TdF: Week 1 Recap

The first week of the Tour de Fleece has absolutely flown by. Way back the on the 4th I actually started the Tour at home and then traveled up to my parents’ house for a couple days of fireworks & fishing. Of course, I brought my wheel and more fiber than I had any hope of spinning. I don’t often travel with my wheel, but when I do I tend to fuss about it more than I would a newborn baby. Is it getting jostled too much? Is it packed well enough that it can’t slide around? Is that hinge stressed? One day I will just suck it up and purchase the nice carrying case from The Woolery, but I don’t because it always seems like a lot to spend unless I traveled with it more. The irony being, of course, that I would travel more with it if I had the case, but whatever — I’ll just be a nervous nelly for the foreseeable future and that’s that.

In any case, I spun a lot this week. I am the first to admit that I make a lot of time for spinning during the TdF and I’m thankful that my family takes it in stride. I don’t ask for much time away or time to myself, so I appreciate that during these weeks they let me spin my little heart out. So, would you like to see what I’ve been spinning? I just took the beauty shots of my finished skeins, so here we go!

Since I’m co-captaining Team Cloudlover this year, I thought it only fitting that I start with a braid of Cloudlover fiber.

ariadne This is 100% Targhee in the Ariadne colorway.

ariadne detIt’s about 140yards of worsted/aran singles which I felted lightly when I washed and set it. One of my goals was to spin more singles this TdF and I have to say that I’m already definitely gaining confidence in that realm. I still spin them painfully slow, but I like how they’re turning out so I’ll be patient on the speed front there.

Next, I started a braid of Malabrigo Nube, but had to press pause for the travels up to my parents’ house — it was a plying head vs regular head situation because I didn’t want to travel with both. So I started in on a braid of Cloudlover Apple Picking in Rambouillet.

apple picking detI did a standard 2-ply and it turned out really, just lovely.

apple pickingI used an Andean plying bracelet to use every last bit of the singles and wound up with about 335yards of a heavy fingering or sport weight yarn.

Next, I wanted something nice and quick, so I grabbed a braid of merino from Spun Right Round in the Rock Lobster colorway.

rock lobsterAnd I spun it into about 72yards of a chunky standard 2-ply that is the bright, squishy, soft skein I’ve come to love making with Spun Right Round merino.

All the while, of course, I’ve been spinning bits and bobs with my spindles.

spindlesI have so much to learn, but the spindle is definitely growing on me. I do finally have the hang of my my very basic Schacht — after only 3 or 4 years — lol! And I really love my new Turkish Spindle from Snyder Spindles, as well.

Taking s bit of s break this morning to play with this new tool that arrived yesterday. #snyderspindles #narwhal #narhwalspindle #handspinning #spinnersofinstagram #spinstagram #TDF2015

┬áIt feels very well balanced and I just love the narwhal motif. I must say, I can sense a slippery slope with spindles. I find myself really interested in trying a Turtle Made spindle, too. They are very popular in my TdF team and have very good word of mouth. I think the reason I’m most intrigued is they are made with a 3D printer. Normally I am one to stick with non-plastics, but I’m really interested in seeing how they feel in comparison to wood. Plus, you can pick from a wide variety of colors which is great fun.
That is for another day, though, as I had to spend a bit for some oil for my wheel. I have done shockingly little as far as maintenance goes with my wheel, but it’s been squeaking a bit lately so I called the folks at The Woolery for advice on routine maintenance. They were incredibly nice and helpful in describing exactly what I needed to do and the oil they recommended using. While I was at it, I ordered some new drive bands, too. I’ve been using the same ones since I purchased my wheel and I think it’s about time to change them out. Yes, a new spindle is going to have to wait, but it’ll be worth it to have my wheel back in top-notch shape.
Back to the yarn though, right?
queensteaI got about 250yards of roughly sport weight yarn.
queenstea detI highly recommend the fawn shetland base for this colorway. I think it lends itself very nicely to the blacks and browns that make up Queen’s Tea. I don’t do a ton with Earth tones usually, but this skein has made it clear that I definitely need to incorporate more of these browns and blacks and greys into my spinning.
And last but not least, that Malabrigo Nube in the Archangel colorway. Credit where credit is due, I completely copy-catted Lolly of lollyknits here. I was so captivated by her handspun Hitchhiker (which you can see and read all about here) that I decided to try my hand at spinning up a lightweight single. Even though I’m so not great with the lightweight singles, she had done such a lovely job that I just had to try.
archangel not detI am really, really, really happy with the results — about 490yards of heavy fingering weight yarn. In the past I’d really had a rough time with some Malabrigo Nube I purchased when it first came out. I was gifted another braid and kind of avoided it for a while because of the first encounter. After some research and discussion in a couple forums, though, I learned that the first batches of Nube wound up getting really compressed and many spinners had a rough time with them, so I was not alone. Clearly I’m very spoiled with the dyers that I use because this braid still required more pre-drafting than I’m used to, but it was much easier than my first foray in spinning this fiber and I’m very happy about that. I would definitely spin with Malabrigo Nube again after this experience — music to my ears because as we all know Malabrigo does amazing things with color.
archangelAnyhoo, as with my heavier singles yarn, I lightly felted this skein when I set it and the resulting yarn is really beautiful. I am so very pleased. Mine will most likely not be a Hitchhiker like Lolly’s, but I’m so grateful to her for the inspiration. Honestly, I didn’t know I could spin a lightweight singles yarn. It goes to show, you really never know unless you try!
I’m already back at filling my bobbins — I can’t wait to see what inspirations and lessons await in week 2 of the Tour de Fleece!


My daughter woke up this morning and went on to explain that during the Tour de Fleece I really should start waking up a couple hours earlier than normal so that I can get in extra spinning time. She was very matter-of-fact about it, as if I hadn’t thought of that and I really needed some provocation and coaching. Of course, she knows as well as anyone in my family that I’m not exactly a morning person. I’m also not a night owl. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find me rather ornery upon waking and just being falling asleep. My husband is fond of saying, “You’re more of a middle-of-the-day kind of person, especially if you get a nap.” All joking aside, I do function in better spirits on a solid night’s sleep and although the idea of waking early to start the Tour de Fleece did cross my mind, I awoke at the respectable yet not crazy hour of 6am and got straight to it (after 10minutes of Moose snuggles).

As I said yesterday, I started with some Cloudlover Targhee in the Ariadne colorway.

IMG_9871I finished in a couple hours and I’m happy to say that so far it was the easiest time I’ve had spinning a single

With one project resting, but complete and feeling a wee bit empowered by how the Cloudlover single turned out, I opted to go straight into another single…

IMG_9874With a braid of Malabrigo Nube in the Archangel colorway. Totally inspired by Lolly of the lollyknits blog, I am attempting to do a lightweight single. I’ve never done a single lighter than worsted weight, so this is a bit of a leap of faith for me. I figure if it doesn’t work out, I can probably always ply it.

Unfortunately I’m starting this Tour off with already very dry hands. I’ve no shortage of lotion bars, thank goodness, and yesterday in the mail I got a brand new one for review…

IMG_9869I’ll be taking this lavender & rosemary Love + Leche bar through its paces. I’ll report back with my thought in a week or so.

Well, that’s the start of my Tour de Fleece — back to the wheel before some family holiday celebrations later this evening!