TheKnittervention Travels to Alaska!
This year my job has taken me to a few pretty awesome places! I spent a week in Brooklyn, discovered their wonderful yarn stores and equally as wonderful people! I’ve been to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky, and the latest place my job sent me to is Alaska, the Last Frontier.
To say that this place is wonderful is a gross understatement! I had the pleasure of being in Fairbanks during the summer solstice…. and they are not kidding when they say it’s “The Land of the Midnight Sun”! Thank god for black-out curtains and sleep / eye masks!
On the long trip up (about 20 hours to get up there), I had a 7 hour layover in Seattle. before I left, I found that there was a spinning group that meets every Sunday morning at Seattle Yarn, a great LYS. I remembered to bring my turkish drop spindle with me in my carry on, along with some alpaca that I’ve been working through. So I got to spend my morning in Seattle meeting some wonderful new yarn-loving people, spinning some fiber, and learning about some great indy dyers out in that area! I bought a skein of findering weight yarn dyed by Bedhead Fiber — a dyer who uses plant / natural dying techniques to get some vibrant and beautiful colors. I also got one of my project bags a few new pins to add to my growing pin collection. Someday, when I make my way back to Seattle, I fully plan on stopping in Seattle Yarn again!
From there, I traveled up to Anchorage, then on to Fairbanks.
My frist day in Fairbanks was a FULL ONE! My first stop, after breakfast at the Alaskan Coffee Roasting Company, was to the University of Alaska Fairbanks L.A.R.S (Large Animal Research Station). LARS has a herd of Muskoxen, and they are able to get Qiviut from these animals. If you don’t know what qiviut is, let me tell you… it is the MOST soft and warm fiber you’ve ever felt. EVER. Qiviut is the under coat, or winter coat, that the Musk Ox sheds during the spring time. It’s akin to a german shepherd shedding their winter coats. LARS collects this super warm and fluffy fiber form all of their 26 Musk Ox, and then gets it processed to remove the Musk Ox hair, then they will either sell the fiber raw, or they will have it spun into yarn at one of the local fiber mills, and then sell it at their gift shop. All the items sold there goes directly back to the animals. I bough myself a 1oz skein of the yarn (about 232 yards of lace weight yarn), and a 1oz bag of the fiber to spin on my own. I am VERY much looking forward to starting that project. There were 6 baby Musk ox born in the herd this year, 5 females and 1 male. I suggested they name the male Elon Muskox… we’ll see if that takes or not.
There is also a herd of Reindeer, and these guys were adorable! I highly recommend stopping by that place if ever you find yourself in Alaska’s Interior!
From there, I drove south to NorthPole, AK… and stopped at the Santa House. The town is, unsurprisingly, Christmas themed, and wonderful! Street lamps that look like giant candy-canes, wreaths everywhere… hokey and wonderful at the same time! Got a few post cards to mail to family from the North Pole, it was a good trip!
Now lets get to more fiber-related items. I had the chance on Tuesday after work to stop by the ONE local yarn store in Fairbanks, A Weavers Yarn. Susan, who runs the store out of the front of her house, is a wonderful person! There is a JoAnns and a Michaels up there, but I can stop at those stores here in Michigan. A Weavers Yarn has lots of LOCAL yarns, roving, and lots of wheels. (I’ll get to the wheels in a moment). I got to buy a qiviut/merino/silk blended roving by a local mill, the coyote trail, in a wonderful mustard yellow color. I also bought some Alaskan Shetland wool yarn in a DK weight, and some sock yarn dyed by Bad Sheep Yarns, who is out of North Pole. The colorway is Sock Eye Salmon — I used this yarn on a new Alaska inspired sock design I’ll be posting about shortly.
While I was checking out, I saw a unique looking wheel in the store that was used and being sold. It turns out it was a BlueBonnet Thimble wheel, and she folds up into a small and portable shape that looked like it would fit in my luggage. She was $350, and had been there waiting for a new home for a while. I let Susan know that I would think about it, and she let me know about a knitting group that met up there on Thursday mornings.
I showed up Thursday morning with my shawl design that I’m still trudging through, and got to meet Rita and Helen, who attend the knitting group. Helen let me know about a spinning group meetup that was going to happen later that afternoon, and said that I should stop by with my drop spindle and meet some new people out in front of the Fairbanks Weavers and Spinners Guild. When she left, I asked to try the Thimble wheel, and she and I got along great. Long story short, the Thimble wheel found her new home! And I got to bring her to the spinning meetup that afternoon!
The meetup, as it turned out, was a spinning demonstration at a Solstice block party in downtown Fairbanks! so I got to meet a lot of new people! I worked on spinning up the qiviut/merino/silk blend that I had got at the LYS, and pretty much got through that entire ball of roving!
After the demonstration, Penny, who runs the Guild, took me for a tour through the workshops. So Many Looms!!! About 60, if not more! It was all kinds of great!
My last 2 days were spent eating great food at the Alaska Salmon Bake, and taking myself up the Chena Hot Springs.
I’ve already informed my husband that we will be moving to Alaska eventually… we’ll see if that actually happens, but I hop that it does!