Thursday, January 9, 2014

The more things change.....

Heh - we're only 9 days into 2014 and guess who's just now penning her 'resolving to change' list?  Or, you could say we're already 9 days in and guess who's finally getting around to it.  It's a glass half empty/half full sort of thing:)

Actually, I'm posting now but I've been working on the whole concept in earnest for about a month.  I don't usually even bother but there are also usually a good deal of things I wish were different and haven't yet changed so, clearly, some effort will need to be made.  I'm loving all of the ideas that are floating around pertaining to the year upon us.  Miriam Felton has kept us captivated with her 'year of making' in 2013 and that wave is growing and you'll find the #yearofmaking posts on Instagram and Twitter to prove it.  I love the idea, the inspiration, and the commitment.  And David at Southern Cross Fibre is hosting a Spin 365 spin along on Ravelry - with the goal being that you set a goal of how much you'll spin a day/week/etc and work to maintain it.  Spinners are firing up our mojo and the posts of beautiful pics of yarn are streaming in.  The concept of remembering to spin/knit/make for ourselves as well as all of those lucky souls we usually make for seems to be popular.  Our own Enchanted Knoll group is hosting the MINE! along in ravelry - where you are encouraged to spin, knit, weave, or make whatever you love JUST FOR YOU!

Which brings me to my own  personal goals for 2014:
 Organization - Chaos is no longer comfortable for me so I'm weeding out clutter in my home, disorganization on my website, and other parking places like my Ravelry stash and projects page.  It's almost embarassing how much I've already thrown out or tidied up and there's lots left to do.

Making a life - Keeping the making fun and not letting it fall by the wayside due to the hectic pace of that ritual called a normal day-to-day life.

42 - Yep, that's my number this year.  I've been catapulting back and forth for years in terms of health, fitness, etc.  My biggest excuse when I'm on the downhill slide of the catapult is that I don't have time to keep up with my physical fitness routines.  This year, I'm vowing to MAKE 42 minutes each day to take care of me.  Yesterday, it was the haircut I hadn't kept up with for over 4 months, this morning it was 42 minutes on the treadmill.  Everyday, no excuses.  42 minutes.

Branching Out - I'm vowing to learn something new each month of this calendar year.  A new knitting/spinning technique, a new craft, or, perhaps, how to maneuver the rivers in my area with Thing 3 and the canoe he won in a school drawing.  Exploring - changing, evolving and growing.  At least 1 new to me skill or task a month.

So, that's it - we'll see how this goes.  So far, I've got the 42 thing, I'm making and spinning right along with all of the alongs, I'm taking baby steps at organization, and I'm branching out.  What are you doing with your year?

Sea Goddess Shawlette

This is a 'knit til you are done' recipe.  The original measures 54 inches across but, if you have more yarn to use and continue the increase/decreases as described, you could knit a larger shawl easily.  The EKF yarn kit (which was a Happy Hooves Sock Yarn Club installment this month) came with 8 colors of about 50 yds each.  This is a very simple 'recipe'.  It lends itself beautifully to using up small bits of handspun or those little leftover ends of sock yarn.  It's relaxed knitting that will really let the colors and visual features of your yarn shine!

This is a simple, no gauge pattern that you will soon find a rhythm to and be able to knit it anywhere.  It is a basic recipe with very little complication in stitching so it makes great, relaxing knitting!  Working from light to dark with a variety of colors will produce a dramatic effect as seen here – making it a fabulous project for those little bits and ends of handspun or sock yarn.  About 50 yds of each of the 8 colors will work.

Yarn:  EKF Superwash Sock Fingering (400 yds) or any fingering wgt yarn
Needle:  Size 7US

Co 4 sts
Knit garter ridge until you have 38 ridges per side.
K2tog twice, Pick up 36 sts along garter ridges plus two from opposite garter edge
K 2 rows
K3, purl to last 3 sts (wrong side)
K3, m1 knit to last 3 sts, m1, k3 (right side)
K3 purl to last 3 sts, k3
Repeat last 2 rows 3 more times

