home again, yay!

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

don’t tell david, but on the drive home today, i periodically broke the tedium by taking photos from the dashboard. our secret, ok? he just hates it when i do things in the car that he perceives as dangerous, like i’m some kind of barely-contained cowboy or something behind the wheel, haha.

i’ve been talking and talking about how much rain we’ve had, but it’s all the more real to show you the effect it’s had on the landscape—every shade of green under the sun . . . i mean, under the sky.

besides, virginia is just too pretty not to share; what beautiful countryside there is. it’s been many years since i drove through the shenandoah valley and blue ridge parkway areas regularly and dang—it is still as pretty as ever. you don’t see that very often . . .

anyway, i got home in very good time and when i pulled up, david was outside working in the yard; look what he got done for my homecoming

the dirt is turned in the garden—which means i can plant this weekend, woo-hoo. we were starting to wonder when we would ever be able to get out there—with the constant rain we’ve had, it was way too wet to work up til now. finally, he decided to turn the dirt by hand instead of using the tiller and that worked out well.

which means i’ve got my chores cut out for me this weekend . . . no blogging til the plants and seeds are in the ground (but i promise i’ll take pictures). i also have an absolute mountain of bookkeeping to catch up on, but i should be able to hold off on that til the plants are in.

but let’s not dwell on what hasn’t happened yet—let’s talk about all that has happened this week, since i blogged last.

we finished up our lace spinning/knitting retreat by spinning up seven exotic fibers during our last class session—shetland, mohair, pygora, cashmere, tussah silk, bombyx silk, and quiviut. all premium prepared fibers provided by beth and available in the spinning loft online shop (if you’re curious—and i know you are)

which was a little more than i could handle; i got through just six of them, skipping the bombyx to save for later. and even so, i just spun a little sample of each. but that turned out to be plenty as you will see . . .

a couple of our exotic fibers were new to me. the pygora feels like mohair and cashmere combined; it’s hard to describe. and it has an unusual white color, tinged with green that i like. however, i actually preferred spinning the pure mohair, though i can’t explain why . . . i usually don’t like spinning mohair but this one was very, very nice.

then there was the quiviut, which i hadn’t spun before, but which i loved working with. it’s a lot like spinning yak, but so much better. if i didn’t have a ridiculously small amount of spinning time in my week right now

i’d have bought some quiviut from beth’s onsite “shop” to take home and spin (but i know where to get it if the urge strikes me, heh).

by the end of the three hours, i had all my singles spun up by railroading them one after the other onto two parallel bobbins. i ate lunch as fast as i could gulp it down in order to ply them before the afternoon knitting session began.

that evening i wound the plied yarn onto a single skein and washed it up to take along to my next stop, where i’d knit it into a sampler swatch.
but for our last knitting class, i had other yarn to swatch.

my knitting class was designed to provide a short teaching segment each day with quite a bit of time for project knitting afterward, in order that participants could A) absorb the teaching material a little at a time and

B) get a good head start on a complex project so that by the time they headed home, they’d be in good shape to knit amid everyday activities.

that’s allison’s my next pine and ivy shawl in allison’s handspun. look how pretty that yarn is, all knit up

the colors are SO beautiful; won’t it look great on me??

that meant that i also had knitting time during class, which i spent on knitting my sample swatches each day. by the end of the four days, i had good-sized swatches in merino and cormo (you saw those)

plus one each in wensleydale (left, a long, luster wool) and
polwarth (right, another fine, springy fiber that we hand-prepped)

i worked each of them in pine cone lace and stockinette over the same number of stitches and rows to accent the differences between them as much as possible. for instance, you can see that the long, relaxed wensleydale makes looser, less defined fabric with bigger holes and beautiful sheen, while the fine wools make a springier, denser fabric.

i worked my sampler skein in one continuous piece over the next three days at my virginia teaching gigs.

that’s almost the whole thing, with all six fibers knit in. some of them are overlapping in the yarn, where one singles was a little longer than the next, which created some fiber blends. from bottom to top there is shetland and shetland/mohair (not in the frame), mohair, pygora/mohair, pygora, cashmere (the very white one that is nearly dead center), cashmere/silk, silk, silk/quiviut, quiviut.

i love how the cashmere, cashmere/silk, and silk have a color difference that is very distinct; you can see that the pygora at the bottom of that frame has the greenish tinge i mentioned earlier.

i have tiny amounts of leftovers that i may knit into a stockinette swatch, just to complete the set (and to add to the newest wing of my traveling swatch museum, which is devoted to handspun samples).

cool, right? i am so glad i was asked along on this adventure; i had a wonderful experience at this retreat, thank you beth!

on to virgina now, with a pause to visit my nephew james and his fiancee diana in maryland. we had great afternoon, which began with a visit to lotte grocery in ellicott city, our favorite lunch spot, where i like to get seafood jampong. it was awesome.

we hung out and watched a movie and then had a sushi dinner before i got back on the road to richmond. a quick visit but tasty (and it’s always great to see james and diana).

in richmond, i taught once again at the yarn lounge in carytown on monday—i love this shop and i love the knitters who call it home.

look at them—they are all lace knitters now, yay. we had an all-day beginning lace class where we sampled various types of lace stitches in the morning, talked about fabric, lace knitting tips, chart reading, and (of course) yarn for lace knitting. then in the afternoon, we worked on a simple little nothing scarf—rivolo—which got everyone off to a healthy start so they could go home feeling confident about finishing on their own.

after class, katj picked me up and we met lou for dinner down the street at can can, a neighborhood french bistro.

we had fun and it was mighty good too.

