Friday, March 30, 2007

Facing up to the foot

One reason why when I got tennis elbow it was so bad, was that the warning pains you get when tennis elbow starts feels a lot like bruising. I thought I'd just bumped my arm so I carried on. The next day I was in excruciating pain.

For the past three days I have been in pain when I walk. I need to face up to the fact that I may well have a problem with spinning.

It's weird though. That first time, when I had the pain in my right foot, it was immediate pain, and went away overnight. I last spun at the weekend (about 90 minutes on Saturday evening and less than an hour on Monday, with the wheel on a rug), yet I'm still in pain 5 days later and didn't feel a thing while spinning.

And this is my left foot.

It is possible it's coincidental, but I don't want to take any risks.

(I am also trying to keep myself together about the fact my body is breaking down and I'm not even 26).

What's even more frustrating is that I've been saving up to buy some lovely blends and now feel like I shouldn't buy them because what's the point. But then part of me feels like if I'm going to hurt myself I may as well do it for something worthwhile...

I'll just try and rest as much as possible this week and see how I get on.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mermaid's Hair Yarn

May I present my latest spinnings (we are glossing over the fact that my second-to-latest spinnings have still not materialised on this blog).

(we are also glossing over the streaks on the glass shower wall)

When I first dyed this top, I thought the resulting fibre looked like a mermaid's hair - hence the name. Originally it was a dark grey, and the resulting dyed fibre is nicely varigated. It's not candy pale blue either but a muddy turquoise. There are parts where the blue has really taken, and parts where it really hasn't. None of these photos quite capture the real colour - it's duller in real life (sadly).

This was my attempt at spinning as fine as I could, and I'm pleased to report that it is also rather consistent. I did struggle a lot with overtwist, due to my new whorl, drive band and bobbins. I usually have the odd bit of kinky-overtwistiness that I just deal with. I don't block yarn straight with weights, since this gives you a false idea of what the yarn is like: as soon as it hits water again it's going to kink up!

But this yarn was really really overtwisted, even when plyed. It was kinky, and it was also very very harsh and wiry. I realised that if I do make the Spiderweb Capelet from it, this could be a problem. The capelet is knit on giant needles (10mm), with lots of dropped stitches - I didn't want the long stitches to start kinking up!

I decided to run it back through the wheel in the original singles direction, to take out a little of the excess twist. I rolled the yarn into a ball, tied the end to the leader, and just let it get sucked onto the bobbin. I didn't let the twist build up, it just all went on in a whoosh.

And I'm glad to say that it worked! The yarn isn't super soft or anything, since this is from Jacob fleece (remind me to take photos of the Jacobs next time we visit our local Nature Centre; they also have Soay and Icelandic; I wonder what they do with the shearings...). However, all those millions of kinks aren't there, and it's not quite like steel wool. As to whether it will become the capelet or not is another matter. I'll probably give it a go, but this yarn may be too scratchy/unfuzzy to work with the pattern.

The coin blinding you in the above picture, by the way, is one of my exciting 50pences. This 50p (from 2000) is celebrating 150 years of public libraries (this photo nicely shows the differences in colours):

Breed: Jacob
Fibre prep.: Commercial Top
Colour/Dye: Natural grey fibre dyed in the mircowave with Kool Aid (3 sachets of Ice Blue Raspberry)
Weight: less than 2oz
Yardage: c. 190 yards
WPI: 20
Method: Wheel spun on Haldane Lewis with smaller whorl & new bobbins
Spun: Clockwise
Plyed: Anticlockwise; 2-ply, using 'Lazy Kate' #2 (sent back clockwise through the wheel to un-ply a little)

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Quick Note

Clocks have just gone forward so it's now 2am and I should really get to bed! But just want to note that I've just plyed and measured my current trying-to-be-as-thin-as-I-can spinning, and got - at a rough guess - 190 yards from 2oz @ 20wpi. So not enough for a shawl! But should be fine for the Spiderweb Capelet.

And now I know how much I can get from 2oz of fibre, I'm in a much better position to judge how many batts I need!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Tempting is Finished!

I know! Blimey. I only started this self-described 'quick knit' in Summer 2005 an' everything.

(Of course, when I say 'finished', I haven't woven in the ends yet. Or bought a ribbon).

We still don't have a mirror in our new house yet,* and while looking in the windows at night works fine for a general reflection, it doesn't quite give me a proper idea of what this looks like. I'm somewhat scared since every proper garment (i.e., not just a scarf or arm-warmers) I've knit has turned out pretty rubbish. And, *ahem* since I started Tempting I'm pretty sure my bust measurement has gone up by both a cup and band size.

Mr Bee took a couple of bored photos of me wearing it, and the ribbing does appear to shriek BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS LOOK AT ME STRETCHED OVER BOOBS!!1!... but maybe that was due to the camera flash. (The pictures were horrible; I deleted them).

