Ravelympic Games (Ravellenics) finish line

I guess this is now a retrospective, but I did have had some work and sleep to catch up on!

The idea of the Ravellenics (originally Ravelympics, which is a much better name, but outlawed by the Olympic committe - thanks guys) is that you challenge yourself and then craft away while the Olympic Games are on. Ravelry has some clever functionality which recognises your achievement(s) and awards medals and laurels.

This time I decided to make Illas Cíes by Anne Hanson which I'd fallen in love with, finally decided to make in a pale grey colour as per the one on the pattern, and bought some silvery silk/alpaca for the purpose at Fibre East.

This meant that I could enter the  'Synchronised Spinning' and 'Sweater Triathlon'. If I finished, I'd qualify for the 'Fleece to FO' laurel (even though it was processed fibre rather than raw fleece).

Here's my progress in pictures. Initially I was working for half the day and crafting for the other half. During the last few days it became obvious that I needed to put in as much time as I could if I was to cross the finish line.

The beautiful fibre spun from the fold like molten silver:

A few hours' spinning while the opening ceremony was going on and the first complete bobbin (of 6)


I did all the spinning (1200 yds based on the yardage requirement printed in the pattern) before casting on. That happened on the first Weds.


Back and front done, first sleeve starting. There's a lot of fabric in a sleeve! Almost as much knitting as a front or back.

I did flag on the penultimate day. I sat up late feeling very tired and achey. Not fun any more.

Victory! Trying on the finished garment near the start of the closing ceremony. It even fits! (A little tighter than I'd like, but I'm hoping it'll give a little after blocking and then wearing a bit.)

Still ends to weave in here, but I thought I could get away with that.

It's a lovely looking jumper. The lace panels look really splendid and the design is perfect for me. I really wish now I'd chosen a seamless design for this event though. Purling and seaming are both a bit counter-productive when time isn't on your side.

Opening of Ravellenic Games and lace jumper project

Opening of Olympic games. You mean Olympics, right?

Well yes, the Olympics did open last night but alongside that is a massive knitting event which used to be called Ravelympics. in 2014 the Olympic committee objected, so our event is now called Ravellenics which isn't half such a good name.

But the good bit is that over 6,000 knitters were signed up and many of them will have cast-on when the lightshow started in Rio. A very moving occasion with the emphasis on the environment and efficiency. If I thought it would change anyone's ways I'd be even more happy.

Last week at Fibre East, I bought this alpaca/silk mix in the perfect silvery-grey colour.
At midnight our time, the opening ceremony started and so did my spinning (and the mass cast-on around the world). The fibre turned into liquid silver as I spun. It's a real pleasure to work with.
 By the time the teams were all in and the cauldron lit, I'd spun my first bobbin-ful. Tired but happy.
This is the pattern, Anne Hanson's Illas Cíes


fin - Tour de Fleece 2016

I can't really say that I've crossed the finish line, I've done much less than I'd hoped. But I did spin most days of the three weeks, and have found much pleasure in this project.

I've been dg-combing locks individually by hand (or rather a tuft of locks at a time). A method I was taught on my very first spinning lesson. The results are great, you have in your hand a lock with all fibres separated and completely parallel. I did try dizzing the result but that took too much time with no benefit really, spinning the combed locks works very well.
 Having said I've not done as much as I'd hoped, I really don't know what yardage I have there. The singles spun out very fine, and I went with that.

I've plied, washed and knit some samples. The top one is a 3-ply, still thinner than I'd like for the project I have in mind. The bottom one uses two strands of 2-ply (ie four plies) and that looks neater and is closer to the gauge that I want. But spinning 1200 yards of 4 plies - that's a lot more spinning!

I'm now less sure about the project. I do want to knit one of these, and while spinning I've been thinking this Shetland would be perfect. but now I'm not so sure. The colour of this yarn is a fairly nice fawn, but looks a bit rustic. I may keep looking for the perfect pattern for this fleece. And buy some fibre in a light grey at Fibre East. (The very light colour of the Illas Cíes shown in the pattern looks terrific and will suit me.)

Tour de Fleece, stage 9

The problem with sticking to one big project through an event is that the photos are much the same. I've tried a different angle here, showing the fleece.

I'm pulling locks from the raw, dirty, greasy fleece and dog-combing both ends of each, for a well-separated, parallel handful of fibres. This is a technique I was shown on my very first spinning lesson, and one I find more therapeutic than using the big combs, with much the same result.

The fleece isn't so dirty, my hands and wheel are staying pretty clean, and I'm sure the lanolin is doing my skin some good. I can't wait to see whether the colour lightens when the yarn is finally washed.

One interesting thing is the variation in shade from light to dark. I'm now planning to 3-ply the very fine singles, a true 3-ply rather than navajo, so that might blend that variation a bit.

I'm enjoying this so much, it was difficult to take a rest day yesterday (Monday) but today's stage (10) is 'hilly' so I'll start a new bobbin, put in a bit of effort later today and make some more progress.

Tour de Fleece 2016 day 5

Here we are at day 5 already. There doesn't look much on this bobbin but it's drawing out very fine. Not what I intended but I'm going with it - it may be the finest I've spun. And it's fun.
I decided to use the Tour de Fleece spinning time to spin this fleece. It came from Fibre East last year. A Shetland fleece in a nice colour, good locks, still in grease but very clean.

 I decided to use a technique I was taught on my first spinning lesson. It involves holding each lock, combing with a dog-comb, turning the lock around and combing the other end. I prefer the dog-comb to a flick-carder. The result is a well-separated and parallel lock.
It's not fast work, I'm combing as I go, but this isn't a race!!



Blanket scarf in real Shetland

 The idea for this came partly during team HSN's visit to Haworth Scouring earlier in the year. I must also give credit to Knitbug Valérie and aureliantownsend for inspiration.

The real Shetland fibre is a delight to spin, I spun some during last year's Spinzilla for my Ardelise and some more in April for my Riddari. Previously I'd spun from the end of the top (after splitting and pre-drafting) and from the fold. Here I tried making 'fauxlags', which turned out to be very quick, and spinning those unsupported longdraw with the high-speed kit on the wheel was some of the fastest spinning I've done.
The yarn was 2-ply, perhaps a little thinner than DK.

I wanted to use mostly natural colours; white, fawn and a little dark grey. With a little dyed colour. This is white shetland dyed with Ashford acid dyes; blue with a small amount of yellow for a 'peacock' blue. Not as blue as it looks in this picture.
 Before warping I sampled with some similar handspun yarn, and settled on 6 ends per inch.

On the computer I'd mocked up a more symmetrical plaid pattern, and a more random pattern, which I settled on.  I used the same sequence in the warp as for the weft, for a certain symmetry.




Finished Riddari

I enjoyed every minute of making this jumper, and it's one of my favourite handspun / hand knit projects ever.
It's the most ambitious colourwork I've tackled so far (3 colours to some rows). A friend suggested that I try 'pick and throw', one colour in each hand. That worked well, and getting pretty proficient by the end of this.

The pattern is Riddari by Védís Jónsdóttir, my Ravelry project is here.

I'm very grateful to Adam of The Real Shetland Company for sorting me out with real Shetland combed top.