Harrogate Borough Council says that it has been “overwhelmed” by the response to an appeal for miniature knitted Tour de France jerseys that will be used in bunting to celebrate the Grand Départ of the race in July – and has now issued an appeal for help in stringing it up.
Stage 1 of the 101st edition of the Tour, which starts in Leeds, will finish in the spa town in North Yorkshire on Saturday 5 July.
Launched at the Knitting and Stitching Show, which took place there last November, the council hoped the Tour de Bunting initiative might result in some 3,000 or so jerseys being sent in to help adorn its streets.
But as of last Friday, some 22,529 jerseys had been received, of which more than one in three – 8,087 – are yellow.
There are also 7,017 green jerseys (we suspect a few of those may have come from the Isle of Man), 5,480 white jerseys and 1,945 of the rather more intricate polka dot jerseys.
Jerseys have come from as far afield as Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Hong Kong – some were even knitted within the Arctic Circle – and the council has now asked that no more be sent.
Instead, it is asking for anyone who is able to come along to a session to help put the jerseys onto bunting cord to get in touch on its customer services number, 01423 500600.
It plans to hang the bunting in the town between late May and September. Afterwards, depending on its condition, the intention is to knit the jerseys into blankets that will be donated to Oxfam.
Last month, the council’s head of parks and open spaces, Patrick Kilburn, told Harrogate News: “This has been led by my team but the original idea was worked up with students from York University and the pattern was created for us by the owners of Baa Ram Ewe knitting business in Harrogate.
“We wanted this to be something the community could get involved with to celebrate our hosting the Tour, but the great knock on effect has been the boom in business for those selling knitting wool.”
Jo Spreckley of Baa Ram Ewe told the Guardian: “Seeing so many people knitting and getting excited about what they’re creating is brilliant.
“It ties in perfectly with our philosophy that knitting should be something everyone can enjoy. We love being involved in the community around us and you can feel the excitement building at such a huge event coming to Yorkshire.”
“We hope we’ll have inspired people to take up knitting more permanently and to be creative with what they’re doing.
“It will also be great for so many people to feel a personal link with the Tour de France and to be able to say they contributed to making Harrogate look fantastic when the world is watching in July,” she added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.