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!

Some Days Were Meant to Be Taken Slowly

This weekend has proven itself to be quite the couple of days. They’ve been the kind of days that remind me of the early days of my pregnancy with my son and one specific experience in particular. It was so stereotypical that it’s almost embarrassing, but of course I’ll share with you anyway. So there I was, just a few weeks pregnant standing at the counter making a lunch for my husband while he prepared for work and out of nowhere I burst into tears. He walked into the room and was alarmed and confused asking, “What happened?! What’s wrong?!” and I quite literally blubbered, “I don’t know!” through the cascade of tears. It’s what we’ve come to refer to as my ‘hormotional’ moments. While they definitely started when I was pregnant, they still occur now & then and I had a few of those moments the last couple days. I don’t know what to blame for these outbursts. Hormones? Definitely. Maybe it’s the moon’s fault, too, or maybe it’s just the perfect storm of events in my life. Whatever the case, rest assured that there are no baby knits in my future, but there were some very random tears in the recent past for no real reason at all other than I’m a lady and these things happen (and that’s ok).

Good husband that he is and sensing the oncoming storm and seeing the tears welling up as he was about to head out the door for an evening shift yesterday, Mr Knitting Sarah convinced me to take the kids to a movie yesterday afternoon. I think this was as much to save them as it was to help me, but nevertheless it was their first ever movie in a theater, so it was kind of a big deal. We even sprung for a tub of movie popcorn and everything.

IMG_9485We saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and needless to say the whole experience was a big hit.

From there, we had a slightly rocky afternoon — partly because my girl was picking fights with her brother, partly because my dear son was low on patience for his little sister, and partly because I was still battling my hormotions. We survived though and I got the kiddos to bed and then I rounded out the evening with an old-fashioned (something I almost never drink), some trashy TV, and some knitting.

IMG_9492It’s knitting that is for the upcoming Summer Sock KAL and I don’t want any spoilers here for members of the Feel Good Yarn Co Summer Sock Club, so all I’ll show you for now is my needles but I’ll assure you that the hand-dyed SilverSpun Sock is just as fantastic to knit with as the natural and the color is super summery perfection.

This morning I awoke feeling a bit more like the normal me and got right to spinning. After a couple nature documentaries (a new Sunday morning tradition), we moved outside where the kids ran and played and I spun.

My hubby snapped this photo and captioned it with, “I stepped onto the porch but somehow landed in 1880s Appalachia.” All I can say is that this right here is my happy place — surrounded by my family, sitting in the sun, listening to birds, spinning. There’s nothing fancy, nothing glamorous, but it’s home. It’s no surprise to me that it was my hubby who suggested I take my spinning outside when we started herding the kids that way. He knows me so well.

I managed to finish up my Sweet Georgia Polwarth + Silk in the Stormchaser colorway…

IMG_9494I plan to n-ply it eventually. I’m absolutely tickled with how the singles turned out.

I still have a few empty bobbins though, so when I finished this I hopped right into my June Spinzilla Pack from Louet. As I said when I first mentioned it a couple days ago, there is a TON of fiber in this pack for the price. I picked the 8oz bag of 50/50 wool/soysilk to start with mostly because I would probably never have picked a soysilk on my own.

IMG_9501This is SWTC’s Karaoke (50/50 wool/soysilk) in the Parrotfish colorway. I really knew nothing about soysilk and compared to other fibers I’ve tried it feels very different — kind of tacky, but slippery at the same time. In any case, I checked out what Louet says about soysilk on their website and thought I’d share with you, too.

SOYSILK® fiber is made from the residue of soybeans from tofu manufacturing. This process is 100-percent natural and free of any petrochemicals, making it an extremely environmentally friendly product.

  I have really limited experience with spinning anything not wool, but I like to use this type of variety pack to try the things, like a blend with soysilk, I normally would not. I struggled a little bit to get going with this fiber — just figuring out the staple length and the best way to spin led me to a quick google search for fresh ideas that might be easier than what I was doing. I landed on one comment that recommended spinning from the fold. I tried and it was like magic.

IMG_9502This definitely is not going to be the most even and balanced yarn I’ve ever spun, but now that I’ve discovered spinning from the fold with this I have much better control and confidence with it. I’m planning just a simple worsted or chunky weight 2-ply and I have what’s not spun of the first 4oz all prepped, so this project should go pretty quickly. I’m thinking a 2-ply from this 8oz should be enough finished yarn to make a pretty little chunky cowl for winter.

I haven’t quite thought about what yarn I’ll spin next. Or which project I’ll knit myself to sleep with tonight. Thanks to my quiet morning it’s the calm after the storm — I’m tear-free, I’m feeling mostly sane, and my hormotions are in check, so I think I’ll start the afternoon with a little yard work. Weeding & transplanting and maybe see if the mallard couple is still hanging out under the big maple tree by the enormous puddle. Some days were meant to be taken slowly and I think today is one of those days.

How Long Do I Have Before It Rains?

