2015 Tour de Fleece

TDF is most widely recognizable as The Tour de France. The epic 21 day cycling race around France. I am probably, at best, a casual follower of pro-cycling. When talking to average Americans who know nothing about cycling I sound quite knowledgeable. When talking to average cycling fans I probably sound like I know nothing. But I like watching the race quite a bit. It's fun.

But more importantly TDF also stands for the Tour de Fleece! The Tour de Fleece is an annual spin-along during the Tour de France. Every day that they spin on the bikes, we spin yarn. This year marks my 5th year of TDF participation. Over those years my spinning abilities have grown by leaps and bounds. And that growth is probably in large part due to the goals and challenges I make for myself with TDF spinning.

This year I tried to cut back on being overly ambitious with my goals. But I'm seriously addicted to fiber and failed miserably at exercising restraint when I ended up with some ridiculous goals. And then I stayed up late many nights spinning.

My goals were as follows:
My primary goals are:
  1. Spin 113 grams of GalesArt Polwarth and Silk Blend into a fine two ply laceweight to be used for a shawl.
  2. Spin 498 grams of Max (brown) and Lance (fawn) into a fingering or slightly heavier yarn to be used for a sweater with a colorwork yolk.
  3. Ride my bike, bumblebee, at least 221K (137 miles) to match the longest stage of the race. Hours and hours spent watching the race and spinning yarn really isn’t a good reason to ignore actually maintaining some fitness.
If those are going well I may also focus on my secondary goals:
  1. Spin 142 grams of Hilltop Cloud Cobblestones gradient. Inspired by the famous and sometimes devastating feature in some bike races it seems only appropriate to start this project when the cyclists go over the pavé on day 4.
  2. Spin up the 122 gram dying experiment of my own creation. I mostly just wanted to add more color to things.
  3. And if everything is going really really well I will add in 122 grams of black alpaca spun to match the Cobblestones yarn so that I can use them together in some kind of amazing knitted something, probably a shawl.


By the end of the tour I had accomplished the following:
 1608 yards of laceweight wool/silk nicknamed Tourmalet.
876 yards of Max and 184 yards of Lance the alpacas.
I biked 139 miles on Bumblebee the bike.
384 yards of Cobblestones and still two unspun colors.
236 yards of my own hand dyed Experiment.
I didn't touch the black alpaca.
But I did add in plying of the previously spun Lemon Blueberry singles for a finished yarn at 632 yards.


GRAND TOTAL OF 3920 YARDS/2.08 POUNDS OF YARN
(thats 2.23 miles of yarn) 

This fiber was purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool from Gales Art. During the tour I named the project Tourmalet in honor of the famous mountain in France often featured during the TDF as the peloton races up its slopes.

It spun up using my trindles as a wonderful laceweight yarn. I cannot believe how much yardage I got (1608 yards).






This alpaca fiber comes from a friends pets. Before the tour started I prepped the fiber from its raw state into these little balls of fiber.


My plan is to make a sweater with color-work around the yoke and possibly other places (sleeves hem). I'm actually probably a little bit short on yardage for that however. So I need to get more fiber and do a bit more spinning.
 
 A before picture of the biking is a bit more difficult. So here's Bumblebee waiting by the river to start a ride.

And this is what i looked like after the final 30ish mile ride.

 Here are the unspun Cobblestones. They were purchased from Hilltop Cloud. She based the colors on a picture of cobblestones, a feature of stage 4 of this years TDF.

 In the end I was very short on time so I sacrificed the spinning of the final two colors. But I'm sure I'll get to them soon.

This fiber was my dyed by me! I have fancy acid dyes now and am learning to use them. My aim was to have Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Purple all mixed up in sections on this fiber and I was going to call it "Skittles". In practice the green took over most of it somehow and it was renamed "Experiment".
The finished yarn makes me think of Christmas.




Alas since giving up sleep entirely is not such a smart plan I did not end up spinning any of the black alpaca whose yarn was to go along with the Cobblestones:



But I did end up finishing another project that was already mostly spun up. The fiber started as these super amazing wonderful little battlings from Hobbledehoy that I purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

Before the TDF started I spun them all so they were in two batches of single strands like this.

To finish I plied the two strands together and the final yarn is this amazingness.


It was a good TDF.



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