30 July 2007

Une fete des maillots (A Celebration of Jerseys)

Because we are all going through severe Tour withdrawal today, let's look at more finished and nearly finished knitting projects and keep the magic going a little longer!

Chris' socks are nearly done, and her cat Mayhem is helping her knit faster! Check out her adorable photo -- I couldn't seem to copy it here (sorry Chris).

Here's Devorah from the yellow jersey category, with her chevron vest and bonus matching socks!

Here is Elaine's jacket, ready to be sewn up:

And Heather's Grapevine socks, which she dyed as well as knit:

Ina's maillot jaune is almost done, except for a few final adjustments.

Soleil pieced

Janet has been working on two blankets. Her Pinwheel Blanket, which she started the Tour with, is now done, and her Medallion blanket is 8 inches (Janet please correct me if I've misread that!

Kat said she was dropped by the peleton on the last day, but I think she did a magnifique job just the same!

And here is Lady Eleanor, all finished except for blocking and final details, modeled by Kristen!

Fri_lady_e_sunflowers_006 Fri_lady_e_sunflowers_005

Martha finished her chausettes jaunes, but is really upset about her local paper's Tour coverage. Perhaps you can visit her site and leave a comment and cheer her up?


Stitchyfingers' cycling gloves are nearly done!! She should get extra Queen of the Mountains points for all of those individual fingers knitted!!

Sarah finished her Holiday Romance top, and is going to post photos shortly. We can't wait to see!

And Maxine (sans blog) sent us this report:

hello Debra, and the group. since i do not (yet) have my own blog i thought i would send you a wrap up for my KAL projects. i have enjoyed watching this year and have found some few converts among my patients (captive dental audience). and i have found the KAL blog and all the links just brilliant. many new ideas to add to my list of things to do....

finished...........pink cabled leisure socks in Sockotta

black military socks in Regia stretch

brown London beanie in Elann esprit

OTN.............tesselated fish afghan, yellow and navy in Plymouth Encore using a fibonaci sequence striping



Sarah managed to finished Brigitte - I think she deserves a croissant!

In our white jersey category, Jennifer made an incredible effort for Camisa. A lot of firsts:

  • First KAL, yes, true!
  • First garment
  • First adaptation of a pattern for fit
  • First use of shaping
  • First knitting “both at the same time”
  • First marathon knitting sessions — I knit for looooooong period of time on this project!!

We're proud of you Jennifer for taking on such a huge uncategorized climb with two business trips during the Tour *and* you finished a pair of socks too! Definitely a Contador-worthy white jersey performance here.

In the green jersey category, we've had some late-breaking finishing news from Heidi who finished this gorgeous tank top:

And Moze pulled off another incredible finish with this cotton sweater, modelled here on her daughter (hence the sleeves are a bit long).

If I have forgotten to post your FO or near FO, blogless or otherwise, please let me know!

Meg's post yesterday with post-Tour withdrawal suggestions was so great -- last year I walked around in a daze for weeks afterward, so I'm definitely going to try a few things on her list!

I want to say again how much I appreciate your patience during my absence, and all of Meg's hard work. When she asked me to co-host the KAL a few months ago, I told her a hesitant yes because I wanted to do it so much, but there was a "slight chance" that if our house sold, we might be moving in July. Of course we ended up moving right smack in the middle of the month, and I didn't get to do nearly all the posts and fun things I wanted to do (please don't mention my actual TdF project, which I feel horribly ashamed about, but I'm with the Dave Zabriskie knitters who timed out early this year). Meg did a good deal of pulling at the front of this peleton, and deserves extra applause. Again, Merci Beaucoup to her!! {Meg would like to add her deepest thanks to Debby who did more work on the KAL than she is making it sound like here!}

We hope you all enjoyed the Tour and will join us again next year for another great Knit Along! Please proudly display your jersey buttons on your blogs, regardless of whether or not you finished the project you set out to do! As any flamme rouge will tell you, winning isn't everything!

