Tour de Fleece 2022, Surgery, and more

I only made it through about ten days of this year’s Tour de Fleece–mostly because I was prepping for major abdominal surgery on July 20th and there was a lot to take care of before my hospital stay (3 days, 2 nights) and 6-8 week recovery.

Here are the yarns that I did spin during the Tour: White Eider, Leicester Longwool, Pineapple fiber, Navajo Churro, Shetland (Cherry Pie from Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium), Rambouillet, and CVM (from Cactus Hill Farm).

I also started experimenting with Krokbragd weaving (or my version of it, at least) before my surgery. I’ve made two coasters so far, but they aren’t completed yet, so here is a picture of the first one still on the loom.

A week after my surgery, I moved back into my original home studio space after my daughter decided she wanted her old room back (after asking to move into my space over a year ago), so I directed my husband and daughter as they moved my things since I couldn’t lift anything over ten pounds yet. Only 10% of my yarn and fibers are actually in the room (most are in the closet and other storage places around the house), but my main equipment is there, so it’s a nice, clean slate to work from when I start feeling up to it.

Because of the move, I was able to find some objects that were buried among my other fiber things. These are ancient drop spindle whorls from all over the world that I started collecting years ago. Three are from Central and South America, while the rest are from Latvia, former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, and somewhere else in Europe. Apparently, archaeologists find spindle whorls all the time at dig sites, but they get stored away because they are so “common” and insignificant.


Icelandic Raw Fleece to Woven Rug

This project had been on my to-do list for a while–after seeing several similar raw fleece projects woven on peg looms. While I have a peg loom, I decided to use my 32″ Kromski Harp loom for this project since I wasn’t sure if the fleece would draft sufficiently enough.

The fleece came from an Icelandic ram named Sean from Ballyhoo Farms (Bagdad, KY) last year (2021).

Essentially, I just drafted directly from the raw fleece–completely unwashed and unspun–straight out of the bag. This rug used about half of the 3.5-pound fleece. After weaving the rug, I wet-finished it using Unicorn Power Scour to remove dirt and most of the lanolin.

The finished rug ended up measuring approximately 45″ long by 24″ inches wide.

Off the Loom: Spaced Warp/Weft Summer Scarf

I don’t often work with plant fibers unless they’re blended with wool, but I had some cellulose fiber yarns in my stash that I thought would be good for a summer scarf, so I warped my loom and wove a spaced warp/weft scarf. This project took one ball of Plymouth Nettle Grove yarn (45% cotton, 28% linen, 12% nettle, 15% silk) and I didn’t quite use the whole ball. So, it took less than 218 yards of this yarn.

It’s already in the 90s here in Alabama, so I don’t imagine I’ll be wearing any kind of scarf until late autumn, but it was nice using up some of my yarn that has been sitting around for a while. Now, what to do with the 4-6 other balls of this yarn….

Raw Fleece to Finished Object: Gulf Coast Native Table Runner

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.

Off the loom: Another Kennedy Scottish Tartan Scarf

Weaving Scottish tartans is one of my favorite things to do, but there are some tartan designs I like more than others. Many years ago, a grad school friend of mine asked for a Kennedy tartan for her father (who is from Scotland), so I readily agreed to weave a scarf for his upcoming birthday. Up to that point, I had only woven a few different tartans–most of which had four colors or less and were fairly straightforward patterns. The Kennedy tartan has six colors and a somewhat unconventional pattern, so I can honestly saw that it isn’t my favorite to weave–and I’ve woven three of them now. The finished results are always a pleasure to behold, however, so that’s the payoff, I guess.

Pictured below is the Kennedy scarf/shawl I finished yesterday.

2022 Weaving: Merino/Brushed Alpaca Scarf

Yesterday I wove a scarf using some of the yarn I bought during the 2021 North Alabama Yarn Skip. I used Queensland Perth (a yarn I had woven with before) for the weft and a brushed alpaca yarn from my stash for the warp, doubled with the Perth. This was the first time I had doubled a yarn for weaving, but luckily, it worked out great (and cut my weaving time down).

Today, I’m hoping to finish a beanie knitted with “Weatherwax” the Icelandic ram (from Ballyhoo Farms, KY) handspun from raw fleece–using Lopi Braided Hat pattern from Halldora J (free pattern on Ravelry).

2022: Knitted Shetland beanie & Woven Finn Wool Scarf projects

This weekend, I started and completed two (small) projects, so I’m hoping that I’m back in the groove. This gets me back on track for my 52 projects a year goal now that I have three projects under my belt for 2022.

First projects of 2022: All handspun yarns; 2 from raw fleece samples

First weekend project: Handspun Finn wool leno lace scarf (woven on rigid heddle loom): this yarn was spun shortly before the 2021 Tour de Fleece from Finnish humbug roving from Hearthside Fibers. I decided on a leno lace pattern because I wasn’t sure if I would have enough yarn for a plain weave project. (I ended up with plenty of yarn left, so I may have enough to knit a beanie with the remaining yarn.)

The second project for the weekend was from a ‘raw fleece to finished yarn’ project I completed during the Tour de Fleece: “Eowyn” a Shetland ewe from Ballyhoo Farms (Bagdad, KY). I had just enough yarn to knit a beanie from the raw fleece sample I had. I still have almost two pounds of this fleece, so this will give me an idea of what I would like to do next with her fleece.

Weaving 2022: Almost there with Kakaw Designs Backstrap Loom

As I suspected, the backstrap loom from Kakaw Designs has been much easier to work on than the one from Trama Textiles. I should say the warp has been easier…as the actual loom pieces have nothing to do with it. After a few hours, I’ve almost completed the warp that came on it. I’m looking forward to putting my own (wool) warp on the loom after I finish up this piece. I love the Ikat pattern on the yarn stripes in this warp, so I’ll probably dye some of my wool using this technique for a future warp.

(Another) Mayan Backstrap Loom arrived! (Kakaw Designs)

My second backstrap loom arrived (pre-warped) from Kakaw Designs (Guatemala). This loom is just a little smaller than the other backstrap loom I ordered from Trama Textiles. I feel like the warp threads are better quality too. Kakaw Designs also has a blog page that has instructional videos available to anyone, so I liked that I didn’t have to wait on videos to arrive.

The Trama Textiles loom was a lot more expensive than this one as well ($100 plus free shipping), which was a bit surprising to me since I got more with this loom (a nice carrying bag was included) and I also got a $10/off coupon since I was a new customer. After the coupon and shipping ($15), I paid $65 total for the loom from Kakaw Designs. I wish I had found the loom from Kakaw first, but oh well.