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


Hmmm... an interesting week ahead, indeed! I have a Writers' Centre Board Meeting on Friday, at which they might press me to stay on for another year -- and the answer will be a firm, polite, "No." :-)

Have a great one, Dear Bess!


By Blogger Marg, at 12:14 AM  

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Sunday, May 31, 2009  

Stars in the Sky!

Well, my dears. Here it is Sunday already. A happy, carefree, chore-less Sunday at that. All mine, wrestled out of the week by my toil and diligence. There are still threats from the sidelines that might suck me away from pleasures of my own choosing, but I am not going to listen to them. Only if they grab me, shake me, and haul me off, will I surrender to the outside world.

I woke this morning after a simply fabulous dream to sky rattling thunder, which the weather dot com guys promise we'll have the rest of the day. I had hoped for sunshine but I have never resented a rainy Sunday. They're reminiscent of happy times in my childhood – for Mama, who was creativity embodied, never played with us unless it was a rainy Sunday. Only then might she pull out art supplies or come up with songs or stories we'd never heard before and share them with us. Somehow, a rainy Sunday still holds the promise of creativity and love pouring over me. It may be that I do the pouring now, but the feeling has never left me.

Today I will knit and today I will draw and today I may paint. In between those delightful pleasures I will read an inconsequential but pleasurable mystery novel. (Sacred Cut by David Hewson) I will let tomorrow take care of itself for a while and let Mercury's return to forward motion get settled in so I can jump into the coming week with all the stars behind me, for here is what MrHoroscope has to offer for Virgo's this week:

Beware quick, superficial judgements this week, especially if they lead you to conclude that you've got a big problem. What you've actually got is a big, positive opportunity that could yet change everything for the better.

and here is what MsHoroscope tells us all to look forward to and look out for:

On Wednesday
Mars meets Pluto under a loving Libra Moon today..., It's also a great day for anyone who needs to be more assertive in business. Be as pro-active as you dare. Allow others to see how motivated you are. The only things we ever regret (really) are the things we didn't do. And this really is a Doing Day.

This is good – I have an important meeting with a newly formed committee for the building of a library branch/community service building in the far northern end of the county. This grew out of a discussion with my county administrator after he had seen his library director shine at a Big Deal Conference. Nothing like looking good in front of your boss, huh? But the seed of this project has always been here, waiting for spring to germinate. It is up to us gardeners, now, to tend it well so that we end up with a flourishing plant, not a rampant weed.

On Friday:
The prevailing link today is between the Sun and Saturn - it's not harmonious and it's quite likely to leave a lot of us feeling like (a) we're being pressured a lot more than we want to be or (b) that we're being scolded by a rather stringent headmaster! The best thing to do is bear in mind that the skies are a little tense today, that it's a passing phase, and that arguing back is probably about the worst response possible. Far better to win over the moral high ground by reacting to any problems with a very mature and long-sighted response.

Well – I can do that.

Ta my friends. Happy Sunday.

posted by Bess | 8:25 AM


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009  

Wouldn't it be wonderful?

I'm grasping for inspiration from the stars today. Not an unexpected reaction to the Tuesday following a Monday holiday. I spent 3 days doing mostly exactly what I wanted to do and now I have to go in to work and scramble around like a crazy woman. This week won't be a bad week ... in that there is nothing particular I dread doing this week. It's just that there is SO much that has to be done between now and June 30 and I'm inclined to be nervous about failing.

So – let's hear it for MrHoroscope!

Don't worry needlessly today.

And MsHoroscope!

So what's going on for you at work? Hopefully you are starting to feel a little more optimistic about your daily working life. Perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel...

I'm going to follow their advice and accept their encouragement – that and play my “Wouldn't it be wonderful?” game. It works like this:

Just begin saying "Wouldn't it be wonderful if ....." and say whatever would be wonderful that pops into your head. Repeat this about 25 times - or for 15 minutes - or from the time you get on the bus till you get to your bus stop – or from the time you get in your car till you get to work.

