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.
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.
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.
Life has been chaotic over the past couple of months, but I’ve still managed to get some raw fleece sampling done. I processed some of my Gulf Coast Native sheep’s fleece (Tillie) after finishing a sample from Mocha. I also spun some commercially processed Radnor top from Hearthside Fibers that I bought last spring/summer. The last fleece I started processing was a BFL/ Finn/ Icelandic cross from Minnesota that I found through a raw fleece group on Facebook.
Tillie’s fleece (Gulf Coast Native) is going to be next-to-skin soft with very little kemp (unlike Mocha’s)–based on the sample that I spun a few weeks ago. (These are my personal sheep).
I found this moorit BFL/ Icelandic/ Finn raw fleece on a raw fleece FB group from a seller in Minnesota. Total fleece weight was 2.5 lbs with a 3″ staple. I washed this fleece a little differently than other fleeces–just to test a new method. I soaked the fleece in warm water and a cup or two of white vinegar, leaving some of the lanolin in the fleece. I hand carded it into small rolags and it spun beautifully. I ended up with a two-ply fingering/sport weight yarn sample. (41g; 117 yards)
Another wool breed I got to spin last month was the Hill Radnor roving that I bought last year from Hearthside Fibers. Read more about the Hill Radnor breed here. I ended up with 184 yards of 2-ply worsted weight yarn from 104 grams of fiber. It was very pleasant to spin with occasional kemp. Even though the micron count is fairly high (31-33 microns), I could definitely wear this as a cardigan or hat.
My friend up the road (who also raises Gulf Coast Native sheep) came to shear my sheep on Saturday morning, so now I have two bags of fleeces from my own sheep to work with in the upcoming months.
This was Mocha and Tillie’s first shearing, so I’m excited to see how their fiber turns out. I did wash/scour a couple of ounces of each fleece, but I’ve only spun a sample of Mocha’s fiber so far (see pictures below). I’ll post results from Tillie’s sample when I finish spinning it.
Baby Sean is now a little over 4 weeks old and I’m still trying to decide what to do with him–try to sell him or keep him as a pet (after band castrating him, of course).
Yesterday, I started sampling a Wensleydale cross lamb fleece that I bought from Cactus Hill Farm (Colorado) several months ago. The fleece is 8.5 lbs, so I washed/scoured about 80 grams of it and I’ve spun 24 grams (appox 59 yds) in a 2-ply sport/dk weight yarn. The yarn is as soft as it looks in the photos and it is definitely against-the-skin soft for me.
80 grams raw fleece became 53 grams after washing/scouring. Total loss of sample: 36%
While I was working on the raw fleece, I also started knitting a beanie using some handspun Hog Island wool from raw fleece that I processed/spun during the 2021 Tour de Fleece. I really disliked everything about working with this particular breed, but at least I got a finished project out of it. The Hog Island breed is part of the Shave ’em to Save ’em project (The Livestock Conservancy).
“Weatherwax” the Icelandic ram (from Ballyhoo Farms, KY) handspun from raw fleece–using Lopi Braided Hat pattern from Halldora J (free pattern on Ravelry).
I originally spun a sample of Weatherwax’s fleece during the 2021 Tour de Fleece, but I didn’t have quite enough to knit the beanie until I spun about 33g more that I had already drum carded. I have about seven pounds total of his fleece, and I’m thinking about what my next projects will be with this fiber. There was very little lanolin (even for an Icelandic), making this fleece the perfect candidate for spinning in the grease–if I decide to go that route in the future.
First project of 2022: Handspun yarn from raw fleece knitted neck warmer sample from “Olwen” Icelandic/Balwen Welsh Mountain cross from Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium (Kentucky).
I finally got up the energy to knit a small project from some of the raw fleece yarn samples I spun during last year’s Tour de Fleece. I had about 82 yards of worsted/aran weight 2-ply from this sample, so I decided to knit a small neck warmer–something I can use over the next few days now that it’s actually cold here in Alabama. (We’re even expecting snow on Sunday). I have two fleeces from Olwen, so I’m looking forward to working with them now that I’ve processed her fiber from raw to finished object. (I also have Olwen’s father’s fleeces “Akoya”–he’s pure Icelandic).