Saturday, June 30, 2007

Laurie's Most Excellent Adventure

Yesterday I took the day off work and decided to take a road trip up to Philosopher's Wool. It is something I've wanted to do for a couple of years now, but the opportunity has never come up. Well, yesterday I made my opportunity!

Would you believe, I've never driven outside the city of London by myself? Oh, I've taken the kids to the beach, which is about an hour's drive from home, but I've never gone all by myself. I think this was a healthy part of why I wanted to make this trip. I wanted to spend some extended time with myself someplace far from home. And Philosopher's Wool is quite far from home.

I started out at 9:30 in the morning with a full tank of gas and a strong coffee. I'd used Google maps for directions, and in an effort to shorten the journey, I was sent down the back country roads in a zig-zag pattern that had me turning left and then right every 1o minutes or so. But it was fun! The weather was sunny yet cool, the countryside was beautiful and the company was delightful. I was free!!!

And then I got stuck about halfway there. I was on Esther Line and it just stopped in the hamlet of Ester. But I have a genetic advantage to finding my way around. I am female and I can ask for directions. I stopped in at what appeared to be a Mennonite restaurant to use the washroom and get directions. The whole place was rather odd, but I can't describe the weird feeling it gave me. Maybe it was the prayer books on the counter next to the gum, or the tiny little paneled washroom, but in any case, the people were kind and helpful. The gentleman behind the counter took a look at my print out for a few moments and whipped out his pen. He proceeded to draw me a map complete with highway numbers and town names.

I'll tell you honestly friends, I was skeptical. I politely nodded and smiled all the while thinking that I'd just go back to my Google map. Once out of the store, I drove a little while down the road, parked under a tree and did a assessment of my choices. I had my Ontario map, the Google map and my Mennonite gentleman's map. Ultimately, I chose the gentleman's map and he steered me right. I don't know who I was prouder of, the gentleman for his map making abilities, or me for trusting in him and then being so well rewarded.

The thing is, I was still halfway away and I'd already been driving for about an hour and half. Google's zig-zags hand slowed me down considerably since I was constantly slowing down to read the tiny road signs they use on the back roads. Let me tell you, if you don't live in Canada you might not realize how big Ontario is. On the back roads things are widely spaced out and I was really glad for my full tank of gas and bottled water.

By the time I reached Kincardine it was just before lunch. I stopped in at the local Sobey's for a quick bite. As I was sitting in the car, munching on my sandwich, I realized that I felt totally at home. This land, these people, they are my roots. My father passed on his love for the country and the people who live in rural areas to me, his daughter.

Soon I was back on the road, anxious to reach my destination. It was only another 15 minutes away.

Tucked into the Ontario wilds I found this place to be a little oasis of wool and art. Eugene and Ann were in the midst of a business meeting so I was given free range of the shop unsupervised. I asked, and was given permission to take pictures. So here's my photo journal.

Philosopher's wool is excellent for outer garments being thick and not prone to pill. I also like it for boot socks. The colors are quite pretty, with lots of depth in the shades. The patterns are playful, but the style is very boxy, again well suited for outerwear. I don't know if you could make a color patterned sweater from this yarn that was also fitted. It's just too heavy. I wish it came in fingering weight. Ann and I discussed this, and apparently the mills won't spin it fine. I wonder if this has to do with the type of fleece or the capability of the mill.

After her meeting, Ann and I had a lovely talk about yarn and patterns and knitters. I tried on some of the many sample sweaters to decide if I wanted a kit. I do, just not right now. I figure I'll hook up with them at the Kitchener Waterloo Knitter's Fair. But I didn't go all that way to come home with nothing. Here's my loot.

A tiny flock of glow in the dark sheep.

Enough wool for a pair of socks, including some extra tough wool for the heels and toes (I forget the breed name!) There is also a button from Moving Mud. The hand-carved wooden pin I picked up in Exeter on my way home. I love it. I think it will look beautiful on my Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl.

Well, I got home at six o'clock, all tuckered out and very happy to be back. The trip was a great learning experience for me and a fun adventure.


  1. Laurie, thanks for such a picturesque description of your trip -- I felt like I was right there with ya! And I love taking little adventures like that myself, especially in beautiful country, which it sounds like you were in. Thanks for sharing a part of North America I'm not familiar with! ;-)

  2. Your trip sounds wonderful; wish I lived close enough to go to Philosopher's Wool. Someday...

  3. OK, ok, you've persuaded me. I'm coming right over to join in one of your trips. We could have a lot of fun on the way...

    And that carved wooden pin is STUNNING. Not to mention all the other droolworthy goods you seduced us with! Loved your trip journal. Do another one soon. We all need these times to ourselves.

  4. What a wonderful experience you had. And such a nice shop at the end of the trip ... glow in the dark sheep, huh? Looks like you can find those interesting buys the way I can. ;-)

  5. Very cool! I just got their book on their patterns for sweaters, I'm in lust with their trillium pattern...