Come on in…

… look at me!  I left the Dog House door open.   Slip on in and I’ll show you around. 

I missed the entrance and the big, comfy chairs right at the front door, but there are directions on the shop website, so you’ll find it with ease.

Jessi would be proud.  I forgot a camera, but I did remember that I have a camera in my phone.   I even taught myself how to upload directly to Flickr!  (You just need to go to your profile and tell it to generate an upload by email address.)

Anyway, on the right as soon as you walk in is the spinning fiber.   I’m not going to list vendors in the “group” shots, but if you go to the shop site linked above, most companies are listed by name.

Photo actually of table as you walk in, but...

In front of the windows is the pottery.  

To the right of the pottery is the spindle table.  Are you getting that they really are Dog House Yarns & More?  That’s the best selection of spindles I’ve ever seen outside of a fiber festival.

When you walk in the door, if you make it past the fiber, there’s a fun table in front.   Those bowls are hand-done with all kinds of cute, funky, fun local phrases! 

View of bookshelf to the left of the counter

There is plenty to see.  

Kathy‘s bags are sprinkled around the store.

Just a couple of Anita's marker sets featured in the display case

Anita‘s markers live in the display case.

Seacoast yarn lives on the back wall, under the some knitting totes.

The laceweight yarn is to the left of the bags.  It’s one of the best offerings of laceweight I’ve seen.  There’s even more in the shelves next to this wall display.

I’m really serious… if you’re going, let me know.  It isn’t exactly right around the corner, but I can trek up with some notice, and my favorite restaurant is in the same town.

Photo courtesy of Get Your Knits In VA

Dog House Yarns & More is also participating in the third annual Get Your Knits program.  It’s a fun way to see some of the other yarn shops in Virgina, from the beach to the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond!  This year’s “passport” is the Knit Kit in a pretty turquoise blue…

I suppose you’re wondering what I brought home.   I did get a Knit Kit, of course, and I didn’t snap a photo, but I wanted to try the Hiya Hiya 9″ bamboo circs, so I got a #6 to try for the decreases at the top of hats.

While I am trying HARD not to buy sock yarn in particular, I couldn’t resist the Seacoast colors, and after much fondling and sighing, the Bee Balm came to live with in my yarn library.

I also snagged some of the Abstract Fiber in a silk BFL blend…

and some Corridale in a hue that I’m sure will surprise some of you.  I had to laugh at myself when I decided that THAT was the batt I wanted to buy…

So there you have it!  What’s up for your weekend?  If you’re in the USA, are you off on Monday?  Are you doing anything special for the 4th?  We have a few options, but haven’t made plans yet…

Good Gifts

Woohoo!  It’s little friday, which means Happy Dogs on Thursday, and Thankful Thursday!

Why is it okay for Sis to sit down on the job?!

Since I’m in the doghouse, I’ll throw the girls a bone and urge you to visit their post for the day.   I must be doing something right if Gretchen gets all knotted up when she can’t post THEIR appreciation fast enough!   (Sis is grateful too, but she’s cool with just having me email the givers and say how much we all appreciate the gifts…)  They also let you know what yesterday’s mystery photo really is.

We bought Sis a special gift last weekend too, but I notice even dear Gretchie didn’t bother to mention it in their post.  You see, Sis seems to simply be unable to stay out of the trash in the bathroom.  She doesn’t bother the kitchen trash, and only lifts a rare piece from the trash can in the living room, so we gave in and bought a covered can for the bathroom.  I’m not very excited about it either.  It’s big and boring, but it’s the one the Knight and I thought mostly like to dissuade Sis…  Hopefully, it will work.

When Sis and I got home from the vet Monday night, I had a surprise waiting.  The Knight had decided I needed a spinning chair.  With a little help from Barbara at Stony Mountain Fibers and Neighbor Guy, he bought the Ashford chair, and then assembled and stained it while we were out.

He also bought his first fiber!  I am beside myself delighted.  It’s a silk merino, and I have almost 8 ounces of it.

Of course, I started spinning it right away.

Why yes, you do see at least part of a dog in most of my photos.  That’s life in the woods, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thankful Thursday?  I’m so blessed to have a husband who understands and supports my hobbies.

