In this episode, I talk about some of my very favorite resources on the bookshelf. Some of the books include: The Intentional Spinner, Yarnitecture, Intertwined, The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Design, Color in Spinning, A New Look at Color, Spinning and Dyeing Yarn, Start Spinning and The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook with it’s companion, A Field Guide to Fleece. Lisa also recommends some spinning teachers to follow including Jillian Moreno, Judith MacKenzie, Maggie Casey, Esther Rodgers and Alanna Wilcox.
No, I’m not really in France! I wish!!! More than you know!!! Well maybe you do know that already.
A new episode of our podcast dropped this morning. It’s all about the Tour de Fleece 2021. If you’ve never heard of it, if you’ve known but never participated, you can find out about the tour, about my experiences and how to join our team.
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!!
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 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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.