Set up row:
Please note – you may find it helpful to use stitch markers for the increase points – this is a personal choice.  Some knitters will ‘read’ the knitting and see the yo, k1, yo at every point and find the marker cumbersome.  Again, it’s up to you.  Likewise, you may find it helpful to use a different type of stitch marker for the decrease points as you are using for the increase points – as a visual reminder to decrease or increase.
1.  K3, k2, *yo, pm, k1, pm, yo*, k4 - repeat until 5 sts remain, knit all
2.  K3, p to last 3 sts, k3
3.  Knit 3, place ½ decrease marker (dmkr)k2tog, knit to mid point of the sts between the first set of increase markers and the second set, and create the following full decrease marker as follows: ssk, slip dec marker, k 2 tog.  Knit all increases as in Set Up Row 1.  Repeat the placement of setting up full decrease markers until you get to the last 5 sts, while still knitting the increases as in Set Up row 1. k2 tog, place ½ decrease marker, k3.  Essentially, you have one increase row (row 1) and 1 increase and decrease row (to make the points) in row 3.  Make sure you are increasing on both row 1 and 3.
4.  K3, p all sts, k3

Repeat these 4 rows, changing color when you run out of color 1. For each color after that, proceed as follows:

K3, k2, *yo, sm, k1, sm, yo*, k4 - repeat until 5 sts remain, knit all  this is your increase row to make your star points
K3, p to last 3 sts, k3
K3, k2, *yo, sm, k1, sm, yo*, k to dec mkr, ssk, k2tog, knit to increase mkr- make increases, knit until 5 sts remain, knit 2 tog at last ½ decrease marker, sm, k3 this is your decrease row to make your inverted points
K3, p all sts, k3

Repeat these rows until the last color.  Then, stop all increases and decreases and knit 3 garter ridges on each side, casting off loosely on the last garter row.  I usually wet block but this pattern is very simple and stretches naturally so is easy to steam block for a quicker finish!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I'm sorry I've been so cranky....

It's Christmas Eve and that means all of the holiday rushing and hustling is behind me and also, now that a couple of my kiddos are getting into adulthood (which I keep reminding them is totally overrated), means I have all 3 Things at home - yay!  I wish I could say that the holiday hustling being over is because I accomplished all I set out to do, satisfied every need, and made everything alright and well in the world but, alas, I fell short in so many ways.  Nah, it all comes down to a respect for deadlines. 

I think this comes along with being self-employed.  It doesn't really just 'come along', it's something you cultivate over time - often after many attempts to do more than you ever can and find yourself totally spent, completely saddened and feeling like a failure.  Sure, you can dust yourself off and try again but, over time, you get tired of that, too.  So, the wise person (or the one just beaten down by this repeated experience and desperate for a change) realizes there are tools and tricks to make things more efficient.  The wiser person realizes that you have to know when to stop.  When to call it done, even if you know you can do so much better.  After 4 layers of frosting on your daughter's fairy cake because you are sure you can do better on a wing - you realize that this level of tenacity for 'better' is a bit whacky.  Don't ask me how I know.  So, I try to operate with some mental picture of a target.  Then, an "I would really like to have x, y & z done by this date/time," then, "omg, this is due now!".  Then, the release - you've done the best you can, you've run the race, it's time to let the chips fall where they may.  Noon on Christmas Eve is my stopping point.  What is done is done.  What is not, well, it goes on my list of things I didn't get done.  I'm really still learning that letting the chips fall bit but it is so much harder than it sounds.

So, between shopping, all the holiday preparations, working, and getting around the school schedules, the transportation issues, and the ice storms, even a simple trip to acquire food for the family leaves me feeling growly.  But, that's not at all the kind of cranky I'm here to show you.  I was a little flabergasted this year when all three things requested socks and knits for presents.  We've just started to migrate out of those early teen years wherein it apparently became very embarrassing to wear your mom's handknits.
Thing 1 grew out of it quickly so I've been knitting for her for years but the boys have proven to be a challenge.  I cranked out a few pairs each of some simple black socks and maroon socks (their school colors) and knew those would be a go, but not very interesting color wise, huh?

