Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wool Gathering

Yesterday I attended the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs for the second year. My aunt, mom, sister, and niece went along. We met up at 9:30ish...(I was there, but they were late-my sister has a thing for perpetual tardiness) for breakfast at the restaurant conveniently located on the same site. I had sweet potato bread french toast and a scrambled egg. Sadly, no veggie sausage was to be had. It was really good but the bread was so sweet it felt more like a dessert than a meal. I brought some yarn to Mom that she had ordered for a baby bunting. Mmm super soft Sublime cashmerino silk aran. Two nice ladies saw me with the bag of yarn and were like "Oh my god! Is the Wool Gathering open already???" I laughed and said no I brought it. Ah, Knitters...we are an anxious lot when there is fiber to be had so near yet so far.

Having grabbed sustenance, we headed over to the festival. One of the coolest things about it is that there are lots of demonstrations. The first we watched was of herding dogs. The particular one there was herding ducks. I had no idea one even could herd ducks.

That dog pushed them through tunnels, over bridges, into pools. It was amazing. The ducks were really pretty too-a solid black iridescent color. I tried to capture it and I think you can see a bit of it in this photo.

Next we went to a demonstration of the Australian sheep shearing method. They try to take off the fleece all in one piece. The man said that this is now the preferred method of shearing. All work is done with the legs to hold the lamb. Hands are only needed to turn them to keep the fleece moving around in a spiral pattern.

Here he shows that as long as you don't let the lamb's feet touch the ground, they will lay there as long as you want. It almost looks like he has the lamb's head on a small fleece pillow.

I also learned why sheep are sheared in the winter. I often wondered about this as a child since their wool is so warm it seemed cruel to shear them. Apparently though, sheep tend to give birth in the winter. Having them sheared not only makes birth less messy (no sticky wool), but also exposes their body heat to their new lambs. If the mother still had her wool, the baby would not be able to share any of it since wool is inherently insulating. Cool, huh?

After learning all this, it was time to shop! Unfortunately the Wool Gathering is extremely fiber-centric versus yarn-centric...ok maybe not unfortunate since I didn't want to buy a lot and I don't know how to spin. My sister and niece learned how to use a drop spindle and I bought Sarah a tiny roving ball to practice with. She wanted a large sparkly red one but I told her she needed to get good at it first and then she could have more. We'll see if she sticks with it. I felt like I was nicely restrained in my buying and everything I bought has a plan for it. Behold, my purchases!

Going clockwise from the upper left: Debbie Bliss fall 2009 issue, Interweave Holiday Knits 2007 (huge score! I got this for $1 and have regretted not buying it since that time), Jared Flood's new pattern booklet Made in Brooklyn, Casbah sock yarn (socks for me), Jojoland Melody (socks for Mom), Creatively Dyed yarn in Midnight (for socks for my brother-in-law), a huge skein of organic cotton boucle (destined to be a ribbed couch pillow with some nice wooden buttons), a felted pumpkin because really, who could resist him?

I also went to Heavenly Creations on the way home. Sadly this is one of the local yarn stores that is closing. I always hate to see it happen but there were good deals to be had and I didn't even spend all the cash I had set aside for the Wool Gathering. Everything was 30% off so I stocked up on some issues of magazines I didn't have along with some yarn for a sweater. Here's what I bought there:
Issues of Knit Simple and Knit.1, 8 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in a nice tweedy green, 2 skeins of Panda Silk DK, and the book Custom Knits. I have no idea why I never looked at this book before. There is a ton of useful information about customizing sweaters to fit along with some really beautiful patterns. The yarn I got was for one of the sweaters in there. I can't wait until I get the baby weight off so I can enjoy making sweaters for myself again. It seems a waste to put a ton of time into it right now since I only have three months left, but I might change my mind once it starts getting colder and I can't button/zip my stupid coat up.

