Tour-de-Fleece Spinning Week 1

Tour de Fleece Spinning (Week 1)

I've been spinning. A lot. Almost every day (except the weekend, which got busy with other life type things).

My goal for the Tour de Fleece is to spin enough laceweight Merino Tencel to be able to make something reasonably substantial out of it. Possibly a Clapotis (because apparently, I didn't get it out of my system the first six I made).

Other than that, I've been spinning on a new spindle and I took a bit of a non-laceweight break on Friday night to spin some Yarn Yard Shetland into DK/Aran weight singles, because my hands were cramping up with the fine stuff and I just needed a break.

I'm going to try and get as much spinning in as I can today and tomorrow, because in the wee hours of Wednesday morning my wee sister arrives along with her husband and my 22 month old niece, and I suspect that spinning might well be off the menu once they arrive. I haven't seen them in more than six months, and my niece is, by all accounts, very much her mother's daughter, so will, I imagine, be into everything.

Perpetual Motion

I've had a stressful couple of weeks, and in times of high stress I turn to spinning, as the one thing that I can do that seems to work off my excess nervous energy. It's not really a time for fine spinning, so first of all, I took the Yarn Yard June Club fibre - Wensleydale (I love Wensleydale!) - and turned it into fairly even DK/Aran weight singles. It went really quickly too, an hour and a half for 200g!

I'm really pleased how it came out.

On the Bobbin

Wensleydale Yarn - Chiminea

That wasn't quite enough for me though, so I took some of the sparkly batts I bought from FeltStudioUK and they become bulky singles, spun fast and loose, without stopping to worry about lumps and bumps.

Sparkly yarn

I'm not sure the finished yarn does any justice to how lovely the batts were before they were spun up, but it was interesting to spin without worrying about bumps - something I'm usually quite pedantic about - it was quite liberating, not to mention a lot speedier.

Speedy being a word I can't really apply to my current project. I'm participating in the Tour de Fleece this year and spinning the limited edition Yarn Yard TdeF fibre, which is a base fibre of Merino Tencel in a gorgeous neutral in shades from silver to hematite via pewter and with sherberty bright contrasting fibre alongside.

Tour de Fleece Fibre

The neutral is well on it's way to becoming laceweight yarn, which is my goal for the TdeF. I want it to be more even and fine than I've ever managed before, and I've managed to keep it up for five days so far.

Merino Tencel Laceweight Singles

I love how it looks on the bobbin, and I'm really pleased with how fine and even it is, but I can't help but think that the plying is going to be a total BITCH. Time will tell.

Fair Isle Wristwarmers, Some Assembly Required

Rainbow Merino and Black Alpaca Handspun

I've become obsessed with fair-isle knitting, particularly using a solid and a varigated yarn, rather than two solids.

I blame Natalie and Jane for this, mostly.

Well, that, and I had no idea what else to do with rainbow yarn that's likely to be too busy for anything other than stockinette, and maybe too loud for even that.

Luckily, I remembered that Nikki bought me some black alpaca for my birthday last year (on condition that I use it for something for me), so I dug it out and spun it up (it was lovely), and hopefully, there'll be enough of both to make a pair of wristwarmers.

Now though, the fun part - making up the chart!


Shetland Handspun

Well, what a week that was.

Last Monday night, as I walked into the spare room to sit down at the laptop and work on the fibrelust site, I turned, and something in my back screamed. Thankfully for the neighbours, I managed not to.

Six hours later, enough painkillers had kicked in to allow me to go to bed and get some sleep.

Five hours after that, I had to get off the tube at Oxford Circus because the pain was so bad I was either going to vomit, pass out, or both.

Twelve hours after that, I was in the Accident and Emergency Department of Kings College Hospital, London, having my back checked out.

... and the rest of the week passed in a haze of pain, pain meds and unfortunate, drug-fuelled crocheting (of which, more later).

With guests staying for the weekend and a two-day conference at the beginning of the week (none of which helped my slowly recovering back much), I've got quite a bit of blogging to catch up on, so I thought I'd start slowly, with a bit of yarn porn.

My first Etsy purchase, bought from All the Pretty Fibres, was turned into beautifully lofty singles, which I'm very pleased with, and have yet to tell me what they want to be.

Any ideas? There's probably about 200 yards in that little lot.

Bobbin Along

Bobbin along

I know it's a terrible terrible pun, but I'm not apologising for it, because it makes me grin, and with the week I've had, that's a much needed thing.

As were these bobbins.

When I first bought my wheel, it came with three bobbins, and I kinda thought I might need more, but figured three was enough to be getting on with. Which it mostly was, for about the first week.

Since then, I've been desperately trying to justify buying more bobbins, and specifically, high speed ones, to help me spin finer yarn.

Typically enough, in that time of self denial, I've slowly developed techniques for spinning fine yarn on the normal ratio bobbins and since they're all full of lace weight singles, it follows that having finally gotten hold of high speed bobbins that I'll have an urge to spin heavier weight yarn.

Since the odds of anyone feeling confident about what I want or need to brave the P&M Woolcraft site to buy me bobbins for my birthday without me knowing about it were fairly small, these were purchased using birthday money. Two were bought using money from my mum and the other one - well the other one is a little bit special.

Since meeting K, my lovely boyfriend last year, I've been welcomed into his family in a way I didn't expect but am extremely grateful for. I was very touched that his parents brought birthday presents for me with them when they came to stay with us a few weeks before my birthday, but was entirely overwhelmed to get an unexpected birthday card in the post the day before my birthday.

