Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book review, and some other stuff.

Recently I purchased a copy of "Fleegle Spins Supported", by Susan Glinert Stevens, the woman who runs Fleegles Blog. (She's a wild woman. Latest blog post? It's about spinning grizzly bear fur. No, I'm not joking.)

Fleegle has made a lot of jokes about this being THE BEST SUPPORTED SPINNING BOOK! because it's actually the ONLY supported spinning book that anyone knows of. That said, I think even if there were others, it would hold up very favorably in comparison. She spends a lot of time on different types of fiber, the ways it can be prepared, the different ways to spin it, all relevant to any kind of spinner.

Really, the whole book was worth the money to me, when she gave the suggestion to use tweezers to pull nepps out of spinning fiber. I've been doing that since, and it definitely makes life easier.

Another thing I really REALLY liked about the book? It came to me in the mail like this:
It's a four gig USB thumb drive, with the name of the book printed on it. (That's a nice touch. Now I know for sure which thumb drive it is, no matter what.) All you do is plug it into your computer, and if it has Adobe on it - it should - you just click away on whatever file you want to look at. There is a PDF of the book text with active links, so you can click on through to all sorts of web sites and information. There is another PDF of the book without active links, which for my computer is easier to scroll through for skimming. Then, there are videos. Lots of them. For right and left hand. Those also cover types of fiber, ways it is prepared, all the good stuff.

Really, very much worth the $30 I paid for the book.

Yes, I do intend to try supported spindling. You can do it sitting down, and it's the best way to spin cobweb-weight lace yarns, which I want to make. I've got some silk and angora sitting here for a two-ply Orenburg style yarn, but I want more yardage from it than I can get on my wheel.

So. Excellent book. Excellent blog. Youse guys may want to check it out.


The other thing is my circular needle storage. I could have sworn I blogged this before, but I mentioned it yesterday and several people thought it was brilliant, so here you go. You know those heavy plastic multi-pocket file folders they sell? I think this one was meant for checks:
Good gourd, grainy picture. And I took it with my camera, not my phone!

Anyway, I use each of the pockets inside to hold coiled up circular needles:
Each pocket has a certain size. You can see I labeled the tabs with the needle sizes: Some have since fallen off (I've used this holder for about five years now) and I'm pondering the best way to make the labels permanent.

For double-checking purposes, I've even got a needle gauge in the front pocket, along with the really small needles like 0000.
The needles do still tangle a little bit, within each pocket. But it's nowhere near the rat's nest my circular needles used to be. It's nice and compact, easy to grab and rifle through, and the cover even keeps the dust off.

This is NOT my original idea. I saw it somewhere on line. Damn if I remember now, but don't give me credit for this one. It's not mine.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy Solstice.

Yes, I know, I know. There's always some astronomical leeway and sometimes it's yesterday and sometimes it's tomorrow. But the Celts usually had a three-day leeway for their holidays (often turning them into three day parties), so years ago, I decided, hell with it, it's the 21st. So, happy solstice.

I usually celebrate the day by doing things I hope will continue through the coming year. Like for prosperity I'll bake something and give it away. This year's solstice is about GETTING SHIT DONE. All the stuff that's sat around while I changed drugs, had migraines, drooled into the couch, and whatever the hell. I'm trying especially to wrap up old business and start new.

Which means GETTING BACK TO THE KAL sweater. Once I get done with the clerical end of all the crap today, I'm going to pull it out and knit like the wind.

I'm also wrapping up the Goob's schooling, hopefully for once and for all. I've cleaned up a bit (GASP!) and I've made a damn doctor's appointment*.

Finishing up this lace spinning today would put a cherry on it. It's possible; there is actual visible shrinkage in the plying ball now. The first THREE DAYS, I plyed off it with no visible change in size, and it was starting to freak me out quite a lot. But finally, it's shrinking. Woohoo!

Then I start more laceweight. I should really try to decide on what. I'm thinking whatever's on the top of the pile. (I cleaned the living room while the Goob was on vacation and "accidentally" found AN ENTIRE POUND of fiber I'd forgotten I'd bought. Whoops. Time to spin like the wind.)


To totally change the subject, we've got a couple of lawyers showing their asses in a big way, this week.

The one you've PROBABLY heard about was the letter from the US Olympic Committee to Ravelry (found HERE), complaining that the Ravelympics " disrespectful to our country's finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work." There are some other gems, but you get the idea.

Having spoken to many lawyers about the First Amendment, the Internet, and Free Speech, well, yes, this is a bunch of bullshit. But the USOC has really deep pockets and is known to litigate the holy fuck out of all kinds of innocent bystanders for using the name Olympic, including companies in the Olympic Range of the Pacific Northwest who've been around longer than the USOC has. It doesn't stop them from being assholes.

