almost summer...

weekly wrap-up/finished object(s)/current projects 

on the needles
still plugging away on my socks, or sock, i should say. ugh. still have 1 more to finish after this is done. enter 2nd sock syndrome. not because i can't finish... more than likely because i won't want to! anyway, i was plugging away so intensely on my sock, that i blew past the instructions to stop decreasing on the heel! per usual... i ripped it back (i think about 7 rows, "think" because i'm trying to forget) and continued in my normal fashion. it wasn't as painful because i had a podcast to keep me company :D

on the spinning wheel
i forgot to upload a photo from my point & shoot camera from a couple weeks ago, so this particular "before" shot of my recently finished handspun was floating around in the memory card ether. anywho, this is what i planned to share on the last post. the before and after shots, and why it is important to wash your spun yarns after they are plied.

before a yarn gets "set"
before washing; lots of active twist; very coily

this is actually the first time my yarn came out super coily like this. i plied this yarn just a bit more than what i've done in the past as my goal is to use this yarn for socks and i want them to wear well. after i took this yarn out of the bath, i snapped it once in each direction and hung it in the shower to dry. it hung loosely in a relaxed open loop, but there were still strands that were coily and not totally relaxed, so i added 2 plastic hangers to the bottom of the skein, and placed a hand towel on the hangers to add a little bit of weight to the skein to help straighten it out. the results were amazing. it's like magic!

sweetgeorgia/feb.fiber club/3-ply
nicely relaxed

sweetgeorgia/feb.fiber club/3-ply
twisted into a hank

so the moral of the story is, try to make it a habit to wash your plied yarn (or singles) to help set the twist and give your work a polished, finished, professional look. as i said before, these are the little details that take a project from a$$ to class!

color overload = brain freeze!
color wonderful! the stuff dreams are made of.

in other spinning news, i've been flirting with the idea of spinning this beautifully, hand-painted braid of superwash merino from alchemy fibre arts. flirting and admiring from afar (really far) is really all i have been doing. i'm imagining it becoming a really fun pair of simple socks. it really needs to be socks, right? navajo-ply for sure to preserve the vibrant colors, and i don't really want to ply these colors with an existing yarn that i have, although i may do just a tiny sample to see what that looks like, but maybe when i start to knit with it, i could alternate rows of this, with rows of a solid yarn for a fun noro-esque colorful striping effect and to make the colors pop more. see... still flirting and admiring, i'm sooooo not ready to spin this!

honestly, yes i'm a little intimidated, and it really feels like too much work for me to think about. color has always made me a little uncomfortable for reasons unknown, so this is no surprise. as much as one may study and understand color theory, sometimes there are still surprises which one cannot predict when you see how certain colors react with each other! also... this is a one-of-a-kind braid... you know what that means.

so instead, on a whim, i decided to finally spin a braid from my corgi hill farm stash. i've been stock piling fiber from this fantastic vendor who kills the color game (gorgeous, saturated color) and all the while, i began believing that her fiber was just too pretty to spin. it is, but i need to get over it! i grabbed the first chf bag at the top of my fiber bin and started spinning it anyway. just jumped right in without a plan, spontaneous.

so this is what i'm spinning now...all kinds of goodness that would make a leprechaun weep.

so far so good... after i started spinning, it donned on me that i hadn't figured out what i wanted this to be... so i decided to do a 3-ply and focus on color management, i mean, this shouldn't be a problem here considering this is a green-scale, monochromatic braid, but i'm still working with about 3 or 4 shades of green, and it would be interesting to practice only spinning with a certain color, rather than letting adjacent colors blend into the drafting triangle and mute the colors or heather them out. so i'm playing with that. i'm also trying to make spinning a regular habit and build up my endurance... more on that later.

oh... did i do this already? show progress shots of my spinning journey?
it's hard to remember what i've posted, you know... because i ramble. i tag my posts, but i usually don't reference back to old posts unless i'm having a deja vu moment and want to link to it in a post (and avoid re-writing the experience). i did look at past posts the other day as i was trying to remember which spinning wheels were in the running for becoming my next 2nd wheel. calm down... i'm still in the beginning stage. lets just say, i'd love to have another wheel (a stay-at-home wheel) and i love the wheel that i have. i'm not trying to replace her, because she is perfectly fine and makes wonderful yarn happen. i'm not getting a wheel now, as in right this moment, but again, i am back in the research/planning/budgeting phase checking out my options.

i met my personal goal which was to have something spun every month after purchasing my wheel. basically, my feeling was if i produced a skein a month, it would clearly mean that i stuck to spinning and it wasn't just an activity/hobby i picked up on a whim. makes perfect sense, right? i'm up to about 7 skeins of handspun now, and i'll have at least 3 more by summer. i'm coming up on my 1 year spiniversary with my girl renaissance, and as i did with dog number 1, i eventually found her a companion. it's nice to have a companion, right? :)

to answer my earlier question (ohhhh how i distract myself) of if i posted progress shots, the answer is no, unless i didn't tag the post "spinning" (which is absolutely a possibility!). so i'll do it now. basically, it's just a picture of encouragement to those out there, who may be a little intimidated, or who may be feeling a bit discouraged with the spinning process, or [fill-in-the-blank]. it's to show that things do get better with patience, practice, and lots of cursing. i'm also doing this because i am sifting through a massive folder of past photos and i am realizing i missed out on sharing some of these photos! i took them, so why not share them?
so, from left to right... 

