I know, it’s been awhile…

I must admit that the doldrums got hold of me but that may be related to the inordinate amount of forest sexy-time fallout, everywhere. You know, that POLLEN stuff. I have set myself a ridiculous task, that of picking up and getting rid of as many Doug Fir cones as I can fit into a big bag, each day that we walk the dog. The litter is like that after a rock festival. Rod thinks that these trees are trying to beat the clock on the bark beetles, with the drought hitting us, once again. As my friend always says, “If it’s not one thing, it’s yer mother”. Yep.

I’ve been battling with my thumbs, the left one, especially, since I did the big run of that gorgeous Astorite hand spun yarn (the person who bought the biggest skein showed me how it is knitting up and it is just as I had hoped it would be.), which took its toll, because of the Tencel part of the equation.

The “Specials” section on the website.

Of course, I adore the look of that shiny stuff but my aging hands are REALLY PISSED. We’ll see if the CBD cream works. Oddly enough, knitting does not bother me, probably because the thumb movement is so minimal. I was watching an English speed knitter, working with a belt, and she flicks the yarn with her right index finger, the way that I do.

So, I have been busy since I got over my day in bed with “Pink Eye Pollen Poisoning” (as gross as it sounds). My local yarn store, Lofty Lou’s, in Placerville, is the only place that I sell yarn to, and they are getting organized for a shawl knit-along before the Sierra Yarn Crawl, which will be In Person and Virtual, this year. They have chosen to use the perfect summer knitting yarn, Timaru, the beloved merino/bamboo in fingering weight. (There is also a sport version) I just finished the big run of colors and so they can get started with offering them to visitors and locals, alike.

Some Timaru in cool colors
A bit warmer.

I highly recommend this yarn and I am actually using five colors, plus ecru, in a gigantic, long wrap called Uknity, by Jennifer Weissman (bought it on Ravelry). That will probably be the next Finished Object. I made her Loose Ends for my daughter because she fell in love with a picture of Debi Padlicki’s finished piece. It was a lot of fun to make and now I am using the same yarns to make this one.

Oh, and YES, we are driving to Rhinebeck, New York, this October. I am just crossing my fingers that everyone is “good”, this summer, so that we can have a Normal NY$$&W Festival, instead of being relegated to a little booth. I have at least TWO new yarns to dye, right away; a REAL sock yarn WITH NYLON and a flipping gorgeous Mulberry Silk/Washable Merino fingering weight. And then, there might be THIS.

Mulberry Silk/fine BFL. Oh, Mama…

I hope that you all are going to do something fun for this upcoming three day weekend that will ushering in that unofficial summer, in the guise of heat, around here. Be good to one another.

Put Me In Coach…

I probably have enough of this fiber left over, to make another one or two skeins, but after trying to spin, last night, I realized that I just have to curtail spinning for awhile. The left thumb is really angry at me for my obsessive spinning of this stuff, but, even so, it was worth it.

Four skeins of “Astorite”

It all started, when I decided to dunk a pound of 50/50 Cashmere/Merino into a pot of “Tuberose”. It was ok, but not fascinating, and so, when I dragged it over into my cozy fiber room, I also brought over 2 ounces of cashmere that I used for soaking up excess dye AND a languishing braid of colorful Tencel, that I had dyed several years ago.

The creativity took place with my hands, teasing and mixing the fibers; readying them for spinning. Of course I decided to put TENCEL top into the mix, which meant a serious workout for my arthritic thumbs. I used to tell people that I liked adding this fiber to mixes because of the high shine, BUT, you have to do a lot of teasing to open this stuff up and much like tearing a phone book (for you youngsters, the old fashioned thing in which everyone’s LAND LINE was listed.); not in half, unless you are young Schwarzenegger, but in bits. It is the thousands of bits that did it, I surmise.

So, these hard won skeins are going up on the site, in a few minutes, in the Specials section. They will be the last skeins spun, for awhile, so that I can stop my left thumb from dictating what can and can’t happen, with my hands, right now. The cashmere in this yarn is neatly tucked into the twist, BUT, as it is handled and worked with, the fluff will emerge. It will be sturdy, soft and gorgeous.

Off to (as Holly used to say) slap these babies up on the site.

Take care of your hands. Oh, and aging can bite me.

The Earth Just Shifted

Yesterday, for some reason, I was weepy and mopey and kept forcing myself to go outside and drag the Hula Hoe through the dirt, to eliminate some of those haughty weeds that thought that the small rain gave them permission to take over the landscape. Scrape, scrape, scrape, sigh. Rod tried to drag whatever was bothering me, out into the open, probably because he was worried that he “said something“. I told him NO, that I did not know why I was feeling this way, other than something was coming, some sort of news, which I worried was bad, I guess.

