Thursday, July 24, 2008

The challenge, part 2

Remember this from yesterday?

I started spinning it up yesterday during lunch. It went really well and I kept doing it this morning. Separating the cap was more sticky/difficult than I thought it would be. I originally thought you had to be careful with the silk but you really didn't. Then you pull open a hole in the center and stretch it out into roving. Look at the roving hanging in the air! It is just like a wisp.

I'm really happy with the challenge day. The only problem is that I'm developing a blister on my index finger from pulling the silk into roving!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now and then

The Tour de Fleece rolls on! First, I started with these . . .

4.2 ounces of merino/alpaca blend

4 oz merino
. . . and then there were these.

I really like the alpaca/merino blend but not so enamored of the Broken Hearts (the pink merino). I 2 plied the alpaca/merino but navajo plied the Broken Hearts. That was probably a mistake because it muddied the colors. I'll probably end up using it for a Christmas gift. A one-row scarf possibly?

Challenge Day

Today, July 23rd is the challenge day for the Tour de Fleece. In the Tour de France, they are climbing 4 different mountains today so the spinners are also challenging themselves. My challenge today is going to be spinning silk from this silk cap I bought in Maryland.

It should definitely be interesting. I'm going to start today during lunch. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Slacker that I am

I've had this post saved the last couple of days but just haven't worked on it. With the Tour de Fleece, I'm not even spending any time on the computer at home and I don't like posting while at work even on my break.

Anyway, I've also been knitting in the midst of all of the spinning. This is the pair of socks of which I spoke last post. I really like the way my color matching worked out. Call me crazy but I'm not a fan of fraternal socks (aka non matching socks). The recipient absolutely loved them (I just hope the legs fit!). She told her daughter on the way to the airport that maybe she should put the socks in her carry-on. Her daughter asked why and the reply was that someone might break into her bag to steal the socks!

In Tour de Fleece news, I've definitely been meeting my goal of spinning 10 minutes or more. The average seems to be 30 minutes to an hour. On Sunday morning, I sat down to spin up some of the alpaca Mom gave to me at Christmas. Four hours later, I had spun this.

It is the most consistent and thinnest yarn that I have ever done. It was also spun up REALLY quickly. I'm definitely glad that I started learning how to spin using wool.

Next up is some of the Finn roving I bought at Knitter's Connection in June. This was my first lace and I'm really happy with it.

I didn't have much yardage on it because I was learning how to use the lace bobbin and kept tearing off the bad sections. Still, it is 314 yards and I'm happy with it. The niddy noddy it is on is cedar and smells wonderful. Every time I open my spinning bag the smell of cedar hits me.

I finished spinning this skein up before the Tour de Fleece started. I wanted to clear off the bobbins before the big spinning event. It is a merino/tencel blend and has a wonderful shine to it. The color is definitely in my favorite spectrum :)

It is sad that I can't remember when I spun this up. It is white llama a friend gave me when I first started spinning. I think I finished it mid June. Possibly. Maybe. Must take better notes.

I do have more current pictures which I will load and talk about soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Itchy with a side of scratched

The wild black raspberries are in full swing and even a little past their peak. This year, our crop has been very nice. So far I've mashed up 6-7 cups of the berries and have more berries waiting to be smooshed and frozen. Mom has made a large and small black raspberry pie (which was wonderful!) and there is still tons left over for jam. Though Mom wants to have jelly so I'm going to have to gather much more in order to have enough. The problems with picking berries are that you get completely scratched up and the mosquitoes love to nibble on me while I am picking. My arms and legs look like I've been climbing through razor wire and that I'm covered in hives. It makes me wonder sometimes if the jam/jelly is really worth it.

Last night, I took benadryl to make the itching stop. Apparently, that drug and I really don't mix. I slept extremely badly and woke up at 3:30 this morning for good. This is going to be a long day, isn't it? Why am I so lucky as to experience non-drowsy side effects when everyone else gets put into a coma by this drug?!

Anyway, in Tour de Fleece news, I've been making my goal of spinning at least 10 minutes per day. Sometimes I've been doing much more than 10 minutes. My lace is getting slightly more consistent though it is still really overspun. I'm going to have to tweak things in order to stop that. There is almost 1/32 oz of Finn fiber left so I should be able to ply the lace up really soon. It will kind of be nice to go onto another project. The Finn fiber is white so there isn't even color changes to keep my interest. I keep day dreaming about which fiber to use next. Maybe I will spin up some of the 100% merino that was one of my first purchases.

