Monday, June 30, 2008

Knitscene Fall 08 Preview

...Looks like a really good issue! Check it out here.

Yes, I am being obnoxious because I have a pattern in this issue: Kimono Socks!

Kimono Socks

I will (cough cough) probably mention this again when the magazine becomes available. I'll apologize now for the forthcoming braggery.

When? On newsstands July 22, 2008.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Black Sheep Gathering 2008

It was awesome! Wanna see?

Stephen Colbert
This Alpaca was named Stephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert
OK, great. But what you really want to know is, what did I buy?

Bamboo Roving
Bamboo roving,

natural dyestuff,

Wool blend
natural roving,

pretty roving,

Rambouillet Roving
French breed roving (for the Tour de Fleece),

Non-Ironic Alpaca shirt
a non-ironic alpaca shirt,

Socks that rock mill ends
...and some mill ends medium weight Socks That Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts!

I did not pick up weaving or rug hooking yet. I did, however, buy my first natural dye stuff and feel like that could be the start of a new addiction. Time will tell.

Somehow I managed to stay within my budget, but it was reallyreallyreally hard. I'm especially happy that I now finally want to spin again, which is something I was really hoping would happen.

I wish I could tell you more about this massive fiber fest but it was a wee bit overwhelming and I wouldn't know where to start. Or end. So I'll end it here instead.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tour de Fleece 2008


The Tour de France is coming! It begins on Saturday, July 5th. I can hardly believe it's been another year but here we are again and I am really excited. Welcome to the third annual Tour de Fleece - an online spin-along for people who spin yarn and play with fiber.

This year there are some changes. Actually, let's call them improvements. We have teams and prizes!

The first Tour de Fleece was in 2006. We had 16 spinners and a lot of fun. Last year was much bigger, with 138 spinners, and even more fun. I wonder how many we'll get this year?

The concept is simple, They spin, we spin. A real spinning themed spin-along.

Want to participate? There are three ways. You choose - do one, two or all three:

1. Sign up in the comments here. Please include a link to your blog if you have one.

2. We also have a Flickr pool here. Join the group and show off your homespun in the pool!

3. (NEW THIS YEAR) Be sure to check out the Ravelry group as well. There is already a lot of action happening over there!

If you want to give it a try, or just follow our progress, or are a fan of the Tour de France, JOIN!

Guidelines (NOT RULES)

1. Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday July 5th through Sunday July 27th. Days of rest: Tuesday July 15th, Monday July 21st. (Just like the actual tour)

2. Spin something challenging Wednesday July 23rd. (The last hard climbing mountain stage in the Tour - the famous L’Alpe-d’Huez)

3. Take a button if you want one. Then we can use the button on our blogs in show of solidarity. Take it from here or grab a clean one from the flickr pool.

4. Wear yellow on Sunday July 27th 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’)

5. Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter - think FAST), Polka-dot (climber - as in uphill), and white (rookie)

Teams: Join one, or many, or none. Sign up here or in the Ravelry group. (I can't stress enough how great the Ravelry group is)

- Peloton (The main group. Everyone is in the peloton at some point)

- Rookies (first years)

- Sprinters (fast and/or high mileage like lace)

- Climbers (conquer mountains, big personal challenges)

- Breakaway (Art yarns)

- Lantern rouge (You will participate as much as possible but you may skip days here and there. Cheerleaders welcome.)

- Wildcards (This is for people who want to form their own team. This includes sponsored teams, like those affiliated with a specific fiber shop or people who live in the same town, etc.)

The teams are inspired by the actual Tour de France.

Prizes: (more on this later)

So far we have some fantastic fiber-related prizes donated. We could use more. Just let me know if you want to donate. Email starina AT hotmail D0T C0M. Sorry not to make it a clickable link, I get enough spam as it is.

Start training... NOW!

There are 401 Tour de Fleece members on Ravelry!

