tdf

Texture, oh texture!

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Things have been a little hectic lately for many reasons; namely here wedding planning in full swing, various knits in progress, tour de fleece and a week-long vacation spent visiting my soon-to-be in-laws in Ohio. I won’t bore you with all the details, but let’s just say that it’s been a little hard to keep up with everything.

First thing first, I want to share with you all my happiness as I found a fellow knitter on Ravelry who was sweet enough to send me her Cascade Heritage’s leftovers so I could finish my Dessine-moi un mouton. Yay! I started working on the sleeves last week and should very soon have something interesting to share with you guys so stay tuned!

In other news, I also just recently finished test-knitting this gorgeous Call &Response Cowl for the lovely Sarah Schira and I am in love with it! This design hasn’t been published yet, but I’ll make sure to update this post with the link as soon as it is.

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The pattern was every shade of perfect;  it’s easy to follow, it’s fun and interesting to knit and it’s got lots of changes so it’s never boring. I also love the fact that the cowl is tapered off towards the top, creating a very flattering shape around the shoulders. Awesomeness!

Among other cool things, I’ve also been spinning along a little bit as the tour the fleece is progressing, but I must say that I have been making very, very little progress on the gorgeous Merino/Tencel roving I started. Since the tour is almost over already, I think it’s obvious by now that I won’t finish in time but I’m fine with that – a little spin is better than no spin at all, isn’t?

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On the personal front, we’ve been enjoying the summer weather and people’s company; hanging out with my honeybee’s family, going to the zoo & attending my very first Air Show at the Toledo airport on the 16th. Much much fun in very good company! 🙂

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Enough about me now, how’s been your summer so far yarnies?

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Tour de Fleece 2015 and stuff

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Well guys, I feel like I really owe you all an heartfelt apology. Although I have been keeping myself pretty busy lately with many fiber things, I have been selfish enough to not share it with you. Unforgivable, right? Well, to make amends, I decided to share with you all today what I’ve been working on in the last couple weeks.

First things first, I decided to participate again this year in the Tour de Fleece with the girls from Papote et Placote. However, as I am not a very competitive spinner, I’m simply tagging along at my own rhythm, never mind the slow turtle pace. Since the beginning of the tour, which was on July 4th, I have spun about 60 grams of yummy Malabrigo sweetness that I am quite happy about. Here’s what it looks like:

FotorCreatedI have not been a very dedicated spinner since my neck has been killing me for days now, but I do what I can. And since the Tour de Fleece has been putting me into a spinning mood, I have also been thinking about how to use all those beautiful handspun yarns I have, that I still haven’t touched. I know, I’m lowering my head in shame now but I have to admit that since I started spinning last year, I have not used a single yard of handspun. Shame on me! It’s not because I don’t like them, on the contrary! But I think I have been waiting for an illumination; for the perfect project to showcase my handspun yarn. And after many a thought about it, I think I finally found it. Here’s the magical project I have in mind for one of my latest handspun named heaven:

FotorCreated2Yep, the BlueSand Cardigan from La Maison Rililie! I paired my blue and purple handspun with 2 solid shades of gray in Cascade Heritage yarn. The pattern usually calls for DK weight but the yarn I chose is actually fingering weight, so I’ll use a modified gauge and simply follow instructions for one size up what I actually want. I’m so thrilled about this project!

Now that I shared my idea with you, I really want do know what you, wonderful spinners out there, generally use your handspun for! Do you spin with a specific project in mind or are you like me and you spin something and let it sit for a while until you find the perfect project for it? Please leave a comment below and let me know 🙂

Busy like a bee!

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The Tour de Fleece is almost over, and although I could not entirely reach all my goals, I’m pretty satisfied by the overall progress I made during the Tour. I spun about 20 ounces of fiber, making total of 6 skeins of yarn ( – ok, 5 if we don’t count the one I made the day before the Tour started – yea, you can call me a cheater 😉 ). It was a very pink Tour for me, but I’m happy with it since I didn’t have a lot of pink, salmon or coral yarn in my stash, so I feel it’ll be a good addition.

 

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My original goals were to :

1) Spin finer and more consistent singles

I can say for sure that I totally achieved that first goal, since I am now able to spin yarn about fingering size. Yay! My singles are getting finer and finer, and more and more consistent, and I like it! I think I’m still over-spinning sometimes, but I’m half doing it on purpose, since I like knitting with a yarn that has a good consistent twist.

2) Learn Navajo plying

I made a few attempts at navajo plying – they were not all successful. But even if the results are not perfect, I think I’m slowly beginning to learn how to do it. My arms are starting to remember the motions, and I’m slowly making progress. I spun very little yarn using the navajo ply – less than 100 yards of it – because I still have to go at it really really slow to not mess it up. But so far, I’ve noticed that – contrarily to a 2 ply yarn – it works a lot better with very low twist singles. I guess that makes it a partially achieved goad, so it’s not so bad!

3) Learn how to spin cotton

Spinning cotton is HARD!!! I tried… I really did. But the staple is so short, and it requires so much spin that it’s all really hard to control. I think I’ll have to get a lot more practice before I can actually make yarn out of cotton, for sure. I’ll just keep practicing, and maybe it’ll become a goal again for next year. Wish me luck!

Next on the list for me : I’ll use one of those scrumptious handspun skeins I worked so hard to make! Ok, I admit – I still have 2 ounces of blue and 2 ounces of yellow to spin, but I plan on using those with my No, I’m not Swedish handspun yarn to make this really nice chevrons cowl by Star Athena. I think the colors are just perfect for it, and I am so excited to cast it on!

