Spinzilla 2017 (with a roller derby ending & complete with footnotes)

Spinzilla was ages ago, or so it seems now, especially since a good chunk of the people in my yarn and fiber network went to Rhinebeck1 this past weekend, and like Spinzilla, I hope to one day experience Rhinebeck. Since this was my first Spinzilla, I set really attainable goals for myself: I just wanted to spin every day. Upon hearing about the Monster Mile Club, I also quietly decided that I wanted to spin a mile (1760 yards).

Tallying your yards spun is a bit different for Spinzilla. You count the length of all your plies in addition to the length of the yarn, so you count the spinning of the singles and the plying of the yarn, so you calculate total yards spun as (length of yarn x plies in yarn) + length of yarn. For example, let’s say you have 10 yards of a finished 3 ply yarn. For Spinzilla, you count 30 yards (10 yards for each ply) plus the 10 yards for making the final yarn, for a total of 40 yards spun. I know that calculation can be confusing, and I probably haven’t helped much to allay that – suffice to say that  I spun a total of 5,040 yards, blowing my goal to spin 1760 yards out of the water! Here’s a family portrait of my 2.89 miles spun. I’ll get to the individual spins in a moment.

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All the yarn I spun during Spinzilla 2017

To prepare for Spinzilla, I spun nearly every day and loaded up my stash with far too many braids of fiber; I think I somehow thought my pace would increase magically but I also used it as a convenient excuse to indulge. On day one I started out with this lovely braid, my favorite out of everything I got at Shenandoah Fiber Festival. I saved it just for Spinzilla, too.

SVFF Goodies

I decided to spin this 4 oz bump2 as a fractal 3 ply, so I divided the braid into 3 lengths. The first length, I spun. The second length, I divided into 3 strips and spun. The third length I divided into as many strips as I could manage, about 9, and spun. Then on day two I ignored my new copy of Archangel and plied them together and got this: 202 yards of 3 ply yarn, 174 yards of 2 ply yarns, and about 12 yards of singles.

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On day 2 I also started spinning 4 ounces of top (40% merino, 40% bamboo, 20% tussah silk) I got from the Fiberists at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.

SVFF Goodies

I practiced my long draw on the singles (I usually use short forward draw), with predictably uneven results, which was a bit frustrating even though I got better the more I did it. By the end of the bobbin, it was pretty even, but I used up a lot of my patience on drafting technique. On day three I chain plied the singles, so I’d use them all up, but I did it quite badly; I started losing my patience, went too fast, and ended up with a yarn that has small, loose beehives through it a bit unevenly.

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After the frustration of chain plying gone wrong, I took a nice long break and decided I’d spin this 8 ounce bag of merino & bamboo. Once again, I wanted to try a fractal spin, so I divided the fiber into three equal parts. I spun the first part as it was in the roving, without having to divide the roving lengthwise. I divided the next part of the roving into 3 lengths, and the final part of the roving into as many small strips as possible.

SVFF Goodies

As I spun, I discovered why the seller may have given me 8 ounces for the price of 4; parts of both braids were stuck together as though glued or felted or possibly melted (does bamboo fiber melt?). I powered through it on days three, four, and five, finishing on day five (Saturday) by plying. I ended up with 2 skeins of 3 ply yarn, one at 180 yards and the other at 256 yards, 56 yards of 2 ply yarn, and 10 yards of singles.

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By this point on Saturday afternoon, I was really sick of spinning. My hip flexors and lower back hurt from sitting too much – I should have thrown some spindle spinning in – and I had listened to all the podcasts and NPR I could handle. I was also really tired of looking at orange and pink and red. For my final spin, I chose the soothing colors of this superfine merino roving from Three Waters Farm and tuned in to Indie 88 out of Toronto, which was doing a countdown of listener favorite songs.

fiber stash

I decided to fractal spin this bump as well, dividing it lengthwise into 3 parts and then further dividing it similarly to the other fractal spins I did. I ended up with 138 yards of 3 ply, 44 yards of 2 ply, and 56 yards of singles at about 9pm on the last day.

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Throughout Spinzilla, I checked in with my team every day on Ravelry, Team Spin Off, sponsored (I think) by Interweave Press and Spin Off magazine, to which I should subscribe. It was a great group, very encouraging, and one of my favorite parts of the whole thing was seeing what other people were spinning.

