Posts Tagged ‘KBOW’

Rhinebeck YarnoraMama!

October 24, 2012

It has been far too long since Luann and I have celebrated a YarnoraMama.  Life, work, kids, you name it:  It all gets in the way.  So when the opportunity arose to take her to her first Rhinebeck, it seemed like the right time to see if the cosmic forces would align to allow YarnoraMama IV to happen.

They did.

Dutchess County Fairgrounds – aka “Rhinebeck”

So I could allow her to experience this.  This captures what’s in my mind when I think of Rhinebeck.  I’ve been there in pouring rain, wicked wind and bright sun ~ sometimes several of those in one day.  But this is the quintessential fall-in-New-England event and it should look just like this.

A Teeswater poses prettily

One cannot justify driving 100 miles to a sheep and wool festival without properly admiring the sheep, of course.  The young people, most involved in 4-H, work very hard to raise and show these animals when their friends are off doing teen

Everything you need to know … well, not quite

and ‘tween things.  They know more about these sheep than I ever will.  We owe it to them to start with a visit to the Breed barn to see their ribbons and displays.  After all, without them, there is no knitting.  And fact of the matter, if you were to break down my yarn purchases of the past three years, an astounding percentage come from small farms raising special breeds as I have joined others exploring what makes each special on the needles in the Knitters Book of Wool woolalong inspired by our fearless leader, Clara Parkes.

A Soay sheep from Ashford, CT

I suppose in some respects it’s not fair to take a first-timer on a guided tour of this mother-of-all-sheep-festivals (a superlative shared with Maryland Sheep and Wool, of course.  I’ll let the experts fight over the true winner there.).  There is something to be said for arriving and being immediately lost in a sea of jostling knitters with pointy elbows, all searching for that perfect skein.  Maybe it’s not fair to have removed the “overwhelm” from the equation.

Eight warm legs and eight socks displayed. Where’s Miss Muffet?

However, there is certainly much to be said for attending Rhinebeck on Sunday.  The crowds are significantly smaller, and it is a far more pleasant experience.  Fewer people dragging rolling suitcases indiscriminately over toes and strollers jamming up the aisles.  (I, for one, would never have brought Darling Bebe.  Nope.)  To be sure, there was still

Of course there were owls!

enough to look at to go into sensory overload.  From potters and button-makers to the incomparable Shepherd’s Flock slippers to LYS bringing their wares on the road and independent dyers like Spirit Trail Fiberworks, where we found our peeps with Jennifer’s

Gratuitous (lousy) shot of Mountain Ash shawl knitted for the booth last spring

gorgeous wares.

This was akin to having dessert before dinner, for we will all be together at the Knitter’s Review Retreat in a mere three weeks.  The friends who have showered me with virtual hugs over the past few months were generous with the real thing in person.  I have missed them so.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you about one “find” from one of

Cashmere Crepe by Still River Mill

my favorite luxury yarn sources.  I have written before about Still River Mill, which spins for many area farms and also produces small batches of its own fibers.  Meet Cashmere Crepe:  Fair-trade cashmere.  Cashmere Crepe is the result of a program by USAID to help develop the economy of Afghanistan.  As such, this NGO trained more than 200,000 goat herders on the value of cashmere from their flocks,

Cashmere Crepe – 120 yards, fingering wt, 100% cashmere

and how to properly harvest the fiber.  The result is this fingering-weight 100% cashmere in 25g skeins, with 120 yards.  It sells retail for $18.  That’s a little more expensive than the other cashmere SRM offers, but considering the goal of the project and the distance it traveled to get to here, it’s not an inordinately large price tag to make a pair of fingerless mitts or a sweet cowl from a single skein.   Cashmere Crepe is not on the SRM website yet ~ look for it at their booth at the Fiber Festival of New England (a terrific indoor event!) or drop them a line at sales@stillrivermill.com and tell them I sent you.

At Rhinebeck, I reach a point of fiber saturation.  There is a moment where I can’t look at or appreciate another thing.  It’s the place Luann and I reach at the same time.

