Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Archive for May 2011

Spinning tricks: spinning wheel mat and drying handspun yarn.

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It’s a delightfully rainy and stormy day here in Duluth, MN. Chris is out of town working so I’m left to entertain myself. I wanted to get out of the house, so I’m at Dunn Bros enjoying a latte. Yum! I’ve been spinning this weekend, and wanted to share a couple of tricks that I use when I spin.

On Saturday, I brought out my spinning wheel for the first time in almost a year. Since we’ve moved I kept putting off getting rubber feet to keep it from sliding on our hardwood floors. I tried some rubber feet Chris had bought for something else, little bubble-like things, but they kept sliding off because they weren’t sticky enough. I thought of getting a bath rug with a grippy bottom, but thought the wheel would slide across the carpet, too. Then, I thought of the perfect thing:

It’s grippy contact paper from the kitchen cleaning aisle at Target.

Another trick I thought I would share is how I weight the yarn when I dry it. I must be getting better at spinning, because my plied yarn seemed fairly balanced and not twisty this time, but I still hung it the way I usually do. I put one end of the wound skein around the top of a hanger. I used to put a soup can or other heavy can through the bottom loop, but recently have started hanging another hanger in the bottom to weight the skein. To make the hanger heavy enough, I put a folded towel on it. This way, the water that drips from the bottom of the skein drips onto the towel instead of the floor as it dries.

Puppy News
Gru is getting along just wonderfully at our house, and we couldn’t have asked for a better dog. The other night, when I went to Target to get my spinning wheel mat material, I brought Gru. Little did I know, I was driving straight into a thunderstorm. I could see it in the distance when I parked the car, and by the time I got out of the store it was right over us. I came back to no dog in the back of my wagon – he’d climbed over the seats and was huddled in a ball in the driver’s seat! He’s afraid of thunder, lightning, and, by association, camera flashes.

When Chris is gone, Gru sleeps on the bed with me, and he woke me up with a nose in the face this morning to let me know there was more thunder. Every time there was a boom or a flash, he paced nervously around the bed. Finally, in search of a small space to curl up in, he jumped from the bed to the top of his kennel.

Here he is looking very sad, trying to be in a small space between the wall and the clothes hamper:

I had to pick him up and put him back on the bed, and I finally got him to lay down by petting him. He’s gotten better about storms since we first discovered his fear. The first time we figured it out was because he woke us up by scrabbling under the bed. Now, he comes to us to be comforted, and will just lay on the floor as close to us as possible while making sad faces.


One sock done, second started.

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Yesterday was a fairly busy day, but I managed to squeeze in quite a bit of knitting time. Saturday, I finished the first Java sock in the afternoon while we lounged in front of the fire. We’ve had some gloomy, foggy, rainy days lately, but they’ve been a perfect excuse to extend fireplace season. Yesterday, before meeting up with my mom and stepdad and Chris’s parents for lunch, we stopped at Caribou for a buy one get one free coffee and I started the second sock.

Socks at Caribou Coffee:

Socks on the kitchen table:

Java socks, second sock

Written by nikkinbird

May 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Knitting

Coffee shop knitting

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Upon ordering our coffee at Dunn Bros, we turned to find a seat, and I saw two women sitting at a table knitting away. It made me smile, because I’m planning to do the same thing! Just as soon as I finish up with all of my to do list that involves the computer. I love that feeling, finishing up all my obligations and getting to sit with my knitting and a latte.

Here’s the progress I made last night while watching the very last two episodes ever of Bones (I loved the way they ended it, by the way). It’s not a very good photo, but it shows the progress. Funny how a an hour and a half of knitting can look like so little progress!

Sock at dunn bros

I got through the instep and now on to finish the foot! It’s a really easy to follow pattern and I’m excited to try it on.

Written by nikkinbird

May 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Knitting

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Socks for spring – Knitty’s Java

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Yesterday morning, I had an appointment before work. I got done early enough that I had some time before work but not early enough to stop home and do anything. So, I stopped at Bixby’s for a bagel and drove to work. I’m lucky to work somewhere that has a parking lot with this view:

Breakfast view

I had ten minutes to eat my bagel, sip some of the latte I splurged on, and enjoy a sunny spring morning in Duluth. I love Lake Superior.

Since the Shepherd’s Harvest festival, I’ve been working on the Java socks from Knitty Winter 2011. I haven’t done a top-down sock in awhile, and I’ve never done cabling without a cable needle. It’s surprisingly easy!

Java socks

Yarn is from MacKintosh yarns, who had a booth at the festival.

Written by nikkinbird

May 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Successful knitting class

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Today was the second day of my two-day knitting class that I taught through Duluth Community Education, and I’m happy to say that I want to sign up do teach more classes! I taught the Beginner’s Garter Edged Mitts and it went great. It was so great to meet some other knitters in the community and to be able to chat and share about knitting. I’m also glad that my pattern seemed to be a hit.

Community Education is such a great thing, and I can’t urge anyone enough to get involved, either by taking classes or teaching them. It was a little scary at first, but I’m glad that I took the plunge and taught the classes!

Written by nikkinbird

May 18, 2011 at 3:02 am

Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival

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It’s funny the reactions I get from non-knitting and non-fiber people when I tell them I’m going to a sheep and wool festival. One of them was, “Wait, you’re not like, dressing up as one, are you?” That’s why I feel lucky to have Chris, who, while not a knitter, spinner, or any other kind of fiber geek, was still willing to be dragged along to the fiber fest. He was excited to see llamas, bunnies, and appreciates merino wool outdoor clothing. Last weekend (May 7-8th) we went to the Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival in Lake Elmo, MN. I did some shopping, and we checked out the stock dog demos, sheep shearing, and fleece skirting demos.

Sheep shearing:


Fleece skirting:

The fleece skirting demo was actually really informative, and she gave a lot of tips for handspinners who want to buy a fleece and wash it themselves. That was good for me, because I bought those fleeces at the fiber rummage sale awhile back! I’ve been waiting for it to get warmer and sunnier before venturing into the fleece washing world.

I’m re-instituting the post a day goal. I’ve been majorly slacking, but I’ve got plenty of content. Tomorrow I teach the second installment of my community ed knitting class, and I’ve got some stuff to share related to that.

Written by nikkinbird

May 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Spinning dog fur

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Last night I sat down to brush Gru for a bit, and I got so much fur I couldn’t stop. The craziest part was, I just kept brushing the same spot on his haunches over and over, and kept getting fur! He’s in full-on spring shed mode. This pile is just what I got from the right side of his butt. Just think what I’ll get as he starts shedding everywhere else, too! I plan to experiment with spinning his undercoat into yarn on my spinning wheel. See that look on his face? He’s afraid of cameras.


Written by nikkinbird

May 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

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