I Came. I Spun. I Made Pretty Yarn.

Aside from a couple quick posts, I don’t think I went into much detail about the Tour de Fleece as it was happening. I didn’t spin nearly as much as I have in past Tour de Fleece events, but it was a respectable production this year nonetheless. I accomplished the main goals I set out to tick off my to-do list and for that I’m very happy. So let’s hop right to it, all right?

First, while I didn’t start this during the Tour de Fleece, I did ply it during The Tour.

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This is my 4-ply 2-color hawser spin. It’s 100% Corriedale from Three Waters Farm in the Next to You and Fall Refrain colorways. To create this yarn, I split my fiber into 4 equal portions — 2 of each color — and I Z-spun each portion onto its own bobbin. (For those who aren’t spinners, “Z-spun” refers to when the drive wheel is being spun clockwise and “S-spun” is when the drive wheel is being spun counterclockwise.) Then, I Z-spun (or “up-plied”) 1 ply of each color together. And then I S-spun the 2 – 2-plies together. I apologize for not taking better photos of the process — if you have questions you can just ask or refer to Sarah Anderson’s The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs as the hawser recipe I used is on page 94 of the text.

I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings about this spin. It’s named for a rope construction and — truth be told — my yarn feels pretty ropey. There are spots where I clearly had too much twist in the Z-spins and I failed to even it out during the final S-spin. I came out with about 360yards of this 4-ply fingering weight yarn and my thought was that I would knit socks with it as it is supposed to be an extremely durable yarn. I am reserving final judgment until I knit up it. At the end of the day, that’s the true test of any handspun.

When I finished this plying, I moved straight on to my main Tour de Fleece goal which was to spin up the bulk of my Three Waters Farm Merino and Ramouillet fibers. I really like spinning these fibers into squishy 2-ply worsted and worsted + weight yarns and that’s exactly what the plan was.

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This is Cafe Diem… named for a place in North Carolina, not the cafe on the TV show Eureka.

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I haven’t measured exact wraps per inch, but I would guess it’s a heavy worsted weight and is 185yds.

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Log Cabin here is one of my all time favorite colorways with its rich browns, golden, and slate-y blues.

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As a slightly heavier aran weight yarn, this skein is about 150yards.

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And then there was Faithful. This colorway I acquired via a destash sale, so it wasn’t a current offering.

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It’s a beauty though, right?! This one spun up exactly the same as Log House — literally to the yard.

And then, over yoga one morning I had this brilliant idea to combine my 2 braids of Supercell on Rambouillet…

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and 2 braids of Luminous Dusk on Merino…

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…for another 2-ply worsted weight yarn using 1-ply of each colorway. I’m usually not very confident in putting colorways together, but I just had this feeling about this combination.

It was about an ounce into the spin that I put 8oz + 8oz together to realize this would be a 16oz spin. That is not small for me. In an event like the Tour de Fleece, I usually pick more quick spins rather than one big long one. By the time I realized what I’d decided to do though, I was committed. It took a little over a week to complete the singles.

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(Of course there was one more bobbin at the end, but I only have a photo of the three.)

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And it took me just under a week to ply it. This is the finished 2-ply yarn on an Akerworks Jumbo bobbin. I can’t believe I fit 16oz on this baby!

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I shared this photo on Instagram and someone said it was like a rose window — isn’t it though? So pretty!

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I did not quite get this skein washed and dried yet, but it wound off around 965yds of 2-ply worsted weight yarn. Since the wash and set always steals a few yards, I’m counting on this to be about 900-915yards when all is said and done.

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I’m already cruising possible sweater patterns.

I did have a bit of the Supercell colorway leftover — pretty normal for a 2-ply. I wound it up into a quick center-pull ball and plied it on itself.

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Et voila, 50yards of Supercell.

 

 

And that, my friends, was my Tour de Fleece.  I could count the yardage and skeins, but that really isn’t where my mind is at these days. I came. I spun. I made pretty yarn. Period. That was my Tour de Fleece. ❤

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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.

Bring On the Solstice, Please!

It is that fateful time of year for me – you know how some people get cabin fever in the winter? I kind of feel like I have the summer version of it, especially right around the solstice. The long days wear on me and I get overwhelmed and listless and irritable because of all the time spent out and about, all the noise of summer. I honestly don’t even think my routine is all that different, but I feel like I’m constantly behind. Even simple, silly things, like preventing backslide from our monumental spring cleaning and running errands wears on me. I greet the solstice (which is next week — hallelujah!) with relief knowing that I’m finally inching back toward earlier sunsets, the quiet of autumn and winter, and the luxury of space & time to be able to think clearly again.

While I’ve definitely been chasing everything lately and most of my focus has not been with my craft plans, I’ve still got some irons in the fire, of course, or I’m sure I’d really lose it.

