Rhinebeck

So this was my first year experiencing the yarn mecca that is Rhinebeck. Needless to say it surpassed all expectations.

When we first got there, we had quite a line ahead of us.

and then even more started to assemble behind us…

As uninitiated, we were a little worried we might be in for a long wait. But once the gates were open we sailed in and past some beautiful New England (or close to it anyway) foliage.

     

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we were sure to wear handknits. Though that probably goes without saying.

Here is a summary of some of my favourite sights. Most photos are my own, some are the work of Off the Hook Astronomy and Happy Seamstress.

The typical country fair staple of judging entries was not to be missed. The fair is so large there are entries from all over. It’s really the cream of the crop here.

Sheep-to-Shawl!

     

      

Look at all that fibre fluff.

Speaking of fluff.

Believe it or not, this is not wool roving, it’s actually delicious delicious maple cotton candy.

Though some members of our group felt compelled to taste actual roving…

You have to be one of us fibre freaks to get it.

Speaking of eats, omg apple cider donuts.

I think the look on my face says it all.

Besides food, there were also animals. Super cute fibre-producing animals (the best kind!).

The underbite kills me.

Llamas are actually quite affectionate. Who knew?

SO FLOOFY!

That right there is a cashmere goat.

And here is a paco vicuña:

Not only are they the cutest of camelids, they make delightful, if expensive, fibre. This skein from Victory Farms shares my name! Alas I didn’t have the budget to actually buy one…

A final animal-related thing I have to share:

Voilà my video of the leaping llama show.

On our last night in town we sampled some local food: AKA The Melting Pot fondue restaurant! We don’t have fondue restaurants in Canada, so we got really excited. The fact that we filled up on chocolate alcoholic drinks before we got our food after a long day of walking around Rhinebeck probably didn’t help…

But I digress…

Finally, here is a summary of the goodies I brought home.

Beautiful hand dyed roving from Briar Rose Fibers and a drop spindle from David Reed Smith. I got the Susan model for fine weights. I highly recommend it.

I also got some angora rabbit for only $10. Second quality, but it will be great for spinning in with other fibres. I also picked up a gorgeous shade of blue silk and merino roving from Pucker Brush Farm. I’ll post a photo soon.

Greener Shades environmentally friendly dye starter kit.

Some soft leather for putting grips on gloves or slippers from Bittersweet Baskets and Homestead Handles.

Silk hankies from Sheepshed.

And, the pièce de résistance… a SPINNING WHEEL.

Tali likes it too.

It’s a Roadbug from The Merlin Tree. SUPER portable.

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Awesomeness that was March

It’s April now, and this was my April Fool’s ravatar:

As anyone on Ravelry knows, often the site developers will have fun on the holidays. Often it’s with little icons on the homepage, but for April Fool’s everyone’s avator got headgear. The placement of mine could not have been more perfect.

March was an interesting month, full of ups and downs. I spent St. Patty’s Day weekend at the hospital after taking my fiancé in for a marathon ER wait, followed by an ultrasound confirming that it was indeed his appendix, and then ultimately surgery and recovery. That same Sunday I found out that I was on strike. I spent almost two weeks bored-to-tears and foot-weary on the picket line while having to take over all chores at home with my partner in crime out of commission. Still doing most of the heavier-duty housework, but infinitely glad the strike is over.

That being said, it was also a great month in many ways. The strike was taxing, but I got to see some colleagues I had not seen in months because they work at other branches, and there was something invigorating in coming together with other passionate colleagues and members of the public to defend what we value. This was of course intensified at the Knit-In, which was a highlight and a wonderful time that could not have happened otherwise. Knitting really builds communities and connections!

And then the cherry on top for yours truly – meeting Wise Hilda and the Yarn Harlot 🙂 Additionally, the week before the appendix and the strike I got to meet another one of my favourite authors, George R.R. Martin (or GRRM, or his royal GRRMness, as a friend and fellow fan refers to him) at the Bay/Bloor Indigo store. I waited in line for 3 or 4 hours with a couple of other die-hard fan friends, which was fun on its own, and then we were each permitted to approach the dias (seriously, the stage combined with desk did have a dias-like quality, I’m not just being a fantasy nerd here).

