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.

IMG_6056

Advertisements

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….

20131120-204055.jpg

Yarn School, Part Three. Spinderella

This week I’m recapping my amazing trip to Yarn School in Harveyville back in October. Day Two was all about my adventures in the dye lab.

Day Three = Spinderella

Let me clear about one thing. I am not good at this.

I have to say, the spinning classes are what I was most nervous and excited for about Yarn School. Let’s just say that I DO NOT need another hobby. But I want one. As such, I was hopeful I would catch on quickly.

That did not happen.

But, as with most things in life, they take practice. I was not an amazing knitter, a proficient cross-stitcher or mediocre crocheter (meh?) the first time I tried.

Well, I am no spinning prodigy either.

drop spindlingI started my day drop-spindling like it’s hot. Some poor soul tried to teach me this back in San Diego and I was super happy to find my old spindle to bring with me to scool. I’ve got this down. Drop-spindling is actually pretty fun, but it would take me approximately 52 years to spin my ever-growing, six pounds of fiber that I now have as a result of this trip. The spinning wheel is much faster, more efficient and a whole faster. Which makes it much more intimidating. Just knowing where to put what was hard enough. After two days of this, I still don’t think I could tell you how to thread one of these.

spin timeI first tried the ancient looking Sleeping Beauty wheel. While gorgeous, we were not best friends. I kept slipping and could not find a comfortable position where I could keep the wheel going and not fly off my chair. My smile in this photo hides the fact that I have no clue what I am doing. In fact, I’m pretty sure my fiber flew off and there were a bunch of curses after I posed for this.

spinsterThen I moved to another one pedal, but more modern wheel. I wish I could remember the types I used, but one part of this school that I loved is that you had the opportunity to try different wheels and all of the pro-spinners there were happy to tell you about the different type of wheels they use. I was much better with the modern-type wheel (the lighter-colored wood ones in the above photos) and was soon filling up one meager bobbin.

It was inconsistent, imperfect, a bit of a mess and it was beautiful.

spun

 

I learned how to ply my two bobbins together to create one crazy skein of yarn. I wound it and am more than proud of my first skein than you could imagine. I don’t even think I can knit it into anything, I just want to hang it with a large, neon sign that says “I MADE THIS!”my handspun

I am now eager to have my new hobby and am actively saving for my very own wheel. I found a yarn shop near me that sells them, has classes and can help me like the toddler I am.

Again, If you are interested in learning how to dye fiber, spin or already know how to do both, this is the place for you. Check it out: The Harveyville Project.

20131120-204055.jpg

 

 

Yarn School, Part Two. I’m Dye-ing!

lockersToday I’m recapping my amazing trip to Yarn School in Harveyville back in October.

Day Two = I’m Dye-ing!

On the first full day of Yarn School, we started in the Dye Lab. We had lockers stuffed with goodies, including what seemed like forty pounds of fiber, ranging from merino, 100% wool, Falkland and more. I was a bit overwhelmed because I had never tried to dye wool and I was certain I was going to mess it up.

Thankfully we had an amazing teacher, Adrian Bizilia from Hello Yarn (we also got some of her amazing hand-dyed fiber in our goody bag, hello!). Plus we had binders of information that we could take home when we decide to get crazy in our garages.

How’d this go? Let’s just say that I have a problem with measurements. I never lasted in Chemistry class and to this day I tend to “eyeball it” with recipes (which turn out very badly). I’m kind of a mess. I did the same at dye lab – but it came from an artsy place deep in my soul so I just went for it. That is typically my mantra in life, just close your eyes and go for it (not the best advice for driving though). I was pretty pleased with myself. Even the fiber that I thought was going to be a disaster actually wasn’t – it was kind of my favorite. My advice to you when you hand-dye? Just try it. Don’t panic.

dye timeThe first technique we tried was the crock pot technique. I will call this my “Crock Pot” fiber from now on. My goal with this was to mix all of the colors that I absolutely adore into one fiber. Not a lofty goal at all. I mixed bright red and deep purple hues, layering vermillion, purple, russet and cherry red. Then we turned the crock pot on low and cooked it.  I was officially having a Breaking Bad moment. I took a peek and it was glorious.

Then I got kind of too confident. And shit got real.

Bad idea. We next learned how to hand-paint yarn, a technique I much prefer. But Pookah got creative and mixed a bunch of random things, red, maybe some tan, some teal, a green? I was working off of an inspiration picture that I brought with me but when I applied the colors from it onto my yarn it looked like country western barf. I was not good at this, stick with simplicity Pookah. I named this fiber “Failure”. Turns out, this may be my favorite yarn of the bunch. After you cook it (microwave it, in our case), the colors are completely different. I just needed a bit more faith in myself. The name of the will stay as “Failure” – just because we need to realize that sometime beautiful things come from your mistakes.

The next two yarns were also hand-painted, but I was alot happier with them. One I called my “Brilliant Blues” goes from light to dark in an ombre effect. The next, what I called my “Pumpkin”, which literally included a dye color called pumpkin, transitioned burnt orange, scarlet, chestnut and golden yellow. This was the one I was most excited about.

Dye LabAfter we got all Breaking Bad and cooked our yarns, assistants laid them out to dry above the school gym, which was school central for us. All of our stinky, colorful yarns floating above our heads was something I will never forget (though I was so entranced I forgot to take a photo).

We then took a caravan to a local ranch full of alpacas, where we had a local meal of fresh garden tomato soup and salad and lunched with the alpacas. My friend Keena and I made friends with the locals (those sweet alpacas!).

alpaca dayHere, I made my next yarn purchase of the trip, some 100% alpaca loveliness, so pure that there’s still bits of hay in it. It’s so soft that I kind of just want to hug it and imagine those big, brown alpaca eyes.

