Another Spinzilla in the Books

Before I get rolling with my Spinzilla 2017 wrap-up, I wanted to take a second to thank the ladies at Knit Like Granny/Crafty Like Granny who included my blog on their list of the Top 100 Best Knitting Blogs to Follow in 2018. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for knitting blogs & resources to check out. The post was even picked up and shared by Vogue Knitting’s Facebook page! So many thanks for including me and I extend the warmest of welcomes to anyone who is new to my little corner of the internet. I’m so glad you found me!

And now, on to a recap of Spinzilla 2017! This year was my second year participating in Spinzilla and once again I was captaining the Three Waters Farm team. Last year I spun through a whopping 28oz in one week, turning in a Spinzilla total (which includes a plying credit) of 6546yards.  It was a lot. The total was high for me largely because everyone in my house was sick that week except for me. Of course, spending a week with light on school and high on quiet screen time with kids, means a lot of spinning can happen.

This year, I had a later start due to visiting family and then the kids and I had school all week. The mister was kind enough to “enjoy” some quality time watching Downton Abbey with me while I spun on a couple evenings, but for the most part we just had a normal week at home. I fully expected my Spinzilla total to be lower and that was fine by me. I knew last year was likely to be an anomaly because of the whole illness thing. Before I share my totals, though, I think I’ll share my individual spins, sound good? Good.

First, I spun up 4oz of Maple Leaf Rag on a 60/40 Polwarth + Silk base.

img_8426

I just did a simple 2-ply because, really, with a braid like this I usually feel like I’m just going to spin as consistently as I can and let those colors do the talking.

img_8427

I’ll be doing a proper post-spa measurement and wpi check in the coming week as I tag it and send it to its new home, but I do believe it’s a fingering weight and should wind up in the 450-465yards realm. I home its new owner loves it as it’ll be a surprise and it’s a skein I think just turned out really to be a stunner.

Where do you go from there, really?!

Iron Blue! That’s where!

img_8430

This is my favorite blue of all time, Iron Blue from Three Waters Farm and this one is on the 75/25 BFL + Silk base, a favorite base on mine, too. It’s currently available as a pre-order item in the TWF shop on either this BFLTS base or Superfine Merino.

img_8431

I’m a blue fiend and this one just sings my song.

The plan is to pair it with African Sunset…

img_8434

My spin was in the same BFL + Silk blend as Iron Blue, but it’s currently available in Mixed BFL in the shop, a sort of moodier incarnation, I think. Perfect for this time of year.

In any case, the pairing…

img_8433

 

I think will be lovely and is destined to be knit up into a Brillig for the NimbleNim SAL+KAL taking place currently in the TWF Ravelry group. Mine will be a bit different as I spun for a lighter weight, but I think with some needle adjustment it’ll be just fine. Now both Iron Blue and African Sunset I chain plied and came out at about 325yards and 375yards respectively. Normally I wouldn’t fret over the discrepancy, but I do want to be able to use the entirely skein of African Sunset for the full color repeat effect so I’ve already got more Iron Blue on the way. It certainly didn’t take any arm twisting to convince me I should spin more!

And lastly, with the 12oz of fiber spun and plied that I’d hoped to finish, I spun up half the singles of this 4oz of Zinnias During Dusk…

img_8428

And I went on to ply it after Spinzilla had officially ended, but I couldn’t help but share the finished skein.

img_8429

It’s probably in the area of an aran weight and will likely be around 140-150yards once it’s washed and set.

So all in all, I’m very proud of my little Spinzilla pile.

img_8435

My total Spinzilla yardage (which includes the plying credit) is 4356yards. Honestly, that’s a lot closer to last year’s total than I expected to get! More importantly, though, I really enjoyed the spinning and Team TWF — as always — was wonderful to spin with. I’m hoping to wind Iron Blue and African Sunset here momentarily and maybe while I have all the equipment out I’ll get Maple Leaf Rag reskeined and labeled and ready to head out to its new home. Zinnias During Dusk, I’m not sure yet what’s in store there, but I assume a cozy hat for the fast-approaching cold weather.

But there you have it, another Spinzilla is in the books!

