Monday, May 30, 2011

Knittin' the Rails: an Urban Yarn Crawl

As though fiber festival season weren't enough... let's have a yarn crawl!

Organized by our own Helen, master organizer, our crawl was a "green" crawl, using public transportation to get a whole flock of knitters up to Portland and around to various yarn shops. With the assistance also of my son, who goes to college at Portland State, we all got to where we were going to, no one got lost, and we made it back to the train station on time with all of our loot.

Here's the Salem contingent, waiting at the Amtrak station for the train to arrive. Our Mother Duck, Helen, is on the left in the red aran cabled sweater (her own knitting, of course):

And heeeere comes the train! Huzzah! The Eugene contingent was already aboard and ready for adventure.

Yay, all aboard the train and on our way to Portland, where you can hardly throw a rock without hitting a fabulous yarn shop.

I've been on planes, ridden city busses and light rail, taken the Greyhound, and driven cross-country, but this was my first time on Amtrak. What was fun was seeing the same areas I'd driven through hundreds of times, but from an entirely different angle. Sometimes it was people's backyards, sometimes it was views across fields. Here I was trying to get the falls at Oregon City. Got the top of the falls, anyhow:

The train going around the curve and across the Steel Bridge in Portland:

And here we are, an hour later, at historical Union Station -- currently undergoing renovation to make sure it doesn't become history:

The well-marbled interior with the grandeur of a past age, still gleaming:

We met up with my son James, our secondary guide and scout. Being a college student and car-less, he knows all the ins and outs of the TriMet transportation system that will get us around Portland.

The first stop -- and I almost forgot to take any pictures, so here's a quick and almost-in-focus shot, was Dublin Bay. It's just a short walk from Union Station. They had goodies laid out, and a nice discount for yarn crawlers. And such pretty stuff! I was highly tempted by the baby camel and silk blend, but I didn't want to blow my whole yarn budget at the first shop.

From Dublin Bay, we walked up the street to Urban Fiber Arts, which carries not only yarn but a good selection of spinning fiber, much of it from local suppliers and dyers:

They, too, had a discount for us, and cupcakes. While the shop is smallish, the selection was gorgeous:

Lunch was just a block away at The Tea Zone, where there's more really, really good tea than I think I could drink in a lifetime. A huge BLT and a pot of Lychee tea fortified me for the afternoon.

From there we boarded a TriMet bus and crossed the river, over to explore the wonders that are Twisted:

Oh, lovely, lovely stuff, including the famous wall o' sock yarn:

Another jump onto the busses, and we had our choice between two shops within shouting distance of one another. I went with a group to Happy Knits, as it was the one of the two that I hadn't visited before, where they were unpacking new boxes of gorgeousness as we wandered among the shelves:

The other half of the group descended on the Yarn Garden. As the Happy Knits group got there just before Helen rang the bell to signal time to ring up the purchases and go find the bus, I didn't get a chance to get a shot of the interior and its multiple rooms of yarn:

James and I wait for the bus that will take us to the MAX light rail line that will take us back to Union Station.

And here we are back in Salem, all well-supplied with fresh new fiber-licious goodness:

My haul: eight skeins of purple heather Cascade Sport, eight balls of Rowan CashSoft that was on sale, a hank of merino/yak spinning fiber by Abstract Fiber in deep, deep purple and black, a project bag and matching needle case, and a needle felting tool:

Now I can't wait for the school year to end so I have a little more time to play with my new toys!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sheep to Shawl 2011

It's that wonderful time of year again -- fiber festival season! April brought the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival, now May brings Sheep to Shawl at Mission Mill Museum. It's just a small, local festival, but with a little nurturing, we hope it will grow. Small though it may be, we still had fiber animals like sheep and their little baa-lambs:

And alpacas, with their "I'm too cool for my bad wig" expressions:

And a very patient Angora bunny whose soft fur was being spun off of his back:

There were spinners scattered around, as well as vendors:

And some sheep shearing:

And some shorn sheep ("Mom, what happened? Are you okay? Are we next? Mom? Mom!"):

On the historical side of things, there's a group that's carving a replica of a shovel-nosed canoe, which was used by the Kalapuyans, the native people of this area, for navigating marshes, rivers, and sloughs:

And our own Stephania of Three Fates Yarns, adding up a very nice sale:

I came only to look, and maybe buy a little fiber. Sigh... "a little" somehow became an 8 lb Romney fleece, very clean, charcoal grey, perfect for a fall coat I have in mind:

I keep looking at that stash box, thinking, "I really ought to be on a yarn diet... I really should use some of this up before I buy more... I really should resist..." If fiber festival season didn't fall during my off time, leaving me trying to knit up all that yarn during my busiest times of the year, maybe I could work through it all. Not all my fault... really... right?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Knitters for Lucky the Cat - A Raffle!

Aw, poor Lucky. This sweet kitty was rescued from a drainage ditch, but given to a shelter when his owners couldn't care for him. The shelter discovered why Lucky's eyes kept watering and crusting -- Lucky has no eyelids! His condition can be fixed with surgery, but it'll cost about $3000. That's why Lucky has his own website with a ChipIn link, which has raised a little over half the costs of surgery.

To help raise a bit more, the Under the Spell of an Orange Cat group on Ravelry (yes, there is a group for everything on Ravelry) is holding a wonderful fiberlicious raffle. Yarns, needle holders, spinning fiber, and other goodies are posted there as prizes. Tickets are $5 each.

I know with earthquakes and tsunamis and tornados ravaging the earth, one little kitty may not seem like much to think about. And yes, the need and human suffering worldwide is still huge. But kitty lovers are gonna give this a go and see if a whole lot of tiny donations can add up for this little furbaby.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cap'n Jenny Sets Sail

I'm sure everyone living in the U.S. of A. is fully aware of the economic times and the cutbacks in the public workforce. Not long ago, the cuts struck our own county offices, where friend and fellow knitter Jenny worked in the planning department until her job was eliminated. Thanks to seniority, while her old job may be gone, the county needed to find her a new job in the vast layoff-and-job-shuffle dance they performed. One of the jobs that she could take -- pilot of the Buena Vista ferry that crosses the Willamette River most of the year, except in winter. Here's a stock photo of it:

Well, Jenny interviewed and got the job! Of course we're all wildly jealous, all saying, "I wanna drive the ferry boat!" and, "Best view out of an office window ever," and, "Think of all the knitting time!" 'Cause it crosses the river in a very rural place where there isn't a whole lot of traffic. Today was her first day of training, on a different ferry since the Buena Vista is getting rebuilt. She's started a blog about it here on Blogger, so if you want to read all about ferry boat piloting, check out the Cap'n Jenny blog. We're hoping she'll post a picture a day once she's in the piloting groove, out on the river with the ospreys and blue herons and occasional bald eagles.

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