Spin it!

There’s this thing, you see. It’s this big cycling race thing. This insane thing called the Tour de France, to which I am slightly addicted. And then there’s this other insane thing: the Tour de Fleece. Really.

It’s a Ravelry thing, and I joined it last year but got swept up by the spinny equivalent of the voiture balai, the broom wagon, and had to give up as my hands didn’t let me carry on. Not this year. This year I may not be wearing a spotty jersey, a green jersey or a yellow one (I am, in fact, wearing a black polo-neck as the weather is pretending it’s October), but I am spinning or plying every day:

on the bobbin

I’m doing at least 30 minutes every morning, before work, while my porridge is cooking and cooling (yup, it’s porridge weather; should be croissants or a tartine but I need something warming).

Right, so what is the Tour de Fleece?

Apologies if you already know, or indeed if you are already participating… essentially it’s a challenge for spinners. You spin every day the Tour riders ride; you can have rest days as the Tour does – there are two – and you can also do something especially demanding on the challenge days, if you wish. You can join one of the main Rav teams, or you can join what’s known as a ‘wildcard’ team, and some of them are pretty wild. You share what you’ve done, either just with your team or on the various stage posts in the Tour de Fleece group. It can be really inspiring, and really motivating, and if you’re stuck with your spinning, it’s a great way to get going again.

I needed, for instance, to press on with the lovely Haunui I’ve got. Judging by the current weather – my heating has clicked on; this is JULY, for heaven’s sake – my need for the big sweater replacement will hit sooner rather than later, so I need to stop being distracted by colour. I’ve got about 900g which needs spinning up now, and though I know it won’t all get done before the Tour ends, I will be able to make a serious dent in it. First two bobbins of my Tour:

bobbins and mag

which, after taking things carefully for once (I swear I can feel the voiture balai behind me after last year), turned into these:


Spinning a consistent yarn for a garment is interesting – I think I’m getting there; I’ve got my little sample tied to the wheel, and keep stopping to pull the thread back on itself to see what it will look like when plied. Of course, if I’d taken better notes in a Guild workshop on ‘spinning to the crimp’ I’d probably have a better, more methodical way of doing it – but then again, maybe I wouldn’t: the workshop presumed you’d know the fleece in its unwashed state. Anyway, it is a thickish DK or a fine Aran, in most places – sport weight, in fact. Yup, I’m sharing the passion, as the poster says. Only not the unpleasant habits (really – my last year TdF, with details, ergh).

TdF route

And the Tour rides on. In glorious weather. Hrrumpf. Wouldn’t mind sharing a bit of that.


8 thoughts on “Spin it!

  1. ElaineChicago.

    Yes, we’re spinning over here too. I have 1 1/2 pounds of CVM/Cotswold/BFL, a lovely dark brown. It looks like your wool color. There’s 1 more pound of roving to go so we’ll see how much I get done.
    I watched the race this morning and there was hail. Poor riders!.

    1. kate Post author

      Ow wow – hail! At least that’s one thing we spinnes don’t have tp put up with (unless we’re very peverse and spin outside when the weather is disgusting). You mix sounds yummy; I’m a sucker for any mix with BFL, but I hate processing it as a fleece. Definitely best prepared beforehand…

      1. ElaineChicago.

        I have hand-processed the beautiful tips belonging to this fleece and have spun 1/2 of it. Such tedious work but I wanted to separate from the fleece. Along with sun bleach there is light brown and gray. Lovely lamb named Murphy.

        1. kate Post author

          I love it when you know the names of the sheep – I spent a long time a few years ago spinnng (some) of Martha, possibly the biggest ewe ever. Her fleece was delivered in a builder’s rubble sack…

  2. ElaineChicago.

    I’m so bad about “my” sheep, Kate. I try to order from shepherdesses who will take pictures of the sheep and send them to me (if I get a whole fleece). I keep their pictures, info and a lock of wool in a binder. Then after I knit or weave a garment from the fleece I make a little cloth tag that I draw a sheep on with their name and then sew it to the item. Too much spare time but it sure is fun.
    Wow!! Martha sound like one large lovely ewe!! Had she escaped shearing for a couple of years or was she just a big girl? Some of those sheep as the size of a small pony or calf!

    1. kate Post author

      I cannot compete. Chapeau!

      Martha just had a huge, huge fleece. She’d not escaped, though she did love her food and would follow tourists if she thought they had snacks (quite intimidating if you didn’t know sheep / know her personally and realise that she was a big softy). In the end the farmer collared her and sheared her himself, early, just in case she fell and couldn’t right herself. Despite the snack habit she was quite a normally sized ewe underneath!

        1. kate Post author

          Ah no, that’s another reprobate!

          Martha died a couple of years ago – like sheep just do. One day, fine; next day, died in the field. These things happen with sheep…

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