Vacation, or, why can't I do this once a month?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Originally uploaded by The Prolific Knitter.
The two and a half days in Asheville was really wonderful. The drive up there wasn't too bad, being only about 5-6 hours (and we stopped a time or two.) We stayed at the Aberdeen Inn, which I won't link as they're changing hands right now and I don't know what their status is. The house was just gorgeous - nestled in a well cared for residential neighborhood, up on a hill with a sloping lawn and lots of flowers (the ones that hadn't been killed in the frost, anyway!) Bonnie, who reminds me a lot of Paula Deen, greeted us at the door, showed us around, and got us settled in our room. One of the things that I really liked about this place was that she was totally nonplussed by my "special diet," even if Asheville has a larger veg community than usual. It's so nice not to feel like you're imposing by just being yourself!

The house is full of antiques, photos, etc. Each room was totally different, with ours being a sort of lavender-and-cream room. The bedspreads were those gorgeous bobbledy white cotton stuff (metelasse?) that you mind find at your grandmother's. A large clawfoot tub, desk with tissues (the good kind, with the nose lotion!) and books galore, including an Agatha Christie I hadn't read! Bonnie (the old owner) and Tom (the transitioning new owner) really did a lot to make us feel at home. Since we got into town on Easter Sunday, there wasn't a lot to do except read in the hot tub (oh, darn!) lounge in the living room nook with a pile of squashy pillows and a fire roaring, explore the grounds, and surf the internet (kindlt provided by an anonymous neighbor.)

The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast (included in the tab, nice) of a spinach omelette with pepper sauce, two kinds of toast, three kinds of jam, a large, homemade fruit cup with starfruit, kiwi, melon, strawberry, and grape, yogurt, coffee, and orange juice. The 'rents also got some kind of specialty sausage, but I don't pretend to know if that was any good. We were served by the owner/chef Tom, who took time out to talk with us about his experience running a B&B in Chicago (which he just came from) between servings of coffee. I couldn't even remotely eat everything on the plate, which is a feeling I don't like. I will say the next day he altered the portion for me. Thanks, Tom!

We went on to Biltmore house. If you've never been there, you should definitely go. The huge size of it made for a creepy "compound" feel for me, but it was really cool looking into all the bedrooms, bathrooms, KITCHENS (happy sigh), and seeing so many Sargent paintings that I got a little lightheaded. I have always been a huge fan of his expressive oils, and seeing not just one, but five or sixe up close was something I'll never forget. (They're so smooth, the very opposite of what you'd expect!) You can't take photographs inside the house, which I understand. But I hope know I would have been posing in front of those in a heartbeat if I could have! Also, the library there, breathtaking. But not as large as I would have thought... We did pass right by a whole shelf of oversized, antique art books full of plates on obscure subjects. They should charge a nightly fee to let bibliophiles like me camp out, fire roaring in the massive fireplace, delicately fingering each tome like a precious necklace. What a dream that would be...

We also ate at the Winery restaurant, which did not offer many (if any) veg options. I ended up eating French Onion Soup, which was delicious, though I'm fairly sure it was made with beef broth (gross.) It was either that or sit there awkwardly, so I ate it and didn't think about it. They offer free wine tasting (21 and up, duh) in the winery shop, and that was really fun. Smart on their part as well, as I'm not a big wine person but I still came away with three bottles worth, and not just because the labels were pretty!

After that, my parents sacrificed themselves. Not by tearing out their own hearts, but by taking me yarn shopping (almost as bad in their eyes.) First up was Yarn Paradise, in an AWESOME house in Biltmore village (close to the All Souls Church.) They have Koigu mill ends there:

koigu mill ends

Prices ranged from $3-$11, depending on the yardage, dyeing, and number (or lack of knots). They also had a good variety of other yarns I haven't seen elsewhere, like Jitterbug, Claudia Handpainted Silk:

Claudia Handpainted Silk Lace

(Mine is in colorway "Midnight.")
, and everything Rowan you could ever hope for. Also, all the new Debbie Bliss yarns, including Soft Cotton, Stella, and whatever that 100% merino is. Very cool!

