TDF…And For My Next Trick…

Tour de Fleece wrapped up on Sunday and, to be honest, I was kind of relieved. I had a good Tour but, man, it was intense! Trying to finish things under deadline, posting everyday on Rav—it was like a part-time job!

I did complete two more projects before the Tour finished. First, I finished up the Cocoa Latte singles.

Baby alpaca, cashmere and tussah silk

Definitely my most successful singles to date. Only very slightly off balance, no kinky-crimpy-rollbackey things going on, super soft and no breakage. I rule.

Nicely textured and substantial singles

Plus, I ended up with 826 yards worth, and it bloomed in the wash into a nice light fingering weight: Perfect for a nice, drapey, lacy something or other.

Second, I finished the superwash merino/bamboo two-ply laceweight. A very wise woman reminded me that black lace is for crazy people…

Photos just can’t capture this correctly…it swirls with turquoise and amethyst and it’s super shiny

…and she’s right. Plying all 871 yards of this was an exercise in patience the likes of which I haven’t experienced since The Great Soy Silk Disaster of 2010. Thankfully, I was smart enough to do this on the wheel. Even with Evelyn humming away, this still seemed to take forever to ply.

The dyer called this colorway, “Milky Way.” I think it works.

Because of an unfortunate incident with a ball winder (Have you ever seen a ball of singles literally jump off the winder mid-winding? I have…it predated the The Infamous Pomegranate Tea Incident by mere moments.) I lost a whole mess of singles off the first bobbin.

Which necessitated a couple Andean bracelets while plying to make up for the difference in yardage on the two bobbins while plying.

Which led to a tangled mess on the second Andean bracelet and me finally uttering a crass expletive as I broke the single, threw away the tangle and declared the skein done.

Which also means there’s a whole mess of knots in the hank, since superwash doesn’t spit-splice too well.

Which means no Rhinebeck for this one. But that’s ok. When I finally decide to be completely crazy and knit something with this, it’ll still be really beautiful.

So, that’s it. Three Tour de Fleece skeins completed and a whole bunch other washed and finished. And, on the very last day of the Tour, I started a new project on Evelyn: My first true three-ply out of this top.

Four ounces of punta wool top from Fiber Fancy in “Vivid Rainbow”

The first two plies are done and waiting on their bobbins. The third ply is two full color repeats away from finished. I’m hauling ass on this one because I decided to take on another intense challenge right away—the 4! Ounce! Challenge (Rav link).  And since I’m technically on stashdown, and because she’s a super awesome person and is my official stashdown partner, Jenni gave me some Spunky Eclectic four-ounce put-ups of shetland and organic merino.

Of course, I’ve never actually designed a pattern…well, a pattern that I intended to share with other people. And I’ll have from August 1 to September 30 to spin, finish yarn, design, knit and publish. So, yeah…intense challenge….should be fun….maybe…

I’m thinking fingering weight two-ply out of the shetland, triangular lacy thing, very rustic and autumnal based on the colorway (pics to come of that)…no way I’m attempting to spindle spin, though. I figure if I crank away at it on Evelyn, I can probably spin and ply the four ounces in a little more than a week. Famous last words…

So, yeah…the “Vivid” three-ply needs to get on and off my bobbins right quick. We’re working on that.

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Saying Good-bye, or The End of an Era

Wednesday, I said good-bye to Leroy. It was not unexpected, but still tough.

It was tougher still on Miranda. I said good-bye to her yesterday.

Leroy and Miranda, bestest of buddies, at a much happier time

Also not unexpected, especially with her best buddy gone. Ferrets bond very closely; on top of her illness, the heartache of losing her cagemate and being alone for the first time in her entire life was too much. I expected her to give up very quickly after losing Leroy, and I’m grateful that she wasn’t alone very long.

At one end of my house, life was just beginning; at the other, it was ending—something not lost on me at all in the past week.

So, this week marks an end of an era for me. The Decade of Weasels is over.

It’s kind of surreal. There’s no ferret cage anymore. There’s no more playtime at night. No more emergency trips to Target for litter, all-purpose cleaner and paper towels for cage cleaning. No more little jars of chicken baby food on hand for when someone isn’t feeling good. No sound of someone lapping at a water bottle.

None of that. Just an empty space where the cage used to be.

Ten years of work and laughter and tears and vet visits and weasel kisses and frustration and lots and lots of Febreeze…just done. Just like that.

Very weird.

So, I can now convert the ferret room into a room for the kittens, which will be good, because I was more than a little worried about how badly they’d destroy my house if allowed to run loose while I’m at work. My plans to convert it into a den with extra sleeping space can go on hold for the next two months. There’s a bonus.

I won’t change the blog name/URL or my Rav handle because, really, it’d just be too much of a hassle.

And I’ll just distract myself with the five new little lives that’ll be taking over the ferret room.

Rest sweetly, my kiddos. I love you, and I’m so very glad you’re at peace together.

