Monthly Archives: May 2007

Knits well with others

Spurred by the fun I had last Friday at the booklaunch and knitters pubnight, I decided I’d break out of my solitary knitter’s shell once again and go out to Lettuce Knit‘s knitnight.

Of course, this meant I spent the better part of yesterday fretting: Should I bake something for the knitters? What should I wear for the knitters? What will the knitters think of me? Then I realized that a) “the knitters” had been really friendly on Friday and b) no one was making me go but myself. So I psyched myself up and headed out.

I arrived around 7:15 (ok, so I left with plenty of walking-time, and may have wandered around some Chinese import stores on Spadina so as not to be unfashionably early), and beheld an already-sizable crowd of women sitting outside the store on folding chairs and knitting (of course). I awkwardly ventured into the circle of chairs, took a seat (with empty chairs on either side of me – why do I isolate myself on reflex?), and took out my knitting (a Sea Silk shawl: I’ll blog about it later).

“You know,” I said to myself, “at least if no one’s talking to you, you still have something to do!”

But I wasn’t left solitary for long. The first friendly knitter was none other than Amy, of Knitty fame! Maybe it was the Sea Silk, but she was approachable and engaging and didn’t seem to think I was a big dork. Soon Andrea (a cousin of Stephanie‘s, and shockingly blogless!) came along and took a chair nearby, and we chatted a while in shared newbieness. As the evening went on I met many others*! ED: There was another Emily, of Wool Works!

I was happy to see that Danielle knits her socks two-at-once like me, for the same reasons, and strangely enough in the same Sea Wool colourway as my Elfine’s (though her skien has a much stronger pink than mine had). Though I’d been so good at avoiding the store’s yarny temptations up to that point, as soon as she said “come and see x” I was out of my seat, and before I knew it we were petting skeins of cashmere! Later Aven talked with me about the pros and cons of the academic world while her adorable son slept, and gave me some good things to think about.

I knit, and watched others knit. I saw mothers and mothers-to-be talk about their children, and be happily out on their own for a bit (wow, did the maternal clock start ticking loudly there!). I heard people swap the names of patterns and yarns, knowing that everyone spoke the same language. I learned that there is an inexplicable link between the knitnight and burritos. I managed to not buy yarn, though I was sorely tempted. I had a good time.

I really hope I wasn’t babbling too much. I hope that I didn’t drop a stitch. I hope they welcome me back next week, because I think I’m going to be out again. I may even get a burrito, or some yarn.

As I was walking home, I thought to myself,
“Well, it was a bit stressful, but good to meet new people. It’s not that late yet, I can go home, and still have some time to do something relaxing before bed.
“Like knitting….”

*Apologies for all whose names have gone unremembered and blogs that have gone unlinked!



Filed under knitting, out & about

I Has A Fleece

Eshme fleece

Everyone, meet Eshme. She’s a light grey Shetland sheep, raised in Ontario at the hobby farm of a lady I know through the SCA, and now her year’s fleece-growth is mine!

I’ve been keeping this a secret for a few weeks now, and I just picked her up on Saturday*. I’m incredibly excited to have a fleece of my own to play with, but also horribly nervous I’m going to muck up this lovely wool!

Ah well, I’m nothing if not enthusiastic, and have jumped right in to this project just as I have with my spindlemaking. On Sunday I sorted the fleece, using a technique that would probably horrify real wool sorters everywhere. I took out as many articles & library-book chapters on fleece preparation as I could, assimilated their advice, and began pulling the thing apart!

First out was a charming smoke-grey patch on one of her shoulders (I’m hoping to preserve it as the most destinctive colour varation, spinning it up separately, and then make something stranded/Fair Isle-y with the smoke-grey and the natural cream/grey/white). Then I divided the rest of it into my “scientific” categories: ‘Head Wool’, ‘Shoulders’ (the best, apparently), ‘Spine’, ‘Upper Sides’, ‘Bum’, and ‘Edges’. These were re-rolled up and packaged into whatever I could find.
Eshme fleece - sorted

Last night I began washing some, beginning with wool that comes from “lesser” parts of the fleece. Some of it I packaged into mesh bags…
mesh bags

…another load I tried just loose.
loose in the tub

When I was little, after a bath my Mom would exclaim, “kid tea!” Looking at the fleece’s wash-water, I can only think, “eww, sheep tea!”
sheep tea - bathwater

It washed up pretty well, though, in my certainly inexpert opinion! Far, far whiter than I’d have thought, though there are other bits with more-grey strands throughout, and the white is actually more of an off-white or very light grey. But look at that lock formation, those tiny crimps!
washed lock

Anyone with advice, tips, or tricks on the best way to wash/prepare the finest parts of this fleece for quality spinning, please comment/email me with your words of wisdom!

