What keeps me going

It has been quite the year, hasn’t it? I have to check myself, after just listening to the news, from Wisconsin, to go down the rabbit hole, so, instead, I am going to write about what has kept me going, during this trying year.

First of all, I am grateful to Science, for allowing me to have some protection from the ravages of this pandemic. He and I have had our Moderna Boosters and have gotten over the droopy days that followed #3 and NOW, seeing our daughter getting hers, I am looking forward to our first Thanksgiving gathering, with many things for which I am grateful.

Our son-in-law has made remarkable strides in his recovery from open heart surgery, due to tenacity and youth and overall fitness. Heredity can be the ticking time bomb below the surface of a very fit specimen, so I am grateful to our tenacious daughter, who demanded that the doctors PAY ATTENTION to the pain and weakness. Together, they are keeping their family going and better than ever.

Science seems to be a big winner, in this family, because our son’s Multiple Myeloma is undetectable, and may it be so for many decades to come. Science is going to cure more cancers and/or deem them to be a Chronic disease. He continues to photograph beautiful brides and raise two rambunctious and smart humans, who I miss very much. He and our wonderful daughter-in-law are doing all that they can to make a good life for their children and as a grandmother, I could not ask for more. Here’s to all of us being together in 2022, in the little house in Connecticut and on to Rhinebeck. (I have my hotel reservations…fingers crossed.)

Now then, there have been some dark days, this year, but I have to say that as a fiber artist, for these 39 years, having new yarn to experiment with at this point, has given me, as I recently told MY “crack dealer” (said with love, of course), that I have a reason to look FORWARD, instead of down at my dye spattered shoes.

Silk/Cotton yarn in three weights

Here is an example; now that some big orders have been sorted, I am putting this new-to-me fiber base through some paces. It is a 51%Mulberry Silk/49% Cotton blend that is allowing me to dye the protein side. You see, for many years I was known for my cotton yarns and finished garments, even dyeing cellulose yarns for a small yarn company. I had no issues with this, when we were in the Bay Area, because we had Municipal water and sewer system, but living here, for the past 14 years, I had to give all of that up because of our particularly mineral rich well water and septic system, simply because it takes a LOT of rinsing to remove excess cellulose dyes. This fiber combination is giving me the chance to offer BEAUTIFUL and silky yarn to those who always ask for a yarn with no wool. As you can see, the colors are muted, as with the merino bamboo Timaru yarns, but I think that they are wonderful. My beloved Crack Dealer is having much more made for me, so that I can have a proper representation of colors, for the website and (gulp) for the 2022 shows (God Willing). There are other new yarns in the pipeline, so don’t be surprised when you feel the urge to try them.

I have been knitting a LOT, lately, which has been good for the soul. I just finished (although I need to sew in those ends) Romi Hill’s Sun Reflecting On Water. I was filling an order for a customer, which included a couple of skeins of Aurora and I got smacked upside the head with the audacious idea of using it for this piece. The design is gorgeous and so different in this silky/fuzzy/sparkly yarn.

Sun Reflecting on Water. Knitted with Aurora in Peach Melba and Dat Beetle.

It is a statement piece, to be sure. This yarn is Silk/Kid Mohair/ and sparkly stuff. ::wink:: It is SO cozy!

As I was finishing up this piece with over 500 stitches at the end, I was eyeballing my next project, thanks to a customer who was asking for yarn help. This is the beginning of Talvinen by Caitlin Hunter. I chose three different yarns for this and hopefully, I will not want to shoot myself for knitting a big sweater with fingering weight yarn! I chose Deluxe Sock in Aubergine, for the main yarn (Merino/Cashmere/Nylon), Nyam (Merino/Cashmere) in Orchid, for the secondary yarn and since I loved the last project with Aurora, I chose it in blue Steel for the birds. I knitted until I was cross-eyed, last night, because I could not get enough of it. It is going to be fun, until the ninety billion stockinet stitches for the body.

The beginnings of my Talvinen.

You see, just writing all of this has lifted my spirits and hope that you have a good day, ahead. Time to keep to my streaming services and avoid the news. Be good to one another, please.

These Days, It’s the Little Things

I feel like I am finally Home. The sky is blue, today, and I can hear the playful banter between the little girl down the hill and her big Sheriff’s Deputy Daddy, as he is splitting and stacking wood, in their yard. It’s kind of like hearing that little plane that used to fly over our house in Lafayette, the first time after 9/11, when he could take to the air, again, with his under-wing lights; it feels Normal.

