Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas, Christmas Time is Here!

Okay, not exactly. It's only December 1st. But am I alone here in thinking I need to get stuff done now? There I was, back in November, planning on an update for the Little Shop that Could,, it's stocked with a whole two yarns at the moment. Still. On the upside, I did very well at the Handweavers Guild of Boulder annual sale. On the downside, that was a month ago. Gah.

Aside from the forlorn shop, I am feverishly creating these days, prepping for the holiday season. On top of the usual gifties, my friends Alison and Danielle have both commissioned woven scarves from me. I love, LOVE custom work like this, but two weeks of illness in November sucked time like nobody's business. I'm late! And the day job isn't helping!

Despite the tardiness, the woven scarf projects make me giddy. I am LOVING working on them. Alison wants a plainweave scarf of handspun alpaca/silk in pinks, creams, & tans. I've spent the last couple of evenings dyeing, trying to get the pinks just right without being neon or whatnot. Danielle just said "thin, long, and black/gray/white." So I've been gradient carding alpaca in four natural colors - black, rose gray, tan, and nearly-white. With a little black sparkle, of course. Gotta have a touch of sparkle. The tan is thrown in there to make the white appear *really* white against the solid black baby alpaca warp. I like this pattern, but don't understand the note at the bottom: "This draft is for multiple separate layers of cloth that will come apart after weaving!" (Exclamation point!)(!) Um. Any chance I could just have one layer? Maybe this is doubleweave somehow...? Basically I'm looking for the starbursts to slowly transition from black to white over the course of the scarf. Hmmm...this will take more thought. If anyone has a suggestion, let me know.

I'm also working on some Monkeys! These socks have been on the needles since April, I think. They need to be off, I tell you. Then I can get to work on a pair of socks for my mother-in-law, though I don't think with my track record that those'll be done anytime soon. Whew!

p.s. My new loom is magic. His name is Miracle Max. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Still in Shock. But a Good Kind of Shock.

Uh, guys?

I bought a loom today. A LOOM. A maple eight-shaft Baby Wolf. With stroller. And an extra reed.

I blame Stephanie. She was with me today at Shuttles' 18th birthday sale (15% off everything!) and was a complete enabler. Of course, I'd been saving for this moment ever since I took my first weaving class two years ago. I knew I wanted an 8-shaft Baby Wolf. So I kept an eye out on Craigslist and an ear out in my Guild...for two years. After telling this to Stephanie (who knows about such things), she confirmed my suspicion: eight-shaft looms just don't come up for resale very often. Usually they're snapped up very quickly.

That did it. I gathered my courage and waited my turn in the long birthday-sale line. Upon reaching Judy (who'd been my weaving instructor for multiple classes), I announced that I'd decided to buy a loom. She was so happy for me, gave me a hug, and rang me up. My heart stopped for a sec, but I reminded myself again about the money I'd saved for this very moment, and that buying a loom was inevitable anyway. That calmed me down a bit, and I went back into the secret bat-cave area where Sara was taking loom & wheel orders. And I ordered my loom. And it was good.

It should be another month before it comes in, so I have time to figure out where exactly I'm going to put it. Who needs a kitchen table, anyway?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fiber Tourist, Right Here!

I know I haven't posted in awhile, but GUYS!


In April I'll be combining three loves (fiber + travel + anthropology) by journeying up to Forks, WA and taking part in a Judith Mackenzie McCuin workshop!

Here's what I'm talking about. The workshop is called "Tribal Textile Treasures," and will last for 4 days/3 nights. It will involve learning how to weave with cedar and spin wolf down and feathers, plus time with tribal textile artists and storytellers. I managed to squeeze in by the skin of my teeth. My friends Stephanie and Connie are going, and the organizer said that although the workshop was technically full, she could arrange for us to bunk in a 3-bed room at the B&B.

My deposit has been cashed, so it seems like it's really happening. Now all that's left is to save for the workshop and other expenses (air fare, etc.). Oh, and I s'pose I'll need a travel wheel. (Eeeep.) But it will all be worth it. This will be my first fibery trip, my first in-depth fiber workshop, and my first class with Judith. Freak out!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Le Tour

Guess who forgot to join the Tour de Fleece yet again this year? Yup. I always do this kind of thing...get excited and promptly forget. But that doesn't mean I'm not spinning! Still spinning every day, though that's pretty usual. I figured Hey! I'll just be a late joiner. No big woo. But it turns out the Tour forum on Ravelry has nearly 3,000 members and the threads are eons long. So I think I'll keep track of my yarns on the blog here and pretend in my little fantasy world that I'm another treadler in the Tour.

