Saturday, July 30

Tour de Fleece, Finis

Although I didn't meet my goal for ounces spun during the Tour de Fleece, I am very happy with what I accomplished both in finished yarn and skills improved from spinning every day.

I wanted to put up a quick "stats" post but have been delayed by our first disaster of home ownership: a flooded lower level.

Luckily it wasn't feet of water, only inches, and we managed to save almost everything that got wet except for papers, a few books, and some holiday decorations. We tried in vain to save the carpet but it looks like we are going to have to rip up about 500 square feet of carpeting. (That we can't afford to replace right now; hello concrete floor!) So much for my cozy family room...

My new mantra is "It could be worse".

Anyway, here is my completed selection of Tour de Fleece yarns:

Tour de Fleece, end

It is close to 850 yds total from 19 oz finished; the singles totaled ~1,500 yards.

I am looking forward to doing it again next year!

Wednesday, July 27

Tour de Fleece, Days 19-23

I'm still playing catch-up here. But I am very pleased to say that I did complete the Tour de Fleece by spinning every day and not forgetting about it halfway through as I have a tendency to do with these things.

Coming to the end, I started spinning some Mountain Colors Targhee Top my Mom bought for me at The Fold. I found it to be a little sticky and hard to draft. Not sure if this is because of the type of fleece, how it was dyed, or the fact that it has been crammed into my fiber storage bag for over a year.

Mountain Colors fiber

I ended up pre-drafting a lot which I never really do anymore. But it made this somewhat enjoyable to work on instead of frustratingly difficult.

Tour de Fleece, Days 22 & 23

I chain-plied to keep the colors together but didn't do such a hot job. As I was making the loops I totally forgot about watching for the color changes. So it will be a surprise when it knits up... maybe it will still stripe.

Tuesday, July 26

Tour de Fleece, Days 17-18

On these two days I worked on spinning my first batt and "art yarn". It's no where near true art yarn, but it's the most outrageous thing I've down thus far in my spinning career.

I had a 3oz Hanks in the Hood batt from Paradise Fibers that had been marinating in my stash for a while.

Tour de Fleece, day 17

I spun it into a lightly twisted, bulky single...

Tour de Fleece, day 17
(sorry for the awful photo)

... and then plied it with purple cotton sewing thread.

Tour de Fleece, day 18

The plying was definitely a learning experience. It took a few tries to get the look I wanted and even after that it's not very consistant.

I needed more twist in my original single - it drifted apart a few times as I was plying. I am a little afraid to use, but I think after a hot wash it'll be able to hold itself together. I can't wait to try this technique again.

Sunday, July 17

Tour de Fleece, Days 13-16

I thought I'd spare you three days of almost identical photos of my spinning and share this fiber all at once.

..actually, I didn't feel like turning on my computer to post individual posts on each day. Is it any wonder my blog usually suffers?

I didn't spin at all on day 13. I was fighting a migraine and spent the entire night lying in bed in the dark, with earplugs and an eyeshade. I was able to function the rest of the weekend, so it must have worked.

On to the fiber. On days 14 and 15 I spun up two bobbins of Fiber Optic Yarns 50% superwash merino/50% bamboo fiber. Today I finished the last bit of fiber and plied.

Tour de Fleece, Day 16

I love plying. It's like magic to me. Suddenly, yarn!

It's about 13 wpi and I got 288 yards.

Wednesday, July 13

Tour de Fleece, Day 12

Today marks the halfway point of the Tour. I'm still going strong. Sometimes keeping a commitment to yourself can be the more rewarding thing you can do.

I spun up the second ounce of my merino/bamboo fiber. The drafting was much easier today; I must have developed some muscle memory yesterday.

Tour de Fleece, day 12

Since I've been doing all of my spinning in the evenings, my photos have that annoying bright flash quality to them. I'm hoping to at least get one good daylight photo of all of the yarns I finish at the end of the Tour.

In other news, I was back at work for the first time this week today, after the major storm that came through Monday morning. The only downside is that the school where I work still was without power in about half the buildings... of course including my department's wing. Darkness and stifling hot air do not make for good working conditions. Sigh.

They are hoping all of the power is back on by the weekend, so classes can resume normally next Monday. I sure hope so...

