June 30, 2013


Yes, you know what time of year this is!  I just love the Tour de France and with it goes the Tour de Fleece.  Yay!  If you've read my blog from summers past, you know that during the Tour my knitting takes a nosedive, and my spinning goes front and center.

This year my goal is to spin fibers that I haven't spun before and not stress about quantity of fiber spun as much as quality.  To up my chances of getting my hands on rare breeds or at least rarely seen by me breeds, I joined the fiber club at Paradise Fibers. My first shipment contained 8 ounces of Masham.


These sheep look like long haired horses to me.  What I learned about this breed is that they are from Great Britain and they are a cross between a Teeswater ram and a Swaledale/Dalesbred ewe.

Of course, when my fiber arrived, it looked like this:

It's a whole 8 ounces of Ashland Bay Masham which is a lot of fiber:

The color is a gray/brown and is soft and still has it's crimp, which is amazing to me because Ashland Bay fiber, in my experience, is usually over processed.  Not so with this batch.

So I made my little uneven nests and prepared myself to deal with sitting on a little hard chair for an hour or so, watch the race and drink my orange juice on the rocks.

This fiber practically spins itself!  And since I purchased a WooLee Winder to go on my Prelude, I was spinning like the wind!  I don't have to stop, I don't have to make adjustments and I don't even have to look much - which isn't a bad thing.

Here's how far I got:

I'm in love!  The fiber has a halo which I didn't see until I saw this picture and I love that about it.  I plan to fill two bobbins and make a two ply yarn so that I get as much yardage as I can.  I have a vision of making myself a cowl or a scarf, or, depending on the weight of the fiber, maybe I'll have enough for a pair of mittens.

For the knitters out there who don't give a hoot about spinning, know that I am knitting and will have something to show next time.

Today I went to knitting class, and Mary Jo and I had a pleasant hour of knitting before I had to get home, shower and dress for brunch with friends.  We had breakfast and lunch at the same time at Giovanni's and maybe, just maybe, there was a bellini or two.  We ended up in the restaurant for almost two hours and left out in the heat of the afternoon.  It was too hot and humid to knit or spin, so I ended up waiting until after the sun went down.

So that's my day, which is Day 1 of the Tour, and it ends on July 21st.

June 26, 2013

Marcia's Socks

In the recent past, I scored some sKnitches Cinema Sock Club in the Feed Me Seymour colorway. You must remember Seymour from The Little Shop of Horrors, here in New York it was on TV recently.  Anyway, it's 100% superwash merino 3-ply.

Usually I avoid superwash - I just don't like the feel, but the color saturation is unbeatable.  I'm glad I had the experience, but I won't be purchasing it again because 'like' is not 'love', and I only like this yarn.

This yarn looks so different when wound into a pancake:

And different again when knit into plain vanilla socks:

Here's the story on these socks: Marcia has really skinny feet and when it comes to socks I'm on auto pilot.  What I should have done was make these socks on a US #1 needle, but I used a US #2.

Now, if Marcia is going to be able to wear these socks comfortably, then the foot part of the sock has to fit!  I don't want the sock to bunch up in her shoe, and I certainly don't want to contribute to any slip and fall incidents because the sock slid up or down her foot,   

To offset the fact that the socks were wider than her foot, I added 1x1 ribbing to the sole.  That brought the width of the sock in by at least half an inch.  When sock #1 was done she tried it on and it was a perfect fit.  Wonderful news for me.  The second sock flew off the needles.

The top of the socks mostly match, but the feet don't match and she doesn't care.  Neither do I.

One more skein down and one happy recipient.  I love stashing down!

June 24, 2013

Knit On Straight

There is a student in my knitting class that just can't seem to get the hang of using double pointed needles to make socks.  For her, they are awkward, she constantly drops stitches and the instructions for making socks are gibberish to her.

One day I was cruising Amazon and came across a book that was soon to be released called Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis.  I pre-ordered the book and a pair of Addi Turbo sock rockets and waited.  Curiously, my sock rockets did not have a blue cord ... I wonder why.

When the book arrived I got started right away with some Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering generously donated to me by Tracey.  I started with what looks like a basic sock.  Here's the thing, I make myself lots of socks and I always use US #1 needles and 64 stitches, gauge be danged.  Somehow that formula works on all the socks I make for myself and they always fit.

The Addi Sock Rockets are amazing!  They have very pointy tips and I was whipping along at lightning speed.  The one sock took me two days to make.  Amazing!

Here's the cuff:

The leg and heel flap:

The turned heel, which was a little tricky with a circular needle:

The foot and start of the star toe:

After the toe, the knitting is done and the only thing left to do is sew up the seam.  Pin it first, lining up the side stitches evenly (very important!):

Then grab the crochet hook and get to "sewing" up the seam.  Easy peasy.  And you get this:

A sock with a seam on one side.  The instructions I followed were for the left foot, so the seam will appear on the left side (or outside) of the leg.  In my experience, socks fit either foot, so you can wear the seam wherever you want it.

Well, the sock does not fit me, it's too small.  I can blame it on the sock rockets, or my failure to check gauge on said sock rockets.  It doesn't matter, I just wanted to make the sock and see how easy (or not) it would be to make socks flat.

