Ma’s bit during Tour de Fleece 2021

Last weekend finished the ” Tour de Fleece 2021 “ or on the FB page.. IN a nut shell, folks spinning through the event, scheduled during the Tour de France. ( obviously) More working with fibers while they watch. Some go for yardage, many folk push their limits in their own way, whether it is spinning somehow new to them or projects of all kinds.

Ma, not having time to get overly crazy, wanted to work on projects in process, and, of course, working on spinning her ever finer yarn.

Another single on the bobbin, for a sweater in the making.
Oh and the second bobbin for the sweater spin – this one will be plied with the one still on the wheel above.
One fat bobbin. 2ply on each bobbin, which is then spun together, creating a 4ply sock yarn. Thank you Jen, from Whispering Pines Farm for this beautiful light fawn fiber.
How thin can she spin? This is another sample of Freyja, spun from flicked locks.
Doing a center pull ball, getting every ounce of spun fiber into a skein of yarn.
Ma’s spin Freyja, getting the finest spin so far at 75wpi. Freyja will make a fine Shetland lace shawl when she is done. The fluff is flicked locks.
Ma has gotten down to 75 wraps per inch ( 2 ply ), not just once but it is her newest norm using Freyja’s fleece
Freyja from Whispering Pines Farms
Freyja’s fleece 2021, all washed up, and ready to flick and spin.
A quick sample of Freyja.
Sample lace knit from Freyja, just to see how she knits up. On to spinning her fleece for a full size Fine Shetland Shawl.
Neck wool from Ma’s Buddy; Jen of Whispering Pines Fine Shetland Sheep Farm. Hands down , the best Shetland wool we have found anywhere.
Ma running the short fiber through her drum carder to make into batts , which is far easier to work with.
Gotta learn the new tools. Ma says “more practice, more practice, and again, more practice”.
Not too bad for the first time.
Fluffy batt, easier to spin when the fibers are short, and difficult to spin from the locks.
The neck wool now yarn
Fine spinning isn’t simply for the shawls. This is 4 ply that Ma has set up to make socks. The finer spin with more and tighter plys will make the yarn stronger and longer wearing.
Ma said she was hoping for at least 400 yds to make socks. She got 634 yds with these two skeins. Think she will make me a pair of socks?
4 ply doesn’t have to be a bulky yarn as you can see here
Ma put together a fine Shetland lace sampler with her 50 wraps per inch( 2 ply ) on her first attempt at this style for up coming shawls. This sample is spun from raw fiber that was gifted to Ma from her friend, Monique. The fiber is from Shetland, and only about an ounce. Did I say it took her over 2 years to just get brave enough to wash it? She didn’t want to mess it up as it was a gift and all. After washing, this is first fiber she flicked (using doggy brush), then spun from the locks (first time doing that too). And after spinning fine, 50wpi, she got 382 yds out of 26gr of fiber. Time to knit up a sample of Fine Shetland Lace. Monique reached out, letting Ma know how very well she had done. High Praise for Ma.
Same Sampler, you can see just how thin this is at the 50 wraps.. 75, of course, will be even finer, all aiming towards the wedding ring shawls; full size shawl that can be slipped completely through a wedding ring.

Ma managed to get all of these projects finished before the end of the Tour, squeaking up to the last moments on the final day before the Sampler was finished up…and.. of course, I couldn’t put up Ma’s work until the Samper made it to her buddy; Jen.. beings she reads the post. We didn’t want her to know it was coming as a “Congratulations Gift” for getting her LLC. Way to go Jen!!!!

Most of the event, while Ma wasn’t putting in a full work day as well, she sat spinning for a while then finished the evening knitting.. All the while watching Jen’s videos either on the Whispering Pines Facebook page or the Whispering Pines You Tube site. Whether she watched sheep hanging out or Jen showing the Majacraft spinning gear; how they work and what is available from her, Ma’s I pad was humming away with Jen in the background.

Ma bested her own records in spinning, over and again, hitting 40wpi to 50wpi to 75wpi… The final check, was easily over 75wpi as the yardage per ounce had increased from one 75wpi to the next.

Ma and her Mama Wheel; a Dutch castle from the 70s love to spin Jen’s fine Shetland wool, bringing in ever higher numbers on the wraps. Where other wools, including other Shetland wool can give Ma’s hands trouble by the end of the evening, Jen’s wool flows much more smoothly for Ma making it the perfect wool for her projects.

During the event, Ma would put up a “finish” most days, not all, but more than enough.

All of them , of course, were noticed, a few got quite a bit of praise from fellow spinners and knitters.

Ma managed to win a couple prizes along the way, all of which is extra fun.

Her Sample got some extra attention off the circuit which was very exciting, we’ll wait to see on what does or does not become of it before I jinx it.

All in all, it was another fun Tour for Ma. I always enjoy it as well as Ma gets excited when she is in the mix. This year, Ma, as I mentioned, didn’t try to over push. She simply put up what she accomplished each day…

In Short; The above pictures are more or less how every day is on Zen with Ma’s prepping, spinning and knitting.