I have to admit to clenching my jaw, when sleeping and awake, lately, and it is so very distracting, but today I finally sent out a newsletter, letting people know how wonderful Sawk, the new Sock+ yarn is. I have had friends test it for me, since my arthritic thumbs would not take kindly to me gripping the heck out of teensy sock needles. It has been declared to be marvelous for those handknit foot coverings and I am looking forward to putting it though the paces of Other Stuff. You see, it really is all about that twist, right there AND how spectacularly this yarn takes color.

This really has been a difficult few weeks, with choking smoke, fear of losing the house, imposing on our kids, cancelling Rhinebeck and then the heart attack and subsequent surgery needed by our son-in-law, who was not feeling at all well, all of the time that we fell in the door on them. He is home, thankfully, and beginning his recovery but I have to tell you that the doctors rattling around in a particular health insurance company failed him in every way, until he had to be transported, by ambulance, to the ER (twice before as a walk-in). His GP found that his first EKG, a month ago, was abnormal but probably because he is such an outwardly fit specimen, this doctor poopoo’d the test and sent him home. This happened over and over, with doctors opining that it must be gas, or indigestion, or an ulcer but never that his abnormal EKG and chest pain meant that he was on the edge of dying. When he DID get to the hospital, he had to sit in a chair, in the lobby, because there are NO BEDS. The Folsom hospital was full of Covid patients. It took a transfer to get him the emergency surgery that he needed to repair his circulatory system. You see, this is happening EVERYWHERE, touching families whose loved ones have done all of the right things with vaccinations and masks, only to have no room at the inn, when an emergency happens. We are counting our blessings that he is home with his family, resting and recuperating, no thanks to the overworked and uninterested doctors that preceded the amazing staff that finally saved him.

It really is the little things and the big things, these days. I am grateful for today’s blue sky and the silly way that our Lab acts when his Barkbox arrives with a new toy. I am grateful for the way that my cats, who are so happy to be home, yell at me, in the morning, for their daily brushing session. It means that things are ok.

Thanks to those of you who responded to my newsletter, today. You bolstered my feeling of hope. Now, we just need some rain. I just bet that those of you who live where there is too much of it are probably ready to help me encourage the president to use some of that War Money to build some sort of water moving infrastructure so that you quit drowning and we can quit burning. It seems like something that we could do, much like the highway system or yore. Think about it, will you?

Count your blessings and take care of one another.

2021 said, Hold My Beer

This was going to be my year to return to public gatherings, with the first of them being the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival. I was SO looking forward to it and was willing to make another cross country journey to be with the wonderful people who put on this event, as well as all of my beloved attendee friends. I just can’t do it. I just can’t put us in the great danger that is a 6 day (each way) trip to Rhinebeck, and especially coming through so many states that seem to scoff at the virus, before visiting our east coast family. I have known that this decision was going to have to happen but I dreaded it and kept putting it off, until today. I had to write to the vendor wrangler and let her know why my broken heart told me that we just could not come. I had hoped that the people in this country could have done the right thing, gotten the vaccine and squelched this damned virus, but my hopes have been dashed and I will not put either of us in this kind of harm’s way, no matter how much I would give for things to be different. This is a big blow to my spirit and pocket but we now know of too many people who are losing loved ones, still. I do not want to get sick, on the road.

I am writing this blog post from my desktop, in my office. I am here on a work visit, because our evacuation zone allows for us to be here. We will, however not sleep here, until the sheriff lifts the evacuation mandate for this area of the Caldor Fire. We have heard flight after flight, today, hopefully helping the ground crews to build that final containment line around OUR western leg of this devilish fire. It is the last vestige of red on the western fire map and we wake up, each morning at our daughter’s house, praying that we will see that thick black line that signals that the fire will not be moving our way, in the dead of night, when the winds come down from the mountains. Until that happens, we wonder and wait. As of today, we have been evacuated for 17 days. I have been through days of fear, depression, hope, elation and disappointment and it has been very tiring. This is, of course, another reason why Rhinebeck is impossible; I just can’t fathom leaving our pets again, during fire season, which is far from over AND who could be creative in times like this?

