Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tales of black wool and fancy poutine

The end of January was our 8th anniversary, so rather than go out to a fancy dinner or go to a movie, B and I planned a weekend trip down into the states to attend the Black Wool Workshop at Cold Antler Farm. I do my fair share of knitting and crochet when the weather turns cold, but I stick to the basics (read: rectangular things). So the idea of taking raw wool from sheep on the farm and processing it into yarn sounded like a fun way to spend a winter afternoon. And B graciously agreed to go along, though I'm sure it wasn't his idea of the perfect weekend away ;)

Cold Antler Farm

The workshop was a hoot... we knew no one else there, but you wouldn't have known that once we got going. We were quickly welcomed in and everyone was chatting along like we'd known one another for ages. There was plenty of incredibly delicious food (including the best damn chili I think I've ever had), and we had a quick tour of the farm and met some of the critters before heading back in to get to work. We walked through the steps to clean and card wool into roving, then moved on to learning how to use a drop spindle to spin the roving into yarn. One of the women even brought a spinning wheel in hopes of figuring out how to use it, and a number of us tried our hands at getting it to work. Those things are a helluva lot more complicated than they look!!! The carding and spinning were quite challenging, but we came home with a pile of raw wool for me to practice with, so we'll see how that goes.

Jenna and Jasper
Fibers aside, the company at the workshop was exceptional. It was an interesting mix of people, and we all chatted the afternoon away as we worked on various wool-related things. Jenna (seen above with Jasper) runs the farm and organizes workshops like this. It was great seeing both the matter-of-factness and passion she has for what she does... it's certainly a labor of love, and you can see that indelibly stamped on every surface of the farm. She's built a wonderful home for herself and the animals there. Many of us, like B and I, were suburbanites escaping the city for the day; one of the attendees runs a small business making caramels and brought some to share. The company is called Caramel Eyes, and lemmetellya, the Sea Salt Butter Caramels are THE most amazing thing I've ever tasted. Jaysus. The maple ones were very yummy too, but I'm all about the sea salt ones, m'self. She mentioned they will be selling at a few Whole Foods locations, so if you happen across some, I highly recommend you get yourself some! And get me some too, while you're at it! ;) 

Inside the barn
Late afternoon finally rolled around and while I would have loved to stay longer, we had to get to the hotel as we had dinner reservations. The whole hotel part of the trip ended up being something of a fiasco as we found out shortly before leaving that a tv show would be filming at the very same hotel during the same weekend we'd be there. Lovely. We got shuffled around a bit and it ended up being way more of a hassle than it should have been, but the one good thing about all of it was the food we had at the on-site restaurant that evening. The tv show was there to help 'make over' the hotel, focusing on the restaurant, and while I don't know what it was like before, the end result sure was good. We had the *best* poutine we've ever had in our lives.... B couldn't stop talking about it, and that's impressive for a guy from Quebec who doesn't generally like the stuff. I would _walk_ back down there for another dish of that stuff. Seriously good. The main courses were equally impressive - I had fantastic fish and chips and B had a pulled pork sandwich. Sadly I wasn't allowed to take any pictures since they were filming. The pie B ordered for dessert was nothing to write home about, but the ice cream that came with it sure was tasty, I stole a few spoonfuls while he wasn't looking. ;) I liked that the menu seemed to have been revamped to showcase a lot of local products, like the meat used in the ragu topping the poutine, and the ice cream accompanying the pie. I can't say I'd go to the hotel again for an overnight stay, but I'd definitely go back for the food.

King George
All things considered, it was nice to get away to someplace out of the ordinary (for us) and do something we'd not tried before. Also, the trip was worth it if for no other reason than to meet George (above) who is one of the newer residents at Cold Antler Farm. He is a ridiculously mellow 27-pound Maine Coon cat who spent the afternoon supervising the workshop from his various sleeping spots. Definitely "large and in charge", as Jenna says. She's lucky I didn't have a pocket big enough to fit a 27-pound cat. ;) 

No comments:

Post a Comment