Monday, April 28, 2008

The last order arrives...

This is just a quick post. I'm getting really excited about Maryland Sheep & Wool. Look what came today!

I've been worrying about the economy and whether knitters and spinners will be buying this year and how much inventory should I order.
I've been worrying about our Moms - we have 3 and 2 are having health problems right now.
I've been worrying about the future of our non-profit.. both my husband & I work for Bluemont and in this economy, having all our financial eggs in this rather fragile basket seems, well kinda crazy. But here we are, shortening sail to ride out the storm.

But now, with all my orders received and MS&W on the immediate horizon, I am excited! I finished my my Sea Silk Swallowtail today and here it is, blocked and drying. I am completely addicted to lace knitting now. Hook line and sinker. (Can you tell it's been raining for days? I guess I'm feeling the damp...)

And here are the lovely things I unpacked this noon - the Hand Maiden box finally arrived! We've got Casbah sock yarn

4 ply cashmere in hat kits:
and 12 ply cashmere in Quick Knit hat kits:
We have Sea Silk:
And last but not least, this heavenly Swiss Mountain Cashmere Silk. This stuff makes the 100% cashmere feel like Rough Stuff. It is simple amazing.
Also appearing but not pictured - Tussah Silk laceweight.

Yum, yum ,yum.

And to add to all this fibery goodness, our booth is next door to Cloverhill, which is featuring a bevy of indie hand dyers...I'm hoping that we'll be too busy to see much of it, because it will be so tempting.

I'm just a sucker for color....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring Surprises!

One of the good things about being away these last two weekends is that when we get home, there are surprises waiting...the next phase of spring has moved right in, without preamble.

We came home to the apple tree in full tilt boogie, as seen above. Then this morning I discovered that the wild violets have arrived.

The last of the tulips that I planted over 20 years ago have bloomed:

We had some tree work done last spring on our linden tree, and while they were here we had the tree guys cut all the old dead wood out of a large stand of lilac. I've been interested to see how the remaining lilacs would respond, and they seem very happy as you can see. Now I want to plant some light purple/lilac colored plants in between - although it would probably be heavy digging through the old roots.

We got several inches of rain over the weekend and our cow pond is finally looking like it should in the spring. We've had two very dry years and this spring fed pond dried up to a tiny puddle last summer. Since we have well water here (wonderful, tasty well water) it makes me nervous to see the pond low. So this is a happy sight!

Then, when I walked out to my car, I discovered a small community of new anthills right next to my car. I had to tread carefully not to crush the industry of the ants:

Our 100 year old Virginia farm house had peonies, lilac, forsythia and a few roses when we moved in 23 years ago, but no redbud and no dogwood, which I think of as traditional local trees. We moved our office last summer from downtown Leesburg to a residential street in the smaller town of Purcellville, and there is a small dogwood tree right out front. I've been watching the buds come on over the last few weeks. I had forgotten that the flowers come before the leaves with dogwood.

The flowers are coming on very quickly now, and today they look like this!

I made good progress on my Swallowtail shawl, completing the bud lace section and knitting most of the first lily of the valley chart. Nupps! Purl 5 together... boy do I love these Knit Picks Harmony needles and their pointy points. A little Ancient Bark progress and I have the front of my Sea Vines vest blocked and drying. But MS&W is coming up quickly!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Seeing stars

Oh, I've been little busy!

My dear Mother in Law, Beryl lives in a retirement community in Virginia's Northern Neck. She is 88 and has had multiple sclerosis since she was about 30. She's an awesome survivor. She was hospitalized for what was supposed to be a weekend that turned into 18 months when her kids were 3 and 7 - can you imagine? When she finally got to go home she was largely bedridden for many years and then had a decade or more of remission in her 50's & 60's.