Now, does anyone have a secret way to download a host of photos off my Blackberry to Flickr?  I swear someone told me once you could upload (?!) directly to Flickr on the phone, but…  Generally, with a single photo or two, I email them to myself…

Wrappin’ It Up

Day #7

What a Yarn

There’s one love that we all share: yarn. Blog about a particular yarn you have used in the past or own in your stash, or perhaps one that you covet from afar. If it is a yarn you have used you could show the project that you used it for, perhaps writing a mini ‘review’. Perhaps, instead, you pine for the feel of the almost mythical qiviut? You could explore and research the raw material and manufacturing process if you were feeling investigative.

I can’t pick just one.  I’m knitting with cashmere right now, and I love the softness, but I also love the smooth, slick strength of alpaca and the sproing of a nice merino.   I just love fiber.  Each fiber has its own charcteristics that make it ideal for some projects and out of the question for others. 

Photo from SpringValley Yarns

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that my favorite yarns are blends.  Silk Merino, cashmere merino… They marry the best of two yarns together.

That’s Jessi‘s Cloud Nine in Sissy’s custom colorway.  That could be another definition of my most beloved yarns… the ones my talented friends create.  Kathy‘s creations, in yarn or fiber are pure joy going through my fingers.  Dianne’s cashmere blend was the first fiber love of wee Gretchen’s life.  Amanda’s Franconia is another cashmere blend that makes my heart sing.  Knowing that these gifted, gracious women are also my friends only makes the yarn that much more of a treasure. 

Yeah… that’s where my yarn treasures are… in the friendships I’ve made.  Knitting with the yarns my girlfriends have “colored” adds another layer to the communion that is knitting.  So, the yarns they’ve created are the ones I prize above all others, regardless of whether they are custom colorways that honor my dogs or whether it is a staple in their shop that caught my eye.  I promise you won’t be disappointed with any yarns from any of these gals. 

Now I also owe you a secret.  It’s not a secret anymore though.  The Majacraft Aura made its debut at Maryland Sheep & Wool yesterday, so I can tell you all about it now.  (Photos from Majacraft.) 

They were setting up their display model for MDSW when we arrived at Misty Mountain last weekend, so we promised to keep the secret and got to be some of the first to try the new wheel.  It treadles like a dream, as all the Majacraft wheels do.  It’s stunningly beautiful with its curved Rimu wood, but you can see all of that for yourself.  I’ll also leave you to read the specs yourself, because even if I had spent more time with it, I wouldn’t know how to explain the two drive bands and how they work.

What I can comment on is the unique dual function orifice, which I refer to as the delta with the curly cue in front.   You have to kinda’ wrangle the yarn through the almost standard delta orifice part  (the left most bend of metal on the right side of the photo), and then through the loopteedoo at the front (the right most part) to spin.  For chunky or art yarns, skip the delta and let the loopteedoo guide your just-spun single onto the bobbin.

And what a bobbin it is.  It looks huge, which isn’t a size I generally ascribe to bobbins.  I’m rather spoiled by my own Heavenly Handspinning bobbins which I have yet to max out, so I really can’t tell you just how much they’ll hold.  Frankly, bobbin size is something that gives me pause when I consider potential new wheels.  I can’t recall another bobbin that’s made me think I won’t miss the Bellus’s capacity quite so much.  Besides, I plan to keep it for plying and just because it’s my first wheel.

The Aura isn’t on my short list though, but spinning on it made me realize the Rose does need to be.  Those treadles are smooth, perhaps the smoothest in my opinion.  I’m looking forward to catching up with the Rose and its traditional flyer soon.

Now that I’ve tied up some loose ends, you can skip over to Nichole‘s and check some reviews.  Don’t miss the chance to win a Vogue stitch dictionary not available in stores, and don’t forget to say you heard about it from me.

Tilt o Wheel!

I think the best kind of adventures are sometimes the spontaneous.  Late Friday night, Rosanne suggested that I might pop up for lunch and to swap up the completed shop sample for another to cast on.  Of course, we lunched at It’s About Thyme.  I had the steak salad and finished with the citrus cheesecake.  Heaven.  Love the wait staff there too. 

But you want to hear about the shop!  It’s very close to ready.  It’s bright, it’s cheery, and the big chair closest to the door is MINE, so vacate it when I walk in, okay?!  No, no, I’ll share.  I know my way to the back, and the chairs at the table in the classroom aren’t uncomfortable either. 