After that (or not – because sometimes, I get very excited and end up starting too many projects at once :P), I also have another fun sweater idea that I’ll try to put on paper. What I have in mind is a lacy-back, short sleeve sweater in a lace weight yarn, featuring the basic english mesh lace I used on this scarf. I’m thinking of using my yellow Toil and Trouble Merino Silk Lace and mix it with the gray alpaca lace yarn I have in stash. What do you think of this combination?

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On the menu for the next few months, I think I’ll also order some more of the green variegated Ashland Bay Merino/Silk fiber I used to spin my Delmar yarn. I really loved spinning this fiber, and it is just so soft it makes me want to wrap myself in it. So my plan is to order 8 or 12 more ounces of it to make about 800 to 1000 yards of scrumptious, sweater-worthy yarn. I’m so excited!

As you can see, I’m keeping myself pretty busy Crafties, and I hope you are too! Show me some of your current projects, I’d be really glad to see what other creative crafters are up to.

Until then, enjoy your craft time 🙂

Because everything is nicer on vacation.

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So here I am, at my future in-law’s house, taking it easy for a week on vacation. Sweet! Since it took us a good 13 hours to get here on Saturday, I’ve had a chance on the way to pick up my needles, and finish my sweater for the Nice&Knit summer sweater knit along (#NKKAL). I’m definitely very happy about how it turned out!!

http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sb
http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sb

The TDF has been going pretty good so far, I have been able to spin a brand new skein of yarn last week, full of colors. I used a combination of yellow and blue corriedale fiber, and although it didn’t turn out as soft as I would have expected, I’m definitely happy about the color scheme. And the best of it all is that with this skein, I was able to achieve one of my TDF goals, which was to spin a finer yarn! This one is about fingering size and is mostly constant, it’ll definitely be a charm to knit!

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http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/nins

The only down side about this yarn is that I think I put too much spin in it when I plied, and the finished skein turned out much more twisted than I would’ve wanted it to be when I got it off the wheel -_-‘ Even the cat was making fun of me!! I had to let it soak for a long time to let the twist set, and stretched it out real good as it was drying. Oh well.

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I still have 2 ounces of blue and 2 ounces of yellow that I’ll spin as solid colors, and I’ll combine the 3 skeins to knit the  Comptown Races Cowl with it. Isn’t going to look amazing?? I cannot wait to start it! So since my fiber stash has been shinking considerably, last Thursday I decided to stash up again on fiber, and I went for the first time to a little shop located in Nicolet, Québec called the Julie Factrie. I really liked the place, and thought it was cute and quaint (and full of my favorites!). The shop owner, Julie, is a real fiber artist, and it was a pleasure to chat with her for a little while. I left with mostly solid colors this time, and I’m really looking forward to spinning those into wonderful and colorful skeins.

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The heat of the moment! (and TDF?)

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Fotor0703132658These past few weeks, I have been stashing up on fiber for the Tour de Fleece, and it’s making me feel very, very good. For those who might not know what it is, the Tour de Fleece is the fiber spinner’s version of the Tour de France, the cycling competition – we spin as they spin, and we try to match the hardest parts of our challenges to  the hardest parts of the Tour. The big idea is to set yourself goals to achieve in the duration of challenge, which started this year on July 5th and will go on until July 27th. The goals you set yourself can be anything you want them to be – from learning how to spin to spinning 10 minutes every day to spinning 30 ounces of fiber. There’s a ton of groups you can join, a lot you can learn and definitely a lot of fun to have. So since I’m still relatively new to spinning, I set myself 3 very realistic goals that I think I can achieve before July 27th :

1) Spin finer and more consistent singles (ideally reaching the equivalent of a sock yarn)

2) Learn Navajo plying

3) Learn how to spin cotton

This challenge has made me very, very excited and although it started only a few days ago, I already completed 2 spinning projects; one using a 100% merino fiber and the other one using a 70/30 Merino/Silk fiber. I can definitely tell that the singles in these two projects are a lot finer and a lot more consistent than what I’ve been doing so far (the green one is about DK size), but there’s still room for improvement.

Fotor0704215622 Fotor0706155918I will be away on vacation for a good part of the TDF (we are going to Ohio July 12th through July 21st to visit my Honeybee’s family), but I will definitely keep spinning, since I decided to take my spinning wheel with me to work on my challenges on our spare time. A change in scenery is going to be very much welcomed, and my future mom-in-law is a veteran spinner, so I’m sure she’ll have a few tips and tricks to give me to help me progress on my TDF challenges. The 12 hour drive there – without air conditioning – in the summer heat is going to be dreadful, but hopefully, while we’re there we’ll be able to fill up on family time and do lots of fun things like going to the zoo, having campfires and eat marshmallows.

In the meantime, I have been trying to focus on the Nice & Knit Summer Sweater Knit Along, that I really want to finish ASAP. I originally wanted to finish it before the TDF starts, but I guess it just didn’t happen. I finished the body yesterday, so now only the sleeves are left. I think part of the reason why I haven’t finished this project sooner is because of the crazy heat wave we’ve experienced the past few days. Isn’t it hard to focus on knitting a sweater when the heat makes you feel your body’s melting on the couch? Thermometer has been marking 88°F, but with humidity it’s jumping to 99°F. Urgh! Fortunately though, we’ve had rain yesterday and today that brought around cooler temperatures – so I picked up my needles again 🙂

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On a lighter note, Saturday, I went to Artfil with a few friends for a social stitches afternoon, where we had a chance to chat and happily work on our projects or learn new crafts together. I had a lot of fun, and definitely appreciated the much needed girl-time.

So that’s all folks, enjoy your craft time 🙂