Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yarn Discovery Tour 2013

While the following picture may have been taken at the BEGINNING of our adventure this past Saturday, I'm sure it's more representative of how Brett felt by the END of the day...

Someone's had a little too much (fake) maple syrup!

I was recently asked by another knitter if I was going to go on "the tour" this year.


A little research and some more info from the person who asked, and suddenly I knew too much - I was hooked on the idea!

I think the name is a bit misleading - it should really be called the Yarn SHOP Discovery Tour - but instead it's called The Yarn Discovery Tour, which sounds more quaint I suppose?  The YDT is where a bunch of shops in the NE Ohio area have a thing where you try to see as many shops as possible, going to shops you've never seen before, and hoping to win big prizes.  This year there's 17 shops participating, and it takes place Sept 6-21.  What you do is visit some/all of the shops during these dates, and with the first shop you pay $5 for a "passport", which lists all the shops involved.  For each shop you visit and spend at least $10 in, you get a stamp on the passport, and you fill out what is basically a raffle ticket, leaving it at the store.  If you visit 5, 10 or all of the stores, you get added to a list for that particular count - so when I stopped in my fifth store, my contact info was added to the "visited 5 shops" list (the shop owner knows you're in x-shop because you show them your stamped passport).

With each shop's raffle ticket, you're entered to win that shop's prize (something like $100 value).  And then the bigger "I've visited x-shops" prizes are, naturally, bigger.  I guess last year's biggest prize was a $700 value!!

Thing is - I'm really not up for visiting THAT many shops, especially considering how far away they are.  I decided to make a day of it, mapping out shops that either I'd heard amazing things about, or that were in a particular route I decided to take...

And this was me restraining myself - there were 17 shops participating, and this map includes a lunch stop and a grocery stop!

(My first shop was actually one I've been to a couple times before - The Designing Woman.  I've only been in two yarn shops before the Tour, and I have to wonder why they can't have more masculine names...  ;-)

What you're going to see for the remaining pictures aren't really going to make sense for a bit....bear with me here....

Attack of the chickens!  RUN!

First off was breakfast - and that's the first picture from way up at the top of the post.  Brett recently commented on how he hadn't had a McDonald's Big Breakfast in aaaages, and that it sounded good.  I told him I'd treat him to that since he was willing to go along for a day of yarn yarn yarn gay gay gay yarn yarn yarn......  Sure, he said he'd be fine in the car playing with games or listening to podcasts on his phone while I was in shops, but I figured there needed to be something more in it for him...so we overstuffed ourselves at McDonald's.  I joked about him being on a sugar high after all the syrup on his pancakes, and that's when he started the goofy dance you see in the first pic.

Those are some serious dreads your sporting!

I had THOUGHT I would stick with spending a little over the minimum amount as possible in each shop - this was more about getting out and having a fun day of driving with Brett along for the ride (and it was beautiful weather!), seeing an alpaca farm, learning a bit about spinning yarn, and trying to win me some prizes (which I'm sure will be totally girly stuff).

"Look at me!"  "No, look at me!"

Well, I failed miserably with the "don't spend much more than $10" with the first shop, but that was because she had Berroco Ultra Alpaca in some cool colors, and I'd JUST finished the Northman Mittens using this yarn and both loved it, and considered making another set of the mittens in a completely different color.  Those skeins were $10.75 each, and I bought one in blue and one in tan.  Oh well...  I'll be better at the next shop!

These guys loved getting skritched on the head...and Brett found he could steer them around by their horns.

The next stop was just 10 min down the road - Cornerstone Yarns.  This was my first NEW yarn store in awhile, and I instantly felt awkward just because you don't normally see guys in these places.  I milled around the store a bit, finding a cheap $10-something skein of Christmas Red Cascade 220 while the owner was on the phone.  As I was headed up to the register she offered help, and I mentioned I was on the Tour.  That got us yammering about all kinds of stuff - I mentioned the Westloop Shawl I'm working on as a gift, and how I want to learn to spin yarn, and she said she teaches a class, etc.  Very nice lady - I didn't catch her name, but she really seemed to enjoy talking with me.

Give us a kiss!  (I was quite certain I was gonna get spit on here, but this got was very polite)

The next stop was one of the two I was really looking forward to, and is where all these pictures come from.  One of the stops on the Tour is That'll Do Farm, where they raise goats, sheep, alpacas, chickens and bees, and you can buy the stuff to make/use yarn in all it's forms (roving, bats, yarn, spindles, etc).

That'll Do Farm is part of the Ohio Natural Fiber Network, where a bunch of farms pool their resources/products.  If I understood it correctly, I THINK That'll Do Farm is run by a pair of sisters?  Whether or not I got that part right, the ladies running the shop were SO nice and helpful, open to all questions, constantly offering to show me examples of different products/fibers, having me try the carder (that was neat), etc  After chatting with them a bit, we walked part of the property to visit the animals, then came back in for more talking.  We THOUGHT we were going to visit mostly with the alpacas.  It turns out alpacas are very aloof or stand-offish.  I felt like they were the cool clique in school and wanted nothing to do with us.  There was a group in a fenced off pasture, and even though they were a ways off, they made sure to move even FURTHER away as we got close.  Then we came across one napping near one of the farm dogs, and while the dog came over to visit us, the alpaca snubbed us and walked away.

Fine.  Whatevs.  We don't like you either!

The sheep were fairly shy.

The goats?  Not so much.  Not by a long shot!

