Tour de Fleece Recap & Sweet Sheep News

Have you guys been over to the Knitted Bliss blog yet today? Julie’s been kind enough to post an Indie Business Interview with me for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. There’s a special coupon code available to her readers, too, so definitely go check it out!

I’m happy to announce that I have a new handmade soap available for sale: Ocean Mist! It consists of a lovely pale blue aloe vera gel base scented with Sea Moss (gentle, clean, slightly floral) and contains swirls of goat milk soap scented with Down by the Bay (bright, tangy, herbaceous). If you saw my post on Instagram, you’ll know that I was unsure about my first swirl attempt but I really like how the finished soaps look and will definitely be making more.

In spinning news, I’m happy to report that despite my busy weekend, I was able to power through and finish spinning one last Tour de Fleece skein. I spun some undyed Wensleydale top from Three Waters Farm in a 2-ply to coordinate with a gradient skein of Wensleydale I had previously spun. Unfortunately, I was rushing so much that I spun the undyed singles with the opposite twist than I had the gradient skein singles, so the finished skeins do not have the same direction of ply twist. This will likely not matter too much in the finished fabric, but since I do intend to use the skeins together it bugs the attention-to-detail part of me. Now the question is, do I spin the second 4 oz of undyed fiber to match the undyed skein I just finished in case I need more yardage or to match the gradient skein and use the first undyed skein elsewhere?

Tour de Fleece Recap & Sweet Sheep News | Woolen Diversions

Tour de Fleece 2015 finishes

All told, I certainly did not spin every day I was supposed to, but I did spin far more than I would have and managed to spin three skeins from start to finish over the last three weeks. If you ask me, that output isn’t too bad, especially since it’s three more skeins than I likely would have finished without the tour! (See this post for finish details about the other skeins.)

And now another question: what to spin next?! Oh, the possibilities…

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WIPWed #100: That’s a Nice Round Number

I’ve reached 100 WIP Wednesday posts, woohoo! Now, that’s not 100 weeks in a row or even 100 weeks of knitting, as there has been plenty more knitting than that, but 100 weeks of cataloging my knits in a systematic way, at least! (You can see all WIPWed posts here, if you’d like.) This week, I have spinning and socks.

My Favorite Socks Ever:

My favorite socks are currently in the toe stage of development, which means they’re almost done! I’m going to wear the bejeezus out of these things come fall. Also, I thought I should illustrate how difficult it is for me to get good blog photos sometimes; I have to fight off kitties for space and light (especially the yarn-hungry Darwin) through the entire photo-taking process.

Stealth Socks:

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BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight, colorway Grimm. Click for project page.

The secret stealth socks are progressing, but not nearly fast enough. I’m on the heel flap of both but need to put some serious time into them this week.

TdF Merino Mind Bullets:

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BeeMiceElf Merino top, colorway Mind Bullets. Click for handspun page.

Even though they are a pain in the butt to wind neatly, my favorite part of Turkish spinning is the fat little turtles of yarn you get when you take the cop off the spindle. That’s only about 0.5 oz of fiber, so I have a bit more to go *eye roll*.

TdF Dusky Greens:

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Three Waters Farm Falkland, colorway Greens at Dusk. Click for handspun page.

As I am on the Three Waters Farm Tour de Fleece team, I figured it was about time I started in on some Three Waters Farm fiber. In one evening (!) I spun up 1/3 of a braid of Falkland wool in lovely green shades. I’m planning to make a 3-ply yarn to coordinate with the pound of Falkland I spun up when I first got my wheel. Now if I just had more time to spin… Work is going to be insane through the end of the month and the first couple of weeks of August will be busy with a vacation and a conference, so chances are my posts will be a bit spotty until later in August. I will do my best but if I disappear for a while, that’s why!

As for reading, I started a new book:

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Definitely worth the read.

