Tag: spinning

Spindle Love 9

I haven’t talked about spinning here in awhile, but the scent of spring–which in my brain leads directly to summer and the Tour de Fleece–is in the air, and I’m getting the itch. Plus, I was lucky enough to get several new Jenkins Turkish spindles recently, so that’s probably another reason I’ve got spinning on my mind. These are my absolute favorite spindles, and they can be ridiculously hard to come by.

One of the new spindles is a tiny purpleheart Kuchulu. My idea is that this one is going to make an especially nice travel spindle, so since yesterday was errand day, I decided to take it for a test drive.

By the time we made our usual stop for coffee at Jemima’s on the Laurel River, I’d managed to start the leader and wind on a tiny little cop.

I kept spinning as we drove to Asheville.

As I’d hoped, the Kuchulu is perfect for spinning in a confined space. There was no awkwardness at all as I spun in the car.

It turns out it’s also super convenient for dropping in a bag or purse and pulling out when there’s a bit of down time. I spun for a few minutes after lunch while we figured out the game plan for the rest of the afternoon.

On the way home, I was needing to knit, so I put this little guy away and pulled out my Inlet cardigan. I love it, though, and I can see taking it with me everywhere so I’ve got it when I find myself in the mood to spin.

If you like the idea of traveling spindles and want to see some great pictures, check out this thread in the Jenkins Ravelry group for instant happiness.

Does anyone else have spinning on the brain these days?

See Ya Next Year, Tour de Fleece! 16


Aaaaand another Tour de Fleece is in the books. Do you know about the Tour de Fleece? It happens every year at the same time as the Tour de France.

It was the brainchild of a vey cool woman named Star, the blogger behind Keep on Knitting in the Free World. The idea was that while the Tour de France riders spun their bicycle wheels, fiber spinners could spin along with them on their spinning wheels or spindles and cheer the cyclists and each other on.

For the first two years, Star actually ran the whole Tour herself. The idea took off, though, and what started out in 2006 as a handful of spinners chatting in the comments section of her blog had by 2008 become 15  organized Ravelry teams, sharing daily photos and competing for prizes.

These days, there are a well over a hundred teams, maybe even two hundred, and people all over the world take part. It’s crazy to think about thousands of people out there spinning their hearts out for 23 days, but it happens. I just love that!

tour-de-fleece singles 2

For the second year in a row, I spun with a team organized by the fabulous Dorothea of Spinfoolish Designs. She is ahhhhmazing! I know for a fact that she was born knitting, and she probably would have come into the world spinning, but her poor mother (“Saint Mummy,” I know you’ve heard of her) had to draw the line somewhere.

Every day, Dorothea sent us an email with info about the Tour or some interesting spinning topic. Plus, she organized all kinds of contests and games to keep things fun and keep everyone in touch since some of the team was pretty far flung.

With everything I had going on this year, I only managed to spin a tiny bit, but even that was nice. I also entered the team yarn swap. My swap partner lives in Canada (so cool), and I’m sending her the batch of alpaca/BFL in the photo at the top of this post. It’s some of what I spun last fall. I’m hoping she’ll like it.

Dorothea asks a few people to join her in writing the Tour emails each year, and this year I contributed an article about knitting with your handspun. As I was writing it, it occurred to me that I never posted a picture of my finished handspun pillow on the blog! I actually had to go back and check to be sure. I posted about making the pillow, but I never showed you the final result.

Here it is!



I can’t tell you how much I love this misshapen, lumpy bumpy pillow. It’s from my very first handspun, and everything about it makes me happy.

Speaking of happy making:


Augie is exhausted from the Tour frenzy. He’s so tired he can’t even guard the tummy.

And more happy making:


Banana cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Also known as dinner. Yes, I did. Found the recipe here.


Spinning, Knitting, Summering 6

This is what I’ve been spinning for the Tour de Fleece.


It’s Finn in the colorway “Little Islands” from the Spunky Eclectic fiber club.

Finn from SE Fiber Club

These aren’t colors that I’d normally pick, but I’m really enjoying the shades of blue and cream. One of the great things about being part of a fiber club is expanding my color horizons. I’ll probably end up chain plying this when I’m finished with the singles. Then I was thinking I might use it for the yoke of the Garter Yoke Cardigan. What do you think?

I’ve also been working on Checks and Balances here and there. This was porch knitting this evening just before a major, much needed rainstorm rolled in.

Porch Knitting

I got this new project bag from Fringe Supply Co recently, and I love it.

Fringe Supply Co 1

It’s sturdy, so I feel like I can drag it around all over the place with me without having to worry about messing it up. It’s also got several nice pockets inside–a big one on one side and several tall narrow ones for needles and pens or pencils on the other side.


In other news, I’ve been pickling.


Picking blackberries.


Making banana bread.


