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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!


  1. So many goodies! I'd love to go to a festival like that. Can you get Rambouillet fleeces? I read they are able to live outdoors unlike other merinos (at least here I believe they are stabled, but then there are only about 3 registered breeders of them in the entire country that I can find)

    1. I haven't come across any Rambouillet fleeces here, I certainly didn't see any at the festival, so don't know if they're available or not. I've never spun it before - is it very soft?

    2. Very soft, very bouncy, very nice. ;-)

  2. For me, your hand dyed fleece looks far the loveliest. I think you must have a great eye for colour combinations. Any tips for dyeing in the wool? My fleece seemed pretty sticky when I scoured and tried to alum mordant a small amount to dye. Haven't tried spinning it yet.

    1. I'm actually not very good with colour! I think when you're using natural dyes they just all seem to go together. As far as dyeing fleece goes, I just wash it in very hot water (and take it out before it starts to cool) in zipped laundry bags, then mordant. It stays in the laundry bag the whole time to try and keep the lock structure. Was your fleece sticky after scouring, or just after mordanting?