My housemates have been talking about the tide pools for years. At low tide, the ocean recedes back and reveals pools of life... and for a little while there's an opportunity to view sea life in its natural habitat.
Low tide was around 11:30am (and it changes every day) on Saturday, and the location was filled with families exploring and having a great time discovering all kinds of things.
We arrived and took our place, moving from pool to pool... and saw little hermit crabs, this incredible anenome (above), a starfish, and even some tiny eels! Out further along the rocks some harbor seals were resting on the rocks and taking naps. They might have been nesting; I'm not sure. A perimeter was marked off at the beach and officials were there to talk with people about the barrier and to give the big creatures their space. (look at photo #23 in the slideshow below... the white blobs out on the rocks are the seals!)
It's the kind of place I wish I could share with everyone... but since the timing of visiting the beach of the Pacific Ocean at low tide might be difficult for some of you, I made a little video so you could see some of the ocean life crawling around in one of the tide pools, and also get a glimpse of the breathtaking view!
And for some more fun, here's a slide show of some of the photos I took during our little mini-excursion:
I *almost* don't want to talk about it. The sweater I've been working on is just a bit too small. I have put it aside for now to contemplate what to do. Do I rip it out and calculate a larger size for the pattern I like? Do I modify the pattern and eliminate the ribbing (which would probably solve the problem) or do I just start over... *think... *think... *think...
I' had a lovely time spinning up some hand dyed top from Black Bunny Fibers that was part of the thank you gift I received for leading a workshop at the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat. It spun up wonderfully and I decided to make a two-ply yarn out of it. I'm SO happy with the final yarn. THANK YOU, Carol for being so supportive of the Men's Knitting Retreats!!
now.... what should this yarn become?
Sacramento County Fair
I love the fair. For me, it's a reminder to get out, enjoy the beautiful weather, have some fun, indulge in deep fried EVERYTHING, and to visit and even learn a bit about animals. Over the weekend I joined my housemates on an adventure to the Sacramento County Fair - a few hours from San Francisco, it was a beautiful drive and arriving at the fair meant encountering the familiar sounds and smells of the fair! As a child the fair meant the midway - rides and games and prizes.
I don't know if I have seen this before - these big bubbles have kids in them.. zipped up for a few minutes of "walking on water" - it looked like so much fun!! We stopped and watched them for a few minutes.. then on to more serious business. There's sheep at the fair, right? That means there's probably shearing.. and where there's shearing there's probably .... say it with me...
Fleece! (HOORAY!!) - John and I ventured into the exhibit hal and looked over the small-ish selection - it's nothing like the CA Wool and Fiber Festival, but still there was a nice variety of fibers represented. In the end, I selected a black medium corriedale ram lamb's fleece. It doesn't have a ton of debris in it, and the tips are a touch sunburned but it's not tender (according to the scorecard). Good uniformity and staple length of 4-1/2 - 5-1/2".
It's also a blue ribbon winner and the reserve champion.
What will it become? Hopefully yarn. I'm not going to give it an exact purpose yet... but my intention is to spin knitting or weaving yarn (2 or 3 ply) that can be worked up into something useful. Weaving would give me more material, I think... but first thing's first.. it's gotta get cleaned.
John bought another blue ribbon winner... a Dorset cross fleece from a ewe that has no sunburned tips. The scorecard on his says it's slightly yellow (and it is but not as much as shows in this photo). The staple length is around 4".
We spent much of this weekend watching videos about spinning and fiber preparation while spinning different fibers. I think we're both excited about cleaning our fleeces and perhaps this coming weekend will bring the time needed to try this for the very first time.
I don't know if he has specific plans for his fleece - my guess is he's like me... hopeful it'll become something beautiful but resigned to the fact that we've never done this before. BUT... the thing that gets me through these starts to new adventures is this: Folks have processed fleeces for thousands of years... and everyone had to start somewhere. So... that's where we are.
What I did notice about this fair that was different from the others I've seen is that it has a tiny showing for fiber arts. A few quilts, a few handspun skeins of yarn... a decent amount of photography.. but overall it was a small representation of the talent in that area. I hope it's a fluke and that the fair will work more to show more pieces in coming years.
