Buckle up, friends! This is going to be a long one with lots of pictures!
As soon as I found out I was moving in February, I asked a couple wonderful ladies in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry group if they would moderate the group in my absence. I knew I wouldn’t have the time and I didn’t want to have to close it down or leave it without leadership while I was cleaning and packing and stressing about all the stuff that goes along with moving. They graciously agreed and shortly after I got a message asking if I’d mind starting up a thread so they could organize an actual, in-person get-together for the group. Of course I started the thread right away, knowing that my end of it would be up in the air, but that if anyone could and would make this happen, it would be these incredible ladies and I was more than happy to help them find the space online to coordinate it all.
As the months marched by they made plans, found an AirBnB for the group, and we started to set an itinerary. One extraordinarily generous friend offered to host an evening at her home. She and I conspired behind the scenes to put together goodie bags for everyone. And with time running out in August, I went nearly totally offline as I raced to finish up enough handspun to insure I could include a skein in each goodie bag. My goal was to have similar skeins for everyone and then slightly special treats for the ladies who led the group in my absence this spring and headed up the planning process. That’s where I was last week, in case you were wondering what happened to me! I was spinning and setting and drying yarn like a madwoman.
And then the most amazing thing of all happened — it all came together. Friends came from southeast Wisconsin, from Maine, from Texas (and Houston, no less just on the heels of Harvey!). I drove from my little abode in the Northwoods. I got to meet ladies I’d known through my blog for years and I got to see students that I hadn’t seen since I was teaching years ago. And I got to see close friends who I don’t see nearly enough since the move, too. We spent Thursday evening exchanging hugs and laughs and eating delicious food. We did a Yankee Swap where I was lucky enough to win this skein from Knit Circus.
I have always wanted to try this yarn, and now I can! It’s a gradient…
In the very prettiest blues and greens imaginable. It’s absolutely the ocean in yarn.
I was also so generously gifted this beautiful skein of Texas Tweed from Independence Farmstead Fibers from our wonderful friend who traveled from Houston to join us.
60% Texas Rambouillet and 40% Texas kid mohair, complete with a label sharing the pasture of origin.
I am in love with it. The color reminds meof the hill country of Texas when my husband and I took our honeymoon there. I can’t wait to knit it up into a beautiful hat or some cozy mitts.
And our friend who traveled from Maine hand-dyed enough yarn for each attendee to choose one skein. I selected this beautiful black and tan skein…
It’s wonderfully complex and I can’t wait to see how it knits up. When it was time to pack up and this pink skein was unclaimed…
She asked if I could use it for my daughter. Of course, I can! It makes me think of strawberry shortcake and my mouth kind of waters.
Our extraordinary hostess also gave me this adorable sock blank.
A sock blank painted with socks! I can’t wait to see how it knits up (and yes, you’re going to read that many times here today!)!
I don’t have photographs of everything in the goodie bags, but here is just a glimpse of a few items included…
The book & the button were acquired at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival the next day, but the nail files, project bags, stitch markers, and clear folder for patterns were just a few of the awesome, awesome items that made up these goodie bags. Everything is so practical and thoughtful! And can we just take a moment to wonder how I didn’t know about this clear plastic folder for patterns thing? It. Is. Ingenius.
Goodie bags in hand and Yankee swap complete, we did some knitting and I got out my wheel and spindles and we did some spinning. Eventually the evening wound down and I made it back to the hotel — where the kiddos and my mom had been swimming the night away. It was around 9:30 and, of course, everyone asleep. I was keyed up, but it did not take long for the 5am wake-up call that morning, the 3-hour drive, and all the excitement of the day to catch up with me.
We awoke early again, knowing we’d be meeting up for breakfast and then our day at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. I couldn’t have been more excited. I packed the kiddos up as best I could with books and water and snacks to make sure they would have plenty to do. We enjoyed more laughs and good food at breakfast and headed to the festival. Once there we all moved at our own pace, found our own treasures, and enabled each other [more than] a little. The weather was cool, with the deep blue, moody skies and chilly breezes of a true Wisconsin autumn, so the barns at the festival didn’t get too hot. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.
I stopped in and had a great visit with the crew at Bijou Basin Ranch. They generously contributed some Allure fiber wash samples and a coupon — good through the end of the month online, too — for our group. I picked up a bottle of wool wash and this skein of beautiful yarn.
I’m 95% sure it’s this colorway dyed by MJ Yarns. I tend to love the collaborations between Bijou Basin Ranch & MJ Yarns. Friday when I walked into the booth and saw this color, I knew it was the skein and didn’t even bother to look closer at what it was. That’s how much I adore this colorway.
