2015 Tour de Fleece colourways: Lac Blanc

This year's Tour de France ends high in the French Alpes, with the penultimate stage finishing on one of the most iconic climbs every included in the race - Alpe d'Huez. After 95 kilometers, the riders will arrive at the base of the final climb to the ski resort at Alpe d'Huez, and will start up a road that includes 21 hairpin turns (each highlighted with the names of famous cyclists from years past), and rises over 1000 m from the base to the top.

Some of the 21 hairpin turns of Alpe d'Huez

Some of the 21 hairpin turns of Alpe d'Huez

I've spent quite a bit of time watching cyclists struggle up Alpe d'Huez, although sadly not the Tour peloton. My husband has done the Alpe d'Huez triathlon twice in the six years we've been in the UK, so we are familiar with the route and the effort involved in getting up to the top. The last time we were there, in 2013, we spent a week at the mountain, and went on a number of excursions in the surrounding areas. One of those excursions took us up above the resort village to Lac Blanc, the inspiration for this final Tour de Fleece colorway.

Lac Blanc, July 2013

Lac Blanc, July 2013

This is a truly spectacular spot, and the water in the lake is the most incredible teal blue color. That coupled with the brown grey of the surrounding rocks, the bright blue of the sky, and a bit of green resulted in this:

I really hope you have all enjoyed these sneak peeks at the new colors and the inspirations behind them for the Tour de Fleece. I'll start taking pre-orders through the shop this Sunday, and will dye and ship after I Knit Fandango next weekend. Any questions, please feel free to use the Contact form, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

If you're in or around London and are planning on taking a trip to the Fandango next week, please stop by and say hello - I'd love to meet you! 

2015 Tour de Fleece colourways: Gamay

After a long stretch running along the northern part of france, the riders will hop on a plane and head to the far southern extreme of the country and hit the Pyrenees, the first of two series of stages in the high mountains. Stages 10-12 will be up and down, up and down, and up some more. After that punishment, the peleton will head out into the flatter regions of the Rhone Valley, a famous wine region, which is the inspiration behind the third colorway for this year's Tour de Fleece (because how can there be French-inspired colors without including wine?).

Gamay on Ile de France

Gamay on Ile de France

The Gamay grape is a dark purple grape used in a number of red wines, and has been cultivated since the 15th century. It is the grape used in Beaujolais nouveau, which comes largely from a region a bit further north then this year's route, but it is also used in making a local version of Malbec (my favorite red wine). More importantly, the pictures of the grapes are beautiful - black, purple, hints of red undertones...

The final colorway also includes some of the deep red tones of the wine produced from these grapes. Although the top looks quite variegated, it spins up into a fairly semisolid yarn, and is a good contrast to the brighter orange tones of House of Orange.

The last TdF colorway is inspired by one of the truly iconic climbs of the Tour de France's long history. Check back tomorrow for the final reveal!

2015 Tour de Fleece colourways: Le Havre

After a trip through the Netherlands and Belgium, the Tour route stays flat as it heads across northern France. On 9 July, the 192 kilometers of Stage 6 end in Le Havre in Haute-Normandie. Le Havre is the second largest port in France, so what else could this colorway be other then nautically inspired?

Le Havre on Ile de France

Le Havre on Ile de France

This colorway has the dark navy blue of the open ocean, combined with lighter blues of shallow water and a dash of red as an homage to the French Tricolore. When I look at this colorway, I get a mental image of Audrey Hepburn in a French sailor shirt and culottes, strolling along the boardwalk. Or Jackie O in the same nautical stripes and huge, oversized sunglasses. You get the idea...

A bit of ocean waves, a touch of French style, and gorgeous bouncy wool. What's not to love?

Like the others, Le Havre will be available for preorders from 10 May, and will only be available until the end of Le Tour - 26 July.

2015 Tour de Fleece colourways: House of Orange

I'm a big fan of the Tour de France. As a post-graduate, I moved to Tucson, AZ to live with my cycling-mad boyfriend, and got sucked into a) cycling and b) watching the Grand Tours on television. With the 9+ hr time difference to Europe, that meant that if I got up early, I could watch the day's stage live before heading off to work - result!

On of the exciting things about the Tour de France is the route is different every year. There are some traditional places that get included on a regular basis, and the last stage always finishes on the Champs Elysee in Paris, but the actual route - the starting and finishing points of each day's stage, the mountain climbs and the regions visited - change. Not only does the route change, but very often the race visits other countries. This year's starting point in the Netherlands has inspired my first, limited edition Tour de Fleece 2015 colorway - House of Orange.

The House of Orange (really technically the House of Orange-Nassau) is the royal dynasty behind the monarchy of the Netherlands. William I of Orange founded the house in 1544, and it has played a central role in the politics and government of the Netherlands ever since. A later member of the house, William III, was King of England from 1689-1702.

This year's Tour route begins in Utrecht on 4 July with the Prologue, a short 14 kilometer course through the city. The official Stage 1 runs from Utrecht to the Zeeland Delta for 166 km on 5 July, finishing right alongside the ocean.

The Dutch are also huge cycling fans - there's always a large Orange presence in the crowds lining the route. On the iconic Alpe d'Huez climb, there's even a hairpin named Dutch Corner, where the riders are engulfed by a sea of orange. This colorway is a tribute to all those fans cheering on all the riders as they hurtle along.

These Tour de France colorways are also dyed on a brand new base for Porpoise Fur - Ile de France. Ile de France is native to an area near Paris, and was developed in the early 19th century through breed on Dishley Leicester and Rambouillet (it is also know as the Dishley Merino). The breed is primarily raised for meat, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by this fibre - it is soft and crimpy, and spins up very much like Targhee, an American breed known for it's bounce and elasticity, as well as for it's softness.

The four limited edition colorways I've developed for the 2015 Tour de Fleece are only available on Ile de France, and will only be dyed through the end of the Tour - Sunday, 26th July. After that, these colors will disappear. I'll put a link in the shop for preorders on 10th May, but fibers will not ship until after I Knit Fandango (15-16th May).

Stay tuned for the next colorway to be revealed tomorrow - any guesses as to what the next route inspiration will be?