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September 2006
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November 2006

Treats with No Tricks

Myfavoritenewbumpersticker
Happy Halloween!!!

Do you like my new bumper sticker? May you have a spooky, fun and treatful day!

Here are the fiber treats from Rhinebeck:

Autumngraftonbattforsusan    Oddcolorsinagraftonbatt

It was much easier to get to Grafton Fiber to pick up a batt than I thought it might be. Everyone was lined up at The Fold for STR, which made it fairly easy to get around the Grafton booth.  I picked up a batt for Susan (she'd asked for an autumn colorway but I went with 'Fire!', which is my name for it).  I also bought myself a batt in one of the strangest color combos I've seen.  It has a bit of black, fuchsia, deeper shades of pink and a bit of a golden straw color.  It should be interesting to spin and play with the colors.

Stephanielogwoodcochcorriedalesilkwithgo Spinningstephaniaslovelyfiber

This ball is Corriedale/silk from Stephania dyed with logwood and cochineal.  Right after I bought the Golding I started to spin this luscious fiber and found that spinning with silk is different than anything I'd spun before.  There is so much to learn about spindle spinning and wheel spinning (which I find to be two different animals-just sayin'). but it's enjoyable to learn more and more. The Golding spindle (Celtic Ring-2 3/4") spins on and on and I'm enjoying it's beauty.

Turqoisefiberfromindigomoon_1

Indigo Moon Farm had so many beautiful colors, but this one really spoke to me.  It's two shades of turquoise with a pale purple line down one side.  It will be interesting to watch it spin into yarn.  The content is 50% alpaca/30% merino/20% silk.  It is so incredibly soft.

Battfrombarnswallowfarmlincolnxcopperros_1 Barnswallow Farms batts are soft and rich in color.  This is Copper Rose and the content is LincolnX.  It was so, so lovely and I just had to have three batts.  This is another fiber I hope to be worthy enough (with much more practice) to spin (someday) on my newly acquired wheel.

Fantomfarmsromney This Fantom Farm Romney roving had so much depth in its unique color combination that I just had to buy it.  It will be interesting to watch as I spin and ply, which I hope to do well enough to keep the colors separate or at least not blend them too much.  The goal was to buy a variety of fiber content and colorways so that I could learn the characteristics of each type and fibure out the best way to spin it.  This likely means a lot of learning by trial and error is in my future.

Snapdragonicelandicsingles_1 Jager Farms Icelandic lace weight singles drew my attention with its lively color. It was the only yarn that enticed me to break the 'no yarn' pledge.  The lovley color, called 'Snapdragons', should make a warm and beautiful shawl. I also bought Blogless Val the same yarn in 'Apple Tree's.  (Karen also got a gift of some beautiful roving.)

Redbattfromspinnershill My last stop was Spinners Hill, where a large bag (over 1 lb) of a deep red, (with bits of black) fiber called out to me. It was so bulky (but very light) that Norma consented to send it to me (and it arrived yesterday).  The goal of buying a variety of fiber was met and I was able to carry most of my purchases (and the wheel) home.  Every time I sit to spin with any of this exquisite fiber I will think of my two days of fiber fun and frenzy at Rhinebeck.


FINALLY! The Rhinebeck Report

But first, the debut of the Cabled Seamans Scarf knit with buffalo/silk yarn made for Smith's Uncle Bob.  Bob was pleased to have a nice warm scarf and even more excited when he found out it was knit with buffalo yarn.  Doesn't he look like Sean Connery?

Uncleboblovesthebuffaloscarf

Pattern: Cabled Seaman Scarf
Designer: Adapted from a stitch pattern in The Knitting Stitch Bible, inspired by Myrna Stahman's book, via help from Susan.
Yarn: Buffalo/silk purchased at SOAR 2005, seller unknown
Time to Knit:  September 20-October 13, 2006

On our way to Rhinebeck Norma and I stopped by Jessie's place to say hello and have lunch with her.  Jessie dyes yarn in the most beautiful color combinations and I can attest to its luxurious softness, too. We dashed through the rain to visit the bird house where her peacock resides and then dashed to the car and off to lunch.  It was a very enjoyable and delightful lunch with good food and great chat. Jessie told us of a wine store near by, so we were able to stop and pick up a nice contribution for Winebeck and this is where the Rhinebeck adventure truly begins. I'll also warn you now that I had camnesia for most of the trip.

