Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You Can't Stop Progress

Three days down on the Tour de Fleece and...a whole lot to go. I'm starting to think my goal may be a little ambitious. It wasn't that hard to go through 2 oz a day back when I was spinning super-bulky yarn, but now that I'm getting things down a little finer, it kind of takes a while.

That said, I'm still on schedule. Yesterday, I took advantage of my day off and spun until my toes were numb. I finished the singles for the first batch of fiber, and after letting those sit until late evening, I went ahead and plied them. I ended up with probably about a 160 yards of 2-ply from the Falkland wool in colorway Field of Screams.

Tour de fleece 2010 - 017

I haven't checked the wpi yet, but based on the yardage I'm guessing it's about heavy worsted,

Next up was some wensleydale fiber in Cold Front.

Tour de fleece 2010 - 019

Beautiful - especially when you draft it out so that it's all watercolory. I love the look of predrafted fleece (but I didn't photograph any of it, so use your imagination.

I had some serious trouble with this stuff. I'm not sure if it's just a difficult fiber or if it's just very, very different from the Falkland. The Falkland spun a lot like BFL, but the wensleydale is a super long staple fiber, and pretty slick, so it took a while to get used to. My singles were falling apart at first. I think I've gotten the hang of it now. This is spinning out super fine, but I'm watching it as carefully as I can to make sure it gets enough twist to hold together. We'll find out how successful I was when I ply. Anyway, I got one bobbin finished.

Tour de fleece 2010 - 018

In non-Tour related spinning, here is the blue and white yarn I spun before the Tour started.

Tour de fleece 2010 - 015

And, though I am spinning like a fiend, I have not completely neglected the knitting. I finally unpinned Merope, which was pinned out blocking for practically a week before I let it off the wires. Oops. Oh well, It looks great. The top edge made it really easy to block.

Knitting - 005

So did the points along the side edges.

Knitting - 003

It's really beautiful, and it's way, way too hot to wear it, so it's going to have to go in my drawer to await cooler times.

Knitting - 004

In the meantime, the next shawl in the series has been released. I present Maia in Schafer Audrey (yes, again) colorway Dian Fossey.

Knitting - 001

I'm in love with this project. The yarn is dead perfect. The beads are a great match (although I question whether I should have used size 6 beads rather than 8. Audrey is a heavy laceweight/light fingering yarn so I went with the 6, but I'm thinking the 8 would have been fine. I might be in danger of ripping out and starting over, if the beginning of this wasn't such a huge pain. I seem to have issues with provisional cast ons. I worked the beginning of this shawl three times on Sunday night, and each time I completely failed to properly pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on. Since you knit a full chart after the provisional cast on, with beads, this got a little annoying. I gave up on the Sunday knitting since everything I knit on Sunday turned to trash (more on this later).

When I tried again on Monday, I did the provisional cast on, knit about 3 rows of the chart, and then I put my stitches on a holder, and went back and picked up the provisional cast on. I did this on the theory that if I messed up again, I wouldn't have to reknit the whole first chart again. Since I was now prepared for failure, I of course had no problems. I knit the second chart, put the stitches on a holder, went back and knit the first chart. Problem solved, cast on successful, carry on.

Anyway, the piece is beautiful so far, and my picture doesn't do justice to it. In the right light the yarn practically glows, and the beads are just the right color to be compatible with all the shades of green in the project (they look darker in the picture than they actually are).

My only regret is that I don't own any green stitch markers to make it perfect.

The other project I have on the needles right now is the Follow the Leader Faroese Shawl using Rio de la Plata in a discontinued yarn, in a special colorway from Yarn Market called Paris Rain. I started this to be a semi-mindless project that I could take around with me. Problem is, it doesn't really become mindless until you knit through that shoulder band. Still, it's not hard and I thought I would be fine taking it with me to knit over the festivities for the 4th (since said festivities for us involved a lot of sitting down). I had some trouble at the beginning of the pattern, and I think the reason is that I am most used to seeing a knit two together followed by a yarnover ( O/ ) rather than the other way around ( /O) so I kept getting confused. Well, I sorted it out, but I made a mistake at about the second or third row of the pattern that I didn't see until I had already done three or four rows past it.

Normally, this is not a problem for me - I am a master of dropping stitches to correct a problem. Only, there were some issues with this. One, I didn't have a crochet hook with me. Setting aside that this is poor planning, it's not usually a problem. I can generally make repairs work with just the needle. Two, the stitches that needed fixing had become involved in decreases in the following rows which I would have to undo and repair. Third, and this is really what undid me I think, this is a garter stitch project and not a stockinette project. I find stockinette infinitely easier to ladder up and down.

Now, a smart knitter, a clear-headed knitter, would have put the project down and waited until she could get home and stack the odds in her favor. But I was a knitter sitting out in the heat, with nothing else to work on and the prospect of several more hours of sitting ahead of her. I got desperate. I attempted to ladder the stitches. The attempt failed. I gave up, and decided just to rip back. I did. But in ripping back, I couldn't get the stitches back on the needle properly. So what I have right now is a total mess. I'm thinking I will just rip back the rest of the lace band, pick back up at the eyelet row, and work the whole shoulder band over again. This project did not get a photo because it was in time out.

I have family business to attend to tonight (an inconveniently timed birthday), which means my TdF goal is really in question, but I am technically 2 oz ahead since I spun 2 oz of singles yesterday, which was supposed to be a plying day. Hopefully the setback won't be too detrimental!

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