Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
“You may not have lived much under the sea—” ("I haven’t,” said Alice)—"and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster—" (Alice began to say, “I once tasted—” but checked herself hastily, and said, “No, never”) “—so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster-Quadrille is!”--Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance? (For all you Carrollingians.)

These lobsters were slaughtered on the behalf of the Maine Lobster Festival's aptly named Main Food Tent, which was seemingly the length of a football field. Those Downeasters calls 'em like they sees 'em.

It's good to be back, I suppose. All moved in the new house, rested and ready.

The Trip

It's been a very long time--four years--since I had been to New England. This trip was sorely needed.

My plan was to visit as many of the major fiber centers in New England as possible--Halcyon, Patternworks, The Fiber Studio, Harrisville and WEBS. I did it, with a big thanks to John for being so incredibly patient. At some point I realized that this tour de tricoter might make a good article, so for that reason, I will not go into excrutiating detail nor will I publish some of the pictures that will accompany said article.

However, I'll show you some of what I bought and give you some general thoughts about these five spots.

Oh yeah, we did do things other than visit fiber joints. Ate a ton of seafood, went to the White Mountains in NH, swam in a Maine lake that surpassed the tired adjective "pristine." Driving through the White Mountains National Forest, we followed this magnificent stream.

I'm more than ready to go back. If you're going to NH, take the Kangamaugus Highway from North Conway to I93. You won't regret it. It is certainly one of the most beautiful areas in the Northeast.

First stop for two days was Gloucester, MA. No fiber opportunities there but I did indulge my other passion--antique porcelain. Cape Ann is another wonderful New England area. A bit touristy but fun nonetheless. The trip north to Bath on I95 is a stone bore. So we got off at Ogunquit for a stroll down the Marginal Way in Perkins Cove and lunch on the water.

Then it was on to Bath, ME for my stop at Halcyon. We got there at 3:55 p.m. They close at 4. Great. I figured I had 5 minutes. However, the college student who helped me, Anna, was one of the nicest people I've ever met in a shop. It's good to meet someone young who takes knitting seriously, and I was impressed by Anna's knowledge and commitment to doing it right. No frou-frou scarves for her or her college knitting group.

I had been wanting to buy a Joy portable wheel for a long time and so I did. You can see I've already started fucking around with it. It spins very nicely. Loop wanted to know why I bought an Ashford. Partially on recommendations from people on the SpinList and partially because I really didn't care for the looks of the Gem. So I'm capricious.

My next stop was New Hampshire. Patternworks in Center Harbor and The Fiber Studio in Henniker. Patternworks, although a lovely, bright, airy yarn shop with a ton of yarn, is now just that. A lovely yarn shop in a resort town on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. If you used to go to the old warehouse in Poughkeepsie and expect to see the same thing, forget it and go to WEBS. The Fiber Studio is also worth a trip if you are in southwestern NH, although I found the sales help there somewhat vague and rather distant.

I did get some interesting silk to spin at The Fiber Studio.

God knows what I'll do with it.

And finally, I made it to Harrisville Designs. If you are serious about knitting, spinning and especially weaving, this is a place to visit and certainly, with Halcyon, a true fiber center. Harrisville is fascinating from an historic perspective, since it is the only surviving 19th century textile village left, thanks to John Colony, the owner of Harrisville Designs. Go to the web site and you can read about his efforts.

WEBS, which I stopped at on my way home, is primarily aimed at knitters, with a huge selection of yarn. Those of you who go to Stitches know about WEBS. What I didn't know was that they also carry wheels and looms.

One last note: Nearly all of the sales help in these centers were pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful. I was happy to buy something in each place, God help me.

Well, that should suffice for the nonce. I'm about to buy a loom, having bought some books on weaving that Loop recommended. It's clear to me that this is the direction in which I need to go. Besides, I'm giving Loop much wicked pleasure in her enabling.

And one last rare and handy picture from New England because I love flowers.

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