Rest Day

Today is the second of two rest days during the Tour de France and Tour de Fleece, so it seems like a good opportunity to update you, dear reader, on my progress.

Aren’t these colors just amazing? This is a Spunky Eclectic Spunky Club selection from June 2016 in the color way Easy Peasy. The fiber is Cheviot, which is one of my very favorite fibers to spin.

I had two bumps of Easy Peasy and after splitting them into thin strips, I spun them end to end on my Schacht Flatrion in double drive. The bobbins are posing on my Ladybug. I still haven’t decided how I am going to ply these singles. I might chain ply them to make a self-striping yarn with short color repeats, or I may ply from both ends of a center pull ball, or I may do one of each.

This is another of the second bumps from a Spunky Club selection, this one in the color way TACO. I spun the other bump last year at this time. I spun these singles on my Schacht Ladybug in double drive using the high speed whorl and high speed bobbin. Nowadays I use my Ladybug mostly for plying in Scotch tension, but every once in a while I will spin on her just to remind me of how sweetly she spins in double drive. I honestly think that the Ladybug is the best all-purpose wheel on the market. She is so versatile and spins well in double drive, Scotch tension, and Irish tension.

These are the completed TACO singles. I spun this to make a 2-ply fractal yarn plied from both ends of a center pull ball. I split the fiber in half lengthwise, spun one half end to end, then split the other half into thin strips lw and spun them end to end on the same bobbin. When I ply the singles, I won’t have any of that pesky leftover yarn to deal with.

Lulu the torbie keeps me company when I spin.

Lulu says, Look at me! I’m so pretty! My mommy loves me to sit with her while she spins.

My current project is Be The Light on mixed BFL, also a Spunky Eclectic Spunky Club selection from bygone days, October 2016. This is the first bump, spun in double drive on my Matchless.

This is the second bump of Be The Light. For the first bump, I split the fiber lengthwise into very thin strips which I then spun end to end. For this bump, I split the fiber in half lw and I’m spinning both lengths end to end. I will ply the two singles together to make a fractal yarn that will probably become a scarf or maybe a shawl. I love the subtle striping of fractal-spun yarn. I know I will end up with the dreaded left-over singles, but I will cope. If there isn’t too much leftover, I will make a plying bracelet and attach it to the skein. I do this by winding the plying bracelet without breaking the singles. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. If there’s too much leftover singles, I will wind a center pull ball and ply from both ends to make a mini skein.

The TdF ends in six days, and I am almost finished spinning the fiber I hoped to get done during this year’s Tour. I still have some plying to do, so I have plenty of time to reach my goal and maybe even surpass it. YAY!

Tomorrow is a challenge day, and I’m not sure yet what my challenge will be. Maybe it will just be to finish up Be The Light or to do some plying. Or maybe I will try doing some long draw again. I’m terrible at long draw and really need to practice. But I’m so bad at it that I always feel like I am ruining the fiber. Sigh.

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The Tour De Fleece 2018 Continues

So, today I am going to report on days 8, 9, 10, and 11 of the TdF which correspond to stages 8, 9, and 10 of the Tour de France. Day 10 was a rest day–no racing for the cyclists–so from here on out, the days and stages will have different numbers.

On Day 8/Stage 8, I finished spinning the Black Pillar singles. I still haven’t plied them.

On Day 9/Stage 9, I plied all the singles I had spun so far, except for Black Pillar, and I also plied some singles that I had spun during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Top l to r: Aspens, Feathered Friend Far left: Out of Season (spun during the Stanley Cup playoffs) Middle, l to r: Squirrel, Little Bluebird, Caribou Bottom: The Undead All fibers by Spunky Eclectic.

Monday, Day 10, was a rest day, and this year I actually took a break from spinning on the first rest day. But that doesn’t mean I was idle. I spent some time preparing fiber for spinning.

Yesterday, Day 11, Stage 10, was a challenge day, so I spun a new-to-me fiber blend, Merino/yak. Both fibers have a short staple and are very soft. I was expecting it to be a bit difficult to spin, but it actually was pretty easy. The color way is Game Birds from Spunky Eclectic, a CLUB Remix selection from 2015.

All the plying was done in Scotch tension on my Schacht Ladybug except for Squirrel, which was both spun and plied in Scotch tension on my Schacht Flatiron.

Today I will be spinning again. I am going to start on a 2016 Spunky Club selection and spin both bumps. That’s ~8 ounces of fiber, so I probably won’t get it all spun today, but I should make a dent in it. I’ll will post pictures tomorrow.

Spinzilla 2017 Is Done

Spinzilla 2017 ended on October 8th, and although I didn’t quite match my yardage from Spinzilla 2015, I did pretty damn well this year.

