Saturday, May 26, 2012

Knittin' the Rails 2012

It's that time of the year again -- not only fiber festival season, but time for a Portland yarn crawl! To make this a green crawl, we hopped aboard the Amtrak to ride northward. Just a small herd of knitters this year, but quite determined in spite of threatening skies. Not a problem, I brought an umbrella and sunscreen -- therefore it didn't rain and we didn't get hot sun, either. It worked!

Here come the train at the Salem station, bringing knitters from Albany to join us:

The Salem contingent awaits their chance to board. It was a crowded train on the way up, but once we all got seated, we were underway.

Mary Scott Huff, author of Teach Yourself VISUALLY Color Knitting, met us at Union Station in Portland, wearing the gorgeous stranded colorwork and felted jacket that she gives instructions for in her book.

First stop, Dubin Bay in the Pearl District, where they always lay out the red carpet for us, or at least a selection of goodies and a discount for yarn crawls. The selection of yarns is lovely, and just for the record, they ship to anywhere in the world that the mail service goes.

A lovely knitting nook with a wide window, as well as a television with sports playing, presumably for non-knitting companions. Today it was decked out with a lovely display of goodies.

From Dublin Bay we went on to Pearl Fiber Arts (formerly Urban Fiber Arts, but apparently someone else went and trademarked the name, alas).

Inside, another tempting array of yarn, including yarn from local growers, dyers, and spinners. The store is preparing to move a few storefronts down, so it's looking an little more sparse than it has in the past, but there was still plenty to tempt.

Some adorable little souvenir spinning wheels:

And some equally adorable knobbly-kneed little felted sheep:

We left Pearl Fiber Arts with 10% off coupons for The Tea Zone, where we had a delicious lunch, including the best grilled cheese panini (with tomatoes and avocado) that I've had in a very long time. I also left with some lovely tea.

After lunch we went to Powell's Books, a vast city of new and used books, where I didn't get a picture, but we made a thorough inspection of the knitting books and came back with a few. After that, we  took the bus across the river and straight to the wonders of Twisted. Let's start with the wondrous wall of sock yarn, featuring local dyers.

They've got some lovely spinning supplies, including these Schacht spinning wheels -- a Ladybug and a Sidekick.

We had a little time to sit and knit while we waited for our bus. Then it was off to the station to catch the train back home.

My haul was modest, but I came back with some choice bits. From left and moving clockwise, I picked up a foam needle felting pad, a skein of pure silk yarn from Blue Moon Fiber arts, a little needle felting kit for making a little elephant, a couple of ounces of Soothing Comfort herbal tea from Tea zone, a skein of hand-dyed worsted merino/bamboo blend from Alexandra's Crafts, a skein of Shepherd Worsted from Lorna's Laces, a bottle of Eucalan lavender, a bit of blue elastic thread, two skeins of turquoise blue Fibranatura Flax linen yarn, and two books from Powell's: 75 Birds, Butterflies & Little Beasts to Knit and Crochet and 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet, both by Lesley Stanfield.

Blue may not be my usual color, but my mother-in-law's hair is thinning and she's feeling embarrassed about her scalp showing through, so I'm making her a few hats, one for summer and two for winter. The summer hat will need the elastic thread, which is why I picked it up.

Tra, la, and I did it all except the books with cash I'd been setting aside for yarn.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sheep to Shawl 2012

It's that time of year again -- fiber festival season! Some of us went down to the Willamette Heritage Center, a.k.a. the Mission Mill museum, site of the historic Kay Woolen mill and many historic houses, for the annual Sheep to Shawl festival. I didn't get it all in pictures, but captured some of it.

Inside the historic mill itself are the equipment, which was all powered by water power from the mill race that runs under the mill, that once turned raw fleece into finished blankets and wool fabric. These are the spinning machines, all in a row down one side of the mill, with rolls of fine roving to the right.

The carding machines took the cleaned fleece and turned it into carded wool, and to fine roving:

The loom is still fired up now and then to demonstrate how the mechanisms worked. There's white woolen cloth on it that the machine wove:

The old punch clock, where workers punched in all up until the 1960s when the mill finally closed.

The forge, where expert machinists made and fixed parts for the machines.

Outdoors, we met these lovely cashmere goats.

Llamas always look like they're way too cool for this kind of thing.

A teeny yarn bombing -- a mere yarn firecracker -- the sheep statue sported a red scarf.

Though in color, the sheep statue wasn't too far from these Shetlands. The baby boy had a lovely black-and-white face.

I forgot to ask what breed these were, but their long, crimpy locks looked lovely for spinning.

These alpaca youngsters had their first haircut:

The best part was meeting up with friends and knitting the afternoon away. Helen and Andrea at the cafe:

Andrea, Nanci, and her beekeeping friend admire the yarns and animals.


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