Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ankara, Turkey - An interesting trip...

I had an opportunity recently to visit Turkey. 
I decided to take my new Holiday Wheel, River, with me 
since I anticipated having lots of time spin...
That was not the case. 
But I did get to do some spinning in the airport in D.C.

I also worked on another Walnut Whip by Ysolda
in handspun Hobbledehoy! With my awesome 4-leaf clover
stitch marker that a friend gave me!

AND I was lucky enough to have a 10 hour layover
in Munich, Germany on a day that Wollmeise was open!!
So I stopped in and picked up a skein of dark purple lace
to make Nuvem with. ALL of the girls there were working
on the same pattern and rushed over to show me their progress.

We knitters are of one mind!

Then I arrived in Turkey.

Such a strange new world to be in where I didn't understand
a single word of their language...
Well, except Iplik (thread, yarn, fiber)

I did eventually learn 
"Hello" (Merhaba) and "Thank You" (teşekkürler)

My room overlooked the city and it was such a sight.

But in the end, I had very little time to Spin, Knit, Explore, or shop.

I did take pictures during my short adventures out and about.

One morning, we had a few hours to ourselves,
so a friend and I took a taxi to Ulus,
a Turkish market

Once there, we walked to the top of an old castle.

These are the views from there.
*Click on the pictures to see a larger version.

Leroy enjoyed his first visit to the country of his heritage!

Most of the castle was in ruins, the wall just came to an abrupt
end and there was nothing to stop you from falling off.

I actually found a very old spinning wheel in a shop!
No idea how this one would work
and it was clearly missing pieces.

Lot's of hand made brass stuff in Ulus.
See the hole in the floor on the left side?
There was a narrow set of stairs that went to a basement
and you could hear someone hammering away
at making the bowls, cups, pitchers that were sold in the shop.

And I found wool!
nasty unprocessed wool, but wool just the same.
I "TRIED" to ask the guy in the store if this was
for "Iplik" in other words yarn or spinning.
He told me it was for pillow stuffing.
I'm not sure I would want that in my pillows.
Also it smelled sheepy!

When we first arrived in the market area, 
I showed Leroy to the first person we met
and asked where I could find something like that there.

They took us to this shop and said, here!

The man in the store took one look 
and started digging through stuff.

He came up with 3 original Turkish Spindles
and 2 Top Whorl Spindles!!!!

All prices in Ulus are negotiable, 
which is interesting when you don't speak the same language.
So after a game of charades and swapping a calculator 
back and forth to enter and display numbers,
we decided on a price and I departed as a happy camper!

They are very large spindles but I do intend to try one out. 
At least to say that I have spun on an authentic Turkish Spindle.

I also found some spinning bowls.
A bell for my Aunt.

A little pitcher from the copper store.
A Turkish Coffee cup for a coworker.
A very pretty sugar bowl for someone special.

Some fabric from a fabric shop, boy that was exciting!
Some kitty ear rings and rings.
And a pair of hand knitted house slippers!!!
I believe I paid about 4 Turkish Lira for those,
which converts to about $2.23...
I plan to try to recreate them as they look like a 
great simple, quick knit for gifts!
What a deal!!!

Food in Turkey was extremely disappointing
but I'm fairly certain that that was because of our
tight schedule presenting very few options for food, 
and those options were really not that good.

However, I did have the best ice-cream EVER!
That will be the first thing on my list if I ever make it back.

When I left Ankara, the airport security informed me
that they would not allow me to carry my Holiday Wheel
onto the plane and that it must be put in my checked luggage
(which was already checked...).

I was horrified and I have no idea what they thought I would
do with it. I can just see the news story now "woman bludgeons
man with spinning wheel for having stinky breath and insisting
on talking on 9 hour flight home..."

Anyway, after finding someone who spoke enough English
to understand, I begged them to retrieve my checked bags.
They made an exception for me and took me to baggage claim
to repack. Once I had my bags, I had five minutes to
repack and get back through security.

I was certain that with my frantic last minute, shoving wheel parts
in my suitcase that it would never survive the trip home.

On my way home, I had another layover in Germany.
After having spent a week that felt like being a contestant on Survivor,
(very little sleep, almost no food,
and stuck with 30+ people mostly strangers,
who eventually started bickering about how to cook the rice...)
I was soooooo happy to be able to have a good meal.

And my hero showed up with a bucket of tops
and restored all my Hopes and Dreams!

These were hand made by Heinz Steinacher in Germany.
He also makes wonderful spindles, you should check him out!

When I got home, I was surprised to find that my wheel
survived but I will never go through that again.
I will check it to begin with or it won't go.

River does have a bit of a chatter now when she spins but
as far as I can tell, there is nothing broken and she
still does her job. So I'll just pretend that the sound
is a nervous tick that she has developed
due to her traumatic experience. 

