Sunday, June 28, 2009

On the road

It's finally in the truck! Every single thing we own is in the truck, and we're headed off across the country.

Fortunately the directions are easy: get on I-90, and go until you get there. Branden is driving the truck, and the cats and I are following in the car. Should be an interesting trip...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clouds of color

Sorry for the delay in posting these pictures. I tried taking pictures with my point-and-shoot yesterday morning, but it just wasn't cutting it. When Branden got home, I had him take a shot at it with the real camera, and was worth the wait.

I dyed up about 2 oz of Lincoln that I had laying around, using the same color pattern as I used for the BFL spinning project. I've been wanting to do a comparison experiment ever since finishing that yarn, but just haven't gotten around to it. Now it's all dyed up, but my wheel is gone, so this project will be on the back burner for a while. Look for it early next year. Until then, look at the colors!

I didn't want to dye all of the fiber the same way, but I had only five dyes to work with. So, I split the last two batches into color groups; magenta/purple, and green/blue. Both worked beautifully with the black.

First, I dyed about 8 oz of BFL with the greens and blues:

I love these colors. You'd never tell it from my yarn and clothing choices in the past few years, but I am a greens and blues person. I've been dallying around with the reds and purples, but I see something like this and realize that these will always be my colors. Forest and sea, shadow and sky. Love it.

Of course, that doesn't stop me from dallying some more. This one's a little blurry, but the color is almost right. And oh! the color. This one named itself berry crush. Purples and reds, merging into black. Deep, dark, sumptuous. It's even better in person.

All in all, I think this was a good way to dye.

Monday, June 22, 2009

She can't come to the phone right now...

I spent yesterday afternoon converting wool from puffy white clouds of fiber into deep, dark shades of purple, green, blue and black. I tried to take a picture, but it's just not working with the flash, so I'll have to show you tomorrow.

But tonight, I wanted to talk about dyeing. No, not dying. Dyeing.

Anyone that speaks English knows that it's a crazy language. There are probably even people that don't speak English that know it's a crazy language. There are few things that throw me as consistently as the word "dyeing."

You simply cannot use that word in conversation and expect to avoid an awkward pause, followed by too-quick clarification, and then some nervous laughter. Even Branden, who is well aware of my fiberish tendencies often does a bit of a double-take when I casually announce at dinner that I'm thinking about dyeing tomorrow.

See? Hard, isn't it? Even when you know enough to expect such things from me.

So, back to yesterday. I am standing in the dining room, lab coat and gloves on, table coated in plastic, making an unholy mess and trying to soak it up with wool (which works amazingly well, by the way...).

Of course, with infallible timing, my phone rings.

My phone never rings. It's not an exaggeration to say that I probably only get one or two calls a month from people other than Branden (sometimes not even that much). I just don't use my phone, and I never get calls. I like it this way.

But, we'd put an ad on Craigslist to sell the spinning wheel, and someone had left a message. I'd left a return message, and was waiting for her to call back. If my phone was ringing, then it must be the buyer. So, Branden dove for the phone and managed to get to it before the call went to voicemail. He said "hello," looked quickly around at me, paused helplessly for a second, and then said, "hold on" and proceeded to hold the phone to my ear so that I could arrange for this person to come look at the wheel.

I'm standing in the kitchen, hands dripping with dye, trying to sound normal and casual while someone else holds the phone to my ear. "Oh yeah, just head down Phinney until it crosses problem...45 minutes?"

After negotiating the scheduling and directions, he hung up for me, and I just had to ask why he couldn't have done that himself.

Well, it was because she'd asked "is Erica there?"

He said yes, and then immediately ran into the problem that it is impossible to explain to a complete stranger that your wife can't come to the phone because she's dyeing.

Really, what can you say in that moment other than "ummm...hold on a second?"

I think we need another word for this hobby...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fiber content = high

Finally, a post with fiber! (It's good for you, you know...)

