For last year's Tour de Fleece, I developed four limited edition colourways based on the course taken by the peloton over the course of the three weeks of the Tour de France. The process of finding parts of the race to highlight and working up the colours was a real jump start to my creative process, and I have been looking forward to this year's batch of colourways ever since!
As with last year, I've sourced a special French base for these colourways - Merino d'Arles. This breed of sheep is from the Provence region of France, and is descended from the first Spanish Merinos imported to the country in 1786, which were then crossed with the local breed in Arles. The resulting sheep are small and sturdy, well able to cope with tough living conditions in the plains and in the mountains, and they produce a fine, bulky wool. The average micron count for the fibre is 20-21 microns (very fine!), but it tends to be on the shorter side of staple length, at approximately 3 inches. It is very, very crimpy, and can be spun to a range of finished yarn weights.
I spun up a few samples of this fibre as I was working out the colours, and it reminds me of Targhee or Portugeuse Merino. In other words, it is more interesting to spin (in my opinion) then your typical, run-of-the-mill Merino, as it has a nice toothy feel and isn't super slippery. The final yarn is super bouncy and springy - perfect for hats or sweaters! I think this fibre will also give phenomenal stitch definition, due to its elasticity.
On to the first colourway: this one is inspired by Stage 4, which passes through the Loire Valley, where many of the grapes produced end up as gorgeous Rosé wine.
After last year's Gamay colourway, I definitely wanted to do another wine-inspired version for this year's Tour de Fleece. This one, instead of being inspired by a particular grape, is instead taken from the soft pinks of the finished product.
This colourway blends pinks, browns and tans with a special dyeing technique to get a particularly dappled appearance to the dyed fibre, and will spin up as a lovely semi-solid yarn.
Similar to last year, these colourways are only going to be available for a limited time. Starting with the next shop update, on 14th May at 10:00 am, you can order your limited edition colourways up until the start of the Tour de France/Tour de Fleece on Saturday, 2 July. There will also be a Porpoise Fur Tour de Fleece team on the Ravelry board, so please come join us in spinning up a storm in July!