Friday, June 29, 2012

Tour de Fleece 2012

Here we go again - the spinning world gears up to ride along with the cyclists as they push themselves to the limit in the Tour de France. The Tour de FLEECE (Ravelry link) lasts for the same duration as the cycling race - Saturday June 30th through Sunday July 22nd. We spinners challenge ourselves, and race against no one but the calendar and our creativity. We make outrageous plans and try to complete as much as we can before the clock runs out.

My plans are skewed a bit this year by the fact that the Tour coincides with two weaving workshops - Rep Weave this weekend and a Saori workshop next weekend. Still, I'll have mornings and evenings free (and the weekdays in between) and I plan to make the most of them.

I have a big pile of fiber that I'm spinning on commission, and that will continue (I do my commission spinning in the mornings). I'll show you that giant pile of yarns soon, when it's finished. That doesn't count (in my mind, which is the only place that matters) toward my TdF spinning.

Here's the fiber I plan to spin up during the Tour. I dug deep into the Southern Cross Fibre, Hello Yarn, and Enchanted Knoll Farm bins - the teams I'm spinning for this year. I belong to all three clubs, and have squirreled away their fiber lovingly for years. I pulled out some golden oldies - well-marinated and loved colourways whose time has come to shine.

Southern Cross Fibre “Equinox”, australian merino, Club, October 2009
Southern Cross Fibre “Funhouse”, falkland, Club, December 2009

Southern Cross Fibre COMBO:
“Irises”, shetland, Club, June 2009
“Deep Thought”, oatmeal bfl, Club, November 2009
HelloYarn “Patchwork”, merino, Club, August 2009

HelloYarn “Red Velvet”, shetland, Club, March 2008

HelloYarn COMBO:
 “Throwing Stones”, rambouillet, update fibre, August 2010
“Pallid”, rambouillet, Club, November 2009
Enchanted Knoll Farm “Treasure Chest”, Hooves Batt Club September 2008

Enchanted Knoll Farm “Harvest”, Hooves Batt Club October 2008

Enchanted Knoll Farm “Pass The Pie”, Hooves Batt Club November 2009  
Look for some of the resulting SCF and HY skeins to show up in my Etsy shop in August. Not sure of the yarn construction plans of these, though I know the Enchanted Knoll batts will all become sock yarn for me (which I'll then madly knit into socks during the Ravellenics following the TdF.) Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Montana Trip 2012

We spent last week in glorious Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. We usually take the week of our wedding anniversary (33 years and counting!) to get away in the mountains and spend quality time together in close quarters. This usually means driving all over creation in a rental car. :)

We had a wonderful time, as usual. We flew into Great Falls, Montana, and spent the first two days in Marysville, Montana, with my dear friends Sandi and Colin. Then we headed down to Yellowstone in upper Wyoming for two days of hot springs, geysers, and wildlife.

(click for bigger pictures)

Funnel Hot Spring
Old Faithful
Bison Herd
Bighorn Sheep

Next we drove up to Glacier (northeast Montana) to do lots of driving and a little hiking - two separate 5-mile hikes gave us some gorgeous scenery:

St. Mary Lake
St. Mary Falls
SwiftCurrent Lake
Running Eagle Falls
At the higher altitudes, there's snow year round. I can't get used to snow in June!

Logan Pass, on the Going To The Sun Road

Is it any wonder we love Montana so much???

Craftsy Online Classes

Just got an email from Craftsy, giving a heads-up that all their online classes are $19.99 or less through July 2nd. Edit: I've been informed that the class discount is likely for people who've already had a class with them, and not for new people. Drat. I still recommend their class format, though.

 I've only taken one class from Craftsy so far (Bead & Tapestry Cuffs with Claudia Chase from Mirrix Looms), but I was very impressed with the format. You pay the class fee, then watch it at your own pace, whenever you want. Pause, stop, rewind - watch part of it now, part of it later. There's no expiration date on your class. Once you've paid your fee, you'll retain access to it indefinitely, so it's easy to go back and re-watch details. You also get access to the teacher via email in case you have questions.

I've just started the "Short Rows" knitting class - that one is FREE.

There's a rigid heddle weaving class, a spinning class, numerous knitting classes... I think I'm going to take the "Shoot It! Product Photography" class next, since I'm always fumbling with my camera.

And the best part? I can take the class in my jammies, a few minutes at a time,to accommodate my short attention span!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kraken Sweater, Finished!

We traveled to our favorite place on earth this past week. Yes, Montana, land of big sky and mountains. We visited my friend Sandi at the beginning of the week, and she helped me sew the sleeves and neckband onto my sweater, making it complete. Honestly, it was so much easier than I feared. A simple backstitch did the trick. My first handspun handknit sweater is complete! It's warm and fits so nicely - I love it! We took it up to Glacier National Park and showed it some snow at Logan Pass, on the Going To The Sun road.

Now I'm eager to start my next sweater spin! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Handwoven SAORI Market Bag

Our guild Retreat is coming up fast. Such a lovely time to relax with friends and fiber, with no responsibilities and no schedule. Wait... there IS one responsibility - every year we're given a different challenge, to create something incorporating some handspun. This year it's a market bag. I was planning to knit something... and then suddenly I realized the time had gotten away from me, and knitting was going to take too long. Enter weaving - so fast, so fun!

I dug around in my handspun stash, and found a skein of fingering weight silk singles I'd spun a long time ago from a pastel-rainbow tussah silk top (in the picture, I've already wound it onto bobbins). Perfect for my main weft. Thinking SAORI-style, I grabbed some multi-colored silk hankies and a small handful of mulberry silk top, along with some leftover bits of cotton yarn from another project.

Then I warped my Cricket loom with black 5/2 and 8/2 cotton, held together, in the 12 dent rigid heddle. This gave me a good background for some color play.

You can see that I used the handspun silk as the ground weft, and randomly tossed in torn-off bits of the hankies and top, creating hills and valleys and delightful textures. In true SAORI fashion, I didn't worry (much, I'm still a structure girl!) about the edges, and knew they would be sewn in anyway.

In practically no time, the piece was done.  The warp was 3 yards, and 7.5" in the reed/heddle. My finished piece was 90" x 6.5". I used this guide on Doni's Deli's blog to create the bag - essentially, the strip of cloth is folded like origami and sewn up the sides.

Et voila!

(That's the bag simply pinned together, before sewing.) I sewed it by hand, partially because I was intimidated by the thought of trying to get the thick fabric under my machine's foot, and also because I wanted to use the same black 8/2 cotton as I had in the warp. I was glad I'd made that decision - the fabric felt good in my hands and the sewing was relaxing.

Here's the finished bag. I folded the strap's edges in and sewed it as a tube (using an invisible ladder stitch) to narrow the strap and to give it strength. There was no cutting involved in the construction.

I am absurdly pleased with this bag. Once I add a lining, it will become my new everyday bag. I'm secretly hoping people will stop me and ask where I got it, so I can proudly say, "I wove this myself!"

Sunday, June 3, 2012


This video is amazing, and gave me numerous ideas today for letting creativity out of its box.
Janet Echelman - Taking imagination seriously: