Sunday, July 31, 2011

On My Toes

My travel project is done. I started these socks for Dad in May and I should have foreseen that they would end up being a drag when the weather turned stifling hot in July. They will be very appreciated come January but right now I am happy they are a done deal. I am casting on something light and cheerful to carry around for the last few weeks of summer.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Itty Bitty

There is no real point to this post. I just had some photos of that teeny tiny skein of Corridale left over from all the daily TdF posting over on Ravelry and I decided to share them before I delete them.

This was that disappointingly scratchy Corriedale that came off the mini Bosworth spindle that I dyed as singles before plying. The next spindle full will be dyed in pinks, then oranges and maybe even purples. I see some striped socks in its cute little future.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ply on the Fly

I made the prettiest chain plyed sample the other night after reading about it over on a Ravelry Tour de Fleece group. I looked it up on You Tube and sure enough, I found this.

I sure can't spin like the lady in the video but I could apply what I know about spinning to the technique she was obviously quite an expert on. First, I started by spinning about a yard's worth.

Then I unwound it and wound it around my left hand.

I made a loop and then began to chain ply by pulling the singles from my hand through the loop. I had to use my other hand for photos so you will have to imagine me pulling the single through the loop with my right hand.

Your left thumb becomes your best friend as you can use it as a hook to hold everything while you use your right hand to spin the spindle.

When you come to the end of the singles you will have a knot where the end of the loop is. I started spinning singles again from that point.

I was very worried about that loop. You have to wind it up and then you need to find it again to restart the plying, but I always found it with no problem.

You just keep spinning and plying and spinning and plying until you have the spindle full. The tricky part is to remember to spin the spindle in the opposite direction while you ply and than back the other way for spinning. I had a few drops at first but then my hands took over when my brain was failing me-as it so often does these days.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not too Hot to Dye

Just when I figured out something useful for all this heat, it goes and cools down. It was hot enough yesterday for the sun to have turned those Corriedale locks wicked purple. The water was clear this morning so I took them out and gave them a rinse and no dye ran out. So far, so good.

I only had one jar, so I went to Walmart and bought a 12 pack of quart canning jars for around $6 and mixed up a few more colors for some freshly washed locks.

I put them out of harm's way and hopefully in a place to catch some extra rays. I may have to wait a little longer for these to "cook" as the heat won't be returning in full force until Friday. In the meantime, I'll be washing and mixing more colors in order to take advantage of the record breaking heat on the way.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hot Enough to Dye

Last week during the Tour, over on team Yarnspinner's Tales, I made a joke about how it was hot enough to dye wool on the deck. The Yarnspinner herself answered back by sharing an amazing tutorial about how to do just that. You can see it here.

Since I had some sticky locks to rewash, I decided to give it a try. I used a glass jar with some Jacquard acid dye in lilac.

I didn't stir the locks in. I just dropped them in and let them do their own thing. I am hoping for something splotchy.

Then I sat them out of reach of nosy critters who might mistake it for something to drink. I am going to leave it in the broiling 100 degree sun on top of the shed for a few days and see what happens. The liquid should be clear when the dye is set. If not, I get to ramp up the heat with a black plastic trash bag.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Plied or Plyed?

I never know how to use the word ply as a verb in it's different conjugations correctly. Is it with a y or an i? I see it used both ways all over the place. This is the TdF Jacob that I ply(i)ed two different ways and I was surprised at what a difference it made in the finished product. I never give much thought to ply(i)ng, I just stick two yarns together and spin-never really thinking about how much twist is going in as long as the resulting yarn seems sort of balanced and looks OK.

The skein on the left has very little twist and it is knitting up into a very soft fluffy shawl. The skein on the right is more dense and the resulting yarn from the very same singles is much thinner. I know for experienced spinners this is a "duh" moment but for me it was completely "ah ha".

Monday, July 25, 2011

The End of the Tour

Every year I end the Tour by spinning and taking photos of my finished projects in front of the TV screen. I do realize I am the only person left in the US without a flat screen TV. My TV is a hand me down. I am a retired teacher. Poor comes with the job. It's in your contract. Really.

