What’s a Journey without Yarn?

First stop … Ithaca.

I arrived in Ithaca a day before the MBA program to get acclimated. The agenda foretold of long hours ahead and I wanted to see the campus. I ventured down the hilly terrain from the campus to Ithaca Commons, a pedestrian-friendly area with restaurants and shops. My destination – Homespun Boutique.

Homespun Boutique - Ithaca, NY

I read that Homespun Boutique had been around for over 30 years. Besides yarn and fibers, it also carries fabrics. I arrived early and wandered in and out of the shops. When I returned to the yarn store, it was still rather dark inside. I peeked through the door and that’s when I noticed the “we’re closed today” handwritten note taped to the inside of the glass. Noooooooooo! : (

Homespun Boutique - Giant Needles

Dejected, I walked back up the hill with the sun at my back. At least I got my workout in. I will try again next time. You can find Homespun Boutique virtually on FaceBook and in real life at 314 E. State St., Ithaca, NY 14850, Phone: 607-277-0954.

Next stop … Kingston.

During the week in Kingston, Ontario, there was precious little time for anything but classes and studying. Assignments had to be turned around in 24-48 hours. I usually skipped dinner so that I could work or nap before the long night ahead. On the very last day, after all assignments had been submitted, I had a couple of hours before heading out to the airport. This was my only opportunity.

The hotel arranged a car to take me to my destination. The driver was part of the program staff and, as I came to learn, a knitter herself. An immediate friendship was struck as we made our way to Knit Traders of Kingston. I was there for only 15-20 minutes and made the most of it. The staff was very helpful. They pointed me to locally spun wool but it was a bit too scratchy for me so I picked up sock yarn instead.

Knit Traders - Wall of Yarn

Besides the ubiquitous wall of yarn, there were plenty of fibers and tools for spinning.

Knit Traders - Fibers

Every yarn store should have this sign!

Knit Traders - Touch the Yarn Sign

Knit Traders is located in a nondescript strip center, so you need to look for it. I don’t recall seeing a spot to sit and knit. They didn’t have some of the brands I typically look for, such as Madeline Tosh, but they were getting ready to bring in more local yarns.

Knit Traders - Logo
KnitTraders of Kingston, 725 Gardiners Rd, Kingston, ON, K7M 3Y5, Phone: 613-384-3951.

On the drive to Knit Traders, I learned that there was a truck full of yarn that traveled around Kingston. Yes, a TRUCK – FULL – of – YARN. Think food truck but with yarn on the menu. According to the Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn website, the truck stops at several locations. You can find it by checking the “Where’s The Truck” section of the website. They even do day trips to fiber festivals! Imagine, riding in a truck full of yarn to a fiber festival.

purlin-j-072
Source

A journey without yarn is just a road trip.

A New Journey

I recently started something I have wanted to do for many years – I enrolled in an MBA program. Way back after working a few years out of college, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was accepted into law school and was even awarded a small scholarship – but that was around the time my dad died, and as the oldest in my family, I felt I needed to stay employed in case Mom needed anything. A couple of years later, after entering the private sector, I figured an MBA was the logical next step. Since I was a Literature major, I started taking college math courses to prepare. Around that time, I got married, got pregnant, miscarried, got pregnant again, almost miscarried again – and then stopped all extra activities to focus on my pregnancy. A few months later, my beautiful son was born. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last and I became a single parent for the next 8 or so years. Fast forward to 2016: I am married to an amazing man and we have two boys in college. Now it is my turn.

Campus Collage

The next 18 months will be challenging – the first two weeks of my residency made that clear – but I am so excited about this journey. It is never too late.

Residency Week 1 – Ithaca, New York

Hoffman Challenge Course
Residency Week 2 – Kingston, Ontario

My Ball of Fluff

I’ve been distracted lately by a ball of fluff. No, it isn’t a new skein of angora or merino yarn or fiber for spinning – it’s Tiger, our new puppy!

Tiger - In Backyard

It has been many years since I had a dog. After my last dog died, I simply couldn’t go through that heartbreak again. Also, my son had mild episodes of asthma and I didn’t want to complicate things for him. So the years went by until we became empty-nesters. Then the obsession for a dog intensified.