But winning is still fun and now it's time to announce the winner of our third and final 2007 Tour de France big prize contest giveaway... drumroll please... it's Whitney of Tour de Gansey fame!

Now that the Tour is over we'll be signing off until June 2008. Bonne route until then!

Stage Twenty: Marcoussis > Paris Champs-Elysees

Well the corks on the champagne bottles were popped hours ago and the Tour riders have all retired for one last massage and probably a very big night out celebrating. True to tradition, there was no attack on the Champs-Elysees, so the yellow jersey standings remained unchanged after Stage 20, and, as predicted, Tom Boonen held onto the green jersey. In addition to the yellow, Alberto Contador takes home the white jersey for best young rider, and Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez won the polkadot jersey. We haven't followed the team classification too closely on the KAL, but for the record, Team Discovery Channel (Contador and Leipheimer's team) won that honour.

There are very few spectacles in sport quite like the Champs-Elysees filled with cyclists on the final day of the Tour. It is this kind of beautiful sight which keeps Tour fans tuning in year after year, despite the drug scandals and bad press. The Tour is full of magical moments, unbelievable scenery, gruelling mountain climbs, lightning-quick sprints, requiring strategy and tactics of a grandmaster in chess and a few favourable glances from Lady Luck in order to succeed. Kind of like knitting!

Lots of our knitters have come home to Paris triumphant, sporting beautiful finished works. Some of our knitters have not quite finished their projects but have made amazing progress nonetheless. We want to give as many people as possible a chance to show off their Tour projects, so there will be one or two more project updates to follow this one - so please keep tuning in! And don't forget to stop by your fellow Tour KAL'ers sites to give them a hearty pat on the back for a job well done.

Here's Lene looking very smart, sporting her newly completed Maggie Tweed cardigan!
Natalie has finished her neckwarmer with her handspun yarn and is having an 'end-of-Tour sale' on her Tour-theme-named yarns - why not stop by and pick up a bargain on some beautiful yarn!
Despite her injuries, Susan still managed to complete this amazing Kauni cardigan! Here's a shot of the back, since we recently saw the front.
Blogless Tam gave it her all and still has a little tiny bit left to finish on her Juno - good luck!
Zarah has captured the essence of France with her completed 'Julia' sweater, modelled here with an Orangina - tres bien!!
Jen finished her 'Anniversaire' socks... formidable!
It's not knitting but it's still craft...my father managed to make not one but two eyeglass cases, reviving his plastic canvas cross stitch skillz from a decade ago. Note the Tour-appropriate colours!
Kris started out the Tour with 10 WIPS and finished four of them. Well kind of four. It depends on if the buttons have to be applied to a cardigan in order for it to count as an FO. Anyway, this irresistible little number is a top for her 4-month old niece. Mignon!
Mrs Pao completed her Kiri shawl with flying colours and time to spare! Magnifique!
Blogless Anne emailed to tell me she's finished three socks during the Tour, the companion to an existing first sock...
And another pair!
Sharon showed remarkable commitment to one project which I think she has found is against her nature... here is her wrap, with 8 pattern repeats done - halfway complete! She is planning on doing one repeat a week until it's finished, and allowing herself to glance at other projects now from time to time!
Donni finished her first Bayerische sock... I think she's in love!
Jane sprinted to the finish with her entrelac socks... say hi to Tom Boonen on the winners' podium for me!
Riggwelter finished her chunky cardigan and provides on her blog an impressive run-down of her achievements over the past three weeks! (Full marks for the Francais!)
Dotty has finished the first sock of a pair, it's a mighty fine specimen:
Meg's mum finished one apres-ski headband and is almost finished with the second. Hot chocolates all round!
Blogless Lisa emailed me a photo of her nearly-finished Anthropologie Shrug - looks fabulous!
And some more updates...
Arja has finished the body of her Mermaid.
Ann has also finished the majority of her Mermaid. That mermaid, she seems to be a lot of knitting!
Amelia has cast off Myrtille and is blocking it now.
Beverly started chickami but has had an even more important deadline rear its head (really! check out what she's using as motivation to get her draft dissertation finished!) - so no finished tour knitting but something started at least.
Paisley is looking forward to her first early-to-bed night since Wimbledon! Me too!
Amber finished her third shawl in three weeks!
Christina finished one Jaywalker as the icing on the cake of a long litany of achievements during the Tour!
Maylin encountered some pesky stitch count problems a mere 14 rows from the end of her Swallowtail Shawl but last I heard she was going to try to 'smudge' it and finish it off.
And despite spending most of the Tour incapaciated by a back problem, Peaknit managed to get through most of a pair of Roza socks - demonstrating she definitely has what it takes to be a top-class TdF rider!