the next two days were a little different, but very good—since i had my daytime hours off, i took advantage of the quiet isolation of my hotel room to catch up on email, pattern work, and swatching for new projects. oh yeah, and sleep, haha. i loved the weird hours—i slept at odd hours for me and was up at 4 am each day; delicious.

i taught another project workshop—bittersweet vines—over two evenings with the hanover knitting guild. once again, i enjoyed my time with this lovely, lovely group—they are the nicest guild i’ve ever spent time with. if you live nearby, you should check it out.

unfortunately, i had so much fun with them that i completely forgot to take any photos. suffice it to say that things went swimmingly and we had lots of fun together again.

oh, and tammy, that pad thai place i said i’d try on the way back to the hotel? it was awesome—you should go.

much as i enjoyed this whole trip, i’m really glad to be home. time to swing into summer and enjoy staying put for a while—aside from one tiny little excursion to TNNA in june, i’ve got no big travels planned til july . . . when i go back to britain.

20 thoughts on “home again, yay!

  1. Glad you are home safely! The spinning looks incredible. Please, please, please bring that sampler along to Knit Nation with you – I’d love to take a closer look at it. The colours in Alison’s handspun are beautiful – and exactly ‘you’! I’m with David on taking photos whilst driving – but I guess he should be relieved that you weren’t knitting!!

  2. Oh, you really make spinning look so appealing! Lovely swatches.

    Glad you’re back! Have a fab time gardening this weekend. We are still surrounding by piles of mud and tall wet grass. I *think* the rain might stop in another day or two.

  3. It’s that rainy here in Oklahoma, too. And as green… finally!

    The fiber pictures are gorgeous! Makes me want to break out my wenselydale fleece and get it processed. I’m a very spotty spinner. I prefer to knit when it comes down to it, but spinning is fun, too. I love the coudy white wensleydale, it’s just gorgeous.

  4. Oh, wow! You DID have a busy trip this time. I think the spinng samples are so interesting – but I’m not familiar with pygora and am going to go look it up shortly. I have a lovely Quiviut cowl that a friend purchased for me in Alaska from the co-op some years ago. I just love that fiber.
    I had to giggle at the sampler you made of the different fibers – I think it’s lovely – but I remembered doing the same thing back in one of my other crafting lives when I was doing a lot of needlepoint and making samples on different canvases with different yarns.
    Everything is just so pretty – the fibers, the people, the scenery. You are such an inspiration.

  5. It was fun to dine with you and Kat at Can Can on Monday. So glad that worked out and that I got to finally meet Kat in person. And I LOVE that Thai place on Meadowbridge.

    Glad you made it back safely. Have fun gardening this weekend!

  6. I take those kinds of pictures as I’m driving, too! I love doing it…. I always see really interesting (and sometimes bizarre) signs, buildings, and amazing landscapes. Love how the hills in W. VA and southern Ohio are often topped with a fringe of trees.

  7. Well rats! Once again I missed you when you were close enough for me to attend, but I was too slow. Maybe next time!
    I wonder if you drove right past me on your way home… I live near the intersection of 33 and 81 (Harrisonburg) in the Valley. Yes, it is truly gorgeous here… and it’s still raining!

  8. Glad you made it home safely. Your posts on the spinning retreat have certainly peaked my interest. I’ve been having so much fun finding fibers and exploring indie dyers that I have not really put much thought into learning to spin. Thanks for the insight and the pics of swatches really helped. I see you were in my neck of the woods (so to speak). I’m in Annapolis and I drive up to Lotte all the time. I am addicted to choco pies. Very much like ‘scooter pies’ here in the states. We are expected to have a dry weekend – hope you have the same. Enjoy!

  9. Beautiful swatches and the sampler skein is very interesting. I love the colours of your ivy shawl, it’s stunning!

  10. We loved having you in town, Anne. Your classes were as fabulous as you are and I learned new techniques and now have more confidence with knitted lace. Thank you! Dinner was wonderful. Wish I’d had more time with you. It’s never enough.

    You’re simply the best!

    So glad the garden is ready for planting. : )

  11. All this rain really has made everything lush! One of my coworkers says it looks like Ireland.

  12. Lovely work and those ‘tops’ (?) – the colour is just zinging….augh…The Shenandoah Valley – Ruth Anne, yes, it is a wee bit like Ireland but oh my those blue remembered hills along the Parkway…oh you are bringing back so many memories of Skyline Drive, the Parkway and the Smokies…there ain’t anything so blue as The Blue Ridge…they are as blue as Ireland is green if you get my drift……it is just wonderful…and the people…well they were all so friendly and helpful to a pair of seniors dilly dallying along the roads taking in the sumptious views stopping at every view point…it was our first holiday in America driving ourselves and we loved it. Oh I must stop rambling on. Enjoy your gardening – you wouldn’t be gardening this weekend over here as we have winds and torrential rain forecast for Sat and Sun….haven’t even our annuals planted yet – threat of frost is not over here yet.

  13. Oh! It was so GREAT seeing a picture of my buddy Kat! Thanks for that, Anne. . . And by the way, you are SUCH a car cowboy! Are you KIDDING ME????

  14. What a busy and fun trip! I love seeing the pictures of your spinning – I am dying to try quiviut, and hadn’t been able to find any – now I know 🙂 (And I have this little hope that I might be able to pick up some vicuna this summer on our trip…) Welcome home!!

  15. i just want to squish all that beautiful fiber in the final picture!!

    good to have you back!

  16. Thanks for the pics of the Shenandoah Valley. I was raised in Lexington, VA and still miss it. But since I now live in Asheville, NC I guess I shouldn’t complain!!

  17. Glad you like my shawl. 😀 I think the colors will look great on me too – we may have to have some sort of poll!

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