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Archive for May, 2010

The new!improved! gauge-futzing Excel table with the valuable addition of a “how thick is this yarn really?” calculator is, perhaps unsurprisingly, broken. I do not know whether to applaud the politeness of those people who have downloaded it only to be frustrated in silence, or be sorry that it was my own need to use it that finally alerted me to the problem.

So much for updating, fixing, improving, and so much for the Glory That is Excel. I think I followed the Microsoft unofficial motto of, “if it ain’t broke, you haven’t finished fixing it yet.”

So, I’m sorry it’s borked, and I’m trying to fix it again – for real this time (although I may lose my will to live in the process). In the meantime, if you want it, email me, and I’ll make sure you get it as soon as it’s working again (also, the encouragement might help that happen sooner rather than later).

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I love my wheel (even if I’m still not sure what it’s called – possibly ‘Wheel’ or ‘hey, you’, both of which are good enough for a spouse, or a child, or a cat, so why the hell not?).

I love that I have lots of cool new things to learn, and that I’m improving noticeably every time I sit down to commune with it.

I love that it came with a nice padded bag (to pack it out of the way of enquiring little fingers).

I appreciate that it came with a handy little aerosol can of (rather disconcertingly labeled) gun spray, for ministration to its squeaks and laments.

I adore that it came with a £25 voucher for fiber of the very highest quality (and that’s quite a bit, if you buy the undyed stuff).

I am singularly less happy about the fact that it did not come with the one thing I really, really need. Time.

Not much. Even half an hour would be nice, or I’d happily settle for the ‘ten-minutes a day’ of legendary utility when learning any new skill. Where did I think I was going to find those extra bits of time in which to become properly acquainted? No wonder the poor thing has no name: we aren’t getting any quality time together. And I can’t really see how that’s going to change.

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It’s been a momentous week. The UK held an election, and for the first time in a very many years had to wait for the result to become clear. I can’t really bring myself to talk about it, to be honest. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say I have talked myself hoarse about it already, and have little appetite for inflicting the ramblings of a disgruntled and bypassed dinosaur on my tender (and too meager to frighten away) readership.

Besides, you’re here for the crafty crap, right?

So really it’s been a momentous week because it was the week I got a wheel, and with the Beloved some 6,000 miles away and therefore in no position to provide a distraction, my evenings’ entertainment has been sitting in front of the fire, with endless politics coverage on the radio or television, and Oscar as often as not supervising the efforts of the brand new (and none too gifted) spinner that I am.

No matter. It is the beauty of learning a new skill from scratch that no matter how steep the learning curve, the improvement curve is likely to be gratifyingly steep too. I spun some bushy white wool that is nice and sticky to work with, and as often as not overspun it. The result most closely resembles chewing gum in color and, alas, consistency. I think a discreet trip to the bin might be in order. I spun a few inches of Welsh Black. Ahem. I have a thick rope that looks as though, were I to continue for longer, might be appropriate for hanging oneself with. I have determined to return to Welsh Black at a later date. A much later date.

So then I received a braid of mystery roving from a swap, and decided to spin that. I haven’t enough experience to be able to tell what it was, and I fear that by the time I do, I will surely have forgotten the feel of this braid. I do know that it is unlike any of the undyed fiber waiting in my hallway. So I think that rules out Bluefaced Leicester, Merino, Corriedale, Falkland, Exmoor Horn, and a couple of other things. It appears to have a very long staple and a certain luster. That’s as technical as I can be. Also, it’s green, but I’m not sure that provides much of a clue.

Anyway. I spun it, as evenly as I could, and I then plied it (because, really, this wasn’t going to cut it as singles, and besides, I was excited at the idea of the yarn I could get). This was when I had the sickening realization that three bobbins is not enough, and I need to buy more. So the nominal price of my wheel has just gone up by a few multiples of £10. And there is no way round this.

Never mind. Here’s the result. Crap, but lovable. At least, I made it, and I love it (perhaps only a mother could).

I love the way the colors work in handspun and I can totally see that being able to control your yarn in this way could become a whole new fascination. Going from a handful of fluff to a bobbin of yarn is a pretty damn fantastic kick anyway, but oh… those colors.

And now, it only remains to Name That Wheel. I’m considering Dylan, because it’s a good Welsh name, and because, well, the times they are a-changin’. But I’m not sure yet. I whisper it, tentatively, as I did to each of the children, before their names were set. “Dylan? Are you a Dylan? Is that who you are? And if not, tell me. Speak to me, my new good friend. Dylan?”

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With an election looming, and my mood glowery and looming, I was glad today of a distraction.

I have been waiting for this to arrive since some time last week. Originally I hoped to bring the baby home with me from Wonderwool Wales, a couple of weekends ago, but I had to order… and wait, and then see out a bank holiday weekend. But today, my waiting was mercifully over, and I entered into the newest  phase of my fascination with wool.

8.15 a.m.

3 p.m.: I am continent. I am restrained. I am adult. I went to my silversmithing class, came home, finished binding off a sweater neck, put a child to bed, and only then get out the Swiss Army knife.

4. p.m.: the thing isn’t even set up, and already it’s a kid magnet. I realize how very smart I am to have bought a folding model.

5 p.m. I have only a few minutes before I need to go to a parents’ evening at the high school. Do I really need to talk to that maths teacher? I definitely have moments of genius. Picking up a hank of effectively pre-drafted pencil roving may just have been one. Either that, or I’m a spinning natural (I know where the smart money is on that one):

For my next trick – and I’m already developing a sense that this is foolishness – I’m going to play with some native Welsh Black wool. Call me sentimental, but I want Welsh wool to be my first proper spinning. Meanwhile, look ato those singles.

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