Yesterday marked the beginning of the Taos Wool Festival—I think it’s the thirty-third iteration. Taos is about three hours from our house, but the drive is lovely—especially the last part along the Rio Grande Gorge. A lot of my friends were either unable to go this year or had driven up a couple days early, so Himself volunteered to come with me. It’s so beautiful up there this time of year, and even he enjoys the event, people- and dog-watching and chatting with the other long-suffering spouses. Having just spent some shillings in Salida a few weeks ago, I was being very focused and selective, so his sherpa duties weren’t very onerous this time.
I really did show great restraint. (My restraint is the greatest. Nobody shows restraint as great as mine—ask anybody. Anybody who says I don’t show the greatest restraint is a liar. And my hands are big enough to hold knitting needles. If only Mexico would buy my yarn!)
But I digress.
Taos is a great place to go for minimally-processed yarn from many specific varieties of sheep grown in the U.S., and I was eagerly looking forward to buying a sweater’s-worth of Elsa Wool‘s wonderful Cormo yarn. Cormo sheep, a cross between Corriedales and Merinos, produce a wool is an utter delight for both spinning and knitting, and if you haven’t worked with it, you are in for a real treat. It is soft enough to wear next to the skin—and I say that as someone who is prone to the “winter itchies” and never wears wool next to the skin. This company gets its wool from sheep grown in Montana, and offer blended shades, from natural white to a dark, warm gray, as well as blankets, socks and other finished goods.
I bought the woolen-spun fingering weight (it is also available in worsted-spun), and the pattern I have in mind is Arabella.
After years of longing, I finally bought a yarn bowl from Ken Ledbetter, of KCL Woods. Ken is a master woodworker and turner who makes beautiful tools for spinners and weavers, and I have coveted one of these for years. I can’t spin with a spindle for toffee, but my friend Kay can, and she swears that his spindles, in addition to being gorgeous, are simply the best, and she collects them. This bowl is mesquite with a turquoise inlay. It’s quite heavy, so it’s going nowhere no matter how hard I tug on the yarn.
There always seem to be lovely little moments of serendipity at events like this. After shopping the festival, Himself and I were enjoying lunch, weather and people-watching on the patio of Cafe Renato. Of course there was a knitter at the next table, and of course we fell into conversation. She happened to be from Santa Barbara.
“Really?” quoth I. “I went to school in Santa Barbara!”
“UCSB?” she asked. “I was there from 1968-1972.”
Which just happened to be the exact same dates I was there.
We were off and running—Isla Vista, the coffeehouses, the oil spill, the demonstrations and the burning of the Bank of America, you name it. She, too, had lived on Sabado Tarde, when a three-bedroom apartment a block from the beach cost $250 a month, which was pricey at the time, so you had four roommates. We had probably passed on the street any number of times, going back and forth to classes.
A charming ending to a perfect day.
A few more random photos:
Shops along the Plaza. That’s Himself, holding the Red Bag of Swag.
Bundles of hand-dyed coordinated yarns from Cat Mountain. Part of the reason for my superhuman restraint is the fact that I have a couple of these in my stash.
Mooncat Fibers, the LYS in the charming old Territorial-style building just off the main drag.
And for any quilters here present, the local quilt shop.