Silver and speed

I met this amazing jewelry artist while at the silver supply place today. