Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spinning: Now I've gone and done it!

I think my days of slubbing around with fibre are nearly over. This is my second time to knit the Alpaca Scarf using the Razor stitch but this scarf is very different than the first one.

With the first scarf my wool Wraps Per Inch (WPI) came in as 8 - rated as very bulky. I love the scarf but I must say that it is heavy - using up at least 8 oz of alpaca. I like its heaviness and coverage. It's certainly warm which is what I needed.

I started this second scarf while I was on the train on my way from London to Toronto. I had actually just finished spinning the roving and stayed up late the night before to get it plied. Then I dampened the skein and hung it over night.

The next morning the skein was still damp but I used my ball winder to make a ball. Then I rerolled the ball loser while riding on the train. I was concerned that the fibre was wound too tight by the skein winder and I didn't want to overstretch it while it was damp.
I didn't do the book thing this trip. There's something about being on the train that just makes me want to look out the window. All the other times I've taken the train I take books to read and I end up not even cracking them open. I didn't even knit the whole time because I just wanted to watch the passing scenery and write in my notebook. The notebook is a way to vent, record my thoughts and inspirations.

I remembered different times when I've taken the train. A couple years ago I wanted to see Body Worlds. The exhibit was on display at the Science Centre in Toronto and I told my family I wanted them all to go for my birthday. My sister and her kids were certainly game and we planned to attend. But it was winter time and Dad was kicking in his two cents worth about driving that "killer highway" - meaning the 401. You see we'd have to pass through that especially bad strip between Ingersoll and Woodstock where there's been a particularly high number of winter accidents. Dad would not let up when we insisted we were driving and he bought us all tickets on VIA Rail. We booked four seats together and the kids quite enjoyed it. My sister had never taken the subway in Toronto before because she always drove. I was the opposite and always took the subway. I reassured her that that subway was safe and easy to take. So she left me in charge of the inner city transit planning.

The train trip was great and we enjoyed the relaxed time to chat and catch up. I showed them how to get to the subway and we got on. My nephew Codie was sitting beside me on the left and a young gentleman sat on my right. When the young man on my right got up to get off at his stop something fell from his pocket onto the seat. Both Codie and I leaned forward to look. Having quick reflexes I shouted to the man, "Hey, you dropped your--"then I looked at what had fallen onto the seat.

Now I'm sure you've all had the experience where in a nanosecond you have fifty trillion thoughts and they go so fast it's like a whole day's conversation and observation in milliseconds... well that's what happened. I looked at the seat, at the little plastic package about 1" by 1" with the white powder in it. At the same time my lips were about to form the word to kindly let the gentleman know what had fallen from his pocket--this was transected by the thought that I can't shout "cocaine" on the subway--or maybe it would be best if I refrained from shouting cocaine on the subway.

At any rate, the young man heard the first part of my sentence and raced back, grabbed his drugs and ran off the subway. Then Codie leaned over to me, "Was that cocaine?" I sat there hoping his mother couldn't hear me, since I had reassured her so much how safe the subway was, "Yes, I said."

By the way, Body Worlds was AMAZING and if you ever get a chance to see it you should.

On this trip home from Toronto I was alone so not distracted and no incidents on the subway. This left me time to relax. It wasn't long until I got a terrific inspiration. While sitting on the train waiting to leave to go home and I was just staring out the window. The train was inside the giant shed area where they sit to load and unload passengers. Then suddenly I saw a movement up high on the metal beam. Half the wall of the shed was made up of plastic-like windows and sitting on a beam in front of the window was a raccoon.

He was having a good stretch and a grooming session. I smiled, clever thing. The beam would be a great place to hide and it was under the roof, offering a dry spot and out of the wind too. I watched when a few minutes later the raccoon started to walk the beam, but I noticed its gait was hitched. That was because this particular raccoon had only 3 legs. He was missing a front paw. So on the way home I was scribbling away in my notebook a whole story scenario that involved this raccoon that I would use in my book. The fact that I saw it in Toronto is amazing and so perfect for my children's story line in my second book that I was almost giggling all the way home. How could it be that this great thing, this great idea was just handed to me? Of all the things to see while in Toronto, this was exactly what I needed. I've named the raccoon Simon and I hope his life is long and all his garbage raids are successful. Truth is indeed strange and now I'll write it into my fictional story (I'm writing and illustrating a children's fictional story about honey bees and some of them go on a trip that takes in Toronto).

For this second scarf, my spinning is more a bulky weight with a WPI of 10. The lace shows up more in the stitch with the more delicate yarn and the scarf is about a third the weight as the first one. And it's used about half the amount of roving to complete.

What I'm noticing is that I'm improving. My spinning is becoming finer and more consistent. It's not totally there yet, but I can see the difference and measure it in the WPI. Previously all I could make were slub yarns which I really like. Now I'm wondering if I'll still be able to make slub yarns or have I gone and done it and spun myself out of them? I hope not, well at least not entirely.

But I'm now eyeballing lace weight yarns with thoughts of doing a lace shawl so I will need my spinning to improve for that......


Nancy K. said...

What a fun blog!

Your spinning does seem to be progressing nicely. And you're right ~ knitting the 'slubby' yarns will become a challenge. I remember how excited I was when I finally "learned" to spin bulky!

I also have trouble with bursitis/tendinitis flaring up if I knit too much. It must be especially hard for you because you were SUCH a beautiful knitter!

Thanks for visiting my blog ~ I'll be back to yours!


Barry said...

Ah yes, the Toronto Subway.

I take it 3-4 days a week, seldom with any incident. But now and then, it can get really interesting.

I live in Scarborough and we have many interesting interactions with local raccoons, who seem to wonder why we're invading their territory--as, perhaps, we are.