Thursday, August 30, 2007

Random Thoughts

... in random orders.

1. Trouble One
I bought several pattern books from Webs last months. I don't remember how many. I can't find them! It's driving me crazy.

2. Trouble Two
We've been seeing a couple of small moths flying around the house. You might say, oh, just a couple, no big deal. Nope. A couple, every evening! I've been checking my stash, but I don't see any evidence of the pests. Still, it's very unnerving.

3. Amusing
There has been an increase in the number of visitors to our blog lately, and 90% of them are here after doing a search on "fingerless gloves, knitted, mittens, patterns" on Google! They are all directed to Liz's fingerless gloves entry. Liz, I think you need to post some more pictures!
What's really amusing is that this just started happening in mid-August. Before then, there were visitors from my Lotus Blossom Tank Kal entry. It shows the change of the seasons....

4. The Dilemma
The dilemma continues! I want to knit, but have no time left after an hour of spinning each night. I'm still working on my handspun vest, but I've decided that I need to convert the Japanese knitting chart (which I used to love) to the American knitting pattern (which I used to dislike), and it's taking some time. Alas, my brain pattern has been migrated...

5. Sigh
It's my birthday today. My birthday wish has been to take a day off and knit in the back yard in peace. This wish has not been materialized yet.... Next year, for sure. I've had a nice lunch and cake treated by my coworkers today though, so it's a very nice compromise!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Long Way Home

I'm back. The jet lag coming home is always harder than going to Japan. Our son's recovery from the time difference is the fastest, easiest and noisiest! He's in a constant motion, when he's not asleep, since we came home. Agh.

Yes, I have to say it again. It was HOT. According to everyone I talked to, it has been a record heat in Japan, and it was, at times, simply miserable. We tried to stay inside during the day, and that was all we could do.

But we did have fun, and saw things that were interesting and unusual.

Can you guess what they are? Yeah. They are watermelons, and they are real. Cubic and conic watermelons. We heard that they grow them that way, on purpose, but this is the first time we saw it in real, and I had to take a picture! For your information, the signs say that they are for display, not for sale.

Another thing that we don't have here was the cecadas. It was as if they all came out of the ground at the same time and sending off the mating calls, competing with each other. Must have been ten thousand just around my mom's house. It was deafning. If you go stand under a tree, you could actually spot them on the trunk and branches, while being showered by the screaching noise. Mitch actually got to tickle one of them with a blade of grass!

Before I arrived, I wanted to go on a several fiber-related shops. But then I found out that the spinning shop Perendale Kamakura was closed for the month of August, and then the heat and humidity melted off my desire for wool.

I bought several books though -- one on indigo and shibori, one on Japanese traditional fabric craft, and another on natural dyeing.

Yokohama is big. Every time I go back, I feel overwhelmed. Then when I was growing up, I thought it was a small town! This view is from our hotel window.

When we came back home, I stepped outside in the evening and saw the stars, filling the dark sky. Something I never saw growing up, and never saw on the visit. Made me think how far we flew from Japan.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

From Japan

It'll be a short post, as I am going to clean up the super-messy hotel room and jump in the shower to get the day started in Yokohama. It's been HOT here. The air is heavy with humidity, and it takes a lot out of us. Mitch definitely misses playing with friends, and I miss our mobility (I don't drive here). But still, it's been a good stay.
I've been reading on some knitting blogs that it's hard to knit when it's so hot. Living in Northern California, I didn't know how that felt like -- until now. Since we arrived in Japan, I haven't touched my knitting, and my desire to go yarn shopping is a record low!

More later, with some pictures.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


As you might have guessed, I love going to festivals. And there are always some fiber related findings at festivals around here. On Saturday, we went to the Gravenstein Apple Festival in Sebastopol.

Compared to last year, it was a bit disappointing -- no fleece vendors. The Sonoma Fiber Trail booth wasn't out either. Probably for the better, as I didn't end up buying any fiber. But -- I almost squealed when I found some angora goats!

And the owner of the goats was spinning the mohair by the pen.

Of course I sat right down and started a conversation on spinning. We both sang high on how fun it is and how calming and relaxing it can be. I picked up her drop spindle, and she gave me a wad of dark-colored mohair to spin. I was grinning ear to ear, sitting right by her and spinning the long-stapled mohair.

Parents walking by with kids stop by. "Oh look, they are making yarn with the sheep's hair."
Spinner: "Actually, it's mohair from my angora goat."
Parents: "Oh."
Kids: "What are you doing?"
Me: "Spinning. I'm making yarn, with that goat's wool."
Kids: "Why?"

