Theory of Relativity

Major action yesterday. Just when I had admitted defeat, things got all efficient and whammo, I may (possibly, maybe, don’t count on it) be back in the game. I finished spinning and then plied all the singles from the latest Spinderella batt and no sooner than you can say “put ice on a spinners limp” (thanks for the tip, by the way, it actually really, really helped, along with elevation) I had turned this:


Into this…


Into 120g of wool/stuff “thrums” from Spinderella, about 150m, chain plied 3 ply.



Not only that, but because I had a good chunk of that spun up before the limp hit, the day was still young. Inspired (and watching Stargate Atlantis) I decided to at least make a start on the next day’s spinning, and I pulled out my last Spinderella batt, one called “Midnight Light”. These are very fast and fun to spin, since all the little bits in it make it impossible to spin an even single. Since perfection is off the table, I don’t fuss and they happen pretty quickly, especially compared to the wool/silk I was spinning before this.


Into this.


115 of the “Midnight Light” Spinderella thrums, again, chain plied to about 150m.

Now, 115 + 120 = 235, which is way, way more than the 132g minimum I needed yesterday. Yesterday’s spinning brings the Tour tally to 1205 so far, with 295g left to go…. and three days to do it.

That – my friends, means that I need only 98g a day to nail this thing and I’m totally overwhelmed by hope. I think I might make it. I really do. Only 98g – and every gram more than that I spin today means I have even less to spin tomorrow, which is really good because I do have a life and responsibilities and things I should be doing, but I really feel like the stars are aligning. Take today for instance. Today was a day that I was supposed to be doing mountains of laundry to get caught up and ready for next weeks activities, and lo and behold, 10 minutes after I made a pot of coffee…. the guys working on the road at the corner turned off my water for the day.

That’s a sign. There’s little to no housework I can do without water, so I may as well spin. It’s destiny. I would be doing laundry, if only the water was on, which it’s not, so there’s no shame in spending the afternoon at the wheel. I’m going to start with this:


A Brushstrokes batt from Indigo Moon Farm. (Are they closed or gone? I couldn’t dig up their website.) This is A Lot of 50% alpaca, 25% merino and 25% silk, and I have no idea how I’m going to handle it.


By the way? It just occurred to me that once again, setting myself a crazy goal has changed my idea of what I’m capable of. At the beginning of the Tour I thought that 65g a day was going to be a very seriously big deal, and now here I am totally and completely thrilled about a goal of 98g per day and the only thing that changed was that I spent all day yesterday knowing that I had to do 132. Crazy.

123 thoughts on “Theory of Relativity

  1. You are so close! I really hope you make your goal. I am not a spinner, so I am blissfully unaware of how ridiculous your daily quotas may be; therefore I am completely confident that you will make it to 1500g. GO!

  2. I hope that when you start knitting this stuff up, you will show pics all lined up from the original wool, to spun, to garment. I’m completely fascinated.

  3. Holy cow, that batt is the most beautiful thing and I may just steal it. We wants it for our precious. Middle Tennessee to Toronto is a long way to go, but it might just be worth it. I strongly considering staying home to finish plying because it’s raining and I didn’t want to walk or bike to work. I ended up driving – I am so lame. I’m cheering you on, dear Harlot! The yellow jersey will be ours! GO GO GO!

  4. You bet its a sign! And even more so that you got a pot of coffee in first! Spin away! I don’t feel a bit of guilt myself — I have laundry to do and water to do it with. . . . and I will be outside sunning myself knitting mittens. The wash will wait until its dark out!

  5. It appears we have a surprise breakaway from the pack here, as Stephanie Pearl McPhee moves ahead of the peloton, and places herself in strong contention for the Yellow Jersey! 😉

  6. Oooh, Midnight Light is drop-dead gorgeous!
    Man, I see a spindle in my near future…

  7. OK, would someone PLEASE let us know what the website is for that last batt. It is beautiful!

  8. Can That Laurie help overdye the yellow jersey into a series of colors that you like better? I’m picturing graduated multicolors…

  9. The Fiber Fates SO want you to meet your goal! I mean, how else to explain the lack of water? We’re all on the sidelines cheering you on…Har-lot…Har-lot…Har-lot..

