I bought this skein of Socks That Rock lightweight in the “Smokey Mountain Morn” colourway at Maryland Sheep and Wool in 2012, and last week decided to wind it up for a new traveling sock. The pattern, I thought to myself, should have some texture to it but a relatively easy stitch pattern to memorize, and after searching through Ravelry for what seemed like days I finally settled on Stanton. There were some runners-up that went into my library for later, too: Menehune Cobblestone, the Harris Tweed socks, and the very-popular Hermione’s Everyday Socks.

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On Friday morning, Michael and I boarded a plane to Las Vegas for our friends’ wedding, and I cast on and began to knit. (I was very pleased with myself for remembering how to do a slip-stitch cast on without having to look it up, too!) On Saturday I sat by the pool with the girls and knit…

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…and on Monday, when we had a five hour return trip on a plane without in-flight entertainment, I knit and knit and knit some more. The stitch pattern is fantastic. It was very easy to memorize (though I’m still figuring out how to ‘read’ it when I make the inevitable attention-wandering mistakes) and the texture works great with the spiraling colours. I’m just a few repeats away from the heel flap, which continues the textured pattern instead of going to the usual standard slip-stitch flap, and I’m excited to see how the colours will play out over the flap and gusset when the number of stitches changes.

I did feel a little guilty about starting a new sock when I have two already on the needles, but the Stripey Striped Sock is terrible for travel knitting as the yarn makes my hands ache, and I really didn’t like the idea of dropping a stitch of the Jaywalkers mid-flight. Both of those socks have been ongoing for way too long, though, and I really should buckle down and finish them.

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Hooray! I have a new pair of socks!

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I started the Tiger socks at the beginning of the year and now I’ve finished them just in time for fall. They’re a pretty standard 64-stitch sock, knit from Opal “Rainforest” yarn in the hard-to-find Tiger colourway. I bought two balls of it from a Raveler in Australia, if I remember correctly, way back in 2009! The white toes are knit with Valley Yarns Huntington that I bought at WEBS in January.

Usually, I try to make striped socks match each other. That just wasn’t possible in this case as the stripes were completely uneven – and towards the toe of the first sock, there’s a weird extra orange stripe in there. I don’t know how that happened; there wasn’t a knot or anything. But hey, real tigers aren’t always perfectly striped either.

Eventually, the other ball of Tiger yarn will become socks for Michael (though I think his will also have white cuffs, else we’ll never be able to tell our socks apart). There’s enough left over from the first ball to make a pair of fingerless gloves for myself, too!

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The spinning project proceeds (but all the pictures look the same, so…) Meanwhile, Michael’s birthday was last week, and he’d mentioned that one of his washcloths was starting to look a little thin. I can get two cloths from one supersize ball of yarn, so I made one for Michael and gave the second to my brother. Goodness knows I have enough of my own at the moment.

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The washcloths are made of Sugar ‘n Cream in the Hippi colourway (with white for a border on one of them), and I went down one hook size from my usual (from 5.5 mm to 5.0 mm) to try to get a tighter fabric. The pattern is my favourite, Woven Stitch Dishcloth. With the larger hook I know that if I start with a chain of 38, I’m likely to get argyle – but with the slightly smaller hook, that didn’t work out as well. I’ll have to figure out the numbers when I make the next cloth, because I do like the smaller stitches.

I drove up to Connecticut so that I could bring my bike (no pictures from the ride, unfortunately, but it was fun) and on the way I stopped at Palisades Interstate Park to stretch and take in the scenery. The Tappan Zee bridge is just barely visible at the turn of the river; I drove over it shortly after taking this picture.

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For my next trick– er, spinning project, even though the Tour de Fleece has ended and the Olympics has begun, I decided to go with this BFL from Three Waters Farm, in the “Stone House” colourway. I bought eight ounces of it at MDSW wayyyy back in 2011, and I’m a little embarrassed to think of how long it’s been sitting around waiting for me to spin it. Here goes…

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Since the last yarn I spun was a barber-poled two-ply, meaning I didn’t try to line up the colours in the two strands of yarn at all, I decided to chain-ply this one in order to maintain stripes of colour in the finished yarn. If the colours played against each other in a traditional two- or three-ply, I think the finished yarn would come out pretty, but overall solid-ish looking from a distance – and that’s not really what I’d like. (Actually, you know what would be interesting? Spinning one braid to be chain-plied, and splitting the other into thirds. Hmmm!)