At first, I causally perused pictures of puppies online. Then I started “liking” all those I ❤️ Dogs posts and heart-wrenching dog survival stories on Facebook. I started dropping in at our local SPCA. Then I started earnestly searching for dogs on Pet Finder and online rescue organizations and on Craigslist. That’s how I found Tiger. One day after work, I took a detour and visited a litter of four male Maltishipoos (part Maltese, Shih Tzu and Poodle). And there was Tiger.

We call him Tiger because he pounces on everything. He pounces on his squeaky toys, my slippers and the light bugs when he’s outside at night. But mostly, he likes to sit at my feet while I’m on the computer. If I shift over a few inches, eventually he does too. And he loves tummy rubs.

Now, I venture into pet shops looking for knit and crochet puppy toys like these:Crochet Seahorse

Crochet Donuts

Of course, I had to knit something for him. I went through my stash and gathered enough leftover yarn for a small blanket.

Tiger's Blanket - Blocking

It’s a simple stockinette stitch pattern using doubled up yarn for thickness and a seed stitch border.

Tiger & Blanket

I think he likes it.

My Blanket

Now to start on knit doggie sweaters and crochet toys. Any pattern suggestions?

Austin Yarn Shops

One of my favorite cities in Texas is none other than Austin. Austin is our state capitol and home to the University of Texas Longhorns. Austin hosts the Austin City Limits music festival (just ACL for the locals) and the South by Southwest (sxsw) music and film extravaganza. For the young – and young at heart – there’s the nightlife on 6th Street. Go antiquing on South Congress (SoCo) and watch the bats come out at dusk from underneath the South Congress Avenue bridge. There is no end to the things that Keep Austin Weird!

A place as groovy as Austin is bound to have some awesome yarn stores. Here are three that are sure to please.

Gauge logo
5406 Parkcrest Drive, Austin, Texas 78731, Tel. 512.371.9300

(Source)

At Gauge, I ran into a fellow knitting enthusiast who showed me around the shop. She didn’t even work there! As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by this pompom mobile.

Gauge 2

The shop has all the expected cubbies full of colorful yarn.

Gauge 3

I liked this crocheted cacti!

Gauge 4

Gauge has a nice back room where you can sit and knit. A class was in session so I quietly perused the sock yarn options.

Gauge 5

This display featured hand-dyed yarns from nearby Georgetown, Texas. The colors just popped!

Gauge 1

The next stop was Me & Ewe, a combination yarn and fabric store.

4903 Woodrow Ave., Austin, Texas 78756, Tel. 512.220.9592
4903 Woodrow Ave., Austin, Texas 78756, Tel. 512.220.9592

(Source)

Me & Ewe is located in a cute cottage with bright yellow and aqua trim – very Austin. The front room is full of lovely yarn.

Me & Ewe 1

Me & Ewe 2

Adjoining the main room is a smaller alcove where you ring up your purchases. Hanging along the entryway were these adorable, handmade Barbie clothes. It turns out that when a customer found out she was having a baby, she began meticulously hand-knitting a closet full of dress-up clothes for her future daughter to play with. Alas, the daughter never quite got into dolls and the wardrobe was mostly unused. It is now lovingly in display at the shop.

Me & Ewe 3

There are two more rooms in the cottage dedicated to fabrics – lots and lots of fabrics. I loved the modern prints.

Me & Ewe 4

Me & Ewe 5

The third yarn store is not actually in Austin, but about 40 miles east in Paige, Texas. It is absolutely worth the side-trip.

logo
130 Gonzales Street, Paige, TX 78659, Tel. 512.253.0100

(Source)

Yarnorama is a fiber-enthusiast’s dream. They carry looms and threads for weaving, …

Yarnorama 3

Yarnorama 2

…wheels and fiber for spinning, …

Yarnorama 1

…and plenty of yarn for knitting and crocheting.

Yarnorama 4

There was so much to see and touch, I didn’t even know where to start!

I also stopped in at Hill Country Weavers, one of my fave yarn stores ever. Because I had been many times, I didn’t linger and do not have photos to share, except for this one.

All You Knit is Love - Hill Country Weavers

Need I say more?

