Dusting Off the Ol’ Wheel

Ashford Traditional

It’s been a long time coming, but I knew I’d eventually get back behind my trusty, albeit neglected, spinning wheel. I realized the other day that with the arrival of Spring (or, soon-to-be arrival) would also come fiber festivals. I missed last year’s Shepherd’s Harvest. Even though out of the hospital at the time, my oncologist forbade me to go near anything that might possibly cause or seed some future infection. Needless to say, being around a bunch of livestock, wool and people would have fallen well in to the “forbidden” activities.

Not this year.

I plan on attending, and I plan on making up for lost time. Between now and then, however, there is still the problem of space (or lack thereof). Since I still have a healthy stash, I’m going to try my best to make a dent in some of the fiber that’s been marinating for the past two years (has it been that long?).

So, to start, I’ve finished two bundles of superwash.

Handspun - Superwash Colonial

This is spun from 3.7 oz. of superwash colonial top that we dyed ages ago. Both skeins are approximately 150 yards of 3-ply (navajo) yarn.

Handspun - Superwash Merino

This superwash merino I finished up during the final days of the Winter Olympics. The lines of gold throughout seem appropriate. There is about 230 yards on this skein, spun from 3 oz. of dyed top, and it is also navajo-plied.

And, I’m glad to say, spinning is like riding a bike. Even if you haven’t done it in awhile, finding your rhythm and balance comes quickly.

Cake and Yarn (What more do you need?)

I was jonesing for some cake today, but with Virginia fighting a cold and myself not wanting to get one, I figured it would be best to just leave it… unless, the cake was actually good for us.

Good-For-You Cake

I’m calling this a good-for-you cake. The recipe is as follows:
In a small bowl, soak then combine (I used a wand blender to liquefy):
1/3 cup finely chopped dates
1/4 cup oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Add to mixture:
2-3 Tbsp. sour cream
2-3 Tbsp. canola oil (I wasn’t measuring that carefully)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup

In a medium bowl combine:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, briskly mix together until batter is smooth, but not overmixed. Pour batter into greased 9-inch round cake pan and bake for 30 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean) in a 350ยบ oven. (I actually used a 7-inch springform, but it was a little small for the amount of batter, and I had a difficult time getting the center done without drying out the sides–hey that’s what experimentation is all about, right?).

Because I had a smaller, but taller cake, I cut it into three sections and spread some cooked-down blackberries (with a splash of lemon and 1/2 tsp. corn starch to thicken it) between the layers… and since we had a bit of cream in the fridge, it seemed like a touch of freshly whipped cream on top was appropriate. Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea.

In the spinning department, I finished up another bump of superwash merino. I kettle dyed some top in several 3 oz. portions (I actually thought I had set aside several 4 oz. portions, but I blame that mistake on the vicodin I was taking at the time…).

Handspun - Superwash Merino

This skein is actually only 2.8 oz. but I was able to squeeze 220 yards of 3-ply yarn out of it. Probably not enough for a full pair of socks, but I’m spinning all this sock yarn a similar weight, so there will probably be some mixing and matching going on.

On the Mend

I haven’t been forthcoming with much detail on my hip problem (not exactly scratchcrafty news), but since I’ve mentioned it, I feel like I should at least say things are, as far as I can tell, clearing up. (It’s hard not to be a little skeptical at the process of elimination that is often used by the health care industry in trying to determine a diagnosis, but that’s a discussion for another day–or not.)

At any rate, I must have been channeling some healing vibes (or maybe it’s the thought of approaching springtime), because I made a few more happy-go-lucky felted friends. I think it’s important to be reminded every once in awhile that we should not be taking life too seriously. Having a couple of these guys in strategic places around the house provide a subtle reminder of that.

Felted Swinging Bears

Now that I’m back at work, my spinning production will decrease a bit. I did manage to finish another 4 oz. of sock yarn. This 3-ply yarn (yielding about 300 yards) was spun from some superwash colonial wool that we dyed last summer. It’s always satisfying pulling out and using stash that’s been sitting around for awhile.

Handspun - Superwash Colonial

And, Virginia is back at making socks. She finished this pair a week or so ago. It’s her own pattern, knit using KnitPicks Essential.

Sock #35 (52 Sock Challenge)

The Advantages of Being Confined to a Chair

OK, “confine” is probably too strong of a word to use, but my radius of travel has definitely decreased, as well as the frequency with which that travel occurs. I will still be resting for another week, my employer graciously allowing me to do as much work as possible from the comfort of our home.

Besides working from home, I am so glad that, one, I have a single treadle spinning wheel, and two, my right leg is unaffected. That results of which are shared below:

Handspun - Superwash Merino

These are two, somewhat equal, skeins of superwash merino. The roving was dyed in a 4 oz. bump. I split the roving lengthwise and spun a three-ply (navajo) yarn with 150 yards on one, and 160 yards on the other skein. Virginia, barely waiting for the yarn to dry from setting, has already started a pair of socks with this.

Handspun - Merino/Tencel

Finished yesterday, this fun skein was spun from a 50/50 blend of merino/tencel top. It’s my first time spinning with tencel… not sure what to think. If it’s supposed to be a substitute for silk, I’ll take the silk. Still, fun colors, a gratifying little project, and the 190 yards from a 3 oz. bundle will make a funky scarf.

Lest you begin to worry about the lack of socks being posted, Virginia, filling a special order for someone wanting to show his support for the Vikings (even in post season), knit these using SmartYarn.

Sock #34 (52 Sock Challenge)

I suspect there will be more spinning content in the next several days. For the record, though, I am starting to get a bit behind at work, so this coming week will be a good test of will power and discipline.

No Pain, No Gain

So I’ve been confined to my house/chair for a week due to a, still to be explained, hip injury. There for a couple of days I wasn’t moving a whole lot, and between doses of vicodin and muscle relaxants there was a lot of time. I really had no excuse but to finish up some languishing projects.

After five years, I finally get to move this quilt from basket to bed top.

Anniversary Quilt

We decided for our third anniversary that we should put together a quilt. Well, we’re nearing our eighth and it’s finally done. Look closely, those stitches are all hand-quilted (but, don’t look too closely, my stitches per inch are probably best read as inches per stitch… ok, maybe not that bad).

Anniversary Quilt

The problem with taking this long to quilt a queen-sized blanket is that you don’t develop the calluses on your finger tips. So, along with a sore hip, I have a couple of sore fingers.

Anniversary Quilt

It sure is nice to have it done. The several quilt ideas we have in the cue are now this much closer to becoming reality.

Not only did I finish the quilt, I was also able to spin through the rest of my llama (injury on left hip, so right leg perfectly capable of treadling).

Handspun - Llama

This was a 14 oz. bat of dehaired llama. In total I spun 860 yards of 2-ply yarn. With the exception of spinning from a bat (a first for me), this acted pretty similarly like alpaca. It’s warm and soft like alpaca, too.

Handspun - Llama

I’m sure there will be more projects in the near future, as I’m still recovering and requested by the doctor to stay close to home… and there’s only so much bad, daytime TV one can watch.