Archive for category Festival Fun

Back Again – Maybe?

I could make a lot of excuses for my absence, tell my life story or give a laundry list of accomplishments.  But I won’t.  Honestly, you don’t want/need to know, and I don’t want to waste time thinking or writing about it.

In a society where being busy is praised, but showing that you are stressed is looked down upon – I’ve finally thrown in the towel.  I’m at the point where I am openly saying no and admitting that I have reached a state of overwhelm.  Admitting it to others, really, because I had been trying so hard to not admit it to myself for months. It was somehow easier to allow myself to accept that I have limits if I told others that I did.

All that being said – I’ve mentioned time and time again that Fall is my favorite season.  Apple picking, sipping wine outside at my favorite vineyard while M runs around, watching football with my parents on a Sunday afternoon, Halloween.  Fiber Festival Season.  Every part of it makes me happy.  But honestly, it also adds to the stress.  Needing to make all the apple things before the apples rot, driving two hours each way to get far enough out into the country to feel like I’m really appreciating Fall, and traveling to and from festivals.

This weekend is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.  When M woke up this morning (after actually sleeping in!), she was on me about leaving the house and doing something.  Meanwhile, I was sitting on my craft room floor soaking in the fact we had NOTHING scheduled for this weekend.  Planning to savor every unplanned moment of the day.  And I felt guilty about it.  I hadn’t told her that there was a festival this weekend because I knew she would want to go. She loves festivals and she’s already “mad” at me about going to Rhinebeck without her again…

I slowly weighed my options. It’s not like I wouldn’t enjoy the festival – I enjoy most of them and this one is pleasantly small and much less crowded.  But it’s over an hour away, with traffic likely two.  It was late morning and (we’re being real here) I hadn’t even showered.  The idea of rushing around to get ready so we could get there at a reasonable time was stressful.  I carefully chose my words and told her about the festival.  She asked if there would only be fiber there.  I honestly relayed the details.  She thankfully declined once I told her the distance and the length of the drive.

Instead, she asked for me to get her “Box of Projects” out of the craft room closet and she disappeared for another hour working on her own crafts.  We’ve since spent a lovely day crafting, making waffles together, butterfly watching (our three butterfly bushes out our front window are still blooming), and just breathing.  One of the many benefits to parenting – having a child who can read you and your needs sometimes, and understanding that sometimes, even moms need a break!

I hope you all are having an amazing start to your Fall!  But I also hope you are finding ways to slow down and take some time for yourself, too!

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All of a Sudden

Here we are.  It’s fall again after a whirlwind of a summer.  Though it was an amazing summer, it was full of M (for the first time) having summer activities that our lives revolved around and me straddling two positions at work, just trying to stay afloat.  But now, school is in full swing and we’re starting to get back to a normal rhythm in our lives.

It’s no secret that fall is probably my favorite season.  Between finally breaking out the hand knits to apple picking and Halloween festivities – there’s really nothing that beats it!  Except maybe winter, with my love of layering and snow…

Regardless, M and I have already started our apple adventures and by picking four pecks of delicious, early-season apples.  We even made our first batch of apple sauce a few weeks ago.  Now we’re in prep-mode for M’s birthday and Halloween. But first:  New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka – the beloved Rhinebeck).

I am glad to say that, though I didn’t manage to knit a new sweater for Rhinebeck this year, I have completed an epically large shawl and a poncho and I’m almost all packed and ready to go!  This is the first year that I’ll be heading up to Rhinebeck without M, staying in a house with friends and attending the festival both Saturday and Sunday.  So it was crucial (really just to me) that I had two major new pieces to wear.

First, I spent most of the summer, including hot Saturday mornings at swim meets, knitting up the Sixpence Shawl by Kristen Rengren.  I couldn’t be happier with this epically large piece!  There are different sizes in the pattern, and I definitely could have stopped sooner, but I basically wanted a blanket to curl up in.  I knit it up in my handspun from Gourmet Stash Tribbles (combining colorways Shrewd Slytherin and Screenager) with a “boarder” (because that’s probably the largest boarder I’ve ever knit…) out of Knit Picks Capretta in the Hunter colorway.  That’s right – this shawl is a Merino, Nylon, Cashmere and more blanket of heavenly cloud warmth.  I even enjoyed how light-weight, yet warm it was to the extent that I wore it multiple times at work – before weaving in the ends and blocking it.  It was the perfect layering piece over summer outfits in my freezing office – how could I resist?!