It's amazing how thinking of all the wonderful things that you'd like to have happen can really help lift your spirits. It's also amazing to me how many things I can think of. Oh, I start out with the requisite “lose 20 lbs by my birthday” and “had enough money to put in a real lawn” and “got all my work done by June 30th”. But before long it's “Wouldn't it be wonderful if the rest of Daddy's life could be soft and gentle and he would be content?” and “Wouldn't it be wonderful if all animals could find homes?” You can see where this is going – I start where I am – here in the physical world with it's pin pricks and kisses and I expand into the wider social world and usually end up with something like “Wouldn't it be wonderful if nobody was ever separated from God?”

Well. Sometimes I think I would rather live always in paradise and sometimes I think I do live in paradise but for sure I think it would be wonderful if we always thought we were living in Paradise. And short of that – I hope you feel like you are living in paradise today.

Happy knitting.

posted by Bess | 7:22 AM


You and me both, Virgo Sis. These posts are encouraging though; I've been needing re-assurance that my choice to live a creative/artistic life is valid, and these words help immensely.

Hugs to you!

By Blogger Marg, at 11:45 AM  

Ah but Bess, you DO live in paradise. :-)

By Blogger Clara Parkes, at 11:38 AM  

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Saturday, May 23, 2009  

Your Week Ahead

Imagine that you want to pass through a doorway. You expect this to be difficult. You anticipate a struggle with the lock. So, you pack keys, crowbars and other barrier-busting equipment. When you get to the entrance, the way is perfectly clear. There's just one problem. It is narrow. You can only get into the opening if you put your package down. You feel reluctant. It has been giving you a sense of security. Yet really, why do you need it any more? The triple conjunction of Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron is urging you to forget an old fear and embrace a very real opportunity. Happiness is easier to get than you think.

This from MrHoroscope. and from MsHoroscope there is this promise especially for the coming Wednesday:

a major Jupiter/Neptune link which only happens once every 12 years. It's about artistry and dreams, about how laughter is the best medicine. It's a powerful time for energetic healing, too. And for anyone who feels like they need to visit a chiropractor. Amazing results are pretty much guaranteed. Ditto anyone doing creative visualisation and meditation, yoga, tai chi and anything else which settles down yer chakras and meridians.

Of course, I only ever follow the good things that are written in horoscopes and maybe, just maybe, I won't buy a computer during a Mercury Retrograde, and perhaps even have a little patience during those times, with traffic delays and other motion snafus. Otherwise, I only look for the good news and I think this sounds like good news for a Queen who has had to spend a lot of time in hospitals and rehabs over the past month.

Truth is, I've been fighting off the blues for quite a while. I rode high in the weeks leading up to MS&W and I certainly had a splendid time at the library summit put on by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (May I brag? A link to story that features Essex Public Library) 2 weeks ago. But a sadness has dodged my heels too - some of it understandable, and some of it inexplicable. That's the way it is with the blues. You can think of reasons for being down but not this down. Your reasoning mind can tell your feeling heart that it's being ridiculous - things are fine - but your heart isn't convinced.

So. So. I hope this coming astro event makes me feel All Fixed inside. And if you've been groping about too, well, let us ask the stars or the angels or the white light purveyors to make it all better for everyone.

Happy knitting this long holiday weekend or if it is only an ordinary weekend, why - happy knitting still.

posted by Bess | 7:21 AM


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Friday, May 22, 2009  

Thank you for the cheering comments!

And emails from those of you who've written that way. BD is home and feeling better every minute. I took yesterday off to be on hand in case and was rewarded with a gorgeous blue sky day when the temperature outside was the same as inside so even if you were lolling around in bed you felt as if you were outdoors. Dogs wandered in and out at will, since I left the doors open. It's a sign of the change in season when they aren't all that anxious to come in if given the opportunity. Only Socks, who believes that her rightful place is on the Big Bed with Daddy, stayed inside all day.

It's now the end of May and my fiscal year at work is almost at an end. There are just a few days past 5 weeks left to wrap up every thing to do with $ at work. I don't know why this always surprises me .... always catches me off guard - but it does and it did and I am going to be scrambling. I believe I will also write out a schedule for next year and see if I can stave off this sensation of cramming and crashing and looming brick wall.

Artistically I am empty - with nary a jot of creativity blossoming. Or dormant. Perhaps that's a better way to say it, for I know there are things bubbling down there, someplace deep inside. But they must wait till all the dootiful stuff is taken care of.

