Wednesday, October 31, 2007

John C. Campbell Folk School - Day 3


Another lovely day at the folk school. When we got to class this morning, this was how our instructor, Annie Hall, was dressed:

...covered head to toe in spiders of all kinds -- spider hat, spider shirt, numerous spider pins, spider pants, socks, shoes and earrings, and carrying her ever-present spider goblet. (Oh, and Groucho Marx glasses, just for fun.) She says she is channeling Spiderwoman, from native American folklore, in honor of the fact that she's a spinner, and so now, are we.

Do you get a sense of how fun this woman is? No? Then, take a gander at this picture, which I forgot to share with you yesterday:

You see those earrings? Take a wild guess as to what the "stone" is in them. There's a folk school hand-carved, hand-painted wooden top to the first person who gets it right. I'll try and remember to post the answer tomorrow.

As far as my spinning progress, here is my craptastic handspun gallery of shame, thus far:

Left to Right:
-handspun "yarn" from Sunday's spinning class at SAFF
-handspun yarn from Tuesday's drop-spindling efforts
-handspun yarn from this morning's wheel-spinning

(can you say "energized singles"?)

This afternoon, I plied my spindle spun and wheel-spun gray Corriedale singles together into this tiny, crude little ball of yarn:

it ain't pretty, but it's mine

I spun all day today on a Louet single-treadle wheel, and it was not bad, but I'm not in love. For one thing, the wheel is somewhat small, and I didn't like having to lean over every time I needed to get the wheel going clock-wise after I'd stopped treadling. At least the Lendrum on Sunday was leaning towards me, and the wheel was bigger -- less of a strain on my back. A chair with better back support might also help. But I'm still undecided about the single vs. double-treadle. I think I like having one foot anchored on the floor, but then that means the right leg is the only one getting the work-out. Tomorrow, I'd like to try different wheels. Our instructor has a beautiful Ashford, which she loves, so I may give it a whirl. There's a wide variety of other wheels to try -- a Lendrum, a Majacraft, a different model of Louet, etc.

Something else I discovered today -- it's a lot easier to spin from hand-carded rolags than from drum-carded bats of fiber. The latter require a lot more pre-drafting prior to spinning, at least for this novice. However, that still doesn't convince me that I want to hand-card my own fiber. I just need to get better at pre-drafting and drafting roving. Tomorrow, I'd also like to try spinning a little of the commercially prepared (combed?) roving I bought at SAFF, to see what that's like.

I'm still not convinced that I'm going to get a wheel after class is over, at least not right away, but I will definitely try more drop spindling, so will be keeping my eyes open for a pretty one.

Enough about spinning class. Tonight, after yet another delicious meal, I stayed for part of their Halloween program, and sat & knit in the Keith House library with some of my classmates:

while someone told folk school ghost stories. I had to marvel, as I looked around that room while listening to the stories, at all the beautiful handiwork all over the place. The hand-carved plaque above the fireplace, (pictured at the very top of this post); the handmade chairs donated by various folks in the community back around 1928 when the school first opened, whose woven seats have no doubt been caned and re-caned over the years. The gorgeous hand-forged fireplace screen; `the coffee table made from the cross-section of a log. Fantastic landscape paintings that I'd love to buy if they were, by some miracle, for sale. The attention to detail and the marvelous hand-crafted, museum-quality items in every building on campus are a feast for the eyes. The campus buildings themselves are a feast for the eyes.

[Note: I have taken many, many pictures of things I've seen here, but am not going to bog down the blog with them. I plan on uploading them all to Flickr and then posting a link to a slideshow of them in a future blog post, for those who want further eye-candy. Probably won't happen until early next week.]

Later, after the ghost stories, there was a "haunted house" tour, and I broke away from the group at that point and headed back to the B&B. These shorts nights and long days are taking their toll!

And so, I will bid you goodnight.

(Read about Day 4)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

John C. Campbell Folk School - Day 2

Another wonderful, fantastic day down here in Brasstown, NC. I've decided now, after being here just over 48 hours, that I want to marry this place. The whole she-bang -- the school, the region, the Smokies, the folk art, the folklore, the people, and the spirit that inhabits the area. Forgive me for gushing, but, this place is bliss. I now know I must come here at least once a year in order for my life to feel complete. The dreamer in me wants to move here and stay forever; the pragmatist in me knows that's not possible, currently. Maybe if I meet the man of my dreams and he's willing to retire here and support me while I take classes year-round.... (Hmmm.... How does one word that in a personal ad?)

