I FINALLY had the opportunity to attend The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend! I have been hoping to attend for years but because I lived “out west” it seemed there was always a reason I couldn’t get to it…I had to work (work always seems to get in the way of the more important stuff like knitting and spinning), the distance, etc..etc…but now that I live and hour or so away I firmly stated to anyone who would listen…”I don’t care if the President wants to come and visit me on May 5th and 6th…he will have to meet me at The Howard County Fairgrounds.” And attend I did…I was there both days from open to close and may I say IT WAS SPECTACULAR! It so completely exceeded any expectations I could have imagined. I have been to numerous arts and crafts shows, as well as state and county fairs over the years but this was the cream of the cream of the crop. I don’t know why I am so surprised though…in reading through the fair website before I went it does state that this festival is the premier festival of its kind in the world. For me it was the combination of all of the sheep and the many, many, many wool related vendors all in the same place. I recently purchased The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius and have been devouring the information on all of the breeds of sheep, goats, musk ox, bison and other furry creatures and it was such a treat to see some of the more rare breeds of sheep that I’ve been reading about. I also made some fun purchases. I’ve been wanting to try some different types of projects so I purchased a silk hankie (I really don’t know how to spin it yet but it will be fun researching and watching some you tube videos), some bamboo, wool and tencel roving which has beautiful pinks, blacks and greys (pictures to come), a flower kit with mohair and a boucle yarn, and some angora fiber from “Sharon” the angora bunny (who was at the show allowing her people mom to hold her and pluck some fiber for spinning demonstrations). I can’t wait to try out all this fun stuff and I will definitely be counting down the days until next years festival.
Tonight hubby and I were sitting in our now local Barnes and Noble cafe and there were 2 women sitting next to us who appeared to be knitting. I’m certain I was making them uncomfortable with my staring so I finally blurted out “it looked like you were knitting so I had to find out” (like I couldn’t have just politely asked them). Then someone else came over to the table and asked them about their projects and suddenly I heard the word ”alpaca.” Then I heard one of them ask “did you go to The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival?” When I heard no’s I immediately offered up “I did” (as if anyone was asking me). We then discovered the woman who had approached the table raised alpacas. Although we had only intended to stay at the bookstore for long enough to have coffee, of course now everything was out the window. We had an absolutely wonderful time chatting about her farm Nine Patch Alpacas, our farm, and everything other alpaca related subject you can imagine. Diane, the owner of the farm was so friendly and interesting to talk with and her daughter was a gem! We will definitely be planning a visit to their farm to chat again and get our alpaca fix!
WHEW! The Ivy Cap is finished and am I ever glad!! Even though it’s all one color and it’s knit in one piece I still found it to be one of the most challenging pieces I’ve ever knitted. I learned a lot along the way so I’m glad I stuck it out. Trust me, there were a number of times when frogging it didn’t even come to mind. I wanted to just open the front door and chuck it out and hope someone would run over it!
Even though it’s midway through January, I want to comment that I did make some New Years Resolutions before the clock struck twelve on December 31st. Oh yes, there were plenty of things I could have put on the list such as the need to lose weight, learn a foreign language, become a movie star etc, but I decided I should get realistic about my resolutions so for once I could look back and feel that it was a really productive year in terms of my knitting, spinning and weaving. I drank a significant amount of espresso, then went through my stash and took pictures of all of my UFO’s which includes knitting projects, a couple of crochet projects and lots of roving to be spun. As I’ve been job hunting I have realized the need to make some significant progress on my lack of knowledge of Excel, so I decided to make a spreadsheet listing all of my projects to be completed. I’ve also got columns to update my progress as I go along and the estimated completion time. Hubby found it somewhat amusing because he has been after me to make up some spreadsheets so I can practice but I think what he had in mind was getting the bills organized, not my craft projects. (I have a system that works for the bills it’s just that he says he can’t figure it out!)
I’m thrilled that the first item I can put on my new spreadsheet is the Ivy Cap! Now that we’re living where there is a definite winter, hubby is thinking the original Watch Cap may still need to be on my list. It’s a pretty simple pattern (I think I may have said that about the Ivy Cap) but I still figure I can knit it up rather quickly and not disrupt my UFO flow.
Off to the first project on my list-the Colinette socks……..
