Tag: handspun

Spinnin’ wheel got to go ’round 7

The Tour de Fleece is underway! So far, I’ve been spinning about three hours a day. I think the time for this must be coming from a parallel universe because the rest of life has been busier than ever.

It’s been so crazy that my BFFF and I had to stage a clandestine getaway so we could actually speak face-to-face for a few hours. This was one variation on my attempt to pack for said spinning/catching up/commiserating.

Two knitting projects–my Hitchhiker and the second The Rain Outside. Three different choices of fiber. Spare bobbins. Bobbin winder. Lazy kate. Chocolate. Walnuts. Chips. Wine. In the end I left the bobbin winder at home and brought more chocolate.

It was divine.

We even managed to take a belated World Wide Knit In Public Day picture.

In addition to having our WIPs with us, we both happened to be wearing handknits as well. I LOVE that.

Since the Tour started, my knitting has mostly been on hold except for car rides and other times when it’s been inconvenient to spin. I’m finding that I tend to either knit or spin and not go back and forth between the two. Does anyone else do that?

Frankie is fascinated by the spinning. He doesn’t try to grab the fiber or stick his paw in the wheel like Augie occasionally does. He just wants to be involved. Sometimes, he’ll actually reach his paw out and rest it on the fiber in my lap. Other times, he’ll crawl up under my arm and literally be right in the middle of the spinning.

It’s hard work being the spinning assistant, though, so he spends the rest of the day resting up.

I’ve got more travel coming up, so I’ll be staying connected through Instagram for the next week or so. If you’re on Instagram and I’m not following you, be sure to let me know so I can.

Happy July, my friends!

I’ll leave you with this gem.




P.S. This is Cari’s packing photo for our getaway. Hahaha!




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.


Handspun Mitts 2

Remember that Hello Yarn club fiber I spun during Spinzilla? I think I mentioned that I wanted to knit a pair of fingerless mitts with it. Well, here they are!

Handspun Mitts 6 web Handspun Mitts 9 web

I REALLY love them.

The pattern is Easy Peasy Fingerless Mitts by Jennifer Casa. It’s wonderful in its simplicity. Basically, you just knit a tube and then add an afterthought thumb. Voilà! Super cute mitts!

Paul took the pics for me, and we both laughed when this bee started buzzing around. At first, we were waiting for him to buzz away, but he just kept hanging out. This pic ended up being my favorite of all the ones we got. I’ve actually made it my profile picture on Instagram, so if you see a mitt and bee pic over there, it might be me.

Handspun Mitts 3 web

Last night, I worked on a stripey sock while we watched the Baylor Bears do their thing. They’d been ranked #2 in the country until two weeks ago when the quarterback fractured his neck. Last week was a by week, so this week was the first week out with the new guy. He is a freshman, and he played like he’d been doing it forever. When the announcer mentioned that he was 19 years old, I just about shot cider through my nose. 19?????? Can you even drive when you’re 19? Kidding, but still . . . 19?

Baylor Kansas

I’ve got to get back to work, but I’ll leave you with a picture of Blade on today’s walk. It’s unseasonably warm, so we’ve been taking every chance we can to get in walks that don’t require too much bundling up.

Blade 2

I’ll be back with some pictures of something—either the Travel Shawl or Gramps—this weekend. Be well! And happy knitting, my friends!

BFFs 2

Blue Socks 3

So the BFF socks are off the needles. For some reason I feel compelled to share that they aren’t right. The pattern is great, the yarn is luscious . . . but the knitter wasn’t paying attention.

You can kind of see it here: 

Blue Sock 2

See how the right one is shorter than the left one? I used the same size needles, and the socks have the same number of cables, but when I was knitting the one on the right, I crossed the cable one row early several times. Fewer rows = shorter sock. Imagine me crying quietly into the sleeve of my blue bath robe. Even Lola looks a little dismayed.

Earlier in the day when I was working on Sock #2, I was enjoying the idea of wearing these until they fell apart sometime in the far off future.

Porch Knitting

And Lola wasn’t the least bit worried about the already finished secretly shorter first sock.

Blue Sock 1

Alas . . . I think the moral of this story is don’t knit something where you have to pay attention during a tense football game. I was rooting for Baylor during the leg of that first one. 

Oh, well. I thought about redoing it, and I guess I’m still kind of thinking about it, but I’m not really in the mood to knit another blue sock right now. We’ll see.

In the meantime there’s always the glorious handspun I’m going to use to make myself some fingerless mitts.

Fall Handspun

And banana bread.