OK Back to the animals. We went to the barns and checked out all the different critters... We saw cute bunnies... this little lop eared one was tooo adorable!
...and this guy has a fun hairdo! (and you know me.. I was wondering if I could spin his fur!)
of course we saw sweet sheeps... there was an auction going on in the building while were there.. the selling of sheep for market and butchering always makes me a bit sad but I realize that it's how the business keeps moving... and moving the line along helps to produce more beautiful variations and new stock. It's just the nature of the business. This one happens to be a fleecie sheepie!
I also think it's amazing that we can turn the fibers that grow out of a SHEEP (and other animals and plants too) and work them until they produce string or yarn and then weave, knit, crochet or even just felt them to produce fabric that's soft, beautiful and sturdy.
While checking out all the different animals, we came upon these cute little babies! - I had to take a quick video to show. (the horse to the left never moved... it must be some strange miniature breed that sleeps with its eyes open!)
What else did we see? Chickens... we also saw chickens!! ..and ducks...and a petting zoo... and old tractors... and a beekeeper's exhibit... there's so much to see and learn at the fair... from the exhibits to the shows... it's a great day out and worth the time invested with friends and family.
My Woolee Winder arrived last week and I've been spinning CONSTANTLY. I had one bobbin (2oz) of BFL/Silk 80/20 spun up from the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat. Once the winder came, I spun the second 2oz up and navajo plied each of them. I managed to spin and ply the third bobbin as well. I have 2oz left of this amazing fiber "Lunar Dance" (which I bough at A Touch of Twist) and I'll have fun spinning it up as well the same way. At first I thought I would ply two singles together since the colors were a bit different but then decided that a navajo ply (3ply) would be better. I'm happy with my decision... now. what should I make?
Here's some of it at least. I have unearthed the Craft Yarn Council's Certified Instructors Program from the depths of the studio - Level 1 is about 2/3 done and I just have swatches to knit and a some paperwork to complete. Over the weekend I was able to complete 3 of the swatches in addition to everything else I did and I will continue to press on.
The swatches aren't difficult... they just take time and some real paying-attention when it comes to execution. These will be blocked, labeled, and included in the entire package. There'll be more about that later.
Justine emailed me over a year ago asking if I might be able to re-size the Corydon sweater (Knitters K106) to fit a child. I explained to her that once a pattern is sold to a magazine or book, the contract dictates what the designer can do. In this case, I contacted Knitter's Magazine to find out how we could answer and Rick suggested we re-size it as a kid's pattern and use it in an upcoming issue. What fun! So... a year later, Knitter's Magazine issue K111 has some classic patterns re-sized and re-styled to fit little ones. The model they used for my "Corydon Jr." is adorable! Since it was released I sent an update email to the Justine and she's very excited about the result. She tells me she's going to let her boys choose the colors for their sweaters and commented "should be an interesting result!" - I am looking forward to photos!
The 2012 Men's Spring Knitting Retreat is over and it's difficult (as it is always difficult!) to put into words how amazing the experience was. This year, 41 attendees made up the group, and we reconnected at the amazing Easton Mountain Retreat Center. It's a calm space where everyone is encouraged to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature while being surrounded by creative people. Recaps of these retreats end up being L-O-N-G and photo-heavy posts so I decided to attempt to divide it into 2 parts. Welcome to part one: a retreat review and ramblings about the "official" parts of the weekend.
The hammock at Easton
This year, I flew from San Francisco, CA to Albany, NY and met up with Aaron Bush. The retreat actually began Thursday afternoon, so we're going to fast forward past the "pre-show" and begin there.
Driving to Easton Mountain is refreshing. It's back roads that go from striped and paved to simply paved... to gravel... to narrow and what a city-person might think should be only one-way. Returning to Easton for the retreat is a bit like coming "home". It's walking into the large gathering room and hearing people call my name. It's not having a chance to put my bag down before there's a group of guys waiting to give me a hug; excited and happy that we are about to share this experience. Returning to a Men's Knitting Retreat is seeing familiar faces, recognizing people that I may have never met, but recognize through their blogs, twitter feeds, and facebook posts, and they feel like old friends. It's re-uniting with people who, through fiber, have become a big part of my life.
