Friday, July 31, 2015

Spinning Friday: July 31, 2015

Are you sick of spinning content yet?  I hope not, since it's Friday!

For my last project for the Tour, I started two 4-oz braids of a mixed BFL in the "Quest" colorway from FatCatKnits.  While I did get the singles spun up during the tour, I didn't have time to get them plied, but I finished that task up this week.

I spun this up semi-woolen to keep it fairly light and fluffy, and to match the dark brown/black natural-colored roving I had spun up previously.

Technical Specs: 
Roving:  8 oz of mixed BFL from FatCatKnits, in the "Quest" colorway.
Ply: 2-ply.
Weight: Worsted.
Yardage: 364 yards/7.8 oz.

I love the forest-y colors in this!  I think it will work great with the dark brown I spun up, but I don't have enough yardage from those total 13 oz to quite get a sweater for myself knit.

So... I'm thinking I will add a few other solid colors in stripes or as colorwork against the dark brown in a yoke.  Maybe some herb greens and a golden brown?  Still pondering my options on this, but I'm excited to have this much of a potential sweater already spun up and ready to go!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Now then... where was I?

Sekret Knitting:

  • I finished up the cotton cardigan for The Yarn Guys.  I'll be shooting photographs of that next week, and the pattern draft is in my TE's hands for review. 
  • I have been focused on working on the Spirit Trail Fiberworks sweater.  I have the back of that completed, one sleeve up to the armpit, and have started the left front.  My goal this week is to get the left front finished up and get the right front on the needles.  
  • I started a fall DK-weight cardigan out of the new superwash merino that I'll be carrying in the shop.  I'd love to have this done in time for Salida at the beginning of September, but that's probably not realistic, as I've got 2 other garments I need to get done as priorities.  However, this is a fairly easy pattern and I'm saving this for my "mindless" knitting when I need a break from cables and garment shaping which are the focus of the Spirit Trail piece.
  • On deck:  A yoke-patterned cardigan using Bare Naked Wools Stone Soup, and a DK-weight A-line jacket I've got some really interesting closures to use and highlight.
Personal Knitting:  I really don't have much going here (see above re: garments!), but I do have my gradiant ribbed socks I can haul out if I need something super portable and small to knit for whatever reason. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015

Now that the Tour de Fleece is over, I'm going to try to get back to my normal posting here on the blog.  I've done a LOT of reading over the past 3 weeks.  I'm down to 11 books left to read before the end of the year, and I've started The Small Rain by Madeline L'Engle already off the short list left, and I may start yet another book this week.  The few chapters I've read so far as a bit stilted in terms of the language (it was the author's first book and she was working in the theater when she wrote it and a lot of it reads like on-stage dialogue to me).

Some highlights from the last 3 weeks:
Iceland by Betsy Tobin.  LOVED this book - the author combines the myths of Freya and other Norse gods along with historical events like a volcanic eruption and the yearly Icelandic counsel of tribesmen.  Really nicely done and incredibly engaging.

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. I was already a fan of this author, so it didn't take much for me to like this book - I enjoy her writing style.  This book is set mostly on the island of Haiti, with some final chapters taking place in New Orleans.  Set at the end of the 18th century, it's a story of one of the plantation owners on Haiti, his wife and children, and several slaves.  The background are the slave revolts - which prompt the main characters' move to New Orleans eventually.  Tons of historical detail and information wrapped up into an engrossing story.

And a note.....Scarlet by A.C Gaughen.  This is a retelling of the Robin Hood tale with Will Scarlet as a girl masquerading as a boy.  Billed as a young adult read, I thought the premise was intruging, but I'm not really sure it would qualify as a good read for anyone under 17.  There are some topics and violence in it I don't think I'd want my middle school kid reading - FWIW.  

