Rhinebeck 2022

Leaving home

We went to New York Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, New York!

My friend and coworker and I drove down to Massachusetts on Friday, checked in to our hotel and then did a “dry run” to WEBS so that we knew where we were going (early) the next morning. We also made a visit to WEBS. What a lovely shop! We both agreed that it was clean and bright and well-organized and there was a lot of selection. WEBS is a Rowan Flagship store and it’s the most Rowan yarn that I’ve ever seen in one place. They also have their own line of yarns, Valley Yarns, and they bought Stacy Charles several years ago. In 2020 WEBS was purchased by LoveCrafts.

What I didn’t know is that WEBS started out as a weaving store and they expanded to a yarn store from there. They currently offer a catalog and they offer a 25% discount on purchases over a certain amount … I almost always surpassed that limit. It isn’t difficult.

I was having so much fun looking at yarn that I forgot to take any photographs. Oops!

On the bus!

Saturday morning we boarded the bus to Rhinebeck at 7am. That meant a really early wakeup and a short drive to WEBS with a quick stop for coffee at Dunkin. WEBS had apple cider donuts and cider at the store Saturday morning for all of us traveling with them. It was wonderful. With a few raffles (no, neither of us won) we arrived at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, home of the iconic NY Sheep and Wool Festival.

Through the entrance (security checked all bags for firearms) and we were in! We had been told by friends who had attended Rhinebeck before that internet was spotty so go prepared – know which vendors and events that you want to visit, what projects that you’ll be collecting yarn for, what events you might want to attend, and head for the food and drinks in the off times. We never did buy any food, by the way. The lines started out long and stayed that way. Luckily, we brought our own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water and fruit because we didn’t want to be starving and have to then wait in long lines. It was all good advice.

The crowds were HUGE! Lines were long everywhere! We started out heading to one of the areas where the books were being signed. To be completely honest, after three years of not being around people, I got really uncomfortable being so close to so many strangers. We were in the book store area and I wish we’d gone there second or third (after I’d adjusted to the crowds.) I walked out of the booth having purchased nothing … we did have a chat with Ann and Kay from Modern Daily Knitting – and had a good feel of their new Atlas yarn. I feel comfortable buying it now, by the way. It’s lovely. Kay and Ann were very personable and I hope Ann will take me up on my offer to visit Maine! I don’t know why I didn’t put my mask on at this point. But I didn’t. I should have, in retrospect.

We saw so many wonderful members of the knitterati! These are some of the people I admire most in the business. They’re all regular folks, making a living and who are genuine and gracious.

The first people we saw were the podcast team from the Wooly Thistle podcast (they happened to be in the line for the ladies room in front of us.) We both love their podcast. We did a bit of shopping and wandering and then headed to the infamous hill – and oh, boy! It was thrilling to meet people whom I’ve only ever seen online and in virtual classes. We saw Laura Nelkin, Louis Boria from Brooklyn Boy Knits, Aimee from La Bienne Aimee in Paris, Patty Lyons, Kat from Brooklyn General Store, Adella Colvin and her husband Jimmy of Lola Bean Yarn Company, Casapinka, Yasmen of Designs by Yasmen, and so many more. I know I’m forgetting some. Some of my favorite knitting celebrities and yarn shop owners. It was amazing reconnecting with people.

Glenda and I both got to reunite with friends from different knitting experiences. Two of my friends from Medomak Fiber Arts Retreat were there – it had been too long since we had hugged each other. Covid was a real divider of friends (and family), wasn’t it? For both of us, the best part of the festival was seeing our friends and the people who we admire.

The crowds … but it was a picture perfect day!

