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Posts from May 2009

My Wednesday (on a Friday)

The basement/bathroom reno continues.  I'm saving that for another post because there are lots of pictures.  And some of it has been rough, so I need some time to step back (really it's all going smooth, just slow and it causes the rest of life to go on hold).

Wednesday; that was a good day.


I got a package.


Yep.  I bought a wheel.


Many of my lovely, long-enabling friends are taking quite a bit of delight in my rapid decline into the pillowy woolen depths of spinning.  I have been avoiding it for about 5 years.  Partly because life was busy, and I was content with developing my knitting, but also because I knew I would like it.


And I'm okay with that.  I'm in a spinny, yarn-making happy place and this is good.


About the wheel.  After trying several wheels (Ladybug, Sonata, Traveler, Joy, Victoria, Lendrum (ST & DT) I decided on the Majacraft Little Gem.  It just felt right when I sat at it.  I made pretty yarn with it.  I liked how it looked (something I think is important--this is one of my tools and it's not something that will spend a lot of time in a cabinet, so I need to like it).  I liked that it had slider on the flyer instead of hooks and really big bobbins.  I like the portability (it was one of my main criteria).  I like that all Majacraft accessories fit on all wheels in case when I decide I want another wheel.


Majacraft also has a good reputation.  I had heard there were some issues with the rimu wood splitting due to the temperature extremes in the Canadian climate.  I wrote an email to the Poad's (the family that makes the wheels) and received a prompt reply detailing good wheel maintenance and also informing me that they now use bamboo on the drive wheel. 

Lisa Souza was also great.  She brokered the deal and all the details and my wheel was with me in just over two weeks from New Zealand.  I also bought some very pretty fibre from her--I can't wait until it gets here.



(And a really messy house).

The only sad part of the story is that I've spun on it for less than an hour.  Hopefully this weekend I'll have time to do more. 

I'll make time--even if I lose sleep to do it.

DIY Disaster Area (and spinning)

Craig and his Dad got to work on our basement reno.  Their work today makes the actual demolition look like I was tidying the house.


Remember our pretty staircase all finished.  Turns out we did that in the wrong order. 


Thankfully I was at work. 

The only labour I can show you is pretty yarn:


Shocking orange merino sliver two ply.  About 12wpi.  Soft and pretty (but brighter than I thought).  I'm going to make a baby hat with it--I want to knit some of my own yarn and see how that goes.

I'm also thinking about joining the Grafton Colorways Club.  Anyone a member?  So many pretty colours; hard to resist.

Another kind of Shred

I've been skipping my 30 day shred video too much.  So today I made up for it.  No video today, instead some hard demolition work.


I'm doing some shredding in the basement with my favourite tool.  Sawsall!!.

We're tearing stuff up to accomplish two things.  First, our main bathroom is partly demolished (everything works, but we started to update a few things and now we're redoing the whole thing--sadly, we started over a year ago) and we finally decided what to do.  But we'll be without a shower while we're doing it.  So, we're fixing our downstairs bathroom to install a shower so we can do our upstairs bathroom.  The downstairs powder room is really old, and it was on our longer to-do list and it just made sense to do it this way.

Second, our stairs are wicked-dangerous.  They're OLD, narrow and steep.  The treads have wells worn into them and they're not wide enough to step on.  And, my washer is dying, and we don't think a newer model will fit down the stairs.  So, we're also widening the stair opening and changing the pitch so they'll be safer.

Basement stairs before

And, the whole thing looked like crap.  This corner thing is part of the bathroom sticking into the stairs.


So out it all went.

Bathroom demolition Demolition during

Luckily, except for a bit of a hole in the outer basement wall, which allowed us to see under our kitchen (the basement doesn't extend under the back of our house), there wasn't any nasty surprises. We'll just need to do a bit of patching; 100 year old houses often give seriously expensive surprises!

Hole in my basement wall

By the time we finished today and hauled everything up the stairs, only this remained.
 No more bathroom

Craig and his Dad will be knocking out the concrete to move the pipes for the shower, building some kind of reinforcing thing to move the structural stuff that holds the ceiling up around the stair opening and in about a week we'll have new stairs and an installed (but not finished) bathroom. Since there's no more heavy lifting for me, I'll have to get back to the Shred tomorrow.

The right project at the right time


That's the sound of my last week going by.  I worked late almost every night, had lots of after hours commitments and was thankful I had a long holiday weekend to make it all feel like a distant memory.

I celebrated by starting a new project.  I loved Steph's Shawl That Jazz and dove into the stash to find something suitable (I wish to note publicly that I did not cave and buy the super pretty Puck's Mischief Twisted yarn; I am currently knitting from stash so I can buy fibre to spin).  Out came 1200 lovely yards of Briar Rose Grandma's Blessing.  It was a bitch to wind (because I'm so stubborn I wouldn't cut the yarn and make two skeins), but it's beautiful to knit and is emerging into a pretty shawl.


I bet many of you are cringing at the idea of knitting a garter stitch shawl.  I love it.  Endless rows of mindless knitting.  I can do it in the car on the way to the cottage.  I can knit and talk with family and friends.  I can knit while almost napping (I tell you it was perfectly a lazy weekend) and today, I can bring it to the first of many many soccer practices. 

