Saturday, June 28, 2008

A glimpse of history

Last Monday I was driving home from town when I saw, on the road ahead, what appeared to be a herd of horses loose on the road.  There were several cars ahead of mine, and it was still some distance, so I wasn't sure.  It's not uncommon to find a horse or two, or some cattle, on the road once in a while, so I didn't think too much about it.

Then, as my eyes adjusted to the distance, I realized I was witnessing something few people get to see.  It was a large group of men and boys from Taos Pueblo, heading out together.  Monte says it might have been what they call the Rabbit Hunt.  All I know is that I felt honored to be seeing them.  And then...I did the no-no, so I could share a bit of it with you.

I pulled over and got out my camera.Rabbithunt1

As I proceeded past them, I slowed way down and with the camera on automatic, held it out the window with my right hand while the left hand and my eyes were worrying about staying on the road and moving forward.  I heard someone yell at me.  I felt terrible.  I know I shouldn't have done it.  BUT...I have justified it (somewhat) because I wanted to share this with those of you who may never have been here or seen such a thing.  I only wish I could have gotten a long shot of all of them crossing the road.  By the time I got what I got, they were no longer in one long line.  My due respects to those who I may have offended by doing this.  Rabbithunt2

Once a year, later in the summer, I have been honored to have witnessed another annual ritual of theirs.  This one brings all the men and boys on horseback right up the road I live off.  They head into the mountains above me, and then come back a few days later.  I have been on the road and seen them; sometimes with painted faces, the little boys riding their hearts out on their ponies.  It is breath taking.  Again, I am honored. 

Another reason to love living in Taos.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Greetings from Iowa, soggy Iowa…

Dear Friends:

Once again, flooding has taken its toll.  This time it is at a level no one could have imagined.  Think about it...all your life under water. 

Last night I received this message from Carol Anderson, owner of Cottage Creations pattern booklets.  I hope you'll be able to help in some small way.  Please feel free to share this with others, also.

As always, thanks for being such awesome people.  Remember how strong we are together!


           Tonight on the news we learned that 69 of Iowa’s 99 counties have been declared “disaster” counties.  The tornado that hit Parkersburg (Iowa) is less than 50 miles south of us.
While our county is not one of the devastated ones, we too had problems at our house.  Deer Creek flows through our property and six miles downstream it flows into the Cedar River, which of course empties into the Mississippi.  On Sunday, June 8th, we woke up to well over a foot of water in our basement, Deer Creek swollen to within 100 yards of our house.  All is under control, though today, two weeks later, the creek is still high and our sump pump continues to work.  Our basement is just that, a basement and I’m glad we’ve not entertained the idea of finishing it—and of course my yarn is stored upstairs!  In the big scheme of things our problems don’t even register.

            Eleven years ago, Cottage Creations collected hundreds of items for the Red River flood that inundated Grand Forks, ND.  Working with the Salvation Army, Paul and I and our friends, the Morrow’s, delivered hand-knit items there.  The event was heart-wrenching—people were so appreciative.  I’m sure many recipients were comforted simply by knowing someone else cared.  I’d like to repeat the drive, this time distributing hand-knits to communities along the Cedar River (35,000 displaced in Cedar Rapids alone) and nearby tornado-ravaged Parkersburg. I will work though proper channels.

            After talking with Red Cross or Salvation Army people I’m sending out a plea to my fellow knitters for the following items: mittens, caps, scarves, afghans, prayer shawls, baby blankets, dishcloths, socks, infants, children’s and adult sweaters.  If you’d like to participate—one or two articles is quite sufficient, mail or UPS any items to me before November 1st.  I will enlist the help of my local knitters group to sort and re-box items and because my husband and I are Lions members I know that I can enlist the help of that group too.  We’ll store and sort in my hubby’s workshop!  If you include your e-mail address or phone number I will acknowledge receipt of packages, but I won’t be sending letters again at  $.42—I’m sure you understand.

