<![CDATA[Knittingmommy - Blog]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 12:50:35 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Tour de fleece countdown]]>Sat, 04 Jul 2015 02:59:05 GMThttp://knittingmommy.com/blog/tour-de-fleece-countdownI'm gearing up to spin in the Tour de Fleece this year, TdF for short.  It will be my first time spinning in this event that runs concurrent to the Tour de France. You know, that little bike race in France?  This year it starts in Utrecht/Utrecht in the Netherlands and ends on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, France

I've decided to give it a try.  The Tour de Fleece, not the Tour de France.  I had heard vague mentions of the TdF on various websites after I learned to spin, but I hadn't really paid any attention because, frankly, I wasn't that good at spinning.  Well, now, I'm better. Not perfect, but better. I don't consider myself a total newbie, but I wouldn't say I'm at a beginner level, either, maybe an intermediate.  Definitely not advanced yet.

Once my spinning took off, I became curious about this spin-along.  This year, a new spinning friend mentioned the TdF and asked if I had ever done it and I told her I hadn't, but I decided this year to give it a go.  I've been on a number of groups on Ravelry for years, but my visitation to the site had been sporadic at best during the whole move from NY to FL.  I've been much more active the last few months and have even joined a few new groups.  I'm on several spinning groups including the Spindlers group, a group for those of us who love spinning on a spindle. So, it was a no brainer that I would join Team Spindlers when it started coming together in the discussion pages. I have also signed up for Team Rookies since this is my first go at this massive spin along.

I was curious about the history of this spin-along and did some research. I thought I'd share what I've learned. This spin along was the brainchild of starathena on Ravelry. She was an avid Tour de France enthusiast and wanted to show her support of the race in her own small way. Gathering like minded spinners on the Craftster boards, she managed to rope in 15 other pioneers to join her in 2006 for a total of 16 spinners. She called it Le Spin de Tour.

Starathena started with six simple Guidelines:

1. Spin every day the Tour rides. Saturday July 1st through Sunday July     23rd. Days of rest: Monday, July 10th, Monday July 17th. (Just like the actual tour)
2. Spin something challenging on Tuesday July 18th (Gap to L'Alpe DE d'HUEZ)
3. Take a button if you want one. Then we can use the button on our blogs in show of solidarity. Link button to:
4. Wear yellow on Sunday July 23rd to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful?
5. Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter - think FAST), Polka-dot (climber - as in uphill), and white (rookie)
6. In the event I am the ONLY person doing this, no public mocking. Even Lance had to start somewhere.
  Quoted from starathena's blog here.

The following year, they went from 16 to 138 participants in the Tour de Fleece. The only part of the Guidelines that changed slightly was number 2 to indicate the date and place of Challenge day, the most grueling part of the course that is usually uphill. Having lived during part of my bike riding childhood in the mountains of WV, I can sympathize with the racers. Riding uphill on a bike is no small feat. Riding uphill on a mountain? Pure torture. It is one reason why I gave up bike riding.

In 2008, over 400 spinners joined the masses on both starathena's blog and on Ravelry, that little social network for fiber artists that started in 2007. They also formed groups for the first time like Peloton, Rookies, Sprinters, Climbers, Breakaways and Lantern Rouge. There were 70 spinners on starathena's blog and 401 spinners on Ravelry. In 2009, over 1500 spinners participated. And, in 2010, over 3800 spinners joined the challenge.

At some point, guideline 6 was dropped. I think it is safe to say that no one was mocking starathena in her attempts to be a part of the Tour de France. Everyone wanted to be part of the fun.

This year? Well, this year the official teams are as follows:

Team Peloton - the group for everyone, the pack of spinners (the group of cyclists who ride together)

Team Rookies - the group first timer's who are spinning the race for first time

Team Sprinters - the group for those overachievers who plan to spin ton of fiber

Team Climbers - the group for those hoping to tackle a major challenge in their spinning, learning a new technique, or spinning more than ever before

Team Breakaways - the group for those slightly wacky spinners dabbling in textured art yarns

Team Lanterne Rouge - the group for those spinners who want a more leisurely ride through the race, concentrating on achieving their own personal best in spinning

Team Maillot Blanc - the group for the younger spinners under the age of 18

At my last count, there were 80 Wildcard Teams and over 7600 participants in this year's Tour de Fleece. And, in case you think this is just a local thing, there are participants worldwide including countries like Australia, Canada, England, Finland and Germany. I'm sure there are more. Lest you think this little spinning thing is just for the ladies, there is a group for spinners who are men. One can even join a group for their favorite fiber house or yarn company. There is a group for everyone.

And the guidelines? Well, they have changed a little, too. Whittled down from six to three simple guidelines:

Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday July 4 through Sunday July 26th. Days of rest: Monday, July 13th and Tuesday, July 21st. (Just like the actual tour.)