I bought very little. I got a souvenir tote bag and a queen bee project bag. I know, no yarn? No yarn. I wasn’t feeling drawn by any particular yarn and truth be told, I have a lot of yarn already. I do have a plan to contact Adella at Lola Bean Yarn Company to buy a sweater’s worth of yarn. I’d love to knit something with Bare Naked Wools and I loved several of their samples. We saw a great poncho at WEBS and I’ll be knitting that in the future, too. So I was very inspired.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the beautiful sweaters and hats that we saw. Knitrino had a meetup with coordinating sweaters, we saw tons of Andrea Mowry’s Alpenglow. Wooly Wormhead hats galore. Lots of beautiful garments both knit and crochet. I want to also mention the diverse crowd; it was lovely to see many men, young people and people of every color. I felt hopeful about our community. We even saw animals!

One more note is that there were very few masks being worn and it was probably irresponsible that we didn’t all mask and not for ourselves as much as for others. those who can’t be vaccinated or who have low immunity or are immunocompromised. For that I am sorry. We got carried away by being together again after a very long time. What they say about Covid exhaustion is true. We are all feeling it. A return to normal, even for a day, was welcome. It felt almost “normal”!

We came home tired and inspired and it was a very good weekend. I’m grateful to Glenda for going with me and for having the idea in the first place. Where will we go next?

Gone knitting.

An Excellent (Happy Mama’s Day) Visit

Washington Heights, NYC

I got my mother’s day gifts early this year – I traveled to New York City to spend time with all of my kids. They, of course, are my best gifts ever. I am so proud to be called their mom.

I had an excellent adventure. I drove to my college roommate’s house in Westport, CT, visited with her for an evening and then headed by train into New York City for a few days with my kids. The first day I had lunch in mid-town with Daughter 1 and her husband. April 27 is my son’s birthday so we had a bite of dinner at Bea in mid-town and then headed to the bowling lanes to meet a group of my son’s friends. What fun it was to bowl in New York City, of all places. I wish I’d taken a photo or two.

Thursday we visited Holland Ridge Farms in New Jersey. Acres and acres of tulips that you can pick and pick we did. My daughters each picked more than 70 and I controlled myself because I knew I had to transport my flowers to Maine. Suffice it to say that there was every imaginable color and type of tulip. They were gorgeous and the scent was mind boggling. I never realized that tulips had a scent. (We chose to pick mostly closed flowers, hoping they’d bloom more slowly and last longer. Note: mine are just about done as of today.) We walked and walked and walked and practically got blown away in the wind. It was sunny but very windy and we were dust-covered from tip to toe. We found a fun pick up spot and bought some subs (shrimp parm and steak pizza subs. Yum!) and root beer for lunch before heading back to the city. We happened upon a special sight on the way back to the highway – young horses in a big field, running and playing.

Yearlings?

My younger daughter loves horses. We had to stop to get closer and watch these magnificent animals. They were very shy and kept their distance but it was so much fun to watch them run.

I met my son’s girlfriend for lunch on Friday with their dogs and after lunch we took them to a local “park” for a bit of a run. The “park” is actually an historic home, The Morris-Jumel Mansion. Next time I’m in the city, I want to tour the home. The grounds have been somewhat ignored over the past few years but you can see its potential. I then took the subway (all by myself) to midtown to meet my youngest brother at his hotel for a drink. He was in the city for a veterinary conference. A quick hike to a new Thai restaurant, Lum Lum, with my daughters and their husbands and later, my son and his girlfriend came to join us. The food and company was extraordinary.

Saturday was exercise day. I am tired and sore just thinking about it. Daughter 1, her husband and their dog Bessie and I walked to the Linwood Farmer’s Market. Through Fort Tryon Park to drop off their composts, bought some fish and apples, had a wonderful bagel sandwich and then hiked back to the Heights along the river. 13,000 steps round trip and we hadn’t even gotten to the yarn store yet!

Daughter 2 and her husband were so sweet to go with me to Brooklyn to visit Brooklyn General Store – a bucket list item for me. It’s quite a distance from Washington Heights (but I learned that you can tap your credit card in the subway!)

