Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tour de Fleece

There are times when I set goals, I work hard, and I totally blow myself away with my success. I'm hoping that in the near future this will be the story of my dissertation, but for right now it was the 2013 Tour de Fleece.

I set myself an impressive goal for the tour, based on my track record with spinning style and time needed per ounce. I usually spin my fiber into very fine plies, because I like fine yarns, like getting maximum "mileage" out of my fiber, and because I find it way easier to be consistent. So for this year, I challenged myself to spin a nice 3 ply worsted yarn. Making it 3 ply meant that the singles didn't have to be super thick in order to get a worsted finish, but still much thicker than what I spin for 3 ply fingering weight. Also, I usually spin in 4 ounce chunks, but earlier this year I won 8 ounces of a beautiful Polworth/silk, and I wanted to up my game.

So on the first day of the Tour I sat down at my Lendrum and started spinning up the lovely fiber.

I ended up with 320 yards of a lovely Navajo plied blue striping yarn in my target worsted weight. And I finished it in 8 days. 8 days!! This was supposed to take me all tour!

So I went stash diving and pulled out a coordinated combo of 1 oz mystery wool and 1 ounce silk sliver. I spun them separately for a target 2 ply sport weight.

Final product was 190 yards of sport weight, with about 10 yards left over of 3ply wool that I plied up on my Delight. And still a week of the Tour left.

At this point I'd far surpassed my goals and expectations, so rather than stash diving again I decided to go for the guilt free option of taking up a spinning WIP that I set aside at the beginning of the Tour. It was 132 grams of a merino/tencel/firestar blend intended to be a 3 ply fingering weight.

I ended up doing a 2 ply when I was finished spinning, I didn't think the fine singles would hold up to the friction and stress of a Navajo ply. I got 750-ish yards of fingering weight yarn (despite Westley's continued helping during the plying stage. In the bottom right collage picture he's laying on both plies and the Blu-Ray remote. So helpful.) I finished it almost at the end of the Tour.

Also, during this whole wheel spinning decathlon, I was working on a drop spindle spinning project (goal: do as much as I got done). It is a new spindle and fiber that I got at this year's Black Sheep. The spindle is a Jenkins Lark in Burmese Blackwood. The fiber is Dicentra, 2 ounces of a 60/20/20 merino/yak/cultivated silk in color "Strong Heart."

I am so in love with how beautiful the fiber is against the spindle. I keep taking pictures of it. I got about 0.3 ounces spun during the Tour, with the intention of a 3 ply heavy lace weight finish.

So this was my Tour, and what a doozy it turned out to be.

Next post: County Fair results.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The best laid plans

I was all set up to start blogging about this year's Tour de Fleece, then I remembered that when I moved over to my new laptop I stored all of my photos on my external hard drive, which I do not have with me here on campus.


So today's post is going to be a bit more random.

I've been knitting, lots, recently. I recently started Decimal in Bebe Cotsoy. The color I have is a lovely light blue (think robin egg or periwinkle). The sweater is knit in pieces to the underarms, then the sleeves are joined to the body and the yoke is worked in one piece. I knit the left sleeve in lieu of a gauge swatch, and have worked the bottom lace of the sweater body.

I used a lovely 1x1 rib tubular cast on, since I don't like the way regular cast ons look with 1x1 rib. It's trickier but not by much.

This past weekend I stash dove into my fiber to come up with something to spin at the Midsummer Spin-In and Fiber Festival (that was yesterday, it was lovely). I found 2 lovely ounces of a BFL/silk/bamboo blend (percentages unknown) that I bough in 2012 at the February spin-in. Spinning white fiber wasn't appealing to me, but I was in the mood to dye. I busted out the Wilton's and decided to try creating a color progression. I don't have the greatest set up to do this in one piece, so I broke the fiber into 4 sections of approximately 15 grams each. I then blended my colors and dyed the fiber in Ball jars using the microwave for my heat source. I have awesome pictures of the whole process, but they're still mostly on the camera. So here's a teaser.

So that's what I have to offer. I'm going to work on getting better about remembering to have a few photos on my laptop.

Next time: Tour de Fleece 2013 (it was a banner year).