Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Room of Fleece, a Pitcher, and a Goat on a Roof

I was invited by a friend to go to the 4th Annual 100 Mile Fleece and Fiber Fair in Coombs, BC, which took place last weekend. It's the first fiber event I've attended since I moved here to Vancouver Island, and I was super excited. It's always nice to be amongst my people.

I guess compared to the fiber events that occur in the United States, the events I've attended are small affairs, and usually indoors. Still, they are lovely places to be when you're a yarnhead like me:

My stash is already overwhelming sufficient, so I was able to restrain myself pretty well. It helped that it was a mostly cash-only affair, which forced me to be more choosy. I came away with a few treasures, like this beautiful handmade spindle. I bought it from a very kind older gentleman who got up out of his seat when I approached and told me all about how he made it. It's made from pear wood, which is a wood that I've never really considered as a workable wood, but what do I know? I think it's beautiful, and it rotates beautifully, too.

I also came home with two bags of this heavenly cashmere. They had a sample of it in a bowl that I had to come back twice to pet. I'm very interested to see how it spins up.

And these two skeins of hand dyed merino/silk also made the cut. I'm not sure how flattering the colours will be for me, but I was simply entranced by their beauty. I think they'll make a pretty shawl. And yes, it's called Ba-a-ad Ass Yarn:

After we toured the hall a couple of times, we went into the village of Coombs itself and visited its famous marketplace, complete with goats eating grass on the roof:

We wandered through and visited a bunch of shops and found the area where the goats get their coffee breaks:

And after eating lunch and purchasing some smoked salmon and cheese, I suggested we stop for a coffee somewhere, and my friend agreed, but first we stopped at a vintage shop and had a wander around. It had a lovely set up inside, with lots of treasures on display:

And, since they took credit cards, I felt a little freer to come home with this pitcher, which easily holds about two or three litres (quarts), and will be great for holding juice over the summer:

In all, it was a great adventure, and I'm only sorry it took this long to blog about it. My new spindle and cashmere fleece has increased my resolve to take part in this year's Tour de Fleece on Ravelry to work through some of the mounds of fibre in my cupboard that I haven't touched in such a long time. It's not a bad goal, especially since most of my spindles are full of half-spun fibre at the moment. I'm already day-dreaming about the yarn I will have...

I guess I better get some of my current projects out of the way first. Off to knit!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How Forgetting My Swimsuit Saved Me

Life has a way of forcing you to take it easy when you really need to... and that's a good thing.

I planned for today to be a really active day: I was going to get up early and get a bike ride in for my training for a fundraising bike tour I'm taking part in, then I was going to come home, take Rascal for his morning walk, then walk to the pool and go for a 30-minute swim, then walk home. This was all to take place before lunch time.

Yeah, now that I think of it, I don't know what I was thinking.

I sprang out of bed at 5:45am, got dressed, strapped on my bike helmet and headed off for a 26km ride. It was a frustrating ride, because I was having trouble with my gears, and I arrived home feeling tired and irritated. I subjected the hubby and Rascal to a grumpy 40-minute walk, then we deposited Rascal at home and walked another 20 minutes to the pool. As we walked through the doors, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my swimsuit. To go home and get it would entail another 20 minutes back, and even if I drove back up to the pool, I would miss the entire lane swimming time.

Well, that's a message if I ever heard one.

I left the hubby at the pool, where he enjoyed a peaceful swim sans grumpy wife, and I walked home. I said to myself, "You know... just go home and take some time to yourself... and relax, for heaven's sake." So, I got home made a cup of coffee, surfed the internet for a bit, then had a short nap. When I got up, I showered, then made myself a batch of these homemade Oatmeal-to-Go-type muffins to bring for my snacks at work next week:

Then we went out for lunch at the cafe at the marina:

Then we napped some more:

Then, I actually sat down and did some knitting, which I hadn't done all week, thanks to a crazy work schedule. I even had the presence of mind to fix a 12-stitch cable that I had messed up 10 rows down:

Is that friggin' impressive or what?

In the meantime, I had a batch of these English muffins rising. I just took them off the griddle, and had three a sample. Those will be happening again, I assure you:

In all, Saturday has turned into a nice, quiet day. It took a forgotten swimsuit to remind me that I needed one. I think I'll veg on the couch a bit more before dinner. Later, y'all.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Inspiration Mondays: The Festival-Makers

A friend of mine sent me an email to ask if I wanted to go with her to the 100 Mile Fleece and Fibre Fair next Sunday.

