For the Tour de Fleece this year, I planned to challenge myself to spin and ply one ounce of fibre for each of the 21 days that the Tour rides. Most of my fibre stash is in four- and eight-ounce increments, so I’ve adjusted by one ounce and now I’m aiming for 20 ounces spun and plied… which is still going to be one heck of a challenge! So here’s what I’ve got:

This eight ounce corriedale roving from Handspun by Stefania was dyed with indigo and iron and then carded with hand-dyed silk noils, and I bought it at Maryland Sheep and Wool in 2010. It’s slated to become a tweedy two-ply DK weight that will eventually, possibly, if it works out the way I want, be knitted into the next pair of Fleeps. The original yarn I used for the Fleeps is getting hard to find, and this looks like it might be a good substitution.

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale

Another Maryland Sheep and Wool purchase, this one from 2009, is two coordinating batches of fibre from Bullens Wullens. One is 100% Falkland, the other is 80% merino and 20% tussah silk. The plan is to spin a worsted weight yarn with one ply of each. I’m not yet sure what I’ll knit with it, but eight ounces should give me a good range of options once the yarn is finished.


Last year at Rhinebeck I picked up this gorgeous aqua to chocolate gradient from Fiber Optic Yarns, even though I wasn’t sure what I planned to do with it. Now I know: I’m going to spin it from one end to the other, chain-ply it to maintain the gradient, and knit a slouchy hat for myself! I’ll just have to decide whether to have the darker portion at the brim of the hat or at the crown. If I do this right, I’ll come up with the right amount of yarn to use the full gradient on the hat. Another option would be to split it in half longways and spin two chain-plied gradient yarns for armwarmers. Hmmmm.


The 2014 Tour de Fleece will be spinning from Saturday July 5 through Sunday July 27th. I will have friends visiting over the July 4 holiday weekend, but like last year I expect that their presence will actually make things easier for me, as I can sit with them on the porch and sip wine while I spin and we chat. I have no doubt that we’ll go for some bike rides, too – possibly a long stretch of the Washington and Old Dominion trail or just on the mountain roads around my house.

(Eventually, I’d like to ride the whole W&OD, all 90 miles of it. This year my goal is 62 miles for a metric century! On Monday I took the bike out for my second ride of the year and put almost 17 miles on the odometer; tomorrow I’m aiming for a 20 mile ride.)

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Kipling is skittish about plastic bags. When I come home from work, both cats run to greet me – unless I’ve got grocery bags in my hands, and then the spotted genius flees to a safe hiding spot under the dining room table. The rustle of a new garbage bag will send him flying in a rather ungraceful manner. So when I left this bag on the coffee table after finishing the snack that was in it, I expected him to avoid it.

That’s right, cat. Prove me wrong.

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Woohoo! The Fifth Annual Blog Week is coming!

Every year, knitters and crocheters from all over the world take a week to blog about a set of topics. It’s so much fun to read everyone’s take on the same subject! These are the daily topics we’ll all be writing about, and they all look like clever writing challenges. I’m planning to visit lots of blogs to see what everyone has to say, and I’ll leave lots of comments ’cause that’s part of the fun of it. (I always mean to leave more comments on more blogs, really I do…)

The Fifth Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week will take place from May 12 through May 18.

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A study in light and shadow.


Last night Kipling was purring next to me on the couch and I was idly scritching his head. When I took my hand away to type something, he said “mew!” (Mew? The cat who normally says “ook ook ook!” is now saying “mew”? Okay…)

So I went back to providing head-scratches. But it’s hard to type one-handed, and I was composing an email, so I took my hand back, and– “MOW!” With a demand like that, how could I say no? I resumed the petting.

Still, I wanted to finish the email. I put my hand back onto the keyboard. Kipling, perhaps thinking that his language skills weren’t up to par, began to demonstrate exactly what he wished me to do. He reached out one paddy-paw1 and began to pet my arm. And when I looked down in surprise. he grabbed my arm with both front paws and hugged.

I saved the email as a draft. My cat needed me.


