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What I Did On My Winter Vacation

March 5, 2005

Blessed with 4 days off between Job A and Job B (after not having had a vacation since last July), I had a chance to get my WIPs organized and play with some toys. This is going to be a long entry, be forewarned!

New WIP, the Wrixlan jacket from Jamiesons book 1. I’m using Soft Shetland in the shade ‘amethyst’ which may have been discontinued recently. It’s a gorgeous shade of medium purple heathered with blues.

This is an EXHAUSTING knit – the first 64 rows are heavily cabled and some rows find me doing 50 or more twists on a single row. I knit two rows a day on this and it takes me more than half an hour and I’m sore when I finish. Luckily once I get the cabled part done it gets easier!

I put little crystal buttons on Saga Rose:

They’re only 10mm and the only place I could find crystal buttons that small was They’re in a shade called ‘volcano’ which is just perfect for Saga Rose because they seem to include rose, blue, and gold.

The sari silk triangle shawl proceeds, slowly because I can only knit on it when I don’t mind shedding.

The Silk Garden moebius has consumed almost 2 balls of shade 205 and I’m going to need to break into my shade 211 to finish it. It’s incredibly lightweight.

And the silk-from-hell pendant faroese shawl is still around and will probably never be done:

But all of that is only knitting. You’re waiting to see what else I’ve been up to, I’m sure.

I read the chapter in Deb Menz’s Color In Spinning about blending with combs, and I had to try blending something. So I went into the stash and grabbed a handful of royal blue ingeo and a handful of white shetland top, because they seemed to have similar staple lengths. I lashed them onto my 2 row combs as best I could and I combed. Eventually they sort of blended. They became this.

I’m not suggesting this is a particularly fabulous blend, but it was so much fun to just wing it. She says things like, “When you think they’re blended enough, you’re done.” I want to do more of this, someday, when I don’t feel color impaired!

Her description of how to use combs was not the main focus of the chapter, but it contained some information that amounted to a combing epiphany for me. It isn’t that nobody has told me how to lash on or diz off before, but somehow they never said it exactly like she says it. Luckily I had new toys with which to try out my better understanding.

Indigo Hound 5 pitch English combs, which I snagged from the spinners’ housecleaning pages.
She says that when you load a comb, you should not obsess about whether you can tell the cut end from the tip because it doesn’t matter that much. Whoa. I don’t have to worry about that? Yay! Let’s go on! She says when you lash on, give a little tug or snap to be sure you’ve lashed on just a staple and you pull off what hasn’t been properly lashed. That was just what I needed to hear to clear up my problems loading the combs. It almost amounts to a pre-comb because it clears up and aligns the fibers.

I set to work with this pound of grey rambouillet because it didn’t wash up very nicely – after 4 scours and 3 rinses it still felt greasy, seemed dirty, had lots of vegetable matter, and parts of it seemed lumped together like pudding. How much harm could I do to it?

So I lashed and snapped and got the comb loaded.

Having tried them out the day before with the loaded comb upright and the moving comb going across, I decided to try the other way. Here’s the loaded comb, turned sideways, with the moving comb combing downward.

When that pass is completed, you have to move the full comb sideways across the teeth of the stationary comb and comb the fleece back ono the stationary comb.

But I decided I had been happier when the stationary comb was pointing upward, so I turned it up and finished combing the fleece back onto it by moving the full comb down over the tines, alternating sides of the moving comb so the combing was not all in one direction.

For the third pass, I combed the way I’d started the day before, moving the empty comb back and forth across the fleece on the stationary comb.

After 3 passes, I had three piles of waste plus a comb containing fibers that were miraculously consistent, even, and soft.

Then I dizzed. My epiphany really paid off here. I thought for some reason that you hold the diz stationary and haul the fiber through it. Not so! Once you have the fiber coming through the diz, you pull fiber and diz TOGETHER toward you till you see the fibers about to let go of one another, then you push the diz back against the mass of the fibers on the comb and pull again. Magic!

Finally I had a nice little nest of really beautiful top, and one more teeny pile of waste.

I would NEVER have thought that messy fleece would make such a pretty top! I spindled it up along with a similar little top I’d made the day before, slightly greasy though it all was:

Then plyed it together:

And it became this!

Incredible. Guess I’ll have to give this little pudding of a fleece some more respect!

Snippet of after-dinner conversation at our house tonight:

Emily, drawing: “This is a spebbo.”
Mommy, looking: “What’s a spebbo?”
Emily, explaining: “It’s a kind of bix.”


  1. sam permalink
    March 6, 2005 10:18 am

    Whoa! That top came out beautifully, Miss Pru. Wrixlan is gonna look fabulous on you, and the buttons couldn’t look more perfect for Saga Rose. Love the Noro, too – lovely colors for you. What a fabulous entry! 🙂

  2. vanessa permalink
    March 6, 2005 10:20 am

    i cannot believe all you get accomplished and take care of a 3year old! love the wrixlan, the color will look lovely on you 🙂

  3. Roi permalink
    March 6, 2005 4:34 pm

    Thanks for the combing primer, great pictures and narration. Am saving to HD for future reference. And you have the best luck finding the perfect buttons for a project!
    Roi – guessing combing is done when the little one is sleeping? Those things look mighty wicked.

  4. March 6, 2005 5:03 pm

    Roi, I did some combing when I was home on vacation, but I did a little yesterday with Herself puttering around with her toys, I just showed her the tines and told her to stay far away from me. Sam, I think my little rambouillet sheep was like your dirty dorset ewe, out rolling in the mud while the other sheep were learning their ABCs.

  5. March 7, 2005 12:06 pm

    You can’t argue with logic like that. A spebbo is OBVIOUSLY a kind of bix. Duh.
    The top looks terrific! Great job!

  6. katie permalink
    March 10, 2005 2:44 pm

    I just figured that out about dizzing, too! Someone wrote about it on the Spin List. No wonder I was breaking into a sweat before, trying to haul the fiber through the diz. What a nice batch of accomplishments from your vacation!

  7. Karen permalink
    March 19, 2005 9:53 am

    The Soft Shetland in the shade Amethyst is alive and well — definitely not discontinued. I will love to see your progress on the Wrixlan, a very classy jacket.

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