Norma's GeePeeeEsssssssss had taken us to Jessie's without trouble (almost).  But when we left the store we were both a bit puzzled by the direction the said GP told us to go.  After driving up and down, turning around and around...we decided to just go with it and give it a mile.  Without maps to consult, we had little choice....so, off we went through farm fields, dirt roads, rural farm landscapes and a swamp. YES, SWAMP!   The first dirt road we hit we just looked at each other in wonder...but kept our heading and stayed the course (yes, we understand that can lead to trouble).  The next time we hit a dirt road I turned to Norma and said "Norma, this is the middle of a swamp!"  Just then a road sign popped up (I swear it came out of nowhere) that read "Swamp Road".  As Judy would say "yep, yep, ye-up".  That confirmed it all right.  Norma commented that maybe I should expect an axe to come out from under her seat, but by then she had my complete trust.  It was a short time later that we both gasped at the sight of this...

Coveredbridgesinromoteplaces

NormadriveslikeaboatoutofhellonthewaytorNorma carefully drove through and kept on truckin'.  It wasn't long before the dear GPS told us the road we sought was just ahead and also that we had saved 20 minutes of time.  It was then we felt safe and relieved.  The rest of the trip looked more like the picture on the right (Carole, Norma is a wicked good driver, just sayin').

It was within a respectable time that we arrived at the hotel in Poughkeepsie and as we walked into the lobby a sea of open arms greeted us.  It is all a blur but I do remember that Laurie, Carole, Stephanie (likely remembered because I had met them before), as well as Sandy, Beth, Cara, Judy, Ann and Vicki. There were so many others to welcome us with hugs and squeals and my brain freezes when I try to replay and remember everyone.  A man checking in asked Norma if it was a high school reunion....a reunion yes!  It was overwhelming (a feeling I had much of the weekend) and awesome to meet so many face to face.

Seaofbloggersatmeetup

Look at the sea of bloggers at the meet up and you'll see why I spent most of the time talking to and hugging people instead of taking pictures. After trying to go through the pictures I did take I became overwhelmed yet again!  So many posts have already been published about Rhinebeck and its glorious days of wine, women and song fiber galore, bloggers galore, fabulous knit items galore, and food to live for.  It seems I am still behind in trying to catch up with life, with home duties, Bloglines, email and even my own blog. 

Please forgive me if I beg off sharing pictures and linking to all the wonderful bloggers (and non-bloggers) I met.  The operative word for the whole weekend has become overwhelming.  I was overwhelmed with kindness, with hugs, with meeting the bloggers I've connected with most,  with fiber and everything else about the weekend.  There is one huge regret, if you can call it that, that came from meeting everyone.  My dearest wish would be that we had had a chance to sit in small groups to chat and knit, to know each other better and in a more normal mode than a fiber/blogger frenzy.  It's not that it wasn't wonderful, it's just that I am so far away and have only blogging as a way to connect (and yes, phone calls, too) and it just wasn't enough.  So many of you are real friends and there just wasn't time to be 'normal', to be real.  There wasn't time to to get to know more of you or even to do more than just hug and say "Nice to meet you!'.  In other words...I WANT MORE!  It was heartwarming and fulfilling to be with so many fiber enthusiasts and friends.

I did put a picture of Laurie and Marcia in the corner of my blog.  Marcia sold me her wonderful Lendrum DT and you can see on Cheryl's blog that she captured the moment of my taking possession. (She has many other fun pictures, too.)  And Laurie? What can one say about such a generous and caring spirit as she? Not only does she have the best hug ever (as you may have heard), but she is a delight and joy to be around.  Thank you Laurie for making my weekend that much more special.  It would be (and hopefully will be) wonderful to sit and chat when there is more time than just the few minutes we had before falling into exhausted sleep after a day of fiber frenzy.

Tomorrow the loot!


Saturday Sky

Sandy truly is a sky watcher and she's wicked silly and super fun. She brought me back to MA from Rhinebeck along with Manise and Beth.  I enjoyed getting to know them all better.

Smith and I left fall New England and came home to winter in Utah.

