Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tour de Fleece

The Tour de France is one of my favorite sports events to watch in the summer.  Having been an avid cyclist and racer until my knees and neck went bonky it always gives me a thrill to watch.  This year, I am spinning again with the Tour, this time with my new little drop spindle and Team Jenkins for the Tour de Fleece, put on by Ravelry.
Quite a different kind of spinning, but it appeals to my love of process.  I once used, or tried to use a top whorl spindle but never got the feel.  This year I bought a little Jenkins Delight - a cute little Turkish spindle and I've fallen in love.  We are a matched pair.  So there is something to be said about the horse matching the rider, or the dog matching the handler.  You can force something and make it work and be always fighting with it, or you can find the one that seems to fit, understand it, know it for it's strengths and weaknesses and flow with it. The little Jenkins is like that.  She has her weaknesses (she's small) and her strenghts (she's balanced perfectly); I too have my strengths (I am a detail person) and my weaknesses (I am impatient).  By recognizing this on both the part of the tool and myself, I am able to learn to use this little Delight and create something of beauty. Here is my visual record of my learning process. 

In the Beginning

Notice how the wind is uneven

Now starting to be mindful of my winding

Getting better, but still not quite right

And patience pays out

Getting toward the end

Finally, finished and off the spindle. Everything went sproing.
I noticed that my teammates cops were beautifully wound on and mine was a mess, so I started paying attention to this one minute detail.  I had to be mindful of where I placed the single yarn and how tightly I wound it on.  It was a slow process - testing my patience, coaxing me to slow my pace, take a deep breath and enjoy the process and watch as the beauty of the yarn started to twine itself together. Sometimes, I went astray - so be it.  Correct it for the next wind.  I am still getting the rhythm of it and my little Melisa Delight is there to help me through it. She stays balanced no mater what.  It's my job to keep her on track.

Hmm....kind of like my shepherding.  Jill and I are a good match.  I need to know my dogs strengths and weaknesses as well as my own in order to create the beauty of sheep herding.  Don't force it to happen, work with it.  Be patient, be mindful.  Enjoy the process.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spinning with the Tour

The Tour de France has always been one of my favorite sports events to watch.  Secretly I've always wanted to participate in it, but as it's an all male sport - just not gonna' happen.  Light years ago, I used to bike race, but knees, neck and severe carpal tunnel prevent me from participating. So I've gotten way out of shape.  And what the heck you say, dear reader, is this all about?  Well it's about trying a new skill, fitness and expanding one's box.

I sit.  I sit and I spin. I sit and I knit, I sit and I type my blogs on my computer.  I do a lot of sitting.  I am turning into a chair.  Time to make a change.

Last week at the Black Sheep Gathering, I bought a new spinning tool.  Oh No! More sitting.  NOT!  This is a little drop spindle from Jenkins.  It's a Turkish spindle called the Delight and it is a dream.  I've never used a drop spindle before.  Something new to try.  I can stand up, walk around and move whilst spinning.  I can even go outside and enjoy the sun (which has finally decided to visit our NW).
Ravelry, an all things fiber group, has a forum for Tour de France teams - they call it the Tour de Fleece.  I decided to join the Jenkins team and have been steadily learning the ins and out of my little spindle.  And as this is about participating in a sport event, I made a declaration.  For every hour I sit and spin, I have to walk a mile - each day.  It's a happy process and a healthy one. 

I am learning so much about my little Delight - how to keep the fleece from getting away from me, how to wind on a beautiful cop (that's the yarn ball on the spindle) and mostly it's about being mindful.  Being mindful of my process, mindful of my body, mindful of my surroundings. Taking time to be joyful in the process and be proud of what I've done.  Knowing that each little step is a step toward better understanding of my spinning  journey and even the journey in my life.

It's amazing that something so small can be the tool toward the bigger things in my life.

One UFO down and ....

At last the Galadriel fleece is finished.  I started out doing a complicated lace pattern, but the fullness of the twist, just made the pattern disappear.  So instead I decided on a plain and simple piece, letting the yarn show itself.  It's soft and warm and wonderful. One down.....

Last weekend was the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR.  No it's not a gathering of the bad boys in the family, but the gathering of all things sheepy.  There were live sheep from local ranchers working on getting their ribbons for the best sheep, there were spinners, knitters and weavers demonstrating their sills.  And there was FLEECE!  Lots and lots of fleece, in all shades and fiber content.  BFL and silk, BFL and Alpaca, Shetland; rainbow colors, earth colors, circus colors and the list goes on.

Now, I already have a ton of unspun fleece.  And I have a lot of sock yarn (for some reason, sock yarn calls to me and I just can't resist it).  Some months ago I took stock of what I had in my stash closet; did some culling out and decided that I had quite enough sock yarn, thank you very much, and enough fleece to keep me spinning for a year.  So, I had pretty well, made up my mind NOT to go to the Black Sheep Gathering.  Then my spinning buddy and fiber addict in crime convinced me that I really should go and "You don't have to buy anything, just LOOK".  HAH!

Ok, so I lied.  I did have to buy something - well a lot of somethings.  There was a woman who was there for the first time as a dye artist.  She'd never sold her fleece before and her color sense was amazing!  The Whimsical Ewe, owned by Dana Nishimura is fantastic.  She'll probably be at the Canby, OR Flock and Fiber Festival and I highly recommend stopping by her booth. Merino/Tencel and a Merino/Silk braid in warm earthy green and golds.  Can't wait to spin those up and see how they blend.

Dycentra was there in all it's heavenly glorious colors, so I had to buy several fleeces from them. Such a joy to spin - Merino and Silk in a luscious color called Sangria. And Abstract Fibers, another favorite, in Merino and Silk in a berry  colorway.  

And then there was the sock yarn - darn! One booth caught my eye - yes, it's all about the color. Chameleon Color Works from BaaBaa Loo, one skein in soft mossy tones, the other skein reminded me of an English Garden.  Yes, more sock yarn.  What's a girl to do! I don't know if these will become socks or shawls.....or maybe I'll just drink in their colors and just look at them for a while.

So now I have 8 more 4 oz braids of woolies to spin up.  Let's see, add that to the 6 braids I already have.....yup, I think I'm in trouble - BIG trouble.