So without further adieu, here's what I've been working during these first few days...

Monday, July 5, 2010


Well, I should probably post all about the Estes Park Wool Market Sheep-to-Shawl contest (SPOILER! We didn't win, though the shawl is lovely & I'm really proud of us), but I'm a lazypants.

So. Here's a little pic of what I did during one of my days off back in maybe April.

Pretty colors! :D

Monday, June 21, 2010

Walking with Mr. Pants.

Me: Holyfreakin'CRAP it's a gorgeous night.

Mr. Pants: Yep. Hey. If you were a superhero, what would your name be?

Me: McHurtalot.

Mr. Pants: Hmm. Is this because you like to hit things and/or people?

Me: Uh, maybe.

Mr. Pants
: I bet I could your guess your sponsor.

Me: Chrysler?

Mr. Pants
: ...

Me: So what would your superhero name be?

Mr. Pants
: SeƱor Pantalones. Of course.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hand Over the Fleece!

We're in the midst of fleece season! One of my favorite times of year!

I went with friends Stephanie and Connie to the Recycled Lamb a few weeks ago to check out their mini-fleece-market, and guess what. Found some fleeces.
That's Stephanie on the left, me on the right, hoisting our gorgeous acquisition...a CVM/Romeldale/Rambouillet fleece from Sister Sheep. I ended up with 3 lbs. of the loveliness.

Then we went to Twin Peaks farm, where Connie has an "in." Lucky us! We met a lot of little new lambs, as well as some sweeties such as Cochise, a CVM ram, below.

We decided to buy Cochise's fleece and split it 3 ways. My share was 2 lbs., below:
I took everything home, freaked out at my good fortune, and then washed up part of the white fleece, which Beh (aka Evil Cat of Perpetual Badness) promptly found while it was drying. Aw.Don't worry! This isn't usual. The cat is typically kept far, far away from the fiber. Since this particular portion will probably become my first sweater, I didn't think I needed to chase her out. I cute is she? If only everyone could sleep in a cloud of fleece! :)

Friday, May 28, 2010


Why do I make yarn by hand?

Because when you think about it, it's kind of ridiculous. It's yarn. That's just one bump up from string. You can buy yarn for el cheapo cheapcheap at your nearest big box and whip up an entire afghan for $15, if you set your mind to it. Or you can just forgo the "making" part altogether and buy a blanket pretty much anywhere. Who needs hoity handspun when you can just buy the finished product?

But see...that's exactly the point. The magic comes in the making...the creating of something out of not very much. I spin because I have to. I'm completely serious. Spinning is addictive magic. There is something about treadling to make the wheel spin while simultaneously watching and feeling the fibers twist together.

Spinning has woken my sense of touch, and there's really no going back. Why settle for four senses when you can have five? At this point, I can plunge my hands into a raw fleece glistening with lanolin and tell you what breed of sheep it came from. I can rub your coat a little and let you know if it was made with wool or alpaca or cotton or something manmade. It's all just a little amazing. I'm in love with my new-found sense of touch!

On top of all of that, spinning is a great calmer. My stress level goes way, way down when I am in the midst of freaking out about something and have a sit-down at my wheel. It is a slow, patient process, which lends itself wonderfully to pulling you back...slowly, methodically, gently...from the Cliffs of Insanity. The touch of the fiber is soothing, and the rhythm of the wheel whirls troubles away.

So you see, I must create yarn. I must decorate with yarn. I must pepper the knitters in my circle of friends and family with yarn. And I must sell yarn, because I love to spin so much more than I love to knit or weave, and if I didn't get it out of my apartment somehow, they'd find me one day buried under mounds of wool and llama and flax and sparkle and whathaveyou.

Which is actually starting to sound appealing...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Which I FTHO

Okay, here's the deal.

I'm swamped.

I can't get it all done! I keep trying! I really do. But everything is so busybusybusy. I'm not even exactly sure why that is. Craptons of social & fiber type things are the likely culprits.

Last week was ridiculous. Tuesday night was Guild. Wednesday night was Happy Wednesday with my neighbor Valaroo (which I s'pose doesn't really count, since we just go out for dinner/happy hour and then I get a few hours of downtime afterwards). Thursday I went over to Stephanie's house to help her spin for Colorado Weavers Day...she was scheduled to teach a novelty yarns class and needed last-minute tailspun & boucle yarnspinning help. Friday night was Rea's birthday, so off to celebrate I went. Saturday was said Colorado Weavers Day (allllllll day long), I met a few fiber friends for dinner at Southern Sun, and then there was a Spin-in at Shuttles from 7-9:30, where I also met other members of the Sheep-to-Shawl team I haphazardly joined for Estes Park Wool Market.