I’ve been knitting away on my Broken Wings shawl knit with Be Sweet Skinny Wool.

img_3550It’s lace so of course it’s not looking like much at the moment, but I’m nearing the end of the first chart which is very exciting. The texture changes dramatically with each chart, so I can’t wait to see it all unfold. The yarn has been beautiful to work with, so soft and silky — overall, really just such a little luxury!

On my wheel, I’ve been working on the latest challenge in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group, the 1×6 SAL. The idea is that you take one braid and spin it 6 distinct ways. You can play with color or technique or both. I opted to play mostly with technique…

img_3547From L to R these are: n-ply (with colors rearranged), gimp, standard 2-ply, single, slub single.

There are some funny stories to go along with these, but I’ll wait until I can get these properly washed and get the crazy yellow ties out of the photo so I can really tell you about them and the experience as a whole. You’ll note I have 5 mini-skeins there, so I’ve got one still on the wheel. I’d hoped to have finished it yesterday, but there were complications so now I’m hoping that I can finish today. Cross your fingers for me!

In the realm of attempting to plan, the Tour de Fleece is coming up! It officially kicks off on July 2nd, but as I’ve mentioned I’ve already been working with Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm to help co-captain her team. If you’re a spinner and have some Three Waters Farm fibers in your stash (or you want to add some to it!), I hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be such a great group & a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time spinning. There are also some awesome prizes to be won, so lots of good incentives — you can read all about the team “rules,” prize information, and join Team TWF here. As for me, I’ve been attempting to put together my small mountain of fibery hopefulness for the Tour…

img_3549I pulled these from my stash this morning and already I’ve realized I have at least 16oz more I need to add to the pile, including the official Tour de Fleece colorway from Three Waters Farm that I’m hopeful will be landing here today. It’s probably good that there’s more to add as this pile is very blue and that does not bode all that well for someone with such a short attention span. On the flip side, that’s kind of a lot of fiber for 3weeks of spinning… I’m going to not think about that right now though.

In other fabulous planning news, the first skein of the Feel Good Yarn Co Summer Sock Club arrived yesterday — hooray!

img_3545It is my favorite skein of SilverSpun yet! I’m hoping to wind this yarn today or tomorrow so I can get knitting. This month’s installment also came with a sweet Feel Good Yarn Co logo tote from Work + Shelter. Especially in summer, I can never have enough totes as I run out the door to one place or another. I love that this one is pretty simple and understated, it’s just such a perfect little bonus for the Summer Sock Club.

As I race around today to the bike shop and the grocery store and the bank and to our weekly volunteer gig at the local humane society and I try to squeeze in some time for writing and yoga and walking the dog and maybe even finishing that spinning project, I’ll be trying not to think about the sun as it sets too late in the evening. You can bet that I’ll be thinking about the solstice and it’s significance in my little day-to-day world, every cell of my being is leaning toward that moment when I can feel the shift to shorter, quieter days. I realize I may be in the minority, but I cannot wait. Bring on the solstice, my friends!

A Forest, A Lake, A Spindle

We headed out of town on Tuesday as Mr Knitting Sarah had some meetings located conveniently close to where my parents live. It’s always nice to save a little on hotel costs and I think he likes coming home to family instead of an empty hotel room on long days of meetings like that. I had decided to leave my wheel at home and just take my Turkish spindle so it was a mad dash to wrap up the super bright singles I was spinning up on my wheel, but I managed to get them done so they could rest while we were away.

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They are going to make one bright/intense/vibrant skein of yarn one day soon!

On the way up, we stopped at a neat little campground/park just a short distance from where I grew up. Hard to believe I’d never visited before as it’s such a pretty little spot.

IMG_0079Complete with a little river and falls in which you can play.

I’m not sure who was happier, my girl…

IMG_0083or my Moose…

IMG_0104I lingered a bit in the woods hoping to see a snake, but was treated instead to a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. I love that flash of yellow on their tails and their distinct whistle-like call. It’s always amazing how restorative a walk through nature can be, calming the soul and quieting all the ‘noise’ that exists in the world.

My dad’s birthday just happens to be Saturday so we were able to celebrate with him, too, which was nice. I upheld the tradition of mowing the lawn for my parents which I like to do — it’s nice to give back and lighten their load when I can. My son and I were also spoiled with two days fishing with my dad on his boat. On day 1 we caught just a couple fish — we got a later start and it got hot in the sun pretty fast and not a whole lot was biting. The second day was beautiful though. We got an early start and enjoyed cooler temps, a light breeze, and a pretty little lake all to ourselves.

IMG_0116We had the pleasure of hearing loads of Sandhill Cranes greet the morning in the distance, watching what I think were a pair of Caspian terns fishing — so impressive!, and a close fly-by by a very beautiful Kingfisher.

Of course there were also fish. I’ve mentioned here before that our son is really inspired by Jeremy Wade & his show River Monsters. We like to tease that we would be the perfect hosts for a show the complete opposite of Jeremy Wade’s River Monsters. We refer to our little fishing trips as episodes of River Midgets and joke — often in horrible British accents — about how we “try” to catch the smallest fish possible.