It came in an email. The NY$$&W Festival is a GO. Yes, you read that right RHINEBECK IS HAPPENING, October 16th and 17th. Yes, it will be different, but different in the manner of smaller booths and lots of the booths outside on every scrap of grass they can use. I wrote, begging to be in the building. We will have an abbreviated booth but have promised to come.

This October, she will be on the road again, hopefully without flat spots from sitting so long!

I think that this was what was coming. It was a big decision, to get out of here and go all of the way over THERE, once again. The thing is, if I don’t do it, I will regret it and will have signaled the end of 40 years of craft/yarn/fiber shows. I am not ready for that and I can tell you that a sweet note from a Briarcliff resident, yesterday, telling me that she and her knitting guild were going to come see me first, wiped the mope off of my face. This, before I knew that the event was a GO. She must have known what I did not, because I answered her with “IF it happens”.

Just like last year, when I found a way to participate in the Virtual Rhinebeck, I am feeling a lift of my spirits, once again. We are NOT done, yet.

The Gardens are coming to life.

Until then, I will slowly build the stock, get excited about the new shipment of plants arriving from Gilbert H Wild and do more work to protect the land from wild fires. Nope, not done, yet.

It Has Begun

Yesterday changed everything. It was a lovely Spring day, here in the foothills and I was happily dyeing what I had not found on the racks, for a few of the orders that came in. A call came in and because of all of our recent Spoof calls, lately, from phone numbers harvested from our area code, I almost did my “if you are not a real person, I am hanging up” thing, when a nice voice asked for me. She said that there were three of them who happened to be in Placerville and wanted to know if they could come up. Well, Ok, says I, if you have been vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask, and if not, a mask would be required. All safe.

They showed up at about 11:30 and were gone by 2:30. Yep, they had FUN and so did I! It has been forever since I was able to be with people and just BE that I realized how energizing it was. I really missed being with people!

One of the most fun things was that they were looking at all of the samples that I had knitted and were bouncing off of the colors and then on to new colors. I just love it when folks can envision a sample in another color combination and so we were WORKING. This is the very best part of you being to come here, on a field trip (you can also go wine tasting, while you are here). Yarn Fumes.

I have made 2 versions of Pay It Forward in Aurora and Nyam but this one was so yummy that two people took it home. Aurora in Coral Beds and Nyam in Marionberry.

Ever wonder how you can envision what to do with one of the new colors?

On the left, BFL worsted in Tempranillo, snuggled up with the new Late Harvest.

This was one of my favorite choices of a stunning combo with the delicious new Green Jay.

Deluxe Sock pictured in Green Jay, nestled into Raven’s Wing.

One last reminder is that a little Kid Silk Lace can make anything dreamy.

Deluxe Sock in Green Jay, paired with Kid Silk Lace in Fresh Avocado

Remember, I can help you with some choices, through photos, even if you are as far away as New Zealand, in this world of pictures, but if you really want the fun of taking a skein around to find that perfect combination, here in the studio, just let me know that you would like to come.

I will ask you that question about whether or not you have had the shot, simply because if you HAVE, we can have fun like BEFORE the yuck. Otherwise, I will be fine with wearing a mask with you!

Grandma said…

She was a wise, but feisty little Aries, my French Grandma. She had so many wacky sayings that have stuck in my brain, for all of these years, but the one thing that imbedded itself into my heart and soul was that if you learn at least one new thing a day, you will stay “young”.

Yes, there have been days, during the long, long year, that made me want to give up but then I would tell myself to Snap Out Of It, imagining the woman who took an 11 year old on a cross country bus trip to the NY World’s Fair kicking my butt. Yes, Grandma, I am still learning.

Yesterday, I decided to push forward with my education by transferring the list of folks who still wanted to hear from me to the new site, so that I could try to find a way to quietly remind them that I am still here, doing my thing, albeit less frantically, by figuring out how to use another of the benefits afforded me by choosing Wix as my-commerce site. I never would have known about it until Rod pushed me into hiring someone to design the new layout of the website. We chose Wix because she told me that it would be the best site for me to use, as a novice, allowing me to upload and eliminate items instantly. Up until the point of doing this, I had relied on the kindness and skills of others, to help me with each new site.

So, yesterday, I launched my first non-newsy email to all of the people who have hung in there with me, for all of these years, with a happy amount of people opening it and coming to the website. I have let dear Holly retire from “having” to put together my words and pictures, so that she can concentrate on learning new things about weaving! It was time and by needing to do it, I was ABLE to do it. Grandma was right!