Happily, I get one last fling at idleness starting today at 6. A three day weekend lies before me and I am going to savor every moment of it. May you have a savory Memorial day too.

posted by Bess | 5:54 AM


Cyber hugs to you and best wishes for BD's quick and uncomplicated recovery. My thoughts are with you both.

By Blogger KathyR, at 8:05 PM  

Simply a hug to you, Dear Bess, and a wee prayer that a) BD's recovery will be smooth, swift and uncomplicated; and b) that you'll be able to catch up on your sleep!

By Blogger Marg, at 11:30 AM  

I hope each day will be better.

By Blogger cathy, at 1:03 AM  

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009  

Hospital Stays

They are like trips through the looking glass. Everyone there knows what's going on, what the words really mean, and and where the exit portal is. I got to play Alice yesterday while BD had surgery. A knitting Alice. A sketching Alice. A TV watching Alice. 11-6 I waited and knit and drew pictures. My patience was rewarded with a long chat with the surgeon who Had Information.

Turns out things were more complicated than we'd all thought, with all sorts of growthy things and complications and icky stuff. The upshot was that he had a partial thyroidectomy. I won't get all juicy on you but I will say I'm glad I have Thursday off as well. I'm expecting to go bring him home this afternoon.

The long lingering day enabled me to finish up the first red sock, cast on the second, realize I'd made a mistake and rip it all out. I'll cast on today with fewer stitches and begin the long ride down the cuff. I also did a wee bit of drawing from one of the pictures I took at Maryland Sheep and Wool. I am going to have So Much Fun working with those snapshots. I know at least 3 of them will turn into watercolors. Maybe more. Altogether it was not a bad hospital day.

So. 'tis back to the city again today and let us hope that soon I will get a full 8 hours sleep, hmmm?

posted by Bess | 6:35 AM


Hugs and prayers to you and BD. FB would not let me finish commenting this morning, so I wheeled over here.

By Anonymous Carolyn, at 8:13 AM  

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Monday, May 18, 2009  

Playing Catch Up

Thank you for your kind wishes my friends. The past few weeks have been hectic to say the least. The good news is that my dad made it through the minimum of rehab and is going back to his apartment today. The bad news is that it is only the barest minimum. We are expecting another crisis soon, but the alternative: him turning so mean the rehab center kicks him out... is worse than the next crisis. He is weak and dispirited and not really trying to get any better than he absolutely must. His is that stubborn personality wrapped in painful shyness and fueled by the rage of an inflexiblity, that will not find joy in a new path when there is no more to be found along the old one. Every spare moment I could squeeze out of an already packed schedule has been devoted to cajoling and flirting and teasing him into this minimum cooperation - the only practical thing I can do for him. My poor and burdened sister shoulders the majority of his care - the tedious visits with doctors, the financial paperwork, the long drive in to town on an almost daily basis, to consult with his caregivers or purchase his daily needs - and my mother's, remember. There are two of them who fight so wickedly they can't live together.

It is her bad luck that I have the good cop role ... the role of the non-custodial parent who breezes in all made-up, in a matched outfit, with presents and a happy smile. She is the one who makes them "do their homework" and they treat her exactly as any bratty 9 year old treats the parent who makes him do what's good for him.

This has all taken place in a frantic month that was full of both deliciously fun travel and anxious frustrated travel. I'm not sure if the good visits helped dilute the difficult or if the difficult diminished the joy of the fun. It's still too close to asses, and besides, it is what it is. I had the joy of Maryland and the anxiety of hospitals, the pleasure of seeing LD and the tedium of rehab.

What I have NOT had is inspiration to pursue art in the form of fiber, pencil or paint. I have no visual proof that there is an inner artist, but I promise you ... she is there. And sooner or later she'll awaken and produce and create and then... she will share.

Tomorrow BD goes in for some long delayed surgery. Every medical person assures me this is routine, easy to bounce back from, with wonderful results for a longer, healthier life. We are approaching it with confidence. Perhaps I am becoming hospital anxiety immune. hmmm?