  10. Bravo! Exquisite, do-able, lovely…ice is good yes. And I luuuuv the Midnight colorway – wow!

  11. I can’t believe how much I respect you and am awed by your amazing spinning!
    The yarn you’re turning out is truly inspiring, and I want to run out (or tune into the internet) and buy some fibers!
    The yarn you’re making is so BEAUTIFUL!

  12. I hope you posted a guard on that batt in your yard……
    (the Midnight Light is exquisite)

  13. Is it bad that I’m sitting at work hoping that the power goes out so I can go home and knit??

  14. I’m completely enthralled by the changes that take place between the batt/roving stage and the yarn stage. I can’t wait to learn how to do that!

  15. Re the limp. I have had it too, I got it once in my foot, the bottom cramped so that I could barely walk. This helps me: stand with the balls of your feet on a stair tread and let your heels drop. You’ll feel the stretch in your calf and your heels. Also, when you are spinning, periodically stick your feet out, point and flex your toes and make little circles with your feet. Don’t forget to also stretch your shoulders back so they don’t hunch forward. I once had a massage therapist give me exercises for my hands and shoulders to deal with fiber related issues. Keep spinning girl!

  16. You know what’s confusing me, is the colored roving (is that the right word?). I thought that, traditionally, the wool was spun and then it was dyed. Is this a new trend?

  17. That’s some great-looking yarn you’re making.
    There’s construction going on on my street, so I can’t get the car out of the driveway. Poor me, can’t run errands, gotta stay home and knit.

  18. Wow! The Midnight Light is stunning. STUNNING. Good luck with the Brushstrokes. It might be interesting to try to combine orderly with random by means of Navajo plying the multicolored singles?

  19. 2 things hit me reading your recent spinning posts;
    What plans are afoot for these fab yarns?
    Did you finish the spinning for the gansey?

  20. All the spinning stuff is great to see and beautiful. But…We want to hear news of Megan’s (not your daughter)baby, you know the basics…Sex, Wt, length, oh year and Birth Date!!

  21. You give me such hope – I’ll have to try that whole setting goals thing.
    That said, you are still you and I get a little nervous when things are going too well. Keep your eyes open!

  22. Wow…. Just.WOW.
    Beautiful! I especially like the “Midnight Light”
    Good luck with the rest. I know you can do it!!!

  23. OOohhh That gorgeous batt! Congrats on the spinning- I took too long to want to spin,and found I couldn’t due to computer-related tendonitis. I think it affected my spelling tooo 😉 Remember the ice, but also remember elevation AND…. COMPRESSION – that helped my wrist a lot. I can now type comfortably, even if spinning is out of reach.
    From the Sock-Shaped State, congrats & hugs!

  24. Ca I sue a canadian for making me drool on my keyboard?
    Pretty… and all this spinning with no MENTION of the Gansey?
    *ducks and runs back across the US border in feigned fear*

  25. Definitely a sign that you are not meant to do laundry today! If the laundry is critical, then take everything to the laundromat, making sure you have lots of change, and set the girls to keep track of the loads into/out of the washers & dryers. You then set up your wheel if it’s portable (or just bring your knitting), and voila, 2 hours of work time.

  26. The yarn is gorgeous and I am so curious as to what you’re going to turn it into! Socks, socks and more socks would seem to be in your future. You can do it — we’re cheering you on here!
    BABY? Any news? Do we have to hijack a stork and send it her way to make delivery?

  27. Great job!!! and, it doesn’t count to give credit to the stars aligning when you, yourself threw that cherry bomb down the neighbors toilet in the middle of the night in the attempt to make sure that you Couldn’t do laundry, and Had to spin!!! he he he!!! 🙂
    Keep up the great work!

  28. Ice is good for spinners limp. Also, try treadling with the other foot. It might take some practice, but it might also result becoming ambidexterous, footwise.

  29. The brushstrokes batt is so beautiful, it makes me want to learn to spin. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  30. I want to know, how do you know what the fiber will look like once it is spun? I see so many photos of roving and thing “ewwww…” and then the spun yarn shows up and it turns into an “ooooh, ahhhh”. Perhaps it is a gift to see potential in such fuzzy messes! I am enjoying the before and after photos quite a bit.

  31. Maybe I’m wrong but I could swear I saw some laundromats the last time I was in Toronto.

  32. Yea, verily, the stars have so aligned…!
    I mean – they turned off your water? The powers-that-be truly want you spinning away, and guilt-free about it, to boot!
    Spin, spin, spin!