A week’s gone by and I feel as though I haven’t had a ton to share. I’ve been remiss on ‘Today on my needles’ and ‘Today on my wheel’ posts and have no excuse for it other than life’s been busy and I just ran out of energy to make them happen. The kiddos are wrapping up the bulk of their big subjects for school and I’ve been dotting i’s and crossing t’s with the record keeping for that. I’ve also starting trying to organize and shelve the homeschool books which are finished for the year. And then there’s the organizing and picking the summer subjects we’re going to do (they are fun, I promise). I spent some time looking at the pile of sewing I want to do (but not actually doing anything with any of that). Then our old car needed new brakes, so there was the delivery of the car, the finger crossing that they would find nothing more major wrong, the paying for the repairs (boo!), and the picking up of the car. Car repairs — like home repairs — just stress me out like no one’s business. I also spent a fair bit of time looking outside wondering, “Is it going to rain?” and “How long do I have before it rains?” and “How heavy is it going to rain?” – yes, it’s been one of those weeks weather-wise and I feel this strange need to at least try to plan my errand running around downpours. The lawn needed mowing. Some plants needed planting. The house needed cleaning. The bird feeders needed filling. You get the picture. Life was happening.

I actually have three finished projects that I’m excited to share with you, but one is still drying on the blocking mats, one is a garment that I’ve waited far too long to ask Mr Knitting Sarah to photograph on me and now the idea of putting on a chunky wool shrug sounds awful, and one is being held until early next week because it’s a review that’s the timeline I’m on. So instead today I’ll just show you what I’ve been working on in between all the staring outside and life happenings…

IMG_9478I’ve been spinning with my best pup never far from my side.

IMG_9476And this is the yarn I’ve been making. It’s Sweet Georgia Polwarth + Silk in the Stormchaser colorway which is definitely fitting since a lot of the staring out the window wondering about the weather has happened while spinning this. I’m still marling away at this fiber. I’m half tempted to set it aside and get going on the goodies I recently got from Louet, but then I look at the small basket of fiber left and think, “Nah! I can just finish.” So I keep spinning away. In the mean time I did prep my first spin from Louet, so that’s all set to go.

 Speaking of Louet, I cast on my ATX Linen Tote in Euroflax Sport

IMG_9480And I’m getting awfully close to finishing the increases. It’s a pretty simple, limited-thought-required knit. It’s going to be a while, but I cannot wait to get to the striping portion of the project. It’s going to look awesome.

It won’t come as a shock to you that this afternoon I have a few more errands to run — movies to return to the library and dog food to purchase just to name a couple things on the to-do list and yet here I find myself, looking at the darkening skies wondering, “Is it going to rain?” and “How long do I have before it rains?” Instead of racing out the door now that my son turned in his last assignment, I think I’ll go spin for a spell. After all, I can contemplate the weather while I work on my Stormchaser fiber. That’s totally appropriate, right?

Summer Spin 2015

Along with the Summer Sock Knitalong (which I am insanely excited for now that we’ve had a special IG sneak peak of the yarn being dyed), my other summer goal is spin a little every day. In winter I’m usually cold enough that nine times out of ten I’d rather be wrapped up burrito style in a at least two blankets than sitting at my wheel, but in summer I just love to spin. I finally managed to eek out a small space in our living room where I can keep my wheel. It’s such a huge difference to have a spot where I can literally just sit down and spin any time rather than always pulling my wheel and all its accoutrements out of storage every time I want to make yarn. I also just adore spinning on my back porch — fresh air, the kids playing, the birds singing, and my wheel just spinning away enclosed in the lush green that is a summery backyard is pretty close to bliss in my book.

I was going to wait a bit to get started, but I was anxious to see the yarn I would get from the Spun Right Round batts I was blending together.

I started with these 3 batts…

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From left to right, 3oz of Boom Bam, 4.5oz of Tiger Brats, and 2.5oz of Pip. After a little trial and error, I started to marl the colors together by blending two strips of different colored fiber together — like these pairs…

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I just spun these multi-colored sets right together. Since there is a wide range of colors in these batts, I thought this marling would be the best recipe for success in getting it to work as a whole.

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The singles looked promising and the finished yarn…

IMG_9347Just. So. Fun. It reminds me of an Indian sari and it’s going to make a pretty gorgeous shawl one of these days. This skeins is just shy of 600yards, probably a sport/DK weight although I haven’t checked yet. I’m too ecstatic with how it looks to get into the technical stuff just yet. I will definitely be playing with batts more often though!

It just so happened that this weekend I was doing a bit of spring cleaning and since my wheel was empty I decided to pull out four braids of fiber so they’d be visible & easily accessible. With the wheel right there, I figured fiber where I could see it would help a lot as I try to keep up with my spinning everyday goal. These are the four braids I chose…

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As you can see, I have some pretty gorgeous braids in at my fingertips. My fiber stash is pretty deep at this point and my goal is really to spin a fair bit of it up over the coming months. These braids seemed like a pretty solid place to start — they are excellent motivation, no doubt about that!

