Archive for July, 2007

Harry Potter and the Knitting Guild of America

July 15, 2007

No, that is not the title of an eighth book, just the two big things that have happened this week! Wednesday afternoon, John, cousin, and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie: The Order of the Phoenix. Wonderful! I loved it! Almost as good as the first one, my favorite. The kids in the movie have grown up and changed some. Their acting is improving. The casting was great. Michael Gambon finally seems to be fitting into Dumbledore’s clothes a little better, (It’s been hard for me getting past Richard Harris as Dumbledore!), and the movie flowed well, hit the high points, didn’t leave out anything too significant. I think we may go again tonight!

So, HP5 was our recreation and relaxation before John and cousin took off camping Friday a.m., and I, having awakened zombielike from an 11 p.m. night before, setting up and previewing, got up at 5, fed the animals, and drove to Sue’s, from where we both drove to Manchester, N.H. to “man” our booth at the Knitting Guild of America “production”. There were classes and fashion show and vendor booths. What there wasn’t was enough people to justify 75 vendors, enough oxygen and new air in the cooling system, so that by 3, everyone was groggy, suffering from oxygen deprivation, I think. It was fun, though. We piled a LOT of stuff into one little 10 x 10 booth:


Basically, we thought to bring a touch of New England, so we brought our mill runs of our own yarn from our own sheep (left side), our handspun yarn with a backdrop of photos of our two farms and Sue’s store (middle), and our shearer’s yarn (right side), with a bit of Cherry Tree Hill and some new silk lace weight stuff Sue just got in the store which is beautiful, and of course, which name I forgot! Next to us was a delightful and funny woman selling “professional quality” irons which worked “by a new technology of heat transfer”. Over the course of the three days I was there, I learned a lot about steaming drapes on the windows, ironing linens on the bed, lifting the nap of corduoroy while ironing it (you iron corduoroy?), and many other totally useless facts about something I avoid like the plague. She had quite a spiel and sold several of her “regularly $400 but for this show only, $200” irons. (I confessed to her that my iron cost $10 30 years ago and was still going strong.)

Across from us was Sandy Terp of Moonrise in Hatfield, Pa. She designs and knits incredible shawls, and sells kits. Here is one I particularly liked, a goddess symbol shawl:


I confess that I succumbed: bought the shawl kit in that same pale sage color, and excitedly went back to my booth to begin…but alas, I couldn’t quite figure out the beginning. (Learning a new language or pattern writing style is sometimes difficult for me.) And further, we got “busy”, that is a few people wandered in, in all booths, so I put the shawl away for another time…which turned out to be the next morning before the market opened. I took my stuff to Sandy’s booth, and her friend, who was on duty in the booth, showed me how to begin and cleared up my questions. So, now, I went back to the booth, all prepared to begin:dsc00389-medium-web-view.jpg

Note new red hair! Also, note, to the left in the photo, my new mill spun jacob yarn, done by Pogo at Friends’ Folly Farm, an incredible job of spinning in which she did her best to keep the nature of the fleece, tweedy, rather than “homogenized” into grey.

I worked on the shawl for a few minutes, did a few rows, and then realized I had nothing there to show how my jacob looked knitted, so put away the shawl and spent the rest of the time, working on one of two rectangles which will make the beginnings of a poncho.

Also there was Deb Woolley (convenient name to have if you have sheep, right?) and her daughter, Dagney, representing their shop in Norway, Maine (one town over from where my Uncle John lived!) The Irish Ewe. Here’s Deb standing in her booth, waiting to greet customers. Dagney ran out of the photo–didn’t want her picture taken…


I got home Friday night at 8, made a quick dinner, stupidly answered my emails, and got to bed at 10:30, rising again at 5 a.m. for a repeat of Friday on Saturday. Last night, I got smarter, and went to bed at 9…and today, I’m home. Shari, another friend, is going with Sue today, and I’m getting caught up with chores. Between cousin’s being here and this show, I haven’t done much on the farm this week. So, there is much mowing, moving animals around (the pigs, particularly, desperately need new pasture, and the chickens’ village is getting a little foul (sic), so it needs moving.) I also have to make some calls to insure getting enough hay for the year. And, today, I also want to take a long look at the rovings I got back from Zeilingers on Friday: brown shetland, white and brownish coopworth. Then, there’s my Aran sweater sitting there calling out to be finished, and this new shawl…and the three other shawl patterns I bought and the two other types of laceweight shawl yarn…(what am I: CRAZY? why would anyone buy enough materials to make three laceweight shawls at one time? Must be that new red hair…)

