Saturday, December 15, 2007

'tis the season

...for procrastination!

The Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
A few years ago, I was on this "I will make my own wrapping paper" kick that resulted in me spending about $100 on brown craft paper, rubber stamps, and stamp pads. Then, I spent a few years carefully coordinating wrapping papers--colors, patterns, themes, etc. I still wrap, but the stamp pads have long since dried out and the paper is so mis-matched, it's funny. I use gift bags for hard-to-wrap items, like wine. Or gin. For some reason, I give a lot of gin. Go figure.

2. Real or artificial tree?
Last year, we had a real tree for the first time in ages and it was WONDERFUL. It was also much more gigantic than we'd anticipated. Note for future reference: saving the dried up tree to use as firewood? Not the most brilliant idea.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, or the following weekend.

4. When do you take it down?
I try to have to down by the Feast of the Epiphany if only to keep the neighbors from talking smack on me. I have, however, left the tree up as late as February (if by February, I mean early March. That was a bad year all-around, though).

5. Do you like eggnog?
No. No matter the amount of rum or brandy used.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Gosh. I can't remember just one. I have fond memories of the rocking horse, the stuffed poodle that my Uncle Jon had "wrapped" in a garbabe bag, and loads of Barbie stuff.

7. (I'm adding this) Favorite gift received as an adult?
A piano. And not so much the piano (I do love it), but the way I had to "unwrap" it... Mike sent me on a scavenger hunt that started somewhere under out Christmas tree and ended 2 or so miles away at my parents' house. He'd hidden clues behind stop signs, in the tree, all over the apartment, and at my mom's.

8. Do you have a nativity scene?
I think we had one when I was growing up, though I might be thinking of one that my grandmother has.

9. Hardest person to buy for?
It varies from year to year. Some years, I have no idea what to get my dad. Other years, I'm at a loss as to what to get my husband. I always come up with some ideas, though--even if it is with only days to spare.

10. Easiest person to buy for?
ME!!! Actually, that's not true. I'm the worst to shop for because I'm so dang picky. My mom is usually the easiest to shop for, and usually the first on my done list.

11. Worst Christmas present you ever got?
A monogrammed tote from Lillian Vernon. It was garish. And hardly a tote seeing as it barely fit a book in it. Somewhere, someone else is sporting that bag...

12. Mail or email Christmas cards?
We have a core of about 25 or so family members that send us cards, so we reciprocate. Every other year, I get motivated enough to find the addresses of friends and send them cards. This year, though, Mike's doing the Christmas card thing. I am equally relieved and fearful.

13. Favorite Christmas movie?
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story.

14. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I've actually bought Christmas presents as early as June and July, though invariably, I end up giving the recipient the gift early *and* still giving another gift at Christmas.

15. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
YES--and not that long ago, either.

15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas?
Growing up, we would go to my grandmother's for breakfast and eat red gravy and biscuits. I like that memory, or at least my version of it. I think I'd enjoy having a Christmas breakfast in bed at home--we haven't spent a Christmas at home in years.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
For the longest time, I was a clear-light purist, but in the last couple of years, the twinkly colored lights have spoken to me. I don't know what they're saying, I just know they are speaking. To me.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas". And I didn't even know I LOVED it until I heard it while my Mom and I were shopping a few weekends ago.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
We've got a traditional routine where we drive south and spend Christmas Eve with his family and then drive over to my parents to spend Christmas Day. It's not far from home, and yet... it is.

19. Can you name all of Santa's Reindeer?
Without singing their names, maybe not.

20. Angel or star on top of tree?
Since we're not decorating this year, I don't honestly know WHAT we've got. We've had both at some point, though not at the same time.

21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning.
Well, we open gifts with his family on Christmas Eve--does that count? We usually don't exchange gifts ourselves until late Christmas Day, though this year will be a leeetle different.

22. Most annoying thing this time of year?
People thinking that buying more equals giving more. Or, that getting more means you were "a good girl".

23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color?
God, all this stuff I used to do.... We've had plenty o' themed Christmasses: there was the year of the hay on the tree (it actually looked great), the candied fruit year, the dried fruit year (different fruit), the green-on-green year, the Hallmark year, the blue balls year, the we-need-more-white-lights year, and so on.

24. What do you leave for Santa?
If Santa's lucky, I give him a nice little going away present on December 23, if you know what I mean.

