Sunday, October 28, 2007

I have been very busy handpainting additional rovings for the S.California Handweavers' Guild fiber fest in Torrance this weekend. Here are some Blueface Leicester rovings that are drying.

And here are some rolled into balls, waiting to be labeled.

For information on the location, times and directions to the Torrance Cultural Center, you can visit the Southern California Handweavers' Guild website at: Hope to see lots of friends there.

With all of the fires going on around us and the air filled with heavy smoke this past week, I just couldn't go out so I managed to get a little spinning and knitting done. I spun two rovings of a merino/cashmere blend that I had handpainted. One is called "Sands of Utah" and the other is called "Calico Hills". I plied these together and here is the outcome:

I used this skein to knit a scarf called "Jyri". It is from a Berroco pattern magazine called the Norah Gaughan Collection Vol. 1. I loved this scarf because of the textures. The stitch is called the "mountain" pattern because of the hills and valleys. In reality, it is the back side of a lace pattern but looks oh, so, interesting.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the fiber fest this weekend, Sunday, Nov. 4th, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sunday morning -- early rising -- checked out of the Inn and paid my room deposit for 2008. [Rhinebeck will be Oct. 18th and 19th next year for anyone thinking of going.] Then, over to Calico Cat for my latte and brioche, where I ran into Margie and Charlie. Charlie left to explore the region and Margie and I were off to the fairgrounds to view the judging of the colored sheep and the angora and cashmere goats. Is this the cutest angora goat?

And here is a snow white cashmere goat. She looks like she just had a bath and combing. I want her but she wouldn't fit in my suitcase.

Here's another beautiful cashmere goat.

And these two magnificent boys are the Grand Champion cashmere goat rams.
After taking in the judging, we began roaming around the vendor booths. There were so many things we missed on Saturday because it was so crowded, but Sunday morning, the buildings were practically empty. We got in some good viewing and shopping. I bought these beautiful handcrafted ceramic buttons from Annie's Sweet Handspun (from Michigan). Won't these look amazing on a sweater knit with my handpainted, handspun yarns?
And on Saturday, I had seen a woman spinning angora rabbit in her booth -- Margaret Critser from New Hampshire. She does an extraordinary job of spinning angora. I just had to have a skein of her handspun and some of her bunny fur to spin. This skein is from a "cinnamon" angora bunny. I'm thinking of stranding some crystal beads on this skein and knitting a lace scarf.
We dropped by the Sheep to Shawl competition. There were four local spinning groups competing. Each team had four spinners, one plyer and one weaver. They had three hours to card raw fiber, spin yarn, ply the yarn and weave a 70" (?) shawl. Margie told me later that only one team reached the required length.

Back over in the alpaca and llama barns, owners of animals were selling raw fleece and rovings from their animals. There was so much lovely fiber, it was hard to contain my spending, but I bought some beautiful cocoa brown roving from an alpaca owner. It was a blend of the fiber from four of her alpacas.

Over near the angora goat barn, I bought some mohair locks from Tina Evans of Dry Creek Naturals from Georgia. This fiber is from "Sweetheart" and is the first clipping. This is amazingly beautiful, and I was sorry I did not get more. But . . . I have asked Lynne Vogel to get more for me when she goes to SAFF this weekend in Asheville, N.Carolina.
And I bought a silver blue roving of 50% kid mohair and 50% Rambouillet wool from Kate Bostek of Roclans Farm in PA. Rhinebeck is a spinner's paradise especially if you love the natural colors of the animal fibers.
More pictures and information about the Rhinebeck show can be found on the Knitter's Review website:

Well, all good things must come to an end. I had to leave Rhinebeck early afternoon to catch the train back to Grand Central and my wonderful little Inn on 23rd Street. As soon as I arrived, Linda LaBelle at The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn invited me over to her shop, so I hopped on the "L" subway to Bedford Avenue and walked down to her shop. Linda showed me a copy of her book, "The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing", coming out on Nov. 13th. It's a great book; she did a wonderful job; and I am so proud to be a guest artist in the book. Linda says the book can be preordered at:
Linda took me over to her neighborhood pub where we had dinner, wine, beer and a good chat. What a treat!