1. a book with more than 500 pages: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. FINISHED.
2. a romance: Katherine by Anya Seton. FINISHED
3. a book that became a movie: The Hours by Michael Cunningham. FINISHED.
4. a book published this year: The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck.  FINISHED.
5. a book with a number in the title:  The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. FINISHED.
6. a book written by someone under 30: Eragon by Christopher Paolini. FINISHED.
7. a book with nonhuman characters:  The Greyfriar by Susan Griffith.  FINISHED.
8. a funny book: Bossypants by Tina Fey.  FINISHED.
9. a book by a female author: Fever 1793 by Laurie Anderson.  FINISHED.
10. a mystery or thriller:  Séance in Sepia by Michelle Black. FINISHED.
11. a book with a one-word title: East by Edith Pattou.  FINISHED.
12. a book of short stories:  Tapping the Dream Tree by Charles deLint.  FINISHED.
13. a book set in a different country: The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak. FINISHED.
14. a nonfiction book:  The Fossil Hunter by Shelley Emling.  FINISHED.
15. a popular author's first book: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.  FINISHED.
16. a book from your favorite author that you haven't read yet: Forests of the Heart by Charles deLint.  FINISHED.
17. a book a friend recommended: Botelo by Alyson Hagy. FINISHED.
18. a Pulitzer-prize winning book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. FINISHED.
19. a book based on a true story: The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry.  FINISHED.
20. a book at the bottom of your to read list: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J Watson.  FINISHED.
21. a book your mom or dad loves: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  FINISHED.
22. a book that scares you: The Blackhouse by Peter May. FINISHED.
23. a book more than 100 years old: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.  FINISHED.
24. a book based entirely on its cover: Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliot.
25. a book you were supposed to read in school but didn't: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. FINISHED.
26. a memoir:  Two Rings by Millie Werber and Eve Keller
27. a book you can finish in a day:  India Black by Carol Karr.  FINISHED.
28. a book with antonyms in the title: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.
29. a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: Iceland by Betsy Tobin. FINISHED.
30. a book that came out the year you were born: Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser.
31. a book with bad reviews: Moon People?
32. a trilogy (the first):  Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clarke. FINISHED.
33. a trilogy (the second) Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clarke.  FINISHED.
34. a trilogy (the third)  Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clarke.  FINISHED.
35. a book from your childhood: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.  FINISHED.
36. a book with a love triangle: Muse by Mary Novak.
37. a book set in the future: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
38. a book set in high school: The Small Rain by Madeline L’Engle.
39. a book with a color in the title: Scarlet by A.C Gaughen.  FINISHED.
40. a book that made/makes you cry
41. a book with magic: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price.  FINISHED.
42. a graphic novel: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.
43. a book by an author you've never read before:  My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira.
44. a book you own but have never read: The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. FINISHED.
45. a book that takes place in your hometown: Magic America by C.E. Medford. FINISHED.
46. a book that was originally written in another language: Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. FINISHED.
47. a book set during Christmas (or similar holiday): A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.
48. a book written by an author with your same initials: Silver Lies by Ann Parker. FINISHED.
49. a play
50. a banned book: Beloved by Toni Morrison.
51. a book based on OR turned into a tv show: Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs. FINISHED.
52. a book you started but never finished:  The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes. FINISHED.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tour De Fleece 2015: Days 19-20

Yesterday, day 20 of the Tour de Fleece was actually my last day of spinning for the Tour this year.  Today (Sunday), I've got an arm's long to-do list, so I won't finish my final spin until probably Tuesday of this week, but here's what I've got:

I had two 4-oz braids of mixed BFL from FatCatKnits in the "Quest" colorway, which is a Dungeons and Dragons themed colorway for a SAL, but I just liked the colors.

I want to use this as a companion colorway to the dark brown/almost black natural roving I spun up a few days ago, for a sweater.  So even tho this commercial combed top and not true roving, I spun it using a modified long-draw to try to keep some loft in it and at least mostly match the feel of the natural-colored handspun.

I was able to get all 8 oz of singles spun up thanks to some focused spinning time yesterday.

I'll be working on plying these this upcoming week, and I'll plan to do a Tour 2015 recap when those are done!  I've had a blast these last 3 weeks tho, and spun FAR more than I thought I would - meeting my goal of spinning at least an hour each of the active Tour days.  Woot!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tour de Fleece: Days 15-19

I finished up the mixed breed "Black Coffee" roving plus tossed in a rest day on Monday for good measure.

