Completing my First Tour de Fleece 

IMG_9851The Tour de Fleece. My biggest challenge yet.

Wait, that is probably too dramatic. It really was a challenge though. No, not because I was trudging up hills like Lance Armstrong. I was just sick. Painfully, feverish and tired with some sort of stomach bug that is still not completely over. But, just like all strong athletes, I overcame. I tired to sit up, take a big chug of Gatorade and got back on that wheel.

Dramatics aside, the gist of this event is to spin every day, you can join a few teams on Ravelry so that you can share photos and keep track of your progress throughout the Tour. I am super proud to say that I spun each and every day of the Tour, even on rest days, and even if it was just for 15 minutes in between nauseated spells. Those short times were much needed because without I know I would not have finished in time.

The first week was focused on finishing up my hand-dyed fiber I am calling Fiestaspun. I’ve talked about this fiber endlessly in posts past so I’m not going to go on about how much I love it. Just to say, I’m pretty proud of myself right now.

fiberFor the second week, I accepted a huge challenge: Finishing an entire braid of fiber PLUS spinning an entirely new fiber. All in one week.

I purchased a simply gorgeous braid of “Following the Butterflies” from Into The Whirled, which may just be my new favorite fiber company. Their fibers are beautiful and I lucked out because they seem to sell out very quickly, I caught them just in time! Plus, they included a sample of another fiber in the shipment, bonus love.

IMG_9505The fiber that I purchased is a blend of 80/20 Polworth/Silk. The silk was a challenge for me. I’ve been working on my ability to spin a lighter weight and it was super hard with the silk to spin so small. Plying was equally tough because the bits that I thought were passable broke upon trying to ply. So, no…no Lance Armstrong. Just an angry spin-learner working with a new fiber.

bobbinI also tried to plan my spinning and plying a bit better since I wasn’t 100% in love with my last ply….but it makes my brain hurt. I decided to split my braid in parts of equal color, but made a big mistake while trying to break up the blocks of color. Some of the bits I had were far to short to spin. Ooops. rookie. So I have a little bundle of tiny odds and ends that maybe I will learn how to needle felt with some day? Except that some are silk and they will need to be picked out. Oh bother.

IMG_9961Truly though, I am happier with this ply. Instead of multiple colors together, this one turned out a more balanced mix of two colors, sometimes only one. There are purples with blues, pinks with blues, purples with purples and blues with blues. It will be interesting to see how it knits up!FullSizeRender

I am also very proud to say that this was my first time using the niddy noddy without watching my video! I decided to go for it and it worked out! I also decided to soak all of my recent spins in a very nice smelling solution made by Soak. My bathroom only smelled like wet sheep slightly. I was told my yarn would blossom and I think it has.

This ended up being one of my favorites yarns. Totally worth the challenge of the silk fiber plus the challenge of spinning every day. I feel like I have become a better spinner because of the challenge. I thought for sure that I would be completely tired of spinning after the Tour de Fleece. But nope, I’m hopeless. I’ve been knitting a lot more because there was barely any time for knitting during the Tour. But I’ve also already put one of my hand-dyes on the wheel.

Right round, round, round.

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Pookah Visits Houston Fiber Fest 

Last month, my lil group of knitters were super happy to hear news of the first ever Houston Fiber Fest! Right in our amazing city! Since it was super close, we spent a quick day at the fest shopping our hearts out.

IMG_9959The Fest was at the Berry Center in Cypress, a community north of the city which is super close to me, so I was thrilled. The organizing group did a great job planning and had fiber artists yarn bomb the center outside. Plus, we knew we were in the right place! We had only wished there was a big sign of the super cute HFF logo for us to take a group picture next time. Hopefully next time! Next year, I must knit something for the bomb and can hopefully participate in the KAL of their adorable little mascot, Lester the Leicester.

For the inaugural event, I think they did a simply amazing job. There were so many fiber lovers in attendance, a great mix of vendors and lots of pretty things to squish. I think we looped that event center twelve times before going to lunch only to return for a few more loops before making our purchases.

Which brings us to the important bits, the shopping. I wish I had more money to spend because there was so much that I loved. My favorite shop was an easy pick. I absolutely fell in love with the Park Avenue Yarns purchasing choices. So many interesting yarn choices, super cute examples of work, patterns and friendly staff. There, I purchased the most gorgeous skein of yarn I’ve seen! It is Spun Right Round Squish DK in colorweight Escape From Prison. Isn’t that name just the best? I’m thinking a sweet winter hat would be perfect with this.

