The adventures of a knitting grandmother

My Photo
Location: United States

She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Saturday AM

This is what the sky looked like when I got up for work on Saturday morning. I didn't join Saturday Sky because I am usually at work all day and seldom if ever post on Saturdays. But I had to take this picture to share with you. It was nice to see a pretty sky before being shut up at work all day; it was about all the sky I saw since I didn't get home until after 8:00 last night. I really enjoy the sky when I'm not at work; I love to see the progression of the day. That is one of the nicest things about being off. Today it's overcast and a bit drizzly, but even this is lovely to watch. And I do enjoy all of your Saturday Sky posts!

Today when I woke up I was thinking about spinning. Doesn't everyone spin for half an hour before breakfast?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Keeping the Spin On

Blogger has been singularly uncooperative with me this week, and since I have been working long and late hours as well, I haven't had the patience to fool with it. Thus you have missed the progress on my new passion. I've been busy filling the drop spindle with my second load of singles; I've slowed myself down a bit and am concentrating more on the drafting, with much more even results this time. I love drafting the yarn and then watching it twist in a fraction of a second. It's a never ending delight. (Obviously, I am easily delighted.) I have come home from work each day ready to grab the spindle; I am positive that spinning, for me, is even more relaxing and therapeutic than knitting. I think, when this is plied up, that it will be close to Silky Wool in wpi, and that is what I am aiming for.

I have been SOOO enjoying all your Rhinebeck posts. However, I must admit that all the lovely pictures of beautiful rovings are making me just slightly crazy. I want to spin up something alive with color! But I am resisting. It's very hard. I don't want to start stashing roving just yet!!! Because I have a feeling that once I do get my hands on some hand dyed roving, I'll never recover!

Big Cat likes the singles. "This smells nice, Mom. Where have you been hiding this?"

"It rolls around really nice. And I like the fluffy stuff on the end."

"Now, watch me get gray hairs all over Momma's white roving."

"Uh oh, busted!!"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oh boy.

Oh, boy.

Oh, bother.



I went to the local shop last night for their knitting and crochet group. The only other lady there last night was crocheting a hat out of WalMart acrylic. She said she had to bring simple things to work on so she wouldn't get the pattern in a mess because of spending the time talking. I knit the cuff on the second STR sock. I figured that was simple enough for me. We had a great two hours talking and being all fibery. And we checked out the store stock. She bought self-striping yarn for four pairs of crocheted socks. Me? I resisted the yarn. I looked at the roving. I looked at the drop spindles. And I found two books that somehow I sensed were waiting there for me to find them.

I've had my face in them all day. The spinning book was very helpful. Funny, though, I found that I had already figured out the techniques on my own. As if by some invisible guidance. Oh, what gentle spinning spirits have invaded my home? And why me? (As if I needed something else to mess around with.) I've spent all my free time today spinning. It's coming out much smoother now. And my arms aren't hurting.

And the Twisted Sisters book? This way lies madness. Dark side, here I come.

Resistance is futile, or so they say.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Great Experiment

I didn't spin at all on Saturday. Even though my arm and shoulder didn't hurt, I gave them a day of rest. Today I started up again. The big ball of roving sits in a wooden bowl now, on a dish towel to keep it from contact with the bare wood.

I've got a couple hours spinning invested on this spindle. The roving, as the lady said, is quite easy to spin. I am able to draft it very easily, and I found that today my drafting skills got a little better. Once the arm starts getting tired, though, the drafting starts to suffer. I tried spinning while standing; while sitting on a tall stool, and while walking around outside. I finally ended up sitting on the couch until the arm started protesting.

This is the single I am trying to consistently spin. I would say that I was successful well more than half the time. It seemed like I had a lot of twist on it, but in the end I don't think it will be as much as I think it is.

Egad, my hands are really dry!! That's what low humidity and hard water will do to you.

Aach, I can't stand it any longer!! I have to ply up what I've got here! I wound up what I had onto my Lazy Kate and plied the yarn in between starting dinner and checking on same. The singles, which up to now had been feeling pretty stiff and scratchy, suddenly started feeling pretty squooshy once they were plied. I kept checking the yarn on the spindle and the squooshiness just kept growing.

