Monday, September 13, 2010

The Legend of Baby Link

I’ve not blogged about it recently, but I’ve been knitting up a storm all summer. I’d been working on a vintage cabled summer sweater for myself, but then the time to start working on projects for arriving babies drew nearer and nearer, and I had to stop in the middle of my vintage sweater and start something new.

When both of my cousins (who are brothers) announced their wives were pregnant at the same time, our whole family was super excited, especially their mother who will be a grandmother for the first time (and to TWO babies). My cousins are into videogames, especially The Legend of Zelda. I can remember spending weekends with them as a child where they and my brother played this game for hours on end. So when I found a pattern for a Baby Link costume, I couldn’t resist.

I made two and it took forever because, although it is an easy enough looking pattern, it was anything but. There were lots of techniques I’d never used before like grafting with the Kitchener stitch and a provisional cast-on, which with the help of YouTube weren’t too bad. I made one and then I made another, and I packaged them up and sent them on their way down South.

My favorite feature of the whole costume is the quiver that holds a baby bottle.

Now that Link is off the needles, I’ve started this Owlet Sweater for Mr. S. It is super fast and simple and has been a joy to knit. The pattern is beautifully written and very clear. I started it last week and will probably finish it up tonight or tomorrow.

Then I’m moving on to hats for the whole family. Guess that vintage sweater isn't coming off stitch holders any time soon.

The Garden State Sheep and Wool Festival

With fall in the air and sweater weather fast approaching, I’ve had a hankering lately to find a good, local sheep and wool festival and spend a whole day around farm animals, farmers and handspun yarn. Of course the biggest and most famous festival in the NJ/NY area is Rhinebeck, but seeing as this was a spur-of-the-moment hankering I was not prepared to drive six hours and spend the night up in NY state, not to mention finding a pet-friendly hotel, asking off from work and loading up the family for a weekend trip. Rhinebeck happens in October like most sheep and wool festivals I’ve been to, and I’d LOVE to go there someday (road trip next year Mom?), but I found that New Jersey has it’s very own sheep and wool festival too, and it took place this past weekend.

The Garden State Sheep and Wool Festival is held each year in Ringoes, NJ at the Hunterdon County Fair Grounds, which is only an hour from our Bayonne home.

So we headed out there on Sunday, and boy was it a beautiful drive! Hunterdon County, NJ has some gorgeous farmland and some beautiful Victorian homes. It reminded us very much of TN. Each time we visit these little Jersey country towns, the desire to move to the country builds and builds. We’d be living there right now if we could afford it.

Mr. S was very excited about seeing sheep and goats and alpacas, but he kept calling it the sheep and wolf festival, and so he was disappointed to not see wolves there, even though I explained that sheep and wolves are not friends.

We saw all kinds of pretty sheep and goats:

But the guy who stole the show was this Jacob Sheep. Jacob Sheep have four horns and are a beautiful animal. This one was the handsomest one we saw:

This is my fourth sheep and wool festival (and the smallest, most local one I’ve been to). Each time I’ve attended these festivals I’ve enjoyed the seeing the alpacas and watching the sheep dog show the most. This festival was no exception. There were gorgeous alpacas there, including this little one:

Mom and babe:

The sheep dog show was nice too. We watched two Border Collies working together to herd ducks through tunnels and into pens.

We also watched a sheep shearing demonstration, and learned all kinds of techniques for getting our sheep to be still and calm, should we ever have sheep. We learned that as long as a sheep has all four feet off the ground they believe they can’t get up and won’t even try it.

Of course the other big reason to go to a sheep and wool festival is the yarn and roving. All of the booths here were stuffed with handspun, hand-dyed yarn and usually staffed by the same farmers who raised and sheared the sheep (or alpaca or rabbit or what have you), dyed the wool and spun it into yarn.

I came away with some beautiful cream wool, some orange wool (purchased only because the color reminds me of TN), and, my favorite, a charcoal gray alpaca/merino blend, which the farmer told me came from an alpaca named Paden and showed me his photo. This particular score will become a winter hat for Mr. T this season.

Getting away to the country and smelling the smells of the barnyard was just what we needed. It reminded us of home and reminded T of his childhood and spending time with his grandfather. I wish we could get away like this every weekend.

Now I’ve got a hankering to visit a county or state fair, since fair season is upon us. T and I are dreaming of funnel cakes, Ferris Wheels and blue ribbon livestock. Hopefully we can find a good fair in our area soon. In the meantime, there’s a small carnival down the street from us that opens this weekend, and since my parents will be up for a visit you can be sure we’ll be there.

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