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Tour de Fleece LogoWell, it was a gallant try but I didn’t make it. I had two goals:

  1. Spin every day
  2. Spin up one pound of green variegated top

I spent most of one evening getting the wheel set up and ready to spin. Had several problems getting the tension right. I managed to spin up a full bobbin and then navajo ply it. It came out really nice. I put pictures in a previous post — but here it is again.

But, I fell down on the spin everyday goal. I missed three days while at Readercon and another when I got home. I guess I’m just getting a bit old for those late nights and early morning combos — especially the ones where they expect you to think when you get up in the morning.Skein of green yarn

Then I was back in the spinning rhythm when all of a sudden the bobbin had no pull at all. Everything spun and turned and twisted and nothing pulled in and if I loosed my grip nothing happened. After a lot of googlng and printing the Schacht pamphlet the light dawned. The drive string had stretched and even though the tension knob was a tight as I could get it nothing worked. So, it was cut the string. Retie the string. And then I spent what seemed like hours trying to get the tension right again. It’s still a bit wonky because I was so used to it before it changed but I’m now spinning okay again.

Alas, the tour has ended and I barely spun up 8 ounces of the original pound of top. So, no yellow for me. No, red either because I feel that I didn’t really give it my best effort. I let things pull me away that didn’t need to but just to keep me from feeling just how out of practice and rusty I’d become. So, maybe next year I’ll do better.

I do know that I’ll be reorganizing some of my priorities to spin more. I found that when I was in the groove, spinning became a way to just pause my brain and let the creative thing/open side of my brain work unfettered. It helped me deal with migraine pain when I was trying to reduce pain medication. It was also freeing to get back to doing something that I’d forgotten just how much I loved. Somehow, I hope over this coming year to make spinning and knitting share my creative time.

Since I really have some plans to jump full force into writing for a while that spinning/knitting brain space where your mind just coasts and dreams could become very valuable and if it doesn’t happen the restfulness I feel after a half-hour of spinning will be a welcome respite in a chaotic household.

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Book cover Migriane in WomenYou know what I hate most about migraines?  No one can tell you’re having one.  Well there’s the lack of concentration, the misuse of words (Hyperion’s going to proof this for me), the fact that I can’t seem to keep one thought in my head for more than half-a-minute before it falls out the ear on the other side of my head.  But physically, I look okay.  I can sit here and listen to someone talk to me and when they end their monologue — truthfully, I have no idea what they just said.

We were watching Stargate: Atlantis and when Beckett died (It’s season three so I assume all the world has seen it except for me), I just burst into tears because I liked him.  He was so kind.  Okay, when I have a migraine I cry at commercials also… but the emotional upheaval is pretty rocky.

But since I can’t think straight and I can’t be trusted with sharp objects — I can at least spin.  So, I’m working on my Tour de Fleece challenge of trying to spin that pound of green roving.  I already blew the spinning every day thing because I’ve missed three days now (at Readercon).  I’m not going to get the full pound of roving spun up either but it feels nice to have the wheel out and ready so now that I’m sort of trying to be active and stay out of mischief, I can spin.

By the way, I haven’t read the book on Migraine in Women — I just really, really, liked the cover.   Tonight, there is supposed to be a thunderstorm and rain.  Maybe not, but the migraine is here, so maybe yes.  I hope not, we’ve still got to get that tree cut up and stacked to dry for this winter.  The garden needs to be weeded.  But, I was going to spin some more and I better do that now.

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Skein of yarnMy first skein of yarn so far. As I said in an earlier post, it’s about 329 yards. Haven’t done the w.p.i. yet. But, it looks to me like sock yarn-ish. I ended up doing 3-ply.

Here’s a photo of the spool before plying.

Spool of singles

After plying (which I forgot to take a photo of….sigh), I put it up on the niddy-noddy as I took it off the spool.

Yarn on Niddy-noddy

I started another spool of singles tonight. So far, I’m spinning some every day. I took a look at the one pound ball of top and I’ve hardly made a dent. I really don’t think I’m going to finish it off by the 27th. But as long as I get in the habit of spinning again, it will be a success for me.

