June 17, 2007

Homegrown, handspun and wholly ravelled

First, thank you to everyone for the nice thoughts on the new job. I really can't wait to start.

That said, I think I might need to reconsider this working for a living thing, because I'm pretty sure my true gifts lie in the area of leisure. In particular, I demonstrated an impressive aptitude for shopping, eating in nice restaurants and reading as much as I damn well pleased last week. Also, a real flair for not checking email or worrying about work.

As you may have guessed, the family trip to Ashland, Oregon was wonderful. While I may be a bit biased having grown up there, I think it's an absolutely, completely perfect vacation destination. And mighty picturesque, too.

Lithia Creek2

Ashland Hills

Though very small and located many hours away from almost anywhere you might normally want to go, Ashland is home to America's first Elizabethan theater, and a phenomenal summer Shakespeare series. We saw Romeo and Juliet (sigh), the Tempest (Ariel, hurrah!) and the Taming of the Shrew (a bit hard to swallow from a feminist perspective), all of which were impeccably staged, costumed and acted and reminded me why I have trouble seeing Shakespeare anywhere else (I'm spoiled).

When we weren't busy absorbing high culture, we were "busy" eating and shopping. I just recently finished Barbara Kingsolver's wonderful Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, so I was particularly excited to see local meat, produce and cheeses on most of the restaurant menus. And I was even more thrilled to visit the Growers and Crafters Market, where I saw firsthand the farmers that were producing such wonderful foods.

Ashland Growers Market

The most amazing part was that this food WAS NOT EXPENSIVE. At the local food co-op (more like a Whole Foods than your typical dingy hippie co-op), organic local baby potatoes were $1 a pound. A DOLLAR A POUND FOR BABY POTATOES, people. And organic lettuce was $1 a head. And don't even get me started on the chocolate and the cheese. It went a long way towards disproving the idea that local, small scale, organic and/or sustainably grown food is prohibitively expensive for everyday consumption.

Of course, where there are that many farmers, there's always the possibility that some of them will be raising sheep. Or, more importantly, that someone will be spinning and dyeing wool. And I was not disappointed.

I scored these two skeins of a 50% Llama/ 50% wool blend, handspun and dyed by the fine folks at Frolic 'n Fibers.

Frolic 'n Fibers Llama Wool Handdye

And this crazy stuff from another local producer, whose name I can't remember for the life of me. I think it will make a nifty simple scarf.

Mystery Ashland HandDye

Ashland also boasts a lovely yarn shop called The Websters, which is smack in the middle of the main downtown plaza. I must have walked by it at least once a day for almost ten years, and never noticed it. Because knitting was, you know, lame. What a silly, silly girl I was.

I was ever-so-slightly disappointed that they didn't have more local spinners' and dyers' work for sale, but that was quickly outweighed by awe at the sheer size of their sock yarn collection. They have a whole shelf taller than me devoted just to Lana Grossa sock yarns. And they knit up sample socks for every style of yarn, and every single colorway. It was amazing.

So I can say with confidence that these two Meilenweit yarns will make beautiful socks.


I also had my mom pick out some yarn for her socks. This is Crystal Palace Panda Cotton, which is a bamboo/cotton/elastic blend, and comes in a quite fetching range of colors. Mom chose Fall Herbs for her socks. Apparently, the love of variegated sock yarn runs strong in our family. Just like the Force, but with more potential for pooling.

Panda Cotton1

Finally, I received my Ravelry invitation last week. When I didn't have my laptop and was thousands of miles away from my stash. Thank goodness I had all that new yarn to distract me.

And holy crap! Now I totally understand what all the Ravelry fuss is about. It's like the site developers lived inside my head and created a site that did everything I ever wanted a knitting site to do. Like in the stash section, where it defaults to a thumbnail view? My first thought was "Wow - It would be so cool if you could download this to Excel", and voila! I noticed the Excel download icon. Pure genius.

It's probably just as well I didn't get my invite earlier. I spent all day today - literally, all day - taking pictures of yarn and starting to categorize my stash. This stash thing is not a one-day undertaking. I just watched An Inconvenient Truth and am feeling some twinges of guilt about my personal overconsumption. Stay tuned for potential destashing as I begin to face the stash's true magnitutude.

I'm still catching up on bloglines, so I'm very excited to see what you all have been up to! I hope you've been having fun, too!


Kristen said...

Oh wow, I thought i was the only one gifted, as you say, in the area of leisure. I hear people talking about how they'd go crazy if they didn't have their jobs, or they couldn't just sit around all day. I think they're crazy already, that's what I think. I work hard - at trying to win the lottery. ;)

Kristy said...

What pretty yarns you found! I'm glad you got your Ravelry invite. I had much the same reaction-- I was only slightly interested until I realized what it was all about :)

Macoco said...

Congratulations on the new job!!!!! Yes, Ravelry is a lot of fun.

I'm astounded by how cheap the produce was there! I'm all about "cheap is green" so I just go down to haymarket and buy some of the G.

Deb said...

Cheap, fresh, local produce? Local yarn? Great scenery? So. Jealous. Glad you had a great vacation.