Archive for August, 2012
The next major event in my summer crafting was Tour de Fleece. It’s a large event corresponding to the Tour de France where spinners set goals of either how much they want to accomplish or how much time they want to spin per day. The general idea is to spin every day the cyclists ride and challenge ourselves during the Tour’s challenge day.
I knew well in advance exactly what I wanted to accomplish: the pound and a half of magenta Romney/Bamboo fiber I purchased at the Vienna Fiber Farmer’s market earlier in the year. As a new spinner, it’s clearly a good idea to spin for a sweater, only three months after purchasing my wheel. But I had the fiber and I knew I would want to knit a sweater for myself this fall. However, this being the first year I was participating… and, you know, spinning at all, I was certain this was a very ambitious goal. I planned out every single day. Sunday through Thursday every week, I would spin one ounce and Fridays and Saturdays, I would spin two ounces. This would give me a few days to ply everything up at the end.
Before the Tour began, I started preparing. I went through every inch of the fiber, picking out veggie matter and separating the fiber into one ounce balls, ready to spin. I made up ziplock bags with four ounces each so I could be certain each bobbin had four ounces of singles. I had a lot of traveling back and forth to my parent’s house planned during the Tour, so I wanted everything to be easy to grab and go and be able to pick up without wondering where I left off.
The night before the Tour began, we had the epic storm where seemingly everyone in Virginia, DC and Maryland lost power. I had planned to be at a kickoff party Saturday morning to get a head start, just in case my planning wasn’t good enough. The last thing I wanted to do was spin wool without air conditioning, especially given the summer we’d been having. Luckily, the event wasn’t cancelled, but instead was held on a balcony that remains sunless for the first half of the day. I spun nearly eight ounces those first two days of the Tour… without air conditioning.
Luckily, the rest of my Tour de Fleece experience went quite well. There were several days where I couldn’t spin, but every day I did, I spun so much, it made up for it. It was this experience that taught me how much faster and thicker (as was my goal since I typically spin a lace weight two-ply) I can spin when I spin in a long-draw, woolen style.
I came out with an almost, maybe a little bit, consistent DK/Worsted (with some little chunky spots here and there) weight two-ply of 1288 yards. Plenty for a simple cardigan, that I may have just cast on! I cannot wait for fall!
I originally starting writing a post of epic proportions, laying out everything I’ve done and even just thought about doing over the last two months… it got a little ridiculous. Instead, I will break it up into a little bit of a series so that I can not only tell you what I did, but also why I chose to tackle the project during the summer months.
One hundred degree weather doesn’t normally send people running for wool and hand knits. Yet, in the past two months I have completed five projects, spun two pounds of wool, and currently have six more works in progress. So, how is it that I’ve stayed so motivated? Other knitters and spinners.
It all started with TheKnitGrllls “Stash Dash” running June 3rd to August 12th. First, everyone participating set individual goals for how many grams of stash we would use over the course of the event, including any WIPs (works-in-progress). Since this is not the first season of this event, I watched some group members post goals way beyond my comprehension. After careful thought and consideration, based on the summer events to come, I set a goal of 1,800 grams. I pulled out the yarn and fiber, photographed it all, and assigned it to projects and dates to start and complete each project, keeping in mind my progress in other projects to make sure I wasn’t being overly ambitious.
During the first few weeks, I completed my Shaelyn Shawl, Wingspan and a cotton dress for M.
The first project was obvious, as I had been working away at it for some time, but had simply run out of yarn at the very end. I was knitting the Shaelyn Shawl out of Sweet Georgia Yarns in a very summery teal color that was heavy enough to keep me warm, while the shawl was at a loose enough gauge that it is still breezy enough to be worn during the summer. I decided to pick up more Sweet Georgia in a lighter and truer blue colorway to work the final edge pattern repeat and castoff. Not only was it a quick finish, but I’ve gotten some wear out of it at work, where the temperature constantly fluctuates throughout the day.
I chose the Wingspan next because I had been trying to find the perfect pattern to use some of my Mini Mochi yarn from Crystal Palace that I had been obsessing over. Though it’s a single ply, it’s definitely very fluffy and warm and I only had two balls in the colorway, so I knew I wanted it to be a fairly small project. Plus, I wanted it to be portable to knit at work and be a simple enough pattern to knit through very quickly. I haven’t had the chance to wear it out yet, but it was such an enjoyable knit and the summer heat didn’t slow me down one bit.
As for the cotton dress… sigh. I had been promising M, and my mother, a cotton dress for M for the summer. I had originally intended it to be finished for her to wear to Maryland Sheep and Wool in May.. but never got past the cast on. I love the end result. I even taught myself to do a double crochet edging around the armholes and neckline. I didn’t even really mind the feel of the cotton. But my hands we screaming at my every time I knit on this dress for more than ten minutes a day. Not a sitting, A DAY. I had knit cotton before.. but it was Knit Picks Shine in a Pima cotton. I know that Pima cotton is softer and just better, but I had found so many wonderful, bright and cheerful color combinations in the Sugar and Cream (dishcloth) cotton that I knew would be perfect for M. The pluses: the pattern is lovely and I felt completely comfortable knitting this poolside as I knew this dress would also get wet and have sunscreen all over it whenever M would wear it. Cotton a big plus for summer knitting… just maybe real garment cotton for big projects.
The rest of my summer knitting was planned out to the extreme. List after list was made to ensure that everything could and would be completed on time. Of course I totally stayed on schedule…….