Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday ambitions

Good morning!

I'm sailing through my first cup of coffee and feeling like nothing can stop me from accomplishing mountains of things between now and Wednesday morning.  Wish me luck!

First up:  fondling all the beautiful fleece and mohair we dyed last week.  Next:  block the five handspun shawls that were the result of my happy vacation, and the two Silk Garden shawls that have grown off my needles when I wasn't paying much attention.  Then...well...perhaps some time at the wheel and some more work on the newest shawl.  At this point in the morning the canvas of an entire day at home seems huge and promising.

Exciting news:  I've been holding off mentioning this, but I think at this point it's safe to spill the beans...

I was recently contacted by Brenda Dayne, owner and producer of the knitting pod cast Cast-On, which she broadcasts from her home in Wales.  She saw an article about Taos Sunflower and our new business model in the most recent edition of The Yarn Market News, our industry magazine.  We'll be discussing this change in business focus and parts of our conversations will be included in her next podcast (late April, I believe).  I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, I'll try to keep busy today to keep the butterflies at low level, in anticipation of our phone call tomorrow morning.  It's so very exciting and such an honor!

I know I've spoken often of one of my favorite blogs, Dances With Wool.  This thoughtful and peaceful woman lives on the side of a lake in Finland, just north of the arctic circle.  (She recently had an article published in Piecework Magazine, perhaps you met her there.)  I found her blog a couple of years ago, by accident, when my eyes landed on a lace shawl she had knitted of her own hand spun yarn.  I fell in love with the peaceful way she writes, and her love of home, and her illustrations.

Early this year she posted that she was actually considering not continuing her blog.  I'm sure lots of us sent her so much support that she factored that into her decision to keep going, but in a less frequent manner...and more like a letter from someone far away.  I love it still.

This past week, I was checking in with her blog and found a posting that really hit me to the core:  "Do you ever wonder?"   Part way through this posting there is a paragraph where she discusses some ideas on creativity that came from a Finnish quilter.  It was about how perhaps we are not encouraged to be creative by encouraging us to follow patterns.  I know this is a provocative thought, and she took lots of heat for it, which you can read about in her follow up posting about taking criticism.  I'd be curious to know what you all think about this quilter's outlook, if you have the time to look up these posts.  I found it very close to home for me.  I have always been pretty good at my needlework projects, starting with learning to sew at age 10 and making all mine own clothes until about 15 years ago...but I always knew I was a good technician and not creative, in the sense that I could never let myself just take a pair of scissors to fabric and go off and have fun...instead, being held to a paper pattern.  The same has followed me through my embroidery, knitting and crocheting projects.  It just makes me crazy.

The knitting of my hand spun shawls these last weeks is part of coming out of that mode, I hope.  I am continually blown away by and filled with admiration for our customer friends who buy our yarns and take them to places I could never have imagined...leaving convention behind and just having fun.  As I was telling some friends my mind, I feel wildly creative.  It's just something that short circuits between my mind and my hands that I'm longing to fix.  I'd love to know how you feel about all this.  ---Martie

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back in the saddle

I am coming out of my vacation hibernation.  It was glorious.  Knitting total for the two weeks:  five shawls.  Soon as I block them, they'll be in the shop for sale.  Not sure about putting them on the web store.  Any suggestions?

While I was in CA, my son and I Caryandi
celebrated our birthdays with an afternoon cruise of San Diego harbor.  He has a sport fishing business, Success Sportfishing, and this was a rare opportunity for me to get on board during off season and pretend like I live like that every day (sigh).  It was fun beyond words.  I got to fish, for the first time in too many years to count, but our little captives were all released back to their world because they were too small (or undesirable for eating).  No worries.  I had a fish sandwich at the dock afterward.

My friend Barbara Bgfish
(the one who gets me into trouble, causing me to buy fabric and sewing machines) was with us.  She, who comes from Irish families from the coast of Connemara, had never fished.  Here she is with her first catch.  It was too funny for words. 

