Friday, October 31, 2008


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6pm Thursday evening, Princeton NJ
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Lola & Kasa get noticed.

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With huge appreciation to Elizabeth & Bill Johnson and the girls, Lola & Kasa, from Abenaki Acres, and to Debi , the events person extraordinaire at B&N, for giving this the thumbs up. And to everyone who stopped by. We are pretty sure this is the first time a Barnes & Noble anywhere has had alpacas at a booksigning.
Not wanting to be outshined, I dressed up my Montana Tunic, wearing it with a short skirt, textured tights and my Fatbabies.* That's a pretty good upgrade from my usual appearance attire.
Not that anyone noticed
my grooming.

*I see mine are not available anymore , they're like these in shiny black but not patent leather, but check it out see they're in all kinds of colors now, I've has these for six years and they just keep kicking.

Monday, October 27, 2008

so, an alpaca walks into the mall....

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NO JOKE! This Thursday October 30th at the
Barnes & Noble in Market Fair Mall in Princeton NJ, I will be joined by two lovely alpaca for a Shear Spirit book signing. My 4 legged friends will arrive around 6 pm and I'll be on at 7. They're pettable, attractive and well behaved-- and I'll be friendly too. Please stop by--if only to see how this all works out.

1008Mewmex_  0261 On that subject, I'm going 1008Mewmex_  0325 back a couple weeks to New Mexico, where Joan & I stayed at Victory Ranch, commuting through the mountain pass to the Taos Wool Festival. On a trip packed with wonderful moments, one morning at the ranch was especially spectacular. 1008Mewmex_  0276 I got up early to go out with the alpaca, hoping to get a photo that would reenact the lineup shot in the book but with the blue sky and snowing mountain top that early October in Mora provided.

Then I went and hung out with he crias. 1008Mewmex_  03151008Mewmex_  0241
So sweet. A while later we were joined by
Cathy & Donna, 1008Mewmex_  0336blogging friends we'd met the day before at the festival, they'd trekked out to the ranch to , ahem, cough, visit the shop and pet the alpaca. If you keep an eye on Cathy's blog, there should be some gorgeous evidence of her visit coming up in FO's sometime soon. That Cat has good taste in yarn. Just an observation.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

things I learned at Rhinebeck

1) Even if Rhinebeck is Crazy Bizarro Wool World where you wear tons of handknits and get complimented on them by pattern name, it is still dorky to wear matching sweaters with your writer/co-author if you spend the day together. Note to self: ask Joan what she is wearing next time!
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Proof that I finished the Montana Tunic from Shear Spirit. (thanks for the nudge Heidi). Proof that I wrapped the shawl collar backwards. I suspect its a convention like which side your coat buttons on. Further, proof that it looks good with the collar wrapping partially or fully and that you can indeed wear it over a lighter weight long sleeve sweater if you are at a chilly outdoor festival.Mine is a size L in sport weight, Joan's is a size S in worsted weight, both 13 Mile 100% organic wool.

2) OTOH some folks can look fabulous no matter how many layers of knit they wear, or if they re-purpose a large throw into a shawl.
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oh how great to reunion with Kay & Ann briefly. Note to self: don't forget that blog post about the True Life Making of Mason Dixon 2. Also- next year, come on Saturday and stay over to socialize if you really do want to see your invisible blogging friends.

3) If you travel pre-dawn to the festival with your sister who is NOT a morning person and not great with maps at any time of day, do not leave navigation up to her. 1008GZUCKER_  905
However, when you do get way off course and need to turn around several times, rejoice in the good fortune of this being the view, and this being underfoot.
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Truthfully we left so early, getting off course didn't matter, and at one point we were laughing so hard we were both crying. That might have been enough to make it a spectacular day until:

4) You're at a fiber festival and this is a reasonable form of transportation
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5)When you see yarn you adore, just make a decision and buy.1008GZUCKER_  1030
If you wait to think about it, you will be paralyzed with indecision (Ok, if you're me) and regret it later.

