Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beyond Merino

I should quit my job.  First of all, the hours are terrible.  Works starts at 5am, if I'm lucky.  I don't get done until 7pm, if I'm lucky. And the littlest of my three slave drivers wakes me up once or twice in the middle of the night, if I'm lucky.  ... But he's just so cute, right?  I can't resist him. So, I guess I'll keep working.  And I DO get paid in kisses and snuggles, and the pay is great.  Ok, maybe I'll quit sleeping instead.

The bottom line is that I need more knitting hours in the day, because there is just so much YARN. Today I went to my very first knitting retreat which took place in scenic, rural, central Virginia, nestled in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains.  It was the kind of place where you kept expecting to see hobbits. The special guest speakers (and the reason why I went) were the ladies of Solitude Wool.  They raise sheep and spin breed specific yarn.  Breed. Specific. Yarn.  It's taking yarn snobbery to a whole new level.

Is it just me, or is there a lot of merino out there?  It seems like most of the wool I come across is merino.  And I like merino. It's very nice.  But there's also Corriedale.  Romney. Cotswold. Border Leicester.  Targhee. These are AMAZING wools, and many of them are raised right here in Virginia.

Cotswold.  This one is my favorite.  It positively glistens.
Gorgeous Romney photobombed by a glass of chardonnay.
This is a skein of undyed alpaca from Platinum Alpacas, which was a vendor a the retreat.  The lady at the table was just so sweet, and no one was going over there.  I don't know why because her yarn was super soft and very weighty for alpaca.  I see a future Milo Vest for my little boy out of this amazing yarn...
At this knitting retreat they passed around spun yarn and the raw fleece that goes with it for these and other sheep breeds.  (If you want a little taste of what this must have been like, check out The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.  I am crazy about this book. I have it in hard copy AND on my Kindle.  Yeah...)

What amazed me was the luster and shine of the Cotswold, Targhee and Romney yarn.  Ok, I fell in love with them.  And dropped some money on some gorgeous yarn.  I left it in the bag, because it will still feel new when I have time to actually knit with it.  It may be that now I only knit with yarn from Solitude Wool.  It is amazing.  I'm in love.

Here are a few facts about sheep that I picked up today that I think I can really use:

1.  A sheep costs, like, $200. (Feeding them is kind of expensive though...)
2. You can keep 3-5 sheep on one acre of land.  (I live on 1/3 of an acre!  That's 1-2 sheep.  Now to convince the HOA...)
3. Sheep do not require shelter.  They do require shade.  (I can handle that.)

So, I need a sheep.  Or two. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Knitting Break

I know I promised a book review about sheep, and it's coming.  It really is. But I have been plugging away on some other projects that I promised people.  (Why do I keep promising stuff?) I paint portraits and I just finished a painting of a friend's parents.  He doesn't even know it's coming. I can't wait to see his face when I give it to him...

So, during this knitting break, I have knitted several small toys: one Bunny Nugget for my husband's friend's new baby, an angry Chubby Chirp for my husband's office, and I started some of Rebecca Danger's monsters for my middle daughter. It seems that if I'm physically able to knit, then I'm still knitting.  Even during a break.

Angry Chubby Chirp named Uncle Leo
Now, I'm working on a soul-crushing blanket for my mom. It's a baby blanket.  A green baby blanket.  (Yes, another one.) And it's crushing my soul.  "Why is your soul the victim here?" you might be wondering... It's several reasons, really, and if you're a knitter, I think you'll understand all of them.

First, it's a blanket. So it's big, even if it's for a baby.

Second, it's in stockinette stitch, the whole thing, with a garter stitch border. This is my fault, because I could have done cables, or lace or something, but I wanted mindless knitting.  Sigh...

Third, it's in a soul-crushing yarn. It's 60% cotton and 40% modal, which is a fiber from beech trees, but feels kind of synthetic.  Yes, the yarn is soft, definitely, but it's...  green.  And there's a lot of it.  And I just don't love knitting with it. And there's no end in sight.

The good news is that when this blanket is done, in five years, when I finish it, all the things I agreed to do for other people will be done!  Yay!