I also follow Abby Franquemont on social media and followed along with her astounding progress – she spun more in her first day than I did for the entirety of Spinzilla! But I had to remind myself that I haven’t been spinning since I was 5, that I don’t have the same skill set, that it is my first time participating in this event, and I also didn’t have the same strategies. Imagine my surprise to see Abby post the day after Spinzilla ended lamenting how little she spun (IIRC, she spun upwards of 11 or 12,000 yards), how she could’ve done so much more in her youth, how it sucks to be so old. We are all our own worst critics and I need to break that cycle with myself, too, not just point it out in others. To that end …

I blew my goals out of the water. Not only did I spin every day, but that’s what I spent most of my days doing. I also spun close to 3 miles, more than double my goal. I tried two things I hadn’t done (much) before: fractal spinning and long draw, and I got better at both. It’s been a while since I lost my patience with myself and something I was doing like I did the Saturday of Spinzilla; I haven’t felt like that since just before deciding to back off on roller derby. I’m not going to back off on spinning (or fiber art in general) the way I did with derby; I just need some time to collect myself, which is okay and a normal part of how I expend time and energy on things.

Adjusting my thoughts on Spinzilla has also led me to reconsider roller derby; I may look into going to a practice to see how it feels. The league and my former home team have changed so much since I stopped playing in 2015, Going back could also mean going back at 50% effort instead of my usual 250% effort. We’ll see.

 


1. New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.
2. An unspecified mix of BFL, llama, and seacell.

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The Week October 16-22

So last week I flaked out on everything and spent a good part of the week in bed, either reading (I finished a bad steampunk novel and started The Essex Serpent) or sleeping. Spinzilla was fun but, as usual, I went all-in and by Saturday was ready for it to be over. My hip flexors hurt from sitting and spinning so much and I fought with the last braid I spun late Saturday and Sunday. I’ll definitely do it again, but with better and strategic planning, now that I know what to expect.

I also happen to be in between creative projects; I’m knitting a shawl, but I’m not over the moon excited about it, and I’m not embroidering anything right now. I also have started to doubt my validity and long term plan, which I’ve managed to do in record time. Am I really an artist? Is that something I can really spend the rest of my time doing? Or am I just another person with needles and knitting patterns? I just need to do some more soul searching and long term planning, or, you know, actually execute my long term plan.

I saw my therapist on Friday and she noticed that my affect is pretty flat, so seasonal changes in the light might already be affecting me. I may need a medication adjustment, which annoys me because I didn’t need one last year, so why should I need one this year? I’m even taking vitamins this year to help keep things under control. I wish there was a blood test or something similar that I could take – just like my husband testing his blood sugar level – to determine exactly what I need instead of this touchy feely stabbing in the dark stuff.

On to planning!

The week before last week:

  • SPINZILLA!
    It was fun, despite me having no sense of pace or self-control. I’ll definitely do it again and recommend it!

This week:

  • Walk instead of going back to bed after I finish my morning coffee. Done for today – I took Lil for a walk on the W&OD trail (a rail trail) that runs through my neighborhood and all the way into DC.
  • Go to TKD twice.
  • Carry on knitting  (S)urge, the new shawl and read The Essex Serpent while doing it.
  • Start a new embroidery or new spinning project.
  • Write a post about Spinzilla.

 

The Week October 2-8

Last week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills.
    Ugh – I still need to do this.
  • Carry on with (S)urge, the new shawl.
    Making progress!
  • Spin, whether it’s handpainted or some of the fleece from my stash.
    I started and finished spinning fleece from my stash. All the details on it are here, but I spun 378 yards of a 3 ply sport-ish weight yarn, with a 2 ply and singles left over. I couldn’t wait for Spinzilla.
  • Ruminate further on a new embroidery project or, you know, actually start one.
    I ruminated and cleaned up my project basket, but didn’t start anything new.

This week:

I’m taking precious time away from the wheel to take care of some non-spinning stuff and then it’s back to the grindstone! What’s Spinzilla, you ask? All the details are here, but it’s basically a week-long spin-a-thon. (Hey! That rhymes!) I’m almost 2/3 of the way through my first braid of fiber and actually considering drinking some coffee so I can stay up later and spin more! (That’s probably a bad idea and I don’t think I’ll do it, but the thought is there!) Have a great week!

