Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.

2 Comments:

Beautiful yarn. It reminds me of African violets, with their deep green leaves, but more mysterious.

By Blogger cathy, at 1:04 AM  

Oh, that's gorgeous sock yarn - the socks will be gorgeous, too. Looking forward to seeing progress shots!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:19 PM  

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Thursday, May 29, 2008  

From the Creativity Jar



This week the jar has me knit a pair of socks for me. This is a 2 week project and could slip on into a third week since I'm also doing a lot of spinning these days. And yes, I went looking for this slip of paper because wouldn't you? If you had sock yarn that looked like this?



Of course, this is what the Bird Family has to say about my choice, but hey - what do they know? They have feathers.

posted by Bess | 7:16 PM

1 Comments:

You are such a cheater! I wouldn't have had sense enough to do that. I'm glad I didn't do a jar this year - maybe next.

By OpenID sallyjo, at 11:03 AM  

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008  

Three days of perfectly splendid weather and time off at home whirled past so quickly I wonder if they happened a day ago, a week ago or last year sometime. The weight lifting session with the Rug Doctor went victoriously, though not without some muscular suffering and as an indulgence of holiday proportions, I made pizza for dinner. On my chart of gastronomic bliss, there is no higher vibration than bread baked with cheese. It is nigh on to impossible to serve me a bad pizza. I like thin crust, thick crust, stuffed crust, rosemary crust, flat bread crust. I like mozzarella cheese, I like cheddar cheese, feta cheese, fontina cheese and Stilton cheese. Really – try it sometime. About the only other topping I want on my pizza is onion, and BD, far more of a purist than I, wants no other topping, so when I make my own pizza I make half with onion and he invariably selects that half and then complains that he “doesn't like onions on a pizza.”
Jack and Little Scamp think couches are so much nicer to sleep on after Mama has cleaned them.

I snuggled up around the ibuprofen bottle Saturday night but I didn't let all those stretched muscles go to waste. I got in a good 3 mile hike on Sunday and Monday AND my first dip in the river – cold – lawsee it was cold and I hit some high notes in reaction to the insult of sudden submersion. Little Scamp swam out to see if I was alright, but the home dogs ignored me. They weren't going out in that icy water just to see what sort of tomfoolery Mama was up to. Happily, I live far enough away from anyone that I can make all the noise I want to.
Where I drank my morning coffee on Monday.

BD almost never takes these off-season swims with me and last year he couldn't swim at all – forbidden by eye doctors to get anywhere near the water. He's got the all clear this summer and on Monday we took the boat out to see what the river looks like, then stopped by the swimming beach on the way home. It was very windy though, and swimming was brief and painful, even if exhilarating.

I did have some fun with fiber, though a good deal of the weekend was spent walking from one sparklingly clean room to another, exclaiming “Isn't this house gorgeous?! Doesn't it smell wonderful?!?”, even if nobody else was around to agree with me. I finished up the knitting of cabled clutch #2. I have another to do and am resisting boredom by not casting on anything at all. Instead, I sat down with HeyBaby and that sparkley blue mohair/wool/firestar I bought from Persimmon Tree Farm at MS&W.
Outdoor spinning session with MaySkyBlue fiber.

As if to prove that the holiday was over, yesterday became humid and a little warm. It's back to cool today but the weather dot com guys promise real Virginia summer weather next week. Still and all – 3 days of perfect weather on a weekend is a rare treat and I'm glad I got to enjoy it. Hope you did too.

posted by Bess | 6:06 AM

3 Comments:

How interesting! I've learned so much that I didn't know about bald eagles from this. Thanks for sharing your wonder with us and making it ours.

By Blogger cathy, at 11:52 PM  

Great photos and info! I've only seen bald eagles once, and that was on a nature preserve in Ketchikan, Alaska. They were at quite a distance, so binocs were needed; what majestic birds!

By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 8:57 AM  

Loved your bald eagle story, Bess! :-) What a "wonder"ful way to tell it!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:12 PM  

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Sunday, May 25, 2008  

A conversation with Wonder.

Wonder: What is that thing up in the tree there? It looks like a volkswagon made of sticks.



