Tour de Fleece 2013 Day 6

I made batts yesterday by blending two colors together using my drumcarder.

TDF13 July 4 Day 6

In the picture above, the top row is the original colors, and the next rows show the degree of blending. I stopped after blending three times.


Tour De Fleece 2012

When the Tour de France starts next Saturday, spinners from around the world will be cheering on the cyclists by getting out their spindles and wheels.  These spinners challenge themselves to be better spinners by creating extra special, to them, yarn. This is called the Tour de Fleece and is on Ravelry.  I will be one of the Tour De Fleece spinners and have set myself several goals as I am a member of several teams.

As a member of Team Suck Less I am going to suck less at hand-carding and get Marta Jacob’s fleece carded up as much as possible. This has been hanging over me since last year’s TDF!  Team Suck Less is sponsored by Friend’s of Abby’s Yarns, an awesome group of very supportive Ravelry members.

As a member of Team Black & Beyond with Fleece Fiber Source Book, I have a fiber sampler challenge.  For this I will spin some new to me fibers. In particular, fibers I purchased last month at All About Ewe: Babydoll, Romney, and Dorset-Corriedale X.  If that isn’t enough I have some llama, yak and alpaca to try.

I am also a member of the Peloton, with walking with my spindle while spinning as my challenge.  I especially want to spin on my Jenkins Kuchulu Turkish Spindle which I purchased earlier this year.   Look isn’t the Kuchulu sweet:


As part of my training, I carded the fibers for my fiber sampler challenge and got my arms all good and ready for carding Marta Jacob.  Here are my puni-rolags, which I made after carding by rolling over a spindle shaft.  Here are the three fibers:

Three Fibers for TDF2012

L-R Babydoll, Dorset-Corriedale X, Romney

I also cheated a  little bit.  I have got into hand carding so much that I didn’t want to stop.  So I started on Marta’s fleece mentioned above.  I have quite a lot of her fleece to card and I do want to get it done this year, so I carded the light gray fiber and started on the mid grays.  I did all the darker colors last year.

Light Gray Jacob

Marta Jacob Puni-Rolags in Light Gray


I feel in love with some Icelandic fiber that I got in a friend’s destash, I am probably about half way through spinning and then I want it to become part of this vest (rav link) or similar but not felted.  I am not sure what to do about the other colors. I spent along time at KDO market looking for the right blues to go with the gray-brown yarn as I want[ed] it to be a study in blue.  One question is whether this project, and other handspun projects, should be spun and knitted all from the same breed of fiber or should I mix and match.  I haven’t looked further for other Icelandic fibers so probably is will be a mixed breed vest.
Louet Icelandic Handspun Yarn Close UP

In the meantime a friend on Rav started her own dyeing business, Schafenfreude Fibers, and I couldn’t resist being one of the first of her online purchasers especially with this polwarth dyed in grassy. My order number was 4.  I am so keeping that receipt.

Schafenfreude Fibers Polwarth Grassy 3-ply

I am still spinning the Fabulous Fibers BFL I purchased in Vermont over the summer. Slowly getting through it. This yarn also wants to be a vest but I don’t think it will work with the Icelandic yarn above.

Three Balls of BFL Singles

TDF Day 2

Tour De Fleece Day 2

I have finished flicking and carding the Jacob I dyed yellow. My goal this week is to flick 200 g of white so that on Saturday I can dye fiber to make a color wheel.

MD398 is not clean enough so tomorrow I am going to rewash the locks I started yesterday. Combing was tough because the fiber was so greasy. I should also look for a source of power-scourer just in case more washing isn’t enough. However, spinning the top was lovely. I adore spinning Shetland wool and sometimes wonder why I bother with anything else.

I washed some of Pippit – I need a better way to take the locks from the fleece as last night it was too late to unroll the whole fleece so I just grabbed the nearest loss bits. However, I think it was the back leg as it is covered in VM. The fiber washed up nicely; I used lower temperature water, more soap and and extra rinse at the end.

I still have a few hours and hope to spin with my Trindle and knit on Dad’s cardigan.

Adventures with Fleece

When to the Tour de France takes place, spinners of the fiber kind join in with a Tour de Fleece. The idea is to set hand spinning goals to achieve while watching the cyclists get hot and sweaty. I have joined too many goals but it should be fun trying:

Goal 1:

Jacob Washed Fleece

Jacob Fleece - Washed

Process as much of the Jacob as possible. It is all washed but I have about a pound of a half that needs flicking and carding.

Goal 2:

Maryland 398

Maryland 398


Windswept Pippit

Wash two Shetland Fleeces and comb and spin a sample of each.

Goal 3:
Spin on my Trindle every day and while at it, spin enough Fabulous Fibers Summit for making two swatches; regular 3 ply and Navajo 3 ply.

Fabulous Fibers Summit

BFL Summit from Fabulous Fibers

Goal 4:

Knit on Dad’s cardigan as much as possible. It would be nice to be finished when I visit in August.

Swatch for Dad's Cardigan

Swatch for Dad's Cardigan

So I joined four teams on Ravelry as part of the TDF as my new Avatar shows:

copyright ©2011 cdavies

Spinning: Knitting with My Handspun

Coopworth Dark Gray

Coopworth Dark Gray Swatch

I even span the fiber to order!  I wanted to see if I could make something worsted weight and I could.