When I met her she was 63, living with her husband near Boston and had taken up woodworking and learned to drive a car - again. Lest you think she's a candidate for sainthood, the second time I met her, the very first thing she said to Peter & I when we had driven 10 hours from Virginia to Boston, pulled into her driveway and hadn't even gotten out of the car yet was - Have you changed your minds?

About getting married. Both our families gave our marriage a year at best. We celebrated 25 years in October. So, there! My biggest issue with her is the load of guilt she heaped on her kids. She can still push my husband's buttons with very little effort. Granted, it was probably the best tool she had for getting her kids to mind when she was stuck in the bed or a wheelchair. But I kinda think she overdid it.

Anyway, Beryl has been living in the Assisted Living area of this place for 7 or 8 years, and they made a lot of noise last fall about moving her to the "Health Center". We weighed in and persuaded the facility to make it Beryl's choice - she decided to stay in AL. Her doctor agreed and that was that for a while. But a few weeks ago the doctor said it was time for her to move and they had her into a temporary room in 30 minutes. Without calling either of her adult children, without following the plan we carefully crafted last fall for a smooth transition.

They said they talked with her and that she agreed to the move, but as soon as she was left alone she called her daughter and said she didn't know where she was and she didn't have her pocketbook. She had been being polite and making affirmative noises but she didn't really know what was going on. Honestly. They really should have paid more attention.

This led to a great kerfuffle and 3 long days of meetings with the family. Finally they agreed to let her make the decision (again!?!) and this time she decided to move. So we've been trying to make the best of a very challenging transition.

Last weekend my husband & I drove the 4 hours down in 2 vans and spent a few days going through her things, along with having a birthday celebration for Beryl. I spent one morning with her in her old apartment going through family mementos and jewelry. She kept saying that it was just like attending your own funeral. We have to go back again this coming weekend, but I think we'll bring things to her for any consultations and decisions - we don't think she should visit her old half empty room any more.

So, two lost weekends and a lot of driving. Although we will only need to take one van this weekend, so I'll get more knitting done with Peter driving!

Knitting! I am making good progress with my many projects. I have numerous items that I am hoping to have ready to show in my booth at Maryland Sheep & Wool. I have finished my Hemlock Ring Throw - Peace Fleece worsted in a lovely green called Anna's Grasshopper.

The Hemlock Ring looked like a decidedly organic growth before blocking - but then...

Blocking is so exciting. I may wet and block this again to see if I can get the feather & fan section a little flatter. But I'm very pleased. And tempted to knit it again in fingering weight for a shawl.

I am also working on a Sea Vines Vest in Fleece Artist Sea Wool in their Peacock colorway. I finished and blocked the back - note the interesting (uh huh) pooling... I decided to knit it from one ball and just see how it went - and the front looks fine. I just bound off the neck this morning and I'm knitting the straps on the front, so the end is in sight!

Greens are hard to photograph properly, but this detail photo is closer to the real thing.

When the first boxes of Fleece Artist arrived from my MS&W order I just had to weave some of the Sea Wool - the colors were so exciting. My Baby Wolf loom was tied up (more on that later) so I pulled out my 3 foot Tri Loom and started a scarf. I probably should have used a double strand - I think it's going to draw in a lot and be tiny. I could also weave one or two more triangles and join them together to make a trapezoid... but I don't think I could have that ready for the show. I guess I'll see how the first triangle blocks out.

Did I say Fleece Artist? It' so exciting to unpack the boxes. Don't you just love Color?

I've got a Swallowtail Shawl started - I'm probably about halfway through. I think it needs another 10 hours of knitting. This is in Hand Maiden Sea Silk in Ocean. I've had this skein since my first Hand Maiden order, but I didn't like the pattern it came with and I just hadn't figured out what it wanted to be...until I got into a lace shawl conversation with my friend Karen and I was bitten by the Swallowtail bug! Seeing all the lovely ones on ravelry helped, too.