Likewise, anyone with a line of cheap/accessble hand-carders or Viking combs, well, remember what I said about jumping right in? Yeah, I kind-of don’t have any fibre prep tools, and am mostly broke… help?

*Funny side-note: at the event on Saturday one of the tourney fighters asked me, “So, were you at the Indigo last night?” — turns out he works for the publisher, and was there, all suited up and looking businessy! Small world, eh?


Filed under fibre, SCA, spinning

Yarn Harlot Reading/Pub Night

Warning: long, rambling, and very picture-heavy post follows!

Friday night was a blast! It was truly amazing to see just how many knitters could congregate in a single space (in this case, an Indigo bookstore!).

Krista and I met up at my workplace, and wended our way up Younge Street with a brief pause for super at the Green Mango (the one on the East side; amazing, cheap Thai food — highly recommended!). We headed into the Indigo, grabbed some Starbucks iced coffees, and sought out the knitters (not hard: they were the ones sitting and knitting!).

My neuroticism paid off: it was just around 6pm and there was already a line! We weren’t at the very front…
Yarn Harlot event lineup
Three lovely knitters*, all PhD students!
ED: Martha and Glenna, the Crazy Knitting Lady, and the third remains a mystery.

Yarn Harlot event lineup

…but we weren’t nearly at the back, either!
Yarn Harlot event lineup

We even managed to score seats. In hindsight, that was pretty amazing; check out the crowd*!
Yarn Harlot event crowd

I’d say here, “At long last the Yarn Harlot herself arrived,” but really, even the waiting was fun, what with many friendly people to meet, WIPs to ogle, and (of course) knitting to pass the time! Still, when Stephanie Pearl-McPhee arrived there was much applause, followed by much laughter. She’s an excellent public speaker: clear and articulate, with a wide range; able to talk as if you were in a conversation with her, topics flowing seamlessly; and humorous all the way through! (I have some thoughts in progress triggered by some of her speech, and may blog those soon, we’ll see.) I’m kicking myself for not getting a good pic. of her petting her “kitten” (lol: you had to be there), but I think she was amused and surprised when someone brought her a bacopa for her “Bacopa Cabana”
Yarn Harlot & bacopa

There was book signing (and lots of it!). I brought my two (felt vaguely guilty having more than one, and also that I did not buy them new that night), had them signed, and then babbled a bit before getting my photo taken with her, shaking like a leaf and smiling like a madwoman.

Me & the Yarn Harlot
She’s holding my sock-from-fluff; I’m holding The Amazing Traveling Sock.

Then we went over to The Spotted Dick, a pub well and truly overrun with knitters.
knitters take over the pub

Krista worked intently on finishing the main portion of her first knitted hat…
Krista knitting
Guinness and Strongbow go well with knitters!

… and made me try it on so she could see if it really looked like a hat or not (it does).
me in Krista's hat

After a while (about 1 pint of Strongbow worth, honestly) I met some knitters. I’m so glad I did! There was blogless-but-magazine-published Helen and her adorable knitted mousie…

Rae (of the Gnome Swap) with her Giant Purple Thing, and Lynn, and blogless-and-cut-from-this-photo-but-local-Torontonian Cathy…
Rae & Lynn

…there was a tablefull of K-W knitters, Meredith and Joy sandwiching blogless she-whose-name-I’ve-forgotten…
K-W knitters

…and many many more. Including Stephanie herself, who is very approachable, and whom I certainly did not throw up on despite my idiot comment on her blog, and who encouraged me to go out to the Lettuce Knit knitnight this Wednesday since I can’t possibly be going just to stalk her (that objective being achieved, and also she won’t be there this week). And since I had such a good time, I think I just will.

*If YOU are someone in these photos (especially if you blog), drop me a line!


Filed under knitting, out & about, rambling

celebrity blogwatching

Tee hee hee! I just had to share that Kate Bosworth‘s celebrity-blog (“celeblog”?) picked up my spinning meme post as a “mention” of her, all on account of the words “Bosworth” (as in the makers of Charka wheels) and “Kate” (as in “lazy kate”). This is too funny! Although as I type this I bet that same blog just picks up this post now too, seeing as I have actually used her name here… how cyclical…

* * *
In other celebrity news, I’m going with Krista to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot herself, at the Indigo here in downtown Toronto tonight. I hope to meet some of you knitbloggers there! I’ll be wearing my Elfine’s socks and generally trying to strike a balance between my mega-shyness and my tendency to over-cheerfully babble and/or be scathingly sarcastic (my standard maneuvers to counter shyness). Let’s hope I vaguely succeed.


