Tour de Fleece 2014 – Day 1


Some itty bitty crafting.

Ok, so my participation in Tour de Fleece this year is a little half-assed. I know I have serious stash to spin down, and honestly, the Tour is a good reason to do it.

For those of you unaware, Tour de Fleece is an event that spinners participate in on Ravelry during the Tour de France. There are actual rules for it, most based on what your team affiliation is. Different groups have different rules. I’m not a fan of rules, so we can call this Team KnitHitsTheFan, party of 1.

I waited until late afternoon to start my spinning. I spent the morning straightening up my project corner so I would be ready for that art project I am waiting to start (my twine is in the mail). I found some unassembled hearts, so I seamed and stuffed them. I also did a little bit of weaving. That’s that round thing in the picture above. Trust me, it’ll look better once I get more stuff on it.


First Day Tour projects.

Since the holiday was on a Friday, I moved knit night to Saturday. It was a good reason to get together and start the Tour off right. Court brought her supported spindle to spin on, and I rocked Lucy all evening.

I guess my first day wasn’t too shabby. I thread plied 176 yards of wool single that I had sitting on a bobbin from about a week ago. I also busted through 4 ounces of 20% Milk protein/20% Seacell/60% Wool that I got from Creatively Dyed a few years back. I have three 4 ounce braids, so I am planning on spinning them all, then plying all three together.

I hope to come up with a plan of attack for my fiber, but I know how ADD I am. I’ll just end up pulling things out of the stash willy-nilly and and if I get bored spinning a color, I’ll switch to another. That is pretty much how I operate.

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Operation Spin Down…

So, I think it’s time I make a confession…

I have a lot of fiber in my stash.

I feel incredibly guilty about this. It’s really taken over my stash. I even have it hidden in weird places around the house. It’s making me feel like I can’t breathe. This is how I know it’s time to really start spinning again. It’s a good thing this feeling is coming on now, post Stitches West, when I still have the momentum to get things made. This is also one of the reasons I decided to skip Los Angeles Yarn Crawl this year…


Lazy weekend ball winding setup.


A couple of singles…

To start, I decided to clear off some bobbins that had been full and ply some of my singles. One of these (the blue and orange one) was a gift from a coworker. I’m excited to share how it looks once it’s spun and set.

For now, it looks like this…


Hung up to dry over my kitchen sink.

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Working those bobbins…

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 | blah blah blah, fiber, handspun, spinning, WIP, yarn, yarn snobbery | No Comments

Now that I’m home from Stitches West and will very soon be in possession of more fleece, I figured it was as good a time as any to start trying to spin down my fiber stash. Here are some of my pretties…


Spinning some Laufeyson Merino from Octarine Fibers

Of course they aren’t quite done yet. I plan on plying them.


I can’t wait to see what this looks like plied.


Started a new bobbin with fiber from my friend, Adrienne.

Over the weekend I worked on chain plying some Red Fish Fiber too!


Here I’m using my mouth to splice my yarn together mid-ply.



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Stitches West 2014: Adventures in Fleece

It was a few years ago when I had convinced myself that I wanted to adopt a fleece. I had gone through this whole phase of wanting to go from sheep to garment. This involved me bringing home a dirty fleece once. A really dirty fleece. So dirty that I gunked up my kids’ bathtub and then my husband instating a Renfroe household rule banning me from bringing dirty fleece into the house.


Bella on the scale.

But I can explain…


Walking the floor with two bags of fleece.

The household rule banning my possession of dirty fleece is common knowledge amongst my knitting group. But Courtney is a smart girl, and adept at getting around the rules. So months ago she told me she had an idea.


Courtney and David with Bella and Lucky.

Courtney did her homework and came up with the perfect plan for us to wash a fleece in the hotel bathroom. She knew exactly how to sell it to me… my husband couldn’t possibly get upset with me if I brought home clean fleece.


The bag of Bella fleece.