From here, I simply had to start another spinning project, so I grabbed my braid of Dyeabolical BFL/Silk blend in the Gasoline Rainbow colorway.

IMG_8656-0One thing led to another and…

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Those singles were finished. I broke this braid into a standard fractal spin and will make a simple 2-ply out of it. I blame the beautiful colors and the pure delight that is spinning this BFL/silk base for how quickly I spun these bobbins.

Since I figured I should let these singles rest before plying, I thought I’d go ahead and start my next project.

IMG_7579I picked up this braid of Sweet Georgia polwarth + silk in the Stormchaser colorway for my birthday at the end of last year from Yarns by Design. I wanted a to see what a really blended yarn would look like with this, so I divided the braid into fourths lengthwise and then divided these fourths into about 12″ pieces. Much like the batts, I’m spinning together 2pieces at a time for maximum blending.

IMG_9352I’m very excited to see how this one turns out, too!

It may not technically be summer yet, but my Summer Spin 2015 is off to a great start. Of course, I’ll be sharing my spinning adventures here in my ‘Today on my wheel’ segments as well as regular FO posts, but you can also get the latest via Instagram where I’ll be tagging my spins with the hashtag #summerspin2015. Fellow spinners, feel free to spin along and tag away, too! I’d love to see what you’re up to, too! Remember the Tour de Fleece starts in just over a month… it’s probably time to start training, right?!

Stashtastic

So today I was doing my time with the Wii Fit for strengthening and yoga and it just so happens that I do this in a place where I stare at the bulk of my stash. I live in a small house, so really this isn’t shocking — there’s only so much room, after all. It is, however, a very happy coincidence. My mind wanders a lot which is probably not necessarily great for my workout except for the fact that it certainly keeps it interesting for me.

Anyhoo, as I was doing the Palm Tree this afternoon I happened to notice this…

IMG_8133
Two totally separate projects, added to my stash about a month apart and they are pretty much completely matching. I had no idea until today.

Hilarious, especially since both are next in my to-do list for their respective crafts. Hilarious and maybe a little worrisome since I had them both on my radar, but totally did not put together that they match. Definitely stashtastic, though. Definitely.

Zing Pow!

There are a lot of things I love about Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock. It is undeniable that the colors are to-die for. Although subtle in the hank, when you knit them up they have a certain unique something… there is an energy & life to the color, a really distinct personality that you just don’t find in any other yarn out there. On the company’s  blog the owner, Felicia Lo, is described as being  “driven by an obsessive, passionate and often tumultuous relationship with colour.” It shows in every skein dyed by this artisan company. This is color that comes not just from deep understanding of visual appeal, but firm grasp of craft and passion for creating something really special.

The awesome doesn’t stop with color. The folks at Sweet Georgia pride themselves on selecting quality yarns and fibers, too. The superwash merino/nylon blend of Tough Love Sock feels much more luxurious than I would normally expect from such a blend. Knitting with it was really, incredibly enjoyable and the drape you can get from this yarn is just fabulous. Add in the knowledge that the nylon will lend toughness & durability and it easily makes Tough Love Sock one of the most versatile fingering weight yarns available for knitters. In short, if you haven’t tried it, you really ought to get on that.

A couple  months ago I was given a skein of Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock & tasked with finding a project for it. As it was destined to be a shop sample for Firefly Fibers, it had to be comfortably one skein & accessible to multiple skill levels. My goal was to find a pattern that was a little more challenging than beginner level – something interesting to work on, but not overwhelming. Where I ended was Meghan Jackson’s Oh So Quiet. Named for the popular ’90s song of the same name by Bjork, Oh So Quiet is a skinny shawlette — just on the line between scarf & shawlette in my opinion — that is both sweet and edgy. Tiny cables bookend a subtly arching bias stockinette section. On the inner edge lie a series of triangles that remind me of shark teeth (this no doubt has more to do with the fact that my 7year-old son is obsessed with sharks than the actual appearance). The pattern is presented clearly with well-written notes & includes both charted and written directions. I do recommend reading the pattern through before beginning and using organizational tools — such as highlighter tape & row counters — to keep track of where you are at throughout, but I think that goes without saying for most of us when tackling a project with a couple moving parts.

Overall, it was one of the most fun projects I have worked on in a long time. In the finished shawlette, the marriage of Tough Love Sock (in Cherry) & Oh So Quiet proved to be just lovely — absolutely playing up the juxtoposition of sweet and edgy. As nice as an auto-pilot garter-type project can be sometimes, this project kept me interested throughout. Interested, but not consumed — because there is a  regularity to this design, once you get through the first couple repeats you can easily settle into a steady & comfortable rhythm.  My sentiments on this project can be summed up with a couple lyrics from its namesake:

‘it’s oh so quiet … and so peaceful until…. you fall in love …. zing pow!’

Zing pow!  Fall in love with Tough Love Sock & the Oh So Quiet shawlette today.

You can view my project details here on Ravelry.

Everything needed for this project available at Firefly Fibers in Beaver Dam, WI.

Many thanks to Firefly Fibers for allowing me to photograph in the shop!