6) Unless of course it is Nanney Kennedy's booth, Seacolors. 1008GZUCKER_  1033and you know her well enough from camping out at her farm when we did her chapter of Shear Spirit to demand that she will be choosing yarn for you and sending it in the future, when you've returned to your senses. PS That's the Low Tide Crossover sweater (Rav link here) from the book, on the right.

6a, above) The Montana Tunic looks kind of cute under a jacket too. Something I'd been wondering about.

7) There's so much more than just yarn & fiber. Lulu, my navigationally challenged sis, now fully awake, was taken by felted hat selections
We both loved the one on the left for her but suspected that outside of a wool festival this might be a smidge more than normal for daily wear. But still.

8) A barn of booksignings is cool.1008GZUCKER_  954
Note to self:
if you are going to go up to Doris Chan and ask if she is Lily Chin, you are going to feel like an ass. Especially if you are then going to spend the next hour or so signing books at the table adjacent to hers. fwiw: Doris Chan is a sweetheart and so talented. She makes me want to seriously crochet.

9) Rhinebeck, or in my case, Winebeck- all I came home with was a bottle of Cranberry Wine from a tasting there. A fiber festival with a wine, cheese and local foods building- who knew?

10)But really? Forget the wine, the stunning weather, the yarn & wool & fleecey creatures. It's the wonderful people I got to meet & talk &hang out with & just share space with that made it such a perfect day. Mwah!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

we interrupt this travelogue....

to bring you some knitting. And let me interrupt that to say
Rhinebeck! Sunday! Come hear Joan Tapper & me share our adventures dropping in at fiber farms across the US, collecting original patterns from generous designers at the farms, and putting together our book Shear Spirit , at the authors tent on Sunday , 2:30-3:30. The title: "Sheep, Alpaca and Yaks: Oh MY! " . We'll also be signing books and generally hanging around from 10-noon at Nanney Kennedy's Seacolors Booth, 26V. A rare chance to meet us both at the same time. Come getchyer tattoos.

So..about that knitting...

Modeling thanks to Julie & Lulu at a picnic last weekend.1008FamVar531 In the background you'd hear 'oh no. Don't . She'll put it on the blog. You know she's going to show you on the blog, right?'
the deets
yarn: Handspun alpaca from Victory Ranch, a heavy worsted weight, approx 230-250 yards of a blended fawn fleece, natural variations from a rosy tan through offwhite, resulting in the gentle striping in 2 places
pattern: Aibhlinn from Knitty winter 04
needles: size US9
modifications: heavier yarn than the pattern called required some adjusting for gauge. I cast on 95 stitches to start with, for about the same circumference as the pattern's 143. I knit until it was about 18" long, then did the final bobbles,enough for lots of drape and allows me to make it into a hood without exposing my neck in back. The beauty is, you can try it on as you go.1008FamVar523
I admit it, I am a zealous new convert to the cowl. Before, I thought.. cowls? a knit for those too lazy to scarf, and bobbles were, well, too silly. I dissed them as the clotted cousins of the pompom.1008FamVar518 No more! I embrace the bobble. I adore the garment. It was a wonderful travel project. Interesting but not all consuming, knitting most of it in the car around New Mexico (Joan:" It's not that you knit that fast. You just knit...a lot".) and while sitting around drinking red wine in intelligent discourse with our hosts at night. I'm itching to cast on another for a gift.

Speaking of holiday knitting, I dove in with some Lumpy Bumpy I've had since the old Hopyard Spinnery farm sale days.1008FamVar553 She has real stores now so that barn craziness is history. I can't decide if I like this or not. Jury also undecided at SnB last night.1008FamVar556 Possibly they all thought it was butt ugly and were too nice to say so. I guess I'll know when its blocked . It's for a college aged niece who loves these colors, I'm just not sure how she stands on worms. Pattern here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

enchanted 3

Coming up Sunday: Rhinebeck! Shear Spirit book talk & signing : it's a twofer- join Joan Tapper & me at 2:30 in the authors tent*. Get a limited edition- going fast - Shear Spirit tattoo. Doesn't everyone need a knitting tattoo?

