Wednesday, 3 July 2013

My Tour de Fleece and Woolfest swag!

As you may be aware I do a lot of spinning whilst watching cycling on Eurosport and at the moment the major event is the Tour de France. I enjoy the racing and have a few favourite riders who I watch closely but also the scenery is spectacular. The first three days were in Corsica, not an island I know very much about, but wow what a great place for a holiday. I never knew it had such craggy mountains and with snow! I know that there are lots of groups out in blogland who join up for the Tour de Fleece and try to spin as much as they can whilst watching the Tour DF. Well I always spin while watching the tour and at the moment I have a huge box full of lovely Portland fleece that I am working my way through. So far over the first four stages of the TDF I have managed to spin two full bobbins. I have also done a couple of knitted swatches to decide what thickness of yarn feels right for the project I want to knit with it.
I have spun a 2 ply and a 3 ply sample and I think I am going to opt for the 2 ply as it matches the gauge I will need to knit this pattern. Its from one of my favourite books "A Fine Fleece" by Lisa Lloyd and I have knitted other things from here with great success.
I bought the Portland fleece - I'm combining 2 fleeces by the way- from Jane and Jeremy Dunstan who I found on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust website in 2011. It seems that fleece need to "gestate" in my workroom store for awhile before I know what to make with them! They have a flock of these lovely sheep down in Cornwall where they also have holiday cottages - methinks I may need to go there for a break! If you would like to visit them and see their lovely Portland sheep their website is . I am enjoying spinning this wonderful fleece so much that I have bought two more from this years shearing. If you would like to find out more about the Portland breed please visit the Portland Sheep Breeders Group where you can find out more about this lovely breeds history. Hopefully I may get to meet some Portland sheep later this summer. Jane was kind enough to send me some of her photos of her sheep for me to show you here.
Portland lamb.
Portland ewe and her lamb
Now for the goodies I bought at Woolfest! I did manage to find the time to make a couple of quick shopping raids during the few quiet times we had. I bought four - yes four! - drop spindles from IST Crafts. I am a latecomer to drop spindling as I was taught to spin on a wheel and have never really got on with drop spindles. I think this comes about because until fairly recently most drop spindles you saw were very clunky and big. I got quite frustrated spinning with this spindles as they always fell on the floor and as a result I didn't want to own one let alone four. A couple of years ago when I was asked to teach spinning I thought I ought to do the right thing and do a bit of drop spindling just to show people what was involved and then to swiftly move onto the wheel! The spindle wasn't too heavy, I forget where I got it from, and I played around with it for a week or two and then put it away again. However, before Woolfest I watched an Interweave dvd by Maggie Casey on drop spindling where she explained the "park and draft" method and I found that I could spin with a spindle and that it didn't keep clattering on the floor. So in order to practice a bit more and because I have to keep busy of an evening I took said spindle to Woolfest so that I had something to play with. Lo! and behold! not far from our stand was IST Crafts selling lots and lots of lovely spindles! Of course I had to buy a couple. So I bought a 70mm square drop spindle made from Tulipwood on Sycamore with a walnut shaft and it has little brass weights on the corners. Then I got a round 70mm spindle made from Olivewood on sycamore with a walnut shaft, both are top whorl spindles. I had a lovely time playing with them that night and I rushed back the next morning and bought two lovely little Turkish spindles, one made from Snakewood and the other from Striped Ebony.
I think my favourite one so far is the square spindle.
I got these postcards to add to my "sheepy" collection.
Helen gave me these sock knitting books so that I could make samples with the Tofutsies sock yarn she now stocks. It's made from superwash wool, soysilk, cotton and chitin which is a fibre made from crab shells! I look forward to trying it out. The difficult thing was choosing the colours! I also bought two cones of alpaca yarn for weaving into scarves and hopefully sell. Not bad for two days!


  1. I LOVE that book! Am thoroughly enjoying looking through your blog! Well, except the Hubert part. {{{hug}}}

  2. Thanks for your kind comment. I'm new to this blogging business and is nice to think that someone reads the stuff!

  3. Looks like lovely fine, soft handspun! You have some interesting looking sheep too. Do you ever get time to sleep?

  4. Sleeping is no problem! It's the housework that doesn't get done!!