In all, Luann and I spent four glorious hours in the car together (how often do you say that about four hours in the car going anywhere?).  I took her to Owl Manor so she could see the world’s largest blue tarp ~ and bear witness that I am not having a bad dream that won’t let me wake up.  We saw gorgeous rolling countryside, glorious autumn foliage and bucolic Connecticut villages.  We caught up with the things that a couple of busy moms with “balance issues” need to do.

The only downside: facing work on Monday.

Countdown to the Knitter’s Review Retreat has begun!

* Apologies for lousy photography.  Leaving the plastic over the new iPhone camera lens and flash didn’t really help.

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Ciao 2011!

December 31, 2011

Putting up a new calendar will be something I truly relish.  2011 brought one significant and wonderful change to my household, but also some major life difficulties.  We made it through.  I mostly made it because of the friends who held me up when I didn’t think I could tread water anymore.  I am endlessly grateful.

With all of that unwanted drama, my knitting output declined significantly.  (So did my yarn purchasing.  I know you don’ t believe that, but it’s true.)  Still, I’m really proud of some of the things I did this year.  A complex

"Craft Activism"

There's my sweater! I knitted that!

sweater executed on tight deadline in 2010 is featured in Craft Activism.   I’ve never had my knitting published before.  Even better: Some very kind designers have seen my interpretations of their patterns online and took the time to say some terribly nice things.  That amazes me.  Good fodder for bad days.  Or for when I look at the numbers and feel like I may have underachieved compared to last year.  But each year is different from its predecessors.

Yarn used in 2011: 7619 yards = 1.4 miles

Finished objects:  17  ~ 2 hats, 2 sweaters, 2 cowls, 2 pair of mittens, 1 Christmas stocking and 8 shawls

One-skein projects: 10

Fibers first used this year: Romney and Finn   The former is pretty common in this neck of the woods, and I enjoyed getting to know it on the needles.  The Finn I used was actually a Finn/angora blend.  While I liked it, for purposes of the monthly Knitter’s Book of Wool wool-along, I learned that I prefer to use the straight stuff so as to have a real feel for the actual wool without the additional fiber that changes its characteristics.

WIPs /UFOs remaining: 14  shudder  Okay, to be fair: two of these are waiting to be blocked, a third needs some pictures taken, and a pair of mittens needs thumbs and a good simmer in vinegar to set the dye.   I have two (ancient) sweaters with identical yarn shortage issue that arose on the sleeves.  These need to have sleeves knitted in from the top down so they are of equal length.  I can do this – it will just take a little time.  And I will pick up another skill.  That will cut into the number.  I did frog a project, too.  That felt REALLY good.  I highly recommend it.

Designers I enjoyed:  Sivia Harding, SusannaIC, Gudrun Johnston, Ysolda Teague, Jared Flood

Favorite yarns I worked with this year:  Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona, Sunna, Holda, Birte, Verdande.   Berocco Blackstone Tweed.  BrooklynTweed Loft ~ which I haven’t gotten on the needles yet, but know I will enjoy.  Interestingly, without a LYS to call my own, my yarn acquisition was almost exclusively a yarn club, travel/souvenir purchases and yarn/fiber festivals.

Priorities I had for the year:

  • Geodesic Cardigan – stalled temporarily
  • Grove mittens – check!
  • Holland cowl – check!
  • Woodruff mittens – More Jared Flood mittens coming soon in Shelter when I can decide on a colorway.  Yeah, I’m ummm, deciding on a colorway.  Because somehow there are more colorways at my house than there used to be.  (See favorite yarns above.)
  • Bristol’s Cowl – I’ll get there.  Really.  If nothing else, because more people have read my posts about Quince & Co. Chickadee than anything I’ve ever written here.  I can only imagine what happens when I write about Puffin.

Priority from 2010, finally achieved: I knitted a sweater for myself.  And I love it.  Still need some pictures and I’ll show you here soon, but it is done.  All it took was a major power outage and hours of knitting by candlelight.