My other purchase was from my favorite local knitting store, WC Mercantile, who had a booth at the Fest. I had seen a Facebook post of their gorgeous dyed fibers and knew that I wanted to purchase one to alleviate my new addiction. I chose a stunning teal/grey braid in BFL, which is easily becoming my favorite fiber to spin.  I cannot wait to get my hands on this. I was in the middle of Tour de Fleece so already had my hands full. Interestingly, I bought it because I thought I didn’t have anything like it in color. Then when I got home, I realized it went perfectly with the fiber on my wheel at that moment. Which is perfect because I feel like I can do something amazing with the two together.

We hung out at the Fest for a little while, but the room was actually so packed there was not much room to sit and knit. A very impressive turnout, which I hope means the Fest will continue for years to come and will grow in size.  I am so glad to have something like this locally and I cannot wait until next years Fest.

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Winter Trips & Knits

Today I am looking out the window at a rainy, cold Texas winter day. I feel lucky that we are south enough to not be experiencing the scary winter storm in north Texas. Thankfully, last week I had a short reprieve from the 30-degree temps with a trip to Corpus Christi.

The first thing this former Californian did was run to the ocean. During my three days in Corpus, I walked the beach every chance I had. It was far too chilly to get into the water, but I touched it just for good measure. During one of my walks, I found the “Surfing Jesus” sculpture and saw two sweet nuns reading while gazing at the water. It was one of the most serene moments I’ve seen.

I was in Corpus for work conference, but during the last day of our trip, my guy and I did a little tour of the tourist attractions in Corpus. I pretended to captain the WWII aircraft carrier USS Lexington, aka “Lady Lex” and fed stingrays at the Texas State Aquarium. I’m fairly certain one of the stingrays was professing its undying love for me…or it was hungry. Hard to tell.

All the while, I was knitting my Madeira which looks exactly like it did last time I snapped a picture because I’m fairly certain it will take half of my lifetime to knit this sweater. Can someone tell those nuns to pray for me?

I jest. This can be a very relaxing knit right now because I just k1,p1 until my arms want to fall off. I’m actually almost done with the waistband, only half an inch left…

Which will likely take me until the end of March.

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Picking Up Where I Left Off

My second HUGE WIP for my 2015 Crafting Goals?

The Hibernating Vest!

To rehash:

On our trip in 2013 to Dallas Fiber Fest, we stopped at the mecca of yarn for my little group, MadTosh. There, I bough a beautiful pattern for a Clustered Vest which I am so in love with. My guy bought me gift certificates with which I bought the most amazing skeins of MadTosh Glazed Pecan and I knit maybe four inches and …. yeah. Have I said that I am the worst? I love everything this project, why has it sat for almost TWO YEARS?? Oh yea, because it’s clothes and I have the attention span of a gnat (do they have attention spans?).

Anyway, I’m totally going to at least knit like one more inch of this during 2015.

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I am happy to report that I have somehow figured out where I was in this knit after only taking out an inch or so. This is huge. When I opened the bag this knit was snoring in, I found out that I gave up on this knit so hard that I actually took the interchangeable needles off, put stoppers on and moved on to another project. With the same needles.

That’s some hard-core not caring.

Well I care now. This pattern is beautiful.

And I already knit like an inch or two beyond what I took out, so take that self-effacing crafting goals.

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All Wrapped Up

Isn’t a blanket and a good book the perfect gift? That is pretty much my happy place.

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Um, can we talk about the wrapping paper I found in the dollar section at Target. Yup, it says Hooray! Could be more perfect.

As you can probably guess, my first knit of 2015 is wrapped and ready to be gifted. The Chevron Baby Blanket(te) has been seamed, blocked and folded. I think a long-term goal of mine may be to make a me-sized Chevron Blanket because I really like this pattern.

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Doesn't it look cozy?!

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That Stash

 

Babies. It seems like everyone in my life is having them right now. Which means lots of knitting. I love knitting for babies, using the softest yarns, bright fun colors and making teeny tiny things. Plus, it’s pretty awesome if you get a “oooooh, you made that?!” at the baby shower.