I loved wandering this little shop. It’s an older building, full of character: wood floors, lots of yarns that my LYS doesn’t carry – La Bien Aimee, Spin Cycle, and so many more. I patted lots and lots of yarns there. I also admired fabrics, stitch kits, etc. I couldn’t decide what to buy but I ended up with a really pretty fingering weight peach cotton/alpaca yarn by Illimani Yarn Company. I bought another in an oatmealy-grey color as well. I’m not sure what it will become but when it decides what it wants to be when it grows up, I’ll let you know. We had dinner, Ramen, at my daughter’s apartment that night and she tested positive for Covid. I’ve been double boosted so I figured that I was as “bullet proof” as I ever could be having had my second booster shot two weeks before. My son-in-law tested positive on Sunday. I’ve continued to test negative. (By the way, if you want to test for possible Covid exposure, New York is the place to be. Tests are readily available all over the city.)

Sunday I headed back to CT for another evening before driving home on Monday. It’s so wonderful to have long-time friends (we have known each other for 46 years now!) who you can pick up with as if you’ve been apart for a few days rather than several months. It’s always special to spend time together with my special woman friends.

This mama’s heart is so full and I am so grateful to be able to travel to the city for a visit. Grateful for time away from work and my volunteer jobs. Grateful for my husband who is willing to hold down the fort while I am gallivanting. And it’s so great to come home again – where I can rest up for a couple of days before heading back to work. My legs are still tired.

Gone knitting.

Death is Nothing at All

We will be losing a neighbor today. She didn’t feel like she wanted to eat and had lost a lot of weight. Her doctor told her to just eat and that it was all in her mind. Well, it turns out that she had lymphoma and a tumor in her abdomen. Her cancer was “curable” and she had begun chemo treatment but she got dehydrated and was rushed to the hospital where she has had trouble breathing on her own. Today they’re going to remove her from the machines and let her go.

My heart hurts for her family and friends and her husband in particular. And when my heart hurts and I feel helpless, I go into the kitchen. Today I made my mother’s Minestrone Soup recipe and will take some over to her husband tomorrow. On Friday my sweet husband will make him some Shepherd’s Pie. I’ll bake for him, too. He’s going to be so lonely and heartbroken.

May her memory be a blessing. Rest in peace, AB.

Gifts of Art

We have had a very busy last week, filled with guests and puppies and gifts of art.

I was at a board of trustees meeting on Wednesday night when I got a text from a high school friend. A very dear high school friend. She and her husband were coming to visit.

Back in the day, we had perused the Sunday paper for vans to buy and convert so we could go camping together when we were 17. Sharon and her husband just bought their camper van and we’re coming to park in our yard.

What a blast! We spent the better part of two days reconnecting and connecting with each other’s husbands. And I didn’t take a single photo of us. But they signed our guest book and Chuck left is this beautiful gift of art.

Our shore by Chuck Cornellis

A gift of art is a personal, thoughtful, almost intimate gift. We were touched and moved. and we can’t wait to get together again. As Chuck said, it could have been really uncomfortable and he had never met us. Sharon and I haven’t spent significant time together since 1976 and a lot can change in that long. But it wasn’t difficult or uncomfortable. It was wonderful. Time flew by and I’m still smiling.

Yesterday my sweetie and I took a walk down the road. Our blackberries are ripening and in the mailbox was a second gift of art. My little cousin sent a beautiful picture thanking me for “magic towels.” You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Little discs that when placed in water, expand to be a little cotton washcloth, often with a picture of something. These were Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Thanks by Penelope

I love art made by children. It’s so pure ans expressive and Penelope is an artist. Her dad said she was very excited about me getting her picture. I was excited to find it in my mailbox.

Both fabulous pieces of art will be proudly displayed at our house. We are grateful.

Gone knitting.

We Dodged A Bullet

Matrix Bullet Dodge | Know Your Meme

This week, my husband and I dodged a bullet.

