After considerable mulling over, I've decided to join the Tour de Fleece. I thought with the Krissie saga and work stuff I'd be too busy. But Krissie's apparently still some way off from producing her foal, and work pressures are evening out a bit, plus, I decided I'm always going to come up with some excuse or other not to focus - this could make me sit down and do some productive spinning for once :)
If you haven't heard of it, the Tour de Fleece is a spinning event that mirrors the Tour de France cycle race. The object is to spin for every day of the cycle competition, and to set yourself some kind of spinning challenge. For example some people aim to spin enough for a garment, or to use up x amount of their stashed fibre. Then you tell the world about your progress online! My challenge is quite basic, I want to focus on improving my spinning technique in a few specific areas. I'm going to make a list before the event begins on the 3rd July, but I've come up with a few ideas already. One thing I want to do is to try to spin some some fine laceweight yarn on my wheel, I've not managed anything finer than a heavy laceweight so far. It was a lovely yarn, but I'm sure I could spin finer weights.
Another thing I want to do is to improve my spindle spinning. I recently picked up a drop spindle again, which I haven't done since I first learned to spin well over a decade ago, I think I was still at school at the time (which now makes me feel old to think about it!). Anyway, there's been quite some demand for drop spindles in the Wildcraft shop, so I challenged my mum (who's a brilliant woodturner), so make some really good spindles. She came up trumps (of course) with this cedarwood beauty, which I'm testing out:
And I've been addicted to spindling again ever since! It's a top whorl, which is new to me, but makes all the difference. You can really make those things fly! I spin the shaft of the spindle against my thigh and it just keeps spinning and spinning.
I've been testing it out using some roving I bought from Lapoli a while back, and I've already made this spindle-spun yarn from it:
It's not quite dry in the photo, it'll look more puffy and even more knitable when it is dry, but I couldn't wait to take photos! I still have another 30-40grams of the roving to spin, and it's proving to be great stuff to practice on, very forgiving when I put in too little twist, which happens quite a bit.
Oh and I have a FO to report. My lichen socks are finally finished, yay! Readers who are also in my local SnB group will have seen me knitting these for many weeks. I don't know why they took me so long, they're a very basic toe-up design, although they are quite a fine gauge, 8st/inch I think. I used Stitch Stud's toe-up sock calculator pattern booklet, which I can thoroughly recommend.
The yarn was my first attempt at dyeing a hand painted yarn, I didn't expect it to stripe so nicely, but I'm very pleased it did. Next up in the sock knitting plans is some more hand dyed yarn - an alpaca sock weight, which I wound into 12 metre skeins on the fence posts in the horses' paddock before dyeing (Sam was very bemused by it all). I dyed the skein with long stripes of colour, so I'm hoping it'll make some wider stripes than the lichen socks. I called the colourway 'summer meadow', and it matches some of the rovings I've put in the shop.
More Tour de Fleece news soon, I can't wait for it to begin!