Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tour de Fleece 2014

Yes, I said Fleece and not France. The Tour de Fleece is a spinning event where you spin everyday during the Tour de France. Make sense? While they ride, you spin! Since I got my first spinning wheel for my birthday last month, this was the perfect opportunity to practice my spinning.

First off, let me talk about my wheel! It's a Fricke S-160 ST and I love it to bits! I picked the Fricke because of the price (lower than most) and the good reviews. I didn't necessarily want to spend $500+ on a wheel and then not love spinning. This one came out to about $400 with a lazy kate and a pound of soft wool thrown in. Score! I bought it from Crystal Creek Fibers on Etsy and I can't recommend them enough. My wheel shipped much faster than their estimated date and I'm so pleased with their customer service. I honestly chose the single treadle because it was cheaper and after spinning for about 2 weeks straight on it, I'm still happy with my decision.

Now, onto the yarn! I first spun 2 ounces of the wool that came with the wheel. I figured it was technically free and should be good to practice with. It took me a bit to get the brake tension right but I took it up pretty quickly. However, I'm still having a hard time drafting evenly from roving. My yarn is very think and thin right now!

Next, I spun some rolags (rolls of fiber) from Naturally Knitty. I love, love, love spinning from rolags! I'm so much more consistent in my thickness and they are nice and easy to hold. I know NK from the HPKCHC game over on Ravelry. I'm so happy with how this one turned out! When I first plied it, it was way underplied and so NK suggested I run it back through the wheel to add more twist. It's (almost) perfect now! You can still see one bit in there that isn't twisted enough but overall, I'm really pleased. I think I'll be making 75 yard Malabrigo Mitts with this yarn.

Summer Sunset, 2-ply, worsted weight, 70 yards

Next, I spun another batch of rolags from NK. These ones are called lemon bars and I'm proud to say I came up with the color name. ;) You know I had to have them! I drafted these ones much thinner than the first skein. So thin, that the 2-ply is lace weight in parts! Overall, this came out to fingering weight with lace and dk spots. I used the same amount of fiber as the first skein but because it was so much thinner, I managed to more than double the yardage. I don't know what this is destined to be yet!

Lemon Bars, 2-ply, fingering weight, 173 yards

Look at how thin that is!

Here's all three of the yarns I've spun for the Tour! I have some more fiber stashed but it's in roving form so I think I want to wait and get some hand carders so I can make rolags. They are just so much easier! You can see how much more evenly I was able to spin from the rolags than from the roving. I also learned it's way more fun to spin fiber that's dyed and not natural. So, all the undyed fiber I have will likely be taking a kool aid bath before I spin it!

Overall, I'm really happy with my decision to take the leap and buy a wheel. I've been drooling over handspun yarn since I learned to knit back in 2008 and I've just never wanted to put down that much money. It was a good investment!

Let me tell you about Naturally Knitty's customer service real fast. I ordered the yellow rolags while I was out of town and the Post Office said they were delivered a few days later. Well, my husband said they never came. So, contacted Jessica and the PO and while USPS couldn't do anything (of course) Jessica offered to make me a new batch and get them sent out right away. Eleven days after they were supposedly delivered, the package showed up in my mailbox. I think it was delivered to the wrong house and it appeared to have been opened, which I'm sure had them scratching their heads to the contents! I told Jessica that they arrived and that I would be more than willing to pay for the second package on it's way. She told me not to worry about it and to consider it a Tour de Fleece miracle. So nice, right? Well, when I got the replacement package, I nearly cried. She sent me double the amount of fiber that I had originally ordered. I basically got two free orders of rolags. If you want to try spinning from rolags, buy from her! She is so kind, generous, and has awesome colors!

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