Sunday, 23 July 2017

Tour De Fleece Megablog

I had so much fun taking part in Tour De Fleece this year. This is a megablog of my spins!

On day one of the tour I proudly donned my yellow jersey (hand screen printed for me by my brother, Ouroboros screen prints) and my handspun wire headband and set myself up underneath my fruit trees in the garden with my spinolution hopper, a crazy carded batt and high levels of adrenaline. I corespun the batt and supercoiled the yarn into a wonderfully textured, huge skien. 

Supercoil art yarn
 The batt was carded with a mixture of different breeds, hand dyed fibre, glittery angelina, soya silk and faux vegan style fibres. I used my 16oz bobbin.

My next two spins were a complete contrast form one another. First, I spent some time playing with the highest speeds on my Kromski Minstrel wheel creating an ultra fine singles from a hand carded batt in pinks, purples and maroons, again sat underneath the trees in my garden. It was so peaceful. The weather was gorgeous and the smell of freshly cut grass, warm victoria plums hanging from the branches above me and the whir of my wheel felt so tranquil. 
Fine singles on my Kromski Minstrel

While my minstrel was set up for fine spinning, I got out my Ashford Country spinner and created a spiral plied jumbo art yarn in hot pinks, gittery bits and dark natural fleece wools. So fun! I loved how my yarn looked draped over my more traditional Kromski Minstrel.
Kromski Minstrel with art yarn

I deliberately spun my yarn thick and thin and auto wrapped the yarn as I spun with a think turquoise lurex. I played about with my thread plying angles to create areas of true spirals and more gentle waves.
Spiral plied art yarn

Kromski Minstrel
After creating my first few yarn of the tour from home, I decided it was time to venture out, feeling inspired by the real tourers. I took my hopper to a local park and spun gorgeous handfuls of a naturally grey fleece that I hand processed. I bought it as a "mule" fleece, which in shepherding terms means a mix of breeds. It was suggested that it had some BFL in it's heritage, and I could believe it as it had a really pretty crimp and fineness in texture. I didn't want to do anything other than just spin it as it came!
 I did add a pretty grey feather which I found while spinning the fleece by a lake in the park. Spinning in public always means you get curious bypasses stopping to ask what you are doing, especially children who are mesmerised by the movement of the wheel but of course I loved sharing it with anyone who asked!

Adding feathers to handspun yarn

 Then I thread plied it, embellishing with faux pearls, Czech glass beads, some cut glass and some lined with silver - and iridescent sequins, part of my hoarded treasures, collected over the years.

The park I visited has a beautiful decking area with a cafe attached which rounded off my day nicely - spinning as it turned into the "golden hour" with the sun's slight reflecting off the lake, sipping tea and indulging in some chocolate cake. Who could ask for more?

Tour De Fleece

Art yarn spinning by the lake
Back home, later during the tour I made a quick and colourful yarn using my spinolution Firefly.


 I spun one of my "Pixie Dust" batts which is made from merino, corridale, tencel and hand dyed firstar in a bulky thick n thin style. I wound it off into a nostepinne, which for those not in the know is a tool for making a centre pull ball. I plied from the ball using a white cotton. I really like using a nostepine for plying because it's fast and easy to wind off from the ball, and you don't have to change bobbins!

Spinolution Firefly

Colourful art yarn

My final accomplishment during the tour was finishing up a fine yarn made from natural fleece, merino, firestar, soya silk and angelina. I admit I did start spinning it about a month before the tour but as I worked on it during the TDF month I thought I would include it in my round up. :-) 

I made this yarn on my Spinolution Hopper, using the 16oz flyer. Initially, I didn't know how I wanted to ply it, thinking I would probably go with chain plying. But after spinning it for a while it dawned on my that it would look best as a two ply. This became my relaxation project of the summer. There is something so calming about spinning a fine singles yarn, something in the repetitive nature of the process and feeling the fibres in your hands, watching the bobbin gradually fill and change colours. I made this from a mixture of hand carded batts and rolags, made on my kromski hand carders. 
Plying on my Spinolution Firefly

I finally plied my yarn after weeks of spinning using my electric spinolution firefly, with 8oz head attachment. That really made the plying effortless! I ended up with about 350g of yarn, which I have since used in a handwoven blanket project (see my other posts if you want to know how it turned out)

Handspun two ply yarn

In reflection, I found the tour de fleece to be a motivational force and spurred me to create more time for spinning in my schedule. I loved sharing pictures and comments with my team mates on Facebook, ravelry and instagram and watching the creations and excitement flood in from around the world. I can't wait for next year! If all goes to plan, I'd love to host a launch party on the first day of the tour with some of my team mates. 

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