Other things I’d like to do in 2012:

  • Play with beads:  I’ve started to mess with them in my lace.  They are fun.  Doubtless, they slow me down some, but a little can go a long way in making a piece into a show-stopper.
  • To frog or to finish:  Attack some of those very old WIPs.  We’ll see how that goes.  I have turned from owl to magpie when it comes to shiny new objects (read patterns/yarns) and my attention span may be devastated.

If I seem uninterested in goal-setting, it’s because I sometimes have to remind myself this really is my Zen thing.  My knitting is my own journey and I find it far more interesting to let it lead me wherever it wants to go, than to stick to a prescribed path on the map.  Because at the end of the year, I think it’s kind of fun to look at what I wrote and where I went instead.  It’s all about the trip.

Salut 2012!

102 and counting

May 17, 2011

There is an undeniable feeling of celebration every time the Connecticut Sheep, Wool & Fiber Festival rolls around.  Think about it: in its 102nd year, we are talking about a truly enduring industry.  Yarn shops may come and go, but the shepherds, mills and fiber they produce exist far beyond trends.  As the first event of the year in New England, there is an almost-giddiness in the air: winter is over; festival season has started.

I Made It With Wool!

April chose its last day to demonstrate why it is “the cruelest month,” with grey skies and blustery wind.  That said, the whole event seemed a bit subdued.  Several regular vendors were notably absent, and the crowds ~ well, there wasn’t a crowd.  The weather may have encouraged early attendees to scurry home rather than linger listening to music and watching sheep-dog trials.  Or see the adorable contestants in the “I Made It With Wool competition” ~ like the grand prize winner from Still River Mill.  A felted juice box?  Genius.  Don’t look for this Owl to execute anything half as clever come Halloween.

The Painted Sheep painted yarn

Our good friend Kris of The Painted Sheep had a standing-room-only crowd craning necks to hear her demo on dyeing yarn.  Armed with soda bottles of color, she makes it all look so easy … but ask anyone who’s ever tried at home: coming up with harmonious colorways is not for the faint of heart.

Still River Mill Summer Breeze

My “find” of the festival this year came again from Still River Mill.  This local operation spins for scores of small fiber-producers across New England and beyond.  Because of that, they don’t go to a lot of shows, feeling that to do so, they would be “competing” for

What you need on a summer's night

business against their own customers.  But Still River Mill has its own unique fiber blends ~ and this year, they brought an extraordinary new entrant to the market:  Summer Breeze.  This fingering-weight boasts 40% linen, 40% cashmere and 20% seacell.  It fine yet soft and strong and just begs to becoming that all-summer sweater or shawl to ward off the evening chill.

Dirty Water DyeWorks

If I told you that I was somehow seduced yet again by BFL, you regular readers would hardly be surprised.  I can’t keep my hands off the stuff.  It just knits like butter for me.  So when our friends at Dirty Water DyeWorks, who provided us with lovely skeins of their Julia yarn at the KR Retreat, had a bushel of BFL sock yarn in discontinued colors, I was rather ~ ahem ~ powerless to resist.   Frankly, I thought I showed admirable restraint in sticking to two projects’ worth.  And it was discounted.  So there.

Digression: I am noting the absence of a LYS more acutely as the days go by.  There is no browsing, squeezing and sniffing of yarn to be done.  While positive on the pocket book, it is nonetheless missed.

Nubian goat

There were plenty of animal cuties on the grounds, to be sure.  This little Nubian goat was the most charming little flirt … and it seems that every year there is more alpaca of both the live and spun varieties.

Most importantly, I picked up my new copy of the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association directory, an invaluable resource for locally sourcing breeds of wool for our KBOW wool-along.

The skies opened up to bright sunshine later in the day.  By then, we had decamped for the massive lunch spread at Rein’s Deli.  A wonderful start to a new festival season any way you look at it.

Fenced in

February 18, 2011

Living in New England means snow.  We’ve had more than ample proof of that, with a healthy over-under pool going on when it might all be gone.  (At this point, I’m in for Easter – bearing in mind that it’s the latest Easter can be …)  I have a lot of hair, and one of the few things I hate about it is when it gets snowy wet.

