Sunday spinning update: Yarn!

I am feeling victorious today. I’ve finally made some yarn since the big house move. This was mostly thanks to the daily spinning prompt of watching the Tour de France.

First of all, I finished spinning the merino singles that have been on the wheel for too long. I will need to chain ply this into the lovely colour-shifting yarn it wants to be. I should have that done some time this week:

Then I gave myself a break and spun up two smaller (55-60g) bags of Shetland that I’ve had around for a while. What made it even easier to get these skeins done was that a lot of the tradespeople were in the house fixing things for the second half of the week. I couldn’t leave the house, so I decided to spin rather than knit. The noise was incredible and the spinning is easier to stop at a moment’s notice to deal with things around the house.

Both skeins are about 210 yards and I’m thinking that this nice fingering weight yarn would make a lovely pair of stranded mittens. I don’t know that I’ll ever do that myself, but it’s nice to have something in mind.

Once I finish the job of plying the merino, I’ll go and snoop through the fiber area of my closet to figure out which beautiful items I get to play with next.

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Saturday spinning update: Tour de Fleece

I did manage to watch the first stage of the Tour de France today. This year I’m doing a sort of laid-back Tour de Fleece. I don’t have specific goals. I’m just trying to spin more. Today I brought the wheel downstairs so I could watch and spin at the same time. Here’s where I’m at now (same merino from weeks and weeks ago):

Although it doesn’t look like I’ve done much, trust me, I’ve made significant progress. I only have half an arm-length of the brown to get through before I get to the turquoise.

I’m excited to have the Tour de France to prompt me to spin daily. I have no idea what I’ll move on to next, but my stash area is overflowing and I need to keep on spinning!

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Spam, spam, spam

I felt like I was in an awkward position today. Canada has brought in some new anti-spam laws with hefty penalties. Although my mailing list was created as an opt-in list with confirmations required to sign up, I felt compelled to create a new clean list. Then I had to send a message to the old list about the new list.

Yes, that’s right. I essentially spammed my old list to avoid punishment for spamming.

Join my sparkly new mailing list (with options to tell me what types of knitting patterns you’re interested in). I typically send out 5 or 6 emails a year. Plus if you’re on the list, that puts you in the “Spectator” category for my annual Tour de France KAL.

Happy Canada Day (tomorrow), Happy Fourth of July (Friday), and I’ll see all you folks knitting along to Peloton on Saturday in my Ravelry group.

Bonus art from the end of school clearout – too cute to throw out just yet:

Cat picture done by Sam

 

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Variations on a theme

First, I have to show you this postcard that my Aunt Viv sent me from England:

One more week to go until the Tour de France! Yes, they’re getting all excited over there about the start of the tour being in Yorkshire. The back of the card reads as follows: “Stage 2 of the greatest cycle race in the world in the greatest county in the world – God’s own country”. I’ll see all you KAL folks in my Ravelry group soon. I’ll be setting up the special threads for the KAL next week.

What I wanted to talk about today was inspired by an email asking about my Khufu shawl. The person was interested in knitting it as a scarf or stole instead of as a triangular shawl. The next day I drew up some small sketches of ideas that came to me, and I wanted to share them with you:

These 3 ideas can easily be put into action with a bit of swatching and some simple math (based on the number of pattern repeats + garter stitch edging). It’s a good thing my knitting mojo is back and I’m busily knitting away on other things or I might feel compelled to try out #2 or #3.

It’s totally ok to rearrange an existing pattern into something that suits you better. These are 3 ideas that came to me right off and I’m sure they aren’t the only ones. I want to encourage you to decide what’s right for you and not feel tied to the way something is done in a pattern. Personally, I’ve been mulling over knitting a sweater with a boat neck for a long time, but I know that when I knit it I will try to make it more of a V-neck, because that’s what works for me. What have you done to modify an existing pattern into something that works for you?

