Tour de Fleece 2012

This I’d really the first spinning I’ve done this year, so I’m pretty excited to get back in the saddle.

My TdF teams: Stashbusters, Wicked Stitch, SCF/HY, and My Favorite Sheep.

Because I like checking things off lits, my many TdF 2012 goals:

    Spin only from stash,whenever possible.
    Spin 5# of fiber.
    Spin some Yarn School Hello Yarn fiber.
    Spin last year’s samples from my flock.
    Spin something besides wool or alpaca.
    Spin something from MO Fiber.
    Spin something from Rhinebeck.
    Spin Gringo’s fur for Daddy’s hat (my dad loooooves his dog)
    Figure out the oldest thing in my stash and spin that.
    Spin a fiber sampler.
    Spin more worsted weight
    Spin with at least the type of project (mittens, shawl, sweater, throw) in mind and decide what to make with everything I spin.
    Decide what to make with any unknit yarn from past Tours

Here’s the rundown from Week 1:

Day 7: 3.5oz ABC Ranch merino/silk roving
Tour de Fleece, Day 7

Day 6: plied Hello Yarn “Brittle” SW w/ white SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 6

Day 5: White SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 5: Superwash Corridale combed top

Day 4: 2nd half of Hello Yarn “Brittle” SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 4: the rest of the Hello Yarn "Brittle"

Day 3: 1st half of Hello Yarn “Brittle” SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 3: Hello Yarn "Brittle"

Day 2: Laura’s Pygoras Shetland roving

Tour de Fleece, Day 2: More Laura's Pygoras Shetland roving

Day 1: Laura’s Pygoras Shetland roving

Tour de Fleece Day 1: 4oz Laura's Pygoras Shetland Roving

Tour de Fleece, Day 1!

I feel like I’ve been underwater forever, working on my book. But I have to rest today, so I’m spinning in bed with my e-spinner and watching lots of TV on Netflix.

Today, I made this:

Tour de Fleece Day 1: 4oz Laura's Pygoras Shetland Roving

from this

Tour de Fleece Day 1: 4oz Laura's Pygoras Shetland Roving

In other news, my book is all but done and it’s AWESOME. I’m really, really proud of it, and I can’t wait until I can start showing it off! All that’s left is a teeny bit more editorial review & it will be out of my hands completely. I’m so pleased with the whole experience, the patterns and the research an the photos and especially working with everyone at Wiley.

Strut your stuff in the famous Yarn School Goody Bags!

(photo by moonrat42 aka Natalia :))

Hand dyers, fiber farmers, yarn shops, etc! Advertise your fibery goodness for free in the Yarn School goody bags!

Get your wares in the hands of eager fiber enthusiasts. Send 36 pcs of fiber samples, patterns, notions, yarn–whatever you specialize in–to arrive here by Wednesday 4/25 (we can probably squeeze it in if they come Thursday, but shoot for Wednesday). In exchange, you’ll get great advertising and a free banner for the next 6 mos on and Make sure anything you send is well labeled so customers can find you.

We also love door prizes!

Email if you’re sending stuff.

Send to:

Nikol Lohr
13149 Harveyville Rd
Harveyville KS 66431



Upstairs/Downstairs (Carnaby Skirt becomes Carnaby Capelet)

Kelly from Knitigating Circumstances (kellydawn on ravelry) sent me her Wearability Wednesday post on her daughter’s Carnaby. The post features Emma’s Carnaby skirt in several different ensembles, and also shows her modeling it as a capelet. The pictures were so darling I had to share:

(Thanks to Kelly & Emma from Knitigating Circumstances for the photos)

If you’re thinking about knitting Carnaby, the post has includes many photos and a nice overview/review of the pattern. She points out that it somehow looks great at a wide range of lengths and on a whole spectrum of body types, which delights me.

My own Carnabys have turned out to be surprise favorites, despite my initial fears that I wouldn’t be able to pull of a flirty skirt with my wide rid hips & thunder thighs. But the textured pattern really does a bangup job of masking all the lumps and bumps that typically shame me away from wearing knits on my hindquarters. Mine are knit at the standard pattern length, but if I were one of those lucky creatures like Emma here, with long slender legs, then I’d probably make them as short as possible (of course, that would make a much skimpier capelet…).

Carnaby (by me!)
Knitty, Deep Fall 2010

1-2 more Yarn School Helpers Wanted!

I am looking for a couple more helpers for the spring session. I have two reserved already & I’d like 3 or 4 total to spread the work out more so all the helpers get more fun time.

Basically, it’s a Yarn School work-exchange program, heavy on the work! You do lots of prep (cleaning, laundry, fiber balls, mixing dyes, etc.) beforehand, then help with meals, dishes,  laundry & the Dye Lab during. In exchange, you get to attend Yarn School, a Yarn School goodie bag with Hello Yarn fiber (no extra BYO wheel bonus, though), a door prize, and 2# of fiber to dye, which you can dye on either Sunday night after the Dye Lab add-on (we’ve got a full house for the add-on, or normally helpers dye then) or Monday–or at some future time, if you live within a drive and want to come out and relax and take your time at a later date.

