Thursday, June 27, 2013

Preparation and Training

Saturday is the start of the Tour de Fleece or TdF. For those nonspinners out there, we will get you, it's only a matter of time... I mean, it's a super fun time where we spin along during the Tour de France. One of the best parts about it, as far as I'm concerned is the fact that you set your own goals. You can do whatever you'd like but you are encouraged to challenge yourself. For me, I love to use it as a time to strengthen my spinning skills and try to spin a little bit each day. I did go digging in the stash to find some things to set my sights on though.

Here are the main goals for the tour. Starting at the top: Cloudlover Merino in Peacock. This was a club colorway that a friend got and didn't love so I purchased it from her. It's been calling to me but I have no idea what it would like to be. To the right, Cloudlover Shetland in Decay. I love the Decay colorway and I got this last year at Shepherd's Harvest. I'm not sure about the Shetland base in this color so I also bought it on Polwarth this year. I feel like then it's okay to spin the Shetland and "use it up." I'm a little odd like that. The third braid is Zarzuela's Fibers Targhee in Emeralds. I really want this to be a traditional 3-ply because I think it would look amazing with those colors, subtly blending.
I also have one secret spinning project. I've already started it and it looks like this.

Exiting huh? No spoilers on this until it's done because it's a gift for a friend. It's going to (hopefully) be a lovely laceweight 2-ply when it's done though.
I have no delusions on finishing all these things, only that I'd like to work on them all if possible. I'd also love to spin something from my Into the Whirled stash finally so if I do miraculously finish all these things, then I can work on something from there.
I've been doing other things to get ready for the tour too. I glued the whorl back together that's been broken for over a year.

I can't believe how nice it looks, you can't even tell where unless you look very closely.

Don't worry, I was still using it, I just thought it was about time I actually fixed it.
I even sewed a spindle bag for my supported spindle I'm planning to use during the tour.

It's a 12-inch Russian Spindle made of Honduran Rosewood and I'm still getting used to it, it's my first Supported spindle ever so part of my goals are to get better with it during the tour. I cut the same size fabrics for the other box bags I've sewn, I just used a different zipper and sewed it the other way.
Here's a "regular" knitting project box bag.

Isn't that funny?
I've also got on my agenda to clean and oil the wheel very well so she is all ready to go and I'm "training" by trying to finish up a spin that's been in progress for a long time.

It's (surprise, surprise) Cloudlover 80 Merino/20 Silk. I think the colorway is named Ligeia but I can't tell for sure. It's all different shades of lovely purple and I want to knit it into an Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief when it's done.
The Tour de Fleece is really fun, you can join as many teams as you'd like, I'm on the Cloudlover team, the Supported Spindlers team and our local St. Cloud Knitters team. The very best part of the Tour de Fleece though? My amazing local spinners. We're taking the opportunity to have an all-day spinathon and potluck on the first day of the tour. Now I just need to figure out what I'm bringing as a dish to share and I think I'm ready for Touring.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Plurk Sock Swap Package

About the only good thing about Monday as far as I'm concerned is the mail comes. Sometimes that can be bad too if it's full of bills but sometimes you get something awesome!

Today I got my Plurk Sock Swap package. My awesome swap buddy Heather sent me some wonderful things. A purple drawstring knitting bag from Bright Light Crafts that even has pockets inside, a skein of Desert Vista Dyeworks Viso in Emeralds, Sapphires and Prince. I've never tried Desert Vista Dyeworks before and this 75% Superwash Merino/25% nylon yarn feels really nice. I can't wait to start knitting it. A really awesome bumper sticker that I have to find just the right place for (maybe on my spinning journal instead of my car) and some really pretty blue stitch markers. There's also a really nice card and some super cute cat post-its. She sent me my pattern through Ravelry and I got the Breaking Hearts Socks by Cristi H. Brockway. I can't wait to try it all out.
This whole experience has been so fun! I haven't done a swap like this before and I really enjoyed shopping for my swap partner and knowing that someone out there was shopping for me. Hopefully my partner will get her package soon too and I can send off her pattern then share what I tucked into her package.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Quenching the Craving

Once you become an experienced Knitter, Garter stitch becomes something new to you. Instead of being just a learning tool or even a staple in your Knitting diet, it becomes like junk food. You can love it and you can probably survive on it but eventually your brain is going to start begging for real food. For fruits and vegetables and complicated spices and nutrition. So many of the projects I've been knitting lately are garter stitch and I'm loving the ability to just zone out and knit, to read and knit or any number of other things but I was starting (I totally typed that as stitching.) to crave sustenance. Something bulkier, meatier. I was craving something complex. When I finished the Color Affection I couldn't resist any longer. I was craving something and garter stitch just couldn't quench it, neither could any of my other projects so I started digging through my Ravelry queue. It's gotten a little out of control so I refused to find something not in the queue. I looked through every single sock I had queued and finally settled on Lohengrin.
It's complicated and lovely and just what I was craving. Then I had to dig out yarn too of course and I finally settled on a skein of Malabrigo sock in color 854 Rayon Vert. In the skein it really looked very semisolid and I'm finding quite a bit of contrast now so I'm not sure that I love it but I need to get more rows into the chart to see if I like the way the stitches look before I decide.

