Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Journey to Rhinebeck, part the second

In part the first, I left you with the most exciting cliff-hanger ever!  And today, I have an even better one!  

I arrived in Albany/Rensselaer on Friday afternoon, with the most gorgeous weather imaginable.  

The station is located in Rensselaer, just across the Hudson River from New York's capital city.  Having a couple hours to kill, I strolled and took pictures.  

The park below the bridge onramp was pretty cool...the ramp itself was used as a painter's canvas.  Here's a few of my favorites.

After taking some pictures, I strolled over the bridge into historic Albany, clicking my cameraphone like a dutiful tourist.

I couldn't have asked for a nicer afternoon.

I took advantage of the opportunity to do a photoshoot with my newest handspun, using Brewergnome's roving, "Water On the Rocks."

A word about this yarn.  I screwed it up, not knowing my way around the wheel yet.  So, Dan, when I told you I had your yarn with me, I actually had it in my bag...but I was ashamed to show you what became of your beautiful fiber.  My apologies.  Most of it is so-so, but a few spots are really tight.  Yick.  On the bright side, I'm currently knitting it up, and I gotta say, this is a beautiful colorway.  It just sort of matches with anything.  Way to go, Dan!

And here we see my sustanance, appropriately titled.  Not a bad mix, with cherries, raisins, currants, almonds, pistachios, apricots...and maybe some other stuff.

And here's a tree pic for yarndude:

It's on the walk by the river, where I met my host.  We proceeded to pick up his friend and head home to meet the dogs.  His partner came home, and another friend joined us for movie night.  Delicious dinner, great company, and--I still can't believe it--my favorite frozen pie!  All in all, a lovely time, but I had trouble staying awake for the movie.  It had been a long day.  And the next day held even more promise, for this was the day I'd been anticipating...and dreading.

I look forward to proving everyone wrong about Rhinebeck.  
But that's another story...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rhinebeck adventures, part the first

As usual, I have waited until it's a bit late to write this, so that I have too much to write.

I made a trip up to Rhinebeck, NY for their sheep and wool festival. Apparently it's an event not to be missed, so I made it a point to...not miss it. Thanks to the help of a wonderful host, I was able to see my dream become a reality. Hence an adventure, a trip via public transportation from South Jersey to upstate New York for a four-day weekend with people I'd never met before. And lovely it was!

Mom dropped me off in Trenton, where the journey really began...

On the train to NYC, I worked on some baby caps to contribute to my host's current charity project:

When I arrived at Penn Station, I had time to wind a couple of skeins of handspun into balls.

Soon, the time came for me to line up for my bus to Albany.  The man having us line up outside kept us warm with jokes...usually by denying that it was cold.  I scanned the line for knitted gear to see if anyone else had the crazy notion of getting to Rhinebeck by overshooting it by an hour or so.  And I made use of my mitts and mittens by switching them out every few minutes...I'll call it indecision.

The bus came a tad late, but the one that arrived was brand spanking new...I got to experience its maiden voyage.  Of course, I rode on the second level, as far forward as possible.  I got the second row.  I must say, this was a very pleasant bus experience.  It even has wi-fi.  And while my ride cost me ten dollars, you can get them for as little as one dollar, sometimes.  

So we left the city and headed into the Hudson River Valley.

Somewhere up among colored trees, I finished a couple hats.

And soon I arrived in Albany...but that's another story.

One last picture...One thing I packed was my newly-finished Daybreak Shawl, and I have named him Jacob for stealing his brother-shawl's rightful place as firstborn. He kept me warm all through the weekend and garnered much interest.  I'm grateful for Stephen West's talent in designing such a simply great shawl.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Time to update...especially since I'll be swamped the the next week or so.

I've spent a lot of time yesterday and today writing about why I prefer one type of yarn over another, but I don't like my ranting. Suffice it to say, I have a lot of affection for luxurious yarns, since they really do have a lot of depth, and I feel like I have a personal connection to my work and to the sources of the yarn when I use nice yarn. But I also live in an area where people do not understand nice yarn; all they have seen is Red Heart worsted acrylic yarn, and they like it. To them I extend my love and my invitation to explore new color combinations and textures and types of projects (such as knitted lace). I love that there's a bit for everyone here, not just grandmas, especially because of the variety in yarns. Just in spinning or knitting, you can get rugged, chic, crazy, goth, delicate, cute, or avant garde. Not that everyone feels comfortable knitting, but my point is that there's always more, so keep your mind open to trying new things.
Well, that was much shorter.