First up for my season of baby knitting is the blanket. This one is a tiny blanket(te), like a receiving blanket. Only because I just don’t have enough time. I took the Chevron Baby Blanket pattern from Espace Tricot and modified it a tiny bit to make it smaller, casting on 73 stitches instead. It’s not perfect but it’s manageable. This pattern is amazing. I followed a similar color scheme for the baby girl. But the best thing about this knit? All from the stash. It’s small enough where I can use bits of stash baby yarn. Gotta love that.

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2015 Crafting Goals

In the past, I believed in new year’s resolutions. They sometimes worked, most of the time they didn’t. I always have lofty goals. I’m a dreamer. I want to learn something new each day. I want to make so many things – everything. I want to go everywhere and find it depressing to imagine I likely will not be able to visit every continent. I really should be rich.

And because I want it allmy “to-read” list is massive and I skip around from project to project, idea to idea. I have a “to-do” list for each day that is usually too long for a normal human and lots of things get snoozed.

But I don’t get stressed about it. I value my down time greatly. I don’t take work home with me. I strive to make it home to spend quality time with my guy. I love television.

Thankfully my hobbies let me relax and spent lots of time with my Netflix queue while I am being productive.

So instead of resolutions, I have knitting goals.

Last year was all about the accessories. This year will focus on very big hurdle for me: clothes.

I have a knitting problem. Like I said, I want to make everything so I start things, forget about some, finish others and give up on the worst. This is why I knit little things. I have no patience. I have started a knitting item of clothing at least twice in the past and they sit there, unfinished to this day. So this year will be a great test. If I can finish any one of these planned projects I’d say my year was a success!

1. Group KAL Madeira Grape Jelly merino/tencel

So this one has the greatest chance of being completed and that is only because of my friends. My amazing knitting group decided to continue with our KAL (knit-a-long) tradition that we started last year. So this years 2nd Annual (I think we need a name?) KAL is the Madeira, a beautiful bitch of a beast.

Since 2 needles and lace-weight yarn is supposed to cover me? In a year? Oh boy. I’ve already been knitting for about two weeks and I swear I only have an inch done. This is going to require lots of yelling. You will undoubtedly hear lots about this in upcoming posts.

madeira

2. The Hibernating Vest

So hi…I’m the worst. On our trip in 2013 to Dallas Fiber Fest, we stopped at the mecca of yarn for my little group, MadTosh. There, I bough a beautiful pattern for a Clustered Vest which I am so in love with. My guy bought me gift certificates with which I bought the most amazing skeins of MadTosh Glazed Pecan and I knit maybe four inches and …. yeah. Have I said that I am the worst? I love everything this project, why has it sat for almost TWO YEARS?? Oh yea, because it’s clothes and I have the attention span of a gnat (do they have attention spans?).

Anyway, I’m totally going to at least knit like one more inch of this during 2015.

clustered vest wip

3. The Dayman

I love Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It is in appropriate, at times disgusting and always makes me laugh tears. My favorite episode is The Nightman Cometh. In it, the cast stages the most ridiculous musical that Charlie has penned about his childhood. It is horrible and amazing and I love to sing the hit tune from the musical.

Finding a cross-stitch pattern featuring the song lyrics in illustration was like finding an mint chocolate chip ice cream cone at the end of a rainbow.

Purple Hippo Stitches on Etsy is one of my favorite Etsy shops for really fun cross-stitch patterns. My sister gifted me a kit of theirs for Christmas a few years back and it got me hooked. I started The Dayman in the new year and hope I can finish this by December.

the dayman

4. Striped Chevron Scarf

I’ve made this intricate scarf before but not the stripey version so I am very excited about this. I’m knitting it with two beautiful yarns that I absolutely adore. I’m about halfway through with this scarf so you’ll be learning more about the yarns soon!

striped chevron scarf

5. Save money for my spinning wheel

So I tried my hand at spinning back in the fall when we attended the Harveyville School for the super rad fiber person. I was pretty terrible at it. That, of course, will not stop me. One of my Christmas gifts this year was some cash money to save up for my very own wheel. My price-point is quite low but I know that I will still get a fabulous wheel. I’ve been eyeballing the Ashford Kiwi 2 that I can buy at my local yarn store. I’m hoping that I will have the funds by March! Frightening!

ashford kiwi

6. Gifts for everyone I love

I had a great time knitting hats, scarves and socks for my family and friends this year and I will never stop. I’m not quite sure what I will be making just yet, it just usually comes up. I would like to try more crochet this year, so maybe some fun plush toys will show up on my blog this year, or even tiny crocheted earrings. I guess you will have to wait and see….

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