Sunday, April 20, 2008

Slightly off the yarn diet

Many knitters go on a yarn diet before Maryland Sheep and Wool.
However April is always the time for the spring Countryside Artisans Studio Tour which happened last weekend on April 11th,12th, and 13th. I went on Saturday which was a good choice. At Kiparoo Farm, Annie said Friday had been very busy, and as a result there was only one skein of her wonderful silk and wool, which I scarfed right up. I also got more Sparkle, and a wooden Norwegian yarn winder, made by Kip. The yarn winder works great (Kip showed me how to use it). I don't own a swift (though one is on my list... a friend who no longer knits has promised to lend me hers, so I have not bought one) nor ball winder. I am one of those knitters who loves hand winding yarn (except for laceweight).
Annie was nearing the end of lambing - 80 lambs had already been born, and 10 ewes were left to lamb. Ewes, except for virgin ewes (first time mothers) usually have twins. There was at least one set of triplets, and they might have been the 3 black lambs I spotted. When I was up there in the fall, there had been an emu on the loose (not a resident of Kiparoo), and it makes quite a funny story, which we chuckled over - but it's a hard story to write as it is better in the telling.
At Dancing Leaf Farm I walked out with two skeins of organic cotton and 3 skeins of Dalis's natural colors. These natural colors are very limited, and come from Dalis's own sheep. Here is her own description:
I shear in April and October so I have 6 months to accomplish that. I cheated this last time and had my fall shearing sent to Prince Edward Island in Canada to be spun into yarn. I'll be offering natural colors in cream (Sparkleberry's Wool), grey (Mocha's) and a blend of both (Bramble's). The yarn has an organic quality to it and has plenty of lanolin left in. Mmmmm.
I said to Dalis that no one would think I'd been to DLF, as the palate of yarns I brought home were whites, greys, and beiges. She's doing lots of handpainted roving in gorgeous colors too.
Both Kiparoo and Dancing Leaf Farm are at Maryland Sheep and Wool. In fact, Annie Kelley is one of the founders of MSW.
So today, being rainy, and we, I organized my stash. I have a good idea of what's in it, and what I might want to let go of. I am working on a couple of projects, and my stash will shrink accordingly. Because it was so dark today, I couldn't take any pictures to update Ravelry - I'll have to do that next week.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Not-so local yarn shops

Wow, I haven't posted for 3 weeks. I have been traveling for work and super busy. I was in Fort Worth TX but didn't have time nor a car to go exploring. Searching online, it seems there are several places to buy yarn in FW, but nothing sounded like a must shop. But I did read several horrible reviews of a shop somewhere else in Texas (it's a big state ) called Yarn Heaven, and renamed Yarn Hell by several customers - all moms, whose children were treated abysmally.
I just came back from a short business trip to Boston, and visited Newbury Yarns. I left empty-handed, and I felt the shop broke 3 basic rules. First, no one acknowledged me at all for the 15 minutes I was in the shop, which only had one other customer, and is tiny. Second, there were no prices on anything!!! This is especially strange because unless Massachusetts law has changed (and it may have) everything, even every can in the supermarket must have a price sticker. Third, and maybe the worst, especially for an asthmatic, there was a distinct smell of cigarette smoke. It could have been coming from somewhere else in the building, but.... if I were shopping there, I'd be concerned if it is a constant as the yarn could end up smelling. She does carry the Canadian yarn Briggs & Little which you only tend to find in LYS's closer to Canada. But it was way above my head on the upper level shelves, and although I am tall, I couldn't get to it.
There are many LYS's in the Boston area. My two favorite are not accessible without a car if you are visiting (the reason I didn't visit them on my recent short business trip to Boston) - Circles Yarn Salon and The Woolpack. Circles is now located in the owner's home in Roslindale, and I haven't been there yet (hope to get there this summer). I like Circles for its innovations - a yarn coop. Woolpack, a couple of miles outside of RT. 495 in Littleton, MA, apple country, is spacious, with lots and lots of yarn, organized by weight, and brand, in a way that makes sense to me. The owner, Janet, has always been super friendly, and helpful when I've been there.
There are so many LYS's in Massachusetts and New England, and I am always trying to check them out. Last summer, while on Cape Cod, I stopped in at Adventures in Knitting, in the picturesque seaside town of Harwichport. This shop, pictured above, is one of the few retail outlets for Black Water Abbey Yarn and also carries Sheep Shop Yarn. I bought a BWA Fair Isle Tote kit and some Sheep Shop yarn and a pattern. The tote is a WIP and pictured here.