Thursday, January 31, 2008

Circling the Wagons

The last few weeks have brought the news that my friend and comrade in fiber crime, HollyEQQ, is facing some pretty rough medical stuff in the weeks (and possibly months) ahead.  After determining that my smothering her with attention wasn't going to make things any better, I got off my horse and checked in with some of the fiber wagon masters I admire so much...and it was decided to circle our wagons around her and see what we could do to help.

Here's the plan:  Sandy Ryan of Homestead Wool and Gift Farm will be opening her web store, beginning this weekend, to host a special sale and series of auctions to benefit Miss Holly. Spunsugarendview
We're all having a blast coming up with things to donate...I've carded some batts so far Popcorn
(pics here, just to tantalize you), donated a skein of yarn, and heaven knows what else I'll send along before it's all over.  Sandy will no doubt be donating things from her own wonderful shop, and I know the donations are rolling in as I write.  Whether you're a knitter, spinner, felter, or just an all around fiber lover, you'll want to keep an eye on Sandy's site to scoop up these goodies while they're available!

Then, the awesome Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff fame, is hosting a spinning challenge in conjunction with the Yarn Museum.  Race right on over to Lexi's site to get more...this is a limited time challenge.  All submissions to the yarn museum for this event will then become donations to the fund raiser...remember the old saying, many hands make light work?  This is a great example, once again, of how many of us can make a difference in someone's life without going too far out of our comfort zones.  Isn't it COOL????

So...join the wagon train, and help us make a big circle around Holly, to help see her through this rough time and back into great health!  ---Martie

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Diet tips for spinners

In a few days, I'll be entering month six of Weight Watchers.  There have been some weeks it's been easier than others, and the month of December was a total wash.  That said, I somehow managed to stuff my face back at the farm in Illinois and not gain anything (proof that miracles do happen). Hollybamboorovings
I am now in the home stretch, with the last 15 lbs. to go, and I'm trying really hard to get creative about deserts.  Just two nights ago I finished the fabulous peanut butter and chocolate turtles that sweet Teresa and Bob hand carry to me from Neiman Marcus in Dallas (they are the utmost in decadence).  There were only two left, which is, in itself a miracle...since they brought them to me at Thanksgiving.  Let's just say I was staring at the last two and decided it was better to start month six with those babies off the table.Hollyrovingpersian

While we were working on fibers today, I kept looking over to the wall where I hang my fiber treasures.  The answer to a dieting spinner's prayers...yummy fibers to spin!  I decided to share some with you.  They are from my dear, sweet friend HollyEQQ,  who creates these beauties Hollyoptimpinks
from the inspiration she gets living at the beach in Florida.  I had been watching her site for some time before she decided to join us last fall for Lexi Boeger's Camp Pluckyfluff held at the shop.  We clicked immediately and I have become a devoted fan of her fibers.  If you're a spinner, or a felter, or know someone who is, check out her site.  She usually updates with new fibers every Sunday night, and most of the time they sell out don't be lagging!  ---Martie

Friday, January 25, 2008


I am just about the only person I know who hasn't been buying or selling through eBay these last years.  I went there once or twice looking for something and got for hours...and knew then these were murky waters for someone prone to the occasional lapse of judgment when it comes to shopping.  Then came Christmas, and the sled love, and since you are loathe to find things like a nice selection of sleds in a place like Taos, I took the eBay plunge. 

Before I knew it, I was looking at antique spinning wheels.  Please don't ask me how I got from sleds to wheels, I honestly don't recall, it's all such a blurr.  Suffice it to say the urge to buy a sled got seriously eclipsed by what I found in this new category.  BIG TIME.

It was innocent enough, just poking around.  I found a couple that intrigued me, and bookmarked them to watch their auctions.  Then we left for Illinois, I returned to Taos pretty sick, and the annual shop inventory count took over for a couple of days.  Maplewheel

It was a cold and quiet evening, and I was checking e-mails when it arrived...the notice that one of these auctions was about to end.  I decided to go and watch.  Before I knew it, I was in the thick of things.  Minutes later, I was the proud (and stunned) owner of a hand painted antique wheel from Poland.  Gosh, that was fun!  Better see what else is going on.  Ohhh!!!  The antique maple wheel auction is about to end.  Better keep an eye on that, see what it goes for.  OOOPS!  My fingers were suddenly flying, typing in  bids.  Wheel #2 purchased in only 12 minutes.  Life is good!

I ran around for days feeling so guilty I can barely explain it...and then the maple wheel arrived.  Monte and I put that puppy together in a matter of minutes and whoooosh! off I went.  It flies like the wind.  It's the kind of wheel you would want to spin thread on, something I love to do when I have the luxury of time for it.  I've decided to cop the photo of her from eBay and share her with you.  If anyone knows any history on her, I'd sure like to know.  Someone had written to the seller that it was like the wheels used by the women in Quebec in the early part of the last century.  It appears to be maple and has iron parts, and the entire maiden assembly is held down by a metal strap so you can move it to adjust the tension.  Any suggestions or information are greatly appreciated!  ---Martie

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Babette's finally time to come out in the open with my latest love...the Babette Blanket.
Originally featured in Interweave Crochet/Spring 06, I remember thinking it looked like loads of fun and then, as often happens, the magazine just plain got buried in the piles of publications that abound upstairs.  What can I say.

