Monday, July 24, 2006

TdF Arrivée

The Maillot Jaune [Yellow Jersey] is mine!

Maillot Jaune button

My goal for Le Tour de Fleece was to spindle my first laceweight yarn. At the finish [arrivée] I have 150 m (164 yd) of finished 2-ply laceweight and about 350 m (382 yd) of singles in varying colors that await a suitable plying partner. I also have bike socks with yellow jerseys on them (cycling humor) and some bubbly.

Tour de Fleece success

During the TdF I discovered that spindling laceweight depends almost entirely on precision drafting and fast whorling. As I still have lots of roving to spin, I'm investing in a Bossie featherweight, said to spin like a little tornado. After last week, that's the only kind of tornado I want to see.

I also discovered that spinning laceweight is an interminable process, definitely not for jackrabbit types. The smallest bit of fluff can spin a long, long thread. Plying, which usually goes quickly, takes an age. The finished skeins seem puny. The roving looms large. And yet Bette Hochberg asserts in "Production" (Interweave, Winter 1978) that for truly fine spinning, a fast supported spindle beats a spinning wheel or any automated machine in fineness, quantity, and durability of product. Then again, she's thinking about Indian cotton or Peruvian alpaca spun at better than 200 miles to the pound (708 km per kg) and woven at upwards of 1400 threads per inch (551 threads per cm)! It's said the legendary Dhaka (or Dacca) spinners would take almost three years to spin a pound of cotton using supported spindles. Strangely, that makes me feel better about my rate of production.

A final learning is I'm not too good at conversation and spindling, but really enjoy spindling while watching TV. The two go together so well that now I spindle only while watching TV. Must watch more television!

Congratulations to all the other TdF participants and a big merci beaucoup to Tour Directrice Katherine for organizing this clever spin-along. (And happy birthday to the Assistant Tour Director!) The concept is simple perfection and the actual doing a valuable – and fun – discipline. I enjoyed viewing other participants' challenges – it's nice to have company, especially for a newbie spinner.

As for that other TdF, what an amazing three weeks! This year the outcome was in suspense right until the penultimate stage. Who woulda thunk that Floyd Landis could make that magnificent comeback performance to take the Yellow Jersey.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

[ETA 8/5/06: The test results have come back and it's looking highly likely that Steroid Floyd will have the dubious distinction of being the first Tour de France champion to be stripped of his maillot. His multiple stories – sometimes blustering, sometimes contradictory, sometimes plain whoppers – only increase the impression that the emperor has no clothes.]


KatyaR said...

Congratulations! You deserve that bubbly!

dragon knitter said...

woot! fantastic singles, love. and the plied stuff looks great, too!

did i hear correctly, that landis did this with a ruined hip, and will be going in for hip replacement surgery? that's either totally insane, or terribly gutsy. wow.

--Deb said...

Congratulations! That is really quite an achievement--you should be so proud of yourself.