Birthdays, Toads, Computer Problems, and the Stuff of Life

This week has had it all, my friends. And by the way, where did the week go?!

It all started with a mad dash to get both kids to the finish line with their schoolwork for the end of the year. It turns out when you’ve got a measly 5 math lessons remaining, it takes everything you have just to get it finished — both the kids working them and me in correcting them. My goal was to get them both to wrap things up before my son’s birthday on the 10th and thankfully, amazingly, the last test was taken on the 8th. After correcting that last test, I think I sort of mentally declared mission accomplished, whirred a couple times, and fell asleep standing up for a while because this year, and especially this spring, felt loooong.

But there was a cake to be ordered and gifts to wrap for my baby boy’s TWELTH birthday. Twelve. How is that even possible? We don’t describe him as ‘taller than me’ anymore, now it’s more like ‘he’s a little shorter than Mr. KS.’ Alas, my sweet little dude may not be very little any more, but he’s still the sweetest, kindest, most helpful kid around. In fact, I also taught him to mow the lawn this week. He did so much better than I anticipated and I’m very proud of him for it. We even found this guy in the process.

He’s the second one we’ve found in the yard, so I now know to watch carefully while mowing in one section where they like to hang out. Got to take care of these cute, little chubby guys.

In any case, I can tend toward being kind of emotional for birthdays, but I managed to hold it together pretty well for this one. I didn’t even lose it when we had his cake made with a drawing from one of the comic books our boy draws.

He writes a comic series called The Adventures of Pike & Perch so we snagged one to make one extra special cake. I got the bakery the text, the photo, and said, “I trust you to make it awesome” and they did! He absolutely loved it. Even our girl thought it was the coolest thing ever. In case you’re wondering, the big green spotted guy is Pike fighting with one of Perch’s henchmen. Seriously now, I can’t make this stuff up.

The weather was awfully nice this week, so we’ve hiked and biked (yay for Mr. KS getting a new bicycle!) and walked and been enjoying the heck out of our new town and neighborhood. I even tested out the deck for spinning.

It’s pretty much perfection. I’m oh-so-close to finishing up the singles for my latest spin. I literally have maybe 5grams left to go, but a super secret project came up so that took up and continues to occupy a bit of my week. I’ll let you in on it as soon as I can!

 I did started to organize myself for the Tour de Fleece though…

Although “organize” might be a generous word for what was happening. It was more like pulling a lot of fiber out and putting the superfine merino into a pile next to some other random bits I’d like to spin. Yeah, I don’t think “organize” is really the right word at all.. maybe create controlled chaos is more accurate? Anyways, suffice to say I’m thinking about and starting to get things ready for my Tour de Fleece this year. It was pretty exciting to touch the fibers and dream up projects for a while.

And then one day I was thinking about the whole fade fad and this happened…

Because if I could actually spin these each into 400yard fingering weight skeins, I could knit them into one epic So Faded sweater. Just without the garter in the upper arms because I don’t need extra bulkiness in that general region. Stockinette will do just fine, thank you very much. But yes! It would be one grand find your fade if I do say so myself.

And if life wasn’t busy enough this week, believe it or not just as I finally finished up all the things I needed to do on Thursday (including settling out the last of our paperwork from the move) and planned to get a blog post or two written for the FOs sitting on my desk, my computer decided that it was through using its power connection. It was how my last computer died, also, and after a few tries to convince the connection to work, I just started to frantically back up my desktop. I do back-up regularly, but hadn’t since the move, so I figured if it was going to die I at least wanted my work up to date. It’s currently accepting power, but is slowly losing juice over time so we are marching toward a slow demise, I think. Please bear with me as I sort through the business of figuring out a new machine. I’ll attempt to keep using this one, but since the connection is failing and unpredictable, I may be able to use it for weeks or it may just die tomorrow. Whatever the case, I’ll work to do a better job of getting up my daily snapshots up which are easy to do with my phone so that we can stay in touch whatever fate holds for this machine.

Birthdays and toads and biking and hiking and cake and school work and computer problems and spinning and fiber ogling and secret projects… this really is the stuff of life. It’s nice to be back to normal, just trying to enjoy and keep up with it all.

Camellia Forest

Another installment of the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club? Yes, indeed!

                                       Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

Camellia Forest arrived on my doorstep on December 27th and it went onto my wheel immediately.

img_5578Fresh off of knitting the same kind of Ultrafine Merino into a hat for my husband, I just couldn’t wait to spin myself another 2-ply worsted weight skein of it.

img_5580-1I finished the singles by the morning of the 28th and plied it later that day. Because I just couldn’t wait.

The finished skein is everything I hoped.

skeinI didn’t measure it, but I’m assuming based on experience that it’s in the 175-200yard range.

detailIt’s squishy and absolutely amazing. I’ve even wound it already! I’m thinking of knitting it up into some basic sleeves to brighten up the rest of my winter here. Something like Toast, maybe? I won’t get to it right away, but that’s kind of what I’m thinking… although I may add a little ribbing so that it doesn’t curl as much… I’ll have to think on it a bit.