I stopped in at Mielke’s Fiber Arts where I picked up a couple bobbins for my new wheel and thanked them for their help in purchasing the wheel — dating back to the appointment I made to visit their shop way back in March and finally making the purchase in August. They were — and continue to be — completely awesome — love them! Oh, and I also picked up The Weaver’s Guide to Swatching (pictured earlier in this post) from them, too. They carry Purl & Loop looms and I liked the nice overview of terminology this book offers and tips and tricks for basic weaving and swatching. I’ve been a bit stalled out with weaving just because of all the hub-bub of the move and getting the new wheel that I thought a little inspiration & study would be good.
And then I went to the Bumblebee Acres Farm booth. First I need to mention that Bumblebee Acres Farm very kindly contributed mini-skeins to our goodie bags…
So each person who attended Thursday night received one of these. Isn’t it lovely?! This is the Ladies of Versailles colorway from their Outlander Inspired series.
I knew I would spend a good portion of time and money with them. I have a lot of combed top and I love spinning combed top, but I also love choosing batts and rolags from the ladies at Bumblebee Acres Farm. Knowing this, the ladies of our get-together group graciously, generously, beyond generously gave me a gift certificate to this shop and, by George, I was going to spend it! And, oh golly, did I!
Most of their batts and rolags are 2oz, so I like to go in and pick pairs to spin 2-ply yarns. Like these two…
Bee’s Knees & Leopard Frog — just look at that pop of gold in Leopard Frog!
My Fair Lady & Orchid. (Please pardon the plastic bags — I am reluctant to take them out because once I have them in my hands, I don’t know that I’ll be willing to put them back in!)
Sweet Dreams & Ice Mage (full disclosure, when I saw the name “Ice Mage” I knew I had to buy this one because it reminded me of my kids’ intense love of D&D and because it was blue).
Thunder Clap & Morning and Moorlands. The pack of Morning & Moorlands actually wound up in my hands because after my first trip to the shop, my husband texted to remind me I needed to find a gift for someone and I went back for this…
Which I literally just realized is the same colorway as the mini-skein we were gifted. Oh, how I’m LOLing! Anyways… the Morning & Moorlands accidentally fell into my arms, too. Whoops. We’ll place that squarely in the #sorrynotsorry category.
And because of the gift certificate status and my feeling that this was my big treat for the festival, I even bought some yarn for myself which I usually don’t do at this festival.
Let me introduce you to Ruby Rainbow…
Which I’ve ogled on Instagram for weeks.
And King of the North…
I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, but I’m thinking I should because I would buy this colorway twice. On every base available. If it inspires this color, the imagery in the show must be awesome.
And last, but not least, on my first pass through the barns of vendors, I noticed a little .75oz spindle by Ken Ledbetter in the Susan’s Fiber Shop booth. It was beautiful, but I was in the frame of mind that I needed to see everything before springing for a spindle. I told myself, “If it’s still there at the very end and I have the funds left in my budget I’ll take it home.” It was and I did.
I think it’s just spectacular.
As I sit here at home, at my desk, surrounded by the spoils of the weekend, I am simply overwhelmed. All the beautiful pieces I was lucky enough to bring home this time around are so much more than fiber and yarn and spindle and bobbins and books. When I look at every piece, I see smiles and twinkling eyes. I hear laughs and graciousness. I remember hugs and helpful hands. I hear my Texan friend telling me about this gorgeous Texan skein of Rambouillet & Mohair, that I now get to call my own. I see the beautiful set-up of a Thursday evening get-together arranged masterfully, from the delicious foods and thoughtful door prizes, all the way down to the smallest details including the knitting-themed tablecloths. I see a basket of thoughtfully hand-dyed yarns and hand-made stitch markers from our friend in Maine. I think of the miles everyone drove, the dollars everyone spent, and the planning put into all these people arriving at the same time and place to celebrate these relationships we’ve developed, born of something as simple as a love of creating with sticks and string that has grown into a much deeper connection. A connection that we call, in the most genuine sense of the word, friendship.
Today I am beyond grateful that after all these years, I can put faces and voices with the people who for years have been Ravatars and emails and comments on a Ravelry thread. Ladies who were once students, I was able to sit with just as friends. Personally, as someone who largely works online, distanced from the real-life, tangible impact of the words I write here and the projects I share, I don’t know that I can adequately put into words what it meant or how deeply it’s touched me to see these friends come together. I certainly can’t take the credit for this weekend happening, but I am forever humbled that I was able to play a small role in bringing this group of amazing ladies together.
To everyone who made the trip, to everyone who couldn’t make it, but wanted to, for all the efforts behind the scenes, but most of all, for your continued friendship, I want to extend the warmest thank you. The wool and yarn and spindles and books are awesome, but you, each of you made this weekend something I will never forget.