As the buzz of the Tour recedes into the distance, we will all be left with an inordinate amount of free time. Sometimes the end of the Tour can leave us feeling a sense of emptiness and despair - we miss our dear friends on the Tour, including Phil and Paul, we miss having something to look forward to every single day, we miss the excuse to eat lots of cheese and croissants etc.. I thought I would provide some tips for avoiding Post-Tour Depression to help us through this trying time.
  • Go for a bike ride. If that doesn't do it for you, assign yourself to one of the Tour teams and pretend you're the leader/sprinter/mountain specialist/domestique.
  • Refer to your family or group of friends or coworkers as the peloton. Occasionally send someone off to collect drinks from the team car (aka refrigerator).
  • Travel in the slipstream of your friends by refusing to walk next to them in favour of walking behind them.
  • Refer to jaywalkers as breakaway riders while waiting to cross at the lights.
  • Eat your lunch out of a bag slung over your shoulder. When you're finished throw your water bottle over your shoulder. Extra points for eating only Energy Gel.
  • Wear spandex everywhere. For that matter, wear a helmet everywhere.
  • Stand on the roadside and shout Allez! Allez! at passing bicycle couriers. If you don't have bike couriers in your town, shout Allez! Allez! at the neighbourhood kids on their bikes.
  • Utilise Phil- and Paul-isms in your everyday speaking.
  • Excuse yourself from situations by saying you have to take a Natural Break.
  • Join the Cycling Knitters webring.
  • Mark the dates of the 2008 Tour in your diary now!
Check back here soon for more updates and the announcement of the winner of the final prize drawing!

29 July 2007

Stage Nineteen: Cognac > Angouleme Timetrial

It was an absolute nail-biter of a Time Trial for Stage 19. While most eyes were watching Cadel Evans to see if he could make up the 1:50 needed to claim the yellow jersey from Alberto Contador, what really made exciting viewing was Levi Leipheimer! Riding what Phil and Paul agreed was "the time trial of his life", Levi finished the stage well ahead of the rest of the field... and very nearly stole 2nd place overall from Cadel Evans!

In the end, Evans managed to stay 8 seconds overall ahead of Leipheimer, while Contador amazingly managed to hang onto his overall lead and will cycle into Paris the victor in the maillot jaune. It is one of the closest finishes in the history of the Tour, with only 31 seconds separating the first and third place riders - that's really something considering their overall time exceeds 89 hours!

Contador's performance, and indeed possibly Leipheimer's as well, might have been boosted by the presence of the spiritual muse of Team Discovery Channel, Lance Armstrong, who still owns a 1/3 share in the team and made a surprise appearance at the time trial, riding in the team car which followed Contador throughout the 55.5km course.

Although there is still one more stage, there is traditionally never an attack on the yellow jersey in the ride into Paris, so the standings are they are now are likely to remain unchanged. The only jersey which is sometimes still up for grabs in the last stage is the green, sprinters jersey, which can be decided in the intermediate sprints on the Champs-Elysees. This year, however, Tom Boonen is fairly well assured of winning green as he is 24 points ahead of the second place green jersey contender, Robbie Hunter.

