TDF 2012: The Finish Line

Here’s what they don’t tell you about the Tour de Fleece (and what I forget every year): It is really time consuming!

Fin!

And I don’t just mean the spinning. That’s time consuming enough.

Stick a fork in ‘er!

I mean the daily photographing and photo downloading and uploading and Rav posting. It takes a butt-load of time! Which may account for the…ahem…complete and utter lack of TDF blogging…yeah…

I’m a skein on the wind…

Even so, I had a really successful Tour.

At the start, I set two goals for myself: To finish spinning and then ply the Corgi Hill Farm merino/cashmere/bombyx top in “Emo”….

Boom.

…and to spin and ply two matching gradient skeins of Corgi Hill Farm 80/20 merino/tussah in “Hawk Brother.”

Boom. Again.

I’m pretty happy with what I was able to get done. My goals were reasonable on purpose, and it feels good to have a few new finished skeins in the stash. And my spinning mojo is stronger than its been in a long, long time.

Of course, I had help along the Tour, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my helpful helper…

Such a helpful helper!

…she sacrificed many, many bellyrubs in order to make this Tour a success. Such a little team player!

The 2012 Tour: Day One

The Tour de France kicked off today, and with it, this year’s Tour de Fleece. General life craziness meant that I had to sit last year’s Tour out, so I’m psyched to jump back in this year…though I am setting some reasonable goals.

I’m riding with Team Corgi Hill Farm again because AnnaMarie is my absolute fave…

In honor of the occasion, I whipped up a little ravatar!

…and the Corgi Hill groupies always make it extra fun. And I may have a massive stash little bit of Corgi Hill fiber hanging around…can we say Operation Stash Containment? I think so!

Anywho, today I worked on the merino/cashmere/bombyx that I’ve been working on for the better part of the past two years.

“Emo”

I’m finally almost done with the first ounce, spinning it into laceweight singles.

It’ll be nice to free up my pretty sumac-whorl Bosworth Midi.

If I can get the second ounce spun and the whole she-bang two-plied by the end of the Tour, I’ll be a very happy camper.

I also started spinning this Corgi Hill gradient on Evelyn.

5 ounces of 80/20 merino/tussah in “Hawk Brother,” photo shameless ganked from AnnaMarie (because my photos of this were total junk)

I’m really stoked about this one. I split the top in half down the middle, making two matching strips, then split those strips again, for a total of four gradient pieces. The goal is two fingering-weight skeins, each with that same long gradient, to knit into Stephen West’s Daybreak.

If I can pull off the spin as I see it in my brain, I think it’s going to be pretty brilliant.

Returning from the Depths

Oh, hello there! Yes, I think I remember this place….it’s my blog, right?

I’ve been under water for a while and seem to have misplaced a month of my  life. Huh. Weird how that happens. Extra Work I Do After Actual Work is over, thankfully, and I’m hoping to return to regularly scheduled programming for a little while…at least until Annual Busy Time starts beating up on me again.

While I wasn’t here, I was using the various fiber arts to maintain my sanity. I did some colorwork.

Mitts for me!

It drove me a little bug-nutty, but I really wanted to wear these new mitts that match my big, gray, military-style wool half-trench winter coat.

I kind of love them. A lot. I love them so much, they’re getting pilly already.

Organic wool makes me happy.

The pattern is Vanamo (Rav link), and the yarn is that Sanguine Gryphon Free Range I showed off a month ago. I did change the cuffs and the tops, and made braids that point in opposite directions. I had to block the crap out of these because the first was notably smaller than the second. Humm…was someone a little stressed out at the start of this project? Possibly….

I also finished spinning that bright orange BFL top from Fiber Optic, and then I two-plied it.

Bright Sunshiney Day

It’s not my finest, evenest spin ever. Not by a long shot. But I’m proud, nonetheless, because I actually achieved a sportweight on Evelyn. Which rocks because I have a hell of a time spinning anything that’s not lace or fingering on her. I rule.

