Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tour de France/Tour de Fleece

For years, world's-most-patient-husband and I have spent much of July glued to the TV watching the drama of the stupendous 1200-mile Tour de France bicycle race unfold. I've also spent much of that time clicking away on my knitting. Of course, in the last year or two, I've also developed a certain attachment to spinning. You might have noticed. :)

So I was tickled when I happened upon Star Athena's Tour de Fleece a few weeks ago. It's spinning in the theme of the Tour de France, with personal challenges and like-minded company. I like spinning; I like watching the race; perfect! I joined her Tour de Fleece group in Ravelry right away. It's great fun to see what others are tackling as their Tour de Fleece spinning goals, from spinning for speed, to lace-weight, to tricky fibers, to art yarns in the spirit of the wild creations of Pluckyfluff.

There's another Tour de Fleece on the web as well, incidentally, Le Tour de Fleece. It appears they're both now in their third year. But Star Athena's version looks like the more easygoing of the two, with no urgent race to complete a goal before the bicyclers reach Paris, but just a pledge to spin every day and lots of opportunities to make it fun. That's clearly the one for me!

I laid my plans and did just a little advance preparation. Call it training. I decided to spin the other three colors of my foolish lump-bedeviled roving bargain. That will be the demanding terrain I have to get over. Having blended and spun the first three colors into the rustic Stormwatch yarn, which turned out better than it had any right to, I decided to spin the remaining three colors individually, and make a three-ply yarn of them.

And don't those pretty colors look innocent just sitting there? They give no clue of the lumpy soul that lurks within. There will be no picking out all those lumps. We will just have to transcend them like a hill stage on the Tour. Alpe de Nepp, you might call it.

I went ahead and tried spinning a bit of each color. I spun it more thinly than the singles for the Stormwatch yarn, partly because three plies will make a thicker yarn than two, and partly just to see if I could, with this bumpy stuff. Then I tried out plying the three strands together, a first-time experience. It didn't seem to go too badly. This is the little sample skein I would up with. Really, I quite like it.

With the three finer plies wrapped together, my sample seems to be something like a heavy worsted weight. I knit it, with US size 9 needles, if I remember aright, and wound up with this nicely tweedy swatch. Something about the mixture of colors and the visual texture makes me think of a Chanel-style jacket, so that may be what it's destined to be. French-inspired, so appropriate!

The challenges for me will be several. Spinning finer plies around the lumps. Spinning intentionally and consistently to the same gauge as my sample. Spinning every day (travel permitting). Getting the twist right and three-plying a balanced yarn.

So my training was done, and I just had to wait, staying away from spinning and champing at the bit with growing impatience, for the real Tour to start. When the time finally came this morning, Rastro and I were suited up and raring to go.

And we're off!


Bess said...

You go girl. I'll enjoy watching your progress.

Anonymous said...

Man! Your wheel looks VERY competitive!