Have Ewe Any Wool?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rhinebeck Trip...Day 2 - Woodstock

No trip to NY is complete without shopping in Woodstock. So, after an invigorating walk from the Saugerties Light House up and down several hills for our morning exercise, a quick stop at Krause's Candy Store in Saugerties (to pick up some of their awesome homemade candies), we finally set off for a day of shopping in Woodstock.

The town is an absolutely fabulous mix of artists and various arts. This trip, however, I noticed that a few more of my favorite shops had closed...and were replaced by real estate offices! Other shops had simply closed and left empty "holes" in the shopping landscape - see the "For Rent" sign? This was VERY upsetting!

Luckily, Woodstock Wool Company was still there! There are about a block from "downtown" Woodstock, but are in the process of moving to a smaller "downtown" location. I bought some fabulous hand dyed mohair and luscious alpaca yarn while I was there. I love the rasberry and chocolate that's swirled in with the pink - it looks good enough to eat! The alpaca is "bare" - natural black alpaca - I think it will make a fabulous lace shawl of some sort - there's 665 yds. total. They have recently branched out into their own yarns and will be marketing and focusing on them more than the commercial yarns. They also have a book coming out soon - "Pink Mohair Epiphany" - I can't wait until it's published!

In addition to the "required" yarn shop stop, I visited the usual haunts - Dharma, Chez Grandmere's, Candlestock, Woodstock Trading Post, and numerous other shops carrying one of a kind or limited edition jewelry, baskets, glassware....just about anything you could want. I managed to pick up a fabulous dress at the Woodstock Clothing Shop - one of my "always" stops!

The only down side to the day was that it was raining, so the usual photos couldn't be taken. I did, however, manage to take a couple before the rain really started in earnest. Luckily, the rain did not hinder our shopping or dampen our spirits. There's the requisite "Hippies Always Welcome" sign and the typical "artsy" bench - what else would you expect in an "Arts Community"?

Of course, no trip to Woodstock is complete without an outdoor band, a jam session, a peace march, etc. I'm not sure if it was the rain or just the time of year, but it was relatively quiet - this time, there was only a lone peace activist on the corner of Tinker St. and Rock City Rd.....slowly getting wet from the steady rain.

Friday's adventrues ended with a fabulous dinner at the Landau Grill...right on the main strip in Woodstock. The weather was so balmy (in spite of the constant rain) that we opted to sit under the large covered "porch" so we could do a bit of "people watching" while we dined. I had an incredible Chipotle Seafood Stew! This is another restaurant where I've never been disappointed by the selection or quality of the food. (Of course, it's not as fabulous as "Catskill Rose", but then again, I may be a bit jaded....LOL!!!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rhinebeck Trip ...Day 1 - The Arrival

The trip to NY was fabulous...and I'm just now getting around to posting about it. Life/work sure know how to intervene! I think I'll probably have 4 posts total (over the next few days), so please bear with me.

I arrived in NY around lunchtime on Thursday. This would allow me to spend more time visiting with my friend Cathy as well as let me be well rested in preparation for the weekend fiber frenzy at New York Sheep and Wool.

On the way to Cathy's, I stopped at Amazing Threads - a wonderful yarn shop between Kingston and Saugerties...right on 9W. I discovered this shop a couple of years ago and try to stop there every time I'm in the area. I was good - I made a few purchases from the bargain bins....and some patterns. I was saving the serious shopping for Rhinebeck.

I finally arrived at Cathy's in the early afternoon. Here's some shots of the grounds and the view. This place is right in the heart of things, but yet, very secluded. The iron fence and the wonderful trees and shrubs that insulate you from the main road really give you the feeling of living on a manor. The setting was absolutely spectacular!

This is the building here apartment is in. I just LOVE the windows that swing open - it definitely gives it a very cozy and "homey" feel. (Click on the photo for a closer view)

The photo on the left is the view from her apartment out toward the main road - the fence and trees totally obscure it! the photo on the right is a shot back down the lane leading to her apartment - I just love the iron gates and the brick pillars! You feel like you're at a retreat in the country...peacefully nestled in the woods down a country lane.

The other buildings on the property are lovely as well - the barn/shed (just to the left of her apt. bldg.) is quite fancy looking and the other "house" is fabulous. It looks like a manor house, but it's been converted into 3 apartments. Looking at the buildings and the grounds, you feel as if you've been transported far from the worries and stresses of our modern lives.

And the views....oh, are they breath taking! Here are just a couple of the views from the grounds - the water view was visible from my bedroom.

I finished the evening by taking Cathy to "Catskill Rose" in Mt. Tremper - a fabulous restaurant. Our high school friend, Pete (pictured) and his wife Rose Marie, are the chefs and proprietors. Their food is absolutely fabulous! The spinach and smoked duck salad is "to die for"!!! Everything on the menu is fabulous and the presentation is incredible. Pete and Rose are very keen on high quality, fresh food and strive to grow all the veggies on the premises to insure their quality and freshness. As a result, every dish is just bursting with flavor - definitely a festival for the taste buds!

