Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tour de Fleece Finish!

Here is what I accomplished during the Tour de Fleece, which ended on Sunday.  I finished spinning the singles, plied, and washed my green gradient shetland.  I ended up with about 468 yards total, including both skeins (the larger, darker skein is about 357 yds and the smaller, lighter on is about 110 yds).  I think it's approximately sport weight, but I haven't checked.

The third skein was 2 ounces of Wensleydale wool, which I bought on vacation in Vermont six years ago from the Wool Shed at Frostbite Falls Farm.  I spun it sort-of long draw and plied it into a 2-ply.  I'm not wild about the finished yarn.  I don't love how the colors work together, although I do think it's better in person than in the photo.  It's not that soft, and there's not that much of it.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it.  The skein is about 64 yards.

On the bobbin is almost half of my Hello Yarn Portuguese merino in the colorway "Furry Paws" from Yarn School in October 2012.  The plan is to spin two equal bobbins of singles and then ply them to end up with lace-weight two-ply finished yarn.  This might be my ongoing spinning project for quite a while!

All in all, I consider my Tour de Fleece to be a success.  I spun just about every day - the Tour has two rest days, so even though I missed two days I made them up by spinning on the official rest days.  I feel like I got a good rhythm going with my spinning, and I really do enjoy spinning.  I'm going to leave my wheel in my living room and keep spinning at least once a week - my plan is that Tuesdays Are For Spinning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tour de Fleece: Stages 12-16

I started a new spinning project Thursday night (which was stage 12 of the Tour de Fleece).  This is Hello Yarn Portuguese Merino from Yarn School 2012.  I have 4oz of combed top, and it's in beautiful olive, brown, and light blue-grey colors.  I'm trying to spin it very finely and hoping to end up with a 2-ply lace-weight.  It's easy and smooth to spin, but going pretty slowly.  I doubt I'll even have the singles finished before the Tour de Fleece ends on Sunday.

I missed spinning on Saturday (stage 14) because we were visiting family out of town, so I'm going to spin today (which is a rest day for the Tour de France) to make up for it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tour de Fleece: Stages 10 & 11

On Tuesday (Tour de Fleece Stage 10) I finished spinning the singles of my 2 oz of Wensleydale.  I figured out/remembered that I could spin it long draw from the fold and that made a huge difference!  It went much faster and more smoothly.
Yesterday (Stage 11) I plied the singles.  I chain plied, and it mostly went smoothly.  There were several places where the singles were too thin or underspun and the thread broke as I was plying - including one spot where the broken end got lost in the bobbin of singles and I ended up cutting it.  Those spots were much more common towards the end of the plying, which was of course the beginning of the singles, when I hadn't yet figured out how to spin this fiber.  Towards the end I also noticed that the singles were way underspun (you can see this in the picture) so I may not be able to actually use all of the yarn.  I'm okay with that.

I have no idea what weight this is or how many yards I have - I still need to skein it off and wash it.

Today I get to spin something new!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lofoten sweater progress

Between my mystery shawl and the Tour de Fleece, my Lofoten sweater has been neglected lately.  Before the mystery shawl started I had been making good progress on the colorwork - it's not particularly visible in this picture, but I finished the mountains at the bottom of the black-and-white section.  I feel like my shawl is moving pretty quickly now (it helps when every row gets shorter!) I'm looking forward to getting back to this sweater.  Although I do have a trip to a lovely yarn shop planned for this weekend, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that Lofoten will get pushed back in favor of something else new and exciting!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Swans Island Socks finished

I finished my Swans Island Socks last weekend.  I'm really happy with how they turned out!  I used Swans Island sock yarn, which is an organic superwash wool.  It's a really beautiful color and has great texture and stitch definition.  The socks are soft and stretchy.  I made up the pattern as I went along, using Fleegle's toe-up heel.  The cables at the toes and cuffs are inspired by these socks.  I finished the cuffs with Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off - this was the first time I've used it, and I really like how it turned out.
The yarn looks grey in some lights and light brown in others.  I think they're beautiful!
According to my blog, I started these socks at the beginning of April, so they took just over three months to finish, although I definitely wasn't working on them very steadily for a lot of that time.

