Tour de Fleece 2015: Week 3 & Wrap-Up

This has been a big week in Chez Knitting Sarah and I have so much to share from outdoor adventures to knitting to spinning. I think the best place to start is the very beginning, with the end of the Tour de Fleece so that’s what I’ll tell you about today. I’m always a little sad and a little relieved to see the Tour end. I really love spending this time every year focused on my spinning, but since I do tend to push myself, by the end my body and mind are ready to shift back to more balanced days.

For me, like any good event, the third and final week of the Tour was filled with highs and lows. I’ll start with a huge high.

kai ranchThis little 124yd skein of 100% kid mohair from Kai Ranch may not look like anything to really get into a lather about aside from being a collection of really gorgeous blues, but this is my very first skein made completely with a spindle. I spun and plied it using my Snyder Spindles Turkish spindle.

kai ranch detDespite some reservations about plying from the inside & outside of the ‘turtle’, I really thought it was highly do-able — not as smooth as my tensioned lazy kate with my wheel, but really it wasn’t bad at all. I would definitely go this route again without hesitation. The only thing I might consider is getting a slightly heavier spindle for plying. My 1.3oz Turkish was a little light for the job and the very end was a little laborious. It got the job done, though, and the yarn turned out very lovely. My main hope was that I could develop some spindle skills so that my spinning would become a bit more mobile. I feel pretty confidant that I’ve got a strong start on that goal, not to mention a pretty little skein of beautiful blue mohair yarn.

Next up, I realized at the last minute that one of my goals was to spin at least 3 stand-alone singles and I had only spun 2, so on Saturday I whipped up a quick aran single in Spun Right Round Merino.

SRR Merino singleThis is a colorway called Color Play #83. I maybe got a little bit overzealous with the twist, but it’ll knit up just fine.

SRR Merisno single detAt about 164yds, I think this will make a fun, quick hat. I just love Spun Right Round’s palettes — they are always so bright and fun and just a total joy to spin. I have a couple knitting projects coming up with yarn from this shop, too, so I’m looking forward to lots of fun brights in my future.

And now, let’s talk about my low point of the TdF 2015.

I shared some photos on Instagram of spinning my Frabjous Fibers 3 Feet of Sheep Rainbow Merino…

IMG_0073After changing my mind multiple times on how to spin this fiber, I decided to spin one long single (connecting the singles on these two bobbins, of course), wind the singles into a center-pull ball, and ply them into a 2ply. I was thinking fun-giant-bright skein. I saved the plying for the final day of the Tour, letting the singles rest for a couple days in between, and planned to ply them in the morning and then my final skein in the afternoon. Well, the winding took some time and wasn’t what I’d call smooth. And then I started plying and it was going all right until this happened…

(please note, this photo actually makes the issue look much smaller than it was)

I’ve learned that an episode of ‘yarn barf’ is bad when you are knitting, but it is a COMPLETE DISASTER when spinning. Not only do you have knots and messes, but the yarn is energized singles, so it is especially challenging to straighten out. Now I’m an extreme knot un-doer if ever there was one and I have what can only be described as superhuman patience for the task, but this was a total nightmare. The plying job that should have taken a few hours took me the entire day. The down side, of course, being that I didn’t get to plying my final skein until the following morning. The bright sides (yes, I’m counting 2 bright sides) being that 1) when all was said and done I only had to cut out about 5 or 6yards of unrecoverable yarn, and 2) this:

3ft sheep535yards of perfect fun/bright DK-ish weight yarn.

3ft sheep detThankfully, it’s not one of those skeins that I can’t see past the struggles to appreciate the beauty. This is one of those skeins that makes me feel like the time I put into making it work was all worth it.

 And last, but certainly not least, my yellow skein for the finish.

CL Elysium SW BFL wholeWhile it’s true that the plying of this skein took place the morning after the TdF was completed, in my mind I’m still counting it as part of the 2015 Tour de Fleece. The singles were spun during the TdF proper and — I don’t know — it just felt like my victory lap after the previous day’s plying debacle.

CL Elysium SW BFLThis skein was spun from Cloudlover SW BFL in the Elysium colorway and I managed about 290yds of a sport weight yarn. It has epic drape and just a truly beautiful, rich yellow/gold hue. I can’t wait to hunt up the perfect quick little pattern for this skein. I am pretty happy to have spun a number of skeins with BFL this Tour because it reminds me what a fantastic fiber it is to spin. This SW BFL from Cloudlover is definitely as fine as they come, too.

So, that is how my Tour de Fleece 2015 ended. I managed to achieve my goals — my girl got a little spindling in, I spindled a bit daily (and even finished that skein!), and I managed 3 stand-alone singles. I never really pay attention to big picture yardage or number of skeins while I’m spinning because my focus remains wholly on making each skein the best I can, but because I’m a nerd I did some tallying this morning.

For the 2015 Tour de Fleece I spun:

– 54oz of fiber –

– roughly 6395 yards of singles –

 – 3263 yards of finished yarn –

 – which take the form of 13 new skeins of handspun –

allskeins23I’m pretty happy with that.

Many thanks to Cloudlover for hosting the team and my insanely talented teammates!

So long TdF 2015, here’s to TdF 2016!

16 thoughts on “Tour de Fleece 2015: Week 3 & Wrap-Up”

  1. Standing ovation over here. Applause!! They look gorgeous. Each one is amazing. Loving that #83
    Enjoy knitting them all up ; )

  2. Congratulations! You made such beautiful yarns! (I’m glad to hear you’re an undoer of knots as well: spending the whole day recovering every little bit of merino is exactly what I would have done)

  3. You have some gorgeous finished skeins, there! I’m particularly envious of your gorgeous fat singles yarn, it looks like you got the twist just right (to my eye) and so even! I haven’t managed to achieve bulky singles yarns like that quite yet.

    1. I totally credit Jacey Boggs Faulkner’s Craftsy class with the improvement on my fat singles. There was a lot in that class that was repeat for me, but there’s a short stretch on varying singles weight/size that totally made the class worthwhile for me. 🙂

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