Now then, I got a message on the site (I get notifications instantly when that happens and get back to people ASAP) from someone unfamiliar with the new layout, who wanted to know why I did not give the yarn info on the yarn page. Yes, I wish that it could be like that, too, BUT this is set up as a template for me and the only place that I can put all of the “put up” info is on the page with the actual yarn color.

Choose a yarn, by clicking on an image.
You see the colors and price but no info. Click on a color.
On the color page, you will find all of the information, plus, if you click on the image, you can enlarge it!

I know that learning something new is a pain but this new site looks different on phones, tablets and desktops, AND, the biggest factor is that even on a phone, you can make the pictures of the yarn colors BIGGER.

Remember, you can message me in that box at the bottom of the Home page. Seriously, I get a “ding” on my watch that a message has come in and unless I am sleeping, you will hear back from me as quickly as sending a text, so don’t roll your eyes about that being a pain (I used to think that, too.) because it is FASTER than me checking my email!

The Trusty Message Box!

Alright, carry on. I have some dyeing to do, thank you very much.

How this works

Silk Merino I called Iceberg

Wrote about it and decided to go ahead and take a photo. These two braids of Silk/Merino were a first draft for a big project that I did for Schacht Spinning Wheels. You know, they send a story board and the job is to interpret it and see if it is what they envisioned. This was the story board, in a nutshell BUT they decided that they wanted it with less/no beige. Got it! Not going to argue with 100 braids of fiber going out into the world, SO, I got to keep this run for myself and this is what I am doing with it.

First braid has been stripped into teensy, spaghetti-like strands, which presents the colors as they were dyed. The second braid is going to be torn into short lengths and spun from the fold, which will elongate the color changes. The resulting skeins should be subtle and gorgeous. I have some Merino/Cashmere/Tussah that I dyed in my Blue Jeans color (really dark indigo) and the two yarns should make someone an unbelievable yoke sweater (or something).

Well, that’s what is calling me to the wheel, at the moment. Carry on.

Like a Shark…

Keep moving, keep doing, keep creating, keep learning; that and counting my steps as I climb the driveway from the road (that really steep part makes my heart beat faster) has kept me motivated and relatively calm, through this Year Of The Covid. Here’s not to say that the isolation has gotten to me, sometimes, but for the most part, being an only child who had to rely on her imagination when left alone, I have some mad coping skills.

The past few months, with the aid of the goop that keeps Paula Abdul dancing, I have coaxed my hands back to doing what caused me to have that personalized license plate that says it all.

It happens after dinner, when I have something to look forward to, on TV, from an hour of Schitts Creek to whatever shows up on my recorder. A couple of hours a night seems just right and although I can get obsessed and spin in the afternoon, on the weekends, for the most part, I am trying to keep my hands available for work in the garden, now that the weather has turned pollen into a decoration. I just won’t give up working with my hands, because once I do, it is over. My hands keep sadness or depression or malaise at bey, and the product of my hands makes me (and others) happy.

Stained Glass hand spun yarn shown with Pyrenees Sport colors.

There has been some deep stash diving, lately. I tend to keep orphans from runs of fiber, especially if there is a braid that looks a bit worse for wear, so that no one sees its potential. These two skeins were created from two different braids with different fiber content. The first one was Baby Alpaca/Silk in Marionberry, that gorgeous hand paint of deep purples. The second was a braid of Yak/Silk, in the old favorite, Joseph’s Coat. I just tore up each of the braids and spun them up, each with their own bobbin. There was some time off, for ruminating, but they seemed to like being paired and so the finished 2 ply yarn was created. I show it in the above photo with a couple of colors of Pyrenees Sport (Organic merino); Paprika and All at Sea, to give you some ideas of how this yarn could be a part of a project and not the WHOLE project, unless that is what suits you. The yarn is VERY silky and dense. Anyway, it is the latest addition to the Specials page. I am already working on some new stuff that is NOT from the stash trunks and actually fresh out of the showroom. I may just show that in a subsequent post, In Progress.

I have something lovely to look forward to, tonight, now that all of the West Coast Family adults are vaccinated. We are going down the hill to our daughter’s favorite restaurant, Aji, to celebrate her birthday. Yes, we will be sitting out on their patio, with plenty of fresh air, so that our laughter will be free. Somebody else’s cooking AND family time, what could be better than that?

In the Pink

I have a lot of hopes and dreams, for this Spring, and while a lot of them are buried in conifer pollen, at the moment, I have planted a handful of new peonies, which should begin to emerge as the last of the Jonquils begin to fade. Pink pink pink pink pinkity PINK!

There are a couple of new pinks, showing themselves, first, in the Pyrenees family of Organic Merino yarns. Blush is just that. Tuberose is a dusty pink, with more of a mysterious quality.

