I'm home again, back in the late-summer-before-school-starts routine.
While I was on my last vacation, I knitted up the alpaca I bought in Canada, using a pattern from the new VK that had arrived in my mailbox at just the right time. I had bought the yarn to make a thank-you gift for the friend I had visited in Kingston.
She was, in fact, flying back to Australia on Sunday, with an 11 hour layover that we were going to use for a whirlwind visit in San Francisco. We did manage to do that (spending an hour at the Academy of Sciences and having a lovely dinner at Waterbar) but I managed to forget to bring the hat along to give it to her. Fortunately, her husband is still working in Santa Cruz, and I'll have lunch with him on Thursday, so there is still a chance to have it hand carried Down Under (where it is winter, a large part of the reason I made it.) Failing that, I do know that the USPS will take it for me.
As for the hat itself, the alpaca yarn is much bulkier than the pattern calls for, but, since the tam is started from the center, I just kept knitting until the circle was big enough, then did the one decrease round and ribbed until I ran out of yarn. The brim is folded over, and I bound it off together with the inside stitches instead of sewing it. This was, in part, because I didn't have my little notions box along with me in Capitola (but mainly because I love to find ways to do everything without sewing.) It's a cute pattern, and the alpaca will make it pretty darn warm for those fierce Aussie winters.
I also do know that there is a yarn store in Capitola, and I even visited same when I needed to borrow a crochet hook to pick up some laddered-down stitches on my other project. (See lack of notions box, above.) Since I am almost physically unable to leave a yarn store without buying anything (especially when I've come in and borrowed a tool) I got a couple balls of Soxx Appeal.
It's a funny thing that I can't think of a yarn store around here where I could walk in and say "What's the most local yarn you've got?" and expect to find anything. I will freely admit that our agricultural riches don't extend far into the fiber world, but that doesn't mean that there isn't any locally-produced yarn around here. Nine Rubies does prominently feature Baywood yarns, which are locally hand dyed. But with the huge interest in local food production, you'd think that some store in the South Bay would seek out what exists and feature it. I'll mention that to Beth at Green Planet the next time I'm there.
And, along these same lines, if your interest in the products of sheep goes beyond wool to cheese and meat, I encourage you to check out Rebecca King's "Adopt a Ewe" program. Rebecca has started an organic dairy down in Watsonville, where she keeps a herd of happy sheep on a beautiful green hillside. Her cheeses are delicious, and she also sells delicious organic lamb. Farmers don't have a steady paycheck, and Rebecca has come up with this idea to help her with an infusion of capital up front. In return for $500 during the last half of 2009 (when the sheep are not producing milk) subscribers will receive six monthly deliveries of cheese and milk starting in January 2010, plus either a whole lamb (custom butchered, and Rebecca's butcher makes excellent sausage) or an organic wool and cotton comforter. Plus invitations to special farm events (Rebecca used to be a chef at Cafe Gabriella in Santa Cruz.)
She's a great person who is working hard to bring good food to the world in a way that treats the land and her animals right. If you're in the area, I hope you'll take a look.