So, for Thing 1, I pulled out the new EKF self-striping sock yarns - this was the intro to self striping that was the Happy Hooves Yarn Club feature last month.  The new colors will have 3-5 stripes of color in each sock.  I have to say, this is seriously laborious as a dyer and not without tears figuring the whole thing out and adapting my equipment to work but totally worth it!  While I was testing batches, getting used to the winding procedure and generally hating the process those first few times, I kept thinking, "this can't be worth it all."  I mean, how simple is is to just change colors when you need a new stripe?  But, then there's all the weaving in of ends, etc. and then, on the 3rd try when I achieved color striping perfection?   I totally got it.  There is just a rhythm and joy to knitting along on a simple sock stitch and having a rainbow of colors unfold.  And, by rainbow, I don't mean strictly bright, typical rainbow colors - the possibility of color options is endless and each round is a thrill - getting to the next one to change color again.  It made the hand knit socks go so much faster and, on the sock knitting machine - it was just pure, wicked fun!  These are for Thing 1 but Things 2 & 3 liked them so much, I cranked them a pair too.  We're at 7 pairs so far - I told you I was cranky!

Then I have my x-moose present to myself - a pair of  socks in my 'Cheshire Cat' colorway.  I love this colorway so much I could knit it over and over.  And, I have.  This is my 3rd pair in this colorway and the first I will keep for myself.  These socks go with EVERYTHING and while they are predominantly greys and black - those peaks of bright Cheshire Cat eyes just make me happy.  I can wear them with slacks and still feel adventurous - win!

The last pair were actually cranked in November but I'm just now showing them to you because it took me this long to close the toes.  Actually, one toe because my awesome friend Kelly closed the other foot for me a while back.  Yeah, I've actually been hanging on closing one toe for over a month!  Cranky!

These beauties are much more my style for knitting yarns.  This is my 'Bunch of Hippies' colorway and I love it for its bright, bold beauty.

I'm so grateful to this Kelly woman - not only because she's been an awesome friend to me (I know the combination of being super nice to her and saying so many nice things about her here will have a much desired effect of making her want to pinch me and that, my dears, is just how our friendship gig works - LOL) but also because she's kind of the reason there is so much crankiness here.  I'm embarrassed to say I have had this vintage sock knitting machine for about 5 years now.  I bought it for its charm - because I wanted to make LOTS of socks, and because the history of these machines just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  It reminds me every day of the resourcefulness, grace, and fortitude of women and I really dig that sort of thing.  But, mostly, I wanted to make lots of socks.  How disheartening it was to find that you don't just put it together and start a cranking.  It's a machine - Ugh!  I don't 'do' machines!  They break, they are unpredictable,  they need people with some machine skills and finesse to operate them!  Woe!  I tried watching countless videos, tried setting it up multiple times.  I'd make progress, get a sock done - go back the next day to make its mate and have yarn messing disaster on my hands and terrible swear words flowing freely from my mouth.  It was horrible and it went on for months before I finally gave up, put it in a box labelled 'Stupid Thing' and stuck it in the attic.

Then, said friend invited me & my machine into her lair where, as it turns out, she is a sock machine genius and she had it assembled, up and running in no time.  Then, there was that awful part where she had to watch me use it and tell me what we both already knew.  It wasn't the machine that was being stupid, it was yours truly.  She showed me how to be less stupid and, before I left, I had socks!  I've been cranking since and, wouldn't you know it, making LOTS of socks. For a while, when the machine would fall out of alignment or go crazy, I would panic and immediately start calling her name like Sheldon calls for Penny but, over time, I've actually learned how this thing works and I only pull a Sheldon when the stuff really hits the fan:)  She's always there whether I'm panicked or not and reminds me to be the machine's alpha, not the other way around.  I still experience surprise every time I pull a pair of socks off the thing and think, "I'm making this happen - ON A MACHINE!"  This from a woman who, more than once, has experienced a breakdown on the side of the highway and contemplated 1) trying to find out what is wrong and see if it can be fixed 2) calling a repairman, getting a tow truck and going through this fresh hell or 3) hopping a bus to the airport, using said funds for fixing car to relocate to a city nearby and forget where I came from.  Believe it or not, before kids - option 3 was my favorite and how I came to live, car-less, in downtown Austin for a few years.  I don't deal with machines well.  I have total breakdowns over broken machines.  This is not a quality that is serving me well in the current social climate.

