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!

Tour de Fleece 2016 Week 2 Recap

I didn’t feel like I did a whole lot in the way of spinning this week, but now that I’m sitting down with photos I’m thinking I did. We have Mr. Knitting Sarah to thank for the progress as he has stoically hung with me in the heat of our main floor where my wheel is even when he’d rather be in the nice cool basement. He also took the kiddos on an overnight camping trip.

They stayed in a teepee, went fishing, played on the beach, and made s’mores and hot dogs on sticks. I stayed home with Moose and spun and enjoyed the quiet.

I had prepped three braids of fiber in anticipation of their being away…

img_3838Convinced this would be more fun than plying the behemoth skein that I knew would come from my 8oz of lightweight singles that were resting. In the end though, I ended up plying because I’m terrible at starting new things when I have an unfinished project.

img_3889And I knew one big push would get me there.

During the Day + Early BloomingI was right.

During the Day + Early Blooming detMeet my mega skein of Early Blooming + During the Day. Early Blooming was the May installment of the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club and During the Day was it’s tonal counterpart. Both are a 80/20 Merino/Tussah blend and while the Tour is in full swing I haven’t taken the time to measure anything exactly, this is somewhere in the 1100yard realm. I’ve got some sweater ideas in mind, that’s for sure.

I also finished a spin for a swap.

Laundry Pile‘Laundry Pile’ is about a 75/25 BFL/Tussah blend that spun up into a worsted-ish weight and in the neighborhood of 200yards — again I have to measure everything yet.

Laundry Pile detI was worried when I was plying that there was more color pooling than my attempted barberpoles, but it actually looks pretty great now that it’s skeined, washed, and dried.

And then, of course, there was my special Three Waters Farm TdF colorway, Summer Jubilee.

summer jubileeThis I spun into a chain plied 3-ply with the intention of eventually knitting up some stripey socks.

summer jubilee detIt turned out lovely! I love the colors! Unfortunately, it’s a bit heavier than I was aiming for — so probably like a sport weight or heavy fingering — and it shorted my yardage to around 300yards. I’m thinking I’ll knit toe-up and pull out some pretty grey from my stash for toes & heels to stretch this skein a little.

And last, but not least, I whipped through my Classy Squid Fiber Co spin.

barkI spun this skein from 2oz of rolags & a 2oz batt, both from the colorway ‘Bark.’ The rolags were spindle spun and the batt was spun on my wheel. Plying was also done on my wheel as I was in a little bit of a time crunch.

img_3832And I discovered a new and fabulous application for my Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate. I can’t take credit for this idea as a friend saw it in the Akerworks Ravelry Group and then shared it with me. I won’t say my first attempt was flawless, but with a little tweaking of how I wind my cops I will absolutely use the AkerKate for spindle plying in the future. In any case…

bark detFrom lessons learned in my previous art batt spins, I really let the texture sing. The photos really don’t do this skein justice as the color variation is so subtle and it’s just a visually complex yarn.

So all of that was plied this week. Phew.

Oh, and I spun some singles, too, all for Team Three Waters Farm.

lone grasshopper bobbinThis is Lone Grasshopper. It’s 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah. It was one of my first purchases from Three Waters Farm about a year ago. I was a little thrown by that bright green for quite a while, but it’s going to be a fantastic skein.

bobbins sbbAnd this is Stolen By Bandits, also a 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah blend. These cool colors… well, I could have spun them forever.

I also got a chance to stay my last 4oz of Birds in the Holly.

Birds in the HollyThis braid I picked up from another generous Top of the Month Club member who was willing to sell it to me so I could have a little extra cushion for some sweater knitting with this skein I spun up last month. I’m trying very hard to get as close as I can to the original skein, but I’m thinking I should be able to save this skein for the collar & cuffs which means it should be a little forgiving if it doesn’t match perfectly. I’ve never attempted something like this, so my fingers are crossed and I’m hoping for the best!