Seriously, though. It's been a great day.

Yesterday was spent processing our wool -- picking and flicking the "schmutz" out of it, (as our instructor Annie Hall calls it), and then we carded and carded, all the live-long day. I decided that I preferred flicking my fiber with a brush rather than carding it, although I produced enough carded rolags to use for today's drop-spindling. The rest of the flicked fiber I will run through the drum carder tomorrow before spinning it on the wheel, because tomorrow, we do finally get to get our grubby hands on a wheel! I can't wait for my second attempt at wheel-spinning -- I just feel I will be more successful, this time.

If you've been a long-time reader of my blog, you may recall about 18 months ago when I first met Queen Bess, when she gave me very first (and at the time, my only) drop-spindle lesson. That was the last time I'd really touched a drop-spindle, and lately I was sure I'd forgotten everything Bess taught me. But today, it all came back! I get it! I can draft! I can spin! I'm not a pro, but, I get it! And I love it! Even if I never get the hang of wheel spinning, I can see that I might start drop spindling, just for the fun of it. So, thanks a million, once again, miss Bess, for that very first lesson. It was my launch into the world of spinning.

Today, in addition to our drop-spindle lessons, Annie also gave us a demonstration of spinning cotton on a great wheel (aka a "walking wheel"):

This is where I must gush, again, this time about my instructor. I have to admit that, before I came, I was worried about a couple of things. There was a last minute instructor change, because our originally-scheduled teacher had broken her leg. And so I worried that our second-string instructor would not make the grade. I was pleasantly and resoundingly proven wrong, thank God Almighty. Annie is absolutely wonderful. She is a lovely, gentle, positive and encouraging teacher, amazingly funny, (has a hilarious life story to illustrate everything she teaches), and moves the class forward at such a relaxed and flexible pace that we don't feel rushed or tied to a clock. It all flows naturally, effortlessly.

Case in point -- the weather today was so lovely that we couldn't help but move the class outside this afternoon, and Annie was all for it:

I also worried that, since this class was a beginning spinning AND beginning knitting class, that too much time would be devoted to teaching knitting, (a craft I already know), and not enough to spinning, (the reason I came), and I wouldn't feel I'd get my money's worth. But, once again, I was wonderfully proven wrong. On Sunday night, Annie went around the room and asked each of us why we came. Most of us came to learn spinning; a few also wanted to learn to knit. And so, on last night's field trip to Yarn Circle, (outside of our normal class time), Annie taught all the newbies how to knit, and they are now off and on their way as excited new knitters! What a perfect solution to the knitting vs. spinning dilemma.

Annie also taught a wonderful class at SAFF one year called "How to Knit an Appalachian Shawl", and she very generously made us all handouts from that class, which was definitely above and beyond the call of duty. From her incredibly organized and detailed handouts, (not to mention her great classroom instruction), it is clear that this lady is one sharp cookie. She does work in academia at a university, after all. This Thursday afternoon, we get to watch a presentation she prepared for another class called "Knitting: From the Sacred to the Profane", which promises to be incredibly interesting. All along the way, as she teaches us, she throws in lots of fascinating history about fiber arts, and I'm loving it.

My classmates are wonderfully diverse and also add to the joy of the experience. From the tall, beautiful, 20-something Rachel who works at a living history site and is taking the class so that she can be better at her job; to Shari who wants to learn to spin up the llama fiber shorn from her own animals; to Judy, originally from Brooklyn, who is a master embroiderer; to sweet Beryl, the matriarch of the group, who also happens to play the dulcimer. Just a fantastic group of ladies. Here's hoping we can all stay in touch after the week is over.

So, are you tired of my gushing about my class yet? Okay, I'll move on.

Yesterday I mentioned the folk school's craft shop. Today I took a few pictures of it:


just a few of the wonderful items for sale
(yes, even some handspun yarn!)

