A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Black Sheep Saga

I promised a great tale of our expedition to the Black Sheep Gathering and here it is... I just worked through a few dozen pictures, some rejected, but it promises to be a long and colorful tale. I boarded the Amtrak in Sacramento at 1:30 A.M. last Thursday (at that point, the train was only 1 1/2 hours late), and settled down to try and get some sleep, after waiting for over two hours in the train station. Luckily, my dearest friend in the world, Laura, had taken me out to a terrific Vietnamese/Buddhist restaurant for a feast in the early evening, and I had knitting (worked on a hot pink tank top you will hear more of later).

The Train Trip

I am an early riser and sleeping on a train is better than in a plane, but somewhat like in a hospital, with frequent disruptions. I had only been awake a short while at the wee morning hour of 5:30 A.M. when a redhead walked by... it was Randy, looking for a place to make a cell call. We chatted and I learned that her group of eight were one car behind me... but it didn't matter as we pretty much all migrated to the observation car and claimed a chunk of seating by mid-morning, where we spent the rest of the trip.

Most of Randy's group are members of the Spindle and Flyers Spinning Guild, well established in San Francisco (you can support them by visiting their Cafe Press store). Out came the socks, shawls, etc. to fill the time, as we learned that the train was now four hours behind schedule. There was breakfast in the dining car, secret treats brought out to share, and the warm sunshine of summer pouring down on the beautiful Oregon countryside.

Nancy weaves the ends in on her cashmere shawl that she was bringing to enter in one of the competitions, while Randy knits on a sock, which you can see in the reflection in the window. Posted by Hello

Nancy models her cashmere shawl, based on a pattern in A Gathering of Lace. Now, first you have to know how very sorry I am that you cannot touch this luscious creation. Then, I have to point out, that making such a shawl would be an awesome feat for any of us, but Nancy also spun every bit of the cashmere herself, and went on to win a second place ribbon in the Accessories - handspun color fiber category. She is my idol. Posted by Hello

I had been knitting away on my simple cotton tank top, and getting to know fellow teacher, Laura, when she looked at my knitting and said, "Is that for you?". To my reply of yes, she responded, "That is way too big for you", something my DD has frequently said to me while out shopping. I dug out my measuring tape... looked at the pattern. I was right on gauge, and had thought I should be making a medium, but it was going to be much bigger than the medium I wanted. Time to get out the pencil, do some math and some ripping... someone expressed shock at my ripping out the whole four inches of a circular top, but I quipped that I would probably have it knitted back up to the same spot before we got to Eugene... turned out to be prophetic.

I know that some of the people traveling with us on the train really didn't think it was as idyllic as I did. I was on vacation, relaxing among fellow fiberholics, engaging in stimulating conversations, while others were getting anxious about the delays, debating whether to leap off at the first opportunity and rent a car. However, if you have the time, the train is one of the finest ways to travel. There is the wonderful food served up with great flair in the dining car; white tablecloths, shining silver and cloth napkins are a sharp contrast to the ubiquitous fast-food restaurants that crowd the exits of our interstates. The route frequently travels through completely undeveloped parts of the country, only now and then dipping into stations in small to large towns. We were able to get off the train for about ten minutes in Klamath Falls, the first true stretching and fresh air in about 12 hours of travel.

One of the reasons for the freqent delays became clear to us as we pulled over into sidings again and again, only to have a freight train pass us. Amtrak leases the segments of track from other railroads, and the California/southern Oregon segments do not have a very cooperative relationship between landlord and tenant. Once the train gets behind, it is more likely to encounter additional freight trains it must yield for, making it later and later.

I also appreciated how much more social train travel is... many passengers were striking up lively conversations in the observation car, or over the meals, where the tables had to be filled up, and you ended up sitting with strangers and getting to know them. I met two young girls and one mom, on their way to Portland, where the girls were diving competitively. The woman and I had a great conversation about education.

