Monday, July 31, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Today is a day at home...and despite having slept in late, I'm optimistic about what might get done today.  Last evening I managed an hour upstairs (the land of wools, wheels, and yarns) and was able to pick up and organize a little, in anticipation of today's dreamed of productivity.  It's a double-edged sword...when I'm madly creating, things go flying all over, with no cares of picking up.  Then when I'm ready to start on a new tangent, I'm clogged (mentally) by my own clutter. 

I have long intended to share with you our summer's tenants on the porch at the shop.  They are a small but sociable family of barn swallows.  This is the first year they've been with us...usually we host pigeons (don't get me started on that subject) and what I think are little finches.  Last week I climbed a ladder to try to get a close up of the barn swallow nest which I will now share with you:Cimg0438

I now understand the old saying about feathering your nest...theirs is a mud base (barely visible) and the top is gloriously adorned with the most delightful feathers (origin unknown...anyone have an idea?).  Their creativity and willingness to share their family with us has even caused me to overlook (forgive) the mess that lies beneath...

So the next time you're feeling guilty about all the yarn or fiber you've amassed, just're actually feathering your nest...----Martie 

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I fear I am a woman possessed...every hour not spent working in the shop, eating, or sleeping is spent designing and spinning new yarns.  My latest ensemble, which I've named "Garden Party", is now in the shop on display (and for sale).  It is a bundle of four coordinated yarns, hand dyed mohairs and wools with lots of goodies inserted to make it special.  Cimg0428 I think of these bundles as the artistic seed for a project...use them alone or add to the mix to make more yardage for a one of a kind project.

The last weeks, our friend and Honorary Sunflower Terri Ranck was in Taos for some vacation and teaching time.  She taught her popular "Tie One On" class, and yet a new group of enthusiastic knitters is now launched to make their own unique garments based on Terri's techniques.  While she was in town, we made her swoon with our handspun yarns, and she's gone back to Texas, working on a design and plan for a class using these yarns, to be held this fall.  Dates and information on Terri's classes will be posted on our website's "What's New" page tomorrow (Monday 7/24).  We think you'll love what she's up to and will not want to miss this class.  (

A while back I posted a query about favorite knitting books...well...the votes were cast.  Here's what we came up with:

The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt received the most passionate recommendation.

Knitting in America came in second, for its  beauty and inspiration.

I could not make myself pick one favorite (see how I am?) but would have to say anything by Elizabeth Zimmerman makes me feel free.   Thanks to those of you who participated!


P.S.  I've added a few of my favorite sites...check  them out when you have time!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Change of Heart

Have you ever started a project and then decided it was the wrong job for the yarn?  Well, that's what happened to my Spring Socks.  I finished one sock and while I loved it, I knew that the yarn was too fragile for socks, at least the kind of wear I put them through.  So, back to the drawing board.  I ended up deciding to knit yet another Clapotis (see archives, under shawls and scarves) by Kate Gilbert.  Here's my photo of how it turned out...please note I haven't finished dropping all the stitches yet, so it will have more texture when I do. Cimg0420

If you haven't knitted the Clapotis yet, get ready for some big fun.  It is knit on the diagonal, and assisted by lots of stitch markers, every so many rows you drop a stitch, which then gets pulled to make that wonderful open look and makes you look like some kind of knitting genius.  All of the Sunflowers have knitted them many times...they are luscious in Kureyon, Silk Garden, Silver Thaw (those self striping yarns really show off the design) and Lorraine's most recent favorite, Misti Alpaca Lace Weight.  Make them wide for shawls (the design hangs on your shoulders nicely) or make them narrower, as I have for this sock.  Happy knitting!  ---Martie   

PS  My apologies for my photographer (rather, lack of) skills...the colors look a little washed out.  However, in my defense..the scarf was knitted in three color progressions, from dark to light...                                             

Friday, July 7, 2006

Love at first sight

Historic_placerville_ca When Monte and I were visiting Placerville during camp weekend, we meandered through the many shops and antique stores in the historic district.  I had made a pact with myself that I wouldn't buy anything I couldn't carry home...which, if you knew how I can accumulate things, was almost like saying I wouldn't buy ANYTHING.  And so I went, with the best of intentions...

Until I saw her.  She was window dressing in an antique shop...sitting there all all pretty and round and antique oak spinning wheel.  My heart flew to her and we both knew it was meant to be.  Next to her was her friend, the antique skein winder.  Oh, what a pair they were, just teasing me. 

However...Monte and I had just gone through hell and back trying to get our own spinning wheels packed and shipped to camp from Taos, so I knew what the problems with getting these two home would be...and apparently, so did the shop owner.  I tried and tried, but couldn't get him to budge on helping me with crating and freighting them to Taos.  I left town with a feeling of unfinished business. 

Then the dreams this little wheel NEEDED to be with me.  I simply had no way to do it, I said.  Then came the stronger message:  this wheel was once loved and used by someone, and when she (most likely) died, her family didn't care about it.  This was the message that really wrenched my heart.  Have you ever felt like that about something?  I have a kitchen and home stocked with what I like to refer to as "rescued" items...mostly useable...some of my kitchen utensils go back to early 1800s.  (I guess it's my concern that I will die and no one will love my things in the generations to come.)

Yesterday I learned that a friend in the area would gladly store the wheel for me until I could drive out to pick it.  JOY!  I just called and found out that the wheel AND the winder are still there...waiting for me as I hoped they would be.  I wish I had a picture to share with you, but I don't.  I'll post one in the fall when we reunite in Placerville...and now my heart feels fulfilled, until my next little love affair!  ---Martie

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Small village...big party

By the time most of you read this, you will have already enjoyed your 4th of July holiday.  This year, Connie and Lorraine and I decided to keep the shop open and witness the highlight of Arroyo Seco's year, the annual 4th of July parade.  Cimg0411_2 We closed the shop just as the parade started, and I dutifully toted the camera, to chronicle this event for those of you who couldn't attend.  Here's a little of how it went...first came the conquerers, in full regalia... (forgive the head).  Next came some otherCimg0397_1  localsCimg0393, out enjoying their truck (notice the head has now been joined by The Hat, and if you look closely, even HE isn't happy about it, me thinks).  There were some entries with kids in them, but to be honest with you, it was getting pretty crowded on the front lines and I was rapidly losing ground and couldn't get pictures of them.  My friends from Morningstar Farm, our neighborhood source of great organic produce, came by (note The Hat is now gaining ground).Cimg0403   Then I saw my neighbor, Gilbert Varos, and wanted to get a great picture of him atop his trusty steed, only to end up with a) a picture of the headless horseman and b) yet another person who found it comfortable to just snug right in in front of me:Cimg0409

Oh she of little patience!  OK, I admit it.  It's why I generally stay away from crowds.  But hey, it's just a parade (a quote from a friend of mine, who caught me whining about the crowd dynamics), and it was pretty darned cute to see all the little kids, in or out of the parade, especially when the candy started flying.  It's one of those things that makes you just plain proud and thrilled to live in a small town where events like these can still happen.  Oh...and before I forget...the last entry in the parade (poetic justice, I say):Cimg0410

Note to file:  if you wear a hat, you won't get so wet.  Maybe The Hat knew something we didn't.

It was a great day, and now I'm home, preparing to grill dinner and have a rousing evening starting a new shawl from "Knitting with a Smile".  To all of you, my best wishes...isn't it good to be free.    Martie