen. And the only things allowed back into the wool room was wool! Now I can take some time to really sort through and organize the way I want and I have space to do it. On Sunday I spent the afternoon getting started on the sorting process. Olive helped.

olive

wool room

desk

wool room

wool room

totes stacked

a better view

Olive – the cat – has decided it’s safe to come out now.  She’s been very active in the mornings and evenings when we’re home, though she seems to sleep during the day whether we’re there or not.  She sleeps on our bed at night, insisting on laying ON me – my leg or foot.  And whenever anyone goes up or down the stairs, she has to run along with them.

Olive

Her favorite place to sleep during the day right now is in our bed.  She burrows up from the side, getting underneath the comforter.  That small bump in the middle of the photo is the cat.  The first time she got in there, we didn’t know.  Couldn’t find her for hours.  She likes to be warm.

Olive under blankets

Olive

little black cat

It was only a matter of time before a fuzzy companion joined our household.  And here she is, our Little Black Cat.  We brought her home on Tuesday and slowly but surely she’s making her way out from under the bed.  Her busy time is night.  She’s been coming out after dark, stomping around while I’m trying to sleep.  But she came downstairs this morning and chirped at me in the kitchen.

We haven’t decided what to call her yet.

first sightings

tom’s favorite mitts.

Apparently Thomas has a favorite pair of fingerless mittens.

stripes

It began when I left a pair in progress on the couch and came back to find him using the ball of yarn as a pillow. He had been resting his chin between both balls, but then adjusted to favor the blue-green one.

asleep

Then, after I had finished knitting the pair, I brought out the stool to take photos. He joined me.

feet

looking up

Or perhaps he just wanted to look out the window.

looking out