Saturdayskyonthursday

I took the photo on Thursday to show today.  It's still clear and beautiful here.

Creedandmoxie An unexpected and unfortunate event made our last day in MA and our first few hours at home rather sad. Tuesday morning just before we set out to visit the Peabody Essex Museum, our friend Creed called to say that Moxie had escaped from his back yard the day before.  Creed lives in a neighborhood far from our own and his constant searching, posting of signs, and calling local animal shelters produced no Moxie.  We were all divested and it was a sad journey home, a sad, restless night, and a very dark morning (dreary, rainy weather didn't help the mood, either). 

Wednesday I had only been at work a few minutes when Smith called to say that Moxie had been found.  Oh, the relief was overwhelming! Creed had placed an ad in the Salt Lake Tribune, which two lovely ladies answered. Moxie had only made it about ½ block when they found him, very shortly after his escape. They fell in love with him (we knew whoever found him would!) and they also took him to the vet to find out his age and see if he could be identified.  Unfortunately Moxie didn't have any identification on him.  The ladies had taken  pictures and fliers were ready to post around the neighborhood, which would have led them to Creed, as his were also posted.  It is an understatement to say our mood lifted quickly despite the weather and our hearts were happy again.   

We were a little worried about our very old Murphy so he was boarded by the vet.  He was cared for so well that he came through with no negative effects. He is old and won't be with us much longer, but for now he his doing fairly well. It's so nice to be home with both our boyz. 

Reentry has been tough.  How does 8 days away produce so much to do?


V is for...

Vermont!

One of the best things about Vermont is Norma.  She and her welcoming committee member, Vincent, greeted us with open arms.
Normaandvincentknowhowtowelcomeyou_2

Norma certainly has her own style and while she may lack true 'Martha-ness' she makes up for it in being 'real', as in being real-ly fun, real-ly crazy, a real-ly good cook!  We had delightful meals, even though we had dessert for breakfast just before heading to Rhinbeck.  But the day before, when we were schedule-less, she made yummy omelettes.  Sadly we were having so much fun that few pictures were taken.  Norma is wicked wacky and the very best host. David, her true blue hubby, is a very fine gent and he and Smith had (and have) stories to share.

Let's go back to the 'V'.

The minute we crossed the border into Vermont the landscape changed.  Large farms were nestled in the green rolling hills and mountain peaks in the distance reminded us that Vermont is the Green Mountain State, a name it deserves (and we know our mountains).

Farmsandmountainsarewhatmakesupthelandsc_1

Eventherocksaregreen Norma proudly drove us around her State of residence and we fell in love with its beauty.  Vermont's landscape could not be more different than our own beautiful State.  One of our stops was Smugglers Notch where even the rocks are green! Norma took a very nice picture of me and it turns out she's a real-ly good photographer as Smith didn't have such good luck.

Wedidjeffandhadlovelysandwiches Wecaughtthelastgaspofcolor_1The leaves were in the last gasps of color when we 'did Jeff'. We enjoy a nice meal where Anne and Norma would meet for lunch before Anne moved across the plains to Utah. Smith had the 'The Bill Sandwich which consists of 'Liberal Amounts of Ham, Left cut Swiss, Stone Ground Mustard, Pressed & Grilled on Rye Toast, served with Bush Fries'.  Needless to say Vermont is our kind of place.

LikehomingpegionswecanfindyarnanywhereWhitechurcheswithsteeplesdotthetowns Vermont has that romantic New England look of white churches with tall steeples. While we stopped for this classic photograph we spotted what every good knitter has built in radar to find...a yarn shop!  We perused the small, but nice, selection and reminded each other that Rhinebeck was in one day.

Normacancriveatractoratvtreststop_1 Smithfoundamoosethatwashavingagoodtime Near the end of the sight seeing day we stopped at a rest area and found it had tractors for tables! Norma knows how to drive a tractor as surely any 'real' Vermonter would. After seeing 'Watch for Moose' signs every where, Smith finally found one.  He was quite the guy and Smith enjoyed his company. 

