Saturday, May 24, 2008

...and Kromski makes 4

2008 is going down in history as "The Year of the Wheels." For our 30th anniversary (see my May 14 entry), we both got "wheels." Stephen got a new truck. I got a new spinning wheel.

I've wanted a good, modern, folding wheel for traveling to workshops, meetings, demos, and festivals since taking my Wendy wheel to Black Sheep last year, and discovering that one of the gorillas of Amtrak had stacked luggage on top of my poor little wheel. Fortunately, the wheel survived nicely, thank you very much, but I was a bit put out and not a little concerned. After all, I can't get replacement parts for that wheel. Traveling with the Reeves is even worse--it's a real collector's item, and I'd be crushed if something happened to it. It's also heavy! I started thinking about a Kromski Sonata after I had a chance to spin on a friend's Kromski, and I like that it came with a good padded travel bag. So I ordered the Kromski, Stephen paid for it, and it was mine.

I finally had a chance to sit down and spin on it, and I'm satisfied. It took a bit of getting used to at first--I normally spin on single-treadle, double-band drive wheels, and the Sonata is a double-drive, Scotch-tensioned wheel. It required a bit of adjustment in my spinning style, but once I made the adjustments, the yarn I was able to produce was pretty decent. I didn't want to waste anything really good while playing around with it, and most of the fiber is packed away, but I found a bump of carded Border Leicester combing waste, and started with that. The fiber is full of neps so the resulting yarn isn't great, but I could spin a fairly fine thread pretty quickly, and I spun a half-bobbin in no time.

It turned out that a half-bobbin was all I could stand of that nasty, neppy mess. I still have a bunch of the "samples" from the color blending workshop I took last year, almost all of buttery-soft merino, so I switched to that and yay! the wheel spins great.
Home Improvement

How many trips to Home Depot does it take before a project qualifies as "home improvement"? The current project has taken two trips to Home Depot (and there will be at least one more, as I didn't get some cedar planking) and three trips to IKEA (shelving), so I guess it qualifies.

After nearly a year, we are getting close to the end of the work done on the attic. It began last summer with replacing the attic stairs. The old stairs were in place when we bought the house in 1994; they were cheap and rickety, and too small for the space (the upstairs hall). Someone had extended the legs to make up the difference, but one side rail was cracked when we bought the house, and the stairs continued to deteriorate. I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did! The new stairs are the really nice rolling ladder stairs--they're pretty common on the East Coast, but rare here in California, and it took several months to find a contractor willing to install the stairs. We finally found one, and after several months, and two sets of rolling stairs (the first set was too short), we had our stairs.

After the stairs were complete, the "stair guys" decided they had done enough, and claimed they were too busy to do the next phase of the project: removing the blown-in cellulose insulation and installing a floor in the attic. It took 6 months to find another contractor willing to do the job for a decent price, but the work was started in late April, with immediate consequences: one of the workers put his foot through the lath-and-plaster ceiling in the guest room, leaving a 2x4-foot hole. A few days later, another worker did the same thing in my studio/office. Sigh. The contractor patched the lath where it was broken, and I cleaned up the broken plaster and lots of dust.

In spite of the floor not being completely installed, I simply couldn't stand the mess throughout the house (everything in the attic is currently in the upstairs hall, the library, and the dining room). We made a couple trips to IKEA to purchase their Gorm shelving units and assorted parts, and began building and installing shelves in the "finished" portions of the attic. Stephen also took the time to install some lights for us and we moved a few boxes back up and put them on the shelves. What a difference! I feel like I have some control over the project, and know it is only a matter of time until everything is back up in the attic where it belongs, neatly boxed and labeled.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ravelry: Fiber's FaceBook

I've succumbed to the lure of the social network. After 15+ years of e-mail, forums, ListServs, UseNet groups, and YahooGroups, I've finally waded into the "world" of social networking with joining Ravelry.

I hadn't even heard of Ravelry until about 2 weeks ago, when I was reading old e-newsletters from the guild, and there was a mention of it. I was curious, so I checked it out, and got on the waiting list to be a member. It's a little odd--I'm used to lists and groups that either allow immediate access, or access with 24 hours, and here I was being asked to wait until they had space for me. Surely there aren't that many fiber fans in the world!?! It turns out, there are. Ravelry currently has 126,000+ registered users, and an additional 1,000 are added each day. I got my "invitation" on Wednesday, and joined.

OK, I like this Website. The coolest part of the entire Website is the Notebook you can set up of your projects, your stash, your tools, and just about anything else you might want to organize. Even better: you can link to most of the blog sites and Flickr, and easily add photos and links to blog entries. This just may be one of the best organizational tools around for fiber folk. It's pretty intuitive (if you can put your pictures on Flickr, you can do most of the stuff on the site without the tutorial), and it seems pretty easy to update things on the fly. I put a couple projects in the notebook, linked them to photos on Flickr, linked them to entries in this blog, and it all seems pretty tidy.

The groups are OK; I think I need to look at them some before making a final decision, as I'm already used to my YahooGroups, and know a lot of people on them. However, the Group feature would be terrific as an online list for members of a spinning guild.

So check it out!