So, now I'm home, trying not to breathe in all the bad smoke from all the surrounding fires. I'm anxiously watching as the UPS truck comes up my street, hoping that today will be the day all of my treasures arrive from Rhinebeck.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bright and early on Saturday, I was up, out the door to grab a latte and a brioche at Calico Cat patisserie. I was at the Duchess County Fairgrounds by 8:15 a.m. and was surprised to see they were letting people in. So I walked around checking out my favorite vendors and ran into Margie and Charlie who had also come early. At 9:00 a.m. sharp, I was at Hatchtown's booth and bought four of their beautiful handcrafted spindles. Here's one of them.

Unfortunately for me, I had to ship two boxes of Rhinebeck purchases via UPS because I could never have fit all that stuff into my carry-on suitcase -- so I have to wait until Friday and Monday for all of my wonderful fibers and things to arrive.

After Hatchtown, I rushed over to Foxfire Fibers and bought some of Barbara Parry's scrumptious snow white Cormo wool roving and some of her cashmere/silk roving. My last "must-see" vendor was Buckwheat Bridge Angoras where I bought some of Sara's colorful solar dyed yarns -- kid mohair/cormo wool blends. Once I left those vendors, I was able to kick back, relax and just enjoy looking at all the wonderful booths and things for sale. I just love the Rhinebeck show, and other similar shows, because the individual farmers and animal breeders are there with fibers from their flocks. You can get some amazing spinning fibers and fleeces at these shows. You have to be a spinner to appreciate a stinky raw fleece.

I knew Margie would be looking for raw fleeces so I made my way over to the mohair and alpaca tent where a fleece sale was in progress. I bought an amazing caramel colored alpaca fleece, extremely soft, and Margie bought a colored mohair fleece, a prize winner. Then we started to meander through each of the buildings and stopped along the way at the barns with all of the different sheep breeds. A sheep auction was in progress and we stopped to watch. I couldn't believe how fast the auctioneer talked. We also watched some sheep judging. Margie bought a beautiful white Blueface Leicester fleece from a young woman who was showing her sheep. Here are pictures of some of the many sheep we saw. I think the first are Romney; the second are Cotswold and the third are Blueface Leicester.

We then walked over to watch the sheep dog trials. I couldn't get a good picture, but it is amazing to see how these dogs have been trained to herd a group of sheep through quite a long obstacle course of gates.

There was tasty food in abundance, like fried dough. Yum! Handcut french fries. We had deep fried artichokes and hand-pressed apple cider. I just had to take a picture of the baskets of apples in the cider guy's booth. These were fresh off the trees.

More shopping. Here's Margie looking in a booth after just having purchased a couple of bags of roving from Persimmon Tree -- fall colors. I got some, too; just couldn't resist the beautiful colors.

We stopped by one of my favorite booths: Wild Apple Hill Farm from Hudson, NY. They have a flock of Shetland sheep and have really nice fleeces. I love this booth and have bought from them many times. Margie bought a ewe lamb fleece.

About 3:00 p.m., I parted with Margie. She went off to find Charlie and I went to meet my friends from NYC (Jan and Jim) for dinner at Gigi Trattoria, another one of the great little restaurants in Rhinebeck. Again, comfort food -- lasagna bolognese and a nice glass of Chianti, then off to my room to spin a little on my new Hatchtown and to knit.
Next chapter - More Rhinebeck Festival

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I had the best time in New York and at the Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. I arrived in NYC on Wednesday, the 17th, and checked into a charming little B&B in the heart of the Chelsea District -- The Inn on 23rd Street -- for a two-night stay. Here's a picture of the entrance.

I could not have been more comfortable -- it was like staying at a friend's home. They had a beautiful breakfast each morning in the "Library". The muffins were still warm from the oven; there was fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, bagels, and freshly made hardboiled eggs. I was very happy. What a relaxing atmosphere. There was even a resident kittie.