25. What's your Christmas wish this year?
A snow day on December 26th would be nice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

breaking rocks all day

Wow. I can hardly believe that I've been without a post for over a month.

I still don't have any Koigu, though I did pick up some Claudia's Handpainted, some Cascade 220 (for felted clogs), some Lorna's Laces roving (Black Purl), and I scored about 2 pounds of natural colored unknown wool from my good friend Sam.

In the last month, I've gotten a new boss, dealt with a semi-major plumbing issue, had my roof serviced, hosted the local knitting group's monthly Stitch 'n' Bitch, cleaned the holy hell out of my house (which included, among so many other things, shredding documents for 3 hours straight. Enron much?), and succumbed to the tempation that is sleeping late, as brought to me daily by my heated mattress pad.

I'm spending those last few minutes before dream-time reading Alden Amos' Big Book of Handspinning and having the predicted reactions: "I know that! It makes sense!" "I didn't know that, but damn, it makes sense!!!"

I was knitting on a sock for my mom until I poked my left pointer finger senseless. While that heals up, I'm knitting the first of two pairs of felted clogs. I've knit them before and forgot how quick a knit they are! I also forgot how much counting was involved until last night. We were on the couch, Mike was tuned into Deal or No Deal (it's SO his show), gabbing away about this and that when I sighed a Great Big Sigh and sniped, "I'm trying to count here!"

I've asked Santa for a blocking board and some Noro sock yarn. How about you?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The next to last thing I need

I need Koigu. I need it bad. I've been playing with some Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Sock (the Vera colorway) but no patterns are really clicking with that yarn. Then, as I cast on and worked the ribbing for a fourth sock, I remembered Broadripple. I knit a pair of those using Koigu, though the colorway is lost (the label MIGHT be in my craft room. It might also be some other place, like, say, the garbage.) and the socks were a gift for a friend... So I suppose I could justify a pair of those for myself. And, if I can use up the two skeins of LL that I have, well, I should certainly permit myself to buy a couple skeins of KPPPM, right?

I'm currently tackling the Rainbow socks from MagKnits, using OnLine's Supersocke 6-ply Winter in colorway 887--that's a combination of cinnamon, earth brown, royal blue, grey, cream, and mustard yellow. I picked it up at Rosie's back in late July when Mom and I were killing time before going to the theatre. There was a ton of this yarn in the sale bin and never one to either leave a yarn store empty handed OR pass up at least an earnest glance through the sale bin, I asked Mom to pick out a skein and I'd make her socks. Figured now was as good a time as any to start THAT project. So far, I'm enjoying this pattern and think it's a really neat way to work with the self-patterning yarns. A little unpredictable--and the end result looks kind of hard. Plus--short rows? Who doesn't like short rows?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I made it!

I've been sitting on this for a while, out of laziness and distraction. I'm still hoping to spin up and ply enough of this to knit Mr. Greenjeans (with mods, of course).

Merino from my two favorite sources: Brook and Amy. I'm calling this 2-ply Brooking--it has a woodsy, quiet feel to it and it's homage to two great ladies.

There are four photos total of Brooking--you can find the other three here.

Rhinebeck ramblings

I've been watching the Rhinebeck boards on Ravelry and reading the things that people will do differently next year, provided they don't, uh, pull wool over their eyes. There's not a lot I'd do differently--I made a list this year and got just about everything on it, I stayed within a free-form sort of budget (my budget was less about how much I could or couldn't spend and more "that's on my list, I bought it, so what does that bring my total spent to?" kind of thing), and I eased back into work with a day off on Monday.

Still, there are a few things I could do next year:
  • I don't need to go to the STR booth first thing. Don't get me wrong--it's lovely, lovely stuff and I enjoy being part of the tradition, but The Fold just sucks me in and threatens to clean out my wallet. It's a fiber vortex!!!
  • Do price comparisons before going to the festival. I think I got burned on one of my purchases and I vacillate between crying "The NERVE!" and accepting the price as fair enough, all things considered. This really applies more to equipment moreso than fiber.
  • Take more pictures! I only brought the camera in the second day because I didn't want to lug it around the first day. I don't feel like I missed any shots, but it might have been nice to get a few more shots in--Boogie, Ella, Anj, Jody, Christy, the Ravelry t-shirt march, the sheep that wouldn't stop bleating....
  • Be a little more social. A few people recognized me because I'd posted a picture of my squirrel tote here and on Ravelry. I remember at one point, a pair of knitters recognized me and I was a bit grumpy. I had no reason to be grumpy! Must have been a yarnover--you know, a fiber hangover?
  • Knit something in lace, like a shawl or a cardigan, to better prepare for the unpredictable weather. The forecasted highs were in the 70s for both days and both days seemed to fulfill that promise--in the sun. Shady areas were delightfully cooler. I made out nicely with my Clapotis on Saturday, and I think a cardi over a tee would be a perfect additional option.

