During the Tour de Fleece, spinners rest on the days racers in the Tour de France rest. July 13 was the first rest day for the Tour de France, so most spinners rested today. I am not resting on the official rest days as I won’t be able to spin for the last week of the Tour since I’ll be in San Diego for the TKGA Annual Conference.
Since I finished plying the cormo yesterday, today was the day to start something new! The next fiber in my spinning queue was 3 Feet of Sheep. This is 8 ounces of Blue-faced Leicester hand-dyed by Frabjous Fibers. The colorway I have is “Colors of the Capital.” It is 10 bumps of fiber, each a different color and each weighing 20 to 21 grams. The fiber comes packaged in a long tube:
I toyed with the idea of fractal spinning this fiber, but decided to spin end to end so that when I knit it I’ll have a gradient. I plan to Navajo ply to maintain the color sequence. I didn’t do any pre-drafting, but I am splitting each color into multiple strips and spinning from those. The colors aren’t solid; they are tonal and look like they are probably space-dyed, with concentrated dye applied in certain sections and then wicking out into the rest of the fiber from there. The result is subtle striping within each color. I spun each strip starting from the same end so that this subtle striping happens multiple times throughout that color.
My goal is to spin 1 color per day until I’ve spun all the fiber. I’m spinning this fiber about twice as fast as I spun the cormo, so I had time this evening to spin up two colors. Here’s how my bobbin looked when I stopped for the night.
Today I continued plying the cormo. While plying is faster than spinning, it still takes a long time when your singles are like thread! I finished the first bobbin and barely started on the second bobbin.
I haven’t mentioned this before, but I a towel under my spinning wheel to protect our hardwood floors. The small movements the wheel makes while I’m spinning scratched my floor the first couple times I used the wheel. I usually pick the towel up at night to keep it away from the cats. I forgot to pick up the towel last night and someone puked on it during the night, so I put a different towel on the floor today. Fortunately, the guilty feline missed my wheel and my bobbins of spun yarn. I would not have been happy to find dried up cat puke ruining my beautiful singles!
Saturday, July 4, 2015 is the first day of the Tour de France. This means it is also the first day of the Tour de Fleece. The latter is a (yarn) spinning event that takes place each year on the same days as the famous bicycle race. The bicycle race is obviously a challenging event, full of world-class athletes. In that spirit, participants in the Tour de Fleece set their own challenging goals.
The Tour de France starts on July 4 and ends on July 26 this year. There’s two rest day during which the racers do not ride. This year, those dates are July 13 and July 21. There’s also one day that is particularly challenging. This year, that day is July 23. On that day, the racers will climb 5 mountains. The Tour de Fleece encourages participants to follow a similar schedule. Spinners don’t spin on the Tour de France rest days, and set a particularly difficult personal goal for the most challenging day of the Tour de France.
This is my first year participating in the Tour de Fleece. I only started spinning in late April 2014, six weeks before the Tour de Fleece started. I knew about the Tour de Fleece because I have friends who take part every year, but I didn’t feel ready to participate last year. I’m excited about this year!
My personal Tour de Fleece will be cut short this year. July 21 to 26 I will be in San Diego for The Knitting Guild Association Conference. I’m not bringing a spinning wheel with me, so won’t be able to spin while I am away. Since I’ll miss those dates, I’m not going to take any rest days for the rest of the tour. I’ll also miss the challenge day. I’m not worried about that though. I think it’s apparent to anyone reading this blog that I tend to challenge myself every day 🙂
My Tour de Fleece goal is to spin at least 30 minutes each day from July 4 through July 20. I hoped to finish the cormo before the Tour started, but I did not. I’ll work on the cormo until I finish it and then I’ll start on 3 Feet of Sheep in Colors of the Capital. I also plan to ride my bike at least 3 miles a day for each day from July 4 through July 20.
Since today is the first Saturday of the month, it was the regular meeting day of my local spinning group. I started the day by spinning with them.
Then I came home and spun some more. At the beginning of the day, my bobbin of cormo looked like this:
When I finished spinning for the day, my bobbin looked like this:
I spun for about 7 or 8 hours today, far exceeding my 30 minute goal! I also rode my bike for 3.12 miles this afternoon. Since it’s the summer in Florida, we had our usual afternoon rain showers. Chris and I managed to sneak a bike ride in between two separate storms. Despite the ominous hue of the clouds, we made it through the entire ride ahead of the second wave of storms!