Tour de Fleece

Yesterday was a rest day for the Tour de France, but since I missed spinning last Thursday I decided to make it up by spinning anyway.  I spun for about an hour, still working on the wensleydale top.  I started out with 58g of fiber (the package says 2 oz) and I have 31g left.  I feel kind of impatient to finish spinning this so I can move on to something I'll like better.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tour de Fleece: Stage 9

I spun a bit more Wensleydale yesterday. I'm moving a bit towards long draw, just grabbing with my right hand close to the orifice and pulling back with my left hand. The yarn seems to be breaking less often. It's pretty fuzzy-sort of like what I think of mohair as looking like.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Adjustable-waist toddler shorts

I made these shorts for my niece, who is a very skinny almost two.  Her size 2T pants and shorts have been falling down, but anything smaller is too short!  I had been admiring the Oliver + S Puppet Show Shorts for a while, and when I got a hole in the knee of one of my pairs of jeans, I decided to repurpose the remaining good fabric into a pair of toddler shorts.

The fronts of my jeans were totally worn through, but the backs of the legs were in good shape, so I cut along the side seams and inseams and across below the back pockets.  That gave me enough fabric for the body of the shorts and the pockets.  I used a large scrap of quilting cotton for the waistband, leg hems, and pocket edges, partly because I didn't have enough of the the denim and partly because the denim would have been too bulky for these folded parts.  (I did interface the waistband with some lightweight interfacing.)
I cut a size 3T because the size chart for these shorts lists the finished measurement for the size 2T shorts as smaller than the hip measurement given in the size chart for a kid to fit in the 2T shorts.  The stated sizing didn't make any sense to me.  They may be a bit too big for my niece, but I found a reference on some blog to making adjustable waist kids' shorts using buttonhole elastic, so that's what I did!  I didn't sew the front bottom of the waistband all the way down.  Instead I left a 1-2" gap, put a buttonhole in the top layer and a button on the back layer, and threaded buttonhole elastic through.  I put the buttonholes in the elastic over the button at what I guessed might be the right length, pushed about 5 more inches of elastic into the channel, and buttoned the front outside of the waistband over it.  It was pretty easy! (Although the extra elastic did make the waist of the shorts a bit more bulky.)

The most labor intensive (and cutest) part of the shorts by far were the pockets:

Tour de Fleece: Stage 7 & 8

I did spin on Friday (Stage 7), but somehow I didn't manage to get a picture.  I finished plying my green yarn (you can see it in the bottom of the picture up top, I haven't wound it off the bobbin yet). Yesterday for stage 8 I started spinning a braid of Wensleydale that I've had in my stash for at least 6 years.  It was immensely frustrating.  I want to get comfortable with long draw spinning, so I figured I would practice on this, but the staple length of the wensleydale is really really long, I was having trouble with the drafting, and the singles was lumpy and kept breaking on me.  I felt like I couldn't get enough twist in without having the twist all the way up to my fingers and the fiber I hadn't drafted back yet.  I think part of the problem is that the staple length is so long - I think 8-10".   
So after a few minutes I reverted to my modified short draw that I always do, but I might try to watch a few videos of people doing long draw and try again.  I don't think I'm going to like the finished yarn, so I figure this is really just for practice.  You can see in the picture of the combed top (there's about one staple length pulled off, split in half, and fluffed on the right) that the staple length is longer than the color changes, so there's no way the yarn isn't going to look muddy.  I also don't like how the colors are much more pastel in the spun singles than in the length of top.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tour de Fleece: Stage 5

