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Archive for the ‘field trip’ Category

I didn’t take a lot of pictures at Maryland Sheep & Wool, mostly because I was enjoying myself way too much to keep digging in my bag for the camera, and partly because in the vendor barns there was no room to dig for the camera, even if I wanted to. The whole experience was entirely happy (crowded walkways notwithstanding), if for no other reason than I got to see, pet, and smell sheep.

That’s right, I said smell. I grew up on a small farm (with my grandpa’s real farm down the road) and the smell of straw and healthy livestock is … so comforting, oddly. It smells like home. (Not my parents’ actual house, obviously. Settle down, Mom)

Sheep!

These guys were waiting to be judged, I think. We didn’t really hang out to see the competitions, choosing to shop and chat instead (that’s what happens when two verbose friends only see each other once a year or so).

I tried to get this guy to look at me…

Look at the camera

And when he did he was all, May I help you?

Excuse me?

And he was humming. Amazing.

Yeah, you're standing in my neck there.

Two lambs trying to occupy the same space, and not really succeeding.

Fluff

And seriously, I could not believe how fluffy this guy was. I mean really.

Haul from MDS&W

This was the haul. Creatively Dyed sock yarn on top, some gorgeous purple worsted weight in the middle (my memory fails me now on the company from Maple Creek Farm(s?) in Omaha, whose domain registration has expired, so no link), and organic cotton in three colors on the bottom (again with the not knowing the brand from Misty Mountain Farm in Virginia). I’ll put up better pictures with actual companies later this week…end(?). edited to add: Pictures are coming! It was rainy and grey for a few days here, but hopefully later today I can take some pictures.

Even though I’m not big on all the aspects of the festival (can’t eat the carnival-style food, am only mildly interested in the contests & competitions), I had a great time hanging out with Femiknitter, receiving compliments on my Tuscany shawl (yes, I do plan to do an actual write-up on that soon), and seeing yarn from dyers/spinners/farms/companies I had never heard of, or had heard of but had never seen in person. I’m really happy that I bought yarn only from new-to-me companies, and am super excited to try out new yarn.

(The purple? Destined to become a February Lady Sweater [Ravelry link]. You know, after I finish the 37 other projects I have going right now.)

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This past weekend we went to Kentucky to visit the new baby girl (and her parents) for whom I made the blindingly pink baby blanket. We had a blast.

We left about 1:00pm on Friday, and made our way through the city and onto I-65 south. This is a deceptive highway, lulling you into complacency with its straightness, making you think that your drive will continue to be easy-peasy. And then you hit Indianapolis. Bastards with evil brains devised the freeway naming and exchange system, and vicious evil bastards came up with our directions (Dear Rand McNally, I want 40 minutes of my life back please. Love, me.). It didn’t help that NinjaHusband remembered a way through the city that was different from the one on our directions, and it didn’t help that when we followed the directions (get on 465 and stay on it for 21.3 miles till you find 865) we discovered that there is possibly a wormhole in the middle of Indianapolis. Because it didn’t take us 21.3 miles to find 865. It took us maybe 3 miles. Maybe the directions were wrong, but I choose to believe that within the confines of the Indianapolis city limits lurkes a benevolent wormhole that channels innocent travelers immediately to their destinations. And how can I get one to move in between us and Chicago.

Anyway. We got to Lexington in good time and got to our friends’ house and met Miss O. for the first time.

Mother-Daughter
Mom A. and Baby O., sitting on a porch in downtown Lexington. Look at those cheeks!!

Miss O.’s parents loved the baby blanket I made, and the word on the street is that she likes it too. Of course, I have no pictures of her actually with the blanket, because that wasn’t the point. The point was to take pictures of the tiny new baby.

Laugh lines

However, Miss O. decided to smoosh her face into the chest/shoulder/arm of whoever was holding her.

A natural
Husband holding baby. Right now, the hottest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Including Dominic West half-naked in an episode of The Wire.

M and O
This one shows her face a bit better, and she looks just like her dad. Our friend M. has beautiful hair, which O. loved to grab in her sleep.

