Hello July: Culebra Shawlette and Bee Books

It’s July! The garden is blooming, it’s a wonderful time to hit the great outdoors, and the warm afternoons are prime knitting and reading windows of opportunity. I have been spending the this week working on a fun shawlette from Bijou Basin called Culebra.

Tibetan Dream Yarn.
I loved this yarn when I first found it at the Interweave Yarn Fest. It’s 85% Yak and 15% Nylon. 
Shawl
As soon as I wound the yarn my enthusiasm waned a little. It didn’t look very nice anymore. Once I started knitting it I was in love with the yarn again. I had to cast on three times to get the correct number of stitches (long tail cast-on issue; somehow I never learn…) and the yarn really bloomed and softened as I worked with it.
Lace Close-up
Here’s a close-up of the lace design on the shawl. Fun, huh. The yarn is Tibetan Dream yarn by Bijou Basin. Here’s my project notes on Ravelry.

I finally finished the lace portion of the shawl this afternoon and now the rest will be garter stitch short rows from the middle of the shawl out which will create a shallow crescent shape. The shawl is knitted from the lace edge up towards the top. Lots of stitches to cast on, but then the knitting was easy. Now that I am out of the lace I am definitely in the knitting home stretch on this one.

My garden is blooming and looking much better than it did a couple of weeks ago, but it is absolutely lacking in humming. I haven’t seen very many bees hanging around even though I have lots of flowers that they like. Look at what is happening in my strawberry patch:

Strawberry plants
See all those luscious baby strawberries? Right. Neither do I. These plants have bloomed like crazy, but no berries. Dang it!

I miss the bees this year. I used to show a NOVA video to my biology classes about bees that they really liked a lot called Tales from the Hive. Bees are just amazing; a few years ago I entered a drawing for a bee hive for my classroom and was just crushed when I didn’t win. (Sounds strange, but this is a thing. The hive would have been set up in my room’s greenhouse and the bees would have traveled outside through a Plexiglas tube.) Years ago I had a bumblebee nest in the garden and they were the cutest things… Ok, there was one little incident with the cat, but other then that it was all peaceful. 🙂

Bee Books! I am behind in my reading resolution for the year. It’s the first of July, and I am now on book #44. I should be done with book #50, so I need to pick up the pace a little. As it turns out I have a stash of books (almost as big as the yarn stash) that includes a number of titles that involve bees. Hey. That’s the ticket. I’ll read bee books. Here’s the list.

A Sting in the Tale
This is the book that I’m reading right now. It’s about bumblebees. the kind of bee that used to live in an underground nest in my garden.  I hadn’t really thought about them as being different from honey bees, but they are.

The other books in my little stack are:

This is actually an eclectic mix of genres in this little collection of bee books. Some are informative non-fiction books, one is a mystery, a couple look to be great little novels. Perfect reading for the high days of summer.

 

Spinning Inspiration: The Estes Park Wool Market

My spinning wheel has been sitting around feeling bored. Actually, it has been moping and sulking in a corner of my office for months now. (I only dropped it that one time. Really. Only a few parts popped off. I totally think that it has been over-reacting about the whole thing…) Hoping to score some fabulous fiber that I could use to tease it back into good humor I headed off to THE YEAR’S BIG EVENT: the Estes Park Wool Market which is held every year in the mountains of Colorado in Estes Park, a wonderful mountain town near Rocky Mountain National Park. I have a lot of yarn in my stash. The wool market is where I find those special yarns and fibers that I can’t easily obtain and petting the animals that produce them is a special bonus!

I planned my outing for early Saturday so that I could arrive in the cool of the morning with the plan of racing through all the vendors, visiting the animals and then shopping for fiber. Thunderstorms are a given this time of year so I wanted to get out of the mountains before 3pm. It was a plan, anyway.

Alpaca
Isn’t this alpaca a great color? He’s not his usual fluff muffin self as his fiber has already been clipped off.
Alpaca fleece
Yep. You guessed it. I have acquired a fleece from one of the animals grown locally. The fleece has several colors in it from cream to dark caramel and is really clean. This fleece is so nice I had to get it into the car fast to protect it from my fellow fiber addicted friends. 🙂
Alpaca lock of fiber
Check out this lock!! It has a slight crimp, is extremely soft and the 4 inch length is going to allow me to spin this baby into lace weight yarn without a problem. (I hope. The spinning wheel will need to snap out of its sulky mood…)
Batt and spinning wheel
I also got a Big Batt from The Natural Twist that I hope to spin a gradient light worsted weight yarn to make a Yowza Weigh-It Shawl 4. This baby is 8 ounces of Romney wool and I can get a whole shawl from it, I’m sure. Doesn’t the spinning wheel look happier already?

This year I was moving fast so I didn’t watch the sheep dogs show or visit the llama events. I did check out lots of alpacas, sheep, bunnies, and goats while I was there. I always have a problem leaving them all there. Surely the neighbors wouldn’t notice one little goat or sheep. Right?

Jacob sheep
This Jacob sheep really, really wanted to come home with me. Look at that face! 
Cashmere goat
This cashmere buck was on sale. For just a few hundred dollars he could have been mine. Those horns, though. I don’t know if the cats would want to play with this guy!

When I was done with the animals and spinning fiber/fleeces for sale I hit the vendor area to see what else I could find.

Yak yarn!
Yak yarn!! You know I needed to add some of this to my shopping bag. I also bought a great pattern for a lace and garter stitch shawlette  called the Culebra Shawlette that will display the handpainted yarn well.

That was it. I could see the clouds were rolling in fast. I only had enough time to buy a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds, make one more chatty stop with friends to compare notes and show off the finds and then I was back in the car heading down the mountain ahead of the storm.

Half an hour later I received a text from a friend. You guessed it. It was raining too hard for her to drive and she was waiting it out up in Estes Park by grabbing a yummy early dinner of grilled lamb kabobs. Darn! I should have been a little slower on the drive after all…

My spinning wheel perked right up when I showed it that huge batt. I’m hoping for a little spell of cooler weather so the wheel and I can get going on making something wonderful together. What do you know? I think that we are friends again.