So David, Courtney and I went to Judy’s Novelty Wool booth and we split 2 fleeces, three ways. Now, Bella was already cleaned, so no problem there. She was greasier than David liked, but I don’t mind my fleeces slightly buttery. That lanolin is good for my skin. So half of the work was done and Bella was tossed aside. Lucky, however, was our dirty one. The three of us put down a shower curtain on the floor, dumped the fleece out, and started to sort pieces into “dirty” and “less dirty”.


Starting to sort the fleece.


Proud parents!


I actually took this picture by accident when trying to take some video.

We stuffed the fleece into lingerie bags to soak in the tub.


Lingerie bags are ready!


Soak #1 with plain water…


Check out that water! Here is where I let Courtney know she is making me nervous holding her phone over the tub.

We soaked the fleece for twenty minutes in plain hot water. Then we soaked in hot soapy water. Of course there were multiple soaks, but I passed out on one of the hotel beds sometime before 1 a.m. I hear that Court and David were up until 4 a.m. They let me sleep because I had to drive us home from Santa Clara and they knew I needed the rest. Of course, this means I don’t have any photographic evidence of David breaking one of the salad spinners that they used to dry the fleece when they were done. Sorry, I’m no journalist.


Courtney and Dawn.

Now, this isn’t the end of the story (or process). While I have Bella here at home, Lucky is still at Courtney’s house. Lucky was dry enough to bring home in the van, but she still needs some work. I am hoping to get together with Courtney sometime soon so we can finish work on her and get her ready to spin!

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Stitches West 2014: Day 2

Saturday morning started off with David spoiling us with Psycho Donuts! We needed all that sugar to get through a full day on the Stitches floor!


A sugar coma waiting to happen…

I have to say, I don’t feel like I did much in the way of shopping for myself on Saturday. I mostly concentrated on trying to spend other people’s money. Can you say “Enabler”? That’s is me when it comes to spinning wheels.


The wheels at the Purlescence booth.


A gossip wheel at Clemes and Clemes.


Ang test driving a wheel.

I even tried out a few myself. No, I don’t need another right now. I barely have space for the two I have.


Trying out a metal wheel from National Custom Spinning Works.



About an hour before the floor closed, I felt the need to take a break. That backpack was heavy and I wanted to start winding the yarn for my new project. I didn’t spend very long in the hotel bar though, we had supplies to buy…people to meet…fleece to wash…


Hand winding my Cephalopod Yarn.

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I’m not slacking…

Drop spindle spinning…for spinning on the go!

It’s good for getting you lots of attention and odd looks from people in public places around the greater Los Angeles area. Mostly because they don’t seem to understand what you doing, and when you explain it, they are either really fascinated or very confused.

Kids are always fascinated by it though. I go all over the place for my own children’s various activities, most of their friends are aware that I “make stuff”. The fun part is when kids we don’t know come up and ask what it is I am doing.

Recently, I had taken my drop spindle to an appointment. While my daughter and I sat in the lobby of the building we were in, I pulled out the spindle and started spinning some fiber my friend Ashley had given me. I would have my daughter spin the spindle while I stood and drafted the fiber. She was really excited about helping and said that she would like to learn to spin too.

Then a little boy named Tony showed up. I think he was probably about 4 years old. He walked right up to my daughter, started showing off his toy cars and asking her to play. That’s when he spied my spindle.

He started asking questions and sat for awhile and watched my daughter spin the spindle between her hands while I drafted. He wanted in on the action, so my girl showed him what to do and he started spinning the spindle for me. It was pretty adorable…he and my daughter sitting on the floor taking turns spinning.

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Tour de Fleece update!

20130708-210944.jpgI am well overdue for a Tour de Fleece update.

I have been spinning my brains out (when I am not sample knitting, but I’ll leave that for another post). I’ve been a busy, busy girl despite the lingering sinus infection I’ve been trying to shake for the past week. I imagine my crafting into the wee hours isn’t helping me much, but it sure is fun.

