Agujas

The Art of Knitting

September FO: Chunky Newborn Hats

One of my very best friends in the whole world is having babies. Yes, plural, as in twins. Clearly, knitting was in order. She said she loved photographs of babies wearing those big chunky hats. Easy enough: two newborn knit hats with pompoms, for two boys. All I needed was the perfect yarn.

Luckily, The Tinsmith’s Wife had many gorgeous options. I present to you Slubby Blue by Fleece Artist in the Pansy colorway. Isn’t she beautiful?

Slubby Blue*

As easy as these hats were to knit, the task still seemed daunting. I really wanted them to look just right.

Newborn Hats 1

Newborn Hats 2

I’m generally pleased with how they turned out but still have doubts. They just seem so tiny. What if they’re not chunky enough? Maybe I should have made the pompoms bigger?

Newborn Hats 3

The time for fretting is over. By now, my friend will be opening the package. I hope the little ones like them.

Knitting in Comfort

Anytime I travel, besides booking a room and mapping out my route, I always look up local yarn stores. On our girl’s weekend to Fredericksburg, I found two listings that looked promising but turned into dead ends. Stonehill Spinning simply wasn’t there. In its place was a vitamin shop. I have nothing against vitamins but it was disappointing. The next shop, Things in a Room, was there on Main Street but no longer carried yarn.

But our adventure didn’t end in Fredericksburg. On our way back, we took US 87 south toward Interstate 10, which took us through Comfort, Texas. There, on a balmy Sunday afternoon, was The Tinsmith’s Wife.

The Tinsmith's Wife - Interior

Located in the historic downtown, The Tinsmith’s Wife fills six large rooms with beautiful, colorful, exquisite yarn. There is one room with a large table for sitting and knitting. Other sitting areas are scattered throughout. This one was my favorite. Can you imagine sitting there, knitting in comfort and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face?

The Tinsmith's Wife - Sitting Area

Then there was the yarn.

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 1

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 2

Feeling light-headed yet?

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 3

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 4

You should have seen my mother and my aunt. They behaved like giddy school girls trying on the sample knits and choosing the yarns they wanted so that I could knit shawls, scarves and sweaters for them. Clearly they forgot that I actually do have a day job and do not, as much as I would like, spend all my days knitting.

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 5

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 6

Wendy, the owner, was lovely and helpful. She let me know that The Tinsmith’s Wife is a stop along the 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl. The dates are already on my calendar.

2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl Logo
(Source)

Girl’s Weekend

Mom turned seventy-something this month and I had been contemplating a mother-daughter weekend for some time. To make it even more fun, we invited my aunt whom I had not seen in a while. Thus began our girl’s weekend.

The destination was Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. (Source). It is located among the rolling stretch of the Texas Hill Country just a short drive from Luckenbach, Texas. Yes, the one with “Waylon and Willie and the boys.”

We took the scenic route on Farm Road 1376 to get there and made our first stop in Sisterdale, Texas (population 25). Housed in a restored cotton gin is the winery for Sister Creek Vineyards.

Sister Creek Winery

We toured the various rooms where the grapes are turned into Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Oak barrels were neatly arranged in rows fermenting the wine. A sign read, “Employees only please. Our wine is resting.” After a wine tasting, we packed up a couple of bottles and hit the road again.

Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, our first stop was the cottage which would be our home for the weekend. Words cannot describe how adorable this place is – all 440 comforting, quaint and cozy square feet. Mom said it was like staying in a life-size doll house.

The Cottage

Once settled in, the rest of the weekend was filled with one delight after another. It turns out that the monthly Fredericksburg Trade Days was during our girl’s weekend. Trade Days is a giant flea market with 7 barns and various acres of antiques and collectibles. The girls were giddy with excitement stopping at every booth, finding shabby chic and rustic decorations, and sampling Texas salsas and peach jams.

Trade Days 1

Trade Days 3

Trade Days 2

For meals, we ate hearty German food and locally-brewed lagers and ales at the biergartens and steakhouses; and creamed corn frito pies and bacon-wrapped grilled jalapeños at the food stalls at Trade Days.

On Sunday morning, after enjoying hot coffee and the freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies left at the cottage by our host, we stopped at Wildseed Farms. Wildseed Farms has acres of zinnias, sunflowers, dahlias, and other wildflowers; and rows of vegetables and shrubs. Everything is labeled so that one can buy the seeds or plants from the nursery.

Wildseed Farms Nursery 2

Wildseed Farms Nursery 3

Wildseed Farms Nursery 4

Wildseed Farms 2

Wildseed Farms 1

Wildseed Farms 3

We shopped, slept, did our make-up together sitting at the cozy kitchen table, talked, laughed, and enjoyed life. Just us girls.

