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Archive for the ‘Fiber Festivals’

I Have a New Friend…and a Big Hole in the Ground!

Dear Ellen,

dsc01509.JPGimg_5063.JPGimg_5047.JPGWe had an exciting weekend up in this neck of the woods.  Although we held the ceremonial groundbreaking last week, the real groundbreaking was this past Thursday.  We got up early on Saturday and headed to Fair Winds to check on our hole in the ground.  img_5048.JPGimg_5066.JPGLet me tell you…it is a BIG hole!  We walked all around it and down into it.  There are big piles of dirt around the edge…top soil in one pile and subsoil in several other big piles.  And piles of rocks and stones near the culverts where the driveway crosses the dry-bed creek.

img_5086.JPGimg_5082.JPGimg_5077.JPGAfter we spent time really soaking it in and then spending a few minutes with the site foreman placing our septic field, we got back on road headed for the Howard County Fairgrounds for the Maryland Alpacas and Fleece Festival.  We attended two seminars — “Preparing to Bring Your Alpaca Home” and “Getting Started in Alpaca.”  I was surprised by how many questions Dale asked.  He seems to be gaining a lot of interest.  I’d like to figure out if we really want to do this.  A big piece of that decision will be arming ourselves with as much information about caring for a herd as we can.  As charming as they are, I realize that there will be a lot of work involved.  After the seminars we wandered around the barns patting their img_5089.JPGimg_5083.JPGfuzzy heads and necks and talking to owners.  We’ve now got a list of farms to go visit and we made a lot of furry friends.  Dale thinks the Suri alpaca look like they have dreadlocks.  The cria are SO adorable.  dsc01512.JPGdsc01519.JPGI did some market research by buying some yarn made of 4 plies, each from a different alpaca in a different shade.  This technically doesn’t break my yarn diet…it’s research after all.  img_5091.JPGI did buy one other skein of lettuce colored lace weight…again, no diet violation — what diet doesn’t allow lettuce?  At the end of the day we ended up coming home with an alpaca of our own.  He’s still nameless though.  Readers?  Any ideas??

Love, Jan

May-December Knitting

Dear Ellen,

dscn2867.JPGI am bound-off bound and determined to finish Not So Naive before it gets too hot.  It will then relax till it cools down again and I can wear it, but I’ll be so pleased knowing it’s finished.   I’ve finished the body and started a sleeve. The sleeves promise me they will move along quickly. Once they’re finished, I’ll need to do a careful blocking. The fit is PERFECT right now and I don’t want any stretching going on. What I do want is for the edge for the hem at the bottom (and the edges that will be for the sleeve cuffs) to lie flat and not curl. I was wondering how this would work for this pattern and I do see curlage, but minimal, so blocking may be enough. If not, I’ve got an idea for doing a rolled hem that has some stretch to it, but will be just enough to pull the edge to the underside.

dscn2868.JPGI’ve also cast on for a spring knit…and will hopefully move this one along in time to get some good wear out of it this year.  The pattern is the Reversible Tank from Mother-Daughter Knits and the yarn is Willow from Brooks Farm, a 70% wool, 30% bamboo blend that feels very light and airy.   It’s a soft buttery yellow that knits up like, well, like buttah!  So that’s what I’m calling it, Like Buttah.  I have two balls of the yarn and did the clever trick of doing the cast on (a long tail variation) with one strand running from each ball.  No worries about too much or too little yarn allowance for the tail.  With 176 stitches to cast on, that pleased me to no end.  (Get it, to no end?…I crack myself up!)

I saw 8 bullfrogs while out on my run today.  Actually during the cooling down afterwards…so nice to have the bike trail along the Potomac so close to our house.  It helps me keep up the discipline to go running when the path is so enchanting.

Another busy week…travel to California leaving Monday evening and returning Thursday evening.  Next weekend I hope to make it to Maryland Sheep and Wool for at least one half day.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Love, Jan

Knitterly Goodness

Dear Ellen,


Hard to believe my Minnesota knitting extravaganza is already feeling like a dream.  But I know I was there.  I have this picture of you sitting next to me during one of Lucy Neatby’s classes.




And I have all this swag and yarn market loot on the guest room bed.









Yarn market loot.




Yarny goodness close up.


