Sunday, 23 July 2017

Tour De Fleece Megablog

I had so much fun taking part in Tour De Fleece this year. This is a megablog of my spins!

On day one of the tour I proudly donned my yellow jersey (hand screen printed for me by my brother, Ouroboros screen prints) and my handspun wire headband and set myself up underneath my fruit trees in the garden with my spinolution hopper, a crazy carded batt and high levels of adrenaline. I corespun the batt and supercoiled the yarn into a wonderfully textured, huge skien. 

Supercoil art yarn
 The batt was carded with a mixture of different breeds, hand dyed fibre, glittery angelina, soya silk and faux vegan style fibres. I used my 16oz bobbin.

My next two spins were a complete contrast form one another. First, I spent some time playing with the highest speeds on my Kromski Minstrel wheel creating an ultra fine singles from a hand carded batt in pinks, purples and maroons, again sat underneath the trees in my garden. It was so peaceful. The weather was gorgeous and the smell of freshly cut grass, warm victoria plums hanging from the branches above me and the whir of my wheel felt so tranquil. 
Fine singles on my Kromski Minstrel

While my minstrel was set up for fine spinning, I got out my Ashford Country spinner and created a spiral plied jumbo art yarn in hot pinks, gittery bits and dark natural fleece wools. So fun! I loved how my yarn looked draped over my more traditional Kromski Minstrel.
Kromski Minstrel with art yarn

I deliberately spun my yarn thick and thin and auto wrapped the yarn as I spun with a think turquoise lurex. I played about with my thread plying angles to create areas of true spirals and more gentle waves.
Spiral plied art yarn

Kromski Minstrel
After creating my first few yarn of the tour from home, I decided it was time to venture out, feeling inspired by the real tourers. I took my hopper to a local park and spun gorgeous handfuls of a naturally grey fleece that I hand processed. I bought it as a "mule" fleece, which in shepherding terms means a mix of breeds. It was suggested that it had some BFL in it's heritage, and I could believe it as it had a really pretty crimp and fineness in texture. I didn't want to do anything other than just spin it as it came!
 I did add a pretty grey feather which I found while spinning the fleece by a lake in the park. Spinning in public always means you get curious bypasses stopping to ask what you are doing, especially children who are mesmerised by the movement of the wheel but of course I loved sharing it with anyone who asked!

Adding feathers to handspun yarn

 Then I thread plied it, embellishing with faux pearls, Czech glass beads, some cut glass and some lined with silver - and iridescent sequins, part of my hoarded treasures, collected over the years.

The park I visited has a beautiful decking area with a cafe attached which rounded off my day nicely - spinning as it turned into the "golden hour" with the sun's slight reflecting off the lake, sipping tea and indulging in some chocolate cake. Who could ask for more?

Tour De Fleece

Art yarn spinning by the lake
Back home, later during the tour I made a quick and colourful yarn using my spinolution Firefly.


 I spun one of my "Pixie Dust" batts which is made from merino, corridale, tencel and hand dyed firstar in a bulky thick n thin style. I wound it off into a nostepinne, which for those not in the know is a tool for making a centre pull ball. I plied from the ball using a white cotton. I really like using a nostepine for plying because it's fast and easy to wind off from the ball, and you don't have to change bobbins!

Spinolution Firefly

Colourful art yarn

My final accomplishment during the tour was finishing up a fine yarn made from natural fleece, merino, firestar, soya silk and angelina. I admit I did start spinning it about a month before the tour but as I worked on it during the TDF month I thought I would include it in my round up. :-) 

I made this yarn on my Spinolution Hopper, using the 16oz flyer. Initially, I didn't know how I wanted to ply it, thinking I would probably go with chain plying. But after spinning it for a while it dawned on my that it would look best as a two ply. This became my relaxation project of the summer. There is something so calming about spinning a fine singles yarn, something in the repetitive nature of the process and feeling the fibres in your hands, watching the bobbin gradually fill and change colours. I made this from a mixture of hand carded batts and rolags, made on my kromski hand carders. 
Plying on my Spinolution Firefly

I finally plied my yarn after weeks of spinning using my electric spinolution firefly, with 8oz head attachment. That really made the plying effortless! I ended up with about 350g of yarn, which I have since used in a handwoven blanket project (see my other posts if you want to know how it turned out)

Handspun two ply yarn

In reflection, I found the tour de fleece to be a motivational force and spurred me to create more time for spinning in my schedule. I loved sharing pictures and comments with my team mates on Facebook, ravelry and instagram and watching the creations and excitement flood in from around the world. I can't wait for next year! If all goes to plan, I'd love to host a launch party on the first day of the tour with some of my team mates. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Tour De Fleece 2017

The Tour De Fleece is only a few weeks away!
Excitement abounds in the online spinning community as we gather our stash, plan our challenges and empty bobbins in preparation.
Last year I captained a UK focused team, but this year I have decided to lead a team of my own - Team Spin City!

