Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIP Wed & Tour de Fleece Finish Line!

The Tour de Fleece came to an end on Sunday! I managed to spin through a ton of my fiber stash and spun pretty much every day the tour rode (and even on one of the rest days), which were basically my only goals for this year's event. I spun on Team Sasquatch and here is all of my finished yarn from the entire tour:

I spun a total of 1,103 yards (2,315 yards if we're counting each ply's yardage separately)! Not bad for trying to take it easy during the event.

Since I've been spinning so much yarn lately, my handspun bins are quite literally overflowing, so I decided to start some fun new projects with handspun yarns this week! First, I used one of my TDF yarns (spun from a crazy batt) to cast on for a Small Squirrel from 50 Yards of Fun (my latest book obsession):

Then, I got inspired to cast on for a squishy hippo using another book from my knitting library, Itty Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson:

I'm using a pre-TDF skein of handspun; the fiber is BFL and BFL sparkle from Yarn Geek Fibers. I actually re-plied it during the tour because I thought the skein was just a bit too loosey-goosey. Here is the original skein:

...and a photo of the re-plied skein:

I know the lighting is pretty different between the two photos, but hopefully you can still get an idea of how much nicer the re-plied skein of yarn looks. I got the idea to give this a try from a recent post on the Knitting Sarah blog, and boy am I glad I did!

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Zoom-Along: Turtle Critter Kit

Today I have something to share that I've been working on in semi-stealth: a turtle made entirely out of Zoom Loom squares!

I was given this everything-you-need kit by the kind folks at the Woolery. In August, they are hosting a super-fun Zoom-along featuring the Zoom Loom Critter Kits, which they currently have on sale on their website. The swatch critter kits are made by DJE Handwovens, and there are several animals to choose from: chameleon, dragon, frog, lion, sheep or turtle. 

The kit was made especially for the Schacht Zoom Loom, and it includes full instructions and enough Mountain Colors yarn to make the critter as pictured. You'll just need to provide your preferred stuffing to complete the project. I chose the Turtle Kit!

I was a little worried about the level of skill needed to assemble the it, but the kit specifically states that if you can sew a button or a hem, you can make a swatch critter. Ok, I can do both of those need to be intimidated!

I wove all of the required squares before I left on my trip, which was the perfect time to block them all as the pattern dictates. I think I've mostly been sharing my progress on instagram, but here is a shot of all of them drying on my blocking mats:

Over the weekend, I jumped in with both feet and started to assemble my turtle.

The instructions were well-written and included diagrams and other helpful information to make assembling my critter a breeze. They also includes some helpful tips for weaving squares on the zoom loom which I know will come in handy for future projects, too.

Bonus: you can leave all of your yarn ends to the inside of the turtle shell - easy peasy!

Here is my finished turtle! If you're worried that you might run out of yarn, I ended up having plenty left over; I probably could have gotten a few more squares out of the green yarn. It's a little hard to see his embroidered face in the photos, but I assure you it's more apparent in real life. I think he's super cute, and I plan on making another one next month during the Woolery's Zoom-Along event!

If you'd like to join in, there are a couple of ways you can participate next month - and, of course, there are PRIZES! You can purchase a Zoom Loom and your choice of kits from the Woolery; if you already own a loom, you have the option to purchase the Critter Kit separately! There is also an option to get creative and dream up your own critter made entirely of Zoom Loom Squares.

Click here to join in the fun!

Friday, July 25, 2014

FO Friday: the OMFG Edition

I sure hope you are all sitting down, because the chevron socks of doom are officially DONE! On Wednesday night, I finished the toes, wove in the ends, and blocked them:
Despite enjoying very little of the knitting process (a rarity for me in the realm of sock-knitting), I absolutely love the finished pair of socks. Because they were such a labor of love, I'm sure I will treasure them all the more. However, let it be decreed on this day that I shall never, under any circumstances, knit socks sideways ever again. Seriously. It's just not for me....though I tip my hat to those who dig it.
The pattern is perfect for the variegated colorway, which is Tristan from Bijou Basin Ranch in the Tibetan Dream base. It's a yak/nylon blend yarn that is so incredibly soft and warm. The pattern is The Hub of Fashion by Stephanie van der Linden, which appears in her book Around the World in Knitted Socks. As you can see, they fit quite well (way better than you'd expect sideways-knit socks to fit), and I look forward to some toasty toes this winter.