Fenced In, in Romney

That won’t be a problem now that I have Fenced In.  I chose this terrific one-skein pattern by Tracey Kay for my bulky Romney yarn for this month’s wool-along in the Knitter’s Book of Wool group on Ravelry.  I was looking for a project with enough texture to show off the properties of this very smooth wool, and the reverse stockinette background was just the right canvas.  I also wanted something simple enough where the tonal variations in the colorway did not detract from the finished product.

In addition, I’ve been enjoying the many variations of cabling without a cable needle.  This project gave me more good practice.

Standing out in sharp relief

It was a wicked fast knit — just four days from cast-on to bind-off.  That is, after all, one of the benefits of working with bulky yarn ~ something I rarely do these days.  I used all but 2 yards of my 90-yard skein from Foxhill Farm in Lee, Mass., to make the small adult size with no modifications.

Project marriage score: 9.5  (Yes, this is something new.  I may as well start scoring the matches.)

Probably the most interesting observation from the month’s exercise was how unwilling the yarn was to become saturated with water.  It just didn’t want to get really wet, and took a good soak.   I blocked it over an inverted vase with a couple of plastic grocery bags on the top to provide some height/ventilation and prevent creasing.

I can’t decide which is better:

  1. having a really warm hat that will keep my hair dry
  2. actually completing our wool-along project on time two months in a row

Before you start applauding … if you’re keeping score at home, you know that I am still working on last February’s project … which, in all fairness, I did not start until months later … but still.

Melange

January 25, 2011

What do you get when you have a Finnsheep, a French rabbit and a pattern called Holland?

I know, I know, it sounds like a joke from a bygone era.

To answer the question ~ you get this wonderful melange.  Added bonus:  you actually finish your monthly wool-along project within the specified month!

Holland Cowl - blocking

Our Knitter’s Book of Wool wool-along yarn was Finn.  Back in November, I picked up this blend of Finn and angora from Point of View Farm.  Although labeled worsted-weight, it was decidedly thick-and-thin, and really rather bulky in places.  Thus, I sought a cowl pattern that was more sculptural than defined, and that would accommodate the 103 yards in the hank.

Holland Cowl fit the bill.  Written for just 60 yards, I could play around with extra repeats and work the shaping I like, rather than making a neck tube.

Holland Cowl - modeled

Mods: Worked first 4 pattern repeats on US 9, then 1 repeat on US 10 and the final repeat on US 10.5.  Used Russian lace bind-off for stretch.

It was clear that the yarn was happier with the larger needle sizes.  Not that the 9 was bad – it will keep close to the neck at the top, and I knew the yarn would relax some with a bath. There was some VM (vegetable matter, to muggles), but it was easily removed and emblematic of how “close the the sheep” the yarn is.

The cowl-blocker

I know there are a lot of questions out there about how to block cowls to keep them from creasing.  I have found that using this old metal vase is perfect. For blocking cowls that are graduated at the bottom, I turn it upside-down (as photographed above).  For those with a defined edging that might need some pinning out, I stand it upright (as at left), stuff a couple of plastic bags around the sides to pad to suit my needs, and then pin out the bottom on the blocking board.  Voila!

I am glad that most of the breed-specific yarn I have stashed  in anticipation of upcoming wool-alongs is not blended with other fiber.  I love angora, and I really like what it did to this yarn.  But I do feel that I took away from the all-Finn experience in doing so, and hope to revisit this yarn based on my pals’ many joyous comments.  On the other hand, the soaking led to a more cohesive yarn in the final product, complete with a slight angora halo and wonderful smooshiness.  Just what’s needed in the brief wake between New England snowstorms.

Meant to be

January 11, 2011

Yarn destiny?

Perfect project marriage?

M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-ittens.

Grove mittens by Jared Flood

These are what mittens are supposed to be.  Cushy and warm and a hug for the hands.  It’s the  product of a perfect match of pattern and yarn.  Needles, too.  (More on that in a sec.)