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

Once the shawl was done, and I finished the knitting aspect of my mother’s long-overdue sweater, I knew I needed to crank out another substantial piece before Rhinebeck.  Otherwise, I mean really – how could I show my face at the festival for day two? 😉

The problem was, what could I possible knit quickly enough that would make me feel super comfortable and confident?  Of course – the Rodeo Drive Poncho by Stacy Perry!  Even better – I had the perfect yarn already in stash from Aylin’s Woolgatherer’s massive store-closing sale this past summer: Filatura Di Crosa Zara in the beautiful 1962 colorway.  I love creative yarn companies and their love of yarn names 😉

I promise, it's a medium teal color....

I promise, it’s a medium teal color….

Now that all the knitting is done, both pieces have been blocked and most of my packing is done – I’m on to the next crazy struggle – what projects do I bring to work on while at Rhinebeck!? Do I bring my spinning wheel?!  Is that completely insane?! Then of course there’s making the “What to Purchase and Not Purchase” at the festival.  Yes – this year, I am telling myself there are actually things I have too much of (ex: Jacob fleeces, and really all fiber) and giving myself a real shopping list of the yarns I need to knit projects on my To Knit List for 2017.  More information on that list to come! 🙂

Tell me – what are your favorites about/for fall? Knitting/crafting musts?  Items you knew you needed to have done by fall so you could enjoy them? Favorite beverages? Foods?  Whatever it is – let me know – I should probably add it to my fall must-have list as well!

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Falling in Progress

Apples are currently in the crock pot, the smell of cinnamon is wafting through the air.  I have a new project on the needles and there is a crispness to the air.  It is the perfect first day of Fall.  Of course, the change in seasons brings some unpleasant things as well… such as seasonal allergies and the cold which our house has already been overtaken with.  But I refuse to let that bring me down.  This is my favorite time of year and I won’t let anything get in my way.  We have apple picking and American Football.  Then there’s pumpkin patches and fall vegetables.  To top it all off: we’re attending the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival this weekend to kick off the start of sheep & wool festival season.  There is just too much to look forward to!

With that said, Fall also brings the want… no, the NEED to cast on nearly everything in sight.  All I long to do is sit in a big pile of all of my yarn and decide what to do with it all.  And then do it.  I cast on a cowl last night out of some handspun that would have been a crime to have stored away another Fall and Winter.  I plan to cast on another cardigan in the next few days for my mom (that’s right, I said ANOTHER).  I’ve already planned enough knitting and spinning to last me all the way through to next Spring and I just can’t stop.  The only trouble is, I would need to seriously tap into my mythical free time to actually get it all done.  Clearly, the cinnamon fumes are getting to me.

Coming back to reality, I realize that I need to first finish a lot of projects.  Sure, the knitting is complete.  But I have a sweater for M, a cardigan for me (more to come in another post), two cowls and two wraps that need ends woven in, to be blocked and buttons sewn on so they can all be worn and enjoyed this Fall.  To accomplish this, I have at least gathered them all into a bag and placed it next to my favorite chair in the living room.  I’ve even conveniently left a sewing needle next to said chair to facilitate weaving in all the ends.  Plus, I’m convinced I will block at least one piece each night for the next week.  Because, really, who knows how many knit pieces I will want to wear this weekend!

It’s time to go stir the apples and breathe in some more energizing Fall fumes.  Tell me, what are your lofty Autumn plans and goals?

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The New Toy



Enough said.  Right?  It’s now pretty clear why I referred to it as the best Mother’s Day/Christmas/Birthday present ever.