After we sat and chatted we walked home. Miss O’s mom was feeling sore, so I carried the baby. Seven-and-half pounds doesn’t seem like much, but after a walk of a mile or so my arm started to cramp up. When we got back to the house this seemed like the best course of action:

Nap time

It was a great weekend. I’m so glad we got to see our friends and meet their baby, and hold their baby, and make faces at their baby… possibly we should get one of our own.

And the best part about Lexington, and the parts we saw of it were really great, is this:

Lowest price I've seen in months

Gas was only $2.98 a gallon. Win!

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My Stitches Midwest 2007 Experience can be summed up in the following picture-less points (sorry, the Dada camera is still at the repair shop):

1. If you can help it, don’t go to Stitches when you’re ill. It really brings down your energy level and there is nothing at Stitches that feels better than a nap.

2. That said, I had a really great time hanging out with Femiknitter and exploring the giant knitters’ playground that is Stitches. I loved every minute of the four hours that we were there, and had a blast napping when we got back to her folks’ house. And eating spicy food that opened up my sinuses. And going to bed really early. (Nick was right; the knitter in me was stronger than the cold, but just barely.)

3. I managed to stay within my self-imposed yarn budget. This was both an awesome thing and a sort of sad thing. It was awesome because, hey! I’ve got self-control, but it was sad because hey! when else am I going to see this much amazing yarn in one place. I blame my self-control entirely on my cold, of course. Had I been more lucid I would have said to hell with the budget and pulled out the MasterCard.

4. I purchased 6 balls of Kureyon (enough to finish up the afghan) (mostly bright colors); 2 skeins of ShiBui Knits sock yarn in Orchid; 2 skeins of Koigu in black (I’m not linking to anything here because, well, it’s black Koigu. You can probably imagine what it looks like.) because I have some pretty Koigu leftover from my first socks and I think that color would make cute toes and heels on a black sock; 1 skein of Chapman Springs STR in lightweight and 1 skein in Sapphire STR in lightweight (apparently not on the website yet) (for a Chevron Scarf… mmm!); and 1 enormous cone of Valley Yarns something-or-other that is comparable to Rowanspun (I don’t really know… I was delirious from the great deal — $32.00 — and the fever) in a luscious brown-with-pinkish-bits. It’s going to be the Tangled Yoke Cardigan from the new IK.

5. Not a huge haul, but everything I bought makes me feel good. And I had a plan going in. Everything I bought had a specific and pre-determined purpose, except the ShiBui Knits sock yarn. That just made me giggle, so it had to come home with me. Having a plan RULES!

6. This is the part where I make a little grumpy noise. I’m going to preface my grumpy noise by saying I like Tess’ Yarns. I love Melinda’s color sense and I love the base yarns. Last year I bought two skeins of their microfiber ribbon, but didn’t have a pattern for it (do you see why I went in with a plan this year?). What made me a little grumpy was the set up of their booth at Stitches. None of the yarns had pricetags on them — you had to get a price sheet (of which they kept running out, and were taxed with printing more) to find out what the stuff cost. And when I tried to buy a pattern for the microfiber ribbon yarn tank top, I had to wait in line THREE TIMES because the pattern just could not be found (It eventually turned up, after my third wait in line, as we were ready to leave). This is just a review of their service at Stitches in a crazybusy situation — I’m sure the online and bricks-and-mortar store service are better.

7. I am feeling much healthier now. I’m not at all disgusting anymore, which pleases me no end.

I’m sorry this post is so boring and picture-less. I’ve had to rely on a surreptitiously borrowed camera, and it’s not always available when I want it to be. Hopefully the Dada camera will return to me soon, free of all its Dada tendencies.

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My day started all virtuous-like. I went to the chiropractor (where I heard, again, that I’m running sideways, and to stretch ALL THE TIME), went to the gym, then stopped at various stores for those necessities I mentioned.

And then apparently I made a vow to devote my writing time equally between normal writing and parenthetical writing (I think it’s working out pretty well so far).

