Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gold Star

Last week I was getting ready to send out a large order that needed to be on the other side of the country by the end of the month. No biggie as I thought I had a week to finish the preparations and get it mailed.   Then a friend told me that the end of the month was not next Saturday, but the coming Wednesday. Sheesh. How could I get that far off? Finally I realized I was looking at a MAY calendar but not seeing the word May.  The packages did get shipped out by late Friday so they are in CA now. Whew! However that little misreading also put me about 3 days behind in getting ready to leave for CT and RI.

I will be vending (and mvos will be assisting) at the RI Wool and Fiber Festival on May 17. Plus plans were in the works for visiting my mother in CT for Mother’s Day. With the price of gas the way it is I thought that once I was 4.5 hours east of here that going another 2.5 was certainly less expensive than coming back and going all the way to the Atlantic Ocean 4 days later. But that means being ready for the Festival a whole week early. So having 3 days chopped off my planning time was major.

I solved the problem by making lists. I love lists. Well, what I really love is crossing things off lists. I get such satisfaction from putting a line or 3 through chores that need doing. As a visual person seeing the list get shorter shows me progress while having it all on paper allows my brain to rest from the have to/need to’s that would be spinning around in there endlessly.

Order from Bryson
Order oil bottles
Order control cards
Send out announcements to RI, CT and MA customers
Write a blog
Make dyeing calendar

Forward 800 number to cell phone.
Writing to all about no shipping for 10 days.
Pack yarn, needles, accessories, books, etc for cable sock design
Make drive bands
Pack up shop
remember folding chairs
and I am sure this list will get longer before it gets shorter. But when it is all done I get a

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dither and Yon

Normally I am a rather decisive person, choosing fairly easily from a menu or in the grocery aisle (although I do get mesmerized by the colors and variety of labels), and even deciding what to wear the night before for the next day. This decisiveness also extends into my knitting and spinning. A few days ago I would have said always but now that is being modified to mostly.

Last fall my mother asked me to make her a sweater so we went online while I was there and chose a cardigan pattern. It looked simple enough as a take along and I was intrigued by the construction, which was knit from the back edge through the sleeves and neck/front opening all the way to the front bottom edge. I then forgot to take her measurements. After much reminding she finally gave them to me last month. Hurray! So I figured out the yardage, dyed the 1.5 pounds of bamboo/merino DK to the colors she asked for – silver grey with bits of blue, pink and lavender, made a swatch and a knitting I did go until

the evening Spin Off came in the mail whereby the Danish Shawl was enthusiastically started with stash leftovers. This was/is a fun knit; a rather mindless garter stitch with a 6 st increase every other row. It called for bulky yarn and size 6 needles (4mm). No way I say. So it is being knit in light worsted with size 6 needles.

Well this one has bogged down. Upon reflection I realized that it just is not progressing fast enough for the time I have put into it. Also the fabric is dense even with lighter yarn than called for. The solution? Frog it back to the first color and continue with size 8 or 9 needles. Meanwhile it sits in my knitting bag.

So the other evening. Jim watched me looking at 2 of MelissaJean’s patterns and laughingly said, “You’re ahead on the sock designs so you are going to fill that hole, huh?” I looked up with surprise. But you know he was right. It is so hard for me to have just ‘down time’ that I do automatically fill it in. In this instance I wanted to make a shop/vending sample and thought the space created between sock designs was just the perfect place. Twinkle Twinkle was quickly chosen for its use of a picot edge, slipstitch pattern, smocking and the fact that it used size 3 needles.  These are a few of my fave or it things. (Can I join The Yarnery Family Singers?)   I rarely make baby anything anymore as the grandkids range in age now from 6 through 16. However there is just something endearing about knitting a baby garment.

Even though the pattern is shown in one color I decided to make it in two. One yarn in a superwash merino/tencel colorway and the other in a coordinating bamboo /superwash merino /nylon tonal. That way I can show the differences in both yarns on one garment plus illustrating a different use than socks for the yarns. Perfect! as the pattern calls for three 185 yd (169m) skeins of natural dyed organic yarn translating into two of my hand dyed non organic 390yd (356m) ones. OK, so out to the shop to look at choices. I quickly narrowed the decision to Blueberry Patch and Clematis Vine with either Blueberry Pie or Jeans as the coordinating tonal. Jeans and Blueberry Pie both coordinate with Blueberry Patch and Clematis Vine. I brought them into the house to look at a bit more, as the decision eluded me. I must have *moved the skeins around dozens of times, looking at one combination then another*. Repeat between the asterisks- all evening.

(sorry about the blurriness)

My mind just would not settle on one combo. I even wrote to Ann in CA asking for her opinion. Then made a swatch. You’re right, so many swatches lately. Sheesh what is happening to me? By the morning Clematis Vine had won out over Blueberry Patch, as Clem is so much more springy in brightness and colors. Then I dithered on the coordinating tonal. Jim’s opinion was asked. He liked Jeans best with it but I was still unsure. However I was also itching to start this cardi. Then a light came on. It could be started with Clematis Vine and the second color chosen later. Ahhhh such relief. I cast on and happily knit the picot edge and hem. So sweet.