Summer days

Other than the Tour, things are slipping through Summer up here on Zen. We finally have some normal days.. a nice change. Mid 80s during the day and into the low 50s at night. Though there is always a haze from all the fires, so far so good on Zen. Any fires have been small and the crews have knocked them down by the time news about them hits the forums. Bigger fires to the North and South rage on during this abnormally dry summer.

Ma’s arm is finally starting to heal, she even was able to unwrap it .Now, of course, when the yellow jackets start to pester us, we head in rather than attempt fate.

We ended up with four of the yellow jackets in the house the other morning, Still not sure how, but I am sure Ma is correct in the thought that I probably brought them in on a feeder. I looked as best I could, but I just can’t see all that well anymore. They, of course, showed while I was cooking breakfast. I managed to killed them all and not burn anything or get stung so Go Team!

With the relative calm up here, just a breeze.. or what they call a wind in the flat lands , I was able to do a little more fleece prep, With the constant winds, there was now way I could lay a fleece out on the the table on the deck without a Wizard of Oz moment. I was able to knock a lot of loose dirt out the the fleeces and picked a BUNCH of vegetable matter out of them, but there is still more. These were the dirtiest we have gotten our hands on so far..

I have felt that all sheep dirt was pretty much the same until these. The wool isn’t bad, but the prep is pretty crazy. I found more than five different kinds of stickers hidden in them, from super fine that I was under magnifying glass and cheaters trying to find under my finger nail to the pufferfish type that just trying to get them out meant getting stuck, then getting stuck again trying to pull them out of my hand,,, over and over again.. The dirt is heavy enough that four hours of washing , rinsing and repeating left me with a single almost clean enough to wash again fleece…so it’ll be breaking it down to wash in small sections….and it was the cleanest of the ones I worked on… Not complaining, simply saying that we won’t be buying from these folks again, nice as they are… There is a lot of work left to go, even on the “clean” one.

Peppers and Tomatoes are finally coming on…. Yippie… I picked a bunch of Poblanos which Ma roasted for us to stuff. The first vegetables of the year other than Asparagus and two small Italians.

I see I have more Italians, no more red. Several more Poblanos. Our Sweet and Hot, which look like Habaneros but closer to the size of the Poblanos and not as hot , so flavor over heat. And speaking of Habaneros, They are showing up and a good size as well. A few tiny Jalapenos, so they are getting ready to start.

Ma’s Amish Tomatoes are getting heavy on the small vines. I sure hope things kick in as we will need a WHOLE lot more than what those plants will support.

There are a few on Ma’s San Martine Tomatoes as well.. I was hoping for a lot more on them than there is and with as long as it takes for them to take off, time is getting horribly short. We already have a taste of Fall in the mornings.

Final Thoughts

It’s been a little crazy this summer so far and too many things have kept us on our toes that normally aren’t something we ever even think about…

I still haven’t even touched the tractor.. too dry to screw with something that leaks gas while I work on it, let alone that it is nothing but a motor next to dry fields.

I have played a bit with the new lathe and new tools… yeah.. no pictures here….Nothing to see.. move along..

Nothing at all new in the music area…Not that I don’t play around.. Simply nothing new. I have sat down and stripped down everything I have had worked up for the last four years which is more head banging and creative swearing than anything else… But… A new start on that crap will be a major plus when I am done.. you can only chase things for so long…

We get to see little fawns in the evenings now as their mamas bring them in around dusk. The watering hole is getting hit extremely hard now, I am filling the water more than once a day for the deer and turkeys, birds and more that come through which means that any other holes are dry…

I heard someone over at the neighbors place yesterday, sounded like a compressor so someone is moving around. The for sale sign went down but I never saw a sold on it. So far though so good. Let’s hope for the best.

Zen the hordes came in

With days getting shorter, we have hummies still coming in at the same time, but now in the dark.

Our mornings start with getting the tea water heated up, so it takes some five minutes or so to take stock of things, check weather and I normally start up my com as does Ma.

During these few minutes, in the dark.. I hear Hummie, Lass or Hollywood just outside my window.

Da! You’re late! We beat! Hurry up before all the good seats are taken.” Hummie called in through my open window.

Ma’s and mine are reserved. We are making our juice and will be right out.”

Oh ..Ok.. Well.. I have a feeder that is low and in need of juice too.”

I’ll get it in a moment.”

The kids are waking up. You better hurry before they get here. They are already grumpy cause Big Feeder is gone.”

Big feeder attracted Yellow jackets to the point of being scary.”

Yeh yeh.. I know…But the other feeders…”

Yes yes.. Feeders.. Juice.. Got it. I’ll be right there.”

Da ! Feeder needs juice!” Lass called in the window as soon as Hummie took off.

SO I hear. I’m on my way.”

Better hurry. Babies are waking up.”

I stood, stretched, glowering at the little pest outside my window, grinning at me.

Walking out the door, I was buzzed by a hummer.