Since the craft shop is in the same building as the dining hall, I find myself in there at least twice a day, it seems, after the meal is over and before the next activity. So dangerous! Such lovely things -- I want it all. So far, I've only bought a book (A Handspindle Treasury) and a little wooden top that spins and spins and spins -- will come in handy for those long and boring conference calls.... :-)

And speaking of spinning fiber and spinning tops, there was more spinning going on after dinner, in the form of folks spinning around on the meeting hall floor during a Contra-Circle-Square Dance:

whirling dervishes

I went ostensibly just to watch and then go hang w/ my new knitting peeps in another room of the building and knit, but while watching I was asked to dance, and, even though I've got two left feet and kept going the wrong way, I had a blast! My partner knew what he was doing and was very helpful in pointing me in the right direction. I used to think this square dancing thing was for old folks and country bumpkins, but I now see the appeal, and I may just have to look into doing something like this when I get back home. I have friends who square dance and love it. And it's definitely great exercise!

After a long, full day, I'm back in my room at the B&B and need to get to sleep -- the alarm goes off way too early!

So, goodnight, for now! Here's hoping I can blog again tomorrow night.

Monday, October 29, 2007

John C. Campbell Folk School - Day 1

Well, the laptop seems to be back up to snuff, but the wireless internet at my B&B has been iffy, so I wasn't able to blog last night about my second day at SAFF and my spinning class there. Better success tonight, thank goodness.

I did go back to SAFF on Sunday and buy a few more things before my class, and I'll most likely share my purchases in a post after the end of this long trip. Or maybe sooner, if I have some time one evening this week.

I ended up getting a couple books, a little bit more fiber, a fantastic pair of earrings, (don't let me forget to show you those), and one hank of yarn. Still pretty darned restrained, at least for me.

My SAFF spinning class was good in that it introduced me to the concept, it got me a chance to try a Lendrum wheel, and helped me get over the initial awkwardness of the process. The instructor was over-extended, however -- there were 12 of us and just one of her, so I think a few of us felt neglected on occasion, which was frustrating if we hit a roadblock and couldn't figure out how to troubleshoot the problem. We were also her last class of the weekend, and she'd had seven other classes, plus evening spinning sessions at her hotel, so she was a little burnt out. To her credit, though, she was willing to stay with us for as long as we wanted to stay, even hours past when the class was over, if we so chose, but I had to head on down the road to Brasstown, NC, my home this week while I take another, week-long spinning class at what has quickly become my favorite place in the world -- the John C. Campbell Folk School.

The drive down is incredibly beautiful, and I think I picked the most perfect week to be spending in the Great Smoky Mountains. See for yourself:

I see where they get their name

I got there late, but made it just in time for dinner.

Our class met briefly after dinner and then I headed on to my B&B, just up the road, for the night.

This morning, I came over early for their "morningsong", to hear the school's director tell the history of school, and then browsed their exquisite craft shop while others ate breakfast. Oh, my -- that shop is going to put a hurtin' on my wallet, I can just feel it! Some incredible handicrafts in that place!

Afterwards we went to class and spent the entire day carding and preparing wool from a fleece provided by the school's knitter-in-residence, Martha Owen, who also happens to own the local yarn shop in nearby Peachtree.

Here's the building where our class is held -- we're in the "wet room", on the bottom level, on the left:

The cooking class is right next door -- we're still waiting expectantly to be taste-testers for them. There's a music class upstairs, and we hear them all day long, mainly in the form of thumping on their floor (our ceiling).

Here's a few folks from our class:

Instructor Annie Hall, on far left in red vest

After class, I took the walking tour of the campus, and here are a few pictures of buildings along the tour:

old log cabin; used to be weaving studio

Mill House

After dinner, our class took a field trip over to Yarn Circle for their Monday knit night. Nice folks, and nice shop -- lots of spinning and weaving supplies, in addition to the typical knitting supplies. I didn't buy any fiber or yarn but did get a few sheepy greeting cards.

I am now completely exhausted ready for bed, so will end this, for now.

Tomorrow -- spinning!

Maybe another blog post tomorrow night, if all goes well.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Some highlights...

... from the past two days:

western North Carolina from the air
(and yes, that's a propeller)

all hotels in the region are booked solid because of these ^

an obligatory fiber festival camellid picture
(llama, who's yer mama?)

obligatory fiber festival crowd & vendors shot

saw these tonight on my way to dinner
(evening glories?)

tonight's dessert at Mayfel's
(and no, I didn't eat all those beignets!)

sum total of today's loot
(are you proud of my restraint?)