My goals to achieve before next year:

  • Spin up the Liberty Ridge Merino and use it to knit one of the vests in Clara Parkes' book.
  • Knit at least one lace shawl OR one cardigan.
  • Abandon any Rhinebeck sweaters or shawls if I haven't started on one before August 1.
  • Knit at least 3 pairs of socks--the Jaywalkers and simple 2x2 ribbed socks are getting lonely without any other handknit socks to keep them company.

Rhinebeck is it for me--I'm pretty sure I've already got plans that take me in the complete opposite direction the weekend of Maryland Sheep and Wool--so, I've got months to prepare for next year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Let me count the ways

Sunset at the cottage
Where we stayed.

the way i roll
The way I roll.

alpaca models
And I do my little turn on the catwalk.

str silk merino roving
God damn you, Loch Ness Monster!

tussah baby camel
Baby camel. Tussah silk. If only my bed were stuffed with this stuff...

rhine fiber kingdom carders1
The big purchase. Already put into use...

rhodie llama caramel and golding 5oz
I *heart* Golding spindles.

Gorgeous weather!

More photos, including lots of foliage shots, are here.

I had such a great time at Rhinebeck this year! Part of that was hanging with good friends--thanks, Jody, for driving, thanks, Michelle, for cooking an amazing Saturday-night meal, and thanks, Christy, for knitting socks! There's much more to thank you three for, and I'll do that in my own way. I saw so many more people this year than last year--Anj, Ella, Amy Boogie, Sharon, Min, Min's friend (Rachel?), and more... I caught glimpses--I'm sure of it--of Vicki, Black Bunny Carol, the Harlot, and dozens of other bloggers and Ravelers, including Jim Bob Spins. Once again, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the festival as a whole--the fiber, the food, the friends. It's not a big secret that I've been struggling with some personal things lately, and Rhinebeck was just what I needed.

I stuck to my list and got nearly everything on it, save sock blockers. I even got a shawl pin from Moving Mud--that was a last minute purchase after a Ravelry-button-wearing fest-goer tipped me off--THANKS! I don't think I even saw Moving Mud the first 3 times I went through the barn they were in. The one thing I found myself wanting at the end of the trip, besides the iced coffee I was denied at a stop on 87 (what kind of coffee place in a rest stop runs out of coffee? Seriously.) was a Turkish spindle. I think I'll wait on that until Christmas or my next trip up to Maine. Or, if I get a really bad itchin' for one, I'll just call over to my girl Brook. It could be the plan!

The Anastasia sweater, for those asking, didn't get donned the entire weekend. Turns out I should have modifed the pattern--the arms need shaping. Not more shaping, but shaping period. Fortunately, the body fits great. The arms shouldn't be any big deal to frog and reknit, and I'm confident that I can do this by Christmas. For now, though, I've got spinning fiber up to my ears. This is really the good life.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Can you feel it?

Less than a work-day's worth of hours to go and we will be hitting the road!!!! No more sleeps! Everything still needs to be packed!

BUT! I finished the sweater!!!!

anastasia blocking
It's blocking...

I haven't tried it on all seamed up, though I did try it on with one sleeve done. The body fits, the sleeves make me feel goofy, but I'll elaborate more when I post about the pattern itself.

If you're going to Rhinebeck and want to say hey, look for my bag:

you will know me by the squirrels on my bag
It has SQUIRRELS on it. It's awesome.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone. Hope to see some of you in Dutchess County.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

When nobody's watching

Most of the details have now been lost to consciousness, however, I had to share parts of my bizarre dream last night. The subject: Going to Rhinebeck.