the creamy white skein is my first 2-ply yarn out of polwarth which is by far the most luscious fiber i've spun to date. it was very lofty and forgiving, with quite a long staple length, if i remember correctly it was between 5-6". even the d.h. hopped on the wheel and spun some of this, so his bits are in here too! but notice here, and it's hard to see on this photo, but this skein is all kinds of wonky. folks like to call stuff like this "art" yarn - maybe to make new spinners fell less bad about their product - but the reality is it is beginner's yarn. it doesn't need to be called anything else. it is what it is! it wasn't my favorite, although i enjoyed learning experience i gained from it.

i kept all my skeins because i like to track my progress. it's encouraging to see where i came from. it's humbling and it's a nice reminder to not be so hard on myself. look at what things used to look like, is what i tell myself often. ok, the second skein is another 2-ply (yup... there is a pattern here), but this time with black BFL (bluefaced leicester). see... already getting better; a little more consistent. the teal blue skein is 2-ply merino (much better looking) and the final skein is 2-ply merino/silk/yak. out of these skeins, the last skein was by far the most enjoyable to spin with - it was easy as hell to draft after several adjustments to the way i was spinning and the wheel itself to get used to spinning such a slick fiber, but it was a pleasure and again... look at the progress. my yarn looks better each time. well, better to me, and that's what matters.

anyway... my skeins may not be "perfect" in the eyes of a more seasoned spinner or someone who may do this as a profession, but the point is, these skeins are usable, they are yarn, and i made them myself. there is something very satisfying about this whole spinning thing... it's relaxing, it's challenging, it allows one to customize a knitting/crocheting/weaving experience by taking control of said fiber and prepping, dyeing and/or spinning it the way that best suits the project intended. it is work (some days way more than i'd like to admit), but at the end of the day, it's up at the top of my list of the best instant gratification activities ever. i've been bitten, and there is no turning back. greeting from the rabbit hole.

on the sewing machine  
well... not on the machine, but i did have something briefly draped on my mannequin last week.

the makings of a summer top. i haven't draped in almost 10 yrs and i forgot how much fun it can be. i finally broke down because it's almost summer and i'm still stuck with a very limited amount of weather-appropriate, comfortable clothing. my dilemma with clothing is that i want a custom fit and something that is flattering on my curvy body. and honestly, the reality here is that i know what i want so i might as well just buckle down and do it myself because i can do this (i finished a 2-yr fashion program) and i've made clothing before. the problem i run into is that because i have to customize a pattern so much, it becomes a daunting and unattractive task; i usually just want to walk away from it and do something that requires less thinking, so to speak, like spinning or knitting.

so with that being said, one morning i woke up and was like... you know what, let me drape something. and i did. i scratched my head for a few minutes as i was trying to figure out my approach, and then i just went with it. without a plan, just experimenting and letting my brain remember how i used to do this. i stopped draping this top because in addition to falling short on fabric, it really needs to be draped with the intended fabric - jersey. draping it out of muslin gave me the gist of what i needed to do, so from this point on, i've stopped with the above top and will start a second draped summer top very soon. this time, one that i've sketched/planned out, rather than an impromptu drape like the one above. and this time, muslin will actually be a good idea. 

odds & ends 
what i love this week
tour de fleece! it's that time of year again, and this time i get to participate! yay! last year i had a couple of spindles that i was too impatient to use, and i ended up purchasing a wheel shortly after the tour ended! talk about great timing :P

the tour starts july 2 and ends on july 24, with two days of rest on the 11th and the 18th.

the tour is essentially a great way for a spinner (whether on a wheel or on a spindle) to set a personal goal or challenge for themselves and use this block of time to complete it. i believe the overall feel is to really push yourself with these challenges; the same way that the participants in the tour de france push physically push themselves. i think it is also a fun way to put those new year's resolutions back in check, in case if you've fallen off.

i've set a personal goal of spinning one hour a day. achievable and simple. on the "off " days, i plan to wash/set any plied yarn that i may have. i'm excited, as i like to set personal goals anyway (something about checking things off a list makes me really warm and fuzzy inside), and i also really enjoy the process of prepping  - digging through my stash and choosing the fibers i want to spin, how i want to spin them, and which project i will have in mind for the finished yarn (mostly socks!). prepping also gives me a chance to dig through my stash and do an inventory on the types of fibers/colors i have accumulated, assess what i'd like to see more or less of, and also what i may consider de-stashing. de-stashing of course, to make room for more!

and that leads me to the other fiber event that has me pretty excited - black sheep gathering!
Mission Statement: The Black Sheep Gathering is an annual event during which participants exchange their knowledge and appreciation for handcraft fibers and the animals that produce them.
Goals: The Black Sheep Gathering strives to provide an environment dedicated to education, cooperation and participation, an atmosphere of fellowship and fun, and celebrating natural colored animals and their fiber.
i will be on vacation/anniversary with the hubster during bsg, and we will be making a trip to check out the festivities, which include workshops (both free and paid), a sheep show, wool & mohair show and judging, sheep-to-shawl competition, fleece sale, fiber arts displays, and lots of vendors for shopping! i am hoping to purchase my very first fleece (or 2) as well, which is exciting and i'm sure will be an experience in and of itself.

i'm really excited to see this whole process of sheep to fiber in hd, listening to the judges discuss the fleece of the animals, participate in the activities, shop for goodies, and most important meet new potential friends.

anyway... you know i'll be posting more info as the event gets closer.

until then...
health and happiness to you all!

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