I’m spinning the cormo very fine — it’ll definitely be lace weight 2-ply — which means it takes a long time to spin. In fact, it’s taking 2 hours to spin 0.5 ounces. I have about 0.75 ounces left, and I’m hoping to finish spinning it tomorrow so I can ply on Monday. I can’t wait to see just home much yardage I get. I think it’s going to be ridiculously high! On Tuesday, I’ll start on Three Feet of Sheep.
I just stumbled across the Year of Projects group on Ravelry. This is a blog-along group. Participants make a list of crafting goals for the year and post weekly updates on their progress. The Year of Projects runs from July 1 through June 30, so we are almost at the end of the year. Some participants run on an annual schedule, however. I decided that I will participate on an annual schedule. I already made a list for 2015, but I haven’t been reviewing it or updating it. Now you’ll get an update post every Sunday. Since I already post a WIP Wednesday post, I think the Sunday post will probably just be a list with completed items crossed off, but that may change!
Since it’s been awhile since I’ve written about my goals — and I haven’t really reviewed them myself since I wrote them — I thought I’d link to the posts I wrote back in January.
Apparently, I never wrote a post about my Stashdown plans. I thought I had!
I set the goal of knitting from stash. I would not buy new yarn, except for weaving yarn. Uh, yeah. turns pink That hasn’t happened. There’s been much acquisition of stash, and not all of it is for weaving.
Here’s the list again. If I’ve finished or frogged the project, it’s linked to the relevant blog post. If it’s not linked, I haven’t finished it.
After I made this list, I found another project. I need to stuff and assemble a Baby Blue Monster.
2015 Goals and Plans
Knit myself a sweater
Improve my finishing techniques
I haven’t done a sweater yet, but I never intended to make one until the fall, so that’s okay. In July, I’m attending The Knitting Guild Association meeting in San Diego, and I’m taking a two-day Finishing class with Arenda Holladay!
Learn to read crochet patterns
Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
Make at least one non-granny square crochet project
The Cotton Candy Corriedale was a breed-specific fiber, but I haven’t been thinking of it as part of that project and I did not write a separate blog post about it. The Cormo that I’m currently spinning is the first fiber that I’m counting as part of the breed specific spinning project. The updated Breed Specific Inventory is no longer correct. I never received the fiber from Little Barn. I ended up filing a complaint with PayPal to get my money back. I’ve also bought some fiber from other sources since. I’m no longer sure that I want to process the Mystery Fleece. I’ve brought it to demos and it’s nice to have an unprocessed fleece for that purpose.
Continue playing with color and weave drafts
Learn pick up stick drafts
I finished the Ravenclaw and Slytherin Houndstooth Scarves this year, which goes to the color and weave goal. My OWL proposal for the current term of HPKCHC was to weave 8 scarves using 8 different color and weave patterns. I haven’t started that yet, but plan to start this week. If I complete the 8 scarves, that will pretty much fulfill the color and weave goal. I have not started on pick up stick drafts.
Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
pH / water source experiment
None of this has happened.
I only had a few project goals for this year.
Dishcloth Advent Calendars
I need to complete 18 copies of 25 different patterns.
I started another pair on the trip to India, but haven’t worked on them since I got back.
I haven’t done anything with this project.
Other Finished Projects
This is a list of all the projects I’ve finished so far this year. I’m omitting anything already listed above. These projects don’t necessarily fit into any of the goals I wrote in January. I was surprised that there’s so few! I guess I’ve been more on target than I realized 🙂
I’m collating the above list into one so that I can more easily post on Sundays. I’m also adding some goals. I’ve taken on additional projects and I’ve acquired a floor loom! I’m not including a stash-related goal. I don’t plan to acquire more yarn this year, but who do I think I’m kidding?
On Saturday, June 6, Stacy and I attended the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival (website) in Franklin, Indiana. This is a two-day festival, held on Friday and Saturday, but we were only able to make it for the Saturday since we were at Greencastle, Indiana’s First Fridays program on Friday afternoon and evening. We had a wonderful time at the Fiber Festival, and had plenty of time to visit all the vendors. We did not have enough time to take any of the classes at the festival; if we were able to go both days, we would have taken at least one class.
