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tour de fleece- part deux!

I haven’t talked to the spinners in our community for a month, since the TdF part un concluded. Why 2 parts? Well, a little background. .. The tour de fleece is based on the tour de France and that was delayed due to covid 19 concerns. The spinning community decided to hold the tour de fleece at it’s usual time, just in case the cycling race was cancelled over all. I went with that. And now it looks like the tour de France will be on starting this Saturday. It runs from 8/29 through 9/20. There are 2 rest days: 9/7 and 9/14. And there are challenge days when the bike race is in the mountains, spinners challenge themselves to do more or do better or do different. There are a lot of those days this year: 8/30, 9/5, 9/5, 9/11, 9/15, 9/16, 9/17.

Tour de France map

This time I’m collaborating with Patty Sanville of Budding Creek Farm. We will be combining our teams for the prizes. Both teams are on Facebook. The prize categories will be most yardage spun, most different types of spinning fiber (plant, animal and man-made), most different “Shave Em to Save Em” breeds spun and most different spinning equipment, such as electric wheel, number of treadles, different kinds of spindles and even a charka if you have one (hint: I do!)

Hand Dyed BFL Roving

So how do you participate? First join one or both of the facebook groups. Click here for FGF Tour de Fleece group. Click here to join Spinning in Circles group. Have a goal for these spinning days whether that’s spinning for a certain project or just stash busting. Then spin everyday. Do you have to spin the whole time the race is running? No! You can of course do that and you would be in the running for the most yardage. But any spinning every day is fine. I’ve found this to be the single greatest way to improve your spinning. You are building up hours of practice. You are learning your wheel and your fibers and building stamina.

Hand spinning on an electric spinner

I do hope you will join us! Its a fun community. I will be doing at least one Zoom spin-in. More info on that on the group page.

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unboxing my new e-spinner

I’ve been thinking about getting an e-spinner for several years now. I couldn’t really rationalize the high price of the most popular model. Last year at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, I saw a woman spinning on an eel nano. It seemed so small and delicate. I looked at reviews, I looked at other espinners. And I found the one for me.

I bought a Heavenly Handspinning Vespera, Gen 2. I had it unpacked and put together in under 30 minutes.

And I was spinning very shortly afterward. HH has nice YouTube videos to help you set up the machine and to get started spinning. And I did use them to make sure that I had all the cords connected in the correct way.

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Dyeing up roving for Tour de Fleece

I’ve been busy getting ready for Tour de Fleece. I’ve dyed Polwarth wool and silk top and BFL so far.

This weekend I’ll probably get to the alpaca top. I’ve got some fun colors coming along. I will have a shop update Friday by 5pm.

I think that I have decided that my goal is to just spin color. To try some different color spinning techniques and I think I will do some dyeing especially for ME! I haven’t done that for a few years. The last 2 Tours I was concentrating on getting this lamb fleece spun. 2 YEARS!! It was white. And I still can’t figure out what color I want to dye that handspun yarn. I have an idea. I want to make one of those yoked sweaters…probably make it as a steeked cardigan. So I want to work on some handspun yarn that might coordinate all together to make another kind of sweater. That’s my goal.

What is your goal? Do you want to join my team? Drop me a line and I’ll send you a facebook invite.

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Tour de Fleece: what kind of roving do we have?

It’s T-6 days until the start of the 2020 Tour de Fleece. Since it’s inception, the point of the tour de fleece is to spin all the days that the tour de france is running…Get it? spinning yarn while they’re spinning their wheels across France. In the past there are challenge days when the cyclists are in the mountain stages. There are also rest days when the cyclists are also resting. What I’ve loved about the tour is that even if I’m just spinning a few minutes a day. I’m always improving my skills. I’ve done the tour 5 years now. I’ve even transported my wheel when we arranged a vacation during the tour. I am hosting a team for the 6th year. If you would like to join us, click here to get to our facebook group.

In that vein, I thought you might want to know what kinds of rovings we have available.

Our organic Polwarth Wool/Silk is a blend of cultivated silk to add additional shine and luxury to the beautiful fine wool. It is 80% Polwarth Wool / 20% Silk. You can actually see the lustrous silk in amongst the wool roving. It is a really fun yarn to spin and can also be a beautiful addition to felting projects. The Polwarth sheep was developed in Australia by breeding Merino rams to Lincoln/Merino ewes with the resulting animals being 75% Merino/25% Lincoln. You get a longer staple length and more lustrous quality from the Lincoln and a micron count between 22-25 from the fine wool Merinos. These sheep are raised primarily in Australia, New Zealand, Falkland Islands, and South America. Definitely next to skin softness. Yarn made from this roving are known for its elasticity, durability it is still considered a delicate fiber with bounce and drape. 3ounce portion Retail $16

