Saturday, 27 July 2013


I'm spending part of the weekend at my parents house. The annual Sunflower Festival is on this weekend with lots of fun activities like the Sunflower Queen pageant, free pancake breakfast, petting zoo, stage entertainment, and a firefighter competition.  All of that sounds... well to be honest, it was great when I was younger but I have other things in mind when I come out here to visit these days.

We're planning on going to the parade later, and there's also the quilt show which my mom is a huge part of so we'll go check that out too.  For now though, I'm going to think about the hundreds of people  standing in line for mediocre pancakes and greasy sausages (cue cries of "But they're free!!!"), and have another cup of coffee.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 #6

The Tour de Fleece is over and I have accomplished my goals.  Okay technically the last day is tomorrow but I'm busy tomorrow and wanted to make sure I got this done in time!

I plied up my yarn finally a couple of nights ago.  I tried so hard to get it all to fit on one bobbin, but my bobbins are just a bit too small for that, so the last of it had to go on a second bobbin.

It's not really a big deal, it's just a little bit annoying.  As this fibre was not superwash, it is feltable, so when skeining it up using my niddy noddy, I just felt the ends together to make one continuous strand.  No problems.

Here's a close up shot because it's so pretty (this picture is also currently the wallpaper on my phone).

I'm kinda thrilled with the yarn.  I wasn't sure at first how all of the colours would look all mashed together, but I think it totally works.  It really does kinda look like a big pile of colourful leaves, the kind that you just want to dive right into, consequences be damned!  I'm not sure what this will be yet, but for now I'm quite happy to put it in my yarn cabinet with the others so I can look at how pretty it is.

As a side note, all of the pictures in this post were taken and edited with the Galaxy S4, no extra apps required.  That simple fact means that blogging will be much easier as the pictures it takes seem to be just as good as the one my camera takes.  And finding my camera, taking the pictures, plugging in the camera, uploading the pictures, and then editing them is just SO much work.  First world problems, am I right?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 #5

Both bobbins of the Autumn Leaves bfl have now been spun.  They have yet to be plied, but they are spun.

The rapid colour changes were so much fun that I spun the entire bobbin over the course of basically two spinning sessions, which was quite a bit faster than the last two yarns that I spun.  I didn't think I was pushing myself, but I finished spinning that one up on Sunday and I haven't spun since because my hand has been hurting a bit.  Hrm.  I will get around to plying soon enough I'm sure, probably tomorrow...

Tonight, I'm busy.

I've had my iPhone 4 for nearly 3 years now.  For the last few months I have been thinking about the date looming in the future when my contract on the iPhone is up and I'd be able to get a new phone.  However usually when I thought about it, it was to think "No, I'm not going to get a new phone.  I really like my phone and it does what I need it to do and it has treated me well.  Why would I upgrade?"  But then, last week, a couple of thoughts popped into my head.  They were, in order, "Haha, if I got a new phone it would totally make the Enabler jealous," and "Oooooh, shiny...."

After some soul searching and comparison shopping and realizing that I was ready to make the break from Apple (at least where phones are concerned), I decided to go check out the phones at Costco yesterday.  I wasn't planning on buying, but after talking to the helpful dude at wireless counter and the realization of the good deal I would get and the excellent plan they were offering and so on and so forth, I took the plunge.

To tell the truth, the box pictured above is actually for my second S4.  Shortly after beginning to set up and play with the first one, I discovered a dead pixel that was nearly in the centre of the screen.  It was so (im)perfectly located, that when I was watching a movie just to test it out, the dead pixel was smack dab in the middle of someone's forehead about 90% of the time.  It's amazing that on something with  2,073,600 pixels, one dead one can drive you absolutely crazy.  So a quick trip back to Costco today and I have my second new phone in as many days!  When I showed the phone to the sales guy, he was more disturbed by the dead pixel than I was.

Tonight I'm going to spend some time setting it up.  It's not as quick to get working smoothly as an iPhone of course, but I think it will be worth it.

Also... shiny!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 #4

When dealing with fibre, the best way to measure how much you have is by weight.  Every spinner either learns this very early on or knows it intuitively.  However, I learned something else about spinning this week.  I learned that when you take a braid of fibre (which, once unravelled is just one long strand of fibres), and split it down the middle lengthwise to make two strands, these strands will not necessarily be the same weight, even if you take painstaking care to try to split it exactly in half.  The purpose of splitting it exactly in half is that if you spin one half onto one bobbin, and the other half onto a second bobbin, if you spin evenly and consistently between the two bobbins, the colours should match up when you ply them and you will have a self-striping yarn.

After my last post I still wasn't sure whether I was going to spin my fibre to be self striping as above, or spin it fractally.  So, I decided to split my fibre and spin up one bobbin, during which time I could decide whether I wanted to keep the second half as it was, or split it further to create shorter colour changes for the second ply.

