Tour de Fleece 2018

I have two main crafts - knitting and drop spindling. Knitting is number one, with spinning trailing several yards behind. My only experience with spinning - despite the fact that I've been doing it for years - is picking up fiber and a spindle and going at it for a few minutes once a month or so, with no real regard for what I was doing or why.

As I mentioned before though, I just had a baby, and that baby loves watching my drop spindle. It's mesmerizing for little baby brains that haven't ever seen much of anything. I found myself choosing to spin instead of knit. Turns out that if you spin for more than five minutes every few months, things actually get finished. And I did some reading and found out that there is more than one way to spin, and there is such a thing as color management. That's how this skein came about:

Handspun yarn

This is fiber from Created by Elsie B in the colorway "Unicorns." It is a two-ply fractal spin, and I flew through it because I was so excited to see how it would turn out.

 That sparkle though...

That sparkle though...

Once this skein was finished, I ordered 8 ounces of this gorgeous fiber from Inglenook Fibers:

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The colorway is "Nautilus," and it's part of their Summer Blend Series. Made of merino, silk, pearl fiber, and silver stellina, it's insanely soft and has a beautiful sheen. I originally only ordered 4 oz, but once it came I needed more. It was so beautiful that I knew I would want it to be a bigger project with more yardage. 

I wasn't planning on participating in the Tour de Fleece this year, but trying to get through 8 oz of fiber on a drop spindle (making it my biggest spinning project to date) with a newborn seemed like a pretty good challenge. I used my Golding spindle because that was the one that was available (it's all very scientific over here).

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My intent was a two-ply worsted spun, at whatever weight it ended up being. I'm not going to pretend like I have the experience or energy to plan ahead for a specific weight. And as I learned from the Craftsy class I recently watched on drafting, a woolen draft is my default. Not just my default, but the only drafting method I've ever used. So I had no idea what to expect from a worsted draft.

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By the end of the Tour, I completed the full 8 ounces of singles.

 Singles complete with background cattle dog and box of liquor. 

Singles complete with background cattle dog and box of liquor. 

They still need to be plied, and while I was hoping to complete that step during the Tour, I think finishing the singles is not too shabby a result. And my kid was thoroughly entertained by the spindle for the month of July.

The Tour de Fleece was an awesome way to ignite my spinning mojo. It worked so well that I think spinning has moved up closer to knitting on my craft priorities list. I don't think knitting will ever be knocked out of the number one slot, but at the moment all I want to do is keep spinning.

Partners for Single Socks

I'm on maternity leave this summer, and my goals are three-fold: keep my kid alive, knit pairs for all of my single sock WIPs, and participate in the Tour de Fleece. The last two are easier said than done because as you can imagine the first goal is a big one.

 (but a cute one)

(but a cute one)

Plus, as I've mentioned before, I'm not great with crafting commitments. 

I'll talk about the Tour in a different post, but the second sock goal makes sense for a lot of reasons.

  • The Grocery Girls hold a "Second Sock of Summer KAL," so there's camaraderie in finishing up the pairs. 
  • Taking care of a baby, while it's my favorite thing I've ever done, is HARD. It's nice to be able to say, "hey look, I knit a whole pair of socks AND my kid gained two pounds." Tangibility and all that.
  • My big knitting goal for 2018 was to finish all of my WIPs (again, progress report in a later post), so finishing all of my sock WIPs fits in with that.
  • If I didn't make a point to spend three months knitting second socks, they would quite literally never happen. By the time I finish the first sock, I'm bored and ready to move on to a new sock with new yarn. At last count, if I knit a pair of socks every month, I would have enough sock yarn in my stash to last me five years. So I have a lot tempting me. By spending the summer finishing off pairs, I can spend the rest of the year knitting all of the first socks that I want!

I started the summer with this lineup of single socks in need of partners:

 I'm not counting the unfinished sock on the top.

I'm not counting the unfinished sock on the top.

My plan was to finish one sock a week, but we all know how that goes. Instead, it's mid-July and I only have (almost) three done. 