Some of you may have already heard of the Whole30 program, and even if you have, this book is worth reading to better understand the reasons behind it. The idea of the program is to stop eating certain unhealthy foods for 30 days and see how your body feels. Then you reintroduce them and observe any changes, so that you can make well-informed decisions about your diet in the future. I love this idea. The book does a good job of summing up the very complicated and unclear science of how food interacts with your body. Admittedly, the authors overuse analogies waaaaaaaaaaay too much, but the science they describe is pretty sound and clearly explained. They define unhealthy foods as those that do one (or more) of four things: 1- have an addictive or unhealthy psychological effect, 2- unbalance your hormones, 3- disrupt your gut health, and 4- induce an immune system response. For the most part, these foods include all grains, dairy, legumes, and seed oils. It essentially encourages a Paleo-style diet of protein, veggies, and fruit. For people struggling with their health or their weight while eating what seem like healthy foods, giving this program a try might be worth it. I haven’t done it quite yet, but the diet I did last year was very much like it and since I’ve been slowly-but-surely regaining some of the weight I had lost (despite calorie-counting, yoga, weight-lifting, and walking regularly) it’s worth a try to see if it can get my metabolism-related hormones back in balance.

Also, if you’ll allow me a moment on my soapbox, I think people should read this book so that they realize that obesity is a real biological problem. It’s not just mental (put down the fork!) or about willpower (get up off the couch!), it involves overcoming real biochemical challenges (genetics, metabolism, stress, hormones, brain chemicals) as well as societal pressures (restaurants, ads, easy junk food, peers) at every turn. And for some people, it’s a lifelong freaking struggle, despite doing everything right. It’s a legitimate disease and as far as I can tell, it’s one of the few left that people feel justified in openly mocking and belittling. Next time you have unkind thoughts about a fat person, take a beat and remember that there’s a pretty good chance they’re working on it and it’s not all their fault.

Soapbox done, back to your regularly scheduled knitting! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesdays.

TdF Already?!

Somehow, it’s July already, and Tour de Fleece is upon us. For those who aren’t familiar, Tour de Fleece is a friendly spinning event hosted on Ravelry that aims to spin every day that the Tour de France rides (July 4 – July 26th). The point is to challenge yourself, have fun, and share your spinning with others. It’s more relaxed than Spinzilla and teams are less competitive. Sarah wrote a lovely post about the Cloudlover team on her blog, which encouraged me to think about what I might like to spin. Once I saw that two of my favorite indie fiber dyers were hosting teams (and offering prizes!) I was sucked in.

First up, is the BeeMiceElf team. I am currently in the middle of a BeeMiceElf spin so joining this team makes good sense! I intend to spin up the second braid of Eggplant in Ashes (BFL/silk) into a singles yarn. Since I’ll be traveling when the tour starts, I plan to tackle that pretty hot pink/grey braid on a spindle (Mind Bullets, Merino wool). If all goes well, I’d like to get into those Space Odyssey gradient braids (superwash BFL), maybe even spin them into a 2-ply sock yarn. I’m resisting the urge to order some of the other great gradients Laurs has in her shop right now as I think I’ll have plenty to keep me busy for 3 weeks… (but it’s hard!).

The second team I’ve joined is the Three Waters Farm team because Mary Ann’s fibers are really incredible, too. I have several braids in stash to choose from but I think I’ll try tackling the braid of Greens at Dusk (Falkland wool) first and make a 3-ply yarn to coordinate with some undyed Falkland I spun earlier in the year. If I still have time (hah!) I’ll work on some undyed Wensleydale fiber, to coordinate with a BeeMiceElf Wensleydale gradient I spun during Spinzilla last year.

For those of you keeping track, I’m attempting to spin this list of fibers in 3 weeks:

  • BeeMiceElf BFL/silk – Eggplant in Ashes – singles yarn (4 oz)
  • BeeMiceElf Merino – Mind Bullets – 2 ply on spindle (4 oz)
  • BeeMiceElf superwash BFL – Space Odyssey 2 – 2-ply sock yarn (8 oz)
  • Three Waters Farm Falkland – Greens at Dusk – 3-ply worsted-ish (4 oz)
  • Three Waters Farm Wensleydale – undyed – 2-ply DK-ish (8 oz)

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHA ooooooh, my “plans” crack me up, but they would put a nice dent in my fiber stash. This list is incredibly hilarious considering I work a full time job and I’ll be off camping for the first few days of the tour celebrating that this happened a year ago:

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(Can you believe it’s been a year??!?!)