Emergence

“Emergence” is kind of a weird word. To me, it evokes the image of unfamiliar creatures creepily appearing from an unexpected place. Like when baby spiders evacuate their nest or cicadas dig their way out of the ground or loads of snakes all start to come forth from their subterranean homes on the spring day when the condition are just right.

img_4809This, of course, should not be confused with our weird pet snake who just occasionally likes to burrow in his tank & then periscope with his head around.

I have been Spinzilla planning and spinning for over a month now and even though the event wrapped up on Sunday night, I’ve continued to be a busy bee. I had offered to help take care of the reporting end of things. I know it’s probably about as normal as my periscoping coral snake, but I honestly like these kinds of tasks, spreadsheets and all. In any case, since the final whistle blew, I’ve been collecting the data and images from my teammates as well as measuring, washing, and setting my own yarns.

img_4810We even had perfect drying weather yesterday afternoon so I got them all set and dried — ta-da! I’ll get individual photos and share all the details about these 28oz soon, but for now I’ll just say that I love each and every skein. They didn’t all turn out exactly as I intended, but I don’t even care. They are all my favorite!

Alas, as today is the day I had slotted to enter all the Spinzilla data to the powers that be, it’s the official  “wrap” of my involvement. I’ve slowly checked items off of my to-do list today and “emerging” is exactly what it feels like to me. After weeks of planning and loads of spinning and basically having Spinzilla on the brain, today is the first step in a new direction. I’ve enjoyed it all, but there is something very fulfilling about checking those final items off my to-do list, each one opening the ‘what comes next’ door just a little more.

And what does come next?

Remember these batts I told you I wanted to spin for my daughter’s birthday?

delia-battsWell, I started spinning them!

img_4805 You would think after 7 days of power spinning I would want to do something else for a few days, but no. I started spinning these Monday and last night I finished spinning all 3-1oz batts spun into singles. I plan to wind them into center-pull balls and create 2-ply yarns from each. They are thick and thin yarns with the idea that my daughter can experiment with a bit of texture on her loom.

And yesterday…

img_4813-2I cast-on for my first every handspun sweater. Pardon the dark photo — this was taken last night and while I could take an updated photo now, honestly, the lighting is not much better as we’re in the midst of a rainstorm. In any case, this will be a Featherweight Cardigan. If the yardage holds out I’ll be making it longer will full-length sleeves, but we’ll see how the yardage holds. Now that I’ve stopped fretting over gauge I’m 100% head over heels in love with this knit. And I’m only about 3″ in. This is going to be a true labor of love.

And with a fun, successful Spinzilla under my belt & in the record books, my periscoping has turned into full-fledged emergence. My eyes are wide. I’m out and about, seeing and relishing all the possibilities that surround me. And as usual, I feel extremely lucky because they all look pretty amazing.

A Week of Spinzilla Snapshots

Some weeks here at Chez Knitting Sarah are less glamorous than others. Some weeks both kids get sick and the bulk of the week is spent finding good ways to get them them to rest without boring them. Some weeks I spend a lot of time dodging coughs and sneezes. Some weeks my main job is just being around in case someone needs something and then racing to squeeze all my errands into as little time as possible. So goes the life of a mom though, right?

This week that is exactly what took place here at my house. First one kid got sick. Then the other got sick. We reorganized our school week to rely more heavily on educational videos (we always have a few in the queue in case of emergency). If you’re looking for something new to watch Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey which is phenomenal for any parents or those who just like learning about the natural world. It’s available on Netflix and I really loved it. Thankfully our kids both really love nature documentaries so they are a great way to keep the kids engaged without going stir crazy.  With Hurricane Matthew churning in the Caribbean, we also spent a fair bit of time studying his every move and learning all about hurricanes — the science of it, disaster preparation, and all the rest.

This week also happened to be Spinzilla week and while I never want my kids to be sick, if they have to get sick & be worn out by colds Spinzilla week isn’t a bad one for it to happen. Because of the kids not feeling well, really the bulk of my week was spent rather quietly, often watching documentaries which is a pretty good companion for spinning. Since really all I’ve been doing this week is caring for my kids and spinning, I thought I’d just share a quick photo stream here today. For those who follow me on Instagram it’ll be very familiar, but I know a number of readers don’t use Instagram so I thought it’d be fun to share here, too.

