Finish Line to Starting Line

I finished my spinning for the Tour de Fleece with a little time to spare.  I didn’t want to go too crazy with the spinning since I’m participating in what one of my online knitting groups (Friends of Abby’s Yarns) is calling the Masochism Tango where whatever you spun during the Tour de Fleece gets knit into something during the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games.  Since one of the things I spun was a skein of laceweight singles with a total of 864 yards, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me in the knitting department.

So, the final totals at my Tour de Fleece finish line are
1. (Top) Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – August 2011 – Falkland – Change, 3-ply, sport weight, 234 yards
2. (Bottom) Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – December 2012 – Superwash Corriedale – David’s Gift, singles, laceweight, 864 yards

Plans are still the same for the knitting up as I posted at the beginning of the Tour de Fleece: the 3-ply Falkland will become the Autumn Vines Beret, and the laceweight SW Corriedale will become a Citron shawl.

I cast on the beret Friday evening.  If I had been thinking ahead I would have had the yarn balled up and ready to go to cast on while riding the bus home from work that afternoon.  But I was totally unprepared for the start of the Ravellenic Games.  The yarn was balled up, the pattern pulled out, and a quickie gauge swatch knit up after dinner while watching the woefully time-delayed opening ceremony (probably the only thing except for the closing ceremony that I’ll actually watch during the whole thing, I think).  I am ready and willing to except that my gauge swatch might have been lying to me as I only knit about an inch or so before measuring and deeming the chosen needles good to go.  But the fabric I’m getting looks good, and the hat itself does not look overly small or large.

I’m hoping to have the beret done and the shawl cast on by Monday of next week, the sooner the better obviously.  I’m expecting that the shawl will go quickly since it doesn’t have the same amount of patterning as the hat; the hope is that I will be able to mostly memorize the shawl pattern and go at it like a speed demon rather than having to check the pattern every few minutes like I do with all the cables on the hat.

Tour de Fleece – Day 3

I chose to start my Tour de Fleece spinning with the SW Corriedale in David’s Gift. I’ve gotten the bobbin about half full, and it’s all orange. When I stopped spinning this afternoon, I had just begun to see a little of the brown creeping in. I’m a little worried about how I’m spinning it – sometimes I think I’m going too thick and other times, too thin. I have a Spinner’s Control Card somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about the thickness variation because I’d be plying it, and most of the time it all blends together. Since this is destined to be singles, I won’t have a second ply to balance it out. I think I’m just psyching myself out a little cause I keep thinking it’s a good weight if I were to ply it as a laceweight, but I want this to be a laceweight without plying.

Part of the problem is I don’t usually spin singles yarn.  I jumped in without thinking about the thickness much at all other than knowing I want laceweight.  For this single to be laceweight all on it’s own, it needs to be a bit thicker that I normally spin the singles for a plied laceweight.  But when I spin that way, some part of my brain tells me I’m spinning too thick and I back off.

I guess I’ll just need to trust my fingers and understand that I can work with whatever the end result is.  I am spinning this for a shawl after all and that means that a little thicker will simply give me a slightly larger shawl, which can be nice.

Tour de Fleece – Day 2

While drinking my tea this morning, I prepped the Spunky Eclectic Falkland in Change.  I opted to divide the top into 3 even portions.  Two of the portions were then split into thirds lengthwise, and the third was spilt in half; not for any particular reason, that’s just how they seemed to want to spilt.  A little pre-drafting later and I have 3 fluffy balls of fiber ready for spinning.

I’m a little surprised at how much orange I have going on for Tour de Fleece this year.  I’m not usually an orange person as it looks hideous on me, or more appropriately, I look hideous in it.  (There are a couple shades of green and orange that have caused strangers to approach me and ask if I’m feeling well and if I need to sit down or have some water.  I kid you not.)  Spunky Eclectic really seems to like oranges and yellows, and while I doubt anyone will ever convince me that yellow is a nice color, her oranges have started to grow on me, especially when she mixes them with a sage-y green and a raspberry red.  :)

Now to decide which fiber to start spinning first.

Tour de Fleece 2012 – Day 1

Today was the beginning of Tour de Fleece 2012. This year I’m going the Masochistic Tango version where I spin during Tour de Fleece, then knit using that yarn during the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games. I have two main projects planned: 1) laceweight singles spun from Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – Dec 2010 – David’s Gift – SW Corriedale (pictured left) to knit a Citron Shawl, 2) 3-ply sport weight spun from Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club – Aug 2011 – Change – Falkland to knit a Autumn Vines Beret (Rav link).