 I also spent just a little bit of time daily with my Akerworks Mini-Spindle and my July Top of the Month braid, Satisfied with Summer, which I rolled into some less than way too big rolags (it was my first attempt).

img_3904This is fast becoming my favorite travel spindle. I got the mid-sized mini which weighs in at 12grams or about .42oz and is 6.5″ long. It’s so easy to tuck into whatever bag I have, it’s relatively inexpensive (my mid-size is just $21), and it loves to spin. So far for me — and I’m by no means a spindling expert — it spins like perfection with a very lightweight single, but it gets a bit finicky with heavier weights. This is most likely user error on my part — while I know the lighter the spindle the faster it spins and the lighter the yarn you can easily produce, I should probably be able to get a slightly heavier yarn. I also know I could adjust the BBs to lighten the spindle, but in all honesty I’m happy spinning the ultra lightweight. I have small flock of Mini Spindles and extra shafts (you can buy them separately for less than the spindles, should you so desire) and I’m hoping I can get a 4oz spin on them. We shall see!

This week is the final week of the Tour de Fleece and we’re expecting some grueling heat here around the homestead in the second half of the week. With no A/C, I fully intend to retreat to cooler climes — the pool, the basement, the library, etc. and I may not get the strongest finish to the Tour. I’ll do what I can though and thankfully I’ve got options. Whatever the case, I’ll find a way to make some yarn and enjoy this favorite time of year.

Tour de Fleece 2016 Week 1 Recap

My first week of the Tour de Fleece has been not quite as dramatic with wooly exploits as other years. The stars finally aligned so that a friend and I were able to schedule some long-awaited time to make an effort to tidy up my yard & gardens, so many hours were spent with a shovel in hand. Some was spent with my friend’s most wonderful company & guidance and some working furiously on my own to carry out the plans we’d laid. I’ll share more on this experience later, but I am happy to report that I completed the last big push for the job yesterday — whew-hoo — and I’m so incredibly happy with the results.

As you might suspect, the hours spent in the garden has been time not spent with my wheel and has been a workout for my hands and back that hasn’t necessarily been spurring me forward in the Tour de Fleece. But I’ve spun daily and made steady progress and really that was the main goal this year.

I finished up the 4oz of the luxuriously lovely blue called During the Day.

img_3804I photographed it here with my bobbin of Early Blooming  with which I plan to ply it.

I also managed to spin up 4oz of the lustrous ‘Laundry Pile’.

img_3805I spun these singles a bit thicker and I’m hoping to have about a worsted weight 2ply with lots of barberpoles in it.

Currently on the wheel I’m working on the Three Waters Farm official Tour de Fleece 2016 colorway, Summer Jubilee in the Superwash Merino/Nylon blend.

img_3803I’m a bit over halfway through the braid and I’m hoping to maybe finish up the singles today. I’m aiming to create a yarn that’ll be appropriate for socks. My mind’s eye sees fun, bright, stripey socks. To me, perhaps the perfect

Also in progress, I have one Classy Squid Fiber Co spindle spin in the works.

img_3806This is my very let-your-hair-down spin — something I’m learning to embrace with batts and rolags from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I’ve really come to love just letting the texture have their way. This is my first experience spinning texture on spindles and it’s been such a treat. I have another ounce of rolags to spin which I’ll do on spindles and then a coordinating 2oz batt that I plan to spin on my wheel and then ply the two together.

And last, but definitely not least, I’ve got the teeniest, tiniest start on a new project…

img_3807This is Three Waters Farm ‘Satisfied with Summer’ just started on my new Akerworks mini spindle. I’ve been spinning just a staple length or so per day, so the progress is very slow but I adore how quick this little .41oz spindle flies and the ultra lightweight yarn it loves to create.

And that’s it! That’s my week 1 for the Tour de Fleece! I hope you’ve had a great week, too, if you’re spinning!

Tour de Fleece 2016: Planning & Goals

Yesterday I said I’d share more details on my Tour de Fleece plans for this year. Since The Tour officially starts tomorrow I thought I’d do the sharing today so that tomorrow I can, you know, just spin my little heart out.  This year my goals are pretty simple, but I’m choosing to make a slight departure and actually not limit them to spinning.

First, I’m aiming to get back on a schedule of waking early to do yoga & strengthening each moring. It’s easy for me in the winter to enjoy those dark quiet wee hours to do it, but I’ve found it challenging to stay on track these days. I think the TdF is the perfect time to emphasize getting back to it as it will help my body stay strong and stretched as I spend extra time at my wheel.