Photo from Gypsyknit's Etsy site

I can’t wait to share it with the rest of you.  There are bags EVERYWHERE, in splashes of color.  Kathy‘s Sock It bags are sprinkled all around, and I love the new addition to her line, the larger bag for larger projects.   LINK to Dog House Yarn’s blog post about the bags…

However, the bulk of our time was spent on my first visit to Misty Mountain Farm, not at all to be confused with Misty Mountain Campground.  (Oh Robin… isn’t it time to camp there again?  Gretchen needs a Rudy fix, and I think I’ll soon have a new wheel that wants to sit and spin with you…)

I don’t have photos for you because we got a special treat of which I cannot speak until next weekend or later.  (Remind me.  It’s worth the wait and I apologize for the tease.)  Because not a single online photo exists of said secret, I felt it best to be a nice guest and leave my camera in my purse.

Luckily, the internet will fill in most of the voids.  You won’t get to see Leanna at work, creating hank blanks to get dyed up for those of you headed to Maryland Sheep & Wool, but I can show you photos of the wheels I tried.

Get food and water (or your beverage of choice), because this is going to be a looooong post.  If wheels aren’t your thing, we’ll chat tomorrow.

We’ll start with the Kromski Fantasia that stole my heart a week ago.  I actually spun on the walnut version, which is dark where this one is light, and then the “swoosh” in the middle is light. 

Pros:  Smooth, beautiful and user-friendly.  The magnetic flyer attachment is fun and practical!   I was able to thread the leader through the orifice without a hook, which ALWAYS makes me happy for some stupid reason.

Cons:  Quirky as it is uniquely beautiful.  The flyer is square where others are more rounded.  (See page 3 of the assembly instructions if you really are interested.)  Even the flyer hooks are square, and slide on little pieces of leather. 

Verdict:  Oh, it’s lovely to look at.  I wouldn’t be disappointed if I’d ordered one without spinning on it, but it’s not my dream wheel.  I don’t know what it is about Kromski’s treadle braces (that honey-colored piece in the VERY bottom of the photo), but both Rosanne and I have consistently found them to put our legs in uncomfortable positions with every Kromski we’ve tried.  I did readjust my seat height and closeness before I spun on the wheel, and that helped enough that for the few minutes I enjoyed a test spin, it wasn’t bad. 

There was also a bit of a vibration at the flyer that I was aware of, but this was a brand new wheel, assembled in anticipation of next weekend’s big event.  For the price  – just under $500 – I don’t think there’s a prettier wheel on the market. 

Oh – one other thing.  The wheel AND the flyer are weighted, so that flyer will keep going forever once you stop spinning.  I had trouble remembering to keep my feet on the treadles until both hands were on the flyer.  Okay, I’m blowing it out of proportion, but not much.  Still, worth noting, as is the wheel’s striking beauty.  If ever the Knight builds me a fiber room, don’t be surprised to see a walnut Fantasia on the wall as art, if nothing else.

Anita giving a Majacraft Suzie a whirl at Stony Mountain Fibers, fall 2009

I should stop here and note how I test spin.  First, it’s all about the looks.  I open the doors and try the radio – oops!  wrong product.  I do check the baby out and try to figure out where all the nobs and such I might want to adjust are.  Then, I treadle.  If my feet and legs aren’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna’ be happy for long.  Then, after several minutes of the foot test, I move on to spinning fiber.  I like to spin fine and fast, and all the wheels I tried yesterday did that with great ease. 

I think that’s a pretty standard approach.  Do you do anything differently?

Image courtesy of Spinners Choice

Next up was a used Schacht Matchless, single treadle.  Pre-owned is truly more accurate here.  Linda, the shop owner, isn’t even sure this wheel was broken in by its previous owner.  Even though I love a double treadle, I very nearly came home with this baby.  I treadled on it in double drive, but I spun on in Scotch, because that’s what I know best, and that’s what the other wheels I tried were.

Pros:  Another beauty.  See the slips of walnut in there?  It really does spin like a dream.  If you’re going to be at MDSW, visit Linda early, because if the price she gave me – $500 – is the festival price, this baby is leaving the dance early with a happy partner, I’d bet.

