Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stash enhancement in Bend and Sisters

Last week I was in Bend, Oregon, helping lead a week-long teacher workshop to kick off a grant project I'm working with (a two year Math and Science Partnership grant; we're the second one on the list of awards), and while I was there, naturally I had to check out a yarn shop or two. In my home town of Salem, we're down to one yarn shop, so a little variety, yanno?

I came upon Gossamer, a high-end yarn shop full of the stuff you'll never find at one of those big box craft stores. There was much there to tempt me, so to make sure I didn't go too much over budget, I went in armed with patterns for two shrugs I want to make and bought yarn for those. I wanted handpaint yarns, or something like them, in irresistible fibers. So I came home with:

That purplely skein is a sweet worsted weight merino and silk yarn from Manos del Uruguay. I, um, didn't look for the price before I bought. It wasn't horribly outrageous, but it's not bargain basement, either. But then, I've promised myself that if I'm going to go to the trouble of knitting a garment, I'm going to make it out of a yarn I love. And this colorway, called Violets, I love. The soft, silky texture I love, too. And the fact that its fair trade, made by artisans in Uruguay I love, too.

Those sea blues are a colorway called Woad, by Terra, a worsted-weight silk, merino, and alpaca blend with a nice soft hand. I like the color, and I like the name, though whether it's really dyed with woad or not I'm not sure. I'd like to learn to dye with woad. I have instructions. I could do it if I had the woad. But woad I have not. It's a rangeland weed, and it's illegal to ship woad seeds to this state. I have my sources where I could get my hands on some, but oh, the ethics. But the yarn itself is soft, silky, and has the slightly uneven feel of a handspun.

I felt that was about all the strain that my credit card could take. Since it was our last day in Bend, we hopped in the car and took off for home not long before noon, just the right timing to stop in Sisters for lunch.

I blame it on wool fumes. I must have smelled them as we strolled around looking for a likely cafe, for no sooner had we gone into Ali's, ordered our lunch, and sat down, than I looked across the street and spotted Baabaara's Wild and Wooly shop.

"From sheep to shawl, we have it all!" the sign proclaimed. Most of the yarn was either handspun, or mill-spun from fleece grown in the region, or handspun from local fleece, and since it's "sheep to shawl," as you might guess, there was a lot of spinning equipment, too. I don't spin -- yet. It's next on my list of textile skills to learn. Those silky pygora rovings were just about enough to tempt me into sitting down for a lesson right then and there, if we hadn't had a timetable pushing us along. I was wondering what I might buy, when hubby inquired if I might want to make something for him. Sweater? Vest? A request for a vest. Okay, so we pawed through a bin of alpaca and llama yarns, and came up with four fat skeins of the mocha brown sock weight llama yarn shown above. The color is natural, so no worries about it coming out in the wash or anything.

Now, which to start with once the kimono vest is completed? I'll probably have to start on hubby's vest, as soon as I work out a pattern. A simple v-neck, I think, with some gansey-inspired knit-in designs in a panel up the front and the back. But I may be tempted to cast on one of the other two yarns and do some work on a shrug at the same time just because the colors are calling to me...


Anonymous said...

You should definitely learn how to spin. I've got some crazy knitting deadlines right now, but both my wheels are calling...sigh.

The Manos silk is wonderful- great stitch definition- don't know why I was surprised by that, but I was.

She Knits Socks said...

I would love to explore that part of the country. I've heard nice things about Sisters and their quilt festival. And if you can find such nice yarn in Bend, I'd like to go there too!

Nice yarn for the shrugs and also for your husband's vest.


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