Again, I hear you ask "What is Tour De Fleece?! For the love of Athena (Greek goddess of spinning don't cha know) please tell me what it is all about!"
My fellow fibreista, I am honoured to let you in on the secret of this most awesome of spinning based events. The Tour De Fleece runs alongside the more well known "Tour De France" and encourages spinners to spin a little each day the tour runs. There are challenge days and rest days, just like our cycle counterparts will be taking part in, but instead of cycling up a mountain allez a la Provence, we might decide to try to spin uber fine lace weight, try our hand at corespinning, or adding beads for example.
The tour runs from the 1st of July through to Sunday the 23rd of July, and you are welcome to join my team!
I will be hosting it on Ravelry, and on my Facebook chat group.  I have made a free downloadable and printable planner for the event which I hope will add to the fun times.
"But what do I actually have to DO?" I hear you cry! Well, try to spin each day of the tour, then take pictures of your progress and post them when you feel like it for us all to see! You can post on the facbook group, instagram, Ravelry or twitter if the mood takes you. It's great fun feeling part of a community and seeing what everyone makes. Of course, you don't have to take pictures or share if you don't feel comfortable with it.

I will personally be spinning by both wheel and spindle if i'm out and about. I like art yarns so will try a couple of different style and I will probably have a fine project on the go to.

I'm taking pre orders for T shirts and tote bags too, hand screen printed by my brother! Here is a mock up of one design:
tour De Fleece yellow T Shirt
Tour De Fleece Tee in Jolly Jaune
tour de fleece bag

Links below if you want to know where it's at!


Free downloadable planner:

tour de fleece

Friday, 13 January 2017

New Year, New Art Yarn, New Finished Projects

Happy new year everyone. I'm really excited about the year ahead. I hope you have lots of exciting plans to look forward to and crafty dreams for the months ahead.

I took some time off over Christmas to do some spinning and to finish some projects, and here are the pictures to prove it. Be prepared for lots of pictures! I've also added some pictures of custom spun yarn which I was particularly pleased with. :-D

Blue Art yarn with locks
 This yarn was made with lots of lovely blue/violet wensleydaale locks, in a thick and thin style, then thread plied to create texture. It is very squishy as I spun it with minimum twist.

700g of skinny singles handspun
 This yarn was actually spun just before Christmas for a custom order- but I thought i'd slip it in here anyway. I spun 700g+ in a skinny singles type yarn so my customer could make a mermaid blanket for her daughter. I made it from merino, plant fibres like tencel and bamboo, and candy striped it as I spun with a fine cotton yarn and a turquoise lurex for strength.

hand spun art yarn
Auto wrapped art yarn

art yarn
Auto wrapped art yarn 
This one was a yummy spin! I carded up a batt with lots of farm collected fleece, some sparkle (of course!) and the set about corespinning using a fine cotton yarn to auto wrap as I went along. I found that if I placed my thread to the right hand side of me and my wheel, the thread wrapped on snugly, but still organically in movement, whereas if I placed it on the left, it would create larger, looser coils.

art yarn
Embellished art yarn

corespun art yarn
Sequins and locks hand spun yarn
This was my favourite spin of the season. I spent several days making this yarn over Christmas, happily spinning with the TV on. This is another core spun yarn, made with some of my blended fibres for the base of the yarn, included soya silk, merino, corridale, polwarth and firestar. I then added embellishments throughout the yarn such as sequins spun into little jewels, long white Leicester  long wool locks, silk throwsters and pink tinsel yarn. This was really fun to create and I love the look of all the different textures.
Rusted art yarn
This was another custom order. I was given the brief to spin some yarn inspired by Hebridean cows. If you have never seen one before, here is a picture courtesy of google.