I don't tend to get birthday cards through the post so I was a bit curious. It turned out that his grandparents had not only remembered my birthday, but had sent me a birthday card - which was surprise and delight enough, but as I opened it, a banknote slid out into my lap. It wasn't expected, and it wasn't much, but it was almost enough to buy one bobbin and so instead of the two I was originally going to buy, I bought three.

I think they'll appreciate it when I tell them what I used the money for. His Gran crochets granny square afghans despite her sight failing, and his Grandpa was taught to spin as a child by his mother and the last time we met, we had a lovely chat about it.

I've got a plan too. It may not be entirely do-able given the timescale, but I have a plan to spin up some yarn and knit or crochet them both something for Christmas.

Now to find the perfect patterns.

Handspun On Holiday

Handspun on Holiday

About a year ago now, I went to the Handweavers Studio in Walthamstow and bought some dye to play with.

After playing with some merino, I dug out some combed Wensleydale and experimented with reds, browns and yellows, aiming for autumnal colours.

After sitting, unspun and unloved for nearly a year, I found it again, spun it up, and was utterly entranced by the result.

The Wensleydale spun like a dream, and I've got a fairly consistent fingering weight single, which I took on holiday to Crete with me, intending to knit something with it.

Turns out it's very particular yarn, because it hasn't wanted to be either the scarf I started knitting or the scarf I started crocheting, and instead it was the most happy sunning itself and looking like a ripe, juicy peach on the edge of the balcony, looking over the swimming pool and sea.

Rainbow Roving

Rainbow Roving

Although I packed yarn to go on holiday to Crete, I didn't expect to pack yarn to come back with from Crete.

Then I spotted an ad for a craft shop in Chania, and in the corner of the add, I thought I saw some fibre.

So I did what any other fibreholic would do, I tracked down the place and went to see if I was right.

Turns out I was, and there were large piles of merino roving right inside the door, alongside some felted hats.

Inside, there was more merino roving, some horrible nasty wool fibre for felting and this stuff, in this and four other shades.

After finding out the price from the lovely, but slightly confused shopkeeper (who had bought the fibre for felting, and had trouble understanding me trying to explain spinning), I decided that I'd buy 200g from the (large and messy) nest I had in my hands.

Once I'd wound off and weighed 200g, there was only a small bundle left, so I weighed that too, and finding that it was around 85g, decided to buy that too.

And the entire bundle (approx 300g) of the other colourway I liked (forest greens and browns, very subtle and lovely).

At which point the shopkeeper's face fell, and he slightly jokingly (but slightly not jokingly) complained that I was buying his whole stock.

Well how was I to know he didn't have more in the stock room?

I didn't back down though, that fibre was mine, especially when I realised it was the same range of roving as the stuff my knitty swap partner had sent me, which became the first yarn I've spun this year!

I did go back a couple of days later with said yarn, since I'd taken it with me intending to knit it into a scarf, then promptly left the pattern at home in the mad panic to get everything packed.

I think he finally understood, but I suspect I'll be remembered as "that crazy British girl who bought all my stock".

Worth it though. This stuff is fabulous, and the two small balls shown in the picture above have already been turned into laceweight singles, to eventually become sock yarn.

Handspun Merino Yarn

Handspun Merino Yarn

Every time I go to the Handweavers Studio I find myself with a basket full of their little bundles of merino top.

They're ickle (only 20g each), but they're cheap (50p each), fabulously soft and easy to spin, and so with a few in shades of red, I made this yarn.

I was aiming for DK to Aran weight singles, and I mostly got there, although it's a bit more thick and thin that I'd have liked.

It came out at 198 yards using half the fibre from each bundle, so hopefully I should have enough to make a nice wrap to chase away the evil air conditioning gremlins that make my desk freezing, no matter what the weather outside.

Corespun Kid Mohair

Corespun Kid Mohair

I was introduced to the joys of corespinning by Ruth when she brought a whole pile of her handspun yarn with her to Angelknits one night.

I was totally fascinated by some corespun kid mohair she'd spun, and Ruth being Ruth, she told me how she'd done it.

When I was at Ally Pally in October, I spotted some kid mohair that I thought would be perfect for giving it a go, and so after a bit of trial and error, I had a skein of corespun kid mohair.

That skein isn't this skein. It went to Nikki as part of her birthday present. This skein has sat on the wheel since November, cruelly neglected while my life took an amazing turn for the better (and busier).

Now it's off the wheel and a lot happier, and unfortunately, no photo can do the colour or softness justice.

It's 70 yards of pure squishy heaven.

The best bit is that I have enough fiber and yarn for a another skein of this.

Handspun Yarn

Handspun Yarn

Two things I haven't done in a while, in one post.

Firstly, I haven't blogged for ages. There are a number of reasons for this, but they're not important now.

Secondly, I haven't done any spinning for a while, and I was really missing it. The alchemy of turning fluff into yarn (and then, into fabric) delights me so much.

Having been ill for a few weeks now, and on my own over the weekend while my other half was away at a friend's stag do, I was a bit lacking in the old delight, so what better way to spend a weekend than spinning in front of the TV.

First up I had to clear a couple of bobbins, but after having a bit of a practice I dug out the very special roving that was sent to me last year by my knittboard secret spinning pal.

She was so fabulously generous that it left me completely speechless, and went above and beyond the call of secret pal duty when I was going through a really difficult period in my life.

I have to say, spinning this roving was about the easiest spinning I've ever done, and I'm so pleased with the results.

I got about 206 yards of fingering weight singles out of 50g of roving, which should be enough for me to make a lacy scarf with.

Until then, I'm just going to pet it a bit more, because it's so very pretty.