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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

mdsw2009_ram2As promised (or threatened), I hauled the family to the 2009 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last Saturday, close to three hours away from where we live. And as predicted, the crowds were incredible. I think this festival attracts more and more people every year! Nonetheless, we all enjoyed it to some degree and were entertained by some very amusing livestock, and a working sheepdog demonstration which was rather fascinating.

mdsw2009_crowdsAbove is the obligatory crowd shot. It was intermittently rainy on the way to the festival, but stopped before we arrived and was decent for the rest of the day. Threatening weather doesn’t phase fiber and yarn fantatics, that’s for sure. At right is my DH with our youngest son (in yellow) who kept nagging us, “Can we leave now?” He has a short attention span.

mdsw2009_sheepdg1mdsw2009_sheepdg2Those Border Collies are very well-trained! I believe the Border Collie is herding Blue-Faced Leicester sheep; the high-quality wool of which is coveted by many fiber artists and knitters around the globe. I have yet to get my hands on some. Maybe at next year’s festival…

mdsw2009_sheep2Walking through the livestock buildings, we saw many different sheep in the pens, most with a full coat of fleece that were waiting to be perfectly groomed and taken to the show ring.

mdsw2009_sheep1I must admit that sometimes the thought of life on a sheep farm (or alpaca) is enticing to the point that I want to try to make it happen. Maybe someday it will, but I think that we’d have to start small. Maybe one Angora rabbit at first, then maybe two, and if that works for us, perhaps an Angora rabbitry. And I must also admit… I really want a bunny! Too bad we can’t have one now, but it’s always something we can work toward.

mdsw2009_kidshpMany of the sheep were resting when we walked through, but our boys found one of the few attentive sheep in the barn and gave it some affection.

mdsw2009_llama1mdsw2009_llama2We were all highly-amused by this freshly-shorn llama who was sitting in his pen chewing his cud with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth. What a funny-looking animal!

mdsw2009_alpaca1mdsw2009_alpaca2Next, we saw a really cute alpaca that loved having the back of his neck scratched, so we obliged him.

In the middle of photographing all the livestock, I was on the lookout for the only three things I had on my “must have” list from this festival, and believe it or not, I had enough willpower to bypass the rest of the vendors with a glance if I didn’t see what I was looking for. So we headed to the main exhibition hall to see if we could find my items where much, much more pushing and shoving ensued. And I thought the crowd outside was incredible… HA! That crowd couldn’t even compare to the one which was inside this building!

Every few steps, I had to stop and look around to see what I could see around the hundreds of other people that were milling about, who were no doubt searching for their particular items too. If it was fiber-related, I knew it could be found inside this building, and it was. But not before I found this fabulous great wheel demonstration at an antique vendor’s booth.

mdsw2009_grtwhlmdsw2009_grtwhl3mdsw2009_grtwhl2Even DH and the boys seemed curious and she was gathering a little crowd to watch her spin. It was interesting how she drafted the wool into such a fine thread by wrapping it around her finger.

mdsw2009_ant1These beautiful antique spinning wheels and other spinning tools were located in this booth as well.

mdsw2009_espinnerThis is the Butterfly Electronic Yarn Spinner, handcrafted by Wild Meadow. We didn’t get to see one in action, but this just might become one of my Christmas wish list items in the near future! After all, DH did stealthily pick up a brochure about it unbeknownst while I was checking it out and taking pictures.

A very good day indeed, and I found the three items that I wanted. Well, two really, but I substituted one for another. I bought a set of Ashford 72-point hand carders, an Ashford student drop spindle and a pound of white medium wool top roving, the latter two came from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers. I originally wanted to get more angora fluff to add to the 2 oz. of angora fluff that I got from Thistledown Alpacas during last year’s festival, but by the time I finally found their tent, all my guys wanted to go because it was getting late (and all their bunnies had been sold already, darn it). I already can’t wait for next year’s festival, and will probably visit Thistledown Alpacas as one of my first stops instead of my last.

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Last year, I started the Diagonal Mesh Shawl with Brooks Farm Four Play that I got at last year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

It’s a very nice pattern, yet I’m not happy with it for some reason, so I’m considering sending it to the frog pond and making something else with these four skeins of wool/silk yarn (that’s 1,080 yards), such as this beautiful chevron shawl that Vickyd made. What do you think? You can see more images of this project on my ravelry or flickr.

Speaking of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, guess who’s going? Right on! Me.

Well, not just me. This year I’m dragging my DH and two boys (age 8 and 15) with me to enjoy the unbelievable crowds that gather once a year at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland. There we plan to partake in some yarn ogling and fondling, along with some pushing and shoving to get into the booths we want to explore more. Ok, ok! Not them… me. They’ll probably go watch the sheep shows or maybe sit in the car and watch a movie on the DVD player until I’m tired of walking or standing in lines and make my way back to the car in the middle of the field. Somewhere.

