On Ravelry they hold, during the Tour de France, an event called the Tour De Fleece, where folks can join teams of all kinds and participate in challenges and celebrate the challenge of the bike event. I decided to participate this year, and use it as an excuse to spin up some of the samples that I’ve been sitting on.
I started with guanaco that I’ve been sitting on for quite a while, intimidated by it’s fineness and expense. Guanaco is a South American camelid, similar to llamas and alpacas, with finer fiber, though not as fine as the vicuña. The fiber I have is a beautiful natural cinnamon color
Above you can see the fiber and the Golding spindle I was working on. I did singles in three “batches” on the spindle, winding into a ball, joining the new “batch” into the same ball. I then took the ball and using my winder, made a center-pull ball. This was scary, as singles can tangle *very* easily, and this was a fine fiber, so the possibility of the center collapsing into a knotted mess was… high. A rolled up piece of paper that would expand as the center did helped.
I then used both ends to wind a plying ball.
This made the plying a lot easier because I did not have to manage the center pull ball from collapsing on itself and the singles tangling. I could have also divided the singles into two balls and either plied directly from them or made a plying ball, but doing it this way while a bit scarier and taking a bit more time also allowed me to use all of the singles, with nothing left over because there was more yardage on one. Measuring weight will get one close, but since this is hand spun and I’m not perfect with my spinning, there will be variances in thickness, and that will usually give at least some variance in yardage if measuring by weight.
I plied this on the same spindle. Normally I’d used a heavier spindle but I thought I would try it. I was really pleased with the results. This hasn’t been “finished” yet, meaning it hasn’t been washed, so it may change slightly when I do. The niddy noddy I still use is one my father made me when I first started spinning. It’s simple, and since the shaft is hard for me to grip I will tape cardboard around it to help, but it works like it should!
This was one ounce of fiber, spun fine (there’s a dime with the skein for comparison). It made up about 150 yards. It was lovely to spin, and was really just a “blob” of fiber, not a particular prep, so some of the unevenness could have been dealt with if I had slowed down a little bit more. It’s certainly a fiber that I will indulge myself with again!
After the guanaco, I moved on to a Blue Faced Leicester and silk blend. It’s 85% BFL and 15% silk.
The actual color was very hard to capture on this one. It’s most accurately the browner parts that you see, though I would still call it mostly grey. I spun it on the same spindle, though with this fiber I took care to do it slowly so I could smooth it down as I spun, using a lot of park-and-draft. I wound it off into a single ball as before and then made a center pull ball. This I plied on my heavier Golding. I was having a bad fibro day when I plied it and completely spaced out making a plying ball until I was part way through plying from the center pull. I considered stopping and going back, but pressed on. It wasn’t terrible and while next time I will try to remember the ball, (the extra time it takes to make one is totally worth it) I am very pleased with the results.
I am actually more pleased with this than the guanaco! There will certainly be more of this in my future. There was also one ounce of this, and it worked up to about 134 yards. This is also “unfinished” at this point, and may change slightly once washed.
I have also started a silk and linen 50/50 blend, that I am actually really disliking. I guess I’m a critter fiber kind of gal! I may decide to not finish that because I think little fine flax fibers are aggravating my allergies. I do like linen, but I haven’t spun it much. There’s so many different things out there that I don’t see any point in fighting with something I dislike. However I’ll try another technique or two and see if we can come to an agreement, at least for the ounce that I have.
I’ve joined a Spinner’s Study group on Ravelry, which has two fibers each month that members can work with and report back on. This month one of the breeds is the Manx Loaghtan, a rare breed used for both meat and fleece, which is a moorit (brown) color. They’re a nifty looking breed, check out the Manx Loaghtan Sheep Breeders Group!
I got a few ounces of prepared fleece from Hilltop Cloud in the UK. It got here surprisingly fast, was unperfumed (always important to me), and was lovely in color and squishiness!
My first thought was that I would spin it up for socks, but decided that I would divide it up and spin it a few different ways to see how it behaved. In other words, do something akin to an actual study. I sat down one morning and divided it up and started spinning. I’ve done up one sample, a bit thicker than I’ve been doing lately. The result:
It did not turn out very even, but I’m quite pleased with it regardless. It’s both dense and squishy, and would make a beautiful sweater or vest. The quarter is placed for reference. It was a top preparation, and I spun it “combination draw” which was a bit of short, a bit of long, some fiddling. I ended up with roughly 32 and a half yards of this two ply, weight roughly 3/4 of an ounce. The above yarn is “finished”, has been washed and set. I’ve also been spindle spinning some Shetland that I picked up at the Shepherd’s Harvest Festival and I took pictures of it at the same time.
I’ve been happy with the way this is turning out, and may make a shawl out of it. I have two finished skeins so far, and am working on a third, which may finish up the 6 ounces that I bought.
As a point of interest, both the Shetland and the Manx Loaghtan were wound on the same niddy noddy, but the below picture shows how much more “spring” the Manx has!
The Manx Loaghtan is on the right and the Shetland is on the left.
The next I plan to do with the Manx is a sock weight. Hopefully I’ll get to that in the next week!