i dunno about where you live, but in our back yard, the squirrels are really loading it on this year—the other day i was startled by what i thought was a groundhog leaping out of the brush along the side of the yard. it took me a minute to realize that is was actually just a squirrel which had grown to a grossly disproportionate size.
it’s been a couple of years since i’ve seen them put on this much weight; in fact last year, i got a little concerned about how skinny they still looked in november (totally misplaced, i know—they survived just fine). and the garden is completely riddled with little nut-sized hidey holes—i keep finding stashes of nuts while digging for carrots.
not that i should talk—every time i leave home i come back with a couple of bags of yarn and this recent trip was no exception. there were, after all, many treasures to plunder along the way . . .
i have to say though, that my very favorite acquisition of all are these gorgeous sweet onions gifted to me from pat h. (i wish i knew her rav name!). they are SO going into a pot of chili this weekend, haha. our onions turned out ok for our first time growing them, but nothing like these, which are large and firm and beautiful—i have total onion envy pat, thank you for sharing.
and this tiny treasure is another favorite—a beaded butin earring kit from laura nelkin designs. it seems that circumstances are conspiring to get me to knit with beads; i love these earrings and i think they’ll make a nice gift for my niece. looks like i’ll be sitting down soon to try my hand at it . . .
another gorgeous gift was this bundle of
crack spinning fiber gifted to me by kristen—a cloud-soft blend of alpaca and merino from her family farm. she has a friend with a mini mill in her garage who blended it for her—wow, it feels like it was carded by hand.
also in the bag from her was this luscious batt of spinning bunny fiber—just look at that blend of yumminess. it’s so soft you can’t feel where it begins and ends.
here, fondle that for a bit, you’ll see . . .
(i know, so delightfully naughty, hee-hee!)
the color is amazing, too; a purple person’s dream of a colorway.
at the knitters review retreat each year,there is a small, but well thought and well-stocked marketplace. for the dozen or so vendors that participate, it’s often the last show of the exhibiting year, but far be it from any of these top-shelf fiberistas to offer us the year-end leftovers—oh no.
this is an event that holds a dear place in their hearts as well as ours—they don’t just come to sell, they also participate in the retreat itself, so they are part of the KR community.
when the doors open on saturday afternoon, each booth is a jewel box of color and texture, many of them holding at least one new and special offering, out just in time for the retreat weekend. it’s sort of a kickoff for the holidays as well, minus the noise and confusion of mall shopping.
when i walked in the door this year, i realized that not only were some of my favorite yarnies represented, but that three of them were dyers that participated in our fall in full color club—wow.
on friday during setup time, i visited the spirit trail fiberworks booth after class to
grab the best stuff for myself before showtime on saturday give my friend jen a hug and look at what-all she has that’s new. and if you didn’t see it the other day, this is one of those new items
holda, a lambswool/cashmere/angora blend, so new that jen hasn’t had a chance to list colorways yet. this one is colorway fig and i also had colorways winter solstice (blue) and seaweed (green)
but they have since been knit into these luscious hats. the fabric is incredibly lovely—light, but dense and warm, soft enough to slouch into a perfectly irresistible pout.
one is in stockinette and the other is in reverse, with the decrease lines forming a detail at the top.
yep, pattern will be available soon; sometime this coming week. and i think by then, jen will have the holda stocked up in her online shop. it will include both version of the hat fabric. that was fast, eh??
that’s how it is with this yarn—you just don’t want to take your hands off it (i know you know what i mean). it’s all i can do not to cast on for a third hat, but i want some mitts too. i don’t have enough leftovers to knit a matching pair, but i’ll reserve the third skein for those; i don’t care if they match, haha.
with the leftovers i have, i’m knitting earbands—something to wear on less windy days (it’s turned warm here today; 60 degrees). i’m pretty sure i have enough left for one of each (i may have to cannibalize my green swatch, but that’s ok).
now this skein of elysium cashmere was not in jen’s booth—this was a really nice gift she presented to me when i arrived at the hotel on thursday night. she sure knows how to make me smile—cashmere AND gray?? wow; i’m so honored to have such a talented friend.
but that’s not the end of the spirit trail (or cashmere) love—oh no.