Blue Face Leicester is of British provenance. This sheep is one of the most prolific in the British Kingdom. It is a lustrous long wool . It is typically 25-27 microns with a staple length 4 ¼ inches (110 mm). The fiber feels finer than the micron count would suggest. The luster promotes beautiful results whether you are spinning or felting with this fiber.  This is a great roving for beginners. 3ounce portion Retail$15

Superfine Alpaca is 100% alpaca combed top.  It is incredibly soft, so the yarn you make will be next to your skin soft to make handcrafted items.  The fibers are very fine (24-26 micons) with a 3-4 inch staple length.  and the preparation is combed top, so you can spin this roving in a worsted way and get fingerling weight yarns that will show your stitches very well.  Any yarn or felt that you make from this will feel so luxurious that you will want to wear it all the time! 3ounce portion Retail$15

Our Mohair roving is made from the fleeces of our lovely goats. It is highly lustrous and takes dye really well.  Because it is a farm roving, there will be some veg matter in it that is easily picked out while you are spinning. 8ounce portion Retail $20

Our Puck and Friends roving is made from BFL fleeces that we grow as well as those from friend’s flocks. This is a natural charcoal yarn. It is great for beginners. 8ounce portion Retail $20

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Tour de Fleece Team forming

Flying Goat Farm Tour de Fleece Team

Okay it’s a really weird year.  The Tour de France is postponed until the end of August….will it happen then?? I’m not sure, so I decided to do my tour during the original dates: June 27- July 19.

 What do you do on Tour de Fleece? Well you spin everyday. Even if it is just 10 minutes a day. Just sit at your wheel or walk with your spindle. This is the single best way to improve your spinning technique. In years past, I have made a goal for myself. Last year, it was to finish spinning a 3ply worsted weight yarn out of a lamb’s fleece. I did that. I have enough to make myself a sweater.

My goal this year? I’m really not sure. I am so far out of practice.  I don’t think I’ve spun A THING since last year’s TdF. Really?  It’s pitiful. But I’m excited to get back to the wheel. I know I want to do some great colorful spinning. I know I want to practice preparing my cashmere for spinning. And I want to get better at documenting my spinning.

I made bingo board so that we can stretch our skills. And the prizes will be based on that board. More to come about that later.

Really early FGF dyeing

Members of my team will connect on Ravelry and Facebook too.  And in this age of social distancing, we’ll have a zoom spin-in or two. We can check in with each other and talk about spinning or our lives or something like that. 

The Fiber Art Studio group is going to have a special Tour de Fleece day on July 11th, too. We’re putting together what that will look like.

So if you are going to join me my team, just drop a line here on Ravelry.

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you asked for it

Hey spinners, I heard from a couple of people that they wanted my viral colorways on roving. So I did it. I have the full set on Polwarth Silk Roving. Each portion is 3oz. I love spinning with this fiber. It is so luxurious. The polwarth is a fine wool breed. So the top is really soft. And the silk is so lustrous. It makes an absolutely lovely yarn. It would also be great for felting. I can see these as a nuno scarf.

If you aren’t familiar with my colorway, the Corona colorway is based on the electron microscopic image that we are seeing everywhere.

The Vaccine colorway was invented because vaccines are made of parts the the virus. So I used deeper, richer colors in the same family.

Finally Antibody is what your body makes to fight the virus. So I used the complementary colors to the virus. I’m expressing my colorful, biology nerd self out here. I hope you like them. You can grab them here.

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don’t wait! Use it now!

wool roving to spin or felt
Polwarth Silk Top for spinning or felting

When I first started spinning, I found some cheap wool that I could practice on as I worked to perfect making a nice yarn. I was new. I was teaching myself. I struggled…oh boy, did I struggle. I couldn’t draft it. I made lumpy, bumpy yarn that fell apart or pulled apart at inopportune times. There were times that I just couldn’t get it started. But I continued nonetheless. I did learn how to spin. But the more important lesson was this. Use the good stuff! The good stuff will be easier to spin. It will be more fun to spin as you go from color to color that you actually picked out. You will want to spin more and then you will become a better spinner.

The same is true for knitting. As many of you know, I’m a relatively new knitter and when I, again, was teaching myself to knit. I went to a big box store and bought cheap yarn. I didn’t want to waste the good stuff. Instead the garment I made was all wrong. And so it was time and money wasted.

So just like your nice china and crystal, get out your nice stuff whether it is spinning fiber or knitting fiber. And work with it. You will be happy that you did.

If you need some “good stuff” to replace the “cheap stuff”, you can find beautiful yarn and roving in my web store here.

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a view from the spinning wheel

It’s the Tour de Fleece! This is a spinning event where hand spinners spin everyday of the Tour de France. It is a fun event and I love the sense of community around it.

view from the wheel
view from my wheel

For the first 3 days, I spun 4 ounces of hand dyed Blue Faced Leicester top and plied some of it into 132 yards of worsted weight yarn.

BFL skein
my skein of BFL yarn

Want to join my team? Go to Ravelry and join in this forum. And if you love this roving, you can grab some in my online store.