Trying New Things, Part 2

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it here yet, but I’ve started the long and thorough process of researching and testing out new spinning wheels. I’m very, very happy with Lendrum DT, but the reality of my situation is that there are times when I have a lot of discomfort in my hip and spinning with this wheel is not always as comfortable as I might like. I’d been leaning toward going the miniSpinner road until the end of last year when my husband made a stop at a local shop without me and asked about and tried out a couple single treadle wheels. While he’s very supportive of whatever wheel I ultimately choose, he asked that I do a thorough investigation of single treadle wheels before making any decisions. He thinks it would suit me as an individual better and would alleviate the hip issues. Honestly, I never really thought about single treadle wheels all that much just because to go that route and still maintain the level at which I’m spinning, it would most likely mean a larger wheel. A larger wheel in our tiny house. We talked at length about it, how regardless I’d likely keep my Lendrum as a travel wheel, and about some changes we’ve been looking at making (ie moving our piano out because it just doesn’t get used) and my husband made a strong case for considering that route. Since he does know me pretty well and the idea of a big, beauty saxony wheel is very appealing to me, I’ve happily agreed to do the research.

With this in mind, while on the way home from a day trip during our staycation we stopped off at Susan’s Fiber Shop.  I bought my Lendrum from her and she’s the closest shop to our house that carries wheels on the sales floor for testing. Unfortunately she didn’t have any single treadles in-house — apparently most people go DT — but I did thoroughly test each wheel she did have just to officially rule them out. I’m happy to say that of the dozen or so double treadle wheels she had set up my Lendrum is still the best fit. That made me feel great about my original choice, but didn’t solve the current dilemma. No bother, it’s a long process, right? I’m cool with that, I’m happy to wait and find the wheel.

Having spent an hour or so trying out all the wheels, I had a gander around the fiber. Susan’s can be a little like a treasure hunt as she’s got loads of goodies stashed around her shop and right as I was about to head back to the car, I found a lovely little BFL color pack from Greenwood Fiberworks in the Copper Hills colorway.

img_5652I’m a fan of BFL and I thought I could do something interesting with these to make some socks. I have yet to succeed at spinning for socks with deliberate color handling. My last attempt resulted in yarn that was a little short on yardage and heavy on weight which I’ve yet to really figure out if I have enough of to actually make socks. For this collection, I thought I’d try to use my Very Fast Flyer to really get a nice, lightweight yarn.

img_5661-2I split the fiber evenly into halves — one for each sock — and then each half was split into 3 equal portions containing equal amounts of each color. The idea being stripey socks.

img_5672-1The spinning went remarkable well and — as I seem to always say — I’m getting more comfortable with this flyer with each spin. My only complaint is that the bobbins are just like .5oz too small. Each half of this fiber was 2.1oz and I couldn’t quite fit that amount on one bobbin. Not the end of the world, but kind of annoying nonetheless.

In any case, I chain plied it using my smallest whorl on my lace flyer and it went just swimmingly.

copper-skeinsTa-Da!

detail-copperAren’t they just lovely?! I can’t wait to knit some socks with these! And, perhaps even more importantly, I think I’ve found a go-to flyer for sock spinning. That’s huge for me, really and truly.

In the interest of full disclosure, it was not a total 100% success. While I have plenty of yarn for the socks, one skein did come out quite a bit bigger than the other. It remains to be seen how this will affect the knitting and the planned striping. I’d be more disappointed, but as goes spinning, knitting, and life in general, if everything turned out perfectly life would be pretty boring. The world is much more interesting when a few challenges, a few new hurdles present themselves, right?

Birthday Afterglow

For those who did not know, yesterday was my birthday. In true Mr Knitting Sarah form, my husband prodded me into committing to a plan for the day — a Day of Sarah. The truth is I kind of hate planning ahead. While I realize it is necessary for many reasons, I just tend to feel annoyed & incompetent when I attempt to organize a day of celebration. I live and love my quiet, easy-going life so planning festivities of any sort just pretty much overwhelms me. Thankfully my husband excels at planning. In fact, I think he makes 3 or 4 contingency plans for every one day he designs. With his help and guidance and — let’s be honest — pushing me to make choices I didn’t want to make, we settled on just what I wanted yesterday: a day with a little bit of spoiling for me & some memory-making for our family. Let me take you on a tour of my very special day.

It started at Susan’s Fiber Shop. A little backstory on Susan’s before I continue. For those who aren’t familiar, I think Susan is kind of a legend. Her reputation as an expert in her field always proceeds her as does her larger than life personality — really, she is just one of the coolest people I’ve met. She is never shy to share her honest opinion or thought on anything — it is something I so appreciate about her. As for her shop, anyone in the area who knows anything about spinning will tell you that if you want to buy a spinning wheel, you go to Susan’s. No one around here knows spinning like her. It was last year (I had to look that up & yes, it was 2011) that I found myself at Susan’s Fiber Shop test driving spinning wheels. Hers is a shop where you can sit down & try out wheels — such a wonderful way to search for a wheel. In any case, I found my wheel last October and this year for my birthday my plan was to go back to pick up some extra bobbins. I called ahead to make sure she had them & then we set the plan to stop at her shop first thing on my birthday to pick them up.