Recently, fate intervened in the form of a group on Ravelry dedicated to Babette.  I kept thinking it was a project I could ill afford to stop and do (always pressure to do things for the shop), but Linda Sunflower twisted my arm on a recent Sunday that we worked together.  We raided the Malabrigo Babettedetyelcorner_2
wall and off we went...Linda in the lead, but in all fairness, she doesn't work 5-7 days a week.  (Sense some self pity there?  Sorry.)  For those of you who are familiar with Babette, I have sections 9 and 10 left to go.  I can barely get through dinner and dishes to hit the rocker and work on her.

I was going to keep her all for myself, but reading more on the Babette group this past week I learned that Interweave Press will soon be publishing this as a stand alone pattern (if I understood this correctly).  Yay!  This means I'll be able to hang Babette in the shop for all to love and inspire others to make her.  If you love to crochet, and you love color, this is the project for you.  I am already dreaming of another in a different color scheme...  ---Martie

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Resolutions for a new year

If I've learned little else in this lifetime, it's that I'm predictably horrid at sticking to those pesky resolutions we make while we're basking in the glow and possibility of a new year ahead.

Last year, my one meager resolution was to keep my corner of the kitchen table free of piles of papers, magazines, knitting needles, earrings, too many pens and whatever else I seem to be able to accumulate in the blink of an eye.  I did pretty well...I only caved in and starting making piles late in the fall.  I must also tell you that Mr. Sunflower, who is a five star neat freak, didn't even notice until I asked him if he'd noticed.  (Of course, he said he'd noticed but just hadn't mentioned it.  Heartbreaking, it was.  I was expecting a small celebration of some sort, and maybe some pats on the back.) 

Without saying it out loud or putting it in print, I resolved to blog more often this year.  Clearly that resolution has started to fall be suspect.  I promise to pick it up.  I intended to take photographs of my current project (which I am passionate about) and post those tonight, but I have a good excuse...really I do. 

I cleaned my studio today.
  This may not seem to be of much interest to anyone but yours truly, but I'm here to tell you that this is one of those urges that only come once in a blue moon.  Or maybe it's the new year?  Not sure.  Not being able to walk on the floor without jumping over bags of fibers might have finally been the deal breaker to get me in motion...but whatever it was, I'm grateful.  I cleaned like a mad woman.  I took all those projects I know I'll never finish and tore them apart, rewinding the yarns and putting them back on the shelf.  I put away my canvases and oil paints I haven't touched in two years.  I shelved the books that have been living in piles on the floor for a year or more.  I even got rid of old knitting magazines (yes, I know this is a crime of some sort...but I promise they'll end up in someone else's hands).  For the crescendo, I even (ta da!) vacuumed (I despise vacuuming).  I have not been able to do that in a long time because, well...because you couldn't see much of the floor, so why bother?  *Sigh*

So if you're outside tonight and see a glow in the sky over New Mexico way, no, it's not Los's my halo.   ---Martie

Monday, January 7, 2008

Endings and beginnings

The last weeks have brought both joy and sadness to our home.

Christmas brought my son and his family, Tbdonsled
and the joy of sharing a second birthday with a grandson I never dreamed of having.  Seeing my own "baby" as a great dad is a joy only those of you who have experienced this can probably understand.  Being a grandmother (or "Mimi", as I have chosen) is an honor I hope I can live up to.  Having almost no memories of my own grandmothers, I want to give this child the memories I wish I had.   Sharing our snowy world with a beach baby was just the greatest...and for the first time in my life, I discovered the joy of sledding.  I'm already planning for our next snowy adventure together.

Two days after Christmas, my mother in law passed away, so we found ourselves heading to the mid west for both her funeral and a long overdue visit with the family. 

She was a farm wife.Farminsnow
..that special breed of super woman who has helped build this country without asking for recognition.  Her life was not easy, but she had a loving husband and family to give her strength.  She raised four great children, had a long and happy marriage, and in her free moments, tatted, crocheted, and quilted. 

I will always remember the first time we met.  I sat next to her while she held her tatting shuttle and thread and her fingers just flew, all the while engaged in conversation.  I had seen Charles Kuralt do an  homage to the art of tatting...interviewing women around the country and surmising that this could become a lost art one day.  Armed with this inspiration, I sat next to her for four days, shuttle and thread in hand.  My father in law sat across the room watching me, telling me what I was doing wrong.  I persisted.  Hard head that I am, on day four I finally heeded his advice and succeeded.  I happily tatted an edging for my god daughter's christening gown, but never picked up the shuttle again.  One day, perhaps.  I've saved my little shuttle collection, as I have so many other things...a link to a past I long for.

Our time on the farm was brief, but was the wake up call I needed to remember what it means to be with family, especially during times like these.  Janssen
This is a strong family who has been farming in this area for many generations.  We spent some quiet time at the local cemetery, visiting the graves of a great grandfather who came to this country, long ago, from Germany and started his family's history in this country.  I saw a recent grave of a young man who most likely gave his life in Iraq, and the grave of someone's baby from long ago...their hopes and dreams for this child ending abruptly at such a young age. Babygrave
I saw the bleakness of winter there, and once caught a glimpse of the winter sun trying to break through...more reminders of how hard these families  work to keep their family farms  from ending up being countless more houses and subdivisions.  I stopped to photograph a neighboring barn to share with you. Whitebarn
I love barns and wish I could travel the country, at leisure, photographing those that are left.

I'm sure this new year holds lots of happiness and promise for all of us.  I see it as a new beginning for both Taos Sunflower and my own personal, creative desires.  I look forward to hearing from you, hearing about your own work, and yet again being inspired by the strength we have in our pursuits. 

Happy new year,


P.S.  Many thanks to Cheryl Krementz for the generous nod in the current issue of Vogue Knitting about this well as  my thanks to you for the support to keep me inspired to keep writing.