Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Good Trip

Tomorrow begins our drive home to Taos.  It has been a great trip, exploring new areas, tripping down memory lane a little bit, and chasing fall colors.  Driving from Oakland to San Diego along old Hwy. 101, I saw sites I recall from my childhood, especially the rolling hills with oak trees, occasionally adorned with cattle grazing happily. Gone for good are the miles of Burma Shave signs that entertained me in those days.  New to my eyes were the miles of vineyards growing along this same corridor.  Most of these vines were in the process of changing into their fall colors, with shades changing from greens to yellows to golds.  It wasn't possible to stop to take a photograph to share with you, so instead I offer you a photo of my Malabrigo sweater (color: Rhodesian) that I was working on as we were driving.Cimg0583

The bag is my new favorite knitting bag, purchased from Catfish Studio at the Taos Wool Festival.  It is hand felted fabric (not knitted and fulled).  I needed another knitting bag about as much as I need more yarn, but I just couldn't resist, and after all, we really should support great craftspeople whenever possible, right?

And the mitts?  Well, I finished two pair, and in taking a picture to show you, so you'd really believe me, I managed to get my finger into most of the photo...so you'll have to take my word for it.  They are very fun and the Kacha Kacha helping me keep track of rows made the second pair happen in good time.  I highly recommend these for a fun knit for yourself or a really nice gift for someone special.  One pair took three balls of Julia, with enough left over for a good start on a second pair. ---Martie

Saturday, October 21, 2006

On the Road Again

Greetings from sunny downtown Oakland, California.  I have snapped a photo to show you the view from my hotel desk, and that pesky flash went off again (despite best efforts to smother it).  Anyway, you get the idea. Cimg0578_3 This is the hotel that hosted Stitches West (the big consumer knitting show hosted by XRX) for many years, before the conference outgrew the location. 

This week has been quite an adventure.  Mr. Sunflower and I left Taos on Monday afternoon, and have done our best (up until yesterday) to avoid major roads and populated areas.  In an effort to chase fall colors, we headed out through Colorado, crossed Utah and then central Nevada, mostly along US Hwy 50, aptly billed as the "Loneliest Road in America".  This was one of, if not THE, first interstate highways built by the Eisenhower administration after WWII.  It is a two lane road with few towns along the way...and not very large ones, at that.  The glory of this for us was having expansive views and little traffic for almost three days, and the reassurance that not every square inch of this beautiful country has been subdivided and overpopulated.

As always, one of the best parts of getting away from home means taking far too many knitting projects and still worrying I won't have enough to keep myself busy.  Just as we were leaving town, Interweave Knits' new special publication on Holiday Knits came out and I fell in love with the Mosaic Mitts (designed by Sandy Cushman).  Early Monday morning, before leaving town, I burgled my own shop and took a skein of almost every color of Kristin Nicholas' beautiful yarn, Julia.  Armed with size 4 double point needles, I set about my plan of knocking out many pairs of these in a short period of time to bring home to amaze my staff and customers.  HA!  Is the pattern easy? Yes, but probably it would be nice if you have a basic understanding of what mosaic knitting is.  Did I screw it up?  Yes.  Did I get lots done?  Well...I've finished three mitts since Monday, so you might say my goal hasn't been met.  But here's the deal (in self defense)...I forgot to use my Kacha Kacha, which turns out to be the key to success here, especially if you're knitting while looking out the car windows and ooooohing and awwwwwwing over scenery.  My rythm turned out to be something like this:  knit on the mitts most of the day, get to the motel, find the screw-ups, spend the evening tearing them out and re-knitting them.  When the first full pair was finally completed, I was so proud I could've burst, and then, saw the MISTAKES...but being the Princess of Rationalization, I have concluded the following:  how can I spend my time in the shop reassuring YOU that it's OK to make mistakes, that the knitting police won't come knocking at your door, and THEN go about making perfect projects?  :0) So here's a picture of pair #1, having lunch at the Moab Diner in Moab, Utah.  For those of you who've never visited Moab, it's red rock country, and I snapped a quicky to give you a teensy visual.Cimg0566 Cimg0568 Moab was a favorite haunt of Edward Abbey, of The Monkey Wrench Gang fame, for those of you who may remember this.  It's also an epicenter for lots of outdoors enthusiasts...river rafters, hikers, bicyclists, you name it.  This photo does it little justice.

