Thursday, July 30, 2009

Handspun Socks

Finally, after poking along on these for several weeks I've finished a pair of handspun socks. It frustrates me when I drag a project out like this, especially when it was such a simple one.

These sock were knit from the handspun I finished back in May. I had cast on for socks with it as soon as the yarn was dry and knocked out the first sock in a matter of a few days. The second sock sat around (needing only a couple of inches on the foot and a toe) for the last month or so until I picked it up the other day and finished it so I could start on something new:

Approx. 4oz and 400yds
chain-plied fingering weight
SW merino from All Spun Up

This yarn turned out very pretty and is currently becoming socks for my sister-in-law (if she wants them -lucky for me, we have the same size foot if she doesn't). I really can't wait to post about these when they're all done. They are knitting up so beautifully and this is some of the nicest (of my own) handspun that I've ever knitted with. The weight of the yarn is just right. My favorite commercial sock yarn is Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sock, and that's usually about the thickness I aim for when I'm spinning a 3-ply sock yarn (not that I usually meet that goal, it's just what I try for). This yarn has probably been the closest I've come so far to meeting my goal.

Beyond being happy with the spinning job, the colors in this one make me weak in the knees. There is a lot of pink and yellow, but there are also some beautifully deep reds, golds and greens and the way they're all coming together is lovely. Handspun socks are the best.

This last week was my first week back at work and today was the first of 3 days off. Over the weekend I'm going to try to get the last pound of fiber I have in my closet dyed up. Then maybe I'll be able to proceed with my plans to do a weekend update the following weekend. I think I might be able to make this new schedule work afterall.

For any of those lucky enough to be going to Sock Summit, I hope you'll have a chance to drop by the Sweet Sheep booth where you can find Michelle's awesome goods and snuggle some of my handspun! =)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oh, and this too...

Last night we had a most impressive sunset. It would have been criminal not to take pictures. It was very warm out, and within a few minutes of going outside to take these shots, it began to thunder and then it started to rain...


So it turns out my goal for Tour de Fleece was highly unrealistic. It might have worked, had I already been done with my Summer project spinning. That first week, I was plugging along on track (expecting to get started on my TdF spinning by week 2 at the latest) and then my husband anounced that we were going to have company for a few days. Actually, he managed to keep me away from my wheel for most of that week.

So, eventually I did finish spinning up the Summer project yarn, and was able to crank out the first bump of sw merino/alpaca in about 3 1/2 days.

All Spun Up sw merino/alpaca
chain plied - fingering weight
approx. 4.3oz and 464 yards

And seeing how unlikely it was going to be for me to finish a second bump before the end of the tour, I decided to finish spinning the last half or so of my May/June SAL fiber from All Spun Up.

All Spun Up sw merino
chain plied - fingering weight
Approx. 4oz and 450 yards

I'm pleased with how both of these turned out. The sw merino is going to become socks for my husband (he absolutely promised me that he did like the color and that he would wear them if I made them -this was my condition for knitting him socks out of my handspun).

I'm glad I joined in on the Tour de Fleece this year and I know I'll be among the first to jump headlong into it next year -though I'll have a better understanding of what sort of goals I should make.

I'm also glad to have gotten in all the extra spinning time, especially as my life is about to take another turn this week. Tomorrow I go back to work...

Work has been very unpredictable this year. Since about January I'd been working two days (sometimes more) a week and then about a month ago the coffee shop had to close down for a while. This week the coffee shop is going to be opening back up and it looks as though I'll be working at least twice as much as I was before. As much pressure as this is going to put on me for keeping the house perfect for potential buyers, I'm looking at it as a blessing because I know how much easier it will be for us to pay the bills. I'm excited about getting out of the house, too.

I'll still try to get fiber dyed up and put in the shop when I have the time. It would be nice if I could get into a routine of having one dyeing day every week. Friday would be excellent, as I will be working Mon-Thurs every week. It would give me time to get all the fibery stuff done on the weekend. I'm hoping that once I get going on it everything will fall into place.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tour de Fleece: Days 2 & 3

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July. Mine was good, though not particularly eventful. I spent part of the day with my family. We watched a parade, some decent fireworks and ate some great home-made food, but most of the day was spent spinning for TdF.

