Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tour Wrap Up

So, here is what I got done during the Tour de Fleece 2010. My goal was not speed or to spin massive amounts. I had two goals... to spin enough for the charity auction. Check. And to try some new fibers/techniques. Semi-check.

I started out strong, teaching myself to navajo ply with some leftover singles. New technique, check.

Then I spun like mad for the charity event. Check.

Next I made an attempt to spin a sock yarn. It didn't end well. The drafting technique I tried was pretty much... daft. I completely over spun my singles. It was my first traditional 3-ply. Which was interesting. I found a couple mistakes in the plying. Who knew adding one more tiny strand would junk up the works so much? Anyhow, that poor BFL is bulletproof. It ended up with the thickness of a sport to dk weight but the yardage of worsted. Someone with small feet is going to get a nice pair of footies that will last forever. It's the center yarn, Bijou from the Zen String Fiber of the month club... a while ago.

Then I got distracted. A couple of people from the team I was spinning with mentioned their opinions on drafting Targhee. It was not favorable. Now, I was shocked. I think drafting Targhee is a dream. But I've only done it once. So I thought... well maybe it was a fluke? So I pulled the only bump of Targhee I had out and spun it. It was even dreamier than the first time. To each their own! The finished product is a completely lovely 2 ply worsted weight... the blue/black/purple number up there. It's delicious. It's Midnight View from the Selah fiber of the month club.

I have one item incomplete from the tour... Becoming Art, Gypsy Love, on Superwash Merino. This one I think will actually be a heavy fingering weight. Maybe a light sport. This is progress. I ditched the daft drafting and found some brain cells again so my singles are looking good. My plan is to navajo ply this so that the colors will pool. I've been dividing up the fiber in color chunks. Some are a little more mixed than the two showing on the bobbin there. I think it should be pretty neat. This will be my first whole skein navajo plied. So you see... I didn't quite complete this challenge. But I got close.

By the way... who thought flesh colored tile would look good in front of a fireplace? Do you see it there? Ick.

While we're talking about opinions on fiber... Merino, not my favorite. It's popular because of it's softness and availability. But it's not that fun to spin. I feel like my fingers have to inch their way along crawling on top of each other. No long drafting with this stuff. It's high maintenance. It makes a lovely finished product though so I'm not going to throw it out completely.

While spinning thin I learned more about my wheel. It has a proclivity to grab at the fiber every now and then. When I was spinning thicker I really didn't notice that. But spinning thin... it jerks it out of my hand and often breaks off my work. Annoying. I've been told I can troubleshoot this by replacing the nylon tension string with some crochet cotton. We shall see.

I also spent part of an afternoon giving a Lendrum DT a test drive. It was a learning experience. The thing I enjoyed about it was that the wheel had more inertia and therefore the spinning felt smoother. The biggest downside? My feet are so long they don't even remotely fit on the treadles. It was not comfortable. And I missed my delta orifice. Having to use a threading hook seemed tedious. I'm not used to it. My conclusions after this are that I may want to upgrade my wheel to one with more enertia, but I'll probably stick to a Majacraft... unless I fall in love with Bill's new wheel.

Bill down at Paradise Fibers has his own wheel in the final stages. He took me all through the Lendrum and told me it's advantages and disadvantages. Then he took me through what their new wheel will be like and it's advantages. He didn't have one in the shop so I didn't see or spin on it. It sounds very interesting so I'm definitely going to keep stopping by there until I get to try one. I definitely think it's hard to choose a wheel when you're a beginner. You really don't know what you like or dislike or how you like to spin. Now that I have a couple years of spinning behind me I do. My initial instinct on what type of wheel I'd like was pretty right on. But I think I got lucky. For the price, my Pioneer is a dream.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tour de Fleece

Yes, you read that correctly. We fiber enthusiasts will take any occasion for creating a knit or spin along. Oddly enough it's gotten me to actually watch some of the Tour de France for the first time. It's rather interesting. Of course the tom boy in me can become a fan of pretty much any sport. Four brothers will do that to any girl.

So far I've spun up a few items for another charity auction, and one dud.

Woodland in Spring by Mosaic Moon... is a gorgeous single ply merino. The colors told me that's what they wanted to be. When fiber speaks, it's best to listen.

I also spun a 2 ply BFL, Blooming by Mosaic Moon. It has the loveliest sheen to it. BFL is like that. So soft and fluffy too. Yum. The colors ended up pooling in the skeins... one is heavy on the green, the other heavy on the pink. Not sure why. It certainly wouldn't stop me from bidding on it!

The third is a superwash BFL, Bijou by Zen String (now Wildflower Whimsy). For my birthday Hub got me a tensioned lazy kate. Oh the luxury! I thought it was time to attempt a 3-ply. This is where the learning curve enters into play. I totally overspun this fiber. The yardage is worsted, but the WPI make it more of a heavy sport weight. It also has some issues in the plying. Managing 3 singles apparently was also in the learning curve. Ah well... they can't all turn out right! It's still lovely and should make a nice pair of footies for someone.

And last, but certainly not least is this pair of mittens. I knit them from the Neverland I spun up a few months ago. I have to say I think this may be one of my favorite things I've ever made. Lovely yarn, lovely product. They fit me perfectly. Which is generally the case when you're winging it and designing your own. However, I will be putting them in the charity auction. So people had better bid high on these! They are gorgeous!

The charity auction goes live on July 26th. It is to benefit Kim, of Green Strings by SugarBubbie. After already enduring a difficult year financially her son was recently diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor. Items are being listed daily so keep checking back! Lovely yarns, fibers, and hand made items available.