Friday, October 30, 2009

Looking on the Bright Side . . .

Some weeks are fun and some weeks are productive and some weeks are full of the fabulous moments you will remember when you are old and gray and can't really remember anything else.  This week was not. This week was kind of a stinker and I spent most of it taking temperatures and administering medicine and fetching cups of juice. One by one, my kids got sick with some suspiciously flu-like illness.  This makes sense because they were all scheduled (finally, I might add, and yes, Dear, you were right: I should have scheduled  sooner) to get their flu shots on Thursday. And what better way to prepare for the flu shot than to actually have the flu? By the time that El Husbando got sick as well, I was convinced I was part of some secret reality show (Survivor: Influenza) and I was ready to pack up my knitting and sneak off to the nearest hotel (well, no; probably one a lot farther away) for some R&R.  But I didn't.  Instead, I spent the week in my office failing entirely to get my work done and watching a lot of PBS Kids.

All of this makes for a snoozer of a blog, so instead I'm revisiting a couple of the more pleasant events of this Fall.

Part I:  In Which Matty Conquers The Devil's Potato Tractor

Matty's nursery school takes a fall trip to the potato farm.  He went with us when his big brother took the trip and I thought he was ready for it, if lacking a little in enthusiasm.  The morning of  the trip, I thought I would get him a little wound up so he could fully appreciate all the fun he was about to have.
"It will be great," I told him.  "There will be pumpkins and goats and horses and we'll go on a wagon pulled by a  . . ."
"NO!!" cut in my husband . . . a moment too late as I finished with "tractor!"
"AAAAUUUGGGHHH!" explained the three year old.
I had forgotten. The little man does not care for tractors. They are loud and smelly and some of them go BANG when you turn them off.  Plus, he can tell that they are all coming to get him.  Clearly they are the Devil's playthings and Matty wants nothing to do with them.  Whenever El Husbando  mows the lawn, the poor child bursts into tears and locks himself in the house.  So this was not the best way to get him excited for the trip.

First, he refused to put his clothes on.  Then he refused to eat breakfast.  After I threw the clothes and the breakfast in the car, he refused to get into his seat and when we got there he refused to come out of the car.  When he did agree to come out, it was expressly stipulated that he would go only as far as the pretty red tent, where he could see there were some very safe apples and pumpkins. He did like the spiffy orange potato-collecting bags his teacher was handing out, right up until she said "Hey Matty, want to come see the tractor?" No, he explained, he really wanted to stay by the nice red tent.  Only it sounded a lot more like "AAAAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!"

Peer pressure did nothing to help.  If his fool classmates were willing to follow their parents on the Ride of Terror then that was too bad for them.  It took a Very Patient Potato Farmer -- who explained that he would stop the tractor any time Matty wanted him to-- and a Fed-Up Mommy to haul the small protester aboard and then we were off.  The only thing louder than the Devil Tractor was the sound of Matty screaming.  He spent the entire ride with his hands clamped firmly over his ears.  When we reached the potato field and the farmer turned off the tractor, the hands unclamped the ears and Matty hopped very happily down onto the field only to be confronted with . . .


The Devil's Potato Tractor.  Apparently the only thing worse than being pulled by one tractor is watching another tractor pull the way-cool potato picker.  Matthew didn't care that this thing could dig into the ground, shuffle potatoes up its conveyor belt, and poop them back onto the ground for us to pick up.  There was a tractor involved and he was not going to stand by and watch it do its dirty work. 


He closed his eyes and clamped his hands over his ears and retreated to (get this) the safety of the wagon pulled by the first tractor.  When all tractoring was done, he hopped down again and warily surveyed the pickings. Maintaining a safe distance from both tractors at all times, he scouted the potatoes . . .


lobbed a few into his spiffy orange potato bag . . .


and declared the adventure a success.


We topped off the morning with a quick visit to the pumpkin patch, then we petted the goats and fled before anyone could start up another tractor.


Part II: In Which I May Have Acquired More Fiber Than Was Strictly Necessary

I learned to spin last year and I really really really enjoy it, which is not the same as saying that I really really spin a lot.  But apparently I intend to spin a lot.  To be completely accurate, spinning is not the only hobby in which I have gotten a little ahead of myself.  I own a bunch of yarn, but most of it is attached to projects that I have in mind, and most of those are socks and scarves, for which a skein or two will do.  I have shelves full of books that I intend to read, but mostly I  borrow from the library so that when I fail to read them, the most I'll have spent is a small late fee. When I used to quilt (not really used to; I'll get back to it.  Right?) I had fabric on hand for at least half a dozen future projects.  So I get that there's a pattern of behavior here. But what gets me about spinning is that I buy the stuff with no clear goal in mind. The aimlessness of this kind of freaks me out, but not enough to keep me from buying more of the fluffy stuff.

