Today is a very triste jour. Some of you may know that yesterday's stage winner, Alexandre Vinokourov, has tested positive for blood doping. While the B sample has yet to be tested, and details are still forthcoming, it has already sent the media into a frenzy, and caused the withdrawl of Vino's team, Astana.
Cycling does not need another drug scandal. The sport is teetering on the brink as it is -- political problems with the agencies that run different races, various agencies that have come up with their own drug policies that contradict each other as well as the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) standards, recent disclosures of drug use by former members of the T-Mobile team, including former 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis, the Operation Puerto investigation that caught favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso...the list goes on and on. We are still waiting on the arbitrators' decision for the Floyd Landis case, last year's Tour winner who is accused of having an elevated testosterone/epitestosterone ratio. [Note that in this case, faulty lab testing practices, as revealed in the arbitration hearings, may be responsible for the test results, a la the Landaluze case. Debby lives in hope!]. With all the tightened controls and increased testing, the intention was that this year's Tour would escape scandal, and we could all watch cycling again just for the sheer joy of it. Unfortunately it seems we are destined to go through another stage.
I hope this does not ruin your enjoyment of the Tour, cycling in general, or our knit along. There are plenty of riders who race clean, and though the sport is going through a "culling of the herd" as one official termed it, there is still much to be excited about. Women's cycling in particular is growing by leaps and bounds, and there are some incredible female athletes out there -- Nicole Cooke from the UK, and Sarah Hammer, an American track cyclist -- as well as those of us in the KAL who slog it out daily or weekly on our own bikes. Let's hang in there and continue to support the riders like Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer, who have undergone grueling training to get to this year's race. After all, there is knitting to be finished too!!
In the meantime, to lighten the mood, we will announce the winner of today's prix -- Elaine of http://elaine-knitting.blogspot.com! Elaine's randomly assigned number of 26 came up on the random number generator -- Felicitations!! Please email one of your hostesses with your address and we will be honored to poste le prix avec vous!
Before today's news was announced, I (Debby) had planned to write about French knitting companies. Meg had posted about a wool mill during one of the earlier stages, and I've been curious as to what yarns and patterns are available for those of us inspired to tricote francais.
Phildar seems to be the most well-known French pattern and yarn company. Knitting Fever
is one online shop that carries their products. Here is the link for the pattern books. Bergere de France patterns are sold by Angel Yarns in the UK. Sarah of Blue Garter blog is knitting one of their sweaters (or unknitting, according to her latest post -- the comparison to Vinokourov is a bit eerie!). Go check it out! Bergere de France yarn can be ogled and purchased at this site.
What other French yarns and pattern companies are out there? If you've knit something from these companies, what did you think of the pattern/yarn? Are there other suppliers out there for the U.S., Australia, and Europe?