Tour de France - Tour de Fleece 2016

Another year had rolled around for the Tour de France. DH and I have watched this fabulous race for the last 20+ years and have enjoyed every minute of it.  We made a decision last year to disconnect from satellite/cable and really haven't missed it........until now. I am sad that I won't be watching actual coverage this year, but I will keep up with it online.  Another exciting road trip planned as they go into Andorra and Switzerland as well.  While I have some misgivings of the Tour going into other countries, those two should be good because of the mountains.

Here's a view of the map for 2016.



This one is a view from a mountain stage last year.  You see the road below the mountain in the top left of the picture.  The french created this Z road to get to the top of this mountain because the other route available to get to the top was a very long way around. This road just scales the mountain. Is this not unbelievable???

So have you started the Tour de Fleece?  I spun a little on my Trindle today.  One of my goals on this Tour de Fleece is to do some core spinning.

I've also been working on another woven wall hanging.  I am overcoming the "blank canvas" fear. It's not as daunting and it's getting easier to create. I have gotten inspiration from many different sources, alot of them on Instagram.  Here's one I warped last weekend and then started weaving on yesterday.  Not sure how I'll finish it off yet, but I'm pleased with it so far.


Otherwise, as to knitting. I've started a baby sweater using Berroco Modern Cotton.  This yarn is delicious to work with. It feels glorious in my fingers. Some might consider it to be splitty but I'm not a fast knitter and I usually look at my knitting (noun) while I'm knitting (verb) so I'm pretty good about not splitting my yarn. :-) 

I've also been getting the sewing bug, whether it's doing some quilting (hand piecing) or some clothing. Time will tell.  OK, I'm getting off the computer! 

Father's Day weekend

I've already spoken to my Dad today to wish him a Happy Father's Day. He lives in another state but he's on my mind. Sending him happy thoughts!!

Yesterday, I spent the day in the hobby room, working on a woven wall hanging. This activity is like "painting" on a blank canvas. All you have is the warp and it's ready to design. whew! that's challenging. But once you get going, and you have a box full of fun fibers sitting next to you, well, it's just a matter of grabbing one and going to town. Totally free-form, you just have to make sure and lock down the free-form weaves every now and then with a couple of rows of standard over and under.  I used a little bit of nubby yarn, some unspun fiber, and a lot of leftover yarn.  Fun to make fringes and loops etc. I need to make the next one less busy with different colors and more plain weave so that you can actually see the loops and special stitches.  This one turned out a little busy but I still like it. I made a homemade frame using an old picture frame I had purchased somewhere for like $1 or $2.  Last weekend, I followed instructions on how to space the nails, marked them and then began nailing. Last Sunday I warped it and then on Saturday, I started creating.



I also have some finished projects. 
The first one is Fiona.  This was a surprise knit and it has been given to the recipient, so now I can blog about it.  This was knit with a light fingering weight yarn for a 24 month old. Relatively easy pattern to remember once you get past the increases. I did not knit in the round, but the next one I will. There are comments from other knitters on how they did it in the round, the pattern is written for seaming front and back together.


Next up is the Chevron Scarf.  Written to be a Cowl, but I wanted a scarf. I loved how this one turned out. This was so much fun to knit, it was like eating a potato chip, I couldn't knit just one row. I kept going, and going, and going.
The color is handspun from the 3 lb bag of fiber I had spun. The cream color is Malabrigo Sock. Love it!




Otherwise, I still have socks on the needles and a few other scarves and cowls. Many projects are being bounced around in my head but haven't landed on any just yet. Lists are being made!!!


Starting the next decade

As I posted on the 23rd of May, I've had this blog going for 10 years now. Although I've been sporadic in blogging, I have been posting pictures on Instagram.  The ease of Instagram........I can do that anywhere and anytime. Thanks to Christina for opening my eyes to Instagram. Blogging, I need to do it from home, so it's a little more difficult. In addition, I do post my projects on Ravelry with the yarn and needle information.

What I like about having this blog is the ability to see the improvements in my knitting from 10 years ago to now.  My skills have improved dramatically. I have recognized that I am a process knitter at heart, although I still tend to knit mostly things that I will want to wear or use. But I love to try out new processes and new stitches, which is when I like to make baby things because it's a smaller time commitment.