Hollywood landed on the fence by me. “ Morning Da… Feeder is low and babies on the way.”

I stared at him for a moment. He looked at me and shrugged. “ Just sayin.”

I grabbed the offending feeder, took it inside , cleaned and filled it. Walking out the door I had three hummingbirds flying across in front of my face singing “ Morning Da! Feeder is missing. “

Iiiiiiiiiii Knowwwwwwwwwww.. It’s in my hand.. Duh.”

Babies coming!

I had barely hooked the feeder when some dozen more hummers suddenly were around the porch and deck area.

Up to five, that we have seen in one place at one time, grandbabies came whipping in, checking feeders. As always they, and several others, I assume lead by Lass, check the spot of the big feeder then flying in front of me and back again to the feeder spot, only to turn and complain to me.

” What was that? Little Timmy fell down the well?”

None of the hummies felt that was humorous , buzzing me, complaining.

Hey! Brand spanking new juice in that feeder there.” I pointed.. and ran back into the house.

Three hummies hovered in front of the window. “ We know where you live.”

Ma and I picking up our tea and I my camera, went back out to have ” breakfast” with the hummers.

While we sat, or in my case, filling the watering hole first, Hummingbirds flit all around us chattering away.

In pairs and trios , hummingbird flew about chasing one another while the babies tested every feeder to see which was the best that morning.

Hummie and Hollywood sat on Zip ties that I use for trellises for plants that will never get that tall as they watched over the babies. Lass and sisters sat on the fence by me while other flew to sit on the fence by the Fly N Go or the fence by my room.

The sun, still below the far ridges, began to throw light out across the skies, the light orange of the summer morning. Haze around us from fires, light enough that the sun still comes up it’s normal bright self rather than the reds of storms and fires.

Deer began to wander in from the South East while Turkey Girl and her brood headed out across the upper fields towards us. Mama taking a step or two and waiting while the babies puttered around her finding breakfast.

Small bucks and does began to herd as small groups gathered in our South pasture, making their way up to the water.

Hummies hover in my face saying, “ Look at me ! Look at me Da! See? Watch this!” and about that time, another whips in to catch the first off guard and the race is on.

Soon more hummies are flitting about in front of me , waiting for me to look up. Beings the little poohs come in with the Sun at their backs, it takes me a bit before I realize they are there.

The deer at the water and checking the mineral block call over to me, “ Da! You need a new block. See? I can pick it up. Someone might carry it a way. New Block time Da! “

Gawh! Yes Yes.. New Block… Blah Blah. “

No Da, Serally .. New block.”

It’s on my To Do list. In the mean time, you actually HAVE a block.”

The doe scrunched up her face, “ Tastes like elk spit.”

A chorus of “ Eeeewwwwhhhhhh”s came from over by the water…and Now I had a herd of deer making cat butt faces at me.

Really? You guys lick your own butts.. Elk spit doesn’t sound THAT bad.”

Try it then.” The little doe said, her chin lifted.

Fine. Duly noted.” I said.” Spitless block on the list.”

The deer all nodded to one another , mumbling.

LOOK AT ME!” came a tiny voice in my face.

One of the grandbaby hummers was staring at me from only inches away.

Well good morning little one, what’s up?”

Nothing, I just wanted you to look.”

You’ve been hanging around Auntie Lass again haven’t you.”


I nodded. I took a sip of my tea, the little hummer peering down at it.

What’s that?”

My juice.”

It doesn’t look right.”

I looked into the cup, shrugging, ” It’s suppose to look like that.”

She looked into the cup again, cocking her head to the side. ” Yeah, I don’t think so.”

Um.. Yaw.. It does.”

Weird. I wouldn’t drink it if I were you. Doesn’t smell sweet either. Maybe you need some of our juice.”

Oh No! No! NO!NO!” Lass jumped in. No juice for Da. He’ll drink it all.

I crunched my face watching Lass go off. “ I am NOT going to drink all of your juice.”

Oh, I see. I see you put our juice powder in stuff. Don’t think I don’t.” Lass griped.

Hello..??… Feeders full..”

This one is a little empty. “ The grand baby helpfully put in.

Not helping.” I grumped.

Yes you are baby.. Now go see your Mama.” Lass said soothingly as she glared over the little hummingbird’s shoulder at me.

I stuck my tongue out at her.

Was that suppose to be a threat or a joke?” Lass asked.

I could hear hummies and deer giggling.

Ma looked up smiling. “ She kinda gotcha there you know.. So more activity on my 4 ply.”

Sweet!” I grinned.. helping change the subject.

Lass hovered… staring at me…..Grumbling as she flew off

Just another freakin Jolly day on Zen Mountain.”

HEY! Stop stealing my lines!” I called out after her.

One thought on “Ma’s bit during Tour de Fleece 2021

  1. Congrats Margo on your Tour de Fleece accomplishments! Amazing spinning! Thank you so much for the sampler, I just love it and have it hanging over my computer monitor so I can see it and be reminded of my friends on Zen Mountain! Have a great week


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