For whatever reason, I was flying to Rhinebeck. The girls (faces mosaic'ed in my dream-world) and I were all packed and running down a hotel hallway to one of our 8 rooms (there were only, like, 5 of us, though). We got to the room and all jumped on the bed, sighing sighs of relief. Then, we each went around and shared our secret purchase that we were planning. One girl wanted to buy a pound of silk yarn. Another was looking for orifice hooks. I forget what I was looking for or what the rest of the dream girls were looking for, but at some point, we started to compile a list of all these secret must-haves. I don't know why these things were secret, they just were.

After writing lists for over 30 minutes, I began to get super-anxious--we were going to miss our flight. What time did our flight leave? How long would it take us to WALK to the airport (none of us drove, for some reason)? What about security? And checking bags? And what if we miss the flight? Could we get on another? I got so worked up in my dream that I actually woke up sweating!

I certainly hope I've not just had a vision!

In other Rhinebeck excitement--I have a sleeve. One. Sleeve. I cast on for the other this morning (on the bus, no less), so I should have TWO SLEEVES by... Friday night? We'll see. If I'm not caught up in a whirlwind of finishing this weekend and early next week, I will post about how much I dislike this pattern. Don't get me wrong--the sweater is turning out to be beautifully knit. The pattern? Borderline crap. You'll see.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

High in fiber

I'm going to say that it was pre-Rhinebeck jitters that led me to the following shopping frenzy.


Hibicus corriedale from Spunky Eclectic.


September FOTM edition: merino/tencel blend in the Aspen colorway. Yum.


16oz of merino in the Bark colorway. This'll be plied with the Wangum merino I got off of Brook a few weeks back. In fact, if you just wait another day or so, I'll post a shot of the first 4oz of that magical pairing.


It's shiny, it's pink, it's green, it's RAVELRY!!! This'll be spun finely and plied with the superwash below.


Superwash merino in the Hosta colorway. I know the greens aren't the same as the green in the Ravelry merino/tencel above, but I think it'll be a wonderful yarn once plied together.

The next batch of fiber I picked up when I took a trip down Peepytown Road. You know, to get to The Mannings, Pennsylvania's own little slice of fiber nirvana. I fondled Noro and Debbie Bliss and Cascade and just...everything. I touched drop spindles and hand carders and loom shuttles (I don't have a loom. I was just touching everything...). And I spun on a Reeves, great big swooping spins of the curvy wheel, feeling the therapeutic waves of spinning and fiber wash over me. I mean, it had been a good 36 hours since I last spun! Onto the haul...


This might get paired with the Hibiscus corriedale above. Or not. Undecided. This is merino in the Semiprecious colorway.


Gaywool dyed merino/silk (85/15), Boronia colorway. Gorgeous stuff with subtle variations.


So nice a blend, in fact, I bought it twice. Same specs, except this is the Belladonna colorway. For both of these shots, there's a much larger image on the Flickr page--really let's you see the gorgeous color.


I'm thinking these two merino/silk beauties want to be plied with each other. For now, though, I'm just going to gaze upon each and marvel at their softness and luster.


50/50 soy/wool. This stuff is my surprise favorite from the trip. When we got back to our hotel room (we were staying in Hershey for the last cross-stitch convention...), I whipped out the drop spindle immediately and dropped about 15 fingering-weight yards of this fiber. Yummy, yummy stuff.

fiber orgy

Fiber. Orgy. Might be time to put out the Do Not Disturb sign....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Baby done a bad bad thing

Remember how not that long ago, I was working on RPM from Knitty? And remember I said that the FO was for Mike because one, he picked out the yarn (OK, so he grunted and pointed--that's good enough for me!), and two because he likes records?

Yeah. The socks are done.

RPM what's under the slippers

RPM fits me

They just don't fit Mike. BUT, they fit my little feet perfectly...

RPM not done

Post-Rhinebeck, I'll rip back on these socks and rework them to fit the true recipient. Think of it as Sock Karma. Until then, I really need to finish the first sleeve and start and finish the second sleeve before Friday. Because this weekend? It's all about finishing.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Heading for Venus and still we stand tall

It's the final countdown!

Knit-bloggers all over the place know I'm talking about RHINEBECK, the knitting and fiber event of the season, nay, the year. Two weeks from today, I will be comfily established in the cottage I'm sharing with my traveling companions. Lists will be compiled, reviewed, revised, and rewritten (neatness counts!), hand-knit socks will be worn, hand-knit sweaters will be keeping us warm while we soak in the Hudson Valley chill.


