Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A little spinning, anyone?

I blew the dust off my wheel, inspired by Rhinebeck, and have been playing with this:

It's a sample of a limited-edition roving, called Border Blend, up for sale on the BBF website. I just listed something like sixteen different 4-ounce batches; each is a blend of 40% border leicester/40% mohair/20% silk. The different fibers give the colors complexity and I can vouch for the fact that it's lovely and easy to spin, too. There's a little something for everyone, colorwise, whether you like blue/grays

or deep greens

or even a pumpkin-y orange.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good news, bad news

Do you want the good news first? or the bad news?

Let's get the bad news out of the way. I'm sad to report that on-line knitting magazine Knotions has ceased future publication. If you go to the Knotions blog here, you can read editor Jody Pirrello's explanation of why she could no longer continue to publish. This makes me sad, and not just because I was a frequent contributor. I loved Knotions' emphasis on technique and knitting smart, not to mention the stylish yet wearable patterns. Sigh.

The good news? Fans of former Philadelphian Grace Anna Farrow (nee Robbins) will be pleased to see that she has published her own book of patterns and is offering individual PDFS for download. Her website is here. Loop has some copies of her booklet if you'd like to see it in real life. Lots of lovely shawls, scarves, socks and other goodies with an emphasis on finer-gauge yarns. Congrats, Grace! (It's about time!)

P.S. Happy birthday, Lauren!

Friday, October 23, 2009

In which Carol ogles a kilted man, sees lots of furry cuteness and blubbers like a baby

Day 2 of Rhinebeck dawned much grayer, although by the time we checked out of our hotel and headed for the fairground, it still wasn't actually raining. We only had a few hours to spend before our drive home, so we got to work right away. I started out by paying my annual pilgrimage to Dr. Mel and his handsome husband David, at Red Maple Sportswear.

While there are many, many reasons to go visit them -- gorgeous sportswear made from alpaca and other natural fibers! a disco ball! --

the top reason for me has to be Mel in a kilt.

'Nuff said.

By the time the drizzle started, I had seen Jody (of Knotions fame), Kristy and Christy:

Barb (posing here with Mindy):

some BBF customers (hi, Connie!) and all the other folks whose photos I forgot to take. Of course, there were lots of adorable fiber animals, like this alpaca

the obligatory goat shot for Mindy:

and sheep!

Including a parade of sheep wearing jackets!

Even two ducks

and a kangaroo.

By the time we had to leave, I was so sad at having to say goodbye to my pals that I got all choked up. But at least I have this photo of Veve and I to keep under my pillow.

When I got home, I realized there were a bunch of people I didn't get to see -- Lars, Lorraine, Kristin N., Lymie Melissa, etc. -- but there's always next year, right?

P.S. Next week at BBF: border leicester/mohair/silk blend roving....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In which Carol sees lots of friends, buys lots of roving and eats at the diner again

Now that you know all about Swatchy's trip to Rhinebeck, let me tell you a bit about it from my perspective.

Every year, I think "Wow, Rhinebeck cannot possibly be better this year than it was last year because I had such a great time last year," and I try to temper my expectations so I won't be even a teeny bit disappointed. This year, my expectations were even more measured; all of the weather guessers forecasters were calling for cold weather, rain -- lots of it -- and even snow. I had visions of sodden blue jeans, cold toes and stringy wet hair, punctuated by the smell of lanolin and wet llama poop.

And yet? I had an amazing time, I met some wonderful new people and got to see some wonderful people I already knew, I made a few most excellent purchases (three fleeces to be processed for BBF and an incredible bag full of silk/border leicester/mohair that is in the dyepots right now.....), and it hardly rained at all. In fact, there was not a drop of precipitation at Saturday's show, and only drizzly rain on Sunday. My theory is that wherever VeVe goes, the sun shines -- a kind of polar opposite to Schleprock.

