FO: rhinebeck cauldron handspun.

My rhinebeck-cauldron polwarth puffed up after a nice long bath, and now I love it even more. I even accidentally skipped the part where I count the strands and do the math because I just couldn’t wait to see it in squishy skein form. I’m going to conservatively estimate that this is about 150 yards of 2-ply worsted weight. And maybe I’ll be allowed to cast on if I can finish a book on postcolonial Vietnam today?

Last night I made this butternut squash lasagna. Which means I have delicious leftovers that should last much of the weekend. I didn’t have any mushrooms handy, so I upped the greens (used kale instead of chard) and sauteed them with onion and a carrot.

I think somebody is glad that it’s Friday.

a cauldron of rhinebeck?

Okay. You guys were totally right. All of my concerns about the way these two colorways (Rhinebeck, from SCF, and Cauldron, from Hello Yarn) went out the window when I wound this onto my niddy noddy and got to see it all together. Now it is hanging above the sink, and I can’t wait for it to be dry. The question of the day: do I have the patience to spin the other half of this, ply it together, and use it all for another eternity scarf or some kind of doubled over cowl? (Option B being to cast on for something NOW.) We’ll see…

pounding mill press and plying.

 

I ordered some absolutely gorgeous note cards from Pounding Mill Press, and they arrived yesterday. (Full disclosure: M., of Pounding Mill Press, is a friend of mine. Rather than tell you this to suggest that I might be biased, I do it in order to be able to take a moment to comment on her general awesomeness, which makes me recommend her stuff, her style, her cupcakes all the more. She also does custom projects — lots more info on her site.) Anyway, I ordered these blank-on-the-inside alphabet cards, and they are exactly what I was hoping for.

M. tucked in a sample note card or two in a different designs, and some engraved pencils that clearly I can’t live without, despite not knowing I needed them. I can’t decide which to sharpen first: Love is a Battlefield, or A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama.

If you, at this very moment, are realizing that a package of palindrome pencils would make your writing, grading, grocery-list-making, etc. infinitely better, these are available in the Pounding Mill Press online shop. (I just checked. I can think of at least ten people who would LOVE these.)

When I read these out loud to Boh, he looked at me like this:

I don’t think he liked “Go Deliver A Dare Vile Dog” so much.

Last night, at bedtime, I was feeling antsy. My reading went slowly yesterday, and I just needed to either get something else done, or unwind some more. I had just read Laura’s post about 2010, where she talks a bit about spinning, relaxing, and mind-wandering, so I got out my wheel (which needed to be both tightened and oiled — the weather has changed A LOT since the last time I did any spinning) and sat down to ply.

This is the first half of an experiment I described in this post – SCF Rhinebeck and Hello Yarn Cauldron, plied together (both polwarth). The process of plying these last night was exactly what I needed to decompress after some difficult reading, but I’m not sure about the pairing yet. I’m really happy with what you can see here on the bobbin, but there is a bit section where red and green are plied together in the middle, and it might just have the effect of muting each color. I’ll have to see what I think once it is washed and skeined, and then I can decide if I want another skein just like this, or if I want to do something different with the other half-bumps of each colorway. Either way, nice to be sitting down at my wheel again. I hope I can make time to spin this spring.

together?

A few days ago, I decided I need another eternity scarf. The thing is, the pattern calls for the kind of yardage I can get out of two bumps of handspun, not one. After digging through my (more accessible) fiber bin, I surfaced with Southern Cross Fibres polwarth in the Rhinebeck colorway (Oct 2010 club fiber) and Hello Yarn polwarth in Cauldron (April 2010 club fiber). And then I opened up the bags on my already very full desk, and snapped this picture. So far so good.

Here’s the first bobbin of the SCF polwarth in Rhinebeck. This stuff spun super smoothly. I really can’t wait to spin the second bobbin’s worth.

And here’s an almost full bobbin of Cauldron. These colors are slightly more muted than the SCF (well, except for the super awesome bright green). Putting the bobbins side by side, I’m less sure of my pairing, but since the fibers themselves looked fantastic together, I’m going to start plying (maybe today?) and see what happens. Fiber experiment!

Okay, time to pour the coffee. This rooster is so ready for daylight savings to kick in, and not just because of the extra hour of sleep I’ll get tomorrow morning before yoga.

pretend productive.

Let me explain: I did spend a few hours on my writing yesterday, but in a “pretend productive” kind of way — you know, the kind of productive where you don’t actually increase the word count. Now, I would argue that one of the challenges in grad school — and really, academia more broadly — involves coming to terms with what it means to be productive. Sometimes, even when I don’t write anything down, I do some really important thinking that makes it possible for me to write something¬† substantial when I return to the project. That’s not what I mean by “pretend productive.”

“Pretend productive” is when you read comments you’ve received on drafts, track down citations, request books that you know you should look at from the library, rearrange the piles or files you’re working from…and then (and this is key) derive a false sense of accomplishment from these tasks — and stop working.

I was “pretend productive” yesterday. I don’t really have pictures of what that looks like, but I think you get the idea. I do have pictures of fibery productivity, though.

First, my friend H (you may remember her as the recipient of the purple ishbel/springtime bandit brokeknits mash-up wedding shawl) came over to make applesauce and do some knitting. Boh assumed his supervisory role, and did a very good job of keeping our feet warm.

As you can see, this hat is way too big for me — which is a good thing! It should be perfect for my dad. (Apologies for the blurry photos.)

This is the largest size of the seaman’s cap, knitted even longer than the pattern called for, and made out of my handspun — Southern Cross Fibres polwarth, spun as a worsted weight 3-ply. (I still have about 80 yards left, so I may try to incorporate stripes into mittens or a manly cowl or something. We’ll see.)