I also finished a second dinosaur for the FreshStitches/Spud & Chloƫ CAL this month! As I mentioned on Wednesday, I ended up being just a tiny bit short on yardage to complete dino #2, but I was able to fudge it by alternating rounds with a similar-colored yarn from my stash of leftovers. Always works in a pinch!
There is one more project which I forgot to share last week - a bath mat I crocheted on my road trip using some Lion Brand Cotton Ease held double. I started using the crochet bathmat pattern from One Skein, but decided to just use a single crochet rather than the pattern stitch to make a simpler mat.
I really like how this turned out, and I washed AND dried it before the photo shoot....the yarn looks just as good as when I was working with it! I'm very impressed with it, as it's been a while since I've used a Lion Brand yarn. I actually purchased these two skeins from Craftsy, so the whole project cost less than $15 to make - and right now, Craftsy is having a Summer Supply Clearance Sale, so you can save even more awesome yarn. Lucky you!

Thanks for joining me this week. Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WIPS & SIPS: Major progress & New Schtuff!

The chevron socks of DOOM are finally getting closer to being done, thanks to an 18-hour roadtrip earlier this month. Basically, I forced myself to work on this project as much as I could while en route to Kansas City, where we visited family and celebrated our 9-year (!) wedding anniversary. We ended up bringing home some beertastic souvenirs, of course!
Over the weekend, I finally grafted the second sock together and began the arduous task of knitting the cuffs and toes. I apologize for the all caps, but.....I AM NOW TWO TOES AWAY FROM HAVING THIS PROJECT OFF THE NEEDLES! 
Needless to say, I am really looking forward to this project being done. I know I will love the socks once they're done - the yarn is incredible and they will be super-duper warm, too. However, knitting socks sideways is definitely not for me. I can't stress this enough. I have been working on them since the beginning of May, so it will be a huge relief to go into August with a clean slate. 

In other news, I started another dinosaur for the FreshStitches/Spud & Chloe CAL this month - the more the merrier, right?! I ran out of the contrast color for the final stripe and was getting low on the main color as well, so I am 'cheating' a bit by alternating rounds with another yarn that is close enough in color to make the dino's head. As luck would have it, I happened to have an eensy amount of leftover yellow worsted-weight yarn in my stash that was similar enough to what I've been using to pinch hit! Phew!
This is the final week of the Tour de Fleece, and I have been keeping up with my spinning - in fact, I spun a whole bobbin's-worth of yarn on the rest day this past Monday! On Tuesday, I was ready to ply these two bobbins of singles spun from my batt-making endeavors in June:
One of the singles apparently contains some sort of Elvish magic, because it just won't quit. Once I ran out of the single from the other batt, I started grabbing leftover singles that have been sitting around my craft room - first, the Masham from Sweet Georgia, then some Anzula BFL, followed by leftovers from a different single spun from a batt, and finally, the polwarth I dyed a while back. That pretty much cleared out all of my bobbin leftovers, so I gave up. I'll probably keep all of the leftovers in a single skein (kind of like a magic ball!), though I will separate it from the main yarn.
I also couldn't resist dipping into some of the fiber I'd earmarked for Spinzilla this fall - 8 oz. of natural Jacob top from Louet. It smells so nice and sheepy, and after working with so many dyed fiber and funky batts, I was ready to work with something a little more basic. I set my Victoria to the finest setting (you can read more about it here on Monday's post) and spun through the first half of the fiber - I think these are the thinnest singles I have ever made! The fiber all but spun itself, it was very easy to work with. I'll be spinning the next half of the fiber this week so that I can turn it into a two-ply by the the end of the weekend!
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spinning Gearbox: Louet S95 Victoria

My newest spinning wheel acquisition is from Louet; last year, I borrowed the S95 Victoria to use during Spinzilla (I was the captain for #TeamLouet). This year, I decided to make it a permanent fixture to my craft room!