The scenery was incredible. It was impossible to get good pictures, but after several tries, I captured Mt. McGloughlin, towering over Klamath Lake outside of Klamath Falls. The scenery was so awesome riding in the observation car. Posted by Hello

An Inspiring Woman

Later, I met Ruth Weiss, who I want to share with my readers. She was a diminutive woman, from Albion, on the Northern California coast, an artist and poet. She was heading to Seattle to visit friends and celebrate her 77th birthday. She is also something of a celebrity, being one of the people interviewed for Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution
by Brenda Knight, published in 1998. When a friend of a friend learned she was coming to Seattle, he booked her to do a performance of poetry reading set to jazz music, which she has been creating for over 50 years. I felt very lucky to have met her, and spent several hours in conversation, and I know that we entertained her and made traveling alone a lot less boring.

Unexpected Love Affair

One of the first things I did after we got our camp set up was to visit the animal barns. I fell in love with these little Shetland sheep, and spent much of my time at the gathering learning about them and pondering bringing a few here to live with the burros. I was fortunate enough to end up sitting next to a sheep owner during the Shetland competitions, and he was kind enough to answer all of my questions. The Shetlands are about one third smaller in size than most other breeds, produce an array of colored wool, have affectionate and inquisitive natures, and just plain seemed smarter than the rest. Now, I am sure someone will write me to differ; please remember to be nice about it. Posted by Hello

This is Earnette, who raises sheep in Northern Oregon, waiting to hear the judge's reaction to her ewe, which (I believe) won 2nd place in a class of about 15, all born during the 2004 season. Posted by Hello

Our Class: Sock Machine Knitting: Different Yarns, Different Settings

Some of you will recall that what drew me into this trip in the first place was Randy letting me know that there was a day-long workshop on using the circular sock machine. Saturday morning dawned overcast, but we didn't have much time to worry about whether it would rain, as we had to hurry off to our class. Randy had packed her machine, but I had rented one, unsure whether I would find one to purchase in time. We set up and worked diligently all day, with a two-hour lunch break built in to encourage us to shop with the vendors at the main show. Susan Forsyth was our able instructor, and hailed from British Columbia. I loved her accent. She demonstrated how to make a sock without ever removing your ribber, and knew plenty of other tips and short cuts. We were very excited.

Here, you can see the outline of the picot hem (dangling out of the sock machine) which we learned to construct in our class. Posted by Hello

After our lunch break (during which I walked five blocks to Albertsons to get food for the evening potluck and had the ATM eat my card; I'll spare you all the gruesome details of that story, but my bank said they were protecting me from potential fraud), Susan spent a lot of time showing us how to trial different yarns in order to find the optimum range of settings for the machine. It was scientific, fascinating, and similar to making gauge swatches (meaning "essential for success").

I got the method down, and also wanted to practice making a heel, a portion of the sock machine process that had me intimidated so far. I had been doing terrifically well, but as I was trying to put on the last few rows in order to get my sampler off the needle, tiredness set in and with it mistakes; overall, I gained so much from the class and Susan sent us home with several patterns, a recipe for magic oil to use, and so many tips.

I also purchased two speciality tools that her husband has devised, set in beautifully turned woods. He was busy demonstrating at the Woodland Woolworks booth, where his line of wool combs were featured. (NB: Woodland Woolworks is for sale, as the owners want to retire; if you have been hankering to move to Oregon and open your own yarn shop, here's the chance of a lifetime, as they are idolized amongst the spinning community in the Northwest and will be sadly missed.)

Randy is getting some fine personal instruction from our excellent teacher on making a heel.. notice how only part of her needles are in the up position. Posted by Hello

Here, Susan is coaching this lovely couple from Healdsburg, north of San Francisco. Luckily, Randy took down their names and contact info, so that we could have a Northern California crank-in later this summer, along with Bud from Gualala. They also offered to bring me some of their Shetland sheep, as they are ready to give up caring for a flock, but one of their daughters is very anxious that they find good homes (i.e., NOT the meat-packing plants). That offer seemed to confirm that Shetlands are in my future. Posted by Hello

Meeting Another Legend

For several years, I had read about the ongoing development of a cotton plant that would grow in color, as well as be disease resistant enough to allow it to be produced organically. Normal cotton production results in the heaviest pesticide use in the U.S. The real pioneer in this field is Sally Fox, the developer of FoxFibre, and it just so happened that she was camping with us! She was the sweetest person, and also the mother of the youngest one in our group.