The first was out of self-striping yarn from Scrumptious Purl, in the colorway "Cake for Breakfast." When I pulled this one out I was actually surprised that I didn't finish the full pair when I started it *cough* last fall */cough*. I REALLY love these colors together, so much so that I'm planning on knitting a shawl with these same colors in 2019, once my year of WIPs is over. I knit the first sock on a trip to New Hampshire with my husband for our anniversary. I just found out I was pregnant, and pretty soon after I finished this sock, knitting started to make me nauseous. Being pregnant is a blast. 

The second finished pair is from Hedgehog Fibers on the Twist Sock base in the colorway "Wild Thing," which was a club color from a few years back. Twist Sock is a BFL/nylon blend, and I love knitting with it. I knit the first sock this February. Another 2018 knitting goal I had was to knit a pair of socks a month. This lasted until... February. Nailed it.

And finally, I'm planning on finishing this pair later today, since I only have the toe left, though I probably just jinxed myself. This is my own hand-dyed yarn in the colorway "Midnight" on my Crayon base, which is a multi-colored tweed. The toe is "Coral" on Ballpoint Sock, my 80/20 sock blend. I couldn't even begin to guess when I knit the first one. 

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Six socks and seven weeks left. Sounds doable, but given the fact that I've only knit three in six weeks, probably not likely. I'm fine with this though because I have a happy baby, a dog who is only slightly neglected since the baby came home, a husband I still have time to talk to on occasion, and a house that is a contained disaster rather than a straight up dumpster fire. Anything else is a bonus :)

Introducing the Killer Fall Collection - Six new colorways of hand-dyed yarn and one new DK base

I'm so excited to announce the launch of With Pointed Sticks Yarn's newest colors and base - the Killer Fall Collection!

Inspired by imagery from songs by The Killers, these colors are perfect for autumn!

 Killer Fall Collection on Ballpoint Sock

Killer Fall Collection on Ballpoint Sock

I heard The Killers' debut album, Hot Fuss, at my best friend's house in 2004. We were almost 15, and baking cookies to impress boys we liked at a pool party later that day. Those boys are long in the past, but Hot Fuss and all of their albums thereafter still live in my heart, and remind me of being a kid dancing in a kitchen with her best friend.

This collection features six new colorways and one new base.

  Sunsets on the Eastside   Inspired by imagery in the song "  Smile Like You Mean It  " by the Killers

Sunsets on the Eastside
Inspired by imagery in the song "Smile Like You Mean It" by the Killers

  Shimmy and a Shake   Inspired by imagery in the song "  On Top  " by The Killers

Shimmy and a Shake
Inspired by imagery in the song "On Top" by The Killers

  Current Lets You Go   Inspired by imagery in the song "  River is Wild  " by The Killers

Current Lets You Go
Inspired by imagery in the song "River is Wild" by The Killers

  Talks Like a Gentleman   Inspired by imagery in the song "  When You Were Young  " by The Killers

Talks Like a Gentleman
Inspired by imagery in the song "When You Were Young" by The Killers

  Gold-Hearted Boy   Inspired by imagery in the song "  All These Things That I've Done  " by The Killers

Gold-Hearted Boy
Inspired by imagery in the song "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers

  Blue Jean Serenade   Inspired by imagery in the song "  Dustland Fairytale  " by The Killers

Blue Jean Serenade
Inspired by imagery in the song "Dustland Fairytale" by The Killers

New Base!
Flex DK
100% Superwash Merino
231 yards/100 grams

I'm thrilled to introduce With Pointed Sticks Yarn's newest base in the lineup - Flex DK! This 4-ply yarn is soft and squishy, and perfect for winter accessories or garment knitting.

The Killer Fall Collection colorways will be the first to be featured on this base, and others will follow.

 Killer Fall Collection on Flex DK

Killer Fall Collection on Flex DK

This collection will be in the shop on Wednesday, August 10th at 7:00 pm EST in the With Pointed Sticks Etsy shop. Full skeins of each color will be available on Ballpoint Sock and the new Flex DK bases. Mini skein sets of all 6 colors will be available as well, on Ballpoint Sock.

Hope to see you there!!

