Tuesday, November 29, 2011

secret project update

I know I haven't been writing as much as I had hoped but I wanted to share an update on the super secret swap project. I finished plying the yarn last night. The soaking and drying happened in the last 24 hours and I'm off to the races as far as the knitting goes.
The fiber content is 40% Cormo, 32% Optim and 28% Bamboo. Total of 1255 yards of light fingering weight yarn. I drum carded this to blend and spun long draw from 4 two plus ounce batts. This is the softest woolen spun and my most consistent spinning to date. The Cormo and Optim give it such softness and the Optim and Bamboo give it a sheen like silk. This was the first project I spun using the Woolee winder and it worked better than I expected. Being able to spin for 30 to 40 minutes without stopping made this go really fast. The project calls to knit this up with undyed yarn and to dye the yarn after it's knit up to achieve the pattern. I can't share the pattern yet but I think it's going to look really cool when it's finished and I only have 17 days to knit this up so wish me luck. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A new swap

Just a little update here. I joined a holiday swap yesterday.  Ravelry has a group called "Snobby Spinners" and they have an annual swap of like minded fiber snobs. Here is the outline of the swap. Participants will spin a skein of yarn and then create a single skein item for their assigned recipient. Items can be knit, crocheted or woven. This is what is expected along with the simple little goodies that people include with the main swap gifts. I looked over the pictures from last year and was pleasantly surprised. The norm was a hank of handspun fiber and one F.O. from another hank of handspun along with the goodies. These are the people who love spinning with fine fiber. If you have been reading my blog very long you know I prefer the fine and near skin soft fiber/yarn. Sounds like a promising swap to me. The partners will be pared up this week so I can start the stalking and planning.

I finished the 2nd four ounces of the blue Rambouillet Sunday night.  I will post pictures after I send it to the bath.

Speaking of pictures....   I'm apprenticing under a professional photographer so I can be her 2nd or 3rd shooter when she shoots weddings. In preparation for this I'm going to update the stash photos and load them into Ravelry. I have the stash in a master spreadsheet but just a fraction is in Ravelry. So I get some shooting practice and my stash will get entered in Ravelry. One of the positives is using a Canon 5D with a wide array of professional lenses and studio lighting.  Win Win

Life is Good

Friday, September 09, 2011

Reduction in number of gadgets

About a year ago I had an accident with my MP3 player. In my mind this was the day music died. For 6 years I carried this 16GB magical transporter of music everywhere and it provided countless hours of enjoyment. For days I tried to recover the 16 gigs of music but wasn't successful....  I was given an 8GB Ipod Touch to use and it helped but it was just a loan. A few months ago Susan's brother and his family came for a visit and when we talked about music he told me he used his phone as his MP3 player and when I saw that we had the same model phone it made me realize I didn't need to get a new MP3 player but just buy a memory chip for my exsisting phone. The chip is tiny but holds 16GB of memory.
I inserted one of these into my phone and enjoyed portable music again.
 Oh did I mention that I have a purple Blackberry?  What other color would I buy if they offered a purple version.  LOL  After spending an hour or so of selecting music and syncing with the computer, I had an even smarter phone or felt smarter because I was using more of the features that was available to me but I didn't realize how easy it would be to use. I prefer to spin with music playing. In the near future I will record my guitar playing using the microphone.  Score one for the reduction in gadgets.

Life is Good

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A date with a Spanish lady

Tonight I had a date with a Spanish lady....  I started lessons with a classical guitar teacher tonight. It didn't include dinner and a movie but we made sweet music together, the guitar and I, not the teacher LOL. Seriously, when you stop playing, you lose so much of the muscle memory and the callouses are gone. I have some pain to go through in the next few weeks but the end result will be well worth it. I don't have the skills yet so I will share some of what I'm aiming for. Some of you will recognize the first piece in another style.

and maybe this...
I can listen to this artist for hours on end...

The homework is pretty serious this week with the teacher trying to see where my limits are. I'm looking forward to the hard work and feel the music flow again. Here is a link back to the post where I described the guitar.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Am I 20 again? No but it was fresh in my mind.

