We Make Yarn.

I’ll catch y’all up on my holiday soon, but today I’m over the moon to be able to share a new project on which I’ve been working with Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm. It’s called #wemakeyarn, an Instagram-based month-long photo challenge for the month of January designed to inspire and connect the community of handspinners. We’ve worked hard to develop prompts that would help us all share and discuss about, as well as reflect and celebrate this beautiful craft.

For those who may be interested, this is the image and prompts that’ll be the cornerstone of the event…

#wemakeyarn

You can find the image on Instagram on my account, @knittingsarah, as well as the official Three Waters Farm account, @threewatersfarm, and also the brand new @wemakeyarn account where we’ll be curating beautiful and inspiring spinning photos throughout the event to share.

For those who were considering participating in the #spin15aday challenge for 2018, this is a fantastic way to get started with it. I’ll be using the month to really spring-board myself into a year-long habit of daily spinning. I hope those of you who are spinners will consider joining and sharing with all your spinning friends!

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Isn’t It Fitting?

It’s definitely that time.

The Tour de Fleece begins on Saturday and in my house it’s been a mad dash to get everything set in between all the things going on in life. Because it is summer and no matter how much I want summer to be relaxing, it is always so busy.

Don’t get me wrong, it is busy in the best ways. I mean I can’t complain when earlier this week we had the most beautiful family afternoon bike ride…

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Through the woods…

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And out along the Mead Wildlife Area.

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Where the only traffic jam we had to deal with was a couple of noisy Sandhill Cranes.

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I recently had my old bike tuned and nearly rebuilt by our local bike shop. It’s the same bike my dad bought for me the summer before I went to college… 19years ago! I rode it all over town throughout college and then I towed my kids all over town in the tow-behind when they were little. It was definitely due for some work and the folks at The Sport’s Den did an awesome job. It rides like new and I am so happy about that. With my limited hiking abilities, biking has proven a wonderful alternative for our family to be active together. Oh, and for those wondering, I had my spindle spinning inside the backpack for this ride — I swear it’s there!

And isn’t it fitting to be riding more with the impending Tour de Fleece? I’ve been as busy as ever checking in on the Three Waters Farm Team for which I’m co-captain. Everyone is so excited and getting prepped — it’s so inspiring. I’ve been behind on getting ready, but last night I made some great strides. I wound off all but one of my spindles onto weaving bobbins so I could start a new project with Three Waters Farm fiber. And for that, I took a 4oz braid of fiber and created this giant bowl of rolags.

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I’ve made fauxlags before, but never rolags so this was new for me. I started with this braid of the colorway Giant Celosia in a Polwarth + Silk 60/40 blend.

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It took a while for me to get the process down, but by the end I was really enjoying it.

img_6923And the rolags started to look like…

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Actual rolags! This process was one of the main reasons I bought hand cards last fall at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival because I really love to spin from rolags with spindles and I finally got around to trying it now so that I could have a travel TWF project for the Tour.

On the wheel, I have soooo many fibers pulled and such big dreams, but I’m thinking I will start with these braids.

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These are all Superfine Merino and the intention is to spin them all as yummy, plump 2-ply worsted weight yarns.  It’ll be a nice, easy, relaxing way to start the Tour. Although… who knows if I’ll diverge from this plan and throw another spin in there because as usual, just when I’m pretty sure I’m going to zag, I zig.

So before the Tour begins I have three main things on my to-do list.

First, finish up my Hawser ply.

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I’ve got two wildly up-plied bobbins just ready to go.

Second, I’ve got to finish and then wind off my lone spindle with spinning on it. Although if I’m being honest, this doesn’t necessarily have to happen before the Tour begins. I could just start with another spindle (can you hear me hedging because I have a feeling I’ll run out of time…) and wind this one off later.

And last, I’d like to wind my “franken bobbin” into a center pull ball and then ply it to free up the extra bobbin.

Considering we have company headed our way and a busy Friday & Saturday planned, I’m thinking I’ll be lucky if I finish up one out of three of these. But that is life and what I love best about knitting and spinning is that where ever life takes me, I can work my craft in and around it. And it’ll all get done… eventually.

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!

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!