I can't find the photo of the Swallowtail, but I will leave you today with this lovely table runner woven by my friend William Leinbach. He drove down from Lebanon, Pennsylvania with his wife Edna to do a program for the Blue Ridge Spinners & Weavers Guild. He brought a truckload (really!) of old coverlets to talk to the guild about and a modest selection of his own work for sale. I've long admired his weaving and I finally bought a piece.

Ain't it purty? You weavers would like a closer look, I'm sure.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I need you Peeps...

I just have to share this, in case you haven't run across it elsewhere.

The Washington Post started an annual Peeps Diorama contest last year.
You simply have to see it to believe it.

Here is the 2nd annual Peeps Diorama contest gallery! And the accompanying article.

And for the proper historic context - the 2007 highlights.

A bounty of mallow, indeed.

Tempus Fugit, encore

OK, it's April! Where did March go? All of a sudden Maryland Sheep & Wool is coming at me at an alarming speed! I think I'd better get the last of my orders done tonight.

The first two boxes from Fleece Artist arrive on Friday, and the yarn and rovings are, as always, just breathtaking. Yum, yum.

And speaking of lovely, this post opens with a photo of my favorite tree: a venerable weeping cherry tree that stands beside Route 7 at the edge of the Shenandoah River bridge. Every spring, I watch attentively for this tree to bud and then bloom. This year, we have been favored by lingering cool weather, so my tree has been at peak loveliness for over a week! Isn't it wonderful? Just say yes.

Now, I promised a report on my John C. Campbell Folk School week, and photos, too. I saw my first daffodils of the year, strewn generously through the woods along the paths (look up). I was teaching a class called Knit to Felt. I brought lots of yarn for us to play with(look down)
I had seven students, including an intrepid debutant guy knitter. This is Andrew. He had a 20 minute knitting lesson the night before class started. He did a great job on his laptop bag and started a hat.
We had lots of laughs about just how big things should be Before Felting:
and how lovely they can be After Felting:
One Fabulous Fish of Wisdom:
The lovely Laura ( crashing our class from her scrimshaw class)with her needle felted mouse
Our lovely class display in 2 shots:

and a group photo of the happy knitters - I'm in the middle of the back row in the green.Can you tell we had a wonderful week? We sure did! This class had a great group dynamic, with a nice balance of talk and laughter and teaching, lots of visits to the local Yarn Circle shop, the excellent Folk School food...

I had a bit of a debacle driving down because I had planned to stay the night in Bristol VA/TN without consulting the NASCAR schedule - silly me - and I had to drive about 90 miles more than I wanted to before I could find a motel with a room available. Amazing. And a looong drive home all in one day because I taught an intarsia class at the Yarn Circle on Saturday morning. I don't mind driving all the way home in one day if I have a nice long retail therapy break in Asheville, but it turns out that I prefer more of that driving to be in daylight hours.

Otherwise, uneventful journeys. It's been busy since I got home. We are spending lots of time with our parents these days, and Peter & I have 3 sets between us. But you gotta do it while you can - spend time with them.

I've also been running a medical gauntlet. I turned 50 back in November, and since then I have had a physical, a female annual exam, a mammogram, a colonoscopy, a shoulder x-ray, some blood tests and a bone scan and an MRI of the same shoulder. Whew! The x-ray showed an abnormality, lucencies or bright spots - which are apparently a primary marker for multiple myeloma, so we had ten days of waiting for results to the blood tests and bone scan. The results were are good - no cancer. I do think it's a good idea to examine one's mortality from time to time, but I prefer it in smaller doses.

The MRI showed 4 different tears in the right shoulder, and the bone doc said I could try some alternative therapies or go for surgery with an 80% likelihood of improvement. Them's pretty good odds, but after thinking for a few days about what it would be like to do without my right hand & arm for 4-6 weeks, I've decided to put off the surgery until at least September and return to my acupuncture & Chinese medicine friend and look into physical therapy and some carefully selected Qigong - exercises that don't involve shoulder rotation!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Next post - knitting updates and probably some yarn porn!