Is the sky blue? Is the Pope Catholic? Do Rascals sleep on the couch?

I am amazed by the people who make these festivals happen. I used to organize events as part of my job, and not only are they test of your organizational skills, but of your people skills as well. You think herding cats is hard? Try getting people to ignore hazards and to not open doors that they're not supposed to. THAT'S hard.

Joanne Seiff wrote about some of the most famous of the fibre festivals in her book called Fiber Gathering: Knit, Crochet, Spin, and Dye More than 25 Projects Inspired by America's Festivals. I love this book, because she has not only been able to convey the overwhelming nature of these events, but she also reminds you that there's much more to see there than "just yarn." There are usually animals that you can hug pet, and food that you can gorge yourself enjoy, and people... lots and lots of people just like me who love to create.

THAT'S cool.

Today, I am inspired by the people who take on the gargantuan task of putting together these festivals for people like me who are constantly saying, "Someone should do that." I am pleased to support their efforts, for it is no small one. If I come home with a treat or ten two, well, all the better.

**I returned from my walk this afternoon skipping with joy because it looks like there's a yarn store opening in my little town. I might have to support that, too...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Dreamer, Not a Knitter

I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession right now with knitting garments with lightweight yarn. I say it's unhealthy because, well... how much time could someone possibly spend knitting ONE thing? Making the choice to knit with anything lighter than sportweight yarn means that you have committed to at LEAST two months on one garment, and only if you knit every day, every where.

I think part of the reason I do this is that I'm a sucker for the yardage you get out a skein of laceweight. The hank below has a whopping 1531 yards in it. Dats a lotta yarn, dudes. And I can get a cardigan out of that, if you look at Hannah Fettig's designs like Wispy and Featherweight.

Except I knit a Featherweight a couple of years ago, and well... it took FOREVER.

And then there's this skein of BFL lace from At Knit's End (who is no longer dyeing yarn). It's in a gorgeous blend of greys that make me sigh and smile each time I pick it up. 880 yards there. Lacy top: possible.

And, in keeping with the grey theme, I have this of Paternayan Lace, 760 yards of possibilities. I probably couldn't get a top of of it, but a cropped cardi or bolero is a possibility.

It's not helping that there are so many beautiful garment patterns out there made with laceweight yarn. I'm fascinated by Joanne Lew-Goltz's Pianissimo, with it's drapey neck and flowy fabric. I've been daydreaming about making a version with some kind of sleeve on it...

Image from Joanne Lew-Goltz's Ravelry page

I've also been drooling over Melissa Werhle's Chiton Pullover, which I think would be beautiful in a laceweight yarn:

And I've also discovered how beautiful laceweight looks in a cable. has a huge library of knit stitches, most of which are knit in lightweight yarns. It's there that I began my obsession with this wide cable:

Which I am trying to incorporate somehow into this kind of shoulder/neck combination that I saw on Indigorchid's blog:

So, what do I have to show for all these daydreams, drawings and clippings? Well... ehm... hmmm....

You could say I'm a dreamer, not a knitter... at least at the moment. I'll get to it sometime, after I finish whatever that is going to be above. I'm not even sure what it's going to be myself, but it'll be something... sometime... Better go knit...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Inspiration Mondays: Lifting the Dolphins

Not long ago, I came across this article about a group of dolphins who helped a dying dolphin stay afloat until it breathed its last breath. It's not the first time I'd read about cetaceans helping to keep a struggling thing afloat. There are many stories out there where people have either experienced being held up by animals underwater, or where people have witnessed them helping other animals. It amazes me each time I read it.

A couple of years ago, I made the conscious decision about how I spent my time online. I decided that I wasn't going to fuel the fires of ignorance. I was not going to share stories that ridiculed others. I was going to keep ranting to a minimum. And I was going to lift up those that deserved to see the light.

This is not to say that I avoid standing up against things that are wrong. I just believe that my power as a person on the internet also includes diverting the spotlight from the people who deliberately say bigoted, ignorant things to stay in the media or to catch attention. I thought about mentioning a few examples here, but really, I don't even want to give them that kind of attention. I ignore the trolls in the forums, and I delete mean comments. And when an online community turns into a free-for-all of meanness, I say my goodbyes, and shake the dust from my feet as I walk away.

