This is shaping up to be a knitting-centric post. Of course, that’s likely because I’m spending so much of my “spare” time (aka whenever I’m not working or sleeping) either knitting or spinning. Somehow, it just never seems to get old for me. It does help that I have a number of projects going on at once, and I try to rotate a variety of things so I’m working on different yarn weights and different needle sizes.

A major impetus for me has been challenges and offers of rewards, some tangible and others not. For a number of years I’ve found motivation to start and, more importantly, finish projects thanks to the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup group on the Ravelry social media site. This group breaks the calendar year into three 3-month terms and provides incentives in the form of points (much like Whose Line Is It Anyway? these points don’t matter in the “real world”) to help one of the four Hogwarts houses to win the House Cup each term. The structure of the group follows that of the beloved Harry Potter book and movie series, and we are given the opportunity to plan projects of varying complexity and size.

Later this year I will be proposing to knit a sweater for myself in order to earn the Muggle Studies OWL which would secure me the title of OWL Mistress, presuming I finish the current term’s OWL (Defense Against the Dark Arts) by the end of this month and then complete the sweater by November 30. This year so far I have completed 12 pairs of socks, seven cowls of various sizes, six shawls, five sweaters (granted, only one wasn’t for a baby), one scarf, two blankets (also baby-sized) and two pairs of mittens. I’m also on track to complete a full afghan (wedding gift), another adult sweater and three shawls by the end of August.

Besides the House Cup group, I’m also motivated to earn goodies (including more yarn) through a couple programs offered by The Loopy Ewe, a yarn store with a brick-and-mortar facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. My first purchase with them was made in the store while I was visiting a friend in Colorado. Since then, all of my orders have been made via their online mail order service. Another group providing incentives is the Into the Wool Retreat group, comprised of the organizers and attendees of this fall’s retreat in Tennessee. Each attendee has been placed on a team, so we’re getting to know others who will be traveling from around the country for this weekend in the hills. Whichever team earns the most points will collect prizes as a result, so here the points matter!

The last vehicle for maintaining my “high fiber” regimen is the Tour de Fleece, a yarn spinning challenge that runs parallel with the cycling raise, the Tour de France. While I’ve only been spinning for a little over a year, the Tour is helping me to hone my spinning skills by getting me “on the wheel.” I’ve completed one skein of yarn so far, and I should complete at least one more before the race concludes on July 26th.

And now that I think about it, I haven’t spent any time at my wheel today, so I need to get back to spinning. As I head off, here’s the first skein I spun between July 4 and 11.

Fractal spun 2-ply, Fractured Fairytale