Here are the details:

Since I’ve had people I don’t know flake out on me in the past, helper jobs are now only available to former Yarn School students or helpers.

If you’re within driving range, you can either come out and work the two weekends prior (April 14/15 and 16/17–or Fri/Sat, if that’s better for you–stay here overnight Saturday) & then show up Thursday (4/26) afternoon for Yarn School, or come out the Monday before (4/23) & work all week. Out-of-towners do the 2nd option. All of our KC helpers have preferred option #1 since you’re better rested & generally have more fun that way. Helpers usually stay thru Monday am, and are welcome to stay thru the day if they want to dye then.

Helpers clean, set up goody bags, get rooms ready, make beds, do laundry, etc. in advance & then assist with meals, dishes, laundry & the Dye Lab & generally helping out the teachers during.  Sunday while the Dye Lab  add-on is going on, you’ll strip all the beds of those who have already left. It’s a lot of time on your feet, so if you have health or mobility problems, this is probably not a good job for you.

Helpers stay in one of the group rooms. Helpers need a driver’s license, since they often run the airport shuttle.

I think that’s about it. If you’re interested or have more questions, let me know asap!

Time for a break!

It’s been a mad winter! Woolfest in January (I have to brag about my awesome booth that I totally neglected to photograph), then mass book knitting and a bit of photography, then a fucking TORNADO at the end of February that threw the town into chaos. Then I accidentally agreed to a bit more recovery volunteering than I was prepared to handle and was in a bit of a panicked frenzy for a week and a half. Then a much needed and super-awesome Spinsters-y MO Fiber Retreat in which I learned locker hooking, basket weaving, Tunisian crochet, and wagon wheel rug weaving, peppered with much Spinsters hilarity. This week, Vicki & Susan in Burlingame volunteered to man/organize the Donation Center and suddenly my volunteer duties became manageable again! And I’m only 2 weeks behind on my final deadlines and another couple months behind on my life!

We had some uninsured damage to the roof (I don’t think anything our insurance actually covered was damaged) and lost a good 20 feet of our quirky handmade fence. While it will definitely hurt to fork out the money for the roof, the bid didn’t make me burst into tears. And considering the catastrophic damage in Harveyville, we were very, very lucky.

Except for the 4 days of Woolfest & MO Fiber, my life has been all about my book and the tornado and pretty much ignoring everything else. But shearing’s coming up in a few weeks and I decided I need to finally get last year’s clip in the hopper. I skirted and bagged it all up. Now I just have to figure out what I want it made into.

I was originally thinking all yarn this year, except that I have Agnes’ ruined fleece from last year, so if I get her made into combed top, they can comb all my neppy roving into something worthwhile. And the Shetlands are so small and so fun to spin… And I love spinning Fudgy… I love spinning all of them. The plan was to start a CSA and let the subscribers dictate what got made into what, but I didn’t TCB in time and now… tick, tock. I’d like to at least have it ready for Yarn School.

Uncle Honeybunch (Shetland). The Shetlands are great fun to spin but not as impressive raw. He’s about 3# skirted.

Fudgy the Whale (Romney). Her fleece I just love. It’s enormous and shiny and just falls apart in your hands. About 8# skirted.

Jayne Cobb (either Romney or Merino x Romney–not sure of his pops). Another lovely fall-apart fleece. About 7# skirted.

Agnes (Merino). Cottony fine, snowy white. This is after sitting for a year and it’s still pretty damn creamy. 8.5# skirted

Hokey Pokey (Merino), not quite as fine as Agnes, but still dense and buttery. 7# skirted.

So here’s the real puzzler. These are both Ronnie. The bottom one is the bulk of her coat, much crimpier than the Romeny fleece, for instance, but way less crimpy than the other Merinos. And that top sample, which is what covers her thighs and rump, looks just like Shetland.

Here’s Ronnie with Uncle Honeybunch & Mr. Shivers, who’s light gray, though you can’t tell with all the old lanolin . It’s harder to tell on the light fleeces–and these are center back samples, so they have more undercoat–but the Shetland has the longer fibers that you can pull out by the tips and the wuzzier undercoat plumping up the rest of the loc. And her fleece is much more open and less greasy overall than her mom’s or brothers.

And Ronnie also looks more like a Shetland from behind. She’s got that square shape and those shaggy breeches that the Shetlands have. But then she has a wooly face and legs and that ridgy Merino nose, and although she was tiny at birth, now she’s about the same size as her brother. I don’t know if it would seem so Shetlandy to me if I didn’t have Shetlands, or if I had a wider representation of Merinos.

