Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

That’s how they say Happy Chinese New Year around here. It’s a really bad transliteration of the Cantonese and doesn’t actually mean Happy New Year, but what do I know? I think it’s actually something about wishing you prosperity which is always a good thing. I’m hoping for better things this year anyway. It’s the Year of the Rat, the first of the Chinese zodiac animals. This one apparently is a Brown Earth Rat. Asian rats are not bad guys like in western culture, but are considered industrious and prosperous and good at organization. Also charming and sociable. We actually had a number of them as pets (the tame variety) and they were dear little things if somewhat short-lived. Milady Daughter was born in a Water Rat year. No wonder she used to live in a rat’s nest…Oops, did I say that? She’s a reformed woman now. Could be something to do with her Fire Snake husband. But what do I know? T and I are both Metal Tigers. Rrroww.

I’ve finished Nana’s Socks but I won’t post the final info with photo until tomorrow. I was thinking as I was knitting (and reading) that I don’t much like evenly dyed or super-even commercially-spun yarns and the combination of perfect spinning and dyeing in the same yarn is even less appealing to me. Since I overdyed a self-striping yarn for these socks I got automatic uneven colouring. It had a short 2-row stripe and a lot of dotted area between but now it’s dark burgundy red with subtle areas of even darker burgundy. I like it. For some reason I don’t mind an evenly spun yarn for socks. My handspun yarns are just not durable enough no matter what I try: stronger fleece type, blend with stronger fibre, ply with stronger fibre or spinning a multi-ply tight twist. Especially if I want it fine enough to fit into shoes. Maybe one of these days I’ll try again. But right now I’m very happy to use commercial yarns for socks — particularly if I dyed or overdyed it myself.

For some reason I don’t have the same problems with commercial weaving yarns. Of course I can (and have) woven with my handspun, but most of my weaving yarns are finer than I can spin myself. Some are in fancy yarn structures that I can’t easily reproduce myself, such as chenille or brushed mohair. Some are actual “thread” rather than yarn and some are also good for lace knitting or crochet as well as weaving. It’s true that I often buy only white or natural and black or perhaps navy blue. Then I dye other colours in whatever quantity I need for a project thereby introducing that bit of subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) variegation. I guess I’m still looking for a more handmade-looking product. I enjoy the little imperfections and irregularities. (For some reason my crappy tension looks better that way!) My esthetics are obviously influenced by the gazillion years that I’ve been spinning and dyeing and knitting, crocheting and weaving for myself. Perfect yarn is much too boring. And ordinary.

I’m heading out to a Spectrum Study Group meeting this morning. This time we’re going to make cards. I’m not feeling much like playing with paper but I need a couple of birthday cards and a valentine so I guess I need to get with the program. At least the food and company is good!

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