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.
Last Friday, I spent several hours spinning the Cormo while at a demo. I started a new bobbin at the beginning of the event. Here’s how it looked at the end of the event:
Heart Illusion Dishcloths
I’ve knit four more dishcloths this week.
Raindrops on Roses Shawl
I joined the Testing Pool group on Ravelry and signed up to do two test knits. This is one of them. It’s a top down shawl, stockinette with a lace border. I’ve finished perhaps 1/4 of the stockinette section.
Sand Tracks Scarf
This is the second test knit. It is a cabled scarf on a seed stitch background. I’ve finished the garter stitch border and the first pattern repeat. I think I’m really going to love this project.
Today’s prompt is to share the contents of our knitting bag, crafting caddy, or other tool organization system with you. I don’t usually use a knitting bag and I don’t have a bag dedicated to that purpose. I keep each WIP in its own gallon-sized Ziploc bag which contains the yarn, needles, pattern, embellishments (like beads) or unusual tools needed for the project. When I will be crafting out of the house, I might just grab one of the WIP Ziplocs and toss it in my purse. If I will be working on multiple projects or the project is large, I’ll put everything into an appropriately sized bag to make it easier to carry. While I have a pretty impressive stash of yarn and fiber, I don’t have an extensive tool collection. I like my tools streamlined and multifunctional. It’s fun to dig through my stash, looking for just the right fiber. Once I find it, I want to get to work with as little fuss as possible!
I’m writing this post a few days after the St. Johns River Festival of the Arts (see my blog post about that), when I spent two entire days in the Weavers of Orlando booth, doing demos. On Saturday, I mostly spun and on Sunday I mostly wove. I also brought a knitting project with me. This is the most stuff I ever carry at a time, so I figured I would take pictures of everything in the bag. It’ll give you a good sense of the scope of my tools.
My Knit Kit
I love my Knit Kit. It’s the one thing I carry with me wherever I’m crafting. It fits in my purse and it’s got all the everyday tools I might need in a pinch. I had a Knit Kit, but left it at my sister’s when I was helping her move, so I just bought a new one at Distaff Day in January.
It’s got a row counter, double-ended crochet hook, tape measure, and blade built into it. The cover on the bag is a needle / hook sizer. The interior compartment holds a pair of folding scissors, stitch markers, and tip protectors. I never use tip protectors and don’t like the rubber stitch markers, so I removed them and stocked the back with my own preferred tools:
I use the jump rings as stitch markers. I use the lobster claw clasps and the gourd safety pins (available on Amazon (affiliate link)) as row markers.
Of course, I had the Cormo that I’m currently spinning.
I had extra bobbins, just in case I filled the one on the wheel.
I had the two metal posts for my built-in lazy Kate, the ball of yarn I’m using for leaders, and spinning wheel oil. I take the metal posts of the lazy Kate out of the wheel when I’m transporting it so that they don’t damage my car.
I had a pile of warping sticks. I brought some with me to place around the knots as I wound the beginning part of the weaving on the cloth beam. The rest of these came out of the weaving. They’re dirty because they fell out of the weaving on to the pavement or floor as I wove and because the llama yarn that is my current warp is pretty hairy and shedding a lot. Fortunately, they are easy to clean since they are vinyl.
Bobbins with the yarns for the current project and empty ones that I already used.
The balls of yarns for the current project, for when I need to wind more yarn on the bobbins.
The card telling me how many inches of each color to weave, and a pen to cross off when I’ve finished that section. (If you want to weave a Dr. Who scarf, don’t bother trying to copy this down from here. Next week, I’ll have a blog post with a link to the Google spreadsheet that has all the information you need).
Miscellaneous Bag Contents
The Super Secret Shawl in its project bag, in case I wanted to knit rather than spin or weave. I ended up not knitting at all during the weekend.
A finished Summit shawl, knit by a friend. She asked me to block it for her and gave it to me while we were at the Festival.
The apron I was wearing while doing demos on Sunday.
Not in the Bag
I have a few tools that I really like, but didn’t need to carry over this weekend.