If my opinion counts for anything, I think we should change the name of the games, simply to keep Ravelry out of the fire. The Ravelympics weren't their idea in the first place; Rav is just the site that hosts it. To drag them into the legalities would be cruel in the extreme and cost them a fortune.

However, the Ravelympics are an international thing, and the USOC isn't. I saw we keep using the name everywhere BUT Ravelry and let them know they can go fuck themselves. I know Twitter has exploded with this, and the @USOlympic official feed has been slammed with angry knitters in varying degrees of rudeness telling them what they can do with their "disrespectful" thoughts. (I happened to use the term "FUCK YOU" but I'm sure that doesn't shock a single one of you.

ETA: The USOC has issued a statement which is even more offensive than the original, if that's possible. They DON'T apologize, and then they mooch hand-knits like they're doing us a favor. Text available HERE. Try not to let your blood boil.

The other legal clusterfuck I've been watching? The Oatmeal vs. Charles Carreon, egomaniac lawyer. (I would normally link to Carreon's website about now, but it is the most offensive puddle of shit I've seen on the 'net in a long time, so fuck that. I refuse to contaminate my blog with even the name of it.) Heck, I'll let the Oatmeal explain it, HERE. There've been quite a lot of really good commentaries, as it has unfolded, the best being over at Pope Hat. His latest update can be found, HERE. Read the comments. The comments are extremely educational and interesting and not at all pissy like you find on most major sites. This is going to continue to unfold in German Operatic fashion, but I will say here, officially and for all time, that anyone who sues the American Cancer Society and the American Wildlife Federation, over a cartoon SOMEONE ELSE drew of a woman trying to seduce a bear, is a flaming douchebag. Flaming. Douchebag. Charles Carreon, yes, I mean YOU ARE A DOUCHEBAG. And no, The Oatmeal is not inciting me to say jack shit. Suing charities = automatic douchebag status. ASK THE INTERNET.


That's about where things stand here. Getting crap done, watching lawyers be asshats (like that's new) and slugging back tea.

Oh, and I just tried to clean up my videos folder and accidentally deleted everything, so, you know, business as fucking usual.

Maybe later I'll dance under the moon. It IS the solstice, after all. I bet the Goob would join in.

*For those keeping up on the migraine/seizure/WTF saga: I saw my GP this week and asked to see a specialist. He poked around his records, and then informed me that my chronic pain doctor IS A NEUROLOGIST. (I thought she was an anesthesiologist.) I didn't need a referral, and I should see the specialist I already had, instead of trying to drag in another. Mostly I feel stupid, but the appointment was made and I see her Monday.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Geek-out Monday.

Maybe I'll try a regular weekly thing for a while, see how that works.

This is what I've been reading about, looking into, watching, and, well, geeking out on.


The new thing, sorta, is electronic textiles. I've been looking into conductive ribbons and sewing threads, and LED lights you can sew on like beads, that actually work. (You have to sew in a battery holder, and an optional switch, too.) The only reason I haven't gone absolutely wild, is because I can't decide what to do first.

The Goob's halloween costume this year will be fun, though, I guarantee.

You can drool over the stock HERE, like I've been doing.

Also? Conductive fiber? That I could spin? SO TEMPTING. Just to say I did it.


Girl Genius has introduced wasp-hunting weasels, and they're adorable, and I'm trying to figure out how to knit one. Not for the Goob. For me. And I know a trilobite tattoo would be over the top and I'd regret it in ten years, but I really want one.


The Tour de Fleece is going to start on June 30! (How did it get to be June? Seriously?) This year I'm joining the sprinters, who are spinning lace. That seems the best way to stretch the Fiber Optic fiber I  got into as much yardage as possible.

We've got plans for the 4th of July, lots of them, for three or four days. I intend to take my spinning wheel. What's the hell of having pink hair if I can't be eccentric?


The GOP is still blocking jobs bills, ones that are meant to fix infrastructure while getting people working. I've ranted about this before, so I'll try not to get started again. But I don't wanna hear anything about "small government" as an excuse after the GOP has spent all year passing anti-abortion bills. It's not small government to regulate my body, and they should quit using it as an excuse to block things they think will make the president look good.


I'm still playing WAY too much Plants vs. Zombies. And there are new levels of Angry Birds Space AND Angry Birds Seasons, so it's a miracle I got anything at all done today.