It's a bald eagle's nest. It's fairly new – maybe 2 years old.


Wonder: Oh my! Do you suppose it's those eagles who used to live on Robert's Landing?

Yup.

Wonder: Why did they leave their old nest?

Probably because I kept going over there to look at it. Eagles don't like to have their territory invaded and walking up beneath their nest is definitely an invasion. That's the reason we don't go up close to this one. Most of the time the use their size and presence and their calls to warn invaders away, but they'll escort you away too. One time J and I were up looking at the old nest and the mama called her mate in from the water to send us away. He wheeled in from the bay, lighted on a prominent tree a ways off from the nest and puffed himself out. We'd already decided to turn back, but I felt his urgent desire for us to leave. As we came abreast of him, he took off and soared along beside us a while and once we were the right distance away, he flew off across the field. That's typical territory defense. If we hadn't cooperated, though, he might have attacked. They'll do that sometimes.

They'll also abandon a nest that has too many parasites in it.

Wonder: How does that happen?

Eagles bring food back to their nestlings, whole fish and other small mammals. They tear strips of meat off to feed the smallest chicks and they leave whole carcasses to larger ones. But they don't toss the refuse out of the nest, they just pile more sticks on top of the leftovers. It's thought they don't toss out the garbage because they don't want to attract other animals, especially bears, to the base of their nests. No parent wants a bear climbing up to the kiddies bedroom.

Wonder: They certainly are devoted parents, though I suppose all birds are.
Yes, and they're devoted to each other. Though there is some evidence that they will part if they fail to breed, most Bald Eagles mate for life and seem content to live with only each other for society. Thus, unlike geese, who have the society of the flock, if a mate dies and the widowed bird is still of breeding age, it'll mate again.
When they mate they do the most amazing acrobatics up in the air, wheeling and circling and locking talons to cartwheel across the sky. I saw this happen a few months ago. It was glorious.

Wonder: Oh – how long do eagles live?

Bald Eagles live about 30 years – about as long as a horse. It takes 4 years for their mature coloration to appear and even in adults, you'll often seen brown feathers among the white if you are fortunate enough to get up close to one. That brown speckled bird that you see hanging out with the buzzards is probably a young bald eagle.

Wonder: How many chicks does a pair usually have?

There can be as many as three eggs in the nest, but since they're laid some time – even some days – apart, they hatch at different times. The first to hatch often kills it's siblings, especially if there isn't enough food. Certainly the first born will have a day or two of growth on him and can out-scramble the others for food. If there are three eggs hatched, the third seldom lives to maturity and it's a close thing if even the second egg makes it. In fact, if the parents suspect they won't be able to feed two chicks – if frozen lakes or streams don't thaw soon enough, they'll bury one of the eggs beneath more sticks, so it doesn't hatch and only rear one. That's another reason the eagle nests grow so large.

Wonder: How big do they get?

They can grow over time to as big as 10 feet across, weighing several tons. Sometimes they get blown down in storms or when the tree dies and topples. If the babies are big enough, the parents will continue to raise them on the ground.

Wonder: Why didn't Ben Franklin want the Bald Eagle as the country's symbol?
He thought they were nasty dirty animals, thieving from other fish hawks and seen often dining with the buzzards, on carrion, which is true. They do steal from the ospreys out here - but then, I've seen ospreys win out in those battles. And I've seen many a Bald Eagle gathered around dead animals on the edge of the road or field. John James Audubon hated them too and thought as Ben Franklin did. He wrote some fairly scathing comments about Bald Eagles. Of course, I'm not offended by the carrion eaters. They're very important – think what your life would be like without refuse removal. Life in the wild would be no different.
Wonder: How can you tell the difference between buzzards and eagles when they're riding the thermals?

The buzzard (which real scientists call vultures – but which John Allen called “meat fat turkeys”) has a bent wingspan – he looks more like the batman symbol. Eagles have straight wings and of course, if you are lucky, the flash of tail and head will confirm your sighting. They are very majestic as they soar high above and are even more thrilling when they're up close.
Once as I was driving down the road I saw a bald eagle carrying a rabbit which was almost too heavy a load. He could rise only as high as my truck window. I slowed down to match his pace and we went along together, the eagle and I, till he came to a tree line that he knew, made a 90 degree turn to the right and flew on off to Farmer's Hall Creek. That was in the late 1970's when eagles were still a rare sight. Now they're more common, but they're still a thrill to see. So thrilling, I almost feel as if I ought to belong to the eagle totem.