Day #3 brought us safely into Placerville, where Monte and I stayed last June for Camp Pluckyfluff (see our archives if you want to read about this).  We happily moved in to my #1 favorite B&B in the entire universe, the historic Albert Shafsky House.Albert_shafsky_house  Our hosts Rita and Stephanie graciously let me snag this picture from the website, so I could share it with you.  Located one block (on foot) from historic downtown Placerville, this home is not only beautiful, but Rita and Stephanie are so nice, you'll end up not wanting to leave.  I know this, because it's happened to me, twice now...and here's the plan.  Next time, I'm coming back just to hang out and rest and hope to get some time to visit with them, if I can, and not worry about what else I do in town.  If you're traveling to this part of the world, I highly recommend you stay with them...the breakfasts, alone, are enough reason, and everything else is just plain icing on the cake.

Remember my posting on Love at First Sight?  Well, look who I picked up while I was in Placerville...I am in love all over again.  Today, while visiting the Deep Color studio in Kensington (near Berkeley),Cimg0573 I found a book that may help me figure out her age and history.  I have decided I love her no matter what her age...(and speaking of age, if you're of the middle age group and need a good laugh, I would like to recommend Nora Ephron's new book, I Feel Bad About My Neck).

And now, to work on Mitt #4...Martie

Monday, October 9, 2006

After the festival

Liz_at_wool_festival_2 Dear Friends:  The 23rd Annual Wool Festival is now officially history.  Unfortunately, it ended up being a somewhat cold and very rainy weekend, and I heard this morning some of the vendors even had to move their tents to escape drainage issues.  The Sunflowers and I hit the park first thing on Saturday morning and had a grand time, buying as much as we could before heading back to Seco to open our shop.  This morning my friend Liz sent me this picture, taken by Taos News at the festival this weekend.  There she is, looking adorable in her handknits (as usual)...enjoying her 15 minutes of Taos fame...   :0)

The Handspun Heaven classes were a big hit...and soon as we have information on the possibility of sceduling a future class, I'll post it on the website.  To those of you who visited us over the past week, we thank you very much for coming to see us.  It is always great to see familiar faces and make new friends, and we appreciate your business.  In this time of predatory catalogs and web shops, it's even more important to support local yarn shops.

We hope you enjoyed your time in Taos!  --Martie

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Celebrating Fall

Greetings...if you're looking for a posting about a knitting project, this isn't it. I hope you'll stay with me, though, as I share with you a most wonderful day.

Yesterday the Sunflowers and I took the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad from Antonito to Chama.  The trip starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends in Chama around 4:30, with a stop mid-way for lunch.  (They bus you back to your car in Antonito afterward.)  This historic, narrow-gauge, train took us 64 miles through many elevations and different types of ecosystems, from sage covered prairie through different levels of forests.  We saw fall colors at their best, some that have already seen their best, and large patches of snow at the highest of elevations from a recent storm.Cimg0532  Cimg0519

Here are some sample pics: one of Joan, enjoying the colors from the "tailgate", and a peek at some of the stands of aspen we saw in all their glory. 

I said this posting had nothing to do with knitting.  That's not really true, as it turns out.  We spent the day knitting as the train ambled its course (we never go anywhere without a project).  Sometimes we'd pause to take photos, sometimes to ooooh and awwwww over the scenery, and a few times I saw some of the others resting their heads on the window sills, just staring and day dreaming.  A day like this was so full of happiness and inspiration, I'm guessing at least a few knitting projects will sprout as a result!

Should you find yourself interested in this trip, please see the railway's website:  www.cumbrestoltec.com for more information.  They close this next weekend, but if all things work out, we hope they'll make it for another season.  Theirs is a thin thread they hang by.Cimg0563..with little advertising budget, and some limited funding from the state, they are very dependent on donations and riders to keep them going. 

Our parting shot...we are looking forward to seeing many of you this week and coming weekend during the much anticipated Taos Wool Festival (#23!).  Travel safely and enjoy the colors...

Martie & The Sunflowers

Bennie, Lorraine, Joan, Connie and yours truly