In which I am very, very late, otherwise known as "hey, the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday - want to spin with me?"

The last 6 weeks or so have been a completely ridiculous blur of very long work days, coupled with trying to get fibre club out the door and keeping up with a bunch of tech editing that all seems to have landed at once. In other words, complete chaos.

But this morning (a full week and a half after finishing the work thing that took over my life), I finally felt like I had a) some breathing room, and b) had recovered enough to be able to think a bit about other things. Imagine my surprise when I realised that the Tour de France starts in a mere five days! So I've started the Team Porpoise Fur 2017 thread on Ravelry, posted to the wildcard thread in the Tour de Fleece group and spammed the Yarn in the City group hoping to drum up some team mates. 

The whole thing is very simple: set yourself a challenge for the duration of the Tour de Fleece/France (1st July - 23rd July) and go for it! Some people pull vast piles of fibre out of their stash and commit to spinning pounds of yarn, some people challenge themselves to learn a new technique or try something outside of their comfort zone, some people aim to spin a little bit every day. Whatever is a challenge for you is all good!

Once again this year, my Tour de Fleece is going to be somewhat impaired by a bit of travelling, but my goals are as follows:

  1. Spin the four exclusive TdF colourways from this year
  2. Spin up at least four of my oldest Hello Yarn Fibre Club offerings
  3. Spin at least a little bit every day

If you'd like to get some of this year's TdF colourways, this is your last chance! The pre-orders are supposed to close today, but given my lateness, I'm going to leave them open until the end of the day tomorrow, 27 June. You can find them here, and all the details on the inspiration here.

I can't wait to start!!!!

Tour de Fleece 2017

The Giro is underway and the days are getting longer, which means it must be time to get ready for the Tour de Fleece! This is the third year I've done special colourways for the TdF, and I'm excited to share them with you.

First we have the colourway that highlights one of the stages not in France: this is Christkindlmarkt, to honour the start of this year's race in Düsseldorf. One of the great events in the Düsseldorf calendar is their annual Christmas market, so this colourway blends warms reds, pinks and oranges with a hint of bright green.

Christkindlmarkt on Charollais.jpg

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia (the source of all true facts, I'm sure!), this year's Tour was originally scheduled to start in London, but that TfL pulled out a week before the announcement of the location. Too would have been fun to do a London colourway, but hopefully there's another chance!

Moving on to Stage 4, we have the gradient colourway, this year drawn from legends around La Planche des Belles Filles, which translates to "board of the beautiful girls" and is the mountaintop finish of Stage 5. There are two stories around the origin of this name. One is that it comes from the local environment and the preponderance of beech trees; in the 16th century, the area was described as having many "belles fahys" (beech trees), which was then corrupted into Belles Filles. Planche (board) is derived from the name of a nearby small town, Plancher-les-Mines.

The other, more disturbing story, comes from the time of the Thirty Years' War (1616-1648), and holds that young women from the town fled into the mountains to escape approaching Swedish mercenaries. Rather than surrender, the girls chose to drown themselves in the lake. One of the soldiers engraved an epitaph for "les belles filles" on a board as a memorial. Needless to say, I used the beech tree image as the inspiration for this year's gradient, Fagus.

Fagus on Charollais.jpg

Next up is the obligatory wine-inspired combination: this is Cabernet Franc, inspired by the black grape variety grown in the wine growing region of Bergerac, which the riders will visit on Stage 10. This colour was drawn from images of the grape itself rather then the deep reds that it is used to make.

Cabernet Franc on Charollais
Cabernet Franc

Finally, we have Brigantium, inspired by the start of Stage 18, where the riders will begin in the high  mountain village of Briançon, and climb up to the top of the Col d'Izoard. This colourway blends the blues and greys of the mountains and sky with the orange of some of the older architecture. The name is taken from the name of the original Roman settlement in Briançon, which was mentioned by Ptolemy in his writings.


All of these colourways will be dyed to order on Charollais, this year's exclusive base. As they are dyed-to-order, I'll be shipping weekly only so there may be a bit of a delay in receiving your fibre, but I will do my best to get them out as soon as possible!

The Tour de Fleece 2017 colourways will be available from 10:00 am on Sunday, 21 May through Sunday, June 26 only, so that I can get the last batches out for the start of the race on 1 July. To get first crack at the TdF2017 colours, sign up to the newsletter below for early access to the shop update from 9:00 pm Saturday night. And I hope to see lots of you spinning away with Team Porpoise Fur for the Tour de Fleece!

Tour de Fleece is coming!

May means that I'm spending lots of time at the dye pots, playing with colours to come up with this year's Tour de Fleece exclusive colourways. I've got three of them nailed down, and am finalising the last one so look for those to be revealed over the next few weeks!

This year I'm going to try running a dye-to-order model for the TdF colourways. In previous year's I've dyed up batches of fibre, but that hasn't always mirrored the demand, so sometimes I end up with lots of leftovers which can sit around for quite a while as I can't sell them. Similarly, since I use an exclusive base each time around that isn't normally carried in the shop, I can end up with undyed base that I may or may not be able to use for something else. Long story short: with limited dye time available, I need to find a more efficient way to produce the TdF colourways.

Preorders will be available starting from the shop update next Sunday (21 May), and I'll be getting colour previews up this week. I can reveal that the base this year is another French breed: the Charollais. This breed originated in east central France from a cross between the Leicester Longwool with local land-race breeds, but are now bred in the UK, and are used to produce high quality lambs for meat. Charollais produce fleece with a staple length of 4-6 cm, and a diameter of 29-30.5 microns. The wool is used in dress fabrics, flannel and knitting wool in the UK.

I've been spinning up some of my initial dye experiments, and am finding this to be a fine fibre, but the staple is quite short! It makes for a bouncy yarn if spun in a woolen style to preserve the elasticity, and I'm looking forward to knitting it up!

Image from

Image from