Cons:  It wasn’t silent.  Again, it wasn’t broken in, but I also had trouble making the treadle do precisely what I wanted it to at the precise moment I wanted it to happen.  I know it’s rude to talk about a lady’s weight, but this wheel is hefty.  She definitely wouldn’t want to travel much, not with my back problems.

Verdict:  Did I mention I very nearly brought it home anyway?  Nothing at all wrong with this wheel, and I can see why it’s so highly praised.  The Ladybug  with her red plastic wheel is a distant memory right now.  I want to try her once more, but she really is this grand lady’s kid sister, at least in appearances.  The Ladybug is much lighter though, so…

Julia, Julia.  I didn’t love Julie & Julia the movie as much as some of you did, and I don’t even like the Louet Julia.   At $750, she’s not in the same price range as the other wheels I tried, and I’d say that’s ridiculous. 

Pros:  Lightweight.

Cons:  Priced far above her value, in my eyes.  No visual appeal, and I found her less stable (because of her weight, I’m sure) than my Bellus.  

Verdict:  She’s adequate, but really, for the price, there’s SO much more out there.  Unless you really need a really light, full-sized wheel, I can’t see why she’d appeal to anyone.

Photo courtesy of Misty Mountain

Last, but to my surprise, far from least, is the leaning Lendrum

Pros:  Spins almost silently, right out of the box.  Folds nearly flat for storage or transport.  Because of the lean, you can see the bobbin quite clearly as you spin.  Orifice hook has a great little hole, right on the wheel.

Cons:  Crickets chirping…  The lean, maybe, when I’m not spinning?  It is a little heavy, but not prohibitively so.

Verdict:  I like him very, very much.  (Yeah.  Masculine.  Don’t ask.  I don’t know.)  For the price – less than $500 – I seriously don’t think there’s a better wheel on the market, lean and all.  Anything else is going to have to out-perform him, or I’m going to join the ranks and own a wheel that tilts at spinners.

So, today Lendrum is the most likely candidate, but I still want to try a Schacht Matchless double treadle, the Schacht Ladybug again, the Majacraft Rose and I think that’s it.  I’m a little put off by Majacraft’s off-center orifices, but I love the way they look and treadle.  Still, those wheels (except the Ladybug) cost a lot more than the leaning Lendrum, so they’re going to have be THAT much better than him to make the final cut.

I didn’t talk about bobbin size.  That’s in part because nearly everything pales to my Bellus, and I will likely ply on the Bellus, so… 

Here’s a quick ranking, as to where my head is on the wheel search at this very moment:

  1. Lendrum
  2. Majacraft – but I need at least an hour with that offset orifice to know for sure if it’s a contender at all
  3. Schacht – something double treadle

Photo from Schacht

What will knock the leaner out of purchase’s way?  Beauty, frankly.  I don’t find the Lendrum repulsive, but it doesn’t make me swoon the way the Fantasia does either.  The Ladybug and the Lendrum are in the same mess.  Some days, the red makes me want to whistle, as in whistle while I whirl, not a catcall.  Other days, it makes me think cute and castle wheels don’t go together.  Still, both are top contenders, along with the more expensive, beautiful Majacrafts and the Matchless.  Go figure.

I am hoping to make it to the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival, but I don’t have firm plans yet.  We have plans Saturday evening, so that would be a very long day, and the Knight would have to drive me up on Saturday morning and we’d have to leave after a late lunch.  Sunday would still make for a long day after our Saturday night out.  My back is always a wild card too.  Are you going?

Blue…

Gretchen stood in on Saturday, as Sissy was sleeping off the nitrous...

… Ridge.  … Lagoon.  I’m so blue that I’m done…

Because of all the blue, I called the project Blue Ridge Lagoon Scarf

Pattern:  Silk Shimmer Scarf, by Leanna Witt, who also happens to be part of Blue Ridge Yarns and Misty Mountain Farm.   The pattern is free with the purchase of Silk Shimmer.  I really, REALLY enjoyed this pattern.  It caused some pooling, but it’s reversible and has just enough texture to make it interesting.

Yarn:  Blue Ridge Yarns Silk Shimmer.   Swoon.   I’m glad I have more of this in my stash, because it’s just incredible.   It’s soft, but it’s not so slippery it’s obnoxious to knit.  I chose this particular colorway because I knew I’d knit most or all of it up at the beach, and the colors sang ocean melodies to me.

