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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Rob and Tammy's Baby

Exciting news today - my neighbours, Rob and Tammy, had a baby this morning . . . of the 4-legged, long-necked variety!  Their alpaca, Bella, gave birth to a beautiful cria (baby alpaca for those who don't know) at about 9 a.m. this morning - a little boy.

No photos yet, I'll go down and take some tomorrow.  They've put some on Facebook but I can't remember how to copy them!

Monday, 29 July 2013

TdF End of the Road

Only 13 days since I last updated!  I am still here, but we've had some visitors and a trip or two away in the campervan.  Well, those are my excuses put to bed, now let's get on with what I've really been doing.

For my last yarn of the Tour I decided to use all the leftover rolags from my rainbow yarn (Falkland).

This was, in fact, my only option for the team I was in which demanded that everything had to be prepared from raw, unwashed, fleece which was then dyed, carded and spun.  I simply didn't have enough time left to start preparing another fleece.

I put the whole lot into a large bag and then spun at random, a small amount from each rolag, mixing all the colours.  I was quite happy with the result, but I've no idea what I'm going to use it for.  No doubt, if I keep it long enough, something will come up and "bite me" eventually.

This is the first bobbin I spun.  I was going to do another one the same, but thought it might be just a bit too clown barf-ish.  I had quite a bit of the orange left (dyed with onion skins) so decided to do the second bobbin with that.

And the finished wool :-

I still have enough of the mixed colours to do another bobbin, but not enough orange to ply with it, so if I do another one it'll have to be plied with the purple (logwood).  I'm quite interested to see the contrast between the two when they're done.

So, the final picture of what I achieved this year :-

Ta daaaa!!

Just have to work out what to do with them now!

The other exciting (for me!) news was that I won a prize!!  One of my Ravelry teams (DIY and Dye) had a draw at the end of each week and I won the third week!  My prizes were $10 to spend online (I chose a couple of knitting patterns - a shawl and a cardigan I'd had my eye on for a while) and $30 to spend at a team mate's Etsy store.  She spun some gorgeous black yarn during the Tour, and I'm getting three skeins of that.  It's spun from three different animals : Finn sheep, Gotland sheep (both lambs) and some black alpaca.  This is something new for me because, although black features large in my wardrobe, I've never spun any black fleece.  Can't wait for it to come now!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Spinners' Heaven

First of all, I'd better show you my progress in the Tour de Fleece.  I've been working on two yarns this week.  I started off with some merino that I dyed last year and has been wallowing in my cupboard ever since :-

 They carded up nicely into batts on my drum carder

 and spinning commenced

 Two bobbins were spun :

and plied together :

I have no clue how much wool there is here because I haven't measured it, but it's a happy little skein!

Next came some Ouessant :-

which I dyed using synthetic dyes,

separated the locks into more or less individual colours and carded into batts :

I've spun this extremely thick, for me, as I usually spin fairly thin.  This was sort of done on purpose because this week's challenge for my team on TdF is to spin thicker or thinner than normal, but actually it wasn't really much of a challenge because the wool wanted to be spun thicker anyway!

Just got to ply this now.  It's a bit coarse this wool, and I certainly wouldn't wear it anywhere near my skin.  It would actually make a nice felted bag, but I'd have to dye and spin some more of it as there isn't enough here.

Now for the exciting bit, the bit this post is really supposed to be about . . . on Sunday we went to Le Lot et La Laine wool festival about 3 hours away up in the Lot department.  If you remember, we went two years ago, the first time it was held.  If possible, this year was even better than that, certainly from a spinner's point of view - there was lots of lovely fluff to choose from.  I had to be quite selective (tongue in cheek!) and only bought what I could carry to the car park.  It turns out I can carry quite a bit really!   Are you prepared to be dazzled by lots of pictures of gorgeous fluffiness?  Because here they come :-

This is a gorgeously soft merino fleece from Maco Merinos.  I bought one from them two years ago and was blown away by the quality of the fleece.  As I've almost finished that one I just had to buy another. Actually, it would have been worth the trip if this were all I'd bought.  Look at the crimp on this :-

Can't wait to get my fingers into this lot!

