May means that I'm spending lots of time at the dye pots, playing with colours to come up with this year's Tour de Fleece exclusive colourways. I've got three of them nailed down, and am finalising the last one so look for those to be revealed over the next few weeks!
This year I'm going to try running a dye-to-order model for the TdF colourways. In previous year's I've dyed up batches of fibre, but that hasn't always mirrored the demand, so sometimes I end up with lots of leftovers which can sit around for quite a while as I can't sell them. Similarly, since I use an exclusive base each time around that isn't normally carried in the shop, I can end up with undyed base that I may or may not be able to use for something else. Long story short: with limited dye time available, I need to find a more efficient way to produce the TdF colourways.
Preorders will be available starting from the shop update next Sunday (21 May), and I'll be getting colour previews up this week. I can reveal that the base this year is another French breed: the Charollais. This breed originated in east central France from a cross between the Leicester Longwool with local land-race breeds, but are now bred in the UK, and are used to produce high quality lambs for meat. Charollais produce fleece with a staple length of 4-6 cm, and a diameter of 29-30.5 microns. The wool is used in dress fabrics, flannel and knitting wool in the UK.
I've been spinning up some of my initial dye experiments, and am finding this to be a fine fibre, but the staple is quite short! It makes for a bouncy yarn if spun in a woolen style to preserve the elasticity, and I'm looking forward to knitting it up!