Archive for the “festivals” Category

Maryland Sheep and Wool was a lot of fun this year! I drove up with Caroline on Saturday morning and we met Laurie there. The three of us spent about six hours, minus fifteen minutes for lunch, walking around looking at everything! It wasn’t too crowded, probably because the forecast called for rain in the middle of the day but clear skies on Sunday. Indeed, we did get drizzled on a tiny bit, but not a lot. And there was a lot of mud on the ground; I was glad to have my boots. But because we did very little standing around and waiting, I didn’t get very many pictures.

I couldn’t resist pausing for these paintings, though – and later I got a good shot of their subjects.

And then there was the shopping. I went to the festival armed with lists of possibilities. On one hand, if I could find inexpensive DK-weight yarn, I could knit up some more of the colourwork hats that I have charted out. On the other hand, I was invited to join a “Combo Spin” team for this year’s Tour de Fleece, so I had noted down some of the coordinating colours of fibre already in my stash. Whichever I found first, I said, I would go with for the rest of the day.

It was the fibre, and it was the greens and pinks of a rose garden.

First I found some Ashland Bay merino/tussah in the “Autumn” colourway. Their dyed fibre in this blend is apparently being discontinued, so it was on sale and I bought eight ounces of it. I’m sad that it won’t be made anymore and I’m seriously considering looking around the internet to see if there’s any more at discount prices. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – and I really love Ashland Bay fibre. It may not have the prestige of being handpainted but it’s consistent, it drafts well, the colours are lovely, and it feels nice. Ah well.

Then I saw this FatCatKnits braid in “Ranchero,” on both a plain merino and a merino swirl base. After much deliberation, I went with the swirl, and I regret nothing.

My third buy was a Greenwood Fiberworks braid in merino/bamboo/silk called “Spice Market.” There were a few other colourways that would have worked, but I resisted buying them all.

I brought everything home and set it all up on the table with the two braids of fibre that had gotten me started down this road in the first place: Into the Whirled “Martini & Rossi” romney, and Cloverleaf Farm “Cranberry Bog” merino. I bought that merino nine years ago, before I was good enough to spin it, and I’m glad that it will finally be part of a project. But I thought the group needed something else… not just for quantity, but for the overall colour scheme, to keep it from being too dark.

This braid of Romney that Amabel gave me last year seems to fit in perfectly. I might card a few batts to bring the total up to two pounds, because I have a plan for (eventually) making a sweater from this pile of squishiness. (Also because I haven’t carded up a blended batt in a while, and it seems like a fun thing to do on this cool and windy day.)

So what’s a Combo Spin, anyway? The idea is that you take a bunch of fibre with one or two colours in common, split it up into many small pieces, and randomize the pieces to make a blend. Once it’s spun and plied, you end up with a mostly homogenized yarn that looks like it was all meant to be together. The colours get evenly distributed throughout the whole yarn, and the textures of the different fibres combine in really interesting ways. There’s a thread on the Ravelry forums with further explanations and examples, or you can check out this video.

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Hello, friends! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been super-busy! Most of the year so far has been swallowed up by the process of packing, cleaning, fixing, selling one house, and moving into another. Whooo! But now that is pretty much taken care of. The mountain house has been sold, and while I miss it, I know it was the right decision. The new house is lovely, but a time-consuming work in progress as I unpack and arrange everything just so. But today I took a break from all of that and went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival with a friend.

We bought a fleece.

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I hadn’t had plans to buy anything in particular; packing up my yarn to move had helped me realize that my hobby has become more about collecting yarn and fibre than actually doing anything with it, and that’s not the road I want to go down. So I haven’t actually purchased any yarn since my birthday in January, when I bought just one 50g skein of white sock yarn for a specific project and purpose. It’s not that I was opposed to buying something today, it’s just that I wasn’t planning to. I was open to the possibilities, of course.

So we went into the fleece show and sale, and were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over one too-expensive merino cross in particular, when a lovely volunteer whose Ravelry name I promptly forgot (sorry!) came over to ask if we had any questions. The next thing we knew, we were following her all over the barn, sticking our hands into giant bags of fleeces and discussing their relative merits… and then we found The One.

It’s an eight-pound merino/rambouillet cross, it’s a lovely dark brown with silvery bits, and it was in our budget. So we bought it. I took a couple more pictures after I got it home:

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Anyway, we dropped the fleece off in the car and did a bit more shopping, and then I tried out my camera’s zoom lens on the herding demonstrations. I think it worked pretty well:

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We couldn’t hear a word of the explanations, but it was still really cool to watch the dogs happily doing their work. They’re obviously having a great time out there; border collies need to have a job and these dogs were just so eager to get out and do what they were meant to do. At times I could swear they were laughing at the sheep!

The fleece-cleaning will begin in a couple of weeks, and then we’ll decide whether we’re going to comb or card. Our goal is to have it all ready for the Tour de Fleece in July – how great will it be to do the TdF with an actual fleece this year?

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Due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, I am woefully underprepared for Blog Week this year. Rather than stress myself out trying to carefully craft a week’s worth of posts with everything else that’s going on, I’m going to enjoy reading everyone else’s posts and leave as many comments as I can.

Hopefully there will be new knitting content soon.

Meanwhile, check out these cuties from MDSW!

A photo posted by Rachyl (@unmutual23) on

I went this year with my Canadian friend Steph and my mom, and we had a great time. I even got to watch the herding dog demo for the first time since I’ve been going to MDSW. The weird thing is… for the first time ever, I didn’t buy anything except lunch.