By this time Ann had sent a reply suggesting a really bright second color. Hmmmmnnnnn Well shoot! Am I an indie dyer or not? So 5 blank skeins of the bamboo/SW were made and promptly displaced the intended bfl from one dye pot. I am so pleased with this color. It is Leaves. Actually this tonal had been thought of weeks ago but did not get dyed by the very fact that green by itself just does not sell well. However this particular tonal now coordinates beautifully with Clematis Vine, Blueberry Patch, Roses for You AND Butterfly Bush. I love it and this little sweater!!!!

The sleeves, edging and smocking will be knit in Leaves. What fun!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Far and Wide

As a middle school teacher I looked forward to time alone. We used to joke about how much work we got done when students were off for a day. I craved time when concentration on my own thoughts could happen for more than a few minutes at a time, often turning down invitations just to have some knitting or spinning or sewing space. Now that I have a home-based business my alone time is still valuable but social interactions are defintely more welcome.

Even before SmokeyBlue’s passing I had been meaning to write a blog about the wonderful people I meet in the fiber world via the internet. Almost everyday I have a positive upbeat communication via email or the phone with at least one other fiberholic. What can be better than ‘talking’ about fiber and yarn with other fiber/yarn lovers? We swap bits and pieces of our lives, all converging on fiber and our love for it. We discuss patterns and what to do with fiber we have spun.  Over time we get to know each other even better, sharing information about our families, our beloved  animals and our dreams.  How would I have ever met these incredible creative people otherwise? 

Laura is a phone friend who originally called to place an order, but the calls have grown to include much much more. She called last Saturday right after we returned from the vet’s to ask a question. When I explained in my out of breath mixed up state about SmokeyBlue she immediately understood.

The following Monday, when returning home around 10:30pm from a Pixie Batt carding marathon at Bob’s in Naples, this was on the counter. It was from Laura and her family, people whom I have not yet met in person. I dissolved. Thank you again Laura.

Others wrote very tender emails that had me again dissolving. Thank you all.

One more recent but regular correspondent is of a similar age and likes many of the same things I do, besides fiber and yarn. We exchange daily bits and pieces that amount to quite a bit of our lives. Another, whom I taught to spin via email, has blue animals so we have shared our love of that special color as well as parts of our lives.

My small world has opened up to include people from all over the world now. Seriously all over -- including Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, the UK, Australia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Canada and of course all parts of the US. I am very grateful to those correspondents whose native language is not English yet write excellent English, because my foreign language skills rank way far below theirs. Sadly all I have is bits and pieces of Spanish and maybe restaurant French. I am told that in other countries, English is taught from an early age and used often, unlike here where we choose a language to learn at age 12 and then often drop it about 4 years later.

My sister says that people in fiber seem so kind and helpful to each other, very different from the competitiveness she has seen in other fields. I agree with her completely. Maybe its the wool fumes but very rarely do I see that other side. Even Bob, who is a big seller on eBay and could overlook little me, is generous and open (and my adopted brother besides). We have discovered that having vendor space right next to each other is great fun too.  

Several others from all over are infrequent correspondents but still more than acquaintances and many have been added as friends on Ravelry (I am smokeyblue). We write to each other for a few days and then go on with our lives, picking up easily again after a few weeks or months. Just like the Sock Hop yahoo group that is rather sporadic in its postings but again is friendly, helpful and upbeat.

I have truly retredded into a life of joyfulness.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Gentleman Rabbit

On Saturday, April 7 at approximately 10:30 am EST SmokeyBlue went back to Source.  His disability took a great deal of his energy so that after 2 years minus 4 days, his body just gave out.  He had made the decision to transition several days before by not eating, but remained his ever-sweet alert self.  He cuddled with Basel and me frequently,  which I believe was his way of saying good bye for now.  We miss his feisty original self very much and still look for him when we are in the living room.  However we know that he is now pain free, hopping on 4 feet and happily cavorting with other rabbits.

One friend wrote:
"I know how much a part of your family (and the business) he has been. Please know I am recalling many fond memories of him nibbling around my feet and scootching across the floor, as he made his journey from room to room. ..."

"He truly was a gentleman rabbit. Now he's chasing the ladies again."

I really do not have the words to fully describe more of what a positive and wonderful role SmokeyBlue played in our family except to refer you to previous posts  -Nature Called  and Pecking Order.

Instead of a word obituary, as he rarely ever made sounds, here are some of his best photographs, although it has been difficult to choose as he was so very photogenic.

At 6 weeks.

Sleeping through his first heat wave (about 3 months old).

SmokeyBlue's favorite season.

In his job as newsletter editor

In his job as box tester.

SmokeyBlue's 15 minutes of fame OR the photograph that was published in the summer issue of Spin Off 2007, p13.

Last summer.

Just a week or so ago snuggling with Baz

Bye buns.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal

Jim grew up in Minnesota where the winters are long and rather cold.  In his younger years he was a guide in the Boundary Waters. Jim loves being outdoors; camping, canoeing, snowshoeing, walking.

This morning he walked into the dining room looking extremely dejected. He immediately said, " I dreamt I woke up, looked out the window and it was green. I woke up, looked out the window and it was WHITE. I was disappointed."
(That last sentence is classic Minnesotan understatement for those of you who don't know anyone from that part of the US.)

I grabbed his arm and told him to come with me. We went out the kitchen door and up a couple of steps onto a sunny slope. I pointed, saying, "Look over there."

He smiled.