For jauntiness, on or off a bicycle

Published on Sunday July 3rd, 2011

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know what July means: the Tour de France and its celebratory knit-along! I already know I’m going to fail at completing this year’s epic project (on which more later), so I thought I’d at least kick things off with a little bonbon… after all, it’s been a while since there was a new free pattern up here, ne c’est pas?

Vilaine (1 of 4)

How about a simple pair of fingerless gloves inspired by cycling wear, with just a few classy details? I’m calling these the Vilaine Gloves in honor of the river the peloton will cross on their way into the finish town of Redon tomorrow. I knit them using far less than one skein of The Fibre Company’s Savannah DK, a summery blend of wool, cotton, linen and soy, but the pattern is written with length and percentage measurements so that you can use a yarn of any weight from your stash.

If you’d like to have at it, the pattern is here: VilaineGloves

More pictures? Glad to oblige.

Vilaine (2 of 4)

I used one of my favorite thumb gussets, placing the increases only on the palm side. This treatment is most useful if there’s patterning on the back of the hand you don’t want to disturb, but I like the way it looks in general.

Vilaine (3 of 4)

Final point of polish: a professorial leather button to close the wrist band. One needn’t, of course, wear these gloves for actual cycling, so you can choose as dressy a button as you wish.

Vilaine (4 of 4)

As always, please contact me right away if you find errors or tricky bits in this pattern. Full disclosure: I knit and wrote this sucker in the space of two days. During the first, the yahoos up the hill who can’t wait until 4 July to light their illegal fireworks panicked my poor dog, who jumped or squeezed under the fence and went on the lam for a night and a day, causing anxiety and heartbreak in all quarters. (Thanks to all that is good in the universe, she was not run over on Sandy Boulevard and kind souls Jean and Tim coaxed her into their home and reported her so I could retrieve her the next afternoon. She is terribly footsore but safely home.) Then last night the baby decided to conduct a one-girl circus in our bed for several hours. All this is by way of saying there are probably errors, so knit with sense and trust your judgment, mes amis.

It’s July!

Published on Friday July 2nd, 2010

Never mind that it’s 59 degrees F and raining. The calendar says it’s July (and my husband has been wearing shorts out of sheer stubbornness), and if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know that means Tour de France fever! Yes, I’ve once again got a hand in organizing the international knitalong (we’re over on Ravelry and we’re happy to welcome latecomers for a few more days if you’d like to join us). My friends and relations find this somewhat hilarious and/or bemusing, I think. Maybe it’s the fact that there are nearly eighty other fruit bats out there from Australia to Holland who love to watch cycling and knit at the same time and then talk about it on the internet. In years past I’ve taken on a really big challenge for the 21 days of the Tour, most recently designing and knitting Footlights and Daisy Daisy.

This year’s going to be a bit different. With a baby due in five and a half weeks, there are some things that need to be accomplished. I’ll try to put some nearly finished projects to bed so they won’t be abandoned for months once I’ve got my hands full of squalling newborn. And this poor baby has very few handknits made by its own mother (happily several aunties-to-be have been filling the void — those gifts deserve their own post!), so I’ll try to remedy that, beginning with Carina Spencer’s Small Things Romper, to which I’ll be adding a special touch:


I shall call it the Lanterne Rouge romper. (The Lanterne Rouge is the guy who finishes dead last in the Tour. Now do you get it?) Cute snailie isn’t mine; I borrowed his chart from Adrian Bizilia’s wonderful Norwegian Snail Mittens (in Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Yarn) and modified it just a touch since it doesn’t need to fit on a mitten. In addition to nodding to the Tour, this snail is a sort of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” tribute to the soggy summer we’re having. His less adorable and far more voracious brethren have left my hostas in tatters.

Tomorrow morning I get to cast on! Since the powers that organize world sports have seen fit to schedule the Tour prologue at the same time as the Argentina-Germany soccer match, there may be a bit of squabbling over the remote, and I’ll probably have to go back and watch both events in full later in the day. Good thing the weather outside isn’t tempting.

Another one. I know, I know.

Published on Thursday July 23rd, 2009


I may have a teensy problem with casting on new sweaters before the old ones are finished. In this case, though, I blame the Tour de France Time Trial. Have you ever tried to knit linen really fast for a solid hour? A person could incur lasting tendon damage, I think. My knitalong team turned in the lowest stitch-per-hour average in the first trial, so I was determined to help us improve. And how better than straight-up stockinet in the round with spring, squishy Beaverslide merino? I warmed up by working the mistake-rib hem you see here, and this morning I was ready to crank on the stockinet body. My neighbor Barb gave me the French-style countdown (one counts ones fingers in a different way than Americans normally would when sending off a rider in the Tour de France, or a knitter in the Tour de France KAL) and I’m happy to report I achieved 2,024 sph.

But I’m putting this sweater aside again to (gasp) finish some other things, so I’ll introduce her properly later on. Tomorrow is for finishing Daisy Daisy, and then there’s last-minute Baby Shower knitting to be done!

As close as we got

Published on Monday July 20th, 2009


We drove down to Monmouth Sunday morning to take part in the Cycle Oregon Weekend ride. Unfortunately, we discovered upon arrival that the bag containing our shoes, jerseys, sunscreen—basically all we needed—had been left behind. So the bikes got an airing on the car roof, but didn’t get to taste the road at all. In truth, it was probably a blessing in disguise, as I’ve been having knee/back trouble and hadn’t felt great after our easy ride on Saturday. I may just have irritated the knee enough that it’s going to grumble even though my spine and seat height have been professionally adjusted, in which case there’s nothing for it but to rest.

In knitting news…


Yes, that’s Daisy Daisy blocking on the floor! She lacks a button and the special embellishment I’ve planned around it, but I wanted to block her for length before I placed the button. I may be off my real bicycle more than I’d like, but things look good for my conquest of the yellow jersey in the Tour de France KAL!