I’m spinning with Team Three Waters Farm and as I have a healthy stash from them, I’m delighted that I’ve been spinning nothing but TWF fibers. My week started bright and early Monday morning before the kiddos were up with Blooming Treasures….

img_4760When they awoke and it became clear that my girl was not feeling well, I knew I should just forge ahead…

img_4763And I did.

By the following aftrnoon…

img_4766I’d finished the Blooming Treasures singles and moved on to the Night Light colorway…

img_4765And then that evening I took a brief break with my hubby. We had a little campfire and I spun some non-Spinzilla fibers that I had started on my spindle a while back.

By Wednesday though, I was mostly through a new colorway, my Dragonfly spin…

img_4778This was a last minute addition to my Spinzilla line-up. It’ll be a gift for my mom if she likes it.

And then by Wednesday night, it was time to get plying and by Thursday morning…

img_4780I had made some good headway.

I got up early on Friday (again) and got going on my last bit of plying that I had…

img_4782Dragonfly. And I got that finished up just in time for my daughter to wake up and declare, “That’s one fat bobbin!” It’s true. It’s very full & I’m lucky I squeeze it all on there!

Moose has been…

img_4784Less than enthusiastic about these early mornings.

I spent yesterday on the Damselfly colorway…

img_4787And as the sun was going down…

img_4788I was wrapping those singles up, too.

And before bed last night, because I try to never leave my wheel without a project started…

img_4790I got going on some merino in the Rattlesnake colorway.

I’m now solidly in the “if I suddenly become an amazing speed spinner” realm of my fiber plans. Of course, it’s less about being amazingly fast (because I am not) and more in the “if both kids suddenly fall ill and I can’t leave the house for a week” category. So on the bright side, the leaning tower of fiber I had prepped for this week “in case” is going to good use. I’m not yet sure the plans for our weekend with both kids kind of still not over the hump yet of their colds, but I do hope to finish up my Rattlesnake spin and maybe one other. These last two I’m aiming for slightly heavier yarns, so it’ll be less yardage for my Spinzilla total, but good for some new winter hats. Speaking of yardage, I haven’t bothered to count any of that yet. If I manage to have enough bobbins to not bother until Spinzilla ends, I won’t. It’s less about the yardage for me and more about just enjoying the spinning.

This morning, after this long week of early mornings I’m taking a bit of a delayed start. Both kids slept until 7am which is pretty much unheard of in our house, so I dosed a little later than normal. And then I found myself with a burning desire to make and eat some home made blueberry muffins. This morning it was quite chilly outside and I just thought the warmth of the oven and fresh baked goods would be such a nice treat. Of course, it would have gone a little more smoothly had I realized we were out of eggs before I mixed the butter & sugar. Nothing a quick run to the store can’t solve!

img_4792Muffins baked, kids (and myself!) fed, it’s time to get on with my day. I’ve a little work to do, but hopefully I’ll be back at my wheel before long. I’ve got many yards to go before I sleep!

Home Again, Home Again

I swear, the better part of the last 6 weeks has been dominated by getting ready to be away from home, being away from home, recovering from being away from home, and being sick. We spent most of last week up visiting my mom while my dad was away fishing and my hubby had meetings for work. It was a good visit — I spent quality time with their lawn tractor as per my usual and then we did some apple picking and a few other fun things around the area with the kiddos. In our down time, I managed to finish up my Hamlin Peak sweater which I have all washed and dried and just need to get some photos taken along with another long overdue FO that has been patiently waiting photography. Suffice to say though, I was happy to get home Friday afternoon and have the weekend to settle in. I had plans to relax, cook off some of the produce from my parents’ garden we’d brought home, and maybe mow the lawn.

Oh, the best laid plans.