I’ve also got to decide if I’ll do the next batch as 3-ply again or do a 2-ply. Decisions, decisions. I’m leaning towards 2-ply right now but I may change my mind and do one more 3-ply for the warm winter socks and then do the rest of the wool in 2-ply for a lace something-or-other later. Hmmmm… what do you think?

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Readercon logo Just got back from the Saturday shopping and found my Readercon schedule in my email. Here’s what I’m going to be involved in. Of course, we’re arriving on Thursday early evening hopefully in time to get our table set up in the Dealer’s Room. SFRevu usually has a table at Readercon and we’d love to have your stop by and say “Hello!”.

The discussions I’ve been put on sound like they could be very interesting.  I’m already gathering some thoughts together.  [But with my brain function lately once I’m there I’m simply hoping all my ideas don’t fall out my ear while I’m sleeping and get smashed into my pillow.  This has been, so far, a very bad migraine month but I have hope of things getting better.]  My schedule:

Sunday 12:00 Noon, RI: Discussion (60 min.)

You Got Spec Fic in My Romance! (And Vice Versa!) Victoria Janssen (L) with Nina Harper, Mary Kay Kare, Terry McGarry, Gayle Surrette, Nancy Werlin, …

One of the hottest romance sub-genres at the moment is paranormal, which encompasses everything from vampires to valkyries, werewolves to gargoyles, men who are cursed and women who carry demons on their skin. Many of the more recent paranormals, such as those by Patricia Briggs and Eileen Wilks, arguably have more fantasy than romance. Is paranormal “true” speculative fiction? How often do readers cross genres? Are paranormal romances and speculative fiction showing cross-genre pollination in their content?

Sunday 2:00 PM, ME/ CT: Talk / Discussion (60 min.) Magic and Myth in Human Culture and Fantastic Fiction. Judith Berman and Sarah Micklem with discussion by Andrea Hairston, Elaine Isaak, Michaela Roessner, Sarah Smith, Gayle Surrette, Sonya Taaffe, Ann Tonsor Zeddies, et al

Within our cultures, humans create consensus views of what is real and what is not, and these views are both explanations and operational (curses, oracles; germs, electricity). The modern scientific model of reality excludes the beliefs and experiences of many people around the world, not to mention in most of human history. How do we, as writers, step outside our own worldview to create imaginary cultures in which magic is a fact of life? Berman will talk about anthropological understandings of magic and myth, and issues of authenticity and appropriation, while Micklem will share some sources, primary and anthropological, that influenced her own fiction.

This means we’ll be staying on Sunday later than we usually do. We’re planning to stop and visit my son in Providence, RI on the way home — having dinner there and then heading out for Maryland. We’ll either drive straight through or stop somewhere on the way home to get some sleep. (Seems as you get older it’s a bit harder to drive all night after a day of excitement and adventure.)

I love going to Readercon.  It’s got to be one of my favorite literary conventions.  As usual, I’ll be blogging each day of the convention here.  In August, there will be an overview report of the convention and a link to the daily blog on these pages.  So, if you’re interested in Readercon — check these pages from July 17 – 20.

Tour de Fleece:  This month I’m also taking part in Tour de Fleece and with the car full of books for the Dealers’ Room there is no room for my wheel.  One of my goals was to spin every day.  So, I plan to bring a drop spindle and continue to work on some sock yarn with that so I can meet the “spin every day goal”.   My secondary goal was to spin up a one pound ball of variegated green wool top.  I don’t think I’m going to make it since it’s started spinning up as lace weight and it’s going to look absolutely beautiful when done but there’s no way I’ll ever get a one pound ball of it spun by July 27th especially with several days away from the wheel.

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More green thread on spoolToday, I washed the kitchen floor and the bathroom floor.  Yeah, me.  I also cleared off nearly one third of the dining room table.  Got rid of a lot of minor email  tasks that had been building up in my inbox.  Made a loaf of bread (Italian but it didn’t rise quite right so that’s going to need a few more tries before it becomes a keeper recipe or I give up).   I also wrote out the steps (pseudo-code) to programming a display page for a website I’m working on — now I just have to program it (pseudo-code is the way to go on shiny days.)

