Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tour de Fleece spins into action

My Tour de Fleece project
Tour de Fleece frenzy has begun--Ravelry's three weeks of handspun madness.  Thousands of hand spinners from around the world participate in this virtual "race" whose timeline mirrors the Tour de France.  Race is parenthetical, as we aren't competing against each other, but more with ourselves, setting personal goals and each day posting picture of our progress.

I'm captain of the Spin Your Stash team, and we all dove into our stash find our challenges for this years tour.  As captain, I felt I should attempt to spin up some truly vintage stash.  The bumbs shown above are from a fleece I purchased 20 years ago!  The bobbin is about 22 years old as in the wheel it is being spun on.  Yes, this stash has aged.

This is really a fun and worthwhile event that allow hand spinners from all over join up in a virtual spin in.  It is fun to see everyone's beautiful fiber.  Many people are working with gorgeous hand painted rovings, but I am joined by many hardy stalwarts who manage to spin bobbin after bobbin of naturally colored fleece. So I am not alone in working with piles of gray.

From now through July 21, there will be lots of spinning going on at my house!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blowing in the Prairie Winds

The Yarn Barn had this puppy and I'm in love.
Chloe, my four harness table workshop loom, isn't speaking to me any more.  It could be because I warped her wrong in Lucy Brusic's Crackle Scarf in A Day class and she was embarrassed by the poor tension, or it could be my spending too much quality time with the Wolf Pup in the Yarn Barn booth.  Now, having one of those puppies wouldn't have helped in terms of brain cramp while warping, but it would have made weaving a lot easier.  I ended out with a touch of tendinitis from spending most of the day at the table loom and slept in the next day missing my 8:30 a.m. class.  Sound familiar, students?

A view of the Flint Hills.
To make matters worse, I'd stationed Chloe right next to the weaving power couple--you know, phone calls from work etc.  The woman came with her warp already wound on, and I'm sure it was wound on by her weaving-enthusiast husband since she couldn't help but point out my warps tension problems.  It's not Chloe's fault, really. I just wound it on the beam in the wrong direction, which isn't surprising as I usually spend a lot of time winding a warp on. Doing it in class wasn't a good fit for me.  During lunch, I realized what I'd done wrong after talking with someone at the Yarn Barn. I switched it around and this created the tension situation.

The oldest rock in Kansas.  We saw this as we explored the back roads on our way home.
Next class I have is going to include me having beamed the warp a couple of weeks ahead of time, and hopefully on a Wolf Pup.  But I did learn crackle weave.  Lucy had me do it in the "Italian Style" though I don't think it was authentic--there was no chianti or Pavarotti singing O Solo Mio.  I mean seriously, it ain't Italian style without those two ingredients, I don't care how you treadle.
A couple raised six kids in this house back before they had Ipods.
The good thing about the workshop is the fodder for my book 100 Weaving Mistakes to Make.  Lucy suggested I add and Five New Ones to the the title to give it more punch.  I love it!  I may already have a few of the new ones.

This sod house is preserved in a park. It was tiny.
Our travels included a stop at the Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas on our way down to Emporia.  On our way back, we drove straight north through the Flint Hills and stopped in little towns along the way to explore.  People made an effort to preserve the history, which made our touring that much more interesting and enjoyable. It's a beautiful state.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Benchmark Blues

Stash is being spun!
Nothing like a really fun wedding the night before you need to do your benchmark with your personal trainer to set yourself up for the Benchmark Blues.  I actually went a little overboard on purpose last night because I knew I knew I hadn't lost any weight due to the crazy month I've had. First there was a vacation that included sampling microbrews and eating pub grub, then the weekend of red wine and lasagna, a meet up with a carton of Ben and Jerry's and the Butterfinger caper.  That with a mega wipe out of hay fever making me kind of groggy and lazy during workouts, it's amazing that I pretty much stayed the same!
Finished spinning another bobbin of merino/alpaca
The hangover was no fun.  Despite the hangover I was able to outdo all of my other benchmarks like squats, time to walk a mile, and time holding a plank.  There is this one thing called a burpee that I totally stink at and continue to do badly.   But really, the hangover was no fun at all.  Note to self: Do not drink a bottle of red wine the night before benchmarks ever again.

Merino/alpaca are ready to ply.

My Tour de Fleece training is going extremely well! This morning I finished an entire bag of that merino/alpaca blend and I plied the Coopworth braid.  Finishing the Coopworth is especially good news because I need to clear the Matchless for the Tour. I found some 20 year old stash to spin for my Spin Your Stash group and I want to do it at a DK weight or light worsted on that wheel. This yarn will be used in a sweater.

The Coopworth has been plied!
Can a 20 year old fleece even be spun? I did have it made into roving some time ago and everything has been carefully stored, so yes, you can keep fibers for quite some time before finally getting around to spinning it.  Yarn also keeps if it is stored properly. Though I use plastic tubs, I put them in paper bags or old pillowcases inside the tubs so the fiber can breathe. This works quite nicely.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Too much stuff?

Tiger lily yarn is all spun up!
One episode of Hoarders, and we had 13 bags of books lined up at the door to go to Goodwill. This narrow  passage was stowed in the truck the next day and hauled away.  It's amazing how that show can really give you a kick in the butt about the stuff you weren't quite getting too.  It's a real wake up call.  My husband said there were 20 cars ahead of him unloading stuff, so we aren't the only ones cleaning house. Our bookshelves needed thinning and Goodwill is a worthy organization.
Merino/alpaca blend waiting to be spun.
We've sent many things their way over the years and subscribe to the idea that one man's junk is another's treasure.  I've even given away yarn--early on in hand spinning I let go of my entire stash of mill spun yarn.  I later gave away knitting yarn that came with a loom.

I'm a firm believer that if I can't fit it in my house, I don't need it.  Not everyone shares this or there wouldn't be so many of those storage places everywhere.  I can see a storage unit as a temporary thing--like lets say you want to sell your home, take a trip around the world, and then come back and buy a new place. Then, yes, a storage locker. But if I have so much stuff that I need to rent another garage for it, then it is time to step back and reassess what I'm doing.

Which is why I say I've reached my "loom maximum" and I suppose my spinning wheel maximum too!  I bet my DH will be sighing in relief when he reads this blog!  I won't mention that I think I have room for one more carder....