I’ve been meaning to post since the 1st and have had everything I wanted to say swirling around in my head but is seems I haven’t been able to find a spare minute.. As usual, lots of changes and chaos going on in my life…..I’m not complaining though! We have recently left Southern Utah and relocated to Pennsylvania for hubbys job. I am HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY (have I mentioned HAPPY) because I am now close to my family for the first time in about 20 years. If I didn’t think I would hurt myself I would do some cartwheels! We were able to go visit my dad the weekend after we got moved, then went again for Christmas and I was able to stay the week after Christmas to visit. We had such a great week, the sisters going shopping at the after Christmas sales and visiting some local crafty type shops we’ve been wanting to check out. My dad was the happy chauffeur and drove us from place to place so we could all yak nonstop. As we were out and about I found I had a really hard time realizing I only live a few hours away and I can come back as often as I want. In past visits I’ve always felt the need to race from place to place to get it all in before I had to get on a plane and not be able to come back again for 6 months. I’m sure I was starting to annoy my family with my constantly stating what a relief it was to be able to throw eveything in the car vs having to carefully pack for security at the airport, pay an arm and a leg for 1 checked bag and hope I can get everything smashed into it. (more…)
I’ve actually been able to get some spinning done lately as well. I’ve been very happy with my progress into making thinner yarn. I like at least a 2 ply yarn so I’ll be anxious to see the result to see if I really can spin thinner. I bought this roving in Bozeman, MT at The Yarn Shop and Fiber Place while visiting my in-laws. I am always drawn to multi-colored roving (it’s that impressionist thing again I’m sure).
I’ve also been working some on what I call Moms Shawl. When my mom passed away 2 years ago my sister who knits and I went through her projects and split them up. My mom used to carry this around with her when she knew she would have extra time in a waiting room. As knitting usually does, people would always ask her what she was making and she always cracked me up because she would say “I’m making a shawl to wear whan I get old.” It took me awhile to figure out the pattern and where she left off. I’m not sure I started on the exact row but for me the point was and is that when I’m having a rough day it really helps to pull it out and work on it. I sit there knitting with it all bunched up in my lap and think about all the good times my mom and I had together.
I’ve finally finished swatching for the English Driving Cap I want to make for hubby. I was satisfied with the gauge of 4 sts = 4 inches in stockinette stitch and the drape of the swatch with size 3 needles and 2 strands of yarn held together. I’m using yarn made from one of my border leicester sheep-Espresso. I originally tried 1 strand with size 6 needles (what the pattern called for), then tried 5′s and 7′s before deciding that 2 strands together was probably more what I was looking for. As I was knitting up the 4′s I realized 3′s were going to do it and did. I was so happy to finally get the result I wanted and dove into the pattern but couldn’t get past row 3. I wanted to make the larger of the 2 sizes but couldn’t for the life of me figure out the pattern. I even had hubby look at it as he’s very mechanically minded and many times can decipher for me what the pattern “really” means. (My sister and I often laugh that sometimes I should just hand the needles over to him and have him call me when the project is finished). Eventually I emailed the pattern writer and got a great explanation back from her the next day. I was impressed and thrilled to get all of my dumb questions answered so kindly and completely. There’s not much to photograph yet as you start from the crown and move down so for now it looks like a small lump of wool. Given the complexity of getting good pictures in the RV I think I’ll wait up until there’s something to actually see.
To take a break occasionally from all the swatching I pulled out a pair of socks I’d started awhile ago. My sister was anxious for me to get a different perspective on sock making so she sent me some Colinette yarn and the magic loop pattern. I was hesitant because after making 5 pairs of socks using the same pattern I wasn’t sure I wanted to expand my horizons and learn a new way. I’ve read so many reviews on the magic loop method and of course now I’m not surprised at why people like it so much. It’s so much easier! I’m still partial to my old pattern but I have to admit this is moving along quickly and I’ve really been enjoying it.
I’ve made several swatches for this project. I started out thinking I would make the English Driving Cap out of the same yarn I was going to use for the Watch Cap (I don’t know what I was thinking but it seemed like a good idea at the time). It was a black yarn from a blend of fiber from my alpacas Rosie and Dominoe.
