Contacts For Mom, Fireworks For Dad

How’s it going guys?!?! It’s been an up and down week here…and this weekend looks to get a lot more hectic, so let’s get down to business, shall we?

Knitting News

This week there has not been a lot of knitting. I’m blaming the Tour. I worked a little on the cowl for JoJo…and a wee bit on my socks. Other than that…no knitting.

JoJo’s Cowl

Neon Socks

See? Not much. Mostly it’s been….

Spinning Stuff

On to the TOUR DE FLEECE!!!! Clearly all of my effort has been here. You’ve seen Day’s 1 and 2 which included my proudest accomplishment thusfar:

Mohair/Wool/Angelina. Bought at Montpelier Fiber Fest in 2010. FINALLY DONE!

Day 3 I worked on a little of the silk/merino and some drop spindling.

Day 4 was mostly the silk/merino, not a lot though.

Then Day 5 was the 4th of July which was also my dad’s birthday. I did some drop spindling at the cookout…then…didn’t feel so hot later that day and didn’t mange to do pictures. But I DID spin!!!

Day 6 I finished up 50g of the Silk/Merino and today I worked on that some more.

Tomorrow I’m doing a spinning demonstration at a museum, so I’ve got around 3 solid hours of non-stop spinning!!! Yay!!!! My spinning teacher/mentor invited me to do it with her. I’m also bringing my drop spindle my dad made so any kids that want to try, can. I don’t let other people touch my wheel for the most part…especially kids. Do you share your wheel with others?? I can’t bear to…

Wants and needs

I. Want. Rainbows!!!!

Everyone on Rav/TDF has such AMAZINGLY colored fibers!!!!! I want to spin something rainbow-y.

Perhaps some FatCatKnits

Or Far Alaska from SpunRightRound

Then WoolGatherings has some camel…I’ve not spun camel……

I need to stop. My etsy cart is protesting and the DB isn’t home to smack the credit card out of my hand….*deep breaths*

Workout World

Well I’ve been mildly frustrated this week because I had to take two sick days off. NOT FUN. But before the illness I did manage to complete the 1000 squat challenge! That’s 1000 squats in ONE WEEK!!! The first two days hurt the most, after that it wasn’t too bad.

Last week I did 5 as a long run…this week (meaning tomorrow) I’m hoping to hit 4. It will be my first run since…gosh Tuesday!!? ACK!!! I’ve got to get back out there if I want to stay on a race training schedule. Sheesh.

General Chatter

So for those of you unaware…my corner of the world had some ridiculous storms last Friday night. There’s a good chance I was hiding in my bathroom for awhile…but that’s another story.

Basically I went outside last Friday night to walk my dog and saw this…

This was the leading edge of the derecho wind storm over my house.

I basically turned around and ran back inside without letting the poor dog go pee. We survived that day with power intact, but lost it the next day due to a strong thunderstorm. SO glad that is all over and done with. There were SO many trees down it was crazy.

Then the 4th was my dear dad’s birthday. He knows how to party.

He’s so special. As is my mother. She called me today. She was excited because she got her new contacts out by herself and I didn’t have to drive over and do it for her. (Not kidding…she’s made me do that twice this week) Then she asked if contacts come out when you cry. I told her no, they would not. Then she said she has “another good question” and asked what do you do if you’re wearing contacts and you get a bug in your eye. I told her to wear glasses and hung up before any more “good questions” arose.

And finally today I got to give my very best friend her one year anniversary gift. I was honored to stand beside her in her wedding last year. She’s been my best friend for over half my life. I am so happy for her. After her wedding last year I ended up with her vows and the box the rings came in. So I kept them…because I’m sneaky.

Today I gave her this.

Beth’s Shadow Box.

It has her vows, her husbands, and their ring box. She almost cried. I adore her.

Awesome Award

Speaking of weddings…

This week’s Awesome Award is for my friend Amanda Hanna who got married on June 31st!!! 30th!!! I clearly wasn’t looking at the calendar. I just knew it was the day before the 1st. Shut it Erika. She found her prince charming and had a beautiful wedding in Jamaica last weekend. I’m so proud to know Amanda who I met through our mutual friend, JoJo. Amanda is living her dream of being an author. Her books are available for download on to the Kindle nearest you!!!

CONGRATS AMANDA!!!!!!!!

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Spinning Sunday – Tour Special

Happy Tour de Fleece 2012!!!!!

Here’s a quick photo update for Days 1 and 2 of the tour.

Day One: WIP. Mohiar/Wool/Angelina. Finished spinning 2.5oz in about 2.5 hours. Also did a little drop spindling in the car!

 

Plyed the singles from yesterday. Slightly under spun because I watched TV instead of my wheel. Started some Silk/Merino from Fleece Artist.

 

Happy spinning!!!

Proud Mary (Also Known as Sheep to Yarn in Pictures)

Here’s a quick and dirty explanation of how your yarn gets from a sheep to a knitted garment. Enjoy!!

This is the story of Mary. She was my cousins backyard pet. I don’t know if my cousin will read this or not…I’m kind of hoping she won’t because this is her surprise for next Christmas.