Often over the past year, I have been a lurker during months of the Knitter’s Book of Wool wool-along.  Sometimes it’s been too complicated to source the breed-specific yarn, or things were just too nutso to add another project on anything like a deadline.  Kind of defeats the purpose of knitting for sanity.  So I skipped Targhee back in April.

2-ply mulespun Targhee

But lo and behold, the Stash Lounge at the Knitter’s Review Retreat held three skeins of Montana-grown mule-spun Sweet Grass Wool.  The two-ply is definitely what Clara Parkes describes as having “a dense, doughy quality.”  In a mitten, that’s exactly what you want, especially in New England.

Grove mittens by Jared Flood were originally written for a light-worsted yarn.  Some knitters complained that their results were

A fine fit on long fingers

too small for the average female hand.  I’ve been fascinated by the pattern since I first saw them, and decided that the heavy worsted/aran of the targhee on an appropriate needle might fit the bill.  I have long fingers, so I imagined I might have to adjust near the top.  What looks like a lot of cabling is actually twisted stitches, other than on the cuff, where you can easily learn how to make the traveling rib without a cable needle.

It’s been a long time since I have rated a pattern anything other than “easy.”  I would not call these easy, but they’re not difficult, either.  I think a Knitty classification between “tangy” and “piquant” works.  Not surprisingly, I worked these one at a time.

No pattern modifications whatsoever.  The first one fits perfectly, even without a soak.  I was too excited to wait to post the pair.  As in, giggling with exuberance.

Oh. my. goodness.

En route to a pair

I also worked them one one of the three new sets of Signature Needle Arts circular needles I received for Christmas – Size 6, stiletto tip, to be precise.  (And these needles are ALL about precision, let me tell you.)  They are slick; they are sharp; they are indeed the Porsche of needles for me.  (I can only hope that a birthday will result in the upcoming size 3 and 4 needles, sizes I use constantly.)

As soon as these gift mittens are done, I’ll be casting on another pair for me.

I would dearly love to know which kind knitter donated this yarn so I could send her/him a big soft squeeze.  Preferably while wearing these.

Bring on the blizzard!

Unwound – Pt. II

November 19, 2010

For the previous days’ previous events at the 2010 KR Retreat, see this post.

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear.  It wouldn’t have mattered if a hurricane raged outside, for we were all absorbed in fibery pursuits.  It finally felt like we were really “there” at the Knitter’s Review Retreat, not on a day-trip that would end too soon.  Hearing Darling Bebe sobbing for me on the phone and being unable to complete a song for her (because I choked up) the night before sort of made that real.

Ann Budd crunches the designer numbers

We were so delighted to crunch the numbers that result in perfect sweater-fitting with the legendary Ann Budd.  Her Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns lives on my coffee table and I refer to it often when working through a pattern issue or putting something basic on the needles.  Clara always manages to bring the knitterati who are both geniuses AND approachable people.  Ann is no exception.  However, she is exceptional.

Throughout the class, the BlackBerry blinked.

Quince and Co. Tern - Boothbay Blue

Of course, in addition to all of those finds in the Stash Lounge ~ the room devoted to yarns seeking loving new homes ~ the KR Retreat features its very own marketplace from some of our favorite fiber companies.  Pam Allen brought her Quince and Co. brand-new wool-silk blend Tern.  The camera does not do it justice.  I’m hoping I can execute the soon-to-be-released Ann Budd scarf pattern with it.

Where are all the pictures?  There were too many eager knitters and not enough air ~ or room ~ to mess with a camera.  After all, how

Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days - Colorway - Nutmeg?

would I then hold onto this: Briar Rose Glory Days dyed in a colorway just for me. Really.  Or at least that’s the illusion I’m working under.   Chris was soooooo kind.  And I have a swoony kind of weakness for this particular BFL.

Foxfire Cormo/Silk/Alpaca in Great Blue Heron

Foxfire Fiber also joined the other wonderful vendors in the marketplace.  I currently have this yarn, Cormo/Silk/Alpaca on the needles making a LaNovia scarf.  It is soft and drapey at the same time.  There are only two times I year I see Barb Parry, (and she  missed Mass. Sheep and Wool) so I picked these up for the day when inspiration strikes again.