My fiber scale. I have a kitchen scale that I use only for cooking, and this scale which I use only for fiber-related purposes. I weigh dye on it. I weigh leftover skeins of yarn to calculate the yardage in a finished object. I weigh loom waste to calculate how much yardage I lost in the waste. I weigh bags of fiber to see how much I have left to spin. I love this scale. It weighs in either grams (down to 0.1 gram) or ounces. It has a tare function so I can put a bowl on top, reset the weight to zero and put larger items in the bowl for easier weighing. It weighs up to 2000 g (about 5 pounds), which is sufficient for my fibery purposes.
My mini scissors. When I travel, I take the foldable scissors out of the Knit Kit and put them in my checked luggage. Technically, I should be able to take them in carry on because they are less than 4″ long, but I hate to take the chance. If I don’t have checked luggage, I leave the foldable scissors at home and toss these mini ones into my carry on. Unfortunately, they are a little too fat to fit in the Knit Kit scissors section, but I love them anyway.
My needle notebook. My entire collection of knitting needles and crochet hooks lives in one zip up binder notebook. The entire collection. If I wanted to, I could carry all my needles with me all the time. I rarely take the notebook with me, though. I just don’t need to have all my needles with me. I probably will bring the binder with me to the TKGA Conference in July, and think it’s awesome that it is so easy for me to do so. I purchased this binder from KnitPicks, back when I first bought my interchangeable needle set in 2005 or 2006. A few of the interior zipper pockets came with the binder, and I bought more pages separately. Unfortunately, KnitPicks discontinued the binder several years ago. I think it’s the best item they’ve ever sold for needle storage and don’t know why they discontinued it!
It’s been another busy week of crafting! Spending the entire weekend doing demos helped in that regard. I worked slower than usual, since I was chatting with Festival attendees and regularly leaving my work aside to show an interested person how to weave on the floor loom, but I was there for so many hours that I got a lot done despite the frequent interruptions.
Super Secret Shawl
I only got 1/2 of a repeat done this week. I will be bringing this project with me as travel knitting next week, and expect to get a great deal more finished.
I spent most of Saturday spinning. Three hours at my weekly spinning group followed by 5 hours spinning at the Festival of the Arts was enough time to spin at least half of the bobbin that is on my wheel (2.5 to 3 ounces).
Woven Doctor Who Scarf
On Saturday night, I tied this scarf on to my rigid heddle loom. This evening I finished weaving it and it is currently soaking for wet finishing.
No jokes or April Fools here. Just works in progress.
As I mentioned in my post about the St. Augustine Spin In, I spun a couple ounces of Cormo at the event. I’m still loving this fiber!
When I got home from the Spin In, I collapsed on the couch and did some knitting. I’ve never knit a clapotis, so cast one on. I was thinking I might bring this to India as travel knitting, but at the rate I’m going, I’ll be done before I leave. I’m in the middle of the 4th repeat on the straight section. I’m almost at the end of my second ball of yarn and I only have 2 more. This means I’m close to halfway through the shawl. I won’t do all 12 repeats of the straight section, but I will get 8 to 9 repeats and that should be fine since I’m a short person!
Master Handknitter Level 1
Today I went through the instructions again and made myself a checklist covering all the tasks that must be completed for Level 1. I am registered to attend the TKGA Conference in San Diego in late July, and I’m hoping that I can finish all of Level 1 before I go. I’d really like to finish by late May or early June so that I can submit and possibly get back my reviewed binder before the conference, but given how much traveling I’m doing over the 6 weeks, it seems unlikely that I’ll be able to do it.
It is amazing how much work it is to prepare to travel to India! I got 5 shots of immunizations, a series of pills to take for a 6th, plus antimalarial and antidiarrhea prescriptions.
I applied for Global Entry, a program which makes the process of going through customs on the return trip much easier. That program required an interview, so I went and did that. We started applying for the travel visa and realized we needed additional information, so I went about procuring that. I called our credit card, cell phone carrier, and health insurance company to let them know we are traveling and find out if I needed to do anything with them before we left. There’s a lot more, but I can’t remember it all!