Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sheep to Shawl 2010

Guard the bank accounts and hide the credit cards! Time to dip into that cookie jar where you've been stashing the twenties all year. Fiber festival season is underway!

This weekend it was the Sheep to Shawl festival at Mission Mill in Salem, where the old Thomas Kay Woolen Mill has been converted into a museum and shops, and historic houses from the Willamette Mission have been gathered as a history museum.

It's a place to see cashmere on the hoof:

Aww, what a cutie pie. Think of that sweet face next time you're tempted by the cashmere. Who can resist?

There was sheep shearing going on, too. This Icelandic sheep got rather impatient near the end, especially after a couple of razor nicks:

But the freshly-shorn baa-lambs seemed quite refreshed:

There was live music on the green, below the old schoolhouse:

And Stephania of Three Fates Yarns had her wares out:

Alas, due to unexpected expenses we're running out of money before we run out of month, but if we hang tight until Thursday, we'll be fine. And then there may be some of that Three Fates hand-dyed merino top in my future.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Special Delivery -- by Luftpost!

Oh, happy day! The mail carrier delivered a little slip for a package sent all the way from Germany by registered mail.

Oh, lucky day! I got to the post office just at 5:00, and they still let me in the door because I was only picking up a package.

Oh, joy! I came home bearing this:

Careful application of a pair of scissors opened the outer mailer, revealing this:

Cute, huh? Knitting terms in German and English.

And cutting the tape and opening the paper bag reveals... hoorah! My Wollmeise!

Plus a complimentary knitting pattern, Wollmeise sticker, and little bag of gummi bears.

I wish my camera captured purples better. The yarn looks very blue in the picture, but definitely shades of purple-blue and purple-red in real life. Here 'tis in the fading natural light of the day:

Edison approves, too!

So there is is, my first completed Wollmeise purchase direct from the website! Hoorah!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Of Gardens, Yarn, and Bacon: A Mother's Day Tale

I found it! I found the door to Yarnia!

Not this Yarnia:

And not a snowy land with big cats and evildoers behind someone's abandoned wardrobe, either:

No, Yarnia! But... I'm getting entirely ahead of myself. This is a Mother's Day story, so let's begin at the beginning.

The beginning was brunch at Marie Calendars with my own mother and family, where we filled up on eggs and potatoes and sausage and waffles and fruit and... well, it was a good thing that I made reservations because it was that good and the place filled up fast.

Afterwards, hubby, son, and I went to the Oregon Garden, where there were trees to lie under and look up at the sunny sky:

And there were pot people to meet... erm... I mean people made of pots... flower pots...

And gorgeous flowers to admire -- the iris were just starting to bloom at that elevation:

After wandering the garden and taking lots of pictures, we piled back in the car and headed north to Portland. To Yarnia!

Once you find the place (hint: follow the directions on the website and go down the stairs), and in through the magic door where you find this:

And then you turn around and see this:

Yarn! Yarn? It's so thin, so thread-like, so... so... cone-shaped. It's... proto-yarn.

So you go around and find the colors and textures and fibers that appeal and pick up to six of them that you like and that look good together. Some are thinner than sewing thread, some are nearly laceweight. You take them to the counter and the nice lady will cut and weigh a sample to tell you the approximate weight that the finished product will be. Put four to six strands of the thread-like stuff together and it may come out to fingering weight. Begin with the thicker stuff, and you can get up to bulky weight.

The nice lady behind the counter loads the cones onto a machine, and that's when the magic of Yarnia happens:

The singles from all six cones get wound together onto one cone -- not twisted to ply them together, but lying side by side, ready to knit with nonetheless.

And here is the finished product:

500 yards of bulky weight "yarn" made up of purple wool, blue wool, purple bamboo, blue bamboo, black alpaca, and one super-thin strand of bright green rayon. This will become, in time, a Shalom cardigan.

By that time it was well into the afternoon. We'd had brunch so we hadn't been hungry for lunch. Now we were hungry, but it wasn't quite time for dinner. So what meal were we having? Linner? Dunch? Um... tea?

Whatever it was, we had it at the Petite Provence in Portland. That was where both James and I decided the house BLT sounded good: bacon, lettuce, egg, avocado, and tomato. I guess that makes it a BLEAT. Mmm, BLEAT on a croissant! Now, I like my bacon crispy. Crackly. Can-stand-in-a-corner-by-itself kind of crispy. Can't stand un-crispy pork fat. Crispy is what I got. Mmm, yeah, that was a BLT to remember. I finished it off with a fruit tart, while James downed a Napoleon.

Got a shot of James and Glen:

And a shot of the man-child and me:

By then it was time to think about more prosaic things like getting the grocery shopping done. We gathered up the complimentary long-stemmed rose and Mother's Day chocolate croissants that came at the end of the meal and headed home.

Ah, gardens, yarn, and bacon. A Mother's Day doesn't get much better than that!

ETA: More Oregon Garden pictures over on my garden blog.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Doctor's orders: Eat your chocolate!

Ahh, sometimes I just love science! I mean, I should, I teach science after all, but I seriously love science today after running across a summary of a study out of Johns Hopkins that suggests that compounds in dark chocolate may protect the brain against stroke injury.

Doctor: "Are you exercising? Eating right? Eating enough chocolate?"
Patient: "Oh, dear, I think I skipped my chocolate today."
Doctor: "Well, be sure to pick up a fudge truffle from the pharmacy on the way out today. Here's a prescription for See's as well."

Yes, I could be happy in that world!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pigs take flight, ice rink opens in Hades...

... and Sunday morning when I, just fiddling around in the web, opened the Wollmeise In Stock list, the result a few minutes later was this:

Happy dance, happy dance, I just happened to hit a totally random shop update and successfully ordered two skeins of Wollmeise for my very own!

According to the panel of Wollmeise experts that I polled (that would be two people in my knitting group), the shop updates are usually on a Thursday or a Friday at a time that ends up being somewhere around midnight or the wee hours of the morning for those of us on Pacific time. If you use Firefox as a browser, you can add a page update checker that will make noises at you whenever any page of your choosing is updated. So the strategy is to leave Firefox open with the page update notifier checking the Wollmeise In Stock List, and pounce as soon as the shop update begins.

Or, it appears, you can wander in at random times and sometimes get lucky.

So winging their way to me right now are two skeins of Der letzte Versuch 80/20 Twin in all their shaded purple glory:

I was hoping there would be enough yardage in the two skeins for the Myrtle Cardigan that I have queued. At 510 yards per skein for the Twin (according to the Ravelry database) I might come up short (the pure wool is listed at 575 yards per skein). Well... it could be a cap-sleeved cardigan to wear as a vest.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The best knitting group EVAH...

... is the Salem Area Ravelers, which meets at the Ike Box on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. There are offshoot groups, too, so no one in our town needs to be without a knitting group. So it's a remodeled mortuary, that's okay. It's now a great place to hang out.

We've got all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, and talents.

Newcomers can get coaching, or some are veteran knitters who bring their own sets of skills.

Even the young 'uns sometimes join in the fun.

And some are still looking forward to developing the fine motor skills necessary, while already eyeing mom's stash.

That's bitty li'l Josephine from a prior post, bright-eyed and growing like crazy.

If you don't have yourself a knitting group yet, Ravelry is one place to find one.

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