Tag Archives: tour de fleece

July: Tour de Fleece, Blues Festival, Chicago

July means Tour de France, which means Tour de Fleece! I participated last year, but that’s pretty much the last time I picked up my spindle. I had started spinning this pretty BFL from Knitted Wit


but when I picked it up on Saturday to start again, I was pretty confused! First I had to figure out which direction I was spinning (easy), and then I couldn’t get it drafting. Why not? I couldn’t remember which hand I used for drafting! That’s definitely a hint that it’s been way too long.

bfl spinning

I don’t think my poorly wound cop was helping at all (wobbly spinning), so I wound it on my niddy noddy (thank goodness I eventually remembered how to do that) and started over. Let’s see how much spinning I get done this time! And if I can get something fairly consistent. I want a fingering to sport weight singles, to use as a single ply yarn for a simple triangle shawl. I want the colors to be the star of this project.

What else? Oh, the beginning of July means it’s time for Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. It’s been egregiously hot here (mid-90’s), so I wasn’t interested in spending much time listening to music outdoors, but I did go with DH on Saturday evening for a couple hours. Portland really knows how to throw a party.

blues festivalClick the picture for a closer look: Thousands in the park, the Hawthorne Bridge, and Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones on stage.

The weekend before, DH and I flew to Chicago to visit a friend who moved away last year. We were joined by two other friends who had also moved away from Portland. Reunion tour!

Lincoln Park group shot

We had a great time. 72 hours was enough to get a taste of Chicago, and make us want to go back. Here’s the whirlwind. We did an architecture tour by boat. Highly recommended.

chicago architecture

postmodern chicago

chicago architecture

Chicago has many beautiful parks, which feature free activities, including the zoo. Lots of public art:

chicago beanThe Bean in Millennium Park

Jaume Plensa Awilda

This is the back of “Looking into My Dreams, Awilda” in Millennium Park by Jaume Plensa, which is very similar to his “Echo” that I saw at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle in May.

daily bride and AwildaAwilda snuck into this picture, too.

At first I thought this was another bride at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, but it was a fashion photo shoot.

Caldwell Lily Pool Chicago

lily pool photo shootGorgeous.

chagall mural chicago

This Marc Chagall mural is in the plaza at the Chase building (which is a cool looking building itself). I didn’t realize until I looked at this picture that there’s a Ferris wheel in it. I saw it as an echo of this, which I took to be a rose window from a cathedral.

chagall mural chicago 3

Chagall mural Chicago 2

Love this signature.

And I love that there’s a beach in this city! Lake Michigan is huge.

Chicago beach

We got around by trains, cabs, Uber, and Divvy.


And ate and drank our way through town. Sometimes simple is best: This avocado toast at Le Pain Quotidien

avocado toast

inspired this when I got back home.

avocado toast breakfastToasted English muffin, avocado, sea salt, cumin, chia seeds. Simple and delicious.

lox and latke Diner food!

Eataly Chicago is two floors of fabulous shopping and eating. The cheese counter is impressive. They have the same for meat, and bread. And the pasta selection is out of this world. Or this country, at least.

eataly cheese counter

Of course I took my knitting, which seems to echo the antennae on the Sears Tower.

knitting sears tower

Good friends, good times. I wish you the same for your summer!

Spinners, weigh in! #tourdefleece

So, spinners, do you have a yarn goal in your head before you start spinning? The reason I ask:


This is my first real yarn. I’ve played with the spindle before, but this is 4 ounces of fiber, turned into about 75 yards of single ply. I spun this on my Jenkins Turkish spindle.

It appears that I have made two different yarns here. When I started, I was trying to make a heftier single than my default accidental laceweight. Some of this yarn does that; it’s kind of like Malabrigo Worsted in heft and twist.


The later yarn from this spinning is thinner and twistier, because I was afraid my fat singles were underspun. This thinner yarn would be great plied because some of that twist would reverse in the plying, right?


This was all a grand experiment. But it’s like I have two different yarns in the same skein. And the first fatter singles weren’t underspun after all. The twist is lovely after washing and drying.

I also played with the mystery fiber that was at my house (leftover from a kids’ felting experiment). I used my Kundert top whorl spindle because it can handle a much bigger cop. The single was twisty, and then I wound a two-strand plying ball with my ball winder so I could ply it on the spindle. It’s pretty, yes? It’s only about 16 yards, 2 ply worsted to Aran weight. But pretty consistent! I like the barberpole look in the skein, but I’m not sure I’d like it knit up.


I think all of this means that I need to decide what I want this BFL from Knitted Wit to be, before I start spinning it.


I think because it has so many colors and I don’t want barberpole, I should aim for either a fat single ply, or a skinny yarn I can chain ply to preserve the color runs. I’m not sure which one I’m more likely to be able to do successfully.

This is as much fun as planning a knitting project. Everything is possible, until you start and then doors start to close…

Spinners, help me out. Am I on the right track?

Tour de Fleece?

Lots of stuff in the works: Design project at test knitter and tech editor (mmmmm, Indochine), design project that’s in time out after two tries, design project that’s just fun fabric to knit, design idea that wants a drapey yarn that’s being dyed up (hello, Knitted Wit Shine!), design proposal that’s cooking in my head, and an upcoming pattern re-release that needs a sample and some math in an alternate yarn. So since I don’t have anything to show you from that list at this moment, what should I show you?


Spinning. Of course.

It’s Tour de France season, and that mean’s it’s also Tour de Fleece. I don’t really spin, but all the pretty pictures in my Facebook and Instagram feeds got me inspired. I have a couple spindles, but I was frustrated that my singles get skinnier and skinnier as I spin. My aim for TdF is just to play with techniques and try to get fatter yarn.

I’m working with my lovely Jenkins Turkish spindle; I can control the speed more easily than with my Kundert top whorl spindle, which is really fast. My yarn looks better so far, but far from perfect.


I chain plied the previous skinny single and a new fatter single. (I think it’s merino and silk. Label is long gone.) One feels like string, and the other feels like yarn. Happier with the new stuff! But a long way to go before I get any consistency.

I saw Lorajean (Knitted Wit) this morning and picked up yarn for the sample I need to knit up, and she sent me home with this:


Corriedale pencil roving. So far, it’s easier to spin with (longer staple? already uniform width?); I’m drafting it it just a little bit, and experimenting between park and draft and draft as I spin. It’s all research, right?


I like what I’m getting so far. I don’t know if I’ll keep it as a single or chain ply it. I’ll figure that out later.

If you’re wondering why I chain ply instead of two ply, it’s because I don’t have a lazy kate (although I could jerry-rig one; I have before), and also because chain plying keeps the space dyed colors intact instead of mixing them. My sense of order is pleased…

Are you doing Tour de Fleece? Any hints for me and my quest for fatter singles?