Ahh Monday.

posted by Bess | 6:51 AM


Hang in there. I hope your father will get better very soon.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:07 PM  

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Monday, May 11, 2009  

I'm back from a whirlwind trip to see LD. It was lots of driving but it was a joy to see him. Now that I'm home I'll be taking up my share of family responsibility. My dad took sick the weekend of MS&W. My sister has shouldered the whole burden of his care - a substantial load. But now he's recovering and the load is too heavy for anyone to hold up. I'm off to the city to help out today. It will be a long week.

posted by Bess | 6:27 AM


Just catching up on my reading after a busy spell. Love your post about MS&W. I only made a short visit this year -- boohoo. Saw the booth with those spindles; they were fascinating to watch!

By Blogger cathy, at 7:36 PM  

Know you won't read this for a bit...hope you went to help out, equipped with knitting that you could do in quiet moments, to refresh yourself, Dear Bess.

A Survivor of the Sandwich Generation...

P.S. It's tough, but it's worth it, on a great many levels.

P.P.S. You don't get to figure this (above) out for a while... Sigh...

By Blogger Marg, at 12:08 AM  

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Friday, May 08, 2009  

Elizabeth Zimmermann's Seamless Circular Sweaters

Ha! So I go for years with no visitors ... my readership sometimes dwindles to 10 and I'm sure they are just automatic probing computers ... and suddenly I post on Knitters Review Forums and 100 people take a look. And here I sit, with nary an EZ sweater in sight, to show off my braggy comments about fast easy custom fit classic sweater patterns.

Truth is, almost ALL my sweaters are based on her formula. If I take on someone else's design I'm likely to adapt and adjust it to fit the EPS numbers. So even as far back as 2003 and Flidas, that beautiful long lost (sob) gold tweedy sweater with the knitted in/set in sleeves was an EPS sweater. and that ubiquitous greeny gold thing knit out of Trendsetter's DUNE is just the sweater without the sleeves. I knit my KipFee (Knit Picks Fair Isle Kit) with those same set in sleeves and there are a lot of posts in the 2007 arcives with many photos demonstrating the steps I took to adapt that sweater.

This year I knit an EZ Adult Surprise sweater (that's it in the badge on the sidebar) and it was as much fun to knit as a circular sweater. I'm a fan of garter stitch, but it's slow so I seldom use it except for edgings, but in this project it was a pleasure to knit. But I had tons of yarn so I never worried that I'd run out.

Anyway, I'm sorry there aren't any pictures ready to hand to show and I shan't have time to post any this weekend, but maybe sometime next week I can dig up some of my favorite EZ samples.

Happy Friday to you!

posted by Bess | 6:01 AM


I got one, too!!! Mine has light brown beads with daisy-like flowers on them. It does look like a space station when in motion.

By Anonymous Robin, at 9:24 PM  

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Thursday, May 07, 2009  

The Power of BLUE

I'm always surprised at how powerfully blue affects any other color. Here is some wool/mohair blend - it has the look of Persimmon Tree Farms stuff - but it might not be from them. There's lots of gold in this fiber but the blue dominates it all. Blended together with some rich reddish brown (or brownish red) it's giving the 2 ply a browish color.
Too soon to tell what a whole skein of this will look like but I am sure I will be pleased. I am thinking either hat or socks. The mohair ought to lend quite a bit of strength to a pair of socks.

The spindle is my new Trindle spindle and I am totally in love with it. The long tapered shaft is a delight to twirl.

posted by Bess | 7:02 AM


Dear Heart,

It's great to visit these East coast fibre-fests vicariously, with you! I am now really keen to get to my first such fest -- the Olds Fibre Festival at the end of June. It's been going for years, but I haven't! This year is IT.

Thanks for the inspiration!


By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 11:44 AM  

Sounds like you had a great time, too!! I was soaked to the skin after going back on Sunday but didn't care a bit. I also bought a Trindle - a real whirling dervish! Great pictures of the sheep!!

By Anonymous Robin, at 9:13 AM  

Yarn. Food. Aaarrrghhh! This post drove me crazy! ;-) The spindle is very interesting!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:53 PM  

Thanks for stopping by to see us at the Sheep and Wool Festival!

We used to carry Holly Honey, but it is hard to find. Holly is related to gallberry, though. You may pay a premium price these days for Gallberry Honey - I think Martha Stewart mentioned it a few years back, and it has fetched a premium ever since - but it is easier to find. But Radish Honey is a good substitute.