There were a few other yarn purchases we’ll talk about another day from Spirit Trail Fiberworks and String Theory.  And another of Lanea’s sock bags (in a different colorway) not for knitting socks ~ or for knitting at all ~ but for mommy-running-into-store-with-free-hands-necessities-and-toddler.   I committed far less wallet damage than many of my dear friends in that guilt-free zone.  OTOH, there were some skeins of lovely things that Minh “helped” jump into my bag in the Stash Lounge, so I was in no way yarn-deprived.

Instead, we took over the tavern for an afternoon of knitting and conversation about yarn shops, direction of the industry, designers and life in general.  No photos required, though I regrettably failed to document the dozens scores scads of gorgeous creations adorning everyone in the room. I’ll let another friend show you.

Confession:  By this point, the ignored BlackBerry was apoplectic.  So much so, that I felt obligated to send an email up the food chain to inquire whether I was supposed to engage in the discourse that would. not. end.  Response: No.  But the red eye resumed blinking as soon as I locked the keyboard.

BFL headband frpm Wool-along

Evening brought the long-awaited Knitter’s Book of Yarn / Knitter’s Book of Wool / Wool-along Hoe-down to KRR.  Oh, the lovelies we saw.  From headbands to shawls … and oh, the shawls.  There was this show-stoppingly gorgeous Tibetan Clouds designed

Tibetan Clouds in Sundara FSM

by Sivia Harding for KBOY, knitted by Hipparchia in Sundara Fingering Silky Merino with beads.  (Sadly, the camera hated trying to capture the bright, shiny colorway.)

Here, Sweet Jane poses with her peeps who made her design, the Falling Waters Shawl.  (Which,

Falling Waters with its creator, Jane

as was demonstrated, is long enough to cover lap and legs in a cold office.)  Between her Hedgerow Socks, the inspiration for Hedgerow Mitts, and Falling Waters, Jane is the de facto preferred KR designer.

Oh, and we had doorprizes galore!  From “it” yarns of the moment to needles, bags and beads, it seemed like Clara’s doorprize list would not end.

Spirit Trail Saule BFL and a new owlie bag

This is the part where I admit to embarrassing myself.  (It’s a state of affairs that happens too often for comfort, being a complete geek.  Not a geek in a cool way, just a geek.)  Clara rigged the drawing.  She had to have.  Because it’s just a little too coincidental that the BFL from Spirit Trail Fiberworks (called Saule, sportweight) came to me.  Poor KnittingKittens was afraid she’d have to sleep in the lobby while I … nevermind.  Shown here with a lavender/green owl bag from NanciKnits, the fraternal twin of another one I have.

All through this, I did something I’ve not done before at a KRR.

I knitted.

And knitted.

Into the owl hours of the morning.

While my voice disappeared.

And the BlackBerry blinked.

Leading the Yarn Church service ...

Sunday brought “Yarn Church.”  This is a chance to select a project for oneself and start it by having your friends help cast on a few stitches each.  It is a lovely tradition.

Though we were still together, I could feel the weight of home and job pressing from the outside.

Perhaps that is why I discovered nearly an hour down the road, that I had forgotten key items in the room, forcing us to turn back to retrieve them.

I wasn’t ready to leave.

Sleep socks for Darling Bebe

But I did get some actual knitting done.

 

Inaugural

November 8, 2010

With the trees denuded and the blustery conditions that tell us it’s November, the fiber festival season winds down.  In this part of New England, the regional calendar has been full ~ Rhinebeck (New York Sheep and Wool Festival), Stitches East and the like.  However, 2010 brought the addition of a new event to the calendar: The inaugural* Fiber Festival of New England at the Mallary Complex at the Eastern States Exposition (aka Big E) fairgrounds outside Springfield, Mass.

* The formal title for this event was the “First Annual FFofNE.”  Any journalism student will tell you should know that there is no such thing as a first annual event.  An event only becomes “annual” in its second year.  Thus, my personal title. Harrumph.  Digression complete.

