Monday, April 25, 2005

A Tour of Ft. Bragg and Mendocino...Yarn Shops

"You know you are at risk of becoming an obsessive knitter when you plan your vacation around yarn store locations" - Yarn Harlot, At Knit's End.

I have been away. Last Friday, I took a much-needed day off and my motley crew of friends spent several days in Ft. Bragg and Mendocino, California. We rented a lovely house located right on the bluffs in Ft. Bragg and had a perfect view of the ocean, a blazing sunset, whales spouting and fishing boats coming home after the day's catch. This was literally a few hundred yards from the house. My friend McGinnis almost had a heart attack because he thought I was going to fall off the cliffs while taking pictures. Unlikely. When I'm in that mode, I am invincible. One "feature" of the bluffs was that it was a favorite spot for abalone divers. In the mornings we would see them park by the cliffs, dive and then haul up their catch. And then they would give us a show of removing their wet articles of clothing. They entertained us with many moons.

We hiked a really nice trail through Russian Gulch State Park to a waterfall - the day was overcast with a bit of fog, all the flora were wet with raindrops. After that hike, we visited the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens where again we walked to more bluffs like this one with wildflowers .

There was a "secret" vegetable garden that had the most amazing purple-headed broccoli I had ever seen, plus the rhododendrons were in cascading and luscious bloom.

But what about the yarn stores?? YES. I dragged my friends to 2 of them. Navarro River Knits in Ft. Bragg was such a wonderful surprise that I practically swooned when I saw the store (or so I was told, anyway). I was expecting a small shop tucked away in an alley. Instead, it was in a renovated historic building - The Company Store - and featured a variety of Australian and New Zealand yarns. They even had some merino/possum blends. The store owner was friendly and informative. The second shop was the Mendocino Yarn Shop. This cozy store next to the post office was just filled floor to ceiling with yarn and books. My friend Conny picked up a handful of to-die-for skeins of Rowan because she decided she would go ahead and knit know, for the heck of it even though she'd never done it before. Conny, who is German, has to get a sock pattern from her sister-in-law in German because the English patterns are confusing. I thought this was interesting; I'd never really thought about the translations, but knitting patterns, even in English, are rather cryptic.

Speaking of socks, I started my first pair over the weekend. These are just practice so I'm not even going to post a picture of them yet, but I'm using a beginner's pattern from Knitting Pure and Simple using lightweight worsted. I'm doing OK, but I'm not crazy about 7" DPNs. I had practiced with some 4" DPNs on the plane back from Oregon last Thursday and they were much easier. I now have a small stash of sock yarn too. My yarnmoire is bloated. I just cannot justify buying any more yarn or needles. At least for the next day or two. I stopped working on Diane for the time being, but finally finished the neck of the Shapely Tee. That's coming up for April, I decided. I should be finished this weekend if not sooner and it will be available for your inspection by then! In the meantime, my question to you: how do you hold your dang DPNs comfortably without feeling like they are poking in every direction but the one that you need??


sherry said...

that pic of the bluffs is just gorgeous!!! I know when I was knitting socks a few months ago(did 3 pair) the shorter dpn's were great.Not sure what advise to give on holding them, seems there is a certain way I would end up placing them(like behind the needle in front of it-if that makes sense, and I was constantly moving the stitches toward the front of the needles so the longer part was in the back to keep from poking at me.. sorry if this sounds confusing, I am NOT an expert on socks..LOL. i have half of a pair made, and need to do the other half...

Stephanie said...

Fabulous pictures, ooh and the yarn stores sound even better than fabulous. Here is a German toe-up sock pattern for your German friend: I got the pattern from It sounds like I hold my dpns about like Sherry. You just have to kind of move them around until you like how they feel. Good luck.

Jenn said...

OOOOO Ft,Bragg. I used to live in Ukiah, inland from Ft.Bragg. Dh and I would make the trip over there at least once a month before we had kids. I miss the ocean a lot.

Ukiah was great...we were near the ocean and the vineyards....infact the view from our bedroon window was a vineyard. Perfect for my wine snob husband :-)

Agnes said...

Your pictures are fabulous! I think the gears do make a difference ... but I'm sure your inner sense as a photographer is very important too!
All my dpns are 6" and they are the right length for me. I've never knitted with 4" before ... but am afraid they would be a bit too short. Really, don't know how to give advice on holding them ... but I think after knitting the first pair, you'll manoeuver yourself into your comfortable position.

Cyndi said...

Great pictures! I especially love the water drops on the fern. Isn't Mendocino a fabulous place? Great for relaxing, photography, and most importantly, shopping! :)

I've found that 6" needles are a bit long for me too. I have some Pony Pearls that are shorter (not sure on the exact length), but they seem to be slightly less awkward. I hold the two working needles and let the rest sort of hang to the back of the work as much as possible. It is hard to explain, but I always arrange the points of my needles in a certain way... the rightmost tip of each needle has to be behind the leftmost tip of the needle to its right.

BTW - when you say the plane from OR, do you mean the shuttle? I've knit on the shuttle occassionally, but feel very strange when I do - like I shouldn't be knitting! I would feel much better if I knew that someone else did it too!

Violet said...

Nice pictures! Looks like you had so much fun. You are so lucky that you get to go off like that and see those yarn shops too!

Good luck with the socks. Looking forward to seeing pictures!

Tena said...

Awesome pictures! It makes me homesick for CA! I used to live near San Francisco and really miss the Pacific Coast.

The main tip I have to offer on DPN's is stick with plastic or wooden ones. The yarn slips off too easily on the metal ones. I have only made one sock but have made many hats using DPN's. It just takes determination and patience. Good Luck! You can do it!

Can you tell me what kind of camera you use for your pics. I am in the market for a digital and yours takes great shots.

Tena said...

Thanks, Lynette, for visiting my blog! And thanks for the camera info. I would have emailed you but I couldn't find your email address. I will be looking into cameras and hope to get one this weekend or next week.

Debra said...

I just found your blog(I think through Knitters Review) I love your photos! Watch out with the socks, they are definitely addictive. They make lovely gifts; who doesn't like handmade socks? I've knit with metal, wooden and swallow casein needles and like the brittany birch ones the best. Now you have an excuse to buy more needles:-)

Birdsong said...

Great photos! My husband's parents live in Fort Bragg, so now I know where to sneak off and shop. I had thought that Navarro River Knits was a clothing store! Somehow, walking through Mendocino last month, I missed the yarn shop, but did manage to buy Stephanie's book at the great indie bookstore there. Those wildflowers are too great.