The last picture of the day is of a colorful shoreline taken as we drove across Lake Champlain to the islands. Thank you Norma for a showing us around your beautiful home State.
Colorontehwaytotheislands

Smith and I both fell in love with Vermont and it's rural beauty.

~~~~~~~~

It seems Ferdinand Magellan made his way to Utah while I was exploring Vermont. Michelle sent a box full of luscious rovings from Spunky Eclectic (and other fine goodies, too) as she was my Yarn Aboard pal!

Yarnaboardgooiesfrommicheleinca

From top to bottom you see Delphinium, Hyacinth, Navajo Gems and Poppies.  Michelle said they are all easy spinning rovings which is just what I need to try on my new wheel! Yummy candies are shown, but were soon enjoyed.  She also sent a charming set of note papers and a sample of Eucalan Wool Wash.  It is a fabulous package that arrived just in time. Thank you Michelle and I wish we could have met at Rhinebeck.  Now, I need to ready Ferdinand for his journey to my pal.


Impossible Dream

It seems an impossible feat to tell you about the trip.  Eight days of wonderful family, lovely fiber friends, beautiful sights, and hugs galore are now a blur.  The pictures will help to tell the tale as soon as I can go through them and put my thoughts into words.  It will take some time to get back into the swing of life as we have groceries to buy, laundry to do and other necessities need to be dealt with, too.

The fiber has been unpacked and I give you a peek here.  It's the booty from the glorious days at Rhinebeck. The number of vendors, the amount of wool and tools available were completely overwhelming to this neophyte. Next time I go (2008...hopefully) I'll have more of an idea what to buy. Please allow me to tell you more about the luscious haul next week.

Fiberandgoodiesfromrhinebeck

A wheel did come home with me, but it was purchased from Marcia, and not a vendor at the show.  She just needs the new Kromski portable (can I spill the beans, Marcia?) which will hit the market in November, and had to 'unload' her Lendrum.  I was the very lucky recipient who bought it from her and also brought it home (as luggage) safely.  What a thrill to open the box yesterday morning and set it up, albeit, perhaps bassackwards.  Allow me to introduce Emmylou.  In time she and I will make beautiful music together, there is no doubt.

Meetmissemmylouwhowillmakebeautifulmusic

I can not thank my very talented guest bloggers, Karen and Val, for taking time to set up posts while I was away.  Thank you to all of you for their overwhelming welcome to Blogland.  Perhaps your response will talk them into setting up blogs of their own.   There is so much to tell and today there is very little time to produce much of a post, so let me leave things here.  Over the weekend I'll have time to regroup, look through the pictures and regale you with tales of the trip.  I'll be back tomorrow with a bit more info. It feels good to be home and to be back in Blogland.  Meeting many of my imaginary friends was nothing like meeting strangers, as Cara said, it was more like a reunion!


Spinning Around

Since I talked about knitting the other day, I think I’ll focus on spinning today. That and all my knitting projects right now are Christmas presents or have so little done, they aren’t interesting yet. I have a couple of spinning projects going at the moment. The first is on my wheel (a folding Lendrum).   Orchid_handspunThis is what I have spun from  2 pounds of 56’s wool. I’m not entirely sure what that means but I like it. A friend sent it to me when I got my wheel. It’s very easy to spin and while it’s not as soft as merino it’s spinning up into a nice lofty yarn. I dyed it using Lanaset dyes to get a nice light orchid color in my crock pot. I’m spinning a 2-ply at approximately dk weight, something like 14 wpi. Hopefully, it’ll work well for the  Autumn Leaves Sweater in the newest Rowan. I’m not going to knit the leafy bits that are stuck onto it and I'll do it in one color.  I need about 1700 yards and I’ve spun and plied about 800 so far. There’s a ways to go but spinning is very meditative for me. It’s one activity that I can focus on and silence the rest of what’s going on in my head.

My other spinning project is taking longer than expected. At the Estes Park Wool Market back inGreen_and_blue_handspun June I bought 4 oz of merino/silk blend from Lamb Spun. Beautiful stuff although the picture doesn’t do it justice. I love it! I’m spinning it on the lovely spindle I bought from Handspun by Stephania the same day. It’s polymer clay and spins like a dream. Sorry I couldn’t get a good picture of it. It’s red with a golden sun design on the whorl. I’ve been slowly spinning up spindlefuls here and there since the day I bought it.  I haven’t had a particular project in mind for it so there hasn’t been any rush. At first I thought about socks but I ran across a pattern for a herringbone lace scarf the other day. It’s a very simple pattern that I think might look nice with the variations of green and blue. It’s spinning up at a dk to fingering weight so I think it will make enough yarn.  I thjnk I have a couple of hundred yards spun and plied so far.

