Sunday, October 29, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Politics... have always been the systematic organization of hatreds.--Henry Brooks Adams

(Thanks to Neal for getting my blood up on the following topics--not that I need any encouragement.)

Fat-mouthed, conslobative Rush Limbaugh, besides making the usual and ubitquitous ass out of himself by shamelessly attacking Michael J. Fox last week (Rush, I'm sure that being over-medicated is a condition that you at best dimly remember), has also taken it upon himself to go after the Women Voices, WomenVote organization, backed by the National Women's Law Center, which is trying to get the 20 million single women who didn't vote in 2004 out to the voting booths for the 2006 election.

Rush whines: Some further digging reveals that WVWV is directly promoting leftist politics.

Yeah. They are directly promoting the following "leftist politics":
  • Better education
  • Better health care
  • Control of our reproductive rights
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Protection of Social Security and other programs that directly affect single mothers
Boy, those pushy lesbian Commie broads are really asking for a lot. No wonder nobody wants to marry them, eh?

Ladies, whether you are married or not, get out there and vote on Election Day. We have the power. Let's wield it.

I did find humorous Rush's "mea culpa" to MJF, though: So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act.

IF I am wrong? Nothing like a qualifier to make an apology sincere.

Fiberous Stultification
Despite a brief buying flurry last weekend at Rhinebeck, I'm still working on the same things, more or less.

Perhaps that's good. At least I'm focused. And I do have more time these days to knit, spin, and, um, maybe weave.

The F 'n' F shawl, enhanced by an additional quint skein bought last week at Morehouse Farm, continues its plodding way.

However, I did finally get my ass in gear and work out a feasible design for the lovely Black Bunny Fiber merino sock yarn in Berry that Carol gave me for my birthday. Of course, as Ted opined, whether these socks would stand up to any abrasion is questionable. Still, I think the pattern is quite nice, easy, and very suitable for hand-dyed yarn.

I'll give the pattern to Carol--perhaps she can flog it with her sock yarn and make a few bucks. I call it Berried Treasure. Apt name, I think. (Fredda, don't worry--I'm working on the Leaves of Grass socks, which will be finished next week.)

And then there's the Curmudgeon sock yarn blend (superwash, mohair and nylon) that I'm test-driving for Carol and spinning to a sock weight when plyed. Joe's also spinning it in a different colorway.

We both agree that it isn't really for beginning spinners. I believe it's because of the mohair, a tricky fiber to spin, at best. Mohair loves to clump and takes a good deal of pre-drafting and manipulation before it willingly works nicely into the twist. Even then, it's just not smooth enough for socks, in my opinion.

IK: Winter, Yes. Gifties, No.
The Winter issue isn't out on the newsstands until Nov. 14, but if the cover is any indication, I think this will be a good one. The cover jacket by Norah Gaughan looked very nice, complete with godets, a design feature that I like on jackets. Two of my favorite designers--Veronik Avery and Shirley Paden--have garments therein, which I look forward to seeing. And a couple of the worst designers out there have some items, too. But we'll just relegate them to ignominy, where they belong, by not mentioning names.

I did get a look at the IK Gift issue. Feh. Please. The cover alone was enough to give me knitted heartburn. If you knit some fruit-like objects and give them as a Christmas present to some unsuspecting schmuck, then to paraphrase Dickens, you should be boiled with your own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through your heart. Otherwise, there were some OK socks and hats and things but nothing that excited me enough to plunk down some money for this one.

Besides, you all know my stand on Christmas knitting. I don't do it. Waste of time and I had enough this year knitting to a deadline with the Melanie shawl.

Spinning Q&A
I enjoyed sitting and spinning on the Joy at Rhinebeck. And particularly enjoyed the questions, which I'd like to address here, for those of you who either are just starting or thinking about it.

What wheel should I buy?
Well, this question has been asked on fiber lists many, many times. The truth is, there is no right answer. I could hardly spin when I bought my first wheel, which was the Schacht Matchless that I still use. I bought it because I liked the way it looked. That's a hell of a way to buy a wheel. My advice? Don't do as I did. Go to a shop that sells wheels, if there is one near you, and try the wheels, even if you can't spin. Most likely the shop owner will give you a quickie lesson to get you going. Or maybe you have a friend who spins. And you can also see if there's a local spinning guild that could provide guidance and possibly people with wheels that you can try.

If you can't test a wheel out or can't afford one, buy yourself a spindle and play with that. Or you can go out and buy a wheel in ignorance. Most likely you'll love it, because it is your first. I would recommend Louet, Schacht or Lendrum, based on what I've used and what other spinners I know have owned. I spun on a Kromski and didn't like it at all. I don't like Ashfords, as a rule, although I do like the Joy very much. But wheels are highly personal, so don't go by what I say.

It's like buying makeup, you know? You may like Estee Lauder foundation--my face does just fine with Revlon.

What fiber should I start with?
Romney is good, as is Corriedale or just plain ole domestic wool. It's more a question of what you shouldn't start with.

Do NOT learn to spin with:
  • Merino
  • Silk
  • Cotton
  • Mohair
  • Angora
  • Any combination of the above
Ask me how I know this. I bought some white merino/silk/angora and tried to spin it when I first got the Matchless. It damned near drove me crazy and I almost gave up on spinning completely until in a moment of enlightenment, I grabbed some domestic wool and gave that a try. As we say in my family, Topeka!

What's pre-drafting?
Pre-drafting is the process of opening up the fibers so that they flow into the twist more easily. Basically, you take a piece of roving and spread it apart with your fingers so that it becomes light and airy. I have found that combed fibers need less pre-drafting. For example, the grape silk/merino that I am spinning right now needs no pre-drafting at all. It just flows easily. If the fibers are fairly compacted, you'll want to pre-draft.

And don't make the novice's mistake of clutching the fiber in your hand. The tighter you hold the fiber, the harder it will be to release it into the twist. Remember that all you want to do is support the fiber while you let it enter the twist. If you are using a worsted draft (aka short draw), you'll control the twist with the thumb and index finger of your other hand.

Anyhoo, enough for the time being. I'm hoping to at least get a warp chain done with the Morehouse and perhaps warp the loom back to front for the first time at some point this week. Loopy has warned me that I need to be careful warping with the Morehouse laceweight and cautioned, "What I'd prefer is that you use a stronger cotton towel warp for your first attempt at b2f, but I know you won't listen. "

She's right. I won't. Because the shawl I saw at Morehouse was warped with the laceweight and I think using towel warp would totally ruin the look. So I'll be careful. And I promise not to whine if I break a warp thread.

Because breaking and repairing a warp thread is one that I've already had. Feh.

Blogger Blows*
As many of you also blog and use Blogger, you will know that the system has had numerous serious outages this week, culminating with the Saturday-Sunday non-publishing issue, along with a bizarre error message. Never mind the photo publishing problem that the Blogger team can't or won't address. I'm not affected by that since I have my own domain.

This post was originally written and ready to publish Saturday evening. It's now Sunday morning and I still can't get it online. So I'm past annoyed, as I'm sure legions of Blogger users are too.

In the past, I've considered moving this whole blog to another publisher but doing that takes time, plus I'm lazy. Now I think I may be motivated. Yes, I know what the options are. I'll do the research and see if I get unlazy.

Because with the new-old rare and handy job, I do have more time.

*For geeks only

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