Gearing Up For The Tour De Fleece 2017

I’ve been a very bad blogger, but I am hoping to rectify this starting today. We have finally completed all the downstairs renovations that we started back in February of 2015, and we have gotten a lot of unpacking done. We have artwork hung on our recently replastered walls, new bookcases sitting on new hardwood floors, and the corner cupboard is back in the breakfast nook where it is most at home.

Without the stress and disruptions of workers in the house, and with everything in my knitting/spinning/reading/computer room being relatively organized and accessible, I hope to return to regular blogging about my knitting and spinning, and other stuff, too, starting with the upcoming Tour de Fleece which begins on July 1.

This year I am on three teams, Team Peloton, Team Schacht, and Team Into The Whirled. I plan to do all my spinning and plying on my Schacht wheels–sorry, Ashford Traveller, you are odd wheel out–and I plan to spin only ITW fibers. I currently have 15 bumps of ITW in my stash with two more expected before the TdF begins, so I really need to make a dent in it. Of course, while I am busy spinning ITW, my Sweet Georgia and Spunky Eclectic fiber stashes will continue to grow. At least I have slowed down the accumulation of Sweet Georgia fiber by purchasing just a single fiber club instead of a double shot.

This is my stash of ITW fiber. I won’t be able to spin all of this during the TdF, but I will be able to make a dent in it.

Anyway, I hope to get myself back into regular posting by blogging my TdF progress. I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to write a novel every time I blog, I just have to sit down and type. I’m off to a good start, eh?

The Tour De Fleece Has Come And Gone

I have to say that the 2016 Tour de Fleece was a rousing success. I spun and plied and posted pictures and binge-watched The Great War and Midsomer Murders and plowed my way through 14 4-ounce bumps of fiber all from stash.

I spun fourteen different types of sheepswool or different blends, some of which I had never spun before. I spun BFL, Cheviot, Corriedale, English Shetland, Falkland, Icelandic, Manx Loaghton, superwash Merino, Polwarth, Romney, Targhee, Wensleydale, superwash Merino/Nylon, Merino/mohair, and Po-Mo-Silk. Eight of the fiber bumps were from Spunky Eclectic, and six were from Into The Whirled. Almost all of the spinning was done on my Schacht Matchless; all of the plying was done on my Schacht Ladybug. Two projects were spun on my Ashford Traveller, one on my Schacht Ladybug.

I had every intention of updating my blog during the TdF, but that just didn’t happen because the reality is that I joined too many Tour de Fleece teams, five in all, and it took me at least an hour every night to photograph my progress, edit the pictures, make collages, and then post the appropriate pictures to the appropriate teams.

But I am updating yinz now, so enjoy.

In the first week of the Tour, I was a lucky duck. I won a Tour de Fleece random drawing on the Spunky Eclectic Ravelry group. The prize was my choice of a braid of BFL. Here’s what I chose.

I was so happy to be the lucky number chosen by the random number generator.

I was so happy to be the lucky number chosen by the random number generator.

And here is a picture of the center-pull ball from which I plied Northern Lights.

Here's the center-pull ball I wound to make a 2-ply yarn from Northern Lights. I kept it on my thumb so that the ball wouldn't collapse on itself and make a hopelessly tangled mess.

Here’s the center-pull ball I wound to make a 2-ply yarn from Northern Lights. I kept it on my thumb so that the ball wouldn’t collapse on itself and make a hopelessly tangled mess.

Plying from a center-pull ball forces you to finish the plying in one sitting unless you are foolish courageous enough to stick a pen in the center-pull ball before removing your thumb and trusting that you will remember to be careful when picking the ball back up that the pen doesn’t fall out. I did this twice (I have the bladder of an almost-65-year-old), and both times the spinning goddesses were smiling on me.

After Six Days

Today is the seventh day of the Tour de Fleece, and after six days, here’s what I have accomplished, as told in pictures. With captions. And links to my Ravelry project pages. 🙂

These singles were spun from Spunky Eclectic Romney in the colorway Little Bluebird. They have been resting and are awaiting plying. Romney is a very nice fiber to spin.

More Spunky Eclectic fiber, this time Wendsleydale, which is a long wool and requires careful handling. Too much twist and you end up with twine. Just the right amount of twist and you end up with a lustrous and drapy yarn that works well for lace shawls. This colorway is called Island Dreams.

This is what Island Dreams looks like after the two singles in the picture above were plied together. This is a laceweight 2-ply yarn and it is even lovelier in person than in the picture.