I am reading "Cannabis, a History" by Martin Booth. It is exactly that. A fascinating, unbiased look at marijuana and hemp (medical/recreational and industrial) through the ages. All plant freaks would really enjoy it. I've been saving up a blog post for weed, and maybe when I finish this book, I'll actually do it.


The merino/silk/cashmere blend is finally spun, as in the singles are done. I started plying it together two nights ago, and it is taking FOREVER. I hope that means lots of yardage, because I'd like to knit a lace scarf or shawl with it. But right now, it's just ply ply ply.

Haven't had to cut myself loose with the ply ball, so I think I've got it.

Friday, June 15, 2012


First, thank you, everyone who offered sympathy and yarn, after yesterday's post. I really appreciate the offer, but I'm going to sit back and enjoy the extra space for a while.

Those of you who offered half-finished projects REALLY made me laugh.


I've had some questions about the knit-along. I DO need to finish it, so I'm going to get that going again, though I'm still knitting at the speed of dark. Sorry for this awful delay. If it's any comfort, uh, it's been awful? Really.


There was a question in the spinning wheel post, about treadling with one foot on a two-treadle wheel. Yes, it's possible, and in the short term, no, it's not going to hurt anything. But I do think if you do it long enough, any wheel is going to develop stresses it wasn't meant to, and start acting funky. That may take a while, though; just depends. (Factors include wheel type, age, type of wood, type of connectors, type of cam, etc etc etc.)


The Goober comes home Sunday, we think. The grandparents were kinda vague, and we don't like to get all detail-obsessed, considering it's summer and a vacation and everything. We've been getting periodic photos; I think the Goob's in a bathing suit in at least half of them. She's having the time of her life, and I expect her to sleep a couple days next week when she gets home.

Then I want to take her to Kennywood, just the two of us, as a reward for finishing all her school stuff.


If anyone remembers the missing ball winder, it turned up. Contrary to internet rumor, it was NOT found with Jimmy Hoffa. It was in a box. In the basement. In The Pit. Which is where I always thought it was, really.

Now I have a ball winder for each floor. Whooee. Living large now.


I have put the lace-spinning whorl on my wheel and am practicing up for the Tour de Fleece.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Learn from our horror. Please.

Putting any kind of textile-art anything in storage is a REALLY SUPER BAD IDEA.

While the hub and I were moving around with the military (we estimate we moved something like eighteen times), we learned a few things. For today's discussion, the big lesson was that STORAGE COMPANIES LIE. (Moving companies, and packers, are a different thing. Many of them are okay. Especially if you babysit them.)

They'll tell you that they're storing your stuff in climate-controlled areas. Lie. They'll tell you that you'll have your own, specific little hidey hole for your stuff, and it won't be stuffed in a warehouse jumbled with a zillion other people's things. Lie.

One of the reasons that unpacking my stuff has taken so long (two years and counting), is because every time I open a box, I find some fresh new hell, and I want to drive to South Carolina and bust some heads. Literally. If I had one of these people before me when I see this stuff, I really would slug them in the face.

This blog post is brought to you by Tuesday's unpacking gig, which filled our trash can with stuff that was okay when it went INTO storage. This last round? I threw out at least a hundred yards of fabric, and most of what was left of my knitting supplies that had survived the carpet beetles. Plus every half-knit sweater I ever worked on. Mostly, the big issue was, it was full of bugs. Of all kinds. Not just carpet beetles. Something had bored holes through the cotton fabrics, too. I'd just gone through EVERYTHING, before it went into storage, because of the carpet beetles, if you'll remember. So I know it was fine. KNOW.

If it was in climate control, I'll eat it.

This is on top of how, when I got my washer and dryer back, they were covered with dirt splashed up by rain storms. When my kitchen table went OUT of my house, the top was wrapped in three layers of corrugated cardboard and loads of tape. When it came back IN, it was bare, with a moving blanket thrown over it, and covered in scratches. (My table was custom ordered from Indonesia. This is not something I can just up and replace if I feel like it.) My refrigerator had molds inside it, in advanced forms I had never seen before, outside of a textbook. (And I had to wear a respirator to clean it out, because at least one of them made me sick.)

If you complain, or file a claim? You're hallucinating the dirt splashes on the appliances, or they got there after the appliances left their place. The refrigerator is your fault for not cleaning it out right (never mind a closed fridge should be anaerobic and if left shut for a year would AT LEAST grow something different than molds - or, you know, not grow anything at all). The bugs must have been in the textiles when they came into the facility. Not their fault. They blamed the table on the movers. Never mind what I saw with my own eyes.

In our case? We got fucked over by a storage company in N Charleston, South Carolina. If we can figure out if they're still in business, I really WILL publish the name and leave scathing reviews all over the internet.

