Monday, July 21, 2008

The Wayward Sheep Returns to the Fold

ON the trip home, I was trying to figure out what sort of format to use to post about the Bendigo trip. Do I post one long post in chronological order? Do I post first about the trip overall and then do a separate post about the Rav brekky, and another about the Sheep and Wool show itself? Still another, perhaps about my "aquisitions"? Really, all of this became a bit overwhelming, so I have decided, as best as I possibly can, to put everything on one post. For the sake of brevity, I will skim over the non-knitting related events of the first few days. I'm hoping I don't overload my poor blogger balance with all the pictures, but here goes.

Tuesday morning, as planned, we departed right on schedule. It rained most of the trip there, generally just a drizzle, but enough to make my "toilet and fag" stops a bit uncomfy. I knitted on the "Go Go Bendigo Mitts" for most of the trip, and completed them up to the point where all I needed to do to finish was bind off the fingers area and then pick up and work a few "thumb" rows and bind that off. The cast off was one I had never done before, but I did have written instructions with me. Still, I thought it best to wait until we got to the cabin so that I could concentrate (and wouldn't be bumping around so much...I will be nice here and TRY not to complain too much about the roads).

So somewhere around Wedderburn, Victoria, I put the gloves aside and picked up the front peice of the "Peace in the Hood" cardigan, and happily worked on that until we got to Bendigo. There's something about that Peace Fleece. It just feels right in my hands. Oh, don't get me wrong, the Bendigo Woolen Mills Alpaca I had been working with is beautifully soft and supple, but the Peace Fleece just has that "real wool" hearty feeling to it, rustic feeling, but not too rough. It's just right, the way wool should feel.

We arrived at Bendigo, checked in to our cabin and unloaded the overburdened Getz at around 5 PM on Tuesday evening. We unpacked in rather good time, Chris ran out for some takeaway, and we happily settled in for a night of ralaxing in front of the TV.

Wednesday was set aside for shopping. We tried to shop the downtown area, but after taking absolutely forever to find a park, we trudged around for about an hour, Chris bought a few magazines for later and we looked into an antique shop (mainly for warmth), and then we dived into a Chinese place for lunch and quickly made our escape from the crowds. It was feet numbingly cold, rainy, and just yuck.

We proceeded from there to Bendigo Pottery. On my last last trip to Bendigo, I bought a three peice canister set that actually matches my kitchen (no mean feat), which is brown and dark green. Bendigo pottery has a collection in just these colors, but being on the expensive side, I'm buying a few peices at a time, when ever I chance to visit the fair city. So this trip, I bought a sugar and creamer set, as well as what I'm sure is intended to be a jam pot, but I will use it to hold my Equal packets.

We also bought gifts here for Chris' parents, two spillproof mugs which we hope will be handy for them to use on their boat.

From there, we went, of course, to Bendigo Woolen Mills. Chris had his trusty boat magazines, so he stayed in the car and settled in for a long read. (Later, I found out he also called everyone in his phone book). I was inside in a flash, and went, as usual, straight to the "bargain room". I often wonder if the people who live in Bendigo realize what a jewel they have in their midst. BWM's products are really quite top of the line stuff, and even their full price is super cheap by any standards. Ok, I suppose the colors are a bit limiting, and were I to live there, I might get a bit bored with them, but for a once a year holiday, BWM is pure magic.

So, from the bargain room, I got two balls of sock yarn. To try out, really. It's not made at BWM, so I'm iffy as to it's quality, but at $3 a ball, I had to give it a shot. It's called "Miami", made in Italy, and I like the pastel shades. I don't have anything currently like it, but I doubt it will wind up being made into socks for me. Still, a bargain is a bargain.

I also got a great deal on some BWM Rustic in "natural fleck" shade. It's an 8 ply, and I bought enough for a plus sized cardigan or jumper, although in the end, I'm not sure I will use this to make something for myself. I have some Cleckheaton that's very similar, which I was going to use with a Cleckheaton pattern I love dearly, and I'm definately going to make that now in preparation for next years Bendigo Rav Brekky (assuming there is one)....but I'll get to that later. At any rate, the Rustic is quite gorgeous, and I got it cheap because I got it rather peicemeal, in different size balls, probably remnants.

