Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tour de Fleece days 1 to 3

The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race held in France.

The Tour de Fleece is an annual event on Ravelry.com where participants spin-along during the Tour de France - they spin, we spin.

We join any one of the many teams - I'm in 3 for my first year - and post photos our fleece/fibre and finished yarn.  Oh, and have great fun while doing it.

So it started on Saturday  2 July.  I am of course still up in Orkney and on Saturday we were travelling from Flotta to North Ronaldsay - in a very tiny plane.  Not sure about how things would work out re TdF spinning I decided to crack off very early in the morning and get some spun.  So I worked through some of the Cheviot fleece I'd washed in Newcastle and managed to get just over 50 m of it spun and plied at about worsted weight.  I'd carded it into rolags the evening before.  Yes, this is what I look like very early in the morning before breakfast!

The travelling to North Ronaldsay went very smoothly despite my worries regarding the spinning wheel - I had to take the Sidekick so it would fit into a case - and the weight limit of 15kg each on the plane.  When we arrived Liz took us for a walk along the beach and that's when I had the mad/brilliant idea - take the sidekick down to the beach and spin there!  I'd spotted lots of bits of fleece lying on the ground so I decided to use that and just spin in the grease.  It was very easy carrying the sidekick back down to the beach and I found a suitable place to sit at the base of the wall surrounding the island that keeps the sheep on the beach.  Paul came with me and took some photos and then went back up to the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory where we were staying, leaving me to finish spinning my pile of fleece.

I was engrossed in the spinning but then must have heard a little sound off to my left that caused me to look up, and what I saw was unbelievable and amazing - some sheep had come round the corner and were just standing there watching me.  I knew that no one would believe this so I managed to get to my phone and quietly sneak some photos.

Then Paul came back and between us we managed to get some of this exciting event filmed.  I have to say that there is a lot that the sheep were doing that we didn't manage to film - like the single file rush past us when they decided they'd watched me long enough and really wanted to get to the beach on the other side.  Then I heard a lamb calling for his mum and spotted the little black lamb in the distance.  He looked at me, decided I was too scary and ran back.  Then he gathered up some courage and came back and crossed in front of me, pausing for a moment when just a few feet away before chasing off to catch up with his mum.

 When all the fleece had been spun I set off back to the Bird Observatory and that evening plied and washed the yarn in the bedroom sink.  It came up very nicely, although you can see the under-plied bits where I was trying to keep spinning but watch the sheep at the same time!


Day 2 and 3 of the TdF

I started with some nice hand painted Shetland Tops dyed by a friend, Sue, and spun the first half of it in the Bird Observatory bar, much to the interest of the other people.  After flying down from North Ronaldsay on Monday morning I then finished it off on day 3 back on Orkney Mainland in the hotel bedroom.  I ended up with 150m of a nice DK weight and was very pleased at my efforts to spin consistently and evenly.


  1. What fantastic experiences! I'm green with envy.

  2. Thanks for sharing! Especially the spinning by the sea, with lambish accompaniment.

  3. The sheep will be telling tales about the scary spinner on the shingle for generations to come! Wonderful tale.