Beginning in 2006, an annual spinning event called the Tour de Fleece was started. It's a spin-along event based on the Tour de France. When they spin, we spin. The event has a group on Ravelry, and over 5000 people have joined the group!
Like the athletes in the race, the idea of the Tour is to challenge yourself. There are many, many teams "competing" in the Tour de Fleece, and I put competing in quotes because the point of the event is not to compete against others, but to set your own goals and see how well you do. Some teams offer prizes, others do not. I'm not participating for the prizes, but am very interested to find out how much spinning work I can accomplish. The Tour de Fleece follows the same schedule as the race, beginning on Saturday, June 30th and finishing on Sunday, July 22nd, with days of rest on July 10th and 17th.
I've never really tracked how long it takes me to prepare wool or spin, so one of my goals for the Tour is to write down this information. Each day I'll report how much time I've spent working on fiber for the day, plus the overall total for the Tour.
And because I apparently need to be on the edge of overcommittment in order to feel alive, I've decided to join three teams for the Tour de Fleece 2012. But even considering that bit of psychological baggage, I think I've set some realistic goals for my Tour. I've joined the Climbers, Woolgatherings, and Spindlers teams for the Tour.
The Climbers team is dedicated to the idea of accomplishing a personal challenge, much like how the Tour riders will have to climb steep hills during their race. I have two Climbers goals. The first is to finally finish that grey mill-ends yarn that has been hanging around my spinning wheel for too long. The second is to completely finish one of my fleeces. I've chosen my Icelandic lamb's fleece for this challenge. The fleece is washed, and several months ago, I had started picking the wool and drum-carding it, but I didn't get very far and it soon ended up in a plastic crate on a shelf. My Climbers goal is to finish picking and carding the wool, then spinning all of it. Here is a photo of the wool showing a staple, a section of washed fleece, and a handful of picked wool:
The Woolgatherings team will use handpainted fiber by indie dye artist Kate Sitzman (who has a bit of a cult following and is probably my favorite dyer). To add another twist (pun slightly intended) to my Tour, I've chosen two handpainted braids that are fibers I've never spun before:
100% Falkland wool
And lastly, I joined the Spindlers team, which is a group of spinners who love using spindles for creating yarn, because I think it's likely that I'll travel during at least part of the Tour and would need to have a small, travel-friendly project to bring with me. I'll use one of my Woolgatherings braids and my new Kundert spindle:
The Tour begins tomorrow! Cheers to all athletes and spinners and to a successful Tour!