Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Spinning and Swarming

So I've been working with my wheel some every week, although not every day. I'm also at the binding off to sew together the parts stage of the green sweater. I tried to somehow graft the live stitches at the bottom of the waist to the trim, but it wasn't working well. I've decided to go to regular mattress stitch. Figuring out what to do is half the battle. But I'm so far off my 12 sweaters goal that it's becoming fairly clear that it might not happen this year, let alone any other finishing goals. . . drat these new time-sucking hobbies!

I was obviously quite spoiled by starting with the Blue Faced Leicester, because it spins like buttah -- sometimes buttah with big blobs in it, but it was lovely nonetheless. My really for practice spinning has been a pound or so of Norwegian Gray I got from Paradise Fibers' sale area.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this fiber. I think it's combed -- it's top, and it spins up as well as I can spin anything. But it's nothing I'd like against my skin. Remember those old Icelandic sweaters? Warm as anything, but scratchy? It feels like that. These skeins total 78 yards, if my warping board is measuring correctly. It's two bobbins' worth, plied. Thing 1 keeps muttering "Cloak, cloak," and maybe it would be waterproof, but I'm thinking "Oven mitt, oven mitt." We'll see how it goes when the whole bag is done. No matter what (if anything) I make out of this, the practice is doing me good.

This is nice because I'm doing a three-day spinning and dyeing intensive at the same studio I began spinning. I can hardly believe I'm getting to do this -- it's terrifically exciting and I am looking forward to showing off my new skills, such as they are.

For everyone who asked so sweetly about the camping trip, it was wonderful. Dirty, but wonderful. Here's one of my favorite images. Thing 4 talked her head off the entire weekend. People who know her kept telling me that they knew I said she talked a lot, but they'd never heard her. They did there. She also learned to knit.

Just kidding, but she probably could. At the campsite, someone asked, "Can you say XXXX?" in a fairly patronizing way. I said, "She could probably say "Hypotenuse," which she promptly did.

Our household has been fairly busy since we got back. Schoolwork, mountains of laundry, getting certified to belay the rock wall (me) so the kids can climb any time at the gym, orthodontist appointments, grocery shopping -- busy, but not always noticeable. Spring moves into summer, inexorably. I noticed that the sun was shining brightly at 6:00 this morning when I went in to get Thing 4. Yawn.

Instead of napping this afternoon, though, I retrieved a swarm all by myself -- none of my kids were there, the homeowner wasn't there, the terrified-of-bees painters even left. I borrowed their ladder, but even so, the hive was above my head significantly. I had to stand on the "don't stand here" step of the ladder, AND cut branches AND cut the main branch over my head on which the fairly large (3#?) swarm hung. I only wish I had pictures. Actually, I wish I'd had someone taking video. . .

As I cut, I realized that if I used both hands to manage the clipper and the branch, respectively, I would have no free hands to hold on to anything with, so I hung an elbow on another branch. Finally, the 2" or so branch broke under the weight of the bees as I cut away on it. Fortunately, it broke very slowly.

I had already cleared a path through the little branches with my clipper for me on the way down, so I dropped my clippers from the ladder, climbed down the ladder carrying the swarm, which swung from side to side, because it was very "loose," on this warm day today. No bees dropped off -- it was lovely. I lowered the bees into my wooden swarm-retrieving box, placed the cover over most of it, and snapped the branch, dislodging the bees. I waited there until I saw bees fanning their Nasanov glands on the edges of the box.

From then on it was just like every other hive retrieval. The homeowner came back while I was finishing up, and I asked her to "burrito-wrap" the swarm box after dark, so I could pick it up easily in the morning. (I prefer to pick up swarms in the early morning, so I don't strand workers.)

But you know, I would have LOVED to have had an audience. It was so neat, so clean, and so flipping HIGH up in the air. Sigh. The good ones never have anyone there, saying, "Wow! You're so smooth!" Just the ones where I'm tripping over my stuff.

I also decided to restructure my swarm-removal prices, so that they go up if 1) I step on a ladder, and 2) they go up again if I hit that top step. As I was swaying on that tree, I said to myself, "Getting hurt for this is just Not Worth It At All."

So now I have to hustle and make two more top-bar hives tonight, because I'm going to place this bunch where my queenless hive is, taking those bees away and shaking them out, so they can return to the new hive in their old hive place. I've tried everything else to requeen that hive. Having two hives there side-by-side (there's a box of bees waiting there for a bigger hive already) will making keeping them easier, as you can mix and match as necessary. Making new hives is going to play havoc with me going to bed early tonight before getting up at 5:30, but that's the nature of life, I suppose.


amanda j said...

You do have an audience! YAY!! Well done!

By the way, that is one of the cutest photos ever.

Charity said...

Wow, you're really earning that Superwoman T-shirt! Yikes, I really do wish I'd been there to see that.

BTW, the spinning looks excellent, I'm glad you're enjoying it. :0)

Holly Jo said...

Great work on the spinning!

I am continually in awe of your descriptions of collecting swarms! What an amazing thing to behold even if it is from the tippy top step of the ladder.

Alisha said...

What an adorable picture of a future knitter!!!

Katherine said...

I wish you did have video. Perhaps your own reality tv show?

Thing 4 is adorable. She'll be knitting soon enough. (Do any of the older Things knit?)

Rain said...

The knitting picture is so precious. I reckon it won't be long before she could we whipping out FOs of her own.