One night my husband coughed in the middle of the night. The next day he woke up with a horrible cough and chest congestion. Our first thought and our fear was that he had Covid-19. We both feel very strongly that we should do the right thing so he went to have a Covid test. We also believed that we needed to report it to his employer, to our family who were just here and the friend who was in our house the day before.

I cancelled my classes for the week and found a colleague to work for me. He called his boss and took the rest of the week off. His boss closed down the company. We all did the right thing.

Yesterday, a couple of days ahead of the five days that we were told it would take, we got his results and they were negative. (I also did an at-home Covid test and I got my results yesterday, too. Mine were also negative.)

Today we are so grateful that we can live in the same house without having our masks on. We are so grateful that we dodged a bullet that so many families haven’t been able to dodge. The incidence of Covid-19 in Maine, and especially in our county, are still low in relation to other states and counties but our numbers are rising. We were fortunate this time and we were reminded that this disease is not “over” and “gone”. We will be wearing our masks, washing our hands and counting our blessings.

Gone knitting.

2017! Happy New Year!

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I feel fortunate that 2016 was a wonderful year for me and for my family. One daughter bought a new home, another daughter became engaged, I married the love of my life and we had all of our children in our house at the same time (for the first time). Our children are gainfully employed, healthy and happy. We are both working at jobs we love and are paying the bills, we have food on our table, a warm home and we are healthy. What more can you ask for?

I am eager to see what 2017 brings and what opportunities in the fiber world I will become involved with. I am excited to continue teaching knitting and creating in my every-improving atelier! This year’s goal is to add some serious shelving to my studio for fabric and yarn storage. I am already realizing that my “cheap fix” is not going to work long-term … fabric and yarn multiply when packed into small spaces and despite working hard to knit from my stash, it’s only minimally smaller.

img_7778We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at our house. A summer camp (childhood) friend and his son joined us for a lobster feast and a glass or two of sparkling wine prior to midnight. The guys all stayed awake after the power went out but I claimed the black-out as an opportunity to go to bed “early”. This is our photograph, grainy though it may be, from around 10:30pm. I love selfies with this guy and can’t wait to see what 2017 brings to add to our life together.

My goals for the year are to attend and help with, perhaps, the fiber week at my old summer camp. I’m looking forward to Maryland Sheep & Wool, too. I want to do more in my community – attend events, help my neighbors, life my best life and speak from my heart (not usually a problem). I want to floss more often and remember to listen to myself and speak my truth. Having lost my voice a long time ago, it feels wonderful when I speak out and speak up and feel heard. I’ll keep working on that piece.

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Wishing you blessings in 2017. I’m hoping that it’s the best year yet for all of us!

Gone knitting.

“Terror Towel” Quilted Throw

 

Delivery ... and first thoughts

Delivery … and first thoughts

Several months ago a high school classmate asked me if I would be willing to make a quilted throw for him. He and his wife had collected “terror towels” from various sports events that he and his wife had attended.

I am a new but eager maker of quilts but this didn’t sound impossible to me but for months I’ve been “worrying” about this quilt. The terry cloth fabric is a different entity than the traditional cotton fabric. I wasn’t sure what would happen to the towels when I cut them to size.

So I picked peoples’ brains. I was advised that I should use a stabilizer on the backs of the towels. I was also advised that I should not use cotton fabric as a frame between the towels. The thought was that the two weight of fabrics would cause uneven wear. This made sense. Stabilizer, not so much.

As you can see from the picture above, that’s one funky shaped quilt. I had to somehow figure out how to make it square or rectangular … which meant making all the towels the same size.

Deciding on the design and directionality

Deciding on the design and directionality

What I ended up doing was using little paper “towels” to lay out my plan. If I could make the towels to a size of 14.5 x 16.5 inches I could piece them together and make a throw. After many hours of thinking and measuring, I had a plan. A few of the towels were not going to work in the size that I had chosen – three were too small (way too small) and one was printed in such a way as to make cutting it to any size difficult. But the rest of the towels, 16 in all, were going to work!