Meet the lovely little Marcella, who is assisting her mother at the Foxfibre Organic Cotton booth... she is sorting out the labels while Sally is weighing out cotton roving. Foxfibre has been bred to grow in color, and no pesticides are used. Posted by Hello

The luscious celadon green is cotton roving; the magical thing to me was learning that, when boiled, the yarn turns a deep olive green. In front is natural cotton roving, and off in the back is a brownish gray merino wool roving from Sally's flock, which she is now trying to breed to produce colors that match the cottons, so they can be blended into yarns... I am anxious to see if she can produce a green sheep. She is such an amazing woman that nothing would surprise me! Posted by Hello

Sally, with some of her organic cotton yarns on the rack behind her. Sally and Marcella were camped with our group of fifteen women at the fairgrounds, and I really felt for her, trying to work and tend to her daugher at the same time. I ended up working about three and a half hours for her in trade for some of these wonderful organic cottons, so that she could go out for ice cream, visit the animals, and generally keep a four-year-old happy. Posted by Hello

The Sheep Lead

This woman was one of the first entrants in the Sheep Lead, a competition that is one of the highlights of Black Sheep. Each entrant is modeling something they made from the spinning stages to completion, in the past year since the last gathering. They also have to come up with an animal wearing the same fiber to "lead" through their walk. We wanted Nancy to enter her cashmere shawl, but nobody had brought a cashmere goat she could borrow! Posted by Hello

This is an angora goat wearing a blanket made from mohair, and being led by a lead that is two colored mohair strand twisted together. The owner was also carrying a doll with mohair locks, and wearing other mohair accessories to demonstrate the versatility of the breed. Posted by Hello

This is Robyn, wearing a woven shawl made from Jacob sheep handspun, as is her sheep escort. Posted by Hello

I wasn't able to do justice to this entry... they are a pair of hand-felted boots that won a few prizes during the weekend. The creator is wearing a hand-felted hat, and also needle-felted the great applique on the back of her capote. Her outfit is designed to wear to re-enactment events in the dead of winter. Posted by Hello

The last segment of the Sheep Lead was presenting the five entries in the Sheep to Shawl contest and granting awards to the winning teams. Each team had begun at 9 AM on Friday, spinning and weaving a stole which had to be completed by 2 PM the same day. Pre-planning was allowed, but all work had to be done by the team during the five hours of the contest. All were well-done, and it was amazing to watch the process and the coordination. My fellow campers have done this (it has to be the equivalent to running a marathon for those in the spinning and weaving world). Erin is modeling one of the entries... I had wished she was assigned the one in jewel tones of greens and purples against charcoal natural wool, as it would have matched the camo jacket better. Posted by Hello

But What About the Shopping?

I haven't spoken much about my own finds. That is because being part of such a vibrant, multi-species fiber culture for four days was much more impressive to me that the personal finds. All of us kept getting more and more charged up. Randy's daughter Erin, and Sylvia's daughter, Marge, both 13, got spinning fever, and could be found spinning every spare minute, even into the dark. Erin had lent her wheel to one of the Spindle and Flyers members, Elaine, who was picking up her own at the gathering. It was as if she had been reunited with a long-lost relative... she stayed busy spinning up silk dyed in various shades of blue. Others would return to our encampment to knit or spin and relax.

Three members of our camp were also vendors: Sally, who I mentioned above, Robyn, who had brought some of her Jacob sheep and was taking a turn at the Jacob Sheep association booth as well as trying to sell a few lambs, and Darlene, of Hand Jive Knits, who produces custom hand-dyed fingering yarns for socks and other projects, as well as some very creative patterns. I bought a beautiful variegated yarn from Robyn, a bulky handspun that she had overdyed to take advantage of the subtle shading yarn from colored sheep produces. I also bought a heart purse pattern from Darlene and began knitting it on the way home. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a beautiful alpaca to make a Clappy from, in shades of pinks and yellows... this is what I had been looking for all spring, but never located. I bought a spring colorway alpaca boucle from the same grower and made a narrow scarf to put in the shop while visiting during meal times at our campsite.