Wildseed Farms Nursery 1

August FO: Purple Ribbed Hat

I had a knitting fail last month. This lovely Habu 100% linen yarn was to become a loosely knit flowing sort of scarf. I diligently knit and purled alternating rows. Simple, repetitious, relaxing. And then I dropped a stitch.

It unravelled two rows down. I carefully un-knit and un-purled a couple of rows. But the stitch kept dropping further. As I kept undoing rows, more stitches dropped, and dropped. It simply wasn’t meant to be. I ripped it all out, wound it back into a little ball, and put it away.

Habu Linen Stockinette Stitch

I still had a couple of balls of the purple gradient yarn leftover from the hand warmers. I wanted a ribbed, stay on my head kind of hat, so I knit one up. Very simple pattern – KKKPPP Repeat.

KKKPPP Ribbed Hat

Now I have a nice set and continued using up the stash.

Zitrón Purple Hat & Hand Warmers

The next project is a big one, a blanket for the other son. No more purple for a while.

Tesoros del Camino

My husband, the pilgrim, returned from a long walk of 863 kilometers across northern Spain. He walked westward from the Spanish-French border to the Atlantic Ocean. He followed the Camino De Santiago (the Way of St. James), a pilgrimage that has been walked by thousands before him since medieval times.

This was his trip, not mine, so I cannot write about its spiritual significance or the physical endurance required to make the trip. That is his story to tell, or not, in his own time. What I can relay are snippets of experiences and sights that he shared with me along the way.

The first day was the hardest. It was an uphill climb through ankle-deep mud in the pouring rain and winds that blew horizontally along the path. He told me that there were crosses and makeshift memorials covered in stones marking the places where pilgrims had started and ended their walks.

On his way from Roncesvalles to Burguete, he walked through the Sorginaritzaga Forest. Before entering, he came across a sign written in four languages. The caption read “Brujería” or “Witchcraft.”

The Sorginaritzaga forest, whose meaning is “oakwood of witches,” was where some of the most well-known witches’ covens of the XVI century were held, …

As he walked through the forest, he came across the White Cross placed there to protect the pilgrims from witches.

Sorginaritzaga Forest

Despite this ominous beginning, he found time to send me photos of the countryside and of sheep grazing in the fields. He spotted this flock of sheep near the Basque town of Zubiri.

Near Zubiri

He told me these were Manech sheep. They are black-faced free roaming sheep known for their milk and from which “ossau-iraty” cheese is made.

Manech Sheep

He even snapped photos of some of the yarn stores he happened to spot in the towns he came across. Mercería Nhilos is in Nájera; Lanas Lany in León.

Along the way, pilgrims stay in albergues. The albergues provide a bed and usually a meal, sometimes a community dinner or a light breakfast. Curfews are strict so as not to disturb the weary pilgrims. The bunk beds shown below are in a pilgrim’s shelter attached to a local church in Belorado. The albergue was run by German nuns. The bed was free although a contribution of 5€ to the nun’s fund was recommended.

Another albergue was at St. Mary’s Nunnery in the city of Carrión de los Condes. According to my husband, one nun will tend to your feet with an extensive first aid kit and all the patience in the world. That evening, they held a pilgrim’s mass with a blessing of the feet followed by a community dinner and some singing and entertainment for the weary travelers. The following day would consist of a brutal 20-mile walk in desert-like conditions.

Within 58 kilometers of Santiago de Compostela, my pilgrim made it up the side of a mountain in the province of Galicia where this stone marker is located.

El Camino Collage Summer 2014

This albergue was situated near Itero de la Vega in a medieval structure run by an Italian religious fraternity. The simple refuge had no electricity, only candles to light the way.

Albergue San Nicolás

In Burgos, he had a clear view of the magnificent cathedral.

Burgos Cathedral

Halfway between León and Santiago de Compostela, he stayed in the town of Vega de Valcarce, population 800. It was there he spotted this statue of an old woman knitting.

Statue @ Vega De Valcarce

From Ezcaray, arriving precisely on my birthday, he shipped this exquisite blanket woven with 73% mohair and 27% wool from Mantas Ezcaray.

Mantas Ezcaray

When he returned – a little sunburned, a bit achy – he came bearing gifts. For the boys, beautiful picture books about the Camino de Santiago and a myriad of stories, both funny and painful. For me, this book, Tejeduría Tradicional Galicia, or roughly translated, Traditional Weaving of Galicia. To complement this gift came a bookmarker knit by a local artisan made from a linen yarn spun from locally cultivated flax.

Tejedería Tradicional Galicia

We hope our boys make this journey some day. Perhaps my pilgrim and I will travel it together.