Saturday, July 27, 2013

Finish Line

I've set the timer for ten minutes. That's how long I have to write and post this entry.

I must apologize in advance for the perfectly crummy photographs in this post. I'm always telling students in "Photographing Your Fiber" that it's all about light, light, light. Today, my available light is revoltingly inappropriate and there is no time to make it better.

My equipment is also lacking. Part of my Tour de Fleece challenge this year–which I don't think I've mentioned here in the blog–is that I'd use only my phone camera to photograph anything related to the challenge. I have so many students coming into photography classes with a phone as at least one part of their kit that it behooves me to get more phone shooting experience under my belt.

It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but although the camera in my phone has surprised me with how much it'll do, when the chips are down it lacks the fine control that allows one to grapple with truly challenging conditions. So that's good to know.

Anyhow, what I meant to say is these photos suck and I'm sorry.

Here's a representative sample of my output on a plate shaped like a cabbage leaf, just because.


You've already seen the Corriedale from Lunabudknits, and the muddy brown mystery bobbin on the niddy-noddy.

I spent the last part of the Tour de Fleece on the road for work, and my wheel doesn't travel. But my host–my good friend John Mullarkey, who asked me to help him make final preparations for a video shoot–is a spinner. A far better spinner than I, in fact.

He surprised me with the generous loan of two spinning wheels I'd never tried before–a Schacht Sidekick (fully portable) and a Lendrum Upright (somewhat less so).

I'm not enough of an experienced spinner, honestly, to give you a worthwhile review of either. All I will say is I admired the way the Sidekick came to pieces for travel; and the way the Lendrum, though not strictly made for travel, folded for storage and was quickly set up when wanted.

Both wheels were enjoyable to spin on, easy to adjust, and allowed me to turn out pretty decent long draw singles after only a brief acquaintance.

When John and I weren't at work, I played with both wheels using his other surprise–perfectly gorgeous Polwarth roving dyed in brilliant blue by the always brilliant Briar Rose.

Before I left, he wound my output on both wheels onto a single bobbin. We wound that bobbin onto a ball, and from the two ends of that ball I used the Lendrum to make a two-ply. I'd never done that before–John threw in the lesson as lagniappe.


We discovered during plying that I'd inadavertently spun almost exactly the same amount–to within an inch–on both wheels during the weekend.

 The wet finishing of the mystery yarn was a hoot. Upon contact with the hot water it fluffed instantly into the most alarming frizz and I figured I'd lost it. But no–in the cold water it relaxed back into something like a skein. When I thwacked it–mostly because I've heard you're not supposed to thwack worsted-spun skeins, and I wanted to see what would happen–it changed very little. As it dried, it settled into a finished state that looks remarkably like dreadlocks.


So, yeah.

I have no idea what the hell I will do with it, and of course I still have no idea what the hell it is. Wool, sure–but what wool? From where? I still don't recall spinning it. Weird.

And then we have the green merino (it's a bird, it's a plane, etcetera). That's the thing on top in the first photo, with the plate shaped like cabbage.

The green merino (for truth! justice! and the American way!) is resolutely refusing to be photographed from any angle or under any light that does not make it look like first-quality shit. And yet, even if I say it myself, it's not. It looks quite presentable, thank you very much, and I have three bobbins of it.  They are marked to become my first three-ply yarn.

I'll photograph it again this week, when it's plying time. Since it won't be Tour de Fleece photography, strictly speaking, I'll aim to get some beauty shots of it with a better camera under appropriate lighting.




Deborah Robson said...

Great work for 10 minutes and an unadjustable camera. I just spent 8 hours on a series of blog posts and I'm not sure I accomplished any more than you did--! Hunh. Shoulda set a timer.

Franklin said...

DEB ROBSON said my crap photos were not too bad. I have to go sit down now and try to catch my breath.

mary said...

You said that you'll photograph your yarn again this week, "when it's plying time".
I dunno, but suddenly my mind jumped back to my childhood to memories of my uncle listening to country-western music on his radio, and Buck Owens mooing:
"Oh it's plying[crying] time again, you're gonna leave me,
I can see that faraway look in your eyes,
I can tell by the way you hold me darling,
That it won't be long before it's plying time."


Emily said...

You type very fast, Franklin. I am impressed.

Seanna Lea said...

They all look good to me, but I don't really know jack and as far as what I know (see previous statement) it seems like the final proof is how it knits up. So, someday you'll have to knit these bad boys up and let us know how they are.

Pam Sykes (aka Pretty Knitty) said...

Love your yarns, even the mystery yarn...I wonder what it might want to be. Still can't wait to see the finished green, and your photos (as deborah said) are not that bad! Phone photos can be limiting, but they're still better than polaroids and disposable wedding cameras!!!

Liz said...

Chapeau! This Tour de Fleece stuff has been such fun...

roxie said...

Ohh, that blue Poleworth is to die for.

The mystery yarn could be a prize in a contest. Heck, some of your fans would probably mud-wrestle for it. Or send it to me, I'll knit up something and send it back for more photography practice. Bet it would make a neat hand-puppet.

I am astounded that you did the whole post in 10 minutes. You totally rock!

nora said...

Oooh, I like the idea of giving myself 10 minutes to write a blog post. Would help with spontaneity and make me more prolific.
I've been fascinated by your spinning, but I think in the interest of not acquiring more knitting toys, I'm going to stick to knitting and not spinning.

Anonymous said...

Me thinks, that yarn (dread locks) looks almost like denim and would make a hansom scarf or even a slouch hat for you for the nasty Chicago winters.

Elaine said...

The photos of the yarn look really good. Stop beating yourself up over such mundane things and be happy that you can spin well!!

Anonymous said...

You have no recollection of spinning it? Have you asked Dolores and Harry?

Patti said...

plying from both ends of a ball has always meant disaster for me.

Patti said...

oh, and in my humble opinion, Polworth is far superior to Merino -- it's easier to spin, its just as soft, and not nearly as fussy as Merino.

melissa said...

I know what you mean about the cameraphone thing. I am coming off of 7 months of phone-only pictures (gasping with relief at my new DSLR) and it's a challenge. Sometimes the light is so crappy it's all just a bit of fuzz, and sometimes it seems like it's determined to overexpose.

Have you tried early-to-mid-morning light? Here in Houston it'd be around 10-10:30 or so, that I always get really nice pictures from an east-facing window (it's when I take my very best Saturday brunch pictures), even with a phone. It's early enough that the light is still a bit soft, but late enough that it's not just hazy and dark.

Just an idea!

Anonymous said...

I love this blog and will tell you so in Chicago next week.

Jelly Gamat said...

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Teri Hardin said...

Franklin, you mentioned your knitting photography class. I've been watching for it at Stitches-Midwest for the last several years & haven't seen it. Do you teach it at another local in the greater Chicago area? I would really love to take it sometime. Your 'bad' pics are still miles ahead of my 'good' ones!

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