During that 10-year span, I've also picked up spinning and weaving. I adore spinning, there I've said it. I  love the "zen" of spinning. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to follow a pattern. I love that you don't have to plan ahead for it. I've not gotten to the point of planning a spin for a particular knitting project and I may never do that, although it would be good to learn how.  As for the weaving, I've mostly played around with it but made a long narrow scarf and some towels for the kitchen. I'm still using the Cricket but lately been eyeing the Kromski Harp. The issue I have with the peg warp is that I don't have anywhere to place the peg that will give me the length of warp I need. So, the Kromski Harp provides a warping board on the reverse side, which would be perfect. More weaving time is needed as well.

So here is a question. When you have time constraints due to working, commuting, kids, fill in the blank with whatever, how do you pick which fiber art you want to work on?  If you're spinning, you're not knitting on that project that you want to finish. If you're knitting, then the spinning fiber is calling your name. If you want to weave, well first you have to plan your project, warp the loom and then you have a little time to weave a little. Sometimes, it's just difficult to pick. I find I tend to spin when I'm in between knitting projects. Although I always have at least 4-10 projects on the needles, one or two are usually my main focus. So when I've finished one of them, I can take a break from knitting and do some spinning.  I used to sew and quilt as well, but can't seem to fit those in my limited time. How do you manage it?  What is your primary focus?

So, on to some things I've been working on.
I posted here about the latest fiber I had spun. It was a beautiful blend of blues and yellows and I really love the way it turned out. I couldn't quite decide what I wanted to do with it, so I sat and stared at it for awhile. I looked at different shawl patterns, but didn't quite have enough yardage for most of the ones I was interested in. I then decided on the Quaker Yarn Stretcher.



I won't make this post heavily laden with pictures, so I will ask that you click on the Instagram link above to see what I've been working on.

I started the Chevron Scarf on Thursday. I am really enjoying this project. It's knit with a solid color, I chose Malabrigo Sock in Natural and then for the color, I chose some handspun that I spun from that big 3-lb bag of loose ends that I spun randomly.  I'm loving the way it looks.

I do have a goal this year. Socks. I've created a right foot sock to accommodate my arthritic toe, so my goal this year is to make a minimum of 6 pairs of my new sock pattern. I have been getting rid of socks I can't wear anymore and making room in my sock drawer for new socks. I have finished 3 pairs so far and have 3 more on the needles with different levels of progress.



That's it for today. For those of you who blog, I highly recommend printing your blog to PDF. We all know that these blogging platforms can go away, just as many loved cloud systems went away. So preserve your history of blogging by printing to a PDF. I usually pick a year, which then loads up that year and then print. Do it today.

10 years - May 23, 2006 to May 23, 2016

Yep, it's 10 years today that I started my blog. I've been pretty sporadic posting this past year, maybe 2 years, but it's always on my mind.  Work got in the way these past 3-4 months, way too many long hours.

I've got a lot to post, but I've run out of time today. I have a new desktop.  A workhorse!! My DH started the building of it on Friday night and I have it in my hands this afternoon. Much more powerful than my 4 year old laptop. Still getting used to Windows 10, but so far so good.

So, I've had very little time for knitting recently, but I have finished another pair of socks, which I'll post more tomorrow. Also been working on a gift which I'll post more about after I've given it to the recipient.

So Happy Anniversary to me and I'm making a promise to myself that I'll get better about posting. The faster computer will help that decision a lot!!!

Spinning again and more knitting

I think it's been a month since I've posted, I forgot to look at the date of the last post. Anyway, it's been a very busy February.  I ordered a new Subaru Outback and I picked it up 2 weeks ago. I love it. I wasn't sure I would like all the new bells and whistles, the new information (entertainment) screen, but it's come in handy. I love that it has 2 USB ports so I can have my podcasts, books and music with just a touch of a button. The screen has a backup camera, which I've also enjoyed. The auto-dimming rear and side mirrors....not so much. Sometimes you need to see the headlights so that you get a better picture of where the cars are, but I'll adjust.

Anyway, it's been a while since I've spun because my right shoulder was so irritated. I've tried to adjust how I knit, a little more Portugese style and some continental too. Those methods just change my tension so much, I revert back to throwing.  As for holding the yarn in my left hand, I haven't developed a good method that works for me. Still playing around with that. I watched some Youtube videos to see how others hold it, but so far it's not working easily. Practice, practice, practice. The Portugese style works well though, so I will continue with that to ease any strain on my shoulder. Oooops, squirrel!!!!  ok, back to spinning. :-)

I started spinning this fiber last weekend and finished plying it on Saturday.
395 yards of 2-ply merino/tussah silk


 Then I've had these cakes on various traveling Turkish spindles. So I finally finished spinning this yesterday and plied it as well.