So, lets meet Mary, shall we?

Mary! She's about 11 years old in this picture.

Mary! She's about 11 years old in this picture.

Mary is a Dorset sheep. Typically this breed is more of a meat-sheep, but she was my cousin’s 4-H project, I think. Mary has lived with my cousin on their farm since 2000.

I got Mary’s fleece a little over a year ago. I didn’t have much time to process it, so that’s why we are just now getting to the end, but it went a little something like this….

Mary's fleece started here. Around 5lbs.

Mary's fleece started here. Around 5lbs.

Mary's fleece was...ahem...DIRTY. This was the skirting process.

Mary's fleece was...ahem...DIRTY. This was the skirting process.

Skirting is the process of pulling off the bad/too dirty/unable to use bits of wool. For Mary…this ended up being….a lot. I could really only salvage the top of the fleece (The part along the line of her back where she didn’t lay in dirt, didn’t roll too much, sit in stick-bushes and didn’t….well…poo. So much poo…*cries*)

Then we started the washing process.

Then we started the washing process.

Washing Mary’s fleece honestly has taken me the better part of a year. I have used every detergent known to man, every wool wash, super scour formula, anything and everything to strip out dirt, grease, stink, and ick. Mary had a LOT of lanolin which is the oil/grease that sheep secrete. Lanolin is great in some ways…it makes your hands super-soft and the wool as well…however Mary’s variety is…sticky. I washed this fleece just under 20 times in the last year. Not even kidding, guys. This is about an hour long process each time which involves boiling water, adding detergent, pouring the water over the fleece that is bagged to prevent it from felting, then draining out the soapy, dirty water, then rinsing it with more hot water and laying it outside to dry, sometimes for days until it’s totally dry.

Moving on.

This is the Picker. It's the only reason I could finish processing this fleece.

This is the Picker. It's the only reason I could finish processing this fleece.

Huge, huge, huge thanks to Natasha at Unplanned Peacock Studios for letting me come over and borrow her picker and drum carder. If she hadn’t have been around to help me out on this bit…I really think I would have quit. Drum carders are WORTH the investment.

Piles of batts fresh off the drum carder.

Piles of batts fresh off the drum carder.

So Natasha’s amazing drum carder made Mary’s fleece in to easy to manage batts. I also added a little merino in to the batts for added softness. As I mentioned, Dorset is typically a meat sheep and Mary…was coarse. Merino will help to soften things up. Also, let’s all take a minute to admire just how clean I got that fleece. Ooooo…..ahhhh…..

I stretched (or pre-drafted) the carded batts out in to roving.

I stretched (or pre-drafted) the carded batts out in to roving.

I pulled the batts apart, and stretched them. This stretching is known as drafting or pre-drafting because I did it all before the spinning process. Most spinners will draft as they spin, but because this fleece was still SO sticky and because my goal was a thicker yarn, pre-drafting was needed here. I also picked out a lot of twigs, burrs, straw, and other vegetable matter (VM) as I pre-drafted. This was probably the most time consuming process other than the washing.

This is some of Mary’s fleece being spun in to yarn on my wheel. This goes pretty fast as I was aiming for thick yarn.

On to the spinning process!

On to the spinning process!

Here’s what the yarn looked like as singles or one-ply bits of yarn.

Spinning Mary's fleece in to singles.

Spinning Mary's fleece in to singles.

This is one of the singles from Mary.

This is one of the singles from Mary.

You can kind of tell that there are a lot of little fibers that come off and go different directions on this yarn. This does tend to make the yarn a little more itchy. Again, this is partially because of the breed that Mary is.

Next I plyed the yarn.

Mary's Fleece is now plyed on to the bobbin.

Mary's Fleece is now plyed on to the bobbin.

Plying is the process of taking the singles and spinning them together to form a doubled up or thicker yarn. My final product here was around worsted to aran weight yarn. Because it’s handspun it does have a fair amount of variation. I wanted that in this yarn to add visual interest in the final product.

Once this was plyed, I then set the twist by taking the yarn and soaking it in very hot water. The hot water causes the fibers to felt a little and stick together. This allows the twist to stay in the yarn and not come undone when you dangle a piece or knit with it. After the twist was set, it was time to dye!!

All plyed and dyed!!

All plyed and dyed!!

I dyed it with two different colors of blue dye. I use a kettle dying or immersion dying technique. My cousin’s favorite color is blue, so that’s what I went with.

Hanging up to dry.

Hanging up to dry.

As I type this, the yarn is still hanging up to dry. Once it’s done I will knit it up in to *something* for my cousin. I know what the something is…but just in case she reads this I won’t reveal it just yet. She honestly has no idea this process has been happening. I hope she will be happy when she does read this and I hope she will understand how much I love her.

You see, Mary passed away this summer. She really was my cousin’s best friend. My cousin is 19 and had had Mary for 11 years. She had been a part of my cousin’s world for over half of her life. So that’s part of what motivated me to finish this project and write this post. Mary was an amazing sheep and I’m glad I got one of her last shearings so I could process it for my cousin so that she can have her sheep with her always.

Much love for Mary.

Much love for Mary.