Here is an in-progress group shot of the yarns I've been working on for my Summer spinning project.

These are yarns I'm spinning for the Sweet Sheep booth that will be at Sock Summit in August. I've been working on them for several weeks and I'm almost done. These yarns have been a fun challenge for me. Spinning them on a somewhat relaxed deadline has been nice (and under ordinary circumstances wouldn't have been all that challenging) but with all the work we've been doing to get our home on the market it's been a little bit hectic.

Spinning these fibers has been a special treat. All of them (except for the bright pink one all the way to the right which is "Love Affair" merino/tencel from C*Eye*Ber Fiber) are hand dyed fibers from the Sweet Sheep. This experience has been my first real encounter with merino/tencel. So far, the merino/tencel has been my biggest spinning challenge. I'm used to spinning sock yarns with fibers that have a lot more grab and the merino/tencel is (pardon the expression) slicker than snot. I have one more braid of the slippery stuff left to spin (had to take a break in between with some SW merino and SW bfl) and then this project will be finished.

::one of the sw BFLs in progress::

As soon as the last fiber for this project is off the wheel, the SW merino/alpaca will be on it. Can you tell I'm excited for the change in colors and textures?

Yesterday (day 2 of TdF) I only managed to get in a little bit of spinning time. I spent the majority of my day with my dyepot. I only have one pound of fiber left to dye (which will have to wait a day or so as there's no more room on my drying rack at the moment) and then as soon as I have a good day for taking photos I'll do an update. I've decided not to do a sneak peak this time, but I did make sure to dye up at least 3 braids of Bacchus. There's been so much interest in that colorway lately, I wanted to have more available.

I'm going to get back to it now. I'm finishing up the yarn that's on the wheel and hoping to start the next one if there's time. I've got to get the extra spinning time in today since there probably wont be much spinning time tomorrow -it's my little girls birthday (she's turning 6)!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tour de Fleece: Day 1

Today is the first day of the Tour de Fleece and I'm excited to be participating this year.

For a long time now I've had this pound of All Spun Up SW merino/alpaca (all in the same colorway) sitting in my stash, waiting to be spun into 3-ply fingering weight yarn for an upcoming project. A few days ago (when I realized there was still time to join in) I signed up for the TdF thinking it would be a perfect opportunity for me to spin all of it from start to finish. I still have about 6oz of my summer spinning project left to finish before my wheel is completely free -which should make reaching my goal a little more difficult, but the TdF is supposed to be a challenge, right?

Realistically, I think it's likely I wont finish in time. Still, if I can get 3 of the 4 bumps spun and the 4th on the wheel and in progress I'll still feel like I did a very good job. The reason I've chosen this particular project for TdF is because I don't really like spinning more than 4oz of one color at a time. However, after working non-stop (with the exception of the project on my Bosworth midi) for several weeks on my Summer spinning project (fibers almost entirely in pinks and pastels), I feel that spinning the dark, wonderfully earthy colors in the SW merino/alpaca will keep me satisfied for much longer than they usually would. The fiber choice can't hurt, either -so far the SW merino/alpaca is my absolute favorite to spin. Tour de Fleece just seemed like the perfect time for me to dive headlong into this project.

It's nice to be spending time at the wheel regularly again. I have been spinning as much as I possibly could over the last 4-6 weeks, but it hasn't been as much as usual with all the work on the house. There's good news, though: we finally got the house listed with a real estate agent last Thursday and it is on the Market. Aside from one small cosmetic repair that still has to be made, all that's left is keeping it nice and tidy until it sells and then packing when it does. Both my husband and I feel like we can finally breath easy... at least for a little while.

I also want to apologize for the quiet emptiness of the shop. I've been meaning to dye up some fiber (it's still hanging out in my bedroom closet) for the last couple of weeks, but with finishing up on the house, it's had to be pushed back a few times. I think I should be able (really) to get it done this week. I don't foresee anything getting in the way now.

There's so much to catch up on. I have several different things I want to post about, but I haven't had time to sit and write. I also haven't had the best weather for photo-taking lately, so I've been putting that off as well. I'm really looking forward to the next time we have a stretch of overcast, rainy weather. 80+ degree heat makes me cranky.