Tour de Fleece 2015 Prep: Chin Up

Perhaps my favorite event in the spinning community is the Tour de Fleece. In case you’re thinking, “What on Earth is the Tour de Fleece?” or, “Don’t you mean the Tour de France, Sarah?!” it’s a spin-along that runs during the Tour de France. The riders spin and spinners spin. Goals are pretty personal — some people take it very seriously, some are more lackadaisical in their participation — but it’s an awesome time. The idea of the event, as stated in the Ravelry group, is:

“Challenge Yourself. Spin. Have fun.”

I can do that!

I do hold a special place in my heart for this event because it came into my life at a moment when I really needed it. I’d just left my job teaching and whether I knew it or not I needed to immerse myself in something new. I had owned my spinning wheel for over a year, but hadn’t really dug in to the craft. When I saw a post from a dyer I liked saying she was hosting a group, on a whim I joined. I didn’t even really knowing what it was or how it worked, but I was going to spin everyday for a month and that was that.

That year I spun like the wind and loved every minute of it. I learned so much, gained such comfort at my wheel, and met so many inspiring spinners. I’m still no expert and I’m learning a lot pretty much every time I sit down at my wheel, but I’m positive that I wouldn’t be half the spinner I am today without that first Tour de Fleece. Last year I joined two teams — its pretty common to participate on more than one team — and although I wasn’t around for the whole Tour, I had a great time and spun some wonderful yarns. I took a much more relaxed pace and yet still picked up a few tips that I use to this day and had a really fun time.

This year I actually looked ahead at dates and vacation plans and was ecstatic to see that I would be able to spin the entire Tour de Fleece. It runs July 4th through July 26th and I’ve been planning to take part for months. I’ve created a little stockpile of fiber and mentally made plans for what will be spun first, how I’ll spin it, etc. Then this week I found out that at least one of the two teams I’ve come to know and love definitely isnt’ happening this year and the second I haven’t heard a peep about yet. So a week before the start of my fave event and I am team-less. The horror!

Admittedly, I’m disappointed and really kind of sad. I totally, completely, 100% respect and understand why my past hosts are passing this year — it’s a lot of work to moderate and check in with a team pretty much every day for a month. There are usually added expenses as prizes are often offered as incentives. It’s an investment on multiple levels. Personally, though, I’ll miss the spinners involved and their inspiring work. It meant a lot to me to have see the progress of others, interact with them, and share ideas.

I spent some time looking through the teams on Ravelry, but I was a little overwhelmed by the size of some of the teams and didn’t really see one where I fit. Mr Knitting Sarah very sweetly offered to be on a team with me, even offering to try to spin, but I’ve seen the look his face when trying to knit and I just can’t put him through any more handcraft experiments. Handcrafts are really just not in my mister’s wheelhouse.

A little dismayed, I spent last night working on the giant bucket of hot pink merino/silk I’ve been spinning on for my daughter…

IMG_9819The fiber is really beautiful and lovely, but I’m struggling a bit with the insane pinkness of it all. My goal, however, is to finish and hopefully ply this and another singles yarn I have waiting before the start the Tour. It’s this goal that has kept me from stalling out on this project, so I’m glad to have a finite finish date that I’m working toward with it.

I also took a few minutes to pull out some fiber for the Tour…

IMG_9821A little from Northbound Knitting, a braid or two from Dyeabolical, some Cloudlover, some Spun Right Round, and a mohair blend that a friend picked up for me at a fiber show and I’m just long overdue in spinning it. I’m planning to really kind of wing it with what I spin, letting my mood dictate the fiber I choose so this is all subject to change. I just like having options close at hand. Plus, they are all beautiful and lifted my spirits about the whole event.

With my pretty pretty fiber close at hand, I’m getting my chin up. Even if I end up spinning the Tour alone this year, I’m determined to make the most of it. After all, I’ve been looking forward to this event for quite a while! If there are any other misfits out there in search of a team, I’d be happy to host in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry group. I most likely won’t have any prizes available because of the short notice, but I’d be happy to provide the space for camaraderie — all skill levels, fibers, wheels, spindles, ambitions would be welcome. Or, you can just follow along here on the blog as I’ll surely be posting my spinning adventures with my daily ‘Today on my wheel…’ installments as well as more involved blog posts throughout the month. Where ever the 2015 Tour de Fleece takes me, I’m committed to the message of the event: To take a month to challenge myself, spin, and have fun making yarn.