218 yards. 2-ply















Then I got on a hat knitting kick. I really wanted a slouchy hat so after some trials with the Rikke Hat, I have two of those. The white one is for me and the darker one is for hubby.
The dark one is knit with handspun.

Then I made a stockinette vanilla hat with some handspun. It's soft, it drapes well and I'm in love.


Then lastly, I finished my bulky yarn mittens that I started in October and I was able to use them these past 2 weeks because it was COLD!!!!

All in all, I've been very productive and it's a great start to 2016.

Sock Knitting and a goodbye to Oscar

In anticipation of my goal of 6 pairs or more of socks in 2016, I have armed myself with different sock yarn. I still have some in my stash, but I also have some new. I also have some dark solid colors for those somber moments. I don't work at a bank anymore that required no outlandish socks because it's not professional, so I can get a little wilder in my sock wearing.  This is a sampler of what's to come.

These are the Magic Stripe socks.  I did a german short-row heel in garter stitch and I really like it. The german short-row is my go to heel now. I could say forever but that's a long time. This one is a no-brainer for me. I no longer have to say "oh, it's knit night and I'm at the heel now, so I'll have to do it later when I have peace and quiet".  I can do it and chat and not worry about it.  So I have one sock nearly done and the 2nd one started.  I'm at the heel on another 1st sock too, so I'm moving right along.  I still need to clean out the sock-drawer and remove all the store-bought socks that I will not wear.  This is the year for just hand-knit socks.
I wanted a slouchy hat. I resisted for a while but decided I wanted one and wanted to do it in handspun.  This is falkland fiber that I spun several years ago.  It's more brown and green, which I don't normally wear, but decided to give it a go.  This is the Rikke hat, garter stitch in the round.  

While I'm liking the pattern, the yarn isn't right for the project. I will continue but it's probably not going to slouch, it's too firm for that. So I will continue as it fits nicely. I may end it before it gets too long though and make it more of a somewhat fitted hat.  I will find a more suitable yarn for slouching and cast on again.

 With the advent of sock-knitting and having more than one going at a time, I have a new bag purchased on Etsy.  Love that it has coffee reminders all over it.

 and as for spinning......I haven't been doing any lately. My right shoulder was really irritated and I was going to be in pain. So, I've changed a little of my knitting process which aggravates it less, and I need to work on my spinning arm motion. So, this is next up. merino/bamboo and I'm totally loving the yellow and different variations of blue. I can't wait to start.

and finally, a tribute to my dear sweet Oscar. He had the best personality for an outdoor farm cat. He was so lovable and yet so fierce when it came to mice and moles.  He went quickly. He was only a 2.5 years old but he got sick. I don't know if it was a mouse he ate that had ingested mouse poison, of if it was something hereditary. I just know on Thursday he couldn't move, luckily he was in his little house with a comfy bed. By Saturday morning, he was gone. I'll miss him.



Embrace the stash


5 toes, starting with the big toe.  The 2nd toe has arthritis and likes to sit on top of the edge of the big toe, which irritates the big toe. I've tried all kinds of things to stop that irritation.  The best solution so far had been to wrap the big toe with a used dryer sheet. Hence the desire to make a new sock with a separate big toe.  I have the pattern written down now and my first pair is finished. It's a vanilla pattern and one I won't have to think about. I aspire to make 6 this year, if not more. I want to get rid of the other socks that don't fit the humpy leg so I'm cleaning out the sock drawer. 

In addition to the new big toe, I also found a short-row heel that I have fallen in love with, the german short-row heel.  You can watch videos of it on YouTube, and here is one to start with.

This is my first completed project for 2016.  I have another project that I started in 2014 that I bound off yesterday and I'm making some changes to the sleeves.  The jury is out on whether I like the end result, but it'll be ok, even if I only where it around the house.

Hubby and I took a little trip last weekend in order to stay at a Marriott, otherwise he was going to lose all his points. So I picked a spot to go to and we drove down the Natchez Trace Parkway. We crossed the Tennessee River and it was beautiful.  We stopped at several overlooks but we didn't get out to walk any nature trails.

 

The first snow happened within one day of the first snow last year.  We got it on Jan 23rd last year and the 24th this year. How funny. It dumped a lot more this year though.  We got our big one last year in mid-February, so we'll see what happens in the next month.  This picture was from Friday.
 