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Peloton: TdF KAL, 2014

Last week I showed you the prizes for my 5th annual Tour de France Knit Along (TdF KAL). Today I’m here to share the pattern. It’s called Peloton:

This semi-circular shawl is inspired by the riders of the Tour de France. The lace patterns show the different shapes that groups of riders take during the race: diagonal lines in a crosswind, a pointed arrow when in hot pursuit, and a long winding string when climbing tough mountains. The shawl finishes off with bicycle wheels (adapted from Barbara Walker’s Cogwheel pattern).


A small shawl can be knit with one skein of fingering weight yarn (approx. 1 set of “wheels”). The sample shawl was knit with almost two full skeins (800yds) of Tosh Sock in Saffron.

You can pre-purchase this pattern now at the discounted price of $4. At the end of the Tour de France the price goes up to the regular price of $6. What you’ll get right now is just the first 2 pages. The full pattern will be uploaded on July 4th, 2014, so that we can all start the KAL on July 5th together.

As usual, the KAL will be run out of my Ravelry groupThere will be a general thread for chatting and questions and a few prize-related threads. Again, here’s a group shot of all the yarny prizes:


The prize categories are pretty much the same as last year, but with a special addition. Winners will pick from the prize pool in the following order:

1. Maillot Jaune – Yellow Jersey: The first prize goes to the person whose post with a picture of their finished object gets the most love in the designated Finished Object thread in my Ravelry group.

2. Maillot Vert – Green Jersey: The sprinting prize will be a draw from among the first 5 finishers of shawls – this only counts for people knitting the shawl with at least 1 full repeat of Chart D (likely more than 1 skein of fingering weight).

3. Maillot à Pois Rouges – Polka Dot Jersey: The mountain prize will go to the person whose tale of tribulations experienced during knitting gets the most love in the designated thread in my Ravelry group.

4. Maillot Blanc – White Jersey: New to lace? New to knitting? This prize for rookies will be drawn from among the list of finishers who tag their project with the “white-jersey”. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you belong in this category.

5. Past Glory: As this is the 5th year, I’m celebrating people who’ve made the shawls that have been featured in previous KALs. There will be a thread to post a picture of your finished project and there will be a random draw from among all of the entries. This is a great category for folks who got addicted to a shawl and knit more than one!

6. Finishers: A draw will be done among all finishers who haven’t already won a prize.

7. Lanterne Rouge: Started but didn’t finish? You’ll be eligible for a draw for this prize, provided you’ve got a picture of your progress on your project page.

8. Red Devil (Spectators): We don’t all have the time and space to compete in the Tour, but there will be a prize category for those who wish to follow along and cheer on the competitors. Join my Ravelry group, like my Facebook page, or join my mailing list and you’re in the running. The inspiration comes from Didi Senft, a notorious spectator, bike-builder, and cycling fanatic. Here’s a great short video of Didi.

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Tour de France KAL: prize preview

On Saturday July 5th, the Tour de France kicks off in Yorkshire. We’ll be celebrating and following along with the race in my Ravelry group with my 5th annual Tour de France (TdF) Knit Along (KAL).

This year’s design is a semi-circular shawl inspired by the shapes of the peloton during the race. I am estimating that you will need 100 – 200g of fingering weight yarn. 100g of fingering weight yarn will get you a smallish shawlette, while using almost 200g will get you a bigger shawl. There is also the possibility of using a number of different colours (up to 4, because there are 4 sections). More on that later.

Today we are here to consider why on earth you’d take on the challenge of knitting a large shawl watching while some of the world’s best cyclists are rushing around England and France. That’s easy: prizes (yarn)!

I had a critical look at my stash before the move. I gave some yarn away, sold other yarn, but I reserved the best yarn for prizes for the KAL. I’ve got a range of colours in lace and fingering weight from some great dyers. Here’s the group shot:

Prizes for Natalie Servant's 5th Annual Tour de France Knit Along (2014)

Let me take you through the yarn skein by skein. First, there’s a trio from Indigodragonfly. There are a pair of Princess Bride-named skeins of merino/silk lace. It’s 50% merino/50% silk and comes in at 658m/720yd in 100g. There is My Name is Indigo Montoya, which is a little more blue than this shows:

Indigodragonfly Merino/Silk Lace: My Name Is Indigo Montoya

And the second skein is a lovely silvery grey called “Have Fun Storming The Castle“.

