Three Squishy Skeins

As I continue in my quest to write my way through my finished projects, I thought today would be a fun day to share a little pre-Tour de Fleece spinning. You see, a couple days before the Tour de Fleece kicked off I found myself battling some bad migraines that left me not feeling like doing much. One night, I finally felt ok enough to do some spinning, but didn’t have the energy or attention span to do anything super technical so I grabbed 3 braids of fiber that I had intended to spin in simple squishy 2-ply yarns and just started spinning.

First, was a gradient from Fiber Optic Yarns that I picked up a few years (yup — years…) back at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival.

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Originally I’d planned to spin this merino + silk blend of ‘Thunder – Lightning’ as a lightweight gradient, but as time passed I thought twice about that. The colors I love, but I couldn’t really imagine using them as a gradient yarn. So I went with that squishy 2-ply plan…

fiber opticsAnd I really adore how the fiber spun up. I can easily see this knit into a very fun winter hat.

Next, I grabbed my last braid of Spun Right Round fiber…

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This was 100% Targhee named ‘Mutant Flamino’ and this one, well, I knew it would be a great chunky yarn.

srr skeinAnd it so is!

SRR detI don’t know why, but I just so often end up spinning chunky 2-ply yarns with my Spun Right Round braids. Can you blame me? The merino & targhee bases lend themselves especially well to this handling and the colorways are always fun and funky which make for very unique skeins.

And last but not least, I pulled another gradient from my stash…

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‘Dubstep’ dyed on a shetland + silk blend by Northbound Knitting was from their fiber club I tried one spring. I knew from the start that I wouldn’t spin this as a gradient mostly because I had the sneaking suspicion that I would really love it plied.

NBK skeinI was totally right.

NBK detI don’t know why I love this one so much, but I really do. It’s bright and a little crazy and I could squish this one for hours — it’s just got a great feel and is so well-balanced.

The craziest part, is that all three of these skeins I whipped up in less than a day. I completed all but the last bobbin of singles in an evening and then finished that and plied the following day. Obviously there’s been more spinning practice the last few months which makes the process go faster, but specifically I think these actually flew off my wheel because I had a much better feel for which whorl would allow me to spin most efficiently. Most notably this does not mean I picked the fastest whorl, but the one that gave me the right amount of twist that coordinated properly with my most comfortable speed of treadling. I don’t recall thinking this through in such detail in the past and clearly it made a very big difference in efficiency as well as the resulting yarns.

Since all three skeins were kind of whipped through in the last couple days before the Tour de Fleece began, I haven’t taken the time to measure, weight, or tag these skeins in any way. My best educated guess is that they’re all chunky weight and in the 100-140yard range. I’ll be adding it to the last — oh — dozen or so handspun skeins I have yet to remeasure and properly tag. I think that sounds like an excellent fall or winter project, don’t you? For now, I think I’m just going to go ahead and continue to enjoy this summertime spinning. And maybe squish these skeins squishy skeins just one more time.

New Beginnings for March

I’ve been in a bit of a rush lately to finish some things up because I knew that March would be a deluge of new beginnings, spurred largely by a couple new -Alongs I’ve helped organize. Of course that means that once again I’ve got a stack of FOs that I need to share with you — a fact about which I’m definitely not complaining. Partly because some of them are still drying and partly because none of them have proper finished photos taken, I thought I’d tell you about the new things that have landed on my needles and wheel over the last couple of days.

First of all, a little over two week ago this beauty landed on my doorstep…

img_2346And as I’m to review the yarn, Reinvent by Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts, I was anxious to get it on my needles without too much delay. I did take my time settling on a pattern and then, upon finishing up some socks I’d been working on for my MIL this weekend, I got straight to work.

img_2444I settled on Artarktis by Janina Kallio and I’m extremely happy with the selection. I’m kind of at a point in the project where a really good quality photo is not all that easy to get, but rest assured when I say the yarn & pattern are playing beautifully together. I’m finding the combination almost irresistible as the yarn is nice and crisp in my hands and the colorway, “Kismet” is so very lush. When combined with the almost popcorn knitting of the pattern, setting it down has been almost too much for me.

