I Am Not In Rhinebeck

Every year on the October weekend the boasts the New York Sheep & Wool Festival it feels like the knitting & spinning community turns very black and white: those who are in Rhinebeck and those who are not in Rhinebeck. We all know that all sorts of people travel great distances to attend this festival including all the heavy-hitting knitterati. As I watch the photos pour into my social media stream of happy faces and wool galore, I am always conflicted. I am most definitely Not in Rhinebeck.

There’s part of me that suffers from extreme FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) with this event. The longing I have to be with my like minded brothers & sisters at this Mecca for spinners and knitters is at times overwhelming. The never-ending barrage of photos that show the traditional reveling in particular food items, the glory of the Hudson River Valley in autumn, the camaraderie, and the wool in so many shapes and forms. Oh, the wool. And the Bosworth Spindle booth. And the Hansen Crafts booth. And… and… And here I sit, 1000miles away, missing out.

There is, however, a larger part of me that is painfully shy and even the idea of the crowds wears me out. I’m instantly nervous at the idea of meeting so many people I admire in person. I mean, that’s a whole lot of opportunity for me to be socially awkward, something at which I truly excel. I think about being away from my family & it loses a lot of its appeal. I remember that even if I were there, how most people do Rhinebeck — all those photos I see, that’s not how I would. Because I’m an introvert, because I will never be one to be outgoing enough to snap selfies with celebrities. There’s a fair chance I’d be too shy to introduce myself. I much prefer quiet time to observe and think and soak things up and while I like to think I would step things up to experience the social aspects of Rhinebeck, I don’t know how much I would. My Rhinebeck wouldn’t be like the photos I see (in reality most things aren’t, right?) and I always come around to the conclusion that the instinct to feel that FOMO is really misplaced.

It’s true. As much as those photos of Rhinebeck tug at my heart a little, the truth is after the last couple of months I’ve had, I would much rather be right where I am: tucked in bed this foggy morning next to my snoring Moose knitting away on my beloved first handspun sweater.

img_4822I just separated the main body from the sleeves. It’s love at every stitch here, my friends. Love at every stitch. I won’t be putting it down anytime soon.

So this weekend, fair warning: I Am Not in Rhinebeck.

For photos of fiber finds and long lost friends and apple cider donuts and perfect fall scenes, you may want to search elsewhere on social media. For photos of  low-key shenanigans with my family, knitting on my sweater next to my snoring dog in somewhat unspectacular surroundings, a birthday cake made and decorated by an almost-nine-year-old, and probably some spindle spinning in weird evening lighting, look no further. I’ve got you covered.

Tour de Fleece 2016 Wrap-Up

Since the Tour de Fleece wrapped up on Sunday, in lieu of a week 3 summary I’m just going to take the whole kit and caboodle and do a wrap-up of the whole event. All my skeins are washed and set and dried and I have approximate weight & yardage. I’ll take the time to get a proper wpi measurement and yardage for each before long (I hope), but — let’s be honest — sometimes getting around to that takes time and I just didn’t want to wait to share.

I’ll start by saying that this was by far my busiest Tour to date. The Three Waters Farm Team was crazy-amazing (crazmazing!) and so very hopping — as of today I see almost 4900 posts in the team thread. And I read each one!  So that took some time. I also had a lot of other non-spinning things going on. As I’ve mentioned, my friend has been helping me fix the landscaping around my house — I like to call my landscaping ‘my gardens’ — and it’s been awesome and things are really starting to take shape.  We’ve got all the big changes that’ll happen this year done, but every day I’m weeding and doing some little this or that. We’ve been doing it on a shoestring, so of course that just means it gets fixed through time, hard work, and a lot of sweat. I’ll get some photos of that soon. I’ve also been working on my Feel Good Yarn Co Summer Sock Club — I’ve got pictures of this, too — I swear, but I’ll save those for another post. Throw in our family days, trips to the pool, hikes & walks, and a trip up to my parents’ house, and it makes for a darn busy 3weeks.

But there was spinning. Oh so much spinning! How about if I just introduce you to my 8 new skeins?

img_3992Wait, you say. I count only 7! Well, that’s very true. It’s because this beauty has already been adopted so it missed the family photo op.

bark detThis was my lone Classy Squid Fiber Co spin, Bark. This fingering weight 2ply was half spindle spun, half wheel spun & plied on my wheel. It came out to about 350yards. It’s very happy and well-loved in its new home.

From here on out just to make things nice and tidy, I’ll go left to right from the photo of the collection. All of these fibers are from the magical dyepots of Three Waters Farm.

So on the far left is my skein of Birds in the Holly.

img_3993This is mean to be an insurance skein. The goal was to match as closely as possible with my first skein of Birds in the Holly so that I would have a yardage cushion to knit a sweater. I haven’t measured, but eyeballing the two they look close enough to me to work. This is somewhere in the realm of 500yards. In the interest of full disclosure, this was the last skein I was winding and I totally lost interest in counting. So I know it’s at least 500yards — I’ll be interested to, you know, actually stick with it and know for sure. Suffice to say, it’s the yardage cushion I was hoping for.

