Summer is finally here – and I love it! We had such a prolonged, cold spring, but summer has just came on with a vengeance. I promised myself I wouldn’t complain when it got to 30C (well, I didn’t quite abide by that rule), but I am certainly glad it’s warm, sunny, and I can spend my time outside.
Most of my time in the summer is spent pretty evenly between gardening and fleece washing. Here in Alberta we have really bright sun (we’re one of the sunniest spots in Canada) and warm, dry weather, which means I can wash and dry fleeces in much more quantity than I can in winter where I become somewhat limited by what I can dry in the house at any one time.
Tour de Fleece
It’s almost here! Tour de Fleece runs from July 7th to July 29th, with two rest days on July 16th and July 23rd.
Not familiar with Tour de Fleece? Basically, you pick and team and join, then spin to your heart’s content for the three weeks during the Tour de France bike race. What I like about Tour de Fleece is that unlike Spinzilla (which is all about spinning as much as you can in the shortest amount of time possible), Tour de Fleece is about challenging yourself, in whatever form that may be. I know spinners who pick a new kind of fibre every year to spin. Some try to spin through their stash. Others do go for yardage, and try to spin as much as they can.
Last year (my first year participating) I decided to try to spin a whole fleece. I wasn’t entirely successful – I was spinning on two sprained ankles (silly story), so I didn’t quite complete that, but I did get a very large chunk of my fleece done, and I was really proud of myself for accomplishing it.
This year I’ll be spinning my first sweater spin. I’ve spun sweater quantities before, but not with any particular project in mind. This year I’m using the fleece from a ram called Twilight (a sheep I met in March, you can read about that farm visit here), and he’s a BFL/Merino/Romney cross (I even have a some of his washed fleece for sale).
Twilight’s fleece will become a Juniper sweater, designed by the awesome Ash Alberg. The past few weeks I’ve been prepping – Twilight’s fleece is all washed up, and I’m almost done flicking open his locks. I’ll be running it all through my Made-Well drum carder that I refurbished earlier this year. Honestly, I thought I was a bit crazy to put his fleece through a drum carder – he has a lovely long 4-5″ staple that just screams for handcombing and short forward draw, but my sample (to the left) allayed my fears.
I spun this sample from my batts using short backward draw. For the singles, I spun on a 6.7:1 ratio on my Kromski Sonata, and plied on my 14:1 ratio to get a nice 50° twist. To finish I soaked and snapped – I didn’t want it to fuzz up too much. My resulting sample gave me exactly what I wanted – a 10 WPI worsted weight yarn with some nice definition that should display the lace and cable work at the back of the design quite nicely.
I’ll be spinning for Team Wool ‘N Spinning, but there’s a ton of teams you can sign up for yourself. If you haven’t participated before I’d highly recommend it.
Want to learn more about Tour de Fleece? Check out the Ravelry group, where you can read all about it and sign up to a team.
New Fleeces Coming!
That’s right, I have several more fleeces that will be making their appearances in the shop. Remember Karen from my Meet the Fibre Farmer interview? Karen swung by my place last weekend, and we went through all her llama and alpaca blankets, and oh boy, are they awesome! I was especially delighted with her llamas – my previous experience with llama fibre was a bit rough, but her wool llamas have absolutely awesome fibre, and I can’t wait to share them with you. I’ll be washing, prepping, spinning samples, and photographing in the coming weeks so stay tuned.
I’ll be teasing some of these on Instagram and Facebook before they’re in the shop – so if you’d like to get a sneak peak head on over to those and follow me to get the scoop before they’re released for sale.