So, I ate lunch, thought about what I was going to pack in my knitting bag, showered, and then had like 3 more hours until I wanted to leave for Oak Brook (I wanted to get there early, but 6 hours before the reading started sounded a little nuts, even to me).

What did I do with all that time?
I made the bed (a rare occurance Chez HookOn, unless I’ve just changed the sheets)…

… I washed most of the dishes and cleaned the counters and (though you can’t see it from here) I even swept and sort-of-mopped the floor (I used a wet paper towel to get all the leftover crumbs)…

… and I cleaned the stove (it was truly horrific. The bowls and protective rims that sit under the burners? I’m not sure if I have ever cleaned them, and I’ve lived in this apartment for three years. They are soaking in the sink.)

At this point I was feeling quite virtuous, and very deserving of a trip to see my most favorite author. I selected projects to take along to the reading, two of which you’ve already seen…

the grey bag ends (heh) for the to-be-felted bag,

and the second pair of socks (STR Fred Flintstone, lightweight, 2.5mm needles).

(make note of how much shorter the top sock is than the bottom sock… this will come into play later on.*)
The third project is a headband (the same one that Femiknitter made a while back) that I just started yesterday as I waited to leave for Oak Brook. I’ll talk more about it later, because right now it is just i-cord, and you know what that looks like.

I left my house about 4:00pm with my knitting, necessities, water, and camp chairs. Why camp chairs? Because I heard that Borders in Oak Brook was only putting out 75 chairs. Then I heard it was 100 chairs. Foolish muggles — when will they learn?

Laugh at me if you will, but I get a little nervous driving into the suburbs when I’m going somewhere for the first time. I don’t get nervous about the actual driving, but I worry that I’ll miss my exit and accidentally drive to Indiana (almost happened once).

I arrived without mishap at 5:10pm. Here’s the view I had (from the fourth row… yes!!!!)

I walked in and saw the tell-tale signs that I was not the only knitter there. Shawls on shoulders, knit-or-die t-shirts(no actual picture, I was walking out of the bathroom and, strangely, didn’t have my camera ready), felted bags… it was great. I bought some books and while I was in line I saw a woman wearing this great pink cabled sweater (do I have a picture? No, of course not) and I asked her if she made it and if I could touch it AND SHE DIDN’T BACK AWAY! She was a knitter and she understood!

I don’t know if this applies to anyone else, but I’ve gotten the feeling that people (muggles) think I’m working a few beers shy of a six-pack when I walk up to them and ask to examine their sweaters. This is off-putting (to me) and makes me feel like my knitting is this highly un-understandable weird anomaly, and therefore, you know, so am I.

But this! This room full of knitters! I felt completely at home and comfortable. If you know me personally, you might snicker at this, but generally I feel kind of shy and awkward with people I don’t know. Especially groups. However, this appears to apply only to muggles. I was all over the place, talking… (turns out my one-seat-away neighbor Renae [Hi Renae!] used to live in DeKalb and demonstrated how to use 2 circular needles to make an in-the-round item [a new-to-me concept]) …and ogling yarn across the aisle and getting up to talk to the knitter about where she got it and what was it, and having a grand old time. Everyone was saying things like “I love that, what is it?” and “What are you working on” and eventually a wise woman stepped up to the microphone and said “While we’re waiting, who wants to have a show-and-tell?” So we all showed off what we were working on. It was amazing. It was like this huge stitch-n-bitch full of happy energy. During the show-and-tell (I think), Nick sent me a text message saying he hoped I was having fun. My return text message said “I am with my people!”

Anna (who has written about all this already) and Heather were there by this point, and we were just looking at each other grinning. Grinning like fools.

Then Stephanie appeared. She blogged us blogging her blogging us (one of those infinite cat things… infinite blogger?),

(the Bohus? freaking stunning in person)
and she spoke. And she was hilarious and encouraging and unifying and hilarious and smart and strong and ohmygod was she funny. I saw her two years ago (or thereabouts (I just said “thereabouts.” I am my father.)) and I loved that experience, but I had just learned to knit and didn’t feel comfortable doing any work while I was trying to listen to her. This time, I had no trouble knitting while she was talking (I knit on the socks only, by the way), and could even look up from my knitting when I got to the stockinette parts! I felt like a real, live, grown-up knitter!