I must tell you all that I miss my animals ALOT. And I mean ALOT so they will be included in posts ALOT especially since I’m carrying around all their wool with me in our travels (see my post on sock progress for more explanation of my craziness with this). Also, if you hadn’t noticed, some of them (the girls) are in my header picture. Anyway, back to the swatch. The gauge should be 19 sts and 31 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch on size 6 needles. The gauge of the first swatch with alpaca was off but more importantly I realized that it was too soft to hold the shape of the hat (you think I would have realized that early on in the swatch). On to swatch #2. While I was knitting on another project and finally getting to an episode of LOST Season 6 on DVD, it suddenly hit me (I actually think a skein may have risen up out of my stash and smacked me in the back of the head) to use yarn from my black/brown Border Leicester sheep Espresso.
The first swatch out of her yarn was with the recommended needle size of 6 but I still didn’t think it had the stiffness I was looking for (and the gauge was off) so I went down a needle size. As I expected the gauge was too small but I felt if nothing else I would have the results in my project journal for future reference. In the end I decided that using 2 strands together with a size 6 needle would give me what I was looking for. I haven’t finished the swatch yet but I think I’m finally onto something. My goal is to get the swatching finished and be casting on by the middle of the week. Progress reports and pictures to come.
Living and travelling in an RV definitely has it’s advantages. We’ve been able to go, do and see places in the span of a couple of years that probably would have taken us many years if we would have had to rely on trying to take time off from our previous jobs/lives. And at last count we’d crossed the Mississippi River 6 times.Plus, if you don’t like where you are you can hook up and head out. Also, you don’t have the worry of the house while you’re gone and stressing over things like whether or not a pipe may have burst causing a flood, if the furnace/air conditioner is coming on at regular intervals or if your home is being robbed. That being said, there are some disadvantages of an RV. RV’s unfortunately aren’t built like a house and they come with their own worries and stresses. Although the underside is sealed there is still alot of space between it and the ground. The floor can be cold in the winter (thank goodness for those socks) and an RV just isn’t insulated like a house would be. When we decided to go back to the Pacific Northwest one of the things we didn’t anticipate was the moisture problems we would encounter in our RV. Seemed like it was a constant battle to keep it under control. After MUCH discussion and believe me there were actual sleepless nights spent discussing this, we decided it would be in our best interest to be in a dryer climate. We’ve spent considerable time in the Southwest and really loved it and decided it would keep our home on wheels in a happier state. So, we hooked up and headed out to Southern Utah. Although it’s colder than we anticipated for the time being (again those socks are coming in handy, along with an alpaca hat, scarf and mittens) we are very much enjoying not seeing once ounce of moisture on the windows when we open the blinds. I do have to add that I’m actually thrilled that it’s as cold as it is here at this time of year. One of my disappointments was that I might not ever be able to make and wear anything out of my stash again. I’m not unrealistic though, I know it will be HOT here in the summer but I figure I can do the reverse of what people do in cold climates during the winter. Instead of sitting by a fireplace knitting and spinning, I’ll be doing it in air conditioning in anticipation of the cooler months that will come.
He had just gotten into the shower and I was almost done with them so I grabbed my knitting project bag and whipped through the kitchener stitch and was weaving in the ends as I heard the water turn off. They fit him perfectly and when he tried them on his first comments were “wow they’re really warm and nice and squishy.” I took that as a huge compliment because my hubby is usually a man of very few words and even when he likes something alot he just says something like-nice. Now it’s on to the watch cap…..
Well, here’s a wonderful Christmas story for you. Ever since we’ve been travelling in our RV we’ve developed a tradition of driving around on Christmas eve in whatever city we happen to be in and looking at Christmas lights. It’s always been interesting to see how neighborhoods are decorated in different parts of the country. For example, when we were in Florida everyone had lighted palm trees and flamingos and in Washington State people had lighted boat figures in their yards. So last night we’re out driving around enjoying the lights and we decide to stop in Walmart to pick up some snacks for later when we’re watching Christmas movies. We’ve got our stuff on the belt and the last 2 items are 2 bags of potato chips and then we’ve placed the little bar (you know to signify that’s the end of our stuff). The cashier is finishing up with the people in front of us when this guy comes up behind us and decides he can’t wait 5 seconds for the belt to start moving and proceeds to push our chips forward (of course smashing them) to make way for his precious items. I’m staring at him in disbelief. I walk back to him and say “excuse me but you just smashed my chips.” To my further disbelief he looks at me and says “I didn’t smash your chips and you just need to shut up.” By now I’m sure my mouth is hanging open as my husband walks up to him and says “don’t you talk to my wife like that!” The guy then tells my husband he also needs to shut up. Now-my husband has worked out over the years and his arms definitely show it in addition to the fact that they were at least twice the size of this shrimps arms. Then the guy starts repeatedly saying to my husband-do you want to get hurt? I then walk over to him (I just couldn’t resist) and say “are you blind? Can you not see that his arms are twice the size of yours? He could pummel you into the ground in one shot. Then Mister Macho says-you two are old, I’m not afraid. I’m then trying to quickly pay so we can leave because I’m thinking this guy couldn’t possibly be so stupid that he would take a swing at my hubby. I’m hoping at this point that if he does he already has a room reserved at the nearest hospital. BTW, my hubby is the most mild-mannered person you could ever meet with the patience of a saint so I would have been stunned if an actual fist fight would have ensued but I really didn’t know what Mister Macho might do. As the guy is still mouthing off we make our way out of the store and the manager comes over and starts apologizing to us about the other guys behavior! We’ve been laughing about it all day. Merry Christmas!
