Saturday, October 31, 2009

Things I didn't have time to post when I was in NC, Part The Last

There was much that we didn't see at Biltmore- inexplicably, the estate has no shuttle to The Winery, which is 5 miles from the house, or to Deerpark, or to the farms. I understand that each has much to admire, but all of them were too far for us to hike. There were horse-drawn carriage garden tours available, but not enough time to indulge. Even in late October, there were still many blooms (and in the spring, with the rhododendrons, azaleas and other plants blooming, it must be thoroughly stunning). We were too pooped to walk 2 miles to the Bass Pond, which also looked to be gorgeous.

But we did wander down

past this gnarly tree

through the wisteria

the seeds of which, my sister Terri thought looked like Bat Eggs

down among the mums

which were totally gorgeous

to the glass-roofed conservatory. (those are 8' tall doors, btw)
I've posted pictures of a few of the hundreds of orchids already but we also saw

cactii in bloom

palm trees

koi ponds

and tangerine trees.
Outside, we got this view of

Biltmore House

and beautiful maples

and trees trained to grow on a stone wall.

I want to go back.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Field Report and FOs

I know I said I'd post more Biltmore pictures but today is Field Report day, and luckily, I got a pic of the soybean harvest. We've had almost 5" of rain this month, so things are very wet and mucky (from the air, every field I saw was flooded around the edges) but Dustin managed to get his beans in anyway. The elevators are full already, and things are going to be dicey when the local corn harvest begins.

It's also FO day

 I finished my sample hat from the All Day Fair Isle Class. I have learned that it is very good indeed, to have several samples on the tables during class, so this one will stay with the class supplies.

And Catherine, who actually finished knitting her hat in class, got the hem sewn up. I love the short-repeat variegated yarn in this pattern.

And Connie almost finished knitting her hat in class- she was slowed down by the fact that she had thumb-joint replacement surgery less than a month ago. If that's slow knitting, I can only imagine what she's like when she works full speed. Her hat is gorgeous too!

I finished Voracious Knitter's socks! I'll put them in the mail as soon as they dry.

And the worsted weight sample socks from the Short-Row Heel class. I'm keeping these for myself. BTW, the yarn is softly mottled and the color changes gradually thorough the skein (from very light beige to darker beige- sort of Ragg Wool colors), it's not bad lighting on my scanner.

These are mine, and my sister's Spiral Dyed Watermelon yarns from that class (I'm knitting fingerless gloves for Sister #3 from her skein). I will knit socks for myself from my skein- I have dyed this colorway many times, but have never kept any of the yarn. This time, I will.

This yarn came from Winter Mountain Fibers. Louann took both of my dyeing classes, and then sent these yarns home with us (theTennessee Iris purple is also for Sister #3, who wasn't up to knitting socks for herself, so I'll do it. The Cherries Jubilee is mine, all mine!) Check out Louann's beautiful yarns at her Etsy shop.

And we won these stitch markers from barknknit , who was one of the many people that I wanted to spend time with at SAFF, but managed not to find. I love these little markers.

Tomorrow- more pretty Biltmore pics. I promise.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things I was too tired to write about while in NC, Part 2

Entire books have been written about Biltmore House. I doubt I can do an adequate job of describing  the 250 rooms, 33 guest bedrooms, 45 bathrooms (with indoor plumbing, in 1895), 65 fireplaces, indoor swimming pool (with original underwater lights- how in the world did they manage not to be electrocuted?), bowling alley, tapestries from the 1600's, paintings by Sargent, Renoir and others, Ming vases, gargoyles, a bazillion staircases, etchings from the 1500's, carved oak everywhere, and breathtaking beauty at every turn. We weren't allowed to take pictures (though one lady in front of us blatantly ignored that rule. My pearls were clutched) on the carefully planned tour, but we wandered through something like 50 rooms, for two solid hours. It was flat-out amazing. And if I ever get back to Asheville, I'm not just going to see the house again, I will also to take some of the specialty tours. Our one indoor picture was taken by their photographers:

But we were allowed to take all the pictures we wanted outside, so we did:

from a distance

up close

From the side

looking up


carved columns

copper downspouts

Random sculptures scattered about the house.

And then there were the trees, which accommodated us by turning just in time for our visit:

view from a back courtyard, which I think used to be the lawn tennis court

on the walk to the Conservatory.

Tomorrow: the Conservatory

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things I was too tired to write about when I was in North Carolina, Part 1

I don't even know where to start.

First of all- I'm home. I made both of my connecting flights yesterday, even though the Atlanta leg was 15 minutes late on takeoff, which made that sprint across MSP even more urgent. And a sprint it was- the tram was going the wrong direction, so I hoofed it from Gate F to Gate B and got there just before boarding, with no time for food or a bathroom stop. Lemee tellya, those are BIG airports, but at least the labeling system is good. Even a newbie can find her way from one end to another. I'd never been through Atlanta before- it's more logically laid out than MSP, and there are food kiosks at the outer gates (unlike MSP, where you have to hike back for food, or buy it on the way to your gate... if you have time). Both have lovely shops, again if you have the time to browse.