Don't worry -- I'll be back again tomorrow morning for more. I've already got a mental checklist of vendors I plan to revisit. That gal with the giant bag of cashmere roving.... Brook's Farm's booth and their incredibly soft wool yarn....

Tomorrow afternoon -- spinning class at SAFF.

Tomorrow night -- I arrive at the JCC Folk School for my week-long spinning class. I can't wait!

Oh, and hey -- I finally met dixygirl Nikki! We've been reading each other blogs for probably six months now, and keep missing each other at fiber festivals, but this time, we met up, and serendipitously, too! I recognized her at the concession stand, so we ate lunch together, along with her friend Laura (or, Laurie? - sorry, I forget which is correct). Both are very nice and down-to-earth. Robin F. & Tanya - I'm glad guys have them in your knitting/spinning group!

Well, it's after midnight now, so I will end this.

But, one last item, before I go. My laptop gave me a terrible fright last night when I booted it up. The screen was behaving very strangely, with lots of multi-colored vertical lines, and my stomach lurched as the device was rendered virtually unusable. Today, the laptop seems to be feeling better -- here's hoping it was just a one-time event. (Haven't we been down this road before, and recently, at that...?) Please, God, have mercy on my gadgets!

Anyway -- if I'm noticeably silent for the next week or so, suspect computer issues. Ugh.


Edited later to add:

Photo slideshow from SAFF can be seen here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm off...

* points South.

First, I'm attending SAFF this weekend, and am staying at possibly the world's crappiest hotel -- more on that in a future post. Here's hoping I'm proven wrong, and that the sinking feeling in my gut is just air-travel nerves. Yep -- I'm using some precious FF miles to fly down there, because I hate driving long distances, especially alone. But even after having flown at least a half-million miles for work over the years, I still get nervous; not so much about flying, per se; but more about all the airport hassles one must deal with, and frankly, about the loss of control over one's life while at the mercy of the airlines and pilots and flight attendants and air traffic controllers. And as grateful as I am for our current rainy weather, I know it's not going to help smooth things along today. Still, better to have the rain and suffer (hopefully) minor delays in Atlanta.

Next week, I'm taking a week-long beginning spinning class at the John C. Campbell Folk School, down in Brasstown, NC. Staying at B&B there, which also seems a bit iffy. Here's hoping I'm pleasantly surprised.

Next weekend, I drive back up to Asheville and am meeting up with friends to take a tour of Biltmore in all its Christmas -decorated glory, something I've been wanting to do for years.

I hope to be blogging all along the way -- I'm supposed to have high-speed internet connectivity everywhere I'm staying.

And so, for now, I will bid you adieu!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shine On Harvest Moon

This week's full Moon (Oct. 25-26) is the biggest full Moon of 2007. It's no illusion. Some full Moons are genuinely larger than others and Thursday night's will be as much as 14% wider and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we've seen earlier this year. Check for the reasons why.

Sunday's waxing moon, 10/21/07

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A little gift from me to you....

Sweet Baby James
(Feedblitz subscribers click here to see video.)
(I hope you're not distracted by the drummer, or the jiggly camera-work.)

I had have a couple other pictures to share from this evening's event: but Blogger photo upload is currently down, so my lil' video above, will have to do.

Andre Agassi & Steffi Graf

JT on JumboTron

J.T. did not disappoint during his performance of mainly oldies, and provided two crowd-pleasing encores. Amazingly, the man sings just as sweetly now as he did 40 years ago (!) when his career first kicked off. My third time seeing him was just as magical as the first.

However, I feel I must blow a big Bronx cheer at the low-class audience members who booed the mayor, at the idiots who filed out early before the two encores, and at the Siegal Center for apparently consulting the Marquis de Sade when they designed the venue's seats -- possibly the most painfully uncomfortable benches on the planet.

Despite those issues, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Thanks, James! (But next time, won't you sing Mona?)

(Read the T-D review here.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stitches East 2007

I'm safely home now, well-rested after a good night's sleep in my own bed following a whirlwind half-week out of town and many frazzled hours driving round-'n-round the Beltway. (I've had enough of the Beltway now to last me the rest of my life, thankyouverymuch.)

Tonight, I have a few Stitches pictures to organize and share, and my goal is to get that done within the next day, upload them to Flickr and link to them here, eventually.