Extra special players who sign up here & TEAMS:

Peloton: (EVERYONE - people who sign up in the comments here - way more on Ravelry)
1.Star (me)
2. Carole Knits
3. Funfairiegirl
4. Twinkle Toes
5. Heartknits
6. Sonja
7. Laminathegreat
8. Blogless Ebeth
9. Mel
10.Janice in GA
11. Anne
12. Soprano Spinner
13. Leethal
14. calicokitty6
15. anne-marie
16. Dawn
17. Sarah
18. Blogless Judi
19. Jacki
20. Michelle
21. Katie
22. Jessica
23. Amanda
24. Kiki
25. Knitter106
26. Dawn
27. goldfishgirl
28. Marlana
29. Emily
30. Morgan
31. michele/akkasha
32. marie
33. Linda Watson Mickelberry
34. Opal
35. dragon knitter
36. Jennifer
37. aj
38. selkie-b
39. Pixeldiva
40. Bimakra
41. Therese
42. val
43. thebon
44. betzi
45. spininmamma4
46. beth
47. Walden
48. Rach
49. sgeddes
50. val
51. graybastian
52. Rachel
53. Melissa
54. chelle
55. Phyllis
56. Kit
57. Uli
58. Judith Detert-Moriarty
59. Lauren
60. Jaime
61. Sally comes unraveled
62. Kristal
63. Bellavitafarm
64. Spinnerlady
65. Trillian42
66. Deb
67. Aimee
68. Melanie
69. kitten
70. Jen the bread freak

Subgroups: (you can join one, none, or several)

Twinkle Toes
Linda Watson Mickelberry
Sally comes unraveled
Jen the bread freak

Janice in GA

Twinkle Toes
Linda Watson Mickelberry

Star (me)

Lantern Rouge:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tour de Fleece - FAQ 2008

I'm excited to report it's only 12 days until the start of the Tour de Fleece!

I've gotten a lot of questions lately and I'll try to answer them here, in the annual official FAQ. (Subject to change, of course)

1. It's not too late to sign up.

2. The idea is to spin every day the Tour rides. If you can't, I won't punish you.

3. You don't have to be Tour de France obsessed like I am to spin-along. You just have to want to spin yarn. A wheel or spindle will both work.

4. If you want to watch the Tour de France and you live in the US, Versus is the channel that airs it.

5. You want to know where to link your badge? I don't require this, but if you want to show solidarity... You can link it to the Tour de Fleece page:

6. When you sign up here, it's great if you could leave your name and blog address in the comment so I don't have to guess and hunt when I add you to the list.

7. If you live in Europe and have an opportunity to get a picture of yourself spinning while the Tour de France passes by, you will get special treatment... including, but not limited to, the intense envy of yours truly.

8. All of the basic information can be found on the sign up page here.

9. Show off your homespun during the Tour in our Flickr pool here.

10. There are no requirements of how much you have to spin. Just spin every day. If you're traveling, take a drop spindle along. Five minutes spin time counts.

11. Ravelry! If you want to really participate in the Tour or just read about what everyone is up to, join the Ravelry group. You can post pictures and join groups and vote on prizes there.

12. Prizes? Yes, this year there are prizes. They are still trickling in so I have not yet made an official announcement about how to win them. I will say that many of them will be by nominations and voting. There is already a random prize being offered in the Ravelry group as well.

13. Teams! This year there are teams within the Tour as another way to participate. You don't have to join a team. Or, you can join as many as you like. It's your Tour. The listing of teams can be found in the signup thread or in the Ravelry group.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fiber Friday 6/20/08

Tomorrow I am heading out to the Black Sheep Gathering to find my spinning mojo. I'll probably buy some fiber and yarn as well.

With the Tour de Fleece kicking off in two weeks I better start training already. The purpose of the tour is a challenge. For the cyclists and handspinners alike, it's the big one.

When I'm not actually doing something, most likely I am thinking about something.

I've been thinking a lot about personal challenges lately, and decided to look back at what I spun during the challenge day of last year's tour...

July 2007:

I can briefly re-cap the challenge day with a picture representing my personal Col l'Aubisque: feathers. Dyed feathers.

I first looked up some technique in the book: Spinning Designer Yarns by Diane Varney. (a must have for spinners - don't you think?) The book confirmed what I thought: 2-ply yarn, trapping the stem of each feather in a coil.

Plus it's a rainbow yarn, just for the wow factor. It's a fandango yarn for sure, but I'm nervous about setting the twist. I don't want to ruin the feathers by getting them wet. I'm hoping a little steaming will do the trick.