I, personally, liked making the socks flat.  The instructions were very easy to follow, I don't mind the seam, and there are other socks patterns in the book which hide the seam if you don't like how it looks.  Overall, I'd recommend this book for anyone who absolutely won't work with DPNs.

As for that student that doesn't like working with DPNs, I think I can convince her to give this pattern a try.  I think, with a lot of support, she will finally get a pair of socks that she'll be able to wear.  I have high hopes for her success.

In the meantime, I'll have to order a second set of sock rockets in a larger size or forever admit that with this book and my US #1s, I have to make my socks in the men's large size.  Yikes!

June 11, 2013

The Mystery of Love

Who knows what goes on in a knitter's mind when she sees yarn that she believes she cannot live without.  Is it color?  Is it based on the Brand and past experience?  What makes you go ga-ga over yarn?

For me, I'm a sucker for sock yarn in wild colors, even though I'm hesitant to use them.  What will I wear them with?  Jeans, like always.  So one evening while cruising on Ravelry I came across a Raveler who was destashing sock yarn.  She had every color known to man, but I had to limit myself because a) I'm not rich, and b) I made a huge purchase already.

Here's what I got:

Vesper sock yarn in Meadow.

And some sKNITchers in Feed Me Seymour.

And Vesper in Twitterpated:

And since it was after midnight on the day I bought those skeins, why end the madness?  After all, I'd only spent a moderate amount of money on sock yarn, so why not unload my life's savings and buy something for my Kromski Prelude?  After all, the Tour de Fleece is coming up.

So, I broke down and purchased a WooLee Winder.

You can't see me right now, but every time I look at the WooLee Winder I squeal!  My favorite wheel has a new way to wind the yarn onto the bobbin with no effort on my part.   Now I can spin endlessly with no interruptions.  Woo hoo!!

Of course, the next day I was reminded why one should never, ever, ever shop after midnight.  It's a rabbit hole with poverty at the end of it.  Fortunately we can go without food for a week if we drink lots of water.

I joined Team Must Stash (Staci and Steph) which is totally laid back - my kind of team.  Your goal can be to spin 10 minutes a day, or to spin a sweater's worth of fiber.  My goal is to spin fiber I've never spun before.  The only issue is that the fibers I plan to spin are 6-8 ounces, but I struggle to spin even four ounces!  Yikes!  My goals may change as the Tour goes on.

Finally, in case you don't think I knit at all, I found some yarn in my stash that I cannot identify.  Do you know what this is?

It's 518 yards of Shetland-like wool, meaning it's not soft.  The color is Willow and I'm not sure if I scored it from the knitting class stash or if I actually purchased it.  The stash holds all kinds of mysteries, and my memory fails me.

I'm making something with it that I can't talk about yet a paid for pattern), but here's a preview:

That's it for me.  I have to go to bed before I'm tempted to spend more money on stuff I want, but don't need.

June 06, 2013

On Your Mark!

As you may know, the Tour de Fleece (Ravelry) is coming right up and I couldn't be more excited.  I joined a couple of fiber clubs, which wasn't very smart considering how much fiber I already have, but it's a done deal so I'm not complaining, so I'm ready for spinning.

Here's what came in the mail this week:

This is 4 ounces of superwash merino that I purchased from Into the Whirled.  The colors are so rich and lovely I want to keep it around just to look at it, but I'm participating in a spin along with Diane of Knitabulls and there's a deadline associated with it.  Dang!  It came with a little one of a kind piece of fiber (which will be my practice piece) and two tags so I can label my fiber when it's spun.  I love 'side gifts'!

Here's 8 ounces of Polwarth in white that I purchased from Paradise Fibers.  My plan is to spin it during the Tour and then, if I'm feeling brave, to dye it.  My fear is based on the number of hours I'll spend spinning it, and if it spins up beautifully, I fear I'll burn it up on the stove.  My worldview on that is, if I burn it up, ruin it or otherwise damage it beyond use - well, there's more out there.

Below is 8 ounces of gray Masham, which I've never spun before.  I'm excited to finally try spinning a fiber I've never spun before so this will be quite an adventure.  It feels soft in the bag, let's see if I can keep it that way.

Here's 6 ounces of alpaca/silk which is so shiny and slippery I could barely get it out of the bag - or back in.  Alpaca and I have the same relationship as merino and me; it's usually a fight to the finish, but in the end, I've always gotten a usable yarn.

Lastly, my next to last shipment of BFL from Sunset Fibers.  It looks like candy and BFL is my favorite fiber in the world, until I find out that I like some other fiber better.  It's almost too pretty to spin, but there's no sense having it hang around when I want to spin down my fiber stash during the tour.

The last thing that came in the mail came from Melissa at The Ploverbird, and it's a small project bag called happy snails.  Isn't it the cutest?!  I love it!  It's not like I need another project bag, I've been doing just fine with Ziplock bags, but darn it, this much cute was hard to resist.  It's called Happy Snails and the lining is cute little strawberries.

So that's it for today. There's only 23 days left until the tour starts and I've decided to join Team Must Stash with the ladies (Stacey and Steph) at Must Stash Podcast.  If you want to spend a little time with ladies that are nice, fun and productive, you should pop on over.

The tour is going to be fun, like every year, but this year my goal is to spin fibers I haven't spun before: Masham, Cormo and Shetland.  Everything after that is icing on the cake.

Will you be spinning this year?