In your case? Vet the place first. Do a tour. You'll see right away if they're scumbag fuckers or not. If they are cocksuckers who throw other people's property around, punch them in the face a couple times, for me.

I hope your property fares better than ours did.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And then, silence.

The Goob has gone to the beach with her grandparents this week. Last week was a blur of finishing up school work and buying clothes - kid had another growth spurt without warning me first and had TWO pairs of shorts that still fit. And the shoes. And pajamas. And dresses. And beach coverups.

And she's now at an age where she's got an OPINION on clothes. May all the gods help us. At one point she told me a shirt "didn't fit her image" and a random stranger in the store about fell over, laughing.

But, we got her packed, and hugged, and gone, and I have a week to myself.

There were all these glorious plans I had, about unpacking The Pit (remember that? Still a mess) and painting the kitchen. All I've done is sleep over twelve hours a night and wallow on the back porch.

Yesterday afternoon the husbeast and I went to the movies (he saw Snow White and the Huntsman, I saw the Avengers again). Remember that weird coulda-been-a-seizure balance issue I had last time I went to the movies? Well, it was just a migraine aura. I know this, 'cause yesterday I got the regular migraine. Whee!

Yes, yes, I've got doctor's appointments, thank you.


So far, when I haven't been asleep or squinting through a migraine, I've been schpinningk.
The merino/cashmere/silk is finished. I couldn't remember whether I could fit four ounces of fiber onto one of the Kiwi bobbins: Apparently, the answer is yes.

I'm going for a two-ply lace weight with this stuff, and want to keep every possible inch of single. I'm going to wind it off the bobbin into a ball (with my regular ball winder, nothing arcane) and ply from both ends. It's been several years since I did that little trick; I'm hoping I won't have to cut myself loose.


Now, for some gory spinning detail. Some of you may want to look away. That's all right.

A friend of mine is buying her first spinning wheel, and we got into 'single' vs. 'double' and hit some confusion. Which is understandable, because until I read a book on the mechanics of spinning wheels (may the gods help me), I didn't quite get it either. Herewith, I will explain. (All photos not otherwise credited are from the Woolery web site. They are awesome and I always shop with them for big hunks of fiber equipment, including my loom, my wheel, and my swift.)

There are actually TWO things on a wheel to which the single/double term applies. The first, most obvious, and the one most people think, has to do with the treadles. And it DOES apply:

Single treadle:
Double treadle:
I used identical models (Lendrum Original) so you could really get it. This is about whether you use one foot or two to make the whole thing go. I suggest the double. It's more efficient. (Unless, of course, there's a reason you can't treadle with both feet, then obviously go with the single.

Then, there's the other one. The one most people don't understand, don't think of, or don't get: Single or double DRIVE. This is about how the force is transferred from the actual spinning wheel to the bobbin and flyer. Both the bobbin AND the flyer have to spin, to make yarn. And they have to spin at varying rates. "Drive" is determined by the drive band and what it does.

SINGLE DRIVE: This is what I have, on my Ashford Kiwi:
See the drive band, that is wrapped around the wheel? It goes up and wraps around a whorl, attached to the flyer. That's all it does. Wheel to whorl/flyer and back to wheel. It makes a SINGLE LOOP. You treadle, it turns the wheel, which turns the flyer. Bobbin tension is done by other means. The Kiwi uses "Scotch Tension" which I took a (bad) picture of, here:
See the drive band on the left? In the center is a spring, and a piece of string (in my case, fishing line, 'cause it's durable and I'm cool with new tech; traditionally it was a bit of cotton string or a hunk of yarn) goes up and over the bobbin to the other side, to a little knob. You tighten the knob, it tightens the string, and the bobbin is harder to make turn. Bobbin tension results in 'take up', or how hard the wheel pulls the fiber out of your hands.

There are several other types of bobbin tension for single drive wheels, which I'm not getting into because I don't understand them like I understand my own. But for single drive, the drive band from the wheel only controls the flyer. Bobbin tension is done by other means.

DOUBLE DRIVE: This is the older, more traditional spinning wheel setup.

The drive band drives the flyer AND tensions the bobbin. It goes in TWO loops, from wheel to flyer, back to wheel, around again, to the bobbin, and back to the wheel. A buddy of mine, KnitWit, took a photo for  me, and you can get the gist of how it works. (You'll have to click for this one, kids.) ETA: But wait! She changed the privacy settings for me! (Thanks again, M!)
There's not much more for me to add to this one, because again, it's not one I use, so I don't have a solid working knowledge of it. It is said that double drives are better for lace spinning, because the 'takeup' is more controlled and can be dialed down to something more gentle than anything a single drive can do. (Takeup can litterally pull yarn apart as you spin it, if it's too strong.) They can have reputations as being more fussy, as well, but I am skeptical of that. Most people I know who complain about the fussiness of double drives have antique wheels and I am betting the fuss comes from it just being old. No one I know who has a modern double drive has every commented on any difficulties.

