Monday, 4 August 2008

Much Spinning, or hurrah for the Tour de Fleece!

As promised, it's time for a post about my Tour de Fleece spinning. Actually, I've been spinning a lot since the Tour ended the week before last, so I have even more spinning FO's and WIPS to report about here.

The thing is, I've taken up spindling (secretly, I think it might be turning into an obsession). Don't misunderstand me, I love my wheel. Rose (a Majacraft Rose) is beautiful and spins practically any yarn I want her to. But she's not very portable, so spinning on my wheel is something I need to plan for. I can't easily carry her to the nearest seat, so I have to bring the chair and fibre supply to her. And then I usually want a cup of tea, or my ipod to listen to while I spin, so the whole thing becomes quite a palaver to organise. I'm a dashing around kind of person, not very comfortable at sitting down and doing one thing for a long time, so unless I deliberately organise time every day to spin at my wheel, I don't tend to spin at all.

That was until my mum made me my first proper top-whorl spindle, turned from cedar of lebanon timber on her lathe, which was a prototype for the ones we now have in the shop. She's now made me several and I love them all.


They're portable, lovely tactile tools and an unexpected bonus is the the feeling of connection with the past that I get when I'm spinning on a spindle. Spindling is one of the oldest human occupations, and when I'm using my spindle I often think on who in times past would have spindled, what kinds of spinning tools they might have used, and what they might have been making the yarn for. What's also surprised me is that my yarn production rate on a spindle is easily higher than on my wheel. This is probably because I pick the spindle up more often during the day, but I've also got the technique sussed now so that it's a very smooth operation and v.nearly as fast on a yard-by-yard basis as my wheel (except for very bulky yarn where I concede that a wheel is probably faster). During the Tour de Fleece I spun all my yarns on a spindle (with a small exception due to muppetry on my part, see the turquoise skein below). I was supposed to be doing some laceweight on my wheel, (as I blogged about here), but that never actually happened after I caught the spindling bug...

So this is the grand line-up of the yarns I spindled during the Tour de Fleece:


Lined up like that it doesn't look a huge amount, but it's certainly more than I've spun on my wheel in a long time!

So here are the details (from left to right):

85 metres of Wildcraft shetland in lavender colours, spun to aran weight, which started out as this:

Shetland "Last of the Lavender"

The 85 metres was only part of the fibre, I've now finished spinning the whole braid and it's come to about 150 metres in total, certainly enough for a cosy winter hat.

Next is a 210 metre skein of turquoise three-ply yarn, which is about a dk weight. It started out as some corriedale top in three colours, which I'd blended with alpaca and tussah silk on my drum carder a long time ago. One of the singles was wheel-spun before the Tour, but the other two were spindled. Plying was only partly done on the spindle, as I got into a huge mess during plying from a centre-pull ball and transferred it onto the wheel to sort it out (note to self, never spin a three-ply yarn on a spindle again, or at least not before sorting out how to keep the plies properly tensioned!).

Then there's the Wildcraft Apple Blossom roving (superwash BFL), in cream/dark pink/green colours, which I turned into 225 metres of sock weight yarn. I think I like this one the most, and it's due to be knitted up into a Morning Surf Scarf for the Ravelympics.

And finally there's the little skein of 85 metres of BFL laceweight which I'd dyed in a colourway I called 'evening shades'. This I spun on my most recently acquired spindle, which was from Butterflygirl Designs.

BFL laceweight2

And now that the Tour de Fleece is over, can I stop spindling?! Um, no...

Since the Tour I've spun another 100 metre skein of the evening shades BFL yarn, which finished that fibre, and I'm now spinning this tussah silk top from Fyberspates with the BGD spindle:


And this weekend I turned half of this beautiful BFL from the Natural Dye Studio...


Into this sock yarn...


I still have half of the Natural Dye Studio roving left, so I'll make a matching skein so I can have two matching socks.

And remember the merino/silk laceweight that I never got around to spinning on my wheel for the Tour de Fleece...? I've just added it as my entry for the Handspun Heptathlon in the Ravelympics, to be spun, yes you've guessed it, on a spindle :)


Bea said...

Oh my, you really do have the spindle bug don't you?? I am trying to finish some home prepared fleece on the wheel before I start spindling properly. No matter how much I spin it seems to still be a complete bag full. Kinda like a bottomless pit of not very exciting fleece! Onwards and upwards as the saying goes ;-)

Anonymous said...

wow, such lovely stuff, it's all so gorgeous!! I do like your spindles though. I wish I wasn't such a clutz at spindling!!!!

~ Phyllis ~ said...

You do such a great job drop spinning. You are so lucky to have a Mom that makes the drop spindles. I absolutely love the one that I bought from you. I took it to Spin Night last night and all the ladies loved it.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the scarf knitted up from the Apple blossum yarn.
Good luck with Ravelympics.

Carob said...

Your yarn is beautiful, I hope after a lot of practice I can generate something half as good.

I also really love your black/pink and white spindle it's fantastic.