Saturday, August 30, 2008

And Many More....

Today is my birthday, and I got to go out for breakfast, stroll down the main street in town, to the new yarn store -- Llama Llama Knit. They have taken over the yarn store that was there(that I rarely visited -- guess the reason why) just two weeks ago. The new owners are very nice and the shop is comfortable to stay and knit!

They have Knitters' Nights on every Tuesdays (7 - 9 pm). I might show up rather frequently! Novato knitters, support our LYS!

Kids friendly too :-) Marie and Alec endured the endless babbling torture from Mitch with grace.

Charlie has given me a birthday present a few weeks ahead of the time -- a charka. This was because I was enjoying spinning cotton so much on my wheel, and thought that I could spin when I was away from home. I haven't figured out how to use it (correctly, that is). Like when I started spinning on my Ashford Traditional two years ago, I feel like I need the third hand.

The other day at the pool, I saw an older woman -- in her 70's, my guess -- practicing synchronized swimming with her coach. Just looking at the way she was performing, from her legs and arms rising above the surface of the water, I wouldn't have been able to tell her age. The following day, I ran into a group water aerobics -- the participants are in their 60's and better. They all made me appreciate how important the health and positive attitudes are. I will keep that near my heart as I grow older.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Continuous Strand

I've been spinning for just two years. I was able to produce a continuous strand, pretty consistent one, in most kind of fibers I've tried -- admittedly they were limited to sheep's wool, and wool/silk blends. I liked what I spun. I thought I was doing OK. And that's after just learning the basics in less than an hour from Nancy, my spinning teacher.

Flax single (A sample I spun at GGFI Intensive Spinning Class

So, why take a class? After all it's just a hobby, and I'd never make a living doing this. Why pay money to take a class for something I was just enjoying. Why do I need to learn about the types of fibers and the spinning technique to go with them --woolen, semi-woolen, worsted -- and to learn the fact that I didn't know anything about this subject.

Silk - Wool blend single, wet-finished. Another sample I spun at Intensive.

Now I know I have much more to learn. And by learning, I'm not just producing better yarn, but I am more intentional, thoughtful, and clear-minded -- Judith MacKenzie McCuin said that using your hands -- that subtle pinching motion for spinning -- wakes up the part of the brains that never get to be used otherwise. Strangely, after the Intensive, my hands look different. I am seeing things differently. I feel different.

Judith is one of the most graceful, calm, charming and charismatic people I've ever known. There's a down-to-earth reality behind her grace, and spending a week in her class was the best thing I have done for myself in my recent memory.

One thing I realized (painfully) was what I was not good at all -- long-draw. I had never done it, but that was the only way I could spin the beautiful camel down. After seeing me ruin the camel, Judith hinted that I could practice using some carded cotton. So I practiced after I came home.

Cotton 2-ply, wet-finished and wound using Pat's nostepinne (thank you Pat -- I LOVE it)

Now I am crazy about long-draw. Just as Judith said, it's like watching the water flow. It's where I want to be. So you see, taking a long spinning class is similar to going on a meditation retreat. It's just that you'll have a lot more fiber sample to spin after you come home!

And here's my Delft Tiles Tee. I'm using hemp/wool blend, so I think it'll be too warm for a summer tee. I am planning to make it into a pull-over vest.

Should I go clean up in the house? Nah.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Shortest Summer

I am painfully aware of the fact that this is the final week of my sabbatical. I am trying to do what I really wanted to do -- just sit in the quiet backyard and knit, spin, or just take a lazy nap.

Today so far, I have had about five minutes of that.

It has been busy five weeks. First, the GGFI Intensive, which was just fabulous -- I will write more about that later this week. Then Mitch and I flew to Japan and spent a sweltering week at Grandma's. Then we flew back here with Grandma, and she spent ten days here in the wonderful Northern California weather. In retrospect, we should have made the trip to Japan shorter and spent more days back here, as it was way too hot in Japan to do anything -- I don't drive in Japan and it was too unpleasant to go anywhere via train/bus. Mitch was resigned to have any time out in the park, and played his Nintendo DS (no matter what people say about it, it is often a sanity-saver in hour household) in the house and took frequent trips to the nearby department store. He did make several friends at the playground, despite the language barrier. I'm so proud.

Mitch is a very adaptable and flexible boy, and he can make the most of any situations. I am very thankful for that.

Soon after we came home from Japan, Mitch's school started. It was a big day for the parents/grandma as well.

Grandma left to Japan last Saturday, and I am missing her so much more than I thought I would. As we both grow older, living so far away weighs heavily.

This is my fourth sabbatical, and it's been the most memorable, the busiest one. Although I didn't get to do much of the lazy nap thing, I am most thankful for this break, and I know I probably won't get to experience this again -- until maybe I retire.

The hours at the local swimming pool has changed, and they are not open for the early morning swim that I enjoyed so much. This is the final week that they are open on the weekdays although it's in the afternoon -- the evidence that the summer is winding down. I miss being in the tranquil water as the fog slowly dissolves, and the sun comes down into the pool. This too, I may not experience it ever again, as this beloved pool is being demolished at the end of the season.

A lot of "missing" going on today. Now, back to my backyard knitting the Delft Tile Tee, photos next time -- before I leave for a quick lap or two at the pool.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Eye Openers

The Golden Gate Fiber Institute Summer Intensive is over. It was a week filled with lots of learning and new experiences. I was so glad that I went -- the words fail to describe how amazing the whole experience was. I took the spinning class given by Judith MacKenzie McCuin in the morning, and natural dye class given by Darlene Hayes. Both are widely known experts in the field, and I still pinch myself that I just spent full six days with them!

Before the intensive, I thought I was doing OK with spinning. Boy was I wrong. There were so many things I was doing wrong, and so many things I didn't know. So many things I didn't even consider trying.

We learned from the basic techniques to fancy yarn spinning, and fiber facts and history. We learned how to adjust spinning according to their knitting style.

We were surrounded by fibers -- all week long! Look how casually cashmere and silk are piled up.
Heavenly hemp.

Most any kind of fiber you can think of.

Right by the enchanting coast line.

With great fiber people and great food -- what could be better? (Oh, maybe a heated swimming pool)

This experience has reaffirmed me that I love spinning, and I have so much more to learn. Ever since I came home, I've been practicing long draw on my Traditional.

I am so tired I have to quit writing now -- and I am leaving to Japan on Wednesday (the thought of not being able to spin for a week is killing me). Will post more on Intensive when I return.

Brooke, Maia -- THANK YOU for the yak down! Mari, Pat, Karen, Cinda and Shelley -- thank you for your great company. Hope to see you again real soon!