I have also been knitting whenever I am not spinning. I've picked up a pair of socks that have been languishing since last October (which is when I started spinning. Coincidence?). They are a pair of gift socks so I really needed to get the recipient to try them on before I did much more. I'm glad that I waited because, when she tried them on, the ankles were a little too tight. I ripped back to the heel turn, added 4 additional stitches and started the leg of the sock in a ribbed pattern. The first 2 inches of the leg were knit on 2.5 mm needles (US 1.5s), the plan is to knit the next 2 inches on 2.25 mm (US 1s), and the rest of the leg on 2.0 mm (US 0s). I didn't want the leg of the sock to slouch so decreasing needle sizes should help. These socks need to be finished by the 12th because the recipient is going out of town (on a Scandinavian cruise) on the 13th. I think that she will need warm wool socks, don't you?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Tour de Fleece time!

The Tour de Fleece starts today and, oh yeah, some bike thing does, too. The whole concept of the Tour de Fleece is to set goals for yourself and work to achieve them. If possible, participants try to spin everyday, July 5th - 27th, which is the length of the Tour de France. On the 23rd, the last hard climb of the bike race, the spinning participants are supposed to challenge themselves by doing something difficult. The last day people are supposed to wear yellow, the color of the winning jersey.

I have a few different goals for the Tour. My first goal is to spin at least once a day for 10 minutes or more each day while the Tour lasts. I have plenty of fiber in the stash and am really looking forward to using some of it. Looking through my flickr pictures, I realized that I have about a quarter of the fiber stash not actually recorded in the blog/flickr/ravelry notebook. Ooops.

Another goal for the Tour is to break out my new lace flyer and bobbins. Can I even tell you how excited I am to spin lace? Spinning lace has been a goal since before actually learning how to spin. It happily coincides with my recent lace knitting binge. (I don't think that it is a bad thing that I have a different shawl for every day of the week.) In order to swap bobbins and flyers, I had to finish spinning up the tencel/merino roving I had gotten in Maryland. Yesterday afternoon, I finished plying it and washed it. The weather has been so wet recently that it wasn't dry yet this morning.

Yesterday afternoon, I prepped the Finn roving and started playing around with the lace bobbin. It definitely took me a lot longer to get comfortable with my tension and drafting for lace. I'm still overspinning but hopefully that will even out. This morning, I serious attacked the project and am moderately happy with the first results. It reminds me a lot of my first yarn, very thick and thin (well, as thick as lace gets), but I'm happy with learning a new goal.

The Tour has definitely inspired me to pull out languishing projects and start using up roving. I finished spinning up some merino I got from CJ Copeck a while back in the Cowgirl Chic colorway. I started it on the drop spindle while at the Equine Affair back in April. Now I just need to pull it off the spindle and ply it up.

I also pulled out the other drop spindle I bought while in Maryland and started spinning up the sparkly silver roving I got the same weekend. Let me tell you, this drop spindle is soooo nice. I've decided that I really love working with it. Tuesday, I started spinning the sparkly roving while walking around the July 4th fair seeing what there was to see. (The new low of fair food is fried coke. What will they think of next?!) Yesterday, I was spinning during the entire July 4th parade. It seems to be much easier for me to drop spindle while out and about. At home, I just use the wheel instead.

All of this spinning makes it sound like I haven't been doing any knitting. Well, I've been doing a tiny bit. Mainly while at the bar with high school friends in town for the weekend. That definitely requires simple knitting so I've been working on baby bibs and dishcloths. So far I've done 4 of the Mason-Dixon washcloths and 1 baby bib. I also need to work on a pair of socks which have been languishing since October. The recipient is going on a Scandinavian cruise and I feel like she will need wool socks. So that means finishing them before the 13th. Hmmm, 7 days, I think I can do that.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Display pictures

I'm gearing up my library for our Book Buffet program on July 19th. It seemed like it was so far away but now it is July somehow. Anyway, this is the display case I set up to show people what edible books actually are (or rather, some examples of what an edible book could be). It is a pretty abstract concept for most people to get. Click on the picture for the title of each "book."

In order to be able to display these "books" for two weeks in the display cakes, I tried to make everything in there non-edible. The "cakes" are actually styrofoam covered in spackle. The "tea" in the cups in the upper right hand corner is actually brown food coloring and water. I'm especially proud of that one.

I did cave and the gummi worms are actual food but I figure that there are so many preservatives in them that it will probably be fine. I think the dog bones will be fine, too. The candy bars are wrapped but I think they should probably be thrown away after 2 weeks in a closed container and lots of spackle.

The display had already encouraged sign-ups. I put it in yesterday and, that night, three people signed up to participate in the program! Yay!