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We’re off to France today!  Greg is invited to speak at Utopiales, a conference on all things science-fictional, held in Nantes.  And as long as we’ve gone that far, we’re going to Paris for three days afterwards. So it’s croissant for breakfast, sightseeing till we drop, seeing old friends and making new ones. 

I mentioned this to Marie at my LYS, and she offered some good ideas for Paris, having lived there.  Free concerts at Notre Dame on Sunday afternoons, for example.  Sounds like a plan!

My travel knitting is a simple lace scarf, using some Jaggerspun 2/8 wool and the Crest of the Wave pattern from one of the Barbara Walker books,  Simple enough to memorize and pretty enough to hold interest. I’m using Knit Picks Harmony needles and prepared to sacrifice them at Charles DeGaulle airport on the way home, as the rumor is that they are tres picky about knitting needles on airplanes, even wooden ones. But not to worry, the knitting will be safely lifelined just in case.

I’m glad to see that the skein of Colleen’s Green that was offered for direct sale is now sold, and bidding has started on the auction items. Do check it out!

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.  In August I wrote about knitting a square to go into a recover-from-surgery-blanket for another independent yarn dyer that I knew slightly from Ravelry, Colleen of Spiffy Knits.  She was supposed to wrap herself in this lovingly made blanket and grow back the 60% of her liver that was removed in cancer surgery and go on to have a long, full life. But the cancer was relentless, and she died October 17.  She left behind her husband and two young children, aged 2 and 5, as well as extended family and loved ones around the world, plus the community of dyers and fiber folk who only knew her online, like me.

And all we can do is remember her, and do the things we do with fiber in a way that will help a tiny bit.  The online sales co-op she was a member of,  Tiny Lady Cooperative,  is organizing a fundraising sale and auction, and the dyers and spinners and knitter have donated lovely items.  I’ve dyed three skeins of sock yarn, and am calling it  Colleen’s Green, because that was her favorite color.

Colleen's Green

As I write, it isn’t posted yet, so I don’t know if it will be in the  Donations and Doorprizes  section or the Yarns and Fiber section. The sale and auction will run from October 28 though November 4, and I hope you are able to participate.  (Update: Look here for my yarn, and many other beautiful items.)

All money raised will go into a college fund for Colleen’s children, Anneke and Fritz.  Such little people to have such a loss! It isn’t fair, but together we can help a tiny bit.

We haven’t done a real road trip in a long time, even a mini one, so when Greg was offered a speaking engagement at Lower Columbia College, in Longview, WA, it seemed like a good excuse to pack up the car and go for a drive.  We live north of Seattle, and I thought that Longview was near the Oregon border, so we figured maybe a five hour drive, allowing time for traffic.  He needed to be there by 1pm, and we left at oh-dark hundred, heading south at 7am.  Traffic was a breeze, and we found ourselves looking for a solid breakfast about 9:30 in the Lacey area.

Shipwreck Cafe

Shipwreck Cafe

A good solid plate of hashbrowns ‘n’ chili omelet later, we were back on the road, and I was wondering if Shipwreck Cafe had any relation to something else I’d heard of in that area that was named Shipwreck . . . but more on that later.

The day was splendid, sunny with patches of drifting mist parting to reveal glorious fall color. It’s not like back East here, and some years just go straight from green to brown, but this year the leaf color is quite splendid.

Splendid!

We arrived in Longview rather early (not as close to the border as I thought), and had time to drive around town a bit and also get a tiny nap (those early morning wake-ups!) before meeting with the staff of the Language and Literature department. Turns out it was a department member’s birthday, so we got to share in the cake, a dense concoction of peanut butter and chocolate, specially made gluten-free for the honoree.

Deborah Wohrmann gave us a cup of tea and took care of the paperwork before turning Greg over to Klint Hull, who was having Greg speak to his class. There was a small session with the Science Fiction Literature class, and then we moved to a larger venue to continue the talk with other classes joining the group. After that, Klint interviewed Greg for a local cable tv show, then we went for an early dinner, with Deborah and Klint, and were joined by poet and faculty member Joe Green and also Kyle Hammon, Dean of Instruction — who turns out to be a spinner and knitter! We discussed wheels, Cormo vs. Corriedale cross, the properties of silk, etc., to the befuddlement of everyone else.  A lovely dinner, then off to the public library where Greg gave another talk. If you are ever invited to speak at Lower Columbia College, they are marvelous people who will treat you exceedingly well, but they will work you!

I was too addled to take pictures of the college and events, but Longview is a charming town, worth stopping by if you need a break on the way from Seattle to Portland. The next day, we breakfasted at Stuffy’s

Case of baked goods

Case of baked goods

where we did not have the cinnamon rolls that were bigger than a human head.  The waffle with bacon inside was splendid, though.

Another beautiful day as we headed home, and the handy navigator led us to the often heard-of but never seen by me mecca for shiny things with holes:  Shipwreck Beads.

 

Shipwreck Beads

Shipwreck Beads

It says it is the world’s  largest selection of beads, and I can believe it.  They even spill out onto the sidewalk.

Beaded sidewalk

Beaded sidewalk

Inside, it seems to go on forever.

Got beads?

Got beads?

It’s rather overwhelming.

Got beads!

Got beads!

The last time I was at a really huge bead store, it was Berger’sin Los Angeles, and I found that it was about $1 per minute to be there.  It turns out my personal rate of spending has stayed about the same, and we were only there for about $20  . . .err . . . minutes, leaving with supplies for a stealth project, so I’m not showing off at this time.

So many beads, so little time
So many beads, so little time

But if you are driving on I-5 in the Lacey area and just happen to be a little low on beads, you now know what to do.

The Baby Surprise Jacket is done, and is quite as charming as I hoped it would be. It is called Surprise, because it looks nothing like a sweater as it is being knitted, and even when it’s done it looks rather mysterious.

Mysterious knitting

Mysterious knitting

Some have said that it looks like a manta ray at this point.  But make the first fold

Less mysterious

Less mysterious

and it begins to resemble something wearable; make the second fold

It's a sweater!

It

and you can see that it is, indeed, a sweater.  The knitting started with the dark purple, and notice how that stripe has become the cuffs of the sweater and also a bold stripe across the top of the back.
Back at you

Back at you

I love the bold graphic look of how the stripes fall with this pattern. I had some nice slightly irridescent buttons in my stash, so I sewed them on firmly, blocked it, and it’s done.  I don’t have Toddler Mary around to model it at the moment,

Slightly big

Slightly big

 but was able to press someone into service — it bearly fits, but you get the idea. The colors are loosely  inspired by a painting that Mary’s dad, who is also my cousin-in-law, artist Jeffrey Simmons, did, which graces our living room — although the color balance is a bit off here:

Agoard, 1996

Agoard, 1996

from his Rotary series.

I’ve started working on a new product line for the business: Mixed fiber batts for spinning.  These are fluffy bundles of wool and silk, ready to be spun into yarn.

Golden Campfire batt

Golden Campfire batt

For those who don’t spin, batts are made by taking fiber and running it through a drum carder, which makes the fibers parallel and airy.  By putting mixed fibers on in layers, you can get these fabulous blends which will spin into equally fabulous yarn.  I like these lighly carded mixed fiber batts, which will make yarn that varies from inch to inch, both in fiber mix and color.  In the one above, the yellow and orange is merino wool, and the white is Tussah silk.
This and more, now up in my online store!