Tour de Fleece 2012 wrap-up

Tour de Fleece 2012 Total Output

So the Tour de Fleece is over, and I had an awesome time! I regret just a little tiny bit that I chose a challenge that made for such difficult spinning – picking new-to-me fibers meant feeling like a beginner again, frustrated stress and all. Next year I’ll probably do something more project-related: spin enough for a cardigan, or spin the yarn for specific projects, etc. I do usually tend to pick my wool in combination with a project before spinning, so I don’t end up with an awkward yarn I can’t find a use for, and I think that will make for more relaxing spinning.

But I had a great time with the tour anyway – I’m so so so glad I did it! I learned new things, I made some really cool new friends, I re-enjoyed spinning in general. It was lovely, and I think it will help me keep spinning as part of my regular crafty activities again, for a while at least. It’s usually the thing I don’t end up with any time for, and a low priority because I have so much yarn I want to knit anyway, spinning more doesn’t seem that important. But I had such a good time, I’m already craving more time at the wheel!

My last yarn for the tour was that beautiful bamboo that I was so afraid of, but it turned out to be a joy to spin. I will definitely keep my eye out for more bamboo to spin eventually. Not all at the intimidating challenge I thought it was going to be. My only (minor) complaint is with the dyer (not mentioning any names, and I don’t think she sells anymore anyway) — the colors are gorgeous, the quality of the dye job is perfect, but this dyer did have a tendency to pick colors that will muddy when blended, and then place them far to close too each other. So the first bobbin is absolutely stunning – long stretches of aqua and sea greens interrupted by soft coppers (the left bobbin).

Tour de Fleece - last day

But the second bobbin happened to mix the colors much more, and did get ugly in a few spots when the aqua and reds mixed unpleasantly. So I’ve decided to keep them as singles – this way, I can pull out any really muddy colors as I knit if it’s a problem, and this also gives me the option to use just that first bobbin on its own if I don’t like how the second knits up. These singles seem to be about a laceweight (I’m letting them rest on the bobbins for a while before skeining and measuring) so I’m sure 50g would be enough for a little project if I wanted to split the two bobbins. I was afraid that plying them with further mix the colors too much – I’d rather leave them this way and at least come out with 50g that I love, rather than 100g that isn’t quite right.

Tour de Fleece - Day 20

As for my other two finished yarns: The alpaca (orange, in the photo at the top of this post) turned out to be about 225m of sportweight yarn, the silk (blue) is 330m of as-yet unmeasured weight. I have decided to go ahead and spin the other 50g in a matching skein – I think. But I will take my time prepping the hankies and not let my hands be destroyed by it again! The practice mini-skein there, alpaca, isn’t as soft as I’d have liked, but I think it might work nicely for a pair of simple striped or colorworked mitts. I’m going to stashdive for something that would work in combination with it.

So next up: the Ravellenic Games! I have a specific plan for this, but I’ll tell you more about that on Friday before the Opening Ceremony Cast-on. I’m really really excited to take part and hope it’s just half as awesome as the Tour de Fleece!

Tour de Fleece, alpaca

Tour de Fleece Day 9

My second Tour de Fleece batch of spinning was a little pile of alpaca, from Spunky Eclectic, but first I played with a bit of alpaca left from the first time I tried to spin it, which was a terrible disaster. I had no idea what I was doing and I totally turned it into rope. Scratchy, dense, horrible. So before I even started on the lovely Spunky Eclectic fiber above, I practiced on the other stuff:

Tour de Fleece Day 8

I read everything I could find on Ravelry first and the general idea seemed to be to spin from the fold, underspin the singles, then overply them together. I’ve spun from the fold once or twice before, but now that I’ve done it a bit more, I’m pretty sure I didn’t really get it then. Now I see the how it works properly and I quite like it as a technique! It does seem much easier to control slippy fibers that way, and keep the twist right where you want it.

The practice skein was silky-ish to the touch, but still quite scratchy around my neck, but a massive improvement over the last time. I also navajo-plied that one, which wasn’t necessarily the best idea, since I have a much harder time controlling the plying amount that way. I’m really glad I worked those kinks out first though, I think it paid off!

Tour de Fleece - Day 19
Tour de Fleece - Day 19

It’s actually still not fully dry, but I keep testing it for softness anyway. It definitely feels lovely to the touch, maybe a little prickly around my neck, but that’s not really fair since it’s still a bit damp. I could swear it’s softer now than yesterday, but I can’t really be sure. I’ll report back at the end of the tour. Anyway, I haven’t measured this skein yet, but it looks about fingering-weight-ish at the moment. I’ll measure up when it’s properly dry.

The other day, I had to admit that my ‘5 new-to-me fibers’ goal was totally unrealistic. Actually, that’s not fair, it would’ve been fine if the fibers I chose weren’t ones that want to spun so thinly! If I’d gone for big bulky wools, I could’ve done it easy. But silk, alpaca, and now bamboo are all fibers that can’t help but be thread-thin. So I had to bring it down to 3 new-to-me fibers, and next year I’ll know better how to make a realistic goal for myself. But I will try to finish my full 5 after the tour though, I still have some silk I’m dying to try, and some new wool breeds.

There’s still a few days left though, and now I’m working on some bamboo:

Tour de Fleece - Day 19

Which is turning out to be a really easy spin! Of course, now I’ve jinxed it and it will turn out looking awful in the end. But so far, it’s going really well – it’s slipped away from me a few times, but otherwise, it’s kind of like spinning butter. The challenge in this one is turning out to be keeping those colors from turning muddy – they’re gorgeous when spun, but it’ll be really easy to let that orangey-red and aqua mix too much and become sludge. I also have no idea how I’ll ply it to keep it pretty, I might have to test a little first. In any case, this is the first of my TdF fibers that is really pleasant to spin, not hard work at all – I can’t stop thinking about getting back to it!