Evelyn and I cranked out another four ounces of two-ply sportweight right after, this time a superwash BFL from Southern Cross in the “Sturt” colorway.

Really dig how the colors worked out here.

Also not the most even yarn I’ve ever spun, but I’m still pleased…especially because Evelyn decided to start kicking her drive band every three minutes while I was working on the ply here. It’s the first argument Evelyn and I have ever had, and it was quite frustrating.

Very earthy…I likes it.

We’ve since worked it out, thankfully, and this yarn will end up being socks.

Oh, and I spun up some Spunky Eclectic corriedale on Evelyn, too.

Spunky corriedale in “Twenty-Ten”

I’ve since plied these singles and set the twist on the yarn. Both the Spunky and the Southern Cross were part of my random prize from the 4! Ounce! Challene! As you can see, Operation Stash Containment continues.

I’ve been working away at my Military Cardigan…

The color in this pic is way, way off. This is way more of an orange-red and way less of a pink-red.

…but I’ve kind of petered out a bit on the collar and placket. I’ll pick it back up soon, though. It’s a really cute sweater.

Finally, I whipped up a little hat!

So soft and lovely

The pattern is Brattleboro, the yarn is Malabrigo Worsted, and the hat is for a collection that Tracy is hosting for Children with Hair Loss in honor of her 30th birthday. Not only is Tracy cutting off and donating her gorgeous hair, she’s asked us to not get her gifts and to instead knit hats or make a donation to the charity. How could I not??

Like I said, fiber arts helped maintain my sanity…it’s amazing how much better my head feels when my hands are busy, busy, busy.

The Not-So-Little Fiber Festival that Could

Saturday was the first-ever New England Fiber Festival at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield. I gotta say, I was impressed.

So impressed that the only pic I took was this slightly blurry one of cute little Shetland sheep butts.

There were a large number of vendors in attendance with a variety of wares to peruse, lots of pretty things. But my favorite part of the whole deal was the feeling of the festival. It was so…relaxed. The aisles were wide, the vendors were cheerful and, though it was busy, that feeling of crowded stress that you get at some events was notably lacking. I wore my Herbivore and have never gotten so many questions and compliments on a handknit before. It was really a great time, and I’m already looking forward to seeing how it grows into its second year.

While I did engage in some dirty, dirty enabling (because that’s how I roll), I was exceedingly well behaved. All I got was some funky wrapping paper (because I *love* gift wrap), a large semi-precious stone pendant that was immediately handed over to Tracy for pretty jewelry construction, and four ounces of Spunky Eclectic targhee top.

The colorway is “Got Wood?” This makes my inner 14-year-old boy giggle everytime.

I’ve never spun targhee before, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, so I’m psyched to give it a try.

And that’s it! See? Very well behaved. Which is good, because I’m about to start a major stash overhauling adventure, the deets of which will be announced here shortly.

For the rest of the weekend, I was a lazy unwashed couch bum. But given the stress of last week, I felt like I deserved a lazy weekend. I finished Multnomah, which is now blocking on the living room floor. Simon is enjoying sleeping on it, but at least he doesn’t steal my T-pins like his joker of a brother used to do. And I also finished spinning the singles of the Corgi Hill merino/cashmere I’ve been working on for a while.

4.8 ounces of “Dutch Tulip” on two extra capacity Mark-made bobbins, all ready for plying

I haven’t spent any quality time with Evelyn since before Rhinebeck, so it felt good to sit down and get her humming again. I tested a couple other wheels at the festival—a Matchless and a Spinolution Bee—and while they were really nice (especially the Matchless), my heart still firmly belongs to Evelyn.

Rhinebeck 2010: Epic Post of Awesomeness

I thought about breaking this post up, but decided to go for one epic huge post instead. Enjoy!

Autumn was in the air! Saturday was chilly and windy, but Sunday was downright toasty!

