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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Fiestaspun 

Today I spent my entire lunch break standing in my office, with my bobbin in a bottom desk drawer, fussing with this niddy noddy. I promise you, every time I use this thing I have to watch a video. I’ve watched quite a few videos to try to figure this thing out, but this video by Camaj Handspun Yarn is my absolute favorite.

I think the fussing was worth it though, don’t you? I am loving this yarn. I’ve named this colorwork”Fiestaspun” because the colors are a crazy party.  The ply is definitely imperfect. I tend to not get the hang of plying until I’m one-third of the way through the skein. The end is definitely a tighter and more uniform ply. This time around, I started to think about the plying process a bit more and want to try out different techniques. I love the yarn, but I think I liked it better as a single strand. When two-plying, I got even more variation in color which blended them together so much that some lost their vibrancy. I would like to learn to plan my spinning and plying a bit better for next time….but it makes my brain hurt.

It is crazy to think that it was a mere speck of beautiful, pure wool until I put my crazy colors on it and then spun it into a huge, imperfectly pretty and bold skein of yarn. I was in hate with this ball of fluff, then ended up being in love with it. You never know.
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Tour de Fleece – Week One

As a new spinner, I am participating for the first time in the Tour de Fleece. So far it’s a lot of fun. The gist of this 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 into groups, the first for WC Mercantile my LYS here in Texas. This is where I purchased my wheel so it’s really fun to celebrate my first Tour in this group. The second group I am in is a fiber company I recently discovered called Into the Whirled, super cute name right? I purchased my first fiber from them which arrived in the mail on Thursday so I’m going to start spinning that up next week.

The Tour de Fleece started during Fourth of July weekend and I didn’t have my Into the Whirled fiber yet (because I’m irresponsible and complete forgot about the Tour). So I started off my tour by spinning with my hand dyed fiber from yarn school. Again I’m super happy with how this has turned out. I thought that it was super ugly when I died it but the colors came out bright and beautiful and spent together or just a lot of fun.

I also reached a new benchmark in my fiber obsession. Last weekend I decided to bring my spinning wheel with me to the coffeeshop for knitting group and took a picture of the wheel of my car. I’ve now become that crazy fiber lady… and I’m okay with that.

Here’s some photos from my first week of the Tour de Fleece. I’m hoping to ply tonight so stay tuned!

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Just Call Me Spinderella

vroom vroom!

I have fantastic news. I finally bought my very own spinning wheel.

Watch out world!

danish

Treating my Knitty Noddy and wheel parts with Danish Oil, in dark walnut.

I’ve been saving since Yarn School last October so I could buy a wheel. Though I was horrible at it, I was completely hooked and wanted my very own wheel. Also, wheels are super pretty. With the help of some Christmas gift money from my folks and lots of saving, I finally had my funds to purchase an Ashford Kiwi 2 from my favorite local yarn shop WC Mercantile, during spring break.

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Spray painting my wheel a super gorgeous glossy red!

I bought it in March, spent lots of time treating it with oil and painting it. This past week was finally the first week where I could actually take it on a spin (pun completely intended…har, har)

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Almost done putting my Kiwi together!

It was very, very slow going.

I think I had to restart twelve times. Plus the flyer I had was a little different than those I had practiced on, so I had to Google it. Then there was lots of YouTube viewing, both when putting together my wheel and when trying to use it. Seriously though knitters, what did we do without YouTube? I think I made lots of shit up.

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Second attempt at spinning!

So now I’m on my second bobbin and things are looking alot better. I am slowly getting the hang of drafting, the importance of pre-drafting and my spinning is almost actually even! Who would have thought? My work was so crazy the first time around. I feel like I am doing better this time than at Yarn School, but I am pretty sure it is because of the awesome fiber. I am practicing on some fiber I won at Yarn School and it is pretty easy to draft and already came in some nice roving strips. I feel lucky.

I have alot to learn, so I’m reaching out to my knitters and spinners. Are there any resources or videos that you absolutely love?

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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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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.

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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.

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