Monday, 28 July 2008

Aux Champs-Élysées

Tour de Fleece total production

Aux Champs-Élysées, aux Champs-Élysées
Au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit
Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Élysées.
(words and music by Pierre Delanoé)

On the Champs-Élysées, on the Champs-Élysées
In the sun, in the rain, at noon or at midnight
There's everything that you could want on the Champs-Élysées.

The last French immersion weekend I went on a few years ago was a real mixed bag: I came back with a lot of great photographs and book ideas (one of which I'm working on for a deadline next month), as well as some really, ah, not pleasant moments that have kept me from going back again.

One of the best experiences was learning to sing this song on the bus on the way out to the Kananaskis Field Station (part of the Biogeoscience Institute of the University of Calgary), and it was running through my brain about as fast as the riders on the last stage of the Tour de France made their way on the Champs-Élysées.

(Check out this great music video of Paris to the song!)

And as they crossed the finish line, I, too, finished my Tour de Fleece by spinning another great length (20 meters) of fine, two-ply linen bookbinding thread: everything, with the exception of one bobbin of black Merino I spun for another project, is in the picture above. It wasn't easy, and on one day, it just wasn't fun, but I did spin every day the Tour was on the road, and finished spinning for My Past Life. In fact, not spinning this morning felt strange.

I'm hoping all the thread will enable me to do my first sewn binding from Volume II of Kevin A. Smith's Non-Adhesive Bindings collection. I've almost settled on which binding I'm going to use, and am adapting it for seven sections (from three).

So now I'm trying to finish a couple of long-standing WIPs (Works-In-Progress) in order to retrieve the circular needles they are mounted on to prepare for my knitting projects during the Olympics.

Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Élysées.

Monday, 21 July 2008


Linen Thread

Today's a rest day in the Tour de France as well as in the Tour de Fleece I signed up for on Ravelry. A chance to get caught up on a lot of things.

Yesterday was the first big stage in the Alps, and I had set myself the challenge of spinning a quantity of fine linen bookbinding thread. Imagine my surprise when I finished plying to discover that I had spun slightly over 10 yards (10 m) of really consistent two-ply thread (pictured above)!

Even more impressive (well, to me!) is that it only took me an hour to spin the single, create a wrap on my hand to let me ply the two ends together (Andean plying, for you technical spinning folks), untangle the mess it turned into when I made the mistake of trying to work on it when the day's Tour stage got exciting, and then finish it up.

If you're thinking gee Linda, it's been awhile since you've blogged, you haven't had a lot of pictures up on Flickr, you don't answer emails lately and this is all you have been doing?, well, you're wrong.

I've also finished spinning all the yarn for the chessboard portion of My Past Life (now updated with more details and pictures), which has been a major accomplishment, getting my proposals ready to send off to teach at Olds College next year (lots of samples and models created), and swatching the yarn I ended up buying for a contest I'm planning to enter.

Last, but not least, I am trying to do more "real" writing -- not just here on the blog. I know I said I was going to do this in May 2007, and I do keep a list of things I think have potential (not dissimilar to my book project tally).

Soon, very soon, one is going to be delivered kicking and screaming into the light of day.

Stay tuned, sports fans....

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Smell-o-vision needed here

Level 2 Wool Judging

Or maybe not, if you don't like the scent of greasy fleece.... (grin)

This is how I spent a good part of my Level 2 Fleece Judging Course up at Olds College on Monday, June 30. Late in the morning, we were presented with 20 green garbage bags full of fleece: before lunch, we had to take them all out, sort them as to breed. We decided one was probably a Perendale, three were from down sheep (Dorsets/Hampshires/etc.: i.e., meat sheep) and the rest were Rambouillet, a fine, crimpy fleece breed.

After lunch, we had to separate out the finer Rambouillets (fibre size under 24 microns) from the strong (over 24 microns) and several lamb fleeces. (Lamb fleeces, for the curious, have never been previously clipped, so the tip end isn't blunt, like it is on older sheep. Confused yet?)

(The lamb fleece table is the near one on the right, with the table to the rear holding the down and Perendale fleeces, while the fine Rambouillet fleeces are the near table on the left, and the strong fleeces on the table behind them.)

Once we had them all separated into groups, we paired up (five attendees, two instructors) and judged them. That took awhile, as you, dear readers, might suspect, and we were urged by our head instructor, Morris Beauvais, who is the chief wool classer in Alberta for the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers, "not to dawdle."

There is, of course, a form to fill out, numbers to assign -- which is why we paired up: we took turns being judge and scribe -- calculations to make, and a whole lot of addition to perform.

But it was a lot of fun, and the discussion after -- we went through the fine fleece table one by one, talking about how we ranked them and why -- was pretty interesting. I'm pleased that I agreed with Morris's assessment more often than not, and for the same reasons.

And I'm here to tell you: my hands were so soft when we were finished, thanks to the magic healing power of lanolin.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I taught some terrific students the mysteries of entrelac and double knitting. Keeners all, the entire entrelac class finished their flat sample in very good order, and went on to complete a circular one, while two students finished off their flat double-knitting sample, and one even finished a small circular one.

Good work, all of you!

The trip was a (mostly) great time, with the exception of the overwhelming number of mosquitos and the heat in the upstairs bedroom of my townhouse, I'm glad I went. Got to meet some terrific people, catch up with some old friends, and play with fibre.

That they liked me enough to ask me back to teach again next year was a bonus, and I'm now working hard to put together classes for next year.

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