Wednesday, April 23

Martha's Vineyard Fiber Fest

General Store Knows Me WellLast weekend, I ran off to Martha's Vineyard for the first annual Fiber Fest. Looks like they were expecting me.

Crazy knitter cuts loose at fiber festThe weather was simply perfect as knitters/crocheters/spinners from near and far gathered to ogle Susan's yarns and watch the shearing. The buzz of the clippers lulled us into some kind of happy trance as we imagined all those lovely fleeces turning into yarn and roving. And calculating how big the CSA shares would be. 

Spring ShearingDo I look fat in this?Chappy's Mom and LiquidLace were there from Ravelry as well as a few others. It was a regular party at the MV Fiber Farm table as the other vendors/farms watched us squealing and laughing. Susan's worsted and lace weight mohair/cormo yarns were serious crack and the colors are spectacular. I had to audibly growl at people to keep them from snagging my pile of "souvenirs." I thought I knew what good wool was UNTIL I got to feel the fleece straight from the sheep. We're talking crystal meth, people. The frothy white wool still coated with lanolin was passed around the group like a joint at a Grateful Dead concert. Then they passed around Basil the baby goat and people started to swoon. And then they got out the Kool-Aid. OK, not really, but dang near. I'm not sure if I could handle a bigger fiber festival. I think I'd have some kind of tactile overload and start blubbering  things like "wawawawawool....pretty yarn...pretty pretty yarn...must touch yarn...yarn happy."

Later in the day I checked out a needlepoint display and thought I had wandered into another universe. Hushed tones in an old house with some door prizes, needlepointed pillows and counted cross stitch bunnies. God bless the needlepointers(I have stitched a few pieces myself), but they're not exactly a laugh a minute. And they don't have Basil.

Gay Head coastlineGay Head LighthouseI drove around the empty roads imagining what a nightmare the traffic must be in the summer. I think it may be a Texan thing to immediately hop in the car and drive all the way around the island and time it. It took me just over an hour to cover it and that includes wasting 10 minutes thinking about taking the ferry to Chappaquiddick. Instead, I spent some time near the Gay Head Light House. The whole island was wonderfully empty--just locals and a few mad knitters. No lines to get a lobster roll at Garcia's deli or a table at The Black Dog. Heck, even the teenage girls working at the StopnShop were in a good mood.

The Mansion HouseTha Mansion HouseI stayed at The Mansion House in Vineyard Haven and had a lovely room with chintz and stripes. I wanted room service, privacy and the Red Sox on cable in lieu of the chatty coziness of a B&B. And I got it. Hmm, maybe I should book ahead for next year.....

Oak Bluffs Survey Marker

Tuesday, April 15

Barking Mad

Keith Haring sweater frontKeith Haring Sweater front, Classic Elite Newport Light, yarn discontinued
(I came of age in the late 70's and there were a lot of wildly creative people running around New York City. I remember seeing Keith Haring's images all over downtown Manhattan buildings while syringes littered the streets. Well, we all grew up in a hurry and I still think of those beautiful crazy creative boys who died before we even knew what they had.)

Bandit, aka "Squeaky Wheel," was promised a sweater and this is what he's getting. I bought half the yarn heavily discounted at Gauge and the rest on eBay. We are still having chilly mornings, so he may get to wear it this spring. It's wide enough that it should be fine for a couple of years.

"Barking Mad" is British slang for bonkers, bats in the belfrey and a pooka lover. 

Martha's Vineyard Fiber Fest
I recently bought a spinners' share of the Fall shearing from the Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm. Please, go ooh and aahhhh over those darlin' kids--who can resist Saffron and Sassafras? I defy you not to crater at the very sight, unless you have your own farm and you're thinking dinner. I may be a rancher's granddaughter, but this is the closest I'm getting to livestock in the foreseeable future. And so I was idly perusing Susan's blog, when I saw the link to the Fiber Fest and one thing led to another. This translates into my DH owes me big time for all the business travel he's had lately, so it's my turn to run off. And run off I will this weekend.
The IRS, Taxes, and Why I Could Never Be French
Our accountant informs me that I overpaid my taxes and I'm due for a refund. This is what happens when your Depression-era mother(born in 1931) raises you to hoard, hide and save all the extra cash that you have. I don't clean my plate, I never save rubber bands or string, but I send that check to the IRS like clockwork, honey. This is completely opposite to the financial gymnastics that the French practice as a national sport. Don't believe me?
I celebrated this windfall by trotting off to Gauge with my SnB group last Sunday. It was my tenth purchase which enabled me to enjoy a discount and the acquisition of 5 skeins (300 yds) of Jade Sapphire 12-ply cashmere in "Burnished Gold." And that, thanks to Ravelry's pattern search, became my 'Reversible Winter Capelet.'  I cast on for a 20-inch neckline (I'm old enough to know better) and lengthened the arms and body by a few inches. This is a very fast knit and really quite perfect for using up a smallish bit of bulky yarn. This 12-ply cashmere is insanely thick and rich, like clotted cream and scones in Devon. (Strawberry jam on top) FYI--this piece is unblocked due to FO exuberance.
Reversible Winter Capelet

