Fibre Notes

Fibre Notes: June/July 2020

So I had realized in the second week of July that I had completely skipped over my June Fibre Notes. What the heck, right?! But by that point I figured why not just kind of hold it over, and then do one big post for June and July together, and here we are! I hadn’t been working to feverishly on local projects anyway, because what I had been working on took me so long, so honestly, June would have been a bit of a short post.

I’m also going to break with tradition just a little bit and briefly talk about some non-spinning, non-local projects I’ve been working on. They’re tangentially related, but I’ll keep it brief (also, I’m excited about them!).

June – Tour de Fleece Prep

This was what I primarily worked on in June (although I had started at the end of May), and it took me many, many (many many many) hours to complete. When I’m doing a blend I like to card up everything separately into nice smooth batts, then weigh everything out, and card them again together. Since I was combining three fibres, everything had to be carded a few times, which is where it took me so long. Having said that, the prep was amazing, and even though it took me forever, it was well worth the extra effort.

I ended up with roughly 620g of a 52% Icelandic, 25% alpaca, 23% BFL. I went with the mixture because I wanted to use up the not-sweater quantities of all of these fibres, plus the white Icelandic and alpaca mixed with the dark brown BFL gave me this beautiful light greyish-brown colour.

While the prep was beautiful and it was a lovely spin, best laid plans, and all that. But I’ll talk about that a bit more below.

Tour de Fleece

What a weird Tour de Fleece this year. Of course with the race actually held off (now starting Aug 29), it was a bit odd to spin while the racers weren’t riding. I will say, that I literally never watch it, but I was co-captain of our Wool ‘N Spinning team this year, and I know several members do watch as they spin. There will be a TdF 2.0 this year to coincide with the actual race, and I might use that time to re-spin for my Derwent sweater (more on that below too).

As a fun aside, my total yardage for this year (singles plus the plies) equals 3,468 yards spun. Believe it or not, that’s actually not one of my higher years!


So this was my big project during TdF this year. For the past few years I’ve spun a sweater quantity, which I then knit around December. It’s become a bit of a yearly ritual that I really enjoy.

I was iffy to begin with on whether I actually had enough fibre for my planned sweater, Derwent. I planned a DK/light worsted 3-ply to match the yarn used in the pattern. It’s heavily cabled, so I definitely wanted a nice round yarn that was going to highlight the cables really beautifully. I knew the alpaca and BFL would create a heavier yarn – although I figured with half of the fibre content being Icelandic I’d cut that back a bit.

I wasn’t really right, and I ended up with much less yardage than I needed (about half!). The yarn, let me just say, is beautiful and I absolutely love it, but it is damn heavy. Even if I had gotten enough for a whole sweater, with a grist 503 ypp, I might have rethought a sweater made out of it anyway (who needs a 2.5 lb sweater?!).

What I ended up with is 663 yards of beautiful, light worsted 3-ply in a colour that makes my heart sing and is so very soft. So I’m going to pivot and do a cabled vest instead.

Which means I still have to spin for my Derwent sweater, because I’m hell-bent on knitting that sweater this year. I have some Tunis that I think would make a very lovely alternative, and I have a pretty good amount of it, so fingers crossed.

Cheviot Commercial Top

I had found this buried in my personal stash, just 100g that I must have had for a few years. Well, what’s a better project for 100g of Cheviot than some sock yarn? So, that’s what I did. A traditional 3-ply, spun at about 40 WPI for the singles so I got a 20 WPI sock yarn. I have about 210 yds, which will be perfect for socks. I’m going to reserve this skein for the next round of indigo dyeing, and I’ll make just a nice pair of vanilla socks.

Handspun Weaving

I bought myself a 24″ Ashford rigid heddle loom last year, with the ultimate goal of using it for hand spun yarns. I spent the past year really getting accustomed to weaving and learning about it, but this summer was finally the year to jump in and finally start my first hand spun weaving project.

The yarn for this is a lot of different fibres – alpaca, Ile de France, merino, cheviot, romney…. so the weaving will be interesting (if not challenging). I’ve been accumulating these skeins for seven years (I checked, those were my oldest ones!), and it’s finally time to use them. I’m hoping for a final piece of fabric about 70″ x 20″. I’m not sure what it’ll become, but at least the yarn will be something. I warped my first weaving on the 26th, and I think I’ll have enough yarn to make 2 (I had about 1600 yds total out of all the skeins). I’m excited to at least have some finished fabric to work with.

Fun fact: it was also my first time hemstitching.

North Country Cheviot Mill Prep

I’m really, really excited about this one. I came into quite the windfall of a lot of North Country Cheviot from a farm I buy from every year (if you’ve purchased North Country Cheviot from this site, it’s the same farm!). I love this wool a lot, and I use it really frequently in my own projects. So when the producer told me she had a lot of fibre she could sell me at a good rate (because she didn’t have the hands to help her skirt this year due to COVID-19), I jumped at the chance.

I also know my limits, and there was absolutely no way I’d be able to work through and process this much myself, nor did I have the ability to even wash up this kind of quantity to sell it on the site. So, I decided that I was going to send off a large portion of it to Rosebud River Fibre Mill to have it turned into roving and yarn! I’ve wanted for years to have the opportunity to send some off to a local mill, and I’ve been following Rosebud through their opening, so I’m really excited to have the opportunity.

I spent a few hours skirting mercilessly to have it ready to go, and I’ll be sending off the wool imminently. I will admit a portion of the skeins and roving I’ll keep myself for my own projects, but I will be offering a limited amount sale on the website. That’ll be a few months down the road, so stay tuned (and if this all works out well, it might be a yearly thing where I offer a small batch of roving and yarn locally made on the site).

Sundry Projects

  • Indigo shibori panels – I’ve been obsessed with this beautiful technique for a while, so when I saw the project for the Snapshot Quilt in The Modern Natural Dyer, this was so the project for me to not only jump into shibori, but also quilting (something else I’ve never done before). It’s really more about the shibori than the quilting honestly (although who knows, maybe that’ll be the next thing I go crazy for). I had such a blast dyeing all these, and I absolutely cannot wait to have a hand dyed, hand made quilt.
  • Soap making – this is something I literally haven’t done in 15 years, although I used to be quite the cold-process soap maker. Something just tweaked for me this summer, so on July 21st I made my first batch of soap in a long time. I’m very happy with the results – even if I won’t get to use the bars until the first week of September. Going forward I will definitely do this more again (and I may even offer up some on this website in the future).