As always, I attended with my faithful traveling companions Jim and Laura. Here is Jim, wearing the scarf I designed for him (I am hoping to make the pattern available soon)

and here is Laura, modeling the gorgeous stranded sweater she designed for the current issue of Vogue Knitting (I am sorry for the mirror glare; I tried to crop it out):

Saturday morning, we were up early and ready to go. One of the first things I did was to scout out the fleece options. I found three beauties and dropped them off for processing, thinking I'd try to beat the rain. Well, lucky for us, it never rained, and after I got my fleeces out of the way (I'm always thinking about you, Fiber Clubs...) I had time to socialize.

So many of my favorite fiber people were there, including Hyphenated Carol (posing with Mindy, Laura and Thea):

friend of my oldest kid, Somebunnyslove:

Kristen Rengren, who was signing her fabulous book Vintage Baby Knits at the author's tent:

and of course my love, QueerJoe:

One of the best new friends I made was the inimitable Ali P, who I now dearly love and want to visit all the time:

and of course there was Rav-stalking (here is Jess):

But one of my most important tasks was to help hand out the cutest little mini-skeins of Nordique, VeVe's fabulous new yarn, to passers-by, like this crew from Philly:

(hi, Lisa! hi, Purlewe! hi, Purlewe's auntie!).

As a special reward for all my hard work, I got to share this kielbasi with Veve at lunch:

While we were noshing, the lovely Sarah came up to show off her cap-sleeve lace sweater, from the fall St-Denis Nordique magazine

(That's my favorite color of Nordique, by the way: Blue Eggshell.)

After lunch, it was more socializing, including some LSGers from Ravelry

and a woman with an incredible Norah Gaughan sweater (from a prior Vogue Knitting, I believe):

Either that, or she's flashing the apple crumble booth.

I saw awesome Knittinkitties (another Laura),

and then had dinner at the diner with some of the usual suspects, including Mark, John, Ted, Marilyn & Gerry, Laura, Jim and the guys whose names I am forgetting (I'm sorry; my children ate my brain), including the couple who didn't make it in the photo but were sitting on my right and were delightful dinner companions (NYU artistic guy and banking-guy-whose-cat-licks-his-head).

And all of that was just Day One...

Monday, October 19, 2009

In which Swatchy gets some Canadian action

Crosspost with Travels With Swatchy:

This morning, after the kids were off to school, I went looking for Swatchy. I found him here, still sleeping at 9:30.

Poor l'il Swatchy. He was tuckered out, after a weekend beyond his wildest imaginings...

It all started so innocently. He climbed into the car and settled himself on the dashboard, perhaps thinking that this was going to be a wholesome weekend, seeing as he was traveling with a suburban, station-wagon-driving soccer mom.

The drive up was quick (relatively speaking) and uneventful. Swatchy enjoyed seeing the autumn foliage, and was fascinated by the gossip, although he tried not too look too interested.

He was happy to arrive at the hotel, quickly selecting a lovely color-coordinated skein of Black Bunny Fibers Canadian Luxury sock yarn to nestle down in for the night.

I think Swatchy figured, once everyone was in bed by 10:30 p.m., that his traveling companions were nice, if a bit sedate.

He was a good sport as we awoke early the next morning, bundling up and arriving at the show not long after the gates opened at 9 a.m.

He was quite excited to be hanging with knitting designer Laura Grutzeck; I heard Swatchy whisper excitedly to passersby, "See that lady with the pretty curly hair? She has a sweater in Vogue Knitting!" He found faithful traveling companion Jim to be delightful and eminently civilized, too.

Swatchy enjoyed seeing all sorts of beautiful fiber and yarn, and although he found the llamas and sheep a little intimidating, given how big they seemed to him, he quite enjoyed snuggling up to the bunnies, like this one:

(The bunny, on the other hand, disapproved.)

