Tuesday, September 30, 2014

EnchantingTaos - Part I, the Wool Festival

Full of rich history and rugged natural beauty, Taos, New Mexico, is truly one of the most intriguing and wonderful towns in the US. Because even a short visit to Taos can result in sensory and inspirational overload, I've decided to divide this year's Taos post into a two-part series, beginning with the famous Wool Festival at Taos, and ending next time with more about the beauty of Taos itself.

A day spent in the country enjoying the animals, demonstrations, workshops, yarn, fiber and inspiration to be found at fiber festivals throughout the US is near heaven to me and one of my favorite events is the Wool Festival at Taos, to be held this year this coming weekend, October 4-5. 

Although I can't attend the festival this year, I thought I'd share a little of what you might expect to see if you are lucky enough to be in the Southwest US and can hop on up to Taos this weekend. A few of the photos here have appeared in previous posts, but most are new in just the last year or two.

The festival is held on the tree-shaded grounds of Kit Carson Park in central Taos. 


Fiber vendors come from all over but the majority are from western states and the colors and textures of their wares delight the eye.



Other vendors offer sheep, southwest and fiber-related artwork, pottery and jewelry, as well as felted, woven, sewn and knitted items like rugs, blankets, garments, slippers, coats and socks. 


Then there are the animals!


I'm sure there must be some tough competition in the best-dressed dog contest.

Albuquerque resident and Ravelry staffer Mary-Heather Cogar (aka rainydaygoods on Ravelry) is known to sometimes bring a tent and treats for a Ravelry meet-up. That's her taking the photo, perhaps you might even recognize a few others in the crowd? 

Taos is an easy drive from Santa Fe or Albuquerque, and the festival nicely coincides with the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, another spectacular event, making the trip a lot of fun. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of Enchanting Taos, and thanks for stopping by my studio today!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Facing Up To It and New Project Notes

Lately I've been enjoying summer and knitting at a somewhat leisurely pace as I'm still regaining my strength after chemotherapy, and my DH and I have been traveling and attending to home and garden tasks. Still, a cardigan has been completed, as well as half a dozen dishcloths, and I've enjoyed swatching some gorgeous Plucky Knitter Bulky yarn for a new pattern design, albeit in a relaxed fashion. 

So many ideas have been swatched up it's been hard to choose a favorite, but I've narrowed the choices down a little and am heading for the home stretch. 

In other news this summer, I've finally broken down and joined the legions of Facebook users (gasp!!). I've had the page for a little while now, but almost never logged on since I spend as little time as possible online and didn't want to add to the time already spent on my blog, Ravelry, Twitter, Craftsy and Pinterest. However, I've been posting for a couple of months, and although I'm still not much of a social media lover, I grudgingly admit Facebook has been a good way to keep in touch with people I know as well as make new fiber friends.

I'm keeping my options open with an official Robin Ulrich Studio page (although it has zero content right now) but I don't know if that idea will ever take off. For now I am sticking with a personal page, this is my current user profile photo.

I'll definitely still be writing detailed posts here, but I'm generally making smaller, more frequent posts on Facebook (although not always knitting-related!). Feel free to 'friend' me on Facebook if you wish, my user name is "Robin Ulrich" or you can click on the link above, or on the right side of this blog page.

Thanks for stopping by my virtual studio today, have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Island of Inspiration

Not long ago, a cousin kindly invited my husband and I to accompany him on a trip to Ireland, a place none of us had ever visited. Although our trip was short (just 4 full days), we packed in an amazing amount of activity and I came home fairly bursting with inspiration.  

Irish hospitality is legendary and one of the best parts of the trip were the Irish themselves, certainly some of the warmest, friendliest people in the world. Every person we interacted with made us feel welcome. 

A popular nickname for this land is the "Emerald Isle." With miles upon miles of brilliant green vegetation that label is apt, but Ireland also delights the eye in many other ways with rugged vistas, ancient ruins, peacefully grazing livestock (especially sheep), sparkling coastlines, quaint villages and beautiful cities.

We flew into Shannon airport and rented a car (a left-hand stick shift for driving on the left side of the road - yikes!!). Thankfully, my cousin handled the driving. 

After loading up the car we headed north to Galway, on the coast, our first place to explore and a base from which to venture out on day trips.  

Galway is a fun, colorful city full of shops selling sweaters, blankets, hand and mill spun yarn, and other wool goods, as well as plenty of other things to inspire the imagination.


Each day we chose a different direction and final destination, stopping along the way to inspect anything we found interesting. Unfortunately, narrow, rock wall-lined roads and few parking places made it difficult to easily stop for photographs, so some beautiful views will have to remain only in my memory. However, I did manage to insist on stopping for scenic photos now and then. 

And in case you are wondering, yes, the grass really is that green and the sky really was that blue (we had four days of warm sunshine, apparently unheard of in Ireland)!


And for photos at a few historic sites as well...

Aughnanure Castle, a lovely place to visit.

 Boyle Abbey, where amazing restoration is ongoing.

Bunratty Castle, a well-restored site.

Foxford Woollen Mills, begun by Catholic nuns to provide work during the  famines of the 19th century, and where incredible blankets and scarves are still woven for sale. 

Kylemore Abbey, with a fantastic Victorian, walled garden.

Roundstone, a charming seaside town

Clonfert Cathedral, an early 12th century church filled with elaborate sandstone carvings.

And there were of course, lots of sheep!

Since my cousin planned the trip, visits to knitting sites were not a top priority, however, we couldn't help but be surrounded by wonderful things of interest to knitters and non-knitters alike.

If Ireland sounds like a place you'd like to visit, you might want to consider joining my friend Amy Detjen's Knitting Tour of Ireland coming up next month which will be packed with things both knitting and Irish. Amy is a superb knitting teacher, experienced in Irish travel, and a super fun person to hang out with, so you are sure to have a great time!

If you can't go this time around, you can follow her via her website, or join her Ravelry knitting travel group and keep up on plans for future trips.

I'm still absorbing everything we saw on our visit to this inspiring island nation, I think I feel a bout of cable knitting coming on...