Wonder: So you think the eagle has something to teach you on a spiritual level?
What animal in nature doesn't? But yes – I feel a special kinship to the Bald Eagle. I too, like to live with my one mate, deep in the woods, along the banks of the water. I too prefer the big picture to the details. I'm not much of a flier, but I am not afraid of heights– at least, not now that I no longer have children to raise. But in our mythology, our culture, even our advertising, Eagles symbolize the ability to see the highest truth or highest viewpoint, the connection from earth to sky, spiritual energy - that we have the ability to reach great heights when we find the courage to do so and that freedom is our birth right

Of course – this is all highly symbolic – since birds are no more free than any other animal in nature, with their struggle for home, their quest for food, the fragility of their young with no flock society to raise them if their parents can't. Sometimes, I think the only truly free animal is a well loved pet. So if I were choosing to come back as an animal and I could choose between a Bald Eagle and a Haile dog – well .... that's no choice at all.

Wonder: What about Bald Eagles in mythology?

Well, my wondering friend, that will have to wait for another day, because I smell the charcoal on the grill. That means its time to go cook dinner. We shall have to talk again about our brother, Bald Eagle.

posted by Bess | 6:31 PM

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Thursday, May 22, 2008  

It's Thursday, which means it's time to hear from the Creativity Jar. This week I made sure it told me to:

Drink my morning coffee on the pier.

We've had the longest coolest spring, with lots of rain alternating with crisp blue days. This has kept the mayflies away, (wicked biting flies that usually show up mid-May and pretty much ruin the outdoors for the next 4 weeks) which is nice, but it's made the mornings both too cool and too damp with dew for sitting on piers to watch sunrises. Sunday is supposed to be 80 and sunny, warming up both air and river, so Monday morning, a delicious Monday holiday, ought to be the perfect time to settle down with cup, camera, and maybe a little cotton knitting.

Here's what the bird flock has to say about this.



As for last week's directive, to research and write about bald eagles, I have done a good bit of reading about them but till last night I couldn't figure out how to write about them without sounding like a 4th grader. I've got an idea now though and this weekend, this happy glorious holiday weekend, I'll take the time to put it all down in pixels and share with the curious.

Good thing I've had the creativity jar, though, since I've been decidedly uncreative and unproductive with fiber lately. I'm still knitting on the cabled clutches – when I knit at all – and I'm totally inspired by C's sweater from her handspun yarn and wishing I were as productive and thinking I could be and, alas, not being so. I will blame it on dog hair and computers, since I'm using the creative parts of my brain to learn how to use the new software at work and my beloved dogs have decided that shedding will be the next New Olympic Sport and they want spots on the American team. My house is white with dog hair – and Priss hasn't even begun to shed yet. She always waits till last, when the real hot weather gets here and we haven't had a day above 80 all spring.

So. Rug cleaning happens on Saturday, along with all the other household chores – but the next two days I plan to fill with fiber and creativity and leisurely mornings on the pier with my coffee.

posted by Bess | 7:44 AM

1 Comments:

Hmmm...first read your Monday post late last evening, when I was feeling anything but powerful. Went to bed. Woke to pouring rain and wind. A studio day, methinks...and perhaps that's the best 'change' for now. :-)

But I did glimpse the Full Moon last night...right before it was hidden by our rain clouds!