I was having a great time seeing old friends and making new ones, buying some roving, fondling the wools, but then I saw Swatchy surreptitiously yawn. I decided it was time for the big guns. So Swatchy got to meet Jess, of Ravelry fame:

and Clara Parkes, of Knitter's Review and book fame:

and Dr. Mel, of kilt-wearing fame:

I must say that Swatchy was very well-behaved and extremely polite to all the knitterati that he met, except when he mistakenly thought he heard Kristen Rengren

say that she knew a woman with Chronic Fatigue and it was all in her head, and then he threw himself at the table where she was book-signing, screaming stuff about "people who need to go to the CFIDS website before they start shooting their mouths off about stuff they know nothing about" until I was able to pull him off and tell him that she actually said "I know a woman with Chronic Fatigue and she has to stay in bed" and then he got all embarrassed and I had to leave the author's tent before Melanie Falick kicked the shite out of me.

At that point, I whisked Swatchy away, and we retired to our hotel room for a brief cooling-off period before dinner. Swatchy wasn't very impressed with our favorite Rhinebeck diner:

But he cheered up immensely when he met our dinner companions, including Mindy

(he was all over poor Mindy!); the wild and wooly Ali P (I need your blog link, Ali):

and last but not least, Vé-vé.

I think that those wild Canadian minxes were a terrible influence on Swatchy, because last night I went up to Little Miss's room to kiss her goodnight and I found this:

Oh, Swatchy, lolling in the hot tub with the Barbie twins? What have I done?!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Update today: some chunkier yarns

Even though I tend to specialize in finer-gauge yarns -- laceweights and sock yarns -- I know that sometimes it's nice to be able to whip up a project quickly. Now that it's mid-October, some of you may be thinking about holiday gift-knitting. So today's Black Bunny Fibers update consists of some chunky-weight yarns. I've got two new yarns that I'm hoping to add as regulars. The first is called Candy Stripe:

One of my yarn clubs tried it out and gave it high marks, liking the softness and the way that the plies take the color differently -- or not at all.

I've whipped up a scarf pattern, featuring a big cable running the length, and I'm offering it as a free pattern with the purchase of one or more skeins of Candy Stripe.

The second new base is called Bump, and it's 98% merino wool with a 2% nylon binder to give it some texture.

Bump is fun to knit with and you get results fast.

In fact, I was able to knit this slouchy hat in a night, and I'm offering this pattern free with purchase of one or more skeins of Bump:

(I will be wearing it at Rhinebeck if the weather requires it, so you can see it up close and in person.)

I also stumbled across a couple of skeins of a bulky, thick-n-thin yarn that I'm calling Cloud.

This yarn is discontinued, so I probably won't be able to get more of it, but it's very soft and extremely quick-knitting (maybe 2 stitches to the inch?) so you could definitely produce a very warm scarf in a very short period of time, enjoying the glorious colors and textures.

(Sorry -- no free pattern for discontinued yarns!) I'm sending a couple of skeins of each of these to Loop tomorrow if you want to stop by and see them in person.

I'll be off to Rhinebeck tomorrow, with faithful traveling companions Jim and Laura. Traveling with us will be the inimitable Swatchy, of Travels With Swatchy fame. Swatchy is a little shmoo who serves two purposes: he serves as stand-in for the lovely Knittah, who cannot travel very often or very far due to her disabling CFIDS (learn more about the disease here) and he thereby helps to raise awareness about CFIDS. You'll see lots more photos of Swatchy as he treks with us to Rhinebeck and back....but here is Swatchy, bonding with the BBF yarn until it's time to depart.

In fact, this particular Swatchy is made with some BBF yarn.... adding to his overall handsomeness, if I do say so myself. (Rest assured that I have checked Swatchy's ID to make sure he is over the age of consent, something I always do before crossing state lines.)

I'll try to update the blog over the weekend with some shots from Rhinebeck. The weather is supposed to be grim -- cold and rainy snowy? -- but I can't wait to be in the company of some of my favorite fiber friends. If you see me, please stop me and say hi. It always tickles me to no end to meet readers, especially the lurkers.