What I love about this wheel is how easy it is to use. It doesn't require a huge effort to treadle, and it's designed to be virtually maintenance-free, as noted on the Louet website:
The fly wheels of all our models are 50 cm (20") in diameter (except for the S45). They rotate on a maintenance free, lubricated for life ball bearing pack to ensure excellent spinning ability by allowing them to turn freely and quietly. The same maintenance free ball bearing is used at the footman connection. Absolutely no lubrication is necessary for the bearings to work correctly.
It has Scotch tension, featuring a single belt, flyer drive with an adjustable bobbin brake to regulate the tension on the yarn as you spin. I find it fairly easy to spin finer yarns on the Victoria, as it comes standard with three ratios: 1:6, 1:8.5 and 1:13. It includes a lazy kate and three bobbins, which have a really interesting feature I've not seen on other bobbins:
Can you see that slot in the middle? That's where you can thread your leader so that it stays secure no matter what. How clever!

My other favorite feature is its portability. This wheel is quite petite, with an orifice height just over 23" from the ground. It's made with very sturdy lacquered beech, and it weighs only eight pounds. There is a leather loop at the top for carrying it from spot to spot, and the entire wheel folds down with just a few small steps. First, you disconnect the treadles from the wheel:

Then, you simply push a button near the base to fold it down into a nice, compact size (5.5" x 14.25" x 21.75" according to the website):
I've been able to pack it in my largest suitcase when traveling with absolutely no problems, and recently I just used one of my larger tote bags to take it with me on a road trip:
They do sell proper carrying bags which are made specifically for the wheel, and there are lots of other optional add-ons such as extra bobbins, a high-speed set, skeinwinder, and tensioned lazy kate.

All in all, this is an easy-care wheel that's perfect for taking your spinning with you wherever you go!
You might like to know: I wrote this review at the request of one of my readers who wanted to know more about my spinning wheels; as you already know, I have a working relationship with Louet! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fo Friday: Baby Sweater!

I finished a baby sweater last month, but I didn't want to blog about it til I gave it to the parents-to-be! This is one of my favorite patterns from 60 Quick Baby Knits, the Seed Stitch Yoke Cardigan.

I used some superwash yarn I'd hand-dyed myself back when I still worked at Lorna's Laces. The pooling turned out to be pretty interesting and almost looks like I planned it that way (though I assure you I did not!):
Front Detail 
Back Detail
However, I think the crowning glory of this sweater is the adorable robot buttons:

I recently discovered a new site called Indie Untangled, which is a way to discover awesome new folks in the fiber arts industry. You can sign up for their newsletter to be notified of shop updates, which is especially helpful for smaller businesses whose etsy shops aren't always consistently-stocked.

Anyway, through Indie Untangled, I found a really awesome button-maker called Fastenation Studio, which is where I purchased the buttons for this project. They have a ton of ever-changing cute styles, plus they take custom orders!

Since I was already paying for shipping (which was incredibly low, might I add - $2 for US addresses), I ordered two more button sets:

Seriously, are they not the raddest buttons you have ever seen?! I had quite a hard time giving up those robot buttons in particular. I have a feeling I'll be purchasing another set to use on a sweater for myself before the year is up.

In spinning news, I have another finished skein from my Tour de Fleece efforts:

This is the last 4oz braid of roving I had stashed away from the Sweet Georgia Fibre Club; now seemed like a good time as any to finally spin with it! The fiber is Masham, which is a hardy breed of sheep from Northern England. The colorway is called Wild Pansy, while I am not a huge fan of pink by any stretch of the imagination, but I ended up really liking how this skein spun up. I've got just over 100 yards of DK/light worsted yarn, which I think will be great for making a monster.

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My First Opposing-Ply Handspun Yarn

Do you ever come across something at exactly the right time? That's how I feel about spinning opposing-ply yarns. This is something I first heard about on the We Are Yarn podcast, and since then I've noticed other mentions here and there, to the point where I knew I had to try it for myself.

Spinning 101 dictates that yarns are balanced by spinning singles in one direction and plying them in the opposite direction (i.e., two Z-twist yarns would be plied into an S-twist yarn). So what happens when you ply one Z-twist with one S-twist yarn into either of those directions? The answer is as varied as your handspun, however, and there is an entire chapter in the Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs devoted to the subject.

