Have I mentioned that I travel a lot? Well, I do. I mostly love it: I have friends all over the place, so out-of-town conferences and symposia are a great opportunity to visit with them. Seeing places where I COULD be living often makes me more appreciative of the qualities of the place where I DO live. And after all, if you don't travel, you have to keep visiting the same old yarn shops over and over and over again...where you can't use the "souvenir yarn" exception if you're on a de-stash diet.
Airports and planes are great spaces for knitting, too. There are the long hours of seated waiting to fill, and I like the poetic symmetry of knitting while traveling--the yarn goes in yard by yard as the journey goes by mile by mile. I have yet to encounter airport-security static over my needles or the contents of my notions bag, which I guess makes me pretty lucky, because I actually use my knitting as a defensive weapon on plane trips. That is, it's a very ready excuse for not engaging with a chatty seatmate--"Ooh, what are you making there?" "Sorry, can't talk...counting..."
My latest trip was a real jackpot from a knitting-on-the-road standpoint: Two domestic connections followed by a transatlantic flight, then a bus ride to the train station, THEN a train ride to the lovely riverside city of Cork, Ireland--which is home to a button factory. Observe!
Ooooooooohhhh yeah. That's the stuff. I splurged, needless to say, on a few additions to my collection. Buttons are great souvenirs--no matter how many you buy you can always find room for them in your luggage. Like loose gemstones, but cheaper, and less likely to get you rapped at by an indignant Kanye West! (If you stick to the vegetable ivory, that is. If there's such a thing as "conflict buttons," I don't want to know about it. La la la la la, I can't hear you...)
The conference kept me pretty busy, but I got to prowl around the town of Cork a bit and really liked what I saw. Aside from the button factory, there's also the Butter Museum and the view from my hotel room, which was of a decommissioned cemetery, with a beautiful line of tombstones canted up against the hedge.
But I think this was the sight that really made me want to live there:
Now, if the Button Factory and the Butter Museun were all INSIDE the heliotrope-painted Library House, I would know I had arrived in a heaven designed especially for me...
From Cork I detoured back home (more train, more bus, more airport, more driving, more knitting throughout all of the former) via the small Virginia town of Culpeper. This is where the Library of Congress has their National Audiovisual Conservation Center facility, and also where the fiber-friendly out-of-towner can pay a visit to Dog House Yarns & More, a great little shop that opened earlier this year. I had the pleasure of meeting the proprietor, Rosanne, and her husband Fritz, along with a couple of their weeknight sit-and-knit regulars, all of whom made me feel right at home after two Saturdays in a row away from my regular knitting group. Local hand-dye studio Blue Ridge Yarns is well-represented in their stock, and I couldn't resist a bundle of their Footprints sock yarn. 100 yds of semi-solid for heels and toes is paired with 300 yds of gorgeously coordinated handpainted color. I got a new colorway called Redbud, which combines beautiful maroons, rusts, and browns with a loden green for the accent color. It'll make lovely autumn socks for someone...maybe me!
Thankfully, the end of this long trip (just about) coincided with the end of our blazing-hot summer in Austin. A few days after I got back, the temperatures had dropped down to the high 80s during the day, and the nights and early mornings have started to get that fall crispness. It's making it much easier to keep cranking away on my latest project: a dress made with the new woolly Shelter yarn recently launched by Jared Flood, of Brooklyn Tweed fame. More on that next time!