Posted in fiber festivals, Knit Equals Joy Designs, knitting patterns, Ravelry, Rhinebeck

This Pumpkin’s Going to Rhinebeck

This pumpkin’s going to Rhinebeck (AKA the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival)! If you’re going, stop by Weston Hill Farm‘s booth in Building A, 42-43. The pumpkin and some of my patterns will be there. While you’re there, check out their amazing yarn, roving, and Eileen’s amazing felted sculptures!

Weston Hill Farm Worsted Weight Yarn

Eileen and Chris chose the spider motif as their favorite, and I set to work. The darker yarn is their sport weight, which worked fine for the colorwork sections. I held it double for the stem, which created quite the gnarly stem! To go with this stem, a weighty, dramatic button was needed, and I found this button in Mom’s button tin. I’m not sure whether it was Mom’s or Grandma’s, and I’m not sure of the vintage (50’s-70’s?), but it was the perfect finishing touch.

If you go, let me know if you see the pumpkin! Have a wonderful time!!!

xoxo

Carol

P.S. If you’re looking for the pattern, you can find it here, $5.00:

Posted in Color, fiber festivals, knitters, knitting, Rhinebeck, yarn

Rhinebeck – All About the Yarn

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Rhinebeck, as the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival is known, is now a distant memory, but the yarn I brought home with me is a concrete reminder of a lovely weekend spent with friends. I wrote about the weekend here, and now I’m writing about the yarn I chose and why.

My first yarn purchase at Rhinebeck was from Weston Hill Farm. I discovered Weston Hill Farm on my first trip to Rhinebeck, in 2011. The yarn was luminous, natural, and I had never seen anything quite like it. I returned to their booth several times, finally buying a sweater’s worth of yarn for this Shalom Cardigan using only natural, undyed yarns. Weston Hill Farm’s yarn comprised the bulk of it.

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I’ve also used Weston Hills Farm yarns to make this Ebb Cowl (pattern by Susan B. Anderson)

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and these Choose Your Own Cable Adventure Gloves which I test knitted for Aaron Bush

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The yarn I brought home this year from Weston Hills Farm is just as beautiful! It is luminous, soft and springy, and I love the colorways – beautiful, pure hues and subtle tonal solids.

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Weston Hill Farm – Worsted Weight
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Weston Hill Farm – Mountain Lake, Pear

Weston Hill Farm is based out of Westerlo, New York. Eileen and I became friends following Rhinebeck 2011 – when I called to order a bit more yarn to finish that Shalom – and I always love to see the pictures  she shares on social media of the farm’s sheep: Romneys, Border Leicesters, and long wool cross sheep. This is Ailionora, a registered Romney ewe. Isn’t she adorable?

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Ailionora, photo used by permission

Getting back to Rhinebeck – next on my quest for fiber, I picked up some lovely yarn by Solitude Wool.

solitude-wool-960x960Solitude Wool is based in Virginia and creates breed-specific yarns. Each skein lists the yarn’s fiber source as well as the yarn character, fiber content/care, length, size, suggested needles, gauge and batch.

Gradient and/or mini skein sets were all the rage at Rhinebeck, but I didn’t find one that I couldn’t pass up until I saw the Llama-rama mini skein bouquets at Solitude Wool. The yarn is 1/2 llama & 1/2 Romney, 2-ply/ fingering, 35 yds per color (210 yards total). The beautiful heathered colors are created by blending natural color llama with natural and dyed-in-the-wool Romney. It’s luminous, too.

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Llama-rama mini skein bouquet

I fell hard for this Alpaca/Merino. This fiber is a blend of 80% natural, undyed black and white alpaca with 20% natural and dyed-in-the wool Merino (2-ply/ lace weight, 275 yds, 2 oz). It is amazingly soft, and I absolutely love the muted purple tones. I think they had me at “elegant” in the description on the label. It has a great deal of depth, and I see more to love about it each time I look at it.

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Solitude Yarns Alpaca/Merino

The next yarn company that made me stop and stay awhile in their booth was North Light Fibers. North Light Fibers is a micro yarn mill based in Block Island, Rhode Island. We spent a lot of time in their booth just squishing the yarn – it all had an incredible hand. I was tempted by the cashmere – and it was amazing – but ended up with the Atlantic – 100% Falkland Island’s Wool (3-ply/Worsted, 170 yds, 2.5 oz). I snagged the exclusive colorway they created just for Rhinebeck, Blue Moon, a lovely periwinkle – one of my favorite colors ever. It will have excellent stitch definition, and will probably end up as cabled mitts.

