Or how Denmark is a magical land filled with unicorns and hotdogs. ALSO: Cheese which, while delicious, bears NO resemblance to the cheese it is named after. Like this really freaking delicious 'gouda' I am eating. NOT GOUDA, DENMARK. Really not! But freaking delicious while not being gouda is fine, i just wish you wouldn't make me worry all the time about it.
A King Neutral Presents
I mean seriously? What the fuck happened to ALL YOUR LETTERS Denmark?! Where do they go?!
Yeah, ok, I know. But YOU try drawing xenophobia.
This is what I feel like, all the time, but less petulantly than portrayed here (artistic license, and yes, I keep it renewed)
Freakishly pastoral landscape covered in small animals doing prosaic things, I'M ON TO YOU!
Denmark takes itself seriously. Expect puzzled looks and bemusement.
WHAT IS UP WITH ALL THE GRILLING?! And yes, that little man is wielding a naked hot dog, with vehemence.
And...Well. This creeped me and many other expatriates I know. The danes use the flag to make things 'festive' at parties. Where cynical, disillusioned people like you or I might use, oh, colourful balloons or streamers, the Danes put up their national flag. When I first came to Denmark, I got chills looking at what appeared to be the maniac, rampant, nationalism. Then, like with a bad horror film where creepy music plays to indicate a scary part is coming up, I got used to it, and learned to view it as what it is. Manic, charming, innocent
All of a piece with the whole freakishly pastoral landscape thing.
See above section on 'grilling'
Yeah and this. Buttoned up protestant-minded quiet rational people. Unless there is an office party! Or a big get together among friends. Suddenly, everyone is drunk at a totally different and unbelievably goofy level which is culturally kind of OK. Denmark isn't alone in this. Scandinavian drunk is a big thing in Scandinavia.
Ok, along with the continual bombardment of flags, why does everyone need to sing in a big group to mark EVERY occasion? It is amazing and it is also bewildering.
Best for last! THIS IS HOW IT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL. It is by far the most accurate expression of my internal landscape whenever I realise I am going to be mispronouncing this freaking sound for the rest of my natural life
. I laughed at Dutch. And yes, how that haunts me now.
So, because it is pretty important that you know about it NOW, before we go any farther: Wow, I was looking CLASSY when I wrote this blog post. With my two mismatched knee high socks, a sexy fishat, and my lillac top and white skirt. A real fashion plate.
Now, my main problem in life is that I don't really have hobbies. Or that I have only hobbies, depending on how you look at it. I'm either neck deep in obsessing over some pursuit that makes your brain wander five second after I start elaborating on it... or I'm reading about it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm either fucking off, or thinking about fucking off. Either way, my life is replete with fuckery. Spinning was picked up, amusingly, as 'a way to relax.' And it does. Relax me that is. I'm just now accepting that "relaxing" to me means being totally absorbed by something. So forgive me if, in addition to endlessly posting yarn porn on my flickr account, I talk about it endlessly here.
For people like my mother and best friend, who are totally outside the spinning box yet for some inexplicable reason are very interested in my day to day pursuits, I'm going to give a basic primer of what spinning is
, so you can sort of follow along (If you want to). Spinning is twist, and controlling that twist. Basically you grab some fibre, grab a spindle (which is a stick with a weight on it), and then you hook the spindle in the hand full of fluff and you start the spindle turning. As it spins it creates twist, which transfers into the fluff and 'glues' the fibers together. You pull out a little of that fluff at a time in a controlled manner, and allow the twist to enter it, in a controlled manner. This sounds pretty simple, and it is. It is so freaking simple that when you watch someone doing it, it doesn't take any real explanation of what you're seeing to understand it. However (isn't there always one?) like all simple things it is really easy to understand but kind of a bitch to do. It involves a bunch of fine motor control that eventually becomes unconscious, but like writing or drawing or dancing, you're probably going to suck at it a little at first and only manage a rough approximate of the movements necessary to pull it off. It takes time, and repetition. Eventually muscle memory comes in and saves the day! Hurrah!
The main thing I am focusing on right now are my gorgeous silk singles. They are just so freaking beautiful, and addicting. I thought for a hot minute that I would try to spinning these extremely fine singles on my wheel, because new shiny wheel!, but I thankfully realised that it would be exhausting (for reasons of NO HIGH RATIOS) and so not at all as peaceful and delightful as it would be spinning on the spindle. So I've carried on with the spinning them on the spindle, and I plan on plying them on the wheel. The reason I need to ply on the wheel is because I need to have both my hands free when managing the plying twist so I can evenly entrap the short mohair comb-off I'm adding at that stage, between the plying singles. The final yarn should be an ethereal lace weight with lots of halo and a shifting sheen of colour across the strand. I'm excited about the project, and David mentions to me frequently how beautiful the colour of the singles are. And yes, they do look like My Little Pony hair.