I love going to fiber events held at county fairgrounds or similar outdoor venues because animals are always present at these events. Hoosier Hills is such an event. When we drove through the gate of the fairgrounds, we saw the alpaca and llama pen on our left. It was the first place we visited. This area was organized by a local 4H chapter. They set up the lawn area as an obstacle course and at three times during the day, the 4H members led their alpaca or llama through the course. My favorite obstacle was the hula hoop. The child held the hoop up and the alpaca jumped through it!
The 4H was raising money by taking pictures of Festival attendees with an alpaca.
Of course, Stacy and I had our picture taken with an alpaca! This one is named Hapi (pronounced happy). He’s about a year old and a rescue. When his owner rescued him, he was quite nervous around people but now he’s super friendly. If you look closely, you might be able to see the little piece of straw sticking out of his mouth.
Hapi’s owner told us he gives kisses. I’m sad this picture is out of focus, but it is still funny!
On the opposite side of the lawn area was a pen containing a one-week-old kid and his mama. This little goat was hilarious. He came running over any time I bent down to take a picture, but didn’t want to be petted. He needed to check out everything in the pen and he was the boss of everything. When a llama in an adjacent pen stuck its head through the bars and started eating the straw in the goat pen, the baby ran over and jumped on top of the bale, like he was the king of the pen!
I didn’t get any pictures of the food, but did want to comment on the available food. I only saw two food trucks: ice cream and kettle corn. This is the kind of food I expect at events like this, and assumed we would have to leave the fairgrounds to find a restaurant in town for lunch. But then we went into one of the vendor buildings and discovered that the 4H was selling food. They had burgers, hot dogs, chips, and bottled drinks. And they had vegan vegetable soup. I was so thrilled! I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian and fairs tend to be hard re: food. I expect to eat snack food like kettle corn at worst and unhealthy food like greasy pizza at best. Every once in a while, I’ll stumble on to something really worth eating like grilled corn or the various offerings of the Artichoke booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool. I’ve never found vegan vegetable soup at a fair before! It was delicious. It looked like it was homemade, and was full of vegetables like potatoes, carrots, lima beans, peas, and more, all for only $2 for a cup!
Vendors and Shopping
Just over 50 vendors attended this festival. Perhaps 1/3 of these vendors also attend The Fiber Event in Greencastle, which takes place two weeks before Hoosier Hills. The rest were vendors we hadn’t seen before. I had three goals for shopping at this event: Good for Ewe Mirrorball yarn (this is a yarn manufactured in Indiana, which I bought from Nomad Yarns (website, Ravelry group) at last year’s Fiber Event) so I can reknit the Begonia Swirl Shawl that got felted, yarn to knit a shawl for Stacy, and maybe some breed-specific spinning fiber if I happened across any I don’t already have. I did purchase these things and then some!
I only bought three other skeins of yarn. The blue skein on the left is the Good for Ewe Mirrorball I needed for my replacement Begonia Swirl Shawl, which I purchased from The Clay Purl booth. The blue skein in the middle is from Knitted to a T. It is laceweight Opulent (70/20/10 Baby Alpaca / Silk / Cashmere) in the Sapphire colorway. At 1312 yards for 104 grams, it’s a very fine weight of lace yarn! This is the yarn for Stacy’s shawl. The brown skein on the right is from Ballyhoo Farm in Kentucky. It is undyed Shetland wool from “Cake.” I love yarn where you know the name of the sheep who grew the wool!
The fourth skein, the pink one, was a door prize. It is a skein of Bartlett Yarn, provided by Copper Centaur Studios (website, Facebook). I rarely win anything, so was excited to get a door prize! I didn’t know until I was writing this blog post that Bartlett Yarns is a family-owned mill in Maine that’s been around since 1821. That’s pretty cool!
I got these notecards from Ballyhoo Farms. All the photos are from their farm. I got to sort through a stack of cards to pick 10 for my set, and it was truly hard to pick! The one on top is Cake, the producer of the wool that became my skein of yarn.