H. asked me to show her how my wheel works, and because I had emptied all of my bobbins, we had to decide what I would spin next. I decided on the second 4 oz. of Crown Mountain Farms Superwash Merino in Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, spun as a fatter 2-ply. I started it to show H., and found it so captivating that late last night, I made myself a cup of hot cocoa and kept going.

I am in love with this, and all I want to do right now is spin the second bobbin. Alas, today I MUST be “real” productive. I received some great advice last night about how to get work done when there is really fun knitting in the house: lock it in the car. I may have to banish the second bobbin’s worth of fiber to the backseat today…

Stay tuned for pictures of the buttons that perfectly answered yesterday’s personal ad, as well as (I hope) a triumphant report about my productivity…

sleeping in.

I turned off the alarm last night so that Boh and I could sleep in — both a reward for some good progress on a paper I’m working on, and preparation for more writing today. (I tend to wake up with the sun whether I want to or not, but today I managed to sleep until 8. Victory.)

This dog did not want to get out of bed.

I managed a few more inches on my third handspun seaman’s cap. This one is made from Southern Cross Fibres polwarth 2-ply in the Boogie Wonderland colorway, and I just love how it is knitting up.

I am feeling way behind on life: thank you notes, holiday gifts, letter-writing, even cooking through my farm share (my winter share starts Wednesday!) — but at this very moment, I’m actually in an okay place with my academic work, and if I can just maintain that, I will be very happy. (Which means I need to get started on today’s writing goal — another 5 pages?)

polwarth (swoon).

fo polwarth bw1

fo polwarth fo 3

fo polwarth bw closeup

220 yards of squishy 2-ply worsted weight yarn, from 4 oz. of Southern Cross Fibres polwarth in the Boogie Wonderland colorway. I’m low on natural light this morning, so the colors in these photos are a little bit off. The actual color of this skein is somewhere in between the olive and forest green in these pictures. This has more squoosh than any skein I’ve spun, and I can’t wait to knit with it.

Time to pour a cup of coffee and prepare for the day.

FO: calorimetry.

blackberry pancakes

In order to face the week, I needed blackberry pancakes. (Mondays can be tough!) I ate them for breakfast and lunch, and they helped, like they always do. Moving on…

five plum pie calorimetry

I knit this over the weekend for my friend H. (of wedding shawl fame) because tomorrow is her birthday! I just couldn’t wait any longer, so I gifted this yesterday, which means there is absolutely no danger of spoiling the surprise. I used more of my Hello Yarn Five Plum Pie handspun, and I still have about ten yards leftover — truly, a never-ending skein.

calorimetry button view

Calorimetry was one of the first patterns I attempted to knit — and while I finished it rather quickly, my skein of filatura di crosa 127 print (or whatever the pattern calls for, because I had not yet learned to substitute) won the day, and I finally understood why gauge matters. My first calorimetry was enormous! This time around, I read up on the pattern and followed some common modifications:

I cast on 88 stitches using size 6 needles, and worked only as many (decreasing stitch count) short rows as seemed like half of the width I was hoping for, and then completed the same number of (increasing stitch count) short rows to get to the other side, being careful not to run out of yarn.

calorimetry side

Yay! I tried this on to take some pictures, and now that my hair is longer, I really like this. I may need to make one for myself.

plied polwarth bw

I did manage to ply the polwarth. Here’s what it looks like before washing/thwacking:

prewash

This may be the softest, squishiest yarn I have ever spun. It is hanging to dry in the kitchen, and I can’t help but pet it each time I walk by.

superherohelmet1

In keeping with “hat-tober,” I cast on for yet another handspun hat — Cosy’s Super Hero Helmet Hat. I won the pattern on her blog a few weeks ago, and I am knitting it out of some of my earlier wheelspun: AVFKW Woolly Wonders corriedale in The Candle’s Nimble Flame. I’m using size 10.5 needles, and I love the squoosh of the garter stitch.

bohcouchsilly

Apparently Boh also had a very busy day. (While I read, wrote, cleaned, knit, plied, grocery-shopped, cooked, etc., Boh moved bones back and forth from his box, growled at the electrician through the window, took notes on squirrel movement, and perhaps dreamed of rabbits, chipmunks, and deer.)

rustling.

(Not cattle. More like leaves, branches, half-thoughts, glimpses of moments past.)

sundaywalk1

sundaywalk2

This is one of my favorite paths to wander along, as those of you who’ve been reading for the summer, even the last year, are well aware.

sundaywalk3

The wind in the beech trees, the water pouring over the spillway, even the distinctive vibration from the trucks on the state road I walk to get here; these sounds stir me. I see and hear echoes of words I have felt, said, thought. My memory surprises me. These walks are harder on some days than others, but always strangely restorative.

sundaywalk4

Yesterday’s walk (and the walk I took last week, with our houseguest) was different. After an incredibly delicious mushroom-leek quiche (everyone should find friends who will bring breakfast to your house) that I wish I had photographed to share here, we bundled up and headed out the door with Boh and Coltrane. I guess I write all of this to say that it seems important to experience solitary places with other people. It’s not that the reservoir was transformed by the company; more that I noticed new things around me, and at the same time, rustled up a little less. It is nice to turn my regular route into a space filled with chatter, storytelling, community.

sundaywalkamyandtalia

sundaywalk5

sundaywalk7

One of the great things about friends who are also early-risers is that you can enjoy an indulgent brunch and take a relaxing walk AND have plenty of time left over for productivity, of both the academic and fiber-y variety.

polwarth bw

In between bouts of reading and writing, I sat down at my wheel and spun up two bobbins of luxurious polwarth from Southern Cross Fibres in the Boogie Wonderland colorway. This was incredible stuff to spin, and the depth of these greys and greens is stunning.¬† We’ll see if I can get through today’s pile fast enough to start plying this today.