The Flurry Before the Storm

We’ve been hearing about a certain storm system for a week as it’s been slowly marching across the country from California, as the air drops down from the Arctic, and more moisture is drawn up from the Gulf. As with all long-term forecasts, there are too many variables to really be able to tell yet exactly what we’re in for and where our little house is located seems to be precisely where the meteorologists are drawing the line between 6″ of snow/sleet and 12″+ of snow. As is always the case, only time will tell.

Regardless of what actually happens, this kind of system puts a buzz in the air. Getting ready for a potentially big storm is just part of living in this region of the world. Once we catch wind that something big may be headed our way, we all flit about, preparing as best we can. Stocking our shelves, running our errands, filling our gas tanks, packing emergency bags for the car, and keeping shovels & snowblowers at the ready — as with anything, the more you prepare on the front end, the easier it will be to deal with once it hits.

Beyond the practicalities, though, everyone is energized with anticipation. In our house, we check the weather reports a couple times per day. My hubby and I (mostly) playfully bicker about which weather sites are more reliable. And the kids speculate as to wheather it’ll be packing snow or fluffy snow, whether we’ll get enough to build a mega snow fort, and if the sledding hill will be faster. I made a giant batch of waffles so the kids would have an easy warm breakfast, stocked up on warm food & drink like chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate, and I baked a big batch of chocolate chip cookies for — I’ll be honest — no better reason than I thought they’d be a nice treat.

And, course, some of my energy was translated into my craft. I progressed into the lining portion of my Snowfling Mitts

img_2257It’s been slow-going though because I’ve been kind of distracted by my spinning.

I finished up my Three Waters Farm ‘Cool Conundrums’ singles…

img_2256It’s my first real run with my Very Fast Flyer and it’s taking some trial and error to get a good feel for it (as shown by the bursts of over-twisting). I think I’m probably going to do an n-ply, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’m going to let them rest awhile while I consider my options.

And meanwhile I’ll be enveloped in this…

img_2246Three Waters Farm is the guest dyer for the Completely Twisted and Arbitrary Ravelry Group‘s January – March Spin-A-Long and I am excited to be joining in! This group’s SALs are a very neat concept — the dyer introduces a theme and then participants share visual media ideas to give color/illustrate the theme and for which the dyer could base some custom colorways. The dyer then selects a couple images and dyes the custom colorways. And then the group all spins them up!  You can can see the paintings and custom colorways for this installment here — I think what Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm has done is just phenomenal — so much so that I starting spinning almost as soon as the fiber hit my doorstep.

I started with “Color Music” inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s Music, Pink and Blue No.2 dyed on BFL.

img_2249And pretty quickly I knew it would be a struggle to step away.

img_2251These colors are rich and intense and just incredible.

img_2255And if that wasn’t enough, I swear the BFL is infused with some sort of magic because it is practically drafting itself. This spin is just pure joy. Pure, gorgeous joy.

Should you be so inclined, you can still pre-order any of the Completely Twisted and Arbitrary colorways in the Three Waters Farm Etsy shop. All three exclusive colorways are available on your choice of BFL or Merino/TussahSilk 80/20. I really can’t say enough great things about them!

So as we all wait for what may or may not be a Snowzilla-type storm to hit, I’ve got my flurry before the storm preparations finished. I suppose all that’s left is it stay calm, spin-away, and wait for the snow to start flying.

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!