So much to knit and so little time.  Thank goodness I’m not also obsessed by spinning.

Love, Jan

Running on fumes…

As older sister, Jan has bossed me around given me the opportunity to be blogmeister for the last two days of yarn revelry.  Today was packed again – Yarnover was fast and frenetic.  Get to class!  Knit swatches! Take bathroom break!  Sneak to market during bathroom break!  Buy cashmere fiber! Go to class!  Finish that swatch!

35.jpgIn all the craziness we managed to have two lovely classes, one on increases and decreases with Judy Pascale.  She is a dynamic and passionate lady who really ran us through our paces.  That 3-hour class was crammed with more techniques than I’ve gotten in day-long classes.  Judy later joined us for lunch.  I was a little relieved that she didn’t make us try eating our sandwiches three different ways, just to see which way suited each of us individually.  Lisa and Deb connected with us, too, so I got to eat with three of my favorite knitters (that is my preferred way to eat a sandwich).

25.jpgWe crossed paths with The Rainey Sisters.  Sally also travelled from DC to attend.  Maybe next year they can charter a flight for all sisters coming out for Yarnover.


54.jpgThe afternoon was Hallelujah Grafting! with Lucy Neatby.  I am so glad we have 3 classes with Lucy.  She is such a prepared teacher and her methods for teaching are crystal clear. I can now close a sock toe with grafting without leaving little piggy ears.  Hallelujah! (Note: We found Cat’s other shoe.)

19.jpg44.jpg The marketplace is half the reason to attend Yarnover.  I had fun seeing friends like Jennie the Potter, Chris from Briar Rose, and Aimee from Darn. Knit. Anyway. But no one does the market like the Yarn Garage in their Yarn Mechanics jumpsuits.  Jessie looks pretty in anything, and Tim and Steven were just too cute.

63.jpg92.jpgSteven and the YG gang ended the evening for us with a lovely knit-in that brought together young and old, hip and arthritic hipped, experienced and newbie knitters.  Great music, great food, and knitting were wonderful ways to decompress from a loaded day.  I got to connect with Melissa, one of the YG team and also a Bohus knitter with whom I’d conversed on Ravelry!

73.jpgWe couldn’t go home until Jan finished her charity hat.  The YG donated yarn to all the Yarnover attendees to knit hats for donation.  Jan, always an over-achiever, was probably the first to turn hers in.  (I believe she removed the dpns before handing it over.)

My hat is only half done, but with a full day ahead of us tomorrow, it is not getting finished tonight.

Good night, all!

Forward Momentum

Dear Ellen,

I still have a day and a half left of this three day weekend and I already feel accomplished!  I do, however, have lots more to get done.  My biggest problem is, as ever, the things I want to do don’t map directly to the things I have to do.

Things I have to do…

  • Watch “An Inconvenient Truth” and write a 5 page paper on it, including other references
  • Clean and organize office
  • Prep and enjoy yummy produce from Lancaster County

Things I want to do…

  • Cast on Bonnie by Fiona Wells
  • Write pattern for Cutie Patootie Booties and test
  • Read through some of EZ’s books…never really have read them, really just have referred to them
  • Start final section of TKGA “Basics, Basics, Basics” course (Yes, I know you didn’t think I needed it, but it did make me slow down and try things I would not have tested otherwise…sort of like your stock stubs.  I’m a better knitter for it, even though I didn’t learn anything new.
  • Work on other UFOs
  • Watch recorded “Project Runway” season premier and episode 1
  • Prep and enjoy yummy produce from Lancaster County

I will do some from each list and really enjoy the last item on both.

dscn1939.JPGdscn1936.JPGdscn1940.JPGOur trip to the property yesterday not only gave me the opportunity to buy a watermelon, yellow wax beans,  sweet potatoes, and tomatoes (all for less than $9.00!), but was a great chance for us to start enjoying our land.  My idea of dscn1944.JPGdscn1943.JPGenjoyment was sitting in the camp chair knitting.  Dale’s idea of enjoyment was firing up the chain saw and cutting through the undergrowth and dead wood that line the edges of our woods.  There’s a real rat’s nest (not literally) at the edge from the original clearing of the property that is now farmed.  I did help — got pretty good with the “weed whacker on steroids.”  And I walked about with the dogs.  dscn1947.JPGWe all enjoyed the woods and found what appears to be an old stone wall…we may have to try to rebuild it.  The clearing for the shed is all set.  Here you can see the view from the back of it, one of the places I found to take a knitting break.

