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I recently had the sad duty of  cleaning out the stash of a long-time weaver, spinner, and knitter, Jane Garrett.   Jane was 89 years old, and had seemingly done everything in the fiber arts, from turning fleeces into sweaters of hand-dyed, handspun yarn, to weaving fabric for a reversible, double weave coat, making clever animals out of yarn, knitting beautiful lace shawlsand  practical slippers, weaving miles of hand-woven dish towels, etc., etc. She left all her fiber related stuff to Seaview Weavers Guild, and  after her death, her daughter  Sally called me to come pick it up.  We were glad that Sally decided to keep the loom her father had made for Jane, and that she hopes to learn to weave. 

As Sally and I sorted through boxes and sacks and piles and mounds of (mostly) neatly labeled yarns, fiber, buttons, tools, scraps of handwoven, binders of weaving samples,  and so on, I came to a couple of conclusions. One, don’t keep everything.  Scrappy stuff will just get tossed when you are not there to hang onto it.  Two, don’t leave the best for later, because later might not arrive in time for you. We found two ounces of quiviut fiber, a couple of pounds of silk, about half a pound of angora, a sack of alpaca, several pounds of merino, etc., etc.,  all ready to be spun.  Massive amounts of handspun, waiting to be knitted.  Cones and cones of cotton, waiting to be woven. By ruthlessly tossing, we managed to  get the usable stuff  and the spinning wheel into my Volvo stationwagon and have enough room left for me.

The spinning wheel is being kept by the guild to have available for long-term loan.  It still had Jane’s last work on it, a lovely merino/tencel blend.  There were two bobbins done and one on the wheel, with a little fiber yet to spin.  I spun that off, and decided that Jane had intended to make 3-ply.  The top yarn here is the three-ply, about 85 yards.  The lower yarn is 25 yards of two-ply that  I made with what remained on two bobbins after one ran out.

Jane's yarn

Jane's yarn

Probably the worst of the lumpy bits in the top yarn are my spinning — that tencel blend is very slippery, and took some getting used to! But the bottom yarn is all Jane-spun, and I’m relieved to see that it’s not perfect, either. The plying is all mine — like the curate’s egg, parts of it are excellent. I think I’ll make it into a lacy neck-warmer type thing, and use the two-ply to have an extra lacy edge. Pattern suggestions are welcome!

The wheel, a Lendrum single-treadle, is one of the ones I learned to spin on and has seen a lot of use. The flyer has grooves worn in it by the passage of miles of yarn.

Jane's wheel

Jane's wheel

Who knew that spinning wheels could get crow’s feet, or maybe laugh lines?

At our meeting, as the guild members chose items from Jane’s legacy to us to incorporate into our stashes, we decided to make note of where these things came from, and include that fact when we bring the finished items back to guild Show and Tell.  So Jane will still be part of our meetings, as long as her stash lasts.

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This yarn business is getting a bit bigger each year, and while the thrifty and handy All-Powerful Reeling Machine was getting the job of winding skeins of yarn from cones done, it was getting a bit old, waving my right arm in a circle and muttering 1,2,3,4,5,6, . . .  and so on, up to 240, for each skein. So when I saw in an ad on Ravelry that I could buy an electric skeiner for a very reasonable price and get an upgrade that allowed me to skein three at once for only a little bit more, well, I placed my order so fast that heads were spinning!  Crazy Monkey Creations is the manufacturer, and they are wonderful folks who make a very high quality product.  At the time I ordered, they didn’t offer counters, so I bought one from Noelle’s Noodles on Etsy.  Who could resist something called a Countinator?  And they are another class act as well, fast service, great product.

I love it when I, a home-based business, can support other home-based businesses, and make my business more efficient at the same time.

Around and around it goes

Around and around it goes

Here it is, with skeins nicely wound and ready to tie off and remove.

It's digital!

It's digital!.

Here’s a view that shows the Countinator. It’s very clever, and senses a magnet that’s attached to one of the arms as it goes past. While I was waiting for the countinator to arrive I tried winding some skeins and counting them myself . That’s very hard to do! Even with putting a red sticker on one of the arms, it’s just too easy to loose track. Greg and I are guests at Boskone next weekend, and when I was chatting with some of the ladies on the convention committee at the Ravelry meet-up at Denvention last year, they liked the idea of me dyeing some yarn for a Knit-A-Long (KAL) at the convention. So here is the Boskone yarn, available in two base yarns. The blue, green, and white color scheme is inspired by the official colors of the SF club that puts on Boskone, NESFA.  A custom colorway for a con: a first, I think.

Boskone yarn

Boskone yarn

The lower balls are on my Silky Sheep base, and are for the maybe-you-can-finish it-at-the-con KAL, which will be Calorimetry, a nice headscarf pattern that works up pretty quickly.  The yarn will be worked double to get gauge, so there will be interesting effects as the colors match up or don’t during the knitting. The upper balls are on my Sturdy Sheep base, which was requested by the sock fiends in Boston (you know who you are!) who like a lighter gauge yarn.  Not that you can’t knit socks with the Silky Sheep, but they come out a bit bulkier.