Tour de Fleece: Day 18 Progress Edition

Despite all the kitten excitement and the myriad distractions all around me, I’ve done pretty well in my first Tour de Fleece so far.

I’ve spun every day of the tour except July 15—which, given that there were brand new kitties to oggle, I think that’s understandable—so I’m planning to skip tomorrow’s day of rest and keep on going. I technically already took a rest day, so I think that’ll make up for it.

One of my goals was to get all the random skeins I’ve finished over the past few months washed, thwacked, put up, labelled and stashed away.

Finally officially done

Success! I’d accumulated quite a few—seven, to be exact—random skeins that needed finishing. Such a slacker. Well, they’re finished now. And two of them never got any attention here. Time to remedy that.

First is “Soft Forest Light”—261 yards of fingering weight Navajo ply out of two ounces of angora/bombyx silk blend from Corgi Hill Farm, finished just before Tour de Fleece began.

Super soft stuff

I should come right out and say it: I’m so not crazy about this.

I loved the fiber as it was in the top, and spinning it was a nice challenge. The angora would matt down on itself in my hand, so I was constantly fluffing and re-fluffing, and the short staple was a good change of pace for me.

Meh…

But the color. Oh, I really don’t like the color. In the top, the colors were vibrant and deep. But only on the surface fibers. The inside of the top was white white white, which totally washed out all the colors except for the initial dark brown section. The result is more pastel and muted than I wanted, and parts look muddy to me.

Eh….

It’s not awful, but it’s not my cup of tea. It is nice and soft and it has a lovely halo. Maybe I’ll make something with it. Or maybe I’ll just give it away to someone who actually loves it. We’ll see…

This next one, though, was my first completed Tour de Fleece project, and it’s the exact opposite of Soft Forest Light. This is “Surf Song,” and I love love love it!

Soooo pretty!

Fingering weight two-ply, spun from 4.5 ounces of BFL/tussah silk top, also dyed by Corgi Hill Farm. I got 507 yards out of the top, spun on my Spanish Peacock spindle and plied on Evelyn.

Swirls of blue

This blend was amazing to spin, and the dye-job was perfect. It did bleed a little on my hands, and it shed some dye in the wash as well, but none of that did anything to lessen the beautiful colors.

Better than I ever could have hoped for

Two-plying on the wheel was awesome, too. So much faster. There’s not really much more to say about this one…except don’t be surprised if you see it at Rhinebeck this year. I do think it wants to go to Rhinebeck.

OK, last one of this, I promise…

But that’s not all, folks! This has been a productive Tour thus far!

I also got all four ounces of these Cocoa Latte batts…

Dreamy soft batts

…spun into fingering weight singles. They’re baby alpaca, cashmere and tussah twice-blended batts from…wait for it…Corgi Hill Farm. Shocking, I know.

First skein, little over 400 yards, on the niddy to rest before finishing

There’s two skeins of these. The first finished really nicely; the second is resting on the niddy noddy for a couple days before washing and finishing. They’re far more successful than my first set of singles, so I’m pretty psyched. They’re also nice and soft and slightly textured from the silk.

Proper pics to come once the second skein is finished.

Finally, in non-Corgi Tour de Fleece action, I finished up all the superwash merino/bamboo lacewight singles from the Dyeing for Colour top that I had on Evelyn.

The new bobbins make Evelyn an extremely productive production wheel.

I’ll have it plied up and finished before the end of the Tour, I think…barring anything unforseen, of course.

Thursday is Challenge Day, so I’ll either work on the crazy cobweb bombyx or on the locks I’m tail-spinning into an art yarn. Or maybe both. I can only work on that silk in small doses; it makes my hands crampy. And the Tour ends on Sunday! Whew! Maybe I’ll cast on a new knitting project in celebration…I may have felt the bite of the Sweater Bug recently…

In unrelated news, the kittens are six days old now.

I know. So sweet they make your teeth rot just looking at ‘um.

They’re growing like crazy! I’m working on maintaining interspecies harmony in the house. It’s a bit of a struggle right now. Protective mommy is protective. Scaredy puppy is scaredy. Squirty bottle is squirty.

Eye Candy Friday: Bitty Kitty Edition, Plus Baby Pool Winners

Welcome to the world, bitty kitties! I’m very much looking forward to getting to know you all!

Tilly had her babies yesterday morning. Momma was a champ. Her labor took about three hours and all five little kiddos are healthy squirmy bundles of cuteness…and they’re big too! Poor Tilly looks so skinny now!

 I know I said on a couple Rav forums I’d have the winners of Tilly’s Baby Pool Giveaway up last night, but I’m a slacker and was totally distracted. Oh, well. I’m very pleased to announce that Divine Bird Jenny has won the bombyx silk from Fiber-Fancy. Jenny had the only correct guess of July 15 for Tilly’s delivery date. Congrats Jenny!

On the litter size contest, we had eight correct guesses of five kittens. The great and powerful random number generator selected Comment No. 39, Bryn, as the winner of those two skeins of Koigu. Congrats Bryn!

Thanks everyone for playing, and happy Friday!