Monday, October 12, 2015


Life sometimes takes a little dip into the dark side.  For the most part, I rock along fairly content with life.  But every so often it seems like everything goes arse over teakettle and before you know it, I'm in a black mood and struggling to find my way back to my happy place.

I've had worse tumbles into the grumpy zone, but last week did try my patience to the critical point.  All I wanted to do was lock myself in the house and cut off all communication with the outside.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve for shaking me out of my doldrums, so I did a lot of knitting on the current shawl and I did a lot of puppy cuddling and I watched a stream of sappy movies.   I was beginning to see the light by the end of the work week.

And then I realized that it was the beginning of the annual Hill Country Yarn Crawl.  I considered just blowing it off this year.  I really wasn't in the mood to mix with folks and I really, really, really don't need any more yarn. I'm also really feeling poor after a month of buying a new car and starting to make reservations for an upcoming major trip.

But I knew that getting out on the backroads of Texas is sometimes just the right medicine when I'm in the dumps, so I dragged myself out of bed early Saturday morning and headed out to visit the first round of yarn shops, starting with the furtherest points east.

First stop was LaGrange and The Quilted Skein.  This is a great little yarn and quilting store just off the square and I always find some really lovely temptations there.  (It's also just down the way from a great little Gold Crown Hallmark Shop where I stopped in briefly to kill some time before the yarn shop opened.)
The Quilted Skein

The shop was full of chatty, happy knitters and I found a couple of really nice buys, including a huge 750 yard skein of cushy wool in a color described as "Turkish Carpet".  I think this one is going to be a shawl for me.  I began to have a little more enthusiasm for the day.

The North Wind shows off the Turkish Carpet yarn
From LaGrange I headed toward Navasota to a store that until now I had never visited, W. C. Mercantile.  I could not remember if I had ever been to Navasota before, but I decided I had not because nothing looked familiar when I got there.  I saw several antique stores as I searched for my yarn shop and decided that I would spend a little bit of time checking them out.
W. C. Mercantile
The store was well worth the drive there.  They have an association with the Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch and carry some luscious alpaca yarn.  I succumbed to the temptation of a beaded scarf kit that I can't wait to tackle.  I also succumbed to the temptation to go inside the pen that had been set up in the alleyway next door for two alpacas from the ranch and have some pictures made with two of the cutest animals I've been around in a long, long time.
Roosevelt and Rising Son of Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch
While the yarn shopping was a definite success, antiquing in Navasota was a bit of a bust.  I strolled through several stores and was very disappointed.  One antique mall was such a jumble I felt like I had been strolling through someone's storage warehouse by the time I made my escape.  Another store had some really nice things, including some McDade pottery, but unfortunately the prices were way higher than what I knew the pieces normally sell for. So I decided it was time to head on to the next stop on the yarn crawl.

Thankfully the folks at W. C. Mercantile had given out homemade cookies to the yarn crawl participants because I decided to wait until I got close to the next yarn store before I stopped to eat, and I ended up taking a bit of a detour on another backroad.

A few miles out of Navasota, I had seen a sign pointing toward Independence and as I approached that sign on the return drive, I decided I should take the opportunity to visit one of the cornerstones of early Baptist history in Texas.  

I've been to Independence on numerous occasions.  The first time I must have been under ten years old.  I can remember Mother and Daddy stopping there on one of our trips to or from east Texas.  Baylor University and Mary Hardin-Baylor University began their histories at Independence, the men on one hill and the women on another hill.  Sam Houston attended the Independence Baptist Church. 

Back when I began attending Mary Hardin-Baylor, the school took a busload of students and teachers to Independence every year to visit the ruins of Baylor Female Academy and would provide a picnic lunch on the grounds of the historic site.  I wonder if they still do.  There is nothing left but the columns that belonged to the girls' dormitory, but they stand in a grove of live oak trees and are very photogenic.  I've visited numerous times and always enjoy the stop.

The ruins at the birthplace of Baylor Female College,
now Mary Hardin-Baylor University, in Independence
What I discovered this time, and I have no idea how the fact has escaped me all these years, is that there is another park at the site of the men's dormitory.  I had always been under the belief that nothing remained of the men's campus and as a MHB alumnus, had never bothered to explore the possibility.  This time as I approached Independence from the opposite direction than I normally do, I saw a sign to "Baylor University historic site" and thinking that was the turn to get to where I was headed, I turned only to find an entirely different Baylor Park sitting on the site of the men's campus.

There is a nice graveled path with markers to point out the locations of the various buildings that had been part of that site and an empty iron fence surrounding what was the original burial site of Judge R. E. B. Baylor.  His remains were removed to the Mary Hardin-Baylor campus in Belton in the 1920s, his tomb being prominent in the area between Wells Science Hall and the Chapel.  I passed it every day for 4 years and knew that he had been moved there from his original burial site, but never stopped to consider just where it had been moved from.  (I'm sure I read it at some point, but it just had not stuck with me.)  I enjoyed my little walk and was glad I had taken a wrong turn.  I just can't believe it took me this long to realize that there was more to see in Independence.

Historical Marker at the Baylor University birthplace in Independence
Leaving Independence, I got a little turned around and ended up on one of my patented "let's see what's down that road" rambles.  I love these little rambles.  I got a healthy dose of the love to drive backroads genes from both my parents and I always welcome the odd opportunity to do a little off the map exploring.  This one didn't last too terribly long and I was back on the road to Giddings before too much time had elapsed.

I had intended to eat in Giddings, but I was getting tired and decided to push on to my last yarn stop of the day at Yarnorama in Paige.  It is by far my favorite yarn shop and I always enjoy prowling there, exhaustion notwithstanding.  

I lasted until I got back to Bastrop before I just had to eat something and indulged myself with a rare stop at the Roadhouse for a hamburger.  (It's usually too crowded to get in.)  At the end of the day I was tired, but in a much better frame of mind after a day's ramble, and I had a nice basketful of yarn to show for my first third of the yarn crawl.

Bounty of Yarn
The next morning I was in no mood to roll out of bed bright and early, but I had promised to attend church at a little country church a few miles from Bastrop and take part in a patriotic service as part of my DAR membership. It has been a very long time since I've attended a service at a little country Baptist church and it definitely took me back to the days of Westhoff and Smiley.  I enjoyed myself and I enjoyed having lunch with some of the folks afterwards, but I was sure glad to get back home and spend the afternoon drowsing on the couch with Mojo and knitting when I could keep my eyes open for awhile.

Hills Prairie Baptist Church
It was definitely a good idea for me to break out of my rut and see some different territory and talk to folks who haven't been stomping on my last nerve.  This week brings a few welcome distractions (including more yarn crawling) and I expect that my mood will continue to improve.

Nothing like yarn and Texas backroads.