Plyingpalooza Awaits

It’s true! I — like many other spinners — am in the throes of Spinzilla this week. Normally I’d have had a pre-Spinzilla post here with my plans and then regular updates, but let’s be real — I was not that ahead of things this year. I’m happy to report that despite my poor reporting here, I have been spinning away merrily this week with my fellow teammates on Team Three Waters Farm. Spinzilla is a yardage-centric competition for many, but on Team TWF, it’s about the yardage, of course, but it’s also about the good old fashioned love of spinning. And that’s what I love about it.

So far I’ve been exclusively spinning with my new wheel, the Schacht Reeves. I’ll admit, I found a new set of muscles or tendons or something in my right leg courtesy of the single treadle, but it’s nothing a walk with the Moose and knocking off a couple hours early one night didn’t alleviate. I found the Goldilocks whorl for the fibers I was spinning  — you know, not too fast and not too slow, but just right — and it was really and truly the best I’ve felt yet with the new wheel. It’s pretty awesome the way it just keeps getting better and better and more comfortable.

I’m about two-thirds of the way through my goals for the week.

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12oz of singles are complete. The two bobbins on the top are TWF’s Maple Leaf Rag on a Polwarth + Silk 60/40 base.  It’s totally dreamy and 1000% perfect for this moment when the trees are all nearing their peak for the autumn season. This will be plied into a simple 2-ply and is destined to be a gift.

The two bobbins on the bottom are hopefully going to work for the Nimble Nim SAL+KAL being hosted in the TWF Ravelry Group. The left bobbin is African Sunset on a BFL + Tussah Silk base (this colorway is currently available on Mixed BFL here). It’s a wonderfully  moody colorway that I spun in no time just because it was so yummy. The right bobbin is TWF’s Iron Blue. It’s not currently in the shop, but it is hands-down my favorite blue ever. There is zero doubt in my mind that I will be ordering more via special order in the future. My plan for these bobbins is to chain ply them and hopefully have enough yardage to make a respectable sized Brillig. The pattern is highly adaptable, so it’s not that I couldn’t knit it up with less yardage, I’m just more interested in a larger sized scarf. If they don’t fit that bill, I will spin something else and save these beauties for another day. Time will tell!

I don’t think I’ll have any more time than plying these three skeins before Spinzilla comes to an end. I actually did not intend to spin them quite as lightly as I did, but as sometimes is the case in spinning, I went with the lighter weight because once I got into it, it simply felt right. In case I do make exceptional time plying though…

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I’ve pulled out fibers destined to be quicker, heavier weight projects that I can fly through in a couple of spare hours.

Alas, I’ve got errands to run and then Plyingpalooza awaits. I’ll see y’all on the other side!

I Came. I Spun. I Made Pretty Yarn.

Aside from a couple quick posts, I don’t think I went into much detail about the Tour de Fleece as it was happening. I didn’t spin nearly as much as I have in past Tour de Fleece events, but it was a respectable production this year nonetheless. I accomplished the main goals I set out to tick off my to-do list and for that I’m very happy. So let’s hop right to it, all right?

First, while I didn’t start this during the Tour de Fleece, I did ply it during The Tour.

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This is my 4-ply 2-color hawser spin. It’s 100% Corriedale from Three Waters Farm in the Next to You and Fall Refrain colorways. To create this yarn, I split my fiber into 4 equal portions — 2 of each color — and I Z-spun each portion onto its own bobbin. (For those who aren’t spinners, “Z-spun” refers to when the drive wheel is being spun clockwise and “S-spun” is when the drive wheel is being spun counterclockwise.) Then, I Z-spun (or “up-plied”) 1 ply of each color together. And then I S-spun the 2 – 2-plies together. I apologize for not taking better photos of the process — if you have questions you can just ask or refer to Sarah Anderson’s The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs as the hawser recipe I used is on page 94 of the text.

I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings about this spin. It’s named for a rope construction and — truth be told — my yarn feels pretty ropey. There are spots where I clearly had too much twist in the Z-spins and I failed to even it out during the final S-spin. I came out with about 360yards of this 4-ply fingering weight yarn and my thought was that I would knit socks with it as it is supposed to be an extremely durable yarn. I am reserving final judgment until I knit up it. At the end of the day, that’s the true test of any handspun.

When I finished this plying, I moved straight on to my main Tour de Fleece goal which was to spin up the bulk of my Three Waters Farm Merino and Ramouillet fibers. I really like spinning these fibers into squishy 2-ply worsted and worsted + weight yarns and that’s exactly what the plan was.

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This is Cafe Diem… named for a place in North Carolina, not the cafe on the TV show Eureka.

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I haven’t measured exact wraps per inch, but I would guess it’s a heavy worsted weight and is 185yds.

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Log Cabin here is one of my all time favorite colorways with its rich browns, golden, and slate-y blues.

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As a slightly heavier aran weight yarn, this skein is about 150yards.

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And then there was Faithful. This colorway I acquired via a destash sale, so it wasn’t a current offering.

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It’s a beauty though, right?! This one spun up exactly the same as Log House — literally to the yard.

And then, over yoga one morning I had this brilliant idea to combine my 2 braids of Supercell on Rambouillet…

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and 2 braids of Luminous Dusk on Merino…

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…for another 2-ply worsted weight yarn using 1-ply of each colorway. I’m usually not very confident in putting colorways together, but I just had this feeling about this combination.

It was about an ounce into the spin that I put 8oz + 8oz together to realize this would be a 16oz spin. That is not small for me. In an event like the Tour de Fleece, I usually pick more quick spins rather than one big long one. By the time I realized what I’d decided to do though, I was committed. It took a little over a week to complete the singles.

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(Of course there was one more bobbin at the end, but I only have a photo of the three.)

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And it took me just under a week to ply it. This is the finished 2-ply yarn on an Akerworks Jumbo bobbin. I can’t believe I fit 16oz on this baby!

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I shared this photo on Instagram and someone said it was like a rose window — isn’t it though? So pretty!

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I did not quite get this skein washed and dried yet, but it wound off around 965yds of 2-ply worsted weight yarn. Since the wash and set always steals a few yards, I’m counting on this to be about 900-915yards when all is said and done.

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I’m already cruising possible sweater patterns.

I did have a bit of the Supercell colorway leftover — pretty normal for a 2-ply. I wound it up into a quick center-pull ball and plied it on itself.

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Et voila, 50yards of Supercell.

 

 

And that, my friends, was my Tour de Fleece.  I could count the yardage and skeins, but that really isn’t where my mind is at these days. I came. I spun. I made pretty yarn. Period. That was my Tour de Fleece. ❤

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Winter Fancy

To continue the story of the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club, today I’m sharing December’s installment, Winter Fancy. This month’s fiber story includes a little twist. Somewhere in the fall, I switched from the silk blend version of the club to the non-blend, all wool version. Because I live in such a seasonal place, I thought it would be fun to enjoy the silk blends during the warmer months and the all wool fibers during the cold months. When my December braid of Winter Fancy arrived in its 100% Finn incarnation, I liked it a lot.

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                      Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

Then two things happened. First, I logged on to the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group and a dear online spinning friend was truly in love with this colorway and had a dream of spinning it into socks. I contacted her and sent it her way. I knew she loved it more than I did and it just felt right. And then I saw someone spin up the Merino/Bamboo/Tussah Silk 50/25/25 blend and it kind of bowled me over.

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Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

I mean, they are the same colorway on a different base. What can I say? Sometimes one just speaks to you. I ordered one braid of the blend thinking I would spin it into some lightweight goodness and if my mom liked it — they are really pretty colors on her — I would give it to her. If not, I was curious enough to see how this blend would spin and kind of crushing on the watercolor-y effect of the blend on the colorway.

img_5651I opted to break the spin up into a fractal spin and used my Very Fast Flyer to whip it into a 2-ply. I really and truly loved the blend. I’d spent a lot of spinning time avoiding bamboo blends for some unknown reason, but I will be doing that no longer! It really spun so smoothly & nicely!

winter-fancy-skeinAnd the final skein is so subtle — almost like a neutral with just a kiss of lavender.

winter-fancy-detOur horrible natural light does not do it justice, but trust me when I say this is a truly stunning, understated beauty in all its 450yards of light fingering weight glory.

I haven’t yet consulted with my dear mom to see if she’s interested in this one. I was thinking it might be nice to gift it to her with a copy of the Hitchhiker Beyond pattern. I know my mom really enjoyed the original Hitchhiker and this might just be a fun something new for her. However this skein is ultimately used, I love that the unexpected twist in this story proved to elicit just the absolute perfect outcome. I just love it when that happens!