After she was done speaking and taking questions (during which she introduced a seven-year-old knitter to the word “harlot” and some of its meaning, and almost fell over laughing while doing so), we all got in a line to get our books signed (knitters with children first!). Strangely, the three of us all had socks on the needles. A lovely fellow knitter took our picture:

and then I took hers — blog, meet Rachel. Hi Rachel!

Her sock (that of her second pair ever) matched her knitting bag and her top and jacket ENTIRELY BY COINCIDENCE. She may be the most coincidentally well-put-together knitter I’ve ever met. (it was great to wait in line with you!)

Then we got to the signing table and I gave Stephanie some wee gifties (from the three of us DeKalb knitters) and I got to hold the sock (!!!)

and of course, we’re blurry.

I had the best time.

*(And the socks that were wildly different lengths when I began my tale?…

I can’t tell them apart now!)

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So, this past weekend (that of the 24th to the 25th), Nick and I went to Geneva for a little getaway. I planned the whole thing without telling him where we were going, where we’d be staying… only that we would be going away for a night. Orginally I wanted to stay at a cozy little bed and breakfast with lots of hiking trails and scenery, but holy crap on toast — those cute little B&Bs cost upwards of $200 a night. Even in off-peak, non-tourist season. Curse them. We ended up staying at a very nice (and well within our price range) chain hotel in Geneva, with a lovely room, and only a short drive up the river to the downtown area.

Some of you who know the area might think that I planned this getaway in this particular location because of a particular store in the downtown area. I did no such thing. My only consideration was that Geneva is close to DeKalb (about 30 minutes’ drive) and picturesque (of course I don’t have any actual picturesque pictures because the camera has entered its Dada phase, the stupid bastard, and refused to take pictures of anything). My plans had nothing at all to do with shopping.

Right. Yes. So, Nick was all surprised and happy when we got to the hotel and saw our room (it was very nice), and then I gave him his gift (sorry for the stock photo, blame the Dada camera). His eyes got all big and he looked kind of sad and said “Honey, I didn’t get you anything, I’m sorry.”

And in the same breath he uttered the magic words:

“We can go to the yarn store tomorrow.”

And we did, and my husband bought me Koigu for our ten-year dating anniversary.

He helped me choose the color (I love when he has input on my knitting!). I had it down to three different colorways, and he liked this one (after I explained that lots of colors are fun on socks — he’s a solid color kind of guy).

And in case you were wondering, the skeins are sitting on this book, with which I am in serous lurve

This Just In: This arrived as I was typing up this post!

Hooray! The book is here! I’m going to see her on Tuesday and I have the book! Hooray!

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I’m feeling better. I fixed our home internet connection, the car is better (sort of) and we’re looking for a new one, and I’m okay with the cost of our upcoming trip. I’m still weirded out by the ex-boyfriend asshattedness, but I’m going to ignore him.

And I have all of the bounty you see before you here:


Red laceweight, about 900 yards. The ball band is in Japanese except for the yardage. It could be called “Happy Puffy Parakeet Yarny Yarn!!!!!” for all I know.


Sock yarn. Fleece Artist Basic Merino Socks in Marine; KPPPPPPPPPPPM in P822 (it’s handwritten on there under “dye code”, so I’m guessing that’s the colorway number? maybe?). I choose to think of it as lemongrass (there’s a bit more yellow in there than is visible in the picture).


Noro Daria, in color #1. Likely destination, Corded by Grumperina. I’ve been wanting to play with this stuff ever since I first saw it. Mmmm… shiny.


Louisa Harding Grace – Silk & Wool in Silver. It was pretty. It still is pretty. I am in love.


The mystical and coveted Orange Chibi.

And that’s my haul from Wool & Co. back on Friday, September 1st. Enormous thanks to Anna, Heather & Sandi who gave me a big fat gift certificate (of which I used every bit). You ladies rule.