Looks like overcast and probably rainy today: good day to sit inside and knit…and take a nap, a glorious nap…I’ve sure missed my little afternoon catnaps this week! I hope that all the people of Boston drive to Manchester today and buy enough yarn and patterns and other goodies so as to enable all those vendors to at least get back the exhorbitant booth rents they paid for this show! Probably too much to ask, but a person can hope, can’t they?


Knitting Guild of America Show

July 10, 2007

This week, John’s 12 year old cousin is visiting us, so we are having a ball. Yesterday, we drove to Bennington to pick up some baby chicks, who are now ensconsed in their new home down in “Chicken Village”, the pasture at the edge of the sheep pasture where the chickens live in several houses, all with open doors, as the Spirit moves them, surrounded by electrified poultry fencing.

Today, however, I am expecting my yarn back from Pogo at Friends Folly Farm, and will have to spend some time skeining it and washing it, and then tomorrow, labelling it, for the big show in Manchester Thursday through Sunday.  There will be long hours and lots of driving, but hopefully, it will be worth it.  I’ve been busily hand spinning some yarn as well from jacob rovings that Pogo did for me in the Spring.  She is very good!

My aran sweater is on hold for the moment, simply because there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I’ve got the back done almost to the neck and I love it, but begin to wonder if I’ve made it too big. Time will tell.

My new red hair is getting lots of positive comments, and so far, no negative ones!  (I dont know if that means people are too polite to say what they think or if they really do like it.)  I feel a little like Maureen O’Hara, a lot more than l/4 Irish!

Will post photos of the yarn when it comes and I’ve gotten it skeined.

Independence Day

July 4, 2007

This day always reminds me of the musical, “1776”, simply I guess because it makes the characters so human.  We are taught in school of the larger than life John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington…but at the bicentennial, someone (I should know who!), being a clever marketer, wrote the story of the writing of independence into a Broadway musical, and I keep hearing the Continental Congress, in four parts, singing, “Sit down, John, sit down.”

Anyway, it’s a day of hokey sentimentality on the one hand, and a day to call us up short: what are we doing today that reminds us who we really are?  And what are we doing as a nation that  makes us ashamed to be led by those who lead us?  What’s the balance between butting in other country’s business, uninvited, and the party line: striking out to free the oppressed, or some such, they call it…but is it?  Or is it just a question of oil to provide fuel for all those Suburbans and SUV’s and Hummers I see on the road, even in environmentally conscious Vermont?  It’s so easy to get jaded.  We fly the flag of the Continental Congress or the 13 original colonies or the Bennington flag, that’s it, to reflect the true spirit of freedom, but not the current flag: it reflects more than I am happy with, so my way to object is to only fly the Revolutionary flag and the Vermont flag.  (Where, when you register to vote, you must pledge to vote for what’s best for all the people of Vermont, not just yourself.)

I wonder sometimes about the Statue of Liberty: give me your poor, your…oh, you know it…I know it in spirit, but the words aren’t coming at the moment.  Where would, for example, I, be if this country didn’t accept, if not exactly welcome, the Irish, when they came?  Hundreds of them.  Thousands of them…in the time of famine.  My forebears came, undoubtedly poor refugees, at least some of them.  I suppose then, not just now, there were people saying, grousingly, “They are taking American jobs!  Send them back.”  But they stayed.  And here I am…not to mention every single American there is except for the Native tribes.  We were all immigrants!  Why don’t we remember that?