Are you joining Tour de Fleece? Share your (unrealistic) plans with me, so I don’t feel so alone! 🙂

WIPWed #60: Post-Wedding WIPs

I am ever-so-slowly easing my way back into a normal routine after the whirlwind of the past weekend. Things are definitely a bit off-kilter as I’ve been in bed by 10 pm each night (that’s about 3 hours earlier than normal!) and still wicked tired during the day… methinks my body has some serious catching up to do! The Fiasco-Hubs and I have been slowly putting the house in order (mostly him, since I’ve been at work) and are gearing up for our honeymoon in a couple of weeks. Crafting has been creeping back into my daily life, similarly slowly but surely.

Secret Swatches:

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BMFA Marine Silk Sport, colorway Oceana. Click for project page.

Since the wedding is over, this project doesn’t need to remain a secret anymore. I’ll give you all the details on Friday but for now I’ll just say that after making six of these babies for my bridesmaids, I couldn’t resist making one more for myself. Thankfully, the knitting is fairly quick and I expect to finish it before I’m totally sick of it.

Simply Royal:

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BMFA Superwash BFL Fingering, colorway Royal. Click for project page.

These are the simple stockinette socks I started for my sanity just before the wedding. I plan to hold off knitting these a bit so I can take them on our honeymoon trip. The bright colors and easy knitting should make for perfect travel knitting. I just love how this colorway is knitting up, I’m somehow getting both stripes AND flashing/pooling! It’s a neat effect.

 

If you’re in the BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club and don’t wish to have the June shipment spoiled, look away!

 

 

Now!

 

Metallic Yak/Silk:

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BMFA RWC Yak/Silk (50%/50%), colorway Metalocalypse.

I was delighted by the recent shipment of the Rockin’ Whorl Club. The 50% yak/50% silk fiber is freaking amazing. No joke, it is a soft, silky dream to touch. I decided I needed to start spinning it immediately. However, I didn’t love the reds and indigos, it felt too primary with all that gold, so I split the 8 oz braid into color sections. All the reds and dark blues and some of the golds were separated out and I was left with 4.7 oz of just the golds, greens, and aquas to spin right now.

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Tour de Fleece spinning, woo!

This project will be my Tour de Fleece spinning, although I have very low expectations about actually finishing anything this month. However, I do plan to take my little Jenkins Aegean with me to Costa Rica and am looking forward to spinning this delicious fiber on a Caribbean beach, so you never know! My goal is just to finish spinning the 4.7 oz of this fiber into singles. Since it’s spinning up quite thinly, I doubt I’ll actually finish, but nobody can say I didn’t try!

What are you working on this week? Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.

I’m Counting It

At 12:23 am I finished plying this beautiful blue gem of a skein:

This is the second skein of Bluefaced Leicester wool from the June Pryce Fiber Arts gradient-dyed kit I’ve been spinning for Tour de Fleece. It worked up to a DK-ish weight 3-ply with 270 yards, which is exactly the same as the first skein! So that worked out nicely.

I love love love  the blues in this skein and the way they swirl together when laid like this. Love. The colors are just beautiful. Even better, they were dyed by a woman who is practically my neighbor and is part of my spinner’s guild and knit night! I had lots of fun with this kit and feel like I’ve finally gotten good with chain-plying on the wheel and fixing problems (like when the single breaks). Two braids (8 oz.) were dyed in complimentary gradients with the idea that they would then be knit into something like the Noro striped scarf.



The blue skein still needs its bath, you can see how much longer it looks than the green/purple skein. It’ll spring back a bit after a wash. I’m thinking I might use my skeins for Lee Meredith’s Waving Chevron Scarf, I like the shape of it, but I’m not sure how it’ll look with using 2 colors instead of 3.

Copyright leethal, from Ravelry pattern page

I’ll have to swatch and see. 🙂 But that’s getting ahead of myself. For now I’m just happy that I made 8/9ths of my Tour de Fleece goals! Even though I finished a few minutes past midnight, I’m still counting it! I’m sad I didn’t achieve my extra-special-gold-star-challenge of spinning an ounce of my still-currently-unwashed fleece, but I just did not have a free weekend with good weather to do the washing. Hopefully one will come around soon. For now, yay for Tour de Fleece!

