Sunday, 21 July 2013

Tour De Fleece/France 2013

Chez Sassy has been a hive of industry over the last past three weeks........ 

Well one half of the household has been beavering away creating lots of lovely yarn and clean fleeces, the other half has been watching the race unfold and very little else!!!

The Tour de France represents a special place in Mr S and my relationship, for it was during the race way back in 1987 that we had our first and only proper date - July 21st to be exact!  He took me out to dinner (we both had garlic mushrooms!!!!!) and the rest as they say is history!.

Certainly the coverage of the Tour has improved - from a half hour of highlights to almost full coverage of the entire race....  Not sure whether that is a good or bad thing - for me it means that I can spin without fear of interruption, but it also means that a large part of the day is taken up in just watching TV.  Actually sport is our major TV viewing - don't do soaps, quizzes or anything that is featured as essential viewing.....  We have eclectic tastes and are generally very particular about our viewing - currently boycotting the golf as Muirfield  doesn't allow women members!!! Sexist or what - they employ women, but women aren't allowed on the course!

So to the other part of the Tour, the Tour de Fleece - an event held on Ravelry, in which you challenge yourself in the fine art of spinning.  This year I have been co-ordinating a Team for the Blissful Woolmakers which has been fun!  The only rule for this team is that all spinning must be done on a Bliss spinning wheel - so a small select team!

I have spun over 3000 yards on my Bliss in three weeks and haven't really made any impact on the stash at all!

Two days stand out - the first individual time trial - we used this day to spin for the same time as the riders the longest singles!  This is when I found out that I treadle really quite slowly - I average 53 a minute compare to others who go at over 100!  Anyway I managed a very creditable 96 metres of white Shetland.

The second was Stage 18 - the day the riders went up Alpe d'Huez twice, when I challenged myself to master long draw - no  cheating and slipping in some short draw!  Well I have to say it wasn't my best spinning ever - but I did managed to let go and pull the fibres out in what I may say was quite a stylish manner.

This was carded Corriedale, in a particularly lurid pink and lime green with added Angelina and this is what I managed during the entire television coverage of the stage - not a huge amount, but it was done using a long draw.  Yes I know I am labouring the point, but it really does frustrate me that I haven't master this technique yet.

I couldn't wait and plied up my efforts straight away and yes if you look closely there are some thick bits, but they held together!

Here are some of the yarns I have spun during the Tour

Eric - a double dose of SCF Polwarth 1040 yards, 2 plied.

Wildcat - a 60 gram sample of World of Wool Lynx - 272 yards, 2 plied

Aquamarine Sari - from a Loop Bullseye Bump - not sure of the yardage, forgot to write it down - dumbo!

Dark Wings - my take on a SCF colourway - 100 grams, 275 yards, N-plied

Light Wings, so called because the wrapping split and I lost a lot of colour (i.e. same as Dark Wings, but lighter)  100 grams, 300 yards, N-plied

A small sample skein of BFL and silk that I oven dyed.

80 grams of Polwarth - to finish of a small shawl....

And just for relaxation in the evenings, because it has far too hot to knit - some silk spun on Demelza

Need to find something special for tonight - the first evening stage on The Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  Chris Froome is the second British winner (Bradley Wiggins won last year) and will Mark Cavendish win for the fifth consecutive year?  I will have my fingers crossed, well not really as you can't spin with crossed fingers!!! 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Fleeces here, there and everywhere...............

Over the last couple of years I have bought far too many fleeces and then what with the Paralympics I got Mr S to put them in the loft in an attempt to forget the task ahead, and then last weekend despite declaring loudly to any one in hearing distance 'that I don't need/what another fleece I caved in and bought another one.

This one is a beautiful Wensleydale X from Yvonne Hoskins

and it must be good because Molly spent nearly an hour rolling and grooming amongst the dirty smelly fleece!  Interestingly she is only interested in unwashed fleece - never rolls in clean fleece

which I can leave out to dry all day and she completely ignores them

This one of the poor forgotten 2011 fleeces (another Merino X from Yvonne) and this only got a sniff from Molly so obviously the newer the fleece the greater the attraction for her............... this one I washed yesterday before the Men's Singles Final which by the way if you aren't aware MURRAY WON!

Today Mr S went up into the loft, where hanging in a row like in an abattoir, were five poor unloved and unwashed fleeces - well they aren't there now four are here and the fifth is already in the wash!

There is a Black Welsh Mountain and three Merino X's. As I am not washing these for combing I put these into mesh bags and plunged them in hot water with Power Scour, hotter than the bare hand can take and submerged with a potato masher.

Then into the spin dyer to get rid of all the dirty water ready for a rinse, again in very hot water. Fortunately we have a wet room so I can and do splash and slop water all over the place.

These trays are from Ikea, originally drawers for their Pax wardrobes (but they had silly plastic runners which broke and were long ago replaced with better wooden ones) and are the perfect size for the large mesh laundry bags.   Another spin and then out in the sun to dry.  So far in this gorgeous weather we are experiencing I have washed three fleeces and 100grams of Stein (Shetland/Gotland X bought at Unravel), spun 230grams of Polwarth and watched far too much sport on TV...............

This one will be drum carded and made into rouers (this is what Liz Northern Lace calls them) for my Tour de Fleece challenge (this day the riders go twice up Alpe d'Huez) on July 18th - long draw............

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Smelly Wednesday.............

Its Woolly Wednesday and be grateful that you aren't in my kitchen today!

Before we went a travelling I put some avocado pitts and skins in an ammonia solution to ferment preparatory to dyeing.  You are supposed to get a rosy pink from the pitts and skins...........

Well the instructions said to leave for at least a week, so I thought that leaving it a bit longer would only create more colour!  We have some nettles fermenting for garden feed which is smelly, but not even close to ammonia fermented avocado!!  If you have smelt nettles you might have some idea what the smell was like when I took the lid off the jar if you multiply by 100 at least.  Mr S is not amused and I have to say the smell is currently beating the air freshener hands down...

Currently I have some mordant fibre simmering in the solution but there doesn't seem to be much colour transferring to the fibre yet - I may add some just wetted fibre to see if the alum mordant wasn't necessary!  But be warned this is a real pongy one!

For the last two weeks of June we went a travelling for two things: one was a day at Wimbledon and the second was to collect a new acquisition......

A Herring Alpha - which to my amazement folds!  It really is a wheel before its time.......... All metal and very light - the treadle is tucked up behind and swings round for spinning!

Here she is ready to spin

and a bit fuzzy close up of the flyer

Now it is July so it must be Tour de France/Fleece and like many other Ravellers I have been dutifully spinning every day. In Chez Sassy me spinning for a lot of the day isn't a problem as Mr S is a keen cycling fan and is happy for me sit next to him as he immerses himself in all things bikes.

Progress so far:

Day One was done at the North Somerset Fleece Fair, so not all my own work

Day Two I plied some BFL/Ramie Blend that I have oven dyed with Wild Raspberry and Wombat dry powder as an experiment.

Day Three I finished plying

Day Four: I spun and watched the Team Time Trial (I also watched some tennis too!)

For the next few days I shall be spinning some SCF that I got in a detash - 230 grams of Polwarth called Eric

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