Tour de Fleece 2022: Day before prep

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.

Various dyed fibers from my stash


Raw Fleece samples & Radnor roving

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).

Tillie’s fleece sample (Gulf Coast Native)

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.

Wensleydale-X Lamb Raw Fleece Sample & Hog Island Knitted Beanie (from Raw Fleece)

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).

2022 Raw Fleece to Finished Object: “Weatherwax” Icelandic wool beanie

“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.

My cat Punkie–checking out Weatherwax’s fleece after it arrived

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.

Merry Christmas (and Happy New Year)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This year has been a fiber adventure for myself to say the least. I spun 20+ new breeds of wool this year, bought over 300 pounds of raw fleece from various farms all over the United States, & knitted, spun, and wove more than any other year before. 2021 was my first year to participate in the Tour de Fleece and I’m looking forward to 2022.

Let me know what goals you set each year for fiber projects! I’d love to hear about them.

Until next year!

Pop-Up Shop Last Weekend & Knitted Beanie

Last Saturday, I held a pop-up shop at Artisan’s Cove in Owens Cross Roads, AL (where I also teach classes). It was a first alert weather day–meaning tornado watches and thunderstorm warnings, but most of the bad weather had cleared out by the time I opened at 11am. I had a handful of people stop by despite the rain, so I’m thankful for the sales I got. This finished up my 2021 in-person events, so I’ve been taking it easy since then–only knitting beanies for Christmas gifts.

Sold objects from my Pop-Up Shop at Artisan’s Cove on Saturday, December 11th.

This beanie was knitted for my neighbor, but now I’m working on a similar one for my sister-in-law. I’m not sure how many more projects I’ll knit/weave this year, but this may be the last few until 2022. It has been a long, productive year, but I can honestly say I’m ready for a short break from spinning, weaving, knitting, fiber washing & processing, etc.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

100% Peruvian Highland wool knitted beanie

Another Handwoven Wallace Hunting Scarf & Handspun Wool/Alpaca blend Scarf

After a crazy weekend selling at the Hartselle Holiday Market* (Hartselle, AL), I got a custom tartan scarf order for another Wallace Hunting Scarf (after just finishing one a few days before). Because I ran out of the yarn, I couldn’t begin weaving the second one until the yarn arrived yesterday. Normally, I give myself a few days to weave a tartan, but because my customer had already patiently waited for the yarn to arrive, I wove the scarf the same day and will be mailing it out today to New York.

I also finished weaving a scarf on my other loom from some handspun wool/alpaca yarn I picked up from a yarn/fabric store in Florence, AL (Thread) back during the summer. I originally thought this would be a table runner project, but the finished item is next-to-skin-soft, so it will be a scarf instead.

*Items I sold at the Hartselle Holiday Market pictured below (the best results I’ve ever had at this event).

2021 Weaving/Knitting Projects (as of November 25)

Every year, I attempt to finish at least 52 projects (one project a week on average). This year, I’ve exceeded that goal by a small number as of November 25th. I’m not sure how many more projects I’ll squeeze into 2021, but I’m happy to have surpassed my goal with time to spare. (Many of these projects were sold or commissioned, which is why I make so many items each year. Otherwise, my numbers would be much lower.)

Honey Festival, Outdoor Market, & North Alabama Yarn Skip

Sunday, October 3rd was the 3rd annual Alabama Honey Festival at Artisan’s Cove in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. Since I teach fiber arts classes at Artisan’s Cove, I decided to become a vendor at this year’s festival. The forecast predicted 90% chance of rain and thunderstorms, but luckily, it only drizzled off and on throughout the event. The host said about half of last year’s numbers made it this year–about 1,500 instead of 3k. Considering the weather, I think it was a decent turnout. I sold about 10 scarves + some additional woven items on my table (bookmarks, tea towels, mug rugs, etc.). I normally don’t attend outside events, so my husband and I had to improvise my setup with some of our existing scarf displays.

This past Sunday, October 10th, I set up again at the same venue for a market day. The weather was sweltering hot, but we had a decent turnout. I only sold one scarf, but I did get a chance to talk with people about classes that I hope to teach in the up coming months at that location. I also brought my spinning wheel and small loom to show how things are made–something I didn’t get to bring to the honey festival because of the rain. The spinning wheel seemed to draw a good bit of attention and I have to remind myself how few people have actually seen handspun yarn being made.

The North Alabama Yarn Skip began on Friday, October 8th, but I didn’t get to start until Saturday. I visited Hook A Frog Fiber & Fun (Madison, AL), Fiber Artwork (Huntsville, AL), and Yarn Boutique of Decatur (Decatur, AL) on Saturday–then traveled to The Taming of the Ewe (Gadsden, AL) and Thread (Florence, AL) on Monday. The event runs through Saturday, Oct. 16th. The only shop I haven’t made it to is Knit Happenz at the Memory Haggler (such a bizarre name) in Birmingham, AL. Since the shop didn’t extend its hours, I doubt I’ll make it down there. But, five out of six shops isn’t bad.

I dyed a custom fiber colorway of Peruvian Highland wool for Hook A Frog Fiber & Fun specifically for the yarn skip, and I’m also selling my hand dyed yarns there as well through the duration of the event.