As it turns out…

…the end of the Tour is not the end of my spinning spree.. if anything I’m only getting warmed up for more spinning! The weather is turning into a nice crapfest which means it’s cold and rainy all day every day. So I guess I’m not done with fiber that soon! Anyhoo, this years Tour was a huge success for me and I’d like to tell you why.

For someone who hasn’t been spinning that long and is in the middle of her graduation and just relocated to another city I think I’ve managed pretty well with ‘just’ two yarns. I’m super proud of them both and I’m extremely happy I joined this year and I’ll be sure to do so every year from now on!

The biggest challenge was the fiber prepping. I’ve spun roving and combed top before but large scale fiber prepping with hand cards was new to me. I also added spinning with a spindle to the challenge list because that’s also something I haven’t been doing for a very long time. There are some pictures of the TdF spinning hereΒ andΒ here.

I managed to finish 300m of 4-ply which counts a little bit as TdF yarn as well because I spun two of the 4 plies during the Tour.

This is a bobbin full of nice 4-ply and I even had another bobbin with some more because it wouldn’t fit on this one bobbin anymore. I knit a swatch and I still really like the effect. I’m very happy I chose to make a true 4 ply but I’ll do the rest of the spinning on a wheel.. It took a very long time to spin on the spindle and to be honest I think I’d rather spin some peachy merino-silk on it anyway.

The yarn became more even than I thought I’d produce on a spindle so it’s a little success on its own either way. I chose to leave the fluffy parts in to accentuate the ‘handspun’ irregular effect of the yarn. If I’m bothered by it in the final knit I can always carefully trim them off, but for now I think I like the effect. In the end they will felt a little and add to a tweedy effect.

I sorted the singles on weight and I’m starting to think I’d best do it by meterage instead next time because I ended up having three plying balls left for next time.

Since my spindle was empty again I started to spin the peachy batts I’ve been carding during the Tour, and I’m loving it already!

The spindle has just the right weight to make nice and even singles that I hope will become a nice sock weight (or maybe a little heavier) yarn. I’ve already made a little swatch with a 2.5mm needle just to see what it would look like and I’m loving it. The swatch is a little less well blended than the batts are but it gives a nice general idea.

I’m going to make another RosalieΒ because you might remember how happy I was with my first design and how crappy I felt when I killed it… I even like the felted version.. it’s fitted and it has short rows so it can fit a small person… just not me.. I’m too fat.. *le sigh* I still have it tho..the small little felted sweater that was once my happy first design..

anyway, so I’m doing a re-make of my first design so I can finally step over the dramatic loss (lol).

Though I loved every day of the tour, the last week was really hard because I really really really felt like knitting something. So at some point I just sinned and started knitting a sweater I’m calling Jailbird. It’s a very simple sweater inspired by this sketch I made a while ago.

See the one on the far left..? πŸ˜€ I love the Tour but I’m happy I can knit again (lol), but it also helped me to spin some more so I think in the end I can safely say it was a huge success and I’ll keep the Tour as a summer ritual w00t.. now off to some knitting πŸ˜€

 

battventure

Today was the second rest day of the Tour and I decided to try out a tutorial I found onΒ knitty.. it’s rather old and I bet most of you’ve already seen it but I guess it won’t hurt to read it again. It’s about making a batt and a roving with handcards. It’s also a great tutorial on how to blend fibers and colors on the handcards.

I tried it out.. let me show you πŸ˜€

To be honest.. I can’t get enough.. I love my little batt so much I don’t want to spin it at all…:| (not a good development..). I never thought I could make a batt and how I luurvvvee to look at batts and drool over my keyboard.

I’ve only recently became good friends with my student handcards and they did an awesome job today

I started out by sorting the fiber on weight and color in batches of about 20-30 grams. Then I divided them into eight parts and started blending the colors until I was happy.

I imagine that blending color by unsing handcards is a faster process than blending while using a drumcarder. I think this because I blended in 3-4 passes and only then I felt the colors were really blended. A drumcarder would be very awesome because of the amount of fleece than can be processed at one time, but for blending something like this I’m happy enough to use my handcards for now. I promised myself that I would only think of buying a drumcarder once I finished a number of blended projects using my handcards. Right now I’m on 2.5 πŸ™‚

I blended all of the parts and ended up with a nice stack of mini-batts to stretch out. This stretching out of the mini-batts is a real pain and I still can’t manage a nice (especially *even*) batt, but I’m getting there (or I will at some point).

As you can see here it still looks a little lumpy and after the first stretch there’s a big difference between the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ side.

The second pass is much easier and quicker than the first and after some stretching the resulting batt looks a little like this:

After a few attempts I’ve found that teasing the mini-batts with one handcard to stretch them out works wonders! I’m really happy with this conclusion because it was rather frustrating to blend all that fiber only to mess it up and to have to redo it.

