Friday, May 29, 2009

The blanket that ate Taos

Some of you may recall that recently I was bemoaning the fact that I felt I was drifting, with no particular knitting project to work on, and nothing of interest to start. 

Blanket Then I assembled a basket of full and partial skeins of hand spun yarns of a heavier weight (if not, I used them double) and cast on to make a lap robe.  Before long, I was loving it...two rows of this, four rows of that...using up odds and ends and yarns that would probably otherwise have been here for my estate sale one day.

Then, the unthinkable happened...I couldn't stop.  I felt like the little lady on YouTube in "The Last Knit".  Were my braids going to end up in this blanket also?  (Perish the thought, Mr. Sunflower would have a cardiac.)  What finally stopped me, dear friends, was the overall size and weight of this project.  I got tangled in it one night trying to get out of the rocking chair.  I decided it was time, despite having yarns left in the basket. 

The result is probably easily the size of a queen sized bed.  I plan to take the fringes on each side and braid them...but not until fall or winter, when I'll be happy to be covered up and warm. 

(Note:  weight unknown...I'd have to take it to a much larger scale than I have.  Let's just call it heavy.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

The negligent hooker

Last summer, when I first became intoxicated with rug hooking, I had a feeling this could be a serious habit if I had the time to indulge myself.  Then the last months of the yarn shop being open and personal things got in the way until the last couple of months.  3dragonflies

Now I'm hooking, happily, almost every day.  I've finished the three dragonflies on the Deanne Fitzpatrick design I had started last summer, and am now struggling with how to best do the background.  I have a basket of new hand dyed wool I bought from Deanne sitting like a bouquet of flowers for my continued inspiration.  However, I have been humbled to learn that my tapestry training bears little resemblance to rug hooking techniques, so I've started and yanked out at least three different background starts just in the last week.  I am studying fervently at night, pouring through Deanne's books and others, hoping that the next day my hands will suddenly just know what to do and I can carry on.  One great thing about hooking vs. tapestry is how forgiving it is...I love the ability to go back and rip out a color and replace it if I change my mind.  Not so on the loom.

NSWool Where is this headed?  I don't know.  What I do know is that the time I'm spending hooking is at the expense of my little fiber business.  I need to find balance soon...or set a schedule and try hard to stick to it (not my forte).  For now, I'm just enjoying this new love affair and hope my fiber friends will be a little bit patient with me...after all, there's no love like new love, is there?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Out on a limb

For some time now, I've been selling our Teeswater or Wensleydale locks to another Etsyian named Kate.  Somehow I managed to be completely oblivious to what she was using them for.

Moofala1Photo Here's a sample of where some of our "Grandma's Hair" colorway was used...isn't this fun?  She somehow painstakingly takes little strands of wool and wraps the ends to insert into the head.  I am blown away by how much work this must be...not to mention excited to be able to see some of our fibers in use.

Check out her shop on Etsy when you have time...I think she does custom work, so maybe you have something in mind you'd like to see her make for you???  Or a gift for a friend???

PS  She has a great photostream on Flickr, as well.  Her user name there is moofala1. Check it out!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Life's little moments

In our workshop last week, Deanne had us do many exercises to help us access our own, personal, images for our art.  One of them was to close our eyes and go back to our childhood.  Then she suggested we take ourselves, in our minds, to a place that had good memories for us.  Maybe a grandmother's house, or a favorite aunt...or our own homes.  Once inside, we were to revisit all the things there that we loved so much...perhaps a favorite old sofa, a book, a memory of fresh baked cookies, a scent.  It was really interesting to hear what the others in the room experienced when they did this.

LilacsInVase I tried hard but frankly, came up with very little.  I have a vague memory of visiting my father's mother on several occasions.  I remember the front door with the large, oval, glass in it.  I remember walking inside and seeing her in her wheel chair (in my mind's eye, she looked like my dad with a bun on her head).  I remember being told to go to a porch outside and wait, because she didn't care to see me.  I was told this was because she was too tired of kids, after a lifetime of having far too many of her own and caring for many others.  My feelings about this memory are ones of coldness and detachment, mixed with sadness.

Then comes a day like today.  I just went outdoors to hang up some laundry, and the air is permeated with the scent of our lilac bush, which is in full bloom.  The sun is shining and there is a lovely breeze.  I feel like I'm starved for these, and that I can't breathe deeply enough to soak it all in.  The house smells like the banana bread that just came out of the oven.

My conclusion after last week's exercise is that one has to make those moments if they didn't just happen to us in the course of events.  I know that today will be one of those  moments.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yes, Dorothy, there's no place like home...

ChickenPotPies After a stunning 8+ hour layover in Toronto on Thursday, we made it to the U.S. in time for dinner before hitting the sack.  Here it was...home made chicken pot pies.  I'm telling you, as my late friend Bernice would have said, they were so good they'd make you want to jump up and slap your grandma (this may be a Texas expression...I had never heard it before, or since).  This was comfort food to the 10th power.

