(Not Even) Three Days in Geeksboro

How to make a mini-vacation in a place where you wouldn’t think such a thing is possible:

1. Take the time to go to a nice restaurant in the area. Fast food is fine when you’re on the road, but restaurants can make memories. Absent that, make a memory by just showing proof that you were there.

Family Selfie: Trish, Steven and John

Family Selfie: Trish, Steven and John

Here we are at The Chop House in High Point, NC. Steven likes steak, so why not? It was delicious, by the way, and fancy! They even put a purple flower on my plate:

Steak and mushrooms with purple flower

Steak and mushrooms with purple flower

(How did they manage to make my dinner match my hair?)

2. If the hotel has a pool, stop by, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s always more fun when you say you went swimming.

Steven swims while Trish knits

Steven swims while Trish knits

Did I mention? Always bring your knitting. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in hundreds of miles.

3. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast watching cartoons, if for no other reason than to block out the horrid news of that particular day:

Steven eats breakfast while watching cartoons tableside

Steven eats breakfast while watching cartoons tableside

4. Find your kindred spirits, go where they are, and embrace them. We can’t hide the fact that we’re nerds. We argue amongst ourselves that there are varying degrees of nerdiness, and that some in our family can raise the Geek Flag way higher than some others. But, we can’t escape it. It’s who we are, and we’re proud. So imagine finding out that Greensboro is actually quite the center for Geek Culture. We found a fun coffee house where “our people” hang:

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Find your people:

Steven plays video gamesSteven plays video games

Steven plays video games

John shares stories with a coffeehouse patron

John shares stories with a coffeehouse patron

Partake of the cultural foods:

Caramel Bacon Cupcake

Caramel Bacon Cupcake

Can someone explain to me the geek culture/bacon connection? I don’t quite get it. But, when we got to the coffee house, and saw they had caramel bacon cupcakes in the dessert case, we had to try one! Or, at least I did. It was surprisingly yummy… it was an apple spice cake with salted caramel frosting and bacon on top. Not that I would eat this every day, but when in the land of geeks…

Wishing we could have been there for game night:

Wall of board games

Wall of board games

And don’t forget to take a family photo with the TARDIS on the way out!

Trish, John, and Steven with the TARDIS

Trish, John, and Steven with the TARDIS

5. Keep your eyes open, because when you’re headed to one specific place, you never know what else you’ll find along the way. In our case, there was an amazing comic book store right next to the coffee house, Acme Comics:

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

The boys are finding things they like in the comic book store

The boys are finding things they like in the comic book store

Group of campers visits the comic book store

Group of campers visits the comic book store

While we were in the comic book store, some kids from a local comic book day camp stopped in. They were able to browse and ask questions. One kid asked what was the biggest difference between comics of today, and vintage comics. The owner replied that today, comics are mostly produced by one person or a small group, using a computer, and that in the “olden days” it was a multi-step process involving lots of people working by hand. There was a book in the store that explained this process.

John and Steven found a comic book

John and Steven found a comic book

John and Steven found a comic book that they couldn’t pass up, which was a mashup of Doctor Who and Star Trek, the Next Generation. I’ve always heard that you’re not supposed to mess with the space-time continuum this way, but what do I know?

6. If you’re a knitter, follow the smell of yarn fumes. It will lead to magical places:

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

In Downtown Greensboro there is a thriving artist district, full of galleries and quaint shops and restaurants. This is where one would find Gate City Yarns, which contains a wide variety of yarns and spinning fibers. It is a lovely, comfortable shop with helpful staff and comfy couches, a spacious classroom in back (I peeked) and an atmosphere that just makes you want to hang out a while. I visited the shop on our trip to Greensboro last year, and it was well worth the return trip. Of course, if you’re not a knitter or crocheter or spinner, then waiting around while your loved one shops isn’t really a hardship there:

This is how John and Steven shop for yarn.

This is how John and Steven shop for yarn.

