Monday, October 31, 2011

Biking near the Bay

I treated myself to a weekend away with some of my girlfriends from Cumberland. We met on the eastern shore of Cambridge, Maryland for an annual event, 'The Wild Goose Chase'. Organized by the womens' biking company, Terry, it's a fun-filled weekend of ....



and of course, biking. I was like a little kid, riding her bike for the first time. I hadn't been on my bike for nearly 2 months (!) because of my stupid knee stuff and wasn't sure if I'd even be able to go far, but I made it 45 miles, hubba bubba, no trubba! It is exceptionally flat out there though, so that helped a lot. Thanks Kate, Denise and Sue for taking a leisurely pace and riding with me the whole way.

The route takes us through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, a  25,000 acre haven of wetlands, marsh and a habitat for the bald eagle.

This event is actually a fundraiser for the refuge, helping to maintain the trails, roadways and wetlands of this beautiful area.

 Back at the Goosechase headquarters, one could browse or buy Terry gear, including jerseys, shorts, bike seats, jackets, gloves, and bikes, all encompassed under a huge tent.

 Many pit stops were along the way, including the Bucktown Village Store, where Harriet Tubman made news and the home base of Blackwater Pedal and Paddle, our guides for the kayaking tour.

I met some new women, reconnected with some others and had a fabulous time with these 17 women from Cumberland. I really needed this restorative weekend. 
(thanks to Amy and Donna for some of the photos)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Magic of Rhinebeck

Wow! What a trip I've been on! This was my first ever Rhinebeck (New York Sheep & Wool Fest) experience. I had cobbled together visions of what I thought it would look, how it would feel and how Dancing Leaf Farm would do. I thought it would be more rustic, but it was actually very classy (as classy as a fair grounds can be). The ground were very well landscaped and tended. The organization of the volunteers who run this show was amazing. The feeling I got as I was able to escape from my booth on Sunday for a bit was 'happy-smiley-warm &fuzzy'. The Guatemalan band with the pan flute helped with that calm, glad-to-be-here feeling.I'm a sucker for pan flute.
I got this very candid shot of a woman in front of my booth. I had gone out there just to take shots of the booth and didn't know I had captured her expression until I downloaded the pics. How funny! I have these blowup legs that I handknit legwarmers for and they were quite the attention grabber. Most folks really liked them but one woman seemed offended and thought I should knit her a skirt.   One young guy offered to buy her panties!

This is how the booth looked early on. It was a huge space, 30' x 10' and I filled every inch. Natalie came along to help out. She unloaded, unpacked, set up and when the folks bombarded the booth, she calmly worked my new ipad with the square up credit card taking thingie. She wouldn't even let me do one transaction, she was having such a good time.

The finished space before it was filled with yarnies.

Bins all filled with yarny goodness.

Then the crowds came and that was that. My knee had done so great all week while I was slamming getting ready for this show. Unloading the trailer, it was great, hauling, hauling, hauling, it was a winner. I thought I was good to go, but Saturday morning, a literal 'twist of fate', my knee decided to give out and there was that ice pick in the knee feeling again. I was so bummed as I had to really be on my game that day. But I sucked it up and was on my feet for 12 hours, without a break to pee, take a drink, eat or say 'Holy bejeebers there's a lot of knitters here!" It was so crazy all day. All was good though. Had a great time, met so many nice people, made new friends, hired a few designers, hired a helper for Sunday and had a fun, fun time.

 Sanguine Gryphon is one of the 'darlings' of the festival and their line was out the door, up the hill and about a two-hour wait to seize their yarn. They were just down the aisle from me, so I got some of the fall out business.

I got out a bit on Sunday to see what Rhinebeck S&W was all about. There is plenty of room for sitting and people watching, which is fun when it's 60 degrees and folks are wearing their hand knit sweaters and shawls. In enjoyed a cappacino hile watching the parade of woolies walk by.

I was enthralled by this art piece, which is 'shirrit' (a type of cutting felt and crocheting). This happens to be on a construction cone. It's copyrighted by Lady McCrady.

Some of the knitted pieces were truly amazing. Love this coat.

Saturday & Sunday were lovely autumn days. Except for a bit of rain on Friday during setup and a wee bit of rain on Saturday, it was clear skies. It was a little windy though and I had one mishap during a particular rough patch of wind. About 8 of my crates full of yarn came crashing down close to me (don't know how I didn't get hurt) and the yarn went helter skelter into the dirt. Natalie claims she got hit by a flying foot, but no bruises to prove it. Luckily this happened when there were just a few customers in the booth and they all rallied to help.

Not only was there wool, sheep, and fiber, there was locally grown produce. All types of apples were in abundance.

People knitting everywhere.

Even Miss New York stopped by, doing some yarny shopping.