Catskill Rose has now expanded into a B&B as well. The rooms are fabulous - both cozy and roomy...with all the comforts of home. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend that you take the time to eat here...and perhaps spend the night - you won't be disappointed!

Then, it was back to Cathy's to settle in for the night. She truly rolled out the red carpet for me - I was very spoiled the entire time I was there. Her home was very comfortable and warm - and we had a blast talking about "old times". And her cats - wow! They were the friendliest group of felines I'd ever seen! They were so friendly and interactive that I felt they were more "dog-like" than "catlike".

The bundles of fur on the bed were my personal "greeters" - Mikey, Katie, and Mama. They kept me cozy at night too as they like to sleep on the bottom corner of the bed. Mama prefers to walk on your chest and insists on multiple cuddles the moment you lie down and try to sleep! You do get rewarded with lots of purrs....the hard part was convincing her that cuddle time was over and it's time for bed! The second photo is of nearly the entire clan - with the exception of Joey who typically ran from the camera. After attempting to get all 7 in one picture, now know where the phrase "easy as herding cats" comes from!!!! On the table is Baby (the blind kitty), Shelly (the fluffier one), Rusty (the orange one), Mikey (black and white), Katie (brindle), and finally, Mama.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Believe it or Not...the Birthday Celebration Continues!

Yeah, I know. Just when you thought the celebration was FINALLY over, here I come again with yet ANOTHER birthday post. This has definitely been the year of celebrations for me.

Last night, at my knitting guild meeting, I was greeted by my friend Carol with..."Close your eyes and no peeking". I complied, but I was very curious as to what was going on. When I was finally "permitted" to open my eyes, I was greeted by this absolutely fabulous creation!

Isn't it gorgeous? It's handwoven by Carol...a very prolific weaver. And it's even PURPLE!!!! I've never had a handwoven rug before....talk about a feeling special! Thanks so much Carol! This is an extraordinary gift that I'll definitely treasure for years to come!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rhinebeck.....What a Great Time!

Rhinebeck was fabulous! Tons of exhibits, lots of cute animals, and an unbelievable amount of fibers and yarns of every kind! I am totally exhausted after spending two fun-filled days amongst other "fiberholics"!

I'll be posting details of the trip with lots of photos later this week. Now....off to get some well needed rest!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Countdown to Rhinebeck....

This weekend is fast approaching...and I'm getting ready for a fabulous time at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. I'm even going to "initiate" a friend to the wonderful world of fiber. I'll be staying with my friend, Cathy, one of my high school buddies, so it will serve as somewhat of a reunion as well.

She's never been to a "sheep and wool festival", so she's quite intrigued. I think she'll enjoy it because there is so much to see and do - even if you haven't started knitting or spinning yet! I may also take this chance to teach her how to knit...NY gets pretty cold in the winter, and extra scarves are always handy...and they're the perfect vehicle to introduce knitting to a newbie!

In other knitting news, I'm ALMOST finished with my Lilith. However, I'm very upset at the yarn used for my last 6 inches of the shawl/vest/shrug. There were 4 knotted sections in rapid succession....two were within 2-3 rows of each other...and there's only 85 stitches per row! The worst part of all this is that it wasn't the mohair strand...which can easily be woven in and "stay put". It's the LINEN strand! I've had to frog back 4 rows to put the "knots/breaks" at the end of a row so they won't be quite as noticeable. ARGH!!! Now, I'll have a lot of "weaving in" to do once the Lilith is done. GRRR!!!

Oh...I have some fabulous new jewelry that I purchased from my friend Kris. She does wonderful work and has some lovely designs - necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. I love handcrafted items - they're so much more interesting than the mass produced items...and better made as well! You definitely need to check out Kris's website - she has tons of interesting information and links - felted items, recipes, jewelry, her blog, etc. I just love her felted bags as well.

Speaking of felted bags, Danielle finished her gorgeous "French Market Bag". Based on the results of several others, she decided to make it a bit larger than specified in the pattern. It came out the PERFECT size! We all love it! Can you believe it - I still haven't made mine yet...I guess I'm just a little behind the times, eh?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More Knitting!

I think I'm now about 75% done with the first Solitude Farm sock! Wahoo! It's really pretty - I love the natural colors. I'm using a size 2 1/2 needle and cast on 48 stitches for the sock...and it's fitting my leg and foot perfectly. The only part I'm disappointed with is my heel flap - it's just a bit on the short side. However, I'm not disappointed enough to "rip it out and start over"!