I suppose I could give some details.  It is the Strauch Petite drum carder and we were able to leave Maryland Sheep and Wool with one in hand from the Stony Mountain Fibers booth.  Though I had to wait several hours before I could open it up and try it out – as soon as I could, I made a few small batts out of some washed, but unprocessed, Rambouillet I had picked up at a Uniquities Fiber Farmer’s Market.  It was amazing and I am hooked.

Since Maryland Sheep and Wool, I have now made those batts and then…..


I finished processing the Jacob fleece.  That’s it.  The entire fleece, all rolled into little batts of happiness and joy.  I no longer have to wonder if I will ever have the entire fleece combed and ready to be spun for Tour de Fleece 2018… No.  It’s ready for THIS year’s spinning enjoyment.  I could maybe even dream of having the sweater coat knit by the end of this year.  Plus, I would much rather spin this in a true woolen-style (long-draw and carded, not combed) and three-ply it so I can have a nice aran(ish) weight yarn.

So, in about two and a half weeks the jacob fleece turned into this:

IMG_8332 IMG_8333IMG_8339 IMG_8340IMG_8335I chose to card the fleece into batts that would all have a variety of the colors of this spotted fleece.  They are all mostly the dark brown with strips of gray and white.  This way, it will have more of  a tweedy look, instead of running the wool through the carder several times and making it a more consistent color throughout.

I am incredibly anxious to start spinning it up.  But I am going to be patient and finish all other spinning projects first and clean my ladybug to prepare her for the Tour de Fleece.  When I will attack.


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MDSW 2014 in Review

After only having attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday, it was quite a shock to attend on Sunday this year.  I expected it to be a bit slower, but to still run into a sea of people.  We arrived about an hour early, so I was able to do a full walk through in record time.  In all, we were only there for two and a half hours… which I still cannot wrap my head around.

It was wonderful, though.  We brought the stroller, as usual, in case M didn’t want to walk the entire time and instead of feeling like we were always in the way, we strolled with ease through the barns and the exhibition hall.  The only “difficulty” we had was that M distinctly remembered getting ice cream there in the past and as soon as we entered the gates was asking when she could have her ice cream.  This pretty much persisted the entire time we were there.  Even seeing the all the sheep didn’t distract her for more then ten minutes.  So it was nice to feel like we accomplished everything in such a relatively short period of time so that she could have her strawberry milkshake and we could go home.  Yep, that’s me admitting to letting my daughter have ice cream at 10:30 in the morning.  But it’s not like it’s a daily thing…

On to the goodies:  I did stay strong and I only purchased fiber this year.  There were a few moments were I thought about breaking down, one being at the Miss Babs booth.  However, I kept it a what is a minimum for me thus far.  My first fiber purchase was at the end of our first walk through at the Into the Whirled booth in the Exhibition hall.  I wanted to pick up one of the last of their batts and oh so surprisingly ran into a braid of fiber that I couldn’t leave behind.

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I managed to stay strong as I passed many of my other favorite indie dyers, knowing that I still have some of their fiber in my stash and opted to find some dyers I have been meaning to try out for a while.  I knew I had to stop by the Gourmet Stash and Hobbledehoy booths where I fell in love with so many things and seriously had a difficult time resisting buying everything they had.

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There is one final goodie that was purchased earlier in the day.  This particular item I have been longing to get for almost a year now and is so spectacular it deserves a post of it’s own.  All I have to say for now is it is one of the best Mother’s Day, Christmas and Birthday presents I have ever received and I see great things in our future together.


2013 Wrap-Up

2013 seemed to go by in a blur of ups and downs.  I am hoping to keep a better handle on 2014 and make it a year full of more intentions.  While my professional life is keeping me very busy, I am determined to set aside time for knitting and spinning and continue to find ways to include my daughter in on the fun.

Last year, I purchased my first fleece, and M was there to help sort and wash it with me.  She also helped pick out my only purchases at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck) and guided (or dragged) me around the barns to visit with every sheep at least three times before we left.  She has a definite interest and still likes to treadle at the wheel, but I think her interests fall much more toward the fiber and spinning side of the spectrum and she has no interest in knitting or crocheting at this point.  I believe her words were: “But Mommy, you can just make it for me”.