Second from the left, you’ll see Stolen By Bandits.

img_3997This is 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah silk and this is totally not what I’d originally intended to do with this fiber. But I love it. It’s about 200yards of 2 ply approximately worsted weight yarn, heavy on the barberpoling. I love it.

Third from the left, you’ll find Lone Grasshopper.

img_3999As you can see, I’d fallen down the 2-ply, worsted weight barberpoling rabbit hole. This skein is also about 200yards and I love it, too.

And smack dab in the middle is Laundry Pile.

img_3994Oh, hey! It’s another 200yards of 2-ply worsted barberpoling goodness! It’s worth noting that while I’m kind of having fun here showing them off, since I’m much more accustomed to spinning lighter weights and I was actually shooting for worsted weight yarns, I was actually being somewhat careful. I used my Spinner’s Control Card religiously to make sure I stayed on the right track. It was excellent experience and really taught me that I could indeed spin for a certain weight — even a weight that I’m not necessarily comfortable with. Henceforth, that tool is going to be at the ready at all times!

Next, of course, we have the Three Waters Farm special TDF colorway, Summer Jubilee.

img_4001It’s a chain plied merino/nylon blend and in the 300yard sport weight vicinity. I cannot wait to knit these into socks.

Second from the right, is Violet Shadows.

img_3995This 60/40 Polwarth/Silk was selected by my mom. I used my Very Fast Flyer to try to squeeze this into the very end of the Tour and then I plied it on my Fast Flyer. It was all a little speedy and thus, scary, but I hung in there. I was really concerned I had too much twist in the yarn, but it all turned out A-OK. It’s a beautifully balanced 360yard skein of heavy fingering-ish weight yarn. My mom loves to knit up little scarves and shawls and this will be perfect for another.

And last, but certainly not least, Early Blooming + During the Day.

img_3996This big beauty is 1100yards of fingering weight glory.  4oz of this were spun pre-TDF, so I’m not quite sure how that figures in my totals for weight and yardage. I’ve just been leaving it out, with a mental asterisk that, hey, I did that beautiful behemoth skein, too.

Oh, and of course, I spun a teensy tiny bit every day on my Akerworks mini-spindle.

img_3904Now that the Tour is over, I’m actually hoping to give it a little more of my attention.

So that’s it! That was my Tour de Fleece 2016.

Approximately 2110yards (plus half the big beauty)

32oz of fiber spun into yarn

I cannot say enough great things about my teammates and my co-captain, Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm. The constant encouragement, inspiration, and just plain fun that took place on the team was out-of-this-world. It was busy. It was hectic. It was FUN. It was a fantastic 3weeks. I can’t wait for next year!

From Farmers’ Market to Yarn

This past summer I shared that while at the Dane County Farmers’ Market one Saturday, Mr Knitting Sarah talked me into picking up some fiber from one of the vendors, Wisconsin Highlands Farms.

grey woolI totally spaced on what breed of fiber this is, but it’s a super soft, greyish-brown that although washed and carded into roving clearly still had a good deal of lanolin in it and still smelled vaguely of sheep. If you aren’t a fiber artist, you probably think that smelling like sheep would not be a selling point, but for a knitter or spinner of undyed yarn it doesn’t get much better than that sniff test. It’s almost as good as being there when the sheep is shorn.

But I digress.

I starting spinning shortly after I brought it home.

grey wool spunAnd it was as lovely as I expected.

I have to admit that in my head I was thinking I bought 2 – 2.5oz balls of fiber when in fact it was 2 – 3.5oz balls of fiber. It may not sound like much of a difference, but I promise you that it really is quite a lot more fiber and with the disconnect between what I was thinking I had and what I actually had made it feel like this project went on  f o r e v e r . Don’t get me wrong — it was awesome to work with this fiber. It just took about 20times longer than I had estimated it would.

I finally got to plying though and I was finally driven enough to wrap it up so I could get something new on my wheel. I put my nose to the grindstone & got it finished and then put it directly into a bath to set it.

I was aiming for a fingering weight yarn for a Rilsdale Shawl, but I’ve been struggling a bit with getting fingering weight yarns. Since working on getting better with heavier weight singles my light singles have suffered a bit. In any case, the resulting yarn — miraculously — is a bit over 500yards of a light fingering weight yarn.

localfiberAnd it’s going to perfect for my Rilsdale Shawl. It’s exactly the yarn I’d envisioned.

localfiber2I probably could have eeked out another 50-100yards, but I mucked up my plying bracelet I was trying to use at the end. No matter. It’s plenty for the pattern, so I’m just going to be happy that I got the weight right and not cry over the few extra yards I could have had.

I’m not sure when I’ll get around to knitting this project up, but I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s a rarity that I manage to spin exactly the yarn that I’m trying to spin so it’s a major win in that regard. And the prize is such a beautiful, soft rustic yarn that I just know whenever I do get to it, it’ll be worth the wait.