I spent a couple of weeks in February in California, visiting friends and family. In addition to this, I got a chance to meet up with a lot of knitting friends and do a bit of yarn shopping! Possibly even too much yarn shopping, if you can believe it–I got back to Madison with no particular desire to attend this year’s Knit-In (guests of honor: the Mason-Dixon Knitting ladies).

I stopped in at A Verb for Keeping Warm‘s physical space in Berkeley for a couple of hours one afternoon. It is really small, but a beautiful space, jam-packed with gorgeous, natural-dyed fiber. The bin of silk roving! The new camel-silk yarn! Amazing stuff. I had a great time chatting with proprietors Adrienne and Kristine and meeting shop Dachshund Cleo and her best friend, who had come to visit the shop–I forgot his name, but he is another Dachshund, and there is nothing quite like multiple tiny dogs running around a tiny space to lift one’s spirits.

My friend Molly has recently gotten into crochet, much to my delight, and we took a trip to Article Pract in Oakland. It’s a lovely LYS with a great selection (mmm, Fibre Company) and sales room–my only complaint is that it’s too dark to see the yarns very well.

I met up with Prachi from Adventures of a Desi Knitter and Kristen from Knitting Kninja at Stash Yarns in Berkeley. I had met Prachi before, when she came to Madison for a conference last year, but it was my first time meeting Kristen in person. It was great seeing Prachi again and meeting Kristen for the first time and chatting with them both–first over a gleaming pile of MadTosh sock yarn (a new shipment had just come in and GOOD LORD is this stuff gorgeous, the pictures online are good but don’t do it justice!) and then over warm drinks at the Starbucks next door. It was a cold and rainy day–nothing better than warm drinks and yarn-ogling in good company.

Oh, and there was a little thing called Stitches West. I accidentally (really accidentally!) timed my visit so I’d be there during Stitches. My mom and stepdad live about 15 minutes from the venue, so I girded my loins and headed out there Friday morning. I have a good amount of practice going to wool festivals by now, but it was really utterly overwhelming. From the Midwestern festivals I’ve been to, I’m used to a more low-key mixture of yarn and livestock, but this was gigantic, completely indoors, and with no alpacas to mix it up. The experience had more in common with E3 than with Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. I waited in line for about 15 minutes to even buy my ticket and get into the expo, and then I kept walking and walking and it kept going and going. I felt incapable of buying anything for the first two hours I was there–finally developed a game plan and went back for a few things.

I got in trouble because I completely missed the sign at the front about not taking photos. Oops. This is the only photo I have that was taken with permission, and I deleted the rest:
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…ah, Malabrigo. Being a Malabrigo Junkie, I walked away with a free sample of navy blue Dos, and also purchased some Twist that will be making an appearance here soon–by the end of the month, with any luck.

The Dos:

I had lunch that day with Hilary from The Yarniad . Hilary works nearby, so she couldn’t come yarn shopping with me, but was able to take off her lunch hour to meet up. I spotted multiple Citrons up as samples on the show floor and was excited to tell her where to look out for them!

And last but not least, I met up with my favorite podcasters, Nicole and Jenny from Stash and Burn, and Jenny’s sister Alma. We didn’t get to talk for too long in the madness of the show floor, but it was nice to at least meet them in person, and check out their Stitches haul. Nicole and John welcomed a new member to their family shortly thereafter and Nicole said the long walk at Stitches was probably what got things started…

Highlights of Stitches West:

So, at Stitches, aside from the Malabrigo I mentioned before, I also bought this baby alpaca/silk/cashmere blend yarn, 400 yards fingering weight for $28, from Pigeonroof Studios. The color is Greenstone and it is luscious.

And that was the fibery portion of my trip to California.
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Now I’m back to the Planet of the Apes Madison, where Spring is finally springing–I took this photo a few days ago, but the ice has since melted too much to go out on the lakes anymore:
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Oh, and I’ve just put up a pattern on Ravelry that I’m really excited about–you can just about spot the hat and cowl I’m wearing in the photo above–but will save the post about it for later–but right now I have to get off the computer and start baking some pies. I’m having a Pi Day party (it’s 3/14 today!) Blueberry, Key lime, and savory corn pies. Yum.