On Friday we made some big household purchases which I think are the last ones we need. That's right boys and girls, we bought tables!! We've had our eye on a dining set from Cost Plus for a while and thought if we ever saw it on sale we were getting it. I believe we're hosting Thanksgiving this year so we knew we had to at least purchase by November. If you noticed the lovely wood grain texture in the yarn photos above, you were observing the surface of our brand new pub table:

I love having more places to sit. I only add this photo for posterity so here I am, 28 weeks pregnant, acne and all. sigh...that better go away after the baby :P Bless Josh's heart, he still came up and pretended to hit on me like we were at a bar. hehe Ok, ok, here's one without the prego lady:

Only one chair there so far because the other one had a broken cross piece in the box so we have to exchange it today. The table can be lowered to normal table height if we want and then our dining room chairs can be used with it instead. We both love how nice it looks with all the wood in the kitchen. We also bought the matching dining room table that comes with four chairs and a bench that we think will probably seat three comfortably. We don't have it set up yet since we have to do some desk rearranging for that to happen. We're not quite ready to move our computers upstairs yet since it is still a bit toasty up there and we can't afford to have vents put up there until next spring. I think once the weather starts to cool though it will be nice up there since the heat rises from the first floor. Here's the photo from the website though-I'll update once I have pictures of ours.

Only 12 more weeks until baby Maegwin could be here!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fall gardening

So Friday night I came home and had terrible heartburn. I thought nothing of it, took a Zantac, and went to bed early. About 3 am I woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose. NOOOOOO!!!! My first pregnancy sickness-I was kind of hoping to avoid it, compromised immune system be damned. It seems like it is just a run of the mill cold. I spent most of Saturday alternately sleeping and working on my mystery sock designed by Nancy Bush for the SKA group I'm part of. I really like it. Plus, I got to learn how to do a vikkel braid at 5 am Saturday morning rather than feeling sorry for myself at not being able to sleep. It is progressing quite nicely.

The yarn I'm using for it is called Crystal Palace Panda Soy and is a mix of bamboo, soy, and elastic. It is sooo soft and will make great summer socks I think.

The sad thing is Josh and I bought tons of mums and coneflowers to put in this weekend for fall color and to get them established before winter. It's pretty amazing all the colors that coneflowers come in now. Here are a few of my favs that we picked up:

This one reminds me of a sunset or a ripened peach skin. I believe it is called Big Sky Sundown. The one in the background is a sort of candy pink color that I also love.

This one is called Fatal Attraction. It's a very bright magenta color. In the background you can see some of our mums but we mostly got ones without blooms so we could enjoy them at their proper time. This one was the only exception since we both loved the color of the blooms and none were unblossomed right now.

I hope I'll feel well enough today to at least help with the planting. We also got tulip bulbs and giant onions to put in. They get large round puffball like blooms that are purple.

I also finished a few pair of baby socks last week. One pair was for my co-worker's new baby, Emma. He asked if he could trade them in for a size up as she grows out of them. I thought, you know, that's not a half bad idea as Maegwin could then wear them. Re-use, right? Hers were in a sprinkle yarn dyed by my friend Gwen.
Maegwin's are in Jojoland Melody. I bought two skeins to make socks for me and started knitting them only to find that the first 60 yards of one ball was a completely different colorway. I had to rip those but luckily it worked out great for a pair of baby socks.

In other news, Josh and I have been watching a series from the Sundance Channel called EcoTrip all about the impact everyday items have on the environment, people, etc. Each episode is only 25 minutes long and I love that it is very fact based without making people feel like they need to give things up. In every single one they offer a responsible alternative. Some of the things covered are cotton, light bulbs, paper napkins, cell phones, and chocolate. A lot of it I knew, but some I didn't. It did make me feel really good about all the choices we make though, like I'm not just a crazy tree hugger. I'd love if they did one on disposable diapers. Someone at work made a comment that the environment can take it and I said that's not true but left it at that. We plan to use the Bum Genius all-in-one cloth diapers for Maegwin and already have some. They are so cool! My mom even thought they were pretty neat and Josh spent some time playing around with them and took one in to work to show his co-workers who were asking about them. If I can do my part to not add to the 18 billion diapers thrown in landfills every year then I don't mind a little more work. Ok, ok off my soapbox and off to plant flowers.