Obligatory Handspun with Dime Photo

Obligatory Handspun with Dime Photo



Spindle: Ashford Student (70 g)

Fiber: Louet Coopworth Dark Gray

Date of Spinning: January 2010


Needles: US 9/5.5 mm

Size: 13 stitches x ~20 rows

Date  of Swatch: March 2010


Cast on 13 stitches

Work 2 ridges garter stitch

Stockinette for 15 rows with sl, kl and k1, p1 at start and end of each row respectively.

Work 2 ridges garter stitch

Bind off

Saturday Spinning: My First Yarn

As mentioned earlier, I’ve really taken to spindle spinning.  A couple of months ago I took my first singles and plied them into yarn.

First Yarn

First Yarn, from Sock Summit Learn to Spin Kit

I am not sure what I am going to make with it yet.

I also bought my self a new spindle and have filled it once with the groovy yarn I bought from Susan’s Kitchen.

Groovy fiber becomes yarn

Groovy Yarn on Schacht Drop Spindle, used as a top whorl (it can be either)

I have the other half of the groovy yarn to finish and Frog Tree Purple Meriboo, also purchased at Sock Summit:

Purple Yarn

Frog Tree Meriboo

Then I’ll need more fiber.  Oh wait, there is the Coopworth Wool Roving, Med. Gray that I purchased with the new spindle.  But I need color in my fiber collection.

As recommended by Abby and Denny, ten minutes a day worked to make me a drop spinner.  After Sock Summit for about a month it was all I could do to Park and Draft making fairly thick singles at that. One day, when the cat was on my lap and in my way for Park and Draft, I drop spun off to one side without even thinking about it. For another month, I did a mixture of Park and Draft and drop spinning while sitting down. Suddenly I realized that I was preferring to spin standing up.  For a while I would make the yarn as thin as possible if not thinner (hence the thick and thin effect in the top photo) and drop the spindle.  I now mostly have control over the thickness of my singles and usually catch the spindle before it hits the floor.

I have not worked out how to hold a lot of fiber and spin – I usually pull off a clump and hold it tight in my sweaty hand.  I was having difficulty joining in new yarn, but with practice, using smaller clumps, I overcame that challenge.

I succumbed to temptation and purchased Abby’s Respect the Spindle.   Good thing as it turned out as I needed it.  Abby has exercises to try to improve your spinning techniques.  I tried, and mostly succeeded, to spin while dancing or singing.  One exercise I have not tried, but I want to,  is spinning while higher than standing on the ground, she and her friends did it over a cliff! I thought I would try it from the bed.  I would also like to try the paired spinning exercise.  Oh well, as there does not seem to be an active spinning community here I’ll just have to teach a friend to spin so I have some one spin with.


I made yarn!

I made yarn!

I’ve really got into spinning fiber this summer.  It started back in May when the Knitting Knutz, my knitting guild, had a two hour workshop about the basics of spinning which spent a lot of time teaching us how to draft.  I practiced a bit after this but not really seriously.

At Sock Summit, I took Abby and Denny’s Basic Spindle Spinning class and that was great.  Before even using the spindle we were shown how easy it was to make yarn from fiber:

Plied Yarn

Plied Yarn

Denny and Abby are funny together making the class very enjoyable.  They showed us how to make fiber using a spindle by wrapping and turning, it was a revelation as it was so easy. We learned how to adapt that technique to use the spin of the spindle.  It was very interesting to see the twist in a short piece of spun fiber move up into the unspun fiber making a thread.   One of the students near me caught her twist in a whole chunk (technical term here) of fiber and Abby stretched out across the room, the twist traveled up about 6 feet of fiber. It was very impressive and yet,  I didn’t even think of taking a picture.

The key point for me getting hooked on spinning was Abby saying that you would be a good spinner after 3 – 6 weeks if you practice daily. As that is how long as it takes me to learn new scientific techniques, so it really stuck as doable.

I made yarn

I made yarn

The photos are from the first week after Sock Summit and now, three weeks later I have got it and can almost relax while spinning. I’ve even did some spinning this afternoon with the Murphy-cat on my lap.  I’m not quite confident about drop spinning, I like to park and draft especially if I am using the spindle we got in our class kit (and if the cat is on my lap).  I’ve made quite a bit of yarn and I am ready to try plying when I have enough.

I did make some fiber purchases at Sock Summit and I am sure there will be many many more in my future:

Purple Yarn: Merino and Bamboo

Purple Yarn: Merino and Bamboo

I’ve started spinning with this one because I felt with one color I couldn’t really make too many mistakes.

Susans Kitchen Yarns

Susan's Kitchen Yarns

Susan was great at the Sock Summit, very helpful in giving me suggestions of starting yarn and I love the colors in this roving.  I was not brave enough to start spinning it two weeks ago but now I wish I had more than two spindles so that I could just try it.  Just what I need, another hobby that costs money.  Especially as I have already been told by a friend who also knits and spins that I must now need to buy a spinning wheel. What, huh? Sounds good to me.