FO: floating down.

Which, incidentally, also describes my back pain: floating down in intensity. I’ve got a massage scheduled for as soon as I’m done teaching tomorrow morning, and that should make it a lot better. Thank you for all of your kind comments. I’ve been trying to take it easy while still getting  my work done. It’s going to be another busy week… (I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot this semester!) Anyway, do you want to see some handspun?

I thought so.

This is Hello Yarn 75% BFL/25% Tussah Silk in Floating Down, spun as singles. I ended up with just over 400 yards of this delicious stuff. What should I make?

Boh is excited.

Or not. (Silly, silly dog.)

We took a long, slow walk with a friend and her dog on Friday, which seemed to help with my back twinge. Along the way, we saw this bald eagle! (Apologies for the poor photo quality — I took this with my iphone, and zoomed in as much as I could.)

We also saw this Great Blue Heron. Boh and Madigan were too busy focusing on all the Canadian Geese to notice.

I got sorrel in my CSA box this week, and sauteed it with butter and onions and leftover rice. It was delicious.

And last night, I made a big batch of Heidi’s Millet Fried Rice, from Super Natural Cooking. I’d forgotten how much I like millet — and how much I like this recipe. Basically, you cook the millet, and when that’s almost done, you make a super thin egg pancake, by melting butter with some toasted sesame oil in a large pan, beating a couple of eggs as if to make an omelette, and then pouring in the egg. You swirl the eggs around to get a really thin layer, and then fold the eggs over on themselves once they are cooked enough to let you do that. Shortly after that, you remove the egg from the pan, and then stirfry whatever veggies you’re using in a super hot pan, and then you add the millet, some soy sauce, and then you slice the egg pancake into strips and add that, too. I topped mine with onion sprouts and some canned roasted red pepper, both from my spring CSA box. I might have eaten this for lunch and dinner today, too.

Also, last night was Earth Hour, and I participated by turning off as much electricity as possible in my home, and lighting some candles to read by. While I believe that lifestyle activism on its own isn’t enough, I like doing this, and it is nice to remind myself how much I enjoy turning everything off for awhile. I certainly recognize my own privilege in all of this –and that not everyone has the power to make this choice. Still, this is about mindfulness for me. I didn’t really plan ahead, in terms of what I might read, so I was scrambling for something as the official time approached.

I ended up spending part of my hour reading some Mary Oliver poems. The book I’m teaching this week opens with Oliver’s Wild Geese” as the epigraph, which I read to my students on Wednesday. It begins, “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees/ For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.” It was nice to read it by candlelight.

Looks like today’s photos are all in pairs. I like it. Also, Happy April!

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OWCH.

So, I went to bed last night sleepy after a good day of work and play. And then I woke up around 5 am — or rather, I think I went to roll over, and a not-so-pleasant twinge in my back woke me up. I think my hours of writing are catching up with me. Anyway, it took me forever to get myself out of bed and to the Advil. I was very sleepy, and muttering things like, “I need help. There’s no one here to help me” to myself. (Not helpful.) Poor Boh was very confused. The Advil helped me to get back to sleep, and when I actually got up, it became clear that while I was a bit more mobile than I’d been in the middle of a REM cycle, I was not doing a good job of turning my head to the right. OWCH.

Some stretching, some coffee, and a phone call to a massage therapist, and I’m feeling a little better. I’m functioning, but slowly. (And I’ve got an appointment for a massage.) If this is what 30 feels like, I don’t like it one bit. I’ve got a conference paper and a diss-chapter-chunk to finish up, both of which will likely progress more slowly now that my neck and back are in revolt. Boo. Allow me to distract you (and myself) with some pictures of very pretty fiber:

Floating Down (Hello Yarn Fiber Club, 75% BFL/25% Tussah Silk) singles on the bobbin.

A close-up, pre-soak.

Draped over my arm. Aren’t these colors lovely?

The whole thing, ready to air dry. I’ve got just over 400 yards of singles here, and I can’t wait to cast on something in it. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to take a few days off from yarn and fiber to let this twinge in my neck/back heal, but at least I can daydream about shawl and cowl patterns, right?

overwhelmed.

I’ve certainly been feeling the less-than-awesome kind of overwhelmed this week. Which is why I’m pretty psyched to get to share (another) example of the good kind of overwhelmed.

This delicious Fine and Raw almond chunky chocolate bar arrived in a box of fibery treats from dear knithound. I sat down at the kitchen table and savored it. (And then thought you might to at least see the wrapper. This stuff is incredible!)

Along with that chocolate (which I’m not sure if I should describe as heavenly or sinful), knithound sent me three special bundles of undyed luxury fiber: an ounce of merino/cashmere, an ounce of oatmeal cashmere, and an ounce of a yak/tussah silk blend, all from The Yarn Tree. I keep opening the bags to pet them.

You may have noticed that I haven’t really been spending much time at the wheel lately — there’s just so much to do. But these — these might be just the right amount for a small break, time to decompress, or work through an idea. I might even dig out a drop spindle for one of these fiber bumps.

Thank you, knithound, for this overwhelming (in the good way) box of luxury. And thanks to all of blogland for your kindness and comments on what it means to grow older and to reflect on experiences and expectations these last few weeks.

this and that.

I’m sitting here, coffee in hand, looking through the photos I took yesterday, and there is not much of a theme. It seems that I did a little bit of everything yesterday, so please excuse this post’s lack of focus.

First up, a few more pictures of the silk, which is now dry and in skein form. (Still no good rhymes for tussah, I’m afraid.)

silkskein4

silkskein3

silkskein2

Swoon.

