I debated whether to participate in this year’s Tour de Fleece–mostly because I spin so much on a weekly basis as it is. Also, I’m having a major surgery on July 20th, so I can only participate from July 1-19th. I did, however, decide that I will participate as much as I can during the time before my surgery. After all, I may not be able to spin for a good six to eight weeks during my recovery period, so I had better get all the spinning done that I possibly can.
Last year, I only spun fiber that I processed from raw fleece during the event. This year, I will spin anything in my fiber stash–both dyed and undyed.
I don’t have a specific spinning goal or plan for this year’s Tour, so I’ll let each day play out how it will and I’ll post updates and pictures as I go along (just like last year).
The pictures below represent some of my fiber options I’ve chosen for the Tour. I probably won’t dig into my raw fleece processed fiber, but I like to keep my options open, so who knows? If I make too much of a plan, I tend to rebel against that plan anyway, so it’s better for me to keep my spinning options open.
I may also spin on my drop spindles for a few days this year, something I didn’t attempt last year. I’ve been having a lot of fun spinning on my Turkish drop spindle lately, so I may spin some singles on it at some point.
I’d love to hear what others are doing for this year’s Tour, so feel free to comment below with your own plans.
Last April, I spun Swaledale wool for the first time and after weaving a table runner with most of the yarn, I put the remaining bit away until this week. I knew I would have to make home decor or the like out of this breed because of the high micron count (and super high amount of kemp), so I decided on an oversized crochet coaster for the remaining yarn.
I used a free crochet pattern “The Iris” which can be found HERE. I used the picot edging option.
On a spinning note: Other than a large amount of kemp in the Swaledale wool that I spun, I really enjoyed spinning this breed.
This time of the year, I hate being outside–mostly because of the 90+ degree weather mixed with 50% or higher humidity here in Alabama. The only good thing about the heat is its ability to dry wet fiber quickly when set out in direct sunlight. So, I’ve tried to get through some of last year’s fleeces–or at least continue sampling those fleeces–while the heat lingers.
One of the fleeces I washed/dried over the past few weeks is a Navajo Churro/Gulf Coast Native lamb cross from Summer Fields Farm in Monteagle, Tennessee–where I purchased nine fleeces last October. While it isn’t suitable for next-to-skin items, this fleece will be fine for home goods or outerwear.
29 g (washed and carded fleece) yielded approx. 80 yards of 2-ply sport weight yarn
I also washed & drum carded a sample of some Dorset Horn raw fleece that I purchased from Three Creeks Farm in New Hampshire. I have five pounds of this fiber, but this is the first sample I’ve done so far. I’ve worked with Dorset Horn raw fleece before and I enjoy working with this breed–from the processing to the final project.
I also decided to play around this week with my mini frame loom–using some waste fiber from other raw fleece spinning projects. I don’t weave a lot on any of my frame looms, but I hate wasting fiber–even if it isn’t enough for spinning or another project. Pictured here is left-over CVM and GCN from last year’s Tour de Fleece.
This knitted beanie was finished a few weeks ago–a project from one of my Tour de Fleece 2021 spinning samples from an American Tunis raw fleece bought from Solace Farmstead in Coalmont, TN.
Although I don’t remember the fiber being exceptional when I was spinning it, the finished beanie turned out wonderfully soft and lofty. This would be a good yarn for a sweater project in the future with the remaining 2.75+ pounds of remaining fleece.
For LYS day this year, I visited a yarn shop in Huntsville, AL and bought 3 braids of wool roving, the first of which is Polworth wool, handpainted from Happy Fuzzy Yarns. 4 ounces yielded 230 yds of Worsted weight (2-ply) yarn.
The two other braids are handdyed Bluefaced Leicester from Mountain Colors, Inc.
Sample of “Freesia” Shetland ram lamb raw fleece from Ballyhoo Farms (Kentucky) yielded 114 yards of 2-ply sport weight (40g). Fiber was scoured with Unicorn Power Scour and hand carded before being spun semi-worsted. I believe this was a 2021 fleece, so the tips were a bit fragile from temperature changes with the lanolin–and I bought it discounted as a result. I have 2 pounds total of this fleece.
Other than the two fleeces from my own sheep, I hadn’t bought any other raw fleeces this year. Then, Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium had a fleece sale–but even then, I was good. I only bought two: a Shetland fleece and an Icelandic cross lamb fleece.
I started processing the Icelandic cross lamb fleece today, and processed a small sample from the larger Shetland fleece. It was super hot outside today (91 degrees was the high), so I took advantage of the sunshine and dried the whole Icelandic fleece outside in a couple of hours. Then I processed about 30 grams of it (via my drum carder) and spun a two-ply sample of about 33 yards of worsted weight.
I’m still hand carding the Shetland sample, but I should have a yarn sample spun up tomorrow if everything goes as planned. The Vet is coming to castrate Sean, my surprise ram lamb born in February, so that’ll be the first order of business in the morning (and not something I’m looking forward to.)
Yesterday, I was looking through some of my handspun yarn from last year’s Tour de Fleece and I found a skein of GCN yarn (raw fleece from Alchemy Farms, Gurley, AL) that I had slightly felted during the dyeing process. (Yarn had been naturally dyed with crushed annatto seeds). Knowing I couldn’t use it for clothing, I decided to weave a table runner with it and another small undyed GCN sample from the same fleece.
After measuring my coffee table to decide how long to weave the runner, I set up my 32″ Kromski Harp loom and began weaving. A few hours later, my table runner was finished, and another ‘raw fleece to finished object’ had been completed. My tension got a little uneven while progressing my work on the loom (something that I usually have control over), so one side is a little wider than the other. I think I could wet block it to even it out, but I’m not really too concerned since it’s for my personal use.
I’ve been moving at a snail’s pace this year, project-wise, but I’m hoping once my health issues improve, I can really move forward with my ’52+ projects a year’ goal.
During my trip to Washington last October, I visited Brush Prairie Farms— just up the road from the friends I was visiting in Brush Prairie Washington. I contacted the farmer, Tara, a month or so before my trip to see if she had any fleeces available for me to look at when I arrived and she graciously invited me to visit. I ended up buying nine fleeces from a variety of breeds and crosses–all of which Tara shipped to me in Alabama after I returned.
This particular fleece was from “Fiona” –a mystery breed sheep. Her fleece reminded me a little of Dorset Horn and Suffolk…either way it was a pleasure to spin.
Now, I have eight other Brush Prairie Farm fleeces left to sample…