 My customer wanted rusty reds, shaggy textures, but with some copper sparkle. I was really pleased with how it turned out! I used quite a bit of natural flax to get the texture right, and mixed it with those lovely browny reds and added some natural wensleydale locks in a gorgeous grey and sun bleached brown. I auto wrapped parts of the yarn in copper metallic thread. So fun! I love my job.
Hebridean cow art yarn 

Finally, I thought I would show you how my handspun, handwoven cushions looked, which I blogged about in a previous post (
 I love them hugely! I made them by making a very simple "envelope" style by folding the edges over to overlap, then sewing up the sides. Easy! :-) I really love how the thick and thin singles yarn looks in this overshot design, It is so textured and yummy. I want to make more! I'll add it to my list.

Hand spun, hand woven cushion

handspun hand woven cushion
Handspun, hand woven cushion

I've got so much planned already for the year, lots of shows to attend, lots of yarns to spin, and a few surprises.... ;-) 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Kromski Fantasia Ideas

I wanted to show you some amazing customised Kromski Fantasia Wheels and share with you some ways you might consider finishing or customising your Kromski Fantasia wheel yourself- or any wheel for that matter!

My most popular wheel is the "unfinished" or natural wood Kromski Fantasia, which not only is the most affordable way to purchase this wheel- it also allows you total create freedom to decorate it , or finish the wood in any way you like.

To start with, I'm going to show you some gorgeous pictures of customised Fantasia's i've gathered from around the net.

1) The "Dr Who" inspired wheel
@Hogwarts_honor_Student on instagram blew my mind with her hand painted wheel, complete with super realistic portraits of the Doctor and side kick. I mean- WOAH. Surely this is a Tardis worthy piece of equipment! I love the blended purples and inky blues of the stormy sky.

2) The Darkly Decadent Wheel
@FiberCulture on instagram  painted her fantasia with an all over black walnut stain, and added hand painted golden vines and leaves around the wheel. The effect is gorgeous and makes her wheel looks very elegant.

3)  The Sacred Symbols Wheel
@ThatFiberFemme on instagram asked for the help of her children to decorate her wheel, making it extra special. Together they came up with colours, paints and designs and set about adding happy swirls on a baby blue background- leaving the central bar in it's natural wooden colour.

4)The "Pillar Box Bright" Wheel
@CreepingThyme on instagram painted her Fantasia in a gorgeous, cheerful deep red, which compliments her bright home interior, and fiber choices perfectly! If your home decorating scheme is important, why not paint your wheel to match the room you are most likely to spin (and your wheel) in?

6) The Starry, Starry Night Wheel
@Brijitelouise on Instagram painted her wheel like a beautiful night's sky. The woodwork is covered in a metallic silver paint, giving it a futuristic look, and her wheel has been hand painted to capture the mystic beauty of the stars. Pretty!

If you have painted your wheel, left it natural, or ordered a custom colour from my website, you might want to think about finishing all the other wooden parts of your wheel. This ensures that stains are minimised from any oil you might be putting on your wheel, or from foot prints (although, i've heard that a wheel with foot prints shows the "soul(e)" of the spinner!)

Why not give your wheel a birthday - or a "buy-day" and treat her once a year to a full service and clean. Rub on some finish onto all the wood parts, clean all the fluff from the moving parts, oil all the squeaky bits and add new leaders to your bobbins. You could make this a social event with other spinner friends in the areas and invite everyone over for lots of wheely good fun.

@KathsCrafts on instagram ordered a pink Fantasia- looking good Kath!

I've finished my wheel with a light coating of a natural oil/wax product, called "Howards feed n wax.", which is made from orange blossom oil.  It makes the wood ever so slightly darker, however it leaves it impenetrable to stain and makes it smell lovely! I've also had great success with Antiquax Original Wax Polish, which is slightly more difficult to apply, as you have to use several coats- however it brings out the natural shine of the wood.

If you want to keep your wood looking as white or natural as possible, you could use a white tinted wax, such as Osmo Polyx.

Tiny Glittery Sparkles Wood Finish 

Recently, on my "Spin City Chatter" Facebook group,
(come join us! , a lovely member and friend  of mine, Bev Baldry, has been sharing with us her wheel finishing journey- with SPARKLES. Yes, SPARKLES.

She added some mica powder to her Ronseal satin wood finish ,which leaves a gorgeous, pale, shimmery effect all over the wood. I certainly want to give this a try myself!  Mica is actually a shimmery type of rock, which was made at extreme pressures thousands of years ago to form a natural, silvery shine.

According to Bev she added"  About 75% dilution so 250ml varnish with 20ml (measured with a medicine spoon) mica powder"  To her mixture, which is more than enough to varnish the entire wheel, and bobbins.

I hope this has inspired you to decorate your wheels, or think about some options for finishing the wood on your spinning wheel.

Happy spinning!