I had only heard of this event a few months ago perhaps in someone’s podcast. I have a vague idea of what the event inspiration Tour De France is. The thought of setting some personal spinning goals and spending most of July treadling my wheels intrigued me.
I decided to participate in two Ravelry forums: Sweets Off the Wheel and Sew Perfect Purls which was a lot of fun. I found it really inspiring looking at all of the fibers and finished skeins people were posting. It was also nice to chat with all people who are just as enthusiastic about fiberarts as me. I made some nice connections sharing and learning with the others in the group.
My goals were to spin 2 sweater quantities of wool (found malabrigo fiber for $12 per 4oz braid on fabulousyarn.com and lost my mind) and 4oz of flax strick. I pretty much did that and also experimented with dyeing raw cotton with fiber reactive dyes.
The plan was to put all of my wheels to use.
Jensen TinaII- spin a strick of flax
Kromski Symphony- spin 12oz of Malabrigo Nube in a fingering/sport chain-plied yarn
Kromski Sonata-combo spin 2 4oz neon braids (1 merino, 1 ramboullet) with a high twist
Ashford Traveler w/ lace flyer- dye some cotton punis (never dyed before) and spin them up.
hand dyed merino from Fierce Fibers on the Kromski Sonata
Malabrego Nube Arco Iris on the Kromski Symphony
Flax strick on the Jensen Tina II
handspun flax skein
I ended up spinning 4 oz white Targhee, 8 oz Fierce fibers 1ply bruised fairy in ramboulett and 1ply bright rainbow merino, 12 oz Malabrigo Nube merino in Arco Iris, mixed skeins of pink/purple cotton/bamboo, 4oz flax strick)
The cotton dyeing was quite the experiment. I learned why it’s essential to scour the cotton with soda ash on high heat. The natural oil cause the cotton to float on the water like marshmallow. The water did not penetrate the mass of fiber until the oil was boiled away.
oily cotton floating in the water
oily water from scouring cotton
The dyeing part was pretty simple. I mixed up some magenta, raspberry, purple in squeeze bottles and got the job done. I even dyed my handspun cotton shawl I crocheted last year.
After that I was worried that I had ruined my punis along with the bamboo fiber I through in. The punis shriveled into little dreadlocks. It became so compacted and matted. With the help of some wooden sticks and a pillow I was able to fluff them up enough to spin.
scoured cotton dreadlock punis
cotton punis fluffed up with sticks
I ran the bamboo through the carder to fluff it up then hand carded it into a cloud. The cotton and bamboo singles were plied together for a slubby but still had a nice drape and sheen.
I stopped measuring yardage a few years ago after discovering I usually spin a fingering weight yarn by default and 4 oz of wool just about always ends up being about 450yards after washing. The Targhee may end up shrinking more because of the crimp.
Today I counted my flax thinking surely it would be different because well it’s different than wool. Nope. The 4oz skein ended up being 450.7 yards. The last time I measured cotton it had like 9% shrinkage after washing.
With all that said I spun
6-4oz wool skeins =2,700 yards
1- 4oz flax skein=450 yards
The cotton and cotton/bamboo skeins(completely different weight/yardage ration)- 2oz gives about 500 yards unwashed. I’m just gonna say 700yards
Total approximate yardage=3,850yards
handspun cotton and bamboo skeins
2017 Tour De Fleece Results
basket of skeins awaiting their final soak