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.

Something New

This little skein is, without a doubt, the worst yarn I’ve spun in quite some time.

At least it’s soft…

It’s was a Corgi Hill merino/camel/tussah sample. It’s now a god-awful mini-skein of two ply. It’s wicked uneven, broken in spots and full of knots, icky by my standards, and would probably fall apart if I tried to knit with it. It partially fell apart while I was plying it. It’s not even going into my 2010 project archive page because it’s never going to be turned into anything. Structural integrity is seriously lacking.

Despite all that, I am deleriously proud of this awful little skein.

Why?

Because it’s the first thing I spun on this:

Apricot wood on pau ferro…sitting pretty on a pile of baby camel/tussah

Awww, yeah, baby. You like that support spindle action, don’t you?

I’d been eyeing the Grizzly Mountain Tibetan-style spindles for a while, so when I happened upon a shop update one fine day, I jumped. It took a solid hour to get the hang of it, and my work is far from perfect. It’s slubby and uneven. Hello, learning curve. But, it’s something new, and it’s really fun to play with. And I’m determined to master the fine art of long-draw on a spindle.

As soon as I finish that 4! Ounce! Challenge! prototype, that is.

And look what I found at this adorable little Turkish shop called Meyra in Newburyport a couple weekends ago.

Love these!

Are those not the most perfect little spindle bowls ever?

I might have a Spanish Peacock Russian spindle on it’s way to me as well. That’s totally Jenni‘s fault, though…