Thursday, July 31, 2008

Biker Chicks Redux

And here we are again.

Friday, we biked from Rockwood to Confluence. The weather was beautiful: warm and sunny but not too hot. The trail was mostly in the woods, shady and cool, occasionally going through a sunny meadow area or over a bridge. This stretch of the woods definitely had the feeling of enchantment: none of us would have been surprised to see gnomes or other woods creatures down among the ferns. We stopped at one point to check out the healing vortex, a spot where the surging waters supposedly have healing effects. Healing or not, it was a wonderful spot in the river.

Saturday we headed off towards the town of Ligonier, stopping at the Powdermill Nature Reserve, a brand new nature center that had an exhibit of amazing nature photographs by Donald Robinson (unfortunately there wasn't a catalog or postcards or prints available--we all would have loved to have a little piece of this exhibit to take home and savor).

Right at the corner of Route 30 and Main Street, there is Fort Ligonier, one of the most western-outposts of the British during the French and Indian Wars. A very interesting museum, a very well-preserved fort, a very informative hour or so. Well worth the trip . And this is where we had a delicious lunch: In the summer, there are tables on the sidewalk, which is where we sat and enjoyed the leisurely pace of a summer's afternoon in a small town.

After lunch, we headed towards the town center where a craft show was underway, but we got sidetracked by an absolutely magnificent yarn store Kathy's Kreations. This is by far the most well-stocked yarn store I have ever been in: the selection of yarns is overwhelming, and there is a complete (and I mean complete) line of books, patterns, magazines, as well as knitting tools and supplies. I have to say that the stores here in Philly should take a look at this place and imitate, imitate, imitate! Of course we bought yarn--how could we not?

The highlight of Sunday was visiting the Duncan House, the newest Frank Lloyd Wright house to be opened in this area of western Pennsylvania. Every year that we've come out here, we've done a Wright House: Falling Water, Kentuck Knob, and now the Duncan House. Next year, we're planning on touring the two apprentice houses that are on the same grounds as the Duncan House.

And we had good meals, drank cherry wine and ate chocolates in our pajamas, did some knitting, ate huge breakfasts, and laughed more and harder than I have in a very long time. Nobody whined, nobody had a hissy fit, nobody got sick or punked out on any part of the adventure---we're doing this again next year, and none of us can wait.

Tomorrow's August. Already.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Biker Chicks

This morning, I'm leaving for what now seems to be the annual biking/knitting getaway with Debbie, Colleen, and Mara. Colleen and I start in Philadelphia, drive out to Harrisburg to pick up Mara (and have some lunch), then journey on to The Glades Pike Inn B&B. Debbie will probably meet us there tomorrow.

The B&B is great: the first time I walked in, three years ago, I had a Proustian moment of being back in my great-aunt's farm house in upstate Pennsylvania: the same smell of breakfast meat, country, old house, and I don't know what else, but it felt immediately comfortable. Janet, the innkeeper, is great; she's welcoming without being obsequious, has a sense of humor, and can tell us endless things to do to keep us occupied while out there. There is always a kitten underfoot. Every morning, there's a hearty breakfast that involves some type of wonderful cake or bread. People come back year after year to stay with Janet, and it's no wonder: it's very much like visiting your favorite aunt (or your mother's cousin or some other relative who gives you no grief, only a good time).

We've gone to Falling Water and Kentuck Knob, cycled through Ohiopyle and along railbed/cycle paths, and overall had wonderful times. There's also time for reading and knitting and talking and relaxing.

The best part is four nights of no snoring.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stash Reduction

In the last couple of weeks, I've been on a mission to reduce my stash. Stitches East will be happening in November in Baltimore, and as much as I tell myself that I'm not going to buy "too much" yarn, I know that I will succomb to yarn lust and, well, that will be that.

So I've been knocking out top-down sweaters using stash yarn, and I can at least kid myself into thinking that I'm using up my stash.

This is the first one:

On the last day of Stitches last year, I bought two skeins of Blue Moon Fibers Twisted in the Puck's Mischief colorway. And here it is as a loose-but-not-too-loose garter stitch jacket with three-quarter length sleeves and hitting at high-hip level.

I finished this one

yesterday. The yarn is Sugarloaf from Valley Yarns, and it's been in my stash long enough so that it could probably be carbon dated. But I've never been able to give it up or pass it along because it's so soft and I love the color. The button's pretty close to perfect, too. Again, three-quarter length sleeves and not too long. Although there's no shaping knitted in, it fits well as I didn't increase as much as I did in the Puck's Mischief sweater.

And stash-reducer number three got started yesterday. If I can get sweaters made and lower the level of worsted and sport weight yarns, that will be good. Somehow having a stash of sock yarn isn't as overwhelming--probably the balls are so small.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

se trata de los géneros de punto

In all languages, all worlds, it's about the knitting.

These are photos taken in Kathy's, a yarn store in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She's an expat from San Francisco who sells yarn from her living room: knock or ring on Aldama 27, and if she's home, you'll have a great time talking with her and looking at some terrific yarn.

The "store" is down the street from the B&B we stayed in, and it was never open when I went by. On the last try, a gringa was looking in the window, and when I asked her if she knew what the hours were, she said "Oh, you ring or knock. Kathy's a friend--I'll ring." And she did, and even though we caught Kathy fresh out of the shower, it was no problem for her to throw on something presentable and let us in.

She was also gracious enough to give us a tour of her house, which was (like 99% of San Miguel) pretty amazing.

For me, someone who has to touch, feel, smell, or fondle yarn everyday, this was a great discovery, and I had to get in, come hell or high water. When I was in San Miguel two years ago, visiting Allie , the only yarn store was on Insurgentes (it's still there, up the street from the great gorditas place) and sold bags of pretty coarse acrylic (no, I'm not a fiber snob, soft acrylic is fine, coarse is not).

So the moral to this story is: no matter where you go, someone, somewhere is going to have her hands in fiber.