As is often the case, we arrived just in time to feed the sheep — did I mention the shop is located on a working sheep farm? So cool! Anyhow, Susan invited my kids & husband to help while I shopped. They happily accepted.kids sheep

I really did not anticipate shopping for fiber — I have a fair amount stashed at home, but there was such a great selection and it was my birthday….

So I picked up these… storm fiber A deep grey Merino-Tussah silk blend in a colorway named Storm from Opulent Fibers. I don’t know anything about this company, but the price was very reasonable so I thought I would give it a try.

fiberBesides, how could I resist this blue, blue-lover that I am? Even my husband commented on the beautiful hue (it’s called Bay, btw). No, he didn’t use the word ‘beautiful’, but he showed about as much enthusiasm for fiber as he ever has.

arcade braidTo my great delight, I found this braid in the Arcade colorway from Greenwood Fiberworks. I had been browsing their Etsy shop the night before & considering picking up a braid or two to try. I was so excited to be able to pick it up locally!tree line braidAnd then, because I was feeling a little blue heavy, I grabbed this wool top from Wild Hare Fiber Studio. I thought green would be a good idea & this one includes some blues & browns. Just lovely! (Sorry, but I didn’t want to remove it from the plastic yet because, well, you know, I may not get to it right away…)

And last, but certainly not least as I was about to check out Susan pulled out some boxes she had just picked up.

RhinebeckIn them were a shipment of her Meadow Maggots — a blend from Frabjous Fibers created exclusively for Susan’s Fiber Shop. Named for how she & her family jokingly view sheep mowing the greenery in a pasture, these colorways represent different regions Susan has visited over the years attending fiber festivals. I selected the “Road to Rhinebeck” colorway — it has beautiful autumnal hues accented by little rivers of white. The white, of course, are the flocks of sheep. Cute!

This stop was just so good — I can’t say enough good. The shop looks great & I had such a fun visit with Susan. And, of course, I am over the moon about what I brought home. I can’t wait to share some photos of these fibers as they are turned into yarn!

There’s more? Yeah. I can’t believe it either.

With all my goodies in tow, we headed to Buck & Honey’s in Sun Prairie for lunch. I  L O V E  that this place has delectable food and is very family friendly. It is pretty much my new favorite restaurant. I can enjoy a good meal and not be immediately mortified when my daughter starts singing — I can quiet her down, but no one is upset for the brief disruption.

The food. It’s good.Ahi appI split the Ahi App with my husband. Then enjoyed some Shrimp Bisque which I ate before I thought to photograph it (I was really hungry).

scallops & berries My main course was the Scallops & Berries salad. Scallops, black & raspberries, candied walnuts, fresh greens & spinach, red onions, and blue cheese. Pretty much all my favorite foods in one bowl.

brownieThen thanks to my daughter singing happy birthday to me as the waiter delivered our main course, I was gifted a birthday brownie. I had two very willing helpers to help eat this.

From lunch, we went to the Henry Vilas Zoo, a free zoo in the heart of Madison, WI. Despite the cold & flurries, we enjoyed the zoo immensely. The bison was pretty indifferent, as always. The lion looked like he wanted to  get indoors asap. Of course, the herpetarium was a big hit with my son who is bonkers for reptiles. The most fun was watching the polar bear & otter who seemed to love the cold. Of course they did, right?!zoo

From here we popped over to our old neighborhood in Madison where we did some birdwatching. I don’t have photos because the kids were cold, but we saw Tundra Swans galore as well as an amazing look at a Hooded Merganser. I think that bird looks awfully cool & was very excited to see it again!

Then one last stop before home: Target. We don’t have one locally, so because motherhood doesn’t stop for birthdays I required a stop for a few necessities. While there, I found one last birthday gift. I have been searching for a while for something comparable to Soak‘s Carrie & Phil wash basins. I am sure they are fabulous & I would love to have one or both, but I just haven’t yet been convinced that I need to spend that much on a basin. More fiber & yarn always come first. I have been flirting with the idea of getting & using a farm supply pail from Fleet Farm, but was concerned about the rigid pail & how pouring water would & transport with that would go. At Target yesterday I found this:wpid-IMG_20121230_135604.jpg$5.99

And done.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

I’m so excited & thankful for all the joy & challenges coming in the next year!

Susan’s Fiber Shop is located at N250 County Rd A, Columbus, WI 53925

Call with questions — 920.623.4237

You can shop online at Susan’s Fiber Shop here.

‘Like’ Susan’s on Facebook, too — that way you can stay up-to-date on what’s new!