The Cat Knits...

A singular forum to discuss knitting as craft, therapy, and way of life (with or without the benefit of cats).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Yeah Me!

Tour de Fleece 2013 Challenge
Spin & Ply One pound of white Shetland wool
I finished!
5 skeins of 2-ply yarn.

Next: Figure out how many yards I have.
Can I really knit something with it?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

At the end of Week 2 of the Tour de Fleece/France, I have spun the pound of wool. I can't believe I found the time to spin the whole thing! Now the plying begins. Here is skein 3 and, with any luck, I'll have skein 4 later tonight. (Although, it seems to me, Mystery has the Inspector Morse prequel series Endeavor on tonight....)

I think I am getting better. I would like to achieve a kind of consistency and not spin yards and yards of art yarn. My spinning teacher tries to discourage me from spinning or yearning to produce perfectly spun singles. And I agree with her philosophy, in general, that hand spun should celebrate the qualities of human endeavor, which is imperfection. We are not machines, but I would like fewer sections that look like thread next to fat, untwisted roving. Despite what everyone says, it does not all even out in the plying. I seem to match the fat sections with fat and the thread with thread.

The other bit of good progress has been with the sprinting project on the little Jenkins drop spindle. Happily, my singles are looking much more uniform in their imperfection.  I spun all of the onion skin dyed roving and have started on the Brazil wood ounce. I think it will make a nice 2-color, 2-ply yarn when completed at the end of next week when the Tour challenge ends!

How will I keep motivated when I don't have France to spin for?

Saturday, July 06, 2013


Somehow I over twisted when I plyed the singles. It took time and some weighty persuasion for most of the yarns to relax but the skeins are not yet balanced. One is less twisted than the other for whatever reason. I guess that is something I should be trying to figure out.... ( I think I had the bobbin turned the "wrong" way and it was not the best configuration for plying.)

I might be half-way through the pound of wool now. It doesn't seem possible, because that pound of wool looked like a big, fluffy mountain when I got it out of the plastic bag. We-ell, if I did my math right, we're looking at 376 yards of over wrought 2-ply wool! So if I don't screw up too badly, I will have 750 yards by the end of the Tour.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Time Trials

Well, the teams are in Marseilles and competing in their team trials. Fast times for some advantage in the Tour. I am happy to say I have spun two bobbins that are ready to be plied.  I wish I could say that I am improving in consistency, but that still seems to elude me. I also haven't hit on the optimum threadling speed for the type of single I wish to spin. Perhaps, it's more a problem of keeping up a consistent speed to get enough twist. It looks fine as it zips onto the bobbin, but if I take a closer look at it, the twist seems to vanish before my eyes. Pedal faster and harder?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Tour de Fleece--The Sprint

I've been staying up late to watch the Tour de France as they cycle and climb up the mountainous roads in Corsica. If only I could spin as they spin, but I find I really need a lot of light to see what I'm doing, and our house has a tendency toward darkness....  Plus it would mean carrying the spinning wheel down a flight of stairs to be in front of the big TV set. I try to avoid moving Mr. Schacht as much as possible. He is not a portable appliance.

Anyway, besides spinning and plying the initial pound of fleece, I decided to add another challenge to my Tour. There are different types of challenges in the bicycle race besides riding up a hill at 35 mph and not break into a sweat! There is sprinting. So I decided to use my Jenkins Kuchulus drop spindle to sprint away 2 ounces of wool and make a 2-color ply yarn ... over a few sprints. One ounce is dyed with onion skin and the second is dyed with Brazil wood. It should be a lovely muted orange and muted rose yarn when I finish. (Keep fingers crossed!) Pictured above is the first ounce of onion skin dyed wool. (Wool was dyed by the charming spinners at Windrush Farms, CA.) Much more sprinting to do!

Let's see, is it Day 3 or 4 with the Tour? Okay. It's now Day 4--July 2. At the end of Day 3, I had just filled up the bobbin with 4 oz of the Shetland Wool. Lots more spinning to be done. Will I finish? Well, plying is fun and tends to go pretty fast. Kind of like riding the bicycle down a big, long hill!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

le Tour de Fleece

Shetland wool from Paradise Fibers
Day 1 and 2

I finally signed up for le Tour before it was over! While the men cycled away in Corsica hot and sweaty in the sun, I spun in the sweltering heat of my house since the power died  and the air conditioner cut out. Why did I think it was a great challenge/idea to spin and then ply a pound of Shetland wool? Well, a small hurdle, all in all, I suppose. It's not like I have to pedal up a mountain once ... or twice. Although keeping a constant treadling speed is a problem for me.

Per my spinning teacher's advice, the pound or roving has been broken up into one-ounce units. It's a handy way of knowing how much wool one is working with when dyeing or spinning.

I didn't get an early start yesterday and have a lot to make up for on Day Two!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Knitting for Baby Birds

Three tiny baby Bushtits nestle into their hand-knitted nest. Photo from WildCare website. 
Birds in knitted nest. Photo by Francoise Samuelson 

We knit for loved ones. We knit bears for children. We knitters have been asked to knit jumpers for Penguins soiled in an oil spill. Now we have an opportunity to knit nests for baby birds.  

If you like knitting, WildCare needs lots more of these soft nests.Click here for a helpful set of knitting instructions. Remember that all nests should be washable and durable-- they get a lot of use during baby bird season at WildCare! Yarn color doesn't matter too much, although muted colors are best. These nests are a fun and worthwhile way to use up extra bits of yarn you have lying around. These tightly-knit nests can also be easily cleaned by throwing them into the washing machine, which is an invaluable component of all the equipment our baby bird foster parents use.

I support WildCare in Northern California, but I'm sure any bird rescue group in your area would be able to use this donation.

76 Albert Park Ln.
San Rafael, CA 94901