Mallary Complex at the Big E

Neither KnittingKittens nor I had any need to attend, especially the week after Stitches East and the weekend before the Knitter’s Review Retreat.  Curiosity, proximity and the thrill of the hunt propelled us.  Hunt, as in, the hunt for some breed-specific fiber as part of the Knitter’s Book of Wool woolalong.  It was there, so we went.  QED?

You lookin' at ME?

The structure of the Mallary Complex allowed this to be an indoor event, complete with with animals from whom we obtain all of that delicious fiber.  Shearing and sheepdog demos, fashion shows and workshops in the entry area complemented the commerce in the main building.

Finn locks

What was really different about this event, is that it was all about the breed of the fiber.  While LYS and vendors with decorative home objects had a presence, booth after booth featured baskets of locks for fingering.  The most common fibers: alpaca and Romney ~ labeled Romney, not the generic “wool.”

This was the place to play finders, keepers and to try to anticipate just what Clara will spring on us in the woolalong months ahead.

Goose Down Farm Wensleydale

Even without the monthly assignments, I’ve learned so much about how different wools feel and behave that I want to try new things and have a different relationship with the raw materials I use for my craft.

“WENSLEYDALE!”

Goose Down Farm Teeswater

I cried out.  Yes, dagnabbit, we found our Wensleydale for this month, wrapped up with a polka-dotted ribbon, sourced from right down the road at Goose Down Farm in East Haddam, Conn.  You’d have thought we won a game-show.  Yikes. Fortunately, the folks from neighboring Dragon’s Lair Farm who were selling it were full of good humor and didn’t think us utterly mad.  While we were at it, we found Teeswater, too.

West Elm Farm Corriedale

Giving credit where it’s due, the fine folks from West Elm Farm were the first to mention this event, way back at the Mass. Sheep and Wool Festival over Memorial Day Weekend.  There, I found some wonderfully spongy Corriedale that I believe translates to what my dear Luann calls, “doughy.”

Finn-angora blend

Finns were also well-represented in a few places.  This scrumptiously bumpy worsted-weight skein is blended with angora and will make a wonderfully cozy cowl.  The kind you just snuggle your chin into on a damp, chilly day.

The Rosefield's Leicester Longwool

On the other side of the sensory spectrum, IRL, the luster in this Leicester Longwool from The Rosefield shines with a depth that looks an awful lot like pearls.  There was nothing else I saw like this 2-ply.

There was also some very

Montadale

affordable, smooth and cushy Montadale from Maryland that  will make some nice colorwork mittens and hats for little fingers and ears.  Now, if I can just summon the fortitude to actually execute colorwork mittens and hats …

Long Ridge Farm

Saving the best for last, this was a nice opportunity to see Nancy and Faith from Long Ridge Farm.  Nancy raises CVM/Romeldales and we’ve gotten to know each other through email as I worked on my Prairie Rose Shawl from KBOW.  It’s been a treat for me, and I’m glad she’s gotten involved with the KBOW group on ravelry, which is the richer each time a shepherdess or shepherd joins the mix.  This lonely skein was a one-off that begged to leave with me – the same 80% CVM/20% bombyx silk as I used before, but in a semi-solid she dubbed, “Rooster Comb.”

Long Ridge Farm CVM/Silk in Rooster Comb

Nancy called it a mistake ~ I think NOT.  (Lest I fail to mention it, Nancy dyes using low-impact processes and Earthues, so when she achieves such beautiful depth of color, it’s a victory twice over.)  Nancy is also now selling 100% CVM in this natural brown

Long Ridge Farm 100% CVM - Natural Brown

colorway that owing to its spinning, feels much like an aran-weight BFL.

Every first-time event has its glitches.  If there was one here, it might be the limited options/ jacked-up prices for the food, or maybe some will carp at the separate charges for parking and admission.  That said, the indoor setting was well-organized, the aisles wide enough, and some room to grow.  Which is good since the obvious intention is to make this an annual event.  Although our New England states are small and not far from one another, I appreciate having a show where fiber operations otherwise too far away to visit can come together to bring the festival season to a close.