Arriving at Easton, we are greeted with Easton Mountain (in the background of the video below). The Center used to be a ski lodge and now it's just a beautiful space to retreat and relax. The sounds of nature are so different from those I hear waking up in San Francisco! I thought making a short video of walking down the driveway to the lake might help you understand how amazing and magical this place is.
...and here's a listen at the birds singing one morning during the retreat. It really was a "change of pace" that allowed us to all decompress, relax and recharge.
During the retreat, we usually go on one field trip. This time, it was to Ewetopia Farm in Whitehall, NY. The drive through the beautiful country could have been outing enough, but turning into the driveway of Chris and Max Crossman was a true treat. Chris had set up a small shop with a selection of fibers and yarns for us to peruse, featuring her Cotswold sheep locks! It wasn't long before I started to explore the immediate area, taking photo after photo of this idyllic place! Here are a few of my favorites:
We met one of the Rams and he was in LOVE with us because we all took turns scratching him on his back where he can't reach. (That's Farmer Max holding the lead to this sweet animal.) His fleece is beautiful and from what Chris said she is going to continue breeding him to hopefully get some more of his coat characteristics in the flock. I remember last time I was at the MSKR we visited Alpacas of Easton, and the owner was talking about phenotype and genotype and it made me smile since that was what had just been discussed in my Biology course. Years later, it wasn't a fluke. That same talk was being given at this sheep farm! Lesson here: If you want to be a success at raising fiber flocks, chances are you'll need to have a good understanding of these topics.
In addition to the sheep, the Crossman's have a few horses and some adorable dogs! These two were beyond sweet. Leddie (on the left) is a bit of a guard dog and a BIG dog at that. She's standing on the road that leads to the farm's sugar shack! The other doggie was a fat old sweetie and just wanted its belly rubbed! (Click any of the smaller photos to enlarge them).
See? I haven't even begun to talk about spinning or the workshops.... trying to explain what the retreat is like is a difficult process. It's seriously something that simply must be experienced. There were a number of workshops, and I was able to participate in two: learning how to spin (with Aaron Bush), and knitting and purling backwards (with Matthew Hesson-McInnis). The spinning workshop helped me continue to hone my skills as I learn more and more about my Sidekick wheel. Aaron was a gentle teacher, helping the guys wrangle fiber and spin it into yarn. I was able to offer a little guidance to my neighbors, and I think that at least one participant decided to purchase a wheel by the time he had returned home! Knitting and purling backwards with Matthew was more of a focused exercise. His instructional style is suprisingly gentle; asking the students to follow a few simple steps to really understand what happens when a stitch is made. With a little practice, we were all doing it! (Slowly, but we WERE doing it!) The technique will come in handy for ribbing or stockinette almost immediately. All it'll take is a bit of work to get faster at it but will be well worth it.
Probably the biggest treat to attending these retreats is sitting outside, knitting, spinning, crocheting, and talking with new (and old) friends about ideas, experiences, techniques and, life in general. The world often gets in the way and we don't find time to take care of ourselves; these few recharging days allows for just that. It's rewarding, relaxing and inspirational to be at a Men's Knitting Retreat.
We have a tag sale during the retreat where we offer special fibers, books, magazines and finished objects for sale to the other attendees. It's a chance for us to donate a percentage of the sale to a scholarship fund which helps some guys attend who otherwise couldn't. This year, Bill Jones from San Francisco hand-knit this AMAZING teddy bear and we put it out for silent auction. John Wise was the high bidder and the envied one who got to take this sweet bear home! (If you enlarge the photo, you can see the intarsia around the eyes and inside the ears where Bill used subtle color changes to highlight these spots.) Bill said that he plans to make one of these bears for each of the retreats.
A visit to this part of the country would simply not be complete without a visit to the Ice Cream Man! They have been in business for nearly two decades and I can't imagine a trip to this area without visiting and getting a couple scoops of their amazing hand-crafted ice cream. We also got ice cream from the Ice Cream Man for movie night - where we all gather and knit/spin/weave/crochet our way through a movie (or two!)
