The Tour starts on July 1st. That’s just 9 days away. What’s the Tour de Fleece? Well it is a spinners event that runs the duration of the Tour de France. It was born probably over 10 years ago. I know I’ve hosted teams for at least 7 or 8 of those years. The premise is that you spin everyday that they tour is on. On the rest days, you can take the day off. And when the bicylcists are in the mountains you have a challenge day. Your challenge can be learning a new technique or maybe you spinning longer and farther than your usual day. The point is to have a goal in mind for this time.
What I know for sure is that every year that I commit to this event, what I am really committing to is me time. By spinning every day, you are spending time practicing your skills. And each time that I finish the tour, I am a better spinner. My goal this year is to make friends with my e-spinner. I have a Heavenly Handspinning e-spinner and it has a different kind of tensioning system. And it is not working for me. I have to change my spinning technique in order to get the yarn that I want. I need to do some research and reading and maybe some YouTube watching. And then I need to practice. I am looking over my stash and most of that is what I have for sale in the shop. So in the next 9 days I will be picking some colors and fibers to use.
At this time I have 3 people on my team. If you would like to join the team, just reply or comment to this post. You should also join our facebook group here. We can post photos, ask questions and just be part of a community. Let me know your goal for the tour as well.
It’s now 17 days until the start of the 2021 Tour de Fleece. I told you that I have 2 goals. My long goal is to spin yarn for this really cute top. But I can’t just sit down and spin. I need to spin to a specification. Yes it can be a little off this way or that. I can take care of that with a change of needle. But I do need to get close to a fingering weight yarn.
I am particularly concerned about the lace detail of this top. So one of the first choices that I made was to decide on a 2 ply yarn. A 2 ply yarn will open up a lace when knit. And I’m happy that making a 2 ply means less spinning than a 3 ply!! But this wool is a little lofty. I has some noils in it as well. So I’m not sure if the lace will be seen with this handspun yarn.
So part of my preparation is to knit up a sample. Here’s what I’ve done so far. First, I spun up a control card of fiber. On this card I’ve noted the roving source, and I’ve put a piece of the singles and then a ply back 2 ply on the card. This is the card that I will use to make sure that each time I sit at the wheel that I’m making the same yarn mostly. Then, I measured out 2 two ounce portions of roving. This is the weight of roving that will fit on my bobbin. Then I spun 2 bobbins full. Next, I will ply up these 2 singles and set the twist.
Only then can I knit up a swatch. The swatch that I will knit will have to be knit in the round, because the sweater is stockinette. When you knit stockinette in the round it is only knit stitches. When you knit stockinette flat, you knit a row and purl a row. Purling uses more yarn and so the gauge is different than in the round. I’m looking to get the same gauge as the pattern in the swatch. I also want to include a few repeats of the lace pattern to see if this yarn will open up and reveal the pattern. I may also see about putting beads in the lace portion and see how that looks in the long run.
So yes, there are 17 days before the tour. But I need to have this background work done before the tour starts, so that each day I can make progress in the making of the 2 ply yarn for my top. Oh and by the way, this will be a Fibershed top as well.
We’re getting closer. I’ve been dyeing up combed top and I pulled out some mohair roving too. This mohair is really silky and shiny. It would be a great addition to an art batt. Or you could blend it in with other fibers. So far I have a lot of semi-solid colors and I’ve got a few variegated pans going too. Here’s what it looks like:
These are a minimum of 5 oz. Some are even 6 oz. They sell for $20 each with shipping! Get your’s here.
I’ve decided my goals for the Tour. For the challenge days, I will develop my skill to spin singles that will stay singles. And for the rest of the tour. I’m spinning up a 2ply fingering weight yarn to make the Tenga top pattern. I just started to spin up some samples that I can swatch, so I’m getting a head start. I’m using a roving made from some BFLxShetland fleeces that I bought from a partner farm. It’s a delightful dark brown/charcoal color and really pretty soft as well.
What will you make during the tour? Comment below and let me know!!
Are you a fiber lover? Have you dreamed about making your own yarn? Now that vaccinations are in place and the virus is starting to wane. I am going to start offering my in-person classes to a small select group of people.
This spinning class will be limited to 2 people at a time. Depending on the weather, we may be able to do this outside on the porch unmasked. Or if we need to be indoors we will wear masks at least until that mandate is lifted. I will be offering this once a month for the next few months. If my dates don’t work for you, please contact me and we can work out an alternate date or time.
This is a 3 hour class offered from 1-4pm on each of the dates. You don’t need to bring anything, I have spinning wheels and spindles for you to use. If you do have equipment that you would like to use, just let me know.
You will learn how to prepare the fiber for spinning. You will learn how to use a spinning wheel and/or a spindle to make yarn from roving. If there is time, you will also learn how to ply your yarn too.
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’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.
Where to find us
We are located in Frederick MD. You can stop by during our open studios. Or buy online and stop by to pick up…I’ll run your purchases out to you in your car.