Friday, January 25, 2008

Soup and Wool

We are in the middle of soup and wool weather. Early this morning it was like this:

Cold and foggy, intermixed with a steady rain that continued all night, through this morning, along through the afternoon, and into this evening. It didn't get out of the high 30s today, (about 3 degrees if you're doing Centigrade), and it did not stop raining for one moment. It's quite late but it's still drizzling out there.

The rain this morning was almost bad enough to discourage me from venturing out to the garbage can with a plastic bag full of feline offerings to the sand goddess.

Almost, but not quite. The daily deposits definitely needed to go to the garbage can, and the poor newspaper, damp and shivering in its thin plastic bag, needed to come in.

Few things say "winter in Louisiana" better than the smell of fresh coffee and the scent of a newspaper drying out inside the oven, turned to low.

Shamu, who ordinarily invests enormous portions of his waking hours devising ways to sneak past feet and get outdoors, took one look out the window and reconsidered all escape plans, opting instead for a premium position on the sleeping bag that stays out on our couch during the winter months:

Since the Ashford is parked in front of the same couch, and with Shamu curled up so fetchingly nearby, it didn't take much to convince me to settle in and spin the rest of the delightful hand-dyed merino roving I bought from Farm Witch last week. It is yummy, exquisitely soft, and lustrous, and it spins into a fine sockweight yarn. She calls the colorway "Chasing Rainbows:"

I am very fond of "Chasing Rainbows" and look forward to making socks with it.

While the spinning was going on, I had the dyepots busy, doing double duty in coloring yarn while also heating the house on this deeply damp and chilly day and helping us keep the thermostat turned way down while the stove did the work.

The result? Here is some yarn for the arts market coming up Saturday, February 5th. The long skeins are merino, but the three skanky-looking red skeins on the far right represent my first attempt both at spinning and dyeing 100% soy fiber. On my trial run with this new-to-me fiber, I found it a little tricky to spin -- it's very, very slippery -- but it made nice, smooth singles with good drape, and only the occasional minor kink or noil.

But when I put it in the dyepot, my hard-won soy singles instantly shriveled into a stringy, curly mass not unlike Ramen noodles, causing much consternation and even more swearing. Fortunately, as it cooled off, it began to relax into its previous drapey state, but as you can see in the picture, the skeins have only relaxed about 50%. Hopefully they will unkink and lengthen as they dry, encouraged by a little gentle tugging. I won't panic yet. I don't understand this behavior in a fiber that appears to have no memory whatsoever. Wool, yes -- the slightest bit of overspin vibrantly comes to life upon exposure to steam or hot water.

Maybe soy is sneaky. Maybe it just pretends to be lifeless. Anyway, it looks all miserable and dorky, hanging there next to all that happy, well-adjusted merino. Poor things, I'll give them a little more attention tomorrow.

Colorways, left to right: "Tequila Sunrise," "Killarney Woods," "Enter the Dragon," "Beach Grass," "Pacific Sunset" (all merino) and "Passion Fruit" (soy fiber). The soy fiber is actually the fine, silken waste left over from comercial tofu production. I think that is marvelous, and I'd like to use more of it, if I can ever get it to behave.

While the yarn was drying, I cleaned and put away my enamel dyepots, and started cooking in an old cast-iron pot on the stove, a pot that has made countless batches of gumbo.

After dinner, I perused the yarn I got from Knitivity for my birthday a few weeks back. The one on the left was a delightful gift from Lisa Louie, the rest was my annual birthday splurge: "Tannebaum" in Biagio singles, "Lake Berry" sock yarn, and "Watermelon" sock yarn. The photo got the basic color of the Watermelon correctly, but doesn't catch the subtle gradients of color.

Also, what to do with those now-empty holiday cookie tins? It occurs to me to save them for next year as presentation boxes when giving handspun yarn as gifts. What do you think? Re-using an item that is ordinarily discarded or recycled, and providing a handy, moth-proof container for the yarn at the same time ... not a bad idea, I think.

I suppose that this catches me up a little bit, at least for the moment. I've left my readers with little blog fodder lately, and I do apologize. I've been up to my ears in tax and my primary typing finger is injured (it feels strange typing with the middle finger instead, while holding the damaged appendage aloft).

Wool was dyed and soup was eaten today. Sweaters and socks were worn. It felt good. But let me tell you something -- if I hear of anyone from Idaho archly declaring that it's too hot for wool in Louisiana?

I'm gonna run right up there and smack 'em.


At 5:48 AM, Blogger Mary Lou said...

40 and raining feels way colder to me than 20 and sunny. Hoping for some 20s and sunny upriver here, since we are supposed to be back in the deep freeze next week.

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous becky29 said...

Such beautiful yarn!!

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous MonicaPDX said...

I haven't ever spun soy, but oy, that is weird. Hope you find out what the heck makes it do that. All the colors are looking gorgeous, though!

I'm envious of your fog. The rain we've got, the 30's we've got, we even got a few snowflake splats yesterday... But for some reason, in this section of Portland I hardly ever see fog. When I was growing up in N. Portland we got fog pretty often, and I miss it! (But I bet the motorists don't. [g])

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous elizabeth said...

Reusing the boxes is a great idea! Do you think anyone would be disappointed not to find cookies or candy? Nah, it's YARN!

Please post how your soysilk comes out. I have 1 lb. of soysilk in my fiber stash but haven't been brave enough to spin it yet.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Diann said...

40s and rain sounds like our whole January! It was colder than usual, we've had wave after wave of storms from Alaska, and it's rained the last 13 days.
Good times for soup - potato leek last time - and knitting. We're decluttering too: Ken just decluttered his last (of 12) motorcycle!
I'm almost ready for spring, except I'm never ready for summer!

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Janet said...

Hi there.

I am looking for a knitting tutor. In fact, I have 2 other friends who are looking for the same here in BR. Any help you can give will be appreciated.


At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just received two skeins of Aunt Gail from Knitivity. It's gorgeous! I have a good shawl pattern in mind. Didn't know if you were working on anything related to A. Gail's memory? I know you've talked about that idea in your blog.

Thanks for working to get this colorway on the market!

Carol Lee in Prince George, VA

At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Diann said...

Dez -- Are you coming to Stitches West this week? Rain is predicted for pretty much the whole week, so be prepared!

I'll be at the Market Friday and would love to see you - maybe for breakfast if possible before your classes?



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