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When I went last year by myself, I was done in two hours because I went with a plan in mind to hit every vendor in the shortest amount of time possible and shop till I couldn’t carry anymore. This year, since I’m taking everyone, I have no doubt that it will likely take all day since I want to find something interesting for the boys while we’re there. Like a working sheepdog demonstration. I’m sure they’d like that. Hopefully it won’t get rained out and I’ll bring back some good loot (like a set of hand carders, a drop spindle and bare roving), as well as some nice pictures to share with everyone.

You can see images of my first trip to the festival here: 2007 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. How are you spending your weekend?

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Long overdue

I think it’s high time that I returned to this blogosphere and make an update once in awhile so there aren’t people wondering if I fell off the face of the earth. Sorry people, I’ve been in a no-blogging, no-photographing, no-crafting hermit type of mood for the past year or so. Perhaps I’ve become a troll.

While I gather my thoughts, be amused by the following… I was!

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Sweet Saturday

Today is my little guy’s 7th birthday! Yay!!! The day started with sticky, sweet cinnamon rolls and will continue with a trip to Chili’s for lunch followed by a trip to our local zoo and park, a small birthday party mid-afternoon, and a special treat for dinner. It’s going to be a wonderfully busy day.

Until next time, I wanted to share this, as I found it on someone else’s blog. It’s too cute for words! Enjoy, and happy Saturday!

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Since Thanksgiving, we haven’t really had any adventures to speak of, and since I finished my Clapotis, I don’t have any really good knitting news, either. There is the second scarf I made for my Ravelry Scarf Exchange pal, Rae, which was mailed to her over a week ago. I know that she probably received it by now, although she hasn’t emailed to say so.Diagonal Knot Stitch Scarf

Completed and blocked, this is the Diagonal Knot Stitch scarf which I knit out of Malabrigo Merino, colorway Violetas. The pattern really opened up once I blocked it, but I do need to find my iron because I could have done a much better job with it. Once I find it, I will be able to block my Clapotis, and finally be able to wear it, hopefully in time for Christmas. (I don’t know what it is about that project, but I’m itching to make another!)

The second nightmare sock of the pair I started eons ago is getting additional rows added to it here and there when I have time at night, which is the only time I get to knit anything anymore. There is just too much to do during a day with homeschooling and housecleaning and cooking and now decorating and Christmas shopping. Phooey! I’d love to just sit and knit all day!

My perfect day would include everyone going out so that I was left alone in the house. The first part of my day alone would beCorey practicing his typing skills. spent in the kitchen dyeing yarn, and the second half of it would be spent in the living room knitting in silence. In fact, that’s not even a day, but about eight hours. Eight hours that I could spend doing the laundry or vacuuming or cleaning the house. Eight hours that I could spend teaching long division to my 6-year-old. Did I mention he’s learning to type, too? In the image at right, he’s practicing his typing skills! πŸ™‚Stitch markers!

Congratulations to my good friend, Anita, who’s handmade polymer clay stitch markers are featured in the current issue of Knit Simple magazine! You can get a set of these adorable stitch markers for yourself by visiting her etsy shop, Yarndemon Designs. I have a set of those sweet peas, and I’ve gotta tell ya, the real thing is soooo much cuter than the images, by FAR. Her shop also features the perfect accessory that every fiber crafter needs: little tape measures with very nice hand-crocheted covers on them. When Anita sent my stitch markers, she also include one of these tape measures which I keep in my little accessory bag and gets frequent use when I’m knitting! Wouldn’t you know it’s that time of year — the season for gift giving, and these stitch markers and tape measures would make PERFECT stocking stuffers!

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Today I received my Ravelry Scarf Exchange package from Emily and I couldn’t be happier with the scarf she made for me — it is really nice! It’s soft and squishy when you bunch it all up and squeeze it… and the color is a beautiful bold green that I just love! She went above and beyond my expectations with all the other little goodies she sent too, and I feel well and truly spoiled.

Ravelry Scarf Exchange goodies

My boys were just as excited as I was that the package came today. In fact, it wasn’t easy to get my youngest to keep his mitts off my stuff! It seemed to be the endless package, as he kept reaching in and pulling items out for me, one after the other!Ravelry Scarf Exchange scarf

Along with that beautiful green scarf that she knit for me was the leftover yarn she had, wound up with the yarn band. She used Brooks Farm Yarn Acero, and I’m going to use the rest of it to make something special. I don’t know what yet, but with the help of Ravelry, I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon!