I'm glad I got the chance to go on this adventure, 
but I don't think I have ever been so glad 
to be home at the end of a trip!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Travel Wheels: A Comparison

I currently have a Spin-A-Way Holiday wheel, a Pocket Wheel, and a Bosworth Journey Wheel.

And it cracks me up a little to say that. When I first started looking at the possibilities for a travel wheel, these were my top contenders. And bit by bit they suddenly all became mine!

All three are great travel wheels but that really depends on what type of traveling you are planning to do. I just went through a bit of a nightmarish experience in the Ankara, Turkey airport when they told me that I could not take my Holiday wheel on the plane...

But let me see if I can break it down,
pros and cons in regards to travel wheels:
Journey Wheel: McFly

-Built into a box ready for travel, complete with carrying strap
-Built in Lazy Kate
-Assembly: Quickest - Easy to set up - Ready to Spin in ~2 minutes
-Small foot print on the ground
-Quiet but makes the most noise out of the three
-Scotch tension option
-Too large to go under the seat on Planes (would fit on most planes, but getting it under the seat would be the problem)
-Smallest Bobbins
-Tallest, which can be a problem for spinning in a vehicle
-Requires some oiling (treadle pivots, and the footman)
-Weight: 14-15 lbs (Heaviest)
-Price: Starting at $1475 ($150 deposit)
-Waiting List: 3+ years (not sure on this, can anyone confirm actual length at this time?)

Pocket Wheel: Doc
(Photo borrowed from Mr. Pocket)
-WooLee Winder option!!!
-Carry Handle for when it is assembled
-Treadles are set high for comfortable couch spinning and such!
-Shortest height
-Small foot print on the ground
-Dissembles and fits into a backpack and can go under the seat on a plane
-Infinite Spinning Ratios
-No drive belts or strings!
-Largest bobbin capacity (I think on the WW anyway)
-Very Quiet
-Weight 6 lbs (Lightest!)
-Price: Starting at $550 ($200 deposit)
-Waiting List: 8+ Months
-Assembly - Longest - can be difficult with Treadle Axle and adjusting settings for proper tension and settings - Ready to Spin in ~10 minutes
-Treadle Axle can be very difficult to insert and remove
-Treadle Axle and Flyer Shaft can cause concerns at security screenings and must be protected from dings/bending
-Requires oiling on the Flyer Shaft under the Bobbin
-Adjusting ratios is approximate and can be a bit fiddly (requires tools)

Holiday Wheel: River
-Assembly - Easy to put together - Ready to Spin in ~5 minutes
-Small foot print on the ground
-Taller than the Pocket but shorter than the Journey
-Dissembles and fits into a backpack and can go under the seat on a plane
-So easy to adjust bobbin tension (with little screw on top of the Spindle Assembly)
-Does not require any oiling!
-Very Queit
-Weight: 8 lbs
-Price: Starting at $675 ($0 deposit)
-Spindle assembly and flyer could cause concern in security screenings
-Bobbin capacity
-Waiting List: 2+ years

Having made this list on the fly, I'll come back and update as I think of other things to compare.

All in all, in regards to flying with a travel wheel, here is my opinion:

For me, I will not attempt to carry a wheel on board a plane unless I am in a situation where I have a safe alternative for my wheel if they say it can't go. For example, flying to Germany (which I do often) I have someone on the other side of security (not flying) both in my departure and arrival cities. So, if I got to security and they said no, I could just turn around and hand it to someone who would take care of it until I returned or would ship it to me (very carefully!). I have a large hard-sided suitcase that I would be willing to pack my wheel for checked luggage. However, I'm always a bit leery of checking anything important to me since I know where lost luggage goes...

The Journey Wheel is really not an option for flying, for me. But it would be great for car road trips where I want to bring a wheel along. Between the Pocket and the Holiday, I believe that the Holiday is my favorite choice for traveling. Mainly because of the issues that I have had with putting together and taking apart my Pocket. Currently I have it assembled and can spin at will at home but prefer to not take it apart and therefore it's not a great option for travel, other than sitting it in the car assembled!

I've also had a Kromski Sonata previously, and while it does fold and have a padded carrying bag, it's a rather large wheel and not really a good option for travel, IMHO.

Here's a side by side comparison of the Pocket and Holiday.

So all in all, even though some of these things sound negative, I love all of my wheels!
And I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have all three!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

One More Disney Day

Leap Day
February 29, 2012

I had an extra day and this is what I did! 

What did you do?

