Monday, 1 August 2016

Tour De Fleece 2016

It's that time of year again - The Tour De Fleece!
I look forward to the tour all year, saving up my most coveted of fibres and clearing bobbins in anticipation. For those of you who are reading this and thinking to yourselves, "tour de WHAt? let me explain. 
The Tour De Fleece is an annual event which runs concurrently with the (ever so slightly more famous) Tour De France. For every day the competitors take to their bikes, thousands of spinners around the globe take to their treadles and spindles and spin yarns as vigorously and with as much passion as the riders cycling up mountains and battling along rainy roadsides. Honestly- this is a thing!

Us spinners don't just spin during the tour - perhaps the best bit is the sharing of the spinning with other fleecers, on all the social medias you can imagine. Everyday, it is encouraged that people taking part in the tour share an image of their days work, with a light comment on how they feel they are progressing. In the weeks leading up to the tour, we might share our goals and what we hope we might achieve. For example, I set myself the challenge to spin art yarns in a variety of techniques, including lock yarns and coils. 

 It technically started as an event run through Ravelry, however you will find people posting updates on facebook, instagram and twitter. I decided to run a team for UK based spinners, feel free to join in with our chatting and discussions - even my international friends.  

The tour has now ended and I've completed several art yarns on my wheel and spun several hundreds of metres on my drop spindle while i've been out and about. I spun my "Garden Roses" Batt on my spindle which had a mixture of merino, hand dyed ramie, soya silk, hand dyed firestar and corridale in warm corals, pale yellow, peaches and pinks.  Of course I had to choose a spindle to match.

My first art yarn of the tour was made using a hand dyed braid of fake cashmere plus a blended roving in my "dolly mixture" colourway, which I decided I'd make into a core spun coil yarn. It turned out deliciously. 

I spun my yarn using my Ashford country spinner and a mohair/nylon core. The fake cashmere wrapped brilliantly and looked silky, smooth and puffed up just nicely to make a soft yarn.

handspan art yarn coil yarn

The coiled blended roving turned out much cooler than I imagined! Definitely something I'd like to make again.

 The next few yarns I made using fibre in a "cloud". Spinning from a Cloud is a fun and easy way to spin textured yarns. I mixed hand dyed farm fleeces, angelina sparkle, excel, bamboo, BFL and wensleydale locks, hand dyed recycled silk, merino, mohair locks and cotton in a big floofy (thats a word, honest) pile and spun a thick 'n' think singles as the fibres came to me.
Cloud Fibre

 Oh man I was addicted. I mixed up a batch of green and blue Clouds and spun spun spun spun spun!
I think this may be my favourite way of spinning art yarns now. I love the unpredictability of spinning like this. It can be a little tricky if you are used to evenly prepared fibre as the drafting changes quickly (super fast for plant fibres, slower for farm fleece) but the results were magical for me as it spun onto the bobbin.

 I ended up spinning slightly less than I had planned, as the tour coincided with my making time for Fibre East, but I loved being part of the community and I felt so inspired by everyone who took part. I can't wait for next year!

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