I was about to order some more Knit Picks cables, so was glad to run into a booth selling them. Now I won’t convince myself to spend $50 at Knit Picks, so that I can get the free shipping. I got the Wacky Woollies umbrella and the two buttons at the same booth as the cables. I bought the two shawl pins at The Clay Purl booth when I bought the Mirrorball yarn. They are handmade by Lisa Thyr of Wool’s End. Her business card doesn’t have a website and I couldn’t find her on Google Search, Etsy, Ravelry, or Facebook. Her work is beautiful and I had a hard time picking just one or two shawl pins!
The three remaining items on the right hand side of the photo — the Christmas ornament, pen, and earrings — are all from Bur Oak Studio (website, Facebook, Etsy). The artist is Jennifer. She makes all kinds of beautiful items from metal knitting needles. She has signs for identifying plants, bracelets, necklaces, magnets, bookmarks, and more. Stacy bought me the pen as a gift; I bought her a Christmas ornament as a gift.
I’ve seen some knitting needle jewelry before, but Jennifer had some unique items and an eye for putting everything together. Even her containers of pieces and tools were pretty to me. (I took these pictures with permission of the artist!)
At The Fiber Event last year, I bought 4 hand-turned crochet hooks from Sistermaide. This year, I bought 5 more. I love these hooks. They are well made and pointy, which I find helpful since I still crochet very tightly.
I bought 7 new-to-me breed-specific fibers from Dyed in the Wool. Sandy and Benita (host of The Fiber Pusher Podcast (website, YouTube, Ravelry Group)) are incredibly organized. They had many different kinds of fiber (at least 50), and the best way to buy it that I’ve ever seen. I wish I’d taken a picture of the set up. They had a couple of poster boards with rectangles drawn on them with a sharpie. Each space on the board was for a different kind of fiber. The name and inventory number of the fiber was at the top of the space. The price per ounce was on the bottom of the square. In the middle of the box, they attached two samples of each fiber, one unspun and one spun. When they sold out of a fiber, they taped a piece of paper marked “out of stock” over the space. Inside the booth, the big bags of roving and top were arranged by inventory number. I took some time looking at the board, then read off all 7 inventory numbers for the fiber I wanted. Benita went into the booth and weighed out the 4 ounces of each fiber, as I specified. Each fiber went into its own grocery-style bag and Benita wrote the fiber name and weight on the outside of the bag. She wrote all the bags first, before she started weighing, and passed the list of fiber to Sandy so I could pay while Benita was weighing.
Stacy and I were joking that it looked like I was carrying around a miniature flock of sheep, so I took this picture of the flock out in the grass. I had to leave them in the bags, though. It’s summer in Central Florida, which means it rains for an hour or two every afternoon. It seems as though the grass is never dry! A few of the fibers I bought were single-animal. The name in quotes after a breed name is the name of the sheep!
LincolnFolk is a breed I hadn’t heard of before. It is in development by Richert Ranch, crossing their Suffolk x Hampshires with Lincoln. On her blog, Benita has a post about visiting the farm to buy fleeces. That blog post includes a picture of raw fleeces from Marshmallow Jr., Poppy, and Gavroche. Marshmallow Jr is the second raw fleece you’ll see as you scroll down the post. Poppy is in the middle, the last of the black fleeces pictured. The very last fleece pictured on the blog post is Gavroche. I don’t know if any of the pictured fleeces are the source of the fiber I purchased, but it’s fun to see raw fleeces from the same sheep!
I recently finished spinning Cotton Candy Corriedale dyed by Sassy Bee Fibers (website, Facebook). I bought that fiber at The Fiber Event last year; this year, I bought three fibers from Sassy Bee.
We thought we were done shopping for the day. On our way out of the fair, we stopped back at the competition table to see who won the various prizes. Many of the fleece entries were gone, either sold or picked up by whoever entered them. One of the remaining fleeces was a beautiful, black Alpaca. The woman at the competition booth told us the fleece was so stunning that the judge wanted to buy it! The person who entered the fleece did not plan to come back to pick it up. Her son was in a car accident; she dropped the fleece off at the festival and went straight to the hospital. As a result, we weren’t able to get much information about the fleece. Neither Stacy nor I wanted an entire Alpaca fleece, so we decided to split it. We bought the fleece, and I carried it over to the Ohio Valley Natural Fibers booth and dropped it off for processing. Before I dropped it off, I took a quick picture, but this really doesn’t do the fleece justice! I can’t wait to get the roving back from the mill, but it will take a while. Their current processing time is about 3 months.