Spring Blooms

For Easter weekend, our family congregated at my sister’s home in San Antonio, Texas. It is a three-hour monotonous drive between Houston and San Antonio on Interstate 10. As I was traveling alone, I decided to make the trip a bit more interesting. I took a detour north on State Highway 71 headed to La Grange, Texas – population just under 5,000 and home of the Texas Quilt Museum.

There were three exhibits on display that were particularly impressive. The first, “Modern Quilt Guild at the Texas Quilt Museum” showcased the guild’s first juried quilt show. Photography is not allowed inside the museum but you can see photos at the Modern Quilt Guild’s blog. Here is one sample.

img_0756
Source: MQG Blog

Also on display were the Magna Carta Quilts from the UK. There are a total of eight quilts. According to the Magna Carta Quilt website:

…four Medieval Quilts will tell the story of the Magna Carta in a graphic novel style… The story starts with the death of Richard the Lionheart, which lead to the ascension of his brother John to the throne of England, runs through the events leading up to the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede… The Magna Carta was the first document ever imposed upon a King of England…by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights. The four Legacy Quilts…will be the shields of the 25 feudal barons who drew up the terms of the Magna Carta…

The detail of these quilts was mind-boggling. The figures depicted all had singular expressions, carried different items in their hands and wore varied medieval clothing according to their rank.

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Medieval Quilt IV (Source: Magna Carta Quilt)

The third exhibit of note was called “Wild Fabrications” sponsored by the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). You can view the entire exhibit online at the SAQA website in a slide show format. I highly recommend viewing it in full screen mode. My favorite was the polar bear.

larrea-NowYouSeeHim-Full-2nd
Now You See Him by Cat Larrea (Source: SAQA)

Wild Fabrications celebrates a world of animals both real and fantastical. The theme not only lends itself particularly to bold colors and whimsical imagery, but also to beautiful realism, and humor that can be ebullient or dark.

On the exterior side wall of the building that houses The Quilt Museum is this stunning mural that depicts traditional 19th century quilts.

Quilt Museum Exterior

The mural serves as a backdrop to Grandmother’s Flower Garden.

Many quilt makers…are also gardeners, and many quilt patterns were inspired by flowers, plants, trees, and nature in general. We named the garden for a beloved Depression-era quilt pattern, “Grandmother’s Flower Garden.”

Grandmother's Flower Garden 1

Grandmother's Flower Garden 2

Grandmother's Flower Garden 3

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you to visit, next door to The Quilt Museum is a fabric and YARN store called The Quilted Skein.

The Quilted Skein

There were four rooms of fabrics in all colors and patterns. And WALLS OF YARN.

The Quilted Skein - Yarn Wall

The staff was busily climbing ladders to hang up beautiful new quilt displays. They were having a good time making sure no one toppled off ladders and took time to assist me as I perused the yarn and picked out some fabric squares.

The Quilted Skein - Sock Yarn

It was time to get back on I-10 and continue my trip to San Antonio. From La Grange, I took a leisurely drive on Farm to Market Road 609. The countryside was littered with bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes – picture-perfect scenery.

Bluebonnets on FM 609

Indian Paintbrushes on FM 609

Back on I-10, I made another stop in Seguin, Texas, the pecan capital of the world – so-called because of the large production of pecans in the area. Seguin has a quaint downtown historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places. My destination was You’re So Crafty, a crafts store for making pottery, painting, beadwork, knitting and spinning. One could spend weeks here and not run out of crafty things to do.

You're So Crafty - Spinning Tools

This display was full of yarn spun from locally produced fibers. These skeins are from Windmill Crest Farms, a small alpaca farm of about 50 animals located in Seguin.

You're So Crafty Local Yarn

Content with the day’s discoveries, it was time to make the rest of the trip to my sister’s house. Both my brothers from back home and my mom and aunt were there, plus some neighbors. Between all of us, there were 25+ kids and adults hitting piñatas and cracking cascarones on each others’ heads – brightly colored confetti everywhere! After the meal, the older kids (teens and college students) gathered at the dining room table for a fierce game of Monopoly. As my siblings and I sat outside, we reminisced about how once upon a time, it was us running around the yard and competing at board games. Now we sat around comparing what medications and maladies we had in common. We had good laughs and good food surrounded by family. It was a glorious weekend full of spring blooms.