These singles are spun from Icelandic wool from Spunky Eclectic in the colorway Squirrel. I had to take special care spinning up this fiber because it had a long staple and was kind of slippy. Too much twist and it turned to twine; too little twist and it drifted apart. I really needed to hit the Goldilocks Zone with this fiber.

And this is Squirrel after plying. It is really quite lovely, with lots of rich shades of brown and a nice sheen and halo. This is a somewhat rustic yarn, not the softest, but not harsh, either. It will probably soften up a bit when I soak it to set the twist, but it is definitely destined for outerwear.

This is lovely English Shetland wool from Into The Whirled in the colorway Studio West. I spun this as a fractal, which means that the color repeats on one bobbin are long, and on the other bobbin the color repeats are shorter, so when the two singles are plied together, there will be a subtle striping effect.

And here is Studio West after plying. Shetland wool is one of my favorites to spin and to knit with.

Last but not least, I have been working on a bump of Targhee wool in the colorway Talisman from Into The Whirled. I stripped the bump into eight strips to shorten the color repeats, and I’m spinning the strips end to end. I plan to chain-ply the singles to make a self-striping yarn, which is going to take forever because the singles are very thin. The plied yarn will probably be a heavy lace weight to light fingering weight, but I think it will be worth the time and effort because the colors are brilliant. I think this is the nicest Targhee I have ever spun. The prep is outstanding–very few nepps. It practically drafts itself.

The Tour De Fleece Is Here Again!

It started on Saturday with the start of the Tour de France. It’s the Tour de Fleece 2016! This year I plan to spin as many different varieties of sheep wool from my stash as I can in 24 days.

Yes, this is all fiber from my stash, and every single bit is either Spunky Eclectic or Into The Whirled. And, yes, this represents less than half of what is in my fiber stash. No, I’m neither embarrassed nor ashamed. My fiber stash is nowhere near S.A.B.L.E.

These are all fibers from Into The Whirled. Starting at the bottom left, we have superwash Merino and Cheviot, and in the back, left to right, we have Falkland, Targhee, and English Shetland.

From Spunky Eclectic, there is Romney, BFL, Corriedale, Wensleydale, Manx Laoghton, and Icelandic.

That’s eleven 4-ounce bumps of wool. It’s unlikely that I can spin all of that in the 12 days of the Tour de France/Fleece, but I plan to spin and ply as much of it as I can.

In the first two days, I’ve gotten a lot of spinning done.

These singles were spun on Day 1 from Spunky Eclectic Wensleydale in Island Dreams, and I will be plying them together to make a lace weight yarn. Doesn’t Wensleydale have a lovely luster? It has a nice halo, too, but you cannot see it very well in this picture.

In addition to the Wensleydale on the left–can you see the lovely halo?–I also spun part of a bump of English Shetland from ITW in a colorway called Studio West spun up. That’s a lot of spinning for Day 1.

On Day 2, I finished spinning the English Shetland from ITW. I did a fractal spin, so when I ply the two singles together, I will get a 2-ply yarn with a subtle striping effect.

On Day 2 I also started spinning a bump of Romney from Spunky Eclectic. The colorway is Little Bluebird. For this yarn, I decided to divide the bump into 8 strips and spin two bobbins of 4 strips each. I will then ply the singles together to make a 2-ply yarn.

That’s the English Shetland on the left, the Romney on the right. So far all of my spinning has been done on my Schacht Matchless in double drive. I will be doing the plying on my Schacht Ladybug in Scotch tension.

The Tour de Fleece 2016 is moving along smoothly here in beautiful Brookline, Pittsburgh. I have enjoyed each fiber so far. I will keep yinz updated, but probably not daily because I’d rather spin than blog. Peace out!

And So It Grows

Yes, my spinning fiber stash just keeps getting bigger, in spite of my efforts to keep it under control by spinning, spinning, and spinning. I’m not ready to give up any of my fiber clubs quite yet, so I will just have to find room for all the fiber. Of course, every time I complete a spinning project, my fiber stash gets a little smaller, but my yarn stash gets bigger. And so it goes grows.

New fiber from February and March:

Into The Whirled 24 1/2th Century Falkland top

Into The Whirled Madame Vestra BFL

Spunky Eclectic Aspens Farmer’s Sheepwool (BFL)

Spunky Eclectic Black Pillar Polwarth/Mohair/Silk

Current spinning projects:

I’ve started spinning one bump of this lovely superwash Merino from Into The Whirled in the colorway Godric’s Hollow.