When I had split the fibre and had two long strands I decided to weigh the two halves to make sure they were even.  I switched my kitchen scale to grams (instead of ounces) for as much accuracy as possible. Alas, from 118 grams of fibre, I had made two strands equalling 118 grams, however they were certainly not halves.  One strand was 66 grams, the other was 52.  In fibre land, that's a big difference.  As I had absolutely no idea how to split the strands again to make the two strands equal (it may sound easy to do but it's really not, fibre is a funny thing), I realized that my decision of whether to fractal spin or not had already been made for me.

I took some fibre off of the end of the 66 gram strand and added it to the end of the 52 gram strand, so then I had one with 60 grams and one with 58 grams.  I figured that was close enough, and then spun it up over the next few days.

I don't know why this picture won't centre properly.

With that finished as of last night, I set about to splitting up the second half.  

I had intended to split the second half into three strands, however after splitting as carefully as I could into three strands, I had one of 26 grams, one of 20 grams, and one of 14 grams.  Seriously, I don't know how spinners do this accurately!  Am I over-thinking it?

Anyway, I quickly realized that if I split the 26 gram strand into two, I'd have two 13 gram strands which was pretty close to 14, and then the 20 gram strand would just be... well... whatever.

So then I had four strands.  However, you guessed it, I couldn't split the 26 gram strand evenly either.  So the final tally is that I have one of 11 grams, one of 14 grams, one of 15 grams, and one of 20 grams.

My plan now is that I'm just going to spin them in order of smallest to largest, and my eventual finished yarn will have colour changes that get slightly longer throughout.  I know it doesn't have to be perfect, and I'm really not striving for perfection.  But I feel like splitting the stupid fibre really shouldn't be the part of spinning that is most difficult for me.

Oh well, hooray for mediocrity!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 #3

So the Tour de France is about halfway done, which means the Tour de Fleece is about halfway done as well.  This post means that I am now halfway done my Tour de Fleece goals (which were meagre, but that's not the point), so I am on pace to finish on time!

To recap, my goal was to post 6 times during the Tour, and to spin at least two braids of fibre.  This is post #3, so that part of the goal is on track.

As for the other part, I have successfully turned this:

Into this.

It seems to be around 450 m of fingering weight, which is far more yardage than I've managed to get out of anything so far.  This was the braid of sweet georgia merino + silk.  So lovely to spin, and I'm really happy with the finished product.  And I'm halfway done this part of the goal too!

Next up is more sweet georgia, this time a 4 oz braid of bfl (blue-faced leicester) fibre.  This is the one that I got in October in last year's fibre of the month club.  The colourway is called Autumn Leaves, which looks about right.

I know it's not fall or anything, but if I spin this up now, then theoretically I could knit something out of it for fall, right?  I'm thinking mittens, perhaps fingerless.  The colours are quite stunning, together and on their own, but I don't think I want to just spin this one willy nilly. I think I'm going to try to do this one self-striping, with fairly long solid colour blocks, as that is something I haven't tried doing before.

The easiest way to do the striping would probably be to fractal spin it, but I'm not sure if I want to fractal spin this one.  I think it might look best if the two plies match colours all the way through, but I'm not totally sure.  I'm going to split the whole thing lengthwise down the middle and start on one of the halves, so there is still time for me to contemplate.

If you think I should fractal spin this, let me know!  Don't let me make the wrong decision!  If I bugger up the spinning of this, it will all be your fault.  YOUR fault.  Not mine.

Whew, pressure's off, time to start spinning.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 #2

So we are one week into the Tour de Fleece, and I am really glad that I didn't set crazy goals for myself.  I didn't make a whole lot of progress on the spinning front this week, as I was either working overtime or had evening plans nearly every day.  It was a great week though (except for the whole having to work thing but we don't need to talk about that!), so I'm really not complaining.

I got to see lots of family and friends, and eat lots of amazing food.  Basically when I'm not thinking about knitting, talking about knitting, or actually knitting, I am thinking about food, talking about food, or eating the food.  It's a good life, what can I say?

I went for a delicious sushi dinner at Naru Sushi with my BFF on Wednesday, followed by bubble tea at Kawaii Crepe which was also delicious.  I don't have any pictures of anything because I was too busy shoving everything into my face hole.  It was not a pretty sight.  Actually I'm not sure about that, luckily I don't have to look at myself eating sushi.  But I can imagine that I wouldn't look very cute doing it.  

The notable item that I ordered (and ate ALL of... except one piece that I had to share), was called the Island Roll.  I ordered it mostly because the description intrigued me, but it ended up being quite delicious.  It was peanut butter, tempura crumbs, cucumber, and BACON.  Then if that weren't mind blowing enough on its own, it was topped with smoked salmon, avocado, bbq eel, and unagi sauce.  It was the peanut butter that drew me in, and the bacon that sold me.  It definitely worked.  Honestly, I'll order pretty much anything if it has bacon in it.

