Right, the tension is starting to creep up again now that there are only three and a half yarn hunting days to go before we leave BC. This tension thing is a nuisance; before you go on a trip you're so wound up with worrying about whether the dogs will be OK in summer camp and the house will be all right and whether you'll clear the backlog of work and whether this is a good idea in the first place, that you can't sleep. Don't know about you, but the night before a trip has to be the worst one in the world. You lie awake, fully aware of the fact that you have to get up at 4 anyway, and that you should really be sunk in delicious slumber, with all the thoughts whirling round in your head and resolving themselves into just one, 'Why am I doing this?'
Then you're off and it's exciting and wonderful and you meet new friends and find glorious yarn shops and all the magazines and books you'd been yearning to get hold of to read over and over again on dark winter evenings, and slowly, very slowly, you start to relax. At this stage of the trip we're both actually sleeping through the night, having finally sorted the 9 hour time difference. We're at the most beautiful spot on the Vancouver Island coast, where Discovery Passage is so narrow that we have a procession of barges, boats, cruise liners passing right outside our window. About ten minutes after each one goes dignifiedly by, there is a whooshing sound on the beach below our room as the wash rolls the pebbles round.
But it's Saturday morning and on Tuesday evening we fly out from Vancouver. There are more yarn shops to see, more stash to be tucked away in the suitcases (yep, I made sure we both had the kind with expanding zips to make them twice the width - new luggage regulations frown on more than one bag each so they had better be big. Luckily yarn is light...)
I panic because I know that over the next few days as over the last, I will see yarns and textures and colours and patterns that I might never see again. Yes, I know there's the Internet, but nothing, as Peg agreed when we met in Courtenay, beats actually seeing the ball or the skein with your own eyes and handling it. How often have you ordered something that looks perfect only to be disappointed when it arrives? So if I fall in love on the spot (which has happened rather frequently this trip) should I buy now, hope it's in the last yarn shop I visit before leaving, take a note of name and maker, or what?
And then there are needles - like the divine Lantern Moon dpns which are so beautiful I'm going to make a frame to display them when not in use, and bamboo circulars in every gauge - and all the little fudgies which you just can't get in Ireland but which you spoiled pack can just wander out and pick up any time you feel like it. Stitch markers, especially those ones like tiny plastic padlocks which can be inserted or taken out at any time instead of being accessible only when you actually get to them on the row. Big-eyed needles for sewing up, for heaven's sake. You just try finding those in West Cork!
Most of all, warm welcoming yarn stores with friendly people who all think the same way as I do and are all as excited as me about new projects, new fibres, new ideas. Shelves of books and magazines and patterns - oh dear heaven I'm going to miss them so much. Yes, again there is the Internet - but how do I know I can't live without a new book if I haven't seen it yet? All of the latest purchases in that line - and there are many - are going to have to go in my trusty handbaggage, an expandable rucksack, because they'll be far too heavy for the checked baggage. I might never see them again, you realise that? I might NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN!
OK, I'll calm down. This isn't the end of the world, it's just the end of a trip approaching. And I still have today, Sunday (not so good, I suspect) and Monday. Plus as much of Tuesday as I have the nerve to use before heading for the airport. You can never relax, can you, when that departure time is hanging there as an unspoken threat? There is a yarn store in Surrey, below Vancouver, that I think carries a really good range of dyes and I MUST have a good choice of dyes. If you're lucky at home you find Dylon in green, red, brown. That's it. And not very exciting green, red, brown, either, I can tell you. I want those wonderful magentas and purples and ochres and goldens and marigolds and sea blues and forests and mosses and everything in between. What will the customs men (or indeed the sniffer dogs) make of them? Don't ask. I don't want to think about that. With any luck they won't check.
This morning we go across to Quadra Island to see Fun Knits. Its friendly owner is in fact one island over, on Cortes for the day, at a knitting seminar, but she has arranged for her mother to keep shop so that I can go in. I love the idea of walking up from the pier to a new yarn shop, full of possibility, and bringing my loot back over the sea to Campbell River. Will post you on that later. There is a lovely shop here in town too, the Needle & Arts Centre, run by Inge Kettler. I remembered this one from my last trip a year or so ago because it was the first place I'd seen women sitting and knitting over cups of coffee right there in the store. Oh I know it's a given now, but it was new then - or new to me - and I loved it.
This is Inge. When the local knitters have more time, in the winter, they get together with leftover balls from making up sample garments, and knit them into quilts for the local elderly folk, which is a very nice idea. I got some stunning yarn from Inge which was exactly (to my eyes) like the pebbly beach and blue water and seaweed of the shoreline here, and immediately started to make it up into a little short crop vest or shrug, so I can wear it while I'm here, right on the shoreline that inspired it.
The colours don't look too good here, but they might look better when it's done and out in the open air among the rocks and seaweed. It's full of hazy teals and blues and some golden browns and lots of different textures from warm wool to shiny viscose. Coventry from Trendsetter Yarns and no, I'm not going to tell you how much I paid for four balls - DH might read this weblog. (That's why it's a crop, a small, a short, a very exiguous vest after all.)
I was working away on this vest yesterday evening as the sun was setting and then a huge cruise liner hove into view, so DH obligingly gave my project a starring role in the scene.
Which I think it rather enjoyed really. After all, it's going to bear the name of this place throughout what I trust will be a useful and much used life, so it's good to have a picture of its birthplace.
So - Fun Knits on Quadra Island today, a shop in Cumberland, another snatched visit to Uptown Yarns in Courtenay if at all possible, then several in Victoria, to hunt down the legendary Seasilk. Over to the mainland, at least three more there on this side of the airport. Where will I pack it all? So much to do, so little time left. I've been reading other webloggers' posts and am amazed and delighted at how quickly you've all got into the autumn/fall feeling with projects. And I'm still out here, amassing the stash. You'll have a head start on me. I can feel the panic rising again...