...speaking of eating, the food at Easton is certainly worth mentioning. It's healthy, thoughtfully prepared, and, quite frankly, delicious. They are considerate of dietary needs and I never went without a full tummy while visiting. There's no soft drinks, so it was also a great opportunity to stop drinking so much Diet Coke!
Gosh. There's so much to talk about - and even if I wrote 100 pages about the few days we were together, I'd still be leaving a lot out. Once more: It's impossible to express what this retreat means. It is an amazing experience and for those men who might want to find out what it's like to attend one of these retreats, there are a few coming up! Visit the Men's Knitting Retreat website to learn more.
I'll be writing more in a few days; sharing about the excursions before the retreat including our visit to one of Aaron's favorite yarn shops and a fantastic local mill.
Stitches West 2012
Stitches West 2012 inspired... as all Stitches events before did. This year, everywhere I turned, we were coming across a designer, yarn manufacturer or publisher and it felt really good to be surrounded by such talents. I look forward to the next event where we can all get together and share our passions. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to put on such an amazing event!
Madrona 2012 Recap
Madrona 2012 is over and what an amazing time! I arrived on Thursday in Seattle to visit with friends, to see some yarn shops, and to check out the Madrona marketplace. MUCH smaller than Stiches, Madrona's marketplace offers the best of the best in fiber - from wheels and spindles to yarn, books, fiber, looms and accessories. We took our time going through the space, visiting with each booth and getting to kow their product offerigs. We visited with old friends, made a few new ones, and had the luxury of spending a schedule-free day... really taking the opportunity to see what was being offered. Sadly, I didn't take any photos at the marketplace itself, so I had to rely on Suzanne from Slipped Stitch Studios to send this photo of the group. One of the first booths we purchased at, they offer lots of great project storage soultions, including the moustache bag that Michael bought!
After spending the day at the marketplace, we got together with some friends for dinner... After all those yarn fumes, it was a much needed meal, that's for sure! We chatted, laughed, and spent some good "catch up" time and it was fantastic. However, it WAS a bit rainy and despite the super duper warm and cozy sweater I had on, the obvious lack of a hat and umbrella left me shivering!
Madrona was a wonderful experience. My only regret? That I didn't sign up for classes. Next year. Next year, I hope to take some classes... my favorite one? -an all day exploration of natural dyeing with lichens (and mushrooms, I think!)
December Yarn Crawl
Today John, Chuck, Kenny, Dewey (the Boston Terrier) and I headed off to a fun day-long adventure with full intention of hitting as many yarn shops as possible. Given our nature of being easily distracted by beautiful yarn, that number ended up being 3 different yarn shops and one farm.
The first shop we went to was Princeton Yarns. We arrived shortly after they opened and were intrigued by not only the beautiful photographs and yarn but also by the vintage magazines, including Knitting Traditions (a periodic offering by Piece Work magazine). This place is tucked away in an indoor mall in the Shops at Harbor Village in a cute little fishing community.
The place also offers some sort of large format photo printing and fills its "beyond yarn height" walls with gorgeous photographs framed and ready to be purchased. Nowhere to sit and knit in this place... but it's a great spot to shop and find some unique treasures.
270 Capistrano Road #20
Princeton by the Sea, CA 94018
Phone: (650) 712-1440
Our next stop was a hop, skip and a jump to Half Moon Bay and the home of Fengari Fiber Arts. Chocked FULL (to the rafters), this shop was buzzing with activity. The folks working here were busy answering questions and making suggestions to the customers about yarns, needle sizes, and project ideas. It's a bit of a tight squeeze in this place, with an overflow of boxes full of yarn being stored on top of the shelves. If you want it, they probably have it! Where did the name come from? The owner, Ann, says her husband (who is Greek) came up with the name, which translates to "Moon" in English.