Hand-knit sweaters? *screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech*

I know what I'm doing this long weekend--in addition to attending a funeral, helping a friend move, backing up files, and cleaning the house, I'll be spinningknitting the last sleeve and a half of my Rhinebeck sweater. If (and really, it's when) I get bored/tired/frustrated of knitting without adding inches (you all know there's a point in the project where you knit 10 rows and you feel like you've only knit a quarter of an inch. On US10s. With Cascade 220. Doubled.), I'll turn to blocking the front and back and go about seaming those two together.

Hey--anybody wanna come help me do some mock-steeking? That is, I'm cutting the excess of the back off after I seam... I DON'T WANT TO RUIN THE SWEATER BY CUTTING IT.

Oooh, and if I either manage my time well or get bored-er-er, I'll post photos of my pre-Rhinebeck fiber haul. It's a sickness, I tell you. And the only cure is MORE FIBER.

Monday, September 24, 2007


A mess of photos!

lincoln spun 3

Spunky Eclectic's Fiber of the Month Club: Lincoln wool, an insanely long staple (8-12 inches!), dyed in the sunrise/sunset hazy colors of late summer/early autumn--Harvest Haze.

This wool was a lot of fun to spin--the long staple let me play with the weight of the final single plus it made for a really strong yarn. A friend gave me her 4 oz (she's not a fan of pastels AND she loves me), so I'll have 8oz total, once I get around to spinning the other batch up. I'm thinking, given that this wool is really not a wearable-wool (unless you're like Sasquatch or something, and then--why are you wearing wool? You're Sasquatch, for crying out loud!), it'll make for a neat felted bag. I have the option to ply it with this unknown natural wool I have, which might temper the pastels some, allowing for a more tweed-y look in the end.

lincoln plied 1

That's 90 yards of the Lincoln plied with the unknown natural. I think I screwed it up, though, because the ply isn't really all that nice. I think I spun the unnatural single counter-clockwise in a fit of spinner's rebellion. Or, stupidity.

I got some fiber from Brook, as mentioned in the last post. Here's what I've done with that so far:
fiber tableau
That's a 534 yd. hank with the twist set (tied with orange), 414 yards on the niddy noddy, and about 3.25 oz left to spin.

I love spinning the merino! And the larger hank that's already set is so soft--every time I walk by wherever it's currently sitting (right now, the ottoman in the living room; but it's been in the bathroom, in the dining room, in the bedroom, the kitchen, outside, and in the yarn room), I have to pet it. I can't wait to spin up the remaining 3.25 oz, but I really should...

Because I've got a Rhinebeck sweater to finish! I've really been able to take my time on this project--hell, the back was largely done already. All I had to do was rip back to the armholes and reknit to the smaller size:

anastasia back repair

The two inch step to the left is where I ripped back to the new armhole measurement and then bound off the excess. After I seam the sweater, I'll machine-sew just outside the seam--in the selvedge--to secure the soon-to-be loose ends, and then snip, snip, snip.

As mentioned in a recent post, I'm on Sleeve Island--the front and back of Anastasia are complete!!!

Anastasia front and back done

Here's the front on the back, unseamed but held together with stitch markers at the shoulders. The carefully sighted among you will note the two inches of excess of excess back on either side of the edges of the front.

I started the first sleeve last night while watching the 1956 original, Invasion of the Body Snatchers on The Mighty Swede's Big Screen.

Mom and I went to Ikea over the weekend--she's redoing the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom, I'm always happy to help shop. Halfway through the various showrooms upstairs, Mom finally turned to me and said, in response to my 1,000th cry of "YARN!", "Not every drawer and bin and receptacle is meant for yarn storage!!!" I don't know--I beg to differ.

For instance, take my overflowing basket of handspun (it also includes some hand-dyed):
basket o' handspun

I either need to start using up all this handspun yarn OR I need a bigger basket. Which of the two do you think is a more realistic event? Exactly--I'll need to go back to Ikea to reinvestigate all of the storage options I saw while browsing the showrooms.