Last but not least, I bought 2 200g balls of BWM Aran. The shade is "Allspice" and it's a pretty dark mauve shade. It's plenty to make a jumper or something nice for one of my grandchildren. The color is pretty much gender neutral, but still, I'm thinking of Kaitlyn when I see it, so that is likely who will be the recipient. I have no pattern in mind yet, but with Ravelry, the perfect pattern is a few mouse clicks away.

I also learned something interesting. The 8 ply cotton at BWM is also "Americanly" known as "light worsted weight". Which means that it will work (most likely) with a pattern from "Knitting the New Classics" called Labyrinth that I have been wanting to make. There was no 8 ply cotton in a shade I would consider using for the project available in the bargain room, and as this project way way way back on the back burner, I didn't buy any cotton on this trip. Still, I can always order it. The point is, now I KNOW that BWM 8ply cotton is the substitute yarn I'm looking for.

I finally drug myself away from the Woolen Mills, and we headed back to the cabin. It was late afternoon by now, and we had bought some sandwich meat for a light dinner, as we had had a large buffet style Chinese lunch.

Now, perhaps, dear reader, you have forgotten about the "Socks Ahoy" project that I had cast on with the intention of working on in Bendigo, but I had not. I had made it through the toe increases, but had yet to do the math required to resize the "Widdershins" pattern for my fat footsies. Now, the time had came. So I parked DH in front of the TV, warned him of the dire consequences associated with disturbing me for the next few minutes (hours?) and closeted myself in the bedroom to work out my delimma. I finally wound up with the right numbers..or at least the right numbers to get me to the heel turn...and joined him, socks in hand, to watch primetime while knitting happily away at the socks. What I had done, essentially, was add another cable repeat to the sock (each side, although until after the heel, the cables are naturally only on the top instep part of the sock). By Friday, they looked something like this:

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Thursday was reserved for touring the area, so we visited the goldmining towns around Bendigo. We drove from town to town and took little walks thru town when we felt the urge, although the weather continued to be disagreeable, rainy and cold. All in all though, not a terribly stressful day. Chris drove and I, of course, rode along and knit on my socks, looking at the interesting sites.

That night, I picked up the fingerless mitts, which were begging to be finished..and indeed, needed to be finished by Saturday morning. Unlike the mathmatics marathon of the night before, I wasn't locked in the bedroom for very long. The "sewn bind off" that I had never done and was a bit worried about was easy peasy, and the thumb part was a breeze. At that stage, all it took was tucking in a few loose ends, and in no time flat, I had the "Go Go Bendigo Mitts" complete and ready to be worn to the Rav brekky Saturday morning.

So of course, I went back to working on the socks for the rest of the evening, and planning, daydreaming, and otherwise thinking of the day that lay ahead at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show.

Friday proved to be not much better weather-wise than the preceeding days, but really, I just didn't care all that much. We headed off for the show grounds, and arrived at around 10 AM, in time to get a decent park. We payed our dues and went in, and although I tried to be interested in other things and see the overall big picture of the thing, I was drawn to the two large buildings full of woolie delights.

The stands were awesome. I wish I could mention them all, but I would invariably forget someone or something. Some didn't interest me overmuch, not because they didn't have great stuff. I'm sure they did. It just wasn't stuff I was particularly interested in on the day. The following pictures are just a few of the stands, and people in the crowd, and such as that.



(Natural Childhood)


During all this gawking and occasional purchasing, Jane from Kimba, proprietor of Mosely Park and I played a bit of phone tag and caught up. It was quite nice to meet her in the flesh after a number of messages passed on Ravelry. Our meeting was a bit brief, as she had others coming that she needed to meet, and as she raises sheep, she had business in the sheep pens and such to keep her busy, but I don't doubt we'll meet up again at other wooly events.

Chris had left me to basically wander on my own for the most part, but we did have to eat, and while eating my empanada I watched a bit of the sheep dog competition, which was fun.

I wanted to see the shearing as well...but somehow never got around to it. Shame on me. But I did catch a bit of the fashion show:

So what all did I purchase, you ask. Well, here's a rundown, quick as I can, as this post has taken me the best part of a day already...

My prize, two skeins of Lara Downs pure Cashmere.

Prize number two, two skeins of Handspun Angora Bunny plied with cashmere from Ixchel. I will definately be looking this gal up on the net as soon as I have more money. She had such a neat variety of beutiful yarns, and all sorts of combinations of fleeces.