Tomorrow Margene returns from her travels. I’m sure she’s going to have lots of wonderful pictures and stories to share. Let's give her a big welcome back with lots of comments.


A Final Word, About Family

There would likely be no knitting if someone hadn’t taught us. I’ve had my share of teachers along the way. I have finally gotten to the point where I can correct my own mistakes and try something new that requires a higher level of patience and focus. But I still need help, and when I drop a yarnover (or leave one out…will I ever get the hang of lace??), read the pattern wrong, or pull out the grey poncho one more time, my friend Marge (usually spelled as me: Marge? Her: WHAAAT?) will be there to patiently set me back on course with a “you can do it, silly.”

I have even taught some to knit, which is a humbling achievement. To see someone who had never touched yarn or needles blithely knitting away on a lovely project that makes her happy is well, indescribably satisfying.

So here are the three people who taught me to knit. Since it has become my passion, they deserve the satisfaction of starting me down this path many years ago and keeping me going even though there were times I thought it was a lost cause.

Mymom_1
This is my mom. She knitted everything as far back as I can remember. Argyle socks for my dad. Golf club covers. A yellow mohair dress for me in the 60s that required huge needles (20s? 30s?) but that was so heavy it grew a few inches every time I wore it. A sage green 3/4 length Chanel coat in mohair for herself that was lined with satin and I thought was about the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen. A forest green turtleneck poncho Poncho that she made for me to take to college and that I wore every day because the cold and clammy Northwest chilled me to the bone. I have it still (the poncho, I left the chill behind). Baby blankets for every grandchild, personalized Christmas stockings for the boys, the “owly” sweater and matching hat for my first son. I cannot remember (or, sadly find pictures of) them all. She is responsible for the project that got me knitting again recently and for all eternity, which I found in my closet after a hiatus of almost 20 years. She had bought me the wool and pattern after my second son was born. I guess we thought with a full time job and two boys, I’d have time to knit a cabled tunic in denim Lopi. Well, I did, just not in 1984. I finished it (with help from my sister) in 2003. My mom didn’t get to see it finished, but I don’t think it’s worrying her. I imagine her sitting in front of a fireplace somewhere, with a cup of coffee and her knitting, at peace at last. I still have her tapestry knitting bag and all her needles (save one pair which she probably snuck away), displayed in a glass vase like ever-blooming flowers.


Sistersthen
Sistersnow

My oldest sister (left in the 'then' photo, right in the 'now') is a very talented knitter who has got me unstuck countless times. As she rarely lived nearby, it was always days if not weeks before I could move along. [No wonder I keep stopping one thing and starting a new project. That’s all I could do for awhile.] So the first thing I’d do when I saw her is throw some sweater piece at her and ask her to fix it. She always has. This phenomenon must be common. Once I got my son’s grey cabled sweater well under way, I went to my LYS and asked for help, even though I had not bought the yarn there. I explained that I’d have to wait to see my sister and I was eager to keep going. The shop owner nodded knowingly. Her sister lived in England, and would always send her the sweater pieces to be sewn together, which of course she always did. My sister has maintained the next generation baby blanket tradition, for grandkids and lucky nieces, nephews, grand-cousins and the like. You can see one of them here (and another gratuitous photo of the granddaughter...). BabyblanketThe only trouble with her is she knits really fast. I had begun my first pair of socks and was plodding along while on a trip together last year. She praised my tenuous efforts, and we knitted together while stopping at every yarn store between La Conner and Gig Harbor, Washington. (I think there were six.) I’d been home about two days and was probably a good two inches farther on the first sock, when she called to tell me she had made a pair for her granddaughter! Passive-aggressive braggart!

My older sister is also a prolific knitter, and now has three grandsons to knit for. We recently went to a Knitters Retreat at Alta together, and I think she finished something for each of them over that weekend. Always a bold public knitter, she knitted at major league baseball games before it was cool. Some of the fisherman knit sweaters she made for her husband 20 years ago are still worn routinely. If I’m not mistaken, she has knitted many items in the colors of various teams – and it doesn’t matter if they’re pro, collegiate or preschool.