Ah, yes, the Sheep-to-Shawl team. This has become interesting. Guess who idiotically volunteered to spin the warp. From handcombed top, no less. And naturally, I'm the only member with combs. WHAT am I thinking, I ask you. I'll most likely also end up warping the loom because somehow I'm the only person with floor loom experience?? What?? And I'm a spinner on the team, so what am I doing weaving? The original weaver was inexplicably booted to alternate. Don't ask me, I'm not in charge. I don't know what's going on here. All I know is that these things need to happen before June 13th: deciding on a pattern, scouring of the fleece, drying of the fleece, handcombing, spinning the warp, and warping the loom. And I'm involved in every step. Yikes. What I really need to do is quit trying to do everything myself...this is a team effort after all...and remember that the point of this is NOT perfection. It's educating the public. It's supposed to be fun. **deep breath**

Tomorrow I leave for Texas. Ah, Texas, respite of warmth and family. My sisters Little and KK will be there, as will my parents. We're all staying at Little and Pedro's house in Austin (my grandmother's old house)...a little mini-family-reunion. Ultra-special because KK and I are leaving our Significant Others at home, so we don't have to worry about Josh and Ben having to figure out and deal with our wacky fam. I'm so looking forward to this trip. I really need it. As soon as I come back, everything will be megabusy again. But at least my soul will be rested and ready to meet the crazy head-on. :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Happiness

My friend Kate (I totally went back on my word from a previous post and changed her name) and I were on our way to the Recycled Lamb in Lakewood last Friday night to attend a relatively local-ish Stitch 'n Bitch. The drive was gorgeous, since we took the back way...hilly snow-covered plains, horses, even a couple of hawks hunting for their dinners.

The drive took about half an hour, and Kate and I started talking about how happy fiber makes us. Because fiber is basically a giant happiness generator, amiright? :) But then talk turned to life in general, and what "being happy" really means to both of us. Kate and I are about the same age, but she is in a different place in her life...she has two kiddos, she and her husband own their home, that kind of thing. She talked for awhile about how she and her family used to live in another neighborhood, one that she had always considered ideal and Norman Rockwell-esque. But after they bought a house there and moved in, she realized that the place was the quite the opposite. Neighbors didn't greet each other, children didn't play outside. It was all about how much money you had in relation to those around you. Sounds miserable to me, and it apparently was to Kate. She couldn't take it, and before long, had moved her family outta there and into a neighborhood that was much more positive and welcoming. She said from time to time, though, she still fell into the trap of envying other people's possessions. But how do you escape comparing yourself to someone else? How do you manage to NOT want someone else's position/money/power?

Then I talked about how I did relatively well in school and was on the track to grad school after college, but I made the "mistake" of working in the physical anthro lab. The work was interesting and enjoyable, but the grad students were something else. They were, as a whole, utterly jaded. Angry that their own work was regularly published under the professor's name...bitter that they put in long hours as TAs while being compensated peanuts. This would be my life if I continued on in academia, at least in my mind. So I turned down a project manager-ship that I'd been offered and got the heck out of Dodge, escaping to Germany for three months. I did a lot of traveling over the next few years, saving my pennies from my low-responsibility jobs. It made for an exciting life, and I met really wonderful people from all over the world, but every once in awhile I berate myself for falling far short of my (and my parents') expectations, as far as careers go. Sometimes I avoid calling my parents even now, because I didn't become a doctor. Not that this was specifically expected of me, but something incredible was, and I haven't really lived up. Anyway.

Josh and I are both fantastically underemployed in relation to our brain cells, don't make a great deal of money (though we have a LOT in comparison with most of the world)(though when I think about it, why am I okay with comparing myself to those who have less, but not those who have more?), and have lived in a teeny apartment for the past 6 years. But are we "happy"? I'd say yes. We love our neighbors, don't take our jobs home with us, have time for our hobbies, and have everything we need. The only thing I really wish for is to be geographically closer to my family. And I think if our neighbors put more stock in money and possessions, we might have a harder time, as Kate pointed out.

Mostly I feel incredibly lucky and grateful. I had the incredible good fortune to have been born in an amazing country, which -- despite its problems -- is chock full of opportunity and beauty. I have a loving partner who enjoys learning as much as I do. And I really couldn't ask for better friends. Yep, I'd say I'm a happy chickadee.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So you've heard of spinning silk caps...

...what about TUSSAH silk caps?