Next stop was Piece Gardens, which is sadly going out of business, so no linky. This cool shop made me ache for a quilt shop back home. Piles of Westminster (read: Rowan and Kaffe Fassett) and other "upper" fabrics, on sale 25%. There was a whole drawer FULL of westminster fat quarters. I think my total damage was about 16 bucks, and I got a bag full of gorgeous fabric squares. Too bad they're closing, it looks like it would've been a fun place to take a class or two.

After that was Earth Guild. I wasn't really impressed with this place, to be totally honest. They had a little bit of EVERYTHING, but didn't go at all indepth with any one medium. I did manage to buy a pack of silk hankies and a packet of Cushings dye to play around with, but I would be sad if this were my only LYS. If you're into weaving, they did have Dragon Tale yarns, which are cotton and rayon (smooth and slubbed) in very pretty hand dyed colors, on cones, for cheap.

The next day, Tom made the delicious fruit cups again, and a really yummy german pancake. The parental units got some kind of mozzarella and chicken sausage thing. They seemed to like it. =)

When we checked out of the B&B (as we had to get down to Florence, SC that day) I was sad. Asheville had so much to offer me still. I wasn't ready. I would LOVE to back there again. Especially to the Laughing Seed an ALL VEG restaurant that had COOKED FOOD and I could choose from ANYTHING on the menu. It was wonderful!

Two more yarn shops followed: Yarns Forever in Greer, SC (about 30 min out from the interstate) and Knitting Up A Storm in Myrtle Beach, SC. Yarns Forever was nice, and they had a good bit of local yarn, but it was all organized by color. It's one thing to do weight/fiber, THEN color, but no. All in together. I hated it, couldn't find what I wanted, and so bought a ball of very pretty pewtery sock yarn and beat a hasty retreat.

Knitting Up A Storm. It was great! The owner and her husband (a rep for Westminster) were so nice. They had a good selection of sock yarn (handdyed and otherwise), sweater yarn, and novelty. The best part? We got there during a 50% OFF SALE. My heart still gets fluttery! My mom very nearly bought a bag of Louisa Harding Kashmir for her first sweater (knit by me, I'm no fool) but sadly, they didn't take AMEX. I did end up buying 14 balls of Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran in Venetian, a deep plum brown.
Yes, it's wool. Yes, I am still ashamed over my poor self-control, but there were baskets of the stuff overflowing in the floor. (I also stopped and rewound all the balls that had gotten tangled. ALL OF THEM.) It was like putting my mother into a room with a dozen choices of coffee, all of them excellent. Anyway, I didn't do TOO badly. I didn't break out the credit card (which I don't have anyway), nor did I beg to use the owner's computer to do a transfer online. (This last one, I did think about it. Yes, I am embarassed.)

Anyway, it was a great time, even if it rained like hell the ONE day we drove out to the beach. I definitely see myself visited Asheville again, but the cost of living there is relatively high, and Portland has a higher Yarn Store Per Capita Ratio (YSPCR).


Emma said...

Sounds like a really fun trip. And beautiful new yarn too!

Sourire11 said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip...

and mill end koigu???? holy crap! That's awesome!

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back and that you had such a great time. I want to go to Ashville!!!!!!


K2 Knits said...

Sounds like a fabulous trip. If you are a fan of Sargent you really must go to the MFA in Boston. It is a delightful museum and has a wonderful collection of Sargent's work - in fact, he created some of the murals in the entry way! I am a huge fan of both the museum and JSS.

Birdwell said...

I just got back from vacation myself and got to go to Knitting Up a Storm. SO MUCH fun. Yer totally right the owner is super friendly--with all that I had heard about crabby LYS owners I was a bit nervous. Did you go before she moved to the new (bigger) location? I went at the very very end of June--she said she had been there for only a few months.