7. Find a restaurant with character to have lunch, instead of eating fast food, and enjoy it.

The nice lady at the yarn store recommended a tavern called Liberty Oak for lunch, and it was yummy! It was a nice place that offered outdoor seating. It was a nice day and not too hot, so why not? Here we are:

Trish, Steven and John

Trish, Steven and John

Trish and John

Trish and John

I have to say I had one of the best sandwiches I’d ever eaten:

Sandwich and fruit

Sandwich and fruit

The sandwich consisted of smoked turkey, Granny Smith apples, sprouts, and bleu cheese/walnut spread on toasted raisin bread. And a lovely assortment of fresh fruit. My mouth is still watering; it was delicious!

8. Don’t forget the real reason you headed to a place like Greensboro to start with. For us, it was that our daughter was participating in the UNC Greensboro Summer Music Camp, and there was a recital on the last day, that we did not want to miss. Diana was first chair flute this year, and had the honor of performing two solos, one on flute, and the other on piccolo. Here is one piece in which Diana had a solo. It’s called “Song for Lyndsay.” As you’re looking at the stage, Diana is to the right of the conductor with the bun in her hair:

Here are some other images from that wonderful event:


As an aside, if you have a kid who participates in instrumental music, vocal music, or piano, we cannot recommend UNC Greensboro’s Summer Music Camp highly enough. The experience is superb, the music is fantastic, and your kid will come away with an experience to remember forever. We are so proud that Diana was able to participate for two years.

9. When in the South, you must eat at Cracker Barrel. The Old Country Store is full of entertaining things:


As you can see, we crammed a LOT into our little trip to Greensboro. Maybe someday soon, we’ll go back and actually set a spell, as my grandfather would have said. Maybe we’ll even stay awhile. We kinda fit right in. :)

Festival Booty

Here is my yarn haul from this year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! I didn’t go in wanting anything in particular, but in the end it seems color and gradient yarns won the day. My photos aren’t the best this go-round, but hopefully good enough to get the idea. I was afraid to take the yarns out of the packaging for fear that they’d never get back in!

First up is this little set of skeins from Miss Babs:

mini skeins of yarn in greens, blues and purples

Miss Babs Polydactyl set

This is a Polydactyl Set to use for the Pterodactyl Polydactyl Scarf, but they told me it’s also enough yarn to make an Albers Cowl, which I have been drooling over for quite some time.

Next up is my gradient kit from Unique Sheep:

Unique Sheep gradient yarn set in greens, blues, purples and pinks

Unique Sheep gradient yarn set in greens, blues, purples and pinks

Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the vendor who was selling these but I have been drooling over these yarn sets for a very long time. You can probably see why in the photo; the colors are simply astounding! No, I don’t have any idea what this one will be yet. I’m waiting for the Yarn Gods to speak.

Last, but certainly not least, is my gradient yarn from Fiber Optic:

Fiber Optic gradient yarn from deep blue to purples to oranges

Fiber Optic gradient yarn from deep blue to purples to oranges

I can definitely say that I have also been eyeing the Paintbox Gradients from this company for quite some time, and to see the yarn in person is nothing short of amazing. The photo here doesn’t do it justice at all with how rich the colors are. I will have to re-shoot when I take it out of the box and start working with it. This one, I definitely have a plan for. I am going to make this shawl, which was hanging over my head as I was eyeing the yarns. I’m pretty sure it was sending me subliminal messages, daring me to make one:

Evenstar Shawl in Fiber Optic Gradient yarn

Evenstar Shawl in Fiber Optic Gradient yarn

This is the Evenstar Shawl pattern by Susan Pandorf. I’m not a Lord of the Rings fan but she says it is inspired by that. I guess that means that if I ever get this one done, I could equally wear it to knitting events and nerd conventions! Haha. (The last one I attended a couple of weeks ago was crawling with Jayne Hats. I’ve got one of those on the needles, too.) So, I don’t know what I was thinking because this shawl is HUGE and will probably mock me for the rest of my days. But the yarn is so pretty I could not resist.