By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 8:08 AM  

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Monday, May 19, 2008  

Oooh la la! Watch out Virgo, here comes a full-on week which brings with it, not only a Full Moon but a couple of massive transits to your Love Zone. In other words, while it's may be not quite as powerful as the eclipses which changed your life in recent years, it is a week when you can do anything as long as it doesn't involve standing still. Harness the powers in the ethers and look at where you want to make a change. You know it's not going to happen by itself, so…

This is from MsHoroscope. Hope the stars will point out the fun path to me – I'm all for a little change now and then, but I want it to be good change. Like the changes we made for Mama the past 2 weeks. Unlike the first time we moved her, all hurried and resisted and at the same time that Daddy was so sick, this time Sister (and her wonderful husband) and I had time to shop and organize and move and hang pictures and make her room totally ready for her so she walked into a lovely space with Brand New Furniture bought Just For Her. Presents are important for mama. I weeded her clothes, which have suffered for their bouts with a commercial laundry. There will have to be a day soon when I do some mega-shopping for her – but I am an inordinately lucky shopper. Evidently it's not limited to wedding shopping – I found all the furniture last weekend in one outlet place and merely had to point it out to sister for her approval. I suspect it's a Virgo gift. She, being a Libra, has to weigh things a bit more than I do.

Of course moving is a slow tedious process and anything involving Mama is about 6 times slower than the anything involving the rest of the world. I'm not really frustrated by this, but sometimes I do forget. We worked straight through yesterday from 8:30 to 3:30 without a lunch break. I was wiped when I got home – 2 hours of driving later. She called around 9, tired but happy in her new surroundings. In a few weeks I will go back and putter about a bit.

So now I get to shift gears back to New Computer Programs.

Gosh! Just think of all the brain cells I'm creating as I push my little cerebellum to accept New Ideas. And yes yes – I have been reading up on bald eagles. Next weekend, when I have cleaned the pit – I will write all about them. I'm off to hang out the next load of laundry now – Ta.

posted by Bess | 7:01 AM

1 Comments:

Sending good vibes for moving Mama right back to you!

By Blogger Catherine, at 9:10 AM  

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Saturday, May 17, 2008  

Staff has had their first training on the new software and they'll be back today for self-study and to put away all the books that have piled up in the book drop the past 3 days. They're to put special emphasis on dealing with fines and overdues since we're having a fine free week next week. For the most part, they like this new software a little bit better than the old program. I also see that they're stimulated to pay attention because they're working with something new. They're energized and a little excited.

I understand the feeling – I feel it too, though I'm still stumbling all over the back room stuff, like getting the machine to read patron barcodes, when it happily reads the item barcodes. I got a help desk guy yesterday who not only didn't know how to solve the problem, but couldn't keep the exasperation – and disdain – out of his voice as he worked on his last call of the week. He kept telling me what my problem was – which I already knew – and not telling me how to solve it. I knew ...I could sense when he no longer knew the answer but didn't want to admit it to me nor ask for help from higher up. He did at last and the answer isn't pretty but it's still an answer. At least I didn't “feed” the answer to him.

Have you guessed? I'm probably going to have to reenter every patron barcode in the system. Reenter, as in type each one individually.

Off now to move Mama to her new digs. Be back sometime tomorrow. Ta.

posted by Bess | 6:56 AM

1 Comments:

I think my totem animal is the bear. But, at least around here, they tend to wander around and knock over garbage cans. OTOH, that does sound relaxing.

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:07 PM  

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Thursday, May 15, 2008  

You got it Cathy – I have a series of at least 8 planned already, with a few sketches in a notebook along with written ideas. And yes – they just might become wall decorations. I'm getting pretty excited about it all. Be sure, I'll share it all here.

The good news is that all the databases transferred from one program to the next. The expensive, laconic, computer wizard finished up his part of the job by 4 o'clock. Today I wade in and begin setting up parameters: days closed, circulation limits, fines, etc. Later in the afternoon my second in command will come in and we'll practice using everything. Tomorrow the rest of the staff comes in to learn how to work the system. Saturday they get more practice all by their lonesomes – and check in all the books that have been left in the book drop while we've been closed – because I'll be back in Richmond this weekend, moving Mama into her new digs.

We'll open on Monday with a Fine Free Week. Because no matter how much we publicized that we were going to be closed this week – most people didn't know. This will mitigate their disappointment some.

There's a new member of the Bird Family. He came from Culpepper, VA, purchased at a darling little shop: Sara Schneidman Gallery. I love shopping in Culpper – and dining there and the beautiful drive west, out Rt. 3, once you get past Wilderness. He joins the flock as they comment on what the Creativity Jar has to say this week.