But that said, March 1st has marked the beginning of two awesome new -Alongs I’ve helped to plan. I’ve been a tiny bit nervous that I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I’m nothing if not willing to go for it when it comes to knitting & spinning. Even when time challenged, they are such an enjoyable release for me. This morning I got up early and the kiddos actually slept in, so I managed to get started on my two new projects for the two new -Alongs. What a fun way to start the day!

First, on my wheel, I’m participating in Three Waters Farm‘s Unexpected Combo Spin-Along this month. Basically, it’s a little challenge to take some of the beautiful Three Waters Farm colors and mix them up. I will say that helping to see color combinations is something Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm does phenomenally well and the group is equally as skilled. I’ve always been a little challenged in this department so I’m staying somewhat tame, but I feel like I’m making up for that in sheer ounces of fiber.

img_2432I’ll be taking my braids selected this quarter for my 1+1+1 project and spinning them together. Usually for me 2  –  4oz braids of fiber is the max I do for a project, so doing 3 feels like an enormous (kind of daunting) undertaking. I’m positive it’ll be worth it though. It’s kind of an evolving plan, but right now I think I’m just going to spin all three separately and then ply them together in a traditional 3-ply.

And early this morning, I got my start.

img_2455I’m beginning this project with ‘Dirty Girl Redux” on a BFL + Silk base. It’s been a long enough time since I’ve spun with a silk blend that I’m expecting a little more inconsistency and a little slower spin time on these. This little bit I got started, however, has been a pure joy — regardless of how it looks or how long it took.

On my needles, I got a start on the Brioche-Along taking place in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group. It’s just an informal, intimate little group working on brioche. Yarn, pattern, everything is the individual’s choice, we’re just knitting brioche together for support where needed and the general fun involved with working the same types of projects together. I’m working on Stephen West’s Askews Me Shawl. I was 100% inspired to knit this last summer when Renee from Spun Right Round was working on a scrappy version with her yarn. I had some of the same yarn in my stash (and may have added a couple skeins with this shawl in mind) and set it aside for this project. And there it sat until a few weeks ago when a couple people in the 1+1+1 Project mentioned wanting to try their hands at brioche. Long story short, we opened up the Brioche-Along.

I spent the past weekend staring at and rearranging my wound yarn cakes trying to decide how to organize this project without buying more yarn.  And this where I landed…

img_2435In lieu of a “dark side” and “light side”, I’ll be doing a “blue side” and a “not blue side”. I wasn’t convinced at first, but this has really grown on me and I think it’s going to be pretty whimsical and fun. I took my sweet time getting started in the wee hours this morning…

img_2452I think I re-knit the set-up rows at least 6-10 times to get it in my hands. By this point, my kiddos were also up and about so getting through the whole section without interruption/losing my place took some doing. A friend in the TWF ravelry group recommended these erasable highlighters a few weeks ago and — holy moly — did they ever save my life. I’d rank them up there with highlighter tape for their usefulness. They’re definitely worth trying if you haven’t yet.

But I digress.

Having finally gotten the set-up rows just so, I got to the main section and…

img_2454Found the point of total addiction. I’m already trying to figure how if I can make this shawl a little bigger. I think I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s seriously just that fun and the fabric is just so squishy. And it’s only going to get better as I move into the more high contrast yarn combinations. Oh, I can’t wait!

As you can probably understand, I’m going to stop gushing for now and get back to knitting and spinning. These new beginnings are just too good to set down!

True Weekend Knitting

This Saturday morning started out first thing in a flurry of origami. Yes, you read that right, origami. After being inspired by my sister-in-law who has both skill and patience for the craft, my son really, really, really wants to be an expert with origami. Of course, I want to support his interest so when he mentioned wanting to try his hand at origami dinosaurs, I picked up a copy of Origami Dinosaurs for Beginners and some paper and this morning we cracked into both.

I have to say that I try so hard, but I’m afraid I’m not a natural. I’ve got mountains and volcanoes mostly down and my pteranodons aren’t too bad, but when it comes to the more exciting dinos… well, suffice to say the learning curve is proving to be pretty steep. I’m going to place most of the blame on those darn squash folds — I just stare at them for-ever until I can sort of kind of wrap my head around what is happening in the drawing and then spend the next 15minutes fumbling through trying to get them right. In any case, we spent the morning mostly making a mess…IMG_0746but a few dinosaur-ish paper sculptures did turn out (thank goodness).