Well, anyway, here it is, the Fourth of July, and it is raining, promising lots of same and thunder storms, so my guess is the fireworks will be put off til tomorrow. BUT, we did get to the parade in Hartland, a yearly adventure, and Margaret went with us, decorated in her same ol’ “decoration” she’s worn every year on this day.  She could care less about the parade, of course, but the extra attention, the interesting smells, the other dogs…those she was okay about.  It is a hokey parade: very small town: led by a prominent citizen dressed as Uncle Sam, with a little three year old girl calling out, “Poppa! Poppa!”, the proud grandfather smiling at his little granddaughter.  And then, the American Legion folks, not able to fit in their uniforms anymore, but in t-shirts, but with their little hats on, and the community band, trying to play some upbeat song.  Two high school graduating classes with floats (72 and 77?), the Community Nursery School, the Science Camp (who made a geyser with a bottle of Coke and I guess, baking soda, in front of the reviewing stand, while the judges watched. (The judges dressed in red, white, and blue, weird hats, like unto the Mad Hatter, and enjoying every bit of it.)  All the babies born in town during the year (or those who wish to participate) pushed in strollers by their mothers, some of them in red, white and blue outfits…the girl scouts, the boy scouts, about 20 old cars, all shined up, fire engines and rescue squad vehicles, along with uniformed fire fighters and rescue workers, the Garden Club (and was that the famous doctor who shows up every year in some weird costume, disguised as a 100 year old garden club lady?  Or has some other guy decided that dressing up in strange clothes and costumes is fun, fun, fun.  It wasn’t his usual spangly tights and lion’s mane or something like that, but still…)…The folks on stilts, the horses and riders, the motorcycle guy with a pair of horns on his cycle, and horns on his helmet (one strange dude), …and every one of them with bags of candy, throwing out handfuls wherever there were kids along the parade route.  And kids of all ages, scrambling for the candy.  (One old lady, proclaiming loudly she had promised a little boy to gather candy for him, had her basket and was out there scrambling with the best of them.)  The whole parade lasts maybe 20 minutes, maybe 25…and then, everyone meanders over behind the old school building, where the community band plays the Star Spangled Banner, with some standing at attention, some singing along (screeching?) and some totally unaware of the etiquette, walking around, doing their thing, oblivious…Tents set up: boy scouts still selling the water they were supposedly selling along the parade route, but in reality, being sold by one of their moms, since they were marching…Other groups selling grilled sausages (with onions and peppers, blech!), hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, ice cream, scrumtious strawberry shortcake…the Garden Club selling plants off their float, now set up with table and smiling mostly grey haired ladies, smiling and offering their plants to those in need of this perennial or that…and tables for various political candidates, and the Vermont Freedom to Marry Group (What did their banner say?  We now have legal rights, how about human rights?  I think that was it.)  We ate burgers and had some strawberry shortcake, which Margaret was quite fond of, and then headed home.

In honor of the day, and because I was bored last week and bought what I needed to do it, after mowing my acre early this morning, I dyed my hair red.  I’ve never been a redhead…tried blonde, browns, blondes, so it was time, I guess. I get one of these urges about every six years…It lasts one application worth, and then I realize it’s more trouble than it’s worth, and let my mousy brown, grey highlighted natural hair grow back in.  So, blue dress, white sneakers, and red hair: I was an Independence Day living history display or something…

Now it’s dismal out, and cold inside. It was 48 this morning, and we closed up the house because we were promised humidity…so the house is about 56 now. I’m sitting at the computer with a nice wool shawl on, and toasty, and think it’s about time for a nice cup of tea.  I just finished reading Jo’s account of Cumbria and haunted hotel and Hadrian’s Wall. It makes me want to not only go back to the Aran Islands next year, but also to ferry across to these wild parts of England as well…

Let Freedom ring!

Shepherd’s Tour, continued

July 2, 2007

Hello, out there. There was a comment to my commentary which sounds like I might have given the wrong impression, so I’m clarifying:  though there were some disappointments to the tour, I would recommend it to anyone.  There were many positive aspects, which I thought I made clear, but I guess I didn’t.  Largely, we decided that we might have spoiled it for some people, because we are old stick in the muds and have very limited incomes.  And we simply can’t GO all day without some down time, so we missed out on several evening activities.  The food issues were us, not the tour.  I’m quite sure most people would love the food; in fact, many said they did.  I think Deb did an extraordinary job in coordinating the tour, a monumental job…and this was her first time, so there were bound to be learning experiences in it for her.  I’m quite sure that in future, when a man says he’ll get the neighbors together for a party, why don’t you all come, she’ll say, “how much?” and not assume the man is being nice!  It dawned on me today, that here, when on occasion we have met folks who were foreigners (mostly at church) on holiday, we always just invited them here for dinner and an afternoon of getting to know the locals. It never dawned on me to charge them for the dinner!  I think that perhaps Americans are that way, or at least many I’ve run into: here are guests, foreigners on holiday, and we have an opportunity to be gracious hosts, so very often we are.  I was stunned at the cost of the evening this guy put together!  I know how much money it takes to put together Irish stew for a group of people.  I’m sure in future Deb will be more savvy.

