Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Since there was no ND game, we spent Saturday afternoon carving pumpkins before heading to Katie's Halloween party up in Washington Heights. I tried to get a pic from our street looking at our window, but it wouldn't come out clear. They looked pretty cool when lit up! The pic on the left is Dave's design and implementation.

I just want to say that I love the friends I've made in Stitch & Bitch. It's really fabulous to meet people who are so varied and interesting, and yet all have the same passion for knitting (obsession???) as me. It's a great connection to make with people, when you share something you really care about.

Check out how cute my niece Sunflower is with her daddy and her friends Spiderman and Ladybug. I wish I was there to see them, but my mom wasted no time in sending me pics -- thanks, mommy-o!

And while you're at it, check out how my Greta poncho is coming along --
I'm almost done with the first 600+ yard ball of Rhinebeck Alpaca! I switched to the longer needles because the shorter ones were getting kind of crowded...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Anybody want a kitten?

Does anyone want one of these adorable kittens? They need homes! More on that later...

After our Alpaca visits, we arrived in Camden, Maine, a really cute and authentic (meaning not terribly touristy) town on the water. They had a wonderful yarn shop called Unique One, which was still open at 8pm (even though the website said they close at 5). There were a lot of local yarns there, and so many buttons! But I restrained myself because I had just bought more alpaca on the way up. Amazingly, Dave seemed to enjoy touching all the different yarns, but I think he was just appeasing me so we could finish up and get some lobster.

We went to Acadia National Park on Friday, which was really beautiful. However, the leaves were predominantly green. I guess the lack of rain this summer really slowed down the color change. We stopped at a beach with cold water, and I pretended I was young again by following 2 kids up a big rock pile. But I realized that going down was a lot worse than going up as I fell on my ass onto a pointy boulder during my descent. Ah, youth...

We planned to hike on Mount Battie in Camden on Sunday, but it poured and poured the whole day, so we left Maine and headed down to Lowell, MA, to visit our friends Paul and Andrea, who have a 2-month-old daughter, Rebecca (recognize the Blue Sky Organic Cotton sweater?) Watch out -- their house is a den of fertility! They adopted a stray cat when they moved in, who turned out to pregnant. So 2 weeks after Rebecca was born, Sophie the cat gave birth to 5 kittens. They are so cute! If anyone wants a kitten, let me know. They are trying to find them homes. I like the little grey and white one, but we already have 2 cats so it's out of the question. My theory is that once you have more than 2, you become a cat person and it is really hard to say no to more. I mean, what's the difference between 3 cats and 4 cats? Or 4 and 5? Pretty soon you end up tripping over felines on your way to the bathroom at 3AM and that's not good for anybody. So as cute as they were, I restrained myself and Dave and we left sans adorable kittens. But I mean it, if anyone wants a kitten, please let me know.

We stayed at my parents' house in CT for a night, and then went to visit my adorable, beautiful, perfect niece Samantha. Guess who knit those hats?

My current WIP is the Greta Poncho from the book Viva Poncho. Thanks, Claudine! I'm making it with my Rhinebeck alpaca. Jenn, see how my ball is shrinking? Is yours shrinking, too?

By the way, if you are ever in Freeport (home of LL Bean), eat at Morrison's Chowder House!!! They had a corn chowder (in a bread bowl!) on the menu billed as a "vegetarian's dream come true" and YES it WAS!!! Consider this a whole-hearted endorsement. We even stopped again on our way back home, and Dave, who had the lobster chowder the first time around, even switched up for the corn chowder. They don't have a website, but if you're in the area, it's on the side street right across from LL Bean and so worth a visit (or two).

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Let's Move to Maine and... a combo B&B/Alpaca Farm/Knitting Retreat Center/Bookstore/Coffee Shop???

Dave & I had a trip out west planned for this week, but due to some unforseen circumstances, we had to postpone it at the last minute. Desney & Angela, we'll see you in the spring, along with your beautiful baby boy!

So, scrambling to find somewhere to go, because we really were not ready to go to work when we had a vacation planned, we threw out the options of Montreal, Quebec, Maine...Dave was hot for Maine, but I was hesitant, wondering what we would do there in the off-season. His quickly responded, "They have a lot of yarn in Maine!" and so I was sold. We booked a B&B in Camden (no easy feat with less than 2 days notice), and off we went.

