buddha says, “wool is happiness”.
buddha lives in the yard at the house we rented last weekend. how lucky is he??
each year we rent the same house in the catskills at some distance from the fairgrounds. it’s on the “other” side of the river on a twisty-turny road that is very dark at night. why do we not get something more convenient?
it’s just too nice there. it’s a small house and only sleeps four people, but there is plenty of room for other (i.e., fibery) shenanigans.
the first thing we do is to transform the dining room into spinning/knitting central
here, beckie demonstrates the concept: before one is even truly awake, but AFTER the coffee is made, one sits at the table in jammies and picks up one’s knitting right where one left it the night or day before.
one may have to navigate through a few spinning wheels which are also left out in the open, but such skills are eerily instinctual to even the most inexperienced fiberholic, so the wheels post no unusual threat.
(the fact that all the wheels are blocking the fire exit is of course, of no concern; wool is flame retardant, after all.)
this is the view of our breakfast table. it is just the way we like it. those who value the use of their hands do NOT attempt to “straighten up”—that would create an inefficient situation where we would waste too much time hunting for DPNs, measuring tools, and pattern instructions.
just leave it the hell alone already.
here we have the living area . . . some year, we may use this space for doing yoga or something exhilarating like that.
we use it for its intended purpose—knitting and talking (there is a sofa that you can’t see on the other side). kim took a fancy to lying about on the dog bed there as well. no comment.
we, of course could bring stuff from our stashes to work on during the weekend, and indeed, we do bring a little to tide us over the first two nights til the show starts. but not too much . .. we don’t sacrifice cargo room for good sense.
i brought along two grafton batts to spin from my very deep stash. a little stash reduction never hurts.
i don’t seem to have pictures of them, but at 3 ounces each (they are supposed to be 3.5 to 4 ounces, but mine all weigh less), i knew that i’d have to spin fine if i wanted to get yarn for socks out of them. i tore up the batts and mixed the strips to get even coloration throughout the yarn; i’ve spun them before from one end to the other and don’t like that as much.
once again i’m a little disappointed about how little yardage i can get from these batts. they are corriedale and not so fine, so spinning any thinner gets you a more wiry and uneven yarn. the lighter one yielded a bit more, but the darker one will require adding some natural brown for heels and toes. drat. at least i finished them off . . the skeins are washed and drying now; i’ll show you the yarn tomorrow.
so now, i was out of fiber. i worked on my socks too and completed the acorn sock and the cardigan sock
(that one still needs a few decrease rnds, but for all intents and purposes, it’s done).
of course, in between the knitting and spinning there was MUCH shopping at the wool show and at morehouse merino.
on friday we took a ride to the morehouse shop in milan, NY. i specifically wanted to buy enough 2-ply sport yarn in a new color to make a sweater, since i plan to use the batch i have this winter (cannot be without a sweater’s worth, what can i say?). here’s what i bought
a beautiful medium blue (ok, dull name, but what would you say?). i realized while i was packing for the trip that i do not own a blue sweater. reason enough to spend the money i think. but seriously, this is the BEST sweater yarn i’ve worked with . . .soft, strong and doesn’t pill. what’s not to like? every stitch is a pleasure, which is why i’ve not tired of it after nearly two decades of knitting with it.
but i was restrained . . . i did not fall into the trap i did last year of overspending on sale yarn.
because saturday was coming.
i always approach wool shows with the worst possible strategy. i wander around with no list and no particular goals, and if i bump into something i love, i do not put up a fight at all.
now to be fair, i have pretty high standards and i have plenty of everyday wool at home, so i don’t usually fall in love with any but the most precious and beautiful things—those i will probably only see once a year at the show. and of which there are many examples.
within five minutes of being in the gate i bought a rug (told ya). and not a small throw rug either.
i felt totally justified in this purchase since it is not fiber for me, but for the house (the speed-purchasing behavior is not like me at all, but whatever). in fact it is one of only two things i actually was looking for. it will go on the newly-finished third floor landing and it looks stupendous against the ebonized floor up there.
i was awesome in the yarn department. i bought only one skein at the show.
