Tomorrow it starts: the Tour de Fleece 2019. This yearly event occurs during the Tour de France, and thousands of hand spinners participate. The goal is to spin every day except for the resting days, and to challenge yourself on the challenge days. I have participated every year since 2012, first on my wheel, and later on my spindles as well. Nowadays I spin on my spindles primarily, and my wheel only comes out for plying. I just love the speed and portability of spindles, as well as the craftsmanship that goes into making them. The beautiful woods, the different elegant shapes, the ingenious ideas to incorporate glass, metal, or pyrography, while still maintaining the perfect spin.
A couple of months ago, I ordered a custom wool blend from World of Wool. I bought it with the All Stars SAL (of the MirkwoodArts group) in mind. I selected colours that reminded me of galaxy pictures, in a variety of fibres: 50% merino, 25% Tussah silk, 12% Mulberry silk, 12% Trilobal nylon (firestar).
I chose mainly very dark colours, a bright fuchsia, and a large amount of firestar for the necessary stardust. I requested five blending cycles to make sure that it was all blended together well. A few weeks later, I received the resulting fibre:
The blending is subtle, so from a distance the fibre seems purple. But if you get closer, you can see some darker parts, the shimmer of firestar, and streaks of fuchsia as well. There is 500 grams of fibre there (the minimum amount you have to order if you request a custom blend). The blend arrived too late for the All Stars SAL, which was a shame, but I started spinning it for the next SAL (Smaug and friends).
First I created rolags. The fibre was blended and prepared well, so it would spin easily, but I prefer rolags because they are not too large and easy to handle when spinning supported.
I made rolags on my blending board until my suitcase was filled to the brim (44 rolags in total). I still had about 120 grams of fibre left. I decided that I might add those later.
I decided to spin this fibre relatively thin. I was aiming for a 3-ply fingering to sport weight result. That meant that spinning did not go very fast. Normally, I spin about 100 grams a week, but I was busy with work, went on a holiday without bringing spindles, and chose to go out to take photographs often in the evenings when I would usually spin. So, the project was not going very fast.
The fibre was lovely, though, and the spinning was easy and comfortable. The firestar is very visible in the photo above and it looks a bit prickly, but in reality it’s very soft. I continued spinning in the SAL and managed to get about half of the rolags done by the end of May.
Since then, I have picked up my spindles regularly, but I still haven’t emptied the suitcase. Yesterday, I finished spinning rolag number 32 on spindle 16.
I was also a bit naughty and I started another, anonymous, spinning project. For a while, I had felt like spinning with a Turkish spindle again. And through the years I have accumulated quite a few sample fibres that accompanied spindle orders. So I decided to spin some of those samples on my good old Jenkins Finch.
I started with the blues/purples and decided to ply-on-the-fly. I had to check first how to do that again, because it had been six years since I learned how to do it (and I never did it again). It was so satisfying to spin and wind on in the pretty pattern that created a turtle.
I continued and the spindle became heavier and slower. This made spinning the singles a bit slower, but ply-on-the-fly became easier with the added weight. It prevented the spindle from backspinning.
After three samples, the spindle was quite full already. And then I realised that the Tour de Fleece was close, and most of my spindles were occupied, so I quickly returned to spinning my purple fibre instead.
So this is where I stand now, one day before the Tour de Fleece starts. Many of my supported spindles are full, and I also have a Turk that is in the middle of a project. What shall I do? I feel like starting something new, something with more colour variety, but I also want to finish my purple project and then, one day, knit a beautiful drapey cardigan with it.
I guess I’ll end up finishing this spin as fast as I can with the incentive of being able to start something new and inspiring after that. I’m spinning for Team Mirkwood and for Team SpinJones, and of course for Team Karma. So I’ll probably pick up one of the lovely SpinJones rovings that I have in my fibre stash. But my Hedgehog Fibres are trying to charm me as well. I’m going to pick up my spindles and get that purple done, so that I can move on.