Tag Archives: spinning

Two sides of the Atlantic, the same Saturday Sky over all


Sunny, hot, humid.

Last Saturday:

I realize you can’t tell from that picture, but sunset of an even hotter, more humid July day.

(Albeit with interesting clouds.)

In between, thunderstorms which only served to put even more humidity in the air, I swear.

The Saturday before, a little different.  While friends and family back home were sweltering and sweating, this is what I and my elder daughter the RockStar were experiencing:

Rain most of the day, with a high temperature about 21 C (70 F for us Americans), with lows in the low teens (50s F):

(These grey skies are over Holy Trinity Church, next to the Imperial College Union on Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, England.)

But I didn’t mind the rainy out-of-doors, as Saturday was a Knit Nation day!  Knit Nation was held at the site above, Imperial College, a great venue to stay, learn, knit, bond, and shop.

That day, while my teenager who was with me in London (or, more accurately, I should say that I was with her) was off with her English friend, I took a class from Merike Saarniit called “Spinning to Knit”, in which I officially learned how to use my drop spindle (essentially self-taught spinner here), and most especially learned how to ply, which I’d never done, ever.  Very appropriate for the Tour de Fleece (spin-a-long) which was going on concurrent with the Tour de France!


First plied spindle-spun handspun, and it’s knittable!  It’s a sampler of different types of fiber, so I wouldn’t really knit it, but still….YARN!  And I made it!

Speaking of yarn, I subsequently ran through the marketplace (and didn’t even buy anything — well, not then) — it was amazing, but I was there to scope it out given limited suitcase space, and to see the lovely Emmms!  Some of you knitters have loved her socks, but she is herself just as lovely.

She was there with her partner in crime craftiness and creativity, Lou, with their super bags, Made by Loumms, and in the shop of an amazing dyer, Pippa of Sweet Clement.

I disrupted business for a bit as we chatted, and I gave her a mustache mug that I thought she would like (I was right), but then I did have to let her get back to work (after taking advantage, granted, of the opportunity to buy some lovely yarn and bags, but I don’t have pictures of those all yet, so perhaps I will show you at some future date).  We didn’t have the chance to get together outside Knit Nation, as we kept missing each other.  Guess I’ll have to come back….

The day before, I had taken a Knit Nation class with Franklin Habit about introduction to lace knitting techniques and history.  Though I am not a lace beginner, I am fascinating by the history of knitting, and don’t pretend to know everything about techniques, so I thought it would be interesting.  Which it was, naturally.  Franklin is a wonderful speaker.  Plus, as a bonus, we were able to fondle some of his lace.

The Anna Shawl, hot off the needles. It’s lovely, delicate but sturdy-feeling.  So cool to see it, and other Franklin lace, in person!

Back to Saturday: the RockStar being off for the day meant that I could hang out in the Knit Tea salon, where I ran into my old friend Carole whom I had met at  Sock Camp (she had a short break from her duties as Knit Nation crew), and she introduced me to her friends Alison & Claire who lived in England, who were awesome.

The rain had stopped by dinnertime

The Queen's Tower, Imperial College, London

and we walked to the student pub, where we ordered a variety of starters (appetizers) for a light meal, and I was introduced to the joys of Pimm’s.

There are cucumbers and strawberries in there. It’s awesome.  I loved it. No, it’s not beer; it’s a gin-based liquor, which in this incarnation is mixed with fizzy lemonade.  And strawberries and cucumbers, and orange, and mint, if I recall correctly.  I might have been getting a trifle fizzy myself after a couple. Plus, when our food was greatly delayed, the bar gave us a round of drinks: more Pimm’s!

Then we went and played bingo with knitters for charity.

BTW, British bingo is different from American bingo. And we missed the announcement of the rules since we were late because our food was so late.  Thus, picture me trying to figure out what constitutes bingo (hint: it’s not five in a row), under the influence of several Pimm’s, with the additional factor of delightful but confusing traditional British bingo slang.

Funny, I didn’t win anything.

Still, it was serious business for some of us.


(ignore the wine bottle.  Srs.)









Well, maybe not so much.

The amazingly talented (and also charming and adorable, not entirely fair) Ysolda with Carole, listening to a story which I shall not repeat.

Alice/Socktopus, fearless leader of Knit Nation hearing the same story from Claire, I think.

At the end o’ bingo, Cameron, the intrepid young bingo caller (15! and quite self-assured), Cookie A on the left, Alice, and – I think – Cameron’s mother, on the Knit Nation crew, whose name I never caught (I can almost make it out when I enlarge the photo, but not quite).  She and all the crew were awesome, and seemed to be having a good time even as they worked hard to keep things running smoothly, as they did.

Thus, at the end of a lovely evening, replete with Pimm’s and giggles, I toddled back to my home away from home (the Imperial College dorms, a great place to stay in pricey London, and such a great location) to meet up with my daughter and her friend who had had their own wonderful day in Covent Garden and Camden.

