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As the bikers in the Tour de France started their race thousands of spinners around the world simultaneously began the Tour de Fleece.  I spent the better part of an evening readying the Raven Ridge Targhee Top for my little Jenkins Turkish Delight to spin for the race.  She is such a dream to spin and just keeps spinning on and on all the way until she reaches the floor.  My husband has named her THE TURTLE because he thinks she looks like a turtle as the fiber wraps across the crossbars making a ‘turtle’ hump.

20140706-004859-2939697.jpgThis will be the first time I have tried Fractal spinning and I hope Little Turtle can keep up to the end of the race and finish these 4 oz.   This technique will supposedly help the colors pop better than the method I have thus far used of just splitting in long strips and spinning.  My plan of action to help Little Turtle is to take her with me wherever I go –  have turtle will travel.  I will take photos here and there of her adventures.  Yesterday she went to Summit county to be introduced to some relatives.

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She didn’t much enjoy the winding mountain roads we went on to get there because she kept bumping agains my leg which, of course, makes her stop spinning dead in her tracks.  As we climbed through mountain passes she wanted to sit on my lap.

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Little Turtle was more than relieved when we started up the driveway and she knew that my feet would be planted on solid ground giving her the ability to spin to her heart’s content.  The wildflowers were spectacular as we drove through the meadow and the Blue Columbines in particular were especially prolific.

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Little Turtle enjoyed the beauty from the deck as she twirled around and around although……….the dogs were a little scary and one almost chomped on her.  The big one is used to hunting and I think he thought Little Turtle was an unusual bird and the little one, well….let’s just say he is a ball of energy and wants to taste everything.  It was lots of fun visiting and meeting new family (but when is that baby going to pop out again?)

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The best of the whole day for Little Turtle was when she got to rest in the Turtle box and sleep the whole way home.  I let her do that because she worked hard the first day of the Tour de Fleece. Her Bossie friend wanted to spin while she slept.

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Little Turtle slept through the stop in Breckenridge to visit old friends here from St. Louis.  And,

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What’s this?  Little Turtle was sooooooooooooo sad she missed the most incredible rainbow the old folks had ever seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stumbled Upon 1

Inspiring, motivational, fun and crafty links to round out your week and put coat hangers in your brain.

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101 Household Tips for Every Room in Your Home and I think I want to try at least 67 of them.

Fancy winding on a Turkish spindle will show you how to make the beautiful God’s Eye pattern and maximize the amount of fiber on your spindle.

And let’s not neglect our top whorl spindles they need to be packed full, too!

Ever wanted to know how to join a new ball of yarn without a know?

Take a peak into a 1950′s sewing cabinet.

The Psychology of Color is actually pretty fascinating and makes me want to paint a few rooms.

Have you ever had a very special skein of yarn or braid of fiber that your eyes feast upon?  It is so beautiful that you are almost afraid to knit or spin with it because it such a delight to the eyes.  Sometimes it is all about color and letting it take the forefront instead of whatever it is you knit from that fiber.  I have a beautiful braid of fiber from Fiber Optics and it is a feast of color.  The colors are so deep and brilliant that they remind me of some of the great paintings by Titian or Raphael, not so much in the colors these famous painters used but in the sense that no photograph can do the painting true justice.  If you have been fortunate to have seen one of their painting in person then you know exactly what I mean.

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This fantastic fiber gradient blend from Fiber Optics is splendid and, being such, I really don’t want to muddle the colors together when I spin the braid.  I want the color to shine!  I want the colors to stay consistent with how they are represented in the fiber.  I’ve conducted a bit of research and found a way that this can easily be accomplished.  It is all theory to me right now but the Tour de Fleece offers an opportunity to put theory into practice, right?

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I believe I can keep the colors consistent in this Honey to Fig gradient if I separate the fiber into color breaks.  I’m documenting this sequence here in pictures so I can remember the order in which to spin them in.

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My next step was to divide each color breaks into four equal strips.  Doing this will also help me keep this spinning project more manageable.  The strips have been put into ziplock bags to keep everything orderly and now they are ready for the start of the race.

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After spinning all of the fiber onto one bobbin I will use the technique of Navajo plying.  This will allow the colors to stay consistent.  Navajo plying produces a 3ply through the process of pulling the fiber through loops and let it ply back on itself.  My one attempt doing this ended in disaster so my Bosworth Mini spindle twins are spinning Greenwood Fiber pigtails so that I can practice before I even touch the Fiber Optic very special fiber.