But anyway. It's done. I can now almost fill up my Denise case again with all the wires. I've had the 3 or 4 wires used for Tempting out for so long that I couldn't remember how they all fit back together. I had to look at a photo online to figure it out (and in doing so discovered that Denise now do a kit with rainbow coloured needles - oooooooooooh).

And I think I'm just pretty stunned by the fact that yes, I can keep knitting, I can get there, I can finish things. It might take aaaaaaaaaaages, but it happens. Good stuff.

* i.e., we haven't yet unpacked and reassembled the wardrobe which has a mirror on the door. But then, we've lived here a month and still haven't bought a fridge/freezer. This, by the way, is an indication of just how cold it is in our kitchen.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The End is in Sight...

I've only got 2 rounds left on Tempting. So that's 2 rounds (200 stitches each), 1 cast off round, and 2 3-needle-bind-off underarm things.

2, maybe 3 days.

(Then a couple of months for me to go and buy some ribbon. I still need ribbon for my Lace Up Opera gloves. Luckily it is likely to be the same type of ribbon, so I can just go and buy loads. Eventually. And then the wait for photos. How long has Sonnet been waiting for now? 1 year? 2?).

I spun up the second singles yesterday. I used my right foot very gently (tried to keep it in what my yoga teacher would term a 'tadasana foot'), but I used my left for the majority of the spinning.

Further to what I wrote in my last post, I don't think a double treadle is inherently bad, just that I'd only want to use a DT that could also be used as a single treadle. With an ST you can move the wheel around, whereas with a DT you are - I presume - limited to sat bang in front of it, unless it can be used as an ST. Anyway, I often wonder about the different types of wheel - when I think of what I started with because it was all I had (single treadle, double drive, no instructions, awkward tension, merino top) and what I read people on mailing lists saying is advanced (single treadle, double drive, awkward tension, merino) it does make me laugh (especially since I made a perfectly servicable garment from my first ever spinnings - and this is not because I'm great at spinning). Had I known all this before I started maybe I'd have been more wary, and I think I'd have suffered for it. Of course, in an ideal world everyone should have the wheel that suits them, but sometimes I think people thinking of buying tend to worry too much about whether it will be too 'advanced'.

So anyway, back to my ankles. I think there is a slight problem. Of course, this is when I had changed my whorl, my bobbin, and (probably most importantly): my house. I'm hoping that any problem with over-worked feet is coming from one of these, rather than my body deciding that since my arms aren't too bad my legs can pack up.

Our new house has [very cheap] laminate flooring, and I'm also sat in a corner which limits how far to the left I can have the wheel. I don't think the corner is too much of an issue, but I do think I must be sliding over the floor a little, pushing the wheel forwards. This must put just a little too much pressure on my foot. When I ply I'm going to put the wheel & my stool on a rug, and hopefully (hopefully!) I won't have any further issues.

(And I really really really really hope I have no further issues, since after discovering Franquemont Fibres, I've now discovered the Sanguine Gryphon's etsy store. Be still my treadling feet.)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Spinning a Yarn

Well, my foot has been fine since my earlier spinning mis-adventure.

I did have a hairy (hoho) moment the day following my foot pain. I walked to the corner shop, and during the walk that area of my foot/ankle started stinging again :( It was still stinging for ages after I got back - it felt almost like shaving rash. So eventually I took my sock off and... it was shaving rash! Doh! I had shaved my ankles just before I set off (I only do up the knee if I'm going swimming) because I thought I might go to yoga, and sometimes my leggings ride up. Anyway, I was thrilled to discover it wasn't internal pain.

In response to the comment Batty left on my last post, I'm still unsure about double treadles. At least with a single treadle if one foot hurts you can swap! If I'm entirely honest, my foot was hurting after merely a couple of minutes (so it wasn't just excess strain or that it was tired), but I kept going because sometimes there's a bone sort of protruding in my other foot (I know! I couldn't make it up!) and I wasn't sure whether treadling would be good for it (as it was, it was fine). I think if I did get a DT, I'd make sure it was one that would also work if you only used one foot.

I haven't done any more spinning yet as I've been so busy with work. I'm planning to have a nice long session this weekend, watching all the stuff that's been recorded recently (no time to watch the little TV I normally do either!).

Have I said what this spinning is for yet? I currently have an obsession with lace shawls, but wasn't looking forward to the amount of stitches they require. When I saw the Swallowtail shawl in the Fall 2006 Interweave Knits I just fell in love with it.* Not only is it pretty, but it's also quite small.

So I am attempting to spin for that. At least I know that if my yarn is 'too' thick, it should merely mean that I produce a bigger shawl (but with the stitch count of a shawlette). The question is probably whether I have enough or not. I think I've only got about 60g of fibre (I *need* a good set of electronic scales!) so it's entirely possible I'll only produce 100-200 yards.

If that happens I'll probably make the Spiderweb Capelet from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation (yes, I know I'm phobic of sp*ders & their associations, but this lace pattern really doesn't look like cobwebs). I've always had my eye on that, but when I looked through the pattern the other day I realised that it's only about 22 rows! I'd technically be able to make that in less than a month, so it's very tempting.