However, because of her guidance, I had a wonderful time at Rhinebeck and was able to keep my spending down.


Saying hi to a newborn

Saying hi to a newborn


During the Ravelry and Podcaster meet-up she entertained herself, as well as a few unsuspecting passersby, with an enormous leaf pile of fun:

Bringing others in on the fun!

Bringing others in on the fun!

Enjoying a very brief moment

Enjoying a very brief moment

As Fall came to a close, I began seriously buckling down and trying to crank out my Christmas hand knits.  I didn’t attempt to complete nearly as many items as last year.  Instead, I focused on a couple special pieces that were themed according to their recipients.

"Tattered" scarf knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Tattered” scarf knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

"Zombie Teeth" shawl knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Zombie Teeth” shawl knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

I ended the year off by knitting and crocheting blankets in rapid succession.  Unfortunately, this has continued into the new year and I cannot seem to see the light at the end of the enormous-project tunnel.  One more blanket to finish and three sweaters to complete and I will be able to move on to less (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting.

Crocheted lap blanket

Crocheted lap blanket

Knit baby blanket

Knit baby blanket


MDSW Round 2

Last year, Maryland Sheep & Wool was my first festival. I had heard about how large it was, but I had no real idea of what I was in for. I planned the trip in terms of how to take my then two and a half year old along with my mother, but I didn’t plan for what I would buy. I didn’t even budget. I figured I would be fine…

Though I still love what I came home with last year, this year, I knew better. I knew that at every turn I would see beautiful things. I needed to know what I did and did not need, because I knew I would always want it all. Over the course of this year, I am also attempting to only make yarn and fiber purchases while at festivals and retreats. I may not have what some consider an enormous stash; I can still decide to cast on a new project any given day and have plenty of options. I decided I would go in with a list of vendors who wouldn’t be at the retreat I am attending in July and with a short list of sweaters I would like to knit and DO NOT have the yarn for. This way, I would look at all the lovelies with purpose. I created a definite focus, which I almost stuck to.

We arrived a bit before 8:30 am and though “gates” didn’t open until 9 am… we followed the stream of people right into the fairgrounds. Since I was trying to reign in my purchases this year, we didn’t rush to certain vendors in hopes of beating the crowds. Instead, we strolled through the grounds methodically and leisurely. Until we reached the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth where I promptly fell in love with a 3 lb 7 oz fleece. That’s right. Before the festival was officially open, I purchased a fleece. Which of course didn’t fit in the stroller we brought to push around M and my purchases for the day. Luckily, my mother is amazing and took the fleece back to the car while M and I watched some sheep judging.

Jacob Fleece from Fire Fly Farm

Jacob Fleece from Fire Fly Farm

Then the journey continued. M had spotted some amazingly adorable (and seemingly well-priced) lambs for sale toward the front gate on our way in, so we back-tracked a bit so that she could bond with some, only to leave us both heart-broken when we had to leave them behind…


I later found my sweater-quantity of yarn at the Uncommon Threads booth, where I picked up several skeins of my first-ever madelinetosh tosh dk. I’ve been waiting too long. I fell in love with the chocolatey browns mixed with the subtle pops of blue.

madelinetosh tosk dk in the William Morris colorway

madelinetosh tosk dk in the William Morris colorway

Along the way, we, I mean, M fell in love with more wonderfully soft and friendly animals. As a reward for her good behavior, considering the circumstances, I bought her the softest alpaca-panda on earth!

Baby angora!

Baby angora!

We were in Alpaca heaven.

We were in Alpaca heaven.

Of course the only picture I managed to get of M and the panda was on the drive home... worn out!

Of course the only picture I managed to get of M and the panda was on the drive home… worn out!

Eventually, we made our way to the Main Exhibition Hall where M gladly helped pick out a few Loop Bullseye Bumps as well as some Spontaneous Spinning Cloud to use for core spinning. She also managed to impress the wonderful folks at the Into The Whirled booth and scored herself an extra button… which I will eventually give her when she’s not so accident-prone.

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Between the mindful purchases, the awesome experiences and the amazing people I met, I feel that I was able to enjoy this year’s festival so much more!  Plus, I got to pretend I was driving a fire truck… what could be better? 😉


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May, What May?

