Friday, July 25, 2008

To Spin is to Win!

I did a bit more spinning on Wednesday, but for some reason I wasn't getting enough twist into my cashmere, and it started drifting apart, so I walked away rather than get frustrated. I tried a couple times, but sometimes it's better for me if I just set it aside for the day. When I first started spinning I used that as a tool, and I think it still serves me well. This is supposed to be fun, this is a hobby I love, but when things are conspiring against me and it's getting frustrating and nothing seems to help, I can walk away before I hate it and never come back to it. I don't want to approach spinning as something I have to conquer, or sidle up to in trepidation, or whatever - I just want to do it and enjoy it. If today it's not working that way, tomorrow it will be fine. So I walked away.

In the endurance (horse) world, the Tevis Cup ride (a grueling 100 mile in one day ride with incredible changes in altitude) has a saying that to finish is to win. I've never ridden in the Tevis, but I like that saying, and attitude. I think for the Tour de Fleece, to spin is to win!

Here's to all the winners who are spinning today, and every day!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Another one!

This guy, in spite of sticking his tongue out for the camera, is actually a rather charming fellow. He's about 2 weeks old now, and pretty full of himself! He and his 1/2 sister (same dad) were let out together yesterday for the 1st time and they had a good time racing around together. His mom would occasionally intervene though and make nasty faces at the filly, telling her not to try to corrupt her perfect son! HA!

On the spinning front, I'm not making a lot of progress on my big pile of cashmere fluff. I can say that the Tour de Fleece has encouraged me to spin more than I would have in this period, but I wouldn't say it's a lot! My goal was pretty wide open ("spin as much as possible"), but I still may have to pass on taking a yellow button. We'll see, there's still time!

Wanda is participating too, and she hopes to get her story written up and pictures too - she's working on a fleece she has.

Saturday we had a fun group of spinners from NwRSA here for the day spinning - I was very jealous, getting to spend the day spinning and chatting with friends! And shortly after they left I did the V-8 move and said Dang! Why didn't I take any pictures?? Bad blogger.

We're laboring away on the fall knitting catalog, picking patterns, arranging pages, deciding what fits and what doesn't fit. Tim is a master of layout, and can get a lot of information on a page! He must be really good at Tetris - getting odd shapes to work together.

I think it would be pretty amazing to see the full life cycle for yarns, etc. I get to see the new lines in late spring/early summer that are going to appear for the fall, but they had to be developed and colors picked and getting the spinning just right, and patterns developed and knit and re-knit with the yarns. I wonder how long the process really takes? What are they working on now? Fall of 2009, or later?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tour de Fleece!

I read about this recently and thought it sounded like a great idea! For the full story, go to the Tour de Fleece headquarters, but basically it's a self-imposed challenge for spinning for the duration of the Tour de France. So, starting today spinners everywhere are starting their challenges! My challenge is to work on some Cashmere that's been a part of my personal history for quite a long time.

Many years ago, before I moved to Oregon, I had this passion for all things fibery (that much hasn't changed!), and I thought maybe I'd be interested in raising fiber goats. I'd had sheep as a child (Southdowns - 4-H project with my brother), and while I like sheep, I didn't much like the idea of what you need to do with tails of lambs. So goats sounded like they had potential. With a very good friend, I visited 2 goat breeders here in Oregon - one Angora goats, and one was Cashmere. I don't remember the name of the Cashmere breeder, but I know she lived somewhere pretty close to here because I remember going through the town where Woodland Woolworks was at the time - Yamhill, and wishing there was time to stop. Funny old world, isn't it? Anyway, Cheryl and I bought a couple of ounces of Cashmere each with the plan being that I would spin the fiber for both of us, and she would knit us some fabulous scarves. I THINK there's about 8 ounces total, but I can't find my scale.