The lady in the Fiber Optic booth was very helpful to both my friend Nancy and me, in choosing yarn and reaching things and running crowd interference. We both really appreciated that! She also told both of us about a technique called “The Magic Knot” for joining yarns together, and told us to look it up on YouTube, which, of course, I immediately did:

I have never used this join, but it certainly looks very easy, and I’m going to try it! What say you, knitters? Does this join really work, and does it hold up over time? I’m guessing I would otherwise do a Russian join but the Magic Knot seems so much less fussy!

Sigh… at the rate I’m going with my current project, I may never get to find out, one way or the other. It’ll be a while yet before I can move on to anything new. That’s ok, for now my new yarns can be my pets, and I will show them off at knit group and dream about what someday they will become. In the meantime, I’ve still got lots of other knitting to do, and a deadline fast approaching!

Goodnight for now; once again, I’ve managed to go past the Pumpkin Hour. Tomorrow is a long day, with a full day of work, long meetings, and then tomorrow night Boyzilla is performing in his school’s Spring Musical. He’s in High School Musical, Jr. as “Skater Dude #2,” or something like that, which means he’s in the chorus. I can’t wait to see this! Look for pics of that in this space, soon!

Lots to Update

Wow. So it’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged. Not much going on really, except that it’s summer, and that means there are kid activities and family events to attend and even a quick weekend away, though I would not exactly call it a vacation. More on that part later. But suffice it to say, that even if my blog has been neglected in recent weeks, my knitting has not.

I made a pact with myself earlier this summer to be sure to knit something, even if it is just a few stitches, every day. Most knitters out there are probably laughing at me for this, because I am sure most of you do knit every day, or at least more than I do, judging from the number of FO’s I’m always seeing on Ravelry. But for me, for whatever reason, I love to knit, but often go days at a time without doing it. And then I’m mad at myself for not making progress on my projects. And the truth is, I feel better when I knit, so why not make a bigger effort to do it?

I haven’t quite managed to knit every, every day, but I’m getting closer. I’ve even got several projects going that are all seeing some progress, including an alpaca tube scarf, dishcloths, and yes, my own Color Affection shawl. The shawl is what I want to give a peek of today, because I have finally started the short-row section, and thus have added the third color to the mix:

Color Affection Progress

Color Affection Progress

Sadly, the longer I work on this, the less I am liking the color combination. Which is silly, considering that I am all about purple and green in combination, in so many of my yarn choices right now. And I’m sure it will be great when it’s done and it’ll look like “me”–whatever that is. So I’m keeping at it. In fact, I made a lot of progress on it so far this weekend, because of a weekend road trip that had me in the car for many hours. Hence, my next topic.

Yarn Tourism

Last week my daughter attended Music Camp at University of North Carolina Greensboro. On Friday, which was the last day of camp, each group gave a concert, and I did not want to miss it. So, my in-laws took her down there, and went to visit their daughter in Cary for a few days, and then met my husband, son and me back in Greensboro at the end of the week. It meant driving seven hours on Thursday, attending dinner and the concert on Friday, and seven hours in the car again today.

So, faced with a few hours to kill in the late morning/early afternoon, which was too long to do nothing, but not long enough to do anything major, I whipped out my iPad because I remember someone on a podcast I used to listen to mentioning that there was at least one nice yarn shop in Greensboro. The first one to come up in my search was Gate City Yarns, so I called to make sure they were wheelchair friendly (they are! yay!) and off I went with my patient husband. I was not disappointed. The shop is situated on a bustling main street of the likes that I did not expect to find in Greensboro. It would seem that there is quite the artist community there. with galleries and fun cafes and shops all up and down the row. The shop itself is roomy and inviting, with a big antique bathtub full of yarn inside. The place sort of gave me the modern, industrial feel, but with an air of coziness. (The comfy sofa with afghans draped all over it added to that feeling.)