My unsolicited advice: way over-spin the single first, so you don't over-ply while doing your coils. That is if you desire spinning with feathers. Perhaps nobody else would. I accept that.

Back to today, this moment, right now:

I must admit I don't have it in me to tackle such complicated yarn these days. I really want to spin smooth, even yarn now. Useful yarn. Utilitarian. Purposeful.

The real challenge will be to sit down and spin every day for three weeks. I am nearly looking forward to it. Join me, won't you? Sign up today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lighthouse Gansey

Are you ready for a gansey style sock? You get lots of texture created by simple knits and purls.

Pattern: Lighthouse Gansey by Anne Hanson

Dream in Color Smooshy. Color: Cloud Jungle.

Needles: KnitPicks Harmony 32" circulars, US size 1.5 (2.50mm) Magic loop.

Pattern Review: Easy to follow, fun to knit.

The socks are worked from the cuff down, and you hit the charted design right away. The next thing you know, you are turning the heel and the rest of the sock goes very quickly.

Modifications: A couple of things. I made the sock taller because I am tall and Dream in Color Smooshy has fantastic yardage.

I also worked this sock over 60 stitches only. I reduced the stitches on the sides, where they wouldn't mess up the lighthouse design. I made the heel flap too wide by NOT reducing stitches there but it all works out somehow in the wearing.

Yarn Review: What can I say about Smooshy that hasn't been said before? This is one of the all time great sock yarns. The base has a nice twist and it's washable (though I always hand wash). It has a smooshy quality without being too soft.

Smooshy colors are fantastic and cloud jungle in no exception. It's hard to describe other than saying it's grey and green and a lot of other colors. They are all semi-solid and rich. You can buy it at The Loopy Ewe, Sonny and Shear, or Eat, Sleep, Knit. I have bought this yarn at all three places, though I wonder why I am admitting this.

Again, the yardage is an impressive 450 yards. Which should be enough for a guy, or tall socks for a lady. Dream in Color is also probably the best smelling yarn out there. What? I know I'm not the only yarn sniffer!

Overall: A fantastic pair of socks. It goes with everything and interesting enough to make me want to wear them often. Also they fit well and were a fast project.

This is the first time I knit a gansey style sock and I don't know why I resisted. Ganseys generally remind me of ugly, poor fitting sweaters of another decade. Perhaps it is this bias. Of course there are also beautiful gansey sweaters in the world too. I just never saw Patti Smith wearing one.

Do you see the lighthouse motif? I saw it right off but I've read that others see it as a tree. Or a diamond. I can see that too. Maybe it's like those tests that are meant to reveal something about yourself. Or perhaps I am going on too long regarding these socks.

In any case, socks are a great way to try out stitches and I intend to do more of the gansey style knitting in socks in the future.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fiber Friday 6/6/08

I'm just looking through some pictures of yarn I spun a while back.

What's new? I've got nothing. I am still not spinning, sorry.

I am working on some math over and over and over and trying to remember why I like knitting and designing...

There is so much math involved I have this pain where my brain used to be.

On to fiber things, ok:

I'm late to the game but I just figured out that the Loopy Ewe sells roving. Really, really pretty roving.

Back when I was dying fiber daily I would never have bought these sorts of things but now, I don't know. Maybe I am allowed now.

I just need the spinning mojo back. I think it will return at the Black Sheep Gathering in two weeks time. If it doesn't return then, I may be in big trouble.

I don't know what I mean when I say this but the yarn here represents my brain on math.

This is hopeful. There is potential in this. From chaos comes order. From reason, scandal. If I were spinning today, it would be bold and shocking yarn. No thinking. Purely physical. Isn't yarn great like that?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Saint Cupcake

When you can't talk about knitting, you can talk about eating.

Brooke and I just happened to stop by Saint Cupcake the other day...

Where even the dumpsters are cute and cupcake-y.

We were good. We didn't eat them in the store...

We didn't eat them on the street...

We didn't eat them in the car...

I posed them in the wild strawberries...

and then we felt we had earned them with our patience.

I had two smalls: vanilla and chocolate. Brooke had one big coconut.

The vanilla got smooshed on top, but I still managed to get all of the icing.

Once you lick a box, the dignity you earn by waiting until you get home is quickly lost.

So today I share with you an old fashioned smile. With icing.