Archive for the “tour de fleece 2011” Category

It may be impossible for a cat to enjoy being scritched more than Kipling does. He would be happy if I spent all my time scrubbing his ribs with my fingertips like he was a washboard, with brief intermissions for bellyrubs and ear-scratches.

I think I'm going to be taking a summer break from blogging here. I've got a camping-trip vacation coming up, followed by travel for work, and a bunch of other distracting stuff going on.

Pirate-Husband and I are embarking on a big home renovation project. Log homes require much more maintenance than I'd realized. We need to wash, strip, bug-proof, repair, stain and seal the entire house. A contractor gave us a quote that was way too high, so we're going to be doing it ourselves. To be fair, Pirate-Husband is going to be doing most of it. Just not today; the heat index is up around 127F/53C and it's a day for staying inside.

Once that is done, we hope to be putting new windows into the house before winter sets in. That one, we're not doing ourselves. We've gotten quotes from a number of window companies and picked the best one. It's still going to be some major work!

On the knitting front, I'm almost done with the first of the stockinette socks I've been carrying around, and I got started on the second front half of the pink sweater. I'll probably end up making my own buttons for the sweaters, either from shrinky-dink or out of polymer clay. Store-bought buttons are so expensive!

I've managed to spin a little bit for the Tour de Fleece, but not nearly enough as I'd hoped. Ah well, the wheel is oiled and ready to go, even if I only have a few free minutes. I have it next to my computer so that I can turn 90 degrees and spin a few yards at any moment.

And that's the State of the Pirate. I didn't want to just drop everything and leave with no explanation, but I can safely say: I'll be back!

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Since I finally finished the Hexagon Blanket and gave it to my friend - who, by the way, absolutely loves it - I gave myself a day off from responsibilities on Sunday and let myself spin as much as I wanted to. I've really missed the quiet meditation of spinning. This fibre is some merino pencil roving that I bought at last year's MD Sheep and Wool festival. Most of it drafts so smoothly, but there are some matted bits that I pull out as I find them. The sections that are dyed the darkest colour are harder to draft, for some reason.

So I've decided that I'm not making any more baby gifts when friends announce their pregnancies. It's not that I don't like to; I actually really like to make gifts for my friends! I had an especially good time with the hexagon blanket, because it was my first crochet project. I love giving gifts (more than I like receiving them, actually) and I love being recognized as a skilled fibre artist. I love that look of "oh, wow," when the box is opened.

What I don't love is working to deadlines. I never have. They make me stressed. I can't enjoy another project when I have a deadline project on the needles; I always feel as if I should be working on it and nothing else. So that's that - I might make things for babies again, but I won't be doing it to a deadline. If a particular pattern catches my eye I'll consider making it in a gender-neutral colour and save it for a future baby. Or I might crochet some toys just to learn how to do it, then give them as gifts.

I want to get back to knitting for myself. I want to work on my own projects and designs without feeling guilty that I'm taking time away from a deadlined gift project. Hopefully it won't be taken the wrong way. What does it say about me that I feel bad for saying I'm not going to make gifts as a default anymore? Just because I *can*, doesn't mean I *should*.

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I had planned to take part in this year's Tour de Fleece, a spinning challenge which parallels the Tour de France. Unfortunately, there are a few things which are making me think that perhaps I shouldn't participate this year:

None of the baby gifts are done yet. I'm having a hard time setting aside time to work on them. I've been working an extra hour each day to build up comp time for vacation; exercise takes up a good chunk of my evening; and I want to spend time with Pirate-Husband too. He built me a crafts table and we've been working together on Mod Podging fabric to it as something we can do together, but also we can't put it where it belongs until it's totally finished, and I think he has a sense of urgency about getting this project done since it was slated to be finished some months ago. We put some time into it last night and it's looking really good, but we ran out of Podge and had to stop.