Filed under Uncategorized

Spinning Mega-Meme

Another Grand Catalogue, first found at Amelia’s blog, to tide you over until I can come up with some real content.

If you’d just like to chalk the below meme up to “has barely begun, but wants to try everything“, then look: here’s a cat!
Maximus is very photogenic.

Bold those things you have done, italicize those you wish to do, and leave plain the ones that are of no interest to you.


Fine Wools (i.e. Merino, Cormo, Rambouillet, Polwarth, CVM, Shetland, Targhee, etc.)
Longwool & Crossbreed Wools (i.e. BFL, Cotswold, Lincoln, Romney, Coopworth, Teeswater, etc.)
Down-type Wool (i.e. Black Welsh Mountain, Dorset, Cheviot etc.)
Double Coated Wool (i.e. Icelandic, Navajo-Churro, Karakul, etc.)
[probably not going to happen, eh?]
[I’d like to say, no I wouldn’t do that, but I saw a poodle the other day…]
Cat [same as above, only insert “persian” for “poodle”!]
Silk Caps/Bells/Hankies [want So Much to try!]
Silk Sliver [have played a bit with a 50/50 silk/merino sliver, on a light spindle]
Linen [shouldn’t this read “flax”?]
Cotton (prepared)
Cotton from the Boll
Engineered Fibers (Rayon, Bamboo, Soysilk, Ingeo, Ecopoly, etc.)
[but less interested than by natural fibres]
Recycled Fibers (Sari Silk, Jeans, Garnetted, etc.)
Holographic Fibers (Angelina, etc.)
Commercially Combed Top

Commercially Carded Roving
Hand Combed Top [soon, soon!!]
Hand Carded Rolags [again, soon!]
Hand Drum Carded Batts [maybe someday?]


Hand Cards
English Combs
Drum Carder

Nostepinne [so long as you count things like Swiffer handles and pieces of dowel… :) ]
Niddy Noddy
Yarn Meter
WPI Tool
McMorran Balance

Top Whorl Spindle [my own DIY]
Mid-Whorl Spindle (Norge, Ahka)
Bottom Whorl Spindle (includes Turkish) [I really want a Turkish spindle, and it one of the few styles I can’t cobble together for myself!]
Supported Spindle (Navajo, Tahkli, Russian, etc.)
Castle Wheel
Saxony Wheel
Great Wheel
Portable Wheel (Little Gem, Joy, Van Eaton Fold n’ Tote, Journey Wheel, Lendrum, Hitchiker, etc.)

Electric Spinner (Fricke SpinIt modified to take Majacraft flyers)
Charka (Bosworth, Indian book, attache, cigar box, Ashford, Reeves, Wyatt)
Tensioned Lazy Kate


Worsted Spun
Woolen Spun
Long Draw
Short-Forward Draw
Double Drafting
Energized Singles
Andean Plied 2-Ply
[spindle only]
Center-Pull Ball 2-Ply
2-Ply from Bobbins/Cops [wheel only]
3-Ply from Bobbins/Cops
Navajo Ply 3-Ply (Chained Singles) [this is So Much Fun!]
4+ Ply from Bobbins/Cops
Bulky/Super Bulky Weight [most recent spinning comes in at “bulky”; I’d like to someday spin a super-bulky single, though!]
Worsted Weight
DK Weight
Sport Weight
[I think this is the “socks from fluff”‘s yarn weight]
Fingering Weight
Lace Weight
[I definitely wnat to spin myself a shawl!]
Cabled Yarns [this sounds nifty]
Fulled Yarns
Slub Yarn
Marled Yarn (Barber-Poled Colors)
Seed Yarn (1 Thick and Soft Ply, 1 Firm and Thin)
[I really like the look of this, and have got to try it!]
Wrapped Spiral Yarn
Flame Yarn (Like Seed Yarn, but with Slubs)
Turkish Knot Yarn
Boucle Yarn
[just to say I can, though: boucle’s not my fave]
Beaded Yarn [definitely have to try it!]
Coiled Yarn
Encased Yarn (Fabric, Flower, Feather, etc. Captured Between Plies)