I took a little break and shot Cupcake Ranch a little:

Peggy, one of the new girls.

Joan and Betty, the other two new girls. All 3 are laying pretty little green eggs.

Of the old girls, Faith’s still laying like a champ.

Bridgette and Cathy have retired, but Faith was a slow starter so I suspect they’re still way ahead in overall eggs.

Georgie, the newest addition to Cupcake Ranch, is right at home these days. After a few run-ins with the Shetlands, he generally keeps a respectful distance, and I think I’ve taught him that the chickens are to be left alone. They pop into his area and drink from his water bowl unmolested, and he doesn’t chase them when he’s out in the main property running around like a madman.

Had to include Freddy, who was looking particularly kitteny today. Sugarfoot was hiding.

Mr. Shivers was being a little shit today. First he was all lovey-dovey, then when I quit scratching him, he gave me a quick butt and then kept following me around annoyingly, threatening to butt me if ever I let down my guard (I did not; I know better). He even followed me into the hay shed. I couldn’t finish my chores without turning around every three seconds to ward him off. It got so annoying that I had to throw a couple buckets of water at him to get him to beat it. But he was quick and wily at avoiding them, and I kept accidentally hurling them at other hapless sheep instead. Uncle Honeybunch was all “Hey, lady! What did I do?” Eventually I got a couple right in his face and he acted very put out and haughty and skulked off and shunned me when I tried to get a picture of his dripping face. Served him right, though. I’m glad they’re getting sheared soon. That always puts him in his place.

Before I get back to work, a few of my book projects, cleverly photographed so you can’t tell what the hell they are:

(inside-out, so as not to give away the pattern)

Happy New Year! See you at Woolfest!

My little reflective 2-day break was kind of a masterpiece of denial. I totally did not have any time to spare, and the holidays, as they do, sucked away even more time.

I have been knitting and reknitting my ass off. I really need to work on being a more focused knitter. My method of knitting half a garment, deciding the sizing is all wrong, frogging it, and repeating 2 or 3 times until I’ve gotten it right is utter bullshit. I need to make some stock size forms that I can lay over my knitting so I can tell I’m way the fuck off well before the garment really emerges. Oh! I should put that on my Überlist!

Speaking of which, last year’s absurdly ambitious Überlist was kind of a bust. I’m scaling back my list this year, since making it too hard just doubly depresses me. A person can only so much, and grand delusions–even when I realize they’re absurd–just make me disgusted with myself at the end of the year. But keeping the list mellow is always a huge battle, since it means accepting I am only a normal human person with normal human abilities and I totally want to be Wonder Woman (without all the crime-fighting, of course; that just seems exhausting). Actually, what I really want is a bucket of those clear pills from Limitless. I watched that last night and I don’t think I’ve ever been as covetous of an imaginary thing as I am of those imaginary pills. Sigh.

In addition to book knitting, I’m working on a super cushy thrummed headband/cowl pattern for Woolfest. (If you haven’t been to Winter Woolfest & you’re in the Kansas area, you should totally come! I’m vending & I’ll have the DIY carding bar again, and I’m doing carding demos and teaching the free thrums class.)

The pattern’s called Polaris (after the failed polar expedition, hee hee) and I’ll post it as a free pattern when it’s done.

In the meantime, if you’re coming to Woolfest and want to attend the class, here’s your homework:


Thrummed Headband or Cowl

US 9 and 11 16-inch circulars or DPNS

11 sts= 4″ on larger needles in stockinette (no thrums)

Headband/Cowl: 50g/100g Wicked Stitch Cauldron Dyed (doubled), or other heavy worsted (doubled) or bulky yarn that achieves gauge

Headband/Cowl: 1oz/2oz Merino Combed Top

Homework (either version):

CO 51 with US 9. Join in the round
Work 3 rnds K2P1 ribbing
Switch to 11s and work 4 rnds.

For a parting gift, here’s what I got for sleeping in yesterday morning:

Fuck being all busy and stressed out. I’m taking a break.

I am not a disciplined person. I get a hell of a lot done (though never as much as I want), but it’s not through solid planning or because I’m a real go-getter, but through a sort of frenzied, fearful, directionless will. I spend a lot of my time in an adrenaline-fueled blur. This would be fine if I were, I don’t know, a spy or a superhero or something. But I’m not. I’m a small businessperson of sorts, a knitwear designer, a craftsperson, and a part-time fiber farmer. My brain and body do not want or require all this amped-up Tokyo Drift pumping bass bullshit.

So I’m going to try to cut it out.

Well, theoretically. I don’t really know how to go about it.

But I’m going to start but taking a little break.

I’ve been completely submersed in knitting since late summer when I signed a book deal with Wiley. I can’t tell you how proud and excited I am about this project, but it’s fucking stressful to pump out 30-odd quality patterns with supporting charts, schematics, technical crap and lovely photos in a little over 6 months. I’ve also got a new dog.

