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!
I am FINALLY getting somewhere on the Ivy Cap. What started out looking like a small lump of coal is beginning to develop into something that could actually become a hat!
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.
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.