And opening packages of fun things that have been arriving for the goodie bags for The Knotty Ladies fiber weekend on Roan Mountain that’s coming up at the end of the summer.


I have a little work left to do tonight, and then I’m going to get back to spinning the Finn. I’m trying to ease the pain of returning to work after my nice break by interspersing plenty of knitting and spinning. Oooh, and I’m watching The Wire. Don’t know how I missed it the first time around.


I love you, summer . . . 6

Somehow, I’ve ended up with a lovely window of down time for a couple of weeks. I’m in between summer classes, perched on the dash in the middle of the crazy long sentence that is my current editorial project. The timing couldn’t be nicer.

The weather is fabulous, and this past week, I’ve gotten to do all sorts of decadent things including taking my wheel to the creek to spin.


I also went hiking with my friend D. We like to trek out to this little waterfall.


The going is strenuous at times but not overly so, and the reward is this pretty spot at the end. Plus . . . you almost always meet a dog or three. Today, we visited with this sweetie. Her name is Cocoa. She’s eleven years young. She’s apparently been hiking with her dad and her two human sisters since she was a puppy, so she’s kind of a pro.


She approved of my handknit socks.

Handknits In Action

Other things I’ve gotten to do this week are work in the garden:


And do yoga on the deck:


Snuggle with Augie in the mornings:

Augie Paw

And watch the sun set in the evenings:


Isn’t summer wonderful?

On the knitting front, the big blue rectangle is finished. Pictures of that next time. Be well, my friends.


What did the tree learn from the earth . . .* 1

Spinzilla 2015 is in the books. Between the alpaca/BFL and the Targhee from Hello Yarn, I ended up with 1,896 yards according to Spinzilla’s method of measuring. They give you special calculations for plying versus spinning singles.

Spinzilla 2015

I was pretty excited to have exceeded my goal of spinning a mile. And then I started seeing other people’s totals. Holy moly! The top person on our team spun 5,834 yards. That’s 3.3 MIIIILES!!!! And many people spun in the two- and three-thousand yard range.

The result for me is that I am now focused on Spinzilla 2016 big time. Like a laser. Like the 2-quadrillion watt LFEX device that Japan says it just fired that in one trillionth of a second creates energy equal to 1,000 times the earth’s power consumption. I’m focused like that. Next year. I will spin. Multiple miles. You heard it here.

Speaking of hearing things, I’ve been hearing a lot about the new Amazon Handmade venture. It sounded kind of exciting at first, but now I’m not so sure. There’s an eye-opening blog post describing one artist’s experience with it here. Kinda scary.

And to continue in the vein of mentioning one totally unrelated thing after another, I read a fascinating review of a book on tree hugging this weekend. I don’t know anything about the site that published the piece, but the book seems worth checking out. Here’s the take away from the review:

The answer to how plants and trees affect us physiologically turns out to be very simple. It is all to do with the fact that everything vibrates in a subtle manner, and different vibrations affect biological behaviours.

Pretty cool, huh? It’s like knowing how amazingly similar chlorophyll and human blood are. You don’t need this information to appreciate trees or to make the case for our connectedness, but it’s good for putting your mind to work.**

I looked up during my walk yesterday and saw this.

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It was a beautiful day to be outside.

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And Blade made a friend.

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* . . . to be able to talk with the sky? From Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions.


**UPDATE, 10/13/15:  Sadly, it appears that the tree hugging book, Blinded by Science by Matthew Silverstone, lacks credibility. Here is one review that suggests it’s not entirely nonsense, but who knows. I’m not inclined to spend time following up.

Knit, Spin, Ply, Knit . . . 4


On Thursday, we did a lot of driving, enough that I was able to finish the body of Gramps down to the ribbing. The picture shows the moment when I was finishing up the frogged yarn from Gramps Version 1 and starting a new ball of yarn. I’m not sure why this is always such a wonderful thing, but it it is, it is, it is.

Now I need to figure out what I’m going to use for the contrasting color for the collar and the ribbing. I’d like something that matches the taupey/neutraly color in the “Argyle,” but it’s hard to tell from looking at photos online which color might work. I contacted Lorna’s Laces to see if they can tell me, but so far I haven’t heard back. Might have to give them a call.

Last night, we had sushi with our friends Cari and Jay, and Cari and I had festive adult beverages. Mine was a Wasabi Bloodytini. It was very good. I can’t remember what Cari’s was called, but it was apparently very good too.

Dinner 1

And look at Cari’s necklace! How about that for handknits in action?! I love it! Our dear friend P made it for Cari for her birthday. I’ll check with P, but I’m pretty sure it’s this pattern.

Dinner 2

Before meeting Cari and Jay, we did a little belated birthday shopping at the bookstore. Since we live in the middle of nowhere, getting to go to an actual bookstore is big fun.