I'm also officially past the halfway point on my Lilith - it's so exciting! I love the color and can't wait until it's finished! The next challenge with this project will be to find the perfect buttons. I may need to head to "Uniquities" in Vienna - Brenda has a wonderful selection of buttons! I think I want buttons that will blend in and basically become invisible against the fabric.

I've also finished a rather funky self-ruffling scarf for Nature's Yarns. It's made from "Tango", a knitted ribbon yarn from Universal using one of their patterns. It's a ribbon yarn of 4 different colors. If you knit one side, you see mainly the first two colors. If you knit on the other side, you see mainly the last two colors. They have several different colorways to choose from. The scarf knits up quite fast and uses a special technique. This "yarn" will make fabulous embellishments on sleeves, gloves, or bags.

Here, I've tried to "pin out" the knitted ribbon yarn to illustrate the width and colors. In the scarf above, you can see that I decided to knit the scarf on one side of the ribbon for the first half, and the other side for the second half. The difference is astounding - it looks like two different yarns. Unfortunately, the contrast isn't very evident in these photos.

In the close-ups, you can see that the red and black show the most when I knit into the maroon side of the ribbon. When I knitted into the red edge, then the maroon and orange were the dominant colors.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Socktoberfest Continues....

On Tuesday, I cast on my next socks - the Solitude Farms Corriedale-Lincoln cross in all natural colors. I love how they're coming out so far! I think I'll have them complete before I head off to Rhinebeck! I think I'm out of my knitting "funk" for now...Socktoberfest has revived me! PLUS, I need to get going on the Christmas gifts - some of which are also socks. I think this will be a "good knitting" month - socks always make you feel like you've really accomplished something.

Jayme is almost done with her gorgeous baby blanket - the colors are fabulous...and I love the pattern! She's in the process of weaving in the ends. She's definitely a prolific knitter and will probably have the best dressed baby in Northern VA! And, her baby will be outfitted with quite a number of lovely hand-crafted blankets as well.

Update on the Drum Carder Claim and Repair:
Thurs - PM:
The claim has been filed with the Post Office for the cost of the replacement crank and the postage to and from Strauch Fiber. (Oddly, the PO seemed surprised that I was only filing a claim for the repair rather than just giving them the item and claiming total loss. I didn't even consider doing that - the carder is in fine condition - hardly something to "write off"! Evidently, I'm an anomaly....it appears that most people just write the whole thing off!)

Fri - AM: Just before I was heading off to the post office to ship the broken crank off to Strauch, the PO called and said they needed the OTHER half of the insurance claim tag to put with the paperwork for my claim. This doesn't make sense to me - the PO already has the portion that's attached to the shipping box which has the identifying numbers...the other half would have the SAME information! Oddly, they've asked me to contact the sender and request that they (the sender) send me the other half of the insurance tag and once received, I'm to bring it to the PO so they can attach it to the other paperwork. ARGH! This seems just a bit redundant and unnecessary to me...after all, they already have all the info and the requested item is just a small piece of paper that provides no additional information or value. Go figure.

Fri - PM: I have shipped the broken crank to Strauch so they can match the threading to my drum for proper alignment. The shipping receipt has been given to the PO to add to the claim file. For now, I'll just sit back and wait for Otto (the designer and craftsman of the drum carder) to work his magic.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival

Wow! This is the first time I've gone to the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival. It's supposed to be a fall festival...in October...crisp autumn air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, and patrons wearing their newly finished wool pull-overs and ponchos. BUT...instead, we had 91 degree heat with unbelievable humidity. It makes it a bit difficult to "snuggle wool" when it's so hot, but we persevered. The festival was great....in spite of the uncooperative weather.

I went with my friend Lynn and ran into tons of my fiber buddies...and several familiar vendors. The biggest vendor surprise was Dianne with "Creatively Dyed Yarn". I'd met last year at the Sewing and Quilt Show - she had been selling Koigu yarn. She's no longer selling the Koigu - instead, she's selling her own hand-dyed yarns and roving ! She does a beautiful job. It was very difficult to restrain myself. I picked up 3 1/2 lbs. of some gorgeous Corriedale roving.....yum! (For those of you going to Stitches East, she'll be there too - please stop by her booth and say "Hi" and check out her fabulous yarns and roving.)

At Misty Mountain Farm, I found some luscious Merino - very fine - in the 70's for fineness....so you KNOW it feels like butter! I missed seeing Linda though - she was busy teaching a class. Hopefully I'll catch up with her in Rhinebeck at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. I also purchased a few items at Stony Mountain Fibers - primarily a couple of books on natural dyes and dyeing. Of course, numerous other vendors tempted me with patterns and yarn, so I picked up quite a collection of "goodies".