As in many families, the craft has not stopped there. My three nieces (daughters of the above) and my daughter-in-law are now knitting. My hope is to put my needles in Baby Bo’s hands on my next visit, and ‘secure her future’ as well.

Since I talk a lot about my knitting friends, I thought it only right to end with my knitting family. I think Jean said it best in her comment on Tuesday about her great-grandmother, who she never knew, but whose scarf she still has: “”When I hold it, I feel blessed to have an insight into who she was and proud to take part in something she was so talented at. Maybe someday, my great-granddaughter will hold something I made and feel the same.”

What fun. Thanks Margene, and welcome home. Autumn06

PS The pattern for the baby dress pictured in the first post is the Mini Pini, from the book "minnies: quickknits for babies and toddlers" by Jil Eaton. Yarn is Zodiac 100% cotton from Karabella.


Labors of Love

Thank you, for the lovely comments! I really enjoyed reading them. Everyone was so sweet. I also enjoy hearing people’s stories. I like to hear how people live their lives, make decisions, and where those decisions take them.   Kit Kat also thanks you for the many compliments. 
  Eros_and_loki_cuddling_1Stackable_kitties

As requested here are a couple of pictures of my other two boys.  They're littermates and very attached to each other.  Loki is the larger one on top and Eros is the smaller one and top cat in this house.  I'd say here he looks pretty tolerant. 

Brown_alpaca_sweater1aLast time I promised to share one of my latest FO’s. I absolutely adore this sweater. The pattern is from Rowan’s RY Classic Summer book (book 11) and is named Julia. RYC Cashcotton 4 ply is the yarn called for, but I’m not a big fan of cotton. A lot of cotton yarns hurt my hands and it just doesn’t keep me warm.  I envisioned this as a richly colored fall/ winter sweater rather than as a springy lightweight one, so I kept an eye out for a yarn in an
appropriate fiber content and color. A few months later, a friend of mine, Lisa, who owns alpacas had some of her fiber processed and spun into yarn. It’s very minimally processed and in  an entirely natural deep, dark, chocolaty brown alpaca. I minute I heard about it I knew thisBrown_alpaca_sweater_2a yarn was meant for this pattern. The halo created by the alpaca obscures the lace pattern a little but the lace isn’t a very distinctive leaf pattern anyway and I love the textured look of it. 

I love buying yarn and fiber from small producers, the people who take care of and love their animals. It makes a project so much more personal and special when I know the name or have a chance to meet the animal that gave it’s fiber. This yarn came from Smoke at Spirit Within Alpacas. This farm is relatively small but has some of the most beautiful colored alpacas I have ever seen (spiritwithinalpacas at yahoo dot com if anyone is interested, sorry no website). The owner is meticulous concerning the care of her animals and her fiber and yarn is top quality. A complete joy to work with. I knit it on US 1.5 and 2 size needles. I think the only modifications I made were to add a few more rows to the sleeves as I have longish arms.

Map_afghan_with_kittiyAt the other end of the spectrum is the other project I’d like to share with you, my Map of the World Afghan. A couple of years ago Vogue Knitting featured this afghan but didn’t provide the pattern or any ordering information for it. I fell in love. I’m not attracted to many afghans, but this is stunning! I had a devil of a time finding a place to order the kit though! It’s knit from Tahki Yarns Donegal Tweed wool, the tweed adds a wonderful depth and richness. Did I mention I had never done any color work prior to starting this? I told you I’m aAfghan_close_up_1 very “jump in” kind of knitter. There was a learning curve and I think I started over once or twice. It’s knit in 4 panels and then sewn together, with a row of single crochet all around the outside edge.  Knitting this pattern was a joy. It was one of those projects you never want to end and would be completely fine if you were knitting it for the rest of your life. I felt this way to the extent that it took me a little over 3 years to finish. It did get put down for months at a time in order towork on other projects. A girl needs new sweaters and socks to wear. None the less, it was a completely wonderful project. Only the tassles are unfinished. The kit suggests using wooden or metal beads with the tassels threaded thru them and attaching the beads to the points on the top and bottom of the afghan. In the picture that looks very nice, however; curled up on couch it might be a different story. I don’t think big beads sound like fun to sit on or lean against. I figure I have plenty of time to determine what would be best. It needs something or the points start to curl a bit. What do you think? If you have an idea please tell me in the comments. I’d love to get another perspective on this. 


