Sunday, 31 August 2008

Spinning as Hurricane Gustav approaches N.O.

by M in JaM
My withdrawn state lasted the month of August! Yikes. I had a birthday in the interim and also managed to hurt my knee. I've just about recovered from both experiences. I feel Spring in the Air and look, we're getting a few moths as the weather warms. The moth above does not infest wool, so I can like it.

As a birthday present, J gave me hand-dyed fibres (tops for handspinning) from Ewe Give Me The Knits: one top of Blue Face Leicester wool blended 50/50 with bamboo and another of merino blended with soy, also 50/50. I've never before had the opportunity to spin BFL, bamboo or soy. And my inexperience shows....

I've started spinning the BFL/bamboo blend. First up, a sample skein from the palest end of the top and knitted into a small bag as a swatch.

I like the sheen of this yarn which you can see better in the photo below.

The rest of the top's fibres have more intense colours. I want to make a pair of socks, so I divided the top lengthwise. Each half should be enough for one sock.

Sock 1: spin two singles, each on its own bobbin, and then ply them together. I used two approaches to pre-drafting the fibres prior to spinning. You can see below that one single has many, short colour segments while the other has the same colour pattern but fewer, longer colour segments. When plied together, the colour patterns of the two singles "beat" together in a sort of fractal way. At least that's the plan....

Next part of the plan: learn to cast on and knit a sock toe-up. I like choosing the challenges in my life. Life has a way of presenting them unasked for.

Spare a thought for the people of New Orleans, our friend Charles among them, who have struggled against incredible odds in the attempt to rebuild and have now been ordered to evacuate New Orleans as Hurricane Gustav approaches, three years after Katrina.

Monday, 4 August 2008

A Daily Walk

by J in JaM

Well actually, it's twice a day walk, in the morning after coffee and a quick Internet mail check and again before sunset. The dog acts as our main motivator to walk about 1.5 kilometers twice a day, for a total distance of 3km (about 2 miles).

We usually start by going up to our water tank (with a quick check on water level) and then continue along our fenceline to the back of the property. Then we head downhill to Moon Creek which only flows a few months of the year. Moon Creek joins Toy Creek in a 100 meters or so. Toy Creek runs most of the year but reduces to a series of Billabongs (pools of standing water) during the Dry Season, leading up to Christmas. (When the monsoon season begins, frogs lay great masses of eggs in Moon Creek.) From Toy Creek we walk uphill to the country road and short distance back to our gate. Then it is about 300 meters back to the house.

We've been doing this walk for almost twenty years and during that time, great trees have fallen and floods have changed the nature of Toy Creek. After Cyclone Larry three years ago, the number of birds was greatly reduced but they have recovered. Each year is different but the pattern of summer monsoon rains followed by a dry winter continues and we will continue to walk our daily walk as long as possible.