Wait, when did June end?

There really is a Toshie picture for every possible situation.

There really is a Toshie picture for every possible situation.

This is the question I have been asking myself for the past week.  June has been an absolutely crazy month, first I moved my apartment, then two weeks later we moved the office.  Both these moves happened during the hottest, humid-est days we’ve had in a very long time.  It made for some very long days and some very early evenings.

Gifts from Muskoka I took home to Parry Sound for the long weekend.

Gifts from Muskoka I took home to Parry Sound for the long weekend.

Also, I haven’t finished anything (knitting or spinning-wise) in ages.  I’m hitting the part of the year where my knitting drive is at its lowest and I’m in the middle of a bunch of really long projects.

However, I did finally increase to the 576 stitch round on Carla’s wedding veil/pi shawl and so I figure I’m about 1/3 of the way done the project. It’s enjoyable knitting (and the 100% silk yarn is really nice) but I really want things to be perfect so I really have to focus on it. Also each round takes about an hour to complete at this stage.  While I have till end of September to finish it, I have to knit myself a shawl for the occasion and I really don’t like leaving things to last minute.

But June (and early July?!?) have brought all sorts of fun, on top of all the trouble.

On June 20th I got a chance to take a weaving workshop with one of the best teachers around, Jette Vandermeiden. Jette is a well known member of the weaving community and an excellent instructor.   The workshop was designed to teach Summer & Winter, a block weaving technique, but I used it as multi-harness weaving 101.  I’m eternally thankful to my fellow guild members who lent me a guild loom, loaned me a warping mill, taught me how to wind a warp, then how to warp the loom.

Summer & Winter block weaving from the workshop.

Summer & Winter block weaving from the workshop.

Jette was great to learn from, she not only taught (or re-taught) us how to hold our shuttles, deal with our selveges, but also the theory behind block weaves so that we can not only weave what she brought for us, but other block weaves.

I was interested in the sampler but I wanted to get more of a handle on weaving in general and thanks to the Craftsy class “Floor Loom Weaving with Janet Dawson” I have a whole bunch of twill drafts so I decided to cut off my Summer & Winter sample and re-threaded for a twill and keep playing.

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I tried out a few different patterns but found that I really enjoyed the look of a 3/1 Point Twill so I kept playing with that technique.

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But it hasn’t been all weaving.  Yesterday, I made my way to the Rosseau Market, which is an amazing market with farmers and hand crafters and bakers and my favorite booth, Pondering Rock Farm.

Pondering Rock Farms

Pondering Rock Farm is the family farm for the Darlingtons and produce yarn/fluff, handknit socks, honey and amazing nature photography.  Heather is the one who manages the sheep and yarn and is a wonderful shepherd, spinner, knitter and fellow guild member.  I stocked up on some yarn and fluff from her sheep.

Pondering Rock Treats

The yarn is a worsted-y weight wool/alpaca (75%/25%) blend that comes from a sheep named Nipper, who is grey but blended with a tan/fawn alpaca.  I also got 200g of that fleck-y creamy coat from Angel, one of Heather’s sheep who died in the spring, there are little flecks of grey and dark brown in her cream coat.  The last bundle of fluff (400g worth) is from Mocha, which is a great description for his coat.  My plan is to spin it into a fingering weight yarn and use it for a Brooklyn Tweed pattern in place of Loft.

Booth 1 Booth 2

There were Unfortunately Heather’s booth isn’t quite as jampacked with fantastic wools as in past years, as she had much of her fleece at Belle Valle when they had the fire.  She lost a huge portion of her 2011 shearing she was telling me that she will be pretty well wiped out by the end of the season.  Although she is already talking about next year’s blends, including a wool/alpaca blend lace (well light fingering/heavy lace) that will be a great substitute for Loft.

So that should have us pretty well caught up to the present, hopefully I will be getting a few more things done in the next month.

Tour de What?

So, here we are more than a week into the Tour de Fleece and I have spun ….

Pretty much nothing.

This is less than an ounce of fiber … yeah not exactly volume.

While last year’s tour had me totally engaged, this year I have zero interest in spinning.  Maybe it’s my current work schedule that takes two perfectly good hours out of my day, (well more than that because I take a lunch and work a slightly longer day, making my work day an hour longer than my last job), maybe its the really interesting knitting projects I want to get done before the Ravellenics, maybe I just don’t want to spin right now.