On Sunday, I made the rounds and finished up several other purchases for my business: bright colored skeins of Elsebeth Lavold's angora for baby booties, a terrific beanie pattern from Curraheen Farms, producers of handpainted yarns spun from Icelandic sheep, featuring the innovation of a hem, with a cotton inner band to prevent forehead itching, yarn to make this hat for my son, and moorit-colored Shetland for another hat from Elemental Affects, a small producer working to make Shetlands available from U.S. producers, reducing import costs. I also bought a jacket pattern from her, having admired the model of it, and so did Randy, after winning enough of this yarn for the jacket in Saturday night's raffle. Erin was more excited that the raffle grab bag they won contained the glass, glow-in-the-dark sheep earrings she had been coveting all weekend. I learned that I could get wool commercially spun for me at the Yolo Wool Mills, only about 100 miles away, if I did decide to get my own flock of Shetland sheep.

I also met Galina Khmeleva, author of several books on Orenburg lace. She was so encouraging, saying that lace will continue to come to me if I let it, and I bought her book, The Gossamer Webs, and some wonderfully soft antique white alpaca from Lost Valley Alpaca Ranch, in Dexter, Oregon (are you noticing a theme here? Yes, alpaca is probably my most favorite fiber, mostly because I can wear it right next to my skin, which I can't do with most wools). I will work up to those designs! Galina had admired my Foxfibre crop pants and went back to buy some for herself from Sally.

I have spent a lot of time telling you about these wonderful purchases, not to brag so much as to encourage you to follow the links I have put together. The best part about shopping at Black Sheep was that I was meeting and connecting with the people responsible for my finds. Almost everyone I have described is a small producer, trying to make a part of their living by working with fiber. Please support them if you can.

Homeward Bound

The time had come to depart... the tents were down and bags stuffed with treasures. I have to admit that when I realized I could still close my suitcase easily, I went out and bought more yarn. I found enough Patons Classic Wool for a gift felting project at half-off prices from Sheep To Shawl, a northwest yarn shop, as well as a skein of cotton/wool to begin the heart purse on the train.

Randy, Erin and I took a cab to the train depot, where the train was only running 45 minutes late, so we were able to have a truly wonderful dinner at Lilith's Lair, a spot that Erin picked out because she liked the name. The food was all organic, and I was able to get a grass-fed burger on a spelt bun. Eugene also has high environmental standards, which is refreshing. We still had an hour wait after dinner, but adjourned to the train with our group of nine travelers in high spirits. Laura proceeded to set up her spinning wheel, just to prove it could be done.

She is spinning a beautiful purple and fuschia silk, while the poor victim who got a new seatmate in Eugene sat crocheting.... we also met Pam on the train, who had been at the gathering Saturday, and was an artist specializing in Chinese brushwork, as well as a beginning spinner. She was excited to have so many brains to pick. Posted by Hello

We talked and worked late into the evening, then did the best we could to sleep on the train. I also began reading Zen and The Art of Knitting, which I had purchased from Woodland Woolworks.

By morning, we learned that the train was about three hours behind, and once again we took up residence in the observation car to knit and spin. I finished a second scarf for the shop and started on my heart purse. It isn't a hard pattern, but would be better done at home alone than while chatting on the train :)

Erin and Marge, spinning together while northern California whizzes by outside the window. Posted by Hello

Erin and Marge had drawn a crowd of observers when I took this photo on the train, just before we got detained on a siding so that a stretch of track could be inspected for damage. Never a dull moment.... Posted by Hello

I was relieved to arrive in Sacramento about 11 AM, almost 5 hours late, but sad to part with my new-found friends, who had all taken me in, even though we had never met. Those who knit and spin turn out to be very grounded, tolerant, warm people and I feel so lucky to have had such a great vacation. Now, to knit up all these new projects.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Back from Black Sheep

Well, I arrived back home from the Black Sheep Gathering late this afternoon, and uploaded my photos and started working on a lengthy report, which I hope to have up for everyone by tomorrow night. The train left at 1:30 AM from Sacramento last Thursday, already an hour and a half behind, and ended up off-schedule by 8 hours, giving me plenty of time to get to know my new friends... and was five hours behind schedule today, so I am wiped out! I had the best vacation in years, met lots of wonderful people and have many photos and stories to share, so come back! Also, thanks to those who contacted me to enter the contest while I was away; I will be posting the name of the winner on Friday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Happy Summer Solstice

Today is the Summer Solstice and I am spending the longest day of the year busy packing to take the train at midnight tomorrow night to the Black Sheep Gathering... the toughest decision is how much yarn to bring! There is a small group starting in San Francisco on Amtrak, and I will be climbing aboard in Sacramento.

