Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Feeling Like a Third Wheel

When I first decided to start looking for a spinning wheel 3 years ago, I mentioned to a group of friend that I wanted it to be beautiful, double treadle and portable. My friend Vanessa e mailed me back and said "I have two words for you...Wee Robin".

Wee Robin wheels are the creation of Gilbert Gonsalves. He downsized his Robin wheels (named after his wife) to a small version that folds up small enough to fit in the overhead bin of an airplane. As I was attending Rheinbeck that year, I was able to test drive one and immediately got on the waiting list. I eventually got my Schacht DT Matchless and my Kromski Sonata which I classify as "stay put and portable" respectively. I almost forgot that I was on the Wee Robin waiting list until about a month ago Gilbert called me to say that he had one for me and would be in my neck of the woods at the Finger Lakes Fiber festival in late September.

I had a lovely drive through the Finger Lakes region of New York state and arrived at the festival without incident. Going home was another matter...(note to self - make sure husband hasn't set the GPS to avoid toll roads when in unfamiliar territory). I had two Wee Robins to choose from. One had delicate birds eye maple and one had birds eye maple and what's called spalting which creates this tiger-stripe effect. I initially didn't care for the spalting but within about fifteen minutes, came to really love the effect. It was a hard choice but the tiger wheel came home with me.

I also got a denim bag (made by the Bag Lady) which holds my Wee Robin beautifully. It clocks in around 10 lbs which is light enough to carry as a back pack (which the bag is designed to do) but sturdy enough to make the spinning experience nice and solid. The lining of the bag is beautiful too.

I spent all last week getting acquainted with my wheel. I spun and plied some Shetland roving I had from my BC trip. I've not measured the wraps per inch yet but I'm guessing it's around a sport weight. I'm very pleased with the consistency.

Wheel specs from the Robin site are:
The orfice is 22" high, when ready to spin. When folded the wheel isonly 17" high, 15.5" wide and 8" deep. The wheel, using cherry, weighs alittle over 8lbs. and comes with 3 bobbins that hold 6oz. of fiber each.The time required between fold up and ready is about 30 seconds. Standard ratios: 4,5,6-1/4 and 7-3/4 to 1. Ratios available to 15.5 to 1.
The Wee Robin tiger is truly a piece of functional art. I suppose all spinning wheels are but this one is special. It's a nano second to set up and I find the pull (a criticism of the bobbin lead tension) to be just perfect to my taste.

I truly feel that this one fills a gap in my wheel repertoire - in other words "Robin, you complete me".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Making a Splash

I've been a bad blogger.

I've got good reasons.

This blog is based on a kind of "wine meets technology" premise. That sentiment was brought to life literally when I knocked a glass of Private Reserve Muscat directly into the side of my computer tower. Mother boards don't like wine so in this tale of woe lies my first excuse.

Secondly, I had to get my Diamond Fantasy shawl done for the Five Counties competition. I ran out of yarn twice and had to spin more. Throw in a few unforeseen life events and this baby came down much closer to the wire than I'd hoped. I finished it last Wednesday and blocked it immediately.

I'd also (one month ago) offered to knit a second item for the display. Since we were assigned various anniversaries to represent, I got 50th which is gold. I had some Lisa Souza BFL roving spun up in her jonquil colourway. It was to become the Koolhaus hat by Jared Flood since it's such a cool pattern and the diamond design nods to our guild's 60th anniversary.

I stayed up until 1:00 am Friday night attempting to finish it. I had to get up at 5:15 am to meet my partners for the display set up so the damn thing was completed in the car on the way up to the competition. No I wasn't driving...

The display looked really nice. My guild associate who takes the lead on this display every year painted the ladies to make them look like wedding guests and the centre piece is designed to mimic a tiered wedding cake.

Our guild didn't win best display. I was hoping Diamond Fantasy would win for best knitted item by a novice - it didn't win that either.

I was surprised to learn it won (by one vote) the people's choice award. My prize was a beautiful hand carved weaving shuttle.
I don't weave

I will not start weaving

I will not start weaving

I will not start weaving

I don't need another hobby

Where's the wine?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Cast your eyes away from the shiny new projects

Thanks so much for all of your kind comments about Echo. We're still adjusting to her absence and keeping busy with preparations for the new school year. I always think of September as the real new year anyway. It's also a very busy month in the fibre world with several fairs and events to attend. As the September 20th 5 Counties event looms (pardon the pun), I'm slogging through the third period of Diamond Fantasy. It'll be touch and go as to whether or not I have to spin more yarn but I'm on the eighth repeat with two more to go until the end. I've enjoyed the shetland/silk blend so much that I'm going to get more to hopefully spin a sweater's worth. This year Michele has blended the natural shetland with the copper shots of silk and Pygora. Pygora is a goat which is a Pygmy and Angora cross. The roving is super soft with a bit of an angora halo but not much memory. The Shetland gives the bounce - the Pygora gives the halo. I understand that Spin-Off will be featuring Pygora in their Fall issue so perhaps this is the new "in fibre"?
Michele Ginty from Hopeful Shetlands sent me a sample which I spun and chain plied into a 3 ply yarn. Here's the little sample I spun - much softer and whiter than the blend I'm using for the shawl. I'm scooping 2.5 lbs to get a sweater's worth. I calculated this by weighing the small sample I had then measuring its length. I then compared it to similar commercial yarns of similar gauge so I'm pretty sure I'm in the ball park.
Now that the end is in sight for the shawl - I can think about fall projects. After lace weight natural yarn - I'm jonesing for some colour. I've got the Yorshire Tweed Aran in Claret and the Kaffe colourscape in ghost to make Lantern from the new fall VK. It's a nice chunky weight so hopefully it'll be a fast knit.

Also from the new VK is the lovely Greenland by Robin Melanson. The BSA Melange is a bit spendy and I figure Lisa Souza's Baby Alpaca Silk will sub beautifully. I debated over colour choice but in the end got the mother of pearl colourway. At first glance it looks alabaster but there is a definite light wash of pinks, turquoise, and orange. It's so subtle - you think you're imagining it.

No use drooling over projects that'll have to wait until I'm done the DFS.
Guess I'd better get back to the shawl...are we there yet?