Then I managed to watch some movies and spin and spin and spin.  We bought one of those family pack DVD movies — you know the really cheap kind in the sale bin.  I watched  Africa Screams, an Abbott and Costello movie, Captain Kidd (Charles Laughton, Randolph Scott, Barbara Britton, and John Carradine), and started Christmas without Snow (Michael Learned, John Houseman, Ramon Bieri, and James Cromwell) — maybe I’ll finish that one tomorrow.

Remember, the spinning is of lace weight.  I’m over spinning it and now believe that I’ll Navajo ply it for 3-ply when I get the first spool filled.  Hopefully that will be at the end of this weekend.  It looks like I might make the goal of spinning every day during the Tour de Fleece but I really doubt that I’ll get the full pound of green spun by the 27th.  But hope springing eternal and all that jazz — I’ll just keep going on it.

There is a slight snag in that I’m going to Readercon in Massachusetts from July 17th to the  20th.  The car is going to be too full to bring the wheel so it will be a drop spindle for those days — I’m wondering if I can keep the thread consistent from spinning wheel to spindle.  I might just decide to keep going on the sock yarn I’ve got started on a spindle now so I do the “every day” even though it doesn’t help with the pound of green fiber.

So, tomorrow is another day and I’m beat from all the stuff I did today.  I know it doesn’t look like much in a list but it took just about all my spoons today.  I’m just hoping I don’t pay for it tomorrow.

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The Care and Feeding of Spinning WheelsTwas a busy day.  Well it would have been if I’d managed to stop shiny-thinging all over the place.  Got a lot done, but not all of anything; if you know what I mean.  I’d get started on something and the next thing I’d know I’d be off and onto another something and then off that and so on and so on.  But I can see the top of the dining room table in places.  Some of the floor is now open for cleaning.  The kitchen cupboard are all set for me to scrub them tomorrow.  So, guess I’ll look on today as a set up for housework…I hate housework…just when are those robots going to be ready for this.  Our little roomba is having problems and so I’m stuck with the floors.

On a high note, I managed to spin for about forty-five minutes tonight.  The wooden spool is just about all covered with the thread now.  Remember it’s lace weight spun and I’m planning to do either 2-ply or 3-ply when I’m done with the singles.

I’ve now spun enough that I have to oil/grease the wheel.  So, it was another trip to the basement to find some books on spinning wheel maintenance.  I can’t believe how rusty I’ve gotten.  Of course my main wheel is a Majacraft Rose (no oiling necessary) so using the Schacht is a bit of a re-learning curve.  I found several books that would be useful that I put aside half-read or less.  That’s sort of embarrassing to admit but often with reference books, I look up what I need when I need it and put it aside so I can find it again for the next problem.

This book looked like the one that would give me the info I needed in the quickest manner so I can get on with the Tour de Fleece — the equivalent of changing out my flat or adjusting the gears and getting back in the race.  However, remember the shiny-thing problem.  I spent quite a while going through looking at the pictures and reading headers in several of the books.  I think I’m going to have to slide these books into my reading piles and then review them.  Mostly because it will give some massive background material to build on or make educated guesses from when I run into problems.  So, don’t be surprised if you see a review or two on spinning reference books in this blog at some future time.

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Chocolate RoseRose: The photo is of Paul’s chocolate rose. We’ve come to really like roses and this was one Paul wanted mostly for the name — it doesn’t have much scent. But the first year we had it, it didn’t really do much. The second year, we dug it up and put it in a fancy garden planter and moved it to the garden area near the herb garden. It now gets the required 6 hours of sun per day and is much happier. Last year it had two blooms. So far, this years we’ve had about six roses on it. This picture shows two of them.

Car: Not much going on. Getting right back into the swing of work. Paul had to take some time today to go check out tires — we’ve had three flats in two months. I think we’re now back on track.

