August 31, 2010
Ed’s been making spindles for five years. During the first couple of years he worked to refine his design of the Standard Turkish spindles until he felt he had a good understanding of what makes for a well balanced, good spinning spindle. In the Spring of 2008 he designed what to us seemed like a mini Turkish spindle, our Turkish Delight. Around that time he also experimented with making a Ladakhi man’s spindle, the Skuru by using the proportions from a picture sent to us from Celtic Jo, who’d taken the picture while visiting in Ladakh, asking if Ed could make her one. He made a couple but wasn’t happy with the imperfect balance and seemingly cumbersome appearance.
I took one of his skuru’s to Sock Summit 2009 as part of our display. A woman who saw it asked us if we’d be interested in seeing a Turkish spindle she’d picked up years ago while touring through Turkey. We arranged to meet at Oregon Flock and Fiber. Ed was fascinated with the spindle and he made a couple more sort of based on its size and shape which was very similar to the Ladakh skuru but this one had chip carving on it. And weighed almost 4 ounces! Surprisingly they spin half decently, it just takes more concentration and experience.
During that same time he began developing the wee Kuchulu which was released in October. From huge to tiny, both intriguing and fun to spin, especially the kuchulu which is like a little turbo of speed and energy spinning out cobweb and lace. We can hardly keep up with orders. It doesn’t help that he sands the skin off his fingers and needs to let them heal for at least a week before making another batch.
Somewhere along the way he dreamed of a sleek mid-whorl spindle and next thing I knew, he put one in my hands asking me to give it a test run. The elegant sweet spinning Lark which debuted this past Spring.
Imagine our surprise when hardly had the doors at Black Sheep Gathering opened when a woman zoomed straight to our table with a contagious air of excitement. She reached into her bag and plunked down a spindle much the size of our Larks. Fifteen years ago she was strolling through a marketplace in a small town in Greece when she saw this item and was totally captivated. She thought it was simply a child’s top. After learning to spin a year ago she was shocked to realize it was a real spindle.
Pictured on my book for size reference.
Dana placed it in Ed’s hands and asked if he could make her something like it.
A couple months have gone by with the Greek spindle never far from Ed’s thoughts. Meanwhile, Chrome64 (you must see her amazing sweater knit as she finished spinning fiber samples) accidentally let one of her kuchulus get to chummy with one of her Larks and she loved the resultant spin. She contacted Ed pleading with him to make this hybrid spindle for her. Oh my, how these offspring of the Lark/Delight/Kuchulu fly! Other than Ed’s first seven prototypes, named Jay, he hasn’t yet made more, but that will soon be remedied. The other very very cool thing about the Jay is that if a person owns a Lark, Ed will made a Jay shaft to fit it so the Lark can be converted into a Jay. Jenkins Jay on the left, Jenkins Lark on the right
While all this new flurry is kicking up the sawdust around the home place yet another type of spindle has quietly made an appearance, known only to three of us. Until now.
A couple weeks ago Dana of the Greek spindle contacted me and invited us to her house. Ed needed to work but I arranged to visit her last Friday. Thursday Ed came into the house from the shop and set two spindles on the kitchen table to be weighed and signed. Taken completely by surprise I held each in turn then ran and grabbed a bit of fiber to test spin them. Finally the weights were recorded and the spindles returned to the shop for the first coat of finish. Friday morning I applied Wood Beams as the final coat then tucked them in with the wool from last week’s post to take along to Dana’s.
While Dana’s back was turned I slipped the two spindles onto the table. Gobsmacked, she was. Simply gobsmacked.
She hardly knew which to pick up and spin first. We compared Ed’s with hers and declared them a decent match though hers has the wonderful patina of age. Then we set them up and tried spinning all three at once while running the camera. Hmm, still need to get that video on YouTube.
Cherry chip carved spindle left 18grams/0.64oz , Greek spindle middle, Pear chip-carved spindle right 19 grams/0.67 oz. I have no idea when Ed plans to start making them to sell, or what we’ll be calling them. I’d love an easy to pronounce Greek word for some type of song bird.
Our daughter’s birthday is coming up and her handwarmers aren’t finished yet. (I’m a bit astonished that I got sidetracked into posting here tonight when my one focus was to be knitting!) One has only the final ribbing to finish, the other has the thumb to finish and the final ribbed edge. Here’s hoping I don’t get sidetracked to much in the next couple of days.
August 26, 2010
Posted by Wanda J under Uncategorized  Comments
Truthfully, there was never any intention of buying and washing fleece. Nope, no time for all that work. Please just hand me some lofty, clean top ready to spin.
