It’s almost time for Tour de Fleece which runs alongside the Tour de France. Starting July 5, there will be 3 weeks of spinning, watching the Tour de France, and more spinning. 2014 will be my third time take part. For my first Tour in 2012, I spun with a spindle and turned 18.9 ounces of wool into 5 skeins and 1,040 yards. I wasn’t as prolific in 2013 when I only spun 1 skein but it was 512 yards. I’m looking forward to this year since it’ll be the first Tour I’ll be spinning on my trusty sidekick. With a wheel, I’m hoping to leave my previous numbers in the dust and put a serious dent in my fiber stash. Also on the list is learning new yarn constructions and spinning new fibers. But first, there must be prep and training to make the most of and, more importantly, enjoy the Tour. So, a few tips for training before the Tour officially kicks off on July 5th:
Make a game plan. What are you going to spin? A sweater’s worth of wool? All those one off bumps of indie-dyed fiber? Do you want to learn a new technique? Try a new yarn construction? Spin a different fiber like silk or linen? Spin sock yarn or yarn for a specific project? If you’re spinning a sweater’s worth, sample the fiber and knit a swatch to make sure the final yarn matches the project. Also a good time to find out if you like spinning the yarn before devoting 3 weeks to it.
Prep your fiber. If you’re spinning for a large project, split the fiber into manageable chunks, 1 oz or smaller. Take a break after spinning each ounce and your wrists will thank you. Plus, plying singles spun at the beginning with singles spun at the end will create a more consistent yarn.
Spindle or wheel, clean your gear. Spinning wheels need a good cleaning on a regular basis and prepping for Tour de Fleece is the perfect time. Give the wheel a good dusting and a little wax to keep the wood happy. Oil moving parts as necessary. This also a good time to inspect the wheel for any damage or replace loose drive bands and stretched out springs. If you need help, check out these links on wheel maintenance. As simple as spindles are, they need care and wood wax too. Now is also a good time to readjust bent hooks.
Empty those bobbins. Or in the case of spindles, those straws and chopsticks. The more empty bobbins you have, the longer and more you can spin before you need to ply.
Find your team. I'm not saying that you have to sign up for any specific team to spin with. Just find a place where you feel comfortable sharing your progress, getting a pat on the back, and asking for help. Could be the Tour de Fleece group on Ravelry or Instagram or your own blog.