Spinster

skeins

The Jacob Humbug spinning project was finished in April. I’ve got about 125g of a 2ply yarn, of somewhat variable thickness. The singles rested for quite a while before plying, so it was quite tricky to figure out how much to ply. The tricks I learned last year at Wingham Wool work rather rely on the singles being still quite full of energy. Anyway, I went ahead and tried to overply it. One skein is completely balanced and one is very slightly… underplied.

I’ve found some useful nails outside the kitchen, under the overhanging roof, for hanging skeins to dry.  I have no idea what the nails are actually meant for, but they do the trick. They are sheltered enough that, even if it rains, the skeins still dry.

The two skeins are awaiting inspiration for their final destiny. They might be a little too tough to be worn next to the skin. Possibly a cushion cover or tea-cosy?

Next, in the spinning odyssey, I had a birthday and my generous friends and relations added a little more to my spinning wheel fund. I had a look at my bank account and discovered that I had enough to put in an order with Gill at Sanday Spinners. Here’s what happened next (mouse-over for captions):

I began to spin, using some bright red BFL that I bought from Grace and Jacob while they still had a bricks and mortar shop in York.

I managed to spin a variety of thicknesses, just by changing the tension and speed.

samples

I’m not yet at the point of being able to keep spinning the same thickness for more than a few yards, but getting better each time I try.

I spun up a little onto two bobbins, plied it, washed it and set it to dry. Then I knitted it!

knittedp

The two bobbins I had spun weren’t evenly loaded, so I had some left over on one of them, but only a few yards. I thought I might as well have a shot at Navajo plying, having seen a few videos of people doing it. Now that’s fun (I didn’t have much control over it)!

navajo

The next spinning project is to keep doing  a few more samples, aiming for consistency over several yards.

If you remember, I have elected to have spinning as my personal project for a leadership course I’m doing with work this year. The next residential is in a few weeks time so I ought to have made some  more progress to show them.

Day off with the kids

Ah, half term. A day off with no school run, but two small people to entertain all day.
T took control of the tablet this morning and did some major work on his mixel collection, creating some really rather creative Lego bits and pieces. J has discovered scissors, so we spent some time clearing up many scraps of paper from around the living room.
I was determined to do a bit of spinning, but the kiddies weren’t really very supportive.
We went out for a walk, fully kitted out in waterproofs. J spectacularly face-planted twice, getting covered in mud and scratching her brand new glasses.
This evening, after a plateful of courgette fritters, I managed a decent amount of spinning, nearly filling the first bobbin of some Jacob tops.

image

This is the first step in my spinning project: to have two full bobbins to ply, then knit something out of it to see what it is like.
In knitting news, I’m nearly at the top of the first Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock. Oh, and a large box of Millamia yarn arrived today, ready for a secret project.

Balanced

[I do get round to talking about knitting and spinning eventually in this post – keep going]

I’ve spent a bit of time during this last year or so bemoaning the lack of time I have to devote to knitting and spinning. With a full time job, two little kids, and a husband I really should spend a little time with, there isn’t a great surprise that life is full, but is it too full?

This week I’ve been away on a residential course with work. It’s a leadership training programme that is grounded in principles taken from the Rule of St Benedict. If you’ve not really studied the Rule of St Benedict (and lets face it, who among us can honestly say we have?), you might be imagining a focus on long hours of prayer and hard work scrubbing monastery floors. That’s not quite what this is about.

From the little I’ve read, the Benedictine way of life seems to be a life of balance. Now, the way the Rule of Benedict is followed in a monastery is very different from the way it can be followed outside the walls (see note about husband and kids, above). Nevertheless, there are some principles that transfer quite well.

When I got my timetable for last week, I noticed it started at 8am (with prayer) and finished at 9pm each day.  At least there’s no danger of the husband thinking I was slacking off on a work jolly (this suggestion has been mooted in the past in similar situations). Within this full day, there was a welcome gap in the afternoon. Between lunch and 4pm, there was a two hour slot labelled ‘personal time’. In my mind, I re-designated it ‘knitting time’ and took enough knitting to fill a good six hours per day.

Now, 13 hour days are not out of the ordinary in my line of work. When most of the people you encounter at work are either at work during the day or busily retired, a lot of things happen in the evening. In fact, 15 hour days come round every so often.

At the end of a 13 hour day I would expect to feel absolutely wiped out: the difference that taking 2 hours (to knit) out of the middle of the day made was astonishing. With the balance between work and recreation, those Benedictines were on to something. Making time for recreation means that there is something giving renewal in the middle of a long day. I was not the only knitter on the course. In one afternoon, we got up to four knitters on the comfy chairs (and we had one very interested bystander – we’ll take spare needles to the next bit of the course).

Slightly off at a tangent, but an interesting discovery anyway: Before settling down to knit I took a brisk walk each day and I was then awake enough not to doze off for the  next couple of hours. I’ve been getting internal and external nudges about the benefits of exercise for months. Maybe it’s time to take note and do something.

This course lasts for most of the rest of this year and we have a project to complete before the next residential. The focus of the project is something that will develop you personally, not a work-related thing, but perhaps something you have always wanted to do, something that makes your soul leap.

Here is my project: Spin to knit and publish. My spinning wheel sits in my study, always within easy reach but rarely touched. I want to get the hang of spinning, well enough to knit with my handspun. I also want to learn to write patterns and understand a bit more about design.

This is what I’m hoping to achieve:

  • practice spinning regularly (daily, or at least a long session each week) and get the hang of spinning a balanced yarn
  • complete Craftsy classes on spinning and plying
  • design an item to be knit with handspun yarn
  • write the pattern properly
  • knit the item
  • publish the pattern

This should be an interesting few months.

Another part of the course is to keep (and regularly review) a learning journal. Isn’t there a quote something along the lines of ‘the un-reflected life is not worth living’? I happened to have a new notebook with me and I’m using a lot of the Bullet Journal system: simple, yet effective.

WIP update:

I took the Fish Lips Kiss socks with me and I have mastered the heel. Very simple once I figured it out, but until that point absolutely baffling. I am now speeding up the first leg and wondering when to stop.

LetterMo update:

Two days behind, but enjoying writing (mostly very short) letters.