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2014 Tour de Fleece competition

This past Saturday marked the first day in this year’s Tour de Fleece race on Ravelry. I was good this year and only joined 2 teams versus the 4 to 6 I have done in the past. I also decided to pace myself and just spin for a few hours everyday on one or more tools.

My primary fiber for the race is the Cambridge Fiber pack from Louet. This year I am spinning all of the fibers in their natural state and may have my friend dye a few of them but that isn’t a definite. For fun the new to me fibers which are in 8oz packages are being split into two 4oz sets. One set is being spun with a long draw method and one is being spin finer and semi-worsted. The difference in the two spinning methods is quite noticeable thus far. I have spun 8oz of Jacob Sliver and 8oz of Perendale sliver thus far. Shetland is on the horizon for later in the week. These are all being spun on my “workhorse” wheel the Louet S15.
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My Russian spindles are also getting into the race competition but of course this tool is for finer yarn. The project this week is cobweb lace weight paco-vicuna for a potential customer. For the race I started a new spindle of fiber that I can combine with the yarn I made last week. The 2 ply needs to be created prior to Sunday (washed and dried) to show to its potential owner. Hoping to accomplish this by Thursday as I have a big market coming up all day on Saturday so I’m anticipating being mentally and physically wiped out that evening.

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Teaching a spinning class

This past Saturday I taught my first drop spindle class of 2014.  I taught this method twice last year and then somehow let teaching get away from me.  The class was held at the Recycled Lamb in Golden, Colorado and I had a total of 5 students.  We spent 2 hours learning how to draft fibers, thigh spin, spin on a drop spindle and then review fiber tools.  The next class will be 3 hours so that my students spin a decent amount of a single ply yarn and then we can 2 ply it so they have a small skein to show for their class period.  As with any process the more you engage in it the better one can tweak areas to make the process better.  Even though I was a bit nervous about teaching others once we started talking about fiber I found my groove.

Things are a bit slow on the production front from last week for several reasons.  Primarily I received a record number of 7 sales last week which required packaging and shipping.  Also I had to prep for the spinning class and get goody bags together for my students.  The second set of goody bags was packaged for the Horseshoe Market in July and given my schedule I am just going to mail the items to the event versus attempting to drop them off this week.  The college kid will be assisting in labeling packages which should help me get the 50 bags out the door sooner.  I did manage to finish knitting one summer hat and spin a single ply of some merino/silk last week plus there are the 2 skeins finished earlier last week.

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I still have knitting and spinning projects in the works this week and will have pictures for you a bit later.

Spindle spun Buffalo yarn

Very excited to be coming to the end of the process of making my newest buffalo yarn.   The first half ounce of buffalo fiber was spun into a single on the Russian spindle.  I then found a dark purple wool crepe yarn from Habu to ply with the buffalo a few weeks ago.  I spent part of my Sunday combining the two yarns onto a plying spindle and just need to make a plying disc this week to ply the two yarns together.IMG_3401[1]   IMG_3466[1]Buffalo Fiber    IMG_3467[1] Habu wool yarn

I have learned from this process that my “plying” spindle is very heavy and I might want to get something a bit smaller.  My hand/wrist ached a bit from combining the threads onto the spindle.  I found myself taking lots of breaks from the project just to give my wrist a break.  Not sure of the yardage as of yet but there is quite a bit of yarn on the plying spindle.  It is nice to see the pieces of the project coming together and know that I am creating something special.

IMG_3472[1]               IMG_3473[1] yarns ready to be plied.

Works in Progress

Last week I made a commitment to be more productive with my hand spinning of yarns and knitting of items which was based on my small supply of material to sell.  I am happy to say that my production schedule is working and I completed 2 skeins of yarn and 1 hat within a week’s time frame.  These 2 lovely skeins were spun into 2 ply yarns that still need to be measured but I’m thinking they are DK to Worsted weight yarns.  The cabled lace hat also has been finished and was a challenge because I don’t particularly like cable needles.IMG_3474[1]               IMG_3475[1]

I love the shine factor in both of these yarns and am having fun going through my stash of dyed rovings.  There was a time towards the end of 2013 that I found myself short on dyed fibers but somehow that has been remedied (shopping sprees).  This week I am on target for 4 skeins of yarn as I plied 2 yarns on Sunday and they are drying this week.  The dyed Louet Fiber yarns are on the menu for this week.  These rovings will have to be Navajo plied to keep the colors from being muddy which requires spinning a fine single so I may just do one of them.  I’m really trying to boost the number of worsted and DK weight yarns in the inventory so I plan on spinning more of my other rovings than the Louet group.

