Those of you are neither on Ravelry (the social networking site for knitters) nor spinners will probably not have heard of the Tour de Fleece. It was started several years ago and the idea is to spin every day that the Tour de France is on. Fanatics spin while watching the race on TV, but most of us just spin at some point during the day.
Spinners can join one or more teams, and post photos of their progress on various places on Ravelry, and on the main group, there is the possibility of winner daily prizes. The idea is that you challenge yourself do complete one or more objectives during the three weeks, and to so something more challenging on the two special stages.
At the last minute someone suggested a Team Blissful Woolmakers. The rules for our team were that you had to spin on your Bliss. So I decided to join in – my first Tour. My main objective was to spin up 1 kg fibre ready to knit into a sweater for my son, and my ‘special’ was to Navaho (or chain) ply singles from a fibre colour gradient. (I have no difficulty with n-plying, but hate doing it!!)
So I started with 1 kg of machine washable Corriedale fibre, from Anna Gratton in New Zealand.
This is gorgeous fibre – the first machine washable wool I have really liked. It behaves like .normal. wool, and the Corriedale fibre is much nicer than merino – it has body and will bounce back.
I had already done some sampling with the Corriedale, and knew I wanted to spin to get a light aran 2 ply yarn. This was very easy – but 1 kg is a lot of fibre to spin. I took short lengths of the top, drafted and opened it, then made rowers:
These I spun from the end, semi-everything!! The result was a gloriously coloured yarn which will knit up to give a tweedy fabric.
In between times I spun up the rainbow gradient from Hilltop Cloud.
I wanted the final yarn to be about DK thickness, so the single had to be about one third DK. I drafted the roving to open it, and spun it worsted. It so happened that for much of the time, one colour was taking up the space of one hook of the bobbin, so the bobbins looked gorgeous!
One the day of the double mountain climb, I n-plied these bobbins. Normally I would use a tensioned lazy kate, and have it behind me, but as I was away from home, I had to improvise. So I looped the thread round the other bobbins on the on-board kate, which worked very well.
And a close up of the yarn, forming a lovely gradient from purple to red and back to purple to red…
Near the end of the Tour I went to get out the final braid of fibre I had brought with me – and found I hadn’t brought it after all! So I went on line to try and find someone who would send stuff out that day by 1st Class post. Fondant Fibre fitted the bill, and the very next morning I received a packet of mini rolags:
These I spun on two bobbins thin enough to give a 2 ply lace weight:
On the last day of the Tour I had some time left. Debbie had sent a sample of Shetland and bamboo with the rolags so I started to spin that up fairly fine to give a 2 ply cobweb weight, of about 35 wpi – the guide in the photo is 1”:
Did I enjoy the Tour – yes. Would I do it again – yes. But only if I thought I was going to be home for the full three weeks! Having to shift my place of residence unexpectedly brought its problems, but I still managed to spin every day, and to complete my tasks.
Now all I have to do is knit it up!