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North Light Fibers Atlantic in Blue Moon

My final purchase of the weekend was from a Hudson Valley farm, Buckwheat Bridge Angoras. The farm raises Angora goats and Cormo sheep using sustainable practices. What caught my eye, however, were the painterly colorways. Beautiful!

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Buckwheat Bridge Angoras 70/30

The blend is 70% Fine Kid Mohair and 30% Cormo Wool. The green colorway is 250 yds/4 oz. and the multi blue/yellow is finer at 200 yds/2 oz.

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Buckwheat Bridge Angoras 70/30

I’m always amazed at the wonderful yarn selection now available to fiber enthusiasts. When I think back to the yarns my mother used back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, I am so grateful for the natural fibers we can now so easily find. And now, when there are so many artists hand-dyeing their fibers in gorgeous colorways such as the ones that made it into my Rhinebeck shopping bag – with so many options, now is a great time to be a knitter!

knit equals joy

Posted in fiber festivals, knitters, knitting, Rhinebeck, yarn

Rhinebeck!

I was so fortunate to be able attend Rhinebeck last weekend!  For those of you not yet familiar with Rhinebeck, that’s the name knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners, dyers and other fiber lovers have given to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, which takes place every October at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York.

Going to Rhinebeck has become an annual affair for many.  For me, this was my second time attending, the first having been in 2011.  I wrote about that trip here: Fiber Festivals as Travel Destinations.

I attended Rhinebeck with my friends Meg and Jen, and we met up with other Ravelry friends while at the festival (see picture below).  We also had a great meet-up with our friend Alex and her mom, but I didn’t end up with the meet-up picture. We lucked out with lovely accommodations in Kingston. We had mixed results with our dinner in Kingston. But in the end, it came down to good company and lots of fun, fibery goodness.

Reports I’ve read state that about 30,000 people attended on Saturday.  It was a bit crowded for me, but good for people watching and scoping out the yarn.  Sunday was much more comfortable, the lines were much shorter and you could move around in the artists’ booths.  I made no purchases on Saturday and none until about the last hour we were there on Sunday. I was sorely tempted all weekend by qiviut, the fine undercoat of the muskox and the softest fiber I’ve ever touched, but finally decided against it.  I love locally sourced yarn, and that is mostly what I ended up with.

Now we come to the fun part, which is lots of pictures of Rhinebeck and pictures of the yarn!

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Arriving in Rhinebeck
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Fall is in the air at Rhinebeck
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Fair food – while I didn’t have any of this, I did have maple cotton candy – delish!
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Happy Rhinebeckers
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Passport Mitts in the wild! Made by Meg, Jen, and Alex
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Sunday morning drive to Rhinebeck
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4-H dad talks to Jen about raising Shetland sheep. They are social animals and have to be sold in groups of two or more – at least in NY.
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This little guy was about six months old. He was so cute!
And the fiber!!!

(Click on the pictures with a yarn source named in the caption to go to each one’s website.)

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Buckwheat Bridge Angoras. Love the colorways! The top one reminds me of Van Gogh and the bottom one is a luscious green.
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North Light Fibers Atlantic in Blue Moon – Rhinebeck exclusive color…more of a periwinkle
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Solitude Wool lovelies
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Weston Hill Farm Hand Dyed Sport Weight in Pear and Mountain Lake
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Weston Hill Hand Dyed Worsted Weight in Peony and New Dawn Rose

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Thanks for letting me share my impressions with you. It was a wonderful weekend – and best of all was the time spent with old and new friends!

knit equals joy

Posted in fiber festivals, Salem Oregon

Sheep to Shawl Festival 2016

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Last weekend I visited the Sheep to Shawl Festival at the Willamette Heritage Center. It was a warm day and lovely, and I enjoyed the music, the festival food, the animals, and the obvious joy of creativity that was occurring all around.

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cashmere goats
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Willamette Heritage Center

The thistles outside this building caught my eye:

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I’ve always thought thistles interesting, texture- and shape-wise.

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These are also known as teasels, a specific variety of thistle, considered a noxious invasive plant in some areas of the country.

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Inside the historic Mill, I learned something new about thistles and how they were historically used in the manufacture of woolen fabric. How fascinating to learn this!

Hand Raising – This slow and tedious operation was accomplished with a hand raiser mounted with teasels which was drawn either warp or weft directions of the fabric.

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Such a cool use of a plant in manufacturing!!!


The grounds were full of folks enjoying the beautiful day, the music, the demonstrations of art and craft.  I came home with a couple of skeins of fibery goodness – a skein of Shetland sock yarn for me, locally raised and milled, and another skein of local, speckled bulky yarn which will eventually end up a prize for the Ravellenic Games this summer (more on that in future posts). It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon and I look forward to next year’s festival!