Indigodragonfly Merino/Silk Lace in Have Fun Storming The Castle

The third skein is Merino Silk 4 ply Sock (50% merino/50% silk) and 393m/430yd per 100g. This one is “I’ve Never Been Up With People Before. (Buffy)“.

Indigodragonfly Merino Silk 4 Ply "I've Never Been Up With People Before"

Continuing the Canadian yarns, I’ve got a sunny skein of Hand Maiden Swiss Mountain Sea Sock (say that 10 times fast), (51% silk, 29% superwash merino, 20% seacell) and 400m/100g.

Hand Maiden Swiss Mountain Sea Sock

Then we move on to Fleece Artist. The first skein is one that makes me think of crows and ravens. It is Saldanha Two, a lace weight 100% merino yarn with 800m/100g.

Fleece Artist Saldanha Two

The second bundle from Fleece Artist is a pair of coordinating bases: Merino + Angel Hair. There is a skein of fingering weight merino – about 350m/115g – and a skein of lace weight Angel Hair (70% mohair, 30% nylon)  - about 440yd/400m in 50g. This is the yarn I used ages ago for Tudor Ruffles.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 with Angel Hair

Now we move on to dyers from the US. First up is a skein of Angel Face from Briar Rose Fibers. This lace weight yarn is 100% alpaca and about 2500yd/2286m in 228g.

Briar Rose Fibers Angel Face (100% Alpaca)

I have this lovely skein of Foot Notes Batik in Ultraviolet from Fiber Optic Yarns (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon, 420yd/381m in 114g). It’s hard to capture the deep purply-blue of this skein. I love it, but I haven’t knit it yet and perhaps you will.

Fiber Optic Yarns Foot Notes Batik in Ultraviolet

Then I have a pair of yarns from Madelinetosh. First up is an almost pinky skein of Tosh Sock in Dusk (100% superwash merino, 395yd/100g).

Madelinetosh Sock in Dusk

Then I have Tosh Lace in Alabaster (100% superwash merino, 950yd/868m per 100g). It’s a little less yellow in person.

Madelinetosh Tosh Lace in Alabaster

Finally, from Germany, I’ve got a skein of Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash Sock. It is 574yd/150g and the colour is True Love. This skein came to me in the sock club and I love how rich these colours are. I had to show you both sides of this skein:

Wollmeise 100% merino in True Love

So those are the prizes that you can vie for in my KAL. As usual, there will be a number of different categories of winners, including a category for non-participants who just want to be spectators. I’m also mulling over details for a special category for past KAL knits because this is the 5th annual KAL. I’ll lay out all the categories for you next week, when I’ll also give you a preview of the shawl.

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5th annual Tour de France KAL: a hint of what’s to come

We are now just a month out from the start of the Tour de France (July 5th, 2014), so it’s almost time for my annual Tour de France Knit Along. I feel like my knitting mojo is returning just in time! I’ve put aside a lovely bag of yarn for prizes in preparation for the Tour, and I’ll tell you about them next week.

Five years ago I was working on transforming my idea for a shawl into the Eiffel Tower Shawl. It was finally ready just before the 2010 Tour de France, and that inspired me to create a KAL with Tour-related prizes. Each year since then I’ve done another KAL during the Tour with a French theme: the Sunflower Field Shawl (agriculture), Childeric’s Bees (history/archeology), and the Père Lachaise Shawl (architecture/Paris).

This year I’ve come up with a design specifically inspired by the Tour de France. I first became a faithful follower of the Tour during my first maternity leave in 2005. Over the years of watching I’ve learned more about racing, teamwork, and the peloton. The highlight for me was being in Paris for the final stage of the Tour de France two years ago.

The idea that’s been percolating in my head for months is to do a shawl that shows the different shapes that the peloton (the main group of riders in the race) takes. When there is a crosswind, the riders form echelons: diagonal lines across the road giving as much shelter as  possible. When a particular rider or team starts comes to the front to pick up the pace in the peleton, it turns into a pointed arrow or diamond shape, with riders trailing out the back. When the riders are struggling up a brutal mountain climb, they become a long winding outline of the hairpin bends of the road.