Beyond the origami, I’ll be taking some time this weekend to compile my review of Jen Geigley’s new book, Weekend: Simple Modern Knits. It seems like appropriate knitting for the weekend, doesn’t it? For me, writing a review of a collection of patterns ideally incorporates trying out a pattern or two to get a feel for the author’s pattern writing style. Despite the fact that my ball winder was out to get me last night, I have some very lovely skeins of Madelinetosh A.S.A.P. wound and ready to go for a couple quick projects.

weekendI’ve super excited for some instant gratification knitting with this beautiful super bulky yarn and I can’t wait to tell you more about this fabulous book next week. Oh, and if you like what you see, keep your eyes peeled because there will be a little giveaway to go along with the review.

In addition to this fun project, work will continue on my Narwhal Needlework Mystery Skein KAL socks.

weekend knittingAs you can see, I’ve rounded the heel and I’m decreasing the gusset stitches, so I’m almost in the home stretch. I’m using the Atlantic Current Socks pattern by Melissa Sibley for these and I really love how it’s working with this lovely variegated skein. It’s my favorite kind of pattern, too, a little unique and interesting, but easy to memorize and knit on auto-pilot.

And of course, there is spinning. I’ve been doing a great job of spinning daily — my minutes of zen each day — and I have 3 projects ready to ply.

weekend spinningI have my wheel all set-up, but just haven’t quite had the energy to get started yet. We’ve been fighting back the annual back-to-school colds and just the fatigue of getting back into a full-time school schedule and I’ve found myself just mentally d o n e  at the end of the day. The idea of maintaining the focus required to get a really nice plying job underway has been a little daunting so I’ve just been putting it off.

Well, it looks beautiful outside and since knitting is wonderfully portable, I’ll be taking the knitting outside for some true weekend knitting. I hope you have a sunshine-y weekend with a dash of knitting (and maybe not so much the dinosaur origami) ahead of you, too!

Teasing Spring Out of Hiding

Earlier this week, the family & I decided to take advantage of what might be one of the last true wintry days and go for a hike in the snow.

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We ventured to Indian Lake and made the journey up a hill through about 6inches of fresh snow to this idyllic little spot. The thing about hiking in 6inches of fresh snow is that usually you get to do so alone as was the case this day and, really, there aren’t many places quite as special to enjoy such a peaceful walk.

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Built in 1857, the St Mary of the Oaks Shrine sits upon a hill that overlooks the hilly ‘driftless area’ (the area not scraped flat by glaciers) of Southwestern Wisconsin. To this day, it is maintained and contains a few idols of Mary, a notebook to jot a thought or prayer, and a candle which you can light.

If you carry on a bit further down the trail, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of Indian Lake and the surrounding hills.

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I don’t have photographic proof, but from this spot we hiked back down to the car and proceeded to have what might possibly be the coldest cookout in the history of cookouts (ok, probably not, but the wind was extremely cold). We ate our burgers in haste and made our way to coffee and a bookstore. It was a beautiful morning, but it was definitely colder than it looked.

And this is pretty much what this week was like here: Colder than it looked. We are all antsy to get outside and play in spring-like weather and as soon as the sun is shining we are like moths to the flame. We bound out the door — to playgrounds with the kids, playing catch in the yard, taking the dog for his walk — and inevitably within 15 or 20minutes my fingers are icicles and I’m attempting to make a quick retreat for the warmth of the house.

I’ve been combating the cabin fever with the likes of this…

IMG_8648My utterly crazy batt project. It’s been a while since I mentioned, so I will re-share that this consists of three drum carded batts from Spun Right Round. It is the most wild hodge-podge of colors, fibers, and sparkles I’ve ever worked with and I for one am getting pretty darn excited to see how this 10oz of madness turns out. The bright colors are definitely welcome on these cold days.

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I also turned the heel on the second sock of my Petty Harbours. I wrapped up the gusset decreases this morning and I’m in the home-stretch now. The weather report is definitely promising for me to get the opportunity to wear these a few times before the summer arrives.

And then today, I awoke to it raining ice outside and I decided the only way to deal with that was to sew up a yellow summer dress.

