Sunday, July 28, 2019

The End of Tour de Fleece 2019

Today is the last day of Tour de Fleece 2019. I’ll spin more fiber into yarn today, but for all intents and purposes I’ve reached my personal end of the race.

Three skeins of of light-colored handspun wool and alpaca yarn with stretches of bright color throughout, on a white background.

As I wrote last week, I didn’t set any goals beyond spinning each day of the tour. In particular, I planned to work on a fiber pairing that I started spinning earlier this year: eight ounces (227 g) of handpainted Targhee wool from Spunky Eclectic in the colorway Let Love In, and four ounces (113 g) of white alpaca roving.

Three skeins of various sizes of light-colored handspun wool and alpaca yarn with bright colors mixed in, lined up horizontally on a white background.

This year, I spun yarn on each day of the three-week tour. That alone is a huge accomplishment for me! Using a 0.7-ounce top-whorl spindle, I spun 1.6 ounces (45 g) of fiber into 266 yards (243 m) of two-ply yarn.

Of this fiber, including the handspun that I made before the Tour, I’ve spun a total of 3.9 ounces (110.5 g) into 638 yards (583 m) of two-ply yarn. With about eight ounces (267 g) to go, I should end up with about 1,900 yards (1,737 m) of yarn when I'm done. I'm browsing patterns already.

Six skeins of various sizes of light-colored handspun wool and alpaca yarn with bright colors mixed in, lined up vertically on a white background.

As usual, Tour de Fleece has renewed my interest in spinning. I want to keep it up, even if it’s only for five minutes a day. What did you get out of Tour de Fleece 2019?

Monday, July 15, 2019

Tour de Fleece

As I write this, Tour de Fleece 2019 is well underway.

What is Tour de Fleece?


It’s an online spin-along created by Star Athena that coincides with the Tour de France — the idea behind it being “they spin, we spin.” This is the event’s fourteenth year, and the goal is unchanged: Challenge yourself and have fun!

Handpainted top whorl spindle with skeins of handspun yarn in front and unspun white and rainbow fiber behind on a white background.

This year’s Tour de Fleece runs from July 6 through July 28 with rest days on July 16 and 22, and challenge days on July 18 and 26.

A lot of participants join teams, which can be based on just about anything that might bring a group together. Goals will be set and spinners will post online about their daily progress. On some teams, prizes are awarded for different achievements.

I’ve joined teams in the past, but for those Tours my biggest challenge seemed to be keeping up with what was going on in the groups! For the last few years, I’ve loosely followed hashtags online while keeping to my own pace. It works for me.

My Progress


We’re almost halfway through this Tour, and at this point I’ve spun on my spindle every day. I don’t have a set goal this year, except that I’m spinning more of the fiber that I started earlier this year: eight ounces (227 g) of handpainted Targhee wool from Spunky Eclectic in the colorway Let Love In, and four ounces (113 g) of white alpaca roving.

Progress for Tour de Fleece 2019 with skeins of colorful yarn on the left, a top whorl spindle with loose fiber ready to be spun in the center, and loose balls of fiber on the right, all on a white background.

I have one 95-yard (87 m) skein of two-ply yarn (0.55 oz/15.6 g) to show for my efforts — but a third of that had already been spun before the Tour began. I also have a singles yarn waiting on my nostepinne as I prepare to spin what will become the second ply in a skein that should end up about twice as long as the first.

Since I began spinning this fiber in February, I’ve finished about 467 yards (427 m) of two-ply yarn spun at a relatively consistent weight and color mixture. I still have about two-thirds of the fiber to spin.

Are you participating in Tour de Fleece this year?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Lace Hem Top

We have a keeper!

My skeins of Plymouth Yarn Reserve Sport have been through two previous projects — Diamond Pullover and Elphaba — but neither was quite right. Both require a certain amount of structure from the fabric that this yarn doesn’t provide.

It wants to drape. Mari Tobita’s #02 Lace Hem Top from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2018, allows it to do that.

Front view of a woman standing in front of a white rail and green trees wearing a lavender colored sleeveless hand knit top with a lace motif toward the lower hem.

The pattern is relatively easy to follow. The cast-on is fussy, but it creates a nice base at the shoulders from which the shirt is knit seamlessly downward. Another minor quibble is that the instructions for the I-cord could have been clearer. But most of the knitting for this pullover is simply stockinette stitch and lace charts.

I usually add length to tops. I didn’t do that this time because I expected the yarn to grow as it had in the previous projects. For the same reason, I made the armholes a little shorter than directed by the pattern. Overall, these decisions worked out well.

I had forgotten that the finishing included adding I-cord to the neckline and armholes, which would help them hold their shape. I added the I-cord on one armhole, but it almost became too tight and wasn’t visible due to how the fabric curls under. In the end, I kept the I-cord on the neckline but removed it from the armholes. I reinforced the bottom edge of the armholes with duplicate stitch.

Back view of a woman standing in front of a white rail and green trees wearing a lavender colored sleeveless hand knit top with a lace motif toward the lower hem.

Some of the shaping is created by increasing the needle size as the piece progresses. I started with US-7 (4.5 mm) needles in order to achieve gauge, then moved to US-8 (5.0 mm) and US-9 (5.5 mm). With the Mauve Mix colorway of this yarn, the needle changes are evident in how the colors pool. I can’t say I love the pooling, but it doesn’t bother me either.

I’m happy with this top and happy to have found another pattern that I would like to knit again. I think it has a classic shape that can be dressed up or down, and it’s comfortable in our hot climate. With some variation in yarn choice and lace motifs, this pattern is a versatile wardrobe addition.