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The very end of the braid was a little matted together, as they all tend to be, but the strands of fibre loosened up a few inches in and got easier to draft. I’m spinning this fairly fine with lots of twist, since I’ve had trouble with chain-plying lower-twist yarns in the past. It’s so frustrating when the singles drift apart in the plying process! I feel like a more tightly-spun yarn is going to be more durable in the long term, though of course the flip side of that is that the tightness of the yarn can affect the drape of the finished project.

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This fibre isn’t superwash, so I don’t think I’ll use it for socks. Perhaps I’ll make it into a little shawl or wrap – despite (or because of) the August heat, my office has cranked the air conditioning way up, and I need something to keep me from slowly freezing solid… that I can take off as soon as I walk out of the building!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been spinning for nine years already. I’ve come so far from my first lumpy attempts! And it’s just as hard to believe that the blog is almost ten years old… but it is. This has me thinking of doing something special for my blogiversary. Perhaps a giveaway or a contest might be fun. What do other bloggers do? I have until April to figure it out.

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At last, the Purple Pansies yarn is finished – though it no longer looks very purple-y; the orange really dominates the final yarn to my eyes. I plied while watching Mr. Robot, I plied while watching Doctor Who, I plied while watching the Olympics… and last night, I skeined up 348 yards of fingering-weight yarn.

The fibre, a blend of 60% merino, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon, came from Sheepish Creations on Etsy. I bought two braids of fibre from them a few years ago (the other was 100% BFL, which I spun into Something Cheerful in late 2014) and I was happy with both. The blended fibre did take more concentration to spin than the BFL; I’m not sure if it’s because of the shorter staple length or the slipperyness of the bamboo and nylon strands. Either way, I did enjoy spinning it, and I would definitely buy more fibre from Sheepish Creations in the future.

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I’m quite pleased to have gotten the sock weight yarn I was aiming for. The white strand laid across the top of the skein in the close-up shot below is a commercial sock yarn (Opal, one of the ones I think of as “standard” sock yarn) – and while the Opal is four-ply and my handspun is two-ply, it’s about the same thickness overall. 348 yards should be almost enough for a pair of socks, but I think I might use a different yarn for the toes, heels, and cuffs to make sure that I won’t come up short. Yet another drawback of having surprisingly long feet…

Of course, that might mean I have to buy some more sock-blend fibre in a coordinating colour. *innocent face* I’ll keep my eyes open for that if I go to Rhinebeck this year!

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Over the weekend I finished spinning the Purple Pansies singles, and so yesterday (Monday) I sat down at the wheel to ply. This is perhaps my least favourite part of the whole process: pull out a length of singles, treadle a certain number of times, let the newly plied yarn wind onto the bobbin, repeat ad infinitum. Boooo-ring!

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I’ll admit that I’m enjoying watching how the colours are lining up in the yarn. The distinct stripes of the singles become muted, especially so in this stuff because purple and golden-orange are on opposite sides of the colour wheel. There are three ways that the colours can come together: orange/white, purple/white, and orange/purple – and of course, at some point, it’s possible that two orange or two purple sections of singles will line up with each other. It hasn’t happened yet, though.

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The yarn looks like a light fingering weight, based on the leader of sock yarn that you can see on the bottom-left there. It might poof up a bit after it’s had a bath and a good thwack against the side of the tub. Eventually, I’ll get around to knitting it into a pair of socks… someday!

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Over the weekend I finished the first half of the Purple Pansies. I’m really pleased with this spin; despite the short staple length I’m not finding the fibre particularly difficult to work with, and the singles are coming out reasonably even. I’m a little tempted to chain-ply each half to keep the colours and striping clean, but then I don’t think there’d be enough yardage for a pair of socks, so I’ll stick to the original two-ply plan. Purple and orange together make muddy brown, but it should still be interesting to see how the colours will come together in the final yarn.

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And of course, I watched the end of the Tour. Here’s Chris Froome and the rest of Team Sky celebrating his victory with a photo-op moment, not long before riding into Paris. I’m so impressed at their ability to ride more than two thousand miles (3,519 kilometres) over three weeks – and that the entirety of the team finished the whole Tour! It’s made me want to go for a road ride myself, except for that the heat index has been between 105-110 degrees F (40-43 C) all weekend, and the heat wave isn’t supposed to let up for quite some time.

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It feels very strange this morning not to be putting the Tour coverage on. I’m going to try to finish the second bobbin of Purple Pansies this week, and remember how much I enjoy spinning so that I don’t go so many months without touching the wheel again! There’s been so much to take care of with the new house – but now nearly everything is unpacked, almost all of the windows have curtains, I’ve had blinds installed in the living room, and it’s not yet time to worry about painting the walls. I’m starting to settle into a good routine, so I should be able to get back to the fibre.