I’ve taken these shapes and turned them into a semi-circular shawl pattern. I’ve done a trial run with some light fingering weight yarn and I’m working with fingering weight yarn at the moment. I expect that a small shawlette can be made with 1 skein but for a full-sized shawl you’ll want 2 skeins (around 800 yards) of fingering weight yarn.

So start gearing up for the Tour KAL now! Search the stash for one or two skeins of fingering weight yarn in solid or semi-solid colours. Make sure you’ve got appropriate needles ready to use. Stay tuned to the blog for more details about what’s to come.

 

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Sunday spinning update: slow progress

I’ve been spending a few minutes here & there working on my Turtlepurl Merino, but I’m still in the very long brown section. Progress is being made, and I’m hoping to see the colours change this week:

Turtlepurl Merino spinning

Now that the move is a couple of weeks old I sort of thought things might have calmed down a bit, but this week was still a flurry of activity that included alarm system activation (with free condescending assumptions about my awareness of VoIP) and waiting 4 hours for someone to come and fix the front door (an easy fix done in 10 minutes, thank goodness). Next week I have got to get working on window coverings and the basement and upstairs desk are the main remaining targets for unpacking.

Although it shouldn’t be surprising to me, the new house is getting dirty and and dusty and actually needs cleaning despite me feeling like I’ve done enough of that to last me a month or so. Dust never sleeps.

Here’s something that I spent a bit of time setting up. It’s my yarn closet:

Truthfully, it’s my everything closet. On the left, a bookcase with knitting books. Then under the shelves are my yarn bins. On the shelves are my fiber stash, tools, WIPs (in baskets), and then around on the right hand side are my clothes. I now feel like I know where all my yarn & tools are. Perhaps that’ll help bring back my knitting mojo.

I picked up a new skill this week: a rope twist hairdo thingy. Zoé was watching a Frozen video, then something about how to do a Frozen hairdo, followed by another hairdo video. Thanks YouTube. She made me watch it and try it out. It was surprisingly easy, and I may yet get better at it.

We also took a little time on this beautiful weekend to go on a walk. Z kept stopping to gather samples of things that she thought were beautiful. Taking a picture of them stopped them from coming in the house. Enjoy!

 

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A pattern in a magazine!

We did survive our house move. All is well. More on that later, because I’ve got exciting knitting news to tell you about. This week the Knitscene Accessories 2014 issue went online, and I’ve got a hat pattern in it! My Valerian Hat pattern came out of the designs that I’ve seen in a number of Art Deco buildings on door frames or around an elevator.

I wanted to make a hat that was relatively simple to knit (so there’s a small colourwork section) but still pleasing and snug and warm. I worked up two test samples with some Tosh DK that I had on hand from my Manhattan Bridge Shawl. Thanks to Jenn & Louise for wearing them:

Jenn & Louise sporting my Valerian Hat prototypes

Knitscene sent me some lovely Sonoma from Baah Yarn (in Obsidian and Maldives) for the official hat. I knit up the squishy yarn and sent it off before thinking to get some decent pictures. Oh well! Here’s one from Knitscene:

Valerian Hat - (c) Knitscene / Harper Point

© Knitscene/Harper Point

In other knitting pattern news, the patterns from What (Else) Would Madame Defarge Knit? are now available as individual patterns. This means that you can now buy Marilla’s Shawl by itself (or any of the other lovely patterns) if that’s all you want to have.

Happy knitting. I’ll be back shortly with more pictures from this week’s move.

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Sunday spinning update: just the beginning

We’re in major move mood here: we’re at single digit number of days left to go. Boxes are everywhere. The basement is starting to look reasonable.

I kept out one braid of merino from Turtlepurl that I’m spinning for a friend. It’s going to be chain-plied for a gradual colour-changing yarn. I don’t expect to have much free time in the next little while, but it’s nice to be able to take a break and do something relaxing. So far this is just the beginning:

I’m going to go a little quiet over the next couple of weeks as we go through the excitement and stress of moving. It has been helpful to go through so much of our stuff and purge what is no longer useful to us. I’m looking forward to a great new environment to live and play.

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