Once I had it all plied, I wrapped it around a cookie sheet and tied the skein with a couple bits of the leftover singles. It appears to be around thirty five yards.

Is my skein balanced?

I took this last picture before washing the skein and hanging it outside with a plastic clothes hanger weighing it down. The singles are still pretty uneven in spots, but a lot of it came out looking like REAL YARN, at least to me. I can't wait until it dries. I don't care if it's uneven, I'm going to knit with it anyways.

I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Avast There, Chocoholics!

If you ever go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, whether you are knitting socks or not, be sure that you go to the Midnight Buffet. If you are really lucky, it will be the Chocolate Buffet.

It's all chocolate. It's all edible. It's all delish.

Especially the chocolate strawberries.

And you know, of course, you just have to click on the pictures to see them full-size. In all their chocolatey glory.

I spun some more last night before turning in. In fact, I spun until my arm and shoulder started to ache, at which point I quit and took an Aleeve. This morning the arm felt fine. Now I'm going back through all the spinning posts you all have posted in the past, looking for comparisons between yours and mine. I'm almost through with my second Branching Out scarf, and I'm thinking about spinning up enough to do another Branching Out with my own yarn this time.

The problem is, I'm also running into everyone's posts on dyeing yarn.

This is a very slippery slope I'm on, indeed.

As the final cruise picture, I give you my favorite of the 300 I took. Tomorrow, I promise to post a spinning picture, and return to regular knitting content. Hope everyone had a great time today at Rhinebeck.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Words Not Necessary

Today's virtual tour has been brought to you by the letters P(uerto) and V(allarta) and by the number 96 (Fahrenheit).

I spun some roving today. I went out on the porch with the spindle and stripped off all the old string on it. It was like package string. I strung a bit of the old stuff that wasn't too stiff for a leader, and tore off a piece of roving from the one pound ball and did some predrafting. Then I started. It's amazing to me, but the hands that hadn't spun for thirty years remembered what to do. The roving worked up very nicely and I've now got some fairly even, fine spinning on the spindle. The memory was still in the hands. That's the only way I can explain it. I'll post a picture when I get some more spun. I only hope that I am doing a decent job of it. I would love to spin enough for a shawl. I know that I still have a lot to learn, I've never plied anything or gone further than just spinning a bit of yarn onto the spindle. But one step at a time!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cafe Pacifico

Mazatlan was hot. An understatement. Mazatlan was tropically torrid. Although it was still morning, we were drenched with sweat while walking about the old city. The shops we entered were somewhat cooled by many fans, both floor fans and ceiling fans, but still were breathless with the heat and humidity.

What a pleasure, then, to see this lovely little green park surrounded by stores and restaurants, their tables spilling out onto the sidewalks!

And then the satisfaction of finding the Cafe Pacifico in a shady corner of the square.

The shade was provided by a number of ancient gnarled trees. Their green seed pods hung down nearly to the ground. The tables outside were covered with fallen leaves. Our hosts scurried around, apoligizing for the disarray. I couldn't make them understand that the drifts of leaves just added to the charm of the place.

We drank tall bottles of soda and enjoyed a basket of crisply fried tortilla chips and freshly made salsa. A musician strummed his guitar opposite us. It was cool and lovely and totally refreshing. A perfect break in the middle of our explorations.

Hey, handsome, wanna buy me a drink?

In answer to the question, I found the roving, not in Tucson, but in the shop I went to nearer my home. They had some yarn. They had some roving. They had a spinning wheel and some drop spindles. They had tons of quilting supplies and material, and a whole section of the shop dedicated to weaving. Looms. Cones of thread. Be still my racing heart. They are trying to start up a Monday night knitting group. Oh yes. Anyways, the shop owner helped me out and said that the roving is white top from Brown Sheep. I have no idea yet what "top" means. But that's what she told me. She said it would be easy for a beginner to spin. I have yet to test her out on that. She pulled out her drop spindle and gave me a quick refresher lesson.

