Friday, February 28, 2014

The squeaky wheel gets the, uh, molybdenum.

The husbeast has worked in "heavy fab" (fabrication of big stuff) lo these many years. Submarines, nuclear power plants, and now turbines and the like. At the moment, I've got two turbine blades on my kitchen counter. They failed inspection (making sure stuff won't break is ultimately his job), and he thought they were cool, so he brought them home. (Yes, we've also got bits of submarine laying around, I think those are in his desk.)
The rainbow lensflare is caused by stellite, which was laser-welded on to the edge of the blade for extra durability while spinning in... something. Don't remember what this one was for. Petrochemical? Chlorine? Steam? Well, anyway. Laying the groundwork so you know who I live with. Exotic is wherever you're not, so this is my normal.

Given the background, then, we can all understand that I get a tad nervous when the hubbo sits in the chair next to my spinning wheel, in the evening, sipping beer and watching it.

It squeaks. I'd say all, or nearly all, spinning wheels squeak. Any of them with metal-on-metal joints, at least. And the rest probably make creaking noises. This, well, it offends the husbeast's sensibilities. Given his work history and everything. There are times he has stomped upstairs from the man cave, grabbed a pencil (graphite 'lead' is an excellent lubricant), held it against the squeaky part until it shut up, and gone back to his cave without a word.

A few weeks ago, he appeared with this.
It's essentially molybdenum spray paint. Tape off all the metal-on-metal bits, he said, and we'd paint them. No more squeaks, it'd be great.

As we know, our foremothers back to the middle ages always resorted to space age elements to lube our spinning wheels.

What the hell, I figured. Worth a laugh at least, and old meets new always cracks me up.
We sprayed it (not in the living room), let it dry, I put it all back together, and lo, there was SILENCE.

No squeaking. It was glorious.

It lasted about half an hour. The paint rubbed off, and we were back to the usual.

Wait until payday, the husbeast said. This sounded vaguely like a threat to me, but the whole thing was cracking me up (molybdenum spray paint, seriously).

Payday arrived, and the husbeast showed up with this
and a Q-tip.

As I spun, he carefully dabbed a bit on the appropriate parts.

Silence again.

This time it lasted. It's been about a week, I plyed 600 yards of silk-merino blend, switched bobbins around, started on another project, and...


It's quite lovely.

Silence isn't golden. It's a matte dark grey. With lube.

(The magical potion is DuraLube engine treatment, available at any auto supply store for about $20. A bottle will last you the rest of your life, just using it on your wheel. Maybe go in on a bottle with other spinners?)

I married a madman.

Works for me.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Odds and ends. And odds.

I suppose, first of all, since it's consumed my life and is the reason I haven't blogged, well, here's what's going on.

I never know how much is overshare, but fuckit, it's my blog, right?

I'm changing pain doctors. Sort of voluntarily, and sort of against my will. My GP (who is awesome) and I started looking for a specialist back in January because HE THE DOCTOR was unhappy with my pain treatment. (When I'm in pain, my blood pressure goes up. When I have pain flares, I have sustained high BP. We agree that the absolute last thing this whole problem needs is a stroke on top of it.) Being reasonable, I didn't wanna burn any bridges or anything. I was trying to keep it mellow. Then last Friday, my neuro freaked out on me, and that's done, so let us all pray to Keith and Buddha's eight tiny reindeer that the guys I'm seeing at the end of March will be viable replacements, because otherwise, I got nothin'. In the mean time, I'm gonna feel like shit.

Because that never happens.

So far I have not sworn like a sailor. That is a significant victory.

On Valentine's day, I took my gift money and bought enough yarn for a sweater. Scarves and shawls are all very well, but I've got enough now, and I really would like some garments.
This is Pacific, from Marianne Isager (who is one of my all time favorites). I've been wanting to go back to stranded color now that the Goober is old enough to understand "BE QUIET, I'M COUNTING!". But something with a super-short color repeat would be smart. This was the choice. It'd been on my bucket list for ages, so hey!

I'm still spinning.
Finally finished the ridiculously stupid merino-silk spin. Don't know the yardage yet, but this picture? This is the PLYED VERSION. That's three ply yarn there, not a single. Seriously, what in fuck was I thinking?