I'll write more on the beauty of Maine and Acadia later, but I have to share my Alpaca Joy first! We stopped at the Welcome Center in Maine and immediately a brochure caught my eye..."Meet the Alpacas!" It was an Alpaca Farm, and on our way to Camden. I didn't expect this kind of pleasure on our trip, so I begged Dave to stop and he was actually pretty excited about seeing the animals. We made our way to the farm, and I'm not mentioning the name here because it was really nothing special. It was cool to see the animals, but the proprietor was not very "into" us or our questions. And his yarn was so expensive! So we left, and I thought that would be it. I didn't even buy anything!

Driving along, we discovered that Maine has all these cute little signs on the side of the road advertising businesses and their distance and direction...everything from "Bob's Auto Shop" to "Maine Humor Tapes" (???) to "Village Farm Alpacas"!!! My heart skipped a beat...could I convince Dave to stop at another farm? Actually, it was no problem. We drove off the main road in the town of Waldoboro, up the driveway to the farm. The sign on the little store said "Open by chance and by appointment"...I kept my fingers crossed. We parked the car and out came Bonnie, one of the farm's owners. This woman was so kind and knowledgable about Alpacas...she answered all our questions, even my seemingly shocking, "Do people eat Alpacas?" (Answer: That would be one expensive steak! Not in the US, but probably in South America, after the animals are past their prime.) She took us behind the store to the pasture, and we could see some alpacas off in the distance. Bonnie shouted, "Pacas!" and suddenly all these beautiful heads raised up and about 20 alpacas came loping up the hills towards us. They were so beautiful. I bought some rose gray and fawn colored yarn to make a hat. The animal the rose gray came from is called Xanthus, and he has won awards -- he was gorgeous, but I couldn't get a good picture of him because he was in the "men's" pen, which was a bit farther away from the "ladies'" pen. If you click on his name, you can see some pics on the website. Bonnie also had some hand spun deep chocolate yarn, which I was really tempted to buy, but Dave liked the rose gray better. That was spun at a local mill. I may email Bonnie to get some of her hand spun stuff next season, because I'm really attracted to these kinds of rustic things.

I highly recommend visiting this place if you are ever in the area. And I also recommend visiting their web site, especially if you want to see pictures of Alpacas being born and Alpacas being bred -- yes, real ALPACA SEX online, and you don't have to be 18 to enter...I especially like that they told us how long it took them to breed...

More on Maine later, after we return to NYC.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Just imagine all the yarn that ISN'T here..."

...said Jenn as we roamed around the yards of yarn vendors at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival yesterday. This was a yarn addicts crack den, a haven of fibers in a prism of colors. Everywhere we turned wool, mohair, alpaca, cotton, angora, tencil, soy, roving, and more confronted our eyes and our reaching hands. I touched everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.

My Stitch 'n' Bitch group rented a van (thanks, Lynette, for organizing it all!) For the most part, I walked the fair with Jenn and Jessica. Jenn was only supposed to buy sock yarn, but she ended up with much more, including 2 Fraggle-like skeins of funky blue-green mohair. Jessica partnered with me in search of the perfect buttery alpaca, and we found love at Delly's Delights Farm. I think mine will become the Yarn Harlot's Poncho. Each hank is over 600 yards, and I plan to double strand it and use something else for the fringe, but I would be much more comfortable if I could have bought 1 more hank. They only had 2 of this color left, though, and I loved it. I almost switched and bought the same color as Jessica, but I was so drawn to the flecks of blue in my color that I decided to risk it.

I also bought a few other bits of yarn, most of which will become gifts for Christmas:

We saw reggae sheep, alpacas, goats, llamas, angora bunnies, Border Collie pups, lots of people and lots and lots of yarn. This was seriously one of the best days I've ever had. I got to touch so much! I had a major yarn buzz, and it was wonderful and deliriously good to be sharing the experience with people who share my obsession with and joy of knitting. I learned a lot from my friends, and got to know them better too. I have so much more to say about this experience, I could go on and on and on. I can't wait until next year!