Let's hope the result this year is not clouded by a controversy over the winner's drug tests, as last year's Tour is still unresolved with a decision in Floyd Landis' arbitration is still outstanding. Contador is still being asked to explain away some doping suspicions, as reported here.

Although we might have a good idea of the result of the Tour, there are still a few good hours left of knitting and many of us are still putting the finishing touches on our projects! We're going to leave the knitting updates for tomorrow to give a few more knitters time to post about their finished Tour projects! And don't forget, there is still one more prize draw to go. Entries close at midday on June 30th - so comment comment comment and don't forget to post about your Tour project!

28 July 2007

Stage Eighteen: Cahors > Angouleme

Cadel has 3 more seconds on Contador!!! (That was for Meg). Today's Tour report should probably start instead with something like: Casar wins Stage 18!

Despite an earlier crash with an unleashed dog (I can't believe they allow that sort of thing), Casar was part of a four man breakaway that included Axel Merckx (son of cycling legend Eddy Merckx), Laurent Lefevre, and Michael Boogerd. In the end, he was able to sprint ahead to capture the first stage win of his career. Contador is still in yellow (and white!) and tomorrow's time trial will determine whether he, Cadel, or Levi will be on the podium in Paris.

Nathalie is apparently going for three jerseys. She signed up for yellow, and is working on Icarus:


Although it is her first TdF progress post, she's only got 30 rows left, sprinting for a green jersey, AND it's her first lace project and first shawl, qualifying her for a polka dot jersey. Incroyable!

T's MS3 Stole is finally beginning to cooperate:

She's frustrated with the cheaters in the Tour, and in her local parking lots, but rest assured T. that in the KAL, every woman is knitting for herself.

The other yellow and white jersey knitters are quiet maintenant, calculating how to get their lowest time in for their maillot jaune finishes. Bonne chance!

Steph, in the polkadot classification, has managed to make a substantial start on her first fair isle gloves in between moving house! (Why does everyone seem to be moving house in July?) I just love seeing fair isle patterns as they unfold, don't you!

Jane joined the polkadot group thinking her entrelac sock project would be a big challenge. Turns out once she got the hang of it, the entrelac is not too hard so she's decided to sprint for the finish! Go Jane!!

Cindy has finished one of the sleeves on the 8-years-in-progress sweater we saw yesterday, despite the weather being unconducive to kntting in wool!

And Amber has posted photos of her latest shawls - here's the 2nd one she completed during the Tour - lovely!

The sprinters, including myself, have quietly been focussing on our time trial sprint for Stage 19. In fact I (Meg) was concentrating so much on packing in as much knitting as I could on Saturday that I completely forgot to publish this post until after the Time Trial started! Je suis desolee!

Now that it's in progress I have caffeine at hand and am working on the hexagon border on my cardigan. Tomorrow is supposed to be all seaming up and modelling for the camera - with any luck!

Bonne chance to everyone!

27 July 2007

Stage Seventeen: Pau > Castelsarrasin

Alberto Contador is in jaune, Cadel is mere nanoseconds behind, and the only drugs admitted to today are the caffeinated kind. It's a happy day!

In an effort to avoid a bunch sprint at the end of the stage, the indomitable Jens Voigt set the pace for an early 8-man breakaway. 110km later, only 4 riders were left from the breakaway group, which had left the peloton nearly 10 minutes in its wake. Italian Daniele Banati, from Team Lampre, won the stage - Lampre's first win in the Tour since 2001...amazing to consider, because Lampre is one of those teams that can always be counted on to have riders up front when it comes to a bunch sprint finish.

Let's spare a thought for David Millar - what a trooper. He apparently has an allergy to the sun, yes that big shiny thing in the sky, which might not be such a problem in his native Scotland, but in sunny France, it caused him to break out in an unbearably itchy rash in the first week of the Tour. He had to get special permission from officials to try certain topical creams as a remedy, none of which were reported to do the trick. So you might have noticed he's riding with long sleeves and sunblock literally caked onto his face, neck, and legs - any exposed skin. That must have been quite uncomfortable in yesterday's 30C+ (86F+) temperatures! Although he was part of the 8-man breakaway during this stage, he could not keep up the pace and fell behind with 16km to go. He is not giving up on his plans for a stage win, though - so watch out for the big Scot !

