Posts Tagged ‘yarnoramama’

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 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.


YarnoraMama III

April 18, 2011

It’s somehow not at all surprising that for both Luann and me, our periodic YarnoraMama meet-ups fall during what seem like the worst possible times ~ when the work schedule is out of control, home life is crazy and the last thing it seems one should do is take a day off.

Which is precisely why it is the absolute right time to do so ~ for two working moms to walk away from every responsibility for One. Precious. Day.  (Previous YarnoraMamas are here and here.)

Victoria Station Cafe

Her charge this time: Tell me where to be and I will get there.   “There” in this case, being the charming and friendly Victoria Station Cafe in Putnam, Conn.  Dubbed “The Quiet Corner,” northeastern Connecticut is home to agriculture and tiny towns.  Putnam is a town that has quietly evolved, with new life for old downtown spaces that have one foot in the past and another in the future.  Virtually every menu features gluten-free or vegan fare from in many cases locally raised produce.

Here, the mismatched furniture, exposed brick and original woodwork all make sense.  We parked on a couch in a front window as a steady stream of patrons made their way in for “the usual” or one of the too-tempting selections in the endless display cases.

What more do two gals need?

Funny, but even our food choices were rooted in fiber … The cinnamon rolag at left, being a term for a roll of prepared fiber ready for spinning.  Those are the remnants of a sfogliatelle at right, in the wake of a powdered-sugar explosion, in case you’re wondering.   (Pink boxes of treats left for home in both directions …)

MadelineTosh Pure Silk Lace in Lichen

And birthday presents, too!  Lucy Neatby’s terrific tome on fabulous finishing and a stunning skein of MadelineTosh Pure Silk Lace in the colorway Lichen.  Truly, it is the colors of an heirloom lilac in bloom.  Breathtaking.

It’s been too long since my cyber-sister and I were together ~ last November’s Knitter’s Review Retreat to be precise.  As efficient as online communication is, there is simply no substitute for sitting down, face-to-face, for hours of catching up about the mundane and the life-altering.  Among her many talents, Luann always serves as a (barely) older, wiser sanity check for me at a time when that sanity is in question every third minute.  And that’s before we get to the mommy advice I so sorely need now that we are immersed in the Tyrannical Threes.

How did five hours pass so quickly?


Other than meeting in a place with an endless supply of caffeine, YarnoraMamas must always include a yarny destination.  Woolworks fit that bill.  Tasha (sp?) could not have been more welcoming on the phone or in person.  The knitters inside were warm and friendly, and the reasons this shop has become a local destination were clear.  It made me long for the days when I actually had a local yarn shop in my world.  Sigh.

All too soon, the fact of rush-hour return traffic was all too real.  Time to separate again for our respective homes and uber-busy lives.  But I feel better ~ saner and clearer ~ than I have in a long time.

And that is what YarnoraMama is all about.

Karma earned

January 20, 2011

Good things go to those who create good things.  Smart LYS owners know this.  Create a friendly, happy place and you’ll be graced by same.

I was delighted to see this op-ed from the New York Times.  And the follow-up letter to the editor about joyous knitters.

If you regularly browse here, you might recall that the LYS described was the destination for YarnoraMama II with cyber-sis Luann.  I miss her dearly – and the lovely day we spent there.

Warm thoughts during what seems a vicious winter of discontent – at least weather-wise.

Would you believe that having had snow days twice in the past two weeks, my office is already opening late tomorrow ~ before a single snowflake flies?



June 22, 2010

A shady table outside a busy bakery on a sweet little street in Providence, RI.  Time for knitting talk and mommy-talk and girl-friending: YarnoraMama II.

OTN Squared: Tudor Grace

By now, I’m beyond being surprised to find that my cybersister Luann and I have the same project on the needles ~ Knitspot’s Tudor Grace.  Hers is a test-knit for Spirit Trail Fiberworks.  Mine is the second go-round, this time for Mom.  (My first, like so many projects, is waiting balefully for blocking but needs to be gifted later this week.)  It’s just one of those connections we seem to have.

fresh purls

And that’s what our YarnoraMamas are about: connecting in person when we can, since so much of our relationship is by necessity online.

Of course, we plan our destinations by yarn shop.  I mean, we have to have a destination and it might as well be about the thing that brought us together.