I had only been in the room 10 minutes when I got a call from Margie and Charlie, so off I went on the subway to meet them for dinner in Soho/Nolita. After dinner, we "strolled" uptown on Fifth Avenue window gazing and enjoying the balmy weather. We had mid-70s the whole time we were in NY. It was unreal for the end of October.

On Thursday, after my yummy breakfast, I walked the 60 blocks from the Inn all the way up to 82nd Street to visit String's new store location in a renovated townhouse. Very nice.

Yes, it seems like a pretty long walk, but that's what you do in NY and I meandered my way up there, stopping at various places along the way, including Grand Central Terminal for a train ticket and Tender Buttons on 62nd Street. I departed TBs with new buttons for my stash. [Note: $61 worth of buttons -- very, very small bag.] After visiting String, I jumped on the subway down to Soho for a late lunch at "Once Upon a Tart" on Sullivan St. and to visit Purl, a very cute knit shop nextdoor. Here are a few pics of Purl:

Funky, little shop -- but very fun to visit and to look around in. I bought a felting book in Japanese. Thursday evening, after dinner, I came back to my room at the Inn, put my feet up, knitted and watched TV -- very content. I continued to work on a pair of Cookie A's "Monkey" socks that I had started on the plane. I managed to finish the first sock and start the second one that night; and I finished the pair on the trip. Here they are:

These are knit from the same skein of handspun yarn so each sock is unique -- the beauty of handspun. And, of course, I hand-dyed the rovings before I spun the yarn, which is a baby camel/silk blend plied with a merino/kid mohair blend. The "Monkey" pattern looks complicated, but it is oh, so easy! I think my friend, Sheree, might be working on her third pair of Monkeys.

Friday morning, I walked up to Grand Central (a mere 20-block walk) to take a 2-hour train ride north along the Hudson to Poughkeepsie. Here are a couple of pictures of the Hudson River from the train. One is blurry because the train was moving, but I wanted to show how wide and long the river is -- very foreign to a Californian.

At Poughkeepsie (the last stop on the Metro North), I rented a car and drove the 15 miles to Rhinebeck. After checking in at the Beekman Arms historic inn, I met Margie and Charlie at Morehouse Merinos to do a little shopping and $$$ damage. We were very sad to see a sign saying that the store was closing and going to online only. No more fishing around in the cubbies for unusual variegated skeins, which is so much a part of the experience and such fun. Very sad. Oh well!

We ended the evening with dinner at Terrapin, in a renovated church across from the Beekman Arms. We had a most wonderful dinner there -- comfort food -- since it was raining -- including squash soup, pumpkin ravioli, and the thickest porkchop I have ever laid eyes on for Charlie. We also partook of a bottle of good Spanish cabernet.
Next chapter -- the Rhinebeck festival.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tomorrow I'll be flying to New York City on my way to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. I'll be gone for about a week and will take some good pictures if I can fit that in, in between running from vendor to vendor.

While in NYC, I plan on visiting all of my favorite knit shops, like Purl Soho which is nextdoor to Once Upon a Tart, my totally favorite bakery, where I will have a scone and a latte every morning after a brisk walk from the inn where I am staying. I also plan on visiting Linda LaBelle at The Yarn Tree in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. And HABU, which is just a couple of blocks from where I am staying, is a must on my list, as is Tender Buttons, a fabulous little button store on 62nd St. I also have to check out String's new digs. I hear they are now in a cute townhouse. Fiber shops will be my main focus, but I might see what's happening at the American Craft Museum.

My friend, Margie, and her husband are also going to Rhinebeck and will be in NYC when I'm there. Hope to hook up with them for dinner. This trip is to celebrate their getting the youngest off to college -- empty nesters, you know.

On Friday morning, I'll hop on the Metro North train and head up to Rhinebeck. This takes about 2 hours, and it's a relaxing ride up the Hudson River. I'll be staying at the Beekman Arms, a wonderful historic inn.

And I'll be in a suite in the Germond House, pictured below.