The standings in the leaders' classifications were unaffected by the result of Stage 17. It is interesting to note that Rasmussen's withdrawal did not automatically mean that Contador, in 2nd place, put on the yellow jersey. Although the official record books will say that Contador was in yellow for Stage 17, he wore his normal team jersey. At the end of today's stage he put on the yellow jersey, having properly 'earned' it. Despite some decidedly unsportsmanlike behaviour in the performance enhancing drugs area, cycling is full of traditions like that which hint at the underlying sense of honour in the peloton.

Speaking of honours, lots of our knitters are getting very close to podium honours for their KAL projects! Here's the latest standings:

Barbara is really excited because she's reached yellow jersey status on her socks:

Bea has finished hers:

Here's our prize winner Elaine's finished three sock pair:

Ina's Soleil is looking tres belle:

Soleil waist shaping

And Janet's yellow tank top is nearly fini!


Kat's chausettes bleu are also nearly done

And check out Kristen's Lady Eleanor! She is going to cross the finish in a very comfortable time!


Yellow jerseys are not expected to finish their projects before the end of the Tour, which is a good thing for knitting riders like Kristen and Kathy, who followed the example of Dennis Menchov today, and have withdrawn from the race. We're glad that you joined us and gave it your best attempt -- you're still part of the team and free to comment even if you had to hang up your needles and shelve the project til next year. For some of us it is the process of the race, the riding itself -- we are not all Tom Boonens!

Speaking of which, here's what the sprinters have been up to:
The Knitty Professor has finished all three of her market bags with plenty of time to spare! She's looking forward to meeting Boonen on the green jersey podium in Paris!

Cindy2Paw is shown her modelling her fantastic green cosy V-neck top down sweater, completed after something like 2 weeks. Bravo!
Arja's plans to complete Mermaid during the tour got waylaid by some mysterious sock disease, but she is now planning to finish the body of Mermaid during the Tour - see, she's nearly there already!

Kate has finished this cute 'Jean-Pierre' vest of her own design for her son who loved it so much he's modelling it over pyjamas! I hear that's the latest thing on the catwalks of Milan and Paris!

This beautiful nearly-finished Kauni cardigan is the handiwork of the injured Susan. Instead of aiming to complete all the finishing on the cardigan, Susan is going to aim to finish the 2nd sleeve. Given her knitting-affected injuries, I think that's an admirable goal!

The mountain climbers are coasting home to Paris now that the Pyrenees have been tackled. Amber is nearing completion of her THIRD shawl from the Tour! And Christina has finished her Tour socks in hand-dyed yellow and green yarns to reflect the jerseys:

Although Cindy is not speaking to her Fawne project at the moment, she is going to try to finish a project that's been in progress for 8 years! It's a gorgeous fair isle creation for her husband:

Whitney's tour de gansey has come to a lovely conclusion at the Champs-Elysee of sweater construction, the collar. Bravo Whitney - you have inspired me to attemt a gansey one day!

Nikki's not going to finish her project, but that was never the point anyway. She's made lots of progress and has less to do post-Tour than she will before she started. Give the girl a pat on the back! Allez-allez!

Mrs Pao's cats have been commentating on her project in progress a la Phil & Paul - this is going to be an exciting finish!

I'm sure lots of us have big weekends ahead, with endless supplies of coffee, tea, chocolate, baguettes, and the remote control close at hand while we put the finishing touches on our projects! In just a few days it will all be over! Leave a comment with your tips for Post-Tour Depression (aka, what am I going to do with all my free time???) and we'll collate them in a future post for everyone's benefit!

A bientot!