Day 1: I “ripped” out the stitching around the edges of the towels to make them a little bit larger and then I cut the towels to size. Even cutting the towels is a challenge. They really aren’t square nor are they printed with the designs exactly in the middle. But I used my 12″ square template to center the design and then worked around it to cut the two lengths thus making a 14.5 x 16.5 inch rectangle of each towel.

Day 2: I zigzagged the four sides of the towels to keep them from fraying. Terry cloth is a messy, messy (did I say MESSY?) fabric. Yuck! My studio is a horrible mess and I’m not even done yet!

Day 3: This is the moment … all the towels are laid out on the floor and I decided on the design placement. There are four towels with a different directionality. I chose to have them all facing the same (but different from the other 12 towels) direction. Here is the design that I liked best … the four towels with different directionality are not diagonally down the middle but one in each row and “randomly” placed.

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My final design … I’m ready to make strips!

So, today I started sewing together the rectangles. I decided that because terry cloth is so bulky that I had to sew the pieces together and then “tack” down the extra fabric on the wrong size by sewing them down. I sewed a 3/8 seam and then positioned my needle to the left and ran another line down each side of the seam tacking the bulk to the pieces. So far, I am really pleased with the strips. Tomorrow I will sew the strips together and then it will be time to find a backing. I am thinking that I would like to use two layers of cotton flannel. One white in the middle and a sports-themed print as the backing fabric. I will sandwich them all together but I haven’t decided whether I will simply stitch in the ditch or if I will stitch diagonally across the rectangles, too. I want them to be stable so that the towels wear well.

I’ll let you know how it progresses! I am thrilled to be working on this rather than “worrying” about it. Gone … sewing? (Actually my book club is coming and I’d best go get ready to greet them!)

WIPS Wrestling – Ravellenics 2016

imageRavelry has a wonderful knitting challenge during the Olympics and I’ve chosen to be on the “WIPS Wrestling” team and challenge myself to finish several projects during the Olympic Games. I’m proud to say that I have challenged myself to finish, and have finished  four projects so far.

Rustling Leaves Beret

Rustling Leaves Beret

I had a commission to make a lace hat for a customer. Her hat was begun just before the Olympics started. I knit Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos. It’s a fun knit and pret quick to knit up as well. My customer bought Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock yarn in a navy color. Now, all knitters worth their salt know that dark colors (particularly black but any dark color) are difficult to see your stitches. The biggest challenge for me with this hat was counting, or more specifically, dividing stitches. You begin the hat casting in stitches and I used DPNs. Needless to say, I divided wrong the first time and came up with 30 stitches short. It was going to be a very small hat! The hat is delivered and my customer has requested another hat just like it but in a little brighter blue! I blocked the hat, as directed, on a dinner plate and it was just gorgeous!

Drachenfels - times two

Drachenfels – times two

I also finished my Drachenfels Shawl. I really enjoyed knitting this shawl. I had chosen yarn based on a sample that I saw knitted up at the Maine Fiber Frolic in June. Green is not usually a color I knit with but I loved the three colors together. Drachenfels is by Melanie Berg and is a slightly “off kilter” triangular shawl knit in garter stitch with an Icord bind off. I knit mine with a dark gray, a medium blue and a deep apple green. I loved knitting it and I love e finished result. The sport-weight yarn makes it a quick knit and the shawl is a good size! Two other women in my Froday class are/have knitted this shawl and it’s really fun to see the results in different colors.