A few weeks ago, my friend Deb and I made our pilgrimage to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck.  This is the absolute favorite coolest best worst kind of place for an aimless spinner to go.  It is a hefty trip: we get on the bus at 4:30 a.m. and don't get home until 11:30 p.m. and how can you not try to make the most of an event that requires that much travel?  It is our once-a-year full day away from our kids-- a grand total of 8 between the two of us-- and our responsibilities and how can you not spend a chunk of change in celebration of that kind of crazy freedom? And (here's the key) THERE'S SO MUCH STUFF!!!!!

So I bought  a bunch of it.

Here is my first purchase of the day, a trio of blues (2 ounces each) destined to become a three ply, though heaven only knows what I'm going to use it for.

Here is a later purchase, a big-ol' heap of some pretty colored wool with some shiny stuff mixed in.  No real plans for that either.


Here is some stuff from Spinner's Hill-- 8 ounces of totally random wool.  Normally, I buy it from my local spinning shop, so you might wonder why I would drive 5 hours to get some more, but the display was overwhelming and I was powerless to disobey its commands.


Which might also explain why I bought this little chunk of wool (4 ounces) from the same place.  The red is the deepest, richest, most seductive color you can imagine.  Nothing like the picture below.


Here is some fluff from Hope Spinnery in Maine.  I bought some last year and labeled it a mystery color.  It spun up into the most comforting shade of heathered green and so I just had to have more.  It was one of the few things I actually intended to buy this year, even though I have not knit the last batch and have no particular goal for this one.


Really, it's a good thing I bought a whole bunch of extra random wool.  Because I probably spin about 3 pounds of wool a year.  And before Rhinebeck, I only had 9 pounds of wool sitting around.  And now I have more than 11 pounds.  And it is vitally important to have that much wool in reserve because you never know when I might run into a few extra years of completely free time.

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(Spunky Eclectic, 4 oz BFL; Spinner's Hill, 4 oz BFL?; Spinner's Hill, 24 oz batt from heaven in colors that look just like autumn)

(Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three bags full-- ~4 pounds washed corriedale fleece purchased from a fleece sale with no clear goal in mind--Surprise!)

Mystery fiber/HemlockCotswold (4? Ounces) Handmade in the Hills/HemlockDark brown alpaca RhinebeckBlue merino tencel (4 ounces) Delly's Delights @ RhinebeckCorriedale (4 ounces) from HemlockAlpaca (3 ounces) from Alpacatrax (rhinebeck)Cottonphoto.jpg
(myriad other bits of wool, 4 or 8 ounces each, still not spun from last year)

Wensleydale (4 ounces) Hemlock

But, that's not all.  While I was chucking pound after pound of fiber into my bags at Rhinebeck, I also made time to shop for yarn.  Below is a Zauberball.  This was a total impulse purchase (Fine.  It was even more of an impulse purchase than the rest of the stuff I got) and I'm still a little surprised that I shelled out $20 for it, but I loved the colors and I have already started a pair of socks with it.


And then there was the crowning moment of the festival.  At the end of the day, Deb and I took a second walk through the first building we had gone into in the morning.  In the morning, there had been a line so long at one of the booths that we couldn't even see what was there.  We were pretty sure that whatever the people were so excited about was long gone, but we stopped by to ask.  Toni at the booth for The Fold explained that they were selling Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock yarn and that the reason people were so excited was that she was the only distributor on the east coast (I don't know when Illinois became the east coast, but that's not really important), so people didn't get to see the yarn in person too often.  I started blithering about how my husband had gotten me a Sheep to Shoe kit for my birthday.  Eight ounces of superwash wool from Blue Moon etc etc all waiting to be spun into sock yarn, only I really didn't want to mess with it until my spinning skills were a little better  . . .


and Generous Toni said "Why don't I give you a skein of it so you can see what it's like.  You go pick one out."  At which point all noise stopped coming out of my mouth and I stared at her in wonder.   So she turned to Deb and said "Are you with her?  Why don't you go pick one out too?"

So we giggled like a couple of idiots and went to pet the yarn.  It took us forever to choose (we were a little store-stupid by that time). We walked away with our skeins of the regular sock yarn for free, but to say thank you we each bought a skein of the mill ends.  El Husbando ridiculed me over this, but I still think that $14 is an unbeatable price for two skeins of really cool sock yarn. Can you even tell the difference?

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