The husbeast got tired of my squeaking spinning wheel, and got very... husbeastie about it. I think that needs to be its own post. But the last two weeks have involved molybdenum and specialized high-tech engine treatments. It doesn't squeak any more.

Goob's got another germ. With luck, I won't catch this one. Finally got my flu shot.
Hub and I are both trying to figure out when the hell she got so big.

Motorola or Spring just updated my phone and it's going crazy. Fuckers.

Husbeast reports I drove 2,983 miles last year. Which is about what my mother put on her car in a week, so I'm amused. I'm exempt from emissions. Makes me wanna fart.

Right. Nothing happening here. Much. Tomorrow I will report on my spinning wheel, the husbeast being crazy (again), and the space age.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Fractal spinning.

[The doctor quest has begun and I've been sitting here fuming over an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon last Thursday. I'll blog it when I can do more than spew profanity. Y'know how if all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail? NEVER GO TO A SURGEON IF YOU DON'T WANT CUT OPEN. AAARGH FUCKING HELL A:OEWIG:OEIT]


Because my buddy W wants to know how to spin a copy of a Crazy Zauberball. (Hereafter referred to as a Zooberball, 'cause she got drunk one night and it was fucking hilarious.) Ultimately, what we're talking about, here, is fractal spinning. The term refers more to how colors are managed than any real mechanical method of spinning; you could do this worsted, or woolen, as heavy or as thin as you wanted the yarn. The usual version will give you a two-ply at the end.

Knitty has an article on fractal spinning, here. Why don't you go read that. I'll wait.

What you're doing is, one ply with a long color repeat, and one ply with a short color repeat. You get something like this when it's knit up:

As you can see, there are long, wide stripes, with color variation within them. That's the long color repeat making the wide stripe, and the short color repeat making the variations. You get the same thing with a Zooberball:
See how it's essentially orange and blue stripes, but there are color shifts within them? Yes. That.

There are two ways to do this. The True Fractal, and the Half-Assed Fractal. Discussion below. (I went through my archives, and I have almost no pictures of a fractal in progress. Sorry. It was the Great Phone Catastrophe of 2013. I'll probably do another post with more detail when I spin a fractal next, and can take pictures.)


This is more a math thing than a required fiber technique, but whatever, I know I've got geeks reading. Let's say R=red, B=blue, and Y=yellow for the diagramming. You'd have one ply, of long color repeats, that'd go RRRBBBYYYRRRBBBYYY and another ply of short color repeats, exactly copying the sequence in the long ply, RBYRBYRBYRBYRBY. When you ply them together, you get perfect reflection between the long and short.

To accomplish this, you get your usual multi-colored, dyed top. Split it in half, as best you can, lengthwise. This will give you two super-long snakes of fiber, with exactly the same color repeats. Spin one as-is, that's your long color repeat.
New bobbin, for the next ply.

Take the other long snake, this is your second, short repeat ply. Split it lengthwise like you did before, but this time, separate it into as many long snakes as you can. (Or have the patience for.) Then spin them, one after the other, joining ends, for your short color repeat.

Then ply them together. Viola. You will have some of one of the plys left over. Nature of this method. Annoys me too, that's why I developed the...


Which doesn't leave any leftover plys laying around all wasteful. This is my version, with less mathematical perfection and less fuss. I'm sure I'm not the only one doing it, but I don't know anyone else, personally, who uses this method.

Start with your dyed top, like before. Instead of splitting it in half lengthwise, split it in half horizontally. (If it's eight feet long, pull it apart into two four-foot lengths.) Just open it up, fold it in half, and pull it apart. It doesn't have to be rocket science; the whole idea of this is less fuss.

For your long repeat ply, spin the big fat snake of top as is. You'll probably need to pre-draft it out a bit, discussion of my method can be found here for the curious. When you're done with the long ply, ON THE SAME BOBBIN, join in the short color repeats.

For the short repeat ply, pull the top apart lengthwise, making as many smaller snakes as possible. If you get shorter bits pulled off, just spin 'em in. The color repeats are meant to be random, anyway. Join the short repeats onto the ply of long repeats, and just keep spinning on the same bobbin. You want one long ply, half long repeat and half short repeat.

When you're done, wind the singles off into a center-pull ball. The easiest way to do this is to just bust out your ball winder and get to town.
If you want, you can wind it by hand or on a nostepinne, but the vital bit is to make sure you can easily get to both ends of the ball. Then, yes, ply it that way. Put the end from the inside of the ball and the end from the outside of the ball, and away you go.