“Research and write something about Bald Eagles”.

I live within a corridor that is chock full of these majestic birds. Any boat trip up the Rappahannock River, between Tappahannock and Fredericksburg will thrill you with views of their soaring performance as they wheel about overhead, serenading you with their distinctive call. A pair lives on our farm and I see them daily – perching in the pine tree on the bank of the marsh, swooping down to catch a fish, sometimes, just watching me when I'm working in the garden. I know where their nest is but I stay away from it because I want them to live here always, feeling safe and honored. I take it as a tremendous compliment that they choose to live so close to me.

If I were to have a totem, I am sure it would be the Bald Eagle. But I don't know that much about them – their habits, their needs, their meaning in folk lore. I've always intended to find out about them, but like so many good intentions, that project has remained a paving stone in my life's path. Till now, that is, thanks to the CJ. I'll post my piece here next weekend.

posted by Bess | 7:26 AM

1 Comments:

You're going to wind up with a closetful of such gorgeous little purses -- you might just have to hang them on the wall instead, where they can be admired all the time. :)

By Blogger cathy, at 10:04 PM  

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008  

If you really go with what you feel deeply, you have less choice than you previously thought. You also, though, have a lot less to worry about. Doubts will soon give way to inspiring certainties.


Thank you MrHoroscope – you do have an uncanny way of putting your finger on the nub. I am nervous about this network upgrade and yet there really isn't anything left I can do. It has to go alright – but I will be glad for those inspiring certainties sweeping away my doubts. The good thing is I can dress casual the rest of the week.

Today is a glorious crisp spring day – a wee bit cool, as this whole spring has been – and at last I've slipped out into the yard to see what's going on. BD always complains that our yard is too big and too difficult to cut – but he is wrong. It's full of little rooms
and hidden surprises just down this little tunnel
or behind this little green wall .
I am a sucker for paths that snake off into the woods and I have lots of them, both in the yard and in the woods.

Along with being energized by the glory that is May in Virginia, I am also inspired. Among you quilters out there, I am sure Janet Crowther is a familiar name but she is new to me and it's not her quilting but her felting that I have fallen in love with. I discovered her in this magazine
and am challenged to try my hand at needle felting by this lovely purse.

I am thinking of a series of bags – with their flat canvas of felt just waiting to be embellished. Perhaps an ocean scene in blues and greens – or some other crowd scene that begs for layers of colors. Perhaps this could be a summer project. We shall see. For sure, I have made copious notes of the flood of ideas that washed over me as read the pages of this article.
Honestly – there is nothing quite so exhilarating as being inspired by a fellow fiber enthusiast.
Happy fiber joys to you all today.

posted by Bess | 7:54 AM

1 Comments:

Postie genes, eh? My great-great grandparents' farmhouse has a PO in the foyer, just to the right of the parlor. Hmmm...

Glad you had a good day with your Mom and Dad, and that your Dad seems to be getting a bit stronger life-wise.

Hugs,

By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 8:39 AM  

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Monday, May 12, 2008  

How Green Was My County


Only, it's King and Queen County, but heck, I've got plenty of cousins in K&Q too. This is what it looked like on Saturday when I rode over to help sister buy furniture for Mama's new place.



Plenty of green tunnels



This is Beazley, where Essex, Caroline and K&Q all come to a point. The building is the new Rappahannock Indian Baptist Church. That name always makes me smile.



And this is Helmut - just up the road from Newtown - where Cousin Teddy used to be postmistress. BD & I stopped here when we rode our bikes from Richmond once, lo those decades ago.



Here's where the Alexander's used to live - and where we used to buy butter made from Lily the
Cow.



Not picturesque, but yet another post office where another cousin is postmistress. Hmmm. Evidently it runs in the family.

And proof that you don't have to go far to get rural (click to enlarge):



Happily, the rain had stopped by the time I got to Richmond and Happiest of All – we found everything we needed to buy at the prices we wanted to pay. Evidently I'm not just a lucky wedding shopper – I'm a flat out, all 'round lucky shopper.

