Sunday, June 24, 2007

Estes Park Wool Market 2007 or What Great Projects Did I Find.

I am sure some have asked "what did she find at the Estes Wool Market that she could not live without?"

In the picture you will find the makings, yarn and pattern, of a fun vest using Interlacements yarn. This yarn is actually made in Colorado Springs about 5 miles from where I live. And the two balls of mocha strawberry colored yarn is for a pair of socks for my mother. (ssh...don't tell her)

The rest of the trip is documented in the post below.

Chase your passions where they take you!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Road Trippin' or Off to See the Wool Market

What at trip! It was all about wool, dogs, fiber animals and classic cars. Mix that together and you have the perfect combo for a father's Day weekend complete with uncomplaining father.

On the way to the 17th Annual Estes Park Wool Market, I took the scenic route by way of Lambspun in Fort Collins. This yarn shop has been made famous by author Maggie Sefton's use of it in her cozy mystery series. The books in order are: Knit One, Kill Two; Needled to Death; A Deadly Yarn; and A Killer Stitch. The shop, a renovated farmhouse, has several rooms of all things fiber and an excellent restaurant with patio dining. The staff are friendly and helpful. I even got a much needed knitting tip from Maya: if yardage is not stated on the ball band, and is noted as meters, you take 10% and add it to come up with the yardage. Example: 155 meters plus 10% (15.5) equals 170.5 yards. She says it is not exact but pretty close. One word of caution: be careful where you park - the property borders a golf course.

Oh my, the drive up the Big Thompson River Canyon is spectacular. Be sure you have a map (OnStar, GPS or a good navigator, thanks Mom) to find your way to the correct road to go to Estes Park. This part of Colorado does not believe in road signs. We rarely saw a mileage sign, speed limit sign or a "beware of falling rocks" sign the whole way up from Loveland to Estes Park. That's a 30-mile drive.

Little did I realize when I booked the cabin by the river that it would be so cute. It was nice and clean, with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, dining area and so close to the river you could toss a line in off the back steps.

My folks asked each morning, "Who left the water running?" And, to our surprise, the manager was a Stephen King look-alike. That made one more place to put on the sightseeing list, The Stanley Hotel where most of the interior shots were filmed for The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. We even got a sneak preview of the Manor House where Mr. Stanley lived. It sits right next to the hotel proper and is used now for wedding receptions and other functions. My folks were very elegant walking down the steps if the covered entry when I brought the car around to pick them up. Usually the hotel grounds are covered in elk, however this weekend they had gone to higher ground because of the mini heat wave Estes Park was experiencing. We cheated and drove up to the top of Rocky Mountain National Park to cool off. We saw a herd of elk at 12,000 feet and I looked at my temp gauge in the car. Sure enough it was only 60-degrees up there. No wonder they weren't hanging out in town.

Here is a picture of my travel mates in the lobby of the Stanley Hotel.

Believe it or not, they had the fireplace lit and it was 85-degrees outside.

And a picture from the high country in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Many things were going on at the Wool Market on Sunday. First, we got there around 9:30 a.m. and got to park right near the entry gate. There is no admission fee however there is a $4 parking fee which goes to benefit the Boy Scouts and they are out in uniform collecting. You can park on the street if you like and walk in, however it can be a hike. We picked up a schedule of events, that were being held down by rocks because the wind was blowing, and found the upcoming event that we were interested in - sheep dog herding demonstrations. It was very interesting and included herding them to the owner and driving them to another location. There was also a gentleman there who has trained his dog in article recognition. He laid out about 6 items on the ground, called them by name and the dog went out and picked up what he named. The dog is up to 75 items that he knows by name and can recognize. It was amazing!

Then we went on to the animal tents to see what kinds of fiber critters they had.

Alpacas and llamas and Corriedale sheep, oh my. I had no idea there were so many different breeds of sheep and goats raised for fiber. I saw Jacob, Icelandic, Suffolk, Shropshire, and Corriedale sheep. Then we saw Angora, Sable and Cashmere goats. It was very interesting to hear why some breeds are favored over others not only for fiber quality but for temperament and acreage needed. There was a small tent to house the alpaca breeders, with their animals, that were there not only to show off the fleece quality but to discuss why raising alpacas is a lucrative and fun business.

Rabbits galore at the Angora rabbit section of the goat tent. Several were out of their cages sitting cozily in prospective buyers laps. I had never seen a "lap bunny" before. Their fur is so soft it is like cobwebs. The lady who had them there, Sharon Dalrymple owns Woodlake Woolies in Colorado. I understand that she spins the fur right off the rabbits as they sit in her lap. Unfortunately, she was not spinning when we were there so missed that demonstration. Someone told us that they love to knit with angora however have to lock the yarn up in the closet because their cat will not leave it alone. Kitty must think it is their very own bunny to play with.

Knitters and fiberholics of all shapes, sizes and abilities cruised the vendor booths on Sunday. We had chosen the less crowded day to attend but learned that if you are looking for the best selections then you need to be there when the show opens on Saturday. There was also a tent that housed the spinners that were competing in the Sheep to Shawl competition. We missed the sheep shearing beginning but caught up with the spinners while they were working the raw fleece into the skeins of yarn that the weaver was turning into the shawl. Found out that they are given 5 hours to complete the project. All the components were being demonstrated at once from spinning to yarn, to plying, to weaving, by a lively group of women willing to talk and demonstrate for the constantly changing audience. I found it all quite fascinating. My dad was interested in how the spinning wheels were put together and how you made them do different speeds. That is the engineer in him. I found a gal in the vendor tent that explained all the parts of drop spindle spinning and think that is the next thing I want to try. Dad said he will make me one.

Everything you can imagine was in the vendor building including: wild fibers from yak, camel and buffalo; spinning supplies; patterns; buttons; bags; yarn galore and even the author of the new book Cast On, Bet's Off, soon to be a PBS series. It is a murder mystery set in a yarn cafe called the Sit N Knit. He and his wife own a couple of these style stores in Indiana.

Time to head home Monday found us at the Egg and I for breakfast. It was good food, great service and some interesting people-watching. Afterwards we waved good-bye to the cute little mountain town and headed towards Denver. Our final stop was the Cussler Museum.

We found it hidden away in Arvada. It is housed in a large warehouse that contains a premier restoration facility and the classic car collection of Clive Cussler, author of the Dirk Pitt novels. My dad really liked this place. He was having a difficult time deciding which one he wanted to drive home.