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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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Making a Local Wardrobe

Really? A whole wardrobe? What is that about? I’ve been thinking a lot about how the choices we make really effect our planet and our climate. I’ve written about this before and I have been reading and thinking about just how to make a local wardrobe.

I make wool and mohair yarn. So I can have outerwear pieces from my very local yarn. I can make socks, boot cuffs, hats, mittens, scarves, shawls and sweaters with the yarn from my own animals.

I can felt fiber into fabric to make a coat and accessories like a messenger bag or purse.

But as summer comes along, I will also need to have some lighter fabrics. There aren’t any cotton growers or cotton and linen mills in our area. So for lighter garments I will have to find cotton and linen made in neighboring states. I’m hoping to even find some hemp grown in N. Carolina. So my fibershed, my local will have to widen out a bit.

Why go to all this trouble? Because it is important to turn away from the plastic and microfibers in commercial clothing. Did you know that 60% of our garments are made with polyester. To make this, we consume 350 million barrels of oil every year. That’s amazing. That’s dangerous.

Did you also know that nearly 2 gms of microfibers come off of a jacket run through the wash. And that 40% of that makes it to streams, rivers and the oceans? We’ve seen the massive amount of plastic garbage in the ocean, but these microfibers are largely unseen and still they are a threat. Like seafood? You are ingesting this microfiber that traveled to the ocean.

So my little part may not make a huge difference. But I will be doing my part… Want to do your part too? Think about your own local wardrobe or local pieces. We have wool and mohair yarns made right here in many different weights and we are growing this local yarn line as I write this.

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spinners! Dye your Roving

For the first time, I’ll share with you two ways to dye your own roving. In this Feb 29th workshop, you will dye approximately 8 ounces of fiber (either BFL or Merino, depending on availability). You can decide what colors you will use and we’ll talk about how to avoid felting your roving in the heating process. All my workshops have small so that you get individual attention. Click here to grab your spot.

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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.