Yes, 2020 was monstrous and heartbreaking and stupid. 2021 should have known better, but of course, no such luck. On the positive side, we are both healthy and wear our masks when we go inside any building, to keep it that way, AND our house and my studio are still here, so life goes on, as soon as we can come home. Our daughter and her family have been so wonderful and Teejay, our black lab, has become the Best Dog, enjoying the car rides up here, each day, and the suburban neighborhood walks, each evening. We have gotten to really know our family and have enjoyed spending so much quality time with all of them. Rod did his Mister Fix-It, tightening nobs and handles, to keep busy and I just kept staring at the reports about the fire, when I wasn’t helping with meals and generally trying to lessen our impact on the family. We are so grateful to have had somewhere to go, when others were holed up in hotel rooms, RV’s if lucky to have them, or in tents or cars. We are extremely grateful to the gritty firefighters who do what they love, getting in it, to win it. It has taken an army, including Rod’s beautiful cousin Shelley, who has been running her late brother’s sports bar, up in Incline. Rookies has been feeding first responders who are watching over the homes of South Lake Tahoe evacuees, and I am so proud of that crew.

Thanks to those of you who have placed orders during this rough time. I have had a reason to come up here to fill the ones that were in stock and dye for those that weren’t. Now that I have completed the dyeing of the big order for Lofty Lou’s part of the Sierra Yarn Crawl, I can start creating, once again. Now, I just have to hope that people do better, so that we can drive down the hill to Sacramento, next March, for the first in-person Stitches West, since this all began. I miss people.

I can’t stop crying, because the Vendor Wrangler just told me that i can come back if we are able to come next year. This makes me feel like this thing that i do is not over.

ONE skein

When last we met, I was furiously uploading photos, while dyeing and who knows what else, and I mentioned that one skein of Davos could make a big, beautiful shawl. I give you the finished Drops of Joy shawl by Janina Kallio. (I bought my pattern on Ravelry)

One skein of Davos in Aubergine

The key to getting so much, from so little, is the act of blocking the bejeebers out of it. Of course, I was really impatient, but the cool weather MADE me have to wait until the morning, to remove all of the 9 million blocking pins. I love it! The “washable merino” component (51% is Mulberry Silk) makes the block crisp and reliable.

I highly recommend Davos. My test knitter friend (former yarn store owner) made a beautiful cowl and declared it “so soft” and luxurious and “a bargain”. Yep.

I have a lot of yarn to dye and pictures to take and well, carry on with your beautiful day.

Click Click Click

I remember when Holly, my last web goddess, would tell me to cool my jets, as I bombarded her with pictures of new colors or yarns, saying that her Mousing Finger was giving her fits. Now I am the one adding pictures and like the child who finally has their own offspring, I now understand all that went into making me look good, although, now things are much more WYSIWYG than they were, when one needed to know how to code. Thank goodness THAT is a thing of the past, so that I can just flounce my mostly right brain self into populating my website with new pictures.

I just got off of the phone with the gal who designed the new website and has been tutoring me in how to work what she has set up for me. That being said, there is now an EVENTS page, which now has a REAL EVENT on it.

The New York State Sheep & Wool Festival (“Rhinebeck”) booth has been paid for and we are driving to New York, in October. It will be two years since we have seen our east coast grandchildren and they will be so much bigger and smarter, by then. Colette has just about finished her Kindergarten year in the bilingual English/Spanish program and will be back to school In Person (her parents will be so relieved), this autumn. Her brother will enter pre-k! All of this has been happening, Over There in Connecticut, while we have lived our lives, gotten vaccinated and are re-entering life.

All of this clicking means that pictures of newly dyed yarns are being uploaded to the website and I have six new pages to work on!

Sawk- Sock Yarn is the bounciest bit of perfection and my test knitter (I do not knit socks) gives it a hearty Two Thumbs Up.

Behind the swatch of Sawk is the swatch of the Weymouth, the newest member of the family. It is a dreamy blend of Mulberry Silk and Superfine BFL. A lovely sport weight. I am in the throes of dyeing it and awaiting a 50 pound shipment.

The third yarn is the glorious Davos, the Mulberry Silk/ Washable Wool in Fingering weight.

The sheen is remarkable and to be able to get a big lacy shawl out of one skein is just what the doctor ordered.

The three new fibers are only populated with the one color, simply because, for two of them, I am awaiting the BIG shipment (it’s only money) from my fancy fiber mill. They are Yak/Tussah, White Cashmere and Rambouillet. Needless to say, I need to stop typing and go dye some more stuff.

Remember, all of the pertinent info about each yarn is found, when you click on a color picture. It is just the way that this template works, so, an extra step for you, I know. Needless to say, the three new yarns are FABULOUS.