Poison Ivy: The consensus seems to be that pictures B & C are poison ivy. Picture A seems right out of the fray. So, I’ll be particularly careful when around the vines in B & C from now on. Poison ivy is getting better now that we’re on steroids (Prednisone). Hopefully, it will be all gone by the end of the pills — but right now half way through it doesn’t look like it.

Garden matters: It’s been rainy so haven’t been out to do much in the yard. We got the buckets to plant the rest of the tomatoes in. The lettuce is starting to come up. Our blueberry bushes on the deck have given enough berries for blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes and some for just nibbling. Those are pretty much over. The strawberries are still blooming and making fruit but we can’t seem to beat the critters to it. Guess were not fast enough.

Tour de Fleece: So, far I’ve managed to spin for at least an hour each evening. That’s better than I expected but then that includes the time I’ve spend fussing with the spool and the tension. I’ve now got it so that I feed the thread in and it doesn’t get yanked out of my hand. So, I’m at bit more at peace. I’ll post another photo of progress on Friday.

Reading: Been reading books for review in the August issue of SFRevu and Gumshoe Review. So far, I’ve read Exodus by Julie Bertagna, Written in Blood by Sheila Lowe, and Dead over Heels by Charlaine Harris. I’m about half-way through Underground by Kat Richardson. It’s certainly a good month so far in my reading pile. Except for Exodus by Julie Bertagna, they’re all series that I’ve been following, so it’s a really nice break after getting the issues up on line on the 1st, the holiday buzz, and the car problems, and the migraines.

So, that’s a quick update. I’m hoping to follow through on the spinning and get the rest of the gardening in this week. Along with the contract job and the usual stuff. Life is pretty good today in spite of the headache.

Hyperion AvatarIt’s me, the cat.  Just thought I’d add my own 8.5 cents in (due to inflation you know).  Getting the car taken care of was pretty easy this time.  The first time was about a month ago.  I came out on my way to work, got in the car, drove the quarter of a mile down the dirt road, and as soon as I turned out onto the pavement, I could feel something was wrong.  So I pulled into a neighbors driveway (also a quarter mile long, so it’s not like they’re ever going to know I was there) and took a look.  The right rear tire was totally flat.  I guess I couldn’t feel it when bumping along dirt and stones at low speeds.  Anyway, it’s annoying, but it’s been a few years since I had a flat, so I figure it’s about time.  I pull the spare off, replace the tire, and find that the spare is only about half full.  Remember it had been a couple of years?  Well apparently, you need to check your spare tire’s pressure when you check the others.  Doh!  So I get some air at the first gas station (costs $1.50 for freaking air!  What is the world coming too?).  I go to work, head over to the tire place and sit in their waiting room for 3 hours while the car slowly moves through their queue of work.  Again, annoying, but these things happen.   Finally get the car back with the tire patched (and at no cost too!) and I figure that’s that.  The next day, the same tire is flat again.  Back on goes the spare and I sit for three more hours after work.  This time they tell me they can’t fix it and I need a new one.  $80 for a tire.  Holy Moly!  Well, again, it’s been a couple of years since I had to buy one, and apparently the cost of rubber has gone up too.  Anyway, now I’m done.  Brand new tire, and all should be right with the world.


Last Thursday, I’m on my way to the doctors (where they’re squeezing me in before the holidays) to get my own poison ivy checked out.  I’m in bumper to bumper traffic when a woman in the next car starts waving at me.  I roll down the window (why do we keep using that phrase?  There’s no handled to roll!  Anyway …) and the lady informs me that my front-right tire is flat.  Grrrrr!  So, after finding a flat space to pull over into and putting the spare back to to play, I’m now twenty minutes late getting the the appointment that they were doing me the favor of squeezing in the first place.  Lucky me, they take me anyway and my poison ivy is on the mend.  Afterward … it’s back to the tire place (visit #3) where it takes 4 hours to get the tire patched.  Grumble grumble, but yeah, that’s got to be the end, right!


