Monday, July 07, 2008

fiber and food

Just because I work better within an external framework of motivation...I'm doing this thing called Tour de Fleece. It's basically a spin-along with the Tour de France--"they spin, we spin". I actually did get a road bike earlier this year and Friday my big accomplishment was biking out to the neighboring town of Winters and back without dying, a roundtrip of about 30 miles. (The scale of such accomplishment is enhanced by my utter lack of exercise recently...the fires and resulting smoky air being a convenient excuse, though why my lack of exercise in the weeks, months etc before the current fires need not be discussed.) Despite my shiny pink bike (yes, yet another pink bike throws itself under my reluctant legs) and newfound interest in bicycle riding, I have to admit that I have not seen any of the Tour de France last year. And maybe I caught a few clips of the race last year. I did watch part of the Davis Criterium on Friday. Very very fast bicyclists cycling very very close together. Very very fascinating. But lack of TV has proved a deterrent in watching the Tour de France while spinning. Plus I've been busy away from TV land since the Tour started.

Saturday I worked my non-fiber job in the morning (though I did get to pet lots of soft fuzzy creatures) and got out late from work with just enough time to spin up some kid mohair locks before scrambling to make potato salad for my friend's BBQ. I'd previously dyed the locks inspired by a landscape photo which unfortunately I misplaced then mixed up the colors so I have to idea what was my intended original color progression. My Tour de Fleece 2008 kickoff yarn:

Sunday I woke up blasphemously early to catch a ride to the Alameda County Fair with my Sheep-to-shawl team. The county fair was full of inspiring works such as this quilt:

and this knitted lace shawl:
and this bobbin lace bookmark:
Our warp was my favorite yet. It was a beautiful shiny soft Wensleydale fleece, spun up and dyed by our industrious team members (though not by me the too frequently absent member).
After sampling different color combinations, our dyer decided on a deep cranberry color for the weft.
Unfortunately the fleece was somewhat matted which created grave difficulties in carding and slowed us down quite a bit. My three plus hours of spinning yarn for this shawl was my yarn for the day. It was stressful carding, spinning and weaving the shawl in the allotted 4 hours, but we got it off the loom and over to the judging table.
This was our finest shawl yet, 12 ends per inch which means the yarn and resulting fabric was thinner and less coarse and had great drape, even unwashed. Happily, our shawl got a blue ribbon! The finished shawl:

And a detail:

Meanwhile, Aaron's garden is growing well and provided us with corn for the Saturday BBQ.He's also growing corn as part of his field trial. Unfortunately it's silage corn so we won't be inundated with tasty ears of corn. We need to figure out which one of our ag friends are growing what so we can get some of the extras. I wonder if there will be another corn smut party or fresh tamale party this year.

Another sunset shot from the edge of the Experimental College gardens:And at home, my silk yardage is slowly growing. I haven't counted picks per inch because I'm a little scared to estimate how long the whole thing will take, but I know there are more than 48 picks per inch.

I also spun up some more artsy yarn (i.e. not my usual smooth and skinny stuff) after being inspired by Spunmonkey's post on Pluckyfluff Camp. Plus my stash needs to be whittled down prior to moving.

Cat yarn single spun from Scrapper Will's clippings, plied with an alpaca single = catlpaca yarn! Yes I know it's kinda gross looking. But it doesn't smell like wet dog when wet.
Hand dyed blue-faced leicester and soy silk coil yarn:
Finally, an abacus bracelet made with instructions on this tutorial with some of my rare lampworked beads (cause I hate making beads--I just don't care enough if they are symmetrical and beautifully shaped so they always turn out wonky and then I'm sad) and some handspun silk from one of my favorite silk caps I've dyed.


bockstark.knits said...

OMG, that shawl is amazing! WOW!

Mel said...

How do you like using the abacus bracelet? I have seen some for sale, and was considering making one myself... it would seem convenient for counting rows when I am on the move (ie travelling)...