On an administrative note, apparently the plugin I use to share posts on social media was setting everything on G+ to private, and I had no idea. In addition, G+ doesn’t allow you to retroactively edit the sharing settings of a post. How silly is that? I think I’ve fixed the problem now, but if you’re one of my G+ followers, you might want to come visit the blog directly – there are posts you’ve missed! (Does anyone even use G+? I’d mostly forgotten it existed at all, to be honest…)

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With a week left in Le Tour, I dove into the stash and came up with this beautiful fibre from Sheepish Creations that I bought at the end of 2013. The colourway is called “Purple Pansies,” and it’s a blend of 60% superwash merino,
30% bamboo, and 10% nylon. That kind of fibre blend just cries out to be spun into sock yarn, doesn’t it? So I didn’t spend too much time wondering about how I was going to spin this one.

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The purples and golds are splotched onto the white fibre in a nice distribution, though not in a regular pattern. That made it easy for me to decide how to split it; I simply folded it in half and tore it, and I’m spinning each half end-to-end without paying any mind to how the colour plays out. When the two strands are plied together, there should be some interesting spirals and striping as the colours line up and separate again.

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Because I mean for this stuff to become socks eventually, I’m spinning with a lot of twist (but not so much that it feels like wire) with a short forward draw. I usually prefer a backwards draw, but the staple length here is short enough that I feel as if the strand is always just about to pull free, even with the brake tension set very lightly so the wheel isn’t tugging at the new yarn too much. It feels like slow going, but on the plus side, I find it a lot easier to spin evenly when I’m not going too quickly.

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I had a much-needed weekend of being a hermit, and of course that included starting each day with a good breakfast, watching Le Tour, and then lots of spinning. (I also put away my laundry, did some other chores around the house, and went to the gym – but it was just so good and necessary to have a weekend all to myself!)

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On Sunday I finished spinning and skeined up the three colours of Ashland Bay merino/tussah blend, ending up with around 115 yards of each one. The yarn still needs to be washed, but it’s around sport weight. Having two almost-equal skeins of each color will make it easier to knit paired items, should I choose to do that – though I have no idea what I’m going to use this for.

350 yards is too much for a hat, but not enough for a shawl. It would be more than enough for armwarmers – possibly even two pair if they aren’t super long ones. Ideas are more than welcome! What would you make with this yarn?

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When I bought the fibre, I was in the mood for stranded colourwork. However, there isn’t a lot of contrast between the purple and teal yarn. This is easiest to see by looking at the picture in grayscale; you can barely tell the two apart. That means they wouldn’t really show up well next to each other, and the white yarn would have to be used as the contrast colour between them. For inspiration, I’m looking at patterns like the Dither socks and Dither scarf, where one colour is gradually worked into the next.

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My Tour de Fleece got off to a slow start, but this weekend I picked up the pace. I’m starting with this Ashland Bay merino/tussah blend that I picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool way back in 2011. I have two ounces each of three colourways, so I split each one into quarters to make two equal skeins of two-ply yarn. The blend of colours in the purple one (“Concord”) is fantastic – and yes, all that does come out to be a heathery purple, as you can see in the plied yarn below.

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I like to watch the Tour de France while I spin. On Sunday morning I first watched the F1 race and then the Tour stage, and listened to the purr of the Sonata as the riders climbed up yet another mountain and complained about the spectators who run alongside them on the road. Some of them do get frighteningly close!

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By the end of the weekend, I’d spun and plied all of the purple and half of the white (the colourway is actually called “Lilac”.) The third colour is a dark teal blend named “MacKenzie”. As usual, there aren’t any plans for what to do with the finished yarn, which seems to be plying up at a sport or DK weight. A hat? Armwarmers?

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Then I get the fun of choosing the next fibre to spin and which wheel to spin it on – last weekend I unpacked the Schacht-Reeves, which has come through the dangers of moving house completely unscathed, and is all set up and ready to go. I’d have to carry it down two flights of stairs into the living room if I wanted to spin and watch the Tour at the same time, though.

Speaking of “unscathed,” did I mention that I had to glue the Sonata back together? The upright had split where the rod for the mother-of-all drops in, almost certainly because I’d overtightened it too many times. (Hey Kromski: it would be a significant design improvement to have a metal sleeve in that hole.) I repurposed one of the syringes that I usually use to transfer ink, and injected wood glue into the crack, then clamped it and left it to dry. Now you can barely tell where the crack had been, and I’m being much more careful about tightening the screw – though that does mean the MOA is more prone to shifting around.

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