The Week September 25 – October 1

Last week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills. Use his camera this time, not my phone.
    I talked to him about it but we never got around to it.
  • Continue working on the new blanket.
    Finished. I started and restarted (twice) a shawl, and finally found a pattern that I like and started that over twice, going forward with different yarn.
  • Continue spinning the braid of Pigeon Roof Studios fiber.
    Finished.
  • Start a new embroidery project.
    Nope. I’m still stuck on the last one, but I have some ideas of what to do next.
  • Hopefully hear back from my friend and decide what to do with The View From Mt. Peg.
    Nope. She’s a high school English teacher in Hawaii, so that may explain why she’s not online much.
  • Saturday: meet Becky & her daughter Mia at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. From there, go to friend gathering in Martinsburg, WV. Sunday is free, so maybe I can get Ky to go to the Leesburg Fine Arts Festival (day 2) to poke around and maybe make some connections in this local artist world I’m trying to be more active in.
    We went, we saw, I bought stuff – spinning fiber and vintage buttons; I’m ready for Spinzilla. And I also had a really good afternoon catching up with Leticia & her littles. I slept on Sunday, pretty much during prime Fine Arts Festival time so we didn’t go.

 

SVFF Goodies
My favorite bump of fiber from SVFF; BFL, llama, seacell. I absolutely love this color combination!
  • Some sad news: Moose, our 12 year old big black dog, hasn’t been doing well and so we have an appointment on Thursday to ease his pain and help him across the Rainbow Bridge. It went as well as could be expected. The in-home vet was very compassionate, Moosie went out without any pain and with a dog bone in his mouth, very fitting for a guy who could never eat enough. We miss him but are all glad he’s not in pain anymore.
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Moose, the goofy noble beast

I also carded some fleece from my stash, so I have a batt ready to spin. Now if I could just find where I noted the breed …

This week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills.
  • Carry on with (S)urge, the new shawl.
  • Spin, whether it’s handpainted or some of the fleece from my stash.
  • Ruminate further on a new embroidery project or, you know, actually start one.

The Week September 18-24

Last week:

  • Weave in the ends of Aranami/Imanara (there are lots even though I’ve been weaving in as I go), and wash & block, then sniff & squish.
    All done!
  • Choose and start a new knitting project. Will it be a blanket to give away or will it be a shawl to keep? I have ideas and yarn for both.
    Done. I’m knitting a blanket of my own design (nothing fancy, really) for the Welcome Blanket Project (HT to Shirley for making me aware of this project!).
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Welcome Blanket Project blanket. Guess how many rows are purled! 😉
  • Carry on embroidering The View From Mt. Peg. It’s ready for all the background mountains and the sky. It occurred to me that I could use the gray background color for clouds, so there’s that.
    I think it’s done without the sky, maybe. I queried the always helpful and funny Mildly Offensive Fiber Arts group on FB for advice about pricing because I have an old friend inquiring about it or a similar commission piece. I gathered my thoughts, made my calculations and came up with a reasonable-to-me-for-the-situation price and am just waiting to hear back from the old friend.
  • Decide on fiber to prep for Spinzilla, if any, and get started while trying not to spin all the braids I’ve got. I have clean, undyed locks I can dye & card or just card, but I also have some alpaca fleeces that need to be washed that would be a joy to spin if I ever actually get around to doing that.
    Instead, I started spinning a braid of fiber from Pigeon Roof Studios. I should do a test spin of those locks and wash that alpaca fleece, but this seemed much more fun.
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The braid of Pigeon Roof Studios fiber I started spinning – these aren’t my usual colors.
  • Plan the weekend: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival is this weekend, so is parents weekend at both my sons’ schools. We’re going to skip it and take Ethan (who’s at JMU in Harrisonburg, VA) hiking on Sunday in the Shenandoah National Park instead. That leaves Saturday for SVFF, except some of my roller derby friends are getting together and I haven’t seen a lot of them for a few years. I have conflicts.
    We visited Ethan this past Sunday, which opens up my Sunday. All other plans are settled.
  • Try to sleep Wednesday night after seeing IT at the Alamo with Becky. Avoid clowns.
    No problemo! It was startling in a few spots, but I realized it’s most like Stand By Me but with a scary clown demon instead of a dead body. Also, there’s a kick-ass girl, but the groups of kids is as close as the group of boys in Stand By Me. Can’t wait for Chapter 2, may need to re-read the book or start reading King again in general.