Maggie pulled out an example of a tussah silk cap at my Sensuous Silk Spinning class last week, and omg. This thing is crazy. Copy of National Geographic next to it for scale.

Um, yeah. Why would you even need to spin this? You could just wear it around like a shawl! It's folded in this pic, can separate the layers for a true bell shape. According to Maggie, tussah silk caps used to be available to handspinners, but she hasn't seen one for sale for about 20 years now.

For all of you non-handspinners, a bombyx silk cap or hankie is much smaller than this...usually about the size of that National Geographic there. Bombyx silk caps/hankies are still obtainable, and can be a lot of fun to spin. Just don't expect a smooth yarn from them...the resulting yarn will have some bumps and noily bits. That's just the nature of the beast.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So Much Fiber, So Little Time

I'm a slacky slackster! I ignore the blog on a regular basis!

I think part of the problem is that I feel every post probably needs an illustration. Which is, you know, not necessarily true.

Anyway, I've been loving the fiber world lately. My "More on Four in Two" weaving class with Judy Steinkoenig was really wonderful. Two full days (9-4:30) of learning new weave structures for 4-harness looms...yes, please! Judy has a dry sense of humor (she called us her "more-ons") and is a very technical weaver, so it's easy to learn the specifics from her and then garnish your well-prepped weaving with artful creativity. At least in theory. :) Each person in the class warped his/her loom with a specific weave structure before class (I was assigned "crackle"), then after lecture we moved around the room round-robin style to get a chance to practice each. We all were required to hemstitch our samples, and so I'm a hemstitching expert at this point, lemmetellya. Finished samples included Ms & Os, supplementary warp, summer & winter, log cabin, crackle, shadow weave, and huck lace. I actually didn't get a chance to do shadow weave (ran out of time!), but will be posting an entry on each one. With a picture, of course!

Also in fiber news, I'm continuing to love living in a mecca of fellow fiber-lovers. My weeks are filled with fiber social groups, which is totally bizarro, especially considering I can be a shy little violet. First Monday of the month is the Spin-in at Shuttles. We've got about 25 people (!) who regularly attend at this point. Amazing. Second Tuesday of the month is the evening meeting of the Handweavers Guild of Boulder, which always involves an interesting show-and-tell from members, plus a great speaker of some sort. Last month's speaker was Anne Bossert, who combines fiber art with handmade furniture. Third Monday of the month I get together with my friends Stephanie and Connie for a sort of yarn study group. We usually focus on a combo of different fibers (i.e. yak + cotton, or flax + silk) and study ratios of "ingredients" and properties of the resulting yarns. We also drink beer and watch spinning DVDs, so, you know, it's not that serious. :) And then I also joined a group that meets on the fourth Saturday of the month for a spin-in/knit-in, though I haven't been able to attend for the past three months because of conflicts. With luck, I'll be able to make it this month!

Here's wishing everyone a great, fibery late winter/early spring, and I'm encouraging you to get out there and meet other spinners and/or other fiber artists! There's just nothing like learning and socializing with your fiber peeps. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Classes Galore!

My Mint account has registered something astounding: I'm taking a plethora of classes after a bit of a draught!

After a busybusy fall and a Summer of Fun (during which I only took the one dyeing class, I think, with Nancy Finn), I've registered for 4 (!) classes at my LYS after getting a little quiet notice in my inbox that the winter offerings were available for perusing online. Shuttles is so sneaky this way. Their notices are gentle and vaguely prodding (i.e. "Please register at least a week ahead of time."), which absolutely doesn't prepare you for the craziness. When I called, Judy Steinkoenig (co-owner & weaving instructor) answered and, completely flustered, told me she'd have to call me back because she had lines (plural) of people at the desk trying to register for classes.

I'm so glad she called me back. It's amazing, but I managed to slide my way into two brand new classes with Maggie Casey (yes, that Maggie Casey), a class with Debi Dodge (who does a LOT of skein judging), and a class with Judy herself (my Beginning Weaving instructor). Here's the happy listie:

* More on 4 in 2 (aka, More on 4-shaft Looms in 2 Days, or Beginning Weaving II) (Feb. 6 & 7) - Judy
* Spinning Outside the Box (Feb. 20) - Debi
* Playing with Multicolored Roving (Feb. 25 & March 4) - Maggie
* Sensuous Silk Spinning (March 25) - Maggie

There are actually a TON more that I'd love to take (Boucle, Spinning Paco-Vicuna, Wrap and Roll), but had to draw the line somewhere. I feel so lucky to live in an area that is so rich with teachers! The fiber world is deceptively deep...the more I learn, the more I realize I have more to learn. :)