Reversible Winter CapeletHere we have the chair of "The Barking Mad Ladies' Garden and Knitting Social Club" preparing for the Summer Bee Line.
"My Loteria" Platter
Quick plug--here's a groovy platter designed by Cristina Sosa Noriega called "My Loteria" and it's on sale at the website and HEB in Texas. Go ahead, buy some and improve your Spanish. Hijole!

Sunday, April 6

Land of Linkin'

This may sound like an awards speech, because there are a few people/shops that I need to mention publicly for their recent help and/or ingenuity in making my stash-driven lifestyle an even happier one.

Yarniverse and Loopville: I always seem to go to Yarniverse when I need more of that great yarn I bought 3 years ago. She's bailed me out more than once. Yarniverse had the marble colorway I needed in the Colinette Tao silk to finish the Hanami-inspired Shrug. Well, Yarniverse had it in stock online until I got a call from their owner the next day saying that whoops-a-daisy, that darned virtual inventory was all wrong. I started to get all sweaty--what, NO more marble...ANYWHERE? This wonderful woman assured me that she knew Loopville had it and it would get to me asap. It did, I finished the shrug(round of applause) and one of these days I'm going to fly to Memphis just so I can do a yarn crawl from Yarniverse to Loopville in Knoxville. In my rented 1972 convertible Cadillac towing an Airstream camper with a cooler full of Moon Pies and RC Colas.

One Planet Yarn and Fiber: I had a bought a skein of Hand Maiden Sea Silk in the peridot colorway locally, but I needed at least one more to knit Hanami as more of a shawl and not a scarf. One Planet not only had it, but the color matched my solo skein perfectly when it arrived. I then popped this into my cart because I have a near addiction to pink and yarn from Wales and this wasn't even Colinette. I've already knitted it up--the wonder of huge needles--and I am mulling over a funky crochet edging. And that peridot? It was to counteract the Malabrigo laceweight in Pagoda that I've already slotted for Hanami. Pagoda would be the uber-pink girly girl/Audrey Tautou cherry blossom shawl versus the cool rains of April/Faye Dunaway peridot shawl. Oh yeah, like y'all never contemplate the many moods of the rainbow, your knitting mojo and movie stars.

Speaking of funky crochet edgings, I bought "Crochet On the Edge" because it seemed like a more user friendly book than Nicky Epstein's. Kinda like the difference between the Moro Cookbook and Paula Wolfert on couscous. You can get one page or twenty, take your pick. I have this theory that if I read enough books on crochet that by some kind of late night wine-induced osmosis I will actually absorb the lingo and the logic. This thinking has led me to check out Amazing Crochet Lace more than once from the library. Well, I finally bought it so the librarian wouldn't chide me for cracking the binding. What I love about this book is taking those clever spiral crochet motifs and blowing them up. Really, really big. I mean circles for knitters are like the Holy Grail. Hookers can just blithely chain 6 and whale on it. Eat my dust, dpn.  I will say that the hookers have nothing on ribbing compared to the knitters. Ah, but those big wide open spaces!
Doris Chan has a lovely forward about being raised in Japan by her ethnically Chinese parents. This fact further convinces me that the future of really complicated and elegant crochet and knit patterns lies with Nihon Vogue and other Japanese craft mags.
I absolutely dare you not to be intrigued by these titles and the few photographs that you see. Double dog dare you.

Finally, I've jumped back into baking(gasp!) after fooling around with the master recipe from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." I like this recipe so much that I bought a baking stone and a pizza peel to play with at home. Don't believe me? Try the modified recipe that ran in the New York Times. My family is already making various requests, but the pumpernickel is MINE, ALL MINE....ha-ha-ha-haaaa-haaiieeeee!

One Last Finally--Watch Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. I've loved her ever since since her first show when The Simpsons were just a little diversion and she wore this great PINK chenille bedspread of a bathrobe at the end of her show. She's a knitter, people---"Knit2Together"--the slouchy cardigan is a UFO and I have the doctor's bag on the brain.

Now....go home!