Lori Titus
The Bee Folks

By Blogger The Bee Folks - Lori Titus, at 4:47 PM  

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009  

MS&W 2009 PART 2

Long and picture laden

We spent all of Saturday at the fair, from 9 to 6, and each of us found the one or two serious treasures we wanted to get. Lunch was fair food – grilled hot meaty stuff and though we thought a lot about soft ice cream and funnel cakes, the promise of a Thai dinner with A after the fair was enough to keep us from snacking. I got a good visit with Barbara Gentry at Stony Mt. Fibers. That's one thing I love about her – that even in the crush and madness of a festival like this she takes the time to chat a bit. I really want to make a road trip up there this summer .... maybe arranging a gathering with JCN and the rest of the Charlottesville gang. C found the perfect summer weight yarn to make things she can wear in the land of Disneyesque perpetual sunshine. K found inspiration and opportunity to spend in all the booths with unusual fibers – Gotland, karakul, Wensleydale, Blueface Leicester. We also made sure to wander through the sheep pens, where we met these darlings.

Meet Rico The Flirt

We watched some of the sheep judging. Unfortunately, the PA system in the judging building echoed and crackled so that I could never tell who won anything, but watching the contestants was fun enough. There were the youthful

and the fashionable

and the intense

and the experienced, all with their darling fleecy animals, waiting their turns in the ring.

We also took in the sheepdog demonstration. I'm a sucker for a dog anyway, but watching the devotion and concentrated efforts of those beautiful little dogs as they maneuver the sheep while staying attuned to their trainers is one of my favorite things at the fair. There is also a tiny thread of fright woven through the experience, since that crouched position of the dogs still carries with it a primeval impulse of the hunter.

On the way down to the demonstration ring we passed a boy twirling the most fascinating spindle I've ever seen. It's not a fair if I don't come home with a new spindle, for I like to collect them. The beautiful wooden ones are always a delight, and I have some interesting ones made of stone and even one of glass. But this one had to come home with me!

“Building 5, at the far end, on the left. Just inside the door.” he told me. The booth was Gale's Art, owner Gale Evans but the spindles were made by Jeremy Armstrong. He calls them Trindles and you can have a look at more of them by visiting his etsy shop. I dashed into building 5 and made a quick decision and purchase before the demonstration started. I am in love! Doesn't it look like a space station when it's in motion?

Here's a shot of the crowd, late in the day on Saturday, while we were resisting the Ice Cream Urge.

Our last serious stop of the day was a stroll through the skein and garment competition. I particularly liked this "basket" of handsupn yarn with an explanation of how the yarn will be used. I particularly liked how the artist drew herself in the proposed sweater and added the pattern swatch.

While the knitting certainly was beautiful this year, the most impressive part of the show was the felting. Silk felted garments

felted animals,

felted hats (my favorite)

and this fabulous felted tower

with its very own Rapunzel.

The judges critiqued everything very fully and they had a technical criticism about the felting which is why it didn't get a bigger prize, but I suspect had their been a People's Choice award, this piece would have taken it.

At 6 we moved out into the parking lot, now empty enough to make it easy to find the car. We met up with A at a park'n'ride on just north of the I70 and she drove us to the wonderful Thai restaurant she took me to 3 years ago. We had the cutest waiter who gave us good advice on restaurant specialties. K knew her way around a Thai menu and ordered the papaya salad – oh my goodness – it was the best thing I ever tasted! Yummy food, warm room, sitting still – we caught up, but by the end of the meal we were all just sort of sinking into the stupor of fair fatigue. A had furbabies at home that needed attention so we parted in the parking lot, reluctantly, and headed back to our hotel.

Of course, there was more cheese and chocolate waiting for us (we'd skipped desert) so that necessitated a stop at the nearby wine shop where we found something for us and a surprise for BD!

We had it last night, btw, and it was delicious! A merlot type wine, hefty and strong and absolutely wonderful. I wish I had bought more, but I found their website – and it looks like they ship to retail customers!

The next morning, all the promise of that grey sky was fulfilled with falling weather. We were tired, we'd already bought the things we wanted most, and, in spite of our lavish dining the night before, were ready to sit down to a hot breakfast. We had a roomy suite and could have settled in on couches with our knitting and spinning. So – what does a perfectly satisfied fiberista do on the second day of the MS&W weekend? Well, we did too. Back at the fairgrounds, in serious rain, now, we were surprised at just how full the parking lot already was. In rain gear and grubby clothes we sloshed around, making second stops at favorite places, slinking past the American Heirloom booth, sighing longingly, but making sure we stayed on the far side of the aisle – to resist the gravitational pull of those silky plush wool carpets.