I can't tell you how happy I am with this skein.  I rarely spin long-draw, but I'm not really sure why, as this came out absolutely wonderful!  The skein is squishy and soft and is very knitable.  The individual strands are much more even than I thought they'd be while I was spinning the singles.

Technical Specs:
Roving:  5.6 oz of a mixed breed dark brown/bit of gray roving from Nistock Farms, "Black Coffee".
Ply: 2-ply.
Weight: DK.
Yardage: 246 yards/4.1 oz.  I have a small amount of singles left that I've wound into a plying ball and it's resting before I ply that to use up every last bit of this fiber.

I'm thinking about combining this with a handpainted roving from FatCatKnits on mixed BFL.  I have 8 oz of the "Quest" colorway.

I thought I'd spin up this 8 oz with a semiwoolen technique and see where I am for yardage.  If I need to, I could always dye up 2-4 (or more) oz of the mixed BFL in an herby green or maybe a bronze and use that for another contrast color if needed it, or even grab 4 oz of a light silver gray natural roving, which might be really pretty as well. 

At any rate, I don't think I'll get another 8 oz of singles spun up before the Tour is over on Sunday, but I am going to get started on the first 4 oz worth of singles tonight!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: Days 11-14

Yikes! I missed a lot of blog-posting days in there.  NO idea where the time went!

On days 11-13, I finished up the singles of the shetland wool/silk blend from FatCatKnits I was spinning, and plied those up into a squishy Aran-weight 2-ply yarn.

This was the fourth of the 6 braids I had pulled and earmarked for Tour spinning this year.  However, I decided that I wanted to switch things up a bit so.... I went stash diving again, and I came up with one of my oldest stashed roving items, a really dark brown roving shot through with a bit of gray.  This is "Black Coffee" from Nistock Farms and it's just labelled as a mixed breed.  (I suspect maybe cotswold, which is Nistock Farms main sheep breed, and something much softer and bouncier, maybe merino? rambouillet?  something like that?).  At any rate, this is not combed top, which I use much more frequently, but a true roving, and I am challenging myself to spin it using a long draw technique, which I also rarely use, so this is great practice.

I have a total of 5.6 oz of this roving and my plan is to get this spun up before the Tour's end, and then I'll use another 12 or so oz of a mixed BFL top, which I'll spin semi-woolen, to hopefully have enough yardage for a lightweight sweater with stripes at the yoke.  If nothing else, I'll have enough for a vest out of those 2 batches AND have the pleasure of seeing this particular fiber have a purpose in life.

Right now, I've got the first bobbin of singles spun up, which was my day 14 of the Tour.

My plan is to start bobbin #2 this afternoon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: Day 10

While today was officially a rest day, I went ahead and spun since I had taken a day off on Friday.  I started my FatCatKnits shetland wool/silk roving in the colorway "Grotto".

I'm spinning this up as a fractal spin, so right now, I'm spinning half of the braid end-to-end to get long color stripes.

This is close to an ounce of the singles spun up so far.  I'll split the other half into narrow strips so I get shorter color runs for the second bobbin.  I think this blend is one of my new favorites.  We'll see how it acts post-plying and a bath.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: Day 9

And then I plied.   This finished up my Dragons roving into a finished skein that I'm in love with!

Technical Specs:
Roving:  Wooly Wonka Fibers custom-blended roving in the Dragons colorway, a blend of dyed Blue-faced Leicester, silk and glitter.
Ply: 2-ply.
Weight: Light fingering.
Yardage: 481 yards/4.7 oz.

I spun the singles up with a short backward draft/woolen technique.  I slightly underplied the singles, as I wanted this to be nice and drapey for a lace shawl project (TBD, but I know that's what I want to make with this).  I am not normally a red fan, but I love the gold sparkle in this and the bits of moody-broody almost-black/burnt red that are lurking under the brighter reds in this.