Next blog post: The moors which followed the above…(and the sea!).

A Day without Rain is like a Day with Sunshine


Well, it made sense at the time! Kind of? Not really.

Yesterday, FINALLY, it didn’t rain (I waited till today to post that, though, after what happened Friday night) and we had glorious sunshine all day to let the floods and puddles dry up, and to KIP in for WorldWide Knit In Public Day.

This is knitting in public at the morning Viroqua’s Farmer’s Market, sponsored by Ewetopia Fiber Shop. The sun was welcome though warm. I had some real home-made lemonade being sold by the Pony Club next door to raise money, mmm, tart and refreshing. I haven’t had real lemonade in a long time. Look above the silver car in the picture above, and you can see the top of an Amish buggy, one of several at the market to sell woven baskets. I resisted the lure of iIsconsin honey, hand-made items of various lovely sorts, vegetables, maple syrup, and plants (either didn’t want to carry them or, though I was tempted to buy a tomato or some flowers, knew they wouldn’t stand up to the day’s heat as it would be a while before getting home). But a home-made donut and molasses cookie might have called my name over the course of the morning.

That wasn’t the only lure at the market. Someone brought these little guys to sell too:

Despite the fact that the puppy would only cost two years’ allowance, and that Mom didn’t mind holding the puppy either , somehow my friend Karla and her family did NOT come home with a new puppy. A certain amount of angst followed. Puppies can snuggle their way into your heart very quickly, eh? But a dog is a lifetime commitment.

Anyway, knitting moved to Ewetopia

when the Farmer’s Market packed up (with a stop on our part for lunch and a visit to the ice cream/candy shop, where they had turtle-shaped turtles!)

I didn’t get a decent photo in the shop because my hands were kind of busy. But over the course of the day, two other La Crosse knitters came to knit (they’re on Ravelry as Mairwen and PhireAngel), and Karla left as her girls were getting a touch antsy (the idea of knitting was much more enthralling than actually knitting at that age). VIroqua is a 45 minute drive or so from La Crosse, which is the reason I don’t get to Ewetopia very often given my full-time plus job and mom stuff, but WWKIP Day was a great excuse to make the trip, given that I didn’t have to work yesterday.

And there was a ‘learn to spin’ class in the afternoon. Never mind that the spinmeister Marge would have been delighted to get me addicted teach me to spin any time last November when all the wheels were set up at the knitting retreat. No, I wasn’t going to take up a new obsession; I have no room for a wheel and I already have way too much yarn. But since I had called Kathryn the day before to check if preregistration were necessary for the class, just in case I was there and interested, and then no one else was stepping up at the time, I did feel a little obligated to fulfill my curiosity. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

Kathryn, Ewetopia’s owner, patiently showed me how and encouraged me through some truly awful overspinning and slubs (mostly the former, I have to learn to treadle slower — I think it’s a musician thing, I keep tapping out more of a driving rhythm as I would to mark a beat). But at times, I had a flow going briefly, and did spin enough fiber to ply, which was satisfying. The yarn was deemed ‘pretty good for the first time’ and ‘not too overplyed’ after plying (well, slightly more encouraging things than that were said, but I’m being realistic!).

So here it is, after washing and weighting — I made yarn out of fluff!

Now the eternal dilemma; what to do with just a small amount of (less than perfect, shall we say?) handspun? Maybe 20 yards of, um, highly variable weight thick and thin bulky-ish wool (which was wonderful stuff to spin, by the way, I forgot to ask what it was). Because you can bet I am making this into something, and something for ME, because I am the only one who will appreciate this rather idiosyncratic twisted fiber. Coffee cup cozy, perhaps? I will take thought.

There are witnesses who will swear that I bought a copy of Spin-Off magazine. Perhaps I did, but it was just for the knitting patterns. Truly. This doesn’t mean I’m addicted . . . . not yet. . .

Here’s the Saturday Sky when I came home, with a red-winged blackbird exiting stage left (I don’t usually see those birds in my back yard. Maybe due to no tall grass in the marsh to hang out on right now?).


And now for something completely different:

On this sunny Sunday (again! Not saying anything about rain or lack thereof yet, though!), Father’s Day is celebrated here in the United States. I feel so grateful that I can celebrate Father’s Day with my father, who only lives a few blocks away. And I feel grateful to have a father whom I know loves me and is proud of me. And tells me so. And likes hand knit socks! (Fear not, Dad, more socks will come!)

I’m also grateful for the husband who embarked with me on this crazy ride called parenthood, and became a father almost 13 years ago (about thirteen years ago, The Preteen was trying to kick her way out at my brother’s wedding, as a matter of fact!).

Thanks, Dads everywhere, present with us, and present in our hearts. We love you.