Last summer I bought some beautifully card Shetland from a woman in my spinning group who raises Shetlands. It was great stuff to spin with just enough grease left in the wool to give it a soft, tactile feel. So, when she asked me this spring if I’d like to buy more there was no hesitation. Imagine my shock when I peeked into the plastic bag containing the wool, er, fleece! The 4th of July weekend was a scorcher, perfect for trying my hand at washing a fleece outside. Having very little clue as to how to go about it I spread it out and walked around it, planning the strategy. (Over the past couple of years I’ve read different methods for washing/handling fleeces and was mulling over various ideas. I’m one of those people who seems to learn best by diving in head-first and learn by process. Please don’t bother me with great detail in the beginning, as the hands, eyes and brain go about a new thing the bits and pieces will fall in place. After I’ve gotten some experience then my mind is ready to absorb more information.)
There was no doubt in Hank’s mind what should be done with it. He was enamored with Violet’s fleece.
Doesn’t that look appetizing? Months ago I’d read on a blog about a soaking process extending over several days. I did a quick online search but without the proper name I couldn’t find it. Once the water had warmed up in the hot sun some Dawn soap was squirt in and swished it into bubbles, then the fleece gently submerged and an old screen door placed over the tub.
After the fifth day I removed the fleece, poured the water on the garden and filled the tub again. The fleece was still greasier and dirtier than felt right so more Dawn was added to the water along with a gallon of boiling water adding more heat to the sun-warmed water. It soaked for another day then left overnight in a clean rinse water which had warmed up in a plastic 50 gallon bin. The rinse water had very little dirt or debris so I spread the fleece out to dry on top of the screen. Once it dried I still didn’t like the feel, so back into the tub for another round, this time only a couple hours in the slightly soapy water followed by another rinse soak. Seven days total to take care of this fleece, and still there was the picking out the vm and figuring out the next step. For several evenings I sat in the evening sun and picked out vm, occasionally hand-carding a bit, running other handfuls through a sort of comb purchased at Oregon Flock & Fiber 2 years ago by a person who uses them for his cashmere goats. I finally stuffed the lot into a pillow case and rubber banded it closed, with a bag of lavender inside, and put it away in my fiber closet.
Fast forward to the second week of August when a friend called to ask if I’d like some of the black/brown fleece a farmer up the road had just gifted her. She’d waited until I got there to unroll the tarp Mr H had put it in. We both stood in awe at the impressive amount of wool spread out. I came home with a grocery bag full. With the second hot spell of the summer forecast for the next few days the washtub and plastic bin were filled again so the water would be warm for the series of baths and rinses. This time the process only took two wash baths and two rinses before spreading it out to dry.
Locks before wash:
On a roll I grabbed the piece of cormo fleece my cousin Faith had given me last October and cleaned that too. It was such lovely stuff that I’d been reluctant to wash it and perhaps ruin it. I’m not real happy with the end results of the three batches but it was a great learning experience and I have high hopes that once I manage to either comb or card them they will be very nice to spin.
Enter tomorrow! Dana stopped by our booth at BSG and showed us a spindle she’d bought at a marketplace in Greece years ago. (More about that in another post!) Dana has invited me to come play with wool at her house tomorrow. She has a fiber studio set up in her basement with equipment to process fleeces, dye and spin. It’ll be good to have help with the next step and someone knowledgeable about which process would be best for each fleece. I’ll be taking along a couple of spindles and the wheel, just in case.
A random reading of a usually ignored newsletter set the stage for attending a bluegrass festival last weekend. It was Thursday when I asked Ed about going but he felt he had to stay home and work, perhaps Hope would like to go. A quick phone call, discussion of logistics followed by a flurry of activity wrapping up work that needed to be finished, and a trip to town for a few food supplies. Ed dug out the tent and air mattresses and loaded the car and by early afternoon on Friday Hope and I were headed back over the Cascades, through the town of Sisters (had to resist the urge to stop and stroll!) to the camping area set up on pastures of a large private farm. We had a wonderful time listening to bands, doing a bit of jamming, working out a tune during the Saturday morning workshops and overall relaxing big time! It was all quite rustic but there was a coffee truck for our morning caffeine habits. We packed easy to eat finger food and took plenty of water. The highlights of the trip was waking up in the dark of early morning to coyotes yip-yipping and joyfully howling near our tent, then crawling out of the sleeping bag before almost everyone else, (except the coffee people, bless them for their long hours!) and spending a quiet hour alone on the dock watching the sun come up, a duck paddling quietly while drinking coffee and knitting on the sleeves of Ed’s sweater. (Sadly I only managed to knit halfway up the sleeves by Ed’s birthday. Doing two on a set of circulars so they’ll both be finished at the same time.)