I'm halfway through the fiber I had earmarked for the Tour!  Although today (Monday, the 13th) if officially a rest day, I'll be spinning today since I took Friday off.  I'll be starting the FatCatKnits shetland wool/silk blend today.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: Days 6-8

D and I took a little mini-vacation to ABQ this weekend, so my spinning time was a bit odd.  We headed down to ABQ on Friday, so I took that as my rest day instead of Monday, the 13th.  (I'll spin on Monday instead.)  Thursday p.m., which was day 6, I had finished up the first half of the 5 oz of my Dragons fiber.

I took my wheel and the remaining 2.5 oz of fiber with me, and after my photo shoot Saturday a.m., headed back to the hotel while D was taking a class.  I had a wonderfully relaxed afternoon, where I read a great book on Iceland and spun.

I managed to get all 2.5 oz spun up, so my singles are finished and ready to ply!

Hoping to get at least started on the plying for this tonight, although it may take me 2 days of plying to get this completed.

I did decide to go on to the shetland wool/silk roving from FatCatKnits next, so I'm also going to get that fiber prepped to spin for when I've finished this one up.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: Day 5

It'll be a fairly boring group of photos for the next wee while, I'm afraid.  Since I've decided to spin up the Dragons roving fairly thinly, having just an hour to devote towards it nightly doesn't equal a lot of progress.

But here's where I am at the end of day 5's spinning for me.

In looking ahead - and yes, I'm using that as a carrot to keep myself focused on these skinny singles - I've got 3 other batches of fiber earmarked for the next several weeks.  Of those three, I had planned to spin 2 of them fairly finely as well.  One is a batt, and I'd like to also use that for a light fingering to laceweight yarn, and the other is a blend of baby camel and silk, and I suspect is going to require a short forward draft to be spun nicely, which is a slow technique for me.  My final choice is a shetland/silk 75/25 roving blend from FatCatKnits, colorway Grotto.

I think that may be the next up and likely a fractal spin to help keep some of the colors cleaner and less barberpole-y, so I may do some prep on that as well to get it ready to hit the wheel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: Day 4

While I had some extra time to spin over the weekend, I'm not being quite as productive during the work week.  I am meeting my goal of an hour of spinning a day, and today, Day 4 of the Tour, I worked on spinning singles from the Wooly Wonka Fibers "Dragons" blended roving.  This is a mix of BFL, silk and a bit of glitter in deep reds and a bit of black.

I took the ends of the two runs I had done for this custom blend to keep for myself, so I've actually got a full 5 oz to work with.  I'm shooting for a light fingering weight yarn to use for something lacey with this.  Probably a shawl, but we'll see how the yardage shakes out.

Slow going with the fine singles and reduced spinning time, but I'm feeling pretty good about getting started on my third fiber I've got earmarked for the Tour already with two 4-oz braids already spun up!

Tour de Fleece 2015: Day 3

For Day 3, I sat down and plied up the Two If By Hand Polwarth I had finished up the singles of.

Technical Specs:
Roving:  4 oz of  Two If By Hand Polwarth wool roving, in the "Cello Shots" colorway.
Ply:  2-ply.
Weight:  Aran/worsted.
Yardage:  175 yards.

This did turn out lovely and squishy!  The plies are a bit inconsistent, however, so I definitely need to work on that at this grist.  All in all, I'm not unhappy with the yarn - it's soft and cheerful colors, and will knit up into something warm.  Mittens?  A hat?  Nothing specific chosen for it yet.

My next spin will take me a bit longer, I suspect, since I want to spin it up as a 2-ply laceweight.

The next one up is another blended roving from the Wooly Wonka Fibers Mythical Creatures Club, Dragons.

I did start the singles after I finished plying the Polwarth so this one is underway!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: Day 2

I managed to get the Mermaids singles plied up today and off the bobbins.

I'm so pleased with this yarn!  It came out lovely, bouncy but drapey all at the same time.  The white soy gives it a bit of a shimmery quality and it is SOFT.

Technical Specs:
Roving:  4 oz of Wooly Wonka Fibers blended roving, 60/40 merino/soy, in the Mermaids colorway.
Ply: 2-ply.
Weight:  Fingering.
Yardage: 416 yards

I then pulled out the next spin I've got queued up.  This one is from Two if By Hand.  The fiber is Polwarth, and the colorway is Cello Shots.