3:30am woke up and drove to the airport

10:00am - I was on a plane from Atlanta to Orlando and I made a new friend

10:30am - picked up rental car, had a hard time explaining to the the agent that I really was "staying" in the Magic Kingdom that night. 
                 Agent: "Where are you staying while you are here?" 
                 Me: "I'm staying at the Magic Kingdom tonight"
                 Agent: "Yes but which hotel are you staying at?"
                 Me: "No, no, I'm really staying in the Magic Kingdom all
                 Agent: "Are you sleeping in the castle?" 
                 Me: "Well wouldn't that be nice..."

11:00am - Arrived at the Magic Kingdom, 5 hours late for the full 24 hours

11:30am - Sneaked a picture with Mickey in his PJ's while he was being interviewed by the local news.

11:40am - Picked up fastpass for Buzz Lightyear

12:00pm - started stalking the Emporium because they were continually sold out of the One More Disney Day t-shirts in Small and Medium...

12:15pm - Picked up my first set of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards!!

1:15pm - Lunch at the Plaza, which was booked solid but oddly had sooooo many empty tables... I wonder if people were just skipping out on their reservations... Also check out my cool set of Mickey ears, just for One More Disney Day!

2:00pm - Main Street Philharmonic Band!!!

2:15pm - Dole Whip #1 - nectar of the gods... no joke

3:00pm - The 3 O'clock parade... Celebrate a Dream Come True

3:30pm - Tom Sawyer's Island... To those of you who know this story, you will appreciate the humor in this picture... To those of you who do not, This is the entrance to a cave.

3:50pm - Got fastpasses for Peter Pan

4:00pm - Haunted Mansion - got stuck in Madame Leota's Seance scene... this becomes important later

4:30pm - Phone started dying, started borrowing power from every outlet I found

5:00-7:00pm - rode various rides, really enjoyed just being in the park!

7:00pm - Tomorrowland Terrace where people were gathering for a WDW Radio meet up! I met so many Disney fans through out the day! It was a great feeling to be surrounded by so many people that knew more about Disney than I do!

7:30pm - Lou Mongello of the WDW Radio Podcast  was doing a live recording of his podcast! You can watch the video of that broadcast below!

8:00pm - Watched Wishes from the TTA, the crowd on Mainstreet was shoulder to shoulder and it turned out that the TTA is a great place to watch from!!

1:00am - Grouped up with the coolest group of people for the Touringplans Great All Nighter Scavenger hunt!

1:15am - Literally sprinting through the Magic Kingdom in a race against 10 other  teams

1:30am - Trying with everything we had to pull the sword out of the stone!

2:00am - Begging our way through the line at the Haunted Mansion. We needed to know how many candles were in Madame Leota's seance's scene... (10 incase you are wondering)  Ran into the Inside the Magic meet up group and convinced Ricky to let us pass his group of 60 people... You can hear this transaction on the Inside the Magic Podcast, show #361. At about 1 hour, 19 minutes, and 30 seconds in you can hear me shouting "Ricky" from afar...

3:00am - Endured the excruciating last step on the scavenger hunt, drove a lap around the Tomorrowland Speedway

3:15am - Arrived at the finishline

4:00am - Rode Space Mountain with my team. The coolest picture ever of me on Space Mountain!
Look closely, you can see arms sprouting from my ears!

4:30am - Victory Dole Whip #2 with my team to celebrate finishing the race!

4:45am - Exchanged contact information with my team and we parted ways! Awesome team!

5:00am - enjoyed a Nutella and fruit waffle from Sleepy Hallow for breakfast!

5:30am - Watched the last "The Magic, The Memories, and You" show on the castle

6:00am - I could see the sun beginning to make an appearance from behind Tomorrowland as the park officially closed for the night, I mean morning!

At this point most everyone was in zombie mode but it was totally worth it! 

6:15am - Mickey gives his good night kiss to the park and everyone starts making their way down mainstreet.

The cast members where high-fiving everyone on the way out saying "You did it!" Many people stopped to take pictures in front of the Main Street clock. 

All in all, I'm very glad that I made this journey. It seemed a little crazy on the outside, at least to outsiders. But once I arrived in the park, it was as if I had arrived at the best Disney fan convention ever! Much like Comic Con or Blizzcon... everyone there was just like me! I was surrounded by people who knew more about Disney than I do! And at least 1 in every 5 people had gotten on a plane to come down for the day all by themselves! It turns out that if I am crazy, there are at least 30-40,000 people that are just as crazy as I am (at least the ones that were at WDW, there were even more at Disneyland!). 

The park was surging with an energy that day that can not be described! It was like taking the normal Disney magic and sprinkling it all with pixie dust and wishes and dreams and blue fairies to make it even more magical! And being surrounded by so many people that love Disney as much as I do and were just as excited to be there, it was just great!

I'm now counting down to Leap Day 2016. I will be there, without question!!!