The Gang’s All Here

The man in the brown shorts was just here, bringing the little box of the rushed supply of the gorgeous new yarn that I am calling Weymouth. It is the sport weight Mulberry Silk/Superfine BFL that I used to make the big, swoopy shawl, the other day. Now, I need to dye enough to make a beginning offering, on the website!

Weymouth Cultivated Silk/Superfine BFL

The rest of the order is on a slow boat but this gives me enough to get started.

This is the final component in the New Yarn push that is getting me out of the doldrums. (It’s only money, right?)

Front, Sawk and rear Weymouth.

Sawk is the first REAL sock yarn that I have brought in, in a long time. See, I do not knit socks, so Deluxe Sock has been one of my shawl yarns. This one is a really tight twist and has 12 % nylon. I am going to send off some to a few REAL sock knitters to test.

The other favorite new yarn is called Davos. It is a fingering weight Cultivated Silk/Washable Merino 100 grams/540 yards. It will go up on the site, fairly soon. I want to get the web designer to put up the new “collections”, at the same time, but in the meantime, this is a sneak peek at how beautiful it is. (I have a shawl on the needles, in Aubergine)

Some colors of the new Davos Silk/Merino. It is SO delicious.

Time to go back to work. Stay tuned!

Will You Love SilkyWool?

The answer is a big fat YES.

Just a little Wild Things, in a jelly roll pan.

I swatched it, last evening and it makes a really nice fabric for a garment, on size 2 US needles and on a US 4, you get a drape that is out of this world. The colors are working, brilliantly.

SilkyWool swatch in AwwTum

Just got word that the new sock yarn will be here, tomorrow and the UPS are speeding the SilkyBiffle in on Friday, instead of Monday. Wowza! Rod will have to get busy skeining the Sawk so that I can get started! Stay tuned!

PS. Lofty Lou’s have picked up their haul of Timaru in SO many beautiful colors, so check out their newsletter for info on their shawl kit. Busy, busy, busy!

Less Manic Work Day

When you are a One Armed Paper Hanger business, with the occasional hand from the spouse for Tech Stuff, it is good to have a butterfly/hummingbird way of working. I had to move the sticky note from the SIDE of my desktop screen to the FRONT and CENTER area because today was No Excuse, You Have To Create That Ad day.

The pile of yes and no, left over from “possible pictures” for the Fall issue of Piecework.

Yes, this is what it really looks like, around here, when the hummingbird brain is in deadline mode, while still wanting to dye as many colors as I can, of the new SilkyWool yarn. This is the kind of day that makes me think of the cartoon by Hilary Price.


I am grateful for today’s heat but also grateful that here, on the north side of the hill, we are not ROASTING. It is just enough to make drying yarn a quick endeavor. It’s the only reason that I welcome hot days, simply because our heat is dry, not like the sweaty stuff of the east coast. Yarn and fiber dries in a short time.

Some of the successes with the new SilkyWool. LOVE IT.

Now, I need to go over to my spot on the brown couch, in the room with the art, and make a swatch with the first stuff that I dyed. I think that this is going to take the place of the Silk/Baby Camel, in the booth this year. The aforementioned yarn is in its Sundown time, since I knew, when 45 put the big tariffs on anything coming from the East, I would not be ordering any more yarn from the fabulous fine fiber yarn mill Over There. Sad, but this NEW yarn takes color in a MOST drool worthy manner. Stay tuned for The Swatching, since I am getting so much closer to being done with the open work shawl out of the Silk/BFL.

On to the reason for the day; as I said, earlier on social media, I will never forget out trip to France, Part II, when we sailed north and then took a bus to Normandy. Our guide was a small woman, of a certain age, who was a University Professor making extra money as a person who knew all about what we were to experience. She kept a running tutorial, along the way, until we got closer to Omaha Beach where we were divided up; Canadians, folks from the UK, and then people from the US. We actually took a tour and had a lecture at the British museum and then rambled along in the misty cold of the beach where so many “American” boys were mowed down.

The cemeteries were vast and overwhelming but when our little French guide, with the VERY French chic outfit, gathered the folks from the US into a circle, in front of the Wall of the Missing, above Omaha Beach, and had us be silent and then sing the Star Spangled Banner, I TOTALLY lost it. The tears came up from some guttural place, so deep that it all took me by surprise. The Wall of the MISSING. Seeing both the film 1917 and then The Long Engagement (French), yesterday, I can’t understand how any boy came back from war unscathed. We have so many Walking Wounded in the country, right now, and do not even realize how many men and women are ANGRY because of what they have seen and felt. While the horrors of war were different, each time, those who lost their lives were all someone’s child, sent to fight and die for the rich men of their perspective countries. The boys who died on Omaha Beach did not even have ONE CLUE about why what they did was so important and how the French love them, to this day. They did not know that there was a Holocaust, in US geographical terms, “just around the corner”. They, like all other soldiers, sailors and airmen, fought for their Brothers in Arms.