 Sheep themed pottery was abundant.

This display of sheep locks lightly spun into necklaces caught my eye.

 Of course there were sheep, and plenty of the wooly creatures. This is a Cotswold breed. Looks much better than Picadilly, my Cotswold. She's all muddy while this one is pristine white. I did notice a dingleberry hanging from her dreads on her face though.

 A close up of her gorgeous locks. How I'd love to dye those!

 See no evil!

All sheep do NOT look alike. Border Leicesters are known for their 'Roman' noses.

Sheep vying for 'Best in Show'.

 Plenty of stock gear too. I've lusted after these gates and feeding things for years.

 After the show, there was a steady stream of animals being led to their stock trailers.
I had a great first time at this festival but am glad that my string of away shows is over for awhile. I still have a few shows left this year, but my long travels are over for the time being. I'm taking a little break this weekend and going on a women's bike trip. Have an awesome fall weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autumn Madness

I've been just a bit busy lately, dyeing, skeining, packing, unpacking, setting up, taking down, with five back to back shows and tours.  I've seen my faithful customers/friends at Knitter's Day Out, Shendandoah Valley Fiber Fest, Fall Fiber Fest, my own studio tour, and now I'm packing it all up again to go to the New York Sheep & Wool Fest in Rhinebeck. 

My darling mom came for a visit during all of this and I put her butt to work. She was such a trooper, hauling crates of yarn, mannequins, tables, fiber and she kept me company in my booth.

So she wouldn't have idle hands, I had her make my felt flower pins. She set up a little assembly line, cutting felt, picking out buttons, layering and sewing. As I was hobbling around, she sat diligently crafting away.

 The reason for my hobbling was two-fold. Back at my first show in Pennsylvania my knee swelled up for no apparent reason and put a mean hurtin' on me so I could hardly walk. I sat there trying to sell yarn with a big bag of ice on my knee and a grimace/smile on my face. I had driven our manual transmission car to the show and had a helluva time getting home. It's hard to drive when you have to pick up your leg with your hands to move it to the clutch. I only ground the gears a little bit! As you can see from the photo above, this is not my bad knee. This is my bad toe. I was bringing a new bottle of wine to a friend because she let me use her car with automatic transmission. Because my reflexes are not quick, I couldn't move my foot away in time for the bottle to smash my toe. I did say the f-word. A lot of times. So bad knee, bad toe and a show to do. I am not used to moving this slow, usually I'm zipping around in a flurry. But I had to go up and down and up and down the steps one step at a time. Eek, that takes a long time! And I have a lot of steps (cuz our downstairs bathroom still isn't done, whine), my dye kitchen is in the basement and my workshop is on the second floor of the studio. I do have to applaud my right knee for pulling double duty and doing a splendid job of getting me around. So, after x-rays, an MRI, a cortisone shot and 3 doctor visits, I found out..... I'm old. No sexy torn miniscus or feel-sorry-for-me ACL tear, just stupid Arthur-itis. No cartilage left around my kneecap. Too much Ultimate frisbee and mountain biking. It's good I've taken up knitting, a non-contact sport!

I do have such a good time at the festivals. The fiber, the sheep, the kettle corn, and everyone is just so happy to be there. The Fall Fiber Fest had lots of alpacas this year. They are just too cute, like cartoon critters.

Loved this woman's hair embelishment. Gotta do that.

At one of the fests, a woman was doing a demo of natural dyeing with onions, marigolds, indigo and other plant materials. Gorgeous colors.

 We just had our autumn studio tour and it was a fan-tabulous weekend. We ordered up perrrrrrfect weather and the crowds came out. It was so nice to see so many of you. I had a great time.

I finished this fun little shawl, the Chudnovsky Pi shawl, available on Ravelry. Knit with my Salsa, colorway, Brandywine.

 But now it's back to dying and trying to dry. I swear, this rain has about done me in. Can you believe this fall?! I've never seen so much rain. I just get the yarn out and it starts to sprinkle. I run out, pull it all off the fence, then the sun comes out. Out the yarn goes again, only to have it pour rain. I'm even using the chicken coop for drying. The hens are all curious and have to run over to see my new colorways.

Speaking of chickens, I had a little contest over on Facebook. If folks 'Liked' Dancing Leaf Farm, they were eligible to win a large skein on my hand dyed Salsa yarn. Rhoda (my Rhode Island Red hen) picked (pecked) the winner.

 The lucky winner was Eve, one of my faithful customers. She came to one of the festivals to claim her prize. She wore her Slubby Nubby cardigan that she had knit last year. She said, "I'm really exited about being picked by your chicken!"

When I get everything unloaded, back on the shelves, get my office office organized, my dye kitchen cleaned up, all the bookwork done, I'm going out with my sheep, to sit in the field and knit. If it ever stops raining!