So there's your schpinningk babble for the day. I promise there isn't a test later.

I should go work on shoveling out The Pit now. It's trash night, and it'd be handy to send a couple bags of crap out, with it. But what I really wanna do is take a nap.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Der spchinningk.

Mit der leetle roundieround.

I've begun setting aside a certain time of day (Goob's bed time) to spin. Because if I don't, I'll never do any and that's just sad. Since it became an event in my own little head, I began announcing it on Twitter. But, you know, "Yay spinning!" is so boring. Instead I began announcing it properly, like so:


This is entirely Dieter's fault.

Yes, I've watched too much Saturday Night Live. But it strikes me as oddly appropriate, since the entire blog and my on line knitting persona are named after Samurai Hotel. (People think I'm Samurai Knitter because I think I'm awesome. Um. No. It's because I act like John Belushi in those skits, when my knitting doesn't go right.)

Well, after a few nights of "Und nao I schpin", that got very boring. So I started doing more, including having conversations about spinning. All in very bad fake German*.

Today, I was muttering about der predraften nonsensen mit der katen floofder. There was a great deal of katzen flooder, and I started shouting for a flammenwerfer. But it struck me. Katen floofder is the perfect name for the crap I'm picking out of my spinning.

From now on I think I'm going to be doing all my schpinningk in uber badhorriblen Deutch. Especially der katzen floofder bits.


*The smattering of German I've picked up over the years is from three sources: Mennonite kids I grew up with, music appreciation and theory, and der strikken patterns. To say my vocabulary and accent are unusual is a major understatement.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


Been a fucked up week at House O Samurai. Migraines, and asthma, and a rampaging kid (smart and bored, look out), and... and.

And it should be unlawful for young people to die. Ugh.

BUT! Happy stuff!

Last weekend, my MIL and I went to the Great Lakes Fiber Show. It's in Wooster Ohio, which isn't too far from where the in-laws live. Since I brought my MIL over to the dark side, she's enjoyed all the fiberly arts. So I called her up and said HEY! FIBER SHOW! and she said "oh, I don't know... sheep..." and I said THEY HAVE A MARKET PLACE! WITH LOTS OF YARN! and she said "WHEE! LET'S GO!" so we did.

I think Great Lakes is the ideal size for a fiber fest. Big enough that there's a lot of wonderful selection, but small enough that you don't need a map, flare gun, and canteen to make it around. There were three show barns full of goodies (it was held at the county fairgrounds, so imagine the usual display barns there), and a nice open space between them that held a few more vendors and a very smart couple of kids making from-scratch lemonade as fast as they could.

I took cash, and promised the husbeast I would not exceed it unless I ran into some spinning wheel parts I've been looking for. (I didn't.) I think cash is the best way to go at these things - you don't have to worry whether someone can take credit cards, and the vendors will love you because the credit card company won't be taking a bite out of their profit.

The main reason I wanted to go was to see Fiber Optic in person. It was everything I dreamed and more. I bought a few things, then once we went through everything, I ran back and blew the rest of my budget on more fiber.
They do gradients.
And hard-to-do combinations. (Every time I try this combo, I get tangerine everything.)
And gradients with YAK in them.
And this last one? It was when I was back to spend the rest of my cash. I'm spinning some blue merino/silk/cashmere right now, and I'd already got the blue yak above. Plus I've got two other blue braids from a momentary mind break earlier this year. I didn't need any more blue fiber. But it kept catching my eye, every time I turned, and, oh, heck...
This stuff is impossible to photograph, but it is the most intense blue I've ever seen done with dyes. Ever. Loooove it.

I got a bunch of spin-ins like Angelina fiber:
..apparently I have maxed out my photographic space on Google. Anyway, shiny bits of fiber here.

And some silk, Bobyx top and some dyed hankies. I'd tried spinning silk when I first learned to spin, and it destroyed my hands. So I thought maybe I'd try it again. Or use the hankies to knit mittens or knucks.

Oh, and a cute little dish with a sheep and flowers on it to hold my tea spoon, 'cause it was cute and what the heck.

Now all I need to do is FINISH SPINNING WHAT I'M WORKING ON, so I can dig into this stuff. Or, maybe, I'll go for volume during the Tour de Fleece.