Deadline knitting.  Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Birthdays. Overtime. Tour de Fleece training. Oh, and two and a half year old.

So I guess it’s understandable that May seemed non-existent… but has left me with so much to show and tell! I mean, I went to my first real fiber festival, of course there’s a lot to show! The month started off with a bang as I dragged my mother (who did actually ask to go) and M to Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.  We headed up with enough time to get there about 30 minutes before the gates were to open on Saturday.  I was fully prepared for the enormity…. but my fellow travelers were not.  As we waited in the queue to park, my mother was in shock at the number of cars already parked and the sheer magnitude of the festival.  But the parking volunteers were incredible, so the very long queue went quite quickly and we were off!

Though M was promised sheep and goats the entire car ride up, I was on a mission.  After spending the past week planning out which vendor booths to hit up first and mapping out the most efficient route, we simply walked briskly through the sheep barns to get to the barns set up with vendors.  Who was so crucial that pleasing my daughter had to wait? Gales Art was our first stop where I managed to be restraint and only picked up one beautiful braid of polwarth/silk fiber.  I had heard stories about people going crazy at fiber festivals and I did want to see what else was out there before spending all that I had saved in preparation.

Gale’s Art Polwarth (85%)/Silk (15%) 4 oz braid in the Tide Pool colorway

Then I was off to the next barn over to find Fiber Optics… where restraint went out the window as I walked into a booth full of magic.  I promise, magic. My mother took M back to the sheep barns and I was left to slowly eye all that was displayed, and even some tubs that we full of fiber for restocking.  It was amazing.  Festivals aside, Fiber Optics is incredibly hard to come by as it is only sold in a few yarn stores, none of which are local, and the online updates sell out very quickly… I couldn’t pass it up.  I picked up two braids of a Merino/Silk blend, two skeins of Superwash Merino and a drop spindle.

Fiber Optic Yarns two 4 oz braids of Merino (80%)/Silk (20%) in the Blackberry-Raspberry Layered Gradient

Fiber Optic Yarns two 4 oz skeins (1,000 yds each) of Superwash Merino in the Vitamin C Batik colorway

But this isn’t just any drop spindle.  I had heard about these spindles for months from various podcasters and I had been eyeing their Etsy site.  When I saw an entire display of what had to be at least 30 drop spindles, I knew it was meant to be.  I carefully made my selection and then oooed and awwed over it with Kimber, the genius behind Fiber Optics, as I checked out.

Texas Jeans Drop Spindle with zebra wood whorl

After spending a fortune, I caught back up with M and my mother to look over the sheep and watch a sheep showing.  We wandered a bit and found the main exhibition hall to slowly walk through and eye other vendors.  I knew Loop had a booth there, but I was still coming down from my spending high at Fiber Optics so I wasn’t in a rush.  When we arrived, the booth was surrounded by people, but when I asked if it was a line to get in, they assured me no, since there were only two people inside.  I walked in, completely unaware of what was going on, only to find myself right next to Laura (LaLa) of the video podcast TheKnitGirllls! She was talking with Steph of Loop as I looked over the Bullseye Bumps Laura and Leslie have made famous, waiting for my time to attack… I mean, introduce myself.  She was incredibly friendly and we chatted for maybe a moment before Emily of the Watcha Swatchin’ podcast walked up to introduce herself! And all the craziness began! I then also met Leslie of TheKnitGirllls and Diane of Knitabulls, excitedly accepted their podcast buttons and showed off M to everyone.

Oh, and I also walked away with two Bullseye Bumps, one of which M picked out.  Needless to say one will be on my Ladybug soon!

Loop Bullseye Bump, 4.2 oz of Merino, BFL, Bamboo, Tussah Silk and Angelina in the Hot Air Balloon colorway (M’s choice)

Loop Bullseye Bump, 4.5 oz of Merino, Corriedale, Bamboo and Tussah Silk, colorway – unlabeled

We finished the festival fun with some gyros and M’s first ice cream cone… which, of course, I helped her with!

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