I think spinning is a Fall winter endeavor for me, I don’t know but I seem to engage with it better when the weather is colder and the evenings are dark or something.  To me its something to be done fireside, not poolside.

But knitting, I have been having a fantastic run with knitting.  Between the time I write this post (1:30pm) and when I will probably get around to posting it, (after dinner) I will be finished up a pair of socks, my July socks, Don’t Blink.

So I did finish the socks, and they are awesome.

Also, I’m more than halfway through my Spectra scarf and my Secrets of Change shawl.  If I time this right I will only have my purse socks and the Muir shawl left on my needles on July 27th when it’s time to cast on for the Ravellenics (formerly the Ravelypmics). Then I can just work on these long term projects, and weaving before the mass cast on, because I want to have a clean queue so I can get through some serious knitting during the Ravellenics.

Summer is getting to be pretty nice here in Parry Sound, it is much easier to knit and watch the sunset than spin and watch the sunset.

So don’t weep for me Tour de Fleece, I’m having a very fibery July, and maybe I will dedicate November to spinning, a much better month to be at my wheel.

Ready, Set, Spin

So today marks the start of the Tour de Fleece, and annual spinning challenge that concedes with the Tour de France.  I participated last year and found that keeping up with teams took more time than the actual spinning, and with my new job (and stupid commute) I want to save as much time for knitting, spinning and weaving as possible, so I’m not participating in the Rav group, but I do have some goals for the three weeks of the Tour.


Goal:

  • To be able to spin the yarn that I set out to spin (rather than ending up with the yarn that the wheel wants to make)

It seems like the best way to meet this goal is to spin a whole bunch of fluff that I have no plans for.  Part of my issue is that I feel like everything I spin has to be useable, that if not then the fluff is wasted, and I don’t want to waste my fluff so I sometimes don’t spin what I have for fear of ruining it.  So I have pulled out a few different batts, braids and fleece that are already in handy sample size (so no worries about not being able to knit with it) or I’m not totally in love with but still really like to get into and not be fearful while spinning and take some chances.

So I guess there is a second goal of the TdF, spend enough time spinning to meet my first goal.  To that end I aim to spin at least 10 minutes a day, with a minimum of 30 minutes of spinning on days I don’t go to work.  This should give me the time to actually do some spinning, before the Ravellenic Games (formerly the Ravelympics) and knitting take over for the end of July and into August.

So with the perfect weather I may be taking my spinning wheel outside for the rest of the weekend and seeing how far I can get before Tuesday (thanks to Canada Day tomorrow I have a four day weekend.

TdF: Finish Line

So, I crossed the finish line of the Tour, with three yarns, one short and fluffy, one firm and silky, and a spindle spun yarn.

My Three TdF Yarns

As a reminder, here were my goals:

  • To spin every day, for a minimum of 10 minutes
  • To spin one yarn with a pattern in mind, which means being intentional about my spinning technique, yarn weight and trying to aim for specific lengths.
  • To spin some silk successfully
  • To spin at least one yarn:
    -Long Draw
    -From the Fold
    -Chain Plyed
  •  To spin with intention, and make sure that no matter what I enjoy the activity
So I succeeded at a few things, I enjoyed all my spinning during the Tour, and I spun some silk on a spindle. I also spun most days, and I have learned how calming I find spinning and how helpful it can be at dealing with stress.

My Golding Spindle and a Tussah Silk Sample

I have been much more successful in the week following the tour than I was during the whole tour. I spun some  semi-woolen/long-draw singles, which I haven’t chain-plyed yet, also I  have silk singles spun on my wheel, soon to be plyed.

Three Bobbins Full: Two Silk and one BFL

I have even started my first art yarn, a corespun using crochet cotton and my Golding Ring Spindle to manage the core (something that was keeping me away from corespun yarns).

My First Intentional Art Yarn: well at least one that I didn't dread making.

I look forward to next year’s Tour, but I have a hard time putting aside my knitting and crochet projects to spin, so I think I need to clear my calendar so I have a clear run at my spinning.

TdF: Week 2

So I am totally failing at the Tour de Fleece.  Never mind all those lofty goals I set, I am finding it challenging to spin every day, I didn’t spin at all on Monday or Tuesday. Never mind that I fell into bed at 9pm both nights, but I could not even bring myself to look at my wheel.

