Sunday, June 28, 2009

Knitmeter ...

I really really like to count how many miles of yarn I have used; I wish it would add a feature that would allow me to count the six ends of yarn I had to weave in for each of eight mug rugs; or maybe a time tracker that would show that it took me more than two hours to get a decent cable cast-on and joined first round of a particular hat. That is, for some reason a particular yarn and a particular circular needle conspired to drain my brain of all remnants of knitting mojo, after two hours I had completed only three rounds of k1p1 ribbing. Surely, I deserve some credit for sticking with it to the bitter end (the rest of the hat only took two or three hours: go figure).

So although I track my knitting yardage fairly regularly, there is no way to show the rest of the world how much time it took (of course, considering some of my simple projects that become overly-complex in my hands, that is probably a good thing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I missed it again ...

The second occasion of World Wide Knit In Public Day ( that is. Well, I sort of KIP'd as we were house guests at a friend's home. Next year, I'll be more out there with my KIP as it will be the third weekend in June, a date that works better for our family.

For some reason my tweenage daughter has become enamored of llamas, and since she was so patient all weekend with grownups ignoring her, I rewarded her with a side trip to an Alpaca Ranch at Mesick, Michigan. Actually, it was a totally unplanned detour: when I saw a small roadside sign indicating the alpaca ranch was just .7 miles off to the left, I made the turn. Oh, my goodness! Big Willows Alpaca Ranch ( is beautifully situated in the rolling hills of Wexford County, a lovely century-old farm (the house is new but appropriate for the setting). As we drove in the driveway trying to determine if visitors are welcome on a weekday, our new friend Mary Jane Wieber came out to greet us. I explained that we were curious about Alpacas as well as llamas, and she gave us the grand tour. What a delightful experience!

As she explained to us about the family relationships of the young alpacas and their moms, and showed us around the small barn and the alpacas little meadow, I could tell my daughter was falling in love. We went to a second barn to meet the patriarchs of the herd, and they are just as docile as their female counterparts. There is one llama in the herd, and I have to agree with daughter that he is the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Of course, as a knitter, no trip is complete without one stop at a yarn store ... little did I expect to find a new favorite LYS in the middle of nowhere. Mary Jane admitted that she is not a knitter, although she does do the loom knitting. But her small shop is full of the most luscious yarn I've ever laid hands on. As she explained the process to me, the fleeces are sent to a processor on the east side of the state, then to a spinner in northern Michigan to create a variety of yarns. In an undyed state, the yarn from her lovely flock is almost a rainbow of its own ... she names each yarn for the animal that produced the fleece, and sorts her yarn by family: that is, one rack will hold the yarn produced by mother and her several offspring, or by sire and his offspring. I finally settled on three 250-yard hanks of handspun sportweight yarn that was spun using fleece from Carmichael, Diego, and Frenchee. Two of these guys are lighter color, the third guy produces black fleece, and the yarn is a beautifully heathered light grey. I can't wait to get it wound and on the needles.

In addition to finished yarns, the Weibers also sell bats, rovings, and handknit goods from craft cooperatives in Peru.

All in all, we had a lovely visit with the Wiebers and their herd. I have a feeling we'll be stopping there often on our frequent trips north.

A recent Detroit News feature article highlighted Michigan farms that have tried to survive the new world and local economy by diversifying their businesses. Of course, the article explored fruit farmers and mint farmers (two of our traditional crops); but it did mention "agri-tourism." If you and your family are looking for a close-to-home summer vacation, take the time to check with your state's department of tourism to find "apple house" or "herb farm" or "alpaca ranch." Farm families around the country are working hard to keep their traditions alive, and what an educational and fun opportunity for the family!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Did you KIP yesterday?

In case you hadn't heard of 'Knit in Public Day', follow the link at the title to learn more about it. Personally, I love to KIP, but have not had the opportunity to participate in an organized KIP event. The second weekend in June, when most of us in the northern hemisphere have the potential for pleasant weather, would seem ideal for a knit-in at the park, on the town square, at a sidewalk cafe ... but the second weekend in June also comes at the end of our first week of summer vacation. In our family, we have a very hectic schedule from the middle of April through and beyond the last day of school. We found that we need at least one week to really wind down and recover from the busy-ness, so I am not ready to schedule another activity.

On the other hand, I do KIP frequently, as I accompany the kids to extra dance rehearsals and competition, bowling tournaments, class day in the park, etc. My closest LYS had a KIP event, but the only notice for its event was a hand-written note taped to the front door, which I didn't find until after the store closed.

Quite by accident, our family stumbled into a local "Summer Fest" featuring arts and crafts sales, so I did run into a few crafters selling handmade goods; one vendor was even actually knitting between customers. So I did have an opportunity to honor the spirit of KIP, even if I didn't participate.

This year, there is an additional date for KIP, namely, next weekend; in the future, world wide KIP Day will be the third weekend in June, because of conflict with the original second weekend in June. I like this date; it more closely jives with the way our family slowly immerses itself in summer.

In the meantime, I'll continue to KIP through the summer ... during kids' playtimes at the park, waiting for the girls at dance class, on the beach during vacation, any other chance I get. If you have a craft that is portable (knit, crochet, various needle arts of any sort, whittling, caligraphy, macrame, weaving or spinning), I encourage you to do it in public, also. Public crafting is a great ice breaker and conversation starter, your craft might be the one to inspire a would-be artist to learn a new skill and the satisfaction that comes with creating something useful or something beautiful.

Monday, June 8, 2009

My pattern is live on Ravelry

... and at least one other Raveler has knitted my pattern for Soda Can Sox! Of course, I'm not quite famous, but at least I know that someone else out there in the knitting world knows I'm here!

Truly an eventful year for me ... at least in the internet department of knitting.