I love the alpaca seconds I was gifted with.
Due to the time consuming nature of cleaning these bags of alpaca I have decided to give Tour De Fleece a miss this year. This is an event that lasts as long as the Tour de France and involves challenges, rest days, and more just as the bicycling event. More than that it involves spinning everyday. While that is an overarching goal of mine, I would also like to focus on ensuring that I have this alpaca clean and ready to spin for the fall and winter. During these warm days as well as these rainy days I hope to take advantage of the weather, setting the fleece out on my brand new sweater racks while it is raining to wash them in a natural way, as well as setting them out in the sun to make sure that they are as dry as possible before I begin the next step in processing them. I am also hoping to comb or card out the fleeces before the snow comes, this will allow me to dispose of the fluff I cannot use in an eco-friendly way. Putting it out to be used as lining for animal homes or to decompose as mulch.
Flicking open the locks where I am able to and carding what does not flick is a time consuming process. For some of the coarsest seconds I attempted to turn the fur into batts, I managed to get three batts done, but I do not know if they will spin up very well. I plan on trying to spin them in a regular manner and if that does not seem to work, core spinning them. If it turns out that I hate spinning these batts, I do plan on gifting them to whomever wants them from my Guild. I hope to do this before my next batch of fleece is dry, that way I will know if this is a viable option for preparation.
That may have to wait though, I am currently spinning my June Box from Paradise Fibers, I am spinning the last third of those singles. The first two are pictured below.
My original intention was to ply the three bobbins together, however it is possible that they will be too muddy when I am done. Because of this concerns I will probably do a test sample to knit up, once I decide if I like that or not I will either ply all of them together or spin up a white single to ply with these.
Whew, that will keep me busy for a while!
Okay, so I didn’t do a lot with Tour De Fleece. Certainly not as much as I had hoped. On the other end of the spectrum my crafting classes are going very well. I have a lovely core group of ladies that are really enjoying the crafts I am introducing them to. Wet felting was a sloppy bit of fun, needle felting went off like a rocket (if you call it stabbing something a few hundred times it generates a lot of interest), and these past two weeks my ladies have taken to spinning like they were born for it.
During my Guild Meeting I managed to weave most of a towel, I have since finished that towel, woven another and a couple of coasters since I didn’t have enough warp for a third towel. I have also spun about half of my June Fiber box from Paradise Fibers. Okay, so I know most people are through their July Boxes but I don’t have that kind of crafting time.
I swear this is progress! I am still working on spinning up my 4oz of fiber straight from the roving in an attempt to create a unique piece from my June Box. While it does not look like I have made much progress, I swear it is there. I Can see my piece of fiber getting smaller and my bobbin filling up bit by bit. I do have to confess, I love my Woolee Winder. I cannot even begin to imagine trying to get even spinning while changing hooks constantly. I do realize that many people do not have any trouble changing hooks, spinning fine and doing a great job at both. I am still very excited to see this piece done so that I can work on the next. In between this piece and starting the next I will be teaching a spinning class at my public library, very exciting!
Last week I also attended the Southern Tier Fiber Arts Guild Meeting in Wellsville, NY. The ladies were all lovely and I look forward to attending again next month! This Friday I will be weaving a towel in Bradford, PA. What fun!
I have made some progress on my major spin for Tour De Fleece. More importantly from my perspective, I have decided to take my time and enjoy the step I am working on. My personality is such that I am usually looking toward the next thing. The next project, the next skill, the next thing to learn, etc. This means that I do not really spend much time, if any, enjoying the step that I am on. Recently I have been reading where several spinners talk about the hours of enjoyment they have gotten from a piece of fleece/fiber. I have, for me, a large project that I am spinning toward.
Paradise Fibers sent me 8 oz of their Merino Blend in Bloom. I split that in half to perform a Monet Spin, if you’ve been following me you know this already. At present I am spinning about 4oz of the top in a straight short forward worsted spin on my ladybug. This is resulting in the finest and most consistent spin I have ever accomplished. However, instead of relaxing and enjoying this spin I am eager to get to the next step, spinning up the carded fibers. I am also eager to see what the final plied yarn will look like, I have done two ply back samples and I believe I will have either a lace weight 2 ply or a DK weight 4 ply. (it’s pretty fine)
Right now, I have spend almost three hours spinning up this first part of my fiber. I am only capable of spinning about an hour or so at a time, the fineness of this spin means that should my concentration waver too much I will lose my consistency. In those three hours, I have barely made a dent in my top. This being said, I have made a conscious decision to do my best to enjoy this time creating this yarn. Haste makes waste is very apt in this case. I am spinning a fine consistent yarn, taking my time, concentrating on how I am spinning and the results that I am obtaining will be key to enjoying this spin. At my current rate of spinning I should get another 21 hours of enjoyment from this fiber. Let’s see how it goes!
On day 3 I did not get much spinning accomplished, that darn work got in the way. However I did manage to get half of my “Bloom” roving carded up to be spun in the “Monet” way. It appeared as though for a true “Monet” spin the fiber was to be hand carded. I did do about half of this section of fiber, a quarter of the total fiber, on hand cards but the other half was done on a drum carder. I love how this fiber turned out.
As for the 4th day, I managed to begin spinning the roving from my wrist distaff as it came. This is great practice for me, not only spinning consistently, but moving across the end of a piece of top. Both skills are taking quite a bit of concentration so I can only do so for about an hour at a time. This means that this 4 ounces of fiber is going to take quite some time to spin. I fully intend to enjoy the experience to the fullest of my ability!
I promise this really is about 2 hours of spinning. There is some corkscrewing, but from my experience these things tend to work themselves out in the plying.
I received my June Box from Paradise Fibers just in time for Tour De Fleece! Their Suggestion was to spin this Bloom Roving in a manner different from how it would normally be spun by me. One of the suggestions was to spin it in the Monet style. Well I had no idea what that meant, so I had to investigate. From what I can find out, without paying for the book or article which I might do in the near future, this is a method of spinning where a top is divided in half then half is spun straight from the top and the second half is spun from a carded preparation. (rolags seemed to be what I saw). Given these parameters I finished off my bobbin from the first day, split my top down the middle and started looking at it. Half I wound onto my wrist distaff, the picture on the right, and the other half I decided I would take into work to card up. (My drum carder and hand carders are living at work until my workshop series is over).
I’ve been watching the Craftsy Video Spinning From Woolen to Worsted by Jacey Boggs Faulkner. She has some great suggestions on getting a more even yarn and how to spin more thoughtfully. Given that advice I am attempting to spin this yarn more thoughtfully and at a smaller, more consistent, diameter. My progress from Day 2 is on the bobbin. I am enjoying this spinning experience and hope that I am becoming a better spinner.
On July 1, 2017 my Tour De Fleece started out with a bang. I decided that since the Tour De France was starting with a time trial I would spin as much as I could as fast as I could. This means that I wound up with a very full bobbin and I was very happy. The results are not perfectly even, but that is not how I spin anyway. I am very pleased with this bobbin, it has since, on the second day, been finished with the last of that fiber as seen below. I then wound that off as a center pull ball for plying at another time.