I guess you could call this a happy ending.  I'm happy, there are socks, machine is fine.  I just wish, for once, I could have had it all - that it could have been a 'Stupid Thing' that caused all the problems, got magically fixed, and I remained a genius the entire time and am now even more, geniuser????
Ah well, a girl can dream. 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!  I'm off to 'test' the caramel batches I made and sent out for holiday gifts.  Yes, they've already been tested but today's taste buds might be the best to decide.  I love the basic salted caramel but then I went and made a batch of bacon caramels.  I wish I'd have put more bacon in but I'll do that next time.  Lastly, there was the nut cluster blend wherein I put pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, white chocolate and dark chocolate in the pan, poured the caramel over it and salted the top - yuuuum!  I'm going to have some of those with a glass of cinnamon whiskey as my Christmas Eve fireside treat tonight!   Be well!  Enjoy your holiday!  Knit for sanity!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Spicy Food, Spicy Yarn (aka Why We Do It, part 2)

Ahhh, oops, I forgot (insert the multitude of things on our to-do lists this time of year here)____!
That's about how every 'okay, I can relax a minute now and get my thoughts together,' moment goes in my world right now.  A busy time, but a good time because giving is something I really enjoy doing.  It's hard to remember that sometimes, though, when the lists get longer, the days left to ship 'gifts' gets shorter and time seems ever more elusive.  Also, really, how fast can one knit without going permanently cross-eyed and falling over dizzy from intensely staring at the needles trying to will them to work faster magic? 

Every year, I vow to knit for MORE of my friends and loved ones.  Yes, you read that right, MORE.  Experience, the passing of the newness of the life I've taken on as a fiber artist, reality, and a total understanding that I am lucky to manage the basic list I've had for years (which may or may not be due to the fact that I never seem to get it together and actually start all of my made projects before Thanksgiving - LOL) do not appear to have affected my hopes and dreams of knitting something for everyone.  Clearly, something has to change but I'm unclear, at this moment of crazed holiday making fever to discern whether it will be the ridiculously late start date, the expectations, or the cold, bleak hand of reality gripping my 'to do' list and tearing it to shreds with an indignant flounce in front of my face.

Sometime last week, I started to really kind of panic.  Not a super crazy dramatic panic but a slow burning panic of, 'Man oh man there is no way I'm getting all of this done," sort of panic.  Then, it occurred to me, like as if I didn't know it before - almost an epiphany, if you will, that I can make OTHER  things.  I say this in total sarcasm because I've been a 'handmade' gifter for 20 plus years so, clearly, before I was a knitter I 'gave' other gifts.  So, I through a batch of my jalapeno jelly together, with which I'm toasting some bagel chips.  I had to product test so I spread some cream cheese on my favorite tamari seaweed rice cakes and spread some of this spicy deliciousness on them for breakfast.  Yum!  This afternoon, I'm on sugar scrubs, some yarn dyeing (still gotta work for a living - ha!) and some special caramels that I won't talk about until they are tasted and a recipe is ready!

Want to make your own?  This recipe is super easy!

1 1/4 lbs jalapeno peppers, split in half and seeds/stems removed
2 cups apple cider vinegar
juice of half a lemon
1/2 inch of grated ginger
6 cups of sugar
2 pkgs sure gel pectin powder

Put the jalapeno halves and the vinegar in the blender and puree.  Pour into saucepan with sugar, lemon juice, ginger and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 10 mins.  Stir regularly to avoid scorching.  Skim foam off the top.

Add about 4 tbsp water to the pectin powder in a bowl and stir well to remove clumps.  Stir into your boiling jelly mix.  Continually stirring, boil mixture for about 2 minutes.  Add 2-3 drops green food coloring if desired for color.   Pour into jars.  Put clean lids and rims on jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 mns.  Check jars for seals, label, give most away - keep some for the loved ones IN YOUR HOUSE!

A variation if you want a relish - add 2 cups cranberries, slice and diced (removing seeds) lemon and 1 orange, 1 tsp vanilla extract - add 1 cup of vinegar and sugar as well.  Follow exactly as above adding all fruit in the very beginning.  Makes a spicy, tart, sweet relish!  Looks gorgeous in gift basket.