When I ordered these 8 ounces of Superwash BFL from Nerd Girl Yarns in the #hashtag colorway, I knew I wanted to make something special with them. My hope was to get a sport-ish weight yarn which could be used for socks, and when I was reading about the increased durability that opposing-plied yarn offers, I knew that everything had come together at exactly the right time to create the perfect project! 
Dividing the fiber by weight
Like most spinners, I usually spin my singles clockwise (with a Z twist) and then ply them together counter-clockwise (with an S twist). I was pretty sure this would be a difficult habit to break, so I took no chances when spinning my "oddball" S-twist single:

In my experiment, I decided to spin two Z singles and one S single to create a 3-ply yarn; the two singles plied in the same direction plied themselves around the oddball ply in a really interesting way:

As I spun, it seemed as though the Z plies were wrapping around the S ply (ie, the twist was not affecting the S ply, but the Z plies were twisting around it as it stayed static, if that makes sense). You may have to click the image above to enlarge it in order to see what I'm talking about, but if you look closely, you can definitely identify the plies in the skein. 

This is the first project I plied on my new Bulky Flyer for my Ladybug Wheel, which I blogged about in greater detail earlier this week (click here to check it out)! The result was one gorgeous mega-skein of yarn:

It's approximately 215 yards of sport(ish) weight yarn, and I'm definitely going to make myself some socks with it later this year!

Monday, July 14, 2014

New Design: Forever Linked Hat & Mitts

I'm so excited to share my newest design! I was recently asked to design some accessories for Bijou Basin Ranch's #CountdownToOutlander event which is happening right now! They have a new line of hand-dyed colors inspired the the Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon, which is being made into a TV series which premieres on Starz on August 9. The Outlandish collection includes a spectrum of 27 gorgeous colors and comes in two of my favorite bases: Lhasa Wilderness (a blend of yak and bamboo) and Himalayan Trail (a blend of yak and merino).
Himalayan Trail yarn in Lallybroch from the Outlandish color series.
Before we get too far, I have to make a confession: I've never read any of the Outlander books. I have managed to glean a few key plot points here and there in my internet research, but I can't claim to be a super-fan, nor would I want to misrepresent myself as such. I chose to draw my inspiration from scenic photos of Scotland, which is where a large portion of the series takes place. Bijou Basin Ranch has a pretty comprehensive pinterest board which provided ample inspiration in that department, and so the Forever Linked Hat & Mitts were born.

Clearly, the love story between Jamie and Claire is at the heart of the series, so I wanted to capture that with my design.

The hat features two mirrored cables surrounded by garter stitch which are then echoed on each mitt, which has one half of the cable motif from the hat. 

There are cables within the cables, which sounds complicated, but I assure you that's not the case!

Both the hat and fingerless gloves can be knit with just two skeins of Himalayan Trail yarn and would look great in any of the Outlandish colorways.

The pattern is currently available in a kit that you can pre-order for 20% off for a limited time only!

Click here to pre-order the Forever Linked Hat & Mitts Kit from

Friday, July 11, 2014

So many FO's!

Over the holiday weekend, I finished my handspun kerchief-turned shawl! I still have a few yards left over after binding off, as I wasn't up for playing yarn chicken. The end result is an extremely soft, squishy triangle scarf that will undoubtedly keep me warm all winter long.

I used the recipe from Joelle Hoverson's Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, which is a great source of knitting inspiration, especially when it comes to finding the perfect pattern for handspun yarn.

I absolutely love all of the colors and the texture:

Garter is fast becoming one of my favorite stitches!

This week, I also finished my Stegosaurus for the FreshStitches/Spud & Chloƫ CAL:

I have enough yarn left over to make an inverse version of the dino, too, so that will be a fun project to revisit later this month! Incidentally, it's not too late to join in on this CAL - there are prizes you can win just for finishing before the end of the month!

Also, on Wednesday night I finished my first Tour de Fleece project! I plied two singles of BFL together (one from Yarn Hollow and one from Anzula) to make this lovely 2-ply skein of worsted-ish weight yarn:

Have a crafty weekend!