Silky. Webby.

I recently learned that you can spin spider silk. I am inspired, and yet intimidated by the gathering of materials. Not so much the spiders–I have a healthy respect for spiders, but am not so much of the squealy-fear-of-spiders camp. No, it’s because spiders can spin 5 or so different kinds of silk and I’d hate to destroy a perfectly good web just to find out that it was Web Silk #5, Super Sticky for the Bugs That Go Crunch, and not (as I’d want) Silk #2, Raceway Silk, for the easily-replaced leaders that go up to the web and are themselves not sticky.

Also, I think it’d take a while to gather even enough to make, oh, anything. I have other things to do.

The next time I find myself on some kind of Indiana Jones-type adventure with many spiderwebs just hanging around, I won’t get all grossed out by the skeletons. While Indy plucks some priceless artifact in preface to mayhem and much running, I’ll gather some of the multitude of waving spiderweb banners.

That’s the problem with sidekicks. They just aren’t all that pragmatic.

Word is, I knit sometimes

Once upon a time I posted knitting things on this blog. So here are a few fibery things I’ve done lately. (We’re not talking about the Bag. La la la…)

I made a spindle.

I made a spindle!

What fun! I was inspired by the Spindlers Yahoo group to give it a try. I happened to have a moss-agate donut bead that I’ve worn as a necklace for a very long time, since finding it in New Mexico some 10 years ago. It even has a little chip along the edge that will be perfect for holding the yarn in place on the whorl. The purple in the center is a broccoli rubber band for holding the bead tight, and the dowel and cuphook were found in junk craft storage. Pencil sharpener, a little sanding, and voila! It spins like a wee demon, too. Now, what to spin…

Speaking of spinning, I’ve been practicing on a rented wheel.

Eostar eggs and rainbow yarn

Okay, it’s not the best photo–that’s what I get for trying to photograph colorful things at 11:00 at night. I’ll try to get a better photo in the daytime. I’ve spun up two bobbins of this lovely candy-candy superwash wool (thanks to LunaBudKnits at Weed of Dreams). My only problem now is that I’m so impressed with the beautiful candy-cane swirls and bright colors that I don’t want to muddy them by plying. Help! Anyone know what I can do next? If I can’t figure it out, I may be knitting or weaving with the singles. I have two wee babbies to make things for, who live in places that get cold, and I’d like to make something for each one. Superwash is good like that. However, it is a bit rougher than most fibers I like to spin or knit. Still, it is a good compromise, as I don’t use acrylics (especially for babies).

Anyway, I’m learning to like the wheel much more than I did. I’m still very loyal to the spindle, but it may be a good thing to like the wheel, because while I don’t enjoy spinning as a production method (I prefer it as a spiritual tool, a way in to a place of quiet and contemplitude), I may need a production tool. A few weeks ago Geeklet and I drove out (with much adventure, I must say, including Car Breakage and Advantageous and Unexpected Kindnesses of Strangers) to Descanso, where people do not have cell phone reception. I’m sure there is more to be said for its remote location, geological and floral beauty, rural atmosphere, quaintness, etc., but if you re-read the sentence before this one you will understand why I was focused on the lack of cell phone reception.

Anyway, we were there because fortuitously, the day after renting the wheel, I was slipped the knowledge (in a truly psst! kind of way) that a nice lady (we’ll call her Irene) was giving away some of her fleeces. She raises Shetlands. I envisioned… lots and lots of yarn.

We came home with four fleeces. Full fleeces, four black garbage bags full of lovely smelly lanolinny wool which subsequently lived in the trunk of my car for nearly two weeks (no storage elsewhere, what are you going to do?). Ruthie still smells of lanolin. Ahh.

Now the fleeces are parked on the back porch. We’ve been getting rain. I need to move fast. I’ll try to get a photo of them. They are beee-yoo-tiful.

That evening Boy G and I came home after our long and adventurous day to find a large box awaiting us. Inside this large box (easily 20″ on a side) was stuffed as tight as tight a beautiful curly multicolored fleece, which probably weighs as much as the boy. This amazing gift comes from my dearest fiber-enabler friend, Deb, who has a flock of mixed working sheep on her vineyard. The donator of this particular Lincoln/Romney/Corriedale cross bounty is named Otis Strong Bad, and here he is:

)


Isn’t he a sweetheart? Boy and I have even fed him. Here is about one-quarter of the box of his fabulous fleece, being processed by me. My own very first time processing a fleece! It was very emotional for me. Boy G is ever-vigilant:

Boy with Wool

I had to warn our downstairs neighbor that this was not a dead thing in our yard.

Vigilant Boy is watching to make sure our freshly-washed fleece doesn’t fly away in the breeze or get stolen by or pooped upon by birds, all rather good possibilities. Turns out that the water in our washing machine was not getting hot enough so the lanolin wasn’t washing off, so I ended up taking the whole batch upstairs and washing it in two batches in the kitchen sink. Several hours later for each batch, I had soggy sopping but clean wool. I laid it out to dry in the workroom, closed the door so the cats would not disturb it, and waiting, waiting, waited for it to dry. Despite the fact that cats can and do walk through walls when there is wool involved and had to be rescued from part of a fleece that is, of course, non-sentient and yet still able to defend itself by wrapping itself completely around each cat in a death-grip so firm I could not delay even so long as to take a picture but must as a matter of honor rescue each pitiful creature in turn (… breathe…), it did dry and I now have a huge basket of clean, super-soft wool that is slowly being carded by me with a dog brush. I will, of course, get photos… tomorrow. Well, gee. It’s dark, and the wool would not show to its advantage. I have to give Otis the honor.

So. Spindle, spun wool, unspun wool… any actual knitting on this blog? Wellll, not as such. Not photos, anyway. I’ve been working away at the Yellow Sweater. Do you remember the Yellow Sweater? It was done before Yule, but I hated it. So I ripped it. Began again, using EZ’s tomten jacket as the pattern. The armholes were huge! So I cut the sweater at the armholes and attempted to graft them back together, only with smaller armholes. I would have done it, too! Except that part of the sweater is in stockinette and part of it is in moss stitch. I doofed it major.

That is when I took charge of the knitting. It is mine, mine, mine. I grafted it roughly. I’m knitting the sleeves now, in BLUE because I ran out of yellow and I will not go looking on the internet. (Our LYS is out, too.) Wee boy is okay with that as long as airplanes are on there. (Suddenly there are airplanes involved?) I will do something with the grafting. I will do something with the sweater. It has to be finished, because the yarn (Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton) is heavenly but it is falling apart now when I rip it, so… no more ripping. The pressure is on.

Whew. Airplanes.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Oh, yeah. I’ve been listing to archives of Sticks and String, the David Reidy knitting podcast from Australia. Every single episode I am filled with all-too-brief memories of our visit to Sydney and the Blue Mountains back in 2002. Every single episode I’m convinced that my life’s work is to move to Australia and raise alpacas. It is my favorite fiber to spin, after all. Weekend visits to see the Three Sisters, drives to see the black swans in Canberra or a stop for Yum Cha in Sydney, perhaps another visit to Parkes… well, one can dream, certainly. So David, if you see this, good job! I’m really enjoying it!