jen has added another yarn weight to her bespoke line of merino/cashmere/silk bases with this 4-ply worsted version she’s named verdande.
it’s a nice chubby, quick-knitting yarn with a smooth hand for those heavier winter sweaters and accessories, perfect for christmas gift knitting.
and even though nona isn’t new, it’s still one of my favorite lace knitting yarns—sleek and smooth, with a generous measure of luxury fiber content and lovely sheen, it’s just about perfect—a weight that allows me to make good, steady progress (even with my aging eyes), yet achieve beautifully fluid and lacy results. i couldn’t resist this “special copper tones” colorway—a one-off batch of rich, deep rust with a splash of almost-cranberry—special, indeed.
still reeling from jen’s booth, cookie and i stumbled over to the string theory display, where karen and her mom ruth were unpacking their gorgeous skeins of yarn.
see what i mean? this is their merino/cashmere/nylon caper sock in colorway fusion. it’s hard to explain how their colors affect me, but let’s just say i fall in love over and over in the face of them. they have this really interesting glow that comes from deep within the yarn, which is washed over with glazes of subtly shifting colors; it’s such a beautiful effect.
string theory created our november club yarn, which is a delicious chocolate brown, burnished with gold. simply amazing.
i just love me a sock yarn with a little tooth to it and i know david does too; this blend
will could make him some great socks. however, i have a feeling this is one of those socks yarns that also has nice drape (due to a less bouncy fiber and twist) and would make a pretty shawlette.
(not that david is beyond wearing a shawlette—he’s getting plenty of use from the blue bandana scarf i made last month.)
and the sport is an excellent choice for a sweater; i knit my highlander from a similar yarn and it’s one of my warmest, most well-worn sweaters.
on the last day, when they were taking the booth down, karen prompted me to take a look at their seri silk lace yarn—something i hadn’t seen during the unpacking. this is very interesting—it’s a fine silk laceweight that’s smooth, but not slippery; it’s quite lovely and i bet it grips the needles very nicely. i haven’t tested it out yet, but i’m looking forward to maybe making a christmas gift with it—that charcoal color is perfect for at least a few people on my list.
in between spirit trail and string theory was the foxfire fiber and design booth; owner, barb parry has been in a couple of classes with me before and she also exhibits at rhinebeck, where i have many times fallen down in her booth on beautifully prepared and dyed fibers for handspinning . . . she no longer offers dyed spinning fiber, but we love undyed too, don’t we?
(mmmm, cormo/camel/silk—who needs colors??)
barb is exhibiting less these days because she has switched to a CSA business model—one way of cultivating a deeper interest and involvement from fiber customers (reservations for the 2012 shares are now available).
she sent me home with a sampling of yarns that could be included in a CSA package—the cormo/camel/silk mentioned earlier, the cormo/mohair singles pictured above and the cormo/alpaca/silk below in the rosy raisin colorway
the pride of the farm are the über-healthy cormo and border leicester sheep that barb has bred and raised since 1997 for the purpose of fiber production. anyone who has knit with or spun with her fiber can tell you that she knows what she’s doing.
now last but certainly not least was the briar rose fibers booth, where i got to spend all of saturday afternoon
hawking yarn and playing enabler helping out. chris’s newest offering is kindness, a silk-wrapped merino base yarn from mountain meadow wools (and you know how we love them!).
i had a couple of people knitting with this in class on friday and boy, does it make a beautiful bittersweet vines set. i had to sit on my hands to keep from stealing mary rose’s knitting while she was in the ladies room . . . just sayin’.
i’m going to cast on for a scarf with this yarn as soon as i can get away from this computer for the day (and time is running out on the day, so i’ll have to do that soon).
chris also had a ton of beautiful new sea pearl to sell—for about five minutes—along with the blümchen sweater pattern.
dawn and i worked the crowd that flooded her booth as soon as the doors opened, helping customers pick out the right yarn and colorways for successful projects. we had so much fun—it’s becoming a tradition that i look forward to at retreat time. i think we sent more than a few knitters away happy . . .
and with that, i think i’m at the end of my show and tell for the day. i’ll be back soon with more knitting—it’s that time of year when projects need to get done fast and furiously, so we have an adventurous month ahead of us.
and it’s officially christmas season—bret started decorating his house today)