Holiday time!

The last few days have been an absolute whirlwind. There's been the end of school:

Dev's first day and last days of primary school.

Dev's first day and last days of primary school.

There's been dyeing and packing of this month's Spinning Box contribution,

Under the Big Top on Suffolk

Under the Big Top on Suffolk

And this month's Lab Goddess Fibre Club.

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And there's been finishing up a whopping load of Tour de Fleece spinning.

Now we're off to the States for some good holiday with family. I hope everyone is having a lovely summer, and see you soon!

The Tour de Fleece is here - hooray!

Last Saturday was the launch of the Tour de Fleece, as well as a little bike race in France. I went down to the wire on setting goals for myself for this year's event, but finally I put some down in writing last Thursday:

1) Spin up the May and June fibre club colourways.
2) Spin up at least 4 bundles of my Hello Yarn fibre stash into yarns for sale.
3) Spin up at least 2 bundles of HYFC into yarn for me.

Since then, I've added Goal #4: Spin up the 2016 Tour de Fleece colourways on the appropriate days. Since today is Stage 4, that means I've been spinning up Rosé d'Anjou. This is going to be a fractal 2-ply, and here's the first ~1.5 oz done.

As for the other goals? Well, I've finished 3 oz of Hello Yarn merino into singles that will need to be fulled and finished. I also finished off my Lab Goddess Fibre Club Cortus on Wensleydale, which I started spindling a looooong time ago, so I've crossed off 1 bundle from Goal #2 and one bundle from unlisted goals. Or something like that...

Here's the first three days in order:

Day 1: Damp Earth on Merino from the Hello Yarn Fiber Club
Day 2: Cortus Wensleydale from the Lab Goddess Fibre Club
Day 3: Started Critter Falkland from HYFC

Please feel free to come join Team Porpoise Fur on Ravelry - any and all spinning projects are welcome and will be heartily cheered on, but to be eligible for prizes, you've got to spin some Porpoise Fur.

2016 Tour de Fleece colourways: The Giant

There are a number of iconic mountains that have featured heavily in the Tour de France since it's inception. This year's Stage 12 finishes on the top of one of these quintissential peaks: Mont Ventoux.

Mount Ventoux by Jean-Marc Rosier from www.rosier.pro

Mount Ventoux by Jean-Marc Rosier from www.rosier.pro

Although geologically part of the Alps, Mont Ventoux stands quite isolated, rising out of the plains of Provence to a summit of 1,912 meters (6,273 feet) and dominating the local landscape. The top of the mountain is bare of trees and vegetation, inspiring comparisons to the surface of the Moon. This isolation makes it an interesting ecological niche, and there are some species that are unique to this peak.

From the historical side of the race, Mont Ventoux is considered one of the most grueling climbs on the Tour, and it has been included 15 times since 1951. Coming this year at the end of 185 km on Stage 12 and averaging between 6.6 and 10.1% for 11 km, this climb is sure to play a role in determining the final victor of the race. The mountain's challenges came into stark relief in 1967, when British cyclist Tom Simpson died within a half a mile of the summit from heat exhaustion brought on by dehydration, amphetamines and alcohol. Since then, there have been many great battles fought up the slopes of the Giant of Provence, but none have had such a tragic outcome.

The Giant on Merino d'Arles

The Giant on Merino d'Arles

For this colourway, I wanted to use a gradient to mimic the landscape that the riders pass through on their way from the lavender fields up to the mountain summit. A bright violet gives way to greens before passing into the bare rock hues of the summit. I'm hoping to spin some of this up to work a beautiful half-circle shawl, if I can get some good laceweight.

Don't forget, all these exclusive, limited edition Tour de Fleece colourways will be available in the shop update going live tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. Please note that there may be a bit of delay if the demand for a particular colourway is high, but I have plenty of the base and will get it out to you ASAP!

2016 Tour de Fleece colourways: Mageva

Mageva on Merino d'Arles

Mageva on Merino d'Arles

The ski resort town of Megève makes two appearances in this year's Tour de France: the finishing point of Stage 18 (the second individual time trial) and the starting line of Stage 20, the last stage before the final jaunt down the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The name of the town comes from the Celtic name of the original ancient settlement, Mageva, which means village on the water. The estimated date of founding for the local parish is 523, with the Benedictine monks setting up a priory in 1085. The current incarnation as a destination for tourists and skiers began in the 1920s, when the Rothschilds funded a purpose-built ski resort.

This colourway was inspired by the many streams and rivers that flow through the area, draining snow melt away from the mountains during the summers. It combines various blues with the browns of the streambed, and includes flashes of white for the sun reflecting off the waters surface. Cool and refreshing, the undyed sections of the top will blend with the dyed, creating a yarn that is more muted and blended then the fibre might appear at first glance.

Like the first two colourways, Rosé d'Anjou and Chauvet, Mageva is dyed on Merino d'Arles, and will be available starting with the shop update this coming Saturday (14 May) at 10:00 am, and running through the start of the event on 2 July 2016. Stay tuned for the last colourway on Friday!

2016 Tour de Fleece colourways: Chauvet

For our next TdF reveal, we're going to jump from Stage 4 to Stage 13 - the first time trial of the Tour de France, running from Bourd-Saint-Andéol to La Caverne du Pont-d'Arc, home of the stupendous prehistoric cave paintings of Chauvet.

The paintings of Chauvet, discovered by chance in 1994, are estimated to date back to 36,000 years ago, and are renowned for their uncommon representations of predatory animals. Hundreds of animals are depicted on the walls of the cave, including cave lions, panthers, bears and hyenas. Beyond the realistic pictures, the artists used the shape of the walls to emphasise the features of the animals shown.

In looking at images of the cave paintings, I was struck by the variety of earthy colours, generated by combinations of red ochre and charcoal, and I've used these colours in dyeing this top. The result is a blend of reds, rusts, dark browns, charcoal and steely blue. I'm thrilled with this combination, and can't wait to see it spun up!