Tour de Fleece 2016 - Small Successes

I’m terrible at committing myself to anything with a deadline that is meant to be recreational. Knit-alongs, Stash Dash, Ravellenic Games, Tour de Fleece, whatever. Working on something I love alongside other people who share that same passion seems like a great idea. But the second I commit to it, it turns into a chore. Now I have to do it by a certain date, or else. I’m the least competitive person in the world, which doesn’t help. As soon as something gets competitive, my eyes glaze over. I’m the worst person to play board games with.

I tried recently to participate in the Cookie Jar KAL, held by the hosts of the Pinfeathers and Purls and The Fawn Knits podcasts, where all I had to do was to knit a pair of socks by Cookie A. I had a good start with my No-Purl Monkey Socks in Hedgehog Fibres Sock in the Genie colorway. I was excited, I was motived, I was determined. For about two days. Then I was all, “I have to finish TWO WHOLE SOCKS in a MONTH? Is this a JOKE?” Never mind that I finish socks in that time frame all the time. This voluntary KAL turned into a chore thrust upon me against my will. I got belligerent.

“Oh, this KAL is going to force me to knit socks? When actually what I want to be doing is knitting OTHER socks? Who do they think they are?”

Needless to say, that deadline has passed and those socks are no more done than they were pre-temper tantrum.

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So no one was more surprised than me when I met my Tour de Fleece goal. Albeit, one day late, but that still feels like it counts, especially since I wasn’t officially participating.

I was smart this time. I didn’t announce that I was doing it. I didn’t even really plan it. It just so happened that the day the Tour started, I got a package in the mail from Hobbledehoy (battlings in the Crater Lake colorway) and my favorite spindle (from Tina's Angoras) was free.

I wondered if I could spin and ply this 2 ounce package of battlings during the Tour, just to see if I could. It seemed like I should be able to. 2 ounces is NOT a big commitment, though spare time is hard to come by these days.

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And at only one day late, those battlings (which ended up being over 2 ounces, thank you very much) were spun and plied!

Great success!

Blogging - A New Hope

Hello friends!

As you can tell, I have a new website. My old website served me well for several years, but then a Very Bad Thing happened to it involving... ahem, adult content... and I thought this is probably a good opportunity to do a total refresh. Also to put a better system in place so that never happens again because it was unpleasant. So many butts...

All of my old blog posts are lost in the abyss, but as I have time I plan to copy and paste some of my favorite posts via the Wayback Machine. This, though, seems like a good time for a reintroduction!

My name is Susan and I'm the lady behind With Pointed Sticks Yarn. I’m a knitter, spinner, indie dyer, and writer. I live in southeastern Massachusetts with my husband and our cattle dog. My husband is very supportive of my yarn habit, and can frequently be seen with me at yarny events. Jackson, the blue heeler/corgi mix, is less supportive because he's not allowed to play with the yarn and therefore it serves no purpose and is just a distraction from me petting his ears. His ears are very big and so require lots of pets.

I went to school for fiction writing, with the intention of working in children’s book publishing and writing novels on the side. But I graduated college in 2011, when jobs in publishing were hard to come by and even harder to keep. So I took the sensible, if not exciting, route and sent out 100 resumes and took the first job I was offered. Which is how I ended up a secretary in a hospital despite my complete and total lack of medical or scientific background. But I did the “fake it 'til you make it” thing, and four years later I was promoted to the Communications Department where I get to write and edit and manage websites all day.

I love my day job, but somewhere along the line I decided one full-time job wasn’t enough, and I added a second full-time gig to my plate – indie yarn dyer.

Like most dyers, I started dyeing just for fun using food coloring and cheap wool I bought at Michael’s. Then I moved up to professional-grade acid dyes, and yarns that I actually wanted to knit with. Then my house was overrun by more skeins of hand-dyed yarn than I could ever knit in my lifetime, so I opened an Etsy shop. Then people ended up liking my yarn, so I kept making it, and that’s how this venture has ended up being one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever taken on.

In my spare time (LOL no one has spare time, who are we kidding), I knit like a fiend – mainly socks and shawls, but occasionally I throw in a sweater – and spin yarn on my numerous drop spindles.

I’ll be posting here about all of the things I’m working on, but in the meantime, follow me on Instagram! I’m super active over there unlike Twitter which I’ve never gotten the hand of and Facebook which has the tendency to make me hate people I previously enjoyed.