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I will be spinning this luscious fiber on my Schacht Matchless spinning wheel for TEAM SCHACHT.  Next step…….finish plying the bobbin on my Matchless so she can start this next project.  I have a perfect pattern in mind to knit with the finished yarn that will allow the color to speak volumes but will keep it tucked away for now.  And, it will be fun to knit!

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It has been a while since I have joined Ginny and her peeps for a Wednesday Yarn Along.  My reading has been all about spinning these last weeks in preparation for the worldwide Tour de Fleece which starts Saturday and runs through the end of the month.  The knitting books are all reference books and I am scouring the pages researching ‘seaming’.


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The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin initially spoke a foreign tongue to me but now that spinning has settled into my life and I am more routine about it, the instruction within the pages is making more sense.  I went to her book to find out what kind of fiber she recommended for hand-knit socks.  I blogged about what I learned a few posts ago so will not belabor your reading with more details.  I know, if you are on a Yarn Along, you are quickly reading through the posts and compiling a new reading list for yourselves.  Alas, I have no fiction to share with you today but if you are a spinner be sure to jot down this book.  The author is a guru in the world of spinning.  Her books and videos are fabulous and a DVD comes with this book.

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The first half of the book speaks of the nature of fibers.  The author says fibers can be divided into three main groups and the following chapters explore the properties of those fibers.  In case you are wondering, the three main groups are cellulose-based, protein-based and manufactured.  Cellulose fibers are plant based flax, hemp, nettle, ramie, etc.  The protein fibers are my favorite because they come from goats, camels, alpacas, llamas, vicuñas, angora rabbits, bison, yaks, quiviuts, and silk worms.  I probably left one out…..oh yeah…..SHEEP.

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The second half of Intentional Spinner speaks of all kinds of spinning techniques. This is the nitty gritty and the pages are full of information on different drafting techniques, plying techniques and designing yarns.  I believe this book can be used by beginners and advanced spinners alike and there will always be a new bit of information every time you read it.

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I won’t show my knitting today because I am psyching myself up for the Tour de Fleece!  My feet are ready to start this wheel moving!

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Procrastination

I remember many years ago, as a computer programmer, it was required that I had to turn in time estimates when working on projects.  As a team, all our estimates needed to be fairly accurate or we would jeopardize the critical time-frames of our teammates  and this would reflect poorly on the whole team.  Well, back then, I was pretty good at figuring out how long it would take to write and test a program but nowadays I stink at time estimates.

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I thought for sure that I could whip out the Knit Witch Shawl for Camp Loopy’s first camp project but I missed that goal by a long shot.  I was certain I could whip out a pair of socks for the Sock Stash Buster June Challenge but only yesterday cast on the second Embossed Leaves sock, and tomorrow begins the next month’s challenge.  But I believe the goal that I feel most defeated in is my Master Hand Knitting Level 2 course.

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Recently TKGA released a revision of Level Two and when I logged into my MHK2 Ravelry project page to reflect this I noticed that it had been exactly a year since I had purchased this level.  My original goal was to finish within a year and here I sit muddling my way through the first swatches on finishing techniques.  I don’t enjoy the finishing process so it is no wonder I am at a stalemate doing these initial swatches.

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I have been thinking a lot about procrastination this week.  I have been wondering why I procrastinate when the outcome of whatever I am procrastinating about will bring me joy when that task is completed.  It is a mystery to me.  For instance, I don’t like to sew seams when I finish a hand knit garment so I procrastinate on knitting and seaming those swatches. But, isn’t the whole reason these swatches are incorporated into the course in the first place is so that you will properly know what type of seaming to do for certain projects and how to do them?

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I procrastinate about planting flowers in my many outside flowerpots.  Wouldn’t I enjoy the beauty of those flowers immensely once they are potted?

Likewise, I procrastinate about cleaning out my refrigerator, in particular that spilled congealed stuff under the crisper.  I sigh every time I open the refrigerator. Wouldn’t the deep sighing stop if I would stop procrastinating and get it cleaned out?  Wouldn’t I have a smile on my dial instead?

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I have been procrastinating about entering my receipts into Quicken for well over a week and they are overflowing from my purse.  Every time I stuff another receipt into my purse I groan, especially if I have to bend down and pick up one that shot out of my purse.  Wouldn’t I have more JOY if I just did it and balanced the check book?  Afterall, I always like reconciling that last entry, clicking the button and seeing everything zero out.

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JOY.  There is that word again that keeps cropping up in my life!  And the truth of the matter is this - Procrastination is a JOY-stealer and it downright makes you tired.  I made a procrastination list this afternoon whist sitting at the allergist and THIS WEEK will start getting those JOY-stealers finished and crossed off the list.  What about you?  Do you have things you procrastinate about?  Make a list and tell a friend.  I have a friend who knows my list and is going to keep me honest.

