Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the loot

Well, we're finally getting some rain here, so I haven't rushed out yet to run errands and retrieve my own photos of Rhinebeck. Instead, I'll tell a story through some acquisitions.

I surprised myself at this festival. I thought I was mostly immune to shopping at this point, but sometimes there are deals and other things I can't pass up. There was a stand called iloveyarn with a lot of skeined yarns blowing in the breeze. A friend pointed me to it, and promised there were actually some natural fibers over there. I found this Scottish Shetland wool, mostly blue but with purple flecks, and much like the yarn I used for the professor's sweater a few months ago. I bought a sweater's worth for $21. Yes, I'll need to wash out the spinning oils, but I couldn't resist it.

I also bought some charcoal yarn that they said was produced by Spin City yarns. It is some sort of wool blend, and it looks remarkably (to me) like one of the fuzzy Rowan yarns. Enough for a sweater? $17. This was hard to pass up.

Also in the yarn department, we spent some time at Morehouse Merinos Farm Shop, which I hear may be phased out in favor of online shopping, which is probably easier for the farm, but it was a lovely shop. I bought a quantity of seconds yarns with chaff in them--mostly bulky single ply merino (something I'm not likely to spin) and single ply lace. This wasn't quite the deal that the other yarns were, but I love the idea of supporting farms and buying their products. It's the right thing to do, and the yarn was just so soft up close. Also at the bottom in this photo, is another white skein of Tongue River Icelandic. I knitted this up in the natural gray for a project for the book, and I loved it so much I wanted more. I see a hat for myself in the future here...

The professor and I admired an enormous line of eager spinners on Saturday afternoon at the fleece sale, but luckily, even in their enthusiasm, they did not buy up all 500+ fleeces that were for sale. I went back on Sunday morning and in the calm after the storm, was able to find a couple treats. The professor picked out a chocolate/caramel Border Leicester for me. This does not replace the lost (in the mail) rambouillet fleece, but he's trying!

I also got a lovely fine Texel cross. I am thrilled to have found this fleece. On our honeymoon, I bought a Texel/Friesland cross fleece that was one of my favorite fleeces, ever. (as Mrs. J mentioned in the comments, this was before England started having such problems with foot & mouth--importing raw fleeces is a bit harder now.) Luckily, sheep in the USA are mostly healthy, and the sheep at the festivals are like prized pet livestock--extremely well cared for. I will save both fleeces for book photo shoots, because they are gorgeous and useful for demonstration shots. I can't wait to see how the Texel will wash up.

Here's the brief story of our apple and pear excitement. As usual, we looked for a farm stand and bought some lovely Russets and Idareds to take home with us and to snack as we journeyed up to the professor's family vacation place on Sunday afternoon. The "farm" is roughly near Glens Falls, NY, or near Fort Edward and Argyle, for those of you who've been there. The professor's folks bought it before he was born, and for roughly 35 years, they've rented out the fields to the neighbors for hay and livestock use. The professor spent most summers of his childhood away from the NYC area (he grew up in Westchester) and running amok upstate. He got to milk some cows, ride some horses, and of course, catch lots of bugs and other critters near a spring-fed pond.

In all that time, some of the fields have been hard to access because of fencing, animals, or overgrowth. This year, the fields are being cut for silage by a farmer friend, and there aren't any animals in the pastures. We took a huge walk. At the end, the professor and his father discovered the old orchard. I insisted we go see it together. Drive out over a field, crawl under the barb wire, hike up the ravine,covering oneself with burs and tick seeds..and, hey. We own an orchard! There were at least 8-12 trees still bearing fruit, which were probably eaten by cows and horses in the past 30-some years.

The professor worried that they'd be "spitters" or cider apples, which are not so good for eating. No worries. Every single apple we tried (at least two or three varieties) was sweet and good and the trees were loaded with fruit. The seckel pears were a special treat. Since I must have been a hunter/gatherer in a former life or something, I had bags for us to fill. We left to catch our plane long before we could discover all the fruit in that field.
Last night, we ate a roasted apple/pear flan from the professor's family's land. I was elated.
Sally is so glad we are home. Here she is, sound asleep on a homemade dog bed, filled with? wool, of course.


Blogger SueJ said...

What a wonderful collection of goodies. The texel fleece looks georgous. There is a field of texal tups (Rams outside of the north of england I guess)just down the lane from us, with there dense fleece & wrinked noses, awaiting the years 'work'!

October 24, 2007 at 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that blue yarn! An how fun to get to explore an old orchard.

October 24, 2007 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

How wonderful to discover you own an orchard! I don't think to carry bags, though, I just use whatever comes to hand. There are photos of me catching fish in my hat. Seriously. And what a good mix of loot, from seriously practical sweater yarn to two gorgeous fleeces. I look forward to seeing the end results!

October 25, 2007 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger Peggy said...

Wow, what a steal!!!! That beautiful yarn was so inexpensive. And the fleece!!!! It is all so lovely.

October 25, 2007 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Glad to see you found some natural fibers still left at the ilove yarn booth. I feel like such an enabler! Love your color choice and thanks for the hints about washing the yarn before I begin knitting. Paul and I enjoyed seeing you two again. Happy knitting from Cynthia aka Paul's mom!

November 1, 2007 at 11:29 PM  

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