Friday, January 25, 2008

Eastern North Carolina Adventures

I last left you with a description of Sunday, the last official day of our 2008 Knitting on the Lake retreat.

Monday morning dawned clear and very cold on the shores of Kerr Lake Reservoir in Clarksville, VA:

as Rita, Phyllis, Dave and I packed up, checked out of the Best Western, and headed 2 hours southeast to Murfreesboro, NC to visit The Woolery:

As soon as we walked inside, we were met with this beautiful sight:

baskets and baskets of drop spindles
(insert happy sigh here)

I'd seen their drop spindle offerings online, and in fact, I'd already purchased two via mail order. But to get to see and touch that huge selection in person, well, it was nothing short of delightful. Dave teasingly gave me his "permission" to buy six. I managed to get out of the shop with just three -- a Kundert, a Greensleeves, and a Tahkli support spindle & bowl. I also came home with some Louet combed sliver in a their "Cotton Candy" colorway, and some Optim stretched merino roving in their "Peace Sign" colorway. And maybe a few other little goodies.

Surprisingly, I barely looked at the spinning wheels, the very items I came all the way to Murfreesboro to see. They were just not calling to me. I did take a brief, closer look at a Hitchhiker, which, until Monday I'd dismissed outright because of its diminutive size. I had felt sure it would be a back-breaker, and that may still be the case - I did not test drive Woolery's floor model, so that will have to wait until my next opportunity. A tiny wheel has obvious advantages, though, especially in my 900 sq.ft. house, so I'm now reconsidering my earlier dismissal of the cute little wheel with its barefoot-shaped treadle.

But I still feel no urgency to get a wheel. I'm just having too much fun with spindles and spindling. And I'm not the only one!

I was not the only one who left with a spindle in my shopping bag. Phyllis bought a beautiful Kundert, and Rita bought the last remaining sculpted pansy spindle, white with a purple blotch - so pretty! I have one in yellow, myself, or I might have wrestled Rita for that white one.

After we left The Woolery, we stopped for lunch at a local diner, and somewhere along Main Street, between the diner, the fiber shop and the gas station my plans changed. Rita invited me to visit her new home on the shores of the Currituck Sound. Easily swayed by the lure of the coast and my relatively light work schedule as of late, I happily agreed. So, instead of pointing my car northward towards home, I maintained my due-east heading and followed Rita's SUV and Phyllis & Dave's rented PT Cruiser for another 90 minutes, until we eventually arrived in Grandy, NC, and pulled up to Rita & John's lovely abode at a new active adult community in North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Rita's & John's new home
(photo sent by Rita last fall)

After Rita introduced me to her husband John and bulldog Rosebud, she gave a grand tour of her sunny, open and airy home, and then we headed off to dinner at the Coinjock Marina Restaurant. I had the quail (possibly my first ever), but the real hit of the meal, in addition to their delicious fresh homemade potato chips coated with Old Bay seasoning, was their yummy Key Lime Pie martinis, complete with graham cracker crumb-coated rims. I had just one, but could easily have downed a second. Possibly a third....

After dinner, we returned to Rita & John's house, and it was time to get serious with spindles and fiber. A day earlier I had given Phyllis a drop spindle lesson, so Monday evening she received a brief refresher and was then well on her way. Phyllis knows how to wheel-spin, so already understands the concept of drafting, which made her a very good student.

Rita, who has never touched wheel, spindle or unspun fiber in her life, is nothing short of a genius! After no more than a 20-minute lesson, she was flying solo with the park-and-draft method, and I just sat on the couch and beamed with pride at my bright-shining students:

There were no lumpy-bumpy, thick-and-thin beginners yarns for these gals. Right away they were making smooth, fingering-to-sport weight singles, and looking like professionals. I firmly believe that the right tools (good spindles, easy-to-draft pencil roving) make learning this skill a breeze. We all stayed up past midnight playing with our spindles before wandering off to bed.

Tuesday morning we ate scrambled eggs for breakfast that had Phyllis' generously-donated leftover seafood incorporated in them -- yum! I then had an unshirkable conference call at 11, but shortly after that we were on our way to points south.