Oh, yes, and I seem to have joined Instagram. :)

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On Saturday morning, Michael and I got up (not too early) and headed off to Rhinebeck. The trees – ohhh, we don’t have leaves like that here in Virginia. They’re much duller this year. These are just gorgeous!

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We went through a few of the buildings and then stopped to admire the alpaca. There was a guy there taking pictures of them with what looked like an original Polaroid camera, which was pretty cool. The alpaca doesn’t seem too impressed, though.

Of course, there was lamb for lunch. Except the line for lamb sandwiches was really long, and really slow, and they ran out of sandwiches before we got there. I ended up getting a gyro, and Michael got sausage, and I guess that was all right. (On Sunday, we made lamb for dinner. That made up for the lack on Saturday.)

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The day became a Quest, as my Dancing Cranes stole is still shedding all over everything despite a good soak. Maybe one day it will get past that, but meanwhile I want a shawl that won’t shed. Michael suggested that I get a plummy purple laceweight to match his tie and pocket square, and we began to search for it. I was surprised at how difficult the quest was. There was the right shade of purple, in all the wrong fibres. There was beautiful laceweight, in all the wrong purples.

I did find this gorgeous green semi-solid sock yarn, and bought it so excitedly that I forgot to get the vendor information or any details about the yarn. When I got home and took pictures, I realized that it had no tag, and I paid cash so I have no receipt. I’ve got a call out on the Rhinebeck group on Ravelry, and hopefully I’ll know what it is soon!

Edited to add: It is Oasis Yarn Aussi Soxxi! Many thanks to AnissaH, who was able to solve the mystery.

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We stopped at Bittersweet Woolery because she had some beautiful laceweight, and she even pulled out the bins to check Sunday’s yarn supply, but the colours weren’t quite right. Still, that was one of the highlights of the day – because I got recognized! “Hey, you’re KnittingPirate,” gives me such a thrill! Hi, RowsRed – it was great to meet you!

Then, finally, in the last building… the right colour purple, in the right kind of fibre. Lisa Souza “Montreaux” in the Marionberry colourway seems Just Right. I may have jumped up and down a little bit. That evening we checked it against Michael’s pocket square, which of course we had forgotten to bring with us, and it’s perfect.

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On the way out I stopped at Fiber Optic to admire the huge gradient shawls, and finally – after years of thinking about it – bought one of the gradient tops, in a light aqua to deep chocolate colourway. It is simply gorgeous. I’m going to split it the long way and do a two-ply gradient, when I get up the courage to spin it.

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I’m swatching the purple lace by simply starting the shawl. I’m on the second try – the first one was too loose, and I dropped a stitch that I couldn’t recover, so I began again. The rows are so small at this point that it seems to make sense to just start. (But I did order a slightly smaller needle, just in case.)

There are a few too many projects going on at the moment, and I’m planning to blog about them all! I’ve missed writing, and I’ve missed your comments, and being recognized as me was so exciting that I’m super-inspired to get back here more often. :)

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Click to embiggen, of course.

Sheeps!

A bunny and alpacas!

Yarn and adorable little figurines!

Teaching Jen to spin!

What I brought home with me!

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Here’s some more pictures from last weekend’s Maryland Sheep and Wool festival.

This spinning wheel seems to have two drive wheels. I wish I’d gotten more details about it.

There was a demonstration of a great wheel going on.

And lots of other wheels too.

Of course, the usual fairground crowds and foods.

Silk cocoons to unwind and spin:

I was tempted by the natural dyes.

In a quiet moment, I spotted this little flower between the barns.

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The riot of colour and texture at any Sheep and Wool festival is just beautiful. My thought was that taking a lot of pictures would have to be a substitute for buying all the things. At least this way get to take a little bit of them home with me.

Baskets of roving…

Overdyed BFL…

Shelves of combed top…

Bags and bags and bags of fleece…

Piles of yarn…

The camera doesn’t even begin to capture how bright and saturated that yellow-green is.

And of course, it’s Friday, so here’s one who did come home with me, my best laundry helper ever. At least, he claims to be helping. Who wants clothes without fur on them, anyway?

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I got some good pictures of sheep and goats. (You can click each thumbnail for a larger view.)

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One of the best parts about these festivals is the amazing work on display.

From hooked rugs…

…to woven pieces…

…to detailed colourwork in natural and dyed shades.

There were even some things that weren’t really sheep or wool at all.

The sock in front is called Oktoberfest. I think it’s pretty cool to have a sock that looks like a beer! When the kits are available, they come in this yellow colour, and also in “Irish Red” and “Stout”.

I always find the displays so inspiring. Even if it’s not a craft or project that I’m into, just being around work that was made with so much care and enthusiasm is a special treat. It motivates me to improve my own skills, to be able to create something that will bring similar inspiration to others.

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Now, the things I didn’t buy at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend…

Looms. Tempting, but I’m not ready to get into weaving yet. I looked at the little Schacht Cricket too. Maybe someday, but not now.

Dream in Color Starry. I love this yarn, and one day I will buy some and knit the most beautiful shawl that ever existed. Those sparkles aren’t the usual firestar or angelina. They’re real silver.

Speaking of the most beautiful shawls that ever existed, these were hanging over the Fiber Optic booth. Everyone was stopping to stare and take pictures. They were really spectacular.

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