This photo was taken on Saturday morning.  I'm a good 10 inches in now, maybe more.  The construction (all short rows) now render it an unphotographable mass.  A pretty mass all the same.  Tonight it's me, Battlestar Galactica Season 2 and this shawl.  Hopefully all this mindless diversion doesn't make my brain leak out my ears.

Whisper Cardi

It's done!


I finished on Thursday and didn't like it at all.  But I figured that was the sickness talking--it's hard to think you look good in something when you feel so awful!


By Saturday, I was quite happy with it.  I was hoping it would be slick enough for work wear, but it's probably not.  It's great for casual wearing though.  And the Malabrigo sock yarn is super nice.  I just dipped into a third ball for the size large and have plenty left for socks or weaving.


It was a great pattern--no errors, interesting construction and a good fit.

Now...what's up next?  I need to mull this over for a bit. 

Brown Stuff and Pretty Stuff

I finished all the brown stuff from my practice ball.  I made a lot of yarn.  I don't have a niddy noddy so I can't say how much, but I could probably knit a little wheel mat or something like that from it.  It'll wear like iron because this yarn is thick!  The coloured stuff mixed in is other fibres that I spun in class.  I can even see some improvement from the first spinning of it to the last. 


Now to the good stuff: a bobbin of hand dyed BFL from the Black Lamb.  I only bought 110 grams, but am thinking of ordering some more.  At first I started wondering how much I would need for a sweater, but I think I'm getting ahead of myself. 


I should really see what it looks like plied ;)

A post with some knitting in it.

I'm home sick.  Bleh.  Yesterday I got lots of rest and today I'm contemplating whether to go to work for a 1pm meeting or to stay home and skip it.  It's an important and good meeting to attend and I'm really feeling pretty good (I'm rested and I just have a stuffy nose) but the lure of being home is strong.

That's because I can get a few things done.  I just finished washing my recent handspun yarns.  Some of them are looking pretty good.  I have a whole lot of brown stuff that I'll photograph once it's all dry.  It was a ball of practice fleece that Kim gave me--a big ball--and it's all spun up now.  Some mixed with other practice stuff, some two ply, some navaho plied.  All pretty chunky.  I think I'll knit up a mat or something with it, because I can't think of what else to do with it; it's rather coarse.

I will show off my latest colourful attempts.  First is some BFL from Lettuce Knit that I navaho plied.  I'm pretty pleased with it. 


Second is 4oz of Shetland in a pretty purple/blue colour from Hopeful Shetlands.  This is was spun on the Little Gem and it was pretty effortless.  It is also the most consistent stuff I've spun and I'm happy with how it turned out.  I guess that's a combination of practice and a nice machine to practice on. 


I haven't bought my wheel yet, but I can tell you there's no duty on spinning wheels coming to Canada.  The nice people at Border Services found wheels under Section 84 Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof (PDF, 649 KB), so you can see how I might have missed it.  I also know there are more local-ish dealers too, so I'm still weighing my options in terms of price vs service vs location.  I know they are not mutually exclusive, but since this is a major purchase all things need to be considered.

I've also been knitting!  My Whisper Cardi is in the home stretch--I have about 3 inches left on the body and I'm done.  It's one of those blobs-to-photograph-but-nice-to-wear pieces so just take the photo for what it is--a nice brown blob of Malabrigo sock yarn softness.


Time for a little nap before I decide how I'll be spending my afternoon.

Random Sunday--The Week in Review

1. Kim and I made the trade and I'm not spinning on her Majacraft Little Gem.  This is THE wheel for me.  Small footprint, nice design, nifty treadles and the clincher: I can spin while comfortably sitting on my couch in a posture-friend manner.

2. I am making some pretty yarn on said wheel.  Purple and blue shetland.

3. I am crunching the numbers on where to buy my Little Gem.  Sadly, it's not from a Canadian vendor.  But do fear getting dinged by customs.  Oddly, there is no paperwork on tariffs for spinning wheels on the government's website.  I checked.  I also can't decide if it's an "other manufactured item", furniture or machinery.  I will call to see what the duty is.  I don't think we have free trade with New Zealand.  Any advice or thoughts on this are welcome.

4. Molly, Elizabeth and I hit the Jones New York warehouse sale today.  It was amazing.  Everything was 80% off.  I got 2 suits (one Anne Klein, one Jones), 3 dresses, a cotton cashmere sweater, a skirt, pants, and a blue sweater for $400.  Everything fits nice and I love that I can have nicely made clothes without spending 2 grand.  Molly scored a 100% cashmere blazer for about $50.  It was fun.

5. Apparently I need taller shoes to wear with new suit.  I have nice flats, but may consider comfortable taller shoes.

6. I'm getting a cold.  I wish it would get here already so I can get it over with.

7. I didn't shred today.  I took Thursday off too.  I feel a bit guilty. 

8. Shred is starting to tone me up.  I still haven't lost a single pound or feel like my clothes fit better.  I feel better (which should be the point) but I would like the more shallow, body based results too.

9. I'm going to finish this list so I can spin more.

10. I had no idea my week was so boring.  I did see the kids perform in their school concert, and Emma had a dance recital, and I went out last night to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday, so I guess it wasn't boring at all.  Just not so blogable.