One of the things I appreciated about her was that she was so laid back about the stuff. The bad part of that is that the agenda changed, and those of us who studied the day’s events and figured out what we had to give up and what we could manage, got stunned occasionally to find that we WEREN’T going back to rest!  Then we get cranky!  But that is our problem, not hers.

Let me reiterate that I highly recommend this Shepherd’s Tour to anyone who wants a look at lots of little parts of Ireland in the southwest, with opportunities to meet some of the local folks.  Just because I was disappointed at some of the tourist trap stuff doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time.  I did.  As I said as an opener to the original page, “Ireland was grand!”

The Sweater

July 1, 2007

I brought back from Ireland some beautiful aran yarn, oatmeal with flecks of camel-color and darker brown (so when I spilled on it, it wouldn’t show that much, slob that I am), and while there, began my Byrne family sweater. (Great grandmother, Mary Byrne, inspired. Probably some marketer made these patterns up 10 years ago, and they have little to do with ancient family patterns, but no!  Stop being such a cynic…)  Friday night I finally reached the armhole shaping of the back, and began the decreasing to shape the raglan sleeves.  Saturday morning, I thought I’d lay it out yet once more, and maybe take a photo to post, for it was beautiful.  And then I saw it: I’d checked and rechecked and counted and recounted, and wrote down row numbers and checked them off…but apparently, I missed it…as had Sue and the others I had shown the work in progress:  A central pattern, and on each side a plait, a feather, a plait, or so it should have been.  Instead it followed the pattern on one side, but on the other, only one plait!  Oh, no!  Nothing for it but to pull it out and start over.  ARGH!  I couldn’t do it alone, so took my work, hopped in the car and went to Hodge Podge.  There with support from Sue and Linda and Mary, I bravely pulled and wound the yarn into balls.  It took so many hours to do and so little time to pull out.  I kept reminding myself it was better to have seen it now, rather than after I had done the front and sleeves and sewed it together, wondering why it looked strange!  In truth it just wasn’t that difficult.  I borrowed some smaller needles from Sue (for I hadn’t intended to pull out the ribbing, but talking, I just pulled til there was nothing left), and began again.  (It reminded me of the time at a knitting retreat where the leader had convinced us all we could knit with our eyes closed, and we did it…and then she said those awful words to the very proud “blind” knitters, “Okay, now, pull it out!”  In horror, we all objected momentarily, and then did it, to find it wasn’t so bad.  But that moment when you’ve created something and know it is about to be destroyed…it only lasts a moment, and then, pull…and you have yarn again.)

Last night, we watched a VERY slow and supposed, I guess, to be artsy film about Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, in which Colin Whatshisname lost his Irish accent well enough, but replaced it with American rather than English, very strange…the movie was long and slow, which meant I didn’t have to pay too much attention to it, not much to miss, but I got a good start on reknitting that sweater back…got all the ribbing done and almost one whole sequence of patterns, about 12 rows.   Doesn’t sound like much now, but all those pattern changes and making sure I knit when I need to knit and purl when I need to purl, and twist this and cable that…at the end of the evening, I felt very accomplished and the sweater is on its way again, growing in my hands from yarn to garment…well, that may be a bit too optimistic at this point, but hope, you know…

Once it is done enough to see the patterns, I’ll photo it and show it off.  For now, you’ll have to trust me that it is underway.  I’m inspired and have written to Mary O’Flaherty to get more of her lovely yarn.  And to Clanarans (yet another American tourist seeking out Irish roots?) to request the Conway (grandfather, Mary Byrne’s son, and of course, his father, the infamous Peter, who left her, causing my grandfather, named after him, to change his name to Elmer…now, maybe that was a popular name back then, but it sure sounds like self-loathing to me!)