Spin something challenging on the challenge day (usually the toughest high mountain stage: this year, it’s Stage 18, on Thursday, July 23rd, when they will climb 5 mountains, including the 1,924m high Col du Glandon).

Wear yellow on Sunday July 26th to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful? (Yellow is the color of the race leader in the Tour - but here we are all ‘race leaders’) Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter - think FAST), Polka-dot (climber - as in uphill), and white (rookie).
   Quoted from this year's TdF page on Ravelry.

So, this year, I'm going to spin my little heart out. I'll be posting my starting lineup and the tools I'll be using. I'll be posting how much I've managed to spin throughout the Tour. I might even get a t-shirt printed with the TdF's simple concept to keep me motivated.

Challenge Yourself.
Have fun.

<![CDATA[Christmas knitting in May]]>Wed, 20 May 2015 00:25:30 GMThttp://knittingmommy.com/blog/christmas-knitting-in-maySo, anyone who knows me well, knows that I'm a procrastinator in a BIG way.  I sign up, volunteer and/or generally commit myself to more projects than I can realistically manage to finish.  Then, I procrastinate.  There is always something more important in any given moment than what I should be doing.  I wait until the last minute and, then, BAM, I have only a few days until my deadline.  If I'm really lucky, I may have a week.
Every year, I say that everyone, family and friends, will get a handmade Christmas present from yours truly.   Sometimes, I even write down a list with names and, actually, attach an idea of what pattern or project said name will get.  I might even pick out some yarn and get something on the needles.  I might even knit or crochet a bit every so often.

Next thing I know, November pops up on the calendar and I wonder where all the time went that I could have spent knitting or crocheting.  I rush to finish whatever project I have on the needles before my December deadline.  This deadline usually involves looking up the shipping deadlines for various postal services because, of course, I don't live near most of my relatives.  Everything has to be shipped.

I am always surprised when December 24 rolls around and I still haven't finished gifts.  I will still be knitting up until the New Year and sometimes, (GASP) still be working on Christmas presents in March.  I think I have, possibly, shipped out a Christmas present as late as April or May one year.  I NEVER get everything on my list completed.  Most years, I rush around shopping online to make up for the lack of handmade gifts.

This year, I have actually begun my Christmas knitting early.  Yes, I know, that is a new concept for me.  I am determined not to procrastinate this year.  I have made my list.  It is a long list.  As it stands, at this moment, I have 24 names on my list.  Yep, 24!!!  There are even some relatives on the list that have never gotten a gift from me, of any kind, ever. 

Some names on my list have patterns listed next them.  I have even joined a Christmas Knitting group on Ravelry to get some support in my quest to actually finish everything on my list by Christmas.  And, guess what?  On May 10, 2015, I cast on for my first gift.  No procrastinating, I just did it.  On May 16, 2015, I actually finished, yes, I said, FINISHED, my first gift.  One down, only 23 more to go.


Admittedly, I started small.   A lot of hat projects are on my list.  I'm not, totally, unrealistic.  All of the nieces and nephews are each getting hats this year.  And, each one will be different.


I found this adorable kit at my new LYS here in Florida. 
The hat is called Top This! Hat by DMC and there are 12 different kits.

I have other hats planned for those kids on my list that are slightly older and may not appreciate a hat with a cute furry animal on the top.  I have afghans planned for a few of the people on my list.  Most will be knit in squares and joined together later.  I like small, portable projects.  I have one complicated afghan on my list that will be a big project.  In fact, I had to order the yarn for it to make sure I could get all of the yarn I need, plus a few skeins, in the same dye lot.  My order should be delivered in a couple of weeks and I will cast on as soon as I get that yarn as it will take me a good six months, maybe more, to knit it.

And since, probably, most likely, NONE of my relatives read my blog, I think it will be safe to keep the blog updated on my progress this year.  I plan to do whatever it takes to keep myself motivated.  I want a procrastination free zone this holiday season.  This year, it will be Christmas at my house all year long.

Keep you posted.
<![CDATA[New zealand roving]]>Sat, 16 May 2015 03:34:20 GMThttp://knittingmommy.com/blog/new-zealand-rovingSo, I've been living in Florida for a little over a year and still have not found a local source of roving.  Luckily, there is the internet and, more importantly, Etsy.

I found these lovelies on EtsyHeavenlyWools is out of New Zealand.  It was my first time buying from outside of the United States.  The roving was also a new fiber for me.    The purple/green roving, on the left, and the darker roving, on the right, are New Zealand Half Bred.  The two yellow rovings in the middle are New Zealand Merino which was originally a Spanish breed.  I hadn't, as yet, tried spinning either of these two breeds before when I bought them.

These two rovings are also New Zealand Merino.  All of the rovings came in 100 gram braids.  I double ordered the yellow, pictured above, and the rust, here on the right.  I also managed to spin the roving on the left.  It is my first completely finished skein since moving to the Sunshine State.