Now for an absolutely unbelievable deal - I purchased a 4 harness table loom for $30.00! Can you believe it? It was priced at $35.00 (still an absolutely fabulous and unbelievable deal), but when they wrote up the ticket, they wrote it for $30.00! I pointed out that the loom was actually $35.00, but they decided to go ahead and give it to me for $30.00! I was beyond ecstatic by that point - what a FABULOUS BUY! I purchased this from Limerick Fibers (located in Gordonsville, VA).

The loom itself is about 18" wide by 21 1/2 inches long (I measured from "gear to gear" because they stuck out a bit from the frame). I think it's an absolutely wonderful little loom. I have no idea of the make or model - perhaps it's hand-crafted by a fellow fiber enthusiast??? Luckily, I have many weaving friends....just in case I need some help!

Of course, I can't go to a fiber festival without taking pictures of the really cute fiber animals!

The final shots - a cute angora goat (don't you love the face???) and the "dust bowl" feet I had at the end of the day - I don't think my feet have ever been dirtier - LOL!!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Good News.....Bad News.....and then more Good News

Good news - I got my Strauch drum carder in the mail today....wahoo! Just days after purchasing it from another fiber enthusiast. I was soooo excited. Hubby signed for the box and mentioned that there was some damage to the box it came in - like the PO had stacked a heavier item on top. OK, I was a little worried, but not too much.
Bad News - I got home, looked at the box, and it didn't appear to be too bad, so I had high confidence that the carder was fine. I had been a bit worried about the actual metal hooks attached to the drum cloth. All looked fine. I breathed a huge sigh of relief....but it was short lived. When I looked at the side of the carder, I found that the crank handle had been broken off.....I was crushed!

I quickly fired off an e-mail to Otto (the designer and maker of these fabulous carders) and he responded right away. I didn't re-check my e-mail that night as it was getting late...and I didn't check it the next morning before we disconnected our cable box. As a result, I didn't see his response as I had no e-mail for a couple of days (that's another story....).

UPDATE (Sat night): Good News - I saw Otto this weekend at the Montpelier Fall Festival and chatted with him for a while about my carder. He showed me how to remove the arm of the crank from the drum so I could ship it to him to craft the replacement. Each of his carders is custom designed, and the old crank is needed to identify the "proper threading" so the handle will "rest" out of the way when you're ready to remove your carded fibers from the drum. This is also where I found out he'd already answered my e-mail the night before - I was VERY impressed with the customer service I've receieved!

Hopefully, the Post Office will be just as cooperative when I submit the claim for the breakage. The item was insured and the cost to repair the damages is not a lot, so I don't anticipate any problems...but then again, I've never had to place a claim before!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Socktoberfest" and National Spinning and Knitting Week

Wow! Two great things to kick off October! First off, it's "Socktoberfest" time once again. Hurrah for socks! In keeping with the Socktoberfest theme, I've FINALLY finished the Wildfoote Purple Splendor socks! I didn't think I'd ever get them done - I thought they were done on Sunday, but they were a tad too short, so I ripped it back and re-knit, finishing the last stitch last night. I know, I know. Another reason to do the "toe up" version.

I've decided on my next socks as well. I'm going to use the 3-ply Corriedale-Lincoln cross yarn that I purchased from Gretchen (of Solitude Farm). The lovely natural colors of the wool will make spectacular socks!

After that, I plan to make my mom another pair of the "Fireside Socks" out of Iceland. I'm not sure if I'll use one of the colors I already have (solids) or try to pick up another colorway of the variegated. Mom LOVED the ones I made her last year and mentioned that she'd like to have another pair so she would always have a pair to where while the others are being laundered. They'll either be for her birthday or for Christmas...depends on how quickly I get them finished!

Finally, I'm planning another pair of bed socks for DD1. She loved the last couple of pairs....they keep her feet nice and toasty in the winter while she lounges on the couch taking a break from her studies - it's a bit chilly in Michigan in the winter time!

This week (October 1st-7th) is also National Spinning and Weaving Week. Since I finished the green wool last week, I decided to spin a totally different type of wool to celebrate - Dorset. It's a red wool with mostly purple and a bit of orange blended in. It has a pleasant "sheepie" smell, and I'm really enjoying spinning it. I don't care too much for the "orange" areas. I purchased this wool at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival last year and am finally getting around to spinning it. It's from Amondale Farms (Eaton, NY or Stow - MA). I have no clue what I'll make with it...they only had 8 oz. of this color.

Oh...and in celebration of the week, I made sure I did my spinning in public. I plan to do even more "spinning in public" this weekend when I go to the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia at Montpelier. It will be my first time going...and from what I understand, it's MUCH smaller than the Maryland or NY festivals, but it allows more time to interact with the vendors/ask questions, etc. Wahoo! I can't wait - the weather is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous! (I'll need to reign in my urge to purchase, though, as NY Sheep and Wool Festival is only just over 2 weeks away!)