Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Eighth Dwarf

His name is Wheezy and I gave birth to him in August. On Friday, the heinous virus culminated with a diagnosis of RSV for the wee one. He's getting inhaler treatments, but he's doing great and we may have gotten through the worst of it without even knowing it.

Anyway, it was this diagnosis that made me almost not go to Spinner's Group on Friday night. After days of being home with sick people, though, sheer desperation (and the fact that I was taking Laura the loom I've had in my basement for too long) made me force myself to go. Didn't plan to spin, didn't even take a wheel with me.

It was a small group on Friday, three and a half, not counting me. (The "half" is Caroline's daughter Emily, and is a regular part of the group.) After talk of the loom and normal catchup talk, somehow talk turned to an orphan wheel that had been left at the shop with a note "Clemson Clemes Wheel / Free to a Good Home."

Curiousity got the best of me, particularly because Clemes & Clemes wheels seem to have a bit of a cult following. After taking off the ratty old stinky nasty wool on the bobbin and getting some help from Caroline about the wheel's double-drive tension, I got her going. Not a bad spin. So my home was good enough for the wheel, and it came home as a restoration project. My husband's face was priceless. But, as he always is when curious machinery is involved, he too was sucked in at some level of interest. I've been wiping and oiling and investigating and here's what I know so far, besides the fact that I seriously doubt it is a Clemes & Clemes

Look at this flyer. The eye bolts are clever, and almost Woolee-Winder-esque. They'll need new nuts to make sure they stay in place when I'm spinning (tension on the yarn pulls them towards me too fast and the yarn fills at the front faster than anywhere). But they're neat and old looking.

This wheel is sturdy, and I mean SOLID. I don't know what type of wood it is is made of, but it has held up well.

There are a few rough patches on the wheel, and some knicks on the knobs and over the Mother of All, but nothing a little sanding won't take care of.

The leather parts need some conditioning (the maiden has a leader thong-type assemble that the orifice slides into to hold the bobbin in place and it looks a little dry, as does the piece that attaches the footman to the wheel itself).

But above all, what I know more than anything is this: This wheel has POWER. It was obviously made for production! It may simply be that it's a double-drive wheel (my Traditional is single-drive and the Hitchiker has no drive), but this thing can twist. And the yarn it turned out was a respectable worsted that -- once I weigh it down to set the massive twist -- will be usable and strong.

It's a worthwhile addition to the spinning corner. Even though it makes my Traditional look downright dainty.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ways that Life Sucks

Let me issue a disclaimer: It's been a really rough week so far and it is only Tuesday. Bear with me here.

There are times when we all get bogged down with life, and we gripe and moan about how it would be better to simply impale yourself on a size 15 Lantern Moon and be done with it. Consider the following (work with me until the end, please):

- Heating oil for my house currently costs $3.60 a gallon. We order 100 gallons at a time, keep the house thermostat at 69/70 and we still need to fill it every 2.5 weeks.

- The temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic have been downright frigid. Not as cold as it was for the Harlot on the day she had to walk to the bank, but damn cold for my neck of the woods. If I wanted it this cold, quite frankly, I'd move to Canada because it has a lot to love. And maybe the oil isn't $3.60 a gallon.

- Three out of four men in my house have been stricken with a hellish virus that felled my husband for two days with a 103 degree temperature and horrible coughs and gallons of snot. Yes, I said gallons. I have no means of measurement other than the tissue usage, but it's gotta me momentous because L'il I alone (whose snot I have to see, unfortunately) had his own weight in the stuff. The Sniffer is the only one who is so far unscathed and I can't quite figure that one out. Threats have been exchanged between him and Zee about germs, and one in particular (that I heard, anyway) was "Do you want me to spray you with Lysol again?" That "again" is a whole other story that I'll spare you for the time being.

- We have to register for FALL aftercare in January. But before that, you have to pay your monthly tuition. That's a TON of money to daycare, which has caused us to limp along (and I mean limp -- remember that virus? Lots of meds and tissues and soups here) until later this week when the next paycheck comes.

- One sentence: Two completely unexpected days off work during the busiest season of the year.


Gryphon tells the story well in this post, and I feel horrible for being so caught up in the sickness and not posting about it. But she's only about 15 minutes away in Easton, so it isn't as though someone far away posted. Plus, she knows one of the folks affected. Which brings me to the point of the post. Look around and I'll guarantee you can usually find something that sucks worse.

