Ah July, that time of year where Kansas City sees heat indexes in high 100s and the only time we get a break from the humidity is when the thunder storms roll in. It has also turned into a month of the year where I surround myself with wool roving every free moment I have.
Tour de Fleece is an annual spinning challenge that coincides with Tour de France. Isn’t that clever? Spinning wheels, bike wheels spin. I would wager whoever came up with the idea is just as easily amused as I am.
It’s different from other spinning events that I have participated in. You’re not really competing with anyone, and you don’t have to turn in how much yarn you’ve spun. The idea is to challenge yourself: spin using a different technique than your go-to, spin through all of your stash, or maybe you spin almost exclusively on a wheel and you want to get better on a spindle (that was me last year).
This year I’m “sprinting,” which, if we’re talking about the Tour de France, are the really fast bikers. The best of them win green jerseys. When we’re talking Tour de Fleece, it means that we’re attempting to spin very large quantities of yarn.
I have two pounds of merino that I’m hoping to spin into enough yarn to make myself a sweater. It’s a New Year’s resolution of mine, and I’m so proud that I’m tackling it now rather than forgetting about it until I’m making resolutions for 2019. While I’m not a beginner spinner, this is a brand new challenge for me. I’ve read tips about spinning sweater quantities all over, and understandably the main concern is consistency. Wouldn’t it be awful if your handspun, handknit sweater gained a few more inches around the bottom just because your spinning changed a little over a month?
A trick I’ve used before for consistency, and really like, is an index card with yarn taped to it. Seriously. I had a heck of a time spinning a true worsted yarn for a specific hat, and you know what I did? I took a 6″ length of commercial worsted weight yarn, split the plies in half down about 3″, took three pieces of tape, and stuck it to an index card.
With it, I was able to compare it to my ply, making sure it was an appropriate size to make a worsted two-ply yarn, and it worked!
And I totally said I was going to do that for this project. Now I’m not. The merino is beautiful, but it is gray and I’m not going to dye it. I decided I really want that handspun character to be what’s exciting about it, so it’s going to have slubs and it’s going to be thick and thin in places.
“But you just told me your spinning’s going to change,” you say, and you’re right. So I’m trying a new trick:
I’m labeling my bobbins in the order I’ve spun them in. The theory behind this is if I ply my first bobbin with my last, and so on inward, it should even out the changes in my spinning that have happened over the course of time.
So please stay tuned to hear if this works or not. I promise if my sweater turns out ridiculous, I’ll still post a picture. Any one else out there spinning for Tour de Fleece in the absurd heat of the summer? I’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, I need to get back on the wheel, near a cold drink and a fan.