This is one of the fibers I prepped last weekend.  I'm planning to do this as a fractal spin and looking for a nice bouncy DK to worsted weight for this one.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tour De Fleece 2015: Day 1

I'm going to try to keep up with posting daily during the Tour de Fleece, but I'll likely be a day behind, so here's day 1

I decided to start with my Wooly Wonka Fibers Mermaids roving, which was the May Mythical Creatures Club offering. It's a blend of blue and sea-green merino and a white soy (about a 60/40 mix).

I divided the braid in half and then spun up each half separately for a 2-ply yarn.

At the end of day 1, I had finished all 4 oz of singles and they are ready to be plied.  Super easy spin - lovely and soft fiber and I had no prep work to do on it - I just split the braid and started spinning.

Today's task is plying these up and I may try to get started on the next braid in my basket as well.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Spinning Friday: July 3, 2015 - The Pre-Tour Edition

Countdown:  One more day before the Tour de Fleece 2015 starts!  Can you tell I'm excited about it?

You've seen my selection of fibers that I've picked to focus on to try to spin during the Tour.  One thing I've struggled with is that I tend to like to knit with thinner yarns (fingering mostly), but these take a lot longer to spin than worsted-weight ones, so I've decided I'm okay with getting less spun up poundage-wise, but spinning yarns that I know I'll use.

I'm going to start with the 4-oz braid of Mermaids from the Wooly Wonka Mythical Creatures Fiber Club, which is a blend of dyed merino wool and soy.

My plan is to spin this into a 2-ply yarn and use it for a shawl, as I think the soy will make a very pretty, soft and drapey yarn.  While I don't have a specific pattern picked out, I'd like to shoot for a minimum of 450 yards and see how I go - even a bit more yardage would be stellar to give me some pattern choice options.  I've got Kirsten Kapur's Thalia pattern on the possible to-do list that I think would suit this yarn really well if I can get enough yardage from the braid.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Book!

I've got great news to share!  My upcoming Interweave Press book, Free Spirit Knits, is now available for preorder via Amazon.

It's been a while in the making, but I am so pleased with everything about this book - the styling, photography, layout could NOT be better.  My editors have done a brilliant job pulling all my visions together into a beautiful book.

So if you would like to grab yourself a copy, as a thank you, I've also got available a standalone pattern I just released today - Jewelflower Cowl.

This is a single-skein, fingering-weight cowl - the sample was knit with one skein of Wooly Wonka Fibers Nimue Sock, which is 50/50 silk/merino, and has a lovely drape.  If you preorder a copy of the book, and then shoot me a copy of your receipt either via email (anne(dot)podlesak(at) or via P.M. on Ravelry (where I am bunnyspinner), I'll gift you a copy of this pretty lace cowl.

I'll have more details to come over the next couple of months before the book hits bookstore shelves about specific projects, but I think with 20 projects and a combination of garments and acccessories, there'll be something in this book for everyone!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

WIP Wednesday: July 1, 2015

Here's what I'm up to this week:

Sekret Knitting:

  • Working away diligently on the cotton sweater.  I ripped out my original concept, and changed it up a bit, and I'm much happier with this iteration.  I've started this version from the top down, and I've knit about 6" of the yoke.  My plan for this week is to get the yoke section finished, put the sleeves on holders to work on at the end, and start motoring on the body section.  I'd like to have this sample finished up mid-month so I can get the pattern draft done and off to my TE, and start on sweater #2 on the list.
  • I'm half-finished the Mythical Creatures club design.  This will be my more portable/backup project for this week.  I'd like to get these done by the end of the week and again, get a draft off to my TE for review. 
Personal Knitting:  This week I spent a little bit of time knitting on my Through the Loops mystery shawl.  I knew I'd not keep up with the group (who just received clue #5 and I'm halfway through clue #3), but that's okay.  My updated project page with pictures is here if you are interested in my progress. 

Tour de Fleece - Week 2

I'm pretty happy with my progress for the Tour so far this year!  I've been trying to have a goal of 15 minutes of spinning a day, o...