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A joyful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

I have not seen one single mountain bluebird yet this summer and this morning, as I was reading an excellent article about procrastination on Ann Voskamp’s blog, the mountain bluebirds came to mind.  You see, I remembered that I had not repaired some of their bluebird boxes around the property and, since they are cavity nesters, they had no ready home to nest in.   No wonder I haven’t seen them.

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Male Mountain Bluebird

I had the mountain bluebirds on my mind last night when I selected some combed Targhee top for my Jenkins spindle to spin in the 2014 Tour de Fleece.  This top comes from Montana and is aptly named ‘Mountain Bluebird.’  The colors are identical to the brilliant blues of the male bluebird and likewise, the softer tones in it resemble the female bluebird’s coloring.  When I saw this beautiful combed top I concluded the Mountain Bluebirds in Montana must look just like the ones we have here in Colorado.  Their brilliant and stunning blue catches your attention right away should you be fortunate enough to have one fly nearby, especially the bright turquoise of the males.

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I will be spinning on several teams for the Tour de Fleece spin-along during the Tour de France. They spin, we spin. A real spinning-themed spin-along.  The concept is to challenge yourself, spin and have fun.  It will start on Saturday, July 5th and run until Sunday, July 27th.  My goal is to spin every day the Tour rides.  I will rest on the days they rest, just like the actual tour.  On their tough challenge day I will have my own spinning challenge.  On Sunday, July 27th you will find me wearing yellow to announce victory no matter how small that victory might be.  I’m still working on my plan and trying to set realistic goals for these three weeks in July.

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The first team I am spinning on is Team Jenkins.  

  • My goal is to spin 20-30 minutes a day on my Turkish Delight (third from the left in the photo above)
  • I will spin a new fiber that I have never tried before – Targhee in a combed top, a good choice for socks
  • My Challenge will be to wind the singles onto my new nøstepinne and ply from those center-pull balls

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Nøstepinne

I bought a nøstepinne last night at spinning group.  Nøstepinne.  I love that word.  noh-ste-pin.

Up until last night I knew they existed but I didn’t really know what they were used for.  I actually thought it was some kind of spindle, perhaps a type of Russian supported spindle.  Last night my friend and I were admiring the wooden beauty of several nøstepinnes in our LYS as we waited for all the spinners to arrive.  We asked the shop owner what a nøstepinne was and she told me it was the traditional way to wind center-pull balls before there were the current day center-pull ball winders.  “Nøstepinne” or “nøstepinde” is the Scandinavian term for a special yarn-winding tool.

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Nøstepinnes are basically a shaped stick of wood.  They can be anything from an elaborate, turned wood piece to the end of a spindle or wooden spoon. When I got home I read that you can use the body of your niddy noddy if one of the heads comes off.  This one is about 12 inches long with a shaped handle to hold (on the right) narrowing down to a neck (on left) where the yarn can be tied on.

I asked why I should use a nøstepinne instead of the ball winder and swift I had at home.  The spinners in the group made a case for the nøstepinne that sold me within minutes.  First of all, they are portable.  Second, they are relatively cheap and fun to collect.  Thirdly, it is part of the history of spinning. Forthly, they can double as a spinning bobbin in a pinch to wind off yarn from a spindle.  Really?  That last idea had me brainstorming all the way home last night.

My two Jenkins turkish spindles, by the very nature of their design and the mechanics of winding on, will produce a center pull ball when the cross arms are removed and will be all ready for plying.

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But as I spin on my Cascade Mt. St. Helens the fiber is wrapped around the shaft and will need to be removed after the shaft is full.  From there it is wound around a ball or wound with the ball winder to make a center-pull ball.  Why not use a nøstepinne for this?  Yes!  They make a perfect portable pair!  If fact, I am wondering if you had several nøstepinnes, as in “collecting” them, why could you not put them into a shoebox drilled with holes and plied directly from the shaft of the nøstepinne itself.

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A perfect little match So together like a hand and glove…….. (that song has been in my head the whole time I have been writing this post)

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And, they even fit in the Paris box together — at least for now.  I guess after I get more spun unto the St. Helens there might not be room for the nøstepinne.  But then, there will also be less fiber to spin in the box.

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Anyone have any nøstepinne experiences they want to share?  I will have to spin a little more until I can try this “gadget” of olden times out!  Hopefully, with a little practice, I will be able to quickly and easily wind a beautiful center-pull ball of yarn using no more than this simple, but beautiful, tool.  I know it will take some practice to wind neatly and evenly but it seems like a pleasant enough pastime

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