  33. Hee. You could always pull your wheel up next to Sir Washie, and spin away! And Dude, that batt is Ca-razy huge!

  34. Perspective. It’s almost always a good thing.
    Your yarns and batts are all lovely. I especially like the Midnight one.

  35. Will this latest batt get you to the finish line? (It’s beautiful!) If not, is there another one that would make bulkier yarn? I know your goal was to spin the oldest fiber first, and you’ve done that. Getting stuff out of your stash and made into yarn, while improving your spinning is also part of the game. Go Stephanie!

  36. Go, go, go!
    (that´s what people watching my last run said when I was going through the last hundreds of metres)

  37. Indigo moon is indeed out of business. It was a sad day when I found that out. I’ve got a bunch of her batts still. I love spinning them. My personal choice is to first pre-draft them by pulling them through a diz (I use a spice jar lid.). Not everyone believes in predrafting, but it gives me more control about which colors go where. It’s also something you can do while icing an injury ;-).

  38. You take some seriously seductive pictures of wool, Stephanie. There is no allure like the allure of fiber that’s been photographed by you. 🙂 I think I need to go knit now.

  39. I totally think you can do it! Go Steph! You can do it! I’m like a bystander at the finish line cheering you on. Woo hoo!
    btw, I love the finished results from the Spinderella. And the colors from the Indigo Moon Farm batch are beautiful. Can’t wait to see what you end up with.
    You know, after this is all over, you will have so much handspun goodness, you’ll to make a bunch of things from the One Skein book.

  40. Gorgeous – you are making it very hard for me to resist the urge to learn to spin.

  41. The spinning goddesses are smiling upon you with their removal of that pesky laundry issue.
    You are proving,, once again that we don’t know what we are capable of accomplishing until we try. Keep on spinning!

  42. The stars are aligning indeed! You can’t argue with the Universe. Spin, spin, spin!
    The Spinderella yarn is gorgeous!

  43. Gah. You are making my spinning wheel look much, much better than finishing out my working week.
    …and I say this like it’s a BAD thing?!?!…

  44. Okay I’m still trying to convince myself that I really need to stick w/ knitting and avoid taking up another stash-creating hobby. This lovely stuff is really not helping! Meanwhile, I wonder if I could knit 132 g (or even 132 yards) per day.
    Of all the household chores, I have to admit that laundry is actually my least disliked. Perhaps its because I have vivid memories of laundromats in my apt days; an in-house washer seems such a luxury. It’s the one household task that you can walk away from. Knitting becomes multi-tasking!

  45. You know, now that you’ve said the words, “I think I might make it. I really do,” the knitting/spinning/yarn gods are going to look at you, the strike you down for daring to utter those words. Be wary.
    I will light a candle and hope that they don’t flood your basement (again), convince your children to argue with you all the time about getting a tattoo, and/or convince your cat that all your roving needs to have hairballs on it.

  46. That batt looks huge. I don’t know what the other batts looked like draped over a chair, but I am guessing that is a rather large one, and when you finish it, you will have the jeune maillot.
    Rice in a ziplock back and stuck in the freezer makes a great ice pack. Putting it behind your knee, reduces swelling all the way down the leg. You learn interesting things when you rupture your achilles tendon.

  47. Don’t remember your type of spinning wheel but if it’s a one threadle, ever thought of switching legs to push the pedal?

  48. Nicely done on the spinning! I really love the Midnight Light Spinderella.
    Is it bad that I want to buy a house JUST so I have enough space to learn how to spin?

  49. Baby? Maybe? Anything?!?!? I would comment on the beautiful and awesome spinning… but I’m totally hooked on baby news… and?

  50. so I have the perfect nice fine cotton for the warp of rigid heddle loom, so we/you can weave up all this hand spun.
    After I roll in it, though, and you know, if you wear all these skeins of yarn it does not matter what shade of yellow you wear.
    You see I’ve rethought this and you can wear yellow.
    Keep spinning, you can do it, keep spinning, you can do it.

  51. That Midnight Light is *beautiful*.
    (Yeah, Indigo Moon Farm is no longer. She went off to become a nurse.)

  52. Love the dark skein with the thrummy bits. Also, that last bat is full of your colors! You will have a good time spinning that one. You’re coming around the last corner to the finish line! Go for it!