My only critique of this shop? There was nowhere to sit and knit. Not that I was intending to sit and knit today at a shop but it's still part of the ambiance I love to see when visiting a shop. Perhaps their yarn inventory pushed the seating out of this shop.... there is a cute bench outside waiting for someone to sit, knit, and enjoy people watching in this little town.
Fengari Fiber Arts
415 Main St
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Phone: (650) 726-2550
From there we headed to Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero. Restored in 1910, this functioning dairy farm has over 200 alpine goats on nine acres. They offer a variety of dairy products, including framage blanc, feta and ricotta cheeses, as well as local honey and other indulgent items such as hand crafted soaps and lotions. We got some cheese from this beautiful place after visitng with the goats and llamas.
Dewey (the dog) was enamored with the llamas... or was it the other way around? There's a cute photo in here of these two saying "howdy" to each other!
Harley Farms Goat Dairy
205 North Street, Pescadero, CA 94060
Phone: (650) 879-0480
Here's a photo of me with Kenny Chua during our visit to the farm. He's with us for the holidays; from Christmas to New Years! We are lucky to have him visitng us and it's fun to get to hang out and spend a few days knitting with my good friend.
Our last stop on this day-long crawl was at Nine Rubies in San Mateo, CA. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is an AMAZING shop. Located on a cute street (not quite as quaint as Main Street in Half Moon Bay where Fengari is) and owned by some really fun ladies, this place is bright and has a gorgeous chandelier hanging in the center of the shop. It was well organized, with what seemed to be "sweater's worth" yarn quantites on it shelves. We were welcomed in (as we were at all the shops) but this time, something was different. They asked if they could point out just one new item in their shop.... of course, we were happy to hear what was new... It was a nice way to learn what the folks working there are finding as their latest obsession.
I also noticed something I loved: - a box of "free" yarn - with some "rules" attached... one free ball of yarn to any child under 12... one ball of yarn to anyone else who wants to exchange a ball for one in their stash... the yarns can be from stash, purchased at Nine Rubies or elsewhere... and it's all on the honor system. I found this idea of sharing yarn and stash refreshing - especially in a yarn shop like this. One of the other things I liked about that little box was that it was not hidden in a back corner... it was given prime real estate right by the front door (next to some knittig magazines free for the taking). Nine Rubies is the winner in today's crawl. Bright, cheery, organized, welcoming, beautiful and inspiring, with lots of books, snacks, and smiling faces.
Nine Rubies Knitting
28 E. 3rd Ave #100
San Mateo, CA 94401
Phone: (650) 685-6205
It was a beautiful day spent with people I adore. We finished it off with some local Indian food and then I spent a few minutes looking at the photos from the day. What a lucky person I am to have people in my world who are interested in going from yarn shop to yarn shop... indulging me in my need to talk with the owners... to find out a bit about them and to document bits of the visit for myself and those who read the blog. Now it's time to get to knitting on some projects that are calling my name from the other room... asking me to give them some much needed attention.
Yesterday, a friend and I went to Building RE Sources - a non-profit business offering a place for eco-conscious folks to donate and/or purchase recycled building materials. We had a great time wandering through the aisles of doors, windows, plumbing fixtures and tiles, and spent some time thinking creatively about what we could do with the different items.
We were hunting for something specific (and didn't find it) but DID find tumbled tile and glass that is produced by The Red Shovel Glass Co.; a division of the same organization. They offer tumbled terra cotta, random tiles and a variety of ten different colors of glass. These repurposed mini-gems could be used in planter beds or flower pots, and the glass versions look very similar to sea glass...
The textures and patterns in these salvaged objects are inspiring to me - the cracked paint, worn out and bent metal railings, broken tiles, antique doors... drawer after drawer of card catalogs filled with cabinet hardware... inspiration for knitting patterns is everwhere; we just have to look!
Our field trip was great fun and while there is no major building project happening currently, I think that visiting places like this from time to time is helpful to show what's available within the community. It's also a great place to consider recommending for those in the area who are doing major remodels - how nice to donate (and get a tax deduction) for the old windows, doors, lighting and plumbing fixtures in a home instead of sending those things to a landfill! Salvage centers such as this are located all over the United States. Search online for one in your area!
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