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Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Tour de Fleece 2019

This post is a little overdue - I'm neglecting my blog again!!  Yes, I did take part in the Tour de Fleece again this year.  I think I'd find it hard not to.  I even managed to spin on my spindle when we were away in Switzerland for 5 days.

This was what I'd managed to prepare before the Tour started.  At the top is a bucketful of my home-grown cotton, the purple on the left is a blend of merino/Falkland and kid mohair dyed with logwood chips, the tub in the middle is leftover kid mohair (logwood dyed), the yellow on the right is merino dyed with apple leaves and twigs, and the other two are mohair dyed with madder.  The one on the left is dyed with the water from pre-rinsing the roots (I just couldn't bring myself to throw it away as there was lots of colour in there), and the one on the right is the first dip in the madder solution.

So, I started with the purple rolags, this was a nice blend and spun really well.  It was about 80g I think.

For the second ply I blended some of the kid mohair (madder and logwood) on my carders to make some two-coloured rolags.  I just love that pretty pink at the bottom!

The two bobbins ready to ply :

and the finished skein.  The toilet roll holder shows how much of the purple was left after plying . . . not much!

Next up, I started spinning the yellow rolags (merino dyed with apple leaves and twigs)

There actually wasn't a lot of this, maybe 50 to 60g, so I rooted around in my cupboard and found these rolags for a 2nd ply.  This is some merino I dyed a few years ago and haven't gotten around to spinning until now.

These were a bit "neppy" to spin, and I started off picking them out every time I came across one, then I thought, oh what the heck, it'll add a bit of texture!

Unusually for me, I prepped some more fibre to make a 3rd ply.  I normally just stick to 2-ply (unless I'm chain plying).  So, this is some Falkland dyed with dyer's chamomile :

At this point, I started to wonder if this yarn was going to work.  The one on the left (the merino dyed with lichen and dock seeds) was so very different.

I plied them together anyway, and was actually very surprised how well they did go together.

By now we were entering the 2nd week of the TdF and I started to spin my cotton.  I haven't spun any for quite a long time, and it took me a while to get going again.

I spent a few days on this, and then realized our Swiss trip was rolling up faster than I'd thought, and I didn't have anything prepared to take with me.  I'd already dyed some merino in the madder bath, so I combed that for spinning on my spindle.  Incidentally, I strained the madder roots out from the previous dye bath and put them in the blender with a bit of water to break them up a bit more.  That way I thought I'd get more colour from them.

We were visiting family in Switzerland because our nephew was having his 40th birthday, plus he got married in June so he decided to have one big party to celebrate both events. After the party we stayed with brother-in-law and his wife in their chalet half way up a mountain.

This is the view from their terrace - it's a bit hazy over the mountains so they weren't very visible.

I managed to spin all of the fibre by the morning we were due to leave, so I took our travelling day as one of my "rest days".

When we got home I combed up some Falkland.  This had been dyed in the madder bath after the merino came out.  So, including the "rinsing water dye", this was the fourth lot of fibre to be dyed with the madder roots.  This was to be a 2nd ply to go with the merino.

Ready to ply :

Oooops!  While I was plying, I couldn't understand where the strange scraping noise was coming from, or why the tension was all over the place, until I realized the end had fallen off the bobbin!  Luckily, the yarn didn't get too tangled and I was able to transfer it to another bobbin to finish plying.  Some of my Ashford bobbins are 30 years old this year, so it's not really surprising they're feeling their age!

Then, for the final sprint to the finish line, it was back to the cotton.

I plied what I'd managed to spin on the last day of the Tour.  I only had one bobbin of cotton, so I made it into a centre-pull ball and plied from each end.  Not so difficult a task if you keep your thumb through the centre of the ball so it doesn't knot up inside.

The cotton was finally dyed with woad from the garden (our Ravelry team is DIY and Dye, which means everything has to be prepared from raw fleece, with no commercially-prepared fibres being allowed, and then it has to be dyed.  Well, it can be dyed beforehand if you like, but at the end everything must have been dyed).

So, here's the finish line photo :

The final details are :-

The yellow is a 3-ply mix of merino/Falkland, one strand dyed with dyer's chamomile, one ply with lichen and red dock seeds, and the 3rd with apple leaves and twigs.
150g, 357 yards/329m, 14 wpi.
This was the only one that was 3-ply, the rest are all 2.

The pink/purple is merino/Falkland/kid mohair dyed with logwood chips and madder.
130g, 256 yards/236m, 14 wpi.

Pink was merino/Falkland dyed with madder.
60g, 159 yards/147m, 12 wpi.

And the blue was my home-grown cotton dyed with woad.
40g, 159 yards/146m, 18 wpi.

So, the end of my 7th (?) Tour.  Not sure about this, I may have joined in with another team the year before.

Sorry this is such a long post - next time I'll try and remember to post maybe at the end of each week.  If you've persevered down to here, go and make yourself a gin and tonic . . . you deserve it!

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