At the Kay Woolen Mill (1024x683)

Posted in Color, fiber festivals, knitting, The Creative Process, The Design Process, yarn

2016 – Possibilities

The last six weeks have been a whirlwind.  Finally now I’ve enjoyed a few moments to catch my breath, to reflect, and to look forward to possibilities for the new year.  Not to go into too much detail right now, as the upcoming designs are still shadowy and lurking around in my brain, waiting to take form…but I wanted to share with you the palettes I will be playing with…and I’m sure that other ideas will crowd in and push some of these further down the line, but for now, here are some possibilities for 2016.

These are a few of the skeins I picked up at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in November.  I believe they will become a two-color yoked sweater, with the green as the main color.  I haven’t decided whether the yoke will be striped, a stranded design, or some sort of mosaic knitting.  I’m sort of picturing a honeycomb type of pattern using slipped stitches for the yoke – maybe.

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These yarns are also set aside for sweaters, perhaps with a lace or cable panel.  I couldn’t decide on color, so picked up both:

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I also want to experiment with an allover lace pattern for this lovely Shibui yarn.  You can see the ready-to-wear sweater that’s inspiring me in the upper corner.  I may or may not knit the linen and the mohair together.  The colors are amazing in real life.

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And I am so thrilled to be working on the colorwork tee again.  Christmas knitting, among other things, took me away from it.  But I’m back!  And my tension is more even now.  Woot!  I am hopeful that testing can begin on it once I have placed the sleeves on waste yarn and joined for the body.

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Other possibilities: fingerless mitts related to the colorwork tee, fingerless mitts inspired by this design inspiration session with friend and fellow designer Marie Greene, a pencil skirt related to the The Wayfarer Hat and the Passport Mitts, and, possibly, a cabled home decor project using Weston Hill Farm cottage spun yarn.

On a related note, I am hoping to attend Rhinebeck New York Sheep and Wool Festival in October and the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in November.  I have written before on how wonderful fiber festivals are: Fiber Festivals as Travel Destinations.  I hope also to hit the Rose City Yarn Crawl March 3-6 and the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Barn Sale this summer.

I would love to hear from you if any of the above colorways/palettes speak to you.  And are you planning to attend any fiber-related events this year?  So many possibilities!

Posted in Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival, fiber festivals, knitting, Ravelry, Rhinebeck, Rose City Yarn Crawl

Fiber Festivals as Travel Destinations

In 2010, I went through a difficult time personally.  It was suggested to me that I plan something to look forward to as a way to get through and beyond what I was going through.

Even though I began knitting a few years before, in 2009 my knitting really took off and I also discovered the amazing fiber arts resource and website, Ravelry.

The following year, one of my new Ravelry friends filmed a video as she and a friend drove to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, affectionately referred to as Rhinebeck.   Her video showed the beautiful landscape of Upstate New York in all its fall glory, but more than that, her excitement for Rhinebeck was contagious.  I was hooked!  I wanted to go to Rhinebeck!   Rhinebeck would be my something to look forward to.

The planning started.  I purchased airline tickets.  I found my roommate (the friend above).  Someone (not me) found a great place to stay in the Catskills.  I made my Rhinebeck sweater.

I signed up for classes; if I were going to spend the money to fly across the country, it should be not only a social and shopping time, but also a time to increase my skills. I took a class on sweater design and one on Tvåändsstickning (!)-  a Swedish knitting technique in which two strands of yarn, usually of the same color, are twined together.  The classes were terrific!

Rhinebeck highlights:

My Rhinebeck Sweater
Carol, Nicole, Suzanne
Fall Color at Rhinebeck
Yarn from Rhinebeck, most from family-owned farms such as Weston Hill Farm

Best of all was the realization that a meaningful trip could be built around fiber activities. Thus began the quest for yarn festivals, retreats, yarn crawls, and any other event that could be classified as fiber-related.

Since then I have attended the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival , the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Barn Sale, the Rose City Yarn Crawl, and Vogue Knitting Live Seattle 2014, and my sisters and I toured Ranch of the Oaks during our 2014 Sisters’ Weekend.  Each is worthy of its own blog post, but…well, my hope is to write up reviews after I attend events in the future.

This fun video introduces the next fiber event I’ll be attending:

I wholeheartedly recommend fiber events as the kernel for travel planning.  They provide terrific opportunities to meet wonderful people, to become more educated in the craft, to have something exciting to look forward to and to plan for, and, of course, to increase the stash!

Meet-up for bagels before the 2015 Blue Moon Fiber Arts Barn Sale:

Left to Right: Carol, Melissa, Debby, Richelle. Photo, Melissa Keating, used by permission.