Tuesday 23 July 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 Roundup

Wow, the Tour de Fleece, went by in a bit of a spinning blur.  I know I haven't knit half as much as a normally do, and whilst I felt off balance I think taking part in the Tour has been an important step in crafting life.  It has introduced me to some new people online and I've added several friends to my Ravelry feed. Posting photos nearly every day was more wearing than the actual spinning, but it was a fun part of the routine, and a really tangible way to monitor what I was achieving. I don't think I won any prizes, but I know that I learnt a lot about spinning and my technique has improved significantly.

I only managed to spin 200g of fibre, but I am really pleased with the results of both.  Both projects were made from Hilltop Cloud Fibre.  I have some Mallard, which was a blended fibre, comprised of 62% merino/25% BFL/13% baby alpaca.

Mallard 04

I love the soft, heathered yarn I have made with my Rakestraw spindle.

Mallard 05

Accordingly to my beginner's reading of this fibre, I have a DK weight yarn, which is 103g in weight and 184m in length.  I can't wait to knit this up, because it is exactly the sort of yarn I would buy, and I love that I made it!

The other Hilltop Cloud spinning is a BFL/ramie blend, and is much denser than than the Mallard blend.

BFL and Ramie 02

The ramie, gives a real gloss to the yarn.  It's not quite as soft as the Mallard, but this is to be expected, but I think it will knit up beautifully.  This 2 ply yarn has sections of full purple, full blue and one strand of each to give a lovely transitional barber pole effect.  I think I have a sport weight yarn, weighing 99g and 173m.  I have no idea what to knit with this, as it's not quite soft enough to wear next to my neck.  Maybe they would great mitts?  I do like making and wearing mitts!

Those are my two completed projects.  They were both spun on the Rakestraw.  I do practice on my Tibetan spindle and I eventually gave up trying to spin a soft and fluffy single on it.  It was really hard and I couldn't get into the rhythm of it.  I has some very pretty rolags I bought from Fondant Fibre, but I was so scared to use them and ruin them that I put off starting with them.  Then, last week I got an unexpected parcel in the post from Deborah at Fondant Fibre.  I hadn't ordered anything so I was quite surprised.  Then I opened the parcel and smiled.  Deborah was really sad that I was scared to spin with rolags so had sent me another set so I wouldn't worry so much and actually get started.  It worked!

Fondant Fibres Purple Rolags 01

This alpaca/bamboo/silk pile of rolags is exactly the sort of thing I would choose for myself.  I am very fond of purple, as you might have noticed.  For those that don't know, rolags are made of fibre blended on a board in one direction and then rolled up into cigar shapes, following the direction of the fibres.  They are spun from the ends of the roll and therefore spin woollen, easily allowing the fibres to all jumble up together because they are being pulled into the twist from the side, instead of the ends of the fibre.  I had been told that these are really good for beginners and I think they were right.

I have been spinning on my Tibetan spindle and I haven't been trying to make it any particular thickness.  I have spun 1.5 rolags and this is what I have.

Fondant Fibres Purple Rolags 04

The spindle paired up with the fibre, wants to spin incredibly fine singles.  I feel like I'm on the verge of almost getting it.  My rhythm has evened up, but I still drop the spindle as it tips over onto my lap.  The more I wind onto the cop (the cone of fibre wound around the bottom of the spindle) the more balanced the spindle seems to get.  It is spinning much easier and longer now than it did when I first started spinning.  I can't work out if that is me just getting better, or the extra weight adding to the spin duration.

Fondant Fibres Purple Rolags 03

I love that, because it is so finely spun, you get little pops of red and white for sections of the single.  I think I might be spinning my very first lace weight yarn!

Now the Tour is over, I plan on spinning at least a little bit every day, both on my Rakestraw and my Tibetan, but not quite to the exclusion of all else!  I am sure my obsession with spinning will continue, in fact I've recently bought an Ashford Lazy Kate (the cheap one!), and a new book.

Fleece and Fiber Source Book

I only got it yesterday, but I can tell it is going to be a great coffee table book, as well as a valuable source of information.  I love spinning as an activity, but is leading to a greater understanding of yarn as a material and how that material becomes a knitted item.  I think it will lead to be becoming a better knitter.


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