Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A bit of personal history.

This is part of an elaborate apparatus and I do not know what it's function was but it looked so fascinating I saved it in memory of my father.

A picture of John Zadori working at Hughes Aircraft Company.
Circa late 1950's

This is off topic but important to me. Today would have been my father's 98th birthday. John Zadori was born on September 28th, 1912 in Budapest, Hungary. He was an educated man and had a lifelong love of his profession. He became a "glass engineer" a scientific glass blower. He was fascinated with glass all the way up to his 80's when he died.

As I was remembering his birthday this morning I had the television on and happen to have CNN channel playing. Not really watching it just sort of having it in the background as I was preparing for my busy days activities. But something got my attention, they mentioned Lasik eye surgery.

This reminded me that my father actually made the first laser built. Dr. Theodore Maiman invented it but my father was the glass blower/engineer who actually made the instrument. When we first came to this country none of us spoke English and both my mother and father were in their mid 40's. To start from nothing must have been quite daunting for them. Although they were so very happy to get out of Communist Hungary and land in Los Angeles the details were just incidental.

The first job my father had was working at a church as the custodian. He swept the church and cleaned and did menial labor while my mother got jobs as a cleaning lady. Neither ever complained or ever regretted coming to America. However my father had a unique skill and he ached to work in his profession. Six months after we arrived here in January of 1957 Howard Hughes heard about my father and his glass blowing & engineering capabilities. Howard found my father and promptly hired him. My father actually had met Howard Hughes. I remember my father telling us that Howard Hughes used to come by and watch him work. So today I will spend the day remembering my father "Happy Birthday Papa".

Theodore Maiman is famous for inventing the first functioning laser in the world in 1960. He has been called “the father of the electro-optics industry,” but Maiman considers himself a scientist and an engineer, with research interests in electro-optics, lasers, displays, and aerodynamics. In addition to his patent on the first working laser, the ruby laser, Maiman also holds patents on masers, laser displays, optical scanning, and laser modulation.

Maiman was born in 1927 in Los Angeles, California. Interested in technology at an early age, he worked for a time as a radio and appliance repairman. In part, Maiman’s later academic pursuits were inspired by his father, an electronics engineer and an inventor.

Maiman began his academic studies at the University of Colorado and earned a B.S. degree in engineering physics in 1949. Two years later he attended Stanford University and obtained a master’s degree in electrical engineering and then a doctorate in physics in 1955.

In 1960 Maiman invented the first functioning laser in the world while working at Hughes Aircraft Company.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Design Your Own Shawl

For me it started with "Snow Beast" a white fairly inexpensive pure wool roving. Below is a pictorial of how this project came about. First I got the white roving then I saw this painting by Monet and used it as my inspiration for the colors I wanted to dye it.

I used food coloring, the three primary colors mixed and then spun the yarn on my Pocket Wheel. Knit it up one ply with beads added at the bottom.

Because I've gotten lots of requests about the pattern I used for the "single ply" shawls, I made a YouTube video on the cast on directions. As time permits I will include the bind off and the application of the beads around the edge.

I've been wearing these shawls and they wonderfully comfortable. I know I will get lots of use out of them. The beads weigh it down so it stays around the shoulder. I'm wondering why have I not done this before?

So many projects so little time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One ply but I like it.

The "Ventura Llama" shawl is finished. (well almost maybe I may add a couple of buttons).

This is the first hand spun yarn and project since my spinning obsession started. It is one ply and to some of us this does not really matter but there are some out there the fiber connoisseurs who roll their eyes when I confess to using a one ply yarn right off the bobbin. I did not know there are such rules I just spun and then knit. And here it is all finished.

I added a few beads just to give it some weight so it sits on the shoulders nicely and adds a little bit of sparkle.

I decided that maybe I should educate myself about this plying thing and to my surprise there was Clara Parkes' article one of the first hits on Google. I still continue the "like u very much" Clara Parkes! She writes about spinning and plying yarn. I've written about her before and now that I'm a spinner there is just more interesting factoids she offers her readers. I was interested in finding out more about plying yarn

Knitter's Review article on plying.