So, my challenge for the Tour de Fleece will be to spin as much Cashmere as possible. And Cheryl, I think as penance for taking so darn long to get brave enough to spin this lovely fiber, I should either knit it or weave it into scarves for both of us... That may be a challenge for another day though. First step, get spinning!!

I'm trying to talk a couple of other people here into joining in the fun, so there may be more to report.

It's whatever kind of challenge you make it - perfect! To spin is to win!

Happy spinning to you,


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What happened to June?

Good grief! No wonder I'm being chastised for not blogging lately. I thought those last 2 entries were in June, but noooo, they're from May! I lost a month, oh dear.

Well, Black Sheep Gathering, of course, eats up a lot of June, what with ordering for it, packing for it, loading the trailer, being there, unloading and then figuring out what we have after all is said and done. While packing the trailer I thought a picture of the STUFFED TO THE ROOF trailer would make good blog fodder, but of course it didn't happen. Maybe for OFFF I'll remember! Oh, and a pic of the booth might be nice too.

Black Sheep was, as always, a lot of fun. It was a little hot on Friday but we tried not to whine too much, knowing it was still nearly 20 degrees cooler than it was my first year as a vendor there (talk about your trial by fire - a gazillion degrees and I had the worst cold I've had in YEARS, ugh). There were many fabulous and wonderful things to see and touch and dream about, and friends to catch up with and hug, and things to learn and teach. Ahhhh, and soon it will be time for OFFF, and more of the same! Life is good.

I do have some pictures of some dyeing I did recently. We have this new cool Seacell/Silk blend yarn and I wanted to see how well it dyes. I'm not the least bit scientific - measuring is not my forte, repeatable will never be on the agenda. I greatly admire all those dyers who can make a consistent product! I dyed with both Landscapes, and with Procion - and used heat with the Procion, rather than doing the maybe more expected cold batch/soda ash routine. I would like to know how that works on this yarn too, but there wasn't enough time really that day. I dyed with my sweetie's daughter A, who enjoyed it too I think, though the gloves were not a good fit! A is 9, and has small hands.

Anyway, I like to dye using a couple of spaghetti jars with different colors of dye in them, inside my dye pot with water, acting as a double boiler. I drape the skein of yarn across and into the jars, and move it around a bit to get all of it dyed, and maybe mix some colors together.

Below is the yarn getting rinsed - I didn't have much dye wash out (I didn't use much dye either for one skein of yarn, maybe something on the order of a 1/4 teaspoon of each color). Looks like I didn't get quite as much coverage between colors as I might have liked, but I think it will be fine.

And here are the 2 completed skeins - Procion on the left, and Landscapes on the right. The silk gives it a nice luster! Interestingly, the Seacell when wet does indeed give a bit of a whiff of the sea! It goes away when it's dry, but it's definitely there when wet. I was surprised!

I'm going to knit a lacey scarf for A with the Procion version - feather and fan, should be fun.

One of the perks of Black Sheep is that all of us that work the booth hang out together in the evenings - go have dinner at Thai and Indian places (YUM!), and then knit and gab usually entirely too late into the night. I talked Anita into teaching me to knit the "other" way - picking, rather than the throwing I've always done (self taught). So I'm trying really hard to continue that and make it be the way I knit, cause it certainly looks like it's a lot faster. My poor unsuspecting skein of Seacell/Silk was my guinea pig (I had this crazy idea I could learn the technique while knitting the scarf, but GOSH my tension looked horrible!)... so I can also report that the yarn stands up fine to being knit and frogged and reknit. Really - learning a new technique should be done with a nice worsted weight wool instead of a slippery lace weight. Character building. You'll notice there is no picture of the scarf in progress. It's not! Yet anyway.... but it will be.

I uh, found another pair of sock needles at home and started another sock too. Not that there's been any progress on the socks OR green sweater written about in May... But I've finished my 2nd Jaywalker sock, and I'm about done with the Balance tee shirt I knit, except the neck thing has to be changed. I do adore starting things.

Happy 4th of July!!