Stories: How We Fill the Gaps

Part Two. Who doesn’t like a good story? If there is anyone, I don’t think I’ve ever run across him. Ever wonder where stories come from? Why they matter, endure? Why even the word “story” makes your ears perk up?

Well, I have. Last weekend, I noticed that the notion of story came up often, and in surprising ways.

It started with a story, naturally enough. This one about a grandmother, unhappily trying to adjust to her new life in assisted living. While she complained about the food, the heat, the “old people”, being lonely, the granddaughter focused, probably out of self-preservation since she was there to keep her grandmother company, on the other people who lived there. None of them were, at least just then, complaining about the food, the heat, or anything else. And one of them was telling a story about a child and a whale from a book she had just read. Her own story was equally good. She lived her whole life in the same town in Iowa before she moved to Oregon to be by her only son. She started out as a farm wife, and then became a school teacher. Her move to Portland was her first trip from Iowa. Fascinating enough. But the really cool part? She was a professional storyteller. Who knew people could tell stories for a living? I guess people who write books and make movies and for that matter make power point presentations to sell stock tell stories for a living. But I had never heard of anyone who calls herself a storyteller, and I thought about that woman for a long time. Think what a treat it would be to eat dinner every night with someone who can tell you the weather forecast in a way that can make you forget it’s institutional meatloaf, again. Lucky Grandma.

The movie we watched that night was “Out of Africa” with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. (It’s an older movie, but ever since seeing “The Devil Wears Prada” I have been on a Meryl Streep retrospective. Thank goodness for Netflix.) Among other things, Streep’s character was a storyteller. She would take a first sentence offered by someone else (in this case the rugged/tender Zen master of the African bush Bobby Blue Eyes) and spin, weave, twist, caress, knit and embroider (and you thought I couldn’t work hand crafts into this post) a tale so rich and complex that it would enrapture her listeners over several courses and numberless bottles, by the light of a full silver candelabra to the embers of the fire to the first light of dawn. Powerful stuff.

Then I got a letter in the mail. It was from a colleague who had worked for me at least ten years ago and with whom I hadn’t corresponded in all that time. He had tracked me down on the phone to ask me to be a job reference and we caught up over the many life changes ten years can bring. For me that included becoming a grandma. My kids were probably 8 and 10 the last time he saw them, so imagining one of them married was even a bigger shock to him. He told me he remembered a story I’d told him once from when I was pregnant. I was a secretary then, and it was back in the day of electric typewriters. My stomach was so big that it sat at the edge of the typewriter stand and I had to reach way over to reach the keys. Son #1 was exercising his soccer kicks at that point I guess, and punched a long pass to midfield. He kicked so hard, my chair rolled back away from the desk. To think that story became a memory that reaches beyond the boundaries of our family.

So I conclude that stories are like glue. They fill in the gaps of time from past to present. They hold young and old together. They hold fast knowledge until the next generation gets there. They reach deep into strangers’ hearts and bind them beyond explanation.

Moretalent_2My knitting friends are full of stories, and I want to tell them. These are women so full of life and creativity it sometimes leaves me breathless in wonder. I have sat listening in the places I knit: the knitting store, the coffee shops, the ski resort for three autumn days, stunned by their sheer verve (let alone their plentiful and inspiring FO’s). Toughduty


My shorthand for their endless list of projects and interests and talents is “Purse Handles or the Tearoom” signifying the bewildering breadth of choices available in one email exchange last spring: where can you buy cool, high quality purse handles for the item made for the bag swap, and what time was high tea and did you have to wear a hat? There has to be a story there. Also in "And the Judge Knits", "You Call That Fleece?", "The Other Half of the BLT", "What Does Harry Have to Do with It?", "I am Dyeing to Spin", "Road Trip!", "Weezy and Petey", "Gotta Go, I Just Got Paged", "Margene Crafts a PhD", and other equally intriguing insights into the lives of some of SLC's finest as observed from the black sofa in poor lighting. Or Alta Lodge overlooking the Collins Lift.