The very next day, we head off to the 4th of July barbecue.  We have a very nice time, head back to the car, and find the front-left tire is flat.  This is the third different tire now.  Back goes the spare again and we have to hope for the best until today, since it’s a holiday weekend and all that.  So this morning, I e-mail into work that I’m going to be out since I have to sit and wait for the car.  I drive up to the car place, hand over the keys, and get them handed back 15 minutes later.  What?  How can that be?  Looks like my luck finally changed and I was first in line in the queue.  Turns out to have been a rotted valve stem, so the repair was free of charge and I’m out and about, wild and free.  So, being the wild and crazy guy that I am … I go to work.

Where I find out my corporate manager has been replaced (I can’t pronounce the name of the new guy, and he doesn’t speak English very well either).  And my government boss has also changed (can’t pronounce his name either). As you might expect, it went rapidly down hill from there, but as I’d prefer to keep my job, I think the fewer details there, the better.  Besides, I’ve bored you long enough.  But I bet it makes you look forward to Gayle taking back over again.

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Schacht Spinning wheel with basket of green and purple fiberWell, the Tour de Fleece starts today. I signed up because you set your own goal to achieve between the start and end of the Tour de France (site is in French). So, you have from July 5th to 27th. Sometimes I need a challenge and/or a goal to get me going on things that I want or need to do. So, I contacted Katherine at the website and signed up. Notice the Tour de Fleece logo on the right — that means I’ve declared my goal and I’m going for it.

Goal: Spin a bit every day with the object being to spin up the one pound ball of variegated green roving that I purchased at Maryland Sheep& Wool a few years back. A secondary goal is to get used to my Schacht wheel again. The goal is to spin the entire one pound ball up into two-ply yarn by the end of the Tour de Fleece.

Now, to the actual start of my Tour de Fleece. I was off in a cloud of dust. I found the green ball of fiber in the basement basket. Got it out of storage and brought it up stairs. I then had to get the Schacht out. I found that the drive band had come off. I needed to change out the bobbin anyway so I thought that was no problem. Swapped the old bobbin (partially full of angora singles) and put in an empty one, reconnected the drive band and voila — ready to go.

What I spun on day 1 and dime for scaleExcept, it wouldn’t draw the yarn into the orifice and up to the spool. Okay, I obviously forgot how to do something. Down to the basement to find a book on spinning wheels, found it, but no joy in the how-to department. I want a manual that has the answers to MY questions, which tend to be much more basic than even beginner books. But, aha, I remember I have a Schacht brochure with pictures of wheels ready to spin — found it, but no image showed the drive band or area behind the spool. Now, I’m starting to panic. I know this wheel works — nothing has changed since I last spun on it except the drive band was loosened. So, when in doubt, google. I found the Schact site and their manuals for wheels. Didn’t find the one for my wheel but did find one that had a photo where you could see the drive band and the drive band at the top of the wheel looked like it had one thread around the spool and another around the whorl. Quick change and the thread was being drawn into the orifice and onto the spool.

Okay, finally, now I’m ready to spin. I pulled off about 12 inches and then pulled off a strip, pre-drafted, and started. It took a while to find a rhythm but finally I was actually spinning and it was … well, as you can see my singles are really, really small. I let it double back on itself and I’ve got lace weight in the making here. Might be able to use it for socks if I three or four ply. The intended goal was two ply. But now I’m dreaming of a floaty shawl. Guess I’ll dream along with the singles and decide on ply later.

I’m fine with changing the ply goal because the real goal is to spin a bit every day. As you can see I didn’t get very far and that’s after an hour and a half which includes the panic of searching for the manuals and fixing the drive band, lots of broken thread as I played with tension and it’s still not at a point that makes me happy but I’m getting there.

You know what? In spite of everything, I feel like I really accomplished something tonight. I’m happy with what I did and I’m feeling like I’m beginning to get the hang of this again. I’ll, of course, post off and on during the Tour de Fleece time period and go and check out the Tour de Fleece blog to see how others are doing.

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