Saturday, April 17

I very much enjoy not being obliged to write or grade papers.

It has been warm enough recently that I've taken to cleaning up my bit of garden and moving around some lawn furniture so as to be able to read out there like I did last summer. I am very fond of it indeed and even with the winter's past snow it has done exceedingly well. My little walled garden is very traditional and very plain but made to last, and to be useful to the cook, laundress, healer, and child. Sometimes, too, I plant flowers for the sake of seeing them bloom, and above my fledgling bay trees I saw Forget-Me-Nots the other day. And yes, I am aware that my sentence construction is awkward. Go away.

Having finished the delicious merino my instructor gave me I thought I'd backtrack a little and try a difficult fiber of which she gave me a few samples: cotton. With a very short staple and very little of the felting-type of splice you can make with wool this fiber seems the most unforgiving I've met yet. (A staple for spinning is a little like a stride for running; a short staple means you must work more quickly with your hands and slower with your feet and with a different technique than allowing a long staple like wool to simply flow with gradual movement of the hands and quicker feet on the pedals. Adjustment can be a pain.) Even the worst grade of mohair will turn into some kind of interesting looking yarn if you let it have its own way. Anyway, here are the plied samples of denim she gave me. One of them is just plain denim and the other is denim and recycled soda bottles. The latter is easier to spin.

I have two other samples of cotton I'll post when I'm finished with them--they are naturally colored cotton, not bleached or naturally white. One is a sort of olive green and the other a bright reddish brown. Interesting and tricky to spin, I find I like them better than recycled denim. Maybe if things go to plan I can spin some of that every summer and work on knitting washcloths for my bathroom and kitchen. I like this idea.

My recent sourdough efforts have been very nearly a success, but I am still getting the techniques down. Being gentle on the dough while still developing the gluten is not an easy task, especially when I'm used to instant yeast and a different, springy texture. Pictures will be posted as soon as I can get some good ones; so far the only really tasty-looking loaves were eaten while still warm.

A pair of socks! They were going to be for my mother's birthday (several months hence) but I got excited and gave them to her early. This is from Nancy Bush's 'Knitting Vintage Socks', a book whose patterns I love. Nancy Bush is a wonderful historian, aside from being a practical knitter. The combination is impressive.

The socks have a German heel (true to word--my German friend-who-also-knits-socks-compulsively swears by this heel and kept trying to teach me a few more fiddly techniques I never quite understood due to knitting terms not exactly corresponding) and a French toe (of this I am not so fond).

I tried to read 'Mansfield Park' on audiobook but the download was faulty so I got a refund and somehow ended up downloading Teresa of Avila's 'Interior Castles' instead. As a medievalist I am more or less at home amongst the mystics and am strangely comforted by these letters from a world where dreams and visions and a living God were not things to be vivisected, psychoanalyzed, or ignored. I intend to listen to the rest of the book tomorrow as I spin, and also knit a bunch of dishcloths for a friend who is getting married. Even dishcloths can be beautiful, you know.

Dungeons and Dragons
A friend or two or three and I have been working at playing a good campaign of D&D every now and again. I'm very much the beginner and find myself much more into the spirit of the storytelling and strategizing than the arithmetics and trademarked categories. Perhaps I am not a good fit for the game (likely the case), or maybe we are playing too new a version. Anyway, it is all in good fun. Especially when the players I didn't know walked into the library space we had set up, checked out the least dusty books and nodded solemnly to each other without comment before giving us appraising looks.


Caddy said...

I have some green cotton seeds. Alas, it is illegal to plant here, and I never came up with a plan of action. Maybe next year I'll break the law and go for it. I'll ship it to you if I do since I don't knit or spin.

miss rika said...

You ought to knit; you've got a knitterly mind, anyhow. And it is very impressive to make things by hand, especially gifts--even if they are just dishcloths. And knitted socks! Oh the glorious of knitted socks! I shall sing of them for ages to come. I am sure God wears handknit socks.

I'd like to try growing cotton but I've heard it is a bear to actually work with. I've got some cotton bolls to work with now (the raw stuff; I have to pick out the seeds and casings before I can spin up the fiber) and that will be interesting.

Rebbie said...

I cannot tell looking at your German heel how you reinforced it. Do you hold a reinforcing thread? Or come back after the fact doing some sort of weavy thing inside with reinforcing thread or a second strand of yarn?

miss rika said...

Oh there is your comment, Rebbie:) I finally found it! I use a thread and go back just as if I were darning the sock (which I will inevitably end up doing later). Grrr.