I take a bazillion photos trying to catch an iconic moment. I wanted those awful polka dot dresses but Versus wasn't helping me out with their coverage. Too much yapping with the winners during the award ceremonies this year.

My old camera did a much better job of it. Too bad I dropped it.

Whew..between washing, combing, spinning and then rushing to post about it for 23 days pretty much without a break, I am tired. Unfortunately there is nothing done in that pile of stuff. I have more washing, combing, and spinning to do but now I can coast a little.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back to the Source

If you can read that blurry sign you will see that it says Howard County Fairgrounds.

Flying by on Rt. 70 I realized I was knitting from the fleece I had bought there back in May during the 2011 Sheep and Wool Festival. I can't pass by the place without getting all goose bumpy.

We were on a road trip up to Sister's house in Mt Airy to check out rehearsal dinner venues with Daughter and Son in Law to be. I made myself a comfortable knitting nest in the back seat with my travel must-haves: yarn, pretzels and strawberry Twizzlers. I got a lot of mileage on the Jacob TdF shawl but it won't be finished by the time the teams roll into Paris today. Darn.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

TdF: Challenge Day

Day 21 of the Tour de Fleece is supposed to be a challenge day. It was a challenge to stay cool. It's 100 degrees with a heat index of 117. It's hot. The outdoor kitties, who are usually skittish could care less if I invade their space for a photo. I confess that I stole this idea from Wandering Cat Studio's last blog post.

The two cats glued to the walkway are Thelma and Louise. Louise has been running in the house to cool off from time to time. She has some sense. Thelma not so much.

Our AC is on it's last legs so even the indoor kitties are doing a good impression of stuffed animals which is fine by me.

As for spinning, I got out the Russian support spindle for a challenge. I still have not got the hang of it. I may never. It's like patting your head while rubbing your stomach.

Early in the morning, I also made myself sit down and ply the leftover singles of Jacob into a decent yarn. The stuff I rushed through to make the 12:00 midnight Tour post deadlines every night is pretty bad and this sweet Jacob deserves better. Much better.

Friday, July 22, 2011

TdF: Heat Stroke

It is miserably hot here. Heat index 117 hot. I have lots of warm wooly stuff to work on but no gumption to do it.

I have also been running up and down a ladder painting #1 Son and Fiancee's new house which is an hour drive away in Northern The Roads are Hell Virginia. Don't get me started about the mess they have made of the Virginia Beltway. The color on my fingers is the primer. The room I was working on today was Edgy Red. #1 Son wanted a bright red guest bathroom and that's just what he got. Now I want one too.

In spite of it all, I did manage to get another 2 sleins of Jacob plied and ready to go but I'm not knitting another stitch on that big wooly shawl until the temperature is below a 100. Well below.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I spend lots of time oohing and aahing over all the gorgeous projects over on Ravelry. Right now, nearing the end of the Tour de Fleece, I can't get enough of looking at what everyone is doing. I also have a strict policy of requiring myself to comment on at least 10 projects each time I visit the site. I don't mean in the forums. I mean on the project pages or on the People page where you find the recent FO's. When people respond back to me they are always so thrilled to get a positive comment on their projects and sadly, some are surprised that anyone would even take the time. We all know how good it feels to get recognition for a job well done, so get out there and do your part to recognize your fellow crafters. It feels great and you learn so much from seeing what everyone is up to. Try it.

AND furthermore, if you are a knitter, crocheter, spinner or weaver and you haven't joined Ravelry yet- for goodness sake GO DO IT will change your life!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Handspun Stash

I was winding up the Easter Egg Polwarth, when I started to think about all the handspun projects I have waiting to get started.

I stopped what I was doing and dug around in the box where I keep all the handspun and found all of this. Here are the materials for a pair of mitts, a tam, a shawl and a pair of mittens-all yet to be. I briefly considered not winding up the newly processed yarn, but went ahead and wound it anyway although I am well aware of the fact that yarn keeps better in a skein than a ball or cake. I did make a promise to myself that I am NOT allowed to start anything with store bought yarn until this pile is G.O.N.E.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do as I Say-Not as I Do

Daddio helped me out on Sunday while waiting to watch the Women's World Cup final. He loves to crank the carder. Of course while I was giving him a lecture on how dangerous the combs are, I stabbed my finger into a bleeding mess. He, on the other hand, managed to comb for quite a while without a single scratch.