When we were done, sister took me by the new place and then I spent the afternoon with Dad, going over old files and just spending time together. He's weaker physically, than he was last year, but less depressed and he's been making measurable progress with physical therapy this month. This is because sister takes him to PT (held in the building next door). She says she'll stop doing this at the end of May though and it'll be up to him to keep going.

I did the Mother's Day thing yesterday. This is not a holiday my own household celebrates, though we can't help responding to the constant promotion. So when I got home and BD asked “what do you want to do for Mother's Day?” I told him I wanted to brush out all the dogs, vacuum the rugs and spend the rest of a rainy afternoon in bed. Got to do all three.

Minuscule knitting progress and no spinning at all was accomplished this weekend.

posted by Bess | 7:30 AM

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Saturday, May 10, 2008  

Thanks Cathy. That's just what I thought too, when I saw the single box of rovings in the Peavine Hollow booth. I bought a third of what they had – about 24 ounces of it – enough for a sweater. It was the colors that really drew me in, rich, luscious, like something dug out of the earth. I haven't had much time to spin them but I'll plug away at them each week and by fall I can begin knitting.

I'm off to help sister buy furniture for Mama's new apartment, because Mama is moving next weekend from one AL place to another. Long story – not worth telling, probably not the last one either – but the new place comes unfurnished and neither sister nor I have ever bought furniture before. Yes. 50+ and ++ and we're furniture store virgins. We don't need much – fortunately she already has a bed and a lifting recliner, nor does the stuff have to be furniture for a lifetime – but it must all be wheelchair accessible.

I'll spend the night, visit Dad and do the Mother's Day thing tomorrow morning.

And my cyber twin is, of course, going to be doing the Same Thing this week! So for you, dear C, I offer you this good astro-news:

Mars, the planet of action, moves into marvelously show-y-off-y Leo today ... overall it means we are all going to be a little more out there, a little less defensive, we might spend less time worrying about our families and more time working out how to shine, personally and professionally. For Cancerians and Capricorns in particular, this Mars move is a welcome break, for Leos and Aquarians, it means the Mars madness is just beginning!

Here's what I've been knitting on



There will be a bright red one too - and there will be three of us sporting our clutches around town in a couple of weeks.

- and here is something I might knit out of that Spirit Trail silk I bought (lo those many years ago).



See y'all later, alligators

posted by Bess | 6:16 AM

1 Comments:

Those mohair colors are so luscious. They're going to make a beautiful sweater. Meanwhile, looks like there will be lots of happy spinning!

By Blogger cathy, at 11:58 PM  

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Thursday, May 08, 2008  

May Goals



Thanks for the comments gang. I suffer from serious comment envy so yours are especially welcome.

I have only 2 days this week in the office and, though I was good as gold before MS&W, I still have to make sure everything is in order for next week, when we shut the place down, get in wizards and carpet cleaners, and put in completely new library software. (and learn how to use it before we open back up to the public) Not much time for reflection or literary efforts.

I did make some May goals, which, evidently, is a good thing, since the end of the month Mercury starts going retrograde again, but there are no stellar threats to communication systems for the next few weeks. I can use all the astro-aide I can get too, for sister and I are moving Mama from one AL place to another and this time it involves buying furniture. Odd that two 50+ year olds have never bought furniture before but there it is – we've been salvation army and heirloom decorators all our lives.

Knowing that I don't have much free time this month I have been snatching at every spare minute I can find to play with my MS&W toys. Here are some examples:
Border Leicester that was already on the bobbin - plied up it's as soft and scrunchy as I'd hoped. There's a lot more where that comes from but this is 150 yards.
Mohair/wool blend from Peavine Hollow - though I suspect this particular color has no wool in it - I can't find anything but long silky fibers. The other colors have more of a wooly feel to them.
Especially the brown and peach colors. Here are both the control yarn card and a sample spun and plied. The goal is a sweater in all the colors by Christmas.

and here's what TheBirds have to say:

posted by Bess | 7:27 AM

4 Comments:

Thank you for the virtual tour! And I wonder what yarn we'll spin with "our" pear-colored fiber?

