Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spinning 2; Finals Postponed

I finished spinning the rest of the Brown Sheep fiber a few days ago.  I am ready to ply, but for right now the project is on hold.

Both my husband and I retired last year.  We didn’t go about some things very scientifically, but retirement was quite an adjustment for both of us.  I thought I was prepared:  my plans were to substitute at my old school about 4 days per month; expand my relationship with fiber arts; spend more time with my children and grandchildren; do a bunch of things around the house.  Ha!  Much to my amazement, teaching has been the farthest thing from my mind and heart.  I have not set foot in the building for any reason (and in a small town that covers many of the community activities), not even to see my friends.  I do communicate with them by email and Facebook, but that’s about it.  This is strange for me.  When I took an 18 year break from teaching in midcareer, I was always aware of potential lesson plan implications of everything around me.  I sought out opportunities to teach—Sunday School, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, odd classes here and there.  Now?  Just not interested.  And the only person more surprised than I am is my husband.

The time has come for us to clean out the office and storage from our retail hardware business of 25 years.  My spinning is on hold because I’m finding this to be a very emotional experience.  We started this business from scratch, literally, in 1984.  We came back to my hometown with a nursing infant and an almost-4-year-old daughter. My mother, newly widowed, lived here.  We got a building at an unbelievably good price because the widow who owned it kept selling it to people who paid for part of it and then defaulted.  We pretty much got it for the leftover amount.  We obtained a store full of what would have been very expensive shelving because one grocery store bought out another one and didn’t want to have to haul off the extras.  We hired someone to spray paint all of it a uniform color and were good to go.  Now we are left with a lot of memories, both good and bad—two tiny blond children taking turns pushing each other up and down the aisles in a mop bucket; standing on the street corner in front looking at a vacant Main Street while everyone was waiting to see if Saddam Hussein would give in or if the first Gulf War would start; standing on that same corner at 3 in the afternoon watching for my son to walk from the point where the crossing guard escorted him across the street after kindergarten; customers who came in to talk and share the time of day or sometimes looking for comfort when their world had become dark and sad; operating in the dark without electricity for a few days after the town was struck by a tornado in 1995.  I’ve spent the last two days cleaning out office files, and I have some more to go.  In the corners of the file cabinet and the back of desk drawers, I found reminders of much of our lives—the remainders of a kit of Girl Scout Cookie sales from when my daughter, a mother of two, was a Girl Scout.  I found the pictures from the fly-up ceremony from when they were Brownies as well.  There were pictures of my children at various ages, put into the drawers when I replaced them with new ones.  I even found an entire unused set of Barbie doll patterns.  There were notes and newspaper clippings that customers had given me over the years, some of them slipped under the glass on the desktop.  There is the desk itself.  My husband knew how much I missed teaching at the time and had bought me a standard oak double pedestal desk that he found somewhere that was the standard teaching desk from my last job.  At the time it was an old familiar friend.  Today, the infant who sat in the playpen as we were stocking shelves for the opening is 6-foot-something, and he and his wife and two children were helping us clean out, reaching the top shelves and carrying out loads for the old folks.

Anyway, this is why I’m waiting awhile to ply my yarn.  I’m emotional enough that I’m afraid I won’t be able to concentrate and I will mess up.  We are very much closing a chapter of our lives and there is a certain amount of grieving to be done, even though we are very excited about our future and happy that we have retired.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Knitting 0; Spinning 1

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Obviously, I don’t have a gift for art direction—on the other hand, my 4-year-old granddaughters would be impressed because the yarn matches the spinner.  This is my first bobbin of yarn on my new Hansencrafts Minispinner.  It is the cherry model, in case you want to know.  For some reason, my wheel has always seemed feminine, but this little guy seems to need a masculine name.  I’m thinking of William, in honor of Matilda’s husband, or George, since he is made from a cherry tree.  Any suggestions are welcome!

As you can see, I have the WooLee Winder, and it is wonderful.  The only problem I have had with it—and it was in the instructions if I had read closely enough—is that when I stop to check twist and spin the Winder backwards to draw off some yarn to double, the backspin can loop the yarn around the stationary eye.  When you start to spin again, the takeup is non-existent.  Compared to a backlash on a casting reel, that’s an easy fix.  Now I just check that eye before I tap the control, and everything is peachy.

I watched Beth’s video for beginning spinners and set the speed control at 9 for the short forward draw that she was demonstrating.  I just couldn’t seem to get a consistent twist.  I tried long draw, but my fiber was some I bought a few years ago, and it was too compacted.  It finally occurred to me to increase the speed a little bit.  I moved it up to almost 10, and my spinning became much, much better. 

The machine is very, very quiet and spins so beautifully.  I’ve been trying to put in at least two hours a day.  I’d like to do more, but I have some projects to work on—cleaning out closets and bookshelves and stuff.