Wednesday was Stage 5 of the Tour de France/Tour de Fleece.  I filled up a bobbin with 2-ply green yarn.  I also figured out the awful squeaking noise my wheel was making.  The drive band was slipping on the drive wheel.  At first I thought that meant my drive band was too stretched out and I would need to replace it, but then I did some internet research.  It turns out that for the smaller whorls, it is sometimes necessary to tension the drive band with the little white drive band tensioner wheel (just above the red drive wheel in the picture).  I had thought that the drive band tensioner was only for the double drive set-up, but the wheel's documentation also mentions it in connection with the smaller whorls in Scotch tension set-up (which is the only set-up I've ever used).  I started using the drive band tensioner once I figured out where the sound was coming from and it seemed to help, but next time I sit down to spin I'll set it much more aggressively and hope that that makes the noise go away all together.

Yesterday I had a super busy day with work and then a church commitment, and I didn't even think about spinning until I got home from church at almost nine o'clock and just wanted to go to bed.  So yesterday was an unplanned rest day.  I'm planning to spin on the first planned rest day (I think it's the 13th) to make up for it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Friday night sewing

I sat down to sew last Friday with two projects in mind. The first was a fourth of July bandanna for Huck, inspired by the one my cousin gave him for Christmas. I used scraps from other projects, and one side of the bandanna is red, white, and blue and the other is a single lime green print. Huck was very cute and patriotic wearing it for the fourth!
The other project was another pair of cloth napkins. I really love this constellations fabric, and I'm excited to get to use it every day! This fabric turned out to be narrow, so I ended up having to hide a bit of the selvedge in the hem of one of the napkins. Luckily it's not visible now that the hem is finished.

Tour de Fleece: Stage 4

Yesterday (Stage 4) I finished spinning my green shetland singles and started plying them.  The plying goes fast, but there's still a lot to do!  I'm not sure if I'm putting in the right amount of plying twist.  I'm concerned that this yarn won't match the white yarn I intend to knit it with (which I think has not quite enough plying twist and is probably not really the same weight) but I guess I won't know until it's done and washed up!

The yarn is still shedding an alarming amount of dye.  I still have blue fingertips this morning, after washing several times since spinning last night.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tour de Fleece: Stage 3

I spun for a little less than an hour yesterday (one episode of Star Trek Voyager, which is what we're currently working our way through on Netflix), and I spun probably 10-15 grams of combed top.  I'm pretty sure I'll finish the singles today.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hydrangea MKAL Shawl

I have a loose intention to make lace shawls to give as gifts to the women in my family.I've seen several mystery knit-a-long patterns over the past year or so, and they looked like to much fun! At the beginning of the summer, I looked up several mystery shawls on Ravelry that were about to start, and chose the Hydrangea MKAL.
I started off almost a week behind because I was waiting for the yarn I ordered to arrive (and then it took forever to wind). After the third clue I caught up, but then I got behind again. As of this morning, all six clues are out but I'm only halfway through clue 4.

 I'm really enjoying knitting the shawl, even (especially!) because it's so different from the lace shawls I've knit before. l don't know yet who I'll give it to, but I can't wait to see the finished shawl!

Tour de Fleece: Stage 2

I did a bit of spinning after dinner yesterday - more than the first day of the Tour de Fleece, but not that much.  I'd guess about 20 grams of combed top.  I'm nearing the end of the green fiber.  I'll probably finish the singles today or tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I'm getting terribly behind on the mystery knit-a-long shawl I'm doing.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tour de Fleece - Stage 1

Yesterday was the start of the Tour de France.  Stage 1 was a short 13.8km time trial. It was also the first day of the Tour de Fleece! Since it was the 4th of July and I had family plans, I only spun a tiny bit - about 5g of combed top.  (The bobbin is almost full because this is not a new spinning project.  I'm continuing to spin my hand-dyed shetland top from Yarn School at the Harveyville Project two years ago.)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Spinning, spinning

I did my usual Tuesday spinning on Wednesday this week (and I only did half as much as I have the past few weeks).  I'm getting excited for the beginning of the Tour de Fleece on Saturday!