Two years ago, I went to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, for a knitting retreat organized by Alice Trueman. I learned about Alice through the Elann Chat Center. Her teaching is wonderful and the food was amazing! I am very grateful to Alice for teaching me how to read charts and how to make them. I may not be able to *knit* the pattern on the chart, but I can read it!!
I wrote about my 2005 plans on the About.com Knitting Forum, and two of my online friends, Uleta in Sidney and Lunadog in Burnaby, both invited me to stay with them for a day or two before or after the retreat. If the retreat on Salt Spring had been missing anything, not that I think it did, visiting Karen and Uleta filled in everything I could have wanted.
I didn't remember to take photos very often, and many of my shots were terrible, due to my struggles with a new camera. But these two show Alice and Jenny (in green), Alice's wonderful chef, in the dining area of the Sunset Farm house where we stayed. They're the only ones I have of Alice. She and Jenny were taking a quiet moment to discuss the upcoming menus - which were absolutely wonderful!!
Fast Forward to Last Week
So I went back to Vancouver last week, just to stay and have fun with my Vancouver friends!! Here's Karen and me at the airport. Karen and I had an incredible amount of fun! We went to Urban Yarns and Birkeland Bros. yarn shops. The individual links are to the yarn shops, and here's one to a small write-up of both of them by Spun Magazine. Urban Yarns is a very good, well-stocked LYS, with 2 - count 'em, TWO!!! - walls covered in Fleece Artist and HandMaiden yarns. Yummy!! I bought yarn, yes; but all but 2 skeins were for gifts - just ask Karen! The pix show Karen and the very helpful Kathleen checking out my buys at Urban Yarns and then there's a view of one of the walls of Fleece Artist yarns. Oh, such yumminess!!
Karen also, very patiently, took me to the Vancouver brick-and-mortar version of my favorite garden-gadget store, Canada's Lee Valley. DH and I have been buying from Lee Valley's catalog for years. Want a really lovely pair of 'stork' scissors for your yarn? Order them here.
They have the best products and prices and the best customer service you can hope for, right up there with Elann!! I *love* Lee Valley.
Karen knows I am very fond of the wonderful Growers' Extra Dry Apple Cider, which can be found only in British Columbia, and stocked a 6-pack for me. Yeah, I drank the whole thing! Not surprised, are you??? There doesn't seem to be a website for Growers' Cider, which is in Oliver, British Columbia. It's yummy! Drink some if you're ever in BC.
Staying with Karen comes complete with four-footed companions. Here's a view of Karen and her two 'puppies', Maddy and Cory.
Maddy is the newest member of the family; she was rescued from northern British Columbia after having been abandoned. Maddy still needs some help with socializing and to put on weight, but she's a fast learner and very friendly to newcomers, especially softies like me, who'll give her lots of petting.
Cory is a larger dog, and a totally lovable boy. He's also a rescue and is so happy to have found a home with Karen. His head looks much like a collie's, and his coat is marked like a German shepherd. He's taken Maddy into the family as a 'kid sister', and seems very happy having her to play with.
Karen has become very busy as a volunteer at the Big Heart Rescue Society. She collects animals from the airport and transports them to the people who will be fostering them until they are ready to be adopted. Karen's friends there have commented that she has 'failed Fostering 101', since she really didn't mean to adopt Maddy, originally called Brownie, it just happened. BTW, Karen just got her own page in the Volunteers section of the website, here.
And, just so I didn't have kitty-withdrawal, Karen was taking care of her sister's cat, Mignon. She's about 11, and not happy about the bright flash in her eyes. That's sad, because Mignon has the most lovely big tilted green eyes, along with the softest, most even and beautifully groomed fur.
Dyeing with Jayne
You may know about Jayne, of See Jayne Knits. She's a friend from the Elann Chat center and the blog-iverse. And she lives not far from Karen in Vancouver. So I had the great fun of spending the day with her and her family. I got to hang out with Jayne, look at all the beautiful yarns she's been dyeing and at the very-popular stitch markers she's been making, and watch her dye some yarn just for me. How great is that???
I bought some grey Optimum yarn last fall when it was discontinued, and while I loved the feel of the yarn, the grey was just very boring. So Jayne and I worked out a deal for her to dye the yarn to my choice of color. I really liked the 'Brandy in a Garden' colorway she had, but she recommended something a bit different, and away she went with the bottles and the jars of dye. All this happens right in her kitchen, with yards of plastic wrap keeping the colors where they should be. It looks complicated to me, with soaking the yarn, then mixing and spreading and squirting the colors, microwaving the yarn and then rinsing and spreading out to dry. Jayne's son and daughter are very good about helping to unwind and re-skein the yarns, too. [I think she pays them, but don't tell anyone, ok?]
We finished off the evening with a dinner of fajitas and beer, followed by a bit more chat before I headed back to Karen's for the night. On another evening, Jayne and Karen and I managed a knitters' night out at a local pub, with great food and for me - yeah, you guessed it! - more Growers' hard apple cider. Better than beer, but that's just my opinion.
Sidney by Ferry
My trip also included a couple of days in Sidney, over on Vancouver Island. It's just over an hour and a half trip from the Tsawassen ferry terminal in Vancouver to the Swartz Bay terminal on the island.
My friend Uleta has a lovely house just a few minutes' drive from the ferry terminal, but you'd never know her quiet neighborhood was anywhere near anything so busy. She has a small but beautiful garden, filled with plants that make me envious of her green thumb. Many of the same plants grow here in So Cal as in Vancouver, but oh, what a difference humidity makes!! Uleta is a multi-talented woman: she knits, sews, quilts and paints, among others. She's also a top-notch knitting missionary, having taught 5 of her nieces and DGDs to knit. Apparently the five of them were at her house all at one time recently. What a picture that must have been, lol!!!