Tour de Fleece - sort of

>> Thursday, July 29, 2010

In June we were watching the FIFA World Cup. Bradley was waking up early every morning to watch it before going to work. Then that was overlapped with the beginning of the Tour de France and he started watching that every morning. Now that it's over I kind of miss it. How likeable is Andy Schleck??

So I had heard about the Tour de Fleece but never participated. If you Google it you'll find lots of blogs with spinning posts. It's just like the Knitting Olympics but for spinning. You set yourself a spinning goal and spin while the Tour de France is on.

This year I unofficially joined up with the goal to finish up a few spinning projects. I had little bundles of spindles with partly spun roving stashed all over the house. So now I can show you some more of my finished yarn!

I've decided that with all the work I was doing spinning fine (and trying to be even) singles, I would try keeping more of my yarn as singles. I like having thinner yarn and more yardage. A single isn't as strong as plied yarn but depending on what you're making it can be fine. And they're so pretty!
The first skein I finished was a silvery grey corriedale that was part of my birthday present from Bradley. It's a nice fat skein, kept as a single ply with just a wash to set the twist. (When yarn is freshly spun the twist is still "active" so setting the twist means finishing the yarn so that it's ready to be knit or crocheted.)

I can't remember if I've explained how I set the twist, but all I do is wind the yarn onto a pair of purse handles and soak it for a while in warm water. I add a little bit of hand soap (Body Shop Satsuma) just so it smells nice. This also washes the yarn a bit extra in case the fleece wasn't perfectly clean beforehand. Then I rinse the wool, gently squeeze (not wring) out the excess water, whack the skein against the side of the sink - just a couple of times - then hang the yarn to dry. I put a light washcloth inside the loop of yarn so that it doesn't tangle and I find it helps absorb some of the water so that it dries faster. If the weather is nice I hang the skein in our backyard - a skein dried in the open air has a lovely fresh smell.
The second skein I finished was the Rusty Ship merino that I dyed myself. I had spun half of it already and it was sitting on a bobbin. I love how this one turned out. Keeping the singles makes the colours more distinct, with just a little subtle candy-caning (ie. two colours twisted together for a candy cane stripe effect).

Here's a detail:
Then lastly, I finished a nice rich brown Shetland from Lettuce Knit. I love Shetland, it's lovely to spin and the finished yarn is soft and cushiony.
It feels good to get some WIPs all finished. Also I like having some nice skeins ready for the fall when I'll start to feel like making some new winter knits.
But today was not all good, someone took a big bite out of our first homegrown tomato! Bradley planted peas, carrots and beets this year, and I planted some already started tomato plants from our local market and a herb garden. Everything seems really slow to grow, and we finally had one of the tomatos turn a little bit orange.. and just as I was thinking I should probably bring it in, there it was this morning with a big bite! Boo.


Lacy camera case

>> Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I know I've been neglecting my blog when I find cobwebs on my camera tripod. Sorry to have been away so long! I had a tight illustration deadline that was keeping me busy and after a couple of weeks I tend to get out of the habit. As usual I can't show you the artwork until the project is published so I'll try to remember to show you later on.

Incidentally I've started getting a lot of "advertising" comments on my blog which means a comment that's really just a link to a business. Some of the businesses are.. um.. not family friendly.. and it can take ages to delete tons of these automated comments so I've had to add moderation to any comments on posts older than 2 weeks. This means that sometimes I don't see comments right away because the moderated comments only show up when I log in to write a new post. So sorry for delays answering any questions. I usually just reply on the same post where you left the comment/question so you can look for that, but you can also just email me directly, my email is there on the sidebar. Or include your email with the comment. As always comments are appreciated - it reminds me that people do actually read my blog!

So anyway, I was at a wedding with a friend recently who noticed my small handmade camera bag. I had made it years ago and it seems a little wonky to me, but she liked it and wanted me to make one for her. She has a typical bulky black leather/vinyl? bag and wanted a smaller one. It was good timing as lately she's been giving me lots of nice old sewing things, vintage transfer patterns, and bags of bias tape, trim, zippers and buttons, so it was a perfect chance to say thank you!

I love when people find old sewing things and ask me if I'd like them. "Are you sure you want this?" "If you don't want this stuff you can just give it to Goodwill.." I love that. They always seem surprised at how thrilled I am.
When I designed the camera bag for my friend I decide it was time to update my own and these are the results. It's a really nice thick soft wool that helps cushion the camera a bit. The colour didn't come out right in the photos and I can't seem to fix it. It's a bit more rich and warm.. Anyway I'm loving this teal blue lately. The floral print was actually a scrap from Jen Anisef leftover at one of the Workroom Trunk shows (thank you Jen!).
The inside is green seersucker. I like seersucker, there's something about it that makes me nostalgic, something comforting about the texture.

Then the outside is embellished with a bit of antique lace from the Sunday Market. I collect these things incessantly so I'm always happy when the right project comes along to use them. I just can't turn down a mason jar full of buttons or a bundle of vintage bias tape or lace.
The overall pattern is modelled on the wristlets I've been making lately with squared bottom corners. The wool is so thick that it was hard to sew with too many layers, so it worked out better having the lining fabric overlap the top to finish it. It kind of looks like a basket liner.

Anyway I now have a camera bag that I love!


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