Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tour de Fleece 2008

With my work conference last week, I haven't really had much time to post about my progress. I had been spinning every day of the tour. The only day I missed was the first day 'cause I thought it started the next day. I didn't take the rest days to make up for it. So that is even an extra day.

First the goals:

  • Spin at least 15 minutes a day, but aiming for an hour or more on days when I have more time

Done. I did spin at least 15 minutes per day. Most days were an hour or more if I had the time.

  • Work on getting more consistent quality to my spinning (still a newbie, getting better but not there yet)

Getting there. I definitely am improving a great deal. I have been able to spin some superwash wool really thin and hoping to make 3 ply sock yarn with it. So I have gotten much better.

  • Spin some of the superwash wool, merino top & wool locks I have

Spun 2/3rds of the superwash wool. Nice and thin so it should be good for doing a three ply sock yarn if there is enough elasticity in it. *crosses fingers*

I got to the merino top on Sunday, the last day. And spun all 10 oz. of it! Super easy to spin. And very soft. I did it thicker as I want a chunky scarf out of it I think.

Wool locks were interesting. I have only spun up 3 oz of the 8 I have. It is definitely a novelty yarn. But it was interesting intentionally doing thicker & thinner bits. I also left the tips of the locks and spun them so they stick up from the yarn, like little tails. Not what I would usually want, but I like it. Though combing the locks takes a good deal of time. So I don't think I will be buying any more again anytime soon. I will complete the remaining 5 oz. but it may be after a while honestly given how long the 3 oz. took.

  • Try Navajo plying... *gulp*

I think I did it right. It looks right. And it is holding together. I really have to thank rexenne's You Tube video for this one - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOVXCHzDRKM It helped me figure it out how to do it in a way that makes sense.

I really thought I put getting to a spinning meetup as one of my goals. I am glad I didn't as I wasn't able to get there. With conference last week, I have had to work late for the week before and the week of conference. So I wasn't able to make it. Yesterday I wasn't able to get there either. *sigh* Ah well.

I was trying to do a day by day report. But I can't given I don't recall what I was doing what days at this point. Ah well. But here are some highlights.

Day 15 & 16

I was visiting some friends who just moved back to the East coast. Hooray! I have missed them terribly. So it is great to have seen them.

I brought along my spindle and the silk hankies I have. I actually got a fair bit done with this (an hour and a half to two hours both days).

The silk is beautiful and the colors look amazing. I am happy that I have gotten a lot better with a spindle. This is much thinner than it was in the past.

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

The silk hankie is from The Yarn Tree - http://www.theyarntree.com. It is dyed in beautiful colors. I really love it. And it is silk, so I adore it all the more of course.

I am thinking I will keep this as a single and use it as trim on something. There is only 1 oz.

This did teach me that I really need to buy some silk hankies undyed. It was $19 for the 1 oz hankie I got. Undyed is significantly less.

Day 18

I finished the second of the three singles I need to complete with the superwash wool. I want to create a three ply for socks.

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

I divided the fiber up into roughly thirds. I am hoping that it will work out evenly. But I am betting it won't. *chuckle* I seem to excel at having a bunch left on a spool when I am trying to do a 2 ply. I don't suspect a 3 ply will be any easier. *grin*

Day 22

I started the Icelandic locks on Wednesday, the 23rd, day 19 of the Tour de Fleece. Working with locks is definitely interesting. These have been washed. Though there is veggie matter in them for certain. When combing them I was left with black flecks of dirt as well as some other bits of hay and such. It was definitely time consuming having to comb the locks, separate out the ends I wanted to work into the yarn and all.

It is also interesting working on *intentionally* doing thick & thin when I have been trying to get more consistent yarn. The texture in this fiber certainly makes that easier. But it is still odd making sure not to smooth out the lumps and bumps.

I finished the single on Saturday (Day 22). It turned out to be 3 oz total. It is about 140 yds. (I measure the skein length and then multiply by the # of strands. I really don't think a yardage counter would work on this stuff anyhow! *chuckle*)

I am leaving this one as a single. I am hoping it is strong enough. But I just don't think it would work well plied.

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

I did wait and washed them the next day along with the Decadent Fibers plied stuff I had on the bobbin since day 11. Yah. I know. I wish I knew why skeined plied yarn & washing it was my sticking point! *laugh*

I also tried Navajo plying with some remaining Decadent Fibers. And I have to say, I think it looks pretty good! I wish the picture really showed it up close. But I didn't get close enough & this fiber is very dark in color. I am surprised. It looks pretty good. However, it was *definitely* overspun. It was very kinky when I washed it. I used a bottle to weigh it down when I let it dry. So it seems okay. But hey, for a first attempt, I am thrilled to death with it.

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

And here it is with the rest of the yarn which is 2 ply.

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

Day 23

Super productive day. I spun & plied 10 oz. of merino comb top! Admittedly, I was spinning it pretty bulky. But I wanted to try something more bulky. It goes faster and I am leaning towards a scarf for this stuff.

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

I definitely want some more Merino combed top. It was easy to work with and drafted very nicely. It would have been easy to make it thinner as well. I just wanted something a bit faster to spin up after making very thin singles with the superwash & dealing with the locks. Sometimes you want to see some results more quickly!

I spun all 10 oz. of this and only ended up with 160 yards! *laugh* So that is definitely different than other things I have been spinning. *grin* The Decadent Fibers I spun was 6 oz. and came out to almost 290 yards. And that is with some of it being Navajo ply! *chuckle*

Overall, I am pretty happy with the final results of the Tour de Fleece. I think I did a good job with my spinning. I met my goals which is good. And my ability has definitely improved a great deal. I am really glad I did it.

Though I will confess, I haven't touched the wheel since Sunday! *laugh* I just wanted a break at this point. I didn't spin at all yesterday and didn't do any so far today. I suspect I will go back to it very soon. But I was kinda happy to not *have* to spin if I don't wanna. *grin*

I definitely have a great appreciation for handspun yarns. And I am learning a lot. Though I also have a feeling that I am not going to be doing a lot of lace & sock yarns. I don't know. I just have this feeling that you can get most of those commercially with much greater ease. Mind you, I might change my mind about that. But at the moment, I am no seeing it. Perhaps when I finish my last ply and actually create the yarn for socks, I may feel differently. I am not sure. (Honestly, I am really worried it won't be elastic enough for socks and that I will be frustrated. But I am trying to stay hopeful that it will work.)


Jamie said...

Wow! That's an impressive list of accomplishments! Congrats on achieving your goals in the Tour de Fleece, I know I'm really glad I did it too. I don't have the enormous pile of fiber you have, but I'm still pleased with my results.

The real test is whether or not I can keep on spinning. Well, and wash and set the yarn I did make.

ZombieCat said...

Wow, I'm in love with your last two skeins! I haven't dived into spinning yet. I'm afraid to split my yarn budget and time between spinning and knitting. Plus I don't have money to start at this point. I will one day though and your skeins have inspired me to start saving up! Great job!