By now I’ve managed to card 4 batts, a total of about 100 grams worth of fiber. I love how the colors variate a bit and how the silk gives the batts a soft sheen. I’m trying to get the colors to match as much as possible though I’m not going to be too fussy about it. Once all the carding is done I’ll organize the batts to make a gradient and then I’ll start spinning. I’d like the colors to blend as much as possible and to avoid self striping yarn..

TdF day 11-12

It’s difficult for me to keep posting daily because of other commitments but whenever I can I try to update the progress, because there is certainly some spinning going on here in this house. I find that photo ops and updating blogs takes too much time and leaves me with less time for spinning. And we can’t have that now can we…?

This is the progress made in day 11. Mostly I’ve been carding and I attempted to give the wensleydale x gotland another bath but it wouldn’t have it.. I guess I’ll play rough then hehe. Carding went well but then I ran out of oatmeal bfl so I had to order another 200 grams just to be safe. This way I can make another (darker) blend as well once I’m done so I can use that as a contrasting color.

The girasole is doing fine as well, I actually planned some knitting time into my daily routine as to make sure I don’t forget how to knit during this Tour. The love for knitting has been renewed because of the horrible (I actually like it) mini-fall sweeping over the low lands this July. As I type this there’s a huge amount of rain coming my way and though I’m grateful to be sitting inside, I feel for my poor little plants.

Because of this horrific weather we’re having, on day 12, I felt an ever greater need for color. I’m becoming a huge fan of natural colors but I felt the need for distinct summery (or maybe even fall-like) colors.. it reminds me of a peach.

I grabbed the 100 grams of silk and dyed them with too bottles of food coloring and safflower. I was afraid I had failed but the colors came out better than I could’ve hoped and I’m extremely pleased with the results. While I had just started dyeing the silk I felt the colors might become too ‘cold’ so I decided to dye a little bit of the 300 grams of merino with safflower so I could balance the colors out. At the moment I think that won’t be necessary but it’s still nice to have another color as a backup ‘just in case’.

The plan is to (hand) card the whole thing into rolags to mix the fibers and colors. I’m not sure what weight and/ or what pattern but I think the fiber will tell me once it’s ready.. 400 grams is a lot and I think in time a project will stand up and claim the yarn πŸ˜€

 

TdF day 9-10

Yesterday was a good day for spinning and relaxing! I managed to spin up the 200 grams of shetland roving I had lying around and turn it into 285m of chain plied yarn. Yes I am pleased with myself :p

It became a sportweight yarn and though I’m not yet sure what it wants to become, I do feel like it’s nudging me in this direction. I feel it’s a simple scarf(ette) that will be a nice display for the texture of the handspun.

It all started out like this. I had spun a little bit of the shetland on my spindle to get the feel of the whole thing. I started out a little too thin but in the end I found a nice weight for a somewhat bouncy chain plied yarn.

I started spinning using a new ‘trick’ I learned from my tourmates at Rav. Since I have never had any lessons in spinning and I have never spun with other spinners in real life I have not been in the position to get any tips and tricks while spinning. So everything I know is based off the internet and some of it is experimental work. But one of the spinners pointed out that by crossing the single like this the pull is reduced and more twist can be added to the single.

My wannabe louet tends to yank (and break) the yarn a lot so this was a huge revelation which made the spinning that much more enjoyable!

In-between there was al lot of relaxing and enjoying the company of the BF and the naughty cats. The advantage of having the BF around is great: I didn’t have to do anything and he baked delicious chips and made delicious mayonaise!

A minor drawback to the enhancement of my bobbins is the fact that I can’t fit as much yarn on one side as I could at first. I’ll need to fashion something on the narrow side as to make it wider so as to fit more yarn πŸ™‚

As you can see I’m a bit fearful of the yarn ‘overflowing’ on the narrow side… πŸ˜›

For the second weak of the Tour I’m planning on dyeing a lot of merino x silk and handcarding the wensleydale x gotland / oatmeal BFL mix for my BF’s tomten πŸ™‚

Tour de Fleece day 6-8

It took me a little while but I managed to finish all of the brown alpaca! I’m really happy because in the end I was starting to hate spinning it.. But first: picture time!

So first things first: I installed picasa! and I’m really happy I did because making collages really really sucks! On the other hand I really don’t like the fact that you can’t choose to CANCEL the file search on it.. ARE YOU READING THIS GOOGLE? IT SUCKS!!!

sorry about that…

As you can see on these pictures I mangled my bobbins.. I had already tried to mangle one bobbin during last years tour, and felt this could be done better! So with the help of the BF we drill-sawed the bobbins.. I say ‘mangled’ but ofcourse I mean improved πŸ˜€

820m of singles chain-plied to form 273m of yarn.

I had to wash the finished yarn twice to get clear water.. at least now I now how to wash alpaca.. πŸ˜›

I don’t know the WPI but I’d say it’s fingering weight yarn. And it gave me hell during the spinning..

Dirty…

Fudging..

Fingers..