This is looking out from my knitting corner this morning.

 


 
So back to the title of this post.  Embrace the stash.  Yep, embrace what you have and add a little to it from time to time.  There may come a time when you are unable to afford to buy more yarn, so why try to rush through it?  Buy a new ball or two every now and then, there is no police that will come take you or your stash away.  Call it your 401Y retirement plan. (Y obviously stands for yarn)  Granted there is no tax benefit from this plan, other than you buy it now and maybe the sales tax goes up in the future, and alas, look, you've paid less tax on your past purchases. :-)  Being unable to afford more yarn could be due to any reason, could be medical, loss of a job and in my case a looming retirement plan.  If funds get tight, you still have yarn to play with or actually yarn and fiber in my case. So find a place to stash it, consider your house a bank. If you have to hide it cause you are out of room in our craft area, then you may want to create a log in Word or Excel to remind you where you've stashed it.  So embrace your stash today.
 

On to a new Year and a recap of 2015

All in all, I think 2015 was a good year. Could I have done a little more? Sure, that's always the case, but I don't fret about it and sure don't waste time thinking about it.

I had planned to buy a new car in 2015. Well as it got later in the year, I decided I would wait until Spring 2016 because I don't want to break in a new car in the winter. Well, I hit a deer in mid-November that mad my decision for me. Since I had already decided what car to get I decided to get down to the dealership and order one. Well, it won't be here until early March anyway, so it sort of worked out. Meanwhile, I'm using hubby's car. My car was 9 years old and had 265,000 miles on it and I put a lot of miles on that car daily, so God was telling me to get that car off the road before something more serious happened. It is being donated.

As for reading, I was able to get 82 books either read or listened to this year. I think in past years I had gotten to 75-77 books, so it's an increase. I think part of that is due to eliminating satellite radio. While I'm listening to audio books, I get to thinking about what I was paying for satellite radio and thought I had better to listen to that for awhile. :-)

We have eliminated some things from our lives for several reasons.  Monthly costs and time sucking.  So, we eliminated satellite radio. With USB sticks in cars now and auxiliary ports for mp3 players, do we really need satellite radio? Yes, it was wonderful to listen to, but the cost was a little too high.  Then at the end of July, we turned off Directv.  We live too far away to use an antenna, so we have blissful quiet evenings. I still get knitting done, so it's all good. We were only watching about 2-3 channels anyway, but you can't get a package for what you want. If they would ever come up with a package where you can select 5-10 channels for a certain price, that would be right up my alley.

As for 2016, not too many goals this year, except to knit myself more socks. I went through a period there where I didn't knit many because I always had to make too many modifications. So, over the holidays, I decided to design a vanilla sock pattern to accommodate my nuances with the right foot and leg.  After many (4) iterations, I finally have the final pattern (at least for fingering weight). I wanted to make more of them because of the shoes I wear to work. So, I've got 2 pairs on the needle now. I'm excited!

I also want to sew more. I've got some ideas of what I want and need to make for myself clothing wise, so I will get some of that done. I also have a desire to make some fabric bowls and plan to tackle that soon.

My first finished project in 2016 is a project that I started in October 2015. It's the Howlcat. It's a Cowl/Hat combination and I really like it. It was touch and go there for a while because of the 9.5 inches of 1x1 ribbing. I literally had to force myself to pick up the project and work on it. I could manage 2 rounds of it and would have to put it down. ugh.  but once I got past the ribbing, the stockinette knitting was a breeze and I finished it last night.




A recap of a few of the finished items in 2015.

Grrrrr - such a slacker on blogging

OK, here I am, a couple days before year end, and I realize I've been a terrible blogger this year.  I've used my blog in the past as a way to keep up with my projects and it makes me smile to go back and read what I've done over the past year.  Well, this is kind of tough to do when you don't blog for MONTHS on end.  OK, my hands are sufficiently slapped.

Since I have a new year coming (2016), I can turn over a new leaf and remove all guilt from the past year.  I have been active on Instagram but that is no replacement for keeping up my blog.

Let me start by saying that we have been without TV since July 31st and it's been great.  We watch a DVD every now and then, but mostly we eat in quiet, or we might play a Colorku game, and then I'll knit or surf on the tablet or read. DH will usually read on the tablet.  So it's been more productive in that way.  I don't miss the crap on TV either. For those of you who don't know about Colorku, it's Sudoku with colored marbles rather than numbers.