(Tempting is still plodding along. I'm *almost* at the YOs row. Almost. Probably no longer than a fortnight left on it. I hope).

Well, this post is getting far too wordy. At some point soon I need to make a 'To Knit' list, otherwise I'll keep forgetting projects!

* I managed to get the back issue of IK with the shawl in, and I also got Summer 2006 as well. Wow - I am seriously impressed with this magazine. And I love the wpi chart they have at the back - it's such a nifty idea. I managed to find an imported copy of Spring 2007 in Borders (so I've seen the Gryphon's lovely Merry Maiden dress), and am tempted to try and track down as many back issues as I can (maybe I need to wait for my first paycheque first).

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Toes crossed

I've just spent the evening spinning and my foot hurts - doh! For future reference (that I really hope I do *not* need) it's the front of the right ankle, on the left side. I switched to my left foot about halfway through and that's fine - probably should've switched sooner... Oh well.

I've got my new bobbins! And my whorl!

So tonight I did some spinning with one of my new bobbins, and the new whorl. I've been saving my last lot of dyed fibre for my new bobbins, as I wanted to spin the singles onto two new bobbins, so that they were equal.

I am attempting to spin as fine as I can, for a lace project. I think I got thicker the more tired I got (spun from about 7pm til 11pm). The main problem was that I changed the drive band. My usual drive band was great for spinning fine and having a good take-up, but kept falling off. It used to do this all the time, but has stopped recently, so I assume that this was due to the new bobbin & whorl groves being a little too shallow. So I switched the drive band to being some crochet cotton, and I've just totally lost all take-up. I managed to get into the swing of barely holding the fibre and letting it be gently pulled on by the end, but there is a LOT of overtwist and kinks stuck in the bobbin. I usually add quite a lot of twist anyway, but there are huge kinks going on here which I hope won't make plying too nightmarish.

Anyway, I've done half of my fibre. Not sure when I'll do the second half - better make sure my foot is better first!

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Thursday, March 08, 2007


I'm still in the middle of reading through all the blogs I need to catch up on, what with my enforced week-and-a-half of no interweb. I've noticed quite a few amusing coincidences as I go through them.

The last blog I discovered was Abby's Yarns, which I decided to read after enjoying Abby's posts on the spinning mailing lists I read. I spent my last night in my old flat (with no furniture and no curtains - we were staying after the movers took everything in order to clean up) reading Abby's blog from start to finish - it's a wealth of information. I also fell in love with the fibre blends that she sells. Utterly, utterly, utterly in love. I have never really been interested in buying pre-prepared batts, or snazzy swanky fibres or anything, until then. They are absolutely amazing.

Then when I came to update myself with The Keyboard Biologist Knits the other day when we were back online, there was a photo of some batts. Mmmmm, I thought, those are stunning, just like the ones I was drooling over on Abby's site. And what do you know? They were!

Recently I've been getting pain from reading. I have another muscular condition which means I have to basically lie down for an hour or two every day and work on that muscle group, flexing and contracting. Obviously, this is slightly boring, so I like to read while I'm doing it. Unfortunately, the action of holding a book (just a 300 page paperback) open and up (since I'm lying down) hurts my forearm in the same way that knitting/ computer navigating does. The other day in a bookshop I saw a bookholder called a 'Gimble'. It looked a little dubious so I didn't get one. And then, lo and behold, there's a bunch of comments on Wendy Knits! about bookholders!

So I went through the comments there, looked at all the different types of bookholder, and decided to give the Gimble a try. I used it this morning and it does work - and I was able to read painfree. Hoorah!

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Apologies for the lack of posting - we only got our broadband activated today. And - tada! - we have photos. First Mr Bee took the camera away with him; then he forgot it; then he had to wait a week to collect it; then we moved; then we had to find the box with the camera (and wire!) in; then we had to get connected...

But finally, something to liven the blog up with.

Here are some pictures of my beautiful Calorimetry - not knitted by me, but made for me by the lovely Figg as a Yule present. This came in a box containing other goodies, all wrapped up in the most amaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing manner. Seriously, unwrapping the gifts was as exciting as getting them.

I took these photos after I realised that my makeup matched my Calorimetry. Apologies for the rubbish quality, it was really really hard to get the type of shot I wanted.

I do have a Coif, which I made last year. However, the Calorimetry is a lot wider, meaning that it looks more like a hat from the front (the Coif is always clearly a headband). The real difference is that it doesn't have the ribbed band around the hairline that the Coif does - my Coif always leaves me with an imprint of ribbing in my forehead. Despite the fact that Calorimetry is entirely ribbed, it doesn't leave any marks on me, and thus gets two thumbs up for that!

Also - Figg made my Calorimetry in blue, which means it matches my new handbag beautifully :) It's nice and wide too, so I can tie it in a square knot (I only figured out a square knot last summer, and haven't tied an unsquare knot since) rather than having a button clasp which would probably catch on my hair.

(sorry for gacky looking hair; it's photos like these that make me want to redye my roots)