Monday, July 18, 2011

TdF: Say What?

I realized with horror today that there is only one week of the Tour left. So many plans. So little time.

I did get bobbins number 3 and 4 done of the Jacob. Don't be too impressed because I had partial bobbins left after the last plying so all I did was add onto them. I am out of yarn for the shawl so I really, really need to find the time to ply. I would love to be able to finish it by Sunday but Dad has physical therapy 3 times a week now, Daughter has a doctor's appointment she wants me to go to on Wednesday, Son is moving and needs help with painting the new place plus I am sure that there is lots of other crazy crap just waiting to happen. I am pretty sure these last few days are going to fly by without much to show for it. I am starting to feel like the last man in the peloton.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

TdF: Sheep to Shawl

That Jacob fleece I bought at this year's MD S&W Fest was meant to be socks. I've been carding and spinning it like crazy all through this year's Tour.

It's too soft and squishy for feet (yay!) so it is becoming a simple garter stitch shawl instead. I never was a big fan of garter stitch. I think it looks a bit sloppy (or at least mine does). It works with my rather wonky, crazy colored handspun, though. I looked at pattern after pattern trying to decide what this yarn wanted to become. It was pretty clear that it wanted to be something simple and I'm glad. Very glad because I am tired. Very tired.

Friday, July 15, 2011

TdF: Ewwwww.........

My first little Corridale skein is done. All 23 ounces of it. It is pretty. I love the way the dye worked on the singles and then how they plied together. I rewound one of the bobbins so that I could match the light to the dark and the dark to the light to equal it all out.

The feel of the yarn is another matter. It feels like barbed wire. No wonder poor kitty had so much trouble when it got into his lungs. This stuff is deadly. That is not a good thing when you have about 11 pounds of it left in the shed and a large bobbin of it still on the wheel. I should have known better. I have used Corridale before in a shawl and some hats and while they were not soft, they were wearable. This stuff feels like it is spun from fiberglass insulation. I can stand itchy socks in the winter so socks it will have to be. I wonder how many pairs I can get out of 12 pounds?

PS: Kitty is doing better. Me, not so much.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dying Singles-Again

I had the second spindle's worth of singles ready to dye so I repeated the same process as last time without making a mess on the underside like last time. The trick was to hold it up vertically as I painted so the dye dripped back down into itself rather than pool on the bottom of the tube.

After steaming, I let the whole thing dry in the sun for a few hours and then carefully unwound it on a plastic niddy noddy to finish drying. Unwinding was very slow going. I had to be very careful with the wet singles.

As you unwind you can see the colors change. Everything gets softer and white bits begin to appear. I can't wait for it to dry so I can see what it looks like after plying.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shake Your Booties

In spite of all the Tour de Fleece business, there is still knitting to be done. Daughter needed these for a baby shower asap so these booties had a due date that was right around the corner.
I made a lot of modifications to this pattern in order to be able to knit it in the round and I am happy to report that it all turned out just fine. I have a lot of respect for designers whenever I do something like this. It is hard enough to take something and tweek it. I can't even imagine starting from scratch.

Monday, July 11, 2011

TdF: No Excuses

This time last year I ran out of gas on this Tour de Fleece thing right about now. I was all cut up and itchy. I kept poking myself on all the sharp ouchie things. My fingers were a bloody mess. It was hot-105 degrees outside hot and I hate hot. I tried bringing the whole mess inside but it just didn't feel right. I used every excuse I could think of to just give up and I did.

This year I am determined to keep going. I moved the whole mess into the air conditioned house and even set it up on a pretty table right in front of the TV so I can watch the real Tour and work. I even have a box of bandaids in the toolbox and I use them before I get poked on all my sharp thingys. I am posting over on Ravelry almost every day in order to keep my morale up. I'm cruising into Paris this year and I'll have something on the needles to show for it. Je le jure ( I swear).