IMG_8647It’s not the best sewing job I’ve ever done, but it fits great and… well, how do you not love a yellow dress on a grey March day?! This is the Ruby Dress by Made by Rae, the same pattern which I used to make a few tops last summer. I ordered the fabric — a basic cotton from a Cotton + Steel — from Alewives Fabrics in Maine (which I LOVE. So much!) and luckily I remembered to order a little extra fabric on each cut to do the lined yoke. Rae did a series of incredibly clear tutorial videos for this very finished look. I did try a few new things this time including a flat felled seam and a little short-cut on the yoke to avoid having to handsew the lining at the end.  The hem looks a little funny in the photos, but I swear it lays flat. That is an final ironing fail, not a sewing fail. All in all, I’m ecstatic with my new mini-dress.  It will be perfect when summer arrives.

I had planned to be a bit more ambitious on the sewing front today, but instead I opted to take it slow. I have another three or four dresses I hope to sew up as well as a couple tank tops, but as the wind howls and the ice flies outside I don’t have a lot of worry that I have plenty of time to get them done before summer. Perhaps our little hike to up the hill in the fresh snow won’t be our last wintry adventure before spring finds us. Indeed, a glance out the window confirms that thought. Thankfully I’m flexible. I’ll just get back to my woolen adventures for the evening. I’ll tease spring out of hiding one summer dress at a time.

Spun Right Round Bootstrap Socks

I can’t tell you exactly when I started following the Spun Right Round Yarn & Fiber CO feed on Instagram or even how I found it there, but I can tell you that after weeks of ogling I placed my first order on October 31st. I know this because it was on this day that Renee — the woman behind this lovely shop — posted this photo:

renee dog
Photo courtesy of Spun Right Round Yarn & Fiber Co

Something about her darling pup reminded me of a beloved dog we had to say goodbye to a few years ago. And you know, seeing this photo of this happy dog just made me happy.

This happy feeling, of course, led me directly to the Spun Right Round Etsy store where I promptly purchased a skein of sock yarn…

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(shortly after this, the logo was updated)

and a braid of fiber…

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For the dog, of course.

I think it’s pretty obvious how fun & special this yarn and fiber are. As soon as I had them in my hands, I was an addict.

And then it just so happened that we were up at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving when my mum asked what I’d like for Christmas and the shop just happened to be running a sale for the whole Black Friday event. I mentioned it to my mom and she basically told me the amount she wanted to spend and asked me to pick what I wanted. She added a skein or two on for herself and we clicked that fateful “Complete Order” button. When Christmas rolled around, I got to see my selections for the first time…

IMG_7521It was a pretty awesome sight.

Finally, between Christmas and New Year’s I was able to cast-on my socks.

IMG_7581This colorway, called Subway, is part of the Freestyle series which are all one of a kind skeins.

bootstrapThis yarn. As far as fun and spontaneous yarns go, this takes the cake.

IMG_7676I used my first pattern from Lara Neel’s book, Sock Architecture, for this yarn. I’ll tell you all about the book soon in a complete review, but for now I will just say that this pattern, called Bootstrap Socks, was a fantastic partner for this yarn.

IMG_7695With an ever so simple garter stitch detail, it suits this wild and fun yarn just perfectly.

IMG_7698Thanks in part to a day spent resting my sore shoulder and watching football with my hubby, the last sock flew.

And now today I’m wearing these beautiful socks.

SRRCould they be any more fun?

SRR HEELThe heel is a seriously interesting construction — really unlike any I’ve done before, but it was quite easy and feels great on my feet.

SRR TOEI also did a slightly different toe than I usually do — it’s a medium wide toe and it fits extremely well.

SRR LEGI am just in love with the garter strips that run down each side of these socks. As I said, it’s just a little extra detail that really takes these socks to another level.

STT STITCH

And I had to include this close-up of the yarn. Just take note how it shifts color with almost every single stitch. It. Is. Incredible. And let me just say, it kept the knitting amazingly fresh as I went.

So what started as an impulse buy inspired by an adorable dog has turned into an epic pair of socks and a stash stocked-up with plenty of beautiful yarn and fiber for bunches of future fab projects thanks to the amazing talents of Spun Right Round Yarn & Fiber Co. I just know that with this gorgeous yarn I’m going to have an awesome time creating!

You can find Spun Right Round Yarn & Fiber Co in the following places:

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ETSY

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