Some bright fun, some 8ply merino from Fibreworks.

From Stranded in Oz, two skeins of Banana Palm Silk and a lovely decorative spindle. Such wonderful service as well. I'll definately be looking this gal up on the net.

From Natural Childhood, 2 skeins of plant dyed, rust colored, handspun merino.

From the Colinette stand, Jitterbug sock yarn, easy care merino, and two pair (one metal, one bamboo) of KnitPicks needles.

My apologies, but I'm not sure of the dealer I bought this from, an oriface hook, because I was told by some spinning friends that I might need one if I'm ever going to enjoy spinning. (It also has a built in WPI guage)

Four books. The Yarn Harlot one I bought from Artisan books. The other three I got from my friends at Colonial Lake Books. One is another knitting humor book, one on natural dyeing, and the other is rather a spinning primer. Since my spinning is going nowhere, I reckon it's time to get back to basics and try again.

So that is my haul, such as it is, from the show.

That night we went out to eat at the Mexican restaurant downtown, which was excellent AND authentic. And of course, I continued my sock knitting.

Saturday was the day of the Ravelry Brekky. It was cold, but not as bad as I had anticipated, and it stayed clear for the most part. Now, I won't mention anyone specifically, as I don't want to leave anyone out unintentionally and hurt any feelings, but of course, there were a few whom I particularly enjoyed meeting, and there are a few that I know were there but never did get a chance to talk to, which is a bit disappoiting.

I'm not good at public gatherings. I won't say I'm shy, because that's not true, but more or less I'm "socially awkward". So I don't "meet and greet" easily. But it was a fun gathering, and well organised. There was a contest for those wearing things made from ACS products, but unfortunately, everything I had on was from Bendigo Woolen Mills, with the exception of my socks, which were made from Sullivan sock yarn. Bummer. I thought I was keeping to a "Bendigo" theme, lol, but I'll know better next year!

Then there was Ravelry prizes, and other yarn prizes and of course, I didn't win. I'm not the luckiest, or the most talented, in this department, but I enjoyed watching others win their goodies. Here's a few pictures:

Knitters trickling in.

The group and venue.

Vintagegirl shows her stuff.

Damo judging the ACS contest.

Feisty Wench giving away the coveted Rav T-shirts.

After the brekky, I wound up going back to the show. Chris opted out of this trip, preferring to go back to the cabin for some R&R. I didn't stay long this time. I mainly just wanted to get a few things I wished I had gotten the day before and try and run into Jane again. I did run into a few of the Rav brekky bunch again, had nice chats, and did the rest of my shopping.

Sunday we packed the poor Getz, this time a bit more carefully. It wasn't as bad as I had feared however. While I spent a good deal of cash, it wasn't terribly bulky, and we managed to sqeeze everything in and still be able to see thru the rear veiw mirror.

The trip home was relatively uneventful, except for one small snag. I managed to get to the heel turn of my socks, but then I was faced with a heel that I had never done before, and I'm absolutely unable to make the math match up, so they lay, even now, looking exactly like this:

But I'm relatively sure that someone on Ravelry will have the answer :) What a great bunch of folks that is. And what a great time I've had this week.

It's a shame it's over, and now, faced with laundry, cleaning and eventually, work tonight, I must say goodbye. Anyone stout of heart enough to read all of this is to be commended! But imagine me writing it all. I'll most likely come back in a day or two, add some links and edit my errors, but in the meantime, what you see is what you get.

Now, you know what I did all day Monday as well!


Rosie said...


You did have a very full time away. It looks like you had a ball!

Anonymous said...

What a great article! Made me feel like I was on the trip with you (almost)! The photos are really good, however there seems to be just 1 thing missing!! Did I actually miss something???, or are there actually NO photos of You or Chris????
I am so glad you finally got to meet all your 'online knitting buddies.' That had to be a blast!
So glad you had such a wonderful, well deserved trip! Welcome back!
Love, MOM

Sharon B in SA said...

I read with happiness and enthusiasm- you did a super job recounting the adventure for us- what a great read.
Thank you for taking the better part of your day to make it happen. :)

Enjoy your goodies!

Anonymous said...

This article was extremely interesting.