Busy Is Good

Just keep telling yourself that!

New Yarn

Photo of rainbow gradient yarnEarlier this year I launched a new business, Washtenaw Wool Company, with two friends, Michelle and Heather.  We’re having a blast, learning a lot, and watching this seed of an idea grow into something that suits all of our different skills perfectly.

It’s all very stimulating! We’ve been dyeing up yarn using unusual and sometimes time-consuming methods. We’ve been building our community of like-minded makers. This weekend we have a show, a local show luckily, and then we will hit the yarn design drawing board in earnest.  I. Can’t. Wait.  Local wool yarn, here I come!

New Design

I am aswim with design ideas and lack only for time to make them come alive.  I have socks, a pair of fingerless mitts, and at least two shawls partially written up. I’ve designed an entire shawl with the help of Miriam Felton’s Lace Shawl Design Craftsy class and the Stitchmastery software. Now I just need to knit it!  Ah, time, you fickle friend. Is this the point where designers find test knitters?

Photo of a knitting swatch.

New Skill

I’ve started teaching knitting classes at one of our local yarn stores and privately. Turns out, I really like to teach knitting!  I’ve been doing it for years informally, but I am finally embracing the idea that I have something to share with people who don’t know me.  I was a little worried before my first class because I did not enjoy teaching snarky freshman Composition at the community college.  So kudos to me for not letting that one terrible experience define my relationship to teaching in general.

New Words

As my writing time becomes more precious, I feel a visceral tug to connect pen to paper.  I am no nube; I know this feeling.  It means, “Write more. Something needs to come out.”

Spring this year is slow to arrive.  We had thunder and graupel (I learned that word today) this morning.  My dreams — mundane and not — continue apace, fed by the energy of busy creativity.

How has the transition between winter and spring been going for you? Please tell me in the comments below.

Conquering Shyness

Picture of fiber from Happy Fuzzy Yarn

I was terribly shy as a child.  When we moved into a new school district in second grade, I was nearly friendless for two years because I was too frightened to approach other children and ask to join their play.

In fact, I first learned to knit from my second grade teacher because she would allow us to stay inside at recess if we wanted to knit with her.  Knitting was better than being cold and lonely!

Somewhere out there in the world — in a thrift store or garbage dump or maybe even lost in my parents’ house — is an unfinished garter stitch burgundy acrylic scarf.

The shyness persisted throughout school, including college.  That was about the time I began to purposefully push through.  It helped to realize that other people have the same fears and it wasn’t just me.  I also remind myself that talking to people I don’t know isn’t dangerous.  Sounds weird, but if you are shy also then you know what I mean.

Here I am, in my thirties, and I don’t think people would describe me as shy.  Sometimes reserved perhaps, but I no longer hesitate to go up and talk to someone when I want to.  It’s very freeing!  I still have my moments, but what a difference it has made in my life to not be ruled by those fears.

Which brings me to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo this past weekend.  I was working the Happy Fuzzy Yarn booth, but I also made a point to circuit the barns and talk to many vendors.  I had to consciously approach people, but it wasn’t as hard as it used to be because the interactions are often rewarding, amusing, informative, and community-building.  Only one or two people blew me off, and I left those booths quickly.  I don’t even remember who they were.

I really love talking to farmers and shepherds in particular and am starting to see familiar faces after working at shows around the region for the past year.  Now that I think about it, it’s going to be months–long, cold, snowy months!–before there’s another show around here.  Good thing I stocked up on pretty things to get me through the quiet season.

I totally have a palette.  There is no shame in my game!

Top row: Fiberstory FAVE sock in “Milo”; BFL/Silk from Cross Wind Farm; Superwash Sport “Aquatic” from Happy Fuzzy Yarn.

Middle row: DK Merino in “Verdigris,” “Shadow,” and “Granny Smith” from Happy Fuzzy Yarn; Polwarth “Nessie” (darker braid) and Superfine Merino “Blue Lagoon” from Happy Fuzzy Yarn; 3ply worsted black alpaca from Amiable Alpacas.