I’m getting there. The leg is within a 1/2 inch of being done. I don’t know why it always seems that the leg takes so long when it’s basically mindless K2P2 and rest of the sock goes so quickly. Must be the mindlessness of it all. (can’t wait to see what spell check does with that one). My hubby has asked for a hat when the socks are done and he went online and found one that he says is exactly what he wants, which is great because the vision that I had for it is nothing like what his was! He is a huge history buff, especially when it comes to WWII and interestingly enough he came across this pattern for a watch cap that was distributed by The American Red Cross during WWI and WWII. He then picked out a yarn from my stash to make it out of. I should add a note here about my stash. When we sold our alpaca and sheep farm back in 2006 and took to the highways in our RV, I wanted to have yarn and roving from each of my animals to take with me. Well, that turned out to be 7 large boxes that have travelled all over the country with us without so much as a word from my husband about how much space it takes up. He knows that during some rough times over the last few years it has given me much-needed peace of mind to be knitting or spinning with fiber from my animals. So the watch cap will be knit out of the black fiber from my alpacas Rosie and Dominoe that I had processed into a 2 ply fingering weight yarn. As with any new project I’m anxious to get started but I have to do the dreaded swatch first….
BTW, we have discovered that the wind chiming neighbors are also door slammers. They must go in and out at least 20 times a day at all hours and every single time it’s WHAM with the door. We can’t figure out how the thing stays on its hinges. I have to assume they don’t hang much on their walls.
Periodically (as I’m sure alot of people do) I like to reflect back on where I was and what I was doing a year ago. It keeps me focused and helps in keeping my crazy life in check. Last year at this time I was visiting my dad in West Virginia. We were always on the go looking for fun and interesting things to do. Among the many things we did were going to some really unique wine tastings and to see The Rockettes Christmas Show in Pittsburgh. One morning while we were having our coffee and reading the paper, my dad saw an ad for a local farm that was having a holiday open house so we made plans to attend the following weekend. As luck would have it we woke up that morning to snow and lots of it but our family likes to keep the motto of the postal service in mind when it comes to craft shows. We dressed warmly and piled the car full of extra blankets, hats, gloves and food. You would have thought we were heading to the Alaskan wilderness. As we made the turn off the interstate the roads became increasingly more snow covered, but we forged ahead. The turn onto the drive leading to the farm looked untouched by cars, tractors or hooves but we could see blinking christmas lights and some sheep at the end and we figured we’d come this far! The open house was glorious. There was yarn, jewelry, knitted items, food and lots of roving which pulled me to it like a magnet. I picked out 2 braided bundles of hand dyed rovingand my dad patiently held them for safe keeping as I continued shopping and other crazed shoppers arrived. I’ve just stated spinning it and don’t really have a project in mind yet as I want to see how the colors come out before deciding. One thing I do know is that no matter what it ”becomes”, it will always remind me of the fun adventure I had with my dad that day.
I’m finally ready to start blogging! I’ll probably be up all night! I have all sorts of stories, projects and things to share that I feel like I can’t type fast enough (which is a riot because I can’t pass a basic typing test to save my life!) and because real life keeps getting in the way of my knitting and spinning and weaving, I’m sure I’ll be including posts about what many people think is an unconventional way of living. My husband and I have been full time RVers for the past 4 years (we really only meant to do it for a year, 2 at the most), but we’re still at it and now we have a love, hate relationship with it. So…give your hands a knitting break and I hope you enjoy my ”about” page and my posts!