I’m the kind of person who buys yarn by sight and feel. That is, if it looks pretty, I’m attracted to it, and if it feels nice, even better. Plus there was the whole “souvenir factor” of buying yarn in a new shop in a strange city. So, I got these:

Rainbow silk and lavender and green sock yarn

Rainbow silk and lavender and green sock yarn

The one in front is Schaefer Yarn “Andrea” in the colorway “Hermione.” (I have always been attracted to rainbows, and this is, indeed, the softest rainbow I have ever encountered.) It is a silk lace weight, about 1090 yards… which sounds like a lot but can be used up quickly. So, as usual I have no idea what to make with it that will bring out the colors in just the right way. I’m open to suggestions… I’d love it if I could get the colors to pool in such a way to achieve a tie-dye look, rather than a mottled, varigated look, but I don’t want to have to think too much.

The other yarn is Frolicking Feet by Done Roving Yarn, in the lavender and sage colorway. (Green and purple? Yeah, I told you I’m obsessed.) I did just sign up for a sock class on Craftsy , so maybe this will be used for that.

Oh, and I even had a knitting related birthday gift! Well, to be fair my husband and I are past the point of surprising each other with gifts so I sent him a link about a month ago and said, “Click here, honey, in case you mgiht like to know what I want for my birthday this year:

Addi Turbo Clicks

Addi Turbo Clicks

Yep, I am now the proud owner of a set of Addi Turbo Click interchangeable needles. I bought one pair in advance to make sure I can operate them, and after fumbling a bit, I did figure it out. So, I asked for the set, and my husband was sweet enough to get them. Kinda makes turning 48 not so bad. Sometimes.

Well, this blog post has been a long one! Hopefully I will start posting again so I won’t have to catch up so much all at once. If you made it this far, thanks for reading! And do let me know your ideas for that rainbow yarn. I don’t want to let it linger in the stash, but I do want to do something that will do it justice.

Homespun Yarn Party, 2012

Today was the annual Homespun Yarn Party, in Savage, MD. I’d never been to this event before, but this year, my friend Lynne from Knit Group decided that I had to attend, and offered to drive my van there. It was a little like the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, but in miniature, and it focused on small, local vendors with unique yarns and products. I went there not knowing what to expect, and I loved it!

Of course, I couldn’t have attended an event like that without having some yarn follow me home. I tried to focus only on yarns I had never seen or heard of before, and colors that pleased me, but WITHOUT focusing on purple for once, because that would have made things too easy. And I think I succeeded. Without further ado, here are my purchases:

This yarn is from Feederbook Farm. I like it because it has little bits that look like flowers in it. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but I love this.

Feederbrook Farm Yarn

Feederbrook Farm Yarn

This one is Biggie, by Dancing Leaf Farm. It’s mostly blues and greens, and it reminds me of looking up at a blue, blue sky at billowy clouds while lying on cushy green grass. I was also lucky enough to find a matching felted button in the button bin. I’m sure it was no accident that it was there, but I felt lucky to find it! I’m seeing myself in some kind of wrap with this:

Dancing Leaf Farms Biggie Yarn

Dancing Leaf Farms Biggie Yarn

This yarn is Chunky Bump by Mid Valley Fibers. I had never heard of this vendor before, and I just read their story when creating the link in this paragraph. You should check it out. I’m going to do something fun with this! (I also got a button pin kit, which I know will one day adorn one of my hats!)

Mid Valley Fibers Chunky Bump

Mid Valley Fibers Chunky Bump

This last one is Taffy, by Folktale Yarn. The vendor told me that the yarn in this one came from one of her own goats. And, looking at the tag on the yarn, there are all sorts of yummy bits mixed in, including sparkly sari silk threads. I just love it!!

Taffy, by Folktale Yarn

Taffy, by Folktale Yarn

I doubt I could have found such interesting and rich things at any other event. Plus, the best part? It was like being around old friends all day. It was crowded, but filled with local artisans and local spinners and knitters, so I was among friends. I saw lots of people in my knitting world who I know mostly online, but only see at these events, and friends that I see all the time at my own knit group. It was SO fun, and I’m glad I went.

Thanks, Lynne! It was great. Love you.