I cranked out these first three skeins in no time at all. After plying, I would say they range from heavy worsted to aran/chunky weight. This is heavier than I usually spin, so they were pretty quick and painless.

From left to right, I have “Library Card” Falkland from Octarine Fibers, “Enchanted Hollow” Bombyx Silk/Merino from Freckle Face Fibers and “Finale” Superwash BFL from Bee Mice Elf.


Once the three skeins were set, I decided to take my time machine back to a Cuckoobatt I had received through Art Club back in 2008! It is blend of alpaca, wool, bamboo, sparkle and bits called “Sea Hag”. It hasn’t decided if it wants to be a 2 ply yet. I’m letting it think it over while it rests on a bobbin.

Now maybe I can slow down a little…?

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Just in time for Tour De Fleece…

Imagine my surprise when I woke up (admittedly late) this morning and saw a tweet from redshirtknitting saying that Ravelry was beta testing a new feature for spinners! Hooray! It’s almost too good to be true.

For quite some time I have been adding my hand spun yarn to the database, but like you would add commercial yarn. I would forever have to, if I wasn’t feeling lazy that day, try and enter notes about the characteristics of the yarn. Is it a 2 ply? 3 ply? What was my WPI again? If I didn’t enter all the info at that particular moment, some of the info might be lost to time and my poor memory.

I decided to opt in for the beta testing and try plugging a skein of my new tour de fleece yarn in.


I like that it pretty much covers everything I might possibly need as far fields. Ratio? Twist angle? But I do everything according to “feel”! Crap…I’m going to have to start paying attention to my spinning, aren’t I? I also like that all the hand spun that I had entered “ghetto” style had already populated the hand spun tab. I love it when I have less work to do!

Maybe this means I can start adding my fiber to my actual stash. I had added a couple of braids, but it was kind of a pain, so I stopped.

Thanks to Tour de Fleece and Ravelry, I see not only stash busting, but some serious stash organization, in my near future!

Click here to get Casey’s secret code!

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Keeping the kids occupied…

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 | blah blah blah | No Comments

I feel like I am fully immersed in Tour de Fleece right now, and everyone is getting in on the action!

While Courtney was here on Sunday, in between bobbins, the kids got to sit and treadle the wheels. They love it! Since then, if they spy a wheel that is not attached to any fluff, they will sit at it and treadle their little hearts out.

Last night, I sat in my chair, spinning the last of my orange and purple ‘Library Card’ Falkland from Octarine Fibers with my earbuds firmly planted in my ears. I couldn’t hear anything but my music, but out of the corner of my eye I spied my son treadling my Kromski Sonata. I thought to myself, “That’s funny…what is he doing with his hands?”

That’s when I realized what was going on.

He was playing ‘Shoot the Clone Troopers through the A/C unit’.

“My game was about throwing clone troopers into a spinning wheel. It’s kind of weird. I used the spinning wheel as an air-conditioning to shred the clone troopers apart.”

Yup, he was whipping his clone trooper figures through my spinning wheel as he was treadling it.


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Spinning the Draft.


It’s NHL Draft time! It’s Tour de Fleece!

Better late than never. I started Tour de Fleece a whole day after everyone else…and during the NHL Draft. All over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I am seeing folks posting pictures of beautiful hand spun yarn. It’s hard to not get carried away and try and catch up with everyone else.

I’m on Team Knitshitsthefan… Which, honestly, is a team of 1 (or maybe 2), so I need to not be putting any pressure on myself to produce. I’m not trying to win any contests!

Despite having to do some wheel maintenance on Lucy, my Kromski Sonata, I think I did pretty good for one day. Courtney came over and took turns treadling with the kids before she tried spinning some of her fluff.


I had a Bee Mice Elf single that was already spun, so I plied that and stuck it on the niddy noddy. I finished spinning another single in Bee Mice Elf fiber (the dark yarn) and my friend David, of Octarine Fibers, gave me some lovely Falkland braids in “Library Card”.

I didn’t make it to bed until 3:30 AM, so I am not as productive today.

But no pressure, right?

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