I watched an interesting movie last night, called Paris, Je T'aime. It's a tasteful collection of a whole lot of movie shorts contributed by great film artists, all on the theme of love in Paris. Beautiful. Funny. Sad. Even a little bit of scary. There were some big name actors in there as well. My favorite included Elijah Wood, but some of the others I recognized were Gerard Depardieu, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Steve Buscemi, Natalie Portman, and Wes Craven. Much like Crash, it draws me into the lives of the people I pass every day. I recommend it. Yes, it's subtitles alot, but that's when you break out the stockinette stitch.

What's on my needles/bobbins:
I got chilly this week and decided to knit something for my neck that might coordinate somewhat with some other accessories I wear in public. I have a lined hat that I knit in Moda Dea's Silk n' Wool Blend, and my recent fingerless mitts, so I decided to use this yarn for a neckwarmer. Which morphed into my second Daybreak shawl. Depending on how you view the birthing process of knitted items. Is a project born when you cast it on, or when you finish it? I am close to done my first Daybreak shawl, but I'm dragging my heels; it's a lot of stitches that take a long time when I'm learning to knit continental style. So #2 will likely be done before #1. Maybe I should rename them Jacob and Esau.

I have a confession to make, especially after my pontification on the glories of "nice" yarn. This week I bought acrylic yarn at the store of the devil. My excuse is that my boss gave me and my coworkers a gift card for doing a good job (back in May), but corporate's reward system comprises entirely of giving gift cards to this particular store. Anyway, I intend to knit baby hats with the acrylic yarn, so it was intentional. Face it: charity work is not a place to bless the world with your good yarn. I would, but people actually don't want it. They want something they can throw in the wash without thinking about it. Well, I do, too, but my knitted stuff is an exception. I don't even sort my lights and darks. I have digressed. The hats are not yet on the needles, but they will be my focus this week, since I intend to bring them as a 'thank you' to my host during my trip to Rhinebeck (whoo-hoo!). He's collecting items for a charity this month.

I'm also knitting a secret project. I'll post pictures when I'm done.

I've been spinning only a bit; things are getting busy, and I'm treasuring the rare times to relax at home. I have 150-200 yards of that yarn I began when I first borrowed the wheel. Today I spun a new yarn on the wheel, using my first bit of roving from Dan at Gnomespun Yarn. It's a gorgeous blue, called Water on the Rocks. Boy oh boy, did I have a heck of a time with tangles durning the plying, though. I'm glad it's over. The yarn's gonna be rather funky in its twist, but what's done is done. This is all a learning process, and I feel no pressure to get it all right the first time.

Rhinebeck is just a few days away, then it's a mad dash to Christmas. I hope I'm up for it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two for the harps

Grainne Hambly and William Jackson on dual harps. Two artists. Five instruments. Beautiful. World class. Did I mention a free concert of Scottish and Irish music? I noticed the title of a traditional song entitled "The Ravelled Hank of Yarn." yay!

While I didn't get a lot of actual knitting done this weekend, I did get up to Loop for two classes with Jared Flood. The first was on Fair Isle knitting, a.k.a. stranded color work. The second was on sweater design. My brief impressions: Wow, he's so young. and smart. smart and young. Smoung. If you check out Craig's blog at Loop, you'll see me knitting away as I listen to Jared pour out information. We covered a lot of ground. I think he made designing a basic sweater very accessible to me. As a result of the fair isle class, steeking looks like the way to go...why should I be afraid? I want to knit a sweater with colorwork it. Maybe a sweater vest with colorwork. Just need to figure how I want it to work.

Oh. And Bob Evans officially makes delicious pie. Try their Apple Dumpling Pie. I literally had this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the weekend. Oh, yeah.