And this, my friends, is my last from the club for now. Believe it or not, since joining I’ve spun every installment except for October’s which is waiting patiently for me to get crackin’ on it as part of a 4-braid, 16oz project — 8oz of the colorway and 8oz of it’s coordinate. I think will make a lovely weaving project someday soon. In any case, I’m pretty pleased with how much use I’ve gotten out of this club. I’ve taken part in a number of fiber and yarn clubs over the years and this is the first I’ve truly kept up with. It’s been a large part of keeping me spinning the past year and I’ve learned so much about different fibers, blends, and color handling. I can’t wait to keep on going with it!

Empty Bobbins & Fresh Yarn

After my wheel, probably the best investment I’ve made in spinning was acquiring extra bobbins. I got my wheel in October of 2011 and when my birthday rolled around that December, I used birthday monies to stock up on bobbins.

bobbinsAs you can see, I have a small fleet! It may look like overkill and honestly it may be, but I do have what I think is a really good reason for having this many bobbins. My Lendrum DT has a plying head & flyer that I really like using — you guessed it — to ply. I like the speed of this flyer and I love the fact that the jumbo bobbins easily hold most of the skeins I spin. The thing is, most of my singles that I wish to ply are spun with the regular or fast flyer which requires the regular head. Have I lost you yet with all these heads and flyers and what not?

What I’m getting at here is that when I go to ply I’m changing out the head on my spinning wheel. It’s no big deal as it’s really a simple procedure and the ability to make this change is a big reason I bought my wheel, but having extra bobbins means I can spin a lot more singles before I switch things out to plying mode. This gives my singles time to rest in between plying without forcing me to press pause on my spinning and it also alleviates some wear & tear on my wheel with switching those heads. In practice what this means is that with my 7 regular bobbins I can spin at least 3-4 projects that each involve 4-8oz singles (the bulk of what I do these days). Likewise, then I can ply all those projects in a row, too, although with only two jumbo bobbins I do have to pause to skein my yarn every 2 projects. I am usually too excited to check out the final yarns after they’re plied, so as yet I haven’t felt the need to pick up more than 2 jumbo bobbins. Someday, I probably will. In any case, in addition to being a bit more efficient and easier on my wheel, I think this process allows me to create better yarn because I’m not constantly switching gears between singles and plying.

Knowing all this, as you can imagine a big part of my Tour de Fleece prep involves clearing off my bobbins so that I am all set for a fresh start come Saturday. Of course, this has resulted in some finished yarn — hooray!

The first yarn I will share is spun from fiber I purchased for my birthday last year, Sweet Georgia Polwarth + Silk in the Stormchaser colorway.

IMG_7579I wanted to blend all those white patches in as best as I could, so I broke this braid up into a lot of pieces to spin the singles…

IMG_9494And then I n-plied.

IMG_9829I know I sacrifice a lot of yardage for the n-ply, but I really love how a good 3-ply is a nice round yarn and when the colors are already broken up, there is minimal pooling.

The resulting yarn is about 260yards of sport/DK weight yarn.

sgstormchaserI adore the colors.

sgstormchaserdetThe plying isn’t my best work, but without a doubt it’ll knit up nicely. I’m going to be trying to knit up my handspun a bit more in the coming months (hopefully), so I’ll be on the lookout for a nice cowl or shawlette to knit this skein into.

My second finished skein you’ll probably be familiar with as it’s my most recent spin.

IMG_9746My daughter picked out this 8oz blend of  Fuschia 80/20 merino/silk from Louet on the way home from vacation and not only requested liked the fiber, but asked if she could knit the yarn I spin with it. There was a zero percent chance that I could say no to that… even if it meant spinning 8oz of hot pink.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s really pretty and fiber was really a joy to spin, but holy cow…

IMG_9819that was a lot of pink.

This skein I also n-plied.

IMG_9834Partly because I was on a roll, partly because I thought a round, bouncy yarn would be more fun for my daughter to knit.

I have to admit that the finished skein is pretty much the closest my handspinning has come to looking like a commercial skein.

louet hot pinkIt turned out to be about 320yards of roughly worsted weight yarn.

louet hot pink detAnd it just turned out so well. I’m really proud of this one and ridiculously impressed with myself. My daughter is very excited about it, too. I am, however, playing the mean mom card in that she has to finish her current knitting project (at cowl for my mom) before she can start using this yarn.

Along with some fantastic fresh yarns, I’ve also reached my pre-Tour de Fleece empty bobbin goal. Tomorrow I’ll get my nerd on and share the tools I’ve gathered in preparation for the big event as well as the first fibers I plan to spin. Oh, the possibilities that lie ahead!