Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tour De Fleece

     Its day 8 of the Tour De Fleece and the teams are well on their way to spinning through their fiber piles. This year I'm spinning for the Lantern Rouge team. Its the team for people that are too lazy/busy/tired to spin everyday. I fit in here well. I've been preoccupied with lots of other things so my spinning has been coming along slowly.

When I was first learning to spin, this video helped a lot. Megan from gives a pretty good demonstration of spinning with a drop spindle, and sprinkles her video with some really good tips. This is a great video to start with for anyone interested in learning to spin.

3 years ago when I first fell in love with spinning I found, what I thought would be my perfect drop spindle on etsy. Jumping ahead to today, I still love my little stained glass spindle, but am ready for an upgrade. This time I'm looking for something a little bigger and a little heavier. I have found that I prefer to spin lace weight threads during the summer (and most of the tour) but as the days grow cooler my yarns get bulkier and my tiny spindle is quickly overwhelmed. Etsy is a great place to find some really unique and reasonably priced tools and is usually the first place I look for new toys.

This is what I've got on tap for the rest of the tour. The two colored braids are both 100% merino and the white one is bamboo top. I had so much fun spinning bamboo top during last years tour I bought another 8 oz.

Some tips for spinning bamboo top:
  •      Lay a blanket or towel down in the area where you sit while you spin. The fibers get all over everything really fast and it takes several round of vigorous vacuuming to get rid of it all. Its much easier to just have a towel over you lap. When your done just scoop up what you can by running your hands over the fabric and toss the towel in the wash. Just make sure not to put anything important in the machine with it. You'll have bamboo fibers all over your clothes forever.
  •      Use a thinner strand of fiber than you would for most other fibers. Bamboo top is very dense and you may find that even after its been drafted a couple times, your yarn is still too thick. 
  •      Break up your fiber into short lengths. I find that, unlike merino or other wools, bamboo top will break easily and get tangled. Shorter lengths of fiber have been very helpful in preventing this.
When your done spinning, bamboo top will give you a beautiful, silky yarn that is very very strong. The finished product plies easily and dyes very well. When you do dye it, just keep in mind the density of your strand. For me, my bamboo yarn is usually pretty heavy so I allow some extra time for the yarn to soak up the color. Give bamboo some extra time to dry too.

Merino is usually pretty easy to spin. I'm sure most of you have spun merino at some point and as you know, its typically very manageable and takes color very well.

Both of these colored braids were etsy finds. I think I talked about them in an earlier post. I love the coloring in both of them. I can't wait to really get into spinning these. I think I'll do an official spinning tutorial sometime in the coming week.

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