Rod’s dad drove a landing craft, in the Pacific theater. He would never discuss it; NEVER, except to talk about his pet monkey, on New Guinea. My stepfather was in the Navy but he had the light duty of an entertainer, playing the tuba and stand-up bass in a Navy band, in the Pacific. My dad was 4F, because of a childhood heart murmur. They were the men of the Greatest Generation, and are all gone, now.

Tonight, I will raise a glass to those who did not make it home and thank them for their sacrifices. Now, enough sad thoughts, it’s time to knit.

SilkyWool Size 2 & 4 US needles. Delicious.

Ready, Set, GO

New yarn is coming, in a couple of shipments and the first of the three, which I got, this week, is going to be put through its paces, beginning today. This is the phenomenal 51% Mulberry Silk/49% Superfine washable wool in a fingering weight. Yes, dyed in the same colorway as the Silk/BFL, because I was dyeing that color for a shop order, from Lofty Lou’s.

The still unnamed gorgeousness of this fingering weight Silk/Merino.

It has taken a LOT for me to loosen up my purse strings and give it to my vendors, but, you know, once this happens, things take off. I remember a particular weekend at OFFF, years ago, when we took in a dollar bill that had a particular marking that someone had made and I’ll be darned if that bill did not come back to me, TWO TIMES, after I sent it back out with food vendors! I have a lot of work to do and please send me some good juju that I can keep the thumb nonsense to a dull roar. (There will be Cannabis Pain Cream, later.)

Still waiting to see if the hundreds of bees swarming my little oak tree are going to settle into a pile, so that my beekeeping “neighbor” can come fetch them. Forest Life.

Bee Smart, Bee Kind, Bee Careful. Yeah, groan all that you want, I can’t hear you.

Knitting Heaven

When last we met, I had taken a relatively cryptic photo of a sample skein of yarn, courtesy of my yarn/crack dealer, that had been dyed and turned into a wound cake. I simply could not wait to bring that yarn over to my fiber room, in the house, after finding a simple and perfect pattern on Ravelry; one that could make the most of the 434 yards of sport weight that was making my hands itch.

I started knitting up a shawl pattern, called Sommelier, by Janina Kallio, and knew, instantly that I was going to get in line for this Mulberry Silk/BFL magnificence.

The yet unnamed yarn, in Coral Beds

The very next morning, I wrote to my Crack Dealer and gave him my review of this glorious stuff, that feels like no BFL that *I* have ever spun, to be sure. Long story short, I jumped on the portion of this yarn that he had had flown in (while awaiting the rest of it) and it is On The Way.

That makes THREE new yarns that will be keeping me busy and out of trouble, before their internet and then “Rhinebeck” debuts. This lifts my spirits!

I have been cheating on my version of Uknity, which I am SO close to finishing. It is a wonderful, BIG knitting project, designed by Jennifer Weissman and uses MOSTLY Timaru but a couple of colors of Deluxe Sock.

Uknity, pictured with Timaru in Ecru, Seaglass and Smoked Teal. Also, Deluxe Sock in Deep Sea and Tui.

The Sommelier, on size 7 US needles is rocketing along, and so I will continue to cheat, until it is done and blocked. If I am LUCKY, the first shipment of the Silk/BFL will be here by the end of next week and I might just have to roll around in it, before dyeing.

Also, I have a huge shipment of freshly combed top in all manner of deluxe fibers coming next week, if the goddess of Customs is kind. I will finally have more Yak/Silk and White Cashmere, to name a couple. I was SO timid about investing more into stock for Weaver Creek (and the dye room) but thanks to Uncle Joe and the Vaccines, I can FEEL things turning around, and just in the nick of time. I will be redoing my Weaver Creek price list AND getting new dyed fibers up on the site.

I hope that you can open your windows wide and let fresh air into your abodes, this weekend. I want to say a prayerful Thank You to all of The Fallen, for whom this National Holiday exists. I hope to hear the WWII planes, this year, if the celebration at the El Dorado County War Memorial goes ahead. It is always a chilling sound and sight of these old planes executing the Missing Man formation, over greater Placerville.

In the meantime, be like Teejay and relax.

Assuming the position, in Mama’s room.