Second, I just want to have fun spinning. I’m not going to push myself to hit a certain yardage or X number of pounds. My plan is to pick pretty fiber and spin it every day for as long as I can. Period.

Now, the fiber. As I said, I don’t have a special amount of fiber I’m aiming to plow through. I just want to spin the fibers I’m working on well. What I get through, I get through. What I don’t, I’ll get to later.

You probably want to see though, right? I know, I know I do, too. Now keep in mind that I had my TdF bin set a couple days ago and then I spun 12oz out of it the other night when I wasn’t feeling very good and needed a pick-me-up. So this list is definitely subject to change. For now though, it looks as though I’ll be starting here…

img_3721I currenlty have May’s Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club ‘Early Blooming’ on the wheel – I’m almost through it. And the plan is to do a simple 2 ply with it’s companion tonal, ‘During the Day.’

Next, I’ve got some TWF ‘Laundry Pile’ on deck.

img_3722This one I’ll be doing as a swap with a friend and if I can manage it, it’ll turn out to be about a worsted weight yarn with lots of barberpoling goodness.

I also was lucky enough to get my hands on an extra braid of ‘Birds in the Holly’ to go with my earlier spin & hopefully get me a little extra sweater yardage for this yarn.

img_3723I’d love to get this spin finished and then knit it up for the Ravellenics. I’m not totally convinced I can make that happen, but I’m quite tempted to go for it.

Of course, I’ve got the TWF official Tour de Fleece 2016 colorway here.

img_3725My Summer Jubilee is probably going to be a sock spin. My thought is to break it up into loads of little nests and then chain ply them so they’re a little stripey.

I have an art batt from Classy Squid Fiber Co in the mix…

img_3726Just for a little something different.

I’ve also got something extra special planned for my July Top of the Month Club braid, ‘Satisfied with Summer.’

img_3724But I have to wait a bit to share that with you as I’m still waiting on a couple components of this project (but I couldn’t not share the photo of this fabulous colorway).

If this 24oz doesn’t hold me, I’ve got one of the very first TWF braids I ever bought on hand…

img_3727This is called ‘Lone Grasshopper’ and really deserves to be spun into something lovely soon.

And I’ve also got a combination spin of ‘Green Surround’ and ‘Reflections on Mirror Lake’ that would be fun to finally get around to. A friend in the Ravelry group spun this combination up and I fell in love. I can’t wait to see it.

img_3728It might have to wait for post Tour though, if I’m being at all realistic.

As you can see, I’m sticking to mostly Three Waters Farm fibers. I’m helping to captain the team and I really adore my friends there, so I’m very excited to be active and spend a lot of my time during this special event with the group. I do have a backlog of fibers I’ve been working on from other dyers lately as well as a Craftsy class review that’ll be coming your way shortly, so you’ll be seeing that all soon, too, I hope.

Storm Cloud Over Flowers

I have another long overdue finished spin for you and then — believe it or not — I’ll be moving more into the present, perhaps even churning out a couple finished knits as I’m oh-so-close on a couple! Hooray!

Today I thought I’d share a spin that became another part of the Akerworks Lazy Kate test.

img_2966This beauty was the April Top of the Month from Three Waters Farm (April? Yes, I’m 90% sure it’s April’s. Yes, I just checked. April, for sure). This was the first month that I switched to the wool-silk blend option for the club, the thought being I could go wool-silk for a few months and then switch back to wool probably around the autumn or colder months. We’ll see about that though – these silk blends are awfully nice!

img_2984You can just see the shine! This is 75/25 BFL/Tussah Silk and like all forms of BFL from Three Waters Farm, I simply loved it. As you can see, I used my Very Fast Flyer again on this spin and it went so much better than previous attempts. Dare I say I have the hang of this tool?! In any case, since I’m short on bobbins — I really need to spring for at least 2 more for the Very Fast Flyer to be able to really start to use it — I opted to spin for just a simple 2-ply.

img_3346-1It was the very last plying I did during the test with the AkerKate and it really did turn out just as I wanted it.

img_3372-1I’ve started to learn that minor discrepancies in twist to even out in finishing. I used to fret about those so much. Now, not so much.

wholeWith yarn turning out like this, you learn to relax just a little and not stress about the little inconsistencies.

pileThe BFL silk blend really has beautiful drape. It turned out to be about 520 yards of light fingering weight yarn and I’m pretty certain it’s meant to be a shawl. It would truly would be a delight.

detailThe colors are just so subtle and muted and lush with little *pops* here and there. You can really see where it gets its name — “Storm Cloud Over Flowers” — certainly suits it. What a beautiful way to round out a busy month of spinning… and get inspired for another month of spinning with the Tour de Fleece!