Tuesday, July 12

Tour de Fleece, Day 11

I started another braid of fiber on my Lendrum today, a merino/bamboo blend from Fiber Optic yarns in Unforgettable.

Fiber Optic fiber

Tour de Fleece, day 11

This fiber was a little bit of a struggle at first, since I've never spun anything with this much bamboo (50%). My first few yards (probably more) are very lumpy and uneven, but things settled down after I started to get the hang of it. I was going for a two ply lace weight finished yarn, but I think it is going to end up a little thicker than that.

Monday, July 11

Tour de Fleece, Day 10

On the Tour de France, July 11th is a day of rest. I'm not sure, but I can't imagine they are just sitting around napping the day away.

I didn't plan on completely resting for the Tour de Fleece either, since spinning isn't exactly strenuous but mother nature had other plans.

A massive storm blew through out of nowhere yesterday morning while I was at work, knocking out power to most of the area. The school was closed and we all got to leave early; the damage as I was driving home was unbelievable. We were very lucky to only lose a branch of a front tree and some garden plants.

No power at home, which of course means no air conditioning. Now, I'm not generally wimpy about stuff like that but it was 86F inside and humid. Just the idea of handling wool fiber was too much.

So, they say it may be a few days before the power is back on. We're both off work again today and hanging out at a library the next town over soaking up a/c and electrons.

It felt a little cooler outside today; maybe I will be able to spin a little without melting.

Sunday, July 10

Pool Knitting

It was H.O.T. here today. Almost painfully so, since we were sitting in metal grandstands trying to watch NHRA drag races in Joliet. As soon as we got home we immediately headed for the pool.

I tried something I've been thinking about all summer:

pool knitting

I am still so thankful, grateful, and surprised that we got this house.

Tour de Fleece, Day 9

I wasn't home much today, but I did have a few quick moments to spin on my mini spindle again:

TdF, Day 9

This is still the merino and milk fiber Phat sample that I started on last week. It's going to be a two ply lace weight so even though it doesn't look like it, a lot of work has gone into that tiny bit of cop on the spindle!

Friday, July 8

Tour de Fleece, Days 7 & 8

Friday and Saturday I didn't do any new spinning, just plying.

Tour de Fleece, Days 7 & 8

This is the Border Leicester fiber in "Spring Forest". It's a two ply, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. I made a decision to underspin the singles a little and then over ply them and the yarn turned out just as I hoped. Soft and bouncy instead of ropey and loosely twisted around each other. Hey, I'm actually getting better at this stuff!

I ended up with around 160 yards from 4oz. Not great, considering it's around worsted weight but not horrible either.

Thursday, July 7

Tour de Fleece, Day 6

This is getting a little repetitive. But I'm getting an amazing amount done!

It's day 6, and I've finished the last two oz. of my Border Leicester fiber. I haven't decided if I'm going to ply it with itself, or spin something else to ply it with.

Tour de Fleece, day 6

I do know it's going to be a 2ply. I have some alpaca fibers that match fairly well; though it may just be plied with itself.

Wednesday, July 6

Tour de Fleece, Day 5

Day 5; and I'm still at it. This might be a record for me.

Tonight I spun another ounce of the Border Leicester. It really doesn't look much different than yesterday.

I also started a sample of merino/milk fiber from Mama Jude's etsy shop on my tiny spindle.

Tour de Fleece, Day 5

I wanted to spin more on my wheel tonight but developed a strange cramp on the outside of my left leg. It's not my calf muscle and not my shin, but somewhere in between. I can't figure out how to stretch it or position my leg so it doesn't keep cramping up. Hmmm... spinning injury? Maybe it's from yesterday when I fell off a garden stepping stone 1/2 inch off the ground. (Grace personified, that's me.)

Tuesday, July 5

Tour de Fleece, Day 4

Today I managed to spin 1 oz. of Border Leicester fiber in "Spring Forest" from Esther's Place in Big Rock, IL.

The fiber is from the Illinois Green Pastures Co-Op, so not only do I get to spin something pretty, I get to support local shepherds and farmers as I do. Just this little thing makes me feel good on an otherwise craptacular day.

Tour de Fleece Day 4

I have 3 more ounces of this fiber. I think it's going to be a three ply. I'd like to to be at least a worsted weight so I'm trying to spin a little thicker and with less twist than I have been lately.

