Monday, October 30, 2006

Big decision

Just a quick post. It's been a while since my last one. Very very busy. I thought about quitting the blog but decided against it. I'll just post whenever I can.

What's the big decision? Well. It looks like there's a strong possibility that we'll be moving north. This had been brought up before many times. But I think this time it is serious. Our CEO wants us up there with them in the main office, which is located in Los Altos. It can be as soon as next Spring.

I imagine that we will drive up and look around for a nice neighborhood. It will probably be somewhere between San Francisco and San Jose. I don't want to be in a big busy city that's for sure.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What about knitting?

Yes. I do ask myself that question. I am going to have to slow down on trying new things.

Cotton questions

I need recommendations here. What would you suggest for a durable and comfortable to wear fabric? 100% cotton? or a cotton blend? How about cotton/hemp?

Is ginned cotton not carded or combed? Is it easy to spin?

Charkha Wheel

What happens when you have so much fun spinning cotton on a support spindle? Move on to a charkha wheel of course! I am really lucky that I can get my hands on a Journey Wheel Attache Charkha for a test drive. It's amazingly fast. Serious.

I spent hours last night getting familiar with this wheel. See that pile at the back? Yes, they are mostly mistakes. Fun mistakes (for now). It was so fun experimenting with drafting techniques. I definitely discovered a few things about the behavior of the cotton fiber. I also think that the Attache is too fast and too large for me. It spins at a ratio of 110:1. Too fast for my liking. Or maybe I just need to get used to it? The Book Charkha spins at a ratio of 70:1. I think that would be better for me. But I do worry about the lighter weight of the wheel. Will it stay put when I spin? I am also looking at Alden Amos' charkha wheels. But I think I won't consider any of them for my first charkha. I want something portable that I can travel with. I do fancy the t-frames and the banjo though.

I mentioned that my first goal of spinning cotton is to weave a piece of fabric to use as an offering to the monks next year. But I think I am spinning a bit too thin here. The truth is that I have no idea what it needs to be for weaving.

How many birds do you see?

Do you think that these birds find it safe to be on this thorny floss silk tree?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Me as a Buddhist monk in 2003

I told you that I have proof that I was once a monk for 7 days.

It is quite common for Thai males to become short-term monks. I am not Thai but go to the Thai Forest Tradition temple. My sister suggested that I ordain as a monk to make merit to share with my mother who is a lung cancer patient. I agreed, but at the time I truly believed that you should want to be a monk for the rest of your life when you decide to be ordained. Not for short term. But it was a special situation.

There's no special ceremony for short term monks. You go through the same procedures and become a fully ordained monk, with 227 training rules to follow. No less. You just ask to leave the monkhood when you feel that you can't continue being a monk.

I took this opportunity and asked myself to truly train as a monk, to think like a monk. Body, speech and mind. For my own understanding, and because of the support of the community. With so many teachers, good information and good environment, I gained an understanding of the path that is unshakable. I am not saying that I knew everything. But I finally understood the practice. I knew which direction to go, and that I had much to learn.

Unlike before, I now think that it's good to be a short term monk if one isn't just keeping up the appearance. Train like a monk inside and out. Chances are that one will gain understanding and maybe even consider staying as a monk. In any case, one can learn a lot!

Here are a few more pictures:

Getting ready to shave off the hair and eyebrows.

Receiving the requisites from Mom.

A snapshot with friends.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Thanks Micah, my friend. You made two guys very very happy. One who received the beautiful work of art. And one who gets to wear them. :-) A neighbor of ours suggested that I felt them a little to fit my hands, but my partner screamed "NO!" They fit him perfectly and the color is one of his favorites. Mine too, but there's no getting them back from him. :-)

Tomorrow is the Kathina ceremony at our temple. I am heading out soon to spend the night there and to make offerings tomorrow.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A bowl of fresh fiber, please!

And make that cotton!

Don't laugh. But I was watching Gandhi Tuesday night and was just fascinated with the cotton spinning demonstrated on the film. Way to go Ben Kinsley. Oh, I really want a book charkha now. Anyway, I was thinking about it all day yesterday and was itching to try cotton spinning. I didn't have a charkha wheel. But I did have some cotton, and a small support spindle purchased from Nancy at Gwen's workshop. As soon as I stopped working I took out the tools and fiber and went at it.

I had in mind how they spin the cotton and weave it into fabric to make robes. So I tried spinning thin. The truth is that spinning thin is perfect for this small spindle. I imagine that I will have to use these cotton singles for weaving. Oh oh. Did I just discover what the next fiber lesson will be? LOL

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sparkly Suzie

So I lied. I took more pictures of the improved "Suzie". (Well, hopefully it is improved.) The sun came out and I had to hurry and take the opportunity. They still don't show what human eyes can see. Now I understand how difficult it is to photograph these holographic fiber. Click to enlarge the pictures for better sparkles.

You know, I have another 1/2 oz bag of Angelina fiber. ;-) More bobbins. I need more bobbins!

Sore arms.

I woke up with very sore arms. Why? Yesterday I spent all evening carding up this pile of fiber.

I was given some holographic tencil with amazing sparkles. I couldn't decide what to do with it because it wasn't in the form of fine fiber. I thought maybe I could add strands of it while knitting a scarf for my niece to add pizzazz. But I soon found out that it was a pain to do, and I didn't like how it looked. Then I thought about "Suzie". Why not try carding it into the wool fiber? I don't really know how tencil will behave with wool fiber when being spun. But heck, I'll find out soon.

So I got out the hand cards and "Suzie" and practiced carding, at the same time experimenting when and how to add the tencil to best blend it together. I was just going to try with a small batch of it. But I couldn't stop. Didn't I say that I love carding? So I made rolag after rolag until it was all done. I got a little impatient at some point and started charging the cards with more fiber. More fiber means more force needed to pull the fiber through. That's how I ended up with sore arms. Can this count as exercising? :-)

I think that I will have to spin this worsted to prevent the tencil from separating and sticking out of the yarn. I hope to have enough to make a hat. More bobbins! I need more bobbins! I thought I had enough with 4. But I can see that there will never be enough bobbins!

Here's another pic that shows more of the tencil. Enlarge the pics to see the sparkles better. I will take a better picture once the spinning is done. Hopefully with outdoor light to show the amazing sparkles.

And here's a pic of my Lendrum. Just for Dave D. :-) More bobbins! I need more bobbins! And Ted made me aware that I don't have the "Very Fast Flyer"!!! :-(