I got my book signed, and he even talked to me! Swoon! Not that I was the only one, but it was nice, considering the size of the line and how fast staff were ushering us through, not to mention the size of the hand cramp he’d have later (I maintain that only those of us who have been reading his books since before the Game of Thrones HBO series count as fans, but I suppose they can’t turn people away based on this). Essentially our conversation went like this:

Me: Hi (I worry that this may have been more of squeak-like noise and not fully discernible)
GRRM: Hi, how are you?
Me: (completely flummoxed) Good, you? (then stupidly realizing he is spending his day signing a thousand-odd books) Erm, well, I guess you’re day is like this (I gesture towards my book as he signs it)
GRMM: He smiled at that, and said something like “well, yeah y’know.”

To conclude this foray into my nerd quirks outside of knitting, I leave you with this quote from and interview I found on Tumblr, because it is great and sums up part of the reason why I enjoy his books so much:

George Stroumboulopoulos: There’s one thing that’s interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well and really different. Where does that come from?
GRRM: You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.
 

March was also the month of awesome finds and purchases. I finally found a reasonably priced used copy of both Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Opinionated Knitter and Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting From the Top. So stoked.

Don’t judge these books by their covers (especially the horrible duds on the 80’s edition of Walker’s book). This, my friends, is the good stuff. Basic garment construction in detail – no frills or fooling around here. Not that I dislike frills, but they come after mastering the basics, I think. And since I want to get into designing my own patterns, these two classic tomes are going to be invaluable.

Knitting From the Top comes from the genius of the same woman behind the classic and ever-so-popular Pattern Treasury books, à la:

What KFTP lacks in glossy photos it makes up for in sheer information value. You can essentially design and knit any type of garment using the tips and directions in this book, from every type of sweater imaginable to even a wide array of pants and skirts. (Though skirts I will definitely do, and have done, I think knitted pants is a dated concept. Granted, fashion always cycles back).

The Opinionated Knitter is essentially a collection of EZ’s Newsletters. She began to produce these after she starting her own yarn business from home, disillusioned with the world of mainstream pattern publishing and their insistence on altering, slicing, and dicing the patterns she submitted for publication. Each newsletter is reproduced in the book along with commentary and further expansion from EZ’s daughter Meg Swanson, as well as some from EZ herself. Topics vary – sometimes the focus will be on a specific technique, other times there will be directions (not patterns, an important distinction) for a specific type of garment. Below is an example of one of the newsletters and an accompanying diagram: this one outlines EZ’s key number percentage system for determining the number of stitches, increases, and decreases you will need for a sweater based on the wearer’s measurements. Amazing!

          

The back cover shows some of the photos from inside of garments made using EZ’s newsletters.

Part of what makes the book extra special for me is its coffee-table quality. In addition to the newsletters there are lots of anecdotes about Elizabeth’s life, including this amazing photo featuring both Elizabeth AND Barbara G. Walker (plus another lady I admittedly don’t know of) at a 1980 knitting summit! I know, I know, I’m a dork.

 

 

 

Speaking of Walker, did you know that she also wrote quite a lot of books on women’s spirituality and the Goddess movement? I didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, March saw a fair bit of progress on the Lanesplitter, though not as much as I’d like.

Since this is the largest project I’ve tackled yet, my sock-size project bags were starting to just not cut it anymore. Being on a (partially strike induced, partially cause I should be buying less yarn) budget I figured I must have something around the house I can use. Enter this thin cotton grocery tote bag! Now that it’s altered, it is working perfectly. And as a bonus I’m feeling pretty pleased with my resourceful craftiness, thank you very much.

I wish I’d taken a before picture, but essentially I used a seam ripper to detach the handles (you can see where I did this to the left if you look carefully; it resembles an X), made a small cut in the hem around the bag opening and then hemmed around the cut so it wouldn’t fray. Threading the string through was probably the hardest part. Overall, an easy half hour job 🙂

 Happy Easter!