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Plying Is Magic

Every time I spin, I am delighted by the magic of plying. You take this weird, lumpy, wiry little single of spun fiber and transform it into beautiful, fluffy, real and usable yarn.

This is the BFL fiber I’ve been working on for Tour de Fleece. I spun the gradient-dyed braid worsted style and chain-plied it to preserve the color changes. It’s about 270 yards of DK-ish weight (I always forget to measure wpi before I skein it up… woops). I love the way the colors blend into each other and am excited to see it knit up. This skein represents about half of my TdF goals. I’ve been spinning up the second braid of the gradient kit, as well.

I only have about 2 oz of fiber left to spin. That bobbin on the left is driving me crazy: I can’t find the end of my yarn. The single broke during spinning and the end concealed itself most thoroughly on the bobbin. I was so frustrated I just started a new bobbin but I’m going to have to find the end eventually! Any tips? I already resorted to taking packing tape to the single and trying to lift the end up like lint. It didn’t work.

Darwin approves of the new yarn. This is his stealthy “I look all innocent but turn your back for a second and that yarn will be mine” attack mode. Little devil.

WIPWed #29: Treadling Along

I am happy to announce that while my spinning and knitting lately have not been very speedy, they have been fairly steady. I made a good bit of progress on my Tour de Fleece spinning, 4 oz of the BFL gradient kit I’m working up have been spun into singles and I’m ready to start the second half of the kit later tonight.

Ah, I love a full bobbin!

With all my home time taken up with spinning, my knitting has been fairly monogamous. I’ve only really been working on my travel knitting (sock) and meeting knitting (shawl).

CY Skinny Bugga

I’m still slowly striping my way through the Tour-de-Sock pattern from the last round. I was nearly finished with it last week but started the band of colorwork on the foot too late so it was all the way down near the toe and I hated it, so I frogged back. Nothing like making the sock foot slog last twice as long! It was worth it, though.

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight

My sweet and spring-y Budding Lintilla shawl is nearing its end. That little ball on the left is the last of the original skein. I will continue through the end of it then use the additional leftovers that a couple of lovely Ravelers sent me to work the edging of the shawl. I’m excited to see how this will turn out!

Finally, I just wanted to say that I apologize for not being around to comment much lately. I’m working on transferring my blog from blogger to WordPress as I dislike the changes blogger has been making and I want a fresh start. Much of my limited inside-time has been and will be spent on setting up the new blog for a little bit. I hope you’ll come visit me at my new place when it’s ready!

Also, check out more WIPs by clicking below. 

Progress and Surprise

I hope you all had a great holiday weekend! Mine was very busy and full of sun, waves, and family (as it should be). It also involved a wonderful surprise as I found this little beauty waiting for me in the mail:

That’s a handwoven wool shawl that I had entered a raffle ticket to win way back in March when I went to Woolapalooza at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, Massachusetts. To say that I was excited and that I love this thing are understatements. It’s fabulous! The tag doesn’t specify what breed of sheep the wool is from but it is bouncy, lightweight, a little bit ‘crunchy’, and warm. The woven pattern is just gorgeous, too.

It reminds me very much of the mitered squares that you see in sock blankets everywhere. I love it and wish very much that I could thank the weaver personally.

I’ve been doing more than just basking in the glow of unexpected woolen finery, however. I’ve been working on spinning up my own but of beauty, too:

I’m making steady progress on my June Pryce Fiber Arts gradient-dyed BFL kit for Tour de Fleece. I started with purple, have progressed through the purply blue, finished the blue, worked through the blue-ish green bits, and am now beginning the final solid green third of the braid. I am really loving working with BFL wool. It’s been light and lofty to spin and as a longwool has a nice silky hand while remaining very soft. It’s also the first fiber I’ve been able to spin worsted-style successfully, letting the twist pull just from one end of the top. I’ve always had to spin top over the fold to get a consistent single (not sure why, it always felt like it got ‘stuck’ in my hands any other way) but with the longer, silkier fibers of BFL I haven’t had any trouble drafting in the more controlled worsted style. I’ve found my spinning groove again and am excited to see how this plies up!