I have to say that this skein spun up fast.  I was trying for a worsted to chunky yarn and I think I managed.  I actually downloaded an app to track how much time I spent spinning this skein.  On a drop spindle, I can spin in short chunks as my time allows which I love.  It is very portable.  Since I don't sit and spin for extended periods of time, however, I never know how long I actually take to spin a skein of yarn.  I started this roving on April 19, 2015 and finished the completed skein on May 7, 2015 which is 18 days on one skein of yarn. 

So, I downloaded an app onto my phone called aTimeLogger from GooglePlay and kept track while I was spinning this skein.  I was very surprised that it took me about 2 hours to spin each single.  Overall, plying took about 20 minutes.  Total time spinning and plying was about 4 hours and 20 minutes.  I'm not sure if that is fast or slow.  I know it is fast for me.  I get faster and more consistent with each skein that I spin.  For you techie types, 100 grams of roving turned into 106 yards of 2 ply yarn at 7 wraps per inch.  I'm still learning what that means, but it sounds impressive that I know that information. 

My spinning has dropped into the very fine zone where all I seem to spin lately is super thin singles.  Which, I think is great because those singles are very consistent.  Unfortunately, when I tried to spin skein bulkier, my consistency went out the window.  There are some definite thick/thin spots in this yarn.  The coin on the spindle in each picture is a dime for reference.  Overall, I think the finished skein turned out pretty well.  I'm thinking maybe a shawl is in it's future.  A small one.  I'm not sure how far 106 yards will get me. 

I'm really impressed with the softness of this Merino.  I'm not sure how it differs from Merino here in the States.  I think it is the softest wool I've spun to date.
  I will have to find some homegrown Merino to compare.  This particular Merino roving had a nice long staple length which was a dream to draft.  It was like spinning a soft cloud.  I actually managed to some air into my singles.  I'm still learning, and its a process.  I'm having fun with the process.

For anyone wanting to look at the technical details, this skein is now in handspun stash on Ravelry under the name Fall Medley 2 Ply.
  I tried answering all of the techie stuff, but, I'm still learning, and a few of things had me stumped, possibly technical stuff for those skeins spun on a wheel.

Happy Spinning
<![CDATA[A New beginning]]>Mon, 20 Apr 2015 22:46:08 GMThttp://knittingmommy.com/blog/a-new-beginningIt is a time of new beginnings for me.  My life has changed a lot in the last three to four years.   Coincidentally, that correlates to the last time I made a blog post.  Back then, I thought the recent deaths in my family would be the most upheaval I would have to deal with in my life.  I thought I was pretty set.  Life was getting back to normal, or so I thought. 

However, nothing stays the same.  Life in upstate New York was getting tedious and winters were getting brutal and, apparently, my husband thought it was time for a change.  Especially, since opportunity was knocking with a new job in Florida.  After some serious consideration, Ron accepted the job and moved to Florida.  What did I do?  I stayed in NY to help my middle son finish up in Cub Scouts so that he could cross over into Boy Scouts as he only had just a few months left in his Webelos program.  I, also, had a house to pack up and get ready to put on the market.  A big job, it took me most of the year to decide what we could do without and what was worth hauling to Florida. 

Of course, the yarn was going to Florida!  There was no way I was leaving it behind.  I had projects visualized in most of those skeins.  There was a future sweater in that nice soft merino in the lovely shade of pink, a hat in the gold superwash yarn, a nice scarf in... well, you get the picture.  Of course, living in upstate NY, most of my stash consisted of heavy yarns that are perfect for upstate winter garments.  Did I mention I moved to Florida?  I can't even imagine wearing a heavy sweater right now, let alone knitting one.  So, most of my stash is still in boxes waiting to become something.  That yarn may just have a long wait.  For now, I'm concentrating on small projects.  I can still knit these socks that on my to-do list.  Shawls are okay, too.  I still want to make this purse.  Then, of course, there are Sam the Ram and Sue the Ewe.  I found the patterns for both of these while I was packing up the house.  When I find them again while unpacking, they are getting put right on the needles.

I'm also spinning more.  I've added a few new spindles to my growing collection.  More on those in a future post.  I also just bought some new roving because one can never have too much if you spin.  Etsy can certainly be dangerous to my credit card. 

So, while it has been a little while since I've posted, I'm still here.  I'm getting back on Ravelry and hope to be more active in my groups again.
  No matter how much life changes, little things stay the same and can keep you grounded.  Without my little crafts, I would be raving lunatic and driving all my guys even crazier than I normally do.

My oldest son, he's now 14, looked at my bed tonight with the pile of colorful fluff and said "You bought more yarn?" while shaking his head.

Well, no, it was roving.  But then, my wonderful husband tells him, "Yes, because, apparently, you can never have too much."

Yeah, I love him.  He understands me so well.

I can't guarantee that I will be a more productive blogger.  I haven't done a great job so far.  But, I'm into new beginnings and, right now, I'm beginning yet again.