The only downside to the day was ND's last minute loss to USC -- not only was that a heart-breaker, but it really put Dave in a murky mood, so much so that he was a total BUZZKILL when I got home. I'm glad I didn't miss the festival to watch the game, and am equally glad that Gregor was with Dave to prevent him from doing something drastic after the loss.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fresh from the Sheep!

I just wanted to post my finished sweater and hat. I found the cutest sheep buttons at M & J Trimming, but I'm a bit worried that they are choking hazards. I sewed 'em on good, but they are made of 2 pieces of plastic snapped together. But they're so cute! I'll let mom Kerry decide.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Finicky Model

I managed to convince Kingston to sit still long enough to model the fresh from the
sheep hat. Well, to be honest it's more difficult to convince Kingston to move than to stay still...he's slightly fat and lazy. But as our friend Dylan put it, "If I were a cat, I think I'd want to be fat and lazy." Thanks to Heather and Johanna for the pom-pom assistance on this one.

Rhinebeck is only 3 days away! I've been having dreams about it. I am fully aware that this means that I have become obsessed with knitting, but I can't help it. And it's all Theresa's fault for patiently teaching me time and time again until it "took". Thanks, Red! I'm planning to buy some super soft wool-type material to make a cabled poncho -- my first cabling attempt, and hopefully my first "real person" sized piece of clothing that I actually finish (the original tank top I started is kind of in a state of statis at the armholes, as I find myself easily distracted by small clothing offering more immediate gratification)...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yes, today is my dad's birthday. I won't say how old, but he's definitely over 40. He and my mom just got back from a trip to Vegas, and they didn't bring back a lot of winnings. But they did have fun.

Speaking of fun, we had some this weekend, too. Although it rained (and rained and rained) on our Autumn Party, thus prohibiting garden access without heavy waterproof gear, we fit everyone into the apartment quite nicely. Besides things getting a little messy at the end (you know who you are), we cleaned up that night so it wasn't so terrible in the morning. A good time was had by all (or almost all).

I finished up my little "fresh from the sheep sweater," but I won't take a pic of it now because I'm looking for some cute sheep buttons to sew on and I can't find them. But my SnB friends made a good suggestion on where to get them, so maybe tomorrow this will be ready to send. And there's a matching hat, too. I've also started making some pumpkin hats for the babes in my life, and I'd better hurry up because Halloween is a-coming. And sadly, my wrists are starting to hurt...I hope it's not from too much knitting but I fear it is. What will happen when I'm old???

Today marks a sad time in 2005 -- I actually had to put on socks and shoes for a meeting. No more open-toed glory. Indeed, this is one of the worst things about the changing seasons. I love fall and its smells and colors, but the socks and shoes feel like miniature toe prisons, clasping my feet in their non-leather grasp. Incidentally, one of the most depressing things about being a vegetarian is the lack of comfortable and durable shoe options. Oh, there are the lovely Birkenstock sandals, but these belong to my summer uniform, and their close-toed cousins just don't cut the mustard. Sigh...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sam's Baptism

Today my niece Sam was baptised, and yours truly had the great honor of being her Godmother. Actually, all I had to do was put a tunic over her head and mumble assent at the appropriate times, but it was still pretty cool. Many of Sam's family and friends came to celebrate with us, including her great-grandmother Jeanette. The picture-perfect weather allowed us all to frolic outside. Time is getting weird now...all my cousins and friends have kids and they look just like their parents, and I watch them playing together exactly like we all used to. It's cool.

My cousin Tim from SC was also in for the weekend. He's a good guy and looking for a lady -- anyone know any single 40-somethings?

In knitting news, I know I swore (only to I'm not really accountable to anyone else) that I wouldn't buy any more yarn until Rhinebeck, but when I was walking in the Union Square Farmer's Market this weekend, this undyed wool straight off the sheep tempted me, and it was too much to resist. I just bought 1 skein, thinking I could whip up a baby sweater out of that, but it wasn't quite enough so now I have to wait until next Saturday when the sheep farmer comes back to get more. I really am doing something besides baby sweaters, but this was so tempting and I did it really fast. And besides, my other project is a secret for now.

Yankees clinched (barely) and ND kicked Purdue's butt big for the USC game!!!