Some knitting accessories that I will definitely use — sock-shaped point protectors, yarn needles and a cable stitch holder — which are going into my little accessory bag right after I finish this post. A rose, sandalwood, and vanilla-scented glycerin soap and spice-scented fizzing bath bombs are going to drive my DH crazy because he can’t stand scented soaps and candles, but I love them. Therefore, I do believe I’ve figured out that I have a secret weapon if I want to be left alone! LOL! Hmmm, that idea has a lot of potential and I could have a lot of fun with it… I’ll keep you posted! πŸ˜‰

Then Corey saw a CD in the package and snagged it right away and put it in the CD player — Let It Snow by the Chanticleer Holiday Orchestra, which was a very nice surprise! Every year, we get one or two new Christmas music CDs to add to our collection. This year, Corey has been the super Christmas boy, spreading the Christmas cheer since about August when he started playing our Christmas CDs on a daily basis, starting as soon as he woke up, and ending when his dad wanted to watch TV after dinner each night. You can probably imagine that I’m SUPER GRATEFUL that she sent this CD, as we really needed to hear something new. How many times can a person listen to “Christmas is Love” by Alabama, or “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton before they lose their mind? Really!

Emily also sent a nice journal that I can use to record knitting notes, a skein of Atacama by Araucania Yarns in this sweet tealy-blue colorway (potentially to be a pair of knucks), and chocolate galore — a bar of milk chocolate, one of dark chocolate, and a peppermint bark white chocolate bar (can’t WAIT to taste this) — and some maple candy which I’ve never had before. Looks yummy… let’s see… YUP! Yummy! And they’re pure sugar! WOOOOOO!!! Wow! I’m going to be wired now!!! I see a long night of speed knitting coming up! πŸ˜‰ Am I supposed to put them in my coffee or something? They’re very potent….

Ravelry Scarf Exchange scarf

Thanks a ton, Emily… you’re an awesome spoiler! I’m wearing the scarf now and my neck is nice and toasty! πŸ™‚

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This post is a bit overdue, because each time I found time to sit down and type something, I ended up getting involved in other things on this computer. Games, which are a complete time-waster, take up some of my time when I’m on the computer. I play Age of Empires III with two of my real life friends (games are about an hour each for us), and then when I don’t feel like playing that one, I get sucked in to spending a large chunk of time playing The Sims 2 Pets. It’s only been a couple weeks since I found out my male Sims can get abducted by aliens and come back pregnant, so I’ve been having LOTS of fun with that! πŸ˜‰ Of course, that’s not all that I’ve been doing though.

Cape Henlopen

A few weeks ago, my sister and I got together for “Sister’s Day Out” and headed to the beach. We visited Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, DE (the first town in the first state!), and walked along the shoreline of the safe harbor which was built in World War II at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. Since all the tourists were gone for the season, it was a very peaceful and enjoyable walk.

Breakwater light station

Once you start walking on this stretch of beach, one of the first things you notice is the Breakwater East End Lighthouse, built in 1885 to replace the Cape Henlopen Beacon. It was operable until 1996 when it was finally deactivated from lack of necessity.Horseshoe crab

I was stunned by the amount of dead baby crabs all along the shoreline and all over the beach. Some were as tiny as 1/2″ across! We saw a lot of young dead horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, calico crabs and even blue crabs. Among all these dead crabs were broken shells and bits of seaweed, along with an occasional lost fishing line and pieces of plastic; plastic Walmart bags, garbage bags and packaging from fishing rigs and hooks, rubbery fishing lures and also plastic gallon jugs. I dare say that beaches everywhere are polluted this way, and it’s frustrating to know that people are the culprit. If people would just throw their trash away properly in the garbage cans that are provided, the beaches (and the whole world, for that matter) would be so much safer.

Atlantic ghost crab

I spy… with my little eye… an Atlantic Ghost Crab (can you find him?), and this one was about an inch across total, and FAST! They skittered quickly away when we walked near, and some went right down their ghost crab holes. And of course, I was completely fascinated by them. (Click on any of the thumbnails to enlarge them.)

World War II tower

During World War II, Cape Henlopen was home to a military base called Fort Miles. In 1941, the U.S. Army built these concrete observation towers along the coast to spot any enemy ships or submarines. If you’re interested in learning more of this interesting bit of history, you can read it here:DNREC.

Pier

The Cape Henlopen fishing pier stretches out into the Delaware Bay for a quarter mile, and many people fish and crab off the pier all year long.

While we were walking, we saw the past meet present day when the Cape May-Lewes Ferry passed the Kalmar-Nyckel beyond the rock jetty of the Breakwater East End Lighthouse.

Cape May-Lewes Ferry & Kalmar Nyckel

Kalmar NyckelThe Kalmar-Nyckel is “Delaware’s Tall Ship”, and has quite a history behind it. The original ship came from Sweden in 1683, and brought settlers that established what is now Wilmington, Delaware. The current ship is owned by the Kalmar-Nyckel Foundation, and they offer tours and sailing trips for educational purposes. Very fascinating history, and you can read all about it here:Kalmar-Nyckel: The Tall Ship of Delaware.

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