IMG_0114While it’s true that we’ve caught some decent sized bass from time to time, the Pumpkinseed in this photo is pretty average for us if not a little big. You can’t tell from the photo, but these guys are actually really beautiful with this crazy light teal coloring on them. My son doesn’t care as long as he’s catching something and my dad & I are pretty happy as long as the boy is happy. It’s fun to catch, but mostly we’re happy to be together, on the boat, and with a hook in the water. Catching fish is just a bonus.

In the moments I wasn’t fishing or mowing or visiting, I finished up the mohair singles on my Turkish spindle.

IMG_0100-0I knew I wanted to go with a simple 2-ply for these 2oz, but I wasn’t sure how exactly to actually do the plying. I read a few horror stories online about the ‘turtle’ (the little ball of yarn you make when you use a Turkish spindle) turning into a giant disastrous knot when you try to ply from the inside & outside of it, so I had planned to wind it into a enter-pull ball. But… at the last minute I decided to just give it a try.

IMG_0121And it’s working fine! There have been a few snarls and less than perfect moments, but all in all it’s not too bad and definitely not a horror story. My plying may leave a little something to be desired, but for my first time I think it’s going pretty darn well.

Only a couple days remain in the Tour de Fleece, so I think I’ll be squeezing in one last quick spin before plying my brights and then it’ll be a quick dash to finish up my July shorties for the Summer Sock KAL. What a good mix of taking things slowly and getting things done July has been — here’s hoping August brings more of the same!

Tour de Fleece 2014 Wrap-Up

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the Tour de Fleece. With the exception of the KALs I’ve run on my own, it’s definitely my favorite fiber arts event. I love the talented spinners on the teams I’ve joined and I always learn a lot. I also appreciate that it really inspires me to experiment a little more with my spinning and pushes me to spin a bit every day. While I certainly didn’t spin 15skeins of yarn this year like I did in 2013, considering I was away from home 11 out of the 23 days Le Tour ran this year I’m not going to turn my nose up at my 5new skeins

Before I get to my full round-up here, let me share my last two skeins which I haven’t featured here on the blog yet. First, from my stash I pulled a beautiful 4ounces of Dyeabolical‘s Themyscira on a Mixed BFL/Tussah Silk base.

themyscira_medium2Like many fibers, this one had been in my stash far too long. I spun it into very lightweight singles as my original thought was that I would maximize the yardage with a simple 2-ply. Well, when it came time to ply I started in the evening when I should have called it a night and when I came back to it in the morning all I could see was this section I had under twisted. The only way to really deal with it was to run it back through my wheel. But I had a lot of yardage. And I was tired. And I wanted to finish. So while I thought over my options, I enlisted some help.

d spinsAnd when we finally got through the singles, when I had decided to just send it back through my wheel to adjust the twist instead on a total impulse I opted to Navajo ply my slightly wonky 2ply.

ThemysciraAnd I wound up with about 160yards of a really, really pretty 6ply.

Themyscira detailI think it was one of those lucky moments where a mistake leads to something really grand. I just love this skein!

Next up, I grabbed this fiber…

golden_afternoon_medium2Dyeabolical‘s Golden Afternoon on a polwarth/silk base. I bought this fiber after being inspired by Kara’s work last year — she actually  inspires the heck out of me on a regular basis. For those of you who don’t know, Kara is an amazing spinner and in addition to sparking my creativity, she’s been kind enough to help me now and then to solve spinning challenges. Definitely follow her blog if you don’t already — it is completely awesome.

Anyhoo, I split this fiber into 3equal portions for a traditional 3ply  and then split each of those 3 portions uniquely (read: randomly) to blend the colors.

Golden AfternoonI’m really very happy with the results. This fingering weight yarn could not be any prettier or softer.

golden afternoon fullI’m so happy to have a generous 450yard of this beautiful yarn.

As for the rest of the tour, let me sum up my other skeins. First, I had the skein of Cloudlover Rambouillet in the Lakefront colorway from the fiber club.

lakefrontFriends, also don’t forget the 15% discount for all Knitting Sarah friends at Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber which runs through the end of the year ( the giveaway is over, but see here for details on the discount).

Next, I had the Manos del Uruguay superfine merino in Blue Jay…

blue jay manosA beautiful blue-purple single.

And of course, the super lovely Cloudlover BFL/silk in Blue Hawaii….skeinedThis 2ply is so much fun!

Add the last two skeins to the mix and here you’ve got my five completed skeins from the Tour de Fleece 2014…

groupDefinitely not as many yards this year, but I’m so very happy with the results.  Most importantly though, I’m very inspired and motivated to keep spinning! And, as always, I’m marking my calendar for next year’s Tour — July 4, 2015 can’t come soon enough for me!