Sunday, 14 July 2013

Crazy Tour de Fleece Challenge

This year I decided to set a simple TDF goal. For the last two I have spun up a sweater's worth of fibre and plied it as my goal.

The challenge this year is to spin yarn fine enough to make a Shetland shawl, to practise / spin for half an hour every day. I want to keep the goal realistic as life often has a way of interfering with my spinning.

I ordered fine tops from Jamieson and Smith as I am not a 'fibre preparation' kind of girl. Every time I attempt this, it is either too much for the hip injury or it activates my allergies.

Gorgeousness arrived on my doorstep. I weighed it out into 10g bundles and could not wait to start.

Next, Grace, my Ashford Tradional was cleaned down and given a service so she would be ready and waiting at the starting post.

Day one  arrived and I was off. I started by sampling some singles to see what kind of fineness I needed. That is turquoise sewing cotton in the middle with a 2ply above and the single below.

The first half hour and I thought I had it perfect ....

Day 2 and I was moving along swimmingly into Day 3 and 4 and life had intervened and I was not focused on spinning much.

On the morning of Day 5 I woke up to the fact that the single was not as thin as I needed it to be and was back at the starting post again. The bobbin on the left is the restart.

Day 6 and Day 7 and the size of the single was still nagging in the back of my mind but life interfered yet again and I lost focus.

I checked my single agains the first one and it looked good so I continued

and the amount on the bobbin grew.

Day 10 was a rest day and I again found myself thinking about whether I had the right single fineness for what I want to knit. It was awfully fine when I plied 2 singles together.  It was finer than a sample of lace weight yarn that I had so I continued spinning through to Day 12.

One of the ladies on the forum, Dawn, always posts the loveliest collages and inspired us all to play  and create some for ourselves. I looked at this image on Day 13 and looking at it photographed I knew that this single was not right.

Day 13 saw me back at the starting post AGAIN but my perseverance paid off and I managed to get the angel hair single that I do need to knit the shawl.  I switched from spinning from the fold to spinning worsted / semi-worsted and it worked a treat.

and here is a link to a video of me spinning it.

On Day 14 I did a happy dance around the room whooping with delight:) 41 wraps per inch for my 2 plied single which in means the single is 82 wpi and I am blown away by this.

I learnt that even though I had a sample and kept checking it against my single, they were both under tension and looked the same even when they weren't. Because I was aiming for so fine, I could not eyeball it and I only knew I had the weight I wanted once I wrapped it. I wish I had considered this sooner. This is where my spinning inexperience shows.

Below my sample with 2 Jamieson & Smith yarn samples

Left      = 2 ply Shetland Supreme
                (a laceweight yarn)
Middle  = my cobweb 2ply sample
Right    = 1 ply Shetland Supreme
                 (a gossamer weight yarn)

The bobbin on the left is what I am currently spinning and the one on the right is the restart from earlier. What I am currently spinning is half the thickness of the other.

It has taken me 8 and a half hours to spin up my current bobbin and I have spun about 15g of fibre.

Regardless of the frustrations I have experienced with this project I have learnt so much. I love Tour de Fleece for the encouragement and the cheering along in the forums and I am grateful to be part of a lovely group of enthusiastic spinners. They all helped me to continue on when I really was thinking of retiring form the race.

Thanks y'all!


  1. I'm in AWE of how thin you spun this fiber! It's beautiful :)

    1. Thanks, Tina. I am a bit stunned myself:)

  2. I love your dedication and perseverance. Makes me feel like Mrs. Happy go Lucky! Big hug. Sue

  3. I watch the Tour, and do wool tapestry. This year am using larger gauge tapestry canvas, so am already halfway through. I love my annual armchair trips through France!Sari

    1. Your tapestry sounds interesting:)

  4. You've certainly had a frustrating time, but I agree that the Tour gives lots of encouragement. Well done on your achievement!

  5. Thanks, Shiela. It has been worth all the effort. I am busy swatching with the sample yarn now and it is lovely to knit with. only another 4 bobbins to spin:)