Nfld. & Labrador

Move over, cyclists! The Tour de Fleece is underway

While the Tour de France is in full swing, wool-spinners across the world are having their own competition.

'I already have one room that’s completely stuffed with yarn'

Springmann shows off her beloved wool and yarn. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

The early stages of this year's Tour de France are underway — but athletes aren't the only ones competing this year. 

Across the world, wool and fibre enthusiasts are spinning too. It's called the Tour de Fleece, and Antje Springmann of RiverOwl Studio in Clarke's Beach has her head in the game.

"The idea was that the Tour de France wheels are going at the same time of the wheels of the spinners," she said. 

The wool-spinning tour was started 13 years ago by Star Athena, an American knitter, with just 16 participants involved. Today, more than 2,100 spinners from across the world are playing with fibre while cyclists race to the finish line. 

This is some of the raw, fluffy material that Springmann works with to compete in the Tour de Fleece. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

There are a few "super-fun" rules, said Springmann.

"You set yourself a goal. For some spinners you set yourself a goal of 15 minutes every day of spinning, because some people [usually] don't get around to it … and then some people set a goal of maybe wanting to spin something that they've never done before, whether it's a different fibre of a different kind of yarn. And if you don't make it, that's OK."

Springmann is a yarn superfan, so this event means a lot to her.

It grew out of a hobby that got out of hand... on a large scale.- Antje Springmann

"I already have one room that's completely stuffed with yarn. And I like to collect yarn when I travel."

She even has her own sheep to help keep her hobby going.

"Right now I have four with me. I have two boarders, two that I'm keeping for someone else. And I have two more — I have an Icelandic and a Scottish blackface. The little one is all black and white, and my friend said, 'Oh, look! It's a sheep that wants to be a cow!' So it's very fun." 

More than just a hobby

RiverOwl Studio, her yarn business, sells materials online across the country. "It grew out of a hobby that got out of hand — on a large scale."

Some participants, like Springmann, watch the Tour de France while they spin to fully immerse themselves in the experience. 

"When I'm spinning, I am totally there. And I watch the landscape go by, and the commentary about the place — I absolutely love it."

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