Banana Bread

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.

IMG 1622

It was a beautiful day to be outside.

IMG 1624 IMG 1617

And Blade made a friend.

IMG 1615

* . . . 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!

No Idea What To Title This Post 2

Plane knitting 3

The sun was just coming up as I left Texas to head home. As I had anticipated, I got to do a lot of airport knitting on this trip. Most of it was on Gramps.
This was the day I left, during the first loooong layover.
Layover knitting 1
This was on the plane on the second leg of the trip to Texas.
Plane knitting 1
This was as I was landing that first night.
Plane knitting 2
And this was during the second layover on the way home as I was eating the homemade pimento cheese sandwich my mom made for me for lunch.
The most exciting trip news I have to share with you is that Storm Cloud is fabulously wearable!
Most of the shawls I have feel like they’re wrapped around my neck more than my shoulders when I wear them, even the big ones. And I’m constantly fiddling to make sure they don’t come loose from how I’ve arranged them or slide off altogether. Storm Cloud was completely different! It rested naturally around my shoulders, and I could adjust it for the temperature without even really thinking about it.
I had it on all day a couple of different days, and when I wasn’t noticing that it was my handspun yarn and feeling kind of giddy about that, it was a perfect instance of form meets function. Nothing missing, nothing extra. It was like wearing a hug. I can’t say enough good things about it. This is truly the most enjoyable knitted thing I’ve ever worn. 
I even managed to get a handknits-in-action shot:
Storm cloud on plane
The trip itself was terrific. I spent lots of time hanging out and visiting with family. This is my step-brother’s dog, Roman, who is the sweetest boy ever.
And this is my aunt’s cat, Lola, who loves everyone!
Lola cat
I tried to get a shot of my mom’s cat, but they all turned out blurry. Next time.
This is a bird we met in a parking lot. I found out that my mom and my aunt carry bird seed in the car! When they see a hungry-looking bird (not sure how they can tell), they spread a handful of seed for it. I love them so much.
Bird 2



Aloe vera
Plant growing along the Texas Gulf Coast is a serious affair. Everything looked like it was about to take over the planet. The leaf on this one had to have been 18” across.
Big leaf plant
Did I mention that the layovers were realllllly long?
Lunch reading

Handspun Storm Cloud 4

Storm Cloud 1

Finished, soaked, and blocked Storm Cloud late last night, and managed to get some pics today. 

Storm Cloud 4

I think I’m really going to enjoy wearing this.

Storm Cloud 8

Storm Cloud 7I’m taking it with me to Texas for the plane and any other cool spots I might run into. I kind of hope there are lots. 

Trip Essentials

With two long layovers and a bunch of hanging out and visiting on the schedule, I should have plenty of time to knit. Hopefully, I’ll have some fun pictures to show you when I get back.

Wishing you love and peace on this September 11th.

Labor Day 1

Calligraphy è finito!

Calligraphy Blocking

It’s not a well-knit sweater because I’m a goof and didn’t swatch. I could try to defend the not swatching by explaining how I got gauge to the millimeter with the last swatch I did, and the sweater ended up way too big. I think that in that case the problem was that I was doing a stockinette swatch for a lace pattern; however, knowing that didn’t make me feel any less grudging toward the idea of swatching for this sweater. Even when I got to the sleeves and had the huge-ness issue, for some reason I felt inclined to attribute this to the position of the sun relative to the marigolds in my herb garden rather than consider the not swatching and the fact that my gauge might be miles off.

I should have swatched. The sweater is huge in the body, and it’s because I didn’t swatch. Swatching is important. There, I said it. I know it. Knitting friends, please hold me to it.

Moving on . . . . I think I’m going to love this sweater even with its exceptionally roomy body. I wore it nonstop until I had to put it in the water to soak before blocking. I’ve been petting it every few hours. I ordered these buttons for it. They should be here this week. I can’t wait.


And instead of casting on for Gramps right away, I cast on for the Storm Cloud Shawlette with my handspun! This will be the first wearable thing I’ve made with my handspun yarn, and I’m loving knitting with it. Work is kind of insane this week, so I’ve had to knit in the in-between times, including when we took a break for a festive Labor Day lunch today.

Storm Cloud 1

As you might guess from the photo, lunch was followed by a nap.

But after the nap and the next set of papers, I snuck in a few minutes of knitting on the porch.

Storm Cloud 2

I love knitting. Thank goodness for knitting.

Capacitor Socks

Over the weekend I moved on to sock number two of the current pair of stripey socks. I love knitting.

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