Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shepherd's Harvest

Shepherd's Harvest - Minnesota's sheep and wool festival - was this past weekend and I think it's safe to say that I was an active attendee.  Last year I felt like I went a little crazy with my purchases, so this year I arrived with a small list of humble purchases I was hoping to make to keep myself reigned in.  I had already decided I wasn't going to buy any fleece this year because I still haven't spun what I bought last year and I wasn't interested in buying yarn, so really what I was looking for were small samples of this and that for a class I'm going to be teaching next month all about fiber.

Needless to say, I was able to find everything on my list.  I had methodically worked my way through all of the buildings that morning (Buildings A-D) before meeting up with a friend.  I had made my way through buildings A, B, and C before disaster struck.  My friend texted me, "Where are you?"  "Building D.  Save me from myself!!"  I had come face to face with this fleece.

My friend did not, in fact, save me.  Instead, he said something like "you need to buy that."  Some help he is.  I really am excited about it, though, and hopefully I will actually get around to using it.  It's a Corriedale fleece from a young ram and I'm a sucker for those natural colors.  Have you ever seen a colored Corriedale like that?  I sure haven't.  I washed a handful of locks when I got home to play around with and fully intended to wash the whole fleece in one go with the intention of carding it, but when I combed a few locks and spun them up, I swooned.  So now I've stored the fleece without washing it and will wash it more carefully to keep the locks intact.  Washing the whole fleece at once is just fine for carding because the fibers are going to get jumbled up when you card them anyway, but for combing you want the locks to stay together so you can comb the fibers into a parallel organization.

And now you're wondering what that other bag on the left side of the picture is, I'm sure.  Last year I missed the fleece judging/silent auction, but this year I walked through and looked at all the fleece up for auction and I couldn't resist...

That would be me with the Grand Champion fleece, which I won because I'm greedy like that.

But helloooooo, would you have left that there?  It's a Romney and this one I will definitely comb because it's a longer-stapled fleece that wouldn't lend itself well to carding.  (Generally fibers less than 3 inches are carded and greater than 4 are combed.  There's some wiggle room there in the middle and certainly you can try what you like, these are just standards that industrial mills tend to follow.)

So there, now you know the truth.  I have no idea where I'm going to put all of this when I move in two weeks, but I'm sure it'll all work out.  I'm eager to get back to my wheel, but sample knitting keeps me busy, busy, busy.

Oh, and speaking of moving, the most exciting thing about my new apartment is that I'm finally going to have internet at home again!  And my front yard will be a park, which will maybe entice me to get out and take FO pictures again.  That would be nice, wouldn't it?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sweater Surgery

I realize that I have been away from the blog for quite some time.  Thank you for all of the messages I have received checking in to make sure that I'm ok and asking for updates.  I do intend to keep this blog up and running, but it may be another month or so before I get back into the swing of things.

Brief update about what's been going on here:

1. I got a job!  Well, two actually.  At the beginning of February I was hired by my favorite LYS, The Yarnery, and I jumped at that opportunity.  Any store that acts as a flagship for BrooklynTweed, is the exclusive Twin Cities carrier of Neighborhood Fiber Company and has an intimate relationship with Shibui is where I want to be.  In January I had been lamenting to a friend about how difficult it is to find a job in music and she suggested that you just have to think outside the box and try to combine your passions.  How does one combine knitting and music?  I'm still not sure, but the day after I started working at The Yarnery, I got a call from the temp. agency I was working with and they told me about a job working for the Minnesota Orchestra.  As some of you may know, the MO recently overcame a 16 month lockout due to a dispute between the management and the musicians over a proposed salary reduction.  It was great news when the orchestra finally reached an agreement, but it also meant that the ticketing and sales department had three weeks to process nearly 2,500 subscription orders before the orchestra began playing again at the end of February.  Once that period ended, the orchestra very graciously offered to hire me on as an employee so I could continue working for them.  So I'm not sure how to combine both my passions other than to simply get jobs in both fields, but that works for me!

2. I still knit all day every day.  In fact, now I can even knit at work without being reprimanded.  At the yarn shop knitting sort of comes with the territory, and at the orchestra I spend all day answering calls on the ticketing line, so between calls if there isn't any other work to be done, I knit a few rows.  It comes in especially handy because most of the knitting I do these days is sample knitting for designers. I was watching a video a few weeks ago (Orenburg Knitting with Galina Khmeleva, I'm a sucker for instructional videos) and she was talking about the women of Orenburg knitting for survival.  It's a story we hear quite often about the past.  People in Orenburg, Estonia, Shetland, knitting so they can put food on the table and then I realized... that's exactly what I'm doing.  It sounds excessive to say that I'm knitting for survival, but when it comes right down to it, I do in one way or another depend on knitting to supplement my income.  People at work sometimes say how wonderful it must be to have the free time to get so much knitting done, but I don't consider it "free time."  Most days I work back-to-back shifts at the orchestra and then the yarn shop, and then I go home and knit for 4 hours because I have deadlines to meet.  I do enjoy it for the most part, but that doesn't mean it's not work.  It may not be a scheduled shift in an office, but it's not really a leisure activity either.

3.  I do still knit for fun, too, don't worry.  It just has to happen slowly in between projects, like if I send out a sweater and the yarn for the next one hasn't arrived yet (like right now) or if my "for pay" project is too big to take on the go, I may work on a sock at work instead.  Like I said, I'm knitting all the time.

4. My brother got married last weekend and it was a ton of fun, despite the fact that I cried every two minutes.  I was one of his groomsmen.

The reason I'm even bringing this up is because my brother is a dancer and as a surprise for his husband, he choreographed a dance to a Beyonce mashup for the reception and it was amazing and I think you should all watch the video.  I'm not actually sure if it's on YouTube, but maybe you can watch it on Facebook by clicking on this link.  Let me know if it works?

5. There are probably 17 other things I should be telling you, but it's almost 1am and I need to get to bed.  Quickly though, the sweater surgery.  The other day, my brother who just got married said to me, "Peter, the sweater D (our sister) made for me has a dropped stitch on the cuff and it's unraveling.  How do I fix it?"  Well, it turns out that it wasn't really just a dropped stitch, but both cuffs were completely falling apart.

I'm not surprised.  My brother doesn't go anywhere without this sweater.  I don't know how he can wear it, I have two sweaters in Ultra Alpaca and even in the dead of winter I get heat stroke within minutes of putting them on.  But he doesn't seem to have that problem.  Anyway, when he showed me the sweater and asked, "How do I fix it?"  I told him, "You don't.  I do."  So I took it home with me.  The yarn is now discontinued (Ultra Alpaca Tonal), but I managed to find some for sale online.  The sweater was knit flat from the cuff up, so I undid the seam a few inches past the cuff and picked up stitch in the row below (above?) the cuff so I could knit a new one on.

Then I snipped the cuff a row or two above my needle and unpicked that row of knitting.

It was quick work to knit new cuffs onto the sweater after that.  In total it really only took me about an hour to do and I'm sure he'll be thrilled that he can wear his sweater again without worrying that it will unravel.  It sure beats having to knit a whole new sweater.  (I bought two skeins of the discontinued yarn just in case I need it again.)

Speaking of discontinued yarn, I'm looking for an extra skein of Cascade Soft Spun color 2803 (charcoal gray) to finish a sweater I should have finished last July.  You don't happen to have any in your stash, do you?

And with that I'm going to bed.  Have a good night, y'all!