Tour de Fleece Evangelist

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tour de Fleece is coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (That is not an excessive number of exclamation points.)

Imagine if Christmas and your birthday and Rhinebeck with the most perfect sweater weather (and all the apple cider donuts you could eat, but you didn’t have to wait in the long line, you only had to wait in line behind one person and it was Stephen West) and your favorite vacation were all at once and all lasted a whole month. You feel that warm fuzziness? The excitement? Joy?

That’s what Tour de Fleece feels like to me. I LOVE TOUR DE FLEECE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you’ve never participated, TdF is a handspinning event that takes place during some bike race in France. Spinners all over the world set a goal to spin every day of the bike race and share their progress with the world. My goal is usually to spin at least 15 minutes a day. Some spin on a team, which is focused around a unifying thing such as a specific dyer, a wheel manufacturer, or a shared goal like a sweater spin,¬†and some spin on their own.

My first TdF was in 2011 and this was my very first day of Tour spinning. 8 oz of BFL that I plied with a undyed gray wool for a sweater. You know that thing that happens when you begin something new and have no idea what’s crazy and what’s achievable? Spinning for a sweater 6 months after learning how a wheel works is definitely squarely inside that newby optimism bubble.

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I did knit a wonky short sleeved sweaterish thing from the resulting yarn, but it was dense and unwearable. All photos have been destroyed.

Tour de Fleece is an event of community support. We…ok, I…spend at least as much time scrolling through photos of everyone else’s yarns and sexy bobbin shots as I do spinning. The massive number of spinners sharing their work inspires me to try new techniques, seek out new wools, and use no less than 1.4 billion exclamation points in cheering for friends, new and old.

Admittedly…it’s also about another tiny, small, fun thing…WINNING PRIZES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t think I’ve actually ever won a TdF prize, now that I think of it, but that’s not the point! The point is that every time I post a photo of my spinning I could¬†win a prize and that has been a huge motivator to encourage daily spinning. As proof, here’s some more photos from my first TdF.

Such fond, indelible memories.

I have no idea where any of those yarns/items is now.

However! I spun this during last year’s TdF and am currently knitting amazing mitts with it that I will certainly be wearing during Tour de Fleece 2025.

Ok, but prizes…

I can blah blah blah forever about how amazing TdF is, but I suspect the opportunity to win free wool is a bigger motivator. I’m hosting a team again this year and offering weekly prizes, as well as a grand prize of two custom batts (designed to your specific wooly desires), for spinners working with Knit Spin Farm wool. Full details in the Ravelry thread, but all you have to do is spin and share your amazingness with the world. Even if you only spin a half ounce over the whole tour, you could win – but OMG you are going to want to spin more than that because TOUR DE FLEECE IS THE BEST EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please join us.

PS: I’ll be adding some batts to the Etsy shop on Friday at 8 pm, if you’d like to stock up!

Shop Update tonight!

New batts, yarn, and handspun tags added to Etsy at 8 pm tonight (2/22)!

At 8 pm Eastern tonight (2/22), I’ll be adding batts, self striping yarn, and new handspun tags to the shop.

The yarn is available on two bases:

CORRIEDALE SOCK
Fingering weight, 3 ply
75% Superwash Corriedale/25% Nylon
4 ounces/115 grams
434 yards

TARGHEE SPORT
Sport weight, 4 ply
90% Superwash Targhee/10% Nylon
4 ounces/115 grams
350 yards
Made in the USA

There will be three colorways in the update. Barn Love (4 skeins on Targhee), Wooly Mammoth (6 skeins on Targhee (3 are discounted 100 g skeins), and 2 on Corriedale), and South Island Ocean Hike, below, (7 on Targhee (3 discounted), and 3 on Corriedale).

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I am already preparing yarn for the next update, which I hope will be in mid-March. I sold out of the green colorway, County Clare, at a vending event and I’m craving green, so there will be more soon. I also intend to add a Superwash Targhee/Nylon fingering base.

Also new for this update are handspun tags made from thick scrapbooking paper and strung with cotton string. They come in sets of 10 with unique, adorable or sophisticated prints including tacos, pineapples, and beaches.

There will be batts in the update as well, and a few are pictured below. Thank you for your support and please let me know if you have any questions!

Self-Striping Experiments!

For the love of stripes!!

I’m addicted. There’s no way around it. I started dying self-striping sock yarn, and it has taken over my brain. It’s such a different way of combining colors than I am used to from blending batts, and the process has been lots of fun.

I mean, like some of the process. The time I warped 750 yards of yarn incorrectly and had to unwind it all kind of stunk. And that other time when I was over-ambitious and had to ball 4 twisted skeins by hand (without using my swift or ball winder) wasn’t great either.

But, now I have a process. And an understanding that prepping, dying, and reskeining this yarn requires unimpeded unitasking. And also Bill – the calmest person on earth – has decided “yarn touching” (helping me reskein the dyed yarn) is about the most fun a dude can have at a warping board.

If you aren’t familiar with how self-striping yarn is dyed, here are the basics… Any given single stripe is likely made of up 4-10 yards of yarn. There are a couple of different options for preparing yarn to be dyed in long lengths. I use a warping board – a tool used by weavers – to create a large loop about 20 yards around. Then, I tie off lengths that tell me where each color will be dyed and dye each section by immersion. After rinsing and drying, the yarn is put back on the warping board, and Bill helps me reskein it.

So far, I’ve got three colorways on two bases – a fingering weight Corriedale/Nylon and a sport weight Targhee/Nylon. I’m open to exploring new bases and am interested in what you enjoy – or don’t. The colorways are…

County Clare, based on a trip I took to Ireland with Bill’s extended family in the early Aughts.

Barn Love is inspired by the colors of my barn.

Finally, Woolly Mammoth was dyed to match the quilt on our bed – a large quilt with wool batting made with pieces of old clothing.

The yarns will be introduced when I vend at the Knitting Pipeline Retreat in February, and hopefully available online shortly after that. I’m starting a little slowly because I want to get to know the yarn bases before I dive too deep. But, I see lots of fun dye days…and reskeining days…ahead of me!