Back in Bloomington!

Sorry for the radio silence, but I’m pleased to say that I’m back in Bloomington! It’s been a couple of extremely hectic days, what with the 30+ hours of flying, packing for a move as soon as I landed, and the move itself. 90% of the house is organized as it should be, but as with any move, the organizing has revealed to me a bunch of projects and other endeavors that I had given up on and stashed away out of sight for months.

Not even 20% of the stash…

One of the more daunting things on my to-do list is organizing my giant stash of embroidery floss and sewing thread. A few years ago while visiting my fiance’s family, I mentioned that I was interested in learning how to embroider. So naturally I went back home with grocery bags and cookie tins PACKED with vintage threads and floss! I was a little overwhelmed at the time and didn’t have a whole lot of time, so it went to the bottom of my closet. It wasn’t until last week when I was putting things away from the move that I rediscovered the enormous pile, and I finally mustered up the courage and fortitude to tackle the mountain 3 days ago. I’ve got most of the DMC floss wound up into bobbins with labels, though there are a few that are missing the numbers. I’ll have to figure something out with those.

Another thing I have to do is process some fleeces and fiber. When I returned from my holiday, I found that I had acquired quite a bit of fiber during my absence. So far I have one giant garbage bag full of alpaca, and an entire alpaca fleece…and apparently there is more waiting for me to pick up! While I have some experience spinning fiber into yarn, I have never processed fiber, let alone an entire fleece, into spinnable roving, so this should be an interesting experiment. I do have a friend who has invited me over to use her giant automatic carding machines though, so it would be an understatement to say that I am excited about the whole thing.

I also have a couple of commissions to work through. For those of you who don’t know, tablet weaving is another one of my fiber-related hobbies. A lot of my clients are people who are into the hobby of historical reenactment, and it is my job to look at photos of artifacts and attempt to replicate them in weaving. This pattern is based off of a find from the Sutton Hoo site, and it was a lot of fun to figure it out! Now I just have to weave 6+ yards of the stuff…easier said than done, but it makes me happy to know that other people enjoy my work as well.

I also have another knitting commission, and am also working on a project for myself. I am making a pullover for myself, and it will be a lot of “first”s for me: my first cabled garment, my first pullover sweater, my first project incorporating short rows, and my first project using the provisional cast on. I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way, such as “Don’t attempt cables at 2AM when you’re extremely sleep-deprived”, but I’m taking this chance to learn many more skills that will be important for me to have as an aspiring Master Knitter.

While tackling all of these projects, I have been listening to a lot of various podcasts to keep me company. So far I’ve listened to the Knitmore Girls and Owl About Yarn, though I’ve also received recommendations of other knitting-related podcasts from my friends. What are your favorite podcasts to listen to? Do let me know in the comments section.

As always, thank you for sticking with my blog, in spite of my frequent bouts of hiatuses. Hopefully I’ll be better about maintaining a regular posting schedule (those podcasts are really inspiring!).

Signing off,
Marie

Bloomington IN’s Farmer Market

From April to November when the temperature isn’t below freezing, every Saturday next to the square next to the City Hall Building, there is a huge Farmer’s Market. I love to go there in the morning, especially now that the bus comes directly in front of my apartment to an area that is about a 3 minute’s walk to the actual market. In spite of Bloomington IN being a small college town, the farmer’s market here is one of the most impressive I have seen, not only in the US but in the whole world. Not even the farmer’s markets in Santa Barbara or Seoul can compare to the one here.

Some of the food stalls in one corner of the market.

This week, instead of just being a passive shopper, I decided to take a more active role in my farmer’s market experience and interview some of the stall owners. It was actually a lot more fun than just buying their goods; by talking to them and asking questions about their practices and produce, I was able to make much more educated purchases as well as to socialize with the numerous vendors that I had bought my groceries from but never actually talked with.

Cathy’s alpaca yarn!

First up was Cathy Crosson. She was a 58 year old retired professor from the university here, and now she owns a farm in Owen County with a bunch of alpacas. She was also the owner of a garlic stall next to the yarn stall, but (surprise surprise) I was more interested in the colourful fuzzy skeins of soft alpaca yarn, which I ended up buying. Cathy was also obviously in love with the Bloomington Farmer’s Market, proclaiming it as one of the best farmer’s markets in the nation (a sentiment that I have to agree with). In addition to being a vendor here, she herself is also a customer of the many stalls here, because she loves supporting her friends and the local agricultural economy.

The Bryant Farm family in front of their produce

Bryant Farm is a family-owned business that has been a vendor in the Bloomington Farmer’s Market for 10 years. They also were vendors in other markets such as the original Indiana Farmer’s Market (9 years) and the State House Farmer’s Market (just 1 year), but like Cathy, they readily agreed that the farmer’s market in Bloomington was the best out of them all. They were especially proud of their eggplants (no wonder; look at them! They’re gorgeous), and told me that they used seaweed-based feed with neem oil and organic well water. Yum!

Travis the Lavender Man…sorry for the poor photo quality!

My last interview was with Travis Dekoker, the Lavender Man of Lavender Valley Farm. He was a completely new vendor to the farmer’s market at Bloomington, as it was only the farm’s 3rd year in operation and the first mature season. Travis used to work in a clock shop before figuring out that he needed to do something with his family’s farm that was just sitting there. He decided on lavenders because they are very self-sufficient (as he explained, there is no need to water or fertilize them, and the lavender acts as its own pest-repellent), and because it was unique (he does have a point there; how many squash and tomato stalls do you see in any farmer’s market?).

And I present to you now, a photo stream of some of the wonderful sights of Bloomington’s Farmer’s Market!

Rebecca Vadas and her Hoosier Honey stall

Beautiful cut flowers on sale

Vibrantly coloured squash

A raspberry tart I purchased to satisfy my sweet tooth

Hispanic women dancing in appreciation of Hispanic Heritage Month

A man posing with his pet parrot

Tracy and her goods from Hunter’s Honey Farm

Buskers performing for tired shoppers

My purchase of delicious munchable organic tomatoes

This coming October 13th is a very special day for the Bloomington’s Farmer’s Market. In collaboration with the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District (BEAD), there is going to be a Fair of the Arts, where artists and craftsmen will be able to sell their goods at the market. Super excited! Bloomington has a surprisingly huge artists’ population, so whatever shops that pass the juried process should have very interesting and high-quality goods. Definitely looking forward to going to that 🙂

Do you have any farmer’s markets where you live? What do you think of the whole farmer’s market experience? Why do you think people continue to shop at farmer’s markets as opposed to cheaper mass produced supermarket foods?

Signing off,
Marie