The reason I was so exhausted was that I helped out at the Angry Seagull 24-hour adventure race that happened in my town.  I was responsible for CheckPoint 7, which means I got a text at 2:30am on Sunday to get out to a spot about 5km south of town and sit there till noon waiting on teams.

 

My 2oz Golding Spindle with a Tussah Silk Sample from Gale's Art

I did get some spinning done, imagine the strange looks you get when you are sitting in the back of your car, looking like you woke up at 2:30 and have a spindle going.

I managed to spin and ply a small sample of tussah silk that I got from Gale at Gale’s Art back in the fall.

The three finished bobbins of Bohoknitterchic Merino/Silk that I have been working on for a week now.

Since Wednesday I have perked up on my spinning, first because a box of goodies I ordered from Gale’s Art back during the Postal Strike finally arrived and yesterday the Sliding Hook Flyer and Lazy Kate I ordered arrived.  I bribed myself that I can’t start anything with the new flyer until I finish up the singles of the Bohoknitterchic Merino/Silk that I have been working on for a week now.  So Thursday night I managed to get halfway through the second (of three) bobbins of singles.  I will use the new flyer to ply because the bobbins are so wonderfully large.

Between my 8 new large bobbins and the 4 old smaller bobbins, I now have the ability to get into lots of trouble.

The TdF is really poorly timed for me, as someone who works in recreational trail management, I spend most days in the summer either outside doing trail maintenance or figuring out what sort of work needs to be done next.  Also, it is currently the nicest and busiest time of the year in Parry Sound, with all sorts of activities from classical music festivals to dragon boat races.

However, I move on to week three of the Tour and it is time to see whether I will crash and burn any worse than the riders this year.

TdF: Week 1

 

Friday, July 1: Clean & Polish Wheel, New Drive Band (installed correctly)

 

Saturday, Day 1: 1hr -- Spun and plied a sample from Bohoknitterchic

 

Sunday, Day 2: 2hrs -- Spun and plied a batt from FiberFancy, Cherries & Chocolate. A bulky, woolen-spun, 2ply yarn, around 60yds and 57g.

 

Monday, Day 3: 30 min -- Started on Raspberry Tart, a 4oz Merino/Silk braid from Bohoknitterchic

 

Tuesday, Day 4: 30min - Continued on with Raspberry Tart

Wednesday, Day 5: 1hr - More than halfway through the first bobbin (I am doing a 3ply)

Thursday, Day 6: 10min - I was at a board meeting all evening, so here is a neat plant I saw while eating my dinner beside a lake before my meeting.

 

Friday, Day 7: 2min Working in the early evening and then binding off a cowl (Thought it would only take an hour, instead it took three) so here is another picture from Doe Lake

 

I have an busy weekend planned, so I am not sure how much spinning I will get to do, but I have my spindles prepped in case of travel.

 

 

Tour de Fleece: Start Line

So having spun for about 11 months now, 6 months on my wheel, the Tour de Fleece (TdF) seems like an ideal challenge.  The Tour de Fleece is a group on Ravelry who have challenged themselves to spin for the entirety of the Tour de France, which runs from July 2nd to 24th. The challenged started in 2006 and this year there are thousands of people particpating across the world.

The idea, is to have a giant, long, spin-a-long where everyone gets to challenge themselves in different ways.  Some people give themselves volume requirements (as in I am going to spin 3lbs of fiber), others challenge themselves to making really thin yarns, or seeing how much yarn they can spin (as in I want to spin 10km of yarn) or using a certain technique (art yarns, chain plys, singles) , while others challenge themselves to spin every day.

My TdF Stash - With fiber from Bohoknitterchic, FiberFancy, Gale's Art (all Phatties) and Fleece Artist and yes, there is a orangey, red theme to my Tour

This year I am joining Team Rookies (because it is my first year in the Tour), Team Ashford (because I will be spinning on my Ashford Traveller) and Team Phattie, (as pretty much all my fiber is from Phat Fiber artists).

So my challenges for the Tour are:

  • To spin every day, for a minimum of 10 minutes
  • To spin one yarn with a pattern in mind, which means being intentional about my spinning technique, yarn weight and trying to aim for specific lengths.
  • To spin some silk successfully
  • To spin at least one yarn:
    -Long Draw
    -From the Fold
    -Chain Plyed
  •  To spin with intention, and make sure that no matter what I enjoy the activity
Thankfully I have friday, Canada Day, off so I can get the fantastic ViolaViola BFL off the wheel and I will be ready to go for the Tour starting on Saturday.