That said, I need to requisition a larger bin marked “Breed-Specific.”

Bath magic

October 26, 2010

One of Owl’s simpler rules of life applies equally to knitting: A warm sudsy bath never hurt anything.

For several too many months, my Ritzy mitts, knitted in Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days ~ the-skein-that-would-not-end ~ have been sitting in time out.  BFL was the March wool-of-the-month.  These got thumbs months ago.  Four teensy little ends to be weaved in was all that was left.  Except for the ladders.  I mean honkin’ big ladders.

I knit everything on circular needles, and for things in the round, use either the magic loop technique, or Melissa Morgan-Oakes‘ two-at-a-time method.  And for the life of me, I cannot explain how it is that both mitts had ladders on both sides that were big enough for me to step through.  I tugged and fiddled with a crochet hook to no avail.

Ritzy in Glory Days BFL

Finally, more months later, I gave up and decided to let warm water and Eucalan do the work.

I was right – the bath relaxed the fibers significantly.  Enough so that:

a) they actually fit an adult hand and

b) the ladders are evident only to me.

Blocked Glory Days Snapdragon Tam

Cross one more FO off the list.  These mitts  will become a teacher holiday gift.  Two sets of mitts to go to keep toddler teachers’ hands warm and fingers free for all those little zippers.

Oops ~ in adding links here, it appears that I neglected to post

Snapdragon Tam

a finished photo of the Glory Days Snapdragon Tam.  (The color is true in the blocked shot.  For some reason, the daylight in this modeled photo refused to be color-corrected.)  Another perfectly written Ysolda Teague pattern.  A delightful experience with beautiful Bluefaced Leicester as part of the Knitter’s Book of Wool wool-along.

So from that one 500-yard skein, there was also an Ivy Vines cowl ~ and there’s still enough yarn left for another set of mitts.  Talk about knitting-bang-for-the-buck!

SHELTERed

October 7, 2010

I have always had an instinctive dislike for the “acquirers” out there.  You know, the people who go to an event like Rhinebeck with a wheeled suitcase, sharp elbows flying, complete disregard for the people around them in their mad dash to get their hands on X.

That’s not to say that there aren’t yarns out there that I have, and continue to covet.  But the F5-F5-F5 insanity involved in obtaining a special yarn is just not for me, and I get claustrophobic and really, really nasty in a real-life crowd of that ilk.

SHELTER - Button Jar

Thus, my complete surprise and wonder to have ferreted out SHELTER, the new yarn from Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed on the day of its release.  It was pure accident.

Pure, wonderful, serendipitous accident.

If you’ve been reading along with me, you know I’m part of a posse who have spent the year exploring the wonders of wool described in the Knitter’s Book of Wool.  Not just “wool,” but breed-specific wool.  If you’re not playing along at home, compare it to chocolate.  All chocolate is not alike.  If you prefer Vosges Red Fire to a Hershey’s Kiss, you get my drift.  Sometimes a Kiss will do.  But once you’ve had Red Fire …

Whoops. Digression over.

SHELTER is a blend of Columbia and Targhee, grown in America and spun in America.  Clara’s piece in Knitter’s Review today gives you the 4-1-1.

SHELTER - Thistle

My SHELTER arrived yesterday.  It is both spongy and doughy in the nicest sort of way.  It has substance and loft.  Looking at it up close, the blend of colors is genius.  Even its name says something to me ~ not surprising in the BrooklynTweed ethic.

As an unabashed wool-sniffer, I am with my cult leader in finding the scent of it a little out-of-kilter.  It’s certainly pleasant, but not the whiff of sheep that I expect and enjoy from my wool.  But that nitpicking aside, SHELTER is something really special.

The Button Jar will become a pair of Woodruff Mittens and probably a cowl, too.  Thistle, which is deeper and richer IRL, is a merry color.  It will become the Terra shawl.  It’s going to be a few days before I can cake it and cast on.

But I’m sooooooooooooooo glad I got there in time to put some in my own hands.  Just this once.  And I neither threw an elbow nor hit that refresh key, either.


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