I can't wait until I have time to spin more than an ounce in a day!

(It would probably help if I didn't spend so much time keeping up with the Tour de Fleece boards on Ravelry!)

Monday, July 4

Tour de Fleece, Day 3

I didn't have much time to spin today, since we were heading down to my parents for a picnic and fireworks.

I finished spinning the Fiber Optic fiber from yesterday and plied it. When dividing the fiber, I was more concerned with how it was going to stripe and not how even my piles where.

Tour de Fleece Day 3

I wanted a three ply, but as you can see above I didn't have the same amount of each color section. As each single ran out I ended up with about 26 yards of three ply, 30 yards of two ply and about 2 yards of chain ply.

Tour de Fleece Day 3

Tour de Fleece Day 3

I am very happy with my three ply. At least it will be a little experiment in spinning self striping yarn.

Happy 4th of July!

4th of July 22011

Sunday, July 3

Tour de Fleece, Day 2

Day 2 didn't see as much spinning as I would have liked, but I did finish one ply of a future three ply yarn from Fiber Optics fibers.

I took some time to split the fibers up lengthwise so to end up with a fractally plyed yarn. I hope. (Think of Trekking XXL sock yarn striping to get an idea of fractal stripes.)

TdF2011 Day 2

Saturday, July 2

Tour de Fleece, Day 1

On Ravelry, I am participating in the "Tour de Fleece" this year. It's a fun non-competition where you spin yarn while the Tour de France rides. I've never joined in past years because, frankly, I know next to nothing about the Tour de France and I'm usually so far behind the curve hearing about these things that it's too late anyway.

Well, I caught the chatter about it in time this year and realized that there really isn't a strong connection (or at least there doesn't have to be) between the Fleece tour and the France tour. You just make yarn.

It helped that the Tour started a week after I took three spinning classes, and have been itching use my wheel more. My personal goals are to spin every day the Tour rides, finish a least six stash fibers, and try new things.

Today, July 2nd, was day 1. I tried something new by using my new mini turkish drop spindle to spin a mini art batt (from a Phat Fiber box) and ply it onto itself. I'm impressed with myself that I actually used a spindle to make yarn. I usually just end up frustrated in a tangle of fiber.

TdF2011 Day 1

If I do manage to stick with this every day, it could do wonders for my blogging as well!

(The Potentially Cursed) Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair 2011

June 24-26 was the Fiber and Folk Art Fair in Grayslake, IL. It was their 5th anniversary and the 4th year I've attended. It's wonderful living only 20 minutes away from such a fun event - I was able to go all three days. Ironically the 26th was hubby's and my 6th anniversary.

Where to start.

I had been looking forward to this weekend for months, even though I haven't done much knitting, spinning, or general crafting since we moved in March. I had signed up for an all day class on Friday (drafting techniques) and two half day classes on Saturday(plying techniques and spinning self striping yarn). Sunday my Mom drove up to shop the market with me.

Last year at the fair, I received a message during the class I had on Sunday that I needed to drive home asap to see my Grandma for the last time. I still haven't unpacked my purchases from the market that day. It's just has too many memories tied up in it.

I was a little nervous about this year but was looking forward to making some new happy memories. Except that the weekend before, my Grandpa passed away.

It was (is) a whole emotional mess of sadness to be without him and relief that he's with Omi and no longer in pain.

So I went to my classes and learned a lot and Mom and I went to the market and had a fun time. But I couldn't shake the sad little gray cloud over my head. And when my phone rang in the middle of a class with my Dad's cell number I probably freaked out more than necessary. Especially since it was just my parents calling to leave a message to show off the Bluetooth connection thingy in their new truck. (I still don't think it was the most thoughtful thing for them to do...)

Here are the fun things I purchased:

MFF haul 2011

A few spinning tools I've wanted for a while, a swift(!!!!), some pretty sock yarn, a few patterns, and an amazing little drop spindle that I'll show off in another post.

I'm definitely going to be going to the Fair next year, and I encourage anyone nearby to go as well. They have a huge selection of classes with wonderful teachers and the market is always packed with goodies. And the polish food booth is not to be missed!

Although if something happens next year around this time I think I'll take the hint and stop going.