August 17, 2010
Head down determined to finish the front of a Knitspot pattern, the Whitfield Jacket which I’d love to wrap up in time for Ed’s birthday, a gust of wind blowing through the window caused me to glance out the front window, grab my camera, race outside and across the yard just far enough to pass under the utility lines. These kinds of colors are fleeting, and somewhat rare in our corner of the world.
Sunset, 8:26 this evening.
Jazzed, it seemed a good time to update the blog. With two birthdays looming large and two presents I’d love to finish in time to give, evenings have been devoted to knitting. Passing the less than two weeks to go date I’m rather resigned to not completing the jacket in time, with two sleeves, the collar, blocking and seaming to go the odds aren’t good.
Whitfield Jacket has been on the needles since last autumn. I purchased the pattern and yarn from Jocelyn who was helping to staff Briar Rose Booth at Sock Summit 09. Between being a truly slow knitter and having other projects occupy my evenings for months at a time – ex. 800 yard spinning challenge, it’s taken me almost a year to knit this garment. On a positive note, this is only the second sweater type of item I’ve knit (The Red Sweater was my first) and the first one knit in separate pieces. This is a fun item to knit, the pattern quickly memorized and even manageable in the dark! It was during a night ride home from music practice 40 miles away that I got up the gumption to try knitting in dark for the first time. By keeping track of the stitches, using my fingers to feel the knits and purls I was able to successfully complete a few rows.
Another first is knitting button holes, or forgetting to knit them at the proper time. Humming steadily along one Sunday afternoon while sitting under the catalpa tree in the front yard I happily measured to see if I was getting close to the beginning bind off for the arm hole and was thunderstruck to realize I’d forgotten to knit a buttonhole nine rows back. During the knitting of the right front there were several times that I had to tink back a number of rows to correct an overlooked decrease or bind-off. For this? No way. Digging out a small bone crochet hook I bought just for this purpose and an extra dpn I dropped two stitches down the rows.
Yarn over, Knit 2 Together and begin the climb back up the rows.
Being very careful to grab the correct strand, for some reason the bottom-most strand, the one to be knit seems to get buried while the second one in line jumps for the hook.
Buttonhole in place and ready to commence with the knitting.This pattern has been such a pleasure to knit that I’m eager to start the female version, Jackie.
The Scrunchie Handwarmers are coming nicely along. I was steadily working on them at the start of August thinking I could whip right through them. Ha! Then the grandkids came (next post?) and I was distracted. Must get back to them if they’re to be finished by the end of August. (Whoops, I see that I didn’t mention them previously as I’d thought. ) Here’s the scoop: Another Limegreenjelly challenge. This time around we have from the beginning of June to the end of August to spin and knit either Scrunchie Handwarmers or some socks (Sorry, no links. I don’t want to take the time to log into Raverly to fetch all the various links!) It took me though June to spin the yarn – that’s what’s on Chatter at the rodeo in the previous post.
97 grams, 3-ply, 235 yards. I’d split the roving lengthwise into three equal parts with the hopes of matching colors. What I should have done was to first divide the roving in half across then split into 3 parts (6 total) so I’d have a better chance of matching handwarmers. Just wasn’t thinking clearly but had the idea that I’d knit both at once on circulars from the outside and inside of one ball. Problem was the outside was a dark grey/blue, the inside end a bright blue. I knit the cuffs did not like the unmatched contrast. So, unraveling the inside cuff I then broke the yarn and with that end started the second cuff using a set of dpn. It’s working to periodically break the yarn and knit awhile on the other handwarmer, switching back and forth as I proceed. They aren’t matching but at least it’s not a jarring difference that looked just plain wrong.
I’m further along than when this picture was taken, the thumb gussets are finished, it’s time to put the thumb stitches on holders and knit the last couple of inches on the hand part.
There’s other spinning I’ve been doing; parts of three fleeces I’ve washed, dried and hand-picked through. I’m not sure how to proceed. The thought of hours of either picking or handcarding is daunting.
This kitty showed up all skittery and nervous a couple months ago.
His natural craving for affection helped him to conquer his fear. While I’d be sitting outside knitting he’d creep close enough to lay down just out of reach, usually behind my chair. Eventually I could brush a couple fingers against him before he’d skitter away. Now he comes running when we walk out the door. Tux is my faithful outdoors knitting companion.