  53. I’m glad the Tour de Fleece is almost over. I’ll quit yearning for my spinning wheel and will actually finish either the baby sweater or the socks or the sweater for my niece or the lace whipple… all of which are parked strategically around the house so that I actually knit on them instead of pulling my wheel out.

  54. I am SO overcome by spinning envy you have no idea. It’s amazing! I agree, no water is DEFINITELY a sign from the housework gods. I don’t understand though, why are you doing laundry anyway? Don’t you have 2 teenagers still living at home? I did all the laundry in the house starting at age 8 until I moved out and went to college. (I kinda had to, it was the only thing I could do to stop my mother from barging into my bedroom before work and screaming that I was stealing her bras. I didn’t need bras until I was 11. I don’t know what she thought I was DOING with them…. )
    Ya know, now that I think about it, my mother was kind of a genius. Shortly after I started doing laundry, I was arguing with my 2 younger sisters. My mother pointed out that when they were old enough to help me with the laundry and other chores they would prolly only do so if I had a good relationship with them which meant NOT fighting so much. It worked too. I was so nice to them just to try to bribe them later into helping out with chores… hmmmm……

  55. Wow! That last batt is so beautiful. I can’t wait to see what it spins up like. Could anyone tell me what defines a batt versus a roving?

  56. Please, when the Tour de Fleece is over, put all your new yarn into one picture. I’m sure a lot of us would love to see what the sum total of your 1500g looks like!

  57. It sounds like she is still in business since, according to her blog she will be putting ads on ravelry and knitty soon. She will also be at the Filberg Festival in Comox, BC from Aug. 1 -4, 2008 if anyone finds themselves on Vancouver Island then.

  58. The spinning is gorgeous. Now what are you doing away from that wheel? Now quit reading the comments and get to work, Madam! (Bonne chance!)

  59. oops, I should say that Indigo Moon is still seems to be in business. I was drooling over all the great yarn on her webpage while mentally calculating whether I could take a ferry to Gabriola and be home before DH noticed I was gone. Hmmmm

  60. Damn, woman–you’re rocking that spinning wheel HARD. Excellent. I still don’t know how to spin, but your accomplishments are awesome!

  61. Beautiful wool. Gorgeous yarn. I must say that I’m getting a little jealous. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

  62. Score! What fun, fun yarn you have created, my talented friend. And it is totally the stars aligning. We know this because the water got turned off AFTER you got your pot of coffee made. Someone is watching out for you today!
    Can’t wait to see the Brushstrokes spun up!

  63. Oh, go, you. I’ve had a week like that at work – all completely blocked and then suddenly it all works… Hope it continues. Although I’d be tempted to leave that batt exactly where it is in the last photo – looks gorgeous unspun…

  64. How do spinners choose a bundle of roving for colour? Looking at the roving for Midnight I had NO idea it would spin into such a beautifull yarn. Good luck to finish up. Maybe Meagan’s baby is waiting for the spinning to be done .

  65. Beautiful work! Makes me itch to put my “Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning” book to work! Soon, maybe. There are some sheep farms nearby. I just have to check the Yellow Pages for names and numbers. Maybe they sell fleece! Anyway, beautiful work. My dream is to make an “all-me” sweater. Wool spun and dyed by me, knit by me into a sweater designed by me. First I have to finish my own first sweater. One and three-quarters sleeves to go! And sewing side seams.

  66. Deadlines. I think you are into deadlines, and can’t let one beat you if at all possible. I worked at a daily newspaper for many years. I’ve got a similar bug. It is not a bad thing.
    PS – Pre-congratulations!

  67. OMG, those Spinderella batts-turned-yarn are just so enchanting! I love that I would never have chosen to buy those but love them spun up. Opens my horizons!
    And you’ve given me a new idea for my handspun that I spun in halves and that don’t match in grist (I think that’s the word). I’ll Navajo ply the thin one and then it’ll be close to (or close enough to!) the second one. Yes!!!

  68. “Since perfection is off the table, I don’t fuss and they happen pretty quickly…” Hmm…so when you don’t try to be perfect, life is more fun and more efficient? I should probably try to remember that. I’d get a lot less frustrated if I could pull that off.

