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.
I ended up spinning up 14 4-ounce bumps of fiber. Every bump was a different variety of wool or a different blend. I see lots of knitting in my future.
I divided and spun this bump specifically for fingerless mitts. The yarn is chain-plied; the fiber is Falkland wool. Falkland isn’t a breed of sheep, but rather refers to wool that comes from the sheep of the Falkland Islands, primarily Merino and Polwarth. The conditions on the islands are very favorable to the sheep which means the wool does not require a great deal of processing because it stays white.
This skein is Icelandic wool. Like Falkland wool, Icelandic wool isn’t a specific breed of sheep but rather wool that comes from sheep in Iceland. Although I really like the look and feel of the finished yarn, I didn’t enjoy spinning this yarn at all. I found it difficult to draft. Although it has a similar feel to English Shetland, it doesn’t spin like English Shetland. Fortunately, the finished yarn was worth the effort it took to spin it.
This yarn wanted to be spun thick and thin. It’s Manx Loaghton, which I have spun before, but for some reason, this particular prep didn’t want to draft smoothly. But that’s okay because I had fun doing the thick and thin and I ended up with a really cool yarn. I’m not wild about the colors; it has kind of a camo look. But the yarn itself it great.
BFL is not my favorite fiber to spin because it is usually very neppy, and I hate having to constantly stop to pick out nepps. But this particular prep had very few nepps, so it was lovely to spin. But BFL is one of the nicest wools to knit and to wear. It is incredibly soft and just lovely, almost like cashmere. I split this bump into thin strips, spun end to end, then chain-plied them to make a self-striping yarn that reminds me of my late calico kitty, Loretta.
This is the first Romney wool I have ever spun, and it certainly won’t be the last. I did a nice 2-ply with this bump. It is a squishy as it looks. Yum!
This beautiful 2-ply yarn is Wensleydale, which is a lustrous longwool that requires special handling when being spun and plied. The spinner must take care not to put too much twist into the yarn, or she will end up with twine. But if you spin it with a light hand, you get a surprisingly soft and lustrous yarn that is next-to-the-skin wearable for many.
This was probably my favorite spin of the entire Tour de Fleece. The fiber is Po-Mo-Silk, a blend of Polwarth sheepswool, mohair (which comes from goats), and silk. It is incredibly soft and had a beautiful luster that you cannot see in the picture, and it drafted like butter. I divided the bump into narrow strips, spun them end to end, then chain-plied the singles. I’m happy to say that I have another bump of this fiber waiting to be spun. FWIW, the picture does not even come within a million miles of doing this yarn justice.
This yarn is a Merino/mohair blend and is a 2-ply that was spun from a center-pull ball.
This is another fractal-spun 2-ply yarn, this time spun from Corriedale.
This is a chain-plied yarn spun from Targhee, which is one of my favorite sheepswool. Targhee is a breed that was developed in the US. The wool reminds me a lot of Polwarth, but without the “poof” when the twist is set.
The fiber is superwash Merino, the yarn is another 2-ply fractal-spun yarn.
This yarn is a 2-ply, fractal-spun English Shetland.
This yarn is Cheviot that is a true 3-ply yarn.
This yarn is an 85/15 blend of superwash Merino and Nylon which is perfect for sock yarn. So I split the yarn into long strips, spun them end-to-end, then chain-plied the singles to make self-striping sock yarn.
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.
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.
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.