16 responses to “Tour de Fleece 2015 Prep: Chin Up

  1. We have a little group going in Knit While They Nap β€” we named the team Knit While They Snack β€” and you’re welcome to join us! It’s really quite small at this point, and while my son is quite a bit younger than your children, there are other homeschooling moms in the group, and I think it might be a good fit for you, if you want.

    I’ve felt the pain of being team-less, and the initial shock, especially, is no fun.

    • Yes, it has been a major bummer to find myself team-less, but I’m trying to keep the enthusiasm just by sorting through my stash. I think I may even go ‘deep stash’ diving here in a bit. Thanks for the invite, I will check it out!

  2. So much pretty fleece! My spinning wheel is in need of some repairs, so I won’t be joining in, but I look forward to soaking up inspiration from all the participants!

    • Right?! What do I have to complain about with all that pretty fiber? In any case, I’m sorry to hear your wheel needs repairs — mine needs a good cleaning and I’m hoping to get to that this week. At the moment, I’m too busy plying (LOL), but hopefully I can squeeze that cleaning in somehow.

  3. I’ve modded for a team in the past and it is a lot of work; I’m not doing it this year so Team Aotearoa as far as I know isn’t happening. However I’ve joined 3 other teams instead, 2 are run by dyers (Heavenly Wools and Southern Cross Fibre) and the other is Team Spin Your Stash. As a result I’ll be spinning some fibre from those dyers and some random stash stuff that I want to get done. It’ll be nice to be able to relax and just enjoy myself this year; I don’t need to hit the dyepots to provide prizes either which is a bonus as I don’t really have the time.

    • It *is* time consuming – I moderate my Ravelry group and I know especially during KALs it’s a daily thing on my to-do list. Honestly, I like moderating – it’s kind of like a little social hour for me where I get to talk about craft. It saves my hubby from taking the brunt of that talk, too! We will see where this year takes me!

  4. I am taking my first spinning lesson on Tuesday, so will be happy to follow along and watch your progress. I’ll be mangling wool on a drop spindle, and expect I will practice it at it a lot this month. πŸ™‚ Not sure I am ready for a team or a tour de anything, but I will be glad to see all the yarny loveliness you create, and it will inspire me to keep trying.

    • Well, I’ll just throw it out there that I’m now co-captaining Team Cloudlover (I found a home!) and you are more than welcome to join. All skill levels and fibers are involved and I think it’d be really, really fun to have a new spinner on the team. Up to you, of course, BUT there will be the chance to win some fiber. πŸ˜‰

  5. We’ll cheer along with you, even if you don’t find a team! I’m partial to Team Sasquatch – it’s a catch-all group for anyone who likes/listens to/participates in/hosts fiber-related podcasts. A whole bunch of podcasters usually join in and bring their fans with them.

    The fiber you’ve lined up is gorgeous – the 4th braid from the left is killing me! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the suggestion and the cheers! I think the extra stash diving I did today definitely helped. I *may* have also ordered a beautiful batt or two from a certain Classy Squid Fiber Co – saw it on Handmade By Stefanie recently and had to have some for myself!

      Oh, and the 4th braid from the left I believe is the Mulled Cider colorway from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber. 😁

      • Oh yes, I think my avatar photo on Etsy is about 10years old when I had shorter hair and the crow’s feet were less pronounced — LOL!

        I’m sure I’ll enjoy — the batts are beautiful!

        I’m sure I will! I recently discovered spinning batts and am super excited to

  6. That was pretty sweet of Mr. Knitting Sarah to offer to learn to spin for you! Glad everything in this post worked out later. πŸ™‚

  7. I just started spinning my version of that mohair this morning…I thought it was going to be a hot mess since it looks and feels almost felted, but it wound up spinning nice and fine for me. I work better with stickier fibers at this point!

    I rented the Schacht Ladybug for two weeks so I can keep practicing now that my class is over. I still think it’s my favorite of the three wheels I tried. You were right — you should always find what fits best with your style. Thanks for the inspiration!

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