But, as I said, there was much more gorgeous fluff to be acquired, and the stall-holders had been sitting for two days in scorching hot weather, so it would have been rude not to buy more, wouldn't it?

This was some hand-prepped, hand-dyed merino from LamadeLaine.  I had quite a job choosing between all the different batts she had, but in the end that stunning blue won me over.  Then, when she was wrapping it, she got an extra bag and filled it with samples, free! (what a nice lady!)

I can't remember exactly what these all are, but my most educated guess is :-

top row : left, merino; right, mohair mixed with something else
bottom row : left, merino; centre, merino mixed with angora; right, pure angora

Just hope I can do them justice!

This was a mix of mohair, silk, leicester and angora from Spin Span Spun - 74g.

This was a little carrier bag of happiness from Katikolor.  She couldn't remember exactly what she used in this mixture, but who cares, it's beautiful anyway!

Actually, that doesn't look a lot now I've got it all down in print.  Maybe I could have bought more . . . hhhmmmmm?

This festival is held in a beautiful setting - the grounds of a museum, Le Musee de Cuzals.  It would have been nice to get a photo of it but the stalls are spread over quite a large area so it was a bit difficult to get an overview without concentrating on one particular stall.

As you can imagine, all this trekking around in hot weather looking at stalls full of wool and fluff was just a bit too much excitement for Eric.  He had to go and sit in the shade and play his guitar (just until it was time to go to the Cahors Blues Festival - there was something for everyone on this trip!)

I did some spinning and then explored the car park area.  The trees were full of lichen and there were quite a few dead branches on the ground full of the stuff.  Waste not, want not:-

A future dye
So now we have to wait another two years to do it all again!

Today we're setting off in the camper van again and visiting the Mediterranean.  An old school friend of Eric's is on holiday over there so we thought we'd have a little trip and go visit.  See you when we get back!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Pedalling Along Nicely in the TdF


Here are the photos of each day's spinning, a bit boring I know, but it does show my progress through the rainbow.

Day 6 :-

Spinning the Madder
Day 7 :-

Starting the Brazilwood

Day 8 :-

Final colour finished
Then came the plying :-

And today they were joined together in a large yarn cake :-

From the centre, the colours are Purple (Logwood), Blues (Woad), Greens (Dyer's Chamomile overdyed with Woad and Comfrey), Yellow (Fennel), Orange (Onion Skins), Red (Madder), Pink/Violet (Brazilwood).

This was spun using Falkland wool (prepared and hand-dyed from the original fleece) and weighs in at 160g.  I have approx. 485 yards/448m and the thickness is approx. 12 wraps per inch which is sport weight.  For those who don't understand what sport weight is (I didn't either!), it's halfway between 4-ply and double knitting.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

TdF Day 6

Spinning has been happening!  I've managed to get in at least two hours a day so far and my rainbow yarn is progressing well.

Here are the photos up to last night :-

Day 2 

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5
I now only have one more colour to go so it's looking good for getting it all plied and washed by Sunday which is my deadline for having this particular spin finished.

I've also been working on Impala's fleece.  It's taken a lot of processing time to get it to the spinning stage, but it's spinning up really well.  I'm not sure just how much of this I'll have done by the end of the Tour because it won't be long before I run out of rolags and will have to start preparing more.  Progress so far :-

Other news : Rob and Tammy (my neighbours) are buying another three alpacas!  They found a really good deal locally - someone has 3 males that they want to sell.  Actually, they are buying two, the third one comes free because it's been very sick.  Apparently it had eaten some yew, which is poisonous to alpacas.  Luckily the owners realised what had happened very quickly and started treating it, otherwise it would probably have died. They are all around 2 years old and are all intact males so by next year they should be ready to mate.  Oh, and their fleeces look good too!