I have all kinds of projects floating around in my mind. That includes knitting, spinning, weaving and some sewing. I need to sew some tops for the office because I really hate what is out there in the shops right now.

Spinning is kind of tough for me right now, especially using my spindles, because my right shoulder is killing me. I've been putting off going to the Doc, but I'm going to have to break down and do it, probably in January.  I've been trying to knit more portugese style as that puts less strain on my shoulder, but it doesn't work so well for me with smaller needles. Maybe I need to take a class at Haus to get better at it. It probably just needs more practice as in everything else. In addition, I've started doing that on projects already on the needles and knitting portugese changes my tension and therefore gauge.  But I sooooo want to do some spinning, so I'll be making an appointment with the Doc and get the bad news.

One of the projects I have not mentioned on the blog are my new kitchen curtains. I have a kitchen with 4 large windows that span across one wall that overlooks the front yard. It's a wonderful view and one I've probably posted here at some point over the last 9 years.  The windows have the same mini blinds that were on it when we bought the house. I have finally removed the ugly valance that was on it so the windows are bare, other than the blinds.  The front only gets direct morning light so I can keep my blinds open more during the day. My project for window coverings involve the Zoom Loom.  I am making woven Zoom Loom squares that I will connect lengthwise and attach them to the curtain rod individually in panels. Kind of hard to imagine with just words, so I'll see if I can come up with a picture. I'm using mostly all cream colored squares with some bursts of color.  per window, there will be 280 squares. So, I'll have 265 squares of cream, 5 squares each of red, blue and yellow. I've been designing in Excel as to where I want to put the colored squares. It's been fun playing around with that. :-) 

I have to go for now. More to come, I promise.

Knitting, weaving and spinning

I have been working on projects galore. My mind is on overload with everything I want to work on. Do I want to spin today? or maybe weave? Knitting I usually reserve for evenings in front of the TV. However, at the end of July we are cancelling Directv and going without completely. I live too far away from town to get a signal without an antenna and we had decided that we were paying to much per month to watch 2-3 channels.  So we can stream maybe 2-3 movies a month and not overrun our allotted time from the internet provider. So I will be spending more time in the evenings hopefully doing a little reading, spinning or whatever. The main thing is no more wasted time sitting in front of the TV.

So, I was working on a project from a kit I ordered from the yarn shop in NY. I love the way the project looked at their page. I couldn't control the color of the yarn I received and that may be part of the problem. Anyway, I knit it up and I'm not feeling the love. I ran out of yarn before I was supposed to and I didn't even make it as long as the pattern called for.  So, I'm not feeling the love as to the way the colors went together. I've been letting it sit there until I decided what I wanted to do with it. I think now that I will take it apart and just add it to my on-going blanket. I just don't know what else I could do with it.  Your thoughts?

So I've also gotten on a weaving kick. Who knows why?  First off I decided to use up some cotton stash. I still have lots more cotton to go through. I must have bought a ton of cotton when I was making baby bibs and dishcloths back in 2006-08. I quit doing those and moved up to doing more for me and hence, lots of cotton in the stash. Well, this project didn't use as much as I thought it would but it was enjoyable. It allowed me to play a little with how hard I beat each row. some were more balanced, some were tighter and some were looser. I was playing to see the result. I used the full width of my Cricket, which isn't very big, and I forgot the length. Anyway, I made one long roll, and then I zigzagged with my sewing machine so I could cut it and make 3 individual towels. I then seamed the edges for a clean edge. It will make for a quick hand towel. Overall, I think it's a do over.

 
 
Then I started on a narrower piece using some sock yarn I've had for years. Wildfoote.
I made a long scarf and I really like it.

As for spinning, I finished a skein that I'm absolutely in love with. It's a merino blend in a deep blue that I bought at Stitches in Atlanta in 2014 from Shaky Fibers. This fiber was an absolute delight to spin.  I spun 2 singles and then plied them with a Japanese silk thread in white. I love it!!



So, since I didn't have enough projects on the needles, I bought yarn for a new project at my local yarn shop on Thursday.  It's a kit by Wonderland Yarns. Hand-dyed by Frabjous Fibers. I'm making the Asymmetrical Shawl which stripes garter stitch in a main color and a mesh stitch with a different color.   It's called the Messenger Shawl and you can see the store sample here. (link)
 
That's about it for now. The Tour de France (fleece) is almost over. It's been a good race this year, as always.  This may be our last year to watch it unless we break down some time during the year and sign back up for Directv. Who knows.