There were three goats that were super friendly, and wanted our undivided attention - so much so that when one of the sheep finally got up the nerve to come see us, one of the goats (the white one in the pics) chased it away.  So we spent a long time hanging out with the goats, skritching them, telling them how cute they were, etc.  Things would've ended much more quickly if they were the kind of farm critters that decide to spit or sneeze on you (on purpose) - thankfully this was not the case.  One did take an interest in Brett's shorts, trying to nibble on them through the fence - and he later found a small smear of....well, we're not sure....but that was the worst of it.

After we were done visiting the animals and chatting more with the owners, I bought a drop spindle ($5) and bag with two big balls of merino roving ($10) - so not too bad at all.  They warned me to expect any yarn I made at first to be VERY irregular - I certainly don't expect to be perfect.  This is more to see if I actually like spinning.  Most folks I talked to on the Tour made it sound like using a spinning wheel is really the way to go, but I'm not buying one outright, and don't know when I'll have time/nerve to take a class in the near future.

So we're back to begging for kisses?  Seriously, these were VERY friendly goats!

The next stop was supposed to be Birds of a Feather, but we were already getting a little burned out, and I was spending more time at each place than expected.  I'd planned six stops, with the understanding I could drop one and still be registered for the "5 shops" prize, so we skipped Birds of a Feather.  Plus, no offense, but no one had mentioned it as a store I neeeeeded to visit.

We had plans to try a fun restaurant for lunch, and a friend had given a list of a number of places in the Lakewood area - so we'd planned on stopping at Market, but it turns out we still weren't hungry after the Big Breakfast, annnnd it was probably 2pm by this point?  So we skipped lunch and headed on to the next stop, which was the one place I'd heard the most about - by knitters I know, and by pretty much each of the shops we'd already stopped in...

More goat love at That'll Do Farm

River Colors Studio.  Wow, I can see why people like it!  It is BIG!  And it is COLORFUL!  I'm very thankful for the super friendly and helpful Gretchen, who gave a tour of the store (it's that big), and answered about a bajillion questions.  I was my usual "all over the place", probably with some "oversharing" thrown in...but she took it all in stride, pointed out inexpensive stuff when I wanted that, showed me much nicer stuff when it was needed, educated me on non-laundry detergent washes, told me a bunch about spinning, etc.

Remember high school, where there were those cliques who would have nothing to do with you?
Yeah - it's like that.

After getting three skeins of cheap yarn for a Christmas project, a skein of Malabrigo Arroyo in Aguas for me (nothing particular in mind, but wow it looks cool), and some Eucalan rinse, we were off to Blackbird Bakery next door.  Omarsyarn had told me it was a MUST try, and when she overheard me and Brett talking about it, Gretchen at River Colors Studio agreed...although she said that no, the chocolate chip cookie was not the only thing to get there - also try the peanut butter.  This was quite true, and worked out well for the two of us since I'm more of a choc chip kinda guy (but not melty choc chips!), and Brett's definitely more of a peanut butter kinda guy.  GOOOOOD cookies!

I couldn't take this picture fast enough.  We're walking up seeing a dog sleeping in the shade, and an alpaca sleeping in the sun (it looked dead).  As soon as it realized we were on our way over, it hopped off and disappeared through that door.  Whatever.

Annnd finally we were down to one stop left - Fine Points.  First off - we were pooped.  Second - it wasn't the easiest neighborhood to find a parking spot.  And finally, after leaving Brett in the car, I could barely move around in the store.  I'm sure they had more customers than usual thanks to the Tour (mission accomplished), but it's also QUITE compact in there.  They had a ton of offerings, but it was a bit compact and disorganized for my taste.  I grabbed three balls of Berroco Felted Tweed (to go with some I already have), and tried to get out in a hurry, but the register line was a bit slow (again, partly because of all the paperwork involved with the Tour).

Guard dog doing it's guard thing.

On our way home we had wanted to stop at Penzey's and Trader Joe's - places we only get to about every year and a half.  Turns out Penzey's seems to have been replaced with an Apple Store....bummer.  So we got some fun food at Trader Joe's and hightailed it on home to some pets who were giving us serious stink eye for being gone well past their dinner time.

All in all, I had a fun time with the tour, and saw some cool shops, met some friendly goats, and had a good time just driving around with Brett on a lovely day.  Don't know that I would do it again next year.  Of course, we'll see if I change my tune if I win a prize!  ;-)


anne marie in philly said...

a pix of brett - how cute! :)

sounds like fun. it would be a bit overwhelming for me though. and my spouse would NEVER do something like this with me.

whatcha gonna make with your new yarn?

Anonymous said...

Dewey is a fabulous watch dog. I'm waiting for my yarn from Annelise, i purchased her fiber in a CSA. My knitting mentors and i had a similar afternoon on the tour. Fun!

Pretty Knitty said...

Glad you had the chance to do at least part of the tour...I hope you're having fun with your spindle! And I love that farm...and those goats! Great write-up. :)

Jeph said...

There were some skeins hanging from a display just as you stepped in the That'll Do Farm doors that I keep regretting not getting... I think they came in a lighter oatmeal and a darker brown color? I WANT to say the little brown (handwritten?) tags said Lopi, but I've since learned there's an actual Lopi brand from Iceland, and after having bought some I realize it is NOT the same thing. The Lopi yarn I ordered is really scratchy, while the yarn at That'll Do was suuuuper soft. I want to say it was heavier weight than worsted? Neat stuff!