By Blogger Jane, at 6:10 AM  

I thought about all of you reveling in fibery goodness this weekend. Thanks for the report. Someday again, I'll be there. A little look at my stash on a monthly basis should stop me from dreaming of other fibery wonderful things but it doesn't.

By Blogger erica, at 9:23 AM  

Hey, so great to see you at MD! And thanks for the photos ~ I, of course, forgot to get my camera out. Again. It was great to see some of the festival on your blog.

xxoo Jen

By Blogger Jennifer, at 1:16 PM  

Oh, what fun! I dream of someday going to a fiber festival - not that I need the yarn - just because it looks like such a good time.

By Anonymous diann, at 9:39 PM  

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Monday, May 05, 2008  

Ahhhhhh.

The sound of the perfectly satisfied festival goer when she finally gets that last bag of loot unloaded, the coffee perked, and her feet up on the couch. That was what you heard last night about 7:30, just before I gave BD the point by point review of my wonderful weekend at Maryland Sheep and Wool.


The first time I went, my Big Darling took me – because K had had to back out for a family reason. I've been able to go every year since then, but poor K had never been able to swing the trip till this year and let me tell you, the second most fun thing in the world to visiting MS&W for the first time is sharing it with a friend for her first time. Oh did we have a grand time.

We'd watched the weather forecasters anxiously the whole week as they backtracked from rain all weekend long to rain sometimes to cloudy days to some sunshine. By the time we were actually packing our suitcases we didn't know what to take and filled the car trunk with raincoats and rubber boots and sweaters and jackets and turtlenecks and tank tops and jeans .... and on Friday it was so durn hot I wore shorts. I have since decided though, that from this day forward I will take only pants and shorts with pockets that zip, button or close with Velcro for I did so this time and discovered that there is no freedom like being purse-free!

The drive up 301 to the La Quinta in Jessup MD was easy because on a work day before rush hour the only people driving do so for their work. They're people who aren't anxiously wanting to get home or get to some play destination and they drive politely, carefully and skillfully. They are professionals. We made good time, checked in and were delighted to find that outside our window was a little remnant of rural Maryland.

I could have been at home, except, of course, we haven't any rocks.

We had dinner at a chain restaurant – one of many along Rt. 175 – and then stayed up till nearly midnight, watching and commenting on What Not To Wear and making plans to turn each other in to Stacy and Clinton. Neither K nor I have television in our homes so these shows are always fun for us.

There were half a dozen obvious festivalees in the dining room on Saturday, a few might have been vendors, and while we were all friendly, I didn't get anybody's name – or worse yet – if I did, fiber thoughts soon pushed everything else out of my brain. I'd forgotten about the traffic thing, since I've been working at the Spirit Trail Booth for several years, and vendors have to get there an hour before the customers. We got caught in the slow stream of cars on their way to the fairgrounds. Happily, both K and I were too ready to be pleased to mind and we actually got there pretty close to 10 o'clock. Already things looked like this!



Our first stop was the Spirit Trail Booth for hugs all around.

The star studded booth included C from Knitters Review.



There wasn't time to chat much beyond hellos, for shoppers and spenders were already beginning to clog the booth and the aisles. Soon we were among the throng as we poked our way through all the different booths. I had the Goldings as my first serious stop because I wanted to introduce K to his marvelous spindles. I was a little confused though, because his booth was smaller this year- only one wheel on display and no looms. I'd heard last year that the fair was trying to get people to give up their double booths so more vendors could be invited, so I suppose this is what happened to the Golding booth. I almost missed him. It was K who spotted them first and we spent nearly an hour there trying every spindle.

The trouble with Golding spindles is that they are all wonderful. I fell in love with 4 of them – two minis and two 2-inch ones – but only one of them came home with me. Both K and I were undecided right up to the moment we got to the cash register, when the lure of those little mini spindles proved that it's not size that matters.



My new Golding just demanded I purchase her the perfect roving and fortunately, I found some right next door at Carolina Homespun. Buffalo Gals bison roving - proving once again that if you spin, you can go high end for half the price. That bison yarn runs $70 a skein but a bag of roving is only $20 and I can get the exact thickness I want if I spin it myself.



