Analog Tools: Spinning wheels and the Tour de France

If’ I’m being really honest, my first love is not fountain pens and stationery; it’s knitting and yarn. But since many of us love analog tools, today I thought I’d share what I’m up to.

Every year there’s this little bike race in France over the summer. And many years ago (early to mid 2000s), spinners (of yarn) decided that during the Tour de France, they would spin and make yarn on their spinning wheels. And they called it Tour de Fleece.

I learned to spin yarn back in 2010. Basically to make yarn, you take fiber (wool is the most common, but there are other animal and plant-based fibers you can use) and you combine both drafting (pulling apart the fibers to create create the thickness you’d like) and then add twist to make it stronger. The first thing you spin is a singles – a single strand of yarn. If you choose to, you can then twist these singles on each other to create stronger, plied yarns. I typically spin 2-ply yarns, but 3-ply yarns are quite popular, and you ply quite a few strands together (my biggest was a 9-ply and it looks like boat rope!)

But I digress. When I first started spinning I used a spindle. This is the most analog of spinning tools – just a stick, with something to weight it and keep it spinning (a whorl) in your hands.

Once I decided I was hooked, I got a spinning wheel. Despite the name and the engineering, this is another analog tool. My spinning wheel doesn’t look like a Rumplestiltskin replica, but it has the same functions. There are two foot pedals (treadles) and a wheel which through the use of some strings and springs makes a foot-powered system that adds twist to fiber and allows it to collection on a bobbin.

TDF 2021 Day 2

Most recently I have taken a bit more of a leap and actually bought myself an electric spinning wheel. This wheel uses a motor and either battery-power or electricity to eliminate the foot treadling and yet still add twist. I do go back to my analog wheel quite a bit though – there’s something so soothing and meditative about creating something with my hands (and feet).

The Tour de France started on July 1 and runs through July 24, which means I’m spending lots of time at my spinning wheel (while watching men on one of the most analog of a tools – a bicycle). I haven’t been playing with pens as much, but I’m digging creating just the same!

TDF Patchwork Kit

TDF 2022

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7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I left spinning behind years ago when I quit weaving, but your beautiful yarns take me back to my own happy memories. Truly beautiful and unique.

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