It's a short week for me--I'm off to Hershey with Mom and sister (she's flying down from Mass). Convention might not be what it used to be, but that's ok--we've got the Spa, chocolate martinis, and PLANS.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gathered them all

I want to make this from some stuff I’ve been spinning (started out like this). For whatever reason, when I started spinning it, I thought I had closer to a pound of fiber. Turns out I’ve got 10 oz. Hmmmm. The pattern calls for at least 16 oz (I’d be making the size L-ish), so I need to either find a different yarn to use (HA! My mind is set on using handspun…) or have my crack cocaine dealer Brook dye me up 10 more ounces of the same stuff, ish, and then I’d even out any of the inconsistencies by plying the original batch with the new batch. Voila!

There’s been some knitting going on, though I seem to always put off taking photos of the WIP. This weekend, nearly every hour, I said to myself, “Self, charge that camera’s dying battery and get some pictures of that sweater in progress in this gorgeous natural light….” Or, “Self, charge that camera and take some pictures of that Lincoln wool you spun up to DK weight singles, a scratchy yet sumptuous 290+ yards.” Actually, I did take a photo of the plied bit of Lincoln—90 yards plied with mystery natural-colored wool/fiber. It has a nice look to it, preserving the long-stapled color changes and softening the roughness of the Lincoln. Still, I only see myself felting with this yarn, though it will surely be a beautiful felted bag or pillow or what-have-you.

The progress on Anastasia is good—the back and front are done. I repaired the back by ripping back to just under the armholes and reshaping the sweater to a size two down (still hard to believe that I thought the size 48 was a good idea, but in my defense, it would have probably fit…). I’m working on the sleeves now and have struggled with the design—do I knit the sleeves as written (3/4) or do I attempt full sleeves? My first attempt at full sleeves left me with a cuff too wide. Initially, I didn’t want to end up with sleeves that have too many discrepancies from the pattern. So, depending on the number of increases I’d do from cuff to elbow, I feared that the modified sleeve would end up looking if not hideous, then, at least badly hand knit. I was prepared to make attempt 3 on the bus ride in this morning (late and 35 cents short of a transfer, but bless the little old lady that gave me the coins. Karma, right?), then I remembered my original intent with this sweater—to knit something exactly to pattern. So, there’s my decision, made for me by the pattern. That’s something of a creative relief.

Pictures soon (it’s all relative) of the Lincoln wool, the merino singles, Anastasia, and the photos for the entry that will be titled “Baby Done a Bad Bad Thing”.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Over and over and over

I promise the next entry will contain knitting and/or spinning content--I have been doing a little bit of both these last few weeks, not that the recent-most posts would be any indication...

After I rebuilt the carburetor:

carb rebuild done

... we reinstalled the fuel assembly in the front of the car:

fuel tank reinstall

And then we installed the new fuel pump and the rebuilt carburetor:

fuel pump carb installed

Everything looked GREAT! Mike ran down to the gas station with our borrowed one-gallon tank (I believe one of our neighbors has *our* mini-tank...) and I set about giving Bert a bath. Washed, dried, waxed, and buffed, the car was gleaming and the recent body work was hard to see because of that shine. Ready to put in some gas, turn the key and go, we give her a gallon of the good stuff. I pump the pedal a few times--we'd blown out the line using another neighbor's handy-dandy air compressor--turn the key, and get nothing.

We checked the Bentley manual, the Muir book, and the crappy Haynes guide and double-checked the wires to make sure head bones and knee bones and etc. were in order. We special ordered spark plugs (they were in the next morning, score) and pulled the old plugs, hoping that of the Holy Trinity (gas, air, spark), we'd solved the problem.

Still no go.

Our friend Martin helped yesterday, head-scratching as he and I squatted at the back of the car and pondered the state of Bert. And while I'm absolutely convinced that I'm no where nearer to tooling around the 'hood, I am convinced that the ignition coil is bad (Martin, bless'em, checked for spark while I turned it over; it was weak the first time, and then non-existent the next two times. Sure sign of a coil on its way out, eh?). If nothing else, by the time we get this big ol' jalopy running, I'll either have replaced everything or at least touched and tweaked everything.

The point is, of course, I'm still having fun. I rebuilt my carburetor, bitches! Really? Really! I squeezed my hand in the engine compartment and blindly tightened the nut that holds the carburetor on the manifold! I spent the afternoon communing with this piece of history, learning more and more how to appreciate the simplicty and beauty of the air-cooled engine.

