Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy 17th!

Saturday was our 17th wedding anniversary. This year I was determined to get to Vermont. In the past, when Husband would ask where I wanted to go I would always say Vermont. We’ve been to Bermuda, New Hampshire, Cape Cod and Lake Placid. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself at all those places BUT it wasn’t Vermont!
I had done a lot of research and planning for this weekend that went totally out the window last week. Husband’s back has been acting up and everything was day by day. Not to mention the fact that both vehicles needed some maintenance and I was afraid of getting stuck far, far away from home. So, we decided to do day trips instead.
Oldest was to come down Friday to cover Youngest and we took off to The Berkshires to scope out a place that I found on the internet. I was very restrained and only got essentials. 2 sets of circulars and 2 skeins of solid Regia that I need to start a pair of socks for Nephew #1. I had sent him home on Thursday after he picked out yarn for a pair of socks. Of course, I only have 2 skeins and the color way seems to have been discontinued! Plan B is to work the cuff, heel and toes in a solid to extend the yarn because he is close to 6 feet tall with a size 11.5 foot! We had a great lunch and decided to continue north after calling home.
We were awaked Saturday morning by Husband’s cell phone ringing. Once we got on the road where we could get service he checked his voice mail to find a message from Younger. Basically she was calling to say, “I’m awake, no one else is. Come home because I miss you.” Later on when I turned my phone on, I had a voice mail message. It was from The Boss informing me that “Aunty called you and I was just letting you know.” Gotta love technology!
Friday was definitely the day to take pictures. We brought both the digital and 35mm cameras with. Guess how many pictures we took. Zero! Oh well, it was past peak foliage and I was more interested in getting into Vermont and trying to start a pair of socks for Nephew #1.
Saturday, well...... If you were in the Eastern US you know how the weather was. Rain, wind and chill. We did manage to get to both Vermont Country Stores. How I didn’t spend every penny I had was beyond me! I would love to have a credit card with no limit on it and just go nuts. We did get a few things, had a delicious lunch (I highly recommend dipping your grilled ham, turkey and cheese sandwich in maple syrup) and worked our way back to 91 south and home while listening to both the Craftsman Truck and Busch races from Memphis. Which kept me from wigging out the couple of times I couldn’t see the road and felt the truck hydroplaning down the highway.
Once we arrived, we had more surprises waiting for us. I had told both Oldest and The Boss about the sweater that I had finished but not gotten washed that was in the delicate bucket next to the machine. I didn’t see The Boss when I came in the door so I asked how she liked the sweater. She came around the corner saying she loved it! And could she wear it home? Ackk! She had on my CASHMERE turtleneck that was a gift from my in-laws! Not the one I had knit for her. So down the basement we went to find the correct sweater. It fit, she loved the colors and all was good even if she couldn’t talk me into letting her have my turtleneck.
Talking with Oldest it turned out that we had lost power overnight and needed to reset some of the clocks in the house. And a funny thing happened during the day. When The Boss went to the basement to find the sweater she couldn’t get the light to work. Turns out she was flicking the switch on the stairs not the switch in the hallway (which turns on the light). Sunday morning I hear Husband come downstairs, open the basement door and flick the switch. Turns out that she had turned OFF the furnace and he was cold. Good thing this wasn’t the dead of winter!
Sunday I spent in my pj’s, on the couch, spinning and watching the Cup race. I did stop with 20 laps to go because I couldn’t control the fiber. This track has a reputation of having exciting finishes and it lived up to it. I also managed to get a few loads of laundry done, though not as many as I had hoped. We lost power in the afternoon for about an hour and Husband, knowing that I needed to at least hear the race found the battery operated TV and set it up. And my dryer was not performing up to standards.
It was taking 2 full cycles to dry a load which was very irritating as it is electric! I had mentioned this to Husband 2 weeks ago and asked him to check the hose, outlet, etc. What I ended up doing was fishing out huge chunks of lint from just under the filter using a bent coat hanger. It is working better now, but it’s going to take both of us to complete the job as I can’t tip the dryer up, hold it in place and get to lint myself.
All in all, I had a relaxing time. We did get away, saw some sights, spent some money and are still together!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Never Say Never

And never say never multiple times!
Back in 1998 I ran into Lucy’s shop holding a Knitter’s magazine over my head and proclaimed that “I need yarn!” So began my adventure in fiber.
At the time she was only open on weekends and didn’t have her wheel in the shop. At the time I had to be in Cambridge every Saturday and would spend my time in the shop watching her spin. When she asked if I would like to learn to spin I emphatically stated NO! I would never spin and would pay someone to do it.
About a year later, I felt this need come over me to try to spin. Lucy handed me a beginner drop spindle and some roving. I was hooked! Like most people I quickly figured out why it’s called a ‘drop’ spindle but I also quickly figured out how to use it. My problem was that I wanted to spin and not have to stop and wind up the single.
It only took about a month for me to order my first wheel. I needed one that was portable and could spin several weights. The Joy fit the bill to a tee. It took me almost 9 months to pay for it but the wait was worth it.
I could put down in the luggage bay along with my fiber and spend hours of quality time spinning in Foxwood’s bus parking lot. Although, the first time I was alone with it, far from Lucy’s help, it did not go well. I was ready to return it (in pieces no less)! With everything you have to remember about drafting the fiber, hand placement, coordinating the tread ling with your hands, etc I forgot she had casually mentioned that the roving had a bias and I needed to use one end. What I was getting was ‘novelty’ yarn. You know, thin and thick with huge lumps randomly thrown in. This was not how my yarn was coming out a couple of days earlier at the shop! Fortunately, I was able to get help and away I went.
Forward a few months later and Husband had asked what I wanted for Christmas. At the time, I wasn’t in lust with any particular thing so I told him I would let him know. That weekend I was sitting in the shop, spinning away when it hit me! I wanted a second wheel. And I wanted a Traditional. With the Lace Flyer! And I had the credit card with me.
Husband was at a buddy’s house watching the Pats and I caught him at half time. I told him that I wanted a second wheel and I had the credit card with me. No, I was not trading in the Joy. No I was not crazy. And no, it was not coming to the house until it was assembled.
It didn’t arrive in time for the holiday but just before my birthday. I used a honey oak stain with shellac to seal it, and then assembled it. It has served me well over the years.
I’ve spun progressively thinner 2 ply lace weight. I’ve been working with a beautiful natural Coopworth fleece that I got about 4 years ago. I hand washed it then separated the sections that seemed best for lace. When the mood strikes, I flick the locks gently and spin away. I estimate that I have about a thousand yards of 2 ply so far.
When I first started to spin, I had no plans to knit with my handspun. I just enjoyed the feel of the fiber in my hands and the product I was getting. I finally broke down about 2 years ago and started knitting small projects for certain family members, mostly Seaman’s scarfs.
My ultimate goal is to be able to knit a Shetland ‘wedding ring’ shawl using my handspun.
I have no plans to get another wheel but who knows. All it will take is the right place and the right time and I might come home with another!

And Husband? He didn’t understand why I ‘needed’ another wheel. So I asked him why he kept buying putters. And then it became clearer to him. And I get the secret pleasure of knowing that I have something to show for my money.