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Friday, July 05, 2013

Making Progress

 If you read a lot of spinners blogs you may have heard of Tour de Fleece. It's an event that runs alongside the Tour de France. You can join a group on Ravelry. Join a team and set yourself spinning challenges. I did officially join a few years ago and spectacularly failed to achieve much. So last year I didn't officially join. I just set myself a challenge to spin every evening while we watched the Tour de France highlights on TV. It was very successful and I got a lot of spinning done. I did the same during La Vuelta (Tour of Spain) and Tour of Britain later in the summer. 

So this year I'm doing it again. My challenge is to spin every evening for an hour. There will be days when I've got deadlines that I need to work on and days when I'm out in the evening. But if I'm home and have the time I'll spin for an hour. 

I've had this Sweet Georgia Merino/Tencel (from the Fiber Club) on the wheel for a while now but had hardly done any spinning till this week. My Tour de Fleece started on Monday and i'm pleased with the progress I'm making (some photos in this post are taken on my mobile as I've lost my camera charger so please excuse the rubbish photos). I have 200gr and I've only got about 3 evenings left till I've spun up the first braid. I'm spinning it quite fine as I'm aiming for a heavy laceweight. 
Earlier this year I spun a braid of another Sweet Georgia fibre. I can't remember now what this is. But I've got a feeling it's merino/tencel. I spun it fairly fine and I spun the whole braid as it was trying to get long colour changes. I'm planning to navajo ply it. I only got the hang of navajo plying last summer and I haven't done it for months. So I need to start plying this when I've got time to sit down and watch a video or two to remind myself how to do it. I think once I've spun up the first blue bobbin, I'll ply this before I start on the second blue bobbin. 
Emily has been eyeing up the blue bobbin. I've knitted her two handspun blue hats before and I think she fancies another one. The last one I spun and knitted for her I spun quite fine and ended up knitting it double. I hate knitted things with two strands of yarn, so I'm thinking I won't be knitting her a hat from this fibre.

I've also been thinking about what to spin next. It'll take me a while to get through the blue fluff but I'm dreaming about what to do next.

I've got a cloud of yak fibre from a local farm which I'd love to spin but I'm a bit nervous about it. I'm dreaming of a fine laceweight yarn for a special shawl but I've been advised I should spin it long draw which I've never done before. I've also got a big cloud of cashmere which probably should be spun the same way so I'm thinking of practicing on that. Also long draw doesn't really suit the way I sit to spin. I should probably sit upright on a dining room chair but that aggrevates my back/neck a lot and I could only spin for a few minutes. Instead I sit in my comfy lounge chair, relaxing and spinning. It's fine for short draw but useless for long draw. I'm thinking I ought to get myself off to the local spinning group to see if I can get some help with long draw, but the next group meeting is the same day as our local agricultural show which I'm supposed to be helping at on our kniting group stall.

So the other candiates for my next spinning project are thes batts of merino I made earlier this year. I want to do a graduated navajo plyed yarn. I'm not finding it that easy to spin though. I did start it but it's coming out a bit lumpy.
I've got this which I think is pure silk, can't remember who from now. I love the colours and I've not spun pure silk before.
 Or I've got 200gr of BFL/Silk. I love these colours. And yes it's from Sweet Georgia. 
Or a sparkly bundle from Sweet Georgia, this is probably merino/silk with sprarkly bits. Love the colours. 
This is Polwarth Silk from Sweet Georgia. I've never spun Polwarth before and this look dreamy.
 Another Sweet Georgia club fibre is this Panda (merino/bamboo) fibre. 
And I was thinking about combining these two. Break off a chunk from each and spin them together.
Another wool I've never spun is Masham from Sweet Georgia. It feels quite wolly, like proper wool. It's not as soft as I like but the colours are lovely and it'd be interesting to spin a different wool. 
Writing this blog post makes me realise I've got a lot of beautiful fibre and I really should make more time for regular spinning, not just during Tour de France. It's so easy to get caught up in knitting every time I sit down especially with a lot of design deadlines but  I really ought to give myself some time in the evenings to do some spinning.

There's been a lot of knitting progress in the last week too. I've been doing a lot of finishing on various new designs knitted by my wonderful sample knitters but before we left for Cumbria I decided I needed some easy car knitting. I knitted the shawl below in Auracania Botany Lace a few months ago and it's been hanging on my dress form since waiting to get the pattern finished and photos taken. I love it and the bright pink colour and the shape but I thought it'd look great in a variegated yarn.
When I did my Woolfest dyeing I dyed 3 skeins of variegated Merino Plus and I just loved the colours so I wound one skein for msyelf and cast on before we left. Turned out this was the perfect car knitting and i got all of it done apart from the final lace section and beaded picot cast off which I've done this week. The new shawl is now waiting in the blockin queue which is rather long at the moment. I'd love to get this pattern published this month. I'm aiming to get some photos done this weekend and pattern off to the tech editor very soon.
I've also finished the July Lace Variety Club shawl. Just casting off to do which I'll do at lunch time. It needs to be blocked before the shawl above so I can finish the pattern and get it off to the tech editor today.

Talking about the Lace Variety Club - officially the club is now closed for sign ups but I do have 3 spaces left. I won't be listing them on the website but if you're desperate to join us, let me know and i'll send you a Paypal invoice (it's £56 for UK members and £64 for non UK/European members). You can read all about it here but you can't sign up here. E-mail me instead.

Are you a spinner? Are you taking part in Tour de Fleece? What are you spinning? Tell me in the comments.


Dori said...

I just love all your fibre. I'm doing the Tour as well, and have a rather gorgeous purple braid of baby alpaca to spin, with lots more in stash if I finish. I think this is a good chance for every spinner to get back in the habit of doing at least some every day.

The shawl is gorgeous. You are my favourite shawl designer! I don't know how you design so many beautiful, unique things, but I love it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Dori. your baby alpaca braid sounds gorgeous. I've got some other very nice fibre too. Including a big braid for a sweater for me one day... in the distant future.