Sunday, July 18, 2010

In which the Rabbit spins in the Tour de Fleece

The Tour de Fleece is an annual event for spinners that takes place, not so surprisingly, at the same time as the Tour de France. The idea is that one chooses a more or less challenging spinning project and works away at it every day the racers in the Tour de France are riding. So as Lance and co. are spinning away, so are we.

Having crashed and burned during the Ravelympics, I was a little reluctant about the TdF. But I thought I should probably join in for the podcast's sake. So I threw in my lot with Team Sasquatch, an amalgamated group of podcasters and their listeners on Ravelry. I'm so glad that I did.

I decided that I wanted to spin the California Red lamb's fleece from Apple Rose farm. It was a small fleece; after washing and doing some preliminary sampling I had about twenty ounces. That seemed like a manageable amount to work on for the TdF; the challenge, I thought, would come from the day-in, day-out sameness of the color.

Using my handy digital kitchen scale purchased for fibery pursuits, I divided the fleece into one-ounce clumps, which I spent most of June, it seemed, painstakingly turning into one-ounce batts. Twenty in all. Here's a picture of half of them:


I used one of the batts for training purposes--to experiment with wheel settings, etc. I decided to add to the challenge by using this as an opportunity to practice my long draw, recently fine-tuned in a class with Maggie Casey (more on this in the podcast). I wanted to make a nice, round three-ply yarn, so I wanted the individual plies to be as fine as I could comfortably make them with a long draw at this stage. So I'm spinning at a 14:1 ratio and plan to ply at 16:1.

This is the first big spinning project I've done and so I decided to invest in a bobbin winder and storage bobbins. I'm spinning the 19 ounces, putting them on bobbins as I go. When I ply, I'll be selecting bobbins randomly in hopes that this will tend to even out any differences in width and color and produce the most consistent yarn possible.

Here's how the bobbins look, all lined up like little soldiers.


I took this picture several days ago. These have been joined by seven more. Very satisfying.

In addition to the pleasure of working methodically through the carding and spinning of this lovely fiber, I've also had the fun of being part of Team Sasquatch. Folks are reporting daily or every other day on their progress, and generally cheering each other on. It's a lovely group of people.