Please attach a card to items with the following information:
         1) Name of item
         2) Size, if applicable
3) Fiber content (most items should be machine washable and dryable)         
4) If desired: your name and address and any word of encouragement.

Send to:  Post office address:                           UPS or Fed Ex address:
         Cottage Creations                                    Carol Anderson
         At the Farm on Deer Creek                  4562 Zinnia Ave.
         Carpenter, Iowa 50426                           St. Ansgar, IA 50472

Questions?  641.324.1280 or <>  or address above.
         Thanks….Carol Anderson

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thinking about food

This week I discovered that the "you play, you pay" concept has once again caught up with me and my once again it's time to get back off (most of) the sugar.  There goes the peanut butter, strawberry jam, the Fig Newmans and the Sundrops.  Dang!

The great tomato panic of 08 has brought to mind, once again, how dependent we are when it comes to our own food sources.  Surprisingly, our local hardware store still had some tomato plants in inventory, so I've found a very warm spot next to our house and planted them in hope of success (growing outdoors is dicey and lots of hard work at almost 8,000 ft.).  For years I've been a member in a local CSA program and reaped the delicious benefits of my hardworking friends.  If you haven't had the luxury of eating locally grown produce recently, I hope you can soon.  Lettuce freshly picked makes grocery store lettuce so sad by comparison...even that from the local organic market.  It's just the way it hasn't been on the road for a week or two before reaching you.  I've made a vow to start hauling myself out of bed and driving to town a couple of Saturdays a month to support our local farmers' market, as well.  I'm longing for fresh carrots.

We recently had the chance to watch an independent film produced about an Illinois family farm.  If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it.  It's called The Real Dirt on Farmer John and is available from Angel Organics for a small, well deserved fee, if you can't find it easily where you live.  It's a story about the evolution of a family farm, going into this new century, and what ended up being a fabulous ending for an otherwise sad story. 

I didn't hear it, but Monte was telling me that listening to the radio program Bioneers this week Michael Pollen (The Omnivore's Dilemma and another newer book I can't recall the title of) was on discussing where our food's coming from and what we're actually eating.  I didn't hear the program, but I've often wondered if those so called "organic" foods we're eating that are flown in from other countries (China included) are tainted with who knows what and we're just not the wiser.  After all, if our government doesn't have the staff to check all the imported goods from China for poisons, why should we think it's possible to check all the imported foods?  I can't even begin to guess where the non-organic foods might be hailing from...Monte recently caught the produce guy at a local grocery chain unloading broccoli from a box stating proudly it was a product of China.  Ewwwwww!  Just imagine what could be in that, and what a horrendous carbon footprint it has.

So think about it...even if you can only find the time and space to grow your own herbs, it's a step in a good direction...not to mention the joy of seeing your own food grow before your very eyes.

PS:  I want you to know I'm doing my part:  I've become a local food group for a host of no-see-ums and who knows what else this last week.  I look like I have the measles and am scratching more than my dogs.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Father's day posting

We celebrated Father's day this morning with pancakes and lots of
butter and syrup.  No kids, just our pets, who really are our kids, now
that I see this in print.  The dogs love having bites of pancake with syrup...not very healthy, but hey, I don't make them very often.

I scored  some used wool clothes this past week at a thrift store I didn't know even existed in Taos.  I615dyedyarns
'm happily tearing them apart in my spare moments.  I discovered one of the men's sport coats is actually hand woven tweed from Scotland (Harris Tweed).  Just as I was feeling I couldn't cut into it, I found a couple of small tears in the fabric anyway. I guess if I'm going to embrace this  new passion of rug hooking, I'd better get used to such things.  I'm loving hooking with the yarn...I'm almost finished with my little kit I got from Judy Taylor.  In fact, I'm hoping to get my own design transferred to linen before the end of this evening. I am a woman possessed (again).615pinkyarns

