Archive for the “tour de fleece 2014” Category

Two-thirds of the way through this year's Tour de France/Fleece, and I haven't been spinning or biking nearly as much as I'd planned to. Not that I've been completely inactive... I'm just taking it easy.


I've been working on spinning this Fiber Optic gradient from end to end, and it'll be chain-plied to keep the colour sequence. The tricky part is that I'm spinning for a worsted weight yarn, and my hands just aren't used to making a thicker single! The spinner's control card comes in really handy here, as I keep stopping every few yards to check that my yarn won't be gradually getting thinner and thinner.

The fibre is well-prepped except for some short chunks of silk that I remove and discard, but I'm not really enjoying the thicker spinning. I'm not sure if that's because I'm so accustomed to making a fine single, or because I'm not as skilled at the thicker spinning, or because I'm frustrated at the inconsistent yarn I'm making, or because I have to pause so often to check the single that I'm finding it hard to get into a groove. Hopefully as I do more thicker spinning, it'll start to feel easier and more natural.

The plan is to knit a hat from the finished yarn. There's a lot less of the lightest colour and much more of the darker shades, so I plan to start the hat top-down from the aqua. If I've done this right, I should get to the brim of the hat and the end of the yarn at the same time.

Meanwhile, I've ridden my bike nearly a hundred miles since the Tour began, and I set a new record for my longest ride to date: 50 miles/80 km! My goal for this season is a metric century, 62 miles/100 km, and I'm well on my way to achieving it... though honestly, I don't know if I want to be on a bike for that long! After my 50 mile ride, I was so beat that I pretty much came home, showered, ate dinner, and went to bed. Amazingly, I wasn't too sore the next morning.

My ride often takes me over Goose Creek. Some days it's so hot that I wish I could jump in to cool off!


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For the Tour de Fleece this year, I planned to challenge myself to spin and ply one ounce of fibre for each of the 21 days that the Tour rides. Most of my fibre stash is in four- and eight-ounce increments, so I've adjusted by one ounce and now I'm aiming for 20 ounces spun and plied... which is still going to be one heck of a challenge! So here's what I've got:

This eight ounce corriedale roving from Handspun by Stefania was dyed with indigo and iron and then carded with hand-dyed silk noils, and I bought it at Maryland Sheep and Wool in 2010. It's slated to become a tweedy two-ply DK weight that will eventually, possibly, if it works out the way I want, be knitted into the next pair of Fleeps. The original yarn I used for the Fleeps is getting hard to find, and this looks like it might be a good substitution.

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale

Another Maryland Sheep and Wool purchase, this one from 2009, is two coordinating batches of fibre from Bullens Wullens. One is 100% Falkland, the other is 80% merino and 20% tussah silk. The plan is to spin a worsted weight yarn with one ply of each. I'm not yet sure what I'll knit with it, but eight ounces should give me a good range of options once the yarn is finished.


Last year at Rhinebeck I picked up this gorgeous aqua to chocolate gradient from Fiber Optic Yarns, even though I wasn't sure what I planned to do with it. Now I know: I'm going to spin it from one end to the other, chain-ply it to maintain the gradient, and knit a slouchy hat for myself! I'll just have to decide whether to have the darker portion at the brim of the hat or at the crown. If I do this right, I'll come up with the right amount of yarn to use the full gradient on the hat. Another option would be to split it in half longways and spin two chain-plied gradient yarns for armwarmers. Hmmmm.


The 2014 Tour de Fleece will be spinning from Saturday July 5 through Sunday July 27th. I will have friends visiting over the July 4 holiday weekend, but like last year I expect that their presence will actually make things easier for me, as I can sit with them on the porch and sip wine while I spin and we chat. I have no doubt that we'll go for some bike rides, too - possibly a long stretch of the Washington and Old Dominion trail or just on the mountain roads around my house.

(Eventually, I'd like to ride the whole W&OD, all 90 miles of it. This year my goal is 62 miles for a metric century! On Monday I took the bike out for my second ride of the year and put almost 17 miles on the odometer; tomorrow I'm aiming for a 20 mile ride.)

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From Mulberry Fibers on Etsy comes this ridiculously pink braid of 75% merino/25% nylon, which I am spinning into a two-ply fingering weight for a commission:


Here are the singles, resting before being plied. My camera wasn't fully able to capture the brightness and saturation of the pink:


I really enjoyed spinning this. The fibre drafted well, without sticking together or sliding apart. The darker sections were a little tougher to draft smoothly, which is something I've noticed in other spinning projects as well. Maybe it's something about the darker dyes that felt the fibres a little?

There's one more braid in a lovely shade of green to spin for this commission, and then of course plying all three yarns, washing and skeining, and mailing them off! The Tour de Fleece is coming up soon, and I'm aiming to have the entirety of the commission finished before then as I have a challenging Tour project in mind...

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