In the meantime, I do have a couple of photos I can show you.

First, this "e-postcard" of Bess and I taken at the XRX booth:

(By the way, I got my hair cut Tuesday, and the bangs are back.)

That purple bag is just some of my loot. Oh, my! I may be too embarrassed at my excess to do a big reveal!

Here's a screen capture from the live web-cam of the Stitches East 2007 marketplace:

The little booth to the right of the purple "X" on the floor
is where postcard photos are taken.


So many beautiful, incredible yarns and other items for sale there. So much so, that it really became overwhelming, and I found it necessary to take a break after a couple of aisles of shopping, and get away, sit down and desensitize, in order to be able to appreciate what was in vendors' booths in the next aisles. I can now understand why people come for the entire three or four days, and take a class here and there, and visit the marketplace in dribs and drabs, so as not to try to see it all at once.

I would recommend, to any future Stitches attendees, that if you're at all interested in purchasing trendy yarns like Blue Moon Fiber Arts' "Socks That Rock", that you find that booth first. I managed to stumble upon it Friday afternoon and snapped up four hanks while the gettin' was good. By Saturday afternoon, the booth had been incredibly picked over, with not much sock yarn inventory left. One can always order from their website, of course, but half the fun is seeing and touching those gorgeous colorways in person.

So, Friday afternoon, exhausted after a long workday and just an hour or so of sensory overload in the marketplace, I walked across the street and had a drink outside at the Wharf Rat, where Charlottesville-based Margaret met me, and we swapped stories and showed our purchases.

When I serendipitously ran into Bess on Saturday, it was a good enough excuse for both of us to take another marketplace break and grab a coffee upstairs at Starbucks. Upon returning, we got our postcard photo taken before continuing shopping, and then lost each other somehow in the 300's aisle, so I never did get to say a proper goodbye. Sorry, Bess! Hope you had a fun there on Sunday, too!

I did run into several other friends while roaming the aisles. Friendly-Knitter Amber & I were reaching for the same kit at the Shelridge Farm booth and recognized each other. I also saw (blogless) Pam, who had temporarily misplaced Emmy & Becky, but I'm sure they found each other again, eventually. I know this, because I saw the Colonial Heights gang's Stitches postcard on the website. (Aren't they cute?)

I had one FKS, or Famous Knitter Sighting. While browsing in Rosie's Yarn Cellar booth, I heard a familiar voice and turned around and saw Lily Chin sitting there, chatting with the vendor and customers alike. I was too shy to say hello, as is my usual M.O. around famous folks. It's times like that I wish I were more gregarious and had asked her for a picture or an autograph or something.... My spies told me later that Bess, always gregarious, stopped Lily in one of the marketplace aisles and gushed appropriately. Oh, Bess, how I wish I hadn't lost you before then! ;-)

Seriously, though, it was a fun experience and I'm glad I had the opportunity to go. I've actually never spent much time in downtown Baltimore before this weekend, except for an Orioles game at Camden Yards last year, so that, too, was pretty darn cool. I don't think Stitches will be an annual event for me, but I do hope I get to go again sometime.

Stay tuned for photos out on Flickr!


10/16/07: I am editing this post to add a few thoughts about my hotel, so that I'll remember the details if ever I'm considering where to stay again in downtown Baltimore.

I stayed at the Sheraton Inner Harbor, which is connected to the Baltimore Convention Center, where Stitches East 2007 was held, making it particularly convenient. Because of my last-minute decision to attend Stitches, rooms at the hotel were going for $350/night, which I wouldn't ever pay, normally. Fortunately, I had enough Sheraton hotel points that my one-night stay was free. That being said, if I were to have paid that much for the room, I might have felt I'd been bilked. The rooms are tiny, and the walls are paper-thin. But, you're not paying for the room -- you're paying for the proximity to downtown events and locales, (harbor, convention center, Camden Yards), and you're paying for the incredible view. All those skyline and harbor shots I took, even the marathon shots, were taken from the comfort of my room with it's great windows.

