Spinning Toward Consistency

Two weeks ago on the nose I shared a post entitled Skill Building for Spinners. In it I shared my prep work for a spin focused on consistency as part of the Skill Builder SAL in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry Group. Of course my vacation interrupted progress on this project and you might be at home seeing my latest “Today on my wheel…” installments thinking, “Whatever happened to the consistency spin she prepped? Why is she avoiding it?” Well, I was thinking that as well. And then I had a bit of an A-HA moment when I realized that I actually have been working on that consistency spin… I just haven’t yet gotten to that particular 4oz of fiber. Let me explain.

Since the Tour de Fleece last July I’ve been spinning a lot of 2-ply worsted weight yarns on and off in between other projects as I work on a stash of yarn for a Vivid blanket project. My most recent spin before leaving on vacation I’d been working on my Jensen Tina 2 as well as a couple free-for-all spins on my Schacht Reeves. I love throwing in free-for-all, spin as you will spins into the mix with my more intentional spins — I find the practice keeps me loose and my spinning is better if I’m not always overthinking things. In any case, neither of these projects had my head or hands in the mind space of consistent lightweight singles.

Upon my return, it just didn’t feel comfortable to hop right into my Skill Builder spin on my Schacht Reeves. I’d be aiming for a 40-36wpi single as opposed to 22wpi single and to do that I knew I’d want to move to a smaller whorl to make the treadling less taxing and the process more efficient. It’s here that my A-HA moment kicked in as I examined how I spin for consistency and to a certain specification. I realized I rarely just sit down and spin a certain yarn. I settle on a certain fiber and the yarn I want to spin it into and then I work toward that in a series of spins. While I can certainly sit down and crank out whatever yarn I need or want, my preference — because it is just a more joyful, relaxing way to spin — is almost always to get to that chosen project slowly & methodically, by way multiple spins. A journey & a process, more than a one-and-done skein.

So step one to build up to my Skill Builder was, to first get settled back in with my Schacht Reeves and to focus on consistency at the yarn weight I was already synced into. I selected 4oz of Polwarth + Tussah Silk 85/15 in the Kelp colorway from Three Waters Farm to start…

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I spun with just the intention of being mindful and a focus on consistency at that same 22wpi on my medium whorl at the 14.5:1 ratio at which I’d been spinning. This will be another for my Vivid project. I’m not being super fussy about consistency on this project, but it was a good spin to kind of start me in the right direction.

For my next spin I moved on to the next faster whorl, my “fast whorl” at the 20:1 ratio and I spun to the 36-40wpi to which I’m working toward.

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This, again, is a silk blend. Since my Skill Builder spin will be a silk blend as well I wanted to work in silk blends as I work up to it. This time it’s Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk 40/40/20 as I’m not too worried about the differences in the fiber blends beyond the fact that I want to stay in that silk blend realm. The focus here was not to really push that consistency, but to get the rhythm of the lighter weight singles in my hands and in my head and to make sure the whorl felt like a good fit for the yarn I was spinning.

And now, I feel sufficiently ready to dig in to my Skill Builder spin! Unfortunately, I’ll have to do a little plying before I can get there to free up some bobbins as I’ve been a lazy about getting to my plying lately, but that won’t take too long. My Tina has rested up since the harrowing vacation and is ready to handle the plying duties. That’s next up on my to-do list and then it’ll be off to the races on my Skill Builder! That is, of course, if Bear will let me. He’s grown attached to not just one wheel…

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But two…

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I’m guessing when the Tina makes her appearance, he’ll decide she is his as well!

Tina Takes a Road Trip

Last week my family and I loaded up the aptly named Adventuremobile (also known as our van) and headed South. Mr. Knitting Sarah’s parents live in Southern Missouri and we were off to spend a week visiting with them. Knowing we had a pretty slow, relaxing week ahead of us and we had a fair bit of room in the van, along with — you know — clothes and toiletries and dog food, I packed an obscene amount of fiber, my Jensen Tina 2, a sweater knit, and a sock knit. I was planning to spin. A lot.

We figured with our puppy, Bear, the drive would take about 12 hours. Puppies require frequent bathroom breaks and poor Bear is not a huge fan of car rides. He struggled through it with a lot of TLC from the kids…

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If you’re wondering about the towel, he is a nervous drooler, so unless you want to be drenched we’ve found towels to be a necessity.

About an hour and a half from our destination, we were making plans for the following day with my husband’s brother when the tire pressure alarm went off and shortly after we felt the tire go. On a busy interstate with almost no shoulder, rather than risk someone being injured, we called in roadside assistance.

While we waited, a very kind state trooper stopped to help out and with his coverage from behind, we were able to start work on getting the spare out. Unfortunately, in order to get at the spare this had to happen…

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There is something pretty humbling about splaying your belongings out on the side of the road. I mean, my poor Tina!!! In any case, in order to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen with the tire, I hung back in the car with the kids and the dogs until I heard from the back, “Let me go get my expert.” Mr. KS and the trooper were having trouble releasing the spare from its bizarre locking system, so I was called in as the “expert” at figuring this kind of thing out. A couple minutes later the spare was free (go me!) and shortly after that a very kind gentleman with roadside assistance showed up to help finish the job.

img_5206As you can see, the tire was pretty much toast, so when we made it to my husband’s parents’ house just a couple hours late, we were feeling thankful that nothing else had gone wrong. Tina — and the rest of us — had made it safely to Southern Missouri!

As you probably have heard me say, very few plans survive contact with realty around here. Saturday morning with the car at the tire shop getting all new tires (Happy early Valentine’s Day to us!), I settled in for a few minutes of spinning. Those 15 or so minutes were the extent of my awesome spinning week though. After all my lofty goals and ambitions and the huge load of fiber I’d packed for my quiet week of spinning, I discovered that when you aren’t in your own space and you have a puppy, spinning is pretty much impossible. Between exercise and play and trying to keep the pup out of the cat food, your time is pretty much spoken for.