Bottom row: Silky Meri in “Deep Blue Green” from Studio June Yarn; Arial Evolution in “Dusk” from Twisted Fiber Art; and Boyne (BFL) in “Castiel” from CJKoho Designs — plus a spinner’s merit badge!

I have specific plans for four of these purchases.  The others I bought as part of my effort to try out the products of local fiber artists.  So I just went with something that called to me and I’ll figure out what to do with it eventually.  Dangerous words, I know.

The only question is: where to start?

 

Koigu PPPM, I knew thee well

It happened about six months ago and then again two months ago.  Two pairs of my handknit socks sprung holes.  SIGH.

They haven’t been deep-sixed because I think I might be up to darning them.  Some day.  I don’t care whether or not with the same color because darning is darning and it’s the bottom of my foot anyway.  Builds character, that kind of thing.

The truly sad thing is that they were both knit with Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM).  A delicious yarn in scrumptous colors that I never tire of.  The first pair it happened to, I was able to justify as “oh, that’s one of my oldest pair AND I do wear them a lot so it figures.”  When it happened to the second pair, well, they are also older but get worn less and… brace yourselves… they were a gift from my mommy.  Boo hoo!

(I put paper in the soles to help the holes show on camera.)

I am grateful that after the pangs of sadness subsided, I had the strongest urge to knit more socks.  (It could have swung the other way but once you go handknit, you never go back.)  Corollary to this urge is the thought that perhaps I need more pairs from Kroy and Opal because I am not gentle on my handknit socks.  I wear them around the house like slippers oftentimes and I suspect this does the most damage.

Being a budgetary sort of knitter who buys little on impulse, I don’t have much Koigu in the stash.  Whether or not these holes are a result of sock age or of yarn choice–or even something else altogether, like political leanings–it will probably be a long time before I make socks from KPPPM again.  But that frees me to relegate this exquisitely dyed merino to other parts of the body like hands, necks, heads–oh my!  Purl beret, for example.  Despite its need for delicate washing (which I do in the washer, then lay flat to dry), KPPPM makes for some awesome baby knits.  Maybe that’s just the antidote I need to cure my wistful sighs.

First, though, I need some new socks.

Yarnivore, local edition

Michigan winter scene

The greening of the yarn industry continues apace.  Spied over at the Knitter’s Review newsletter this week was a piece about Yarn CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture; scroll down to Socially Conscious Stashing).  Clara specifically mentions one such CSA operating in Michigan, Videnovich Farms.  Here’s their Etsy shop with yarn shares for sale – natural and plant-dyed (cosmos), how cool.  While the notion of a yarn CSA is intriguing, like sock clubs I cannot afford it without saving up.  Also, I would prefer to be able buy some samples first.

This is all good reason to attend one’s local fiber festival.  For me, it’s the Michigan Fiber Festival (you must click that link!  There’s a hilarious photo on the main page), about 2 to 2.5 hours away in Allegan, MI at the Allegan County Fairgrounds.  $5 to get in but bring a packed lunch–food offerings were glaringly lean.

Last year, Jenny and I made the trek and with my saved up cash, I eeked out two special purchases.  First was a GIANT hank of gorgeous mohair from Mohair in Motion of White Cloud, MI. Betty, the proprietor, dyes it all herself and she and her husband were helpful, delightful people.  Even more exciting was the alpaca blended sock yarn from Oak Meadow Alpaca Farm (Walkerton, IN) which comes in natural colors – I got a brown and a black, both skeins big enough to each knit a pair of socks.  Nancy, the proprietor, had the fiber milled as an experiment so I hope other people are as excited as I am about this and we will see it again next year.  I haven’t knit up either yet, such is life, but have ideas for both this winter, especially the alpaca.  I will have to take some pictures this weekend so we can all drool in technicolor.