First Day of Autumn

I love autumn.  It is hands down my very favourite time of the year.  The cool breezes, the breaking out of blazers and cute boots, the reds and golds of the trees and, of course, the re-integration of my knitwear (mostly socks) into circulation in my wardrobe.

I also find I get severe start-itis in autumn.  I start thinking of all the lovely knitted items I’d like to have as the days get cooler, mostly dressy scarves and shawlettes and nice cushy socks and I start planning.  I also look to Christmas knitting and end up casting on far more than I really should.

In addition to all of this, Carla over at Georgian Bay Fibre Company is hosting an autumn KAL.  When I saw her last week at the Knitter’s Fair in Kitchener-Waterloo, I picked up a single skein of her Pengallie Fingering – 80% BFL/20% silk – in a lovely colourway called “Beausoleil Shoal” and figured I’d use it for the KAL, but wasn’t entirely sure what I’d make with it.

PengallieAlong comes Carolyn Macpherson and her Shifting Leaves Scarf pattern (there’s a cowl too!)…and while it’s intended to be a warm winter-y scarf, I thought that it would make a lovely “dressy” scarf in a fingering weight yarn.

So I wound the yarn this morning, and this evening, I shall succumb to my start-itis, and cast it on.  After all, how many WIPs is really too many?

Uhm, never mind.  Don’t answer that.

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Tour de Fleece 2014 Draws To A Close

I have officially completed my first Tour de Fleece.

I am pretty happy with how it went, overall.  I didn’t spin as much as I had hoped.  Actually that’s not true.  I spun more than I thought I would at the start, but after finishing a whole braid in my first 8 days, I had thought I’d get more done.

However, it seems that spinning progress got a lot slower in the second half.  Maybe because I spun less, time-wise…maybe because the fibre was different and it just took me longer.  I am still not sure.

In any case, I turned a 115 gram braid of merino bamboo into 300 yards of gorgeous yarn,

Colourway: “Cast On Couch”

and a 62 gram braid of merino cashmere into 230 yards of delightful squooshy-ness,

Colourway: Flamingoes Are Not Munitions Experts"

Colourway: “Flamingos Are Not Munitions Experts”

and I made some headway into a third braid of camel/silk.

Colourway: "I Am A Drinker With A Spinning Problem"

Colourway: “I Am A Drinker With A Spinning Problem”

I spun indigodragonfly only…being their team captain and all.  The only untouched indigodragonfly fibre I have left is some merino/seacell…but I have 300 grams of that so I am keeping that until I figure out what I want that to become.

I will keep on keeping on with the Humpspun…and maybe alternate that bobbin with some other fibre that has been languishing in my stash.  I am looking to learn some woolen techniques and I may have to break into some batts for that.

Tour de Fleece: Rest Day 1

It popped up on my calendar today that this is the first of the two Tour “rest days”.  We don’t spin our wheels when the riders don’t, so to speak.  I had not planned to actually take a day off today, but I think I will because I am getting some aches and pains in my right hand.  Considering how much time I have spent at my wheel these past 10 days, I suppose that should not be surprising.

My current project is another indigodragonfly fibre.  This one is a camel/silk blend, creatively named Humpspun, in a colourway named, “I Am A Drinker With A Spinning Problem”.

Humpspun Fibre

Humpspun Fibre

This name might be more a propos than I care to admit. This yarn, when finished, is going to be a great many things.  It’s going to be ultra-soft, and very warm.  It’s also going to be very pretty, with some blue-green silky bits strewn in amongst natural/beige coloured camel fibres.

Know what it’s not going to be?  EVEN.

I have been spinning this fibre for a few nights and my relatively inexperienced hands just cannot get the hang of drafting this.  At.  All.

Single Progress after 3rd day

Single Progress after 3rd day

I am fairly certain this single runs the gamut from laceweight to worsted, depending on where you look.  I am not sure if this is just a “harder” fibre to spin, or if it’s different from the usual merino or BFL blends I am accustomed to.  But in any case, I suspect this is going to take the rest of the Tour to spin because I am spinning way more slowly than with the PandaBaa and I can’t spin as long because my hands hurt.