And, because there hasn't been enough pussy lately, here's how Chico spent the weekend:
exhausted chico

I think I might have to re-process all of these photos--for whatever reason, they seem to be exceptionally crappy. Or, maybe I've just gotten really spoiled with the dSLR....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Speed bump

In our continued efforts to get Miss Bert back on the open road, we decided to work on rebuilding the carburetor last night. I'd already ordered the carb kit, which consisted of needles and pins and gaskets, and Mike was sure he had the carb cleaner from his MC carb-extravaganza leftover (hard to believe he rebuilt his carbs just over a year ago...).

As we set about getting started, we realized we were out of cleaner *and* needed more instruction that what the Bentley manual provided. So, we walked to PepBoys (what else do you do when you don't have a running car or motorcycle?) and then came home and printed out the instructions here, and then got down to business. Things went as according to plan as possible (there were some moments of noodle-scratching) until we came to step 5 (Remove the three screws that hold the automatic choke. Remove the ... Retainer. Spacers. Choke. Plastic cap.). In fact, things in step 5, you might say, had an 85% success rate. Years of grime and possible neglect (I've developed a huge amount of doubt as to how much previous owners have truly cared about this car, but that's an in-person rant) had that plastic cap in place good. With no place to get a good grip, Mike decided to use a flat-head screwdriver to pry it out. He nicked something off of the top of the plastic cap and stopped. I had the brilliant idea that I could perhaps get the screwdriver in the slot and then twist it so that the fatter part of the head would allow me to apply pressure from below. That didn't work, so I tried prying too. And snapped that plastic cap in two.

carb choke plastic cap broken

For reference, this is what it's supposed to look like:

carb choke plastic cap

We soldiered on, broken piece and all, assuming a replacement cap would be easy enough to come by. So, the carburetor was completely disassembled and cleaned up (and, an aside, the rust in the carburetor? I'm pretty sure I'm off pudding for a while... It was sludgy and disgusting and brownish-red.) and I cleaned up my fuel/grease/grime covered hands and consulted the Internet for a new part. And I learned that there is no replacement part.

Site after site, page after page, Google after Google revealed no matches. Mike and I wondered aloud to each other why something as simple a plastic cap, something that could quite possibly snap in a situation similar to the one we'd just earlier participated in, why it was so unique, so irreplaceable, so not available to purchase for the low, low cost of $4.35.

All's not lost, though. A few tips from the forums (thanks Kevin!) and I should be able to get a used cap soon enough. This just means that instead of driving around top-down this long weekend, the adventures have been pushed back at least another weekend. That's okay, though. Because I can keep dreaming.

ETA: BugCity is hooking me up with a used cap--should be here by week's end! We might get her on the road by Sunday!!! The queue for rides start *here*.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Like a kitten with a ball of yarn

I've been stashing a lot over on Ravelry. I'm up to 56 entries and I feel both under- and over-whelmed. I feel like I don't have enough (greedy, much), but mostly because it's all yarn that I'm so familiar with (except for one thing that I'm manually importing from my Excel file--I am still trying to figure out what one of my stash yarns is because the notes in my file make no sense to me...). But, I also was reminded, as I stashed the yarn, that almost all of the stash has a project associated with it. Sugar 'n' Cream? Sonnet. Jo Sharp DK Wool? Scoop du Jour cardi. I'm struck by the amount of sock yarn I have, but I'm also somewhat disappointed that I don't have more (again, see comment above regarding greed).

What I haven't stashed yet is the handspun yarn, and my oh my, am I ever amassing a stash of that. Here're some shots of what I've been spinning just lately. As always, click on the photo to get a bigger image.


Spunky Eclectic's FOTM in Tulips. Yummy, yummy, tulips.


I'm still working on spinning thinner singles, but I'm getting better at it. All along, I intended the Tulips to be paired with something else and I wanted the final yarn to remain at a lighter gauge than worsted.

monica's ghia

So, at Dye Day last month, I did up something in a red-orange and black (it came out light mandarin and gray), spun that up thin, and then plied the two for a completely custom look. I'm calling it Monica's Ghia because it was her car that inspired me (her '71 Karmann Ghia is Tangerine with a black top).

tulips navajo

With what I had leftover of the Tulips after plying, I tried Navajo plying once again. This time I kept things slower and much more steady and I ended up with perfectly plied (that is, no doo-doo spots) yarn.

bflbunny spindle1

At the August Stitch 'n' Bitch, I learned how to use hand carders and blended BFL with Winston, creamy, yummy, bunny.


