large and fuzzy


October has been a pretty decent month.  I’m still unemployed and feeling antsy about it, but I’ve gotten to spend some time admiring the fall color and hanging out with awesome people.

Two weeks ago, I drove over to Manchester, NH to visit people at SOAR.  Once I got there, I spent the rest of the day inside the hotel, but the drive was utterly beautiful.  I’m not really a fan of getting up early, but it was lovely to be off in time to see the sunlight on the morning valley fog.  SOAR itself (okay, the marketplace and the collection of people, since the only activity I observed was the fashion show) was great.  I ran into friends as soon as I walked through the door, and I got to spend hours and hours with people I don’t get to see enough.  The one problem, really, was that I only had ~13 hours of interaction.  Internettily, though, I suppose it didn’t happen, since I took no photos.

Oh!  But I do have a photo of a bit of yarn I spun on Friday morning, when Rosemary let me play with her milk-cap spindle (made by JimBob):

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That was quite an interesting spindle. I usually spin on medium-sized spindles that start off weighing about an ounce and weigh at least twice that by the time I’m finished. So a spindle that can’t possibly have weighed more than ~10g…it wanted to spin very, very fine yarn. The sample above is from singles I wrapped around my fingers and then allowed to coil up, so it’s effectively something like a 2×6 cabled yarn.

And then, this past weekend, I drove down to Rhinebeck. I camped at Lake Taghkanic State Park again, in a cottage this year (rather than a cabin), and it was almost perfect. The setting was lovely, and the rain politely allowed me to unload and then reload the car in the dry (even if the ground was squelchy).

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Again, I didn’t take any pictures of people (though I know I’m in a few), but I did take some of sheep and goats:

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It was a weird Rhinebeck for me–for the last few years, I’ve made a thorough circuit of all the booths and spent most of my time looking at things, even when I didn’t buy much. This year, though, I prioritized finding people. So I started with booths where I knew people, and then flitted (a bit) from one set of friends to another, wishing I had at least three times as much time with each group.

Except for Sunday morning, when I wasn’t wandering about with people because I was in a class: Getting More Done With Spindles, taught by Abby Franquemont. It was a lot of fun, and it’s gotten me thinking about actual productivity versus perceived productivity, and I’ve learned at least two new techniques.

I learned something else last Sunday, in a much less enjoyable situation: if I’m going to attempt a 4+-hour drive on back roads on a Sunday evening (or, really, any evening), it is wise to acquire plenty of caffeine when it is there, whether I need it immediately or not. Since I miscalculated (and the restaurant where I’d intended to stop must’ve been closed and unlit, since I totally missed it), what had been a 4.5hr trip on Friday turned into a 7-hr trip on Sunday night.  (On the trip down, I spent much of the drive looking at the gorgeous foliage and plotting how best to get those colors into fiber/yarn/garments.  More about that later.)

I’m back now, though, much to Mel’s satisfaction.

Bliss.

It is definitely lapcat season around here.

When I got off the train in London, I did a bit of shopping in the train station and then crossed the street to the other train station, to catch another set of trains to Skipton, in Yorkshire. (For what it’s worth: I had a few sets of options planned out, from checking the routing function on britrail.com, but there are enough trains along those various routes that there were extra trains, and I got in about an hour earlier than I’d anticipated, by making quick connections. Also, especially after the veeeeery basic facilities on the Trenitalia trains, the train from London to Leeds had an astonishingly nice loo.)

When I got to Skipton, I was met by the proprietors of the B&B where I was headed, since the buses don’t run that late and I hadn’t wanted to rent a car. Bob and Sheila, who run Tudor House, were extremely helpful the whole time I was there, and I would wholeheartedly recommend Tudor House if you want to go hiking/walking near Malham. (If I go back, I think I’d try to arrange a rental car in Skipton, but there was plenty of walking to do for the three full days I had.)

Tudor House
(This photo is from my third day there, when there was better light, but Tudor House is in a lovely setting.)

So. The first full day I spent in Yorkshire, Sheila gave me a lift to Malham. From thence, I walked up to the Malham Cove trail. Malham Cove is quite an impressive extinct waterfall and one of the major Things To See Near Malham.

Malham Cove

Malham Cove

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There are some nice flowers halfway up the stairs by the Cove.

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I love the black-kneed frolicking lambs.

From the top of the stairs by Malham Cove, I walked up to Malham Tarn, but it was raining as well as windy by the time I got there, so these next photos are from most of the way back to town.

the top of Malham Cove

This is the top of Malham Cove, with Malham in the background.

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More cute sheep.