I am still loving working on it though, now that I have decided to let it be what it wants to be, and I think the yarn is going to be lovely and original when I am done.

Which is to say, “lovely and original” sounded much nicer than saying “it will look like it was spun by an untrained four year old who drafted with her left foot”.

Canada Day Weekend FO: Spinning Edition

Some evenings, spinning is a lovely, relaxing way to wind down after a long day. Since I picked it up again in May, I have been finding knitting time dwindling and spinning time increasing…which is a bit of a problem since really, I am just creating more yarn. But I digress.

Since May, I have spun up three separate braids, and this one is the first that I would consider luxury, ie that is something other than straight merino or BFL. This braid of 80% BFL and 20% silk from Friends in Fibre has been calling to me with its lovely blues and purples for a while now, and I thought it was time to spin up something truly yummy.

Friends In Fiber BFL/Silk in "Blue Moon"

Friends In Fiber BFL/Silk in “Blue Moon”

After watching Felicia Lo’s Craftsy class called “Spinning Dyed Fibres” and discovering that the braid had lovely long runs of colour, I decided on a fractal spin. This is a process whereby you split the braid lengthwise down the middle, and then spin one half as is to get the afore mentioned long stretches of single colour. The other half is then split lengthwise as many times as possible and spun up one after the other. This creates shorter runs of colour, and then the two are plied together. Real results are only visible once the piece is knit up and I haven’t gotten that far yet.

After plying on Saturday, I Tweeted this picture:

First run at plying

First run at plying

One of my followers, an avid spinner, commented that it was pretty and I asked her if perhaps the plying was too loose. I have a tendency to overspin my singles with the knowledge that the plying will take some of it away, but it seems I am a bit overcautious with the plying. “Fluffykira” kindly suggested that I run it back through the wheel – something I wasn’t actually sure I could do – if I felt it wasn’t plied tightly enough.  She assured me it would be fine and that I could just soak it again afterwards and all would be well!  I can’t say how grateful I am to her. After 45 minutes or so, and an episode of Battlestar Galactica…this was the result.

And after a second ply...

After a second ply…

Next time I will know not to be quite so judicious with the amount of twist I am adding.  Because frankly, having to re-do all this a second time was a bit of a pain, even if it was totally worth it in retrospect.

Finished skein

Finished skein

Next up…indigodragonfly PandaBaa in “Cast On Couch”.  This gorgeous red-purple colourway in merino/bamboo will be going on my wheel for Tour de Fleece!  In fact, indigodragonfly has entered a team into the festivities.  Come join us on Ravelry!

FO: Winter Birch

Occasionally, I will be surfing Ravelry or Twitter and I will come across a photo of a new (or not-so-new) pattern and the strangest thing happens.  I become utterly and completely obsessed with the item in question and I have to knit it right. this. second.

So starts the story of how I ended up knitting a Winter Birch in a weekend.

Someone on my Twitter feed posted that they were having a KAL of the scarf and while I didn’t have the yarn required to participate, I did have a stunning silver-grey skein of Illimani Silky Baby Llama that I had picked up on a recent trip to a yarn shop in Kitchener.  It was the right weight and the right size skein, and I was completely in love with the pattern so I cast on on a Friday evening.

It was ridiculously simple to memorize; I think I had it totally committed to memory by the end of the first repeat.

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

I found the repeats to be like potato chips…”just one more”.  Within a couple of days, voila!  A gorgeous and soft creation, just the right length for tucking into the front of a coat.

It was already pretty enough, but then my friend Shireen came over, armed with her camera, and took some lovely pics for me.  Someday I am going to finish my Craftsy “Shoot It!” class, I swear!

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

I am extremely happy with how it turned out, and considering how quickly I was able to churn it out, the pattern is definitely going to stay at the top of my list for gifting possibilities.

Pattern:  Winter Birch by Debbie Stone

Yarn: Illimani Silky Baby Llama in the ever-so-descriptive colourway “1804”

Who Was It Made For?  Me?  Not entirely sure if it will get gifted elsewhere.

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  Only in the sense that I knit and knit until I was out of yarn and thus ended up with extra repeats.

Did I Learn Anything New?  No

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  I already have it queued for a skein of Handmaiden Great Big Sea.