Needles:  I used my trusty Crystal Palace bamboo straights in a US #6.  They held onto the silk perfectly.

Hook:  I had to cross my fingers, but the WalMart at the beach did indeed have a Boye size I hook for the border, which I began on the way home, but had to abandon when it became clear that Gretchen just wasn’t going to settle down.

Verdict:  Swoon.  I’d knit this again, but I do also want to see what other patterns have been done with this incredible yarn.  Since this was done as a shop sample for the not-yet-open Dog House Yarns and More, I might get this scarf back one of these days, but I’m not holding my breath.  It’s an incredible yarn, and a sweet little pattern in a great colorway (don’t mind me while I break my arm patting myself on the back), and I don’t suspect it is going to wear itself out as a sample.

Now, I’ve had the delight of watching Dog House Yarns and More (that’s the blog link) grow from a wild-haired idea to a reality, and I’m eager to see it open and share it with each of you.   While we’re awaiting the grand opening, do visit the blog and take a tour of the classroom

I love the Sheep Incognito art on the walls…

What do you think?  She’ll be open very soon, so when shall I meet you there?

Mess of Stuff

This is another of those “I’m tired of remembering all the posts I owe you” posts.  There will be a quick book review,  a weekend report, but I will save the FO report for another day.

Please see Sissy’s blog for the update on Sis’s toenail trauma drama and Gretchen’s not-as-wild ride.  If that’s news to you, then scroll back and read, or go straight to Sis’s blog, because that’s the bulk of my weekend. 

Oh, let’s just march through my weekend now.   Saturday started out marvelously, with a fun package (see the previous post), but before I could get photos, Sissy and I had to rush across town on a very crazy traffic day.  The rest of the day was spent tending to my groggy big gal.

Sunday, each dog got a couple of pills and we crossed our fingers.  We had an okay ride, but Gretchen has insisted upon riding on the center console, so there’s no knitting for me, because I usually have one end or the other of hers in my lap, and one hand holding her in place, just in case.

We had a lovely family dinner and a great afternoon looking out across the lush, green fields.  Since the trees weren’t “in leaves” yet, we had a clear view to the river.  No, my camera phone didn’t do justice, but I did try. 

The ride home was fine, mostly because Gretchen was nearly unconscious.  And THAT is how I spent my weekend.

I finished American Gods on my ride home from the beach.   I don’t know when I’ve been so captivated by a book, unless it was Anansi Boys by the same author earlier this year.   It makes me wonder all the more what kinds of books I really like, because this was gritty and dark, but it did have a happy ending of sorts, so I guess that much still holds true for me.  I’ve always loved anything related to mythology, so that’s what sucked me into American Gods so hard.  Almost every culture’s god(s) appeared in the book somewhere, and it was great fun to see how author Neil Gaiman took the histories of said gods and transposed them into US residents. 

Also left over from the beach trip are the goodies I wandered out of Knitting Addiction with on my sole quick trip in there.  They’ve moved, and the new shop is incredible!

Anyway, I couldn’t resist this Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn.  (No, I don’t know the colorway.)

Or these Soak labels.

Or this Spud and Chloe pattern, Tea Party Cardi.   No, I didn’t buy yarn to make it yet…

So, how was your weekend?

Finally Friday

As a general rule, time flies.  However, this week has DRAGGED on, even with Amy‘s fun visit yesterday.  (Do see her post for cute sheep and more…)  Nevertheless, it IS Friday, and the weekend will not be a wash-out!

Some of you will be disappointed to learn that I don’t have any fibery goodness to share.  However, I do have a couple of little finds to mention.

I can’t tell you how much I love this design!   It’s a notecard by  Take It Personally.   Do poke around her site…  I see lots of other cards I’d love to have…

I also couldn’t resist these millefiore stitch markers.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am always drawn to millefiore glass.   I believe these were made by a Stony Mountain Fibers employee…   They’re definitely larger than life on my monitor, but I wanted you to be able to see the millefiore!

What do you have planned for your weekend?   We’re looking forward to time with the Knight’s brother and his family, and I plan to get some knitting done, and I think it’s about time to try again to bond with my spindle…