Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bits and Pieces

I'm spending far too much time with knitting needles in my hand, and far too little time doing all the other things I should be doing: grading papers, working in the garden, painting the studio. I'm even foregoing posting to this journal, as I want to get things done.

Speaking of "done," the parcel for afghans for Afghans is ready to go. I finished the vest (sewing on the buttons took nearly as long as knitting the vest), and after I finished it, got a "wild hair" about sending just one thing. I sat down with a a pattern for a little knitted cap, a skein of green wool, and my trusty US#10s, and four hours later, I had a little cap. Next: to adapt the Monmouth cap pattern I knitted Stephen's cap from to crank out little Monmouth caps for Afghani children to wear this winter. I like knitting caps--they're quick, don't take too much yarn, and once I get a pattern worked out, relatively mindless knitting (great for meetings).
School of the Renaissance Soldier was well-attended, and generally fun, except for the torrential downpour on Saturday afternoon and evening. I discovered something important about camping in the rain: I don't like it. Once upon a time (about 25 years ago), I didn't mind it so much, but now I generally hate it. Fortunately, it wasn't too cold, but still, very wet, and I really wished hard for a pair of wool socks to keep my poor toes warm (wish not granted). I took my little Reeves castle wheel with me and spent part of Saturday spinning some "grade 3" (neck and belly) corridale with some Cotswold I had gotten years ago. I'm trying to spin it as a woolen (tough for a longtime worsted spinner like me), and I'm getting pretty decent results. The yarn is a nice medium gray. Heaven only knows what I'll do with it when I'm finished: I've got about 6 pounds of the stuff, so everybody may end up with gray wool Monmouth caps, all knitted from yarn I've spun myself. In this picture, I'm knitting the top of one of a pair of wool socks for myself, so I will be warm at the next cold, rainy event. The white cloth is actually a small linen bag (think "little pillowcase") that I just pulled through my belt, leaving enough to allow the yarn to travel from the ball to my knitting. And yes, that dress really is made out of wool that heavy. I wear a linen gown underneath it and a linen shift, so the wool is essential to keeping moderately warm when the weather is chilly (it was in the low '50s).
On Sunday, the ground was damp, and I wanted to walk around, so I carried my knitting with me, and made a fascinating discovery: I can knit and walk at the same time. True, I'm not "power walking," and I have to be somewhat careful to keep an eye on where I'm going, but I can do it. As I can barely chew gum and walk at the same time, I'm rather pleased with my attempts at being coordinated.
One of the things I managed to do at SRS was to sell one of the spinning wheels. No, not my Reeves, not my Pipy, and certainly not my new Schacht-Reeves. I sold the Country Craftsman Saxony I had purchased about 5 years ago for reenactments, and then discovered that I didn't like how it spun. It's a perfectly fine wheel, I just don't like it. It was purchased by the daughter of a friend, so it is, in effect, staying in the family.

Having gotten rid of the wheel, I ordered my drum carder. After months of agonizing, I finally settled on Strauch as the manufactuer, and I was all set to buy the 205, when I found that for just a little bit more, I could buy the top-of-the-line Strauch 405. It actually ended up being nearly "a wash," as the 205 didn't come with the accessories (like clamps), while the 405 is a "turnkey" package: carder, brush, tools, clamps, and Strauch's new teasing tool (a piece of carding cloth attached to a board). So the 405 is on its way from The Woolery to me, along with a Leclerc floor inkle loom. I've been looking for one, off and on, for about 5 years, and after seeing one at Southern in early April, checked the various vendors and found the Leclerc. It doubles as a 10-yard warping board, so I can get rid of the gigantic warping board I've used for years and have this much smaller "multi-tasker" in its place. I want to experiment with weaving "narrow wares" (tapes) on it, and as a lot of people are beginning to bring spinning wheels to events, I want to stay one hop ahead of them and do some actual weaving at events. Other people have done it, usually dragging one of the little lap inkle looms with them, but I've always been bothered by the fact that the laptop inkle loom dates back to the 1930s, rather than the 15th century.