It’s ON!! Flying Goat Farm will have another TdF team this year. And I thought I should put out an invitation to my readers. Tour de Fleece has been running for many years. I’ve had a team for the past 6 years, I think.
Here’s what it is….. This is a spinning event that runs concurrently with the Tour de France. Participants are to spin all the days that the cyclists are racing on the tour. You can rest on their rest days too. The days that are mountain stages, each participant will determine a spinning challenge for themselves. This year the tour runs from 6/26 to 7/18. The rest days are 7/5 and 7/12. The mountain stages are July 4, 5,7, 11, 14 and 15. Whew! That’s a lot of mountain stages.
Why do it? Well since my first year, I have found that this 21 day spinning event has done so much to improve my spinning skills. Just the act of sitting and spinning each and every day for 21 days builds my confidence and builds my skills.
For the FGF team, here’s my suggestions (not rules): First of all spin each of the race days. Spin for at least 10 minutes. If you can spin more, do that. Make a goal for yourself for those 21 days. In the past, I have challenged myself to make yarn for a handspun sweater or picking several art yarns and practicing spinning those each of the challenge days. Or last year my main goals was to spin fibers I hadn’t tried before like linen and faux cashmere.
So this year, I haven’t yet picked my overall challenge. I am taking some spinning classes with Jillian Moreno during MD Sheep and Wool in a couple of weeks and I think that will inform my decision.
I dropped the new episode of the Flying Goat Farm Podcast. This week, I talk about how the 12 hue(color) families grow to the thousands of colors. Just think about the color chips in the paint store or the beautiful bolts of fabrics in a quilting store or the wall of yarn at your LYS or needlepoint store. All these colors excite us and give us so much pleasure to work with. I also talk about how these colors provide the interest in your handcrafted items.
I talk about this color evaluator tool to “see” the values in your work, your yarn, or your fabrics.
If you are joining me on this journey, I give you a couple of tasks to do with your collection to build your color confidence and curate your collection further.
I’ve been making wool dryer balls in my spare time. Why? Well, I have some roving that is not great for spinning or felting. I need all my wool to do something on the farm. This is what allows us to be sustainable. All or nearly all wool and mohair is used to make something here.
Why use dryer balls? Well according to the Environmental Working Group, dryer sheets and fabric softeners damage your clothing and they also damage your health. The chemicals in these products contain chemicals known to cause cancer, irritate your skin, and cause reproductive issues. Also when dryer sheets are heated, these chemicals become airborne and can affect your lungs and exasperate asthma. These chemicals are know collectively as Quaternary Ammonium Compounds or QACS. These chemicals make your towels less absorbent. I’ve surely experienced that. They will also wear down the ability of your clothing to wick away moisture in socks or athletic wear. QACS stay on your fabrics for quite a while and they slowly seep out over time between washings. And as they seep they are affecting you, your family and all the fabrics in your house. Also what happens to the “used” sheet? It goes to the landfill. There are still those chemicals in the sheet. And the contents of our landfills can contaminate ground water and other water sources. Just think about all the loads of laundry in all the houses in your neighborhood or city or state, that’s a lot of these QACS in the environment.
Dryer balls are completely natural. Mine are made of 100% wool. Wool is great at wicking away moisture. It is antimicrobial as well. They work by bouncing around in your dryer. They lift and aerate your laundry. They help the heat to disperse within your load and thereby reduce your drying time. Because they reduce the heat in your dryer, they also reduce the static cling. Static builds up with more and longer heat in the dryer. They contain no chemicals, just wool, pure wool.
Each package of dryer balls contains 4 softball sized wool balls. Just toss them in your dryer and turn it on. In between laundry days or sessions, leave them in the dryer. I’ve had mine in the dryer for over 5 years. They last forever. Sometimes they get a little worse for wear and you can certainly replace them but these are economical as well. A box of dryer sheets costs somewhere between 5 and 11 cents a load. When you switch to dryer balls you will have that money to spend on something else, fancy coffee? yarn? some kind of treat? And you have the knowledge that you are making the world a better place. That’s work it for sure.
This tip of the day is about how to choose the perfect needle for your project. This is especially true if you are using one of our farm yarns or if you have lost the label and have no idea what to choose. This is a new tip for me. I always thought that you looked at the diameter of the yarn and tried to match that to the needle. Let me know if this tip helps you to find the right yarn for the right project.
Spring is about to burst forth here in the East. The Witch Hazel is just about finished as it is a late Winter bloomer here. The forsythia is budding bright yellow. The daffodils and crocuses are up and opening too. I have new Springtime colorways to share with you. They were inspired by photographs. Find them here
Here’s what I was inspired to make:
And of course I have some semi-solids to go with these great variegated skeins:
I’m getting back into the dye kitchen. It’s been a while since I’ve been enthused about mixing colors and yarns and roving. For today, I stocked some new colors of Polwarth Silk Hand Dyed Combed Top. These are lovely. They are 60% polwarth wool and 40% silk. Polwarth is a lot like merino if you’ve never tried it. And the addition of silk makes it really lustrous and so, so fun to spin.
Today the last installment of Collection Curator is available. Today I talk about what to do with all the yarn, roving, patterns, needles, and notions that are not part of your collection any longer. Those items that need to be rehomed. There are 2 paths you can take: you can donate out right or you can host a yarn swap party. When we are able to meet, I think the yarn swap would be so great.
Several years ago, my creative friends and I bought a bale of antique kimonos from Japan. We did a kind of swap party then too. We laid them all out. Then we very deliberately took turns picking out our favorites. It was fun to see our personalities emerge from the picking. One of us, Judy picked the wild patterned and gloriously colored children’s kimonos to use in quilt projects. I picked out the ones that showed the most dyeing and ikat patterning. This deliberate picking is just one of the 2 ways to do your swap.
You can listen to the episode here. Or subscribe on Itunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.
In just a few weeks, I will be at the Shepherd’s Farm Market. This is an event sponsored by Frederick County Sheep Breeder’s Association and the Maryland State Sheep Breeders Association. There will be 25 vendors at the Frederick County Fairgrounds on April 3rd. We will be there from 11am to 3pm. There will be shepherds with meat and cheese. There will be vendors with yarn, roving, sheepskins and felting products. There will be shepherds with finished goods like hats and mittens and scarves. And there will even be a shepherd who also makes beer. This is one of the earliest farmer’s markets.
I will be bringing my yarn, some felting supplies and some knitted items. It is totally outside event. And we will all be wearing our masks and will insist that you do too, just to be safe. I hope to see you there.
Where to find us
Open by Appointment! Email me for an appointment or FACETIME
We are located in Frederick MD. You can shop in person with a mask and lots of social distance! Or buy online and stop by to pick up…I’ll run your purchases out to you in your car.
Next Open Studio:
April 17 11-4pm
Maryland Sheep and Wool Virtual Festival
May 1st and 2nd We will be open from 11-2pm for your in person shopping pleasure…. Or you can participate virtually