Saturday, 29 June 2013

Tour de Fleece Begins: 2013

It's Saturday the 29th June 2013, which means only one thing! ... Well two things actually ...
  1. It's the start of the annual Tour de Fleece event. The (yarn) spinning event for worldwide lovers of fiber, making yarn whilst watching Wimbledon, drinking copious amounts of tea, and steaming through the ample stash in the hopes of creating space for yet more fluff.

  2. Also the start of the annual Tour de France event. The (cycling) spinning event for worldwide lovers of hard physical graft, hill climbs, heavy bouts of sweating, and tight lycra outfits.
Needless to say, I will only be participating in one of these events.

As usual, I called upon my lovely Instagram friends to join me in what will be my Rookie year for the event.

I've been a TdF lurker/stalker for a couple of years, but felt that this was the year to get stuck in and get involved.

Having recently set up my own Ravelry Group for all things 'ayarnlovingmama' related, I decided it would be fun to have an AYLM Team for this spinning event. This is especially exciting for me this year, as a number of the participants will be joining me using one (or more) of my handmade drop spindles.

Lovely friends on IG and Ravelry have been eager to get involved with me. There's already a wealth of beautiful photos and videos on Instagram via hashtag #teamAYLMtdf13.

I will be taking part with my three spinning tools ...
  • My beloved Ashford Joy D/T Spinning Wheel

  • My Enid Ashcroft Midi Turkish Drop Spindle

  • My handmade Top Whorl Rainbow Drop Spindle
It really doesn't matter what tools you own, as long as you try to spin some yarn every day that the Tour de France cycles (29th June to the 21st July), rest when they rest (8th & 15th July), and challenge yourself on the 18th July when the cyclists have to do the Alpe d'Huez twice!

What I love about this event is that it is a wonderful opportunity to improve your technique, learn from others and be inspired/encouraged by the event which sees over 6,000 people taking part over the world.

If you want to read all about it, please visit the main Tour de Fleece page on Ravelry HERE.

I couldn't set up a team of my own without some benefits to participants, so this year I'm really happy to announce that members will receive 10% discount on fiber from the awe inspiring A Stash Addict shop.

Also, there will be a random giveaway at the end of the event for one lucky group member who will get to have a custom 'ayarnlovingmama' drop spindle made especially for them.

I am going to attempt to spin all of this yummy fibery goodness! The two at the bottom were hand-dyed by me, and then above are my hand-carded punis/rolags, then we have a 200g bag of 'Alpaca Supreme' and a 200g bag of undyed Organic Merino from John Arbon Textiles, and the gorgeous colourful fiber at the back is from Danielle of A Stash Addict.

Such a feast for the eyes.

I can't wait to see what everyone creates.

I really will be in seventh heaven for the next month.

Please get involved if you feel inspired by reading this article. It would be amazing to have you along for the ride :)

Saturday, 8 June 2013

My Hand-Dyed Great Divide Shawl FO

I took part in a fun KAL recently, and just have to share the results.

The pattern was the Great Divide Shawl by kisskisskiddo on Ravelry, and I must say that it's my favourite shawl knit to date. It was fun, easy to memorize and quickly knit up with DK weight yarn.

Loving the creative freedom of dyeing my own yarn, I decided to take on a self-made challenge and dye with a specific project in mind for the first time.

As a relative dyeing noob, I'm still messing about with Kool Aid, but am constantly amazed by the richness and contrast of colours that can be achieved from what is essentially a powdered drink for children!

So, with my undyed 100% merino yarn, I set to work in the kitchen with the kettle dye method. I started with two contrasting colours, and here is what I came up with:

I called the one on the left 'Bluebell' as it features the beautiful range of purples, lilacs and blues found in the flowers of the same name. The one on the right is 'Earth Mother' as it reminds me of the earthy colours found so frequently on our planet; oranges, browns, rusts and greens.

I couldn't wait for this yarn to dry so I could cast on.

I just love the cast on for shawls, when the rows are short and you make fast progress.

With this pattern, I was excited to be able to use my contrasting colour very soon after starting the project. It is always a thrill to see how the colours you have chosen work together in the flesh, rather than in the imagination.

Being a sucker for texture as well as colour, I was in seventh heaven with this pattern ... as you can see, the stitches form a gorgeous repeating striping pattern with a great tactile design.

Being DK weight with a frequent set of increases, the main bulk of the shawl was knit up in no time, and I began to think on what I wanted to do about the bottom border. Initially, I was just going to knit the bottom edge with the remainder of the Bluebell coloured yarn, but as the shawl progressed, I started to visualise a third colour, so I set to work with the dye pots again.

I wanted a nice Spring-fresh green that would complement the other seasonal colours, and was really pleased with the results of my third skein of yarn.

Green is my favourite colour, and I usually like a slightly earthier shade, but I was really happy with the tonality I achieved in the bright limey-yellowy green pictured above, and it was exactly what I wanted to ofset the other bright colours featured in my shawl.

I am really happy with the three colours I chose, and even more so that I dyed them myself.

The finished shawl is my quintessential Spring and Summer Shawl for chilly British weather ... so bright and cheerful.

I am one very happy dyer / knitter indeed.

If you are on Instagram, please use hashtag #greatdividekal to see all the other wonderful knitters who took part in the KAL.


Taking part in Tami's Amis and Other Creations FO Friday. Please go along and see all the other wonderful FOs :)