After I arrive and check in, I'll meet up with Margie and Charlie for a trip to the Morehouse Merino store and then dinner in one of the many great little restaurants in town. And then . . .beginning at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, it will be shop until you drop at the wool festival. My first and most important destination will be Hatchtown Spindles because I know they'll all be gone if I even hesitate a minute. And, of course, I will have to make a detour across the highway in the afternoon to the UPS Store to send off some of my purchases. Saturday evening will be dinner with my friends, Jan and Jim, before they head back home.

Sunday, of course, I'll have to make one last sweep through the festival marketplace before I head back on the train to NYC to have dinner with another friend. I am so, so, so excited!!! I love this trip, have done it several times before, and will do it many times again.

RAVELRY I got on the Ravelry bandwagon late in the game after hearing everyone talking about it for so long -- but yahoo!! I just checked today and there are only 526 people ahead of me. The site said that there are 30,000+ people already invited. Can that be so?

Well, it's time to go pick out my knitting projects for the trip: socks, of course, for the plane with some of my handspun yarn. Here are pictures of some of the skeins I have spun in the last two weeks. I'm going for the teal colored skein for my socks -- it's baby camel/silk plied with merino/kid mohair.

This one is merino/cashmere. I plied my "Sands of Utah" and "Calico Hills" colorways together.

And this is merino/bombyx silk, plied on itself and in some random colorways. This, I think I will save for a sweater.

So I'll talk to everyone when I get back from NY. And remember to save Sunday, November 4th, for the Southern California Handweavers Fiber Festival in Torrance, to be held from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I am so excited to report the progress of my in home artist's studio. I have worked nonstop for days in getting a studio area in my home completed. When I get a vision and am motivated, look out. With the help of my husband, IKEA, and a lot of hard work and heavy moving, a former weaving area has been transformed into into a beautiful little studio and work area for knitting and spinning. Here are a couple of pictures.
The biggest dilemma in this whole project was the presence of a very big loom in this area and more importantly, how to move it. Well, where there's a will, there's a way. Paul and I took some of the heavier parts off the loom and then we strategically moved it through the back slider and around the house, inching along, stopping often, and finally made it to the front of the garage. (All of this in the dark about 9:00 p.m. last night.) I can't figure out yet what to do with this loom, since I have two more looms upstairs, but selling it might just break my heart. Well, that decision is for another day.
I now have three great work areas. My dyeing studio was just recently reorganized with new work tables and storage cabinets out in the sunroom off the back of my home. And, upstairs in one of the spare rooms is my weaving studio. And now this new spinning and knitting area. I'm looking forward to having friends stop by.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Just a short posting today to let you know that I have posted some new handpainted rovings and yarns, along with patterns, on my fiber blog []
So please take a look.

Also, I just checked out Lynne Vogel's blog this morning and she has a picture of the most gorgeous crocheted vest that she is working on. [] This project is especially dear to my heart because the yarns she is using were left over from our "Four Corners" sweater, pictured below. Lynne knit the "intarsia" parts of the sweater; and I knit the "fair isle" parts and we used over 60 differently plied handspun yarns, all from the rovings that we dyed together.

Since there wasn't enough of our yarn left to complete the vest, I dyed more of the rovings we used in that sweater so that Lynne could spin what she needs. She and I did a fiber swap a couple weeks ago and I'm spinning the rovings I received from her and plan to use those in a Kaffe Fassett waistcoat. Lynne's vest, when completed, is going to be an absolute stunner. I'm drooling and hope that maybe there will be a pattern.

So I'm off to work on projects this afternoon. It's actually a glorious Fall?? day so I think I may need to get out there and walk around, too.

Friday, October 05, 2007

As the season changes to Fall, so does my life change. Beginning today, I am heading in a new direction by being the sole distributor of my hand-dyed yarn and fiber here in Southern California. Of course, I'll still be doing shows, especially Torrance, on November 4th (see below). Loving what I do, having fun doing it and being creative along the way has paid off. Expect me to be more active in updating my blog to share my new directions in fiber.