I split the bump in half vertically and I am spinning each half end to end onto one bobbin. I plan to chain ply the singles to make a self-striping yarn. I split the bump so that the color repeats (stripes) would be small.

These two braids are the December 2015 installment of the Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club. The colorway is called Wistmas.

Wistmas is on a base of BFL, and I decided to do a fractal spin. This bobbin contains the singles spun from the braid that I split into 12 strips vertically. I spun the other braid end to end without splitting.

The plying is almost done. Because I spun two bumps, approximately 200 grams, of fiber, I filled one bobbin and had to start on a second bobbin. This is a straight-up 2-ply yarn, and the second bobbin is about 2/3s done. I love the sheen of BFL.

 

Woo-Hoo! FO Friday!

I actually have some knitting FOs to share today. All are knitted from my very own handspun. Here are pictures and descriptions.

Two hats knitted from the Andraste color way from Into The Whirled.

Two hats knitted from the Andraste color way from Into The Whirled.

On the left is the Andraste Turns A Square hat, which is Jared Flood’s Turn a Square pattern, a simple but fun beanie that I enjoy knitting. The pattern is written for using two colors of yarn, but it works really well with self-striping yarn, and you don’t end up with color jogs.

On the right is my A Head for Andraste hat, which is the Barley Hat from Tin Can Knits. It was a lot of fun to knit. I understand why it is such a popular pattern.

The hat and mitts below were knitted from yarn I spun using Bee Mice Elf fiber in the Fall 2014 Club colorway, which I call Rustle.

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Rustling Leaves Slouchy Hat and Braided Cable Mitts were made to go together.

I didn’t use a pattern for the hat, and the pattern for the mitts is one of my own devising.

I had a lot of the “Rustle” yarn, about 8 ounces total, so I made this set of matching mitts and hat, too.

The mitts are the Braided Mitts by Tara Johnson (free download on Ravelry) which I modified for a better look and fit. I then “designed” the hat myself using the same cable as in the Braided Mitts pattern.

There are also two pairs of mitts knitted from Andraste, but I’m not quite ready to share those with you yet.

I have gotten a lot of pleasure out of Andraste and “Rustle.” First, I spun them up into beautiful yarn, then I knitted that yarn into lovely and useful articles of clothing. What comes next is the pleasure of wearing and/or gifting these handspun handknits.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀

Another Finished Object Friday

I still have no knitting to report. I’ve added a few rows to each of the socks I have OTN, but nothing substantial. However, the spinning keeps, um, spinning along.

I started with this lovely Corriedale top from Into The Whirled in a colorway called Mud Bogs & Moonshine…

and ended with 8 ounces and just under 1000 yards of this lovely fingering weight 2-ply.

I spun one bump end to end on one bobbin. The second bump was split vertically (lengthwise) 12 times and spun the strips end to end keeping the colors in the same sequence. Then I plied the two singles together to make this gorgeous fractal 2-ply. I’m thinking scarf, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. The spinning was done in double drive on my Matchless at a ratio of 15.5:1; the plying was done in flyer lead (Scotch tension) at a ratio of 12.5:1. My Ravelry project page is here.

And there’s more! I also completed this braid of Shetland wool from the Spunky Eclectic Club Remix.

The colorway is State Park. it reminds me of a meadow in Spring, with all the flowers in bloom.

I made a 3-ply DK weight yarn, about 240 yards and 4 ounces.

I stripped the braid vertically into thirds as evenly as I could, then spun the strips end to end on separate bobbins. I was hoping that the colors would line up in at least some places, and they did! I love how the colors blended. This yarn will probably become either a hat or some fingerless mitts.

This was the very first project I spun on my Matchless. I used double drive and a ratio of 15.5:1. The plying was done on my Ladybug in flyer lead using a ratio of 12.5:1.

My current spinning project has been a pretty slow go because I am spinning up 8 ounces of BFL from Spunky Eclectic to make a lace weight 2-ply yarn.

This is the nicest BFL I have ever spun.

The ratio I’m using is 19.5:1, and spinning such thin yarn really takes a lot of time. But I am enjoying it a lot, and I don’t feel guilty about binge-watching Boardwalk Empire because I’m spinning while I watch.

This is the first bump/bobbin, which I finished several days ago. The second bobbin is now nearly finished.

I hope yinz have a great weekend. It’s supposed to get hot again here, but we are ready. Our A/C, which went on the fritz a couple of weeks ago, has been replaced, so hot and humid doesn’t scare me any more. 🙂