(Yes, all the yarn is for me. Yes, I did intend to purchase yarn for Nick’s sweater. Yes, I’m a selfish, horrible woman. I don’t care. I have pretty yarn for me.)

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Okay, so Stitches pretty much kicked my new-knitter ass.
But in a good way.

I rode in with Sandi, and we got there about 9:40am (we made pretty darn good time, I think. Nice driving, girlfriend).

Of course, Heather and her friend Shanelle (visiting from Indianapolis just for Stitches. Wouldn’t you?) got there before we did and were second in line, waiting to go up the stairs to say hello to the waiting yarn.

(When the door guarders finally allowed us up the stairs, Heather charged up the stairs trying to outpace a very charming but highly competitive grandmother. I was laughing too hard to snap a good picture.)

At one point we saw some yarn that we know our LYS carries and Heather, being Organization Queen of The Day, panicked–what does the Yarn Exchange charge for this yarn? And dammit, we can’t call them from here!

Oh yes we can, said I, exhibiting my geekitude by announcing that I had our LYS on speed dial.

I made my first purchase at Blue Moon Fiber Arts, getting some delightful colorways (Sherbet, Azurite, Ruby Slippers).

After that, my “budget” kind of got taken hostage by beautiful and seductive yarn. What can I say? It was my first huge yarn event. I’ll know better next year, and start saving in March like some people.

Somewhere along the line someone (probably me, but we’ll pretend it wasn’t) freaked out because the ball band on some fabulous yarn gave only meters and we, being the anti-metric heads that we are, couldn’t figure out yardage (why thank you, American educational system!). And this was when I fell in love with my new phone.

It has a unit converter. You darling, darling little thing. Thank you.

At lunch, we took a much-needed break and put yarn on our heads. It was with this stroke of genius (Heather’s) that we met Heather’s Knittyboard people.

And this lady, who let us share her lunch table and who probably thought we were off our rockers. But she played along and looked like a princess in her yarn tiara.

My dear, I didn’t get your name. If you are reading, let me know who you are!

We met up with Anna, who mysteriously bought nothing but drove all the way to Rosemont to do it, and by 2:30pm Sandi and I were experiencing massive yarn overload–it got hard to distinguish between fibers and there was nowhere to look that wasn’t covered in yarn. It was amazing, but we had to go. I could have been given Red Heart and told it was beautiful and I might have bought it (…maybe).

Heather and Shanelle, on the other hand, were going strong. This is where we parted ways:

They still had their sense of touch. (and look at them… don’t they look blissful? I love this picture)

Sandi and I packed up and went home, tired but happy.
This is what came home with me:

The red/pink is Hot Foot superwash merino from The Village Spinning & Weaving Shop. It’s going to be the Hourglass sweater, I think. Or I’ll just pet it a lot.
The grey on the cone is alpaca/silk laceweight from Valley Yarns (Webs’ house brand) in the light grey colorway. It will be a masterful lace shawl. As soon as I learn how to knit lace. Right.
The blue/purple is microfiber ribbon from Tess Yarns (feels like silk, drapes like a cat on linoleum in July, and the color is stunning), and it wants to be a sexy tank for glamorous parties where people will compliment me on my top and then fall down in disbelief when I tell them I knit it myself. Because I plan to go to so many of those kinds of parties.
The green is Nature Wool from Araucania Yarns (caveat: animated home page, may take some time to load), purchased from Webs. I think this yarn wants to be a cabled sweater for me.
And the sock yarn is Socks That Rock and I added the Fred Flinstone colorway just before I left stitches, because I still had a twenty dollar bill and for some reason I needed to spend it. And I needed autumnal socks, too. She rationalized.

I loved every minute of my shopping at Stitches (no classes, just shopping). It was great to feel all these amazing yarns that we don’t normally get to touch, and it was awesome to be with my girlfriends who understand the whole yarn addiction. I would have been even more lost without Heather, who plotted her path along the aisles like she was stalking big game. Thank you, my dear, for your enthusiasm.

And yes, I will start saving up my pennies early on for next year’s Stitches.

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