My Challenge

Day 20 of the Tour de France/Tour de Fleece is challenge day. For my challenge spinning, I decided I would try woolen spinning using the supported longdraw technique and spinning from the fold. I did pretty well for a first attempt.

My feeble attempt at supported longdraw spinning

I used some sample fiber that came with my Loop Bullseye bumps. I might finish this off as a singles sample skein, or I might spin up the rest of the samples I have and do a 2-ply sample skein.

I also plied the lovely BFL from OnTheRound. The somewhat bright pastels blend really nicely and I think the yarn will make some very nice wristers.

A hank of 2-ply BFL hanging to dry

And last but not least, I’ve been spinning more of the superwash Merino blend.

Sock yarn in the making

This is my last Tour de Fleece project. I hope to get the spinning finished tomorrow and ply it on Saturday, the last next-to-the-last day of the TdF. I cannot believe how much yarn I have made in the past 19 days.

WIP Wednesday And The Tour De Fleece

I haven’t posted anything for WIP Wednesday for a while because I haven’t been doing much knitting lately. With the Tour de Fleece going strong and little worth watching on television, the knitting has been limited. Poor Cassidy has only increased by a handful of pattern repeats in the past few weeks, but once the TdF is over, she will become my priority. I want her intended to be able to wear her come autumn. The boy’s red raglan has sat untouched for all of July, but once football and hockey seasons start, it will move along quickly.

What I have been working on a bit are socks. Two “second” socks are progressing quite nicely. One of the things I love about knitting socks is that socks don’t seem to mind waiting while I busy myself with other projects. They seem to know that I will return to them at some point and give them my full attention. 🙂

Two "second socks" on their way to completion

Two “second socks” on their way to completion

The reason I didn’t post my TdF progress for day 16 is because the power went out last night. Funny thing, my computer and Internet don’t work well with no power. I hope you didn’t think I had crapped out on the TdF. To the contrary, my spinning has been something of a whirlwind. Monday was a rest day for the TdF, and so yesterday I was re-energized and ready to kick some ass.

I finished up the remainder of the 4-ounce bump of Wonder Why Alpaca Farm alpaca/Merino. I have another 4-ounce bump to spin, then I will ply the two singles together. But this is a long-term project. I’m spinning the singles very finely, so it is taking somewhere this side of forever to spin.

I chain-plied the singles I spun from Sunset Fibers July 2013 ROTM BFL. I’m starting to feel comfortable with chain-plying; my new Lendrum lazy kate has made a big difference. I can adjust the tension so that the yarn feeds smoothly and easily but without any backspin. The Ladybug’s on-board lazy kate is tensioned, but the tensioning isn’t adjustable. When I try to chain-ply using the Ladybug’s kate, I have to fight the yarn to get everything to feed smoothly and I end up breaking the singles. With the new kate, I can develop a smooth rhythm and just keep going. I’m very pleased with how this yarn turned out.

Even though we lost power last night for 2-and-a-half hours, I was able to keep spinning thanks to a battery-operated lantern, so I was able to spin up an entire 4-ounce braid of lovely BFL from OnTheRound. I plan to ply the singles together today to make a nice 2-ply yarn.

Last but not least, I ended up with around 1500 yards of lace-weight 2-ply from the 8 ounces of Sunset Fibers Polwarth in Pink Elephant. The picture does not do the colors justice, and you have to touch the yarn to appreciate how soft and cushy it is.

On today’s agenda:

plying the OnTheRound Singles

spin some superwash Merino/mohair/Nylon fiber to make a 3-ply sock yarn

Pictures at 11.

Magical Merino

This lovely braid of Merino that I purchased from OnTheRound that I have been spinning during the Tour de Fleece has kind of been center stage lately.

And it’s no wonder. The fiber is beautiful, the seemingly infinite shades of blue are vibrant, and when the yarn was all spun up and plied, the colors blended perfectly.

When I took the skein off the niddy noddy, I knew that I had made a very special yarn. The Merino is very soft and springy, and for once I didn’t over-ply the singles. I was very please with every aspect of this yarn, especially the yardage–approximately 340 yards of sport-weight yarn. Then I took the yarn upstairs to set the twist in the bathroom sink. I filled the sink with hot water, added a few drops of Soak, and submerged the yarn and gently squeezed it until I was sure it was completely saturated with water. Then I left it to soak for 20 or 30 minutes.

When the yarn had soaked long enough, I drained the sink and squeezed the excess water out of the yarn. The second my hands touched the fiber, I knew something magical had happened. My Merino had been transformed into a plump, fluffy, stretchy yarn that was no longer sport-weight but DK weight.

I wrapped the skein in a towel to get out as much moisture as I could and hung the skein over the shower head to dry. Every time I passed the bathroom, I had to stop and fondle the yarn. As it dried, it retained it’s fluffy plumpness. Trust me, it’s a yarn you just want to cuddle with.

The finished skein in all its glory

The finished skein in all its glory

I don’t know whether or not I should be surprised that my Merino yarn pulled a “Polwarth Poof” on me. I’ve never spun pure Merino wool before, just blends, so I have no previous knowledge of how Merino behaves. I know that Polwarth fluffs and plumps up when the newly-plied yarn is put in water to set the twist–the famous (among spinners) “Polwarth Poof”–but I didn’t know that Merino behaved in the same manner.

I have yet to decided what to do with this yarn, but it really has to become a garment that is worn next to the skin, a cowl perhaps? Or maybe a shawlette? Who knows. But whatever it becomes, I know it will be soft and beautiful and very special.

Be sure to visit Tami’s FO Friday to see other fabulous finished objects.

TdF Day #5

Today was all Merino, all the time. Yesterday I started spinning up this braid of 21.5 micron hand-dyed Merino that I bought on Etsy from OnTheRound.

4 ounces of soft, buttery Merino wool

4 ounces of soft, buttery Merino wool

This is my first time spinning pure Merino, and let me tell you, it is absolutely wonderful to spin. The yarn practically  drafts itself. I just couldn’t stop spinning it.

So today I finished spinning the bobbin I started yesterday and spun a second bobbin.

Bobbins 1 and 2

Bobbins 1 and 2

 

Then I started on the third and final bobbin and got more than halfway done.

Bobbin 3 is more than halfway done.

Bobbin 3 is more than halfway done.

I love, love, love all these shades of blue. And I love, love, love spinning Merino.

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