 

We stayed in a nice Days Inn in Poughkeepsie. On Saturday morning, some of us got up early and met Kris, Paula and Suzanne at Pete’s Famous in downtown Rhinebeck for breakfast.

 

Ummm…stick-to-your-ribs goodness, perfect for a chilly morning!

Our first stop of the day was the Bosworth booth. This pretty canarywood Midi (shown here on another Rhinebeck goodie, some tussah top from Shadeyside Farm) found its way into my bag.

Our next stop was the competition barn. Sharon took home a few ribbons for her photos! And Kate got a 4th for her Evenstar shawl! And Emilee got a second in Novice Skein for her handspun! As for myself, I got a few ribbons, too, like this 6th for my Gail shawl!

And this crappy pic is of my Shetland Triangle, which took 3rd place in its class! That yarn won a second last year.

And, while none of my skeins placed, Valeria took 1st place!!!!! WOOOHOOO!!!! (Damn, squirrel....)

After checking out our winnings, we started visiting the vendor barns. Tracy stumbled across some beautiful alpaca/silk blend from Gale's Art.

There were critters, of course, like this mohair on the hoof.

These adorable Aussie puppies totally made me squee. There were border collie puppies too...just as adorable.

This sheepie looked silky and soft.

And this one was getting a nice little trim.

These guys were dressed for the weather.

And this horny guy is so cute!

Jenni was totally a knitting rockstar. She knit a whole pair of Malabrigo fetchings while we walked around.

The Artichokes French were all I had hoped for. Delish! (Also tried the apple crisp this year, with ice cream, and chowed a fabulous beef gyro while watching some pumpkin chuckin' on Sunday. I love food.)

We stumbled across the Windy Valley booth, where Tracy and Jenni may have molested this quivit scarf for a little while.

It was gorgeous, but just slightly out of our budgets...

Around 2:00 on Saturday, we made our way back to the competition barn. Jenni and I had entered the drop spindle competiton. Here we are, psyching ourselves up.

Mary handed out chunks of wool for us to spin. This wool sucked. Seriously. Full of lanolin, coarse and super sticky, making the competition all the more difficult.

And we're off! Quite a crowd gathered around us. I was kind of surprised at how big the crowd was.

We all spun for 15 minutes. The most yardage won. The wheels were in a different competition, but we all spun at the same time.

Jenni spun on her little Two Tails purpleheart top whorl...

...while I used my Two Tails laminate. Team Two Tails represented!! Jenni won third place in the contest...

...and I won first!! Woot!! I spun 40 yards in 15 minutes. I got a pretty blue ribbon, the 2011 Spin-off calendar and a gift certificate to Amazing Threads...

...which I cashed in at their booth at the festival for this pretty skein of Cat's Paw Yarn Hand-dyed sock, in "Green with Envy." Score!

Next up was the chopstick knitting contest. Aaron competed (damn, squirrel)...

...as did Tracy...

...and Jenni. The winners did an impressive job; just a couple stitches seperated 1st place and 2nd place. I think our crew will be back with a vengance next year!

Saturday night, we went to the Rav party. No pics of that, though. Instead, enjoy this shot of pygora on the hoof.

That pygora was a nice little goat, as Jenni and Tracy found out.

Emilee looked smashing in her handspun Shalom in the Orenburg lace booth.

And, of course, Tracy went home with some new alpaca yarn for her stash.

The theme for the whole weekend was "Do whatever you want (within reason)." And what I wanted was a fun time with great friends. That's exactly what I got!

But I wanted pretties, too. Which I got. Like this Into the Whirled polwarth in "Minotaur."

And these amazingly soft merino/tencel/angora batts.

And this merino/tencel from Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm.

And this sunny, happy BFL from Fiber Optic.

And this dk-weight organic merino from The Sanguine Gryphon.

And, finally, perhaps my yarn-snobbiest purchase of the weekend, this skein of fingering cashmere/silk from Sanguine Gryphon. Gorgeous.

 Thanks, Rhinebeck!! See you next year!!