Now about Cambridge. First, go read Gryphon's post. I'll wait.

Are you back? OK. Let me tell you something about my hometown. Having grown up there, I can truthfully tell you that "sleepy" just isn't the word for it. For a while there, it was comatose. I made the decision at a young age that I wanted something more ... more active, more vibrant, more fun ... so I moved to "the city" for college, met my husband and stayed put. My folks still live there, and I wholeheartedly enjoy my visits. Downtown (which wasn't terrible when I was there, but on a downslide) is bouncing back with restaurants and shops -- this is THE place to go for antiques and awesome "waterfowl" type things like decoys, etc. -- and then tragedy strikes. To add insult to injury, the poor city (yes, it is actually classified as a city, and is the county seat of Dorchester County) had city news crews and helicopters (when I called my dad -- a deputy sheriff -- I could hear the whirring of the chopper) crawling around and reporting on all the other bad news. In addition to the fire, a hit and run at a bus stop left a kid dead and a guy I went to high school with suffered fire damage in excess of $100K to his business after a fire immediately following "the big one." My folks know the owners of the businesses that were hit and Gryphon's right -- it ain't pretty.

Now Gryphon is doing something that I wish I could do. She's donating 50% of her yarn profits to one of the businesses that suffered in the fire. Her yarn is divine so now's the time to make your yarn purchase count. Hurry up and get over there ... I'm limping behind you but will get there soon ...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy Happy!


As usual, I've managed to miss a big day of posting, but I've certainly enjoyed reading everyone's New Year's Resolutions and comments about the holidays, and hope that this cute picture makes up for it :). And I'm realizing I'm not alone in many of my plans for the New Year, though at the end of this post I'm going to pose a solution for all of us who are dog-tired from holiday knitting and feeling a bit of the blechs that come in the new year after such a crafting frenzy. Factor in the fact that I've had the cold from hell for the past five weeks (I honestly forgot how much little people like to share their germs) and you can imagine the fatigue at Chez Spinneas. This weekend I made a decision to postpone taking the Christmas tree down in favor of plain old rest, fluids and easy knitting to try to get myself to a point where I can function a little better next week. Nursing a baby through the whole thing has been an extreme adventure in dehydration, and having the whole family home on vacation for nearly two weeks has been a lesson in frustration -- which certainly doesn't help! But whining doesn't do any good ...

First of all, I'd like to say that the Santa Fe beret was a big hit. Farmer Auntie (who is also a knitting auntie but not THE Knitting Auntie of Aran -- and Nanny -- Fame) donned it immediately, squealed with delight at all the right moments during the obligatory tale behind the piece, and wore it for our entire visit except for the 30 minutes when she took the big boys on a hike around the farm. The cool thing is that it actually matched the vest sweater she was wearing that day.

I also knit a pretty neato Koigu scarf for my mother-in-law, came in under the wire on Christmas Eve and got the sucker blocked. It turned out great -- knit with a double strand on size 8 straight needles:

There were other victories for presentts, but I'll spare you. There were also some UFOs, including Aran Auntie's Tea Cozy (it's coming, I swear), a scarf, and a beret for my cousin -- who's baby is only three months older than my L'il I. The beret has been an absolute nightmare, and I'm getting ready to start it for the THIRD time. In the midst of my absolute frustration with this pattern (though I LOVE the yarn -- Berrocco Jasper), I decided I needed something to settle down with. So I decided to tackle the mobius strip. Yeah, yeah, I know.

The crazy part? It worked. Last night I fiddled with the cast-on that's widely available online (the backward loop method -- check it out) and then today picked up Cat Bordhi's book. I swear I'm addicted to this process, and I'm enjoying my Fleece Artist mobius that I have been working on since early in the afternoon:

In addition to the Moebius, we've also enjoyed watching our littlest enjoy his first holiday season, including his saucer at Christmas and his books...

And that's life here at the Spinneas homestead. Maybe I'll tell more holiday stories from 2007 later. In the meantime, I'd like to say that my single resolution in 2008 is to AVOID the chaotic holiday knitting this year. And to do that, my plan is to knit one present per month from now until November. That's 11 knitted gifts, a record, and a way to help save my sanity at holiday time with a one-year-old toddling around. Anyone wanna join me?