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From Mulberry Fibers on Etsy comes this ridiculously pink braid of 75% merino/25% nylon, which I am spinning into a two-ply fingering weight for a commission:


Here are the singles, resting before being plied. My camera wasn’t fully able to capture the brightness and saturation of the pink:


I really enjoyed spinning this. The fibre drafted well, without sticking together or sliding apart. The darker sections were a little tougher to draft smoothly, which is something I’ve noticed in other spinning projects as well. Maybe it’s something about the darker dyes that felt the fibres a little?

There’s one more braid in a lovely shade of green to spin for this commission, and then of course plying all three yarns, washing and skeining, and mailing them off! The Tour de Fleece is coming up soon, and I’m aiming to have the entirety of the commission finished before then as I have a challenging Tour project in mind…

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Introducing… the Choppy Seas socks!


These textured socks are reminiscent of the ocean on a stormy day, and the stitch pattern rolls and breaks like choppy waves. The darkening sky is represented in the contrasting toes, heels, and cuffs. Knit with Patons Kroy Sock over 60 stitches on US2/2.75mm needles, it works up fairly quickly.


Although the stitch repeat begins with a purl stitch, the pattern draws in like ribbing, and so laddering is not an issue. Because of the stretchiness, one size should fit most. Because I’ve only written the pattern for one size (though its stretchiness will accommodate a wide range of foot widths) and because of the potential annoyance of beginning needles with purl stitches, I’m offering this pattern for free!

Get it on Ravelry here:

And here are some more pictures:





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My next door neighbours, Morry and Shirley, are quite probably the best neighbours anyone could ask for. We trade off cat-sitting services (although I feel as if I ask them to feed Floyd and Kipling more frequently than they ask me to look after their cats) and occasionally trade baked goods. When I asked them to take care of Floyd and Kipling over Christmas, I brought them freshly baked chocolate chip cookies… and was presented with a quilt. A quilt! A handmade quilt, full of adorable kitties, with a cute bicycle backing. Wow!


Immediately, I knew I wanted to knit something for them. I picked up two coordinating skeins of Cascade 220 in Lake Chelan Heather and Cordovan Brown Heather, and after a little bit of pondering decided to knit them semi-matching Jacques Cousteau hats. I’ve made the pattern once before and enjoyed knitting it. Plus, the stretchiness of the knit three, purl two rib is great for a surprise gift hat when one doesn’t know the exact size of the recipient’s head!


I knit in the car on the way to Winterlude; I knit while we played Cards Against Humanity; I knit on the trip back. Shirley’s hat was finished the day I got home, and Morry’s was done a few days later. I brought the hats to them in late February, the day before yet another snowstorm was due, and hope that they’ll help my wonderful neighbours to be nicely warm for many winters to come.


Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of them wearing the hats… but they fit well and the pointiness of the top goes away when the hat’s on a head! The Cousteau hat is a great pattern and I would happily knit it again.

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For today’s Feline Friday, here’s a throwback to Floyd as a kitten!

Here he is at four months:


And at nine months:


It’s hard to believe he’ll be four years old this month.

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One of the souvenir sock yarns I bought at Winterlude this year was a ball of ONline Supersocke 100 Paradise in a colourway that reminded me of skiing in 1986. (I didn’t ski then, but that’s what the colours looked like to me.) Then I took up snowboarding in February and realized that it’s 1986 all over again: everything is bright pink, purple, and turquoise. So I decided to bump this sock up to the top of my queue before the colours go out of fashion again!


I knit much of the first sock’s leg on my way to the slopes earlier this month, getting close to the heel flap and turn before coming home from that trip. Last night I knit the heel flap, turned the heel, and sleepily picked up the gusset stitches before bed. I even remembered to take notes on the project page so I could be assured of making the second sock just like the first!


This is my first time knitting with Supersocke 100, but it won’t be the last – I picked up a second souvenir in a semi-solid mauve colour, and am planning to design cabled socks with it. The yarn is a little bit slippery, but not too bad. I could see how it might be splitty if my needles weren’t sharp, though. I’m getting a nice fabric on US 1s, soft but not too loose, and I’ve been careful to rotate the stitches every few rounds so I don’t get too much laddering between the needles.

Of course, now that spring has sprung I have less need for wool socks, but I’m sure these colours will still be reasonably “in” next winter too.

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The new pattern is being proofread, and should be published early this week!


Look for the “Choppy Seas” sock pattern here and on Ravelry. It’ll be a free download for your knitting enjoyment!

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