Stupid Hands! – The Explanation

hands 2

So why don’t my hands work?

It’s a bit of a long story that actually begins with The Tour of Britain, which kicks off today and runs until the 11th of September.  For those of you that don’t know,  it’s an 8 day event, that will see some of the world’s top riders, race on UK roads in British Cycling’s premier road cycling event.

Now I don’t want to confuse you, I haven’t suddenly become a massive fan of cycling.  Each to his/her own, I like a bike ride through the country, even better if it’s through the muddy puddles, but road racing isn’t my jam.  However, the events that crafters conjure up to support these events do interest me.

The Tour de Fleece runs whilst the Tour de France takes place and I missed it, being far too busy to even look at my spinning wheel at the time, never mind sit at the thing.  So I was determined to get involved with the next spinning ‘event’ I spotted.

Perusing the groups on Ravelry one evening, I spotted the Tour of British Fleece Group and after reading the ‘event’ guidelines –

  • Spin each day the cyclists ride. The Tour of Britain is an 8-day race with no rest days. Note, if anyone wants to participate only on the day the Tour is in their area, or only on the day for which they have some appropriate fibre, they are still very welcome 🙂 As indeed are onlookers and cheerleaders 🙂
  • If possible, spin the fleece of a sheep relevant to the route the cyclists ride on each day. This could be a breed evolved in the area, a sheep that grazes alongside the route, a breed or type that is much farmed it the area, or anything in between. We have more than 60 breeds and a dozen or more commercially significant hybrids in Britain, and there aren’t very many areas of the country where you can’t find at least some sheep grazing, so generally we should be able to find something appropriate to spin!

I set about trying to source some fibre.


I’d noticed there was an advert for Magpie Lane Crafts at the bottom of the group page and thought I’d try them first.  Their webshop is a haven of all things sheep for spinners and I wasted no time getting in contact.  Janet, the lady behind Magpie Lane Crafts, couldn’t have been more helpful.  I sent her the breakdown for the challenge and she very kindly put together a lovely bundle of fibre for me.  A different one for each of the 8 days, based on where the riders would be passing.

Janet was going away on holiday, but went above and beyond and got the package sent out to me and it arrived on Friday.  Thrilled, I literally ripped the parcel open, desperate to get carding, ready for today.

This is unfortunately where it starts to go rather pear shaped.


I’ve a lovely pair of pre-loved Ashford Hand Carders, which I’d dug out and cleaned up ready to go.  I laid out all my little bags of luscious locks in date order.

Stage 1 – Sunday 4th September – Glasgow to Castle Douglas: Choose from Scottish Blackface, Scotch Mule, Castlemilk Moorit, Border Leicester, Bluefaced Leicester or Crossing Leicester
Stage 2 – Monday 5th September – Carlisle to Kendal: Choose from Rough Fell, Herdwick, Lonk, Swaledale, North of England Mule, Bluefaced Leicester or Crossing Leicester
Stage 3 – Tuesday 6th September – Congleton to Knutsford: Choose from Derbyshire Gritstone, Whitefaced Woodland or Leicester Longwool
Stage 4 – Wednesday 7th September – Denbighshire to Builth Wells: Choose from Welsh Mountain, Badger Faced Welsh, Speckled Faced, Hill Radnor, Kerry Hill; Welsh Mule, Bluefaced Leicester or Crossing Leicester
Stage 5 – Thursday 8th September – Aberdare to Bath: Chose from Black Welsh Mountain, Brecknock Hill Cheviot or Cotswold
Stage 6 – Friday 9th September – Sidmouth to Dartmoor: Choose from Devon Longwool,  Devon Closewool, Whitefaced Dartmoor or Greyfaced Dartmoor
Stage 7 – Saturday 10th September – Bristol : time trial and circuit race: No fibre specified, but Mules, Suffolks and Texels are more-or-less ubiquitous throughout the British Isles.
Stage 8 – Sunday 11th September – London: Choose from Romney or Southdown

Donning my apron, I headed out to the back garden, grabbed a seat and got to carding.  Sadly, I barely managed half an hour, before my hands and wrists were literally screaming at me.  Two days later and they’re still incredibly sore.  It’s not my technique, having taken a couple of classes now, I know what I’m doing.  The head knows, but the hands don’t want to.

I’ve briefly mentioned my Rheumatoid Arthritis here before and whilst I don’t have a problem sharing anything about myself – love me or loathe me that’s your right, I’m not completely comfortable talking about my ‘chronic, progressive disease’ (charming).  I’m not sure this is the right place or the right time to talk about it in more detail, but it might be time for a little say it loud, say it proud “I HAVE RA”.

I also have a whole heap of fibre, that needs carding before I can use it.  What am I to do?  Will I rush out and spend a small fortune on a drum carder, which, lets be honest, I’m not going to use enough right now to justify the few hundred Euros it’s going to cost?  Do I let my lovely hubby do the carding, like he’s offered?  Maybe I should just sulk?

None of these solutions, are quick, the hubby is working away at the moment and I’m not much for sulking, I like to laugh too much.


Undeterred, I’ve been rummaging and I’ve discovered this lovely long braid from Hilltop Cloud, that I bought at Yarndale last year (maybe?).   It’s one of their Sock Fibre Braids and is 75% Superwash British Bluefaced Leicester/25% Nylon, so kind of counts towards the Tour of British Fleece.  I’d been saving it, until my spinning becomes proficient enough to make proper sock yarn, but I could be waiting a long time.

Untitled design (1)

So I’m going to sit down with Buttercup for at least an hour a day and spin my way merrily through the rainbow of colours.  The eagle eyed among you, might also have noticed that the White Welsh Mountain sample is also ready to go, so if I get through the fiery lock I’ll move onto this.

If I stumble upon a pre-loved drum carder, going for peanuts one day, then I might be tempted.  In the meantime I going  to forget about the bags of untouched fibre, my sore hands and be grateful for the fact they still work – most of the time.

If any of you are in the same boat and fancy a moan, get in touch.  I’m up for talking diets, drugs, exercises, the whole shebang.  You can always email me via

Happy Making

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3 thoughts on “Stupid Hands! – The Explanation

  1. Arthritis in the hands seems to run in my mother’s side of the family. Both my granny and my mother are crippled with it. There are times my mother can’t perform simple tasks because her hands just won’t leave her. I’m 29 now and have often worried about me developing the condition. I’ve always used my hands a lot. I play piano and clarinet, and studied music in college. I knit, crochet and tat (the latter I find the easiet on the hands and wrists) I’m hoping that all the time that my hands spend busy will hold off the condition in my case. Although, I do develop RSI in my right wrist frequently, even before I took up knitting, the piano and clarinet did it. I also broke my left hand in 2 places a couple of years ago (falling off a bike ironically enough) and was warned that it could lead to arthritis in later years.
    I then arthritis, particularly that affecting the hands, is something that I as a knitter would be interested in reading about. As well as reading up on tips on how to take care of our precious hands

    • If I could rewind a few years I’d be a little kinder to my hands, before the damage began to set in. Years of knitting has definitely changed the structure of my hands, particularly on my right hand (I’m a thrower), but the knitting also helps to keep my hands subtle. In fact one of the first things I’ll do in the morning is knit a couple of rows, it really helps to wake my hands up.
      If like me you throw your yarn, one of the kindest things you can do to your hands is change the way you hold a mug/cup. Instead of carrying all the weight through the handle, cradle it as in the photo. It causes less strain on those already overworked joints.

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