Because of the positive responses to my yarn and fiber posts, starting today I plan to keep my "Capistrano Fiber Arts" blog [ ]updated on a regular basis. Check back regularly to see all of my new and exciting offerings.
For local friends, for people visiting the area, and for those who can't make it to the shows I do, my yarns and fibers will be available at my home studio by appointment. I hope that in these ways, my yarns and fibers will continue to be available to spinners and knitters who have enjoyed them in the past. You can email me and I will contact you to set up an appointment. [ ]

I will continue to do some of the local fiber shows, including the Southern California Handweavers' Fiber Festival in Torrance coming up on Sunday, November 4th, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Black Sheep Gathering next June 2008 in Eugene, OR, one of the best shows on the West Coast, will be one of my destinations. I plan to have a booth there with The Twisted Sisters mom, Sandy Sitzman of Woolgatherings, from Banks, OR. I'm sure we'll have as great a time as we had this past June. And I hope to see Linda of Northwest Wools in Portland, too.
I will again be participating as a guest artist in The Yarn Tree's "Sock for All Seasons" sock club for 2008. Linda LaBelle will open up registration for the new club in December, I believe. Visit her website [link to the right] for more information. Linda has a new book coming out in November.

One of the things I enjoy most is spinning out in public -- exposing people to the fact that there are many of us still handspinning and creating our own unique yarns. I plan to seek out a venue for a spinning group, either during the week or perhaps on Saturdays. I might have it in my home studio to begin with. I meet with the South Coast Spinners and Weavers group once a month, but many of the spinners I know would like to get together more often. Anyone interested in getting together to spin can email me and I'll try to get this going soon.

Finally, I will continue to teach spinning, both on the drop spindle and on the wheel, by appointment at my home studio. Anyone interested in spinning can contact me by email or by phone to set up a spinning lesson(s). I have a number of spinning wheels on which I can teach any newbies without a wheel, and I am expecting a new shipment of Cascade drop spindles in the near future.

All in all, I am looking forward to fresh beginnings and to keeping in touch with the great friends I have made in the past few years. And . . . I hope to make many more new friends. For all of my closest friends that have been supportive of me since I dove into this fiber odyssey some years ago (and you know who you are), please know that your friendship is gift that I cherish.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


My husband and I spent six idyllic days up in the Sierras in the June Lake area and just got back. What a great time we had. The weather cooperated with glorious fall weather, the changing color of the leaves, a chill in the air at times, a bit of snow flurries one morning and frost at night. We hiked and explored during the day -- the Mono Craters, a day trip into Yosemite, lunch along the Merced River, and a hike to see one of the giant sequoia groves. It was great to get away up into the mountain air. I immersed myself in some serious spinning every morning and in the evenings. Here is the view off the deck of the condo where we stayed. This is what I was looking at as I spun.

Here are some of the skeins I spun while on my trip. These were spun from some of Lynne Vogel's handpainted rovings. They're a merino/cashmere/silk blend. [Click on the picture to enlarge.] Just prior to my leaving on vacation, Lynne and I did a handpainted fiber exchange and her colorful rovings arrived just in time to make it into my project bin. My plan is to work these yarns -- along with some natural colored handspuns -- into a Kaffe Fassett waistcoat using his "poppies" pattern from one of his earlier books. The other day, I got a copy of his new book "Kaffe Knits Again" and it's got some great patterns. Funny to look at his picture in the earlier books and then in his new book and to see how he's grown a little gray along with a lot of his more "mature" knitters.

SAVE THE DATE: Sunday, November 4th, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for the Southern California Handweaver's Guild Fiber Festival. This is held annually at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center and is always a fun local event with some great fiber vendors. I will be there as a vendor under my Capistrano Fiber Arts Studio moniker and will have loads of handpainted rovings and many different handpainted yarns. I'll also have my patterns available, and hopefully some new drop spindles. I've also got my fingers crossed that I'll be able to offer some beautiful niddy noddies from a local woodworker. These are handtooled out of exotic woods and are very special. For more information on the show, map, etc. view the site:
Hope to see lots of my fiber friends there.