I look up, and see the kid's face completely perplexed. They must be thinking why you gotta make yarn with that ancient-looking tools when we can buy colorful yarns from the store?

So I hand the dropspindle to one of the girls, showing her how. She tries. Examines the 12 inches of yarn she just spun. Still seriously frowning. No joy here. Mitch tries to demonstrate how fun it is.

The girl being much older than Mitch, walks off, totally unimpressed.

The spinner gave me a handful of dark mohair. Unfortunately she was not there to sell fiber. Oh darn.

Shearing demonstration.

The baby's next.

After the shearing, while the spinner's off the stage getting her chair so she can show the spinning, a bunch of small kids get on the Joy and start treadling like a stairmaster. Parents are totally nonchalant. I'm biting my nails. I'd be screaming if it was my wheel.

The third kid jumping up and down on the treadles. I can't take it anymore. I finally step up and get the kids off. I breathe deeply to calm myself down. Mitch has never done that to my wheels. He has always treated my spinning stuff with respect. Maybe he knows the repercussions. Maybe he senses that some things are treasured possessions to someone. Knowing that, it makes me feel a bit sad to see a complete lack of respect from kids older than Mitch.

Souvenir mohair, the small wad on the right is the kid mohair from the 6-month old baby goat. O glorious crimp. I plan to wash them and blend with wool, spin, and knit a hat.

I've finished spinning the hunk of Lisa Souza's Merino/Silk blend. I'd never spun merino or silk, and I was worried that I may not be experienced enough for this, but I've been having fun -- so much so that I contacted Lisa and purchased two more hunks (apparently last ones she had) of the same blend and colorway. She's wonderful to deal with, by the way. She has just sold her house in Bay Area and moved to El Dorado County. I saw a photo on her website where she hung the hand-dyed skeins to dry out on her beautiful country-side property. I'm so hugely envious.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Liz!

Happy Birthday to Liz,
Happy Birthday to Liz,
Happy Birthday Dear Liz,
Happy Birthday to you!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I wonder...

I've been wondering if anyone would notice if I brought my new travel wheel to the office. I'd just replace my footrest with the treadles, and thread the fiber by the keyboard tray. It would just fit right under the desk. Would really be good for keeping my stress level in the safe zone.

Lisa Souza Silk/Merino top. Huguette got it for me at Stitches...

It's beautiful... very lustrous and long fiber.

The problem is, what would I do with this yarn? It'll be great for a lace shawl, but I'm not a shawl type, and my knitting skill (and patience) is nowhere near it.

I've been itching to dye again too. My son and I picked the dandelion flowers yesterday, and this time I'm freezing them until I get enough flowers to make a dyebath. I just read about using Cherry leaves to make an orange-red dye. Who'd thought? I have three natural dye books, but none of them mentioned this. Ah, if only I had more time...

The purple handspun went home with Erin at the end of the Knit Night. The first yarn that made a gift!

This weekend is Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol. We were there last year, and there were several fiber/spinning related booths. Dangerous.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

August is for...

July definitely was a spinning month for me. The wheel rested until the 10th or so, but after that it was on Turbo mode.

I spun this much! It's about 900 meters total, in 2-ply.

The skeins on the left look blue in this picture, but this is the purple wool I was spinning the other day.

I made two singles from a wool 100% roving and a wool-angora (I think) blend roving, then plied them together. I had never spun an angora blend before; it's very different from corriedale and romney that I'm used to. It spun up a bit lumpy and fuzzy, compared to the other smooth and even single. The plied result was a warm and lofty yarn.

I'm still in love with the Fleece Artist wensleydale.

Super-long and shiny fiber. I bought two braids, 50 grams each, but I have 120 grams of yarn. Them Canadians are generous.

So as you can see, I've been crazy about spinning. I've even spent a few hours by my sewing machine to sew a spinning apron (my lap gets really fuzzy after spinning). I'm not sure what August is going to be for me. I should get out some FOs, but my spinning fever has not gone down. I have a trip to Japan planned, I'm seriously contemplating taking my Joy with me.

Charlie's done warping the loom. It looks like a rainbow pride flag, but it's actually a color-study blanket. It amazes me how long it takes to warp a loom, and how much patience it takes. Definitely not for me... I'm always after an instant gratification, and that's why I don't knit big stuff!

Knitters are coming to knit tomorrow! I can't wait. I hope Mitch behaves at school so I don't have to ground him (meaning, no Knit Night).