les triplettes du tour

They’re not quite as hench as the Triplettes de Belleville, although they’re trying their best. I made this trio of winning Tour de France handkerchiefs for my father’s birthday this summer, as he had the good fortune this year of sharing the day with the first day of the Tour. I really capitalised on this coincidence, so he also had a birthday card with a cyclist on, and a postcard of an elephant on a bicycle for father’s day, earlier in the month. I adapted the pattern slightly from one I found on the web (I was pushed for time and didn’t fancy inventing stitchy bicycles), and cross stitched all the maillots; jaune, vert and à pois. Here they are in their lycra glory:

Les Triplettes!

Being quite a dab hand at cross stitch these days (if that’s even possible, given the lack of skill involved?), I thought I would make life difficult for myself and do away with all this waste canvas malarkey. So I set out cross stitching freestyle. First of all I tried peering at the threads in the fabric, attempting to count them. (I’m still revelling after my optician told me three years ago that my eyesight was excellent and I shouldn’t come back for at least two years, and so I take pleasure in setting myself harder and harder cross stitch challenges.) But I rapidly realised I would *actually* make myself blind that way, as they were far too small to count, even for such talented eyes as mine. So I had a go at judging the size of the crosses by eye instead, and that didn’t work either. I would have ended up with a real dog’s breakfast of a birthday present. So I resorted to waste canvas again. It made the process beautifully straightforward.

Happily, my father seemed to really appreciate the present. I met him for coffee after work a few weeks later, and he proudly produced one from his pocket, without being asked. He said he had been considering how best to subtly flaunt the hand-stitching on his hankies while blowing his nose. It’s a tricky act to perfect.

As per usual, though, I didn’t manage to finish all three handkerchiefs quite in time for my pa’s birthday, and had to finish up the last one the following day. Since I wanted to take pictures of all three finished cyclists ensemble, and I didn’t finish the third until the evening when it was too dark to take good photos, my mother kindly promised to photograph them on my behalf after I had gone. The implications of this unfortunately meant that my poor father was not allowed to use any of them for about a fortnight while my ma waited for a suitably sunny day to photograph them all on. Though in my view (and I’m sure you’ll agree) I felt it was well worth the wait, as my mother evidently took her role very seriously, and lovingly posed each one on my father’s racing bike. The perfect finishing touch to my bicycle tour de force.