In addition to two novels and a new cookbook, I got a rechargeable book light (i.e., knitting light!), and it works really well. I have a headlight that I’ve been using for a few years to knit in the car after dark, but it goes through batteries like crazy. Hopefully, the rechargeable feature on the new one will make it a little less pricey to use.

I knitted on my BFF socks on the drive home, and the new light worked great. Here’s a picture. You can see the cookbook in the background. It’s Alana Chernila’s Handmade Kitchen. More on it another time.

Car Knitting

The other thing I’ve been doing this week is spinning. Spinzilla ends tomorrow, and my goal for it was to spin at least a mile. I think I might make it!

Here’s what I did today while we watched the Baylor game. This is 4 oz of superwash Targhee. It’s Hello Yarn club fiber that I got in a destash. The colorway is “A Tinkle and a Glint.” You can’t really tell from this picture, but it’s full of wine, burgundy, rose . . . lovely reds.

Hello Yarn

And here’s some of the plied alpaca/BFL I was working on earlier this week. I’m thinking I might use this to knit Summer Flies. I ended up with 480 yards of it, so I think I’ll have plenty. I’ve had the pattern in my queue forever, and now that I know from Storm Cloud how wearable the half circle shape is for a shawl, I’m anxious to knit something else with this shape.

Alpaca BFL

Of course, I ended up with an uneven amount of singles on one bobbin when I was plying this. Usually, I weigh what’s left and try to divide it between bobbins so I can finish up without any leftovers. Since this is Spinzilla, though, and time is yardage, I wanted a quicker, less fiddly way to finish plying what was left on the one bobbin. My plan was to try Andean plying, but while I was looking for a good tutorial, I came across another technique called hand plying. It’s awesome! I’m sure I’ll try Andean plying at some point, but this method is definitely going in my bag of spinning tricks as well.

I’ll be finishing up my Spinzilla spinning tomorrow, so I should have an update on that for you on Monday. Hope you’re having a great fall weekend!

Ride a painted pony, let the spinnin’ wheel fly . . . 3

Spinzilla is underway! Since Sunday, it’s been pretty much all working and spinning around here.

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I decided to start the week off with 12 ounces of alpaca/BFL I got from our friends whose farm we visited for Alpaca Days a couple of weeks ago. What a pleasure to spin! It drafts incredibly easily and is oh so soft.

This was what I ended up with on day one. It’s a little over 6 ounces of singles.

Spinzilla Day 1

On day two, with a lot of help from Lola and Rasta, I finished turning the rest of the 12 ounces of roving into singles.

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Today, I ply! I can’t wait to see how this turns out. I’m thinking I’ll end up with a sport weight yarn that wants to be mittens or maybe a scarf.

The weather has been gorgeous with lots of welcome sunshine after all the days of rain we’ve had recently, so even though I’m trying to spend every spare second at my wheel, I made time for a walk yesterday afternoon.

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I think this might be Blade’s first appearance on the blog. He’s had some health issues lately, so we haven’t been on a good long walk for a couple of weeks. This one made us both very happy.

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While I’ve been spinning, I’ve been listening to podcasts and watching a lot of TV. I even put my Elizabeth Zimmermann DVDs in the line up. It’s so  nice to spin along while she talks about the poor dear pearl stitch and the tragic consequences of ignoring gauge. It feels like any second she’s going to reach out from the screen and give me an encouraging little pat on the back. She’s the coolest.

At some point during my fiber media fest (can’t remember exactly when and where), I learned about Neural Knitworks. Have you heard of it?

It’s a project connected to Australia’s National Science Week. They ask people to knit neurons, and then groups of these textile neurons are put together to make what the organizers call “soft sculptural representations of the brain.” The point of the whole thing is to highlight the ways “Yarn craft, with its mental challenges, social connection and mindfulness, helps keep our brains fit.” The quote is from the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

It’s a great idea, but what’s most interesting if you’re not an Australian school child, is how the project is serving as a kind of information hub for neuroscience news. The Facebook page is the best place to look for this. If you’re curious about how the brain works and how this ties into knitting, definitely give it a visit. There are links to everything from relevant TED talks to representations of the brain in textile art.

Easing Into Fall 3

Today, we hung out with great friends and alpacas.

Alpaca Days 1

It was learn-about-alpacas weekend around here, so we spent the day visiting and spinning while the curious came to see our friends’ farm. Last week was busy and left me feeling a little dragged out, so it was fun to relax outside on a pretty fall day and laugh and talk and do fiber things.

Alpaca Days 7

Our friend L was demonstrating weaving. The gorgeous yarn she’s using is yarn she spun herself from fiber from the farm’s alpacas.

Alpaca Days 4

The rest of us were spinning.

If you look closely at the very bottom of this picture, you can see my Swedish Fish Socks. Handknits in action!

Alpaca Days 3

Like any good day, this one involved dogs. Meet Duke the Cute. He was intent on mastering the finer points of spinning.