Ears flying!

Georgie after running around like a maniac

He’s a very good boy, and watching him run is a thing of beauty, but holy time suck, I’d forgotten how much work young dogs are, and a high energy working dog is… well, let’s just say I was unprepared. I’m pretty confident that left to his own devices he would playfully kill all of the chickens and run the sheep until their hearts exploded. As a result, his exercise requires my presence. And he requires a lot of exercise.

And I have and a giant heap of overdue administrative obligations than I’m not exactly tackling; but they’re a constant weight on my mind. And of course rotten debt and no money like everyone else. And since Ron’s been on tour, I have fallen into a sort of astonishing squalor. I mean, my environment is always messy and chaotic, and Christmastime is the worst, but this is bananas. Anyway, I didn’t meant to start bitching because bitching gets my adrenaline pumps squirting out go-juice and that’s not what I want.

Because right now, just for like the next day or two, I have a little window of flexibility. I can plow through it with more work or I can sleep or I can try to force myself to slow down and take stock. I think that last one is what I should do. That and try to restore a little order.

Pear Rum Pot and Pear Ginger Preserves

In the name of order, last night I finally cleaned out my fridge. I sent 4 bags of wasted food into the compost. I did save a giant sack of pears in time to make a huge pear rum pot and a little batch of ginger pear preserves. The two little bags of wee, perfect miniature pears that I meant to pickle whole but instead let rot kind of broke my heart, along with the big sack of brilliant multi-hued sweet and hot peppers I meant to pickle. Sigh. And don’t get me started about the 2 pounds of ham and the big soupy pot of beans I forgot about and had to chuck earlier this week. Luckily, I had the foresight to cut and freeze most the ham in 1-pound chunks from the get-go, before I got distracted. But then I went and let that gorgeous meaty fatty bone end start a lab-worthy colony on its surface. That was meant to be the base of a lovely, rich split pea soup, but it instead became the base for a particularly stinky trash can after an unseasonably warm spell earlier this week. Ugh.

There’s something so defeating about wasting food. All your other abandoned projects are evidence of your personal failure and wasted money, but at least they just sit there, gathering dust. Abandoned cooking projects rot and stink and reproach you like mushy, fuzzy, polka-dotted proof of your failed good intentions.

The worst part about working on a book is that I don’t get to show off all my hard work for another year! Sure, I can take some nice peekaboo closeups that completely obscure the nature of the FO, but that’s not really the kind of self-congratulatory gold star I crave.

But I do have a pattern in the new knitty! It’s a super easy seamless hoodie called Sporto. It’s a very plain pattern, written simply to show off the beauty of handspun, but it would e a good choice for any richly textured or hand-dyed colored yarn. The pattern includes light worsted specs, plus a general recipe for any weight of yarn. I find that a pound of fiber = a hoodie with a pocket if it’s spun light worsted, or a hoodie without a pocket spun to aran. A pound and a quarter will typically spin me enough for a hoodie and a pocket at most weights. I wear about an old school Size 8/Women’s M (and by “old school,” I don’t mean sewing patterns, where I’m more like a 12, but standard, non-vanity sized patterns where I pretend I’m cramming a 46-inch ass into a size 2 skirt, which I own and certainly doesn’t fool anyone, least of all me), and the sweater has a relaxed but not too baggy fit. The bright green is one ply of hand-dyed Art Club top + one ply Art Club Succulent. The rotten watermelon is a one-off dye lot of Decadent Fibers Jelly Roll Corriedale bought at Rhinebeck 2009.

Sporto Hoodie on Knitty

Sporto Hoodie on Knitty

Oh! Wait, my calendars are done, too! That’s something else I can boast about. It’s 2012: The Year of the Grouch, but the covers, cut from 1940s & 50s magazines, and terribly cheery.

Here’s a smattering of the ones that shipped on Monday:

2012: The Year of the Grouch

2012: The Year of the Grouch

The completion of the calendars always puts me in the mood to tote up this year’s Überlist and get started on the new one. My goal for 2012 is to lower the bar. My Überlist has gotten progressively more ambitious and thus more defeating every year. For 2012, I’m reigning it in. 2012 is going to be my Year of Lowered Expectations, a goal that fits nicely with this year’s theme.

My only goals for the rest of the day are to ship late calendar orders, make some dumplings and deliver chicken & dumplings to Dick & Rita, and make or wrap a few Christmas presents. And have a few drinks. All this inadvertent teetotaling is not helping my health or well-being. Too bad I didn’t make that rum pot 3 months ago. Some sweet pear-infused rum sure would be dandy right now.

And by the way, I know how stupid my thumb ring looks. I cringe every time I see a picture of my hands, and yet, I can’t seem to part with it.