I had a few flashes of what it feels like to be 20 again. Let me clarify things a little. Many years ago I was a competitive road cyclist. I used to ride every day and couldn't find enough time to ride with having to work and other priorities in my life. Like many other things, this was an obsession too. I saw the movie Breaking Away and the next day I went out and tried to buy a bike to race. I found out that being 6'5" in 1979 wasn't a good thing when looking at racing bicycles. Eventually I found a shop who also sponsored a cycling team and this led me to ordering a custom bike that fit my body. The owner had the passion of cycling and even though he sold the commodity bikes to pay the bills, he had a small section in the shop with the latest, state of the art racing toys. 6 long months later I took it for a test ride and my smile went from ear to ear. I went on to race for about 10 years or so and when we started having kids, the bike stayed in the garage more and more. It was dormant for the last 8 or so years and Saturday morning was the first time I went for a spin on her is what seemed like a life time ago. It was a short ride of about 8 or 9 miles but it felt so good. Having been sick a few months ago made me appreciate this even more.I felt the burn that used to make me push myself harder and harder when I rode with my former team. My legs are so weak and my lungs are no where strong enough to ride like I used to but I felt the rush of speed in short burst. The same rush that kept me riding for so many years before. It's like the feeling an finished object that has been on the needles for so long. Inspiring me to want to ride and take better care of myself. I feel like it was a huge step to be healthier. I kick myself for letting the bike literally rot in storage.  I spent a few hours today looking for a picture of me in 1980 standing on the front lawn next to my brand new bike in my racing clothes. The look is priceless, I have this glare like I'm trying to be intimidating or something. Seriously, I was 20 years old, 6'5" 150lbs, 4% body fat and it almost looks comical with the intense look, nobody was ever intimidated by the look :) I'll take a pic of the bike and maybe me on it later this week. I promise if I find the pic from then I'll share it too.

Last week I watched part of a special about reversing your heart trouble with only your diet. Bill Clinton talking like a vegan and claiming he is better than ever. I'm not having trouble with my heart but I was curious about the book they all talked about but found it was another extremist book that eliminated any food that came from a mother or ever had a face plus no oils. So you are a vegan who cant have nuts or olive oil.  I would prefer a less extreme diet and my research led me to body weight exercise book with guidelines for the amounts of protein, carbs and fats. Yes they let you have fats on this life modification but it's all about raising your muscle mass as a way of burning calories instead of reducing your weight by eating less. This is non-gym, do it in your living room stuff in the vein of the P90X but free san's the cost of the $9.99 kindle book. I'm not taking a turn and heading down the diet blog but I thought I would share.  

I am knitting a little and spinning almost everyday. Here is 4 ounces of Rambouillet spun up into 453yards of light fingering Navajo plied. The second half is another day or so away before I ply it also.

The knit shop holds it's weekly knit nights and were all enjoying the weekly visits and it keeps me inspired to knit and spin. I offered the shop that I would offer beginning spinning lessons in her shop on my wheel for free. I know she has a business to run and I suggested that she charges the cost of an ounce or two of fiber for the price of the lessons so she sells product too. Just my way of paying forward the craft and helping a shop survive just.
I hope all of you are doing well. I know some of you have had some health issues lately but I hope the path to recovery is close.

My birthday is rapidly closing again. I just sent my Father a hand written letter in his birthday card. He turned 79 this year and he is my inspiration for knowing it's ok to grow old. I haven't written a letter in years. We all email and text but since I started writing with the fountain pens lately I decided to hand write my thoughts. He appreciated the Purple ink and we talked for an hour on the phone the day he received the box. I included some pictures that Susan took of Jen(the DD), my Dad and I playing catch last year a few days after her HS graduation. It was a glorious day when we can play catch. I know it sounds simple but all three of us love it. I wish we lived closer so we could enjoy it more often.

Life is Good...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

No more importing....