I would just like to admit, right here and now, that the jelly is going in my packages but I still insisted on including knits as well - LOL.  I have some serious weaving in of ends and toe closures to do as I've been knitting scarves and cranking socks like a madwoman! #noselfcontrol

A totally quick knit?  Art yarn.  I know, I know, not everyone is sold on this yarn form.  I love me a good art yarn.  Give me a sexy boucle, a coiled skein of happy, or a skein full of baubles and jewels any day.  But, for some, art yarn just makes the sound, 'blech'.  So, in fairness and for purposes of showing that art yarn is highly personal, I chose the form I'm not usually a big fan of myself - slubby yarn.  Slubby yarn, if I can be totally honest with you, kind of makes me angry - LOL.  I don't know why - I'm certainly no purists in terms of handspun.  I love a superfine handspun lace or sock yarn that is oober consistent and nearly identical all throughout and then I'll put it down and fall right in love with a thick and thin single that just screams at you, "What, are you afraid to play a little?".  But, slubby yarn irritates me.  It just seems hard to knit, hard to conform to a shape or look, hard to love.  So, I took some black top and some noil (camel, silk, wool YUM!) that I'd dyed in deep jewel tones and corespun it very loosely and airily over my core.  I did this to get a super lightweight, bulky yarn full of air and warmth but still very stable.  Then, I plied that with a single strand of handspun black top. Let me tell you, this is some seriously poofy but noticeably slubby yarn....little pops of color peeking out of the slubs that I'm trying to love.  Still, as I knit them, I growled a time or two when a slub would make a row look a little wonky.  So, I ripped it and moved up 2 needle sizes to get a drapier, more relaxed gauge.   I made two skeins - one just plain and one infused with trinkets and charms.

My girl is all about Steampunk so those trinkets were brass key charms, black pearls, glass beads and some wooden skulls.  What happened after that took only about 4 hours of knitting and produced, even with all of those charms, a 5 ounce scarf that is SO SOFT, so blingy, and so easy I may make a few more, oh, I don't know, instead of sleeping tonight:)  We'll see.  This simple keyhole scarf was made like this:
I know this look is not for everyone and there are definitely people on my gift list that I would not gift this scarf to.  Well, maybe this scarf knit in a basic or 'normal' yarn but not with the bling and baubles.  But, the girl I knit this for will love it.  And, with her dark chocolate wool coat or black leather coat and boots, she'll look stunning it it!  She's the kind of cool chic that will class it up with some simple wardrobe choices and relish that camel, silk, wool softness keeping her warm as she jots from class to class and then hangs in the campus coffee shop.

These keys were a lot of work to spin into this yarn but I know they are the 'special' touch that will really thrill her to no end!  Totally worth all that pre-stringing and coaxing it through my orifice. Spinning muggles, that is not as perverse as it sounds!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Why We Do It, Part 1

It's Small Business Saturday!  I hope you'll take the time to support a local, internet, or favorite small business today!  And a heart-felt thanks to all of you who have or will visit the shop this weekend for our annual Black Friday thru Cyber Monday sale.

I know these sorts of promotions can be quite a bore for some of you and who among us hasn't gotten completely irked at an annoying sale commercial that plays over and over again?  We may not always be in support of all of the companies and their approach to this weekend but I do hope we don't let that help us fail to support the businesses we do value.  As you know, small businesses are pretty personally important to me.  It's not just because I am one.  Long before I was one, I was pretty devoted to the concept.  From shopping at the very first Whole Foods Market over in downtown Austin to mentoring small farmers and business growers to becoming a business owner myself, my entire adult life has been a journey around those values.  I have no real issue with big business - quite the contrary.  I feel it's important to say that from time to time because it seems that we tend, as human beings, to assume there has to be one side vs. another.  I think smart marketing is in realizing that we need both to compete, succeed, and prosper in a world market.

So, while I do not despise big business, my values lie in the world of the small.  That is not to say that I do not buy my paper towels at a large box store.  Or, to imply that I will spend a lot more money to buy something at a small store that I can get elsewhere for a fraction of the cost.  At the end of the day, I have a family to take care of and I believe wise appropriation of resources is always warranted.  It IS to say, though, that I appreciate and value the approach and experience that is being and shopping with small businesses.  I understand that there is a value in the personal, tailored experience of knowing and working with your provider.  When business becomes a relationship, everyone tends to get what they need.