Then yesterday the Enabler and I went for dinner with some friends to Bistro 7 1/4.  I'd been there a year ago and it was amazing, so I had high expectations for the return trip.  None of the other three members of the group had ever been there, so I was hoping that my recommendation was a good one.

One of their specialties is moule et frites (mussels and fries), and the other thing they do well is small plates, so we decided as a group to just order some mussels and bunch of small plates and share everything.  It's never certain how something like that will work, but it actually worked really well.  Most things were easily dividable into four portions, and one of the items that only came in threes, they were happy to give us an extra one.  We had scallops with bacon jam, veal and foie gras sliders, duck fat potatoes, and mussels with beer, bacon, and cheese.  There were other dishes too, and every single dish was incredible.  None of them had ever had mussels before, but apparently when something is covered in beer and cheese and bacon and cream, it lessens the apprehension.  We ate everything.  After we had eaten all the food, and even though none of us had room, we still decided to have dessert. Why?  Because there was a dessert that had bacon in it.  It was a maple bacon blondie with ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce, and pretzel pieces.  It was exactly as delicious as it sounds (which is super delicious).  Somehow we managed to roll out of there and make it home, but I will admit that I was not hungry this morning, which for me is an occurrence as rare as steak tartare.

Ok, so this isn't turning into a food blog, so I guess I should throw in some pictures and talk about some spinning.

Well... as I already mentioned I didn't spin as much as I wanted to this week.  I finished one bobbin of the fibre I started spinning last weekend, and am not quite halfway through the second bobbin.

I guess I want to finish the second bobbin and ply them in the next few days?  Next update will probably be after that happens.

So for now I will show pictures of my finished and blocked Hanami.

I love that the two sides are not symmetrical.  One edge has a little ruffle, and the other edge has little beads.  Depending on my mood I can wear it with one side featured more prominently than the other, but both are beautiful.  The only thing is that it's too nice to wear to work, and it's too hot outside to wear it most days anyway.  I guess this will have to either wait until fall or until I'm dressed up and inside with the air conditioning turned up.

One last thing for today, because apparently this is a food blog after all.  The Enabler and his buddy started brewing a couple of batches of mead a couple of weeks ago.  One of them is a cherry vanilla mead.  Today was the day that he transferred it from a carboy that had all the cherries in it into a new one with no cherries, and added the vanilla beans.  It looks like this.

Maybe that doesn't look good to you, but I gotta say I'm looking forward to drinking it in... 6 months or so.  Stupid mead and its long fermentation time...  Guess I'll have to find something else to drink (for now).


Monday, 1 July 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 #1

Summer has officially started, and so has the Tour de Fleece.  For those of you who do not know, the Tour de Fleece is an annual event that runs during the Tour de France, this year from June 29 - July 21.  According to the Tour de Fleece page on ravelry, it was started in 2006 by Star Athena who is a knitter, spinner, designer, etc.  Since then it has grown immensely.  I've heard about it for the last couple of years, but this is the first year that I am participating (since I just got my wheel in August of last year).

The idea is to spin every day that the cyclists are riding, if possible.  Many spinners will set a specific goal for themselves that they wish to achieve during the Tour.  For example, to spin a certain amount of yardage, a certain weight of fibre, or a specific type of yarn.

I do not have a goal that is set in stone, and I'm not one to post on the ravelry forums or join one of the (many) teams that people have formed.  My goal is basically just to spin as many days that I can, to spin at least two of the braids of fibre I have in my stash, and to update the blog six times during the tour.  Achievable, but it will still be a challenge (for me).  I don't want to go crazy with the spinning, because I have heard about people going so overboard with the spinning during the tour that they have given themselves serious injuries.  I have a desk job where I sit at a computer for 8 hours a day, so I don't need any help in giving myself injuries.  I certainly don't want something I enjoy to be the cause of an injury!

Since I hadn't spun in awhile, I thought it might be wise to warm up a bit before the actual Tour started.  I had a bobbin of sweet georgia panda fibre in the tumbled stone colourway that I had spun a couple of months ago, so I decided that was the place to start.

I spun up the second bobbin over a few days this last week.

After both were done, I plied them together and wound it into a skein.

I'm pretty happy with it.  It's not quite as much yardage as I was hoping for, but it's still pretty good.  It's about 325 m of fingering/sport weight merino/bamboo/nylon.  It's super soft and shiny, and it was lovely to spin!  I will definitely be getting more of this fibre in the future.

So, with the warm up complete, I had to choose my Tour fibres.  First I decided to spin some more sweet georgia, this time merino+silk in the spruce colourway.  I felt it was an appropriate choice since I was taking the wheel along with me to my friend's cabin where we spent most of the long weekend.

I didn't actually manage to start spinning on the actual start day of June 29, but I got some good spinning time in yesterday.

I spun half a bobbin and then had to stop since my arm was starting to get a little bit sore.  I will do some more today, but probably not a lot.  Good thing I've built up my knitting muscles, so if my arm starts hurting again I can just switch to knitting!