I have yet to try it out. But the cats think the big ball is pretty cool. I'm supposed to get off work early tomorrow, and I hope to get at the spindle then. And I did weigh the sock yarn, and I still have more than half of the ball left to do the second sock.

Tomorrow, Puerto Vallarta. Mazatlan was all about architecture. Puerto Vallarta was all about gardens.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Views of Mazatlan

Sunrise over Mazatlan.

The coastline is dramatic. We saw cliffdivers. There are beautiful sculptures. In the old town area, the architecture is the eye-catching attraction.

So many beautiful buildings, and a sense of quiet peacefulness.

Well, maybe it's because everyone was hiding from the heat.

The colors were lovely and tropical. Lots of wrought iron. The buildings were high-ceilinged to help keep them cool, making the interiors intriguingly dusky.

We stopped in a bakery. All the pastries were two for a dollar.

They were yummy.

It's my first blogiversary. Thank you all for being such loyal readers. And I celebrated. I bought a pound of roving. The big ball is sitting on the stereo. Isn't that where you keep yours?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Cabo San Lucas is the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. The tip of land itself is a rocky conglomeration of cliffs rising steeply out of the water. On one side of the rocks is the Pacific Ocean, on the other a quiet jewel of a bay surrounded by high class hotels and beach resorts. The area is definitely desert in character and the first and most lasting impression we got was of the heat and humidity. We had left Los Angeles with the temperature there in the low 70's, and now we were hit with the temperature and the humidity both in the high 90's. The heat and humidity were to dominate our experiences in the Mexican Riviera (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta). In fact, we learned during the course of the cruise that the temperatures were actually a bit higher than normal. The Vision of the Seas spends the summer months cruising Alaska and the winter months sailing to Mexico. In fact, this was only the second cruise of the winter season. Our head waiter later told us that the best time to visit this part of the world is in January, February, and March.

The water here was absolutely the most beautiful, clear blue. The water depths in the bay are very deep and clear; snorkeling is a very popular sport. (Although our tour guide did tell us that there were sharks in the waters, it didn't seem to phase anyone.) We could easily understand why, as we could see fish in the waters as our small tour catamaran took us around Land's End. In fact, it was on our return trip past Cabo on Friday that we saw a pod of at least twenty dolphins doing their leaps out of the water, as we sat watching them from our balcony. I had always wanted to see dolphins in the wild and it was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Barbara also spotted a sea turtle later that same day, and Joe thought he saw a whale spout on Saturday. We were too early for the main whale migration season, though. In addition to snorkeling, swimming, beach bathing, horseback riding, and off-road dune riding are popular activities, as well as parasailing. There were miles and miles of white beaches, and many beautiful hotels and expensive, exclusive housing areas on top of the cliffs. One couldn't help but think, just the same, that all these beautiful structures were very vulnerable to hurricanes. Later, in Puerto Vallarta, we were to pass the old ruins of a hotel that had been destroyed years ago by a hurricane; it was a very sobering sight and a stark reminder of what unbelievable devastation could be wrought on these heavily built up coastal areas.

Throughout our trip we were impressed by the sheer numbers of pelicans. They were everywhere near the water and frequently perched on the ship's mooring lines. Once on land, though, the predominate bird was the ever present, ever pooping pigeon population. Later we were to see the churches and public buildings nearly fully draped with netting to keep the pigeons away from the statues and doorways.

We did not walk into town at Cabo. We took our catamaran tour of Land's End and then went back to the ship. The heat and humidity on this first day were a little overwhelming, to say the least. At least we had a good breeze to keep us cool on the front of the catamaran. (And what does one do on a cat boat while waiting to sail? Knit some garterlac, of course!) Later we learned from those who had gone ashore that the shopping district in town was actually rather small; the big industry was the hotels and resorts. And we got to ride in one of the ship's lifeboats. Since there is no dock for a ship the size of ours in Cabo, we had to drop anchor in the bay itself. The ship dropped four of the lifeboats to tender people in to land. It was interesting to actually sit in a lifeboat; it had seating for 150 people, all of whom would be sitting fairly close together. I noticed that no where in the lifeboat was there any sign of any sort of bathroom facility. I mean, don't you think that if you had to quickly get off the mother ship and escape in a lifeboat, that you might really need a bathroom of some sort? But I could also see the point that there would be too many people in too cramped of an area on a small boat to be able to let people get up and move around. I should have asked about that, but didn't.

