Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thirty-eight: Memories

First, in answer to Charity's comment about the dream - the stress is certainly making me a tich hyper, but I have to admit, my mind really is that busy. I am fascinated by a whole lot of very different things, which either makes me some sort of Renaissance woman, or else just someone who lacks focus. I remember when I was interviewing for a residency postion in Halifax, the professor conducting the interview was delighted when I exclaimed over the sculpture in his office. Bonus points for being a medical student with "outside interests." Then I was foolish enough to let slip how had I seriously considered degrees / careers in math, quantum physics, performance piano, philosophy and linguistics. All true, but it was quickly obvious he thought it was merely a clumsy and disingenuous attempt to impress him. Needless to say, I didn't get that position, and have been very cautious about discussing my diverse interests since.


Here is a bit of yarn with some personal history:
During my last year of medical school, I chose to do a surgery / obstetrics elective in South Africa. I spent three months based in the east coastal city of East London, and got out and about wherever and whenever I could. One day I discovered an ad for a local hiking club tacked to the hospital bulletin board and phoned them up. Turned out they were embarking on a three day weekend trip to the Drakensberg mountains and had room for another hiker. I packed my bags, they picked me up at the appointed street corner and off we went. Of course, I would have a fit (not to mention a nervous breakdown) if my daughter ever did such a thing, but I exercised good judgement and it all turned out just fine. It was a splendid weekend, including the ascent of one good sized mountain accessible by a full day's hike and a bit of rock scrambling at the top. Near the farm house where we were staying was a sheep farm that was selling natural handspun wool. I haven't the faintest recollection what kind of sheep they were, but the wool was soft and interesting and nicely priced, especially given the highly skewed exchange rate at the time.

What I should have done was to save it for a single fantastically worthy project that would remind me of that wonderful weekend forever. Instead, bits of it got incorporated into a number of ill-fated projects, some of which (like the half knitted child's sweater already far too small for either of my children) it can be recovered from and some of which it can't.

It has a thick and thin texture, which I'm sure has a technical name that I would know if I were a spinner. (I actually have a spindle and some roving, and just have to find time to sit down and try to follow the printed instructions. I've been delaying heading down that path just yet, as spinning appears to be highly addictive and I have quite enough on the go at the moment.) I think I'd like to make some sort of sweater for myself from it, but obviously there is not nearly enough left, so off to the stash it goes to await the perfect companion yarn and the perfect design idea. (Yes, the high occurence rate of the word "perfect" does indicate a personality trait.) I thought hiking socks might perhaps be appropriate, but I'd like something with an indefinite lifespan, which socks definitely do not have.

Here's some (probably very old) mohair from the bargain bin of my LYS:
It is 70% mohair, 10% wool, and a little acrylic and nylon making up the remainder. Sadly, I did not notice until I got home that the ends of many of the balls are significantly faded - as though it had sat in a sunny window for months at some point. I'm thinking it should be dyeable - maybe a dark navy. I have no experience dyeing (actually that's not entirely true - I Kool-Aid dyed a felted bag once, but couldn't bear the fruity smell that lasted well over a year.) I'll have to do some research before I leap into that one.
The local knitting culture (what there is of it) leans strongly toward thrifty and easy care: the Moose Jaw Exhibition knitting entries were very sparse and consisted virtually entirely of acrylic afghans and baby layettes. (I think the prairies tend more to quilting than knitting, which seems odd to me, considering how cold it gets in winter.) Consequently, what little wool the LYS has carried over the years has languished, and their back room has shelves of wool dating back (I suspect) to the 60's.

Crochet wool:I had never heard of such a thing. It has a sort of hard tightly twisted feel to it (not unlike crochet cotton) - I'm thinking socks for this stuff.


One for the "what was I thinking?" section:

White Buffalo, very historically Canadian, and recently discontinued. (I grew up economically challenged, and to this day have a terrible time resisting the siren call of discontinued! discounted! ugly but it's on sale!) I was in a felted bags phase when I ordered this from Yarn Forward last year. It does indeed felt readily, but is not at all easy to knit, and any tension on the yarn (eg. small children yanking on it, tripping over it etc.) causes it to immediately pull apart. I found it a huge pain to work with, much more difficult than Lopi. Also, I can not believe I ordered the "bleached puke" shade on the bottom. Definitely an experimental dye project in waiting.