We could not have received a warmer welcome from Helen and Karen at fresh purls.  If coldness spells death for a LYS, it is

Mountain Colors River Twist

friendliness that builds a business.  I had sent an email to the shop in advance of our visit to ask some scouting questions about the neighborhood.  They went so far as to offer us their own parking spaces, and even a most kind discount during our visit.

So it’s no stretch that some yarn came home with us.  Mine is Mountain Colors River Twist, a yarn I’ve been looking at for a good while.  The upper colorway is Hot Springs ~ certainly Owl-appropriate.  The lower just sings mittens for Darling Bebe.  It’s so happy and handspun-looking.  I’ll let Luann tell you ’bout hers on her own.

Vases at Kreatelier

The whole Hope Street neighborhood was a “find” in itself, a place for artisans and one-of-a-kind treasures.  (In the karmic realm, I used to live on Hope Street in a different city.)  There was Kreatelier, a place where needle and thread create such beautiful things … their spare buttons, scraps and spools were lovely by

L'hibou kit for Darling Bebe


Owl is remedial, to put it kindly, when it comes to anything sewing-related. I attribute part of this to education on computers instead of anything approaching a “home ec” class that might have taught me how to backstitch properly.  However, I am optimistic that by the time Darling Bebe is old enough to work this kit with me, we will be able to follow the pre-stamped dotted lines to sew and stuff a pair of owls.  Material, needle, thread, scissors and stuffing all included.  Failure is not an option.  And I have a few years, right?

From Frog & Toad

Across the street was one of those sorts of shops that carries every clever, eclectic, often-green and usually handmade thing you’ve ever seen in one place.  Frog and Toad supplied me with a few more of my favorite headbands – the kind that are wide and look like scarves without actually being scarves.  They disguise many a bad-hair day to be sure.

The retail sales were but a backdrop for a much-needed visit; these, I can write about here.

And after a little lunch with the drone of vuvuzelas and soccer in the background, the unforgiving clock said it was time to head back to our respective states to avoid being fined for late daycare pick-up.

So off we went in different directions, the reprise no less sweet than the original YarnoraMama.

Etsy k’etsy

April 1, 2010

That’s phonetic Greek – for “this and that.”  Which is what I can offer you at the moment.

First, a required response to my dear Luann on YarnoraMama (wish we were there right now):  If I knit what you think is an extraordinary number of projects, you have conveniently forgotten failed to mention that mine are small, portable, mostly one-skein pieces that require little or no thought, no measuring, no shaping … you get what I’m saying?  And you haven’t seen the state of my house and how it suffers for it, either.

I’ve been quiet of late owing to a battery of medical tests and doctor appointments and new medications that turn me into mush.  We are working on resolving some issues.  I will be okay.  ‘Nuff said.

BFF KnittingKittens and I passed a most pleasant sunrise last Saturday on our annual quest for hand-carved butter lambs.  We were not the first in line (at 6:30 a.m.).  More on that coming.

With my parents visiting over the holiday weekend, the guest room has been excavated (again).  That means there are three — did you hear that?  THREE! — FOs blocking as I type.  So I’ll have something to post very soon.

In the meantime, in those few minutes when I am actually knitting, I am continuing my passionate love affair with Briar Rose Fiber’s Glory Days, a DK BFL with so much yardage, I’m on my third project and there will still be leftovers!  Oh my!

Since there has been no eye candy today, it’s time to show off a certain Darling Bebe – your Friday eye candy a little early.  And, yes, you have seen the sweater in the first photo before:

Birthday hats are the BEST hats of all!

This hat is even better!


March 26, 2010

YarnoraMama (n.) – A scheduled getaway day between two mommy knitters who are allowed to break all manner of diet, yarn or otherwise, without guilt while enjoying a few precious hours together.  From the knitting slang, yarnorama.

Wednesday dawned Winnie-the-Pooh blustery, but bright and clear.  Neither weather, nor car-sharing, nor doctors’ attempts to schedule medical procedures would be allowed to interfere with YarnoraMama.  The Yarn Witch of the North, Luann, traveled south and west.  NutmegOwl traveled north and east.  Our destination: an otherwise undistinguished Starbucks.


First order of business, a breakfast we would not let our toddlers eat.  Everything but the milk, that is.  But on certain kinds of days, you just need a chocolate cupcake to start – or to celebrate – the day.