I obsessively checked the weather forecasts before leaving, and tried to pack and dress accordingly. Turns out that weather predictions for North Carolina are every bit as variable as those for South Dakota. It was supposed to be in the 40's and rainy on Thursday, so I wore a sweatshirt and my coat. It was sunny and 70 when I got there (and the trees were still fairly green, with random patches of color here and there).
Friday predicted intermittant rain showers- it poured all day. And I do mean poured, though as I mentioned in an earlier post, it was a gentle, warm downpour. Saturday was a gorgeous fall day, chilly in the morning and warm in the afternoon, without being hot. Sunday had some showers again. Monday, the day of our Biltmore visit, was supposed to be gloomy with possible rain- but instead, it was a glorious fall day- and by then there was red and gold and orange everywhere. Not peak leaf turning, but not too far from it. The difference in color between Thursday and Monday was amazing.

 It wasn't warm enough for shirt-sleeves most of the time, but sunny and pleasant and totally gorgeous. Yesterday, it was cloudy in Asheville, pouring in Atlanta, nice in Minneapolis, and in the 50's at home.

I thought I was prepared for the humidity. Despite being a long way from any ocean, South Dakota is quite humid in the summer: in the 90%s, with dewpoints in the 60's and 70's. Our humidity is heavy and sticky and oppressive, the kind where it's hard to breathe. An 85 degree day with high dewpoints can feel worse than an 105 degree day with low dewpoints. Online sources told me that Asheville would have high humidity, but low dewpoints, so I figured it would be fairly comfortable. What I didn't know was that NC humidity is wet. Not damp. Not sticky (at least not in October). Not moist. Wet. Soggy paper wet. Swimsuits and freshly dyed yarn not drying for 3 days wet. Tablecloths still wet in the morning after wiping them down the night before wet.

Hair curlier than it ever is on the Plains wet. I adjusted fairly quickly, but it was a total surprise to me (and to the ink on the workshop handouts that I left in my classroom at the McGough Arena overnight). (side note: McGough=McGoo)

I also thought I was prepared for Southern Hospitality, but I don't think there is any sort of preparation for the discovery that every single person that you meet will be kind, helpful, cheerful, polite, happy, smiling, funny, friendly, and just plain wonderful. And I do mean Every Single Person. From the moment I arrived, until the moment I left the state, I encountered nothing but the nicest people in the entire world. Fiber people are always wonderful. South Dakotans are welcoming to outsiders. Pacific Northwestern people are funny and sharp. North Carolinans are all of the above. All the time.

I knew that I wasn't prepared to teach 5 workshops in 3 days. Well, I was prepared- I worked for months preparing: getting my samples dyed/knit/organized/sent. I wrote entirely new handouts for each workshop. I mailed supplies to NC a month early just to make sure they would arrive on time. But I also remembered how tired I was at the Sock Summit, just taking classes for 3 days. I knew that teaching non-stop was going to take it all out of me. It did. (Side query: how to real teachers do it? My respect for the profession, always large, has increased a thousand fold).

My classes went very well, due totally to the great students, who allowed me to trot out the needles-through-the-head once again.
 The 2 dyeing classes were a hoot, the day I spent with the Fair Isle knitters was fantastic,

the 4 Short Row Sock Knitters were a pleasure (and some day I will stumble across the perfect way to help Short-Rowers have the Aha! Moment. Though I do think everyone got it, I'm still not where I want to be with the technique, teacher-wise),

and the roomfull of aspiring pattern writers asked great questions, and laughed where I hoped they would. But at the end of each day, I had nothing left- not even enough energy to write snappy Facebook Status Updates, much less full recaps for you.

It was an amazing experience- SAFF is extremely well run, with well over 100 vendors spread over 2 buildings (picture snapped before opening to the public- an hour later, hundreds of shoppers browsed)

 8 classrooms with workshops running constantly (and more classes and demos scattered throughout the fair). I want to thank Carolyn Blalock for inviting me, and Elizabeth Ravenwood for her friendship (not to mention the taxi service), and all of my students for making me feel like I am a good teacher.

And I especially want to thank my sisters, Jacque and Terri, for flying to NC from Washington and Idaho. Your company turned a wonderful weekend into the memory of a lifetime. #3 and #4, I love you. (I love you too, #2, wish you could have been there).

Tomorrow: Leaves and Baronial Estates

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We'll see how this goes

I'm heading for home this morning. I have a 50 minute layover in Atlanta, and a 40 minute layover in Minneapolis. Both are very big airports. Both layovers involve sprinting across those very large airports from my arrival gate to my departure gate. If all goes very very well, I may have time to go to the bathroom in Atlanta before boarding. If all goes very very well, I will actually make my flight out of MPLS. Hold good thoughts for me.

In the meantime, more pretty pictures from Biltmore house-taken in the Conservatory. Oh- yesterday's flower was a Lantern plant.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Biltmore. Wordless

I'm way too tired even to be chatty. I'll catch everyone up on the last of SAFF and the amazing Biltmore visit after I get home tomorrow. I promise. In the meantime, here are some pretty pictures from Biltmore House.