Bob and Sheila had recommended a pub in Kirkby Malham as a dinner stop, both because of its excellent fish & chips and because it’s a straightforward walk back to Tudor House.  On the way there from Malham, I passed a farm with llamas instead of sheep:

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Yay, llamas!

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Aaand, when I got to Kirkby Malham (a little too early for the pub to be serving dinner), I took pictures of the lovely gardens until my camera batteries wore out again.  So I gave up and sought refreshment: Thatcher’s Gold cider and some of the best fish & chips I’ve ever had.  The mushy peas were pretty tasty, too, though they’re better with some of the tartar sauce and malt vinegar mixed in.

The next day, I caught the bus up to Malham and walked over to Janet’s Foss.  On the way, I passed these lambs playing King of the Hill:

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Along the trail, within the area marked off as the Janet’s Foss scenic area, there’s this log:

coin tree by Janet's Foss

People have been hammering coins into it for years and years, kind of like a solid fountain or wishing well.

wild garlic

The other side of the path was full of wild garlic in bloom, enough for the area to smell of onion.

Janet's Foss

The waterfall itself (Janet’s Foss, ‘foss’ being a word for waterfall) is quite pretty, but the area was too full of school-group for me to stay long.  Instead, I headed up toward Gordale Scar.

Gordale Scar

There’s a trail marked on the maps that goes up through the gorge, but I was Not Interested.  It’s an impressive place (note the reddish dot just below and to the right of the main waterfall: that’s a person in a red jacket), and windy enough to be substantially colder than elsewhere nearby, but I wanted easier hiking.  So I walked back out (just in time to avoid another school group!) and headed around the side of the hill.

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One example of the kinds of signs I was following.

it was very windy

It was very, very windy.  I had my hair in two braids, but the wind blew enough out of the braids to create that extra shadow over my head.  Where you can see that it was blown sideways.

Then, since I hadn’t been able to take decent pictures at Malham Tarn the day before (because of the rain), I decided to hike back up that way, my only other real plan being to stay far, far away from the stairs by Malham Cove.

Malham Tarn

Malham Tarn is absolutely lovely.  That’s the lake (tarn) in the background, with the stream that drains it in the middle of the photo.

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My plan to avoid the Cove steps may not have been the best idea.  My main goal was to try to spare my knees, which had been initially displeased by all those steps at Il Duomo, but the road wasn’t really much kinder.  On the other hand, I got some different lovely views, including this one:

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And then my camera batteries died again, and I bought yet more batteries (better ones, this time) when I got back to Malham.  I was a little early for the bus to Gargrave, so I ate an apple and spun for a bit, enjoying the sunny bench by the stream.

Gargrave is a cute little town (genuinely a town rather than a village).

Gargrave

Alas, the pub where I ate dinner that night had nothing more appealing to drink than Strongbow (which, yes, is quite nice, but I’d been hoping for something I can’t find here), and their fish & chips weren’t as good as the previous night’s.  And they left out the mushy peas, perhaps because I was obviously a foreign tourist.  (Even the other pub had made sure to ask if I really wanted them, and this place was a lot busier.)  But it was still good food, and the busy room allowed for more interesting eavesdropping.

For my last day in Yorkshire, I decided I deserved a relaxed morning.  When I had yet to leave the B&B by 11 or so, I decided to stick around to see the steam engine that was supposed to be coming past at 12:30–I’m not especially enthusiastic about the history of trains, but considering that the B&B used to be the local train station, it seemed appropriate.

steam engine

We all hung around on the patio for a while, waiting for the train to appear.  I made good use of the time–photographing the flowers and spinning more silk–and Bob informed me that the local village, Bell Busk, had once been home to a silk-spinning industry.  After a while, the train did show up, and it was fun to watch and hear (albeit with my hands over my ears once I took a couple of pictures).  Then I headed off to Haw Crag, an interesting local geological feature that could also be part of a route to Gargrave.

this sheep watched me walk past

This sheep watched me walk past.

Haw Crag

This is Haw Crag, with the disused quarry and a lot of sheep.

Haw Crag

Ridgeline sheep.

sleepy lambs, watchful ewe

Very sleepy lambs–must be tired out from too much frolicking.  (Don’t worry, the one that kinda looks dead got up and ran around a minute later.)

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A quintessential Malham-adjacent view.  That was a lovely, lovely day.

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After getting to Gargrave, eating lunch, and running a couple of errands, I went for a walk along the canal.  It was pretty, and an easy, smooth walk.  I knew I’d have to get up early the next morning, though, so I bought food for dinner and headed back to the inn to eat in my room.