Can i just mention again that the singles are 55 wpi!?
(That is 55 wraps per inch, mama and julip. That is very fine. I has proud!)
(for people who know and care °AHEM KAYLA° this is spun short forward draw, from hackle blended 60/40 silk/seacell with sparkly as shit blue flash angelina.)
(I addressed that to you, Kayla, because as far as I can tell you and Emi are the only other spinners who might read my blog.)
So I have been lovingly spinning with my spindles and trying to ignore my 'new' wheel (the quotes are there because the wheel is actually about 190 years old.) I've been trying to ignore my wheel, despite the beautiful lazy kate having been repaired by our incredibly nice landlord (who is also a carpenter) because I need to send one bobbin and the whorl to an nice man in Uggerløse who specialises in turning new parts for antique wheels. I want a whorl with a couple more ratios so I don't have to treadle so freaking fast to make fine-grist yarns, and just generally because I like options. So he can copy the whorl and bobbin so it fits the wheel correctly, I have to mail these things to him, putting my wheel out of action.
You see, most antique wheels were built when the spinners in whichever region were producing a certain type of yarn, or only a certain range of yarns, and they are set up to do that one thing really well. You can get a lot out of them, to be honest, because you can adjust most things, and frankly, a wheel is fine but pretty simple piece of machinery. It is a tool, and once you know your tools well, you can do a wide range of stuff with it. However, you can't get the bobbin and flyer to turn faster than your foot is going unless you have different ratios of whorl/wheel available. And i don't. So to get the bobbin and flyer to go faster, i have to treadle like a maniac. And that is freaking exhausting. I also need more than two bobbins. These are small bobbins, because the wheel is antique and small. So if I start a spinning project on this wheel NOW it would be dumb because I can only fill one bobbin with singles then I have to wait however long it takes for this guy to finish my extra bobbins and a new whorl before I can finish the project. Still:
After I went through a little bit of trauma with the prettily-coloured-but-extra-work-conditi
on mohair locks, I realised that I was going to use the combing waste in my fine silk-and-mohair yarn. So what I had left over was a big bag full of long-long staples of picked mohair, neatly layered and just looking
So just to do a little test and to play with them a bit, I blended together some of the mohair with some blue-blue firestar and two colours of lavender merino I bought in LA and the end result was SO NICE, I couldn't help myself. It is hard to capture with a camera how the colour shifts and changes across the yarn. That's thanks to the mohair and the firestar, they both reflect light in such unpredictable ways. The finished yarn has such an interesting heathery depth.
Pre-set and still twisty sample
Just a little test knit up, with lots of YOs so I can see how it will work in lace. The answer is YES, KNIT LACE.
(And this, is spun supported long draw from rolags which I've rolled widthwise then pre-drafted out slightly, instead of lengthwise. It is a little less 'poofy' woolen that way, for me.)
So now my task is to fill a bobbin with it before I have to send the whole bobbin and flyer assembly to Uggerløse.
There's my fixed up lazykate, with a little cardboard tube of singles sitting on it, waiting to be plied.
What you see in that photo above is my most recently completed yarn. This beautiful light fingering weight merino and firestar blend (From Corgi Hill Farms on Etsy. What wonderful work she does!) that I've named Bluebeard. Of course, it has magically jumped onto my knitting needles and is confusing me as to what I would rather do with my ever-diminishing free time by begging me to come knit it every time I should be knitting, you know, one of the FIFTY BILLION OTHER PROJECTS I have going at any one time.
Spun semi-woolen (from rolags I made from tearing off staples of the batt and rolling up)
Handspun is a dick that way.
Seriously folks, i know most of you glaze over when I get like this, but consider the fact that you read this blog because you probably know me and want to know what I'm up to. And the honest answer to that 98 percent of the time is yarn. Yarn is what I am up to. If it is putting it into a special, tortured construction to make things more exciting in a shawl or cardigan, or spinning it up in a spectacular variety of intricate but boring ways. Here is an example of just how serious the above comment is. When I am not spinning or knitting, chances are, I am listening to podcasts about spinning. That's right people! Listening to people TALK about PUTTING TWIST INTO SOME FLUFF. Fluffleporn.
It really is that or listening to audio books while I do stuff. I know. Enthralling.
And in closing, my dearest Belgium, Remember this love letter I wrote you years ago?
You are amazing, and the best at red tape! I am so glad that you have what amounts to six co-habitating gay men as a governmental body! Thanks for validating my choice to move to the secret world of awesome
, which apparently only exists in triplicate, with five extra passport photos.
well guess what? YOU STILL GOT IT, BABY! Well done with the whole 'Goverment, What goverment?!'
thing. I love you, belgium. Don't fall appart on me now! You are full of people I love and need to find some way to hang together so I can visit you every year and make fun of you.