After the alpaca trip, I got to watch other spin yarn on their wheels and be completely intimated. Tomorrow I would – quite literally – take one for a spin. In the meantime, I practiced my drop spindle, learned how to use the hand carding machine, and admired all of our dyed fiber hanging from the gymnasium rafters.

Speaking of, here is a picture of my hand-dyed yarn! Look at all of the pretty colors! From left to right: Pumpkin, Failure, Crock Pot, Brilliant Blues. Um, “I MADE THIS!!!,” she screamed – loudly.

fiber dyed

This day was exhausting, informative and full of color. I was covered in fiber and pretty darn happy about it. Next up, this spinster takes a wheel for a spin. Watch your fingers.

Interested in learning more about The Harveyville Project? Click that link, yo.

20131120-204055.jpg

Yarn School, Part One

So wow. Alot of knitting has happened since I last posted (don’t be mad at me?)! My first post this week will be about the most fantastic crafting experience ever, Yarn School. Yarn School is a sweet little school in rural Harveyville Kansas, where crazy knit-folk – like me – get together to create. I loved it. This was my first year attending, but lots of the students have been going for years. If you are interested in learning how to dye fiber, spin or already know how to do both, this is the place for you. Check it out: The Harveyville Project.

The first part of my post will be all about getting there, which was full of delicious grub, colorful yarn stores and endless corn fields. My friends and I set out late in the evening for a long trek to Kansas – like a 12 hour kind of trek. So what else do we have to do besides knit, grub on road trip snacks (do NOT buy those Cappuccino Lays Potato Chips), and search for local yarn stores?

The first stop was two former Californians obssession, In-n-Out Burger – because we obsess over hunting it down wherever we can. Mmmmm. But in the morning, we headed directly to Norman, Oklahoma and stopped for a coffee at the most amazing coffee shop, Gray Owl Coffee. This is a magical little place where the coffee was amaze, origami and bicycles hung from ceiling panes and the local paper let us know that we were in the right place.Norman Coffee Shop

After some caffeine and a chocolate pumpkin muffin, we embarked on our shopping missions. Like good little knitters, we had done our research and knew that L&B Yarn Co. was on the top of our list. This place had a billboard on the highway. That takes some balls (of yarn, of course).

Norman

L&B Yarn, wonderful. It is the perfect size for a knitting store. We weren’t overwhelmed by shelves overflowing with yarn, there were super cute couches, the staff was so friendly and interested in us and our projects. I purchased a skein of Socks That Rock in colorway Farmhouse, but not after carrying around (aka hugging) two skeins that I was trying to decide between. I had budgeted myself on this trip and knew I should only get one. I decided on Farmhouse (left) and was super suprised to find Gnome on the Range (right) in my Christmas gift from knitter friend Nicole, who saw me agonizing over which to buy. She rocks (like the socks do). I highly recommend L&B. Plus, we met our first Yarn School friend there, Debra, a knitter also from Texas.

We stopped at another knit store and had some ice cream at Braums. We knew we got to Kansas when we saw all of the corn.

cornWe arrived at Harveyville grinning ear-to ear. We were welcomed by a stone schoolhouse that reminded of my midwestern youth, frolicking through decades-old school buildings. I was nostalgic, excited/nervous and extremely happy. Harveyville school is full of strange knick-nacks from the past, 1950s anatomy dolls, old basketball trophies, hair school busts… and now approximately 30 loud, chatty knitters/spinners. It was glorious.

Arrival

Kansas is just, wow.  The endless cornfields, the bright blue skies which fade into brilliant rainbows the evening, awaking to the chickens jabbering and the sheep trying to ignore me. I want this to be my life!

Up next you will get to hear all about my dye-lab day. Also know as “i was never that good at chemistry” day.

20131120-204055.jpg

Crap Crocheter

20140806-160020-57620446.jpgWell that didn’t turn out so well. Does anyone else note the lopsided side of my granny square (hint, it is on the right). Gulp.

I really am a crap crocheter. I just don’t have the troubleshooting capabilities in crochet as I do with knit. I am hoping to crochet more so that I become better. It’s a long, bumpy road though, you see.

For Christmas this year, I have decided to make sweet little dishcloths and scrubbers for my grandmother. I have purchased sweet spring colors: purples, light greens and blues and plan to make her a whole set, maybe five or six in total. This was supposed to be the first one, one that looks like a pretty granny square.

I am so not giving my granny that horrid square though!

I think I need to start out with an easier pattern.

While I’m here, who has joined me on Facebook? Have you?

Pookah Knits

Promote Your Page Too

 

20131120-204055.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapping Up

20140804-124013-45613836.jpgGuess what?

My Color Affection wrap is all seamed up and ready for soaking in my new knit wash. Yippee! Almost ready to wrap this wrap! (wah, wah..corny jokes).

It is has been a long journey and I am ready to wear this beast! Too bad it is too hot in the middle of the summer…Good job self!

If you will refrain from noticing, I’m not too pleased with those bunchy ends. The reason for this is that I pulled too tightly on those rows where I switched from color to color. According to my knit pal who is way better researched than I (and a way better knitter too!), Ravelry users advised that you should slip your last stitches in order to lessen the pucker-iness of the knit. I was so far along (a.k.a. too low on cares) by the time I heard this advice and I wish I would have done the same! Heed the advice knitters!

I’m hoping the pucker-iness will go away a bit with some good stretching during the blocking process. Now I just have to find a tub large enough to soak it in and a way to keep my cat off of it while it is drying, stabbed to my foam blocking board.

20131120-204055.jpg