Somewhere in the mess that is my grey matter, once I got the squash baking on Saturday morning I thought it would be a good idea to finally move my cedar chest out to the living room near my spinning wheel. We’d moved the dog’s kennel to the basement (since we don’t really use it much anymore) earlier in the summer and it had opened up the space for the chest which had previously been somewhat inconveniently located in our tiny bedroom. My son helped, so the actual moving was not the problem…

img_4442It was the heaps of disorganized fiber-related stuff that posed the more time consuming issue.

I needed to select my Spinzilla fibers anyways, so I just dug in and…

img_4454Voila! Much better!

Oh, and my Spinzilla spins — they’re all from Three Waters Farm as I’ll be on Team TWF…

img_4452From top to bottom: Blooming Treasures (Polwarth/TussahSilk), Night Light (SWmerino/nylon), and Damselfly (BFL).

And just in case I become a speed spinner over the course of the week, I pulled these two as well…

img_4453String of Hearts (SW Targhee) and Rattlesnake (Merino). I figure if I prep them all, I should be more than ready for the week.

Once I finished, I thought I’d earned a little break so in between finishing cleaning & walking the dog, I spun a little on the September Top of the Month Club installment…

img_4455And then while I waited for dinner to bake off, I spun a little more…

img_4462 What a fabulous reward!

Sunday morning, I got going early because I had a tall order on deck — to get the kiddos’ room in order.  A rather large overhaul was on deck requiring some tough decision and hard work from the kids so with the zucchini in hand from my parents’ garden, I got straight to work on some double chocolate zucchini muffins…

img_4458The muffins were the perfect mid-morning snack, but alas proved too much for my poor hand mixer. As I added the flour, there was a pop, some flames, and then a lot of smoke. After 15 years and a lot of mixing, we were forced to say farewell. It was kind enough to get through the hardest part of this job though, a fact for which I’m very grateful!

The kiddos did awesome with their cleaning and as I set them free to relax after a hard day’s work, I settled into my latest knitting project…

img_4460This is Romi Hill’s Swoop in Dyeabolical‘s Tenacious Sock in the Fuchsia So Bright & Lucy colorways. I love the knit — it is SO fun and yet, we had a little disagreement that ended up requiring me to rip back a full repeat (hence all the messy-looking yarn in this photo). Alas, we are friends again and I’m happily knitting along.

There was a little time for spindle spinning…

img_4461And a lot of time for Moose to look at me incredulously while I take his picture…

img_4463So… that was my “relaxing” weekend. It seems there’s really no containing the rush of being home again, at least not for me. I hope your weekend was whatever you wished it would be (and did not involve any appliances on fire)!

In Review: Louet’s June Spinzilla Fiber Pack

I’ve kind of been power stashing fiber over the last year or so. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of as I realize I should be working on draining my yarn & fiber stashes these days, but being relatively new to spinning I’ve never had a very deep stash. I knew that timing looked very good for my being able to participate in both the Tour de Fleece and Spinzilla this year though and somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my mind it made perfect sense to stockpile fiber for those events as well as just the general daily spinning I’m shooting for this summer. Summer is my very favorite time to spin, especially early in the morning watching the birds out our front window or in the late afternoon on the back porch, so my ‘summer spin 2015’ challenge to spin everyday during the summer was a fun, enjoyable little personal challenge to take on and further justified the stash enhancement of late.

As you can imagine with this mindset, when I was asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of Louet’s Spinzilla Fiber Packs I jumped at the chance. Partly driven by that ‘need’ to further enhance my fiber stash, but even moreso I enthusiastically agreed because the folks at Louet North America always put together great packages. They have excellent base fibers and they have a real knack for creating mixed packs that are full of a great mix of both fibers I’m familiar with and some that are new to me.

The box that contained the June Fiber Pack arrived when I wasn’t at home, but I was so excited to see what was inside that I asked my hubby to text photos of the contents. No really, I did that and he totally humored me (he really loves me, obviously). I could not believe it the bounty!

IMG_9470It was close to 3lbs of a really amazing assortment of fiber (for non-spinners, this makes quite of bit of yarn)!

Specifically, the June Spinzilla Fiber Pack contained:

  • 1/2 lb of Dyed Merino/Silk Top
  • 4 x 2oz of Dyed Merino Top
  • 2oz of Baby Llama Top
  • 100 gr of Red Eri Silk
  • 1/2 lb of White Tencel Top
  • 1/2 lb of Wool/Mohair Top
  • 1/2 lb of Dyed Karaoke

I knew there was no way I’d get through it all in a single month, so I picked three to spin up and review for you here.