(i’m suffering from a little yarn bloat at home, enough that even i have the brakes on hard).
but this skein just seems very special.
naturally-dyed sock yarn from ancient threads farm & fiber mill, in a sort of maize-yellow with streaks of taupe-y gray.
now don’t go rushing their etsy shop and get frustrated by a low inventory . . . they were pretty sold out at the show; it might take a few days for them to get refilled.
which was good for me because my choices were limited and much agonizing over colorways was eliminated.
where i really lost all sense of proportion was in buying spinning fiber.
let me reiterate: i SO do not need more fiber.
i have lots of fiber; enough to last me at least a year or two of constant spinning, which ain’t even happening.
but there you have it . . the real danger of wool shows. all that one-of-a-kind stuff, sooo many people retiring and not doing shows again. yes, i know there will always be more wool, but . . .
then i saw stephania’s booth. in the first building. this was not good for my fortitude.
another artist who works with natural dyes, for which i am a tried and true suck-ah. aren’t these gorgeous. sigh i sure do love me some nice tweed. and that ocean-glass green. mmm.
two pounds of wool later (there is an olive bump that did not make it into the picture) i exited the booth quite dazed.
i wandered some more and helped karen spend her money. here’s a tip: if you are a seasoned wool-show attendee, be sure to take at least one newbie every year so that you can spend vicariously through them. newbies are completely free of stash guilt and usually buy with abandon. it’s fun and much less painful than shouldering your own guilt.
i held out pretty well til the last building, which i knew ahead of time would be a tough one. the big building at the end of the row has two danger zones and they are nearly on top of each other.
foxhill farm, a cormo breeder with possibly the best fiber on the planet
i got out of there with just two bags, one moorit in pure wool, and one gray cormo/alpaca blend. it was either that, or buy everything. fortunately the kinnearing incident distracted me and i got a grip.
after a deep breath and a little side trip to help kim pick out some yummy yarn at another booth (one that i admired, but was not interested in), i strolled a few paces down the aisle and my heart sunk and soared at the same time. here was trouble:
hatchtown farm, purveyors of incredible coopworth wool
honestly, when it comes to coopworth i have a real addiction, especially toward the steel gray variety. but that white was SO soft and so creamy, i had to take some of it too (just 3 ounces, but still).
i have always loved this fiber—it was one of the first things i tried as a new spinner and it worked a treat right from the first. it makes super-excellent sock yarn—long-lasting and soft.
when you first spin it, the singles are wiry and a bit scratchy, like border leicester or something similar (it is a long fiber). but don’t let that fool you—it is completely transformed in the wash. since it contains a lot of grease (nice on the hands but disguises the texture), you don’t see how lightweight it is til it’s clean. washing it makes it poof up greatly and turn all soft and springy; not like the just-spun yarn at all. it has the benefit of being a long, strong fiber along with a soft springiness that makes it comfortable to wear.
they also had a fabulous gray-to-charcoal sheepskin there that i very much wanted for david (the only other thing besides the rug that i needed to look for, and his only request), but i wanted to think about the price. that only took about 5 minutes, but when i went back it was gone. damn.
oh well. see, this is what makes people spend too much though . . the idea of losing that one thing you like.
normally i count this as good luck; another item that does not come home with me. in this case though, i goofed and was disappointed; i really wanted to go home with a stunning sheepskin for david and instead i arrived empty handed with a few paltry chocolates to make up for the fact that i hesitated.
i consoled myself with a turned orifice hook in dark wood, but it’s just not the same (and, ahem, not for david).
that was it for saturday . . the rest of the day i wandered some more and talked to people and helped karen and kim spend their money.
the next day we got there a little later and went to the book signing. beckie, kim, and karen had never heard stephanie speak, so we planned to go to her talk. when we got there however, the crowd was dense and the audio was not conducive to hearing, so we went wandering again.
here’s where i fell down some more. i had been through the show and found things i didn’t have but wanted to try. going through a second time, i saw things i had resisted the day before, but was suddenly panicky about.
like foxfire fibers cashmere and silk.
i already have some camel/silk roving that is not spun up yet, so i resisted this stuff on saturday. but somehow, on sunday i could not.
ooops; shoulda left my money home. but it’s pretty, right?
beckie and i wandered around trying spinning wheels and looking at spinning equipment. we tested a few wheels and i found the bobbins i needed for my merlin tree wheel.
mmm, nice new bobbins. always good to have some extras.
and then i did it again, this time at the touch of twist booth.
i already have some of their wonderful rambouillet and silk blend roving. but when i went in, there were only two left in a gorgeous gray/blue blend. i snatched one up without even thinking.
and made karen buy the other one (misery loves company). it was total unadulterated force-feeding on my part, but i do think she’ll like it.
thank goodness it was the end of the day by then . . . just enough time to hit up the cheese-tasting in the food building (YUM!), and finally succumb to the artichoke booth (it was ok, but not as good as i thought it would be, though they might have been in an end-of-weekend slump at that point, and not totally on top of their game).
so that was it. time to say goodbye and celebrate kim’s deflowering by going home to spin and knit.
she will never be the same.