Tour de Fleece 2016 Week 1 Recap

My first week of the Tour de Fleece has been not quite as dramatic with wooly exploits as other years. The stars finally aligned so that a friend and I were able to schedule some long-awaited time to make an effort to tidy up my yard & gardens, so many hours were spent with a shovel in hand. Some was spent with my friend’s most wonderful company & guidance and some working furiously on my own to carry out the plans we’d laid. I’ll share more on this experience later, but I am happy to report that I completed the last big push for the job yesterday — whew-hoo — and I’m so incredibly happy with the results.

As you might suspect, the hours spent in the garden has been time not spent with my wheel and has been a workout for my hands and back that hasn’t necessarily been spurring me forward in the Tour de Fleece. But I’ve spun daily and made steady progress and really that was the main goal this year.

I finished up the 4oz of the luxuriously lovely blue called During the Day.

img_3804I photographed it here with my bobbin of Early Blooming  with which I plan to ply it.

I also managed to spin up 4oz of the lustrous ‘Laundry Pile’.

img_3805I spun these singles a bit thicker and I’m hoping to have about a worsted weight 2ply with lots of barberpoles in it.

Currently on the wheel I’m working on the Three Waters Farm official Tour de Fleece 2016 colorway, Summer Jubilee in the Superwash Merino/Nylon blend.

img_3803I’m a bit over halfway through the braid and I’m hoping to maybe finish up the singles today. I’m aiming to create a yarn that’ll be appropriate for socks. My mind’s eye sees fun, bright, stripey socks. To me, perhaps the perfect

Also in progress, I have one Classy Squid Fiber Co spindle spin in the works.

img_3806This is my very let-your-hair-down spin — something I’m learning to embrace with batts and rolags from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I’ve really come to love just letting the texture have their way. This is my first experience spinning texture on spindles and it’s been such a treat. I have another ounce of rolags to spin which I’ll do on spindles and then a coordinating 2oz batt that I plan to spin on my wheel and then ply the two together.

And last, but definitely not least, I’ve got the teeniest, tiniest start on a new project…

img_3807This is Three Waters Farm ‘Satisfied with Summer’ just started on my new Akerworks mini spindle. I’ve been spinning just a staple length or so per day, so the progress is very slow but I adore how quick this little .41oz spindle flies and the ultra lightweight yarn it loves to create.

And that’s it! That’s my week 1 for the Tour de Fleece! I hope you’ve had a great week, too, if you’re spinning!

Questions & Answers

I ask a lot of questions. About everything. All the time.

A few weeks ago I was having some leg pain that was seriously harshing my spinning mojo, so I had a couple conversations with some trusted spinning friends about ways to continue spinning through this. They had loads of great ideas from things I can change about how I’m seated at my wheel to simply using my double treadle as a single treadle and a ton of little things in between. The discussion shifted a bit to other wheels. While I love my wheel and its incredible versatility, those times when my body isn’t cooperating can be frustrating. The ultimate dream would be to someday own a miniSpinner which is treadle-less and thus would completely bypass my less than reliable legs. It’s also super portable, so it would travel well and in many ways suit my life. It’s quite an investment, though, and now isn’t the right time for me to go there — who knows, that time may never come for me. I had a feeling my ‘answer’ was still out there though, that there was something that would allow me to spin even when my legs weren’t cooperative and even when I wanted something more mobile than my wheel.

All this happened to coincide with a couple spinning friends sharing some incredible photos of spindle spinning on which they’d been working. And then Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm happened to pose the question, “How about a spindle?” A million more questions rolled forth and I embarked on a journey to learn about all the things I never knew about spindle spinning. I have to say that between Mary Ann & the exceptionally talented ladies in the TWF Ravelry Group, I have had the most incredible, exceptional help in everything from learning about spindles themselves to specific skills. I could not be any luckier and I don’t know that I’d be in the very lovely spot that I’m in with regards to spindle spinning without them.

That said, today I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on three spindles I’ve been lucky enough to try out. Each of these spindles is the exact same weight — 0.85oz — and yet each I find to be innately unique. While I’m still quite new to spindle spinning, I’ve come to regard each of them as excellent tools as well. So of course I want to share them with you!

The first I’d like to share is from Golding Fiber Tools.

img_2945It’s one of their most basic spindles, Solid Lignum Vitae with a Bronze Ring with Black Finish.

img_2944The whorl measures 2″ & the shaft is 6.75″ long. This is the spindle that revolutionized how I see spindle spinning. This little joy feels substantial in my hands, but it is wonderfully stable & graceful & it spins forever. This is an artisan piece that has a very practical nature. It’s kind of like chanting, “Om” in spindle form. There is a whole lot about this spindle that I connect with on many levels — it’s really a joy l connect with on many levels.

The next spindle I tried was the Akerworks Trillium. When I use it I’m right here in the moment. Bright & happy, this spindle is meant to go with you everywhere.img_2948This spindle’s whorl is 3D printed in ABS plastic and includes stainless steel weights at the end of each ‘petal’ which helps with the physics of it all, insuring the spin time is nice and long. The shaft is made of a black carbon fiber composite.

img_2946One of the super neat things about Akerworks is that you can mix and match components with their spindles — both the colors and sizes. It may look like all fun and games, but I swear to you just like the company’s Flat-Pack Bobbins this is one well-engineered tool.

I picked a Small whorl which is 2″ across and a Medium shaft which is 8″ long. I really like how my Trillium spins. Especially once I got some yardage on it, it spins right to the floor for me. I find the carbon fiber shaft has a very comfortable width and feel to it. I’m still in the muscle-building stages of this journey and the slightly bigger width of the shaft is a little easier on my hands when it comes to wrapping my yarn on. As an added bonus, you can adjust the hub to put it just where you want it on the shaft and you can actually take the whorl off (even with the cop on) for easier travel. Knowing me and my tiny car cross-country family adventures, I’m sure you know this is a pretty sweet added bonus in my book.

And last but not least, I tried a Bosworth Mini.

img_2942This is a Bubinga Standard Mini with a Birch Shaft — the whorl is about 2″ and the shaft is 9″ long.

img_2943Bosworths (commonly referred to as ‘Bossies’) are highly lauded in the spindle spinning community. In fact, I asked three people independently which spindles I should try and Bosworth was the top choice of all three. I’ll say now that I’ve tried it, I totally get it. Spinning on a Bosworth is a little other-worldly in my mind because I can feel it spinning, but I don’t actually feel the weight of the spindle while I’m spinning.  Maybe gravity isn’t quite as strong under a Bosworth or maybe it’s just the elegant design,both aesthetically and the physics of it. Either way, this beauty certainly deserves the props it gets.

Which would I recommend to you? Honestly, I would recommend each of them very highly and at this point I can’t say that I have a preference. I really like that anti-gravity feel of the Bossie and the super comfortable shaft and long spin-time of the Akerworks and I adore that deep, earthy spin of the Golding. I may very well develop a preference over time, but for now I’m actually enjoying using them as a group for the same project, switching spindles whenever I start to lose my gusto. I don’t have any idea if that’s something normal spindle spinners do, but it really seems to be floating my boat these days so I’m just going with it. With a feel for spindle spinning in my hands, an interesting collection of spindles at my disposal, and a bunch of new techniques to work on, I seem to have found an answer to my question by way of a another question. Four little words — “How about a spindle?” — has certainly opened up a wonderful new world for me. Off I go, in search of the next question!

img_2941