* you can also find us signing books and petting yarn with Wool Goddess Nanney Kennedy at the Seacolors booth 26 V, and then we'll be hanging around before & after our talk at the authors' tent, making googly eyes at other authors.
• • • • • • • • • • • •
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Days 3 & 4 of the Shear Spirit Romp Around New Mexico: Taos Wool Festival.
aaah. Taos. 1008Mewmex_  0375

Seriously wonderful fiber festival. I admit, I'm not so discerning when it comes to fiber festivals, I pretty much rave about them all. 1008Mewmex_  0195However. Taos is special- it's totally outdoors, right in town, so you can stroll over for an espresso and be back at your booth a few minutes later.1008Mewmex_  0189 The weather was perfect- warm enough to be outside all day but crisp enough to wear a handknit sweater while showing your tatts. All that and history- Kit Carson was buried right behind the booth.

We blabbed, we signed books, we browsed, 1008Mewmex_  0196we met young knitters with style to spare, we shmoozed with the Ravelry Royalty ( that's me doing my characteristic hand flap , do you think Casey looks frightened?), we had the huge pleasure of hanging with Lisa & Randy Shell from Kai Ranch , our goat farming subjects from Blue Texas.1008Mewmex_  0194 This is Lisa's dyed locks salad bar. Imagine the temptation of standing by that all day. Yeah, I succumbed. I'll show in another post.

There was the brilliant knit animal designer, Ellen Sibelius of Wooly Wonders who made this guy (go check out that link, she is amazing). 1008Mewmex_  0342 I was pressed into duty transporting him across the mountain back to the ranch where we were staying, when an alpaca fleece trade was made for some knitted beasts. The thrill of walking around the show with huge fleece bags over one shoulder and a sizable knit monkey on my hip was worth the trip alone.

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OK you might feel done with New Mexico-but we weren't. Still to come- alpaca & new friends up on the mesa.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

enchanted 2

Day 2 of the Shear Spirit book tour road trip 1008Mewmex_  0070
I'd heard Las Vegas NM was a cool and funky town with some newly renovated businesses and an interesting history. I didn't expect it to be so over-the-top friendly, I mean we rolled into town to find people lining the streets and smiling faces waving to us.
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Then we figured out it wasn't all for us and enjoyed the homecoming parade. 1008Mewmex_  00341008Mewmex_  00721008Mewmex_  00671008Mewmex_  0064 That's Joan in the crowd, and me over at the venue for our booksigning, Tapetes de Lana, a weaving center and cafe on the old town plaza.1008Mewmex_  0124
Totally wonderful spot to meet new friends and
talk fiber. And worth a visit even without the parade. Take a look.
ps I was knitting enroute. Baubles baubled and cowl unfurling by this location.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

enchanted 1

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Albuquerque! 1st stop on the Shear Spirit with a Side Order of Enchiladas Please Tour.1008Mewmex_  0006
Let's get the cliffhanger out of the way: finished knitting the Montana Tunic on the plane, headed for our first stop, Village Wools , I thought it'd be poetic to get the two side buttons for the garment there ,I'd cast off and do the final sewing on the spot.
This is what my post-flying, time zone switched, indecisive eyes set upon
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Actually there were more but you get the idea. My pick, elk horn slices1008Mewmex_  0021 Now that I'm getting around to a pretty good number of LYS, I can say that if this is yours--you've got it GOOD. We had a lovely booksigning,met great knitters, hung with the staff, ogled much yarn, I cast off , they let me steam block the long side ribbing in one of their big extra rooms they use for classes . And then I kind of lost my mojo to get it done. Into the Tote Bag O' Samples in it's 98% finished state and I cast on to my knitting for the trip
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Also poetic (I know, what's with all the poetic gestures? Must be the air there. It smells so good and has so little oxygen in it). A skein of handspun Victory Ranch alpaca from my last visit, I love the idea of doing something with it on its home turf . Next stop, Las Vegas, NM.