Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sharon and Zippy visit the alpaca farm.

It was a cloudy grey, damp day on Saturday. I visited Riverbend Alpacas near Croghan, New York. It appears that all the Alpaca farms are having open house today. I had volunteered to demostrate handspinning. My host, Ellen Chamberlain, has a small shop full of alpaca garments and yarn. She had her loom set up under a tent, and I joined her with Zippy and a more conventional looking spinning wheel.
Quite a few people stopped by to enjoy the open farm. The dozen or so alpacas were charming hosts, and alpaca roving was the obvious spinning choice. Zippy did a wonderful job spinning alpaca. She's very fast, and very easy to control. We spun a lovely single, and plied it up at the end of the day, into a sleek 2=ply fingering weight.
Back in the real world today, DH and I spent the morning taking up the pavers, and digging up the compacted gravel to receive the new concrete steps on Monday. This 'weekend project' has leaked past the middle of the summer and bled right into fall. I have robust leg muscles from climbing into the house without the use of steps, since the beginning of August. I have robust arm muscles from swinging a sledge hammer and shoveling crushed stone. I am still pretty soft in the middle, though. And, in a cruel twist of happenstance, the new bathroom scales are 3 pounds 'heavier' than the old ones. Oh well, at least I can blame 3 pounds on the scales.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 6 - (sounds biblical)

Well, well, well. There has been progress. The 31$ worth of PVC pipe and fixtures made a respectable base for zippy. The motor, rewired and renewed in other secret ways that I know nothing about, hums along. the belts will be here tomorrow, so the final adjustments can be made, and PVC things made more permanent with glue. In it's final configuration, the maidens will be shorter, too. Currently using a big rubber band until the 'real' belt gets here.
It Spins! Fast! Beautifully! And, Look, Ma - no feet! (The picture doesn't show the foot pedal speed control.)
I wound up using an old Lendrum flyer, flyer lead, bobbin brake.
My spinner-building partner is all excited to make a better one with a different motor, a nice wooden base and case, and the Louet flyer. I'll keep you posted.

As if getting zippy nearly finished wasn't enough excitement this week, I went the the Genessee Valley Handspinners Guild Fiber Festival. It was held at a county fairgrounds, and vendors and demonstrations filled FIVE buildings. Maybe I saw you there. That was you with the big bag of yarn, wasn't it? Had a great time, with great company. Added to my stash, of course.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Electric spinner- And Away We Go...

Wait until you see this!
To begin at the beginning, I showed my shop guy a flyer/bobbin assembly that has been waiting 25 years to be part of a spinning wheel, and said I wanted an electric spinner. He showed me a sewing machine motor with a foot pedal control that has been waiting 25 years to be part of a spinning wheel. I got chocolate in his peanut butter, he got pb on my chocolate.
We went to Lowe's and bought PVC pipe and fittings: six from column a, two from column b... We bought new lamp wire to replace the shabby old wires and plugs. Looks like we have nearly everything except a belt for the motor to drive the flyer. We have spent $31.69 so far. Of course, 25 years ago, we spent 30 dollars for the flyer/bobbin assembly. Louet jumbo, I think.
This is day one of this project.

Hi, I'm Sharon, and I own too many sewing machines.

A sewing machine is like a hammer and nails. You can use the same tool to do baroque or rustic. My fixation with the tools is not confined to sewing machines. I also love knitting machines. Additionally, I'll put my yarn stash and/or my fabric stash up against anyone's.
I learned to sew in the '60's, a decade after learning to knit. Both have always been a joy.
I have made perfect pants (I'm talking about perfect fit, here), which makes shopping for ready to wear pants just like torture.
I am not a quilter. I always said that I was 'saving' quilting until my retirement. Now that I am retired, I'm feeling more like playing in the same old sandbox, rather than moving my energy and concentration to another sandbox. We'll see.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My stash has gotten away from me - seriously,

So, I just wanted to paint the window. The window in the spare bedroom. Trouble was, I could not get within 6 feet of it. It was behind a barricade of plastic totes, 2 deep, 2 wide, and 3 high. Guess what's in the totes. Yup.

I forgot how much yarn I have. Several of the totes contain nothing but balls and hanks of handpun wool. Some hand dyed as well. A little silk, a little alpaca, but mostly wool. A lot of natural gray and silver wool. A lot of white wool. Some of it waiting for a dye bath, though I just like the stuff plain most of the time.

BTW, the totes do NOT contain any of the machine knitting yarn stash. That is another octopus stored in another spare bedroom.

What I am going to do is paint the window, and put the totes back. But before I do, I'll get the whole mess out and organize it, so that I don't have to visit all the totes each time I'm looking for something. This COULD be a late new year's resolution.

Actually, what will REALLY happen is this: I'll have a fun afternoon pawing through the totes. I might make some notes, but I'll still have to look in every tote each time I'm looking for something. Not a bad thing, really. Not a bad thing at all.