Alpaca Days 5

And this is Buddy. He was in charge of getting pets, taking naps, and general awesomeness in the dog department.

Alpaca Days 6

Catching up from last last week, I wanted to tell you about this delicious soup. It’s Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot Soup with Miso and SesameBarefoot Rooster blogged about it, and I’ve been dying to try it ever since I read her post. This seemed like the perfect time for it since I’d been sick all week and Wednesday made it officially fall . . . Oh, my. It was insanely good, definitely not your standard carrot soup.

Carrot Miso Soup

And I made soda bread to go with it.

Soda Bread

These two mooches kept trying to convince us that soda bread was the ancient food of their people so they should have a piece.


In other random news, I finished Midnight’s Children which I’d been reading for a few weeks. I’m now in withdrawal. It’s an absolutely astonishing book.


Progress continues on Gramps. I’m just about to separate the sleeves and body. I’ll post pictures soon.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Fall!

Getting Fleeced 2

Today, I have been spinning “in the grease”!

The course I’m taking has us begin by spinning raw, completely unprocessed fleece. That’s fleece that has come straight off the sheep. In addition to the lanolin that’s still in the wool, there are twigs and dirt and other bits of what is referred to as “VM,” or vegetable matter.

Lucky for me, the two friends I joined in taking the class both have lots of resources in the fiber world, and they each put together a package of different samples for me to try.

Raw Samples

I’m not sure I’ll have time to work through all the samples for the course module, so I picked one and just decided to see how it went. The one I chose was from a breed of sheep called the Tunis. It’s one of the oldest breeds indigenous to the United States. As it happens, they’re also super cute. I really want to meet one now. Anyhoo . . .

Tunis 1

The feel of the dense mass of raw wool is very different from that of processed fleece, and I wan’t quite sure how to get started with it. Soooo, I just pulled off a little bit and decided to see what happened.

Tunis 2


Tunis 4

Things went surprisingly well once I got used to manipulating the sticky tufts.

Tunis 3

Tunis 5

Here’s what I ended up with after about an hour.

Tunis 6

It was fun!! And interesting! By the time I was ready to stop, my hands were literally slick with lanolin. I love having put this piece of the puzzle in place. It’s the missing step between the animal and the processed fiber I’m used to spinning.

In other news, today included guacamole made with peppers from the garden.


And to show you what I meant about the Thin Edge of the Wedge shawl coming in handy, I took a picture of myself wearing it at last night’s Bee Keepers’ meeting. Handknits in action. Yes ma’am.

TEotW Action

Oh, and I almost forgot. I laid out this weekend’s newspaper to spin over since I figured there might be some debris involved. Look at the editorial page I opened to. I didn’t even notice it until I’d been fooling with the fiber for a few minutes and the word “fleeced” caught my eye. Ha!

Editorial Fleecing

Handknits In The Garden 3

Pink Stripey Socks

I thought you might like to see the pink stripey socks in action. I love them! When I cast off Sunday morning, I couldn’t resist wearing them even though I was headed out to work in the garden. They were super comfy. I’ve already washed and dried them, and they look as good as new, ready for next time, which might just be today!

The garden surprise on Sunday was that one of my poppies bloomed! It’s a Florist Pepperbox. It’s the first poppy I’ve ever grown from seed. I hadn’t noticed that it was about to bloom, but the second I stepped outside Sunday morning, I saw it waving in the breeze among the marigolds. It was looking a little tentative when I took this picture, but as the day went on, it opened up and started to act like it belonged. 


And there was this guy. He stayed for quite awhile and kept me company while I weeded and poked around.


Here’s what I brought in from the vegetable garden.


This is the first year we’ve grown the foot-long beans. My aunt actually sent the seeds for these from her neighbor’s garden in Texas. With all the amazing things happening in the world today, one of the very most amazing to me is that a little brown seed from Texas could arrive in the mail, sit in my filing cabinet all winter, be sprouted and planted in the spring, and turn into these crazy, yummy long beans in my garden this summer. Nature will not be outdone.

Sunday night, I used zucchini and thyme from the garden to make “Creamy Zucchini, Walnut, and Thyme Soup.” It was pretty tasty, but this soda bread from the Eat Cake for Dinner blog was to die for. I seriously think I could eat it for every meal for the rest of my life and not get tired of it. 

Soda Bread

While I watched the Tour last night, I started plying the singles of the Hello Yarn Shetland I’ve been spinning. It’s a little barber poley, but I love it anyway. I think I’m going to end up with close to 400 yards, which will definitely be enough to make a nice shawl or cowl. I’m considering Xenia. I actually prefer Appia, but that design needs a less colorful yarn, I think.

Minerals 1

Minerals 2

Minerals 3

 Hopefully, I’ll finish up the plying today and be able to give the yarn a good soak tonight.


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