IMG_9501My first choice was the half pound of Dyed Karaoke. This is a fiber I normally would not choose. I tend to stick specifically to animal fibers — maybe with a little bamboo or tencel or nylon mixed in here and there, but this is 50% wool / 50% soysilk. One touch and I could tell it was very different than that which I’m familiar. The best was to describe it is that to me it felt both tacky & slippery at the same time. I was a bit challenged in finding a comfortable method of drafting, but I did a bit of research and opted to try spinning from the fold and it worked like a charm.IMG_9502I also opted to spin the singles heavier than I usually do which was an added challenge, but it went pretty smoothly.

The finished skein is 150yards of bulky weight yarn…

louet soysilk det And I’m  very pleased with how it turned out.

louet soysilkConsidering it was a new-to-me fiber blend, new-to-me drafting technique, and not my comfort zone of thin singles, I’m kind of wowed by how it turned out. I think this fiber blend would also make a great lightweight yarn for shawls, but it definitely will work great for a chunky cowl, too.

Second, I thought I’d try my hand at the Baby Llama top.

Apparently Super Dehaired Llama from Louet is where all the fluff is at!
#louet #junespinzillapack #spinstagram #igspinners #handspinning

 Words cannot convey how lofty and fluffy this fiber is. Having just learned the whole spinning from the fold thing, with this relatively short staple length I opted to use my newest skill again and it made this spin just completely delightful.
Plying from a center pull ball for the first time. So far, so good! #todayonmywheel #plying #spinstagram #spinnersofinstagram #igspinners

 I decided to try out another new-to-me technique for plying — plying from a center-pull ball. It wasn’t bad and with a smallish amount of yarn to work with I appreciated the lack of waste this method provides, but overall I’m not yet ready to give up my tensioned lazy kate. Nonetheless it worked just fine and the finished yarn is about 120 yards of sport/DK weight yarn.

louet llama fullIt reminds me a whole lot of alpaca.

llama fullAnd I totally am head-over-heels in love with this little skein. In fact, I would spin this fiber again in a heartbeat.
My third choice was the light green 1/2 pound of 50/50 merino/silk.


I have time for a quick fat single, right? #todayonmywheel #louet #merinosilk #junespinzillapack
This wonderfully soft fiber I opted to spin into a bulky single.
louet 5050detSingles aren’t yet my forte, but practice does make perfect and although its a bit overspun in places, I think it’ll knit up just fine.
louet 5050 greenThis blend was simply a delight to work with. It’s very easy to draft and I found it pretty easy to control even considering I was outside my comfort zone in the heavier weight singles. I liked the blend so much that I actually bought more when I spotted it at a yarn shop while on vacation last week.
IMG_9746I can’t wait.
But I digress.
As for the rest of the June Spinzilla pack, I cannot wait to dig into the Red Eri Silk
louet silkI have never felt anything softer in my whole life. I’m a little afraid to mess it up, but even though I’m kind of intimidated by this fine, fine fiber, nothing will stop me from spinning this treasure.
I will admit, I’m not quite sure what to do with the 1/2 lb bags of tencel top and the wool/mohair top…
louet tencelmohairSo I will let those simmer for a bit while I do some further research. I’m thinking about perhaps a dyeing experiment with the wool/mohair at a later date, but I’ve got to think that through a bit more.
These four 2oz bags of merino, though…
louet merinoI think they’d be very pretty as a striped yarn. Maybe short little strips of each color. I will keep thinking about those, too.
All in all, I’ll admit that I’m once again really impressed with Louet North America for putting together such a great pack at a fantastic price — retail on these fibers alone would be close to $200 & the pack costs only $75. Great for stash & skill enhancement alike, the Spinzilla Fiber Packs — of which there will be five — are a great investment whether you plan to participate in any of the upcoming fiber events or not.
Many thanks to the kind folks at Louet North America for letting me try out this fantastic pack of fiber!