I added to my fair loot.

Felting toys

Bird Buttons!

The one discount item I found .... end runs of Cherry Tree Hill sockyarn.

We made sure we got by the Spirit Trail booth again, for some spending

and goodbye hugs. Our last stop was at the curly potato chips covered in cheese and sour cream booth. I've wondered about those things for years – since they're always served at the fair. They don't hold up too well in the pouring rain and afterwards I wished I'd bought a gyro instead, but at least now I know what they taste like and probably won't be tempted again. We were tired and wet and sated. We found a table out of the rain and polished of most of our lunch while chatting with fiber gals from southern MD.

Our last stop was at The Bee Folks, where K and I had picked up such tasty honey last year. C had to get to the airport and she certainly didn't want to tote heavy jars of honey in her carry on luggage, so we parted at the entrance gate with final hugs. The cheerful girl at the honey booth told us about this year's new flavors – including Radish honey.

My silent and politely hidden response was “Yuck. Who would want to eat radish flavored honey?” Of course, I know that honey doesn't taste like the fruit of the plant the bees pollinate. It tastes like the blossom – which can be dramatically different. And I wasn't going to Not Sample it, just because it sounded strange. Whew! Am I glad I did. Radish is the most delicate and fascinating and light and desert like honey I have ever tasted. Holly honey has always been my favorite honey, but I didn't even ask if she had any holly honey. I just plunked my money down and bought me a jar of that wonderful nectar. It's a small jar. I will not be sharing it with anybody. This treat is MINE!

And then it was over. Cold, damp, tired, broke and utterly satisfied, we got back in K's car and headed home. There was a surprising amount of traffic on 301 on such a rainy Sunday but with friendly chatter and some companionable silence, we covered the miles back to our own precious Virginia and the waiting arms of our loved ones.

Each MS&W is different and each one has its own charms, but right now I can honestly say, this one was my favorite.

posted by Bess | 7:24 AM


Oh, that Morbier cheese you brought? I found another Morbier today, at the Publix near me, of all places, so I decided to give it a try. Only a superficial similarity, and it wasn't cheap. Much more yellow, not as buttery white and delicate. That cheese shop is worth the drive. You've created a monster; I now want to find a comparable cheese in the Orlando area. :-)

Murphy sends his regards - he thinks the stuff I found is the Best Cheese Ever! Good thing he wasn't with us.

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:43 PM  

Lawre LOVES her marmalade cardi and wears it everyday. She did a few modifications to it b/c she wanted it a bit longer and it's now perfect on her. I can't wait to se yours. Sad I didn't go to MS&W this year but after the Spring we've had I came home from school on Friday and didn't leave the house until I went to school on Monday...I needed that! Have a good week, Jane

By Blogger jane, at 6:34 AM  

I'm so happy you had such a wonderful time with your friends. It's such a special and wonderful time when you can get together with people you hardly ever see but feel so close to. The sweater kit you bought is gorgeous!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:45 PM  

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Monday, May 04, 2009  

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2009

Vintage verbosity a la Queen

I was of two minds this year if I wanted to go to MS&W. I'd hit the mother lode of good buys on yarn at Stitches East last November and am now supplied with enough yarn to knit at my normal pace on into the next millennium. But when K said she was looking forward to going again – and then C said she was coming all the way from Florida – well. Well. There you have it. Who'd miss an opportunity to get together with two grrlfriends in a roomy hotel suite not 10 minutes from the biggest collection of yarn, fiber, spinning wheels, looms, knitting books, cute fleecy animals and junk food around?

The weather forecast was dreadful but I own rubber boots and the hotel had a hot shower. Truth is, a cool cloudy festival is often much more fun than a hot sunny one. And the rain held off till Sunday anyway, so we had a splendid time without having to wear lots of protective clothing. It was drizzly on Friday, though, when K and I headed off, first to find a good map of Maryland – my Delorme's is 15+ years old. The trip up was easy, we only hit slow traffic when we were almost there and could pull off on a side road through suburban MD and we got there about 4:30 or so to find C already spread out with the wine bottle purchased and the good deli section scouted out.