Destined For My Girl

There are just some colorways that beckon to be spun for a certain someone. For me, from the moment I saw Dyeabolical‘s Rainbow Vista, I saw something for my daughter.unnamedSorry for the tiny photo — it’s the only one I can find of the braid before I spun it! In any case, it’s the one in the front on the right. Bright & cheerful, I saw a fun winter hat and ordered it on the 100% Targhee base.

When I awoke this weekend to our very first dusting of snow, I knew it was time to spin this braid.

img_5265-1I mean, how does it get any better for a cold, snowy day?

As I’m practicing for another bigger scale worsted weight spin, that’s exactly how I spun this one. Spinning sport weight is pretty much my default, so fingering or worsted are always kind of like stretching before a run — it feels good, but it’s not exactly comfortable in the first few moments. I used my control card though to be sure I’d stay on target and went for it. It was just the happiest, brightest spin. I spun the singles on and off during one day and then let them rest overnight before plying the following morning.

img_5273I was a little worried with the level of saturation in these colors that there would be some bleeding so I ran out to pick up some white vinegar (somehow I was out…) to help set the colors in the wash just in case. Nine times out of ten with the dyers I use bleeding is not a problem, but sometimes the extra precaution — whether necessary or not — is worth it for my own piece of mind. I’m happy to report there was no bleeding, no problem. And the finished skein is…

skeinPretty much spectacular.

detail-2Bright and fun and more or less 200 yards of worsted weight yarn.

rainbow-detailMy daughter’s been lobbying hard to weave with this skein. I might let her have it… or I might go ahead with my original plan. Try as I might to envision it woven, I still see a simple little knitted hat. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see which way this one goes, but regardless of what it becomes unlike so many things I spin and knit that just sort of find their way to my girl, it’s pretty indisputable that this skein is and always has been destined for my girl is one form or another.

Life Goes On

While the who’s who of the knitting & spinning world met at Rhinebeck over the weekend, the timing just happened to work out and my little family stole away for a quick couple of days up at my parents’ house to have an early birthday celebration for my daughter. She joyfully got to make her own cake (which was pink, of course) with my mom and then we let her decorate it.

img_4861This what we get for setting a nearly 9-year-old up with an entire tube of pink frosting and letting her go at it. The most ironic part: she does not really care for frosting. It’s on her own personal “warning list” of things that are too sweet and should either be avoided or eaten in extreme moderation. The rest of us, not wanting to disappoint her, ate it. The sugar coma that followed was almost fatal.

Thankfully, we could escape afterward to recover with a walk along the big water.

img_4829As you well know, it’s a favorite past time of mine. And thankfully, unlike last time there was enough beach to walk along.

img_4838And the fall colors along the shore were a beautiful backdrop, too.

img_4832And as the beach was loaded with tons of beautifully flat rocks, I may have left a few little rock piles behind. They are so good for the soul.

When we got back, the kiddos opted for some biking and running off their sugar high. And then my dad broke out his leaf blower and I pitched in with the old-fashioned rake and we created the most incredible leaf pile in the history of leaf piles.

img_4860It was… enjoyed.

(That is the understatement of the century.)

My girl got to open a couple gifts from my parents…

img_4876Including this placemat sized Stash Blaster Loom from Purl & Loop. She has such a phenomenal love for her Wee Weaver, we thought graduating to a bigger loom would be a hit. I’d contemplated a small rigid heddle, but I thought the warping might be frustrating as she wouldn’t be able to do it herself right out of the gate. If I hadn’t mentioned it, she’s a tiny bit independent. As you can see from the smile on her face, I think we chose wisely.

In between all the fun, I managed to knit away on my handspun Featherweight Cardigan…

img_4874I think I’m around 5″ past the armholes now. If the yarn holds out, I’d like to aim for about 10 or 11″ before I start the ribbing. I may have to cut that short though… we shall see. I suppose I can always go with shorter sleeves… or order more fiber…

When we got home, I plied up those mini art batts I’d spun for my daughter to weave with. They are currently in the bath or I’d share a photo of them as well. Instead, how about a picture of my next wheel spin?

img_4879Three Waters Farm’s “Black Pansies” on a merino/silk base. It’s not currently available on the merino/silk base, but you can find it in the shop on a polwarth/silk base. I grabbed it at random a couple weeks ago and started pulling it apart as an example to explain to a friend how I prep my fiber, so when it came time to pick a new spin I figured I might as well go with this since I’d already broke into it. And now I’m thoroughly excited to dig into this spin — can you blame me?!

All in all, it was just a fantastic weekend doing all the things I love to do with the people I love.

img_4839And life goes on in the most spectacular way.

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!