Today, so far, there has not been any knitting.  I’ve been working on prepping the fiber.  The David’s Gift is a progression dyed fiber, and I want to maintain the color order.  I opened up the fiber and did a little pre-drafting without splitting the fiber at all.  I really only did the pre-drafting because the SW Corriedale can be a little sticky, and I want to concentrate on spinning it not on fighting it.  For the Change fiber I’m not sure if I’m going to spilt it 3 ways lengthwise or divide it into 3 pieces horizontally.  I want this one to have the colors mixed up so they don’t argue with the pattern of the beret.

Tour de Flop

The Tour de Fleece began July 3, and I happily sat down in front of my spinning wheel with the hopes of seeing it through to the end.  This was my first time doing the Tour de Fleece, and I signed up with Abby Franquemont’s Team Suck Less because I wanted to focus on improving my technique as well as Amy King’s Team Monkey Farts because I planned on working my way through some of my Spunky Eclectic Club backlog.  I spun on Saturday.  I spun on Sunday.  I spun on the Monday Holiday.  On Tuesday I had the beginnings of a bad headache, which revealed itself on Wednesday to be something wrong with my back, right between my shoulder blades.  I felt like someone was ramming something into my spine.  My shoulder hurt.  My head hurt.  Spinning was not going to happen.  Thankfully, my chiropractor got me in for her last available appointment Wednesday afternoon, but I was instructed to ice and take it easy for a few days.  That’s all it takes to fall off the wagon.  For the rest of the tour I found excuses not to spin.

On the upside, I did manage to fill 3 bobbins with singles on their way to becoming what I hope will be a sportish 3-ply.  I tried to spin so that the yarn would have a bit more loft, thus make the final yarn more fluffy.  I have such a bad habit of making smooth dense yarns that are all thinner than I want.  So, this yarn is an experiment.  I have no idea if I did the right things to get the yarn I’m hoping for, but I’m willing to accept that.  (I still have another 4 oz. of this fiber/color combination, so I still have a chance to make a gorgeous, usable yarn.)  I had discovered when I took Janel Laidman’s spinning class at Stitches West 2010, that if I draft faster, I get yarn that’s fluffier.  Now, granted, I was doing that on a spindle.  But, I gave it some thought and tried to apply what I did with the spindle to my wheel.  Like I said, I have no idea if I did it right; for all I know I did the complete opposite.

I wanted to ply faster.  But, plying faster means nothing if the yarn is sitting around waiting to move onto the bobbin.  I also figured that a fluffier yarn needs less twist to hold it together (this may be one of the places I’ve gone completely wrong and find myself with singles that just fall apart as I try to ply them).  I was basing this on thinner yarn needs more twist, thicker yarn needs less twist.  So, I turned up the uptake on my wheel and plied like the wind.

Who knows, maybe the bobbins of singles sitting around while I do nothing with them for 3 weeks will work in my favor allowing the twist to settle in a bit.  Or I might just be on my way to ending up with a huge mess.

That was loads of fun… not

I apologize right up front to anyone who visited my bog in the last month and found it redirecting them to some stupid, fake “anti-virus” site.  My blog was somehow hijacked, and a script was inserted in every. single. frikken. post.  Thankfully, my server host provided me with a SQL statement to run against my database to clean out the script.  And I wasn’t affected by any of the other hijacking symptoms that were possible.  I’ve backed up and upgraded, so hopefully, this won’t happen again.  I have plans for backing up more often and keeping on top of making sure I upgrade in a timely manner.

In other circles, I completely failed at Tour de Fleece.  I spun for the first three days, then I hurt my back and didn’t get my wheel out for the rest of the tour.  On the upside, I did manage to get the singles for a 3-ply yarn spun, just need to find the time to ply it up and see if my experiment to try getting a specific type of yarn worked.

I’ve been knitting, working on a baby blanket for my niece, who should be joining us in October.  I’m also working on designing a pair of socks.  This isn’t the first time I’ve created my own pattern, but it is the first time I’ve done something more than just stockinette or ribbing.  I’ve actually put some thought into it.  It’s been fun enough that I’m already thinking of a second pattern for the first installment of the Mean Girls Yarn Club, Part Deux that I just received.