Rambling seemed like the right thing to do. We went to Chicago, then rented a car.
Once, when we went to France as young marrieds, we rented a car and set off into the countryside. We made no reservations anywhere. The local tourist information office provided names of places to stay, and the places we stayed provided names of restaurants nearby.
We learned that we really needed to get to the information office by 3pm each day. Our options otherwise became more fleabaggish, and that was not fun. I am older now, less willing to trust to fate. So when Mr. E and I drove from Chicago, we had reservations for a night at Whitefish Bay Farm's B&B in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Is there a spinner on the planet who does not know about Whitefish Bay Corriedale fleeces? I met Gretchen in 2008 at SOAR in Pennsylvania. I have spoken to both Gretchen and Dick each year *cough* as I may have one or two of their fleeces.
Four hours of driving through beautiful farmland that was just showing the first kiss of fall. Feed corn was ripe. The roads were uncrowded. Green Bay on the left, Lake Michigan on the right, with Whitefish Bay on the quiet side of Door County.
The farm is immaculate. The Gallery has naturally dyed Corriedale yarn for sale. Weavers, felters, knitters sell through Gretchen. One of Dick's two Glimakra looms is in the Gallery. One feels at home there, hosted by people who totally understand your fiber soul. The picture is Gretchen's garden by The Gallery.
Breakfast was homecooked goodness that included artichokes from Dick's garden. The walk down to the sheep pasture felt like a homecoming. An overlay of unreality mixed in with our steps. I had so often pictured the sheep, the farm, the fields in my imagination, that it did not seem possible that I was actually there.
The sheep come up to the visitors, looking for attention. They stand, pushing into human legs. The touch is demanded. Only ten or fifteen come up to inspect visitors. Gretchen cannot say why different girls come up on different days.
It was easy to get into the sheep mind. "I was up there LAST week. It's YOUR turn today."
Halfway through the ritual, another sheep ambled over to me. Gretchen looked at her, looked at me. The random girl who annealed herself to my knees was Zita, the sheep who grew the fleece that I have bought for the last three years.
She knew who I was.
Gretchen sent us to a local cove about a mile down the road, before we headed back. It was the Lake Michigan side: windy, feral, dramatic and wild. It was beautiful.
We drove home quietly that afternoon. I knit in the passenger's seat. The fields had that burnished green turning to burnt purple.
1. This was the year of the Webs bus. The idea was less driving. Check.
2. The bus left Webs at 7am. I walked through the festival gate at 10:30am. Hmmmm.
3. About 20 miles away from the Fairgrounds, an alarm started bleeping on the bus.
4. The driver figured out that the hydraulics for the handicapped lift had gone awry.
5. The Webs lady said this would be annoying, but not a safety issue.
6. As the bumps got harder, and the shock absorbers lost more and more air, I began to disagree with that optimistic safety assessment.
7. When the bus, which was bottoming out on my side on every pebble and pea in the road, got to within 3 miles of the Fairgrounds, I was relieved. I could at least walk from there if necessary.
8. We arrived safely. It took 15 minutes to get our tickets and hand them out. That was torment.
9. We had to be back at the (new) bus at 3:30pm. Ready? Set? GO: Rhinebeck in 5 hours.
10. It was wonderful. Endorphins flow there. I can't describe it as anything other than an addiction.
11. It was nasty. I literally could not get into Miss Babs, Cephalopod Yarns, Briar Rose, Spirit Trail, Carolina HomeSpun, Tess, Harrisville, Brooks Farm, and others.
12. The looks the other knitters gave me for trying, would have killed a lesser woman.
13. I came away with less than I have ever purchased there. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The crowds, however, were dreadful.
14. My apple crisp stand had a LINE for the first time ever. And they moved the location away from in between the barns. I found them anyway.
15. The drive back was tiring. It was safe. I did not win any giveaways.
16. I should have remembered to drink far more water than I did.
17. I saw lots of wonderful knitters. I missed Angela Ho this year. That made me sad.
18. I got to hug Norm Hall. He is an excellent hugger.
19. I found a new vendor, Swift River Farm. They mix very soft Shetland with a touch of silk. They occupy the spot previously occupied by International Yarns, who brought in Jamieson. There is full circle here with the Shetland.
