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Tour de Fleece is currently ongoing.

What’s Tour de Fleece (TdF)? It’s the fiber world’s answer to Tour de France. Spinners all over are pedaling on their spinning wheels as world class cyclists as they tackle Tour de France. We mimick the rest days, the “challenge” days, and set a goal of basically spinning every day during the month of July.

I’ve been spinning along, although I’m not sure if I’m consciously spinning any more or less than normal. I have been trying to do something different everyday, switching up fibers and methods of spinning, and trying to really consciously spin. Which is my goal for this TdF — I am trying to get closer to being able to visualize the final garment, pick the right fiber, and spin the right yarn.

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Believe it or not, this is a lot harder than it seems. I am still feeling my way, and still cannot look at/handle a fleece (raw or prepped), and have confidence knowing what it should become.

There are many kinds of fiber crafters. People who identify themselves as Spinners, Weavers, Knitters…and there are those who can do it all.

I am most definitely a knitter first and foremost. I love the whole process. Handling yarn and knowing what it needs to be….or visualizing a garment and going in search of the perfect yarn. I do, most definitely, over complicate the process, but for me, there’s nothing like creating THE perfect knitted garment for the intended wearer.

Spinning fits well into this because it gives me the illusion of being able to dictate this process just a bit more. There are now fibers and preparations that I think are better suited for a mill produced yarn. I have become even pickier (if that was possible at all) in my yarn purchases. It excites me that the yarn market seems to have started the process of evolving into breed specific yarns and I think there are more knowledge out there, thanks to people who are passionate about this writing about it and producing very special yarns.

Back to TdF. I’ve been spinning!

Of course, I’ve been spinning some of the lovely cormo/cashmere. I’m trying to spin about 900+ yards of 3-ply sport weight for a Stonecrop. I think the garter lace body on this would be perfect for a round, squishy heaven of a nicely spun cormo. Add the cashmere and I can feel snuggling into it as it starts to get nippy outside.

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I have also spun some Romeldale-x fleece from Shepherd’s Hey Farm. The ewe’s name is Molé, and I’ve washed and hand combed her fleece (she was much smaller than Cambridge!). So far, I’ve spun some 2-ply fingering.

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…and I’ve cast on. It is going to become a Hitofude (by the way, this is pronounced He-Toe-Foo-Day, and means  “one brushstroke” in Japanese). I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a shawl or a sweater first out of this yarn, and I think this is a nice compromise. This pattern is a runaway hit, and there are 1,522 of these swingy cardigans on Ravelry, one of which is on my needles:

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I also finished spinning from a corriedale batt from Hedgehog Fibres that I began spinning last month. This was a big spin, and will be the topic of my next post. It’s the green/gold/lavender yarn that is pictured at the top of this post, and this has been cast on into a large square shawl which, I am hoping, will fully showcase the glorious colors of this fiber.

And, I’ve also spun some 3-ply aran weight yarn, spun woolen, in happy shades of orange. I spun this to have a bit of a break from the skinny stuff I’ve been spinning, but it will make a nice warm fluffy hat.

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I met Brooke Sinnes from Sincere Sheep at Madrona in 2013. You can read more about what she does and her philosophy here, but I would say she was one of the early birds in bringing the whole “local” thing to yarn. I’ve knit with one of her yarns, Equity Sport, which is 100% Rambouillet (the dark grey background is Equity Sport; the stripes are Cephalopod Yarns Bugga) which is bouncy and wearing well so far.

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I was chatting with Brooke about whether she had dyed rovings in stock, and she just happened to mention that she had some beautiful natural colored rovings. And then she said the magic words.

“I have some cormo cashmere blend from California.”

I almost fell off my chair. She said two of my favorite words next to each other…cormo and cashmere. I had to get some, of course.

And it came, recently (there may have been some charcoal grey merino/mohair fiber in my box too. What can I say? Fiber is cheaper than shoes):

Mmmmmmmm.

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I love how Brooke tells you exactly where her fiber comes from. The cormo in this yarn is sourced from Cormo Sheep & Wool Farm in Orland, CA and the cashmere from Cashmere Kids in Castro Valley, CA. The fiber was processed at Morro Fleece Works. This fiber is as California as it can get.

It went immediately on the wheel. I wanted to make a bouncy yarn that would give me great stitch definition — I knew exactly what I wanted to knit with it, and I just needed to create the yarn.

I knew this was easier said than done. I am a much more experienced knitter than I am a spinner, and I get in trouble when I know EXACTLY how I want the yarn to turn out. One of these days, my hands will catch up with my brain.  I knew enough, at this point, that I wanted to spin this fiber worsted, and I wanted to make a 3-ply, sport weight yarn.

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I am very glad that I have some cormo-mileage under my belt. I have also spun a little bit of 100% cashmere, enough to know how the fiber feels as it is going on the wheel. The cormo, I know, needs a lot of twist in it, as it needs to contain the “POOF” energy that the fine crimp in the fiber will exert on the yarn. This cormo/cashmere roving is spinning like cormo, which should not be surprising, but my hands also detect the fine down-like feel of cashmere as i am creating the singles. It’s divine.

I let the 3 bobbins of singles rest, and the yarn is finally plied. I probably should have spun all the singles that I wanted for this yarn first, but I couldn’t help it. I needed to see the yarn.

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And here it is. It is squishy and bouncy. I can definitely feel the cashmere, especially if I feel this yarn along with some 100% cormo handspun that I have. Cormo is wonderful, but the bit of cashmere in the fiber makes this yarn absolutely special.

I have told myself that I am not allowed to cast on with this until the entire 900 yards for the intended project is spun….it’s going to be hard…I might have to swatch…..

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