Number 2 Pencil Socks

Number 2 Pencil Socks

The wonderful and fun Number 2 Pencil socks are also finished. This was yarn that I waited for for what seemed like forever because the first shipment was lost or stolen in transit. When I finally did get it, it went immediately into my stash to be used as encouragement for me – encouraging me to finish some other projects. It was a very fun project and I can’t wait until it’s cooler and I can actually wear them! The yarn is hand-dyed by Yarn Enabler (she has an Etsy shop). I had seen in on Susan B. anderson’s blog or Facebook page  and it was a total impulse buy but totally worth it  I bought the pattern from Yarn Enabler, too though truth be told, I only partially followed it  I used a heal flap heel rather than a FLK – but I’ll attempt the Fish Lips Kiss heel another time for fun!

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

Last but not least, is the second pair of Snowflake Mittens. This pattern is a very old pattern gifted to me by my friend and colleague Bette. I made myself a pair and this pair is for my friend. I’ll make a third pair for my sister-in-law in Massachusetts. I typically have a rule to never knit two of the same thing. This pattern is an exception and I fully plan to knit it repeatedly! I used Brown Sheep Company’s Lambs Pride Worsted in White Frost and Navy Sailor. I love the contrast in the colors and I love these mittens. I avoided color work for years but this pattern made me begin to think about conquering my fear of color work. I think I have succeeded. My favorite part of these mittens is the pattern on the inside of the thumb. Isn’t that silly?

The only other thing I’d really like to compete is the Aran Sweater that is sitting in a bag in my studio. It’s been swealtering hot the last few days and I could not sit under it. It was too darned hot! Tomorrow I head to the beach in Virginia with my college girls for a few days. Friends for 40 years, we always have a wonderful time together and Virginia Beach is gorgeous for a little R&R. I may choose to drag it with me and try to seam it in air conditioning. I really haven’t decided.

Next another hat will go on the needles.

Gone knitting!

New Friends

oldfriends

 

You’ve all probably seen these photographs on Facebook and Pinterest. The other day at the Yardgoods Center Yarn Shop I made three new friends. Three ladies came into the shop and it was clear that they had all the time in the world to shop. One spent a few minutes on the phone at the table in front making plans with family. The other two were checking out the free patterns. After awhile, and having checked on them all a couple of times and having showed them the color-changing “Abracadabra” yarn, they came to the cash register with a few patterns to purchase and a question.

Turns out they’ve been friends since early childhood and were together again for three weeks more. When one lady said they had a question, the other two ladies giggled. (It’s funny to see elderly ladies giggle like girls!) They’d spent hours (HOURS!) over the past couple of days trying to figure out what it meant to cast on stitches without a slip knot in the backward loop method. They were all beaming, eyes bright, smiling widely with the memory. I had a left-over ball of yarn and one needle left behind by a customer and I showed them what to do. They were delighted. “You made our day!”

Such a simple thing made a big impact. They made their purchases and left for lunch. Giggling that they only had a two hour ride. I smiled at them behind their backs. What a treasure their friendship is.

Old friends are the best friends!

Old friends are the best friends! We are being sharks … at 50-something.

I am so fortunate to have some old friends, too. Not that we are old, we have been friends for a long, long time. We don’t get to see each other very often, but we make an effort to meet once a year. Each time we pick up where we left. We may not party like we used to and we’re often in bed by ten but the reunion is always sweet.

I’m going to be missing the reunion this year and am so sad about it but  I am coming to realize that I can’t do it all – and that saves my sanity. Only two of us will be at the beach next weekend. I’ll be there in spirit but not in body. I commit to 2016, though. I need the girl time to recharge and renew. Old friends are the best friends. I love my girls!

Gone knitting.

A Wonderful Gift

I taught my next-to-last last knitting class on Saturday and at the end of the class, Anne, the owner of The Black Sheep in Orlando wanted to give me a gift. A beautiful “little” skein of big yarn.

What a Wonderful Gift!

What a Wonderful Gift!

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to teach knitting in this wonderful shop and for the friendship that we’ve enjoyed. Who knew I’d meet such a great friend in a puppy training class?

I can’t wait until you come to Maine!

Gone knitting.