Sheraton hotel rooms do have a few things going for them. Having spent many a night last year in a Sheraton, I knew about their Sweet Sleeper beds, the superb comfort with which few hotels can compete. I was therefore looking forward to that aspect of my room, and although my bedding was the high quality I expected, the mattress was another story. It had a tell-tale tilt on the left side where I'm guessing most guests sleep, and I found I kept having to pull myself towards the middle of the bed so I wouldn't feel I was rolling out. It probably just needed to be flipped. So, great bedding is nice, but you need a good mattress, too; otherwise, it's like a fantastic buttercream frosting on top of a stale cake.

The rooms at the Inner Harbor Sheraton also have a giant flat-screen LCD (or plasma?) television, which is nice, but not entirely necessary for my hotel-staying pleasure. I suppose it helps some folks feel they're getting their money's worth to have a high-dollar tv in the room. But, I found the DirectTV satellite television to be quite sluggish as far as channel changes, which was a bit annoying. So, again, some bad with the good.

Internet access is not free, which also annoys the hell out of me, when many of their competitors do offer it for free. Another annoyance -- the desk chair was too big for the room and the desk -- the arms made it too big to push under the desk, thereby making it difficult to walk through that part of the room. And the chair was also dangerously tippy -- there was no leaning back in it, unless I wanted to topple over backwards and crack my skull on the floor, which I very nearly did.

Something else I'd like to mention about this hotel. Having just spent the two previous nights at a very low-key and pleasant business-traveler-oriented Marriott Courtyard hotel in Rockville, MD, the pushiness of the bellhops and other hotel staff at the Sheraton was a big turn-off. No sooner had I pulled up were they opening my car doors and grabbing bags out of the back and off my shoulder. After a frazzling 90 minutes on the Beltway, pushy-grabby strangers were the last thing I wanted to face at the end of my journey, and I finally had to tell the little broken-English-speaking valet to back-off.

Another mark against this hotel -- the bathroom is considerably smaller than the Marriott's, and the towels were of a lesser quality. They need to up-the-anty in the towel department, to match the quality of their bedding.

Besides nice bedding, good location and great views, the Sheraton does have a few other things going for it. It's got a couple of in-house restaurants, as well as almost round-the-clock in-room dining. Most Marriott Courtyards have no in-house restaurant, so, often there's no room service, but they do typically have a fairly reasonably-priced breakfast buffet including hot foods.

I think that the next time I go to Stitches, I will stay at a more business-oriented hotel, which suits my temperament. I hear the downtown Marriott is decent, and Marriotts now use nicer bedding, too. Plus, their internet access is free. So, Marriott it is -- I've made a decision!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I traveled out-of-state and lost my mind along the way....

Did y'all read about the brain that was found in that new subdivision at Stony Point? That's right. A brain. In a bag. Just a mile or so from where my parents live. Turns out, it's not human. Which is a good thing, because I got scared for minute. Not because I feared some brain-stealing serial killer was on the loose. But because after today, I was quite sure I'd lost my mind, and that someone had maybe found it in a plastic bag, which, given my obsession with bags of all kinds, would be ironic, yet fitting. But no, that particular brain is not mine, so, clearly, my mind is still lost.

Case in point:

Today, I'm in Rockville, MD, and found time to stop by their local yarn shop. Because, you know, I don't live within easy driving distance of FIVE yarn shops. And I don't own enough yarn already. And I'm not going to be doing any other yarn shopping this month. Or this week, for that matter. Heh.

So, anyway, I stopped by Woolwinders and took the obligatory exterior shot:

No interior shots -- apparently the owner has been a recent victim of a little corporate espionage from a competing LYS owner. Who knew it was such a cut-throat industry? Well, I suppose Alice Starmore might know....

But, I digress....

Anyway, I had no intention of buying a thing, what with last weekend's purchases and the upcoming weekend's potential purchases, but I as previously mentioned, I lost my mind. Or I'm just easily swayed.

In my defense, I only bought things with a (mostly) clear purpose in mind. I did not succumb to the siren song of that gorgeous Lantern Moon raw silk knitting bag in a teal (...sigh...) fabric, or the beaded ArtYarns laceweight, or the Manos, (all the glorious Manos!), or the Colinette Prism or Cadenza, or the Mountain Colors, tempted as I was.