Buy a Fleece
Wash a Fleece
Blend Fiber Types (Combed or Carded)
Blend Colors (Combed or Carded)
Dye Handspun Yarn
Dye Prepared Roving/Top
Dye Locks
Solar-Dye Fiber
Kool-Aid/Food Coloring Dye Fiber
[I’ve done this on recycled yarn, and it was fun!]
Natural Dye Fiber
Commercial Dye Fiber (Gaywool, Jacquard, Pro-Chem, Cushings, etc.) [I’m much more interested in natural dyes, and will leave the brights to the pros]
Attend a Wool Festival
Take a Spinning Class
[that could be helpful, eh?]
Take a Dyeing Class
Spin in Public [spindle only]
Teach Children to Spin
Teach Adults to Spin [spindle basics]
Knit with Your Handspun [almost done my first “sock from fluff”!]
Crochet with Your Handspun [if I ever learn how to crochet, maybe]
Weave with Your Handspun
Design a Project to Match Your Handspun
Design a Project from Fiber to FO
Spin Yarn to Match a Commercial Pattern

Make Socks from Handspun [in progress]
Make a Scarf from Handspun
Make a Felted Project from Handspun
[I’m sensing a spinning bag in my near future!]
Make a Large Project from Handspun (Shawl, Adult Sweater, etc. >1000 yds)
Keep a Spinning Journal
[yeah, that would be a good idea, wouldn’t it?]
Use A Reference Card to Aid Consistency [probably never going to happen]
Spin Yarn for Pay [could be neat]
Process Fiber for Pay (from raw to roving/batt)
Dye Fiber for Pay
Write a Book on Spinning [maybe someday…]
Write an Article on Spinning [I have been thinking about this lately]
Make DIY Spinning Tools (PVC Niddy Noddy, Nostepinne, Lazy Kate, CD Spindle, Hackle, Wrist Distaff, etc.) [if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be spinning at all!]

What have you learned to do that has marked a definite change in your spinning life?
This is a strangely-worded question (probably geared towards experienced spinners). I think that the thing I have learned that has had the most marked change on my “spinning life” has to be learning to spin at all! In fact, learning to spin has profoundly impacted my entire life. I haven’t been able to figure out just what it is about spinning that has drawn me in so completely, but I know that I don’t ever want my life to be without it from here on in.

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Filed under memes, rambling, spinning

So what happens now?

…Call in three months time and I’ll be fine, I know
Well, maybe not that fine, but I’ll survive, anyhow…
~from “Evita”

I’d like to be writing about the knitting I’ve been doing: progress on socks, beginnings of a wedding shawl for a friend, plans for my homespun yarn.

I’d like to show you pictures of my spinning lately, both with wheel and spindle and to talk about the lessons I’ve been learning there.

But I don’t feel like being creative right now, or talking about achievements (however small they might be). I’m just down, and that’s all.

I’ve been a temp at this one place for over six months now, and have been getting some praise for the work I’ve done, too, yet have found out I’m done in two weeks. As a temp, I should be happy to get this much notice at all, and intellectually I’ve known all along that nothing was secure. Yet I had begun to hope, that I’d have a real job, with opportunities and a decent salary, that I’d be able to stop worrying about having enough for groceries and fibre, that I could focus on figuring out what I really want out of my life rather than struggling just to pay for it at all.

Now, though, I can’t think ahead. I know things will be ok: I’m with a good agency, I’ll have another placement and rent will be covered just fine. I can probably still buy the fibre I want (and worry I need in order to get me through the workdays, but that’s another meditation for a different time). I’m just tired of being overeducated and underemployed. I want to live my life for me and for my future, not for the day-to-day. I don’t want to be a “temp” any more.

Enough of me — here’s Kelly’s newly-acquired cat:
Velcro the cat
The Clawless Mouser

Velcro being scritched
My hand for scale (I have rather small hands) — this is one tiny cat!


Filed under rambling

Good Mail Thursday

Look what came in the mail for me yesterday… a new package from my Secret Pal!

Once again, my SP has fooled me, this time with a clever ruse. I was sent an email with a photo of yarn on it, so (of course) I start thinking I’ll be getting some sort of indie-died sock yarn. But no! Much to my surprise, the red folder contains beautiful stationary, some try-’em-out fountain pens, and custom-printed yarn-photo stamps!

SP10 - writing supplies
There was chocolate too, but that was swiftly devoured.

Don’t I have a sneaky, yet very perceptive, Secret Pal? And cheeky too; this was the sign-off in the enclosed note:

Until later, I remain,



So what was I to do, but try these lovely supplies out? I really enjoy the fountain pens, for all that my hand is in need of much inprovement. Letters were written, both to dear friends and new correspondants, and wil be out to the postbox with shiney yarn stamps later this afternoon. If the Yarn Harlot can declare “Tuesdays are for Spinning”, then I say “Thursdays are for Letter-Writing”!

And because this blog has been pretty devoid of knitting and spinning lately, I will attempt to appease the masses with a cute cate photo:
sp10 pkg & kitty
That’ll teach my to try photostyling on the floor!


Filed under exchanges, rambling, SP10