This method takes a bit of practice but, again, is not rocket science. I'll do another post about plying from both ends of a ball, once I can re-take some pictures. But in the meantime, a quick Google turned up this, which isn't bad.

This method will give you a yarn that has the long and short color repeats in it, but not the exact repeats like a true fractal spinning method. I prefer the random, myself.
Also, my method only uses one bobbin, a true fractal requires three, or plying from two ply balls.

So there you go.
Go make your Zooberballs.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Right, that's done, then.

Every time there is a major move, there is some what-the-everloving-fuck? moment. Sometimes it comes early on, and you can quit worrying about it. Sometimes it lurks, breeding in the closet, for years, waiting for horrified discovery.

The first time we moved (Virginia to Hawaii), the movers packed our plane tickets, shoes, car keys, and wallets. Even though they'd  been told, many times, to leave everything in That Corner alone.

I've heard stories of movers packing live cats, kitchen garbage, and lunch. (ME: "What's the weirdest thing you've heard packed by accident on a move?" HUB: "Well... it's all relative. I swear they take pride in the weirdest, nastiest shit packed up in a military move.") Also dirty kitty litter. Husbeast has been ranting on this topic. He wants to put claymores under their cars and say they were mis-packed.

You get the idea.

Our next move (Hawaii to South Carolina, further in culture than miles), the mover packed the butter dish. Like, butter, dish, knife, and all. And canned goods. It did wonders for our weight limit.

We once found live geckos, on an Aiea to Honolulu move. Thankfully they'd only been packed a couple days.

When we packed up the house  in South Carolina, we put most of it in storage, if you'll recall. I knew that wasn't going to end well. Besides the mold cultures in my refrigerator, and the fabric full of bugs, THE SCRATCH ON MY DINING TABLE, there was this lurking feel that, well, it wasn't over yet.

Last week, I wanted the carafe I use for hot tea. Vacuum flask, basically, like they use in restaurants. I knew I'd unpacked it, at one point. I poked around, and there it was in the back of the hall closet. I'd just clean it up a bit, and tea ahoy.

Then I opened it.

WHOEVER PACKED THE CARAFE IN SOUTH CAROLINA HAD NOT CHECKED TO SEE IF IT WAS EMPTY FIRST. A year in storage, another... two? Threeish? years in my hall closet. It was... originally... tea. It had turned into brown slime that smelled like furniture polish.

After several rounds of vinegar, bleach, and soap, it seems I have salvaged the carafe. At the least, it doesn't smell any longer, and it's been through enough chemicals I figure any germs left will mutate me into Wolverine before they kill me.

Right. Hopefully that's our last what the everloving fuck.


Monday, February 03, 2014


Because I am still recovering from the influenza I got right after Christmas. (No. I did not get a flu shot. Yes, that was really fucking stupid of me. Yes, I intend to get one next year.)

I've been trying to spin a couple hours a day, both for physical therapy purposes, and because I wanna finish this project and move on to another one.
The hubbo got me spinning wheel parts, a jumbo flyer, and my in-laws got me some extra bobbins. For my birthday last year. I should get pics and do a blog post about that. Husbeast ordered the parts from my LYS, which is an Ashford dealer. He knows the manager there. When she wrote out the order, she put his name on it. After the third or fourth staff person who asked "Who is Mr. Husbeast?" she wrote "Mr. Samurai Knitter" across the top. Which I am still giggling about, as well as using the spinning wheel parts.

Speaking of my birthday. The husbeast knows it's a rough time for me, so he went overboard this year. I also got this.
It's a Girl Genius poster I've had here waiting to be framed, for at least a year. He did that. It's now hanging on my kitchen wall. I love how it's sort of Art Nouveau, and yet still fits my decor.

Right. Digging back through pics on my phone... uh, it snowed today?
There was a layer of ice/freezing rain that hit first, then snow on top. There was a snow day at school, kid was less thrilled than usual. She's had this germ too, so she was ready to get out of the house. Ah well, there's always tomorrow.

Uh. Another Batkus? Yay?

I got nothin'. Gonna go make a hot toddy.

If you're still well, and haven't had a flu shot yet, think about it. This year's version is particularly hideous. Just sayin'.