Monday, July 15, 2019

Tour de Fleece

As I write this, Tour de Fleece 2019 is well underway.

What is Tour de Fleece?
It’s an online spin-along created by Star Athena that coincides with the Tour de France — the idea behind it being “they spin, we spin.” This is the event’s fourteenth year, and the goal is unchanged: Challenge yourself and have fun!

Handpainted top whorl spindle with skeins of handspun yarn in front and unspun white and rainbow fiber behind on a white background.

This year’s Tour de Fleece runs from July 6 through July 28 with rest days on July 16 and 22, and challenge days on July 18 and 26.

A lot of participants join teams, which can be based on just about anything that might bring a group together. Goals will be set and spinners will post online about their daily progress. On some teams, prizes are awarded for different achievements.

I’ve joined teams in the past, but for those Tours my biggest challenge seemed to be keeping up with what was going on in the groups! For the last few years, I’ve loosely followed hashtags online while keeping to my own pace. It works for me.

My Progress
We’re almost halfway through this Tour, and at this point I’ve spun on my spindle every day. I don’t have a set goal this year, except that I’m spinning more of the fiber that I started earlier this year: eight ounces (227 g) of handpainted Targhee wool from Spunky Eclectic in the colorway Let Love In, and four ounces (113 g) of white alpaca roving.

Progress for Tour de Fleece 2019 with skeins of colorful yarn on the left, a top whorl spindle with loose fiber ready to be spun in the center, and loose balls of fiber on the right, all on a white background.

I have one 95-yard (87 m) skein of two-ply yarn (0.55 oz/15.6 g) to show for my efforts — but a third of that had already been spun before the Tour began. I also have a singles yarn waiting on my nostepinne as I prepare to spin what will become the second ply in a skein that should end up about twice as long as the first.

Since I began spinning this fiber in February, I’ve finished about 467 yards (427 m) of two-ply yarn spun at a relatively consistent weight and color mixture. I still have about two-thirds of the fiber to spin.

Are you participating in Tour de Fleece this year?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Lace Hem Top

We have a keeper!

My skeins of Plymouth Yarn Reserve Sport have been through two previous projects — Diamond Pullover and Elphaba — but neither was quite right. Both require a certain amount of structure from the fabric that this yarn doesn’t provide.

It wants to drape. Mari Tobita’s #02 Lace Hem Top from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2018, allows it to do that.

Front view of a woman standing in front of a white rail and green trees wearing a lavender colored sleeveless hand knit top with a lace motif toward the lower hem.

The pattern is relatively easy to follow. The cast-on is fussy, but it creates a nice base at the shoulders from which the shirt is knit seamlessly downward. Another minor quibble is that the instructions for the I-cord could have been clearer. But most of the knitting for this pullover is simply stockinette stitch and lace charts.

I usually add length to tops. I didn’t do that this time because I expected the yarn to grow as it had in the previous projects. For the same reason, I made the armholes a little shorter than directed by the pattern. Overall, these decisions worked out well.

I had forgotten that the finishing included adding I-cord to the neckline and armholes, which would help them hold their shape. I added the I-cord on one armhole, but it almost became too tight and wasn’t visible due to how the fabric curls under. In the end, I kept the I-cord on the neckline but removed it from the armholes. I reinforced the bottom edge of the armholes with duplicate stitch.

Back view of a woman standing in front of a white rail and green trees wearing a lavender colored sleeveless hand knit top with a lace motif toward the lower hem.

Some of the shaping is created by increasing the needle size as the piece progresses. I started with US-7 (4.5 mm) needles in order to achieve gauge, then moved to US-8 (5.0 mm) and US-9 (5.5 mm). With the Mauve Mix colorway of this yarn, the needle changes are evident in how the colors pool. I can’t say I love the pooling, but it doesn’t bother me either.

I’m happy with this top and happy to have found another pattern that I would like to knit again. I think it has a classic shape that can be dressed up or down, and it’s comfortable in our hot climate. With some variation in yarn choice and lace motifs, this pattern is a versatile wardrobe addition.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Hexagon Project: Block 21

The last time I wrote about The Hexagon Project, I ended with how exciting it would be to see my progress on this English paper piecing project in six months. It’s been almost exactly six months and the results aren’t exciting after all. My dear reader, I’ve completed one additional EPP hexagon flower block in that time.

Angled view of a hand sewn EPP hexagon flower block in blue, off-white and dark brown on a white background.

To say I fell out of my routine is an understatement. The routine is nowhere to be found!

And just as I was starting to get back into basting hexies, I noticed that I only have enough templates to stitch two more blocks. I’m trying to be both economical and environmentally-conscious by cutting the templates from card stock that I already have, but the temptation to buy a few packs on templates is strong.

Precut hexies next to basted hexies placed as hexagon flower blocks on a white background.

My plan is to report back in a month. My hope is that I’ll have additional templates cut and these two blocks — perhaps more — hand sewn. Wish me luck!

How do you get back on track with unfinished projects?