Tour de Fleece 2020

This year I made a more realistic plan for my Tour de Fleece challenge, in hopes for fulfilling it in 100%.
As I described in my previous post, I already set several goals for myself at the beginning of this month. I knew it was going to be too much, but I wanted to push myself to even more intensive clean-up sessions… and I am very satisfied with how it turned out. I am mostly done with all the five points that I defined, just some packing is left (as my dedicated containers are finally with me, ready to be filled in with all the goodies).

Now, it is time to challenge my spinning skills. For the 2020 edition of the Tour de Fleece, I have decided to finally move forward and practice two techniques, which I have never tried, and have wanted to learn for quite some time now. I want to go beyond the three-ply yarn and feel comfortable in spinning thick consistent singles.

Hawser plying

First, I am going to learn Hawser plying method, and for that I chose my the least liked fibre I have ever worked with: Malabrigo Nube.

In previous years, I strived to make friends with that fibre but it did not go well. Initially, I spun straight from the commercial top, which was a disaster. Then I tried to split the top into thinner strips and pre-draft, which was far better; however, I still had problems with keeping the thickness of the yarn consistent.
This time I prepared a very lofty cakes, made of thin, pre-drafted strips, which I plan to spin into singles and then into two-ply, and then into four-ply.

When preparing the cakes couple of months ago, I thought of a project, with which I would focus on keeping the colour sections aligned. I tried various techniques for that two years ago, also with Malabrigo Nube, but I blended the strips too much to be able to distinguish the colours while spinning. I might try the colour games sometime in the near future. For now, I feel focusing on new techniques is what I will be enjoying more.

Wrapped singles

The challenge related to the thick singles is going to be more complex. I chose Shetland for the singles, which I carded on my drum carder into two batts, 76 grams each:

and then separated those into rovings:

The fibre was gifted to me by my dear friend Sandi (who brought me scents of my loved Michigan’s UP with that package). It is airy, fluffy and yet soft fibre, and since it is my first Shetland to work with, I am very curious about how it is going to spin, and I cannot wait to begin.

On the other hand, I am aware of the fact that drum-carded Shetland is perhaps not the best material to use when learning how to spin consistent fat singles, but I do not have any long fibres at hand so I am going to try to spin as thick as I only can and see how it goes.

The Shetland is not the only fibre I will be working with. As the title of this section suggests, I want to incorporate practicing the fat singles spinning into learning how to spin wrapped singles.

The second fibre, for the wraps, comes from the Finnsheep called Jackie. The fibre was a gift from my dear friend Callie, who is also a Michigan lady, and who owned the sheep at that time.

In fact the yarn is ready. Although, it is not well done by any means. The story behind that hank deserves a separate post. Enough said, there were tears of disappointment and lots of stress involved on the way… everything because I neglected the singles on my bobbins for way too long. The twist setlled and I wanted to find a remedy to that by overtwisting the singles, then I did not wind the yarn tightly enough on the bobbin so when the end slipped into the loosly wound yarn it was impossible to find it and I needed to cut the yarn, which happened multiple times… oh, was I exhausted.

The yarn is nothing I would use for a project, and I have been keeping it only to remind me about the mistakes I made while working on that (and also for the purpose of sharing my story here on my blog so anyone who reads it, could learn from my mistakes). When I thought about projects for the Tour de Fleece this year, and found the wrapped singles materials, it appeared to me that I could try giving that broken yarn the second life.

Since I am planning to write a separate blog entry on my adventure with that Finnsheep fibre spinning, I only show the two-ply together with the Shetland to give an idea of what the yarn will look like:

I am not at all sure if it is possible to get a nice wrapped singles with the fibre/yarn choice I made but I will not find out until I try so I will go for it. If the Finnsheep yarn will not look good together with the Shetland fibre, I might drop the idea of the wrapping. The hank will then wait for its time.

One more thought at the end.
While preparing for writing this post, I went back to one of my favourite books about spinning, ‘The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs’ by Sarah Anderson, and re-read all the sections related to spinning fat singles and slubs, and it was just then when I realized that Sarah organised the sections in that particular order intentionally: slub yarns before the fat singles yarns. Therefore, I think I will add one step to this year’s challenge, just to have a bit of a practice with the slubs before I jump to the singles. For the slubs, I do not have the fibre chosen yet, though. It simply seems right to approach the practice sessions as suggested in the book so I will find some material to work with within couple of days.

That is all for my plans for the next month. Off I go to my spinning wheel.

All the best to you, dear reader!

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