On the needles is a new hat being made from the yarn I won at the Salida Fiber Festival last year.  I won 3 skeins of a linen/cotton based yarn in pretty spring colors (green, yellow and peach).  The yarns are being turned into hats with a broken rib stitch pattern but using a 2×2 ribbing.  I had started to make a cowl using some kettle dyed yarn I received as a gift but am not liking the look of it with the color changes.  This yarn has short color changes and knitting it in the round is creating a very muddled mess of colors.  Thinking this yarn will make a better scarf than cowl and as it is a cotton/cashmere blend it deserves to be in a special project.  My inventory only has 3 cowls in it and most are very warm so the search is on for the right lightweight yarn in a good color scheme to make cowls for the summer.

Spinning Lace weight yarn

I am loving my little Ashford Traveler spinning wheel.  Still have a lot to learn about rations and such but it is allowing me to spin fine yarn rather easily.  I combed about 3oz of the Romney fleece with a dog comb and spun a fine single on the Ashford.  After chatting with a member of the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild I decided to try my hand at Navajo plying the single.  It turned out pretty well even if it is a bit over twisted but I managed to keep the yarn thin as a 3 ply.  Not sure if I will keep the yarn in its ivory color or have my friend dye it for me.  As I have about 5 lbs. of fiber left I’m fairly certain I can get enough yardage to make a shawl!  The Wensleydale was made into a 2 ply fingering weight yarn using my hand carders to open up the locks for spinning.  It is also an ivory color yarn but has more nepps than the Romney due to the sheep not being coated and using the hand carders for fiber prep.

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Wensleydale 2 ply yarn

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Romney 3 ply yarn

This month I also spun the dyed Leceister wool from the Louet pack and Navajo plied it to keep the color consistent.  I finished 2 hats (one for the Recycled Lamb shop and one for me).  I’m still working on my fingerless gloves and the table runner but as they are intricate lace projects progress is rather slow.  It has been a productive month thus far and I’m enjoying spinning from the fleece for my yarns.

Holiday season

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family. November sales were also my highest ever and explains my exhaustion. This weekend marks my last craft fair for the year and I’m hopeful about selling most of my finished items (hats/scarves).

As the year is coming to a close my first business decision has been to not restock fiber till the new year. I find myself thinking more and more like a business person versus a hobbiest as time goes by. Nonetheless I still have plenty of fiber inventory to sell especially my alpaca fiber. The stock of alpaca just may go on sale so that it finds it way to new homes. Projects include finishing a cowl and a lace doily so that I can start to knit a shawl with beads (ohhh!)

So looking forward to Christmas and having the college kid home for a few weeks. What are your holiday plans?

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Holidays and Spending time at the ranch

This week was a holiday week in the U.S. – Thanksgiving to be exact.  I have had 4 days off from work and have enjoyed sleeping in and just relaxing.  Went over to a friend’s parents house for Thanksgiving dinner and had a great time eating and laughing with everyone.  On Saturday, my mom took me to the mineral spring baths in Idaho Springs, CO along with a massage.  It was a very relaxing time and then we went to the salon to get our hair done.  Hot water and black hair do not mix well so the stylist was a definite treat for me.

Although I slept a lot this week I did get lots of things accomplished.  For one the mohair/silk lace scarf is complete – yeah!!!  It needs to be blocked but at least I have finished knitting it.  Still working with my comb and hackle set and learning the ins and outs of fiber prep.  Suri alpaca definitely does not need to go on these combs – I am thinking of just flicking the ends and spinning the locks that way.  I prepped 4 oz of the tri-breed wool fleece and spun it into a lovely fingering weigh 2 ply yarn (see photos).  While at the ranch today I prepped 2 oz of the Lincoln wool locks and have started to spin them on the wheel.  My wheel has been in use this week and made the lovely tri-breed fleece yarn.  I took the remnants of the fiber from the combs and used my hand cards to turn them into rolags.  This fiber is being spun on the Navajo Spindle and should be done sometime this week.

Not only did I finish an entire skein of yarn but I managed to drop off new yarn to Wild Yarns as planned.  I am also starting to prep for the Holiday Artisan Boutique in 2 weeks.  All of my knit items are labeled and ready to sell.  There are 2 scarves that need to get blocked along with mohair/silk shawl.  While going through my stash I found the 2 woven scarves I made earlier this year and have priced them for the boutique too.  So far I am keeping my promise of labeling the hand spun yarns as I finish them.  One day I will truly inventory it all but I feel that as long as it makes it to a store to sell it makes more room in the house for more fiber!

My new scarf is a lacy creation using Malabrigo lace yarn which is a 1 ply baby merino wool yarn.  The yarn is a blend of black and grays varying in shades throughout the skein.  It is so soft and I am using the “Nancy 

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Lace Scarf” pattern to create it.  Enjoy the photos and I hope everyone had an enjoyable week.