Dear Blog,

It is when things move quickly that I have the hardest time telling you what things are like- and the last few days? Whoa. I’m specializing in moving fast.   I went from hanging at Jen’s cottage with her and the kids – canoeing, swimming, walking, knitting,  gathering lichen for dye (I’m sure you’ll hear more about that as we go forward) and not doing anything more complicated than answering the question "Auntie Stephie? Are you available to hunt for frogs?"

To hopping in the car and driving seven hours for Saint-Andre-Avellin for the Twist Festival, to leaping back in the car and going (very briefly) to visit family, then on to Perth where I taught the first of three days in a well appointed boardroom, and am now ensconced in a lovely bed and breakfast. 

I have to tell you, this whole setup is whiplash.  I went from (mostly) speaking english to (badly) trying to manage french (really badly- though I think it’s only fair to blame joual for part of it) and from sleeping in a cabin the woods to sleeping in an auberge de jeunesse (youth hostel) to a B&B with a bed so posh it has steps up to it.

I have no idea what I’m doing anymore – so I’m just going to show you what the Festival was like.

For the record? The marketplace was amazing. It was my most favourite combination of interesting things to see and interesting things to buy, and since I have a soft spot for Canadian companies, and for excellent yarn in general,  the combination was deadly,  and the only reason I stopped hemorrhaging money was because I left. Shout outs to Roving Winds Cashmere, Riverside Studios and Turtlepurl  who all cost me money. Nice yarn dudes.  Nice yarn.  I’m off to sleep, because I have my money on tomorrow being as fast moving as today, but I leave you with this.

I had dinner tonight at this pub… and it was an old stone building, and beautiful, and I loved it, but here’s the best part… It was an old felt mill.  I don’t even rightly know what a felt mill is, but I felt properly at home.
It has to have something to do with wool.

70 thoughts on “Whiplash

  1. Each day I look for your blog and when there is no update on your extraordinary doings, my spirits drop just a bit.
    Love your story(ies) and the fun you have with your adventures.
    Thank you for sharing your life with me! And everyone else, of course!

  2. Oh wow! Bobbin lace! I didn’t think anyone really did that anymore. I learned how to make it too, but have sadly forgotten half of what i’ve been taught. Nice to see it’s still about though. 🙂

  3. Love that bobbin lace pillow. The IOLI convention was in Montreal some years ago but sadly I didn’t get to go. Love to knit but bobbin lace is my passion. And is that a sock knitting machine? I dream of having one of those someday.

  4. Wow, no wonder you can’t see straight! I’m sure the managing in French made it that much more surreal to jump back and forth. Love hearing of your adventures, though its probably more fun to read of them then to live through some of them!

  5. I somehow think that hunting for frogs may have been your most favorite thing – next to buying cashmere of course!

  6. I would love to know about the bobbin lace. It looks so challenging and time consuming, but so beautiful.

  7. Thanks for the great day in Perth! Everyone I talked to afterwards thoroughly enjoyed themselves today Looking forward to Wednesday!

  8. So glad you’re having a good time. Bobbin lace! Wow! It is wonderful to see someone actually is carrying on the tradition. And a felt mill! Wouldn’t they make felt by the yard? Lots of people used felt as under pads for carpets and rugs. And, if you got a chance to examine the felt up close you’d probably see it was made of tiny multi colors that looked mostly gray from a distance. So maybe they took used wool clothing and recycled it into felt for industrial use. That’s before foam and plastics came to be used. Good on them!!!

  9. Gah, bobbin lace! A shame we couldn’t see the photo in greater detail; that looks amazing.

  10. Felt Mill. Probably had something to do with making felt for hats. Loved the needle felt animal trophy heads. Hope they make it to the states.

  11. I was merrily reading along until I found the pic of the Pub when, I nearly cried… We are preparing for an all too short visit to Pennsylvania where they have those stone farm houses (pretty much my favorite things after yarn). Enjoy! Hurry home with more stories…

  12. Did you notice that the tables at the pub are converted sewing machine treadles? 🙂 I love Perth! It was great to be in your class on Sunday at Twist, and I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow’s sock class (yikes… today’s sock class… gotta get to bed!)