All the yarn was spun from Sweet Georgia fiber club selections. I spun and plied it all on my Schacht Flatiron except for one skein that was spun on the Flatiron but plied on my Schacht Ladybug.

The Sweet Georgia Spinzilla team was great. The moderator ran the Ravelry Group and team to perfection. She was supportive and kind, as were all the team members. And as if it wasn’t enough that we all got to be part of such a great team, Sweet Georgia (aka Felicia Lo) sent me this to thank me for being on the team.

Yes, that’s a braid of fiber and a water bottle. There is also a card included with a coupon code.

The other side of the water bottle. I love that it’s in Sweet Georgia’s signature color, hot pink.

Really, I should be thanking her (and did thank her) for welcoming me to the Sweet Georgia team. It was an honor and a privilege to represent Sweet Georgia Yarns during Spinzilla.

I don’t think I’ll be doing Spinzilla again. It’s just a little too intense for me. But I don’t regret participating this year.

Post-TDF Spinning 

I will soon have some knitting to share with yinz, but until then, here’s some spinning for your viewing pleasure.

Spunky Eclectic Carpe Diem on Farmer’s Woolpool Sheepswool from the March 2017 Spunky Club. It’s a 2-ply that I spun on my Ashford Traveller and plied on my Schacht Ladybug.

Spunky Eclectic TACO on Polwarth from the November 2017 Spunky Club. This is another 2-ply that I spun on my Schacht Flatiron and plied on my Ladybug.

Last but not least is another Spunky fiber, from the June 2017 Spunky Club in the color way Cold Feet on Cheviot. Mmmmm. Cheviot. I am spinning it on the Flatiron and I hope to end up with a 2-ply sock yarn.

Tour De Fleece 2017 Day 20 Stage 18

Tomorrow is the final day of the Tour de Fleece and all I have left to do is wind my final project off the bobbin. Of course, all the yarn I made during the Tour still needs to be washed and measured.

Into The Whirled Elevenses in the Shire Cheviot singles are awaiting plying.

And this is Elevenses in the Shire after I plied it on my Schacht Matchless.

ITW North of the Wall 2-ply. This is the fiber that I spun supported long draw to make a nice woolen-spun yarn.

ITW Zephyr fractal 2-ply is all skeined up and ready to be washed.

Preparations Have Begun TdF 2017

Today was another gorgeous day in Pittsburgh. The past few days we have had sunshine, with highs in the upper 70s and low humidity. If summer weather was always like today, summer just might be my favorite season. But sadly, the norm is hot and humid. Yuck! So I am going to enjoy the pleasant weather while I can, and what better way to pass a beautiful day than to prepare my spinning wheels for the start of the Tour de Fleece 2017, which begins on Sunday.

I gave both my Schacht Matchless and my Schacht Ladybug a thorough cleaning. I don’t use anything fancy, just plain tap water with a couple of drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid added. I used a microfiber cloth soaked in the water and then wrung out so it’s just damp, not dripping wet, to wipe down the surfaces of the wheel, then dried it with a dry microfiber cloth. Remember, water is the sworn enemy of wood.

To get the treadles extra clean, I used a little piece of 0000 steel wool and some mineral spirits. This removes all the dirt, grease, and grim that accumulates on the treadles, including footprints if you spin in your bare feet. I always wear socks when I spin, but the treadles still get dirty. After wiping off the mineral spirits with a shop towel, I applied two coats of clear Danish oil to the treadles, following the directions on the can. I used shop towels to apply the Danish oil and also to wipe off the excess.

The next step was to check all the screws in both wheels to make sure everything is tight and secure. I only had one loose screw on the Matchless, which is probably indicative of how little I have used her since I got the Flatiron. The screws on the Ladybug were all ship-shape. All that is left to do is to cut and tie a new drive band for the Matchless, and I’ll be ready to go.

The Flatiron is currently in use, so she didn’t get the spa treatment today. She will probably have to wait until after the TdF to get a thorough cleaning. But she will be getting a new drive band before the race begins.

I’m pretty excited about the TdF this year. If it goes well, who knows? I might give Spinzilla another go come October.

The Matchless after a thorough cleaning, waiting for a coat of Danish oil to soak in

A close up of the left treadle after the second coat of Danish oil had been wiped off. It looks so nice!

The Matchless striking a post after her spa treatment

Now it’s the Ladybug’s turn.

These treadles also got a thorough cleaning with mineral spirits and two coats of Danish oil.

You can see how much the maple wood has darkened on my Ladybug’s MOA (mother of all). The lighter spot is where the front maiden sits on the MOA and protects it from the light.

I went through a lot of nitrile gloves today.

Schacht sisters are all cleaned up and ready to race.

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!

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. 🙂