Tour-de-Fail

I’ll admit: I knew this would happen. Signing up for both Tour-de-Sock and Tour de Fleece which co-occur over June & July… there was no way I’d keep up with both plus regular life. No way, especially since it’s summer when I limit my inside-sitting-down-time. My 3rd TdS sock is about where it was on Friday, with some more of the foot done. I’ve decided not to even cast on the 4th TdS pattern because it involves about a million beads and I’m just not that interested in it. I’d much prefer to finish one of the pretty pairs I’ve already begun. And my Tour de Fleece spinning? Well…

I forgot. Totally. In my mind, the thing started July 1st. Nope! I’m 2 days behind before I’ve even started! To make it worse, the last half of June was so rainy I have yet to get around to washing my first fleece, which consitutes a portion of my TdF goals. Since it’s my blog, I reserve the right to amend my goals:

  1. Spin for at least 15 minutes every day (which I will begin tonight!).
  2. Finish two skeins (8 oz) of gradient-dyed BFL from June Pryce Fiber Arts on my wheel.
  3. Extra-special-gold-star-challenge: Wash, process, and spin 1 oz of wool from my first fleece.

That’s still a hefty 9 oz of spinning to finish over the next 3 weeks so I’ll be very happy if I complete it.

Would you like to see why I totally forgot about the TdF this past weekend?

Love. That. Shirt.

I was too busy fawning over spending quality time with my nephews, Liam and Logan, 2.5 years and 2 weeks old, respectively. And with those adorable faces, can you blame me for forgetting to spin?

The teasing can never start too early.

😀 I miss the little boogers already!

IS #24: So Many Tours!

Something very simple has been inspiring me lately.

Ahhh, the humble spindle. I feel like I haven’t spun in ages– in reality it’s probably been more like 6 weeks, but that’s pretty long! There has been much talk of spinning on blogs and Ravelry lately and man oh man is it getting to me. My fingers are itching. My wheel is waiting. My spindles are dropping. Yes, I’m joining the tour.


In a previous post, I had mentioned how I wanted to spin a little every day starting in June. Well, turns out my spinner instincts must’ve been buzzing because June 30th is the start date of 5th annual Tour de Fleece! The idea is to do something awesome and challenging, perhaps not quite as awesome or challenging as a crazy long-ass bike ride, but cool nonetheless. The main guidelines are as follows:

  1. Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday June 29th through Sunday July 21st. Days of rest: Monday July 8th and Monday July 15th. (Just like the actual tour.)
  2. Spin something challenging on the challenge day (usually the toughest high mountain stage: this year, it’s Stage 18, on Thursday, July 18th, when they climb Alpe d’Huez twice).

There are a few others but those are the big ones. You can join teams or not, spin a little or a lot, whatever your personal goal/challenge might be. I joined a team of fans of Verdant Gryphon yarns, even though they don’t sell any fiber, just because people on the VG boards on Ravelry are always so fun, friendly, and knowledgeable. And there are prizes, always prizes. As we all know how I love to plan, I’ve been having fun thinking up things to do. Unsurprisingly, I have a few ideas.

  1. Spin for at least 15 minutes every day (which I will begin practicing starting tomorrow because I already said I would).
  2. Finish two skeins (8 oz) of gradient-dyed BFL from June Pryce Fiber Arts on my wheel (which I’ve barely begun but won’t touch again until the tour starts).
  3. Finish 3 more breeds (3 oz) for my Ongoing Spinner’s Study.
  4. Extra-special-gold-star-challenge: Wash, process, and spin 1 oz of wool from my first fleece.

Yeah, you heard me: my first fleece! IF I mange to get to the farmer’s market before my yoga class today, I MIGHT be able to get a hold of a Southdown fleece for a pretty reasonable price. I’ve never used Southdown wool before but I’m itching to give this whole fleece-to-spun thing a try and don’t mind practicing on one I’m not totally invested in. For those keeping track, I’ve planned to spin 12 oz. of fiber in 3 weeks. That’s 4 oz, or a typical braid of fiber, every week… while simultaneously knitting a boatload of socks. And trying to fit time in for designing. And, you know, work. And life. This is my way of declaring: I am pretty crazy and all of these plans will probably never happen so please don’t be too disappointed when the beautiful socks and fabulous handspun yarn that live in my head don’t quite make it to the blog. A girl’s gotta dream, right?

What (crazy idea) is inspiring you lately?