I have a lot to learn but as usual I'm plugging along trying to spin in a style that suits my hand and idea of what I want the fiber to look like. I did not know that it's not that desirable to knit with a one ply yarn. I kind of like it. I see in this photo below of the new project I'm knitting, slightly different style. It sort of looks loosey goosey but in person it's very soft and it's starting to bloom.
Which means that it will fuzz up the holes and it's wool so it will be a very warm and cozy scarf. Also started to document the pattern so I will be able to share this one with you as soon as I finish. I'm about half way done.

I've written about Clara on this blog and have met her several times at knitting events. She is just as nice as she sounds in her writings.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

On the needles

I'm becoming quite the connoisseur of fibers (just kidding). When I "show & tell" any project the first question is always what yarn is it? Now that I'm hand spinning yarn the question becomes what fiber? Next will be which sheep? And maybe what was the sheep eating etc. I'm not sure how far spinners take this fiber content thing.

The fiber is "CVM" California Variegated Mutant Sheep's wool and Llama mix. I especially like to say CVM and explain that it's a Mutant Sheep from California.

I bought the roving in Ventura at the Ventura Spinner's Guild Fair and spun a one ply yarn then just started knitting. I think you are supposed to prepare the yarn various ways before you knit it but I got inpatient and just wanted to start a project.

I call it "Ventura Llama" and I'm almost done, I think I like it. So far it's progressing nicely. I want to finish this for my upcoming trip to Friday Harbor.

10 oz of fiber yielded me about 1,600 yards of lace weight yarn. Size U.S. 6 needles. And the pattern is made up by me.

Cast on 9 sts.
Row 1: K2, place marker (orange), k5, place marker (green) k2.
Row 2: Slip the first stitch pw (all rows start with a slipped stitch) kfb (knit front & back), yo, k5, yo, kfb, k1
Row 3 & all odd rows: S1, kfb, knit to marker & slip marker, knit the 5 center sts, slip marker & knit to one stitch before the last stitch & kfb, k1.

Continue in this manner until the piece measures 12" or where it fits you or when you get tired of it. The edging will be up to you add in your favorite or pick my favorite which is what I call "xxx zig zag" stitch.

Here is the youTube video I made:

"Will it stay or will it just wash out?”

Teaching others how I dye wool with Food Coloring

The class was a great success we all had a great time but I think I had a better time than the students. I love "tinting" yarn. I know it's simply a chemical reaction but my artistic heart knows it's magic. You start with one color and end up with another. Many times I have looked for yarn in a specific color and in a specific weight to no avail. I have a vision of a completed garment, and in order to make that project, I need sock weight yarn in dark colors but with just a slightly blue hue. Well, good luck. Not any more, I am now capable of duplicating the exact color I want.

Yarn dyeing is rather an art than a science. There are too many variables to give you exact formulas. There are some books and web sites that do just that and, if you need that kind of information, there is lots of it online and in books.

The number one question I get asked when I show some of the yarn that I have tinted with food coloring is "Will it stay or will it just wash out?” And my answer is yes, it's permanent, however I don't have the years of experience in this to tell you exactly how permanent. Ask me in a couple of years I will be able to tell you from personal experience. I have asked others who showed me their food dyed wool garment and the answer was "it has not washed out yet".

If the water is clear when you are rinsing the yarn, the color has set and will not wash out. It may fade, but there is no class of dyes that are 100% fade proof. Given enough time, number of washings and how you wash it, ie. soap used and exposure to UV light, color fades no matter what kind of dye or method of dyeing is used. Here are some pictures from the class, some of us got more on our hands than on the wool. Not to worry it washes off your hands not immediately but after doing a load of dishes and take a shower and I was almost all clean.





Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I'm dizzy from spinning ..... around and around we go....

I call her "Kicsi" (it means tiny in Hungarian)

The Ultimate Portable Spinning Wheel. Hand crafted by Jon McCoy Pocket-Wheel.com

Do you want one? Well not so fast the waiting list to get one is long and lots of patience will be required. My name is on the list, estimated time of delivery about March or April of 2011.