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horses, pheasants, and rabbit

Lots of wildlife!  Okay, okay, the horses aren’t wild.  But the pheasants and rabbit are.  (And, yeah, I know, I’ve lived in places where rabbits are not unusual sights, but I hadn’t seen pheasants before that week.  Not counting stuffed ones in exhibits, anyway.)

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I ended up eating my pies on the trail, but I saved the beer until I returned to my room.  That was a tasty, tasty beer, with a fun name.  (And, having had to provide one photo ID and one non-photo ID in order to buy beer this afternoon, I miss the simplicity of buying alcohol in Europe.  Of course, I’m also not exactly upset that I look like I’m under 35, seeing that I’m still not quite 30.)

And, then, the next morning, I got up extra-super-early to take what turned out to be three trains to get to Cambridge.

sunrise

This was the view from my room, at sunrise.  I do not usually see sunrise except at midwinter, but it’s not bad on occasion.

Next post: Cambridge-adjacent stuff.  There’ll be many fewer pictures of that, as I had People to talk to and point things out to, so I simply took many fewer photos.

Not that I often do think of clever titles…

Part I: Spinning Update (with mention of knitting)

I spent a fair chunk of yesterday afternoon plying smallish bits, and I’ve spent much of my at-home spinning time on plying, so I have a good-sized pile of yarn to wash tonight:

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I’ve also got a lot more plying to do–silk, merino/silk blends, merino/silk with cashmere/silk unless I change my mind soon, all those orangey AbbyBatts (hmm, still have to wind those, too), and some oatmeal BFL:

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I’m also nearly done with the first half of the Blaze batts (Southern Cross Fibre) that a very nice person gave away at the spinning retreat last month; they’ve been my wandering-around spindle project. Knitting-wise, I’m substantially closer to finishing the sample knitting project I’ve been working on since I finished Springtime Bandit. And I think I’ve picked a project for my Good Fortune yarn. Hey, I don’t think I put a good picture of it here, so maybe I should do that now.

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Part II: Friday evening

Friday evening was great. Also highly unusual for me. (I tend to be tired on Fridays and just want to chill with Mel and maybe some knitting or spinning.) Instead, I used my postponed ticket from February to see Sweet Honey in the Rock. They were, as always, amazing–they’re on my fairly short list of Performers To See Whenever Possible, along with Bobby McFerrin, Anonymous 4, Pilobilus, and Momix. And many thanks to the sound-engineer types at the Kimmel Center on Friday, whether it was the guy with Sweet Honey or local staff–I didn’t need my earplugs. It got a little close during a couple of songs, but it is so nice to be able to hear the occasional (excellent) concert without earplugs…and without pain, too.

And then I went off to a book-swap-and-games party that wound up also including some shape-note singing, so I got to sing, and I came home with a few books, and I got to see several people I hadn’t hung out with in months. (I even called a West Coast friend on my way home, so I got to talk with her for the first time in months, too. Very good evening, even though I wound up staying up freakishly late for not being stuck in a book.)

Part III: Maryland Sheep & Wool

I just went for Sunday this year, since I have too much stuff going on in Philly (both work and housework and prep for moving next month–gah!) to spend more time away, but I had a lovely day of it. K. picked me up at 7:45, with her daughters; I got to knit in the car while she drove, which worked out nicely for me. I have a lot of fiber, and this whole moving thing means I’m in a trying to get rid of stuff phase. So…I bought 6 ounces of fiber (one of which is in that picture at the top), got my travelling Bossie fixed, bought a spindle for Min, and took a bunch of pictures of sheep. (And hung out with excellent fiber people, which is always fun.)

romney lambs & mom

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scottish blackface

That poor Scottish Blackface sheep was really, really not enjoying the weather. (I wasn’t, either, and I wasn’t wearing wool…)

All righty! Mostly caught up! This is nice.

Maryland Sheep & Wool was excellent. It didn’t go quite as I’d hoped, because nothing’s perfect (perfect wouldn’t’ve included the rain or the mosquito bites, for example), but it was still a great weekend away from Philly and surrounded by yarn and fiber and fiber animals and knitter-types. It was also, however, exhausting, and going out last night to see Eddie Izzard did not help. (Note to self: do not schedule evening activities for the night after a sheep-and-wool. You will be too tired to fully appreciate them.)

Here, then, are a few pictures of animals at the festival, plus a link to an essay about media interactivity and mental surplus. (I don’t remember who posted about it, but it’s definitely worth reading.

Looking for the Mouse

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pygora kid

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I also have to add that I spent much of the weekend exclaiming about how much I love my new camera.  I still haven’t gotten used to having a point-and-shoot with so many capabilities (it’s actually worth changing the ISO setting!), but learning is going to be fun.