Around and Around It Goes

The Tour de Fleece is on again, so I’ve put down my sewing needle and picked up my spindles. The Tour de Fleece is a spinning event, now hosted on Ravelry, in which spinners spin while the Tour de France is taking place. I don’t do much spinning through the year, so this event is a welcome prompt to get back to it. I’ve learned so much over the years of participating.

Natural Oatmeal yarn

This year I started off with a partially spun sample of natural Blue-Faced Leicester top that I got from Acme Fibres a couple of years ago. I started spinning it last fall, after the TdF ended. I only had about 33 grams of this fibre, so I decided to aim for a lace weight two ply yarn to make the most of it.

sample of BFL

This was the first time I’ve spun BFL. It’s so soft, and spins so easily. This is the 3/4 point of the spinning. The first half is wrapped around a paper quill, and the second half is in progress. I wrapped a piece of paper around the shaft of the spindle so that when the spinning was finished I could simply slide it off. This is a trick I learned from a fellow spinner last year as a way to avoid having to wind the singles into balls before plying. Another tip I picked up was to wrap a sample of the spun single around a bit of card stock to use as a reference while spinning. You can see it in the bottom right corner of the photo. It’s a very good way to make consistent yarn.

three-quarters finished

Next step was plying. I used a larger, heavier spindle for that (a 54 gram Picasso from Bosworth). I ran out of one single before the other, as you can see here. That was likely because I didn’t weigh the fibre after dividing it in half, and even more likely because my spinning still isn’t very consistent in thickness. To finish off the rest of that single, I made an Andean plying bracelet around my hand with it, and then joined the ends of the two singles together and spun on.

plying the BFL

Here is the finished yarn, wrapped around my small niddy-noddy. It’s approximately 95 metres of yarn.

yarn on niddy noddy

I finished spinning this on July 15, gave it a bath, and hung it to dry with some weight hanging on it to pull it straight. With nearly two weeks left in the TdF, I dug into my smallish stash of fibre and pulled out this pretty purple and pink BFL that I bought from Holiday Yarns when I was in Rhinebeck in 2010. I’ve been spinning it with a 43 gram Dervish spindle from Hound Design (also purchased from Acme Fibres). It’s looking pretty so far, and I’ve been having trouble putting it down.

purple pink BFL

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Where Has the Summer Gone?

So, the sewing room sorting and decluttering that I wrote about in my last post have been continuing since then. It’s almost finished now, with just a few things left to sort through. I’ve got most things back in the room, or in alternative storage spots, and I’m very happy with how it has worked out so far. I’ll post an update with photos when it’s all finished.

In the meantime, I have been doing all sorts of things. I finished knitting a pair of socks:

stripey-blotchy-socks_0007

I participated once again in the Tour de Fleece. I finished spinning the lovely blue Polwarth that I had started spinning in 2011’s Tour, and made some good progress on the Merino/Tencel blend.

TDF12-finish-line_03

Shortly after the Tour ended, the Ravellenic Games started on Ravelry. I joined the team from the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group, and entered into the WIPs Wrestling event. The WIP I chose to wrestle was a shawl I’d started way back in September of 2009 (details below). I had become so frustrated with trying to learn how to knit nupps that I’d put it away for years. I didn’t manage to finish it before the end of the closing ceremonies of the London Olympic Games, but I did make a lot of progress and hope to finish it soon.

Triangular-Summer-Shawl_05

In addition to these crafty things, I also did a lot of very tiring garden work, and spent some time helping my husband with a large project to fix up the garage.

Now I find myself itching to get back to quilting. I have a number of projects on the go, both traditional and arty, that I hope to get back to soon. I also have some ideas for new things I’d like to start on. As the summer winds down and fall approaches, my thoughts turn to getting back to a normal routine, including more creative time (and more blogging!).

Some details on the above projects:

Stripy Blotchy Socks:

Pattern: These are simple socks in stockinette, with an afterthought heel that I took from the Crystal Socklet pattern in the Spring and Summer 2012 issue of Knitty. It’s the first time I’ve knit an afterthought heel, which is worked after the main sock is finished. The benefit of knitting the sock this way is that the stripes in the self-striping yarn are not interrupted by working a typical heel as the sock is being knit. I like the crystal heel a lot, and will definitely use it again. It offers the extra room I seem to need to allow for my high instep.

Yarn: On Your Toes 4 Ply with Aloe Vera, by S.R. Kertzer (a self-striping fingering weight yarn)

Needle size: 2.25 mm

Spinning:

Polwarth: 115g of hand-dyed roving from Sheep and Spindle, which yielded about 157 m of 2-ply at about a sport weight.

Merino/Tencel: 113g of hand-dyed roving from Fiber Optic Yarns, in colourway Ruby Slippers Batik.

Triangular Summer Shawl:

Pattern: Triangular Summer Shawl, by Nancy Bush, from Knitted Lace of Estonia. More about nupps here. YouTube video with tips on knitting nupps here.

Yarn: Sliver Moon Farm lace weight merino in colourway Eh, What?

Needle size: 3.5 mm

Tour de Fleece 2011: The Slacker Version

I did the Tour de Fleece last year for the first time, and spun pretty much every day. In the process I managed to give myself a delightful case of tendonitis in my right elbow that lasted well into the winter (much credit for that goes to endless rounds of snow shovelling). I hadn’t touched my spindles since then. I was going to ignore the Tour this year, but then I gave in to peer pressure from my fellow spinners in the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group group on Ravelry and joined Team Bacon Cakewaffle once again.

My primary goals this time around are to get back into spinning, and not injure myself. Also, to eat bacon. So far I have succeeded on all points. I’m not spinning every day, but try to pick up a spindle and do a bit here and there when I can.

This photo shows my progress after my first day of spinning, which was technically Day 3 of the Tour. On the left is some hand-dyed blue Polwarth from Sheep and Spindle , on a small Bosworth spindle. On the right is a purple 50/50 Superwash Merino and Tencel blend from Fiber Optic Yarns that I bought last year at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. The colour is called Ruby Slippers BATIK. It’s on a Jesh spindle.

Blue Polwarth and Purple Merino/tencel blend

Today is Day 16 of the Tour. Since the above photo was taken, I’ve done a little spinning here and there – at home, at the local Timmie’s, and even at my quilt group meeting (they are very tolerant of my lack of quilting in their presence). Here is how far I’ve gotten:

Blue Polwarth, TDF day 16

I have 115 grams of this fibre. I think I’ve used up about a quarter of it. So far it’s been a dream to spin. I am planning a 2-ply that I suspect will end up as a lace weight, or a light fingering weight. I hope it ends up being enough for a small shawl.