sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

crossing the tour

Approx 9 oz and ~1600 yards of 3-ply
can you believe how big they look compared to the matchless bobbin? like 3x+ as big...

Just off of the bobbins this afternoon with the twist not set, but yay! I finished my Tour de Fleece spinning :) You may recall initially I wanted to comb, spin and KNIT Yvonne in the 22 days... but I am pretty pleased to have apparently spun enough for the pattern (and to spec!) in the timeframe instead.

I do feel I've gained something over the past three weeks, even if it wasn't a yellow jersey or a finished shawl. Sampling for the grist and even the possibilities of the different plies in knit samples was a bit of a chore (and waiting for them to dry was !!!), but all said and done, as I spun my singles to a consistent 32wpi unstretched...

(don't you just love the barberpoling in the single?)
edit: my spinner's control card can be sourced from mielke's fiber arts, and Girl on the Rocks has acyrlic and bamboo versions as well

...I felt free knowing I was spinning something that would (knock wood) definitely work when I was done. It's a strange feeling for me, picking a pattern first and ALSO the commercial yarn to copy/spin to. Prior to TdF I was spinning and knitting the 50th anniversary WoolGathering cardi/sweater (WG 79) from my black RamboxCorrie fleece, and my previous comb-spin-knit-comb-spin-knit is without a doubt going out the window after this experience. (A too-late discovery, one of my RxC skeins was much lighter/thinner than the others and I've basically "lost" being able to use it in that sweater... but more on that project later.)

Having so many singles to ply at once (over the past 3 days with a break for the fleece judging in Monterey with FranticFiberFun) was also really good for me-- I managed to do a decent job managing my 3 singles *without* the plying guide/diz from GVPencheff I had made especially for the job...

(5.5, 6, and 6.5mm holes-- special order in red oak)

...I love the diz! But am happy I can probably move it from my spinning basket and into my spinning/fiber tool case permanently now.

Backing up! Since I combed everything at once (oy, I have a LOT of combed sliver left!) I was able to really focus both on the technique and the finished fibers in a way I don't think I have before. I probably will not continue planking the fibers as I always had before; I didn't for this project because of the time constraint and didn't really see a noticable difference in not doing so. I will plank for some things-- I have a fleece with cotted tips that leave lots of little neps and planking helps me move them about and to catch more of those in the tines, but for regular lovely fleeces? Prolly not.

I also had the new combs (Valkyrie minis, did you hear the maker is going to restart produx on them this year?!) to compare to the larger English set... to be honest I don't really have a conclusion as to favorites. Both produce beautiful fiber and have a place in my heart/toolchest. The minis left marginally more neps in the sliver but also less waste weight, the English produce a heavier sliver but need to be clamped to a table and stood in front of to work.

What was interesting was both still worked as combs should work, that is both allow the comber to draw off the longest fibers first and leave the shorter parts behind. I'm a bit compulsive when it comes to measuring staples and getting the same lengths lashed on the comb to begin with (I had jokingly toyed with the idea of tattooing a ruler on my hand but my twitter friends thought it may be a bit... intimidating outside the fiber world ;)) and this fleece was no different. You may remember how my half grey, half white stapled Romeldale lamb pulled off into a striping sliver? The half grey, half brown Corriedale lamb here did something similar.


I've laid the first end of the sliver (bottom) against the last end of sliver pulled off of the combs (top)-- it may be hard to see, but the first end is not only darker, but has more crimp than the lighter colored last bit. I could tell when spinning just by feel that the end of the sliver was approaching-- the last length (it was not very much for each sliver) was discernably softer, more downy soft feeling than the rest. I washed the fleece in lock formation and sorted for length, so I don't think this is an issue of sorting prior to combing but that each set of combs did its job in sorting the longest fibers out even though they were grown in and amongst the naturally locking staples. I also don't think it's a coincidence both were lamb fleeces that changed dramatically in color and perhaps type over the course of a year. Dunno, but it makes me love lambs even more :)

I'm not a purist in combing, I don't mind mixing staple lengths among the sliver and don't strive for a true worsted (that would require all fiber in the sliver to be the same length). I sort it to try and reduce waste-- which is why I didn't just remove the last few inches of sliver on each bit. I also like the idea of random shots of concentrated lighter grey the last few soft inches showing up in the 3-ply yarn... I spun one bobbin from only slivers from the English combs, one bobbin from slivers from the handheld Vikings, and one by alternating slivers... we'll see once I start knitting how those work up, if they stagger like I think they will.

So yay for TdF, and tell my yarn to hurry up and start drying! I can't wait to get knitting it up :)


barefoot rooster said...

wow! thanks for sharing so much about your process here (and in previous posts.) super helpful and inspiring for more recent wheel owners like me! (and i love the idea of a ruler tattoo. i've toyed with getting part of a topo map on my hand, though i probably wouldn't use it to navigate...)

Rachel said...

As always, gorgeous gorgeous Gorgeous! Congratulations on crossing the finish line!

Becki said...

Your TdF yarn is too pretty! It'll look gorgeous when knit with those subtle barberpoles.

Kristine said...

love! speechless as always.

Anonymous said...

It turned out so pretty! Congratulations! It sounds like this project was a big learning experience for you. Are you going to tell us about the wool auction? I'm bummed I missed it!

Xuskagg said...

I love the fiber gauge you used in your photo (well, I lOVED your handspun too, but that is a GIVEN :-) ! ). I see that it is from Vip Fibers ... do they sell those gauges on their site? Just curious!

adrienne said...

Wow, that is SO awesome! Congratulations on finishing all that! Can't wait to see the finished sweater :)

Anonymous said...

Very nice and congratulations! Where did you get that wonderful spinning gauge? I checked the VIPfibers site but didn't see it.

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