It's very difficult to photograph, it's much more burgundy and less purple in person but it's just lovely and I love the feel of Malabrigo sock so I hope this works out.
The Plurk sock swap is done now, meaning I mailed off my package but she hasn't received it yet and I haven't received mine yet but I'm so excited for both of those things! I had so much fun choosing things for my swap buddy and since her favorite colors are out of my color comfort zone it was really a challenge sometimes too but a great challenge. I'm all nervous for her to love her package though and for me to love my package. Hopefully we'll find out soon!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

All the Finishing

It's been all finishing around here lately. I have been wanting to finish up some spinning projects that I'm in the middle of so I dug out the two ounces of rambouillet from Cloudlover that were still not spun up. The color is Maenad and the first two ounces turned out great! I got more than 350 yards of chain-plied yarn. I wanted to spin the second half the same way so I spun it all up as a single on one bobbin. It had been a good while since I spun the first half (like more than a year) so I would have liked to have it nearby to look at but I seem to have misplaced it. That's because I pulled the whole office/wool room apart so I could organize it but I haven't got it all put back together yet. It's still a disaster and now so is the living room.

This skein spun up pretty well and plied up into a lovely skein of about 220 yards. I'm not sure that it was split evenly so I'm still happy with that yardage. Now I really want to find the other skein though so I have them together.

I just love it. The colors are unusual together but they really work. This skein is a little bit overplied (which is normal for me with a chain-plied yarn because I don't want it to be too loose) so it needs a good wash and twack, I just haven't gotten that far yet.
I really forced myself to work on my Color Affection too because I was excited to have a finished shawl and I was so ready to stop working on it.

It paid off too because now it's done! I continued the short rows in the three-color stripes until all the stitches were worked and I decided the edging in the third color made it a little dark so I didn't want to knit any more of it and I bound off after knitting only an inch of the edging. It still needs a blocking too but I really like it. It's not as deep as I thought it would be but it's really long, soft and lovely and I can't wait until I can wrap up in it. It's far too warm for that now.

The stripes look great and I really do love it though. All this finishing just makes me happy and it makes me not feel so guilty about the fact that I started something new last night. You'll have to wait and see what that is though. For now I'm going to revel in the fact that these things are finished.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Focus, I Think

The last couple of days I've really been focusing on my Color Affection, trying to get it finished. I love it and I've really enjoyed knitting it but the rows are long again and I'm just emotionally done with it.
The three-color stripes in short rows don't go all the way across the length, there's a small section at the side where they don't cover it. I decided that I would keep going with the short rows since I have plenty of yarn left and finish off those last stitches. I'm really not sure why I decided to do that. Maybe because it feels more finished if I short-row all the stitches. Maybe because I'm punishing myself for some unknown wrong I did somewhere in my life.
Who can tell. Anyway, I've been trying to get myself to work on it but I keep getting discouraged and finding myself just holding it and not knitting it.

I still think the colors are really great and I love how they play together, I'm just ready for it to be done. They sure look cute in my Stitched by Jessalu Doctor Who bag though don't they?
I really had to squish the cakes to get them in there but they fit very well now that they're partly used.

I guess I know what my weekend plans are; get this bad boy done!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Weekend in Pictures

I had a great time at our family reunion weekend. It was at my cousin Hunter's house way out in the country so we had lots of room for everyone in RVs and campers and whatever else. There was some mud.

That's my brother rocking his 4-wheeler back and forth to try to get it out.
My cousin even got his larger two-seater really stuck.

My uncle brought up the tractor.

But that wasn't cutting it so my cousin's husband brought up his pickup and chain.

They did eventually get them out too!

Although somewhat dirtier than when they started.
My view looked like this.

It will not post straight. I didn't get all muddy this time, it was much more fun to watch. The food and drink flowed freely and the sleep was minimal but it was worth it!

There was even knitting by the bonfire, that may have just been me.
Some legal fireworks.
Including well-supervised sparklers.

And staying up late. I ended up watching the sun rise on Sunday morning!

It was beautiful and after I finished up a toe yesterday at home, with socks that smelled like delicious bonfire;

My May Vesper socks were done! The colorway is Pansies at the Phipps and they stripe almost perfectly!

The only difference is a tiny bit of lavender on one toe. I think I can live with that. I've got my June Vesper skein wound and started but I haven't decided if they'll be plain again or if I will do a pattern. I've got a few rounds of ribbing to go before I decide.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Quick Hello and Good-bye

I'm sorry I've been absent from the blog, I've spent a good deal of time with this girl;

This is my niece and while she is super fun and busy, she is not super great at creating knitting time. To be honest, it's totally worth it to spend the time with her though. As you can see she loves to do silly things like sit in the toy box. She did manage to "help" me finish my first Vesper Pansies at the Phipps sock though.

I always forget how much I love knitting plain stockinette socks. I can do almost anything while knitting them! Exclusions seem to be showering and doing the dishes. I can practically knit them in my sleep. This is the skein meant for May though so I'm falling a little bit behind. I have a family reunion that I'm leaving for in about half an hour that I am hoping to have a little knitting time while visiting and while in the vehicle (I'm not the driver) so I'm planning to pack another skein of sock yarn, this half a pair and the Color Affection. That should be enough right? If you don't think so, don't tell me, I don't want to know! Regularly scheduled blogging will commence next week.