  13. And anything knitted in the hostel would be aubergine?
    Gotta love those windows with the long eyelashes with the tree adding the windblown hair look. Wish I were there!

  14. Stephanie!!!!
    Animal heads!!!!?? The are superb! Who makes them? Can I buy them? Where can I get them? Will they ship to the uk?? AArrghhh!! Want them!!!! x

  15. I love the (bobbin, I’m assuming) lace in the first picture. Back when I was learning to tat, this was one of the other things I wanted to learn to do!

  16. Don’t know how old this felt mill building is, but if it dates way back, there might be serious mercury pollution in it! Mercuric acid used to be used to hasten the felting process, especially when making felt for hat production. Mercury exposure causes neurologic problems, including dementia and incoordination. Hence the “Mad Hatter” character in Alice in Wonderland, as well as the old term “Mad as a hatter”. So, Steph, if you’re feeling crazy, you now know why. It was that pub dinner.

  17. I’ve been at that pub, good food. Perth is close to a family cottage. Was at the summer sale for the yarn shop, spent money, good fun!
    Enjoy your stay.

  18. My Mother in law makes lace using the bobbins. Her goal is to make 5 garters, one for each of her granddaughters, while she is able. Mum just turned 83.

  19. Stephanie, your class on Sunday was fantastic. You not only know your stuff, you are an excellent teacher, and that’s more rare and precious than knowing your stuff. I am working on removing a tiny tedious superfluous movement in my knitting and after only 2 practice sessions on the lever knitting I’m already getting more comfortable with it. I also really enjoyed the marketplace!!

  20. That mill in Perth made wool felt in huge sheets for things like pool tables and machinery and packing. If you have a chance to go back and look around some more there are panels that tell more of the history.

  21. I took a felt making course in a felt factory in Italy. It was a wonderful day,I enjoyed everything especially the machinery. They used teasel heads on the machine to brush the felt to give it extra texture.fascinating.
    The felt was made in different thicknesses and textures depending on the finished use; much was for bakeries as bakers used to lay the bread dough on felt while it was proving.
    I felted a bag,using the wet and roll method, and it is one of my favourites.

  22. ACK! PLEASE provide info on where to purchase those awesome little felted animal heads!! It all looks amazing, but those wee critters got me longing to buy!!!

  23. The Twist Fibre Festival was a blast and your class that day was great. I am trying to be very patient and maintain a neutral position while I practice my lever knitting. And I am counting down 90 days…

  24. I love the felted heads–is there more info on them? I suppose I should start Googling…it sounds like an awesome time. I love frog hunting!

  25. oh wow! Love those animal heads – they look so real and adorable! Wish I had that talent. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Glad you are having fun.

  26. I’ve often wondered why they taught us French in school that was excellent for getting along in France, but not much help in our own country. Granted this was many years ago, maybe things have changed now, but having a conversation with my québécois brother-in-law can be a challenge because his French and mine are so different it’s like we speak two different languages. Fortunately, there seems to be a universal language among knitters, so I suspect you got along famously. As you describe in your “Your Brain on Knitting” talk, making your brain do things out of the ordinary is good for it!

  27. For years have I wanted to learn bobbin lace, but it always looked scary and expensive, not to mention, I really think it would take this whole, “Minnesota housefrau trapped in a man’s body,” thing to far to trim my pillowcases with lace.
    That having been said, enjoy the posh bed, though I’m sure you’re out of it by now.

  28. Is it just me who was slightly concerned that Stephanie ended the previous post talking about how disappointed she was that she couldn’t knit in the car, then chose ‘whiplash’ as a title for the next post?
    So glad you aren’t suffering from some sort of knitting-while-trying-to-drive-related injury. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  29. That tatting is beautiful. I’m now convinced I would tear my hair out trying to do it, but boy is it loverly.
    Thanks for traveling when I can’t.