Anyway, for those of you kind enough to encourage me to blog, or at least write more, you can see I have plenty of material. Now if I can just get a handle on the visual elements…


Hello Blogland

Blogless Karen here. While Margene travels to the wonder that is the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, she invited Val and I to guest blog in her absence. My first thought after receiving such a lovely invitations was “How sweet of Margene to ask me to write a couple of posts for her. I’ll get to play around with blogging and see what it’s like.” Now, however the responsibility has sunk in. Zeneedle has a lot of readers. You’re going to visit expecting… well… expecting Margene. I’m not that interesting. I don’t know where to go to take the amazing pictures of Utah landscapes. I tend to sleep late and be lazy on weekends. I’m going to have to figure out a way to step that up.

I guess I’ll start with a little background. I’m married with 3 cats. This is Kit Kat, the other 2 wanted to be petted rather than have their picture taken.  Kitkat
I’ve been knitting for about 5 years. Growing up I had a wonderful neighbor, Gladys, who knit afghans and sweaters and all kinds of other things. She was like a grandmother to me and I loved watching her knit. I still have an afghan and a couple of sweaters that she made for me. Fast forward many years to my last year of college when I finally learned to knit. A friend taught me the basics and then I took a class at a local yarn shop. I’ve always loved sweaters, especially wool sweaters and I couldn’t wait to make my own. A sweater made to fit me, in a color and style I picked out. In fact my first real project was a sweater. The class I took was called “My First Sweater” and was a top down raglan. Here's a picture of it.  It's a little boxy but very wearable.  The wonderful lady who taught the class started from the ground up. At the first class she helped us select yarn, determine gauge, take our measurements, and figure ease. Then we used worksheets she had made to write our own patterns. As a My_first_sweaterbeginning knitter, I sometimes wished I had a written in stone pattern to follow instead of figuring it all out; but now I’m so grateful for that beginning. By understanding how a garment is constructed and shaped I feel complete freedom to make things the way I want them. It’s made me a pretty fearless knitter. I love that knitting can always be fixed. Short of setting it on fire just about any “mistake” is fixable. If I don’t like the way something fits or looks I can go back and change it. Not many things in life are like that.

I began spinning about 3 years ago while living in Michigan. A couple of friends in my knitting group spun and it looked like fun, but I thought it would take time away from knitting. Then I bought the Winter 2003 Spin-Off magazine. When I read the article about natural colored mohair I was hooked. A whole new world opened up. I had never seen yarn like that, I didn’t know that was possible. Here was a way I could make a totally unique yarn for a completely unique project. (Can you tell I never liked to wear the same thing everyone else was wearing.) Two exceptional friends lent me a wheel, gave me some fiber, a couple of lessons, and opened a door that has led to a path of creativity, surprise, and joy. Thank you. Then life took an abrupt turn and I moved across the country to Seattle. I returned the wheel to my friend and wasn’t sure how much more spinning I would do for awhile, wheels being a large investment. I was tentative about a drop spindle because of the 3 cats. They tend to be very interested in string with things dangling from it. Little did I know, The Twisted Sister Sock Workbook was about to cross my path. I checked it out from the library because it was about knitting socks. I read it cover to cover (frequently distracted by theHandspunsockcollection_1 pictures) and kept re-checking the book out. When I finally had to take it back to the library, I promptly bought it. I loved the colors and all the options. Dyeing roving sounded like a lot of fun too. I bought a couple of drop spindles and spun like crazy, I haven’t really stopped since.  This is my collection of handspun socks so far.   

Then the dyeing started. First it was a little sock yarn with Kool-Aid, then with acid dyes, soon it Kool_aid_yarnescalated to roving . I was having so much fun I couldn’t stop and I had way more than I could ever possibly use in my lifetime. Wool was taking over the house. I did the only thing I could possibly do… I started my own business, Sleeping Dragon Yarn  was born. This coincided nicely with moving to Utah. Here I met Margene in person and all the other talented and inspiring, lovely women of SnB. They are a wonderfully welcoming group that I’m so happy to a part of.

Val will be back tomorrow to entertain you. When I come back I’ll show you one of my latest FO’s and one of my all time favorite projects.  I almost forgot please post lots and lots of comments so we can show Margene what a good job we're doing of guest blogging.