This week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills. Use his camera this time, not my phone.
  • Continue working on the new blanket.
  • Continue spinning the braid of Pigeon Roof Studios fiber.
  • Start a new embroidery project.
  • Hopefully hear back from my friend and decide what to do with The View From Mt. Peg.

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    The View From Mt. Peg, probably in its near-final form. 
  • Saturday: meet Becky & her daughter Mia at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. From there, go to friend gathering in Martinsburg, WV. Sunday is free, so maybe I can get Ky to go to the Leesburg Fine Arts Festival (day 2) to poke around and maybe make some connections in this local artist world I’m trying to be more active in.
  • Some sad news: Moose, our 12 year old big black dog, hasn’t been doing well and so we have an appointment on Thursday to ease his pain and help him across the Rainbow Bridge. He will be dearly missed by us all, but it’s time – he’s having problems just getting up from lying down, along with having problems with the stairs to the back yard and some so far minor potty problems. We’re treating him like a king this week.
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Moosie posing nicely for the camera. He’s a beautiful, smart dog
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Moose asking if it’s time for dinner yet

The Week September 11-17

Last week:

  • Order from Campus Cookies for Ethan for his birthday Thursday. Eat more of Ky’s cake to celebrate in Ethan’s absence. Our first birthday apart and his 18th.
    The cookies & balloons were a grand success – Ethan, his roommate and the guys on his hall feasted. I think it was a pretty good birthday for him.
  • Carry on with Aranami/Imanara. I’m almost halfway through the final row.
    Finished, except for weaving in ends, washing & blocking.
  • Carry on with the embroidery.
    I’m about halfway done with the canvas, but only 1/3 of the way through the colors, so the funnest part is still to come.
  • Choose and start the next spinning project.
    I chose and spun a braid of Dragonfly Fibers polwarth & silk roving and did a 3 ply, with 2 ply and a single left over. I think it’s the squishiest yarn I’ve spun; I seem to only be able to do a short forward draw, alternated occasionally with a long back draw, which makes for a pretty tight twist. This time around the polwarth was sticky enough that I didn’t feel like it needed a lot of twist to stay together, so I adjusted accordingly and I love the yarn I got. The color, Salt Marsh, is really awesome too and I’m glad I got to spend so much time in it.
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My latest spinning project. I hope I have braids left for October!

I also registered with Team Spin Off for Spinzilla, which is happening October 2-8. This was the thing I forgot to mention last week. I’ve never done Spinzilla – it started the same year I got caught up in roller derby, which is kind of all-consuming, and I just haven’t gotten around to trying it until now. Let’s see how much I can spin in 7 days!

This week:

  • Weave in the ends of Aranami/Imanara (there are lots even though I’ve been weaving in as I go), and wash & block, then sniff & squish.
  • Choose and start a new knitting project. Will it be a blanket to give away or will it be a shawl to keep? I have ideas and yarn for both.
  • Carry on embroidering The View From Mt. Peg. It’s ready for all the background mountains and the sky. It occurred to me that I could use the gray background color for clouds, so there’s that.

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    The View From Mt. Peg
  • Decide on fiber to prep for Spinzilla, if any, and get started while trying not to spin all the braids I’ve got. I have clean, undyed locks I can dye & card or just card, but I also have some alpaca fleeces that need to be washed that would be a joy to spin if I ever actually get around to doing that.
  • Plan the weekend: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival is this weekend, so is parents weekend at both my sons’ schools. We’re going to skip it and take Ethan (who’s at JMU in Harrisonburg, VA) hiking on Sunday in the Shenandoah National Park instead. That leaves Saturday for SVFF, except some of my roller derby friends are getting together and I haven’t seen a lot of them for a few years. I have conflicts.
  • Try to sleep Wednesday night after seeing IT at the Alamo with Becky. Avoid clowns.

Did I say clowns? Here’s a palate cleanser: the Dragonfly Fibers Salt Marsh single on my hardware store niddy noddy. Those colors!!! Have a great (clown-free!) week!

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