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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015 - Week One

Now that we're into week 2 of the TdF I can show you what I achieved last week.

As usual, we were set 3 or 4 challenges which we could partake in or not, as we wished. The ones I chose were spinning from the cloud (take the raw fleece and pull it apart so it was a big fluffy cloud and spin from that), and acid dyeing in the grease.  That means you don't wash your fleece in hot water and soap to remove the lanolin before dyeing - just dump the lot into a pan, add water and a little dish detergent, then sprinkle on the dyes you want to use.

For the first project, I dyed some Falkland with the madder roots I harvested this year. The first dip came out really well with quite a lot of colour :-

and here is a comparison showing the first, second and third dips into the dye bath.

Then I made up another dyepot and put in some alpaca.  The photo shows the first dip on the right, and subsequent dips to the left.  Alpaca takes the dye quite differently, more muted than wool.

This lot was fluffed into a cloud and spun into a single.  I didn't get a full bobbin because I ran out of two of the different shades and didn't want the effect of the colours to change.

Incidentally, these were all solar dyed in the greenhouse in large glass jars.

I transferred the single from the bobbin onto a toilet roll tube because we have another challenge coming up in week three which will use up a number of singles - a multi-ply yarn.

The remaining shades of alpaca and Falkland were then used for another single, but this time I added some more alpaca dyed with Kool Aid (this is grape flavoured) :-

and some merino, also dyed with Kool Aid (smells delicious!).  This was microwaved with cherry and orange flavour.

Again, this was fluffed into a cloud and spun.  I really like how these colours came together.

This one wouldn't fit onto a toilet roll tube, so I used a kitchen roll one instead - fits much better.

These last two were set aside for the multi-ply challenge in week 3.

Next, I decided to spin the mohair that I received in the swap we did recently.  This was dyed by Karen in Denmark using acid dyes.  My plan for this is to make a boucle yarn (one of the later challenges).  This will be used to make the loops.

It pulled apart into a cloud beautifully and was amazingly easy to spin.  I could have carried on spinning this all week, but unfortunately ran out too soon!  I need to buy some raw mohair and dye some more.

I didn't put this onto a tp tube - I found that far too messy - I got into an awful fix with the last one.  This was made into a centre-pull ball and is sitting waiting for the core yarn to be spun and then a binder.  It has a lovely sheen to it that doesn't really show up on the photo.

The last project for the week was to acid dye in the grease.  I know I have a large bag of Ouessant fleece somewhere . . . but where is a mystery at the moment!  Instead I found this sack which I honestly don't remember ever seeing before (old age brings forgetfulness obviously!).  I can't understand why I would have an Australian feed sack with a fleece inside!

Inside was this very nice looking fleece - really quite soft and with a very fine crimp.  The staple length is between 2.5" and 3".  I have no clue what this is or where it came from.  I don't think I bought it, so someone must have given it to me.

I separated out about 100g and put it into the dye pot followed by some water and washing up liquid.  Next I sprinkled on various colours of dye (just sprinkled the dry powder on top of the fleece) and heated it for about half to three-quarters of an hour.  I think the colours took quite well, but the yellows all but disappeared.

I fluffed this into a cloud again and spun.  It's a bit thick and thin and lumpy, but I think that gives it character.

Progress shot!

Today I made it into a centre-pull ball and plied it back on itself using both ends of the yarn.

I'll probably skein and wash it tomorrow and hope (fingers crossed!) that all the colour doesn't wash out!

So, not a bad result for the first week, and more interesting challenges to come!


  1. I kept this page open for a week and kept forgetting to comment! So much lovelyness, the spinning and dyeing. You didn't have problems with the mohair shedding and flying all over the place?

  2. Thank you! No, the mohair behaved itself perfectly and was a delight to spin.