If you wish to read the other post from "Two Books" you can find them here

Imported from Two Books One Cover 8/08/2011

I'm having a lot of "learning opportunities" with the somewhat simple lace cowl currently on the needles but resolving these little roadblocks is giving me lots of confidence to venture out to more challenging designs.  Each project has given me little tidbits of knitting knowledge and now its time to start swimming in the deep end of the pool of the fiber arts. I have some ideas that I hope to incorporate into some patterns and take others and manipulate them to my liking. More about that in a few minutes...
Those of you who have Ravelry accounts, do you go through periods of wanting to be inspired and start favoring patterns that either inspire you or that instantly go onto your "someday I want to knit that" list? I looked back at my history and it shows a definite pattern of inspiration in blocks.
The last few weeks I'm looking at more lace shawls and lace garments. One that has been on the list to knit for some time is the Triangular Summer Shawl seen here.  I plan to hand spin Cormo and leave it undyed. Lace weight spinning is becoming my favorite lately so why not enjoy the spinning and knitting this beautiful shawl with my own handspun? The next is the Myrtle cardigan, and maybe the Batik pullover.
Tonight was the latest inspirational nudge. This started a few months ago when I had the opportunity to watch a documentary on the Bohus Stickning.  Further stimulation from other knitters on Ravelry led me to read "Poems of Color" from cover to cover tonight.  I'm already planning to dye the fiber to match the number of colors and spin it to make one of these magical garments of my ancestors. I'm part Swedish and it felt natural to attempt one of these sweaters the more I read about it. The fact that the ladies responsible for creating these works of art held true to only using the finest materials in the finest gauge makes it even more desirable for me to attempt. I love the hand of a fine gauge knitted item. The patterns call for a 60/40 % Rambouillet & Angora blend.  The idea of knitting an adult sweater on size 1,2, and 3 needles I think separates the weak at heart if the color work doesn't. I plan to knit a sample from the book Homespun Handknit called "Northern Lights".  I will test the color choices that I plan to use and hopefully it will turn out to be a matching accessory for the eventual sweater. I have some high grade ultra merino and Cormo that may turn out to be the fiber depending on some test swatches. I feel lucky to have have so many choices of near skin soft fiber to chose from to make one of these stunning sweaters. It might just inspire me to make a second pattern in the fiber I don't chose for the first. I begin to question, do I make the whole sweater blended wool/angora or just the colorwork? The fiber is uber soft already and the angora is added to give the halo on the yoke and to soften the wool but when the wool is already soft, should I make the body out of blended fiber too?  I guess the angora would even out any tension or short row blemishes in my technique. One downside to knitting such a fine gauge sweater. Usually I'm a stickler for being true to the pattern or technique but I already plan on using my own variation of colors so it is already not a true Bohus rather an inspired by Bohus Stickning.  I don't plan on changing the color chart layout and I intend to keep the look so it will be easily recognizable as what inspired the design. For those of you who know the Bohus designs, imagine a "Purple Shimmer" or the "Large Lace Collar" in multiple hued mostly Purple, black and white tones over a white sweater body....
The last thing I was contemplating is a variation on the Hanami stole where I modify the pattern into a 5 or 6 panel skirt. I saw where someone made the stole into a wedding dress and it validated my thoughts although I wanted to make it shorter and in the skirt style as opposed to the dress. The stole is pretty but in a skirt it would be so light and airy made from a light gauge yarn.
These are the thoughts running through my head lately since the knitting and spinning bug is keeping me looking forward to new fiber projects.

Starting Anew imported from Two Books One Cover 9/7/2010

Welcome to my new blog. If you came here recently then welcome, if you are an old friend from my twisted knitster blog then I'm glad you found me. I linked the blog if anyone wants to see where I came from.
A little about me for those of you who are getting to know me and a little to update old friends. March 12th I flew to Iowa for a job interview and a week later I was moving from sunny Southern California to my new home. I lived within 10 miles of where I was born until just a few months ago but this felt like the right time when I needed a change. Life is full of twist and turns and part of this was that my life with Debbie has come to an end. After almost 10 years we parted amicably. Our views on life caused us to go our separate ways and she moved back to New England to be close to her family. I wish her all the best.
A little about me..... I'm a middle aged man who still is in touch with my inner child. Always optimistic and looking for the best in everything around me. Taking time to appreciate the little things. The sunrise each morning that brings another day. I still pause and marvel at the sunsets, the waves crashing into the sand and the millions of stars that fill the night sky. I know it sounds like I'm a Pollyanna but I love that movie too, "look for best in everything and you will find it".
I know by now some of you are wondering OK, where is the content?
I spun some South African Fine to get back in the spin of things. It's been about 8 months since I've been behind the wheel but it felt good. I have lots of fiber in the stash to spin and this lovely fiber came from Jen at Moonlightbaker's Etsy shop. I loved the way it reminded me of the sky when I would go to the beach. White fluffy clouds and beautiful blue skies. This is already being knit into a pet sweater right now. Not many pets get a hand spun/hand knit sweater but why not huh?
I'm spinning some Milk fiber right now and will post pictures soon. The test pieces are swatched and oh my is it soft after the wash. I do love the near skin soft fibers.
Yes I'm still reading and I will give you a teaser here once in a while and maybe post a review on the book page if I feel moved either way about the book. I know other readers are always looking for a good book to read.

Resurrection of the Twisted Knitster blog

I'm coming back to this blog because I really don't like WordPress and I prefer the format of this blog.  I will merge the posts from the other blog into here shortly.