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He’s probably worth it.

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All right, he’s definitely worth it.

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I like the little guy. A lot.

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And this guy, too. He’s pretty majestic and awesome (in this photo he’s watching Mr. KS try to photograph an armadillo we spotted — so focused!).

 

And they are both pretty good porch sittin’ knitting buddies, too…

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We did enjoy some beautiful weather and I managed to get quite a bit of knitting done on my Weekender sweater. In fact, I am almost done with the main body and the front up to the shoulder seam as well.

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We did take the short drive over to Prairie State Park on the Missouri-Kansas border to see their bison. In addition to the bison, we saw loads of different hawk species, had a very brisk picnic (does anyone else have picnics in 30F temps? I didn’t think so!), and took a nice walk through a freshly burned area.

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It was beautiful.

And it was good practice for this guy…

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Who is slowly learning to handle being in the car with a bit of zen and slightly less drool.

As our week came to a close, it became apparent that the drive home would be a snowy one…

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And it was. It was pretty grueling through Missouri which saw much more snow than they are used to and most of Iowa, where the weather was worse, but the roads were clear. We were thankful for the flat tire we suffered on the way down which allowed/instigated us to invest in better quality tires, something we’d been putting off because they weren’t a necessary expense. Thankfully we’d saved a few pennies to be able to afford it and the investment made the snowy trip back markedly safer.  Even when things go wrong, they often work out for the better at the end of the day.

To pass the time, we listened to an audiobook as a family, I knit on my sweater, we made a playlist and sang along, and the pups…

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Well, they figured it out.

After a long day in the car, we were all happy to get home. We ate some dinner, I sat in my chair, and promptly fell asleep.

The next day, we took the pups out to one of our favorite spots where they frolicked and played…

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Happy to be back among the land of snows and marshes and trees downed by beavers…

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And skating on murky ice.

And after that nice long walk, it was nice to come home and do some spinning after that week long, puppy induced hiatus…

 

I on my Schacht Reeves…

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And Bear chose the Lendrum.

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Tina, well, she’s tired from her little adventure. And even if Tina’s road trip ended up being for naught, we made a lot of wonderful family memories, basking in the glorious and fleeting days of the puppy while Tina stood stoically idle. Sometimes that’s just the way it should to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Hat Mania

I don’t know if it’s the weather or the appeal of the simple, easy, quick project, or just necessity born of the fact that I have successfully lost or at least misplaced a number of hats by this time of year, but this time of winter I tend to go into a hat mania.

Just before Christmas, I shared my finished Rikke Hat. I’ve been wearing it a ton, so I was aptly inspired to finish up my Acai Hat. I wound the yarn at the same time as the yarn for the Rikke Hat. It’s handspun Three Waters Farm Superwash Targhee in the Put Off My Blues colorway.

 

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It’s a beautiful colorway that makes me super happy, but the way I spun it really made for a busy fabric. I start with a stockinette stitch hat pattern, but I was not a fan of it so I opted to switch gears and find a pattern that is more textural.

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I’m really happy with how the Acai Hat worked with it and it proved a great project to work on with the puppy in the house. Interesting to occupy my mind that was tired after chasing the pup all day, but easy enough that I could still knit it on auto-pilot to an extent.

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It’s quite different from the hats I usually knit and that’s exactly why I like it!

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I think the texture compliments the busy colors nicely.

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And I have just enough slouch in it for the relaxed look that I love.

It won’t shock you to know that I’ve got 2 more skeins of yarn sitting on my desk, all wound and ready to become hats. Let the hat mania continue! You can’t have too many hats during winter in Wisconsin, can you?!

 

 

Knit From Your Knitting, Part 2

About this time last year I was knitting my first ever socks from a sock blank. As I clicked away, Mr. Knitting Sarah looked across the room at me and then stared at my knitting.

“Are you knitting… from your knitting?”

Knitting from the sock blank, of course, that’s exactly what I was doing. I cam to realize that knitting from sock blanks definitely agrees with me. There’s something about being able to look at the upcoming color changes and say, “Oh, I will keep going until I get to the next bit of red,” or “I can’t wait to see how that dot of green knits into this fabric.” They are really great fun and a welcome change from my usual center-pull balls of yarn.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine gave me an awesome Andre Sue Knits sock blank (I’d give you the link, but I believe she’s ended her sock blank painting business). I cannot believe it, but I did not take a before picture! That’s not true… I took the picture, I just can’t find the picture. And I’ve searched everywhere it should be. [Insert huge eyeroll here.] In any case, if you tilt your head and use your imagination a little, the fabric in the back of this photo with the sheep — that’s the blank.

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I believe I received them in June and started knitting on them shortly after that. They’ve been my on-again-off-again knitting project ever since… until a couple of weeks ago when — after finishing my Tecumseh sweater — I found myself gloriously in-between big projects.

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Ta-da!

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Obviously, these are fraternal twins, not identical. I never mind that at all, but my apologies to those whose skin I just made crawl. Just take a deep breath or stop reading because there’s one more photo to go here.

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I really love the colors and the fit is superb. I didn’t take too many photos of these because I’ve actually worn and washed them a couple times!

It’s funny. I was recently considering switching to Fish Lips Kiss heels as my go-to heel. I’ve been using the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock pattern with its heel flap & gusset method for about a decade now and I really like it. And I know it really well. But I have a couple pair of Fish Lips Kiss heeled socks that have a pretty phenomenal fit. This pair of socks sends that plan into total limbo because the fit is just fantastic. I will have to do some pondering before I get to the heel on my next pair of socks!