Today, I am inspired by those who help the great inspirational things in the world see the light: sites like Upworthy, A Mighty Girl, and DailyGood. It might seem a bit "Pollyanna" to go on and on about this, but think about how different our days would be if we could turn down the ignorance and turn up the light? And yeah, maybe you have to see the dark to truly be grateful for the light, but I don't think we have to worry about not seeing the dark side of people There's plenty of that out there.

Me and Craig, we'll just keep going at this, ok?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Copper Penny

There are times when you are making a garment when things work out so well that you find yourself dancing around like one of the elves in the shoemaker's shop. It's a rarity, but it's a delight when it happens. I'll leave my dancing to your own imagination...

The object of my glee is this top I just took off the blocking boards. I made it out of a couple of skeins of my own handspun fingering weight Blue Faced Leicester. It's so cute! So cute I can't even stand it. I'm especially delighted because I managed to get some good photos of it showing its true colours:

I'll admit that I'm not all that crazy about the sleeves, but when you're only working with about 800 yards of sock yarn, you have to make some concessions. I wanted to be sure it would be long enough, so I sacrificed sleeve length. In the end, I did have a few yards left for the sleeves, but I decided I wanted to try finishing them off with a row of single crochet and a row of half double crochet. It resulted in a nice little flutter sleeve:

I was banking on the fact that superwash wool grows when you wash it, since the torso length was still a little on the short side when I bound off. After soaking it, I let the top hang with the weight of the dripping water pulling on it. That did the trick, and it stretched to the length I wanted for it, with no real danger of it creeping back up. That's when the dancing started:

So that was a fine experiment. I learned I can make a top with about 800 yards of sock yarn. If I were to do it again I would probably go up a needle size from 3.5mm to 3.75mm at least. I think the yarn can handle it, and it would give me even more drape and length. And I'd certainly plan for longer sleeves, but I think I can live with these.

My next experiment is with these three balls of alpaca that my friend Linette brought back from Peru for me. I'm imagining something using intarsia and lace... Or maybe I'll actually use a pattern this time and save me the angst of wondering if it's going to work.

But what's the fun in that, really?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I Should Be Packing

I love to travel, and I'm fortunate enough to have worked at a lot of jobs that have allowed me to travel. I'm good at packing efficiently and lightly, and I've packed enough times to know that, no matter what, I'll find a way to fit all my shopping necessities into the luggage I've chosen for that trip.

I'm leaving tomorrow for a work trip to Houston. It'll be hot and humid, but I'm also expecting a good dose of freezing air conditioning during the day while I work. I am grateful for air conditioning, but it's a huge pet peeve of mine when it's cranked so low that your fingers are turning into icicles. 

This friends, is why I knit shawls. I'm taking this one with me for warmth:

But packing also entails choosing the right luggage. And tonight, I'm distracted most by this beauty:

It's an old vinyl bag I bought used off Etsy a couple of years ago. Old, used, but in good shape, thusly termed "vintage." And it's one of my favourite bags. I use it as my gym bag, because it is lightweight and sturdy, and it is just the right size and has just the right number of nooks and crannies for me to store my gym card, hair elastics, lifting gloves, sweatbands... all that good gym-y stuff.

But it's old, and things don't last forever, so I had to pull it out of rotation a few months ago because not one, but both zippers were broken. Not just wonky, but totally broken, missing zipper teeth and all.

I wanted to fix it myself, but fixing luggage is just not part of my repertoire. I knew I'd have to pay someone to do it for me, and I knew it would probably cost me the same amount as if I'd bought I new bag. And being a relative newcomer to the area, I didn't really know where I could take it to be repaired.

So, it sat in my spare room for a few months, in a sort of luggage purgatory, while I weighed out whether I would throw it out and buy a new one or figure out some way to save it. I kept making up my mind that I'd toss it, but each time I went to go but it in the trash, I stopped to admire the colour and all its little splotches of imperfection.

One day, I sat down at the computer, did a little bit of searching and made a few phone calls. Then I got into my car one day during my lunch break and drove around to different places. I showed it to people at tailor shops and luggage stores. I eventually arrived a shoe repair shop and explained my dilemma to the man who ran it. He looked at it, turned it over and around, and he said, "I have a problem."

"What?" I said, nervously.

"I don't have red zippers. Is black ok?"

Yes, black was ok. And a week later, here it is, saved, repaired, and better than ever.

I would take it with me to Houston as hand carry luggage, but I'm already lugging a laptop with me, and it's not large enough for the shopping  rest of my things. It'll have to stay behind, but I'm glad that I was able to save one more item from going to the landfill. 

Yay recycling!