Then, when we got back to the dock, this sea lion Sealion
poked his face up to slurp up whatever bait was being flushed out of the bait tanks.  I was so delighted, I could barely stand it.  By this time in my vacation, I was missing my dogs and cats so much, just about anything was looking lovable and in need of pets.  I was down on my knees on the dock recording this fun moment when suddenly he looked a little more interested in me than the bait...and my son got me out of there before I had more company than I was really looking for.

What's next?  It looks like we'll be able to get to the dye pots this week.  FINALLY!  I was thrilled to come home to find warmer days and no mud...and the snow is almost gone.  Sorry to be such a lousy blogger lately...but I'm back to reality and ready to roll!   ---Martie

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Tomorrow is one week since I fled NM and ice, snow, and mud.  I have managed to get half of my face sunburned this week (don't ask), visited my kids many times, watched a gazillion movies, and supported my local Starbucks (one of my most guilty pleasures when out in the greater world).  I have also patronized my local burrito stand and then walked for several miles in hopes of slowing down its adhering to my posterior. Firsthsshawl

Today I spent with my friend from high school.  Lots of fun, including a visit with her parents, and ending up copping some retail time on the way home.  I have, for years, been avoiding mirrors, Mirror
and today I finally decided to buy this baby to face the facts.  I won't tell you the conversations that surrounded this experience...just let me say it's right in there having to own up to being old enough to have an AARP membership to acknowledge my life has come to this.  Dang.  And it was never going to happen to me.  Youngsters, beware.Secondhsshawl

Remember I told you about the great shawl I received before I left town?  It has now taken the status of a security  blanket...I haven't been more than five feet from it for days now.  I packed few clothes and instead, brought just about every skein of hand spun yarn I could shove into one big duffel bag to see if I could create my own.  Inspired and in a huge creative slump, this gift rattled me back to life and these are the shawls I've made this last few days...with another on the needles as I write.  I hope they inspire you as much as I was inspired by the original...   ---Martie

Monday, March 10, 2008

I ran out of words

I know this is hard to believe, but it's true.  The photo workshop just plain pulled the stuffing out of me.  I think you could have pulled the house out from under me for the first week after I got home, and I wouldn't have noticed (or cared).  This is either a statement about how hard they worked us (10-16 hour days) or how old I am (not quite as old as dirt...let's just say dust for now).  I decided it was better to stay silent despite my huge guilt about not posting sooner.

As I write, I am sitting in the Albuquerque airport, waiting for a flight that will take me to warmer days, sunshine, and roads that aren't either muddy, icy, snowy, or some spring-like combination of all three.  I have always loved winter and chosen it as my favorite season.  This year it has finally gotten to me...I will confess. 

Since I wrote last, Bob received a totally amazing black cowboy (cowcat?) hat from his friend Margo Nickel, milliner extraordinaire.  I have been remiss in bringing in the wrangler and getting him to model for some updated photos but will soon. 

I had a bittersweet day last Wednesday...the daughter of a friend who passed way several years ago asked me to help her sort through her mom's stash and see what, if any, of her wool collection was still worth hanging on to.  It felt a little bit like snooping in someone's closet, but I jumped in and together we spent several hours poking our noses (and hands) into bags of raw fleeces, kilos of silk rovings (like many kilos), and lots of hand dyed wool, both in the locks and carded into batts.  Most of these items still had the original tags from the sellers, and it was like a peek at some sort of geological scale of wool history...seeing names from long ago and prices that seem laughable by today's standards.  It ended up being a great day, despite my nervousness going in.  I decided that it is just what I would want someday...someone who knows and cares to sort my belongings, rather than have them all end up in the dump.  It was, when all is said and done, an honor, and the least I could do for all the wonderful memories I have of my sweet friend.

Friday's mail brought a big unexpected gift of a hand knitted, hand spun shawl from the sheep of a dear friend in Wisconsin.  It brought tears to my eyes, that someone would just send me such a present for no apparent reason.  It was the kick in the butt I, that it was time to get out of my doldrums and get busy knitting again, and second, that is IS ok to use your handspun yarns and not save them for eternity (or a day when I'm dead and someone else is sorting through my stuff). 

So thank you, Sandy.  I send my love.  You are one special person...for many different reasons.