20. I bought another bobbin for my Schacht Wooly Winder. I knew I had a second one at home, but I hadn't been able to find it for weeks.
21. I found it last week. Now I have three.
22. I bought a fourth skein of Just Our Yarn tencel. Doing yardage calculations, I discovered I did not have enough for two wraps. I guessed at the colors. It will be fine. *heh*
23. I'm not sure I would do the Webs bus again. It was nice to have only one day of the weekend for the festival. I got other stuff done. But. You know.
24. Enchanting Juno wrote The Best Post About Rhinebeck in the current literature.
25. Pictures of the booty:
Shetland/silk on the bottom, Just Our Yarn tencel on the top
He perfected his pecan pie recipe for our dinner at his house. Multiple health issues intervened. He is better.
Fabulous Fall Roots soup from Sunday Soups (Betty Rosbottom), and roast prime rib. If you have the patience to get through the Smitten Kitchen's recipe for pear/almond tart, you will have a dinner that will make Ben smile.
I'll let you know how it goes. He is usually a burgundy guy. I hope he likes the 1989 Chateau Margaux.
Every year, Nova Scotia sends Boston a Christmas tree. It is always huge. And beautiful. And perfect. The Boston Common hosts the tree. Lighting the tree is an annual, cherished tradition in the city. It is a marker, a tangible symbol of community, friendship, and love. In 1917, when an explosion devastated Halifax, Nova Scotia, Boston sent help. Now, Nova Scotia sends an annual thank you.
I am two skeins into this monster. I thought I had 12. My database does not have an entry for the rest of this yarn. I bought the kit in 2011. Several months later, I bought yarn for Na Craga.
I'm at the usual Starmore point: "This is going to block WAY bigger, isn't it?
ISN'T IT? (*desperate fear* that I am being a KO (knitting optimist) which usually results in a KO (as in boxing).
Having no other options, I went in search of the sweater yarn.
Yes, indeed! The rest of Lapwing for Seaweed was in the same bin. It might not surprise you to learn that when I ordered Na Craga, I ordered three safety skeins of Lapwing. Now I have enough for a veritable throw. But at least I won't run out of yarn.
Multiples of years ago, I attended a cooking class in Cambridge. The teacher, Nick Malgieri, sang the praises of the Northern Spy apple. I suppose I was clueless about the rarity of this cultivar. I scoured the local supermarkets for years on the chance I would find some.
Fast forward to the Farmer's Market, 2013. The guy who sells us the wonderful fruit (gooseberries, pluots, plums, nectarines, peaches, raspberries) is a taciturn New England farmer. I chatted him up because we saw him every week for months, and that is just my way.
Mr. E watched me search his baskets in October, and wanted to know if I had found what I was looking for. Nope. Mr. FarmerMan listened in, and volunteered that he had two Northern Spy trees, and he would be picking that next weekend.
A week passed, and we called, left a message. No answer. The fall foliage was good enough to justify the trip out to the wilds of Massachusetts. He was driving his tractor at the farmstand, recognized us. How many did we want? He motored out to the orchard and picked them for us, seven of the big, fat, ripe beauties. They were HUGE.
I dug out my Mom's recipe for apple pie. I would share it with you, but really? Everyone thinks THEIR Mom's apple pie is the best. We went whole hog with the crust and made our first lard crust. (Another local farmer sells pig lard. I could hear my coronaries screaming, and I didn't care.)
The crust was shatteringly crisp. My innards weren't happy for days after that, so I don't think I will try that again. Mom used Crisco for hers. Next one I try will have a butter/Crisco combo.
Four apples filled the pie plate. I cut them into wedges, laid the bottom tier. The good stuff (spices, sugar, flour) was scattered on this, then the top tier laid in. More stuff spooned on, then dotted with butter. (Potholder from Ann Brauer Quilts, Shelburne Falls, MA)
It was the best pie I have ever eaten. The apples softened without melting out of shape. The fork cut through them cleanly, easily, so that the more liquid part of the pie mixed perfectly with the fruit. The apples were a perfect kind of sweetness. You knew you were eating ripe apples, with just that squirt of piquant acid hiding in with the natural sugars. The pie reheated perfectly, too.
The last three apples went to an apple crisp. Same deal: integrity, sweetness, balancing acidity.
Mr. FarmerMan told me he would sell me an apple tree seedling next year. I just might do that.