Every single time I wanted to spin.. at some point I was washing my hands 10x a day and it left me with extremely dry hands. In that sense I’m extremely happy about being done with it. I can’t imagine spinning any more of this.. Strangely enough the yarn became quite soft after the good wash and sunny dry and I really felt bad about the verbal abuse I had given it while spinning it.

The 8th day was spent walking through the botanical gardens of Utrecht. There was no spinning but there was a lot of relaxing. The trip left with a lot of inspiration and determination to spin even more.

TdF days 1-5

Yes! I’ve been very very busy with the tour and I’ve been spinning along nicely! I know last year I really wanted to spin a lot but last year I had just recently picked up spinning and wasn’t as comfortable with it as I am today. Even so, I’m still learning heaps and I’m very excited about this tour!

To me this year’s tour is about (nearly) emptying the stash because I’ve planned on knitting some rather large projects with my uncarded and unprepped stash for the next season. One is for me: the girasole, the other is for the BF: the adult tomten. I’ve made two small collages of the things I want to spin this tour and I hope I can achieve this goal!

This collage shows the things I want to spin this tour. The top left is the chocolate wensleydale I got for my birthday last year. I’m spinning this on my turkish spindle by Woodstory. It’s an eco-friendly spindle and the locks are clean but a little greasy. It was my first time washing fleece so I didn’t know what to do exactly but I must say that I’m not too bothered with the grease. If anything it’s making spinning the fine singles a lot easier because of the stickiness.

The bottom left picture shows the wensleydale-cross white curly fleece and the oatmeal BFL commercial roving/ combed top I’m mixing on my handcards. The result will be a real 4-ply spindle spun on my 3″ Golding Tsunami.

The top center picture is a 300 gram/ 10.5oz white 18.5 micron merino combed top I’m planning to (hand card) blend with the 100grams/ 3.5oz of tussah silk in the bottom center picture. I’m not sure what this is going to become so I won’t start on this just yet. I’m planning to dye the silk a vibrant reddish/ orange and keep the merino undyed. I’m hoping to get a nice colorcombination this way.

The top right picture is a bag of doggy-fur from a Shih Tzu-Maltezer cross named Pip. I’m still uncertain as to what this should become and if I should blend it with something soft with a long staple or not…

The bottom right picture is a tiny amount of super fine bunny fuzz. For this purpose (and the doggyhair) I ordered a Brazillian Kingwood Russian spindle from IST Crafts. I’m not sure if it will arrive before the end of the Tour but I can always spin after the tour is done too right πŸ˜‰

This collage shows the things I’m working on right now. The above part is the 250 grams/ 8.8oz of brown alpaca I got for my birthday last year. I’m going for a chain plied yarn but I’m not sure what this is going to become yet.

The bottom picture is the 200 grams/ 7oz of gray shetland commercial roving I got. I’m spinning this on my 3″ Golding Tsunami now, but I’m also not sure of what to do with this once it’s done πŸ˜›

The progress on the first day. I carded the last batch yesterday and I’m hoping to finish the spinning today. With a little bit of luck I might even start/ finish the plying today!

Meanwhile I felt the need to bake cinnamon rolls! I know you can’t spin and eat this kind of stuff but I couldn’t help myself πŸ™

In between all this spinning I felt the knitting was unrepresented in my daily routine. I also noticed I had some of the EZ half circle shawl left and decided it would make a good winter set if I were to knit the deep in the forrest mittensΒ to go with them. I knit these using the handspun yarn I had left and with a skein of drops alpaca in red/purple mix.

I started out using the 2.5mm needles for the small size but this is how big they came out! So I frogged the thing and restarted using a 2.0mm needle and now it fits!

I didn’t expect this result but I’m quite please with the way the colors complement eachother. I was planning on using a gray color for the contrast color but I’m sticking to this one! Now I’m just hoping the yarn won’t run out on me!

FO: Handspun EZ Anniversary Camping half circle

It’s finally done and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. The yarn is my own handdyed and handspun singles of ‘Schottish wool’ and the pattern is EZ Anniversary Camping half circle.

The process of the dying and spinning can be found in the archives of finished objects.

The early pictures made me think the shawl was going to become very small but after the blocking the shawl became as wide as 62″ across so I’m pleased.

It’s not the softest wool but maybe that’s why the singles behave this good without a lot of twist. The fiber is really clingy and strong. Because of the rougher fiber I wanted a shawl I could wear in the winter, especially over my winter coat (pictured above). Something to keep my shoulders and ears warm but not something that has to be underneath the coat (since it’s quite a tight fit).

I absolutely love the way it turned out and I can’t wait to wear it in the winter. However there’s one big thing I’ve learned working on this project. Next time I won’t mix up the colors and allow for a gradient from the first color to the last color. Now there’s stripes all over the place but next time I’ll make sure to keep the colors together some more. I believe this will make for a nicer project.

Either way I’m really happy with the results, there’s something really satisfying about knitting with your own handspun yarn!