Finally, another beautiful shipboard view. I love the sight of sunlight on the water.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I've Been Baaaad!

Hello again, one and all! And much business to be dealt with in this post!

First off, a little clarification seems to be in order. The spinning I posted about a couple weeks ago was done thirty some years ago. It seems there was some confusion about that. The wool has gotten very stiff and hard in spots and I don't intend to do anything at all with it. There are only little bits, anyways. But I'm greatly encouraged by all your supportive comments and emails, and I'm going to get rid of the crappy spinning and try again, as soon as I can locate something to spin. I saw some carded and dyed wool in a Tucson shop quite a while back (not the shop I normally go to, though), and I will probably stop in on my next trip to town. There might also be a shop closer to home that may have something I could use, haven't had the time to stop in yet, though. I'm just concerned that I may not be successful in learning to spin just by reading about it on the net; I wish there were a bunch of knitters and spinners around here to get together with. I know that there have to be spinners, after all, there was handspun in the county fair. So I think I'll have to do a little searching.

Anyways, the trip was lovely, thank you so much. I'm going to be blogging about it for probably the rest of the week, so if you're not into travelogues, I won't mind if you skip! But this is where family members check in to find out what's going on in our neck of Arizona, so I'll be doing this especially for them. But I do promise to be entertaining while I'm doing it!

Today I'm going to post a few pictures of the ship itself. Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas is the largest ship we have cruised on to date. In fact, even after a week on board we still couldn't remember where everything was located! This photo is looking down from Deck 7, the same deck our cabin was located on, onto the multi-story metal sculpture in the "Centrum", the open area in the very center of the ship. Musicians usually played on the ground level during the afternoons and evenings. And all the different musicians and groups were excellent! All the sections of the ship branch off from the Centrum; it went from the fourth level to the eighth.

This was our fifth cruise with Royal Caribbean. I can't praise them highly enough. We have always thoroughly enjoyed everything about their cruises. And they are very good to us and to all their repeat cruisers; we regularly receive discounts, upgrades, special promotions, etc. Here we have some pics from around the ship: Barbara on deck at Cabo San Lucas, Barbara and Joe on the balcony, the outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs (there was an indoor pool, also, with hot tubs, just for adults), me and Mr. Good Looking on the balcony on the first of two formal nights. The "squid" made of towels is a nightly ritual; the cabin stewards make up different creatures out of bath towels and pose them in the room each night.

So why have I been bad? I didn't knit anywhere near as much as I intended to. There was too much hot tubbing, too many excellent shows, too much dancing, too much just doing stuff!! (And napping. Can't forget napping.) I did finish a garterlac dishcloth, and I came close to finishing the STR sock, but I panicked when I realized that I might have used too much yarn for the first sock and I decided to set it aside until I could get home and weigh the remaining yarn to see how much was actually left. And no, I haven't weighed it yet; I've been unpacking and washing clothes and paying bills today and, well, you know. And I only did a couple logs on the Log Cabin. So there went all the plans for getting a bunch of knitting accomplished. But the week was all about relaxing and enjoying, and that definitely did happen.

How else was I bad? Well, umm, you know how it is. All three of us came home a little more "ample" than when we left. There was far too much temptation in the food and wine department. I did do some deck walking, and did do one strenous workout in the gym, but on the whole the physical activity level wasn't as good as it could have been, mainly due to weather issues. The last couple days were quite cool and very windy, so deck walking was out, and the gym was frequently crowded at the times I could have gone. So I gave myself permission to be quite lazy and indolent. And there will be pictures later in the week, I promise. an entire post just about the chocolate aboard the ship!

Tomorrow, Cabo San Lucas, the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. And here is a picture of sunrise over the Peninsula.