Some time back, I realized that in many ways, Luann is my cyber-sister.  Her toddler is a year older than mine.  We are primary caregivers and working women trying to find that elusive thing they call “balance” as we hold together our households no matter what else is going on.

Binding off

Luann is also a crack knitter.  And it’s probably fitting that our first meet-up away from the KR Retreat we met at some years ago involved binding off her New Beginnings project, the Falling Waters shawl from the Knitter’s Book of Wool, in lovely shades of semisolid teal from String Theory.

Falling Water

Yes, there was plenty of knitting.

Yes, there was sharing, discussing, problem-solving, unburdening and lots of laughter.

Some FO show and tell.

Some comparison of BFLs (we are both avid participants in the March BFL-along organized in conjunction with the aforementioned KBOW).

Knit Purl, Sudbury, Mass.

Of course, when knitters travel, yarn must also be involved.  If nothing else, a yarn shop visit gave us at least some semblance of a destination for the day.

So with some advice from Betheany, the moderator of a local SnB, we traipsed down the road a mile to Knit Purl.

There, we even found a sheep waiting for us.

Grazing outside Knit Purl

Inside, we found a welcoming and friendly owner, a table full of knitters and a wide-ranging supply of yarn, patterns and especially needles.

For a project-to-be-named-later

I bought all of these buttons that were in stock.  I haven’t seen anything like them before, and they’re definitely my style.   I like to buy buttons last, when I have a FO in hand to really see how they’ll look.  But because YarnoraMama has no ground rules or limitations, these fit the bill.  Instead of souvenir yarn, souvenir buttons.

A late lunch

By this point, our window of freedom was on the wane.  We had enough time left for a sushi stop at Lotus Blossom before wistful hugs and scurrying off with an eye to rush hour traffic.  After all, there were two toddlers in two states in need of daycare pickup all too soon.

Of course, days like these do not come without a price.  Mine involved working into the wee hours that were so familiar to me when Darling Bebe was a bebe.

But it was worth every minute.

Hope and glory

March 17, 2010

Hope sprouts eternal!

Following the weekend’s torrential rains, Darling Bebe and I found these yesterday!  New word of the day:  Crocus.  I remember stealing an October naptime to drop 100 bulbs from White Flower Farm in the ground, knowing how just-plain HAPPY crocus make me.  It was a most worthwhile investment of mommy time.

And another cause for hope, joy and celebration:  I am one week away from YarnoraMama! This holiday is neither state nor federal, but better than either one because daycare is open.  More on that forthcoming, but you’re welcome to take your guesses.

And here’s the glory part:

Glorious Vines

Glorious Vines, properly named Knitspot’s Ivy Vines cowl made from Briar Rose Fiber’s Glory Days, as my first completed object for this month’s BFL-along.  (Blue Faced Leicester, for muggles.)  This one’s just for me.  (I gifted away all but one cowl.)

Lest I fail to mention the particulars:  US 3 and US 4 Addi Turbo needles, using magic loop technique.

Modification: Knitted the bottom section in the Large size, then decreased to the Small for the neck to keep it close and prevent flopping.

This yarn is a simple pleasure to knit with.  While Clara has a range of lovely terms for evaluating wool, mine are a little less descriptive – but certainly rapturous to compensate.  It’s wonderful workhorse wool. Not too sticky, plied well so it does now split, softens and blocks beautifully.

Upper "vine" detail

I’m one of the lucky people who can wear pretty much any wool next-to-skin (I love the feel of Shetland on skin …), and while I know there can be significant variation in the softness of any yarns of the same breed owing to the spinning and dyeing process, this qualifies as softer than many commercially available comparable yarns, like Jaeger Merino DK or Louet Gems – both of which are staples in my “workhorse wool” category.

Glorious Vines - bottom detail

I’d have to call the unnamed colorway, “Ocean.”  It is the same ever-changing deep blue-green.  Also, IRL, as opposed to the photo, the color is more cohesive and significantly less stripey.  As I’ve discovered with its companion piece (more to come), it also withstands a horrific amount of frogging and reknitting without showing evidence.  And with each 500-yard skein running about $30, it is affordable hand-dyed luxury – without a single knot.  I probably embarrassed myself squeezing and sniffing the skein when I bought it and summarily enabled convinced Luann that she needed to have some, too.  No apologies for that now!

Friends don’t let friends miss out on special yarn.

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