dscn1949.JPGAnd I have made some good knitting progress.  The drive up and back gave me time to work on some new socks that I’m calling Fractured Fairy Tale Socks.  They’re based on the fractured lattice pattern and every time I hear the word fractured, I can’t help but remembering Rocky and Bullwinkle.  Did you know they are available on YouTubedscn1958.JPGI’m going to do a simple hybrid gusset on them…hope to knock them out before Hat Wars II starts up.  I finished the last pair I was working on…the Desert Skies Socks on my last work trip.  I went to San Diego where I got to see Martha and part of a dscn1956.JPGdscn1948.JPGPadres/Nationals ball game.  Lots of fun!  I worked up a quick pair of booties for young Austin too.  They’re a lovely angora/wool blend…baby’s first angora!  For some reason these are striking me as just so cute! so I’m calling them Cutie Patootie Booties.  At home I’m still working away on my Einstein…bit by bit.

I’ve wasted much of the day now, so I’ll sign off and see if I can’t at least get at that produce.  I’m hungry too…another good reason for heading for the kitchen.

Love, jan

Estes Park Wool and Fiber….and Alpaca too!

Dear Ellen,

dscn1643.JPGdscn1639.JPGdscn1634.JPGdscn1631.JPGdscn1629.JPGdscn1624.JPGWow…what a week last week.  Lots in the achievement colum work-wise, so that left me in a great mood at the end of the week.  Taking advantage of that mindset, I jumped in Bobbie (the blue CooperS), grabbed my friend Heidi and zoomed up to Estes Park.  The purpose of this journey was to visit the Estes Park Wool and Fiber Festival.  I was immediately swept back to 4-H days as soon as I stepped into the first animal tent.  Great smells, great sounds, and that calming effect that comes from being surrounded by animals.  I came away with many great memories.  Enjoy!  (Don’t you love the one alpaca whispering into the other alpaca’s ear?  The sheep were….well, sheep.  They didn’t seem to realize the big role they played in the weekend event.  Nor did they really seem to care.  The alpaca and vicuna were absolutely lovely!

dscn1655.JPGdscn1647.JPGdscn1648.JPGWe spent a good deal of our time in the vendor building where I bought yarn for a shell (golden wool and bamboo), a cardigan (variegated wool with tonal blue wool trim), a shell (dark teal and pale spring green strands of silk, dscn1656.JPGdscn1651.JPGcotton and rayon), a scarf (turquoise alpaca) and a smoke ring (rich, rich dark chocolate pure vicuna — darker than shown, I added fill light so you could see the strands).   I also scored an alpaca pin, a hand-turned orifice hook, two hand-turned dpn cases, a booklet on making felted Christmas tree ornaments, and a few freebie dscn1650.JPGdscn1657.JPGdscn1658.JPGpatterns…met the designer, a very nice young woman.  Finally, I bought cinnamon roasted almonds for Dale.  I wouldn’t want him to think I hadn’t thought about him.  I did consider some Colorado dscn1646.JPGCashmere for a possible sweater, but he’s still too lukewarm about me making a sweater for him that I decided not to invest the dollars or time knitting cashmere on size 3s till he shows more commitment.  The almonds will have to do for now!

dscn1660.JPGI did make some more progress on the Robin’s Egg Vest…at the armscyes now and must make some design decisions (yes, I charged into this with a concept, not the details).  I do have a rather impressive swath of lower vest though!  And I’ve made about 4 more repeats on the fichu for Vanessa.  Do you like dscn1664.JPGdscn1661.JPGthe fancy weights I used to spread the pattern a bit so you could see the lace? With that, I’m off to do another pattern repeat on the fichu and then to bed.  Let me know if you figure out how to stop the world for a while.  I have so much to get done by mid-July and I could use some time cheats.

Love, Jan

P.S. I almost forgot to post…remember my wank about the bulb collection that I ordered from Plow and Hearth?  Well, they actually read the post, contacted me and made me feel very valued as a customer.  I am now in the process of trying to decide what I would like to order using the gift card they sent me as amends for my disappointment.  What great customer service!