Tour de … Fleece?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Tour de France, the 22-day long bicycle race across France starting on July 2nd … but how many of you have heard of the Tour de Fleece?  I’m sure if you’re familiar with Ravelry you’ve heard of it! 

Many handspinners around the world spin yarn while the cyclist are racing.  That’s right … 20 days of spinning at least a little each day with 2 rest days.  For some, it’s simple.  Others have it a little more challenging, especially those who have 2 young children, animals to feed and a growing garden. 

I did manage to spin every day that the cyclists rode.  To kick off the Tour I even made a special dinner on July 2nd…  One of our homegrown turkeys, rubbed with a mixture of olive oil and herbs de provence (brought home from Paris by my aunt!) rotisseried on the grill.

I also watched a lot of the race and really became interested in it.  Noah loved watching it with me in the mornings, and Dave and I watched some of it at night, too.  We all gasped when Johnny Hoogerland crashed and cheered for him when he continued racing.

Some days I only managed to squeeze in 10 or 15  minutes but most days I spun for 30 minutes or more.  A few days I spun on my drop spindle because I didn’t have time to sit down at my wheel.  We also left for camping a couple of days before the Tour was over so I packed my drop spindle to take with us… it takes up far less room than my wheel!  I posted photos of my daily progress to my Flickr account, but here’s a collage of my work:

Tour De Fleece collage

Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival

The Garden State Sheep and Wool Festival was held on September 11th & 12th this year.  I drove over on Saturday for the morning to enter 2 fleeces and 2 skeins for the competitions.  I had a great time – the weather was beautiful and I got to meet up with some friends and talk with them.

I entered my yarn in the Novice division of the skein competition since I’ve been spinning less than 1 year.  My woolen Shetland yarn got 2nd place, while my worsted Merino yarn placed 4th!  I’m very happy and excited about that.

I'm holding my grey Shetland yarn on the left and my white Merino yarn on the right.

I also entered 2 fleeces in the wool show.  They didn’t place, but they both got a score of 81 (out of 100).  And they both scored a 10 for my skirting… that was encouraging!

Colonial Day

Earlier this month I participated in the Robbinsville Elementary School’s Colonial Day and talked to the 3rd graders about spinning wool.  I only had 2 weeks to prepare and it turned out a lot different than I imagined, but I still enjoyed it and I think the students did, too.

My Set-Up for the Demo

 The wool spinning station was in the gym, which didn’t have good air conditioning….or didn’t have any.  It was hard to tell.  🙂  There were about 45 students in each of 6 sessions, which were 30 minutes.  I talked about the history of spinning and the tools used in spinning.  Everyone then got some wool and a spindle to try spinning.  After the first 2 groups, I took the cd’s off my homemade spindles and the rest of the students just used the hooked dowels.  They were much easier to use! 

2 students were allergic to wool, and I felt bad that I didn’t bring any other fibers “just in case”.  I will definitely bring some next year.

I also have a list of other things I want to improve on for next year….at least I have a better idea of what I’m doing now!

Spinning Projects

I’ve been spinning a lot with my new wheel and finished my 1st project!  I got some CVM/Romeldale and Llama fiber from a friend a couple months ago.  I blended them on hand carders and spun the fiber on my drop spindle.  I used my wheel to make a 3-ply yarn and crocheted a scarf from a beautiful pattern I found on Ravelry.  It’s called the “Luna Lovegood Scarf” and I made some changes because I didn’t have enough yarn.  Anyway here are some pictures

CVM/Romeldale - Llama yarnCrocheted Scarf

Scarf Detail

I bought a Spinning Wheel!

Tuesday night I bought my first spinning wheel from my friend, Debi!  I’m very excited and my 1st project on it will be to ply the CVM/llama singles that I’m spinning on my drop spindle.  Noah and Hannah came with me to pick it up and Noah wanted to start spinning as soon as we got home!  🙂  I showed him how the treadle works, but his foot is too small to get the wheel moving.  He then picked up my drop spindle, to my surprise, and spun the little fiber that was left to spin on it.  Dave decided he will probably be able to spin by the time he’s 6!

I Got My Drop Spindle Yesterday…

…And I started spinning last night!  I love that hand-spun yarn is so unique – not 100% uniform like commercial yarns.

I ordered my “Learn to Spin Kit” from Golding Fiber Tools in Vermont (http://www.goldingfibertools.com/).  The drop spindle is hand-carved in a Celtic Ring design and the kit came with 2 oz of Coopworth roving.  I chose this design because I used some money that my pop-pop gave my for Christmas to buy the spindle and he’s from Scotland.  I will always think of him whenever I use this spindle.