Friday morning found us up in the wee hours and winging our way back to NM.  We landed in Albuquerque around 1:30 p.m. and walked outdoors to discover 90F temps and about 5% humidity.  While I am not a big fan of high temps, it felt so glorious I wanted to just lie down on the sidewalk and soak up some rays. 

BlinkingLightView By the time we hit Taos, I was getting slap happy with the little camera in my iPhone.  I caught several photos of our enormous blue skies to share with you who are still not quite there with your spring yet.  One is at the signal about 8 miles from my home (I live up in the mountains you see in the distance) and the other is on the road into Arroyo Seco, where we've kept the space the shop once housed.  I tried to get some beautiful cattle that were grazing, but missed.  You can imagine them if you wish.

I love traveling and seeing how other folks live.  I love going to faraway places and
imagining what it would be like to live there.

RoadtoSeco For all the years I lived four blocks from the Pacific Ocean, I always returned home wishing I hadn't, feeling something was wrong.  I never have that feeling when I return to I know that despite my fickle heart, this is where I'm supposed to be.  I am a Westerner, with my roots firmly planted.  There truly is no place like home.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back to our world

DFShopFromDoor Our workshop with Deanne Fitzpatrick came to an end this afternoon...sad to say.  Now it's time to head home and incorporate what we've learned and been inspired to learn.  The time spent with Deanne and all the other great women we met is something I'll keep close to my heart for a long time.  Linda&Deanne

Time now to see how on earth to get all this wool into our suit cases and get psyched up for two very long days of travel before we're back in Taos.  Until then, here are a few photos to share from these last few days.   (Forgive the bad lighting and photography, my mind was elsewhere.)DF&HousesMat

Monday, May 4, 2009


JogginsBayofFundy Back to our field trip yesterday...we visited the fossil cliffs at nearby Joggins (the site of the pheasant which left us so excited).  There is a big visitor center there, and I confess, we didn't go in.  I did, however, take some photos there.

ParkingSign The first thing I saw when I drove in the parking lot was this sign.  I just love Canada.  They are so forward thinking and conscientious.  There was also a wind generator on the other side of the parking lot that I assume is used to help support the visitor center.  Meanwhile, back in the U.S., we're busy dumping more money into an automobile industry which was built around the oil industry.   I promise to stop there.

Along the way, I saw farmhouses and barns.  I love them all.  I always wanted to live in an old house.  Victorian would have been wonderful, Craftsman ditto, farmhouse divine...I'm pretty easy.  Just something with a big old porch and the feeling that there is a lot of history and love in those walls.GreenFarmHouse

Sunday, May 3, 2009


After finding a proper breakfast yesterday morning, we immediately went to Deanne Fitzpatrick's studio in downtown Amherst.  This is where our rug hooking workshop will be held this next three days.  It was like arriving on the doorstep of rug hooking heaven. 

Greeted graciously by her staff, we managed to entertain ourselves for quite a while, checking out all her patterns, hand dyed wools and yarns, and best of all was to see Deanne's work in person.  I have poured over her books since first learning about her last spring, but seeing her work in person is better than the icing on the cake.  The subtleties of her color work just simply don't show well in photographs. She is clearly at the top of her game.  I admire her tremendously (in case you can't already tell).

We then took ourselves to visit the Cumberland Museum, which was not far from Deanne's.  I love the chance to visit a historic home and even more so to see those things which were used to make a household run in those items, dinnerware, and always my favorite...sewing, spinning and weaving tools or needlework pieces that may still exist.  We apparently just missed an exhibition of historic embroidered samplers (sadly), but we were able to buy kits that were based on a couple of the pieces in their collection.  I love to do cross stitch, but it has been many years since I've done any.  Now I remember eyes!  When I get home, I'll be armed with a magnifier and an Ott light before I get serious about my sampler.

Pheasant Today we took a drive and visited Joggins, at the head of the Bay of Fundy.  Driving in we saw a male pheasant, strolling around rather casually while I ripped around in the backseat to find my camera.  Shortly after snapping this photo, we saw his mate, who was in a thicket of growth just to the left of this tree.  I'm assuming she had a nest there.  We hoped for a second photo op on the way out, but he didn't feel up to it, apparently, so this is the best I can do.

Ruthie...this one's for you!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The longest day

We are, thank heavens, in Amherst, NS...arriving late last night...despite Air Canada and what seems to possibly be a more screwed up system than I've ever flown before.

ACtoToronto I could truly write paragraphs about all the mishaps in our schedule, all the misinformation we were given, how we were treated, and how we almost didn't get here last night (in fact, Linda's bag didn't make it until today)...but I won't.  I'm just saying the next time I plan to come to Amherst, I'll either fly another airline to Halifax or I'll fly Southwest to Manchester and drive over (which would have taken the same amount of time and about $1,000.00 less in our combined expenses).

Live and learn.  In the meantime I've decided to share a photo of the little bucket that flew us to Toronto (think portable outhouse).