Tour de Fleece

I have a confession to make, and it's a whopper. A few years ago (three years to be exact), I dropped A LOT of money on spinning equipment. A LOT. It was no secret, really. My husband accompanied me to Hillcreek Fiber Studio to buy my first spinning wheel (an Ashford Traditional). He kept his mouth shut when I picked out bobbins, a lazy kate, spinning books, and a hand turned niddy noddy. My family knew about my new spinning equipment. My mother-in-law even came out to admire my new girl, strapped snuggly in the back seat of the Prius, ready for the journey home. I signed up for a fiber of the month club and bought more fiber from my LYS. I was ready to spin.

And then I did something ugly. I quietly organized my spinning stuff, admired my wheel, hugged my growing collection of roving, then put everything in the closet. I was too busy. I was designing patterns AND working on my website AND chasing my toddler AND making a new baby AND AND AND... I always had excuses. Good ones, too, I thought. All the while, I was dreaming about handspun yarn but not giving my wheel nearly the attention she deserved. She came out of the closet occasionally, but not enough. My drop spindle was still getting action, but my wheel needed more love. A LOT MORE.

This year, while digging through my stash, I made a resolution. No more excuses. I WILL SPIN YARN ON MY WHEEL! And what better time to brush up on your spinning skills than Tour de Fleece?

If you do things with wool, you've probably heard of Tour de Fleece. It is a spectacularly fun online event that challenges spinners from all over the world to spin every day that the Tour de France rides. This year that means you spin every day from July 2 to July 24, with a few rest days along the way. The spin-along has a very simple concept:

Challenge yourself.
Have fun.

Spinners join teams, post progress photos, chat about fiber/yarn, compete for prizes, and spin, spin, spin. It was the perfect opportunity to open my spinning closet and dust off my investment.

I joined two wildcard teams. First, I chose Owl Cat Designs TDF because I love her designs, and she offered an extra event. As a Grand Prix challenge, participants must knit one Owl Cat design from yarn spun during TDF. For my Grand Prix challenge, I've chosen to knit the 2-Hour Mitts.

My second team (it's totally kosher to join more than one team...I checked) is Southern Cross Fibre TDF. I had one BIG reason for joining this team. My stash. I have a KILLER stash of Southern Cross Fibre from that long-ago fiber club experiment. The fiber is beautiful and I wanted to spin it. 

On July 1, I set up my spinning spot, dug through my beautiful stash, watched a few Youtube videos, and fell asleep reading The Ashford Book of Handspinning. I was nervous. This might sound silly, but I was seriously stressed about screwing up my lovely bags of fiber. What if I mangled them? Or worse, what if I could spin beautiful yarn, but I hated spinning?

Turns out, there was no reason to worry. I woke up the next morning at 4:30AM. (my baby is an early bird) and started spinning. I snapped some pictures, looked at the forums for my team (turns out, not that many people spin before 6AM), discovered the "handspun project" section of Ravelry (was that ALWAYS there?), and planned the rest of my day around spinning. Sorry, baby Dea, Mommy needs some wheel time.

In the eight days since Tour de Fleece began, I've been spinning every available moment. This is what I've accomplished so far:

This is my very first finished skein of handspun completed on my wheel! Until now, I've spun a few ugly singles, but this is the real deal. Wonky, sure. Yarn, yes! This is 126 yards of 100% Polwarth wool. It is a 2-ply called "Beyond Time" from Southern Cross Fibre. I'm pretty darned proud of it.

My next skein (oh, yes, there is more) is a sport weight beauty. 240 yards of 2-ply SW Merino called "Elixir" also from Southern Cross Fibre. 

Right now I'm working on another 2-ply yarn. This is a Blue Faced Leicester called "Marine Predator," obviously from Southern Cross Fibre. I'm especially jazzed about this yarn. I filled three extra twisty bobbins and plyed them up. This one is ready for a bath and skeining!

So far, Tour de Fleece has been exhilarating! Goodbye, guilt about expensive spinning equipment. Hello, beautiful yarn and fun spinning friends! Another unexpected bonus? There is more than one spinner living in my house!