Another thing is that I'm going to be out of town for the first four days of the Tour. I know that's not really such a big deal, and I joined the Lantern Rouge team for people who can't spin daily during the Tour, but I still feel as if it will be a big handicap to overcome for some reason. That's sort of as silly excuse, but if I don't get the baby gifts finished by Thursday evening then I will need to be working on those *and* trying to spin daily...

Yet another excuse is that with the craft table set up, I might want to try to do some sewing for Pennsic. It's been some years since I've gotten new garb, but at the very least I have several "new" dresses that I've never worn simply because they need hemming. With the new table, I'll have a place to put the sewing machine and I can take care of that.

The problem is, I *want* to spin. I want to have few other requirements on my time so that I can feel good about setting aside half an hour of every day to sit down at the wheel.

...and the nieceling wants me to make her a sweater for her favourite stuffed animal, Bunny. How can I resist a request like that?

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After I'd taken pictures of many sheep, I met up with friend Holly at The Fold's booth, where we tried to resist buying every single skein of Socks that Rock. The colourway that I was looking for was nowhere to be found, unfortunately.

For the next several hours we perused as many of the vendors' offerings as we could. Despite my best efforts to buy nothing, I had gone into the day knowing that I would probably buy something, and indeed I did:

Two braids of Blue-Faced Leicester in the "Stone House" colourway from Three Waters Farm. I'm not sure what I'll make with this yet, which is why I went for two braids instead of one - I'll have more options that way. BFL is great for socks, and with eight ounces I'd surely have enough for some nice tall socks. If I made regular-length socks, I'd probably have enough yarn left over for a second pair, or maybe armwarmers. When I unbraid it, I'll decide whether I'm going to do a three-ply or a chain-plied yarn. I like the barberpoled look of a true three-ply, but then the striping of chain-plied yarn is tempting.

Two ounces each of Ashland Bay's merino-silk blend in McKenzie, Concord and Sea Lilac will eventually become another colourwork hat. The spun-up samples of the two darker colours were nothing like what it looks like now; they were lovely heathered shades without any hint of striping at all. I'll have to sample to see how to get that effect. While I do generally like to buy hand-dyed fibre from small companies or individual fibre artists, Ashland Bay's fibres are always appealing not only because the colours are beautiful, but because the prep is so consistent; every piece of fibre is just as smooth-drafting as the next. The first real usable yarn I spun was from Ashland Bay fibre, so I guess I have a soft spot for it.

From Little Barn, eight ounces of unbleached tussah silk and eight ounces of silk noil for carding into blended batts. The drum carder is set up in its new station and I'm excited to get started on producing some beautiful batts. I have about 14 ounces of Corriedale top in a variety of solid colours, some undyed mohair and nylon that can be added in for sock blends, quite a bit of alpaca in natural shades, and now the silk.

Then, Holly gave me a bag full of Cormo locks that she prepped. I've never spun Cormo before and I'm really curious to try it! She warned me that while it's clean, it does still have a bit of lanolin in it. I think I'll try spinning it as it is, and then wash it in hot water with dish soap after it's all plied up.

Being around so much fibre has gotten me anticipating this year's Tour de Fleece, a spinning challenge that parallels the Tour de France. I've already joined "Team Kromski" as I'll be spinning on Grace the Sonata. So far I haven't set any goals for myself other than "spin daily, and spin more". Last year I left the wheel out in the living room and was reminded to spin daily. This year with the cats I don't think that would be the wisest of ideas. They think that Patience the Traditional's drive band is a great toy and I can only imagine what damage they would do to any fibre I left unsupervised.

The only problem is that the Tour begins on July 2, and I'll be out of town until July 5. So I won't be able to start until the fifth day, and that puts me in the "Lantern Rouge" group of spinners who can't quite do the whole thing but participate as much as possible. Will I be able to catch up and match last year's spinning if I start late? Will the cats begin to hate me if I spend nearly three weeks locked away from them with my wheel? Will I actually set a real goal or will I just leave it as "spin daily, and spin more"? Time will tell...

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