Our first stop was Knitting Addiction in Southern Shores, where we drooled and fondled and lusted after their huge assortment of Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets in every gorgeous color and fiber combination imaginable. I think I could have dropped a cool grand on that yarn without blinking, and still have left wanting more. But I resisted their siren song and left empty-handed, which, if you'd seen her new Tinkerbell sock yarn in the Aquatide colorway, you'd have given me a medal. I did get a chance to thank shop owner Jeanne in person for donating some door prizes to our knitting retreat. As luck would have it, I was the happy recipient of one of those door prizes, which was, as you might have guessed, a hank of Ellyn Cooper's yarn. Life is very good. :-)

Fortunately for my crumbling resistance, we had a lunch appointment and left the yarn shop before I lost all self control and started rolling around in the silk & merino blends.

The five of us were joined for lunch at the Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk by my sister Terry and her two daughters, all of whom live in Colington. Dare County schools have a five-day weekend every year around the MLK holiday, so it was a nice treat to get to see all of them. At Terry's recommendation, I ordered the chicken salad on pita sandwich, which was delicious and filling.

After lunch, I said goodbye to my sister and nieces, and Rita, Dave, Phyllis & I headed further south, to hit the outlet mall, where I picked up some rabbit-lined leather gloves at Wilson's leather for half price. Gotta love outlet stores. We then drove to Manteo where, alas, the other Outer Banks yarn shop, Fine Yarns at Kimbeeba, was closed. But all was not lost, for just around the corner is a delightful weaving shop, Endless Possibilities. Since both Phyllis & Dave are weavers, that shop was a big hit, and I do believe they left the place quite inspired.

Before we left Manteo, we had to get the obligatory photo of grown adults sitting in the Great Big Chair:

Rita, Phyllis & Dave

Aren't they cute?

By the time we arrived back at Rita's house in Grandy, it was dinnertime, and we had some yummy Chinese takeout. And after dinner Dave, Phyllis & I decided we were too tired and it was too dark to drive to our ultimate destinations, so were treated to another night at Rita & John's beautiful home. (Okay, twist my arm!)

Wednesday morning we were showered, breakfasted, packed and out of the house by 10, but before we were on our way, John was kind enough to give us all a tour of the grounds of their new community, complete with a drive by the lapping shoreline of the Currituck Sound just a few hundred yards from their back door. A little slice of heaven on earth.

I must say that I never expected our knitting retreat weekend to turn into such a fantastic extended holiday, and I am truly richer for such a fun experience with these friends whom I've gotten to know better. Accepting Rita's invitation was one of those carpe diem moments that I highly recommend. Sieze the day, I say, whenever feasibly possible.

Thank you, Rita & John, for inviting me into your home and your lives for two lovely and joyful days and nights. And thank you, Phyllis & Dave, for making the experience even more fun. I feel blessed that I can count all of you as friends. :-)

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to Robin H. for organizing another fun-derful knitting weekend on the lake.

Oh, and I've uploaded some more photos from the weekend out to Flickr, here, for anyone who hasn't had enough already!


Bess said...



Oh Thank you for taking me along with you on such a blissful trip.


what lovely beautiful people you all are.

Oh I feel like I was with you all the way.


Thank you again.

Margaret said...

What a wonderful and unexpected little holiday! Love the beach/bay/shore/marsh in winter! More spindles, what a surprise! :)

Robin said...

I forgot to warn you about the tables of spindles at The Woolery as soon as you walk in the door! So glad you got to indulge in an extended visit w/ Rita, Phyllis, and Dave. Sounds like a good time was had by all!!

Ranger Susie said...

OK, what's the bowl for? I've done a very small amount of spindle spinning, so I can't figure it out. I'll have to check out that store next time I'm near Kerr Dam.

issy said...

I wish I had been able to take Monday off! You guys had a great mini vacation! What fun!

Alice said...

Oh man (whiney voice)

cathy said...

One of the fun things about reading your blog is that what I only dream about, you go out and do. SAFF, the Folk School, knitting retreats, and now the Woolery, too! Thanks for all the armchair travel. :)