We've been having fun dyeing.  I'll attach some photos to share the color with you.  The days are perfect for working outside all day.  I found a bunch of yarn (I'd call it rag wool because of its barber pole look) I got some years back at the wool mill on Prince Edward Island...some is two ply, some is three...some is two plies of dark brown with one ply of white, and vice versa.  I originally purchased all of it to knit socks (my passion at that point in history) but am now having fun over dyeing it for my new rug stash.  I just love having a new gives me an excuse to buy a whole bunch of new books, study up, and collect more stuff.  Stuff!  I love stuff! One can never have too much, right?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back at the ranch

We returned from Ohio on Monday.  We were the lucky ones.  We didn't hit turbulence or have our flight canceled due to storms.  Upon our return, I heard all the horrible stories of flooding all over the mid-west.  My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes.  I can't imagine the horror of seeing your home float away.  Makes living with fear of forest fire seem like small potatoes by comparison.

The show in Columbus was much easier to see this year...attendance seemed to be way down.  No pushing or cajoling to get into a booth to ask questions, get pricing info, or place orders.  Notably absent:  the wild novelty yarns of the last few years. 

Our big score for the weekend:  two ply yarn from the Imperial Stock Ranch.  My friend Zaynab of Knitting Grounds in Anchorage had just told me about them the week before, so I was delighted to find them at the show.  The story of the Imperial Stock Ranch is  long and very interesting, and should you be interested,Sdcolumbiaewe
I highly recommend googling on them to read more.  It's an old ranch with a history linking it to the creation of the Columbia sheep breed.  As soon as I was able to squeeze these skeins, I knew they had to join our repertoire.  For those of you not familiar with Columbia wool, it is a fine wool, not as fine as merino, and has a distinctive bounce to it.  Even better?  It's being processed in a small, family owned mill, just across the Canadian border, using antique equipment and NO chemicals...thereby preserving the glory that is Columbia wool.

While Imperial Ranch has these yarns in 20 color ways of their own, we decided to dye our own here in us a creative edge to offer you carefully selected color combinations that will all work together for your favorite projects. 

What else was new?  Well, Ozark Yarns is offering a new hand spun yarn that's 65% mohair/35% is not as thick as their first yarns, and considerably softer to the touch.  Their booth was filled with wild and wonderful creative garments and it was all we could do to not distract them and haul the lot off.  (Just kidding, guys.)  They have a designer who is doing THE most awesome stuff for them and really, I think their booth and these pieces really stole the show.

And now it's time for oatmeal and a day at the dyepots...

(Columbia sheep photo courtesy of

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Off to Columbus

We're headed out today to make our way to Columbus, Ohio for the TNNA wholesale yarn market.  We're pretty excited to see what's new since last year (we missed the January show).  We're guessing the big show buzz is going to be all things "green" we'll be making notes to hear what that means to others. 

For the first time in memory, I'm not packing a knitting project...instead, a Nantucket style rug hooking kit (Nantucket referring to its being hooked with yarn instead of fabric strips).  I'm pretty excited to get my paws all over it tonight in the hotel.  Great fortune came my way after my last post, in the form of a rag cutter from my long time fiber buddy, Kay.  As I was digging around this morning looking for my suitcase, I found a stash of wool yardage.  Boy, am I rockin' and rollin'.  A ton of fresh fleece to spin and a new habit (I mean, hobby).  Life is great.Sansyarndyed

Thanks to Kay in ABQ for the suggestion about spinning the Jacob by the locks.  I think you're right!  It's not very greasy, so I should be able to wash small sections only once to keep them intact.  My beloved late friend, Bernice Bonner, taught me years ago to clamp a small dog brush to the wheel for just such a purpose.  This was a revelation...I had been busy puncturing myself using a Viking comb, happily flicking out locks and removing my own hide as I went. 

I'm adding a photo of some hand spun eye candy.  It's yarn spun by my sweet friend Sandy Ryan of Homestead Wool and Gift Farm and dyed by Monte and I.  This yarn is so soft and airy, it's almost magical.  It's in the shop now, for sale, despite my usual desire to stash it por moi.  More will be coming soon!

Have a great week...