Next, a few shots of Mara, blocked and dry. (Hmm, maybe there is a theme?)

marablocked1

marablocked3

marablocked2

It was incredibly hot and humid yesterday (see below photo of Boh), but I couldn’t help wrapping Mara around my shoulders and snapping a few pictures in my (dirty) mirror.

bohinsun

I also baked brownies:

brownies

Finished a vanilla sock:

halfavanillapair

Made some progress on my Milkweed Shawl:

milkweed prog

Oh, and tried crack, in the form of Crown Mountain Farms Superwash Merino. I’ve been hearing about this stuff on numerous podcasts (The Manic Purl, Gives Good Knit, and The Knitmore Girls), and after attaining a sock weight 3-ply yarn, I decided to go ahead and order a little bit to give it a try.

cmf1

Late last night, I told myself I would just split this lovely superwash merino in the Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds colorway nto 4 oz. chunks, and then divide one of those halves into 3 parts in preparation for spinning more 3-ply sock yarn.

cmfbob1

And then I sat down at the wheel.  This stuff is awesome.

That’s all I’ve got today. Happy Friday!

tussah.

I’m trying to come up with something that rhymes with tussah, and the best I’ve got right now is “sucka” — so let’s just forget that I was going to try to go that way and move on.

tussah macro1

Oh_my_goodness.

Let me back up:

tussah on bob

I finished spinning the reddish-orangey-pink section of my 2 oz. braid of tussah silk (from yarn chef). Inspired by Mick’s beautiful singles, I thought I might try singles of my own. Late (too late) last night, I sat pondering this bobbin, hoping that my singles were strong enough to be wound onto my niddy-noddy. Despite it being significantly past my bedtime, I decided to go for it.

tussah macro2

No breakage! And my, what sheen! I don’t remember spinning this evenly, but I could not get over how lovely this looked on the niddy noddy.

Here’s where I need some third party verification of my math, because I’m having a hard time believing the yardage: I stopped counting strands on my niddy noddy when I reached 250. My loop measures 32 inches in length, 64 inches in diameter, so 250 x 64 (or, for ease of math 250 x 2 x 32) = 16000 inches. 16000 inches/36 inches per yard = 443 yards. (But I stopped counting at 250 strands, so I’m thinking this number is closer to 500. Whoa.)

By the way, why do I not have a 36 inch niddy noddy? That would make my longhand math much faster. And more interesting to read.

hangingtussah

In conclusion, get thee some tussah silk. You will not be disappointed!

ribbing.

mara rib1

Lest you were beginning to think that I had crossed entirely over to the dark side of the spinning wheel, I present some serious progress on Mara. After reading lots of posts over at the Mara KAL in the backwards loop group on ravelry, I decided to modify the ribbing slightly, opting for a k3p2 rib instead of a k2p2.

mara rib2

The pattern calls for 4 inches of ribbing after the inch of transitional rib to finish off the shawl. I don’t have enough of this luscious beaverslide to do that, so I’m pretty much ribbing until I run out. I’ll be happy if I can get 2 inches or so, and I’m hoping to finish this tonight at a new knit night (say that five times fast) I’ve been attending!

The urge to finish this despite warmer temps that are not so conducive to the wearing of squishy wool shawls comes in part from even more new projects on (or soon to be on) the needles.

swatch alpaca

Veera, of 100% rain, put out the call for test- knitters for her plain and simple pullover, and since her sweater is already in my ravelry favorites, I couldn’t help but volunteer. The sweater is knit in fingering weight yarn on smaller needles, and when I looked at the specs/yarn requirements, I realized that this is the perfect sweater for 2 fat skeins of local alpaca in my stash that have long been searching for a pattern to partner with.

local alpaca skeins

I think this is a perfect match — the drapeyness of the alpaca will complement the pattern’s minimal shaping, the foldover collar will hang beautifully, and I will get a short-sleeved, super-soft alpaca sweater that won’t be so warm that I can’t wear it indoors! More on this soon,

Silk update:

shinytussah

I spun most of the orange section of my sunburst tussah silk. It shines like this picture, but at this point, the color is more orangey than red:

orange tussah

I’m really enjoying the process of spinning this — a totally different feeling than wool. I’m hoping my singles will be strong and even enough to stand on their own in a brightly colored shawl for fall.

Alright, time to get to work!

jacob.

jacob skein1

jacob skein2

4 oz. undyed jacob fleece from Spot Hollow Farm yielded 358 yards of light worsted/heavy dk weight 2-ply (13 wpi). I played around a bit with my spinning technique (long draw, supported long draw) while using my middle whorl, and my yardage confirms that I was spinning more of a woolen yarn. This had a very airy preparation, and it seemed to want to be spun in a way that maintained it’s lightness. I enjoyed spinning this so much that I dashed out to my LYS (still having that sale) to see if they had any more in this lovely grey. Alas, none of this particular color of natural, but they did have some darker jacob from the same farm, so I picked up 8 oz.

more jacob 8oz

If I spin this in a similar way, I should have about 1000 yards to play with — maybe a striped sweater?

With the jacob off the wheel and hanging above the sink to dry, I dug through my fiber bin for the next project, and decided I was ready to try a totally new-to-me fiber: tussah silk.

tussah braid

This is just a chunk of the braid, which transitions from yellow to gold to melon to orange to a lovely pinky-red grapefruit color. I have a 2 oz. braid of tussah silk, from yarnchef’s fiber shop (yarnchefSpin) in the sunburst colorway, and I am having a lot of fun getting to know this fiber.

tussahbob

I’m trying to keep this as uniform as possible, with the thought that I’ll leave this silk as a single and knit up a simple shawl that shows off these absolutely beautiful color transitions. A question for you more experienced spinners: how do I finish 100% tussah silk? Same soaking and snapping/thwacking? None of that at all? Inquiring minds (you know, like Boh) want to know.

Time for cup o’ coffee #2, some spinning, and oh, right — some actual work!