With the angora I had left over, I played with one of Anj's spindles and drop spindled a good ounce of bunny into lovely, sumptuous, Oh. My. God. singles.

celebrations navajo

Before I perfectly plied the Tulips, I imperfectly plied Celebrations, another FOTM offering. This is Shetland wool and it's wonderful to work with. I drafted it by color section to preserve the color changes a bit better when it came to plying. I knew before the package even arrived that I'd be Navajo plying this bit, if for no other reason than to get more practice in.

sleeping beastie3

And because I can't resist. He looks so harmless and sweet when he's asleep...

I'm looking to get some blog recommendations. Any one you'd like to recommend? It doesn't have to be yarn or fiber-ish...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Was sie w√ľnschen

With a week or so to digest the State of Bert, I'm less angry now and more optimistic. Pleasantly challenged, you might say. Mike and I spent Sunday siphoning the tank and removing it, taking off the carburetor, and removing the fuel pump. Of course, I took photos*.

Passenger side repair

Here's the Ghia, freshly rolled** out from the garage yesterday afternoon.

Driver's side full shot

The repairs on the driver's side, with a view of the engine compartment, too.

Rust in the neck

The fuel tank's neck. You can't really tell here (and I don't know that you can tell in the original size, either), but there is a significant amount of rust in the neck.


We read the manual...

Removing the tank

...and pulled out the tank. There clearly was something fouling the gas. So, now we're going to clean and coat the inside of the tank before re-installing it.

34 PICT 3

We pulled the carburetor off. It looked fairly clean on first inspection, but we're going to give it a cleaning anyway. If the second fuel filter (the one that is visible in the engine compartment; the first fuel filter was inline right off of the gas tank) really was a puddingly fouled as Carl said, then chances are the carbs got some junk while in the trunk, too.

Ghia in the garage

Then, we rolled her back in for the night.

(The complete set--all 63 images--can be found here.)

So, we've got a shopping list: sending unit (the one we pulled out was rusty), carb kit, boot (the one I have is kind of coming apart), Rodine 50 (to clean out the tank), fuel pump (less than $20, so, c'mon). Martin made a good point (he rolled up as we were wrapping up)--it ran fine to get it there, so it's not necessarily the engine or something more in-depth. And, since we found lots of floaties in the gas, it's obvious the fuel was contaminated. Whether that's Carl's fault or ours, I'm not going to worry about at this point. Because. Well, because fuck that shit, yo. Martin, the Wise Ol' Swede, also pointed out that most fuel lines are made of stainless steel, so that shouldn't be rusty. Which, I might add, is good news because holy petrol, replacing the fuel line would be a major pain in the ass.

I'm pretty excited to be working on her after spending much of the last year worrying that she'd never be road-worthy. And even though we had to roll her out of the garage, that didn't stop the neighbors and passers-by from rubbernecking. I believe I promised rides to at least a half-dozen people yesterday, so I hope I can deliver on that in a few weeks...

As for the paint job she's sporting now... I was originally going to paint the car the stock blue it was in June 1974. But, I don't know, now. I've got about a year or so to mull it over, and then next year's big money will be spent on painting. I know that I don't want red... I'm just not a fan of red cars. And, I don't want to redo the interior, though it would be fairly easy and it's not something I'm going to rule out for a future project. That said, I don't want a dark interior (black seats in a convertible? Yeah. Not cool. Literally.), so if I redo the interior, it would be cream or white or beige. Because, let's admit it, the interior is not exactly where it's at anyway, you know?

* I'm finding that as I go about working on the car, there's not a lot of photographic assistance on the Internet. The forums have been helpful in a textual sense, but sometimes I look at the engine, look at the manual, and still have to ask, "What the hell is that thingie that comes off of the thingie?" So, I'm trying to document the stages and steps we take and the oddities that we encounter so that maybe somewhere some other Ghia-enthusiast will Google the "thingie that comes off of the thingie" and find satisfaction here.

** Do not get me started on how pissed I was that when we took the car to the garage on April 29, it was DRIVEN there. BUT, when the time came to bring the car home, it wouldn't start. How the hell body work impacted the engine, I don't want to know. I mean, Carl gave us scenarios (including one that might be classified as insurance fraud), but that's not the point. I fully expected to drive my car home, especially when I think about the amount of money we paid to have the body work done... I cannot think rationally on this yet.