  30. Do you recall who was doing the bobbin lace? I will be demonstrating at the Minnesota State Fair on Friday, 31-Aug, Creative Activities Building. I shall be repeating “we only work with four bobbins at a time no matter how many are on the pillow” and working lace upside down so passersby can give it a try. The most recent lace convention included several bobbin lace techniques, held here in St. Paul, MN. 2013 is in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, Aug. 4-10. More info, eventually, https://sites.google.com/site/beehivelacers/project-updates or http://www.internationaloldlacers.org/convnews.html.

  31. Bobbin Lace, my youngest daughter does this, (there is an Old Lacers guild in Fort Atkinson that meets on the second Saturday of the month). Mary does it quite fast and yes it seems to be an older generation thing, but some thing the younger generation is picking up, she is 18 and her instructor just beamed at her when she found out her age. Must contact Betty.Mary ‘s teacher name was Verla

  32. Wow!, Steph,
    I can not believe how you manage to do all that you do PLUS write to us and show us photos of your marvelous travels, family, and events. Thank you so much for keeping me in my dreams of a lovely life.
    When I saw the felt mill/pub my thought was the same as Judy@12:58 – I have just left Gettysburg, PA, where there are so many of those beautiful stone houses and barns.
    Cabin-in-the-woods —–> youth hostel —–> B&B – Life IS good!
    And no knitting-while-driving whiplash – thank you.

  33. My husband worked right next door to a felt mill for most of his career, they specialized in piano felt. Their facility, however, was nowhere near as picturesque as the Perth Mill. Lucky you, to be there!

  34. I am very interested in the lace peg thing. What the heck is that??? It looks extremely cool and needs more explanation.

  35. You frog-hunt? My son would ADORE you. His big cousins just brought him an enormous toad last night as a present. He was over the moon.

  36. Hee – my great uncle made his fortune running an industrial felt mill in Ohio “back in the day”. We have a couple of his blankets, presumably from when they took a break from making pool table felt and conveyor belts and stuff. Those blankets are nearly an inch thick! Love them.

  37. I want to know why the stairs only go from the third floor to the tower! What’s in the tower?

  38. That bobbin lace is incredible! When I was in high school, there was a German exchange student who made bobbin lace, and I wish I had taken the time to learn it from her – would love to know more about that pic! (I’m jealous of the whole festival, in fact – I’ve never been to one, and I would love to go, but I know I would want to buy ALL THE THINGS, and I can’t afford to do that, so I’ll have to enjoy it vicariously through you for the time being!)

  39. Years ago I tried to learn bobbin lace. I signed up for a weekend class, bought all the stuff, came home and couldn’t do anything but background patterning. A few years later I signed up again for night classes and as long as someone was literally over my shoulder I was fine. But again, on my own, I found my brain was not wired for it. I thought it would be worked back and forth, like knitting, but it definitely is not. It’s done in motifs and if one bobbin is incorrectly placed you’re dead in the water. I’m thinking, after looking at your pictures, that it should be taught with colors, not all white and that would help keep track of which bobbins go where. I ended up selling my whole kit to someone who had been able to learn. I still feel bad about no being able to wrap my brain around it, literally.

  40. Ooh sock machines! To my shame I have one gathering dust in a box but with three children to run round after as well as my job I just don’t have the time to get it out and master it. One day…….

  41. Thank you so much for showing your pictures. My Dad used to manage that old felt mill “Codes” in Perth and I probably spent the better of my first 5 years of life in and out of that mill. I have lived in Alberta for 30 years now but I was in Perth 5 years ago and could still smell the wet felt and hear the clang of the looms. Thank you once again for sharing, happy travels!!

  42. I love the bobbin lace! Was there any shuttle tatting? After knitting, crocheting and spinning, I have recently taught myself shuttle tatting. Still need to tackle bobbin lace and weaving.