  69. Oh. My. GOD!!!!!!!!! The Brushstrokes is freakin’ GORGEOUS!!!!!! And the yarn is just as loverly!!!
    (By the way, SG: A is absolutely addictive, innit? I forwarded this post to a webmiss of a StarGate website I’m on alot. Hope you don’t mind!!!)

  70. If it is indeed the same Indigo Moon as the Gabriola Island one, they make my absolute all time favourite sock yarn. Bar none. Glad you leg is better and good luck with the final days of the Tour!

  71. You know something? Only a woman could do that. I mean, for a man (unless you’re Lance Armstrong, and he doesn’t count cause he’s a machine) to try to do something even remotely close to this? Well, you can forget that. The limp would have pushed a man over the edge for good.
    Not for a woman.
    You are woman…hear you roar…errrr…spin.
    Go Stephanie, Go Stephanie, Go Stephanie!

  72. You are *really* workin’ hard! Would you like me to throw some water in your face as you spin by???
    What? I meant that in the nicest possible way!

  73. You have officially inspired me to move from my spindle to a wheel. And the universe agreed because I found an Ashford Traveller on craigslist for $200 in great shape. I showed up to buy it and she gave me her entire wool supply. Beautiful stuff, too. The universe is telling me it’s time to learn on a wheel. And you started it. Thank you, thank you for the inspiration.

  74. Great job on the spinning. Love the tweedy yarn results. I hope you show a step-by-step on the great colorful batt that, of course, will be fully spun up by the end of the Tour! I have stuck to solids so far in my spindle spinning, but there are such beautiful batts out there calling to me.

  75. You are doing so well! I can’t wait to see what you spin up this weekend! You will have to take a picture of all the yarn you spun up together. Everything is so pretty! I love the Spinderella fiber. (adding it to my must have fiber stash)

  76. In the old days a spinner wasn’t considered a spinner unless they spun about 8000 yards a day. I’ve never reached that point, I have done about 6500 yards and was about done in. I have spun about 2 pounds in one day,but not today! Good luck!

  77. So when this is all over, you will have a nice new stash of really lovely single skeins! Hats all around for Christmas!!

  78. I think Rhinebeck 2006 was their last show. Kate G and I split one of those batts, and I don’t think either of us has been brave enough to touch it yet.

  79. Those are beautiful. I soooooooooo want to learn how to spin. Some day. You go girl. Almost there. Keep the spinning alive.

  80. That brushstrokes batt seems to be a departure from your usual 70″s appliance colour scheme with the exception of that pumpkin swatch and the small acid green bit. Now if I was a spinner I’d be sending my local squirrel over to relieve you of it and get you back on track with your usual colour choices. I’m really interested to see what it looks like spun
    Now turning off the water yesterday would have had me screaming blue murder seeing as it was the only day in over a week you could hang out your laundry I did the better part of 2 weeks worth yesterday (twas an excellent day for line drying)

  81. Following your progress in spirit – with fresh fleece donated from a sheep shearer and home-made CD spindles – I am teaching myself to spin. I don’t quite know if I like it yet, but it’s holding my interest, like a medieval Gameboy.
    Loving that batt – can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  82. Going beyond what you dreamed possible is what it’s all about!
    (Overtraining and injuring yourself, of course, is not, but happens all the time.)
    I did predict this, as you recall — you can’t resist a challenge. What are you going to do with all that lovely and unusual yarn? I’ll volunteer if you need some taken off your hands!

  83. Congrats to Megan(not your daughter) on giving birth to an almost 10 pound baby. Hope those cute little sweaters will fit! 🙂

  84. Water turned off? Stars aligning — it’s fate, you can do this!
    Have you heard of National Novel Writing Month? The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel, from scratch, during November. I’ve done it (and finished it!) for 4 years now, and the Tour de Fleece reminds me of it, especially about how the once-intimidating goal becomes this little tiny thing (well, maybe slightly more than that) once you see how much you really can do. I’ll root for you now if you’ll root for me in November!

  85. If I were you, I’d just wrap myself up in that batt . . . like a soft warm cocoon (won’t get much spinning done though 🙂

  86. Yes, you’ve learned just how much you’re capable of spinning in this much time, but you’ve also done a whack-up job of fixing your under-plying! Gorgeous yarns! I hope you’ll put up a gallery of skeins at the end for everyone to admire!

Comments are closed.