When I got home from France, this was waiting for me:

My prize from Walden at Eternal Arts 'n Crafts! I made good use of it this afternoon, and now it looks like this:

Currently cooling after setting the dye...can't wait to see how it came out!

I also finished this:

570 yards of fingering weight alpaca. This is the fiber that I bought last year at Alpacapalooza in April. I can't say that I'm thrilled with my fiber preparation, but I've learned a lot doing it. Lesson #1: wash it, card it, wash it again, card it again. I only washed and carded once, and there was far too much VM and dirt left in the final yarn for my taste. But it is soft, and cleaned up nicely:

And today, I bought this:

I haven't done much spindling, but it's time to re-teach myself, since spindles fit in suitcases and wheels don't. This is a 1.3 oz (I also have a 2 oz), so it's a little lighter weight for finer yarn. It spins beautifully, and has a ton of space to wind on.

I also sold my spinning wheel today. I was sad to see it go, because I really liked that wheel. But, I bought it knowing that it would most likely be a temporary guest, and it wouldn't be any better for the moving and storing. I'm also not sure that it would have survived the move, given that it came damaged. So, it found a new home this afternoon. When I get back from Germany, I'll start looking for a replacement. Until then, my spindles will keep me company.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where am I?

I'm finding it a little hard to keep track of where I am and what I'm doing these days. One thing I know for sure is that there hasn't been much knitting.

But there has been a lot of travel. To Europe and back in under a week. Four airplanes, two buses, well over 48 hours of travel, two 9 hour time changes. Three days of 18 hour experiments (which went rather well, I think...still need to finish the data analysis). Three days of hearing a lot of French and Italian, not speaking either, but learning to listen.

Back home to a house that's half packed for the next trip: first a 4 day drive to Wisconsin, and then another couple of flights to Germany.

Today, a trip to the dentist. Tomorrow, a few meetings. Next week, a thesis submitted.

And then, maybe then, a little while to sit and knit. In a place that might become familiar, eventually.

I know that some people get jet-lagged. Is it possible to be life-lagged, too?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The end comes quickly

The end always comes unexpectedly. No matter how long you aim for it, push to get there, wish to be done, it's always a surprise when you cross the finish line.

The end of the term always used to do this to me. I would study and study, kill myself working, and just when I got up to full speed, finals slipped by and suddenly there was nothing. There's a moment of freefall, a moment where your brain hasn't caught up with the rest of you. It's such a rush to have finished, but it hasn't really sunk in yet that you're done.

I (successfully) defended my thesis on Tuesday. The papers are signed, and the only thing left to do is to pass in the final version. We're going to try to slip in some very last-minute results (the ones that I'm going to take next week), but it's done. Over. The endlessness of graduate school is suddenly gone, and somehow that's a surprise.

Yesterday, I taught the last class that I will teach at UW Bothell. My first year teaching experience is finished, except for grading finals and some meetings on Monday.

Today, the movers came and cleaned out the lab, packing all of the samples and lab books and instruments into a truck to carry them to my adviser's new university across the country. I cleaned out the desk that I've inhabited for 5 years, and began to say goodbye to people.

And it hit me that it's over.

Not soon. Not "maybe someday." Now.

Tomorrow, I will pick up my student's final papers and grade them by Monday.

On Tuesday, I will fly to France for a few days and finish one more experiment. When I return, we will stuff as much as we can into the thesis before passing it in at the end of the month.

While I'm gone, Branden will start packing our house. At the end of the month, we'll drive all of our belongings to Madison, and put them in storage. Then, we'll get on a plane with our cats, and move to Bretten, Germany. Branden's company is sending him to their European office for 6 months, so I'll be delaying my postdoc by a bit, and probably coming back stateside in December. He got the final offer letter today.

It feels good to be closer to done. I am excited about the things that are coming. And, right now, I'm just a little stunned that it's all wrapping up so fast.

Endings are like that, I guess.