I did, however, get the following:

Clockwise from top center:

  • Cascade 220 superwash in pink, white and black, earmarked for several projects
  • Koigu KPPPM in a color (P803) so brilliant, even this teal-lover couldn't resist
  • Colinette Jitterbug in "Popsicle" colorway, to be paired with "Lagoon" colorway in my stash, for another Chevron scarf
  • Another hank of Debblie Bliss Pure Cashmere, in Red, to finish my sister's hat
  • Size 8 DPNs, 'cuz I can't seem to find where my other set ran off to...
  • Addi Turbo Lace circulars, U.S. size 5, 32", just 'cuz I want to give them a try...
  • A colorwheel, 'cuz I've been wanting one...

How's 'bout a little gratuitous yarn pr0n:

I can only hope I'll come to my senses, but something tells me it may take a week. Or five.

Tomorrow I'll be in Takoma Park. Hmmmm.... That's not too terribly far from Now & Then. And also, A Tangled Skein. Hmmmm.....

The madness continues....

Somebody stop me!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday Night Knitters take over the World!

...or at least half of the Barnes & Noble cafe. Our knitting group had a big crowd tonight, and I didn't get a shot of everyone in attendance, but I did grab a few pictures of knitting projects:

Deb finished her sweater!

Robin H. showed off her Mystery Shawl-in-progress,
and Tami plays Vanna White, while Alice looks on.

(Hi Alice! Welcome to TNK!)

Amy finished this adorable baby outfit

Just in time! Does it fit?

New TNK member Jennifer,
(whose name escapes me - arrgh! Someone help me out, please!)
finished her Einstein coat!

Last, but certainly not least,
Renny finished this gorgeous shawl for her daughter.
Lucky daughter!


Fun times, as usual! Tomorrow morning I leave for Maryland for a few days for work and then Stitches East. Lots of potential blog fodder!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia 2007

Yesterday I drove to beautiful Orange County, Virginia:

to James Madison's Montpelier estate:

to attend the 2007 Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia:

Where I ran into a few friends:

Patsy & Deb

Tami & Cathy

And saw lots of pretty things:

item knit from locks

watermelon-colored yarn
(I couldn't resist this!)

pretty sweaters

honeysuckle vine baskets

colorful yarn and knitting

pretty socks

lovely needle-felted designs

beautiful lace shawl

fibery Santas

I ran into more friends:

and saw Bess' lovely sock patterns available from Spirit Trail:

Mother-Daughter Lace socks

Great Falls Ribbed socks

Other friends I saw there, (but inexplicably didn't photograph), include Sangeeta and Robin F. Hi guys! Sorry I didn't get your picture! And other blogger-friends I know attended but I missed altogether were Krista, Margaret and Nikki. Sorry guys -- maybe next year! And today I believe Jane attended with her cousin Patty, and Emmy & Pam also attended. Hope you guys had fun!

Anyway, here are some pretty items entered in the Skein & Garment competition:

Liz' pretty prize-winning novice handspun (Congratulations, Liz!)

love these socks

pretty fair isle tote (I believe that's the Berroco Doll Bag)

Also, some lovely hooked rugs on display:

And of course, there were the obligatory adorable alpacas:

That white one was particularly sweet -- allowing folks (like me) to pet her head, while she uttered her little "mmmmm" every now and then. They belong to the folks at Rivanna River Farm, and I chatted with the owner a bit, about what it's like to live on an alpaca farm, which sounds like an idyllic life to me. I'd jump at the chance to raise alpacas; I just need to find a someone, (let's be honest - a husband), who'd want to raise alpacas with me. Know anyone who qualifies? ;-)

The weather at this year's fiber festival was hot and humid, dry and dusty -- not ideal conditions under which to fondle woolly fibers. I'll still take it over last year's mud bowl, but, is it too much to ask for normal brisk, cool, sunny October weather? Maybe next year....

Driving home, I stopped at a few places along the way to take pictures of interesting architecture, including this freedman's cabin adjacent to Montpelier estate:

This winery, which looks incredibly inviting:

Note to self: must stop here with friends sometime

And these dilapidated houses along the drive through Gordonsville:

Ruins fascinate me -- oh, the stories they could tell....

Here is my modest haul from the festival:

Clockwise from left:

With all the upcoming opportunities for yarn and fiber shopping, I restrained myself at this particular event, although there were temptations under every tent. The uncomfortable temperatures inside the tents helped me resist.

I wonder how well I'll fight temptation next weekend at Stitches East? ;-)