From the left, Blush, Peony, and Tuberose, resting on some Merino/Mulberry Silk in Styx.

This all came about because someone fell in love with the big collection of hand spun and needed some mill spun to complete the garment. See, this really happens.

I hope that more and more of you are getting your vaccines and are In The Pink! I cheer every person I see, on vaccination day. It is the right thing to do, for ALL of us, so, thank you.

We Used To Miss This!

One precious thing that is good about forfeiting our second year of Spring shows is that we are home to witness the burgeoning of the ever expanding bunches of Jonquils (AND our Aries girls’ birthdays). I bought a few, early on, from White Flower Farm and then came another giant load of them, when we had the first work done on the “nothing but dirt” back of the house. They seem to have delayed their show, this year, so much so that the old fashioned King Alfred Daffodils, out by the driveway, are standing up strong, instead of bending to the weather. I feel the same way.

All of the nearly invisible wire cages are for the new peonies!
Stand up straight and get your ruffle on.

I feel hopeful and cautious, just like this impossible garden in the forest. Happy Spring. Now, I have some fiber to dye!

If it is available to you, will you get it?

I shivered and sweated and now I am done with the aftermath of the 2nd Moderna vaccine shot. Funny things happen, when you THINK that things will begin to return to normal, after being fully vaccinated. First was the parody of all of us baby boomers getting our shots, on this past SNL. Yeah, it IS a big deal to my generation because we are more vulnerable BUT I want EVERYONE to get their shots, when things open up.

Today was a very good day because our son, in CT, was able to get his first vaccination, with our daughter-in-law to follow on the 8th. This means that they can have less trepidation about their careers; wedding photographers. Our daughter and Son-in-law were able to get theirs, well before us, because of THEIR jobs, in the dental industry. By all of our adult children getting vaccinated, we have more chances to get back together, once again.

We still run into stubborn, non-masked folks at the grocery store and I shun them, like they could be plague carriers. It’s always the big white men who seem to worry about feeling foolish in front of their counterparts, in my estimation. You just can’t seem to get through to them and this is why things will not return to normal, anytime soon, I fear.

The doctor in charge at the CDC is waving red flags all over the place and it brings me up short, when I think of how many people are NOT vaccinated and how many do not WANT to be vaccinated, because of some fear or another. No matter what I say about having lived through both types of measles and my being grateful that my kids and grands would never suffer that disease, it seems to fall on deaf ears of people who are convinced that they know better.

A friend, who always told me that she would never get a flu shot and had never gotten it was a part of a family who all got it. They survived and were lucky (several of my acquaintances have been through it) but my question is always whether they would take the vaccine, if it could stop the spread, right there and then.

I am gun shy, I admit it. I got an email from the organizers of our biggest and most important show of the year, with an attached survey about whether I would be up for a scaled down (weird) version of the event that we drove cross country for, in October of 2019. Of course I HAD to say yes to all of the scenarios but deep inside, I just was not sure what a smaller booth perhaps outside, would mean for the cost of traveling all of that way and with much less visible stock. Would people come, especially if there was a cap on attendance? Would you go? Who knows what will happen between now and October but things have to start somewhere and that is why I said YES to all of the possibilities, while harboring a certain amount of concern.

Will people take the shots, if they knew that it would mean that life could get back to some semblance of normal? Will YOU get the shots? Will you do it so that we can go to concerts and plays and fiber festivals? Will you even think of going to any of these things?

I had been folding down pages on river cruise wish books but hearing that France is in BIG TROUBLE again, makes me feel concerned about leaving the country. There have to be a subset of knuckleheads in every country that has Freedom built into their culture, to cause the virus to start going up, once again. Will we all have two toned faces, at home, when the summer sun hits those masks? Who needs lipstick, anyway? Seriously, I have a feeling that masks will become the norm, here, as it is in Asian countries.

We were in Santa Clara, last year, when this all began, and I did not hug anyone and used hand sanitizer regularly, after each transaction. Neither of us got sick, while many of my Foothills friends did. I still have not signed up for Stitches West, in Sacramento, but perhaps I will change my mind. Hell, I can sleep in my own bed every night, saving a fortune once spent on over priced hotels in the Santa Clara area. Phooey. My question is (I have asked this of some of my friends, who answered in the positive) if we do this, will you come?

Ah well, the sun is shining and all of our King Alfred Daffodils are standing tall in the light. I have gotten used to this ridiculous isolation but still long to be out, bare faced, with friends. Having the West Coast Family here for Easter is a start and I have a feeling that hugging my grandchildren will be the best tonic for what ails me. Really.