K and I picnicked at the car, then, while I joined the KR bunch gathered outside the main building she did some more exploring.



We did some more booth sleuthing, including a stop at The Yarn Barn of Kansas for serious DVD purchases for the library, then parted again while she went to look at animals and I went to hear Bill Mayhew tell stories. I had a little time before the program started and I wanted something fiberish to play with while I waited, so I stopped by the Cormo breeder's association booth where this jumped into my shopping bag. Can't you just see a fair isle hat in these colors?



We hooked up again to check out the skein and garment competition where I fell in love with these two fellows.



There was lots of strong,

fine,

good quality

lovely fiberwork in the competition this year, but other than the two felted items – I wasn't knocked off my feet, the way I have been in other years. Still and all it is always wonderful to see the work of other fiber artists. Also – this year's judge (s?) was very generous in her comments and compliments. Lots of thought went into the judging and you can get some good tips by reading their comments.

The day remained sunny, the temperature rose to the sticky point and when that happens, soft dipped ice cream is the only answer. Chocolate dipped in peanut butter. Yum! With treats in hand we poked about carefully in more booths, tempted, admiring, but we were about shopped for the day. A final stop at Spirit Trail to see how they were doing, a look in at the fleece table, an admiring view of the sock machine knitters

and we were ready to head back to the hotel. I offered the Ravelry party to K for the evening's entertainment but she was as ready as I to have dinner and crash in our room. I'm sorry to have missed any of the gatherings, but our motto for the weekend was always “only as much as gives you pleasure” and by golly – we had had all the pleasure we wanted. Showers and sleep were the only real temptations.

Dinner was another pleasant chain restaurant meal, well within our budgets and impressively satisfying. I dreamed all night of my pretty little Golding while I tossed and turned in my comfortable, but unfamiliar bed. I was glad when it was 6:30 and we could just get up and play with our new toys. Breakfast was jollier on Sunday morning. A bus load of attendees was sampling the waffle iron. Other tourists joined us and asked what the big draw was. K & I shared tales of the festival and I gave them my catalog – which is why I am having such a hard time remembering the names of all the booths we visited.

This time, minus the traffic, we parked right by the front gate; a splendid spot because we could dash back to the car with our purchases and travel lightly about the fair. I finally fulfilled my desire for one of those elegantly stitched hand made brooms. K succumbed as well and at Persimmon Tree Farm

I picked up two 4 oz batches of magical roving carded with glitter.

I am imagining deep steel grey bands between stripes of rich colors in fire red and night blues. At Peavine Hollow Farm I fell victim to the lure of a sweater's worth of these colors

while K made love to baby mohair goats. Peavine Hollow is in VA and sell at very few shows. They are, without a doubt, the best source for mohair locks – the cleanest, prettiest, most beautifully dyed locks of any vendor I've ever seen.

We were both smitten with the SCA folk and their card weaving.

We spent a long time at their booth, close to an hour I'm sure, and left with [Cheap-n-Sleazy Student] card weaving kits.

Not more than 30 feet away we both fell in love with the triangle looms. Weaving began singing siren songs to us, lightly on Saturday and a little louder on Sunday. Neither K nor I have houses (or time) that could hold real looms, but I remember once saying I'd never knit again ... I've learned to never say never.

M caught up with us outside the triangle loom booth, where I purchased their instructional DVD. A found us at lunch by the Bingo hall; a lunch of lamb sandwiches spread thickly with mint jelly. Perfectly delicious.

K wanted to watch the sheep dog demonstration – no strain for this dog gal – and I fell in love all over again with these darling canine partners.

And that's how the weekend went. Fiber ruled. I was wickedly tempted by many wonderful yarns, but I kept pulling out of the recesses of my memory, images of the many sweater quantities of yarn, languishing already in my house. A final tour of the main building, a firm resolve to not buy even that lovely sport weight wool selling for a song and a last stop at Spirit Trail to hug goodbye and pick up this unusual colored fiber,




and we were ready to get home.

It was a splendid show. It was all the fun I could hope for. It lived up to its reputation for K. It was just ... just wonderful. Glorious enough to last till next year.

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posted by Bess | 9:23 PM
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