Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Happy Trails...

Hope you're all ready for a long post with lots of pictures. I just returned last night from a trip out to California, where I got to see my daughter go through Confirmation and spent time with her.

We enjoyed our time together, which included an overnighter up in Tehachapi. First, we visited the California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster:

By the way, this is THE time of year to go. As you can see the scenery is almost surreal - the hills are intensely bright orange from all the poppies in bloom, and with the blue sky it makes for an incredible contrast. The pictures we took just don't do it justice at all, you really have to go and see it for yourself. They are also going to have a Poppy Festival the weekend of the 19th at a park in Lancaster that will have festivities, arts and crafts and more.

We then got to see a train go through the Tehachapi Loop:

Finally, we saw the big cats at the exotic feline compound in Rosamond - this serval was a bit friendlier than the bobcat that hissed at us when we tried to take his picture:

We also visited Tehachapi's famous Apple Shed restaurant and gift shop for lunch, where my daughter picked herself up some of their well-known fudge. I am not sure if I like how they've rearranged things since they got new management a couple of years ago but it is still a fun place to visit.

We also indulged in our spinning and needlework aplenty. We found a spinning supplies place in Van Nuys called Stick & Stone where we got an incredible deal - all their fibers and yarn are 70% off right now as part of a spring sale. They were pretty picked over by the time we got there but we found some nice roving nonetheless, and there's still some good stuff left, so if you're out in that area make sure you hurry and grab what they've got before it's gone!

Oh and I also suggest that you call them before you go. The owner told us that she isn't running normal business hours on some days, but if you call ahead of time like we did she will keep the store open for you.

We also visited Skein out in Pasadena. I picked up a pair of handbag handles and a small pack of roving from them. They also had a small knitting group going on while we were there.

I used the handles to create a handbag for my daughter as her Confirmation gift. I knit the bag using circular needles and yarn I spun on my Gratia wheel using Sullivan's roving pack in Heritage colors. My daughter watched me make it but didn't know it was hers until the very end so she was very pleasantly surprised when I handed it to her :-)

I also learned to use Kool-Aid as a dye the right way - when I did my Blue-faced Leicester roving a while back I didn't realize that I needed to follow some important steps, which left my wool on the pale side... mind you I still like how it looks, but this time I got a more vivid color. I found Knitty and yarngirl both had good suggestions for dyeing with Kool-Aid.

I also decided to spin the roving first and then dye it as yarn. When I did the roving first it made the wool kink and stiffen, which makes it harder to draft while spinning. Also dyeing it after spinning helped set the twist.

Here are my results using three packs of grape Kool-Aid on an ounce and a half of roving with varying natural shades that I spun on my Louet Octagon drop spindle:

Oh and yes, it smells as intense as it looks. I took it home with me in a ziploc bag in my carryon and I could still smell the grape through the bag.

My daughter and I also took some yarn she'd spun on her drop spindle and used lemon-lime on it. I don't have any pictures of the end results but it turned out this fantastic bright green - so fun! I'm hoping when she and her Dad get the disc together they've promised me of her pictures from Tehachapi that she'll include a shot of it.

As always my trip to California was too short and it's never easy leaving. It was my home most of my life, and it's always hard to say goodbye to my daughter until I see her again. But hubby has been talking about having all of us go and visit again in the fall, and I will get to see my daughter in the summer... here's hoping I'll have enough time off down the line and that the months in between go quickly.

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