One of the strangest sensations is getting together face2face with a friend you mostly communicate with on-line. For all the intimacies we've shared, all the stories we've told each other, all the support we've offered – we hardly have any familiarity with such subtle things as the sound of our voices, the facial movements or hand gestures that punctuate our in-person communication. Both C and I felt it and laughed about it and of course, once you acknowledge the weirdness it begins to go away.

Although it was a little early, we decided to go for dinner and dined at Carrabba's. We got there Just In Time, since of course, we weren't thinking about it being a Friday night in May and just how many people were going to want to kick back in a TGIF way. We got the last table before the line formed and were served tasty food expeditiously. Too much, of course, because the servings really are generous and we had spicy calamari, particularly well cooked. No desert, though, since I'd been through Culpepper the day before and had picked up magnificent cheese and Belgian chocolates. Those, with a bottle of nice Cabernet Sauvignon made the perfect desert, to be eaten in the sitting room of our suite while we chatted.

Saturday dawned cloudy and even a little damp, but not raining. We had been checking all sorts of weather sources, but truth is – nothing was going to keep us from the fair and evidently plenty of other folk felt the same way. It was a short hop to the fairgrounds and the traffic was only slightly congested – nothing like what we saw last year. But we'd left earlier this time, and were coming in on 40, not 32.

The parking lot was filling up, though and there was a steady stream of fair goers. We bypassed the main entrance to slip in the far entrance, where you can hit the main building first. After all, I wanted to stop in and give J&Co., at Spirit Trail Fiberworks, a hug. In such a melee of happy shoppers and fibery people it's hard to remember to get all the photos you will wish you had once you get home. That booth was crowded as always so we didn't try to shoulder our way inside to shop. We knew there would be more room on Sunday morning. Instead, we ambled on down the long crowded aisles. Not too crowded – for there were not as many people at the fair as in years past. I didn't hear a report nor did i try to find out. I just noticed that nobody was running over my toes with a stroller or pushing me out of the aisle with her bulky packages. Lots of shoppers, mind you, but not a mad crush of them. I did ask J on Sunday if she was happy with the turnout and she was, and certainly nobody had that desperate look of someone who hadn't made her booth fee back.

And we certainly did plenty to help their economy. My own mission was simple. To not buy more of what I already have. After last year's excesses at Stitches, economical as they were, I really didn't want to glut myself yet again. There really was only one thing on my list: the Shelridge Farm Marmalade Cardigan.

I've lusted over this sweater for several years. Each time I've been to an event where they have a booth I've stroked and drooled and sighed and stared at it and longed for it and when I thought seriously, in the calm and honesty of my own home, without the impetus of shopping frenzy, it was the ONLY new fiber thing I really wanted to bring into my life. The price tag made gave me pause, as it has every time I've looked at it – but here my two good friends helped me step over that little barrier and I am so very glad they did. Stitches East is moving to CT and I won't have a chance to buy this next fall. Who knows what I'll be doing next May. Sometimes you need a little push, even when it's towards something you really want.

And am I glad they were there to push me, because once I owned that sweater kit, I was both happy and satisfied the rest of the weekend. I am still happy and satisfied about it and with the success of my KipFee sweater to remind me that I really do finish big complicated projects, I'm confident I'll have this bit of sunshine in my wardrobe – in my life – when the dreary days of winter roll around next year.

We wandered through the whole main building, looking, pondering, thinking, fondling, before I even thought about taking pictures. I hardy have a booth photo out of the 100 shots I took. It seemed there was less yarn this year, though there was plenty of it, and more fiber, which I was determined to not purchase. I asked my companions to smack my hand hard if, once it had stroked a fleece, the fingers began to curl around it as if to make a purchase. Fortunately they never had to resort to force.

We were all completely enchanted with a New Fiber Activity – the hooked rug kits in American Heirloom's booth. We thought. We fondled. We talked. We consulted. We tried our hands at the technique. We longed. We considered. We walked away. We talked about it some more. We came back. But in the end, with huge sweater kits in our arms, with bags of wool to spin and yarn to knit, we decided ....

Next Year.

To be continued .....

posted by Bess | 8:30 AM