Friday, August 29, 2008

Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad

You'd think I'd finish that with something about being aroused for an educational professional. I tricked you. Instead, the badness I refer to is wheel lust. Hello, my name is Heather, and I'm a spinning addict.

Rhinebeck's on my mind, even though I have two major weekends between now and then. I just can't get the scene out of my mind: the crispness to the morning air, the vendors, the random alpacas strolling by in scarves, the bunnies, and the people. It really is among the happiest places on earth. And that's why I wanted to go this year, not because I had some list on the side or an urge to wait in line for one of the prize-winning fleeces or even to buy anything (except wine and cheese and pie to keep the Pieman from running after Our Lady of Boog).

Except, in the last two days, I've suddenly developed the notion, nay the desire to acquire a third wheel. And this third wheel would be something completely different than the other two (not a stretch to accomplish at all). I want something portable, more portable than my Fricke. And I want something that's less than $300. I want something cute and easy to use and compact. So, I've narrowed it down to two possibilities: a Charkha spinning wheel or a HitchHiker.

I know, I know. I really shouldn't compare apples to oranges. And, I should be wholly honest with myself (and you) and just say that I probably also just listed one of those as my potential fourth wheel. So, the question becomes, which do I need more at this time? I'd love to spin on a 100:1 ratio - that would be CRAZY, I bet. But, I don't often spin cotton and other short stapled fibers. Still, how Zen'ed out would I be, sitting somewhere with my little book Charkha, and making fine, fine thread. I suppose I could really go nutso-like and make my Mom custom embroidery cottons... Drawbacks - I'm not familiar with the Charkha, I don't know anyone that has one, and it's hand-cranked as opposed to treadled.

Then, there's the HitchHiker. Where the Charkha is refined, the HitchHiker wins for cuteness - foot-shaped treadle, hitchhiker cut-out handle, and teeny! The ratios aren't great in terms of range, but it's nothing a little fiber prep can't handle. I can see myself taking the HH many more places than the Charkha if only because it would allow me to do the kind of spinning I'm most used to right now.

Have any of your tried either of these wheels? What's your opinion? Have another recommendation for something inexpensive and portable?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

FOR SALE (baby not included)

alex seekle 5

Mike's officially put his 1973 Honda CB350 up for sale. It's been a fun few years, complete with breakdowns and rebuilds a-plenty. Overall, the bike's not a bad little thing to tool around town with. The biggest reason we've hung a For Sale sign on it is Mike wants a 750. If you know of anyone interested in a vintage Japanese motorcycle, let me know - I can give them any information they might need or put them in touch with Mike.

More photos, if you're interested, are here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


While I failed to finish the Sweater Sprint event of the Ravelympics, I have gold medaled in spinning. 94 yards of delicious superwash merino in a heavy worsted weight 3-ply. It's soaking now, so pictures later.

Where I failed with the Sweater Sprint - I don't knit fast enough, I don't knit often enough, and I modified the pattern so much that I went from the recommended US8s to US4s. Part of that was yarn substitution, no doubt. If I weren't such a tight knitter, I'm afraid I would have been knitting miles and miles of stockinette on US3s.

I lied in my last post when I said there wasn't much other news to report in the land of Sparks - I'm going to Rhinebeck! It took some trickery and some convincing and the promise to do something "special" for him (namely, climb one of the Catskills). Rhinebeck's always tough for this household simply because it's our anniversary weekend. The last two years, Mike's been very wonderful about letting me go away with girlfriends for the weekend. I told him after last year that I'd not go this year and instead do something with him for our anniversary.

Except, as the chatter about RHINEBECK! grew louder, I found myself really wanting to be there. When my little sister announced she'd be making the trip down from Boston, I started brainstorming. While Mike is highly fiber-tolerant (this morning, he served as a human Kate), he initially refused even the idea of going anywhere near the fiber festival. Slowly, though, I brought him over to the dark side around. It took the wine and cheese barn, deep-fried artichokes, and promises of pie. And, it also took the prospect of hiking a portion of the AT or climbing Hunter Mountain. It may hardly seem like much, but I think this is the largest compromise we've ever had to make in our relationship. Something tells me he's going to find the festival to be so much better than he imagined. Also, I now anticipate spending more on food than fiber that day, but such is life with a human garbage disposal.

Are you going to Rhinebeck?

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Tail of Two Kitties*

two kitties
I don't doubt that either one is unaware of the other. In fact, recent cat news is Chico left the dining room and kitchen this week and joined us in the bedroom. Consensus is he's seeking snuggles what with the cooler overnight temperatures.

Not much else to report in Sparks-a-lot Land. I'm knitting, spinning, and enjoying as much time outside as I can!

*awful, awful, awful, but it begged to be written.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Speed bump

Dear Carol,

I really tried to spin last night in an effort to finish up the first shipment, clearing off the third bobbin (with some difficult since I don't have a kate for the Jensen and my Fricke kate doesn't work with the Jensen bobbins - OF COURSE):

spunky spun
Uncounted poof of a skein that came already spun on the bobbin thanks to Ms. Boogie.

I knew if I could get started on bobbin #3 last night, I'd be in good shape for the luscious yarn you're threatening promising for this next shipment. I fixed myself a tall, ice cold glass of water, lined up a ration of Swedish fish, and got my spinning outfit on (pajamas. DUH.). Just as I was ready to finally sit and spin for a couple of hours, I found myself facing an obstacle:

spinning obstacle
Miss Penelope is pooped out after sleeping and eating all day.

Now, I know what you might be thinking - why didn't I just move the wheel and spin from a different seat? Well.... I didn't think of that option until just now. So, instead, I booted the sleeping cat off of the couch and finished the second bobbin before starting the third:

two bobbins full of BBF
Two down, at least one to go!

Anyway, I promise to work hard and get this all spun up so that I can be ready and waiting for the next squishy package.

Spinningly yours,

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Blood, sweat, and gears

Ladies and gentlemen, I am back in the saddle!

It's been since December '07 since I've ridden my bike outside (the trainer counts, but then again it doesn't since I can't seem to force myself to use the trainer no matter how many carrots I dangle in front of me). Today, to celebrate and break in Mike's new bike, we took a quick ride on West River Drive. And I made it! I'm sweaty, there's grease on my shirt and on my leg (had to lube the chain, etc), and I've no doubt that I'll feel stiff tonight and tomorrow. But, shit, I'm back on the bike and that feels so freakin' wonderful!

I'm going to medicate, ice, and monitor my knee(s), but our plan is to take a couple of more rides over the next few weekends and then, by September, get back into bike-commuting 3-4 days a week.