And we NEED small businesses.  We need people who will/can think outside the box and create a place where truly unique things happen.  We need people who find innovative, new concepts and introduce them to us, show us how to embrace them and why we should, and support us along that journey.  We need creativity that doesn't come from a school or a set of rules or a chain with a pre-ordained shelf stocking list.    We need the guy who first thought to put beer, chocolate and salt in some hard cheese and sell it at a local farmer's market so that others would experience it and then realize they could put ___ and ___ and ____ in cheese and it would be AWESOME!  We need that small hardware store in town that knows that a large percentage of the houses in Maine are 100+ years old and drafty as all get out- so they stock all of the items you need to winterize at the time you need it.  The box store, who's home office is in Georgia or something, will catch on later and have the stuff a little cheaper but you'll be snug by the first snow knowing you're already all set.  That's the same box store that puts all of the pool chemicals out in March, when most of our pools are still a sheet of ice to skate on and stops ordering them by May when we are just starting to imagine it ever being warm enough to swim.  But, without that box store, we'd be out of toilet paper year round and, trust me - take it from a woman who lived off the grid and farmed and raised 3 kids for almost 10 years, roughing it is not necessary and any spiritual value you would derive from such existence can be very closely replicated by a remote week of camping twice a year.  Just trust me, we need both.

So, even when the holiday songs are making you need to bite someone, the people are cranky and sweet little old ladies steal your parking spot - I find it helps to remember the reasons why we do it. Sometimes it comes down to that very special gift that will make "insert person's name here" so happy because they will be so surprised and you know they want it and sometimes, less rewardingly, it's because you need toilet paper.  Sometimes it's because you've just found the perfect knitting pattern and, voila - it's on sale!  And, sometimes, it's because you know that everyone will be out next Saturday and you are procuring a batt to sit and spin so you don't follow through with that need to bite someone next week (planning ahead - cuz you are wicked smaht!).

For myself, as a small business owner of almost a decade, I can only partially put into words how grateful I am for the support and the relationships I have been privileged to forge over the years.  For the many times I have sat down to my holiday feasting table, looked at my ravenous family (I'm always late with the food, why am I always late with the food?) and thought of how grateful I am that you have supported me, challenged me, helped me grow as an artist and business woman - and made every day I've spent doing things that are meaningful and beautiful to me with my life.  You are why we do it.  Without you, we couldn't.

Thank you. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fix Yourself Soup

This is not going to be one of those whiny, "I'm a mom and no one cares if I'm sick so I have to take care of myself," posts.  It's not true and is true all at the same time but the whining part is neither productive or any sort of release so I reject it.

Does no one care?  Absolutely untrue.  My kids definitely care and they are being super nice and helpful.  But, what I think moms really mean when they say these sorts of things is that life must go on.  The world can't stop every time a mom comes down with the crud.  The kids can't stop, their busy lives don't stop, it all has to keep on keeping on and the sicko mom starts to feel like a real arse just for getting sick.  Nevermind she's been housed with sick teens for 2 weeks fighting it off after having an allergic reaction to the flu shot that she got trying to do the right thing so that no one got sick this season.

So, there's caring and then there's the reality that life continues to be busy even when all you can manage is rolling over and finding the tissue box before disaster strikes.  I maybe whined on Saturday.  I felt like warmed over canned carp on moldy rye on Sunday.  By this morning, I was plenty irriated that I'm not getting better and decided to take this on.  After seeing me for 10 minutes, the doc declared me sicker than sick, scribbled some magic words on paper to get me drugs, and sent me on my germy way.  I'll take those but I'm taking it a step further and living on my 'fix yourself'' soup.  It's all I'll eat for 2 days and it almost always does the trick.  Want to make your own?
You'll need:
4 cups homemade chicken broth
1 cup red wine
2 cups water
1 cup each chopped shitake and portabella mushrooms
8 green onions, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 inch of ginger root, grated fine
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 package tofu
1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage and cauliflower per serving
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the broth, water, wine mushrooms, garlic, scallions, ginger, tofu, soy sauce and cayenne to a boil, turn down to simmer.  Simmer 15 mins while shaving the cabbage and cauliflower.  Put these raw veggies in the bottom of a bowl.  Spoon hot soup over it.  Add a large scoop of kimchee on top and eat while steaming hot. 

