Thursday, December 24, 2009

Special Delivery

Santa has gotten smart. Now, he has everything delivered to our house ahead of time, so I can just put the boxes under our tree. This way he can concentrate on getting his sled around to all the little kids. But what kind of bothered me was the return address on my present, the Pro-Chem and Dye Company! Hello? Shouldn't it say North Pole?

Naturally, I had to get in contact with Santa to find out what is going on. Is he outsourcing, or what? Fortunately, my dog is from the northern regions, so he jumped on his Pawberry and immediately put me in contact with the jolly old guy. We were invited to his home base in northern Finland (they are reindeer, not caribou) just north of the Artic Circle.

When I asked about the return address, he took me on a tour of his workshops. They are pretty awesome! A woodworkers dream! Lathes, beautiful woods, fun paints. He also has an entire room filled with hand looms for making cloth for all the dolls and stuffed toys. There's also a pottery shop for making pretty doll faces. But still I was confused about the return address, so I asked Santa.

"Do you see facilities for making X-boxes or plasma televisions sets?" Santa said with a twinkle in his eye. Well, no, I didn't. "We're pretty low tech up here. Some would say we're green, but I like to think of it as red," he added with a Ho! Ho! Ho! He led the way back to the house were Mrs. Claus was serving hot cider to a bunch of local knitters who were helping her get the holiday gifts done in time.

And over a cup of cider Santa explained how he has help making Christmas a magical time. "Most of our toys are made from wood or cloth--we don't deal with plastics or electronics. But we have helpers all over the world working to make Christmas bright. Moms and Dads help me out by getting lots of presents ready, and for those who can't, we have people who buy presents for me. Thousands of volunteers help bring Christmas magic to little girls and boys, by either buying toys or handmaking special gifts for children they know and those they don't. I know the knitters have been especially busy this year making wonderful things to send far and near."

I asked Santa if he wanted to say anything to all the knitters out there, working to make the holidays bright.

"Why Merry Christmas, of course."

Thanks for visiting my blog. And oh, I finished that sweater. See you next year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thick n' thin

Ultra thin sock yarn and real thick rug yarn are running side by side in my spinning efforts this month. Neither can be more dissimilar and similar in technique. One of the great similarities is the need for concentration to insure the correct amount of fiber in the drafting zone.
The thin yarn is proving to be exceptionally fun to spin. For this I’m using a commercial blend of superwash merino, bamboo and nylon with the intent of creating a three ply yarn. I died the wool myself. Here, you can see an early and later picture of my first bobbin.

To spin, I’m using a Mabel Ross style supported long draw most similar to #6 in Jeannine Bakriges excellent article in the Winter ’09 Spin Off. My main variation from this is that I am drafting vertically, which allows me to better see the drafting triangle and the double draft action as I release the twist. I will run this by the Spinning Sensei, my technical advisor, to see if this is indeed the correct nomenclature for the draft I’m using. (Some of you may be surprised that I like Jeanine’s article after my spoof in the last blog. Well, it has to be good to be spoofable. I plan to razor the pages out of my Spin Off and put them in plastic sheets so I can refer to them.)
Double drafting with this roving is a joy—it is absolutely fun and engaging to feel the elasticity of the draft and pulling it out to the exact thickness. Though concentration is needed to keep it even, the tactile experience is so enjoyable, I couldn’t help but pay attention. Once I have the Sensei’s input, I will be posting photos of the drafting technique on my website when I put up the information on the bamboo workshop this spring.
For the thick yarn, I also used a supported draw. I need to study it more carefully to give you the name of the technique. The challenge was to ensure there were enough fibers in the drafting triangle to make a thick single. When three plied, this yarn turned out to be a hefty 5 WPI. This will make excellent yarn for the weft faced rug I’m planning. I will talk more about this draft in future blogs.
Thanks for visiting my blog. Please stop by again.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Name that draft

Oh, please! Did Spin-Off Magazine really have to go ahead and start naming drafting techniques? Though I respect the scholarship of the writer, I am also concerned about the long term affect on the spinning community. I cringe at the prospect of sitting in a spinning demonstration and hearing one of those studious types pipe up with “Is that English or American Long Draw?”

Spinning is essentially an "unvented" craft, to apply a concept developed by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It was an art nearly lost to mechanization and refound and continues to be found by spinners everywhere as they experiment and explore the craft. Do we really as a community want to pigeonwhole all the possible drafts? Are we ready for this kind of codification of our communal knowledge? Do we really want to learn all those names?

Just in case we do, and since Spin-Off has decided to begin naming drafts, I thought Whorlwindweaver would jump on the bandwagon and do some of her own naming. The draft above is the Midwest Pinch and Release Long Draw (MPRLD). Above, I demonstrate the release, and below the pinch while drafting back. As you can see below it really goes a long way—right out of the frame in fact.
This is not to be confused with the Big Apple Pinch and Release Vertical Long Draw (BAPRVLD), which I will demonstrate at a later date. It is an adaptive measure for people spinning in confined areas, such as a small New York apartment. Another one to be demonstrated in the future is the Lorna Short Smooth Release Draw (LSSRD), which is a useful and not yet cataloged draft that produces lovely yarns. Along with this, I’ll demonstrate the Whorlwindweaver Short Smooth Release Draw for Really Thin Yarns (WSRDRTY).

To maintain optimum confusion, all drafts should be referred to by their acronyms. So I expect the studious among us to pipe up with, “Are you sure that’s LSSRD? I thought WSRDRTY included the over hand position!” Well, maybe she’s right, how would I remember?

Thank you for visiting my blog. There will be a quiz next week!