Random Happenings

There’s been a whole lot of ‘doing’ and not a lot of writing this week and, you know, while it feels really strange as the words pile up in my head it’s been very good on the productivity front. Today, I thought I’d go kind of casual here in sharing what’s been going on behind the scenes and share some photos and random happenings in list form.

1.Our family went on a really lovely hike on one of our favorite local trails.

img_3353We like to go here this time of year because if we time it just right we see loads of Bobolinks which I love. It’s also the last trail Mr. Knitting Sarah & I hiked before the birth of our oldest, who turns 11 next week.

2. While on this hike, we discovered that for the 12 years we’ve been coming to this trail my husband has been pointing out the call of Grasshopper Sparrows to me and I’ve been hearing just “grasshoppers.” It suddenly made a lot sense why I wasn’t as impressed as I probably could have been all these years when my hubby mentioned them.

3. Over the past month we’ve been doing a massive decluttering/deep clean of our house. It’s meant a couple hours almost every day of cleaning, many trips to Goodwill to make donations, and some tough choices, but it’s been a full family effort and that effort is really, really, really paying off. Our tiny house is feeling much bigger and easier to manage. I’d show you before and after photos, but we actually haven’t stopped to document any of it. We’ve all just been in true nose to the grindstone mode and you’ll have to take my word for that.

4. Part of my end of this decluttering effort has been an on-going yarn destash on Ravelry. The yarn is all very lovely and I’m sure I’d eventually get to it, but it’s just time for me to reclaim some space and send some of the yarn to new homes. Please feel free to check out the destash page — as of today it contains a wide range of commercial yarns as well as a few of my select handspun yarns.

img_3377

5. I’ve been doing a lot of plying.img_3372-2This photo shows a skein that’s now finished and I’m finally on my last plying job for the Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate Test. The test officially concluded just after I started the last bit of plying, so I timed it pretty well. I’ll tell you more about my experience with this awesome Kate soon, but for now you can check them out on the Akerworks website as they are now officially up for sale.

6. I helped launch the sign-ups for Team Three Waters Farm for the Tour de Fleece.

img_3352

As you probably remember, I’m a little bananas for the Tour de Fleece so this is pretty exciting for me. It’ll soon be time to start picking my spins for this year and setting some goals. The shop currently is taking pre-orders for the Official 2016 Tour de Fleece colorway, Summer Jubilee…

Pre-Order Tour de Fleece Colorway, Superwash Merino/ Nylon Roving (Top) - Handpainted Spinning or Felting Fiber, Summer Jubilee

It’s not a requirement to participate on the team, but it is available on 3 different bases and, really, isn’t it fantastic?! If you’re a spinner and have some Three Waters Farm fiber in your stash (or feel like picking some up — the shop is always full of glorious temptation), I hope you’ll join us!

7.  I did some poolside knitting while the kiddos did some serious swimming.img_3312Generally speaking, I swim laps for a certain amount of time and then I earn my knitting/watching the kiddos time. It’s a good deal all around.

8. I’ve been using this Andean Plying Tool I picked up from Karen of Gift of Grace Handspun.

img_3301I love using an Andean Plying Bracelet to use every last bit of my singles yarn, but I always wound it too tight on my hand and, you know, started to cut off circulation to my middle finger (it was not great). I’m still getting the hang of it, but already this tool helps so much!

9. Moose was his usual ridiculous self.img_3370

10. After finishing a couple projects, I started something new on my needles.img_3351-1This is Joji Locatelli’s new Broken Wings shawl using Be Sweet Skinny Wool. The combination, in a word, is divine.

I hope your Friday is full of random beauty & awesomeness!