This is just the thing I need to get myself back in the carding studio so I can make up some more yummy batts for the NEFF next weekend!  You'll find lots of yummy EKF batts in the 'Art for Your Feet' booth.

This yummy you see here is my Starry Starry Night batt.  I know I've said about a hundred times on this and the blogs that came before this one that this particular painting was instrumental in my becoming an artist.  So, you know, the batt recipe is extra special to me.  That's why it's all about luxury with a 50/50 merino silk base and lots of spice.  I may have stolen a few for myself.

I'll spin those tonight while my soup and the doctor's magic words start their work.  Then, I'm back at the whirlwind that is the busy lives of everyone in our house. No rest for the wicked:)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Totally Rhinebecked...

And the meaning of that is as versatile and vague as it sounds:)

It's taken me two days to get unpacked and corral my family members of the two and four-legged persuasion, whip everything back into shape, and start to resume a normal schedule again.   In this way, being totally Rhinebecked is to be so thoroughly exhausted from the excitement of it all and days on the road that I actually count getting dressed as an item on my 'to-do' list.  Yes, seriously.  Also, while I'm confessing to my lameness, I had maple cotton candy for breakfast yesterday, partly because it wouldn't have lasted another day and partly because I was too lazy to soft boil an egg.  Yeah.

What kind of stimulation would be required to produce such a thorough level of exhaustion?  It is all encompassing.  I mean this so truly that I cannot explain without sighing out loud repeatedly.  Start here, with simply the most gorgeous sunny weekend:
To that, add a constant aroma of every temptation you can imagine - coffee, apples, fair food (which I discovered only smells good if you take them in indivually.  If you're walking past cider donuts, deep fried pickles and artichokes at the same time, your senses get overwhelmed a little and you may swoon a bit) and wool.  Yes, there is a lot of wool smell both on and off the wool givers.  You could hyperventilate with all the wool huffing you'll do and not even care.  I mean, breathing?  It's slightly overrated.  Lastly, add the opportunity to bump into so many of your friends and acquaintances all in one day and mostly spontaneously.  It's like you are visiting a knitter/spinner's Disneyland that is stocked with friends old, new, and yet to be made.  I don't want to name names - and there would be so many that I fear I would muck it up in trying but to all of you who shared a hug, a laugh, a bit of knitting, a friendly punch in the arm as I walked by (you know who you are), thanks!  It was awesome to get to see so many of you at one place.  And, for those of you that I didn't get a chance to see - :( - next year!!!!

Driving back to Maine, I realized I hadn't even plugged in my usual audiobook or music for the ride.  I just sat in the car thinking about the last few days and smiling. My GPS startled me when she finally spoke up, it was so quiet in there.  Totally Rhinebecked.

Then there's the weeks leading up to Rhinebeck, where so many of you found my batts in the Tsarina of Tsocks' Art for Your Feet  booth - thank you for that!  I carded, dyed, carded, came up with new ideas on the fly, carded, labeled, carded for weeks leading up to the show and even though I was exhausted, you made me feel so good and so grateful when you turned out in numbers sharing the batt love and saying such kind things about my work.  Thank you seems too simple to cover it but it is all I can come up with in my Totally Rhinebecked state.  Thank you, seriously.  You'll find more EKF batts at the booth at the Art For Your Feet booth at the Big E in a little over a week.

I came, I shopped, I ate so many sinful things that I should just start sleepwalking on the treadmill.  I somehow acquired a pig puppet and made silly and tasteless jokes with it all weekend. I rekindled my love of popcorn and all things maple.  Between the wine tastings in the food booths and a stop in New Hampshire on the way home, I've overstocked the wine collection.  That's okay, that just means I need to have friends come up for dinner more often.  Now, I have a roast in the oven, a list of new batt ideas to execute RIGHT NAOW and I'm back to the carder and spinning wheel. 

When I have the guts to confront laundry, and I've properly washed the sweater I wore in the sun and sweat in atrociously, I'll be back with notes on my finished Rhinebeck sweater - literally finished on the way to Rhinebeck because stress is my motivator :p  Just look at the face I came home to.  This is a 'while you were away I threw a fit, ate your ottoman, and tore up the handspun skeins stored inside of it but you still love me, right?'  Yeah.  Totally Rhinebecked!