This all sounds very jolly, except that I hope they will all be sleeping in preparation for four days of fiber festing once we get to Eugene. One of the participants has been checking the Amtrak website regularly for the past few weeks, and informed us that the train on this route has been running late... like 4-8 HOURS late.

How much knitting will this eat up? I have a whole tank top to be making and part of a fast scarf to finish, as well as Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, which is supposed to be quick as well. I didn't want to carry lots of reading materials, as I have so much STUFF already.. enough clothes for a week at each end of the weather extremes we have been experiencing this spring, and camping gear to stay at the fairgrounds (which I think will be a blast, getting to visit with other fiberholics... maybe we can even set up an informal 12-step network); also some yarns to try out during my day-long sock machine class on Saturday. And somewhere in there, I have to stash an EMPTY tote bag to haul back my purchases (am I pragmatic, or is it just that I read Margene's blog regularly?)

I did decide to pack the mancala game I just bought, and see if I could talk someone into learning it with me... I would really like to make the felted version on Knitty, but want to make sure I care enough about playing the game to make it worth the knitting effort. Why bother, if I decide the game is no fun? What better time to test it out than on a vacation train trip? Please don't tell me if you think I've gone off the deep end... just lets keep it to ourselves.

Before I am gone for several days, I want to remind everyone that hasn't done so yet to enter my contest... you still have a week till June ends, so you can decide to hoard this opportunity to yourself (the pool of entries is still pretty small) or share it with your friends....

Enjoy the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer and remember that knitting is a great summer evening activity! Long, lit evenings out on the porch, with a cold drink, good company, and great knitting - it doesn't get any better!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Is It a Mistake or an Opportunity?

Last night, I spent a lot of time felting my traveling bag, and also a small "Red Hat Lady" handbag to put in the shop. Although the washer here in Forest City has hot water to it, I decided that the pressure was too low, the washer filling so slowly that the water would no longer be hot by the time the agitation cycle started, so I carried several canning kettles of water between the kitchen sink and the washing machine.

The little purse felted perfectly, although I noticed that stitching details on one part of the bag got lost in the felting process while still being visible elsewhere... not a big deal, really, just part of the random nature of felting.

It did get me thinking that felting really requires a large leap of faith... here you have devotedly knitted an object, maybe even taking a lot of time, like my traveling bag did. It perfectly matches your expectations, but now you are going to recklessly throw it into a hot water bath with uncertain outcome. I was using a wool I had felted before, but this time the red really bled quite a bit, maybe because the water temperature was hotter.

I was musing over the vagaries of felting, and admiring my little purse, while setting the dial back on the washer and wondering where in the house I would set everything to dry. The large rectangular pockets for my bag were now done, as were the handles... although in my mind they seem rather puny, considering the weight of a packed bag they are going to be asked to support.

The handles Posted by Hello

I pulled the large bag out of the washer and used the canner to carry it to the kitchen sink for a cool rinse. It had the right density, and I liked how the stripes had become blended in the felting process... so far, so good.

The bottom of the bag looks pretty darn near perfect. Posted by Hello

It wasn't till I started shaping it to dry that I discovered the problem. The pattern I had been following called for pockets to be sewn to each end, and had made the top flaps with ends attached, including buttonholes and cute little points, to fasten those pockets closed. Somehow, in the mass of creating those top flaps, I had gotten askew of that intention, and now those pieces were in entirely different locations.

The bag standing upright; I have two couch pillows stuffed inside a garbage bag giving it shape and substance while it dries.. and now you can see how far off I was in locating my so-called corners to attach the top closings. Posted by Hello

Notice, I am not calling this a mistake, but a problem... I looked at the bag, and thought to myself "Well, this is going to call for some creativity".

I have been creating and crafting my entire life, often with inadequate resources or materials different than those called for by another designer. I have often had to "think outside of the box" and still have come up with many creations I was supremely proud of... here I was, faced with the finality of felting something, and seeing that I was now going to have to alter my original conception of what I had created and redefine it.

I looked at those pockets, and thought about how they would just have a different overall appearance if positioned where they now seemed destined to go... but was that the only possibility? Did I want to put them on the inside instead, "hiding" my error? Or, did I want to accentuate the difference from the original? I am the kind to tend to opt for that method. I began thinking of using perle cotton to add accent sewing, both to stitch the pockets on and to stitch up and change the closure system. Maybe this was a good opportunity to strenghten the original design, making it reinforced in places to carry a big or bulky load.

I still need to let the various components dry completely, and install a zipper closure at the top, so went to bed near midnight, figuring there was more time to let the ideas percolate and a happy solution to float to the top.

This morning, over coffee, I read the following quote in an editorial in Yoga Journal: "If you get upset when the toast burns, what are you going to do when your house burns down?". Well, this quote epitomizes me in a nutshell... I have mostly been the person to only worry about the big stuff: one of my children getting injured, a friend dying of cancer, losing my job... these have been the real challenges of the past year, not whether I have to redesign my kintting project to have a happy outcome.

I am very grateful for this trait; it has served me well over the years. Somewhere back in the early stages of my mothering career, I read a lengthy poem about raising wee ones that ended with the lines that housework can wait. At my house, it is still waiting, even though all of the children are grown and most of them gone. It stays moderately clean and orderly around here, especially considering that we maintain two homes, fifteen miles and 2000 feet in elevation apart, but people ahave always been much more important. I did lots of things and went lots of places with my children while they were growing up, both while a single mom, and later when I married Glenn. In fact, I still spend a lot of great times and have marvelous adventures with them today.

I have been rewarded for this trait by children who grew to be wonderful, compassionate people that I take great joy in being around, by having dear friends and the admiration of colleagues, as well as the love of my husband, a kind man. I guess the old-timers would say I was one of those people who could turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

I have also developed strong problem-solving skills over the years. So many things are out of our control, but sometimes, if we apply a little thought, we find ways to carry forward, fix things, make them better or come up with a new plan.

Once, over a decade ago, I spent an entire winter knitting a Shetland shawl out of fingering weight alpaca, following the plan laid out in the Mary Thomas Knitting Book.. I knew my knitting wasn't fine enough to pass through a wedding ring, but the finished product would be circular, with no seams. As I neared the end, I realized that I wasn't going to have enough yarn left for the border. I began looking through my stash and came up with two shades of blue wools, the right weight, and decided to use them to create the border... they contrasted very nicely with the natural medium brown of the alpaca, and when the shawl was folded in half to wear, one blue would fall on each half of the circle. This turned out to be a creative and acceptable solution, allowing me to finish this beautiful shawl.

Interestingly enough, as I pulled the shawl out of the cedar chest and stretched it out on the bed this morning, I noticed a few worn places where I had to tie threads together... perhaps they had caught on something when I wore it once, or perhaps an insect immune to cedar had taken a nibble ... it was a reminder to me that the perfection of completion is altered by time. Nothing ever stays the same, no matter how badly we might think we want it to.

Here is a picture of my Shetland shawl...while not the best photo, since it was taken at midday, you can see the stitch detail and colors ... Posted by Hello

I also pulled a second shawl out of the cedar chest, planning to take both to the Black Sheep Gathering with me to wear (be honest, to show off). This shawl was knitted by Virginia Simmons,probably over fifty years ago, by a woman who passed away eleven years ago at the age of ninety. When I first moved to Forest City nineteen years ago, she was the town matriarch, having lived here since the 1940s and having acquired 11 structures, one of which I rented from her. We became friends as neighbors do, and her husband Joe gave me several of her things when she died. I have worn and treasured some, and saved others for the day when we can create an exhibit in her memory at our local museum.

This shawl was a feather and fan design, long and narrow, and made from pale pink zephyr with a thread of silver metallic running through it... dating it to the late 1940s. The color is no longer as clear, but there isn't a single moth hole in it, the knitting is very fine and defined, and the fringes on each end are delicately made. I have had it packed away and have never worn it; I was not the pink girl back then that I am today. I am looking forward to wearing this beautiful antique, because I believe that its life came from the knitter and I have the chance to honor her by continuing to use her creation.

Here is Virginia's Feather and Fan shawl.. the fringes are different from any I have ever seen before.. each fringe is actually a crocheted chain, looped back around and attached to the bottom of the work, then the next fringe is started from the next stitch over on the row. The photo doesn't do it justice... especially considering how many years it has lasted. Posted by Hello

When the traveling bag is dry and assembled, you will get to see what I came up with this time.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Endless Meetings and Fast Scarves

I have decided that fast-knitting scarves are the answer to attending meetings. Pick a simple pattern, such as a drop stitch, which I have used to show off the pretty ribbons in three recent scarves. Knit and occasionally take notes. Try to ignore anyone sending you disapproving looks, and if you get harassed, whisper back that at least YOU are accomplishing something (that might not be appropriate if the meeting is connected to your job).

How did I reach this wonderful discovery? I attended three meetings in the past two days for different community organizations... the one on Wednesday seemed endless, stretching from 10 AM to 4 PM... there was a lot of ground to cover, some unpleasantries to bring up and some problems to try and resolve. Also, I got the distinct feeling that the planets simply weren't in proper alignment for harmonious communications, as twice tempers flared and threatened to set fire to the room... we were able to keep people from pulling out the verbal daggers, but I came home to family uproar as well, and we all usually get along pretty well around home.

I started a simple, narrow scarf out of Knitpicks' new ribbon yarn, Sparkles, and managed to finish it before our lengthy meeting ended, something I was totally unprepared for... no scissors with me to cut the ribbon, or I would have started a second one! I added fringe when I got home last night, and will place it in the shop on our Red Hat Society table. By the way, Sparkles was much easier to knit with than Eros, which I used for a similar scarf a few months back and had lots of trouble with it slipping off the needles. This time, I used a small circular, Susan Bates Quicksilver, which worked better than my bamboo sock needles with rubber end protectors on them. I also got a request for a similar scarf in a black, purple and teal colorway from one of the attendees!

I left the house with a skein of red and black Ranee (a thicker railroad yarn I got at Ben Franklin) and a skein of Red Heart Luster Sheen, which I had bought in red to make a scarf that would appeal to one of the Clamper Widders (I will have to do a post at some point to explain what the Clamper organization is all about; history, spoofing fraternal organizations, and partying sum it up in a nutshell). I started tbat scarf at the first meeting, and carried on with it at the second one, making very rapid progress (about halfway done). The meetings went well, too!

Today, I picked up some yarn from Ben Franklin for the scarf order... selected Lion Brand Trellis in Stained Glass for the ribbon, because it was as close to the colors requested as I have found through my Internet and catalog snooping.. and added DMC Crochet Senso in black metallic to balance the colors requested... I have never worked with this before, but was intrigued. It is 45% cotton, 45% acrylic, and 10% metallic, so will add luster as well. I took the new purchase with me to my shift at Mountain Harvest Crafts... our local crafts cooperative in Downieville... no, there is not a web presence yet, simply because I am the only one offering to create it, and I haven't had a chance since joining a month and a half ago. I AM supplying pictures:

This display table gives a good representative example of the variety available at Mountain Harvest at any given time. It doesn't show the fact that there are now about ten quilts available in different sizes. Posted by Hello

Here is our Red Hat Society table... my contributions are the small felted purse hanging at top right, the fur-trimmerd sandals, and the red and purple scarf dangling below the hats on the left. Posted by Hello

We also feature jewelry from two artists, Leslie Austin and Danielle Cochran... this photo shows Leslie's bracelets, earrings and necklace/earring combos. Danielle also works with glass beads, adding wirework, and made the fabric and bead corsage pin hanging from the wall. Posted by Hello

Another pair of furry flip-flops, a basket of my crocheted hair scrunchies, a knitted gnome made by Beatyanne, and behind him, rolled-up bread basket liners in an assortment of lucious fabrics. Posted by Hello

While at the shop, I did finish up the scarf I started at the meeting and started the stained glass one... I am also including a progress update on the enormous striped duffel bag. It is now, finally, ready to be felted. I completed the fold-down tabs that will button the side pockets closed last night, and really, truly only need to felt it. Oh joy!! I might even realistically be taking it with me to Black Sheep... had about given up hope.

I know once I felt this, I will forget just how enormous it turned out to be pre-washing... so here is a testimonial shot. I have the bag draped over the edge of my tub, with the flaps (brown) and pocket tabs (red) up at the top... it is truly huge, almost as big as a knitted skirt I made about ten years ago! I will be felting it over the weekend, so the next photos will probably look more like a useful object and less like a large splattering of wool. Posted by Hello