  43. Absolutely delightful! I can’t wait for what you’ll show us in detail. All of it was fascinating!

  44. Looks to have been a wonderful and head-spinning trip; thanks for sharing. Love the idea of dinner @ an old felt mill! I’ve just been to Custom Woolen Mills in Carstairs, AB, a processing plant and working museum and it was fascinating to see (and there was wonderful Canadian, “it’s really cold here in the winter” wool yarn to buy). Should you ever make a trip to Alberta, I would be more than happy to take you there.
    Bobbin lace is new to me so thanks for that. Utterly fascinating!

  45. Hurray for bobbin lace. I took lessons with my daughters years ago. I still have all my supplies and intend to make some again. But I have to invent a way to craft and sleep at the same time!

  46. I was going on a little day trip with my mom recently and I asked her to stop at a needle art store so I could look at yarn. Caught her in a room looking at bobbin lace stuff, which she did for a time. So great to see that photo. (and a little pleased with myself for recognizing what it was… 😉 )

  47. Nice Bobbin Lace (you should label it as such, so people don’t think it’s tatting). It’s a good demo pattern, regular and clear. The lacer is clearly pretty good (better than me!), she manages to keep all her bobbins even. I can never manage that! Brave lacer, though…I find I must put my finished lace, the sticking out bit, into a ziplock pinned to the pillow, because everyone touches it (especially adults, while telling their kids “don’t touch”, as they finger it!)! My current lace is kicking my arse, as it has gimp loops inside gimp loops…..they are *hard*!!!! (for those who think it should be taught in colors….except for rare or really really simple patterns, and Torchon, it doesn’t help. Most lace the bobbins travel around too much! But, for the most basic of patterns it does work. My teacher had us use colors in book marks, you can tell if the side fans are staying in their proper places!)

  48. Sprayfoam can be installed to the ceiling of the crawl space and then vented to the outside,
    or you can install it to the walls of the crawl space connected to the plastic covering the floor and have an unvented space.
    If there is a high water table then a sump pump may be needed as well. I am on the road right now and don’t have access to my files but go to buildingscience.
    com and read the articles about basements and crawl spaces. Lotsa good info and descriptions on how to use sprayfoam in those areas.
    please follow this…link
    crawl space vent

  49. Hi from one Stephanie to another. I’ve just been reading ‘Yarn Harlot” again and having my spirits lifted. You wrote about places to hide yarn. My children have both grown and flown so I have a bit more space, no lets be honest A LOT MORE SPACE. I have eyed up a couple of spaces and thought you might be interested. You know how paperback books don’t usually take up the full depth of a shelf? Well if they are pulled forward there is an interesting empty space behind them. Best start at eye height or above first. Then there’s that wasted space under modern kitchen cupboards. In our kitchen we can pull off the kick space cover and there’s lots of unused space if I’m desperate. Tupperware style boxes would keep the yarn clean and dry in case of spills. Though t’other half might question my sanity if he sees me crawling around the kitchen floor for reasons best not explained.
    Now the question is where to put all those patterns I’m just going to knit some day. Yes I’m planning on living to about five hundred just to get through them all.
    Thanks for your books. Keep writing.

  50. Hi Stephanie. Just wanted to drop a note to thank you for signing a copy of your book All Wound Up for me at Twist Festival on Saturday Aug. 25th. You probably saw so many people and probably don’t remember me, but I was the flustered sweaty looking woman with a ginormous yellow beach bag carrying your book in case I bumped into you (which I did when you were on your way back to teach your class). I had just come back in from the heat outside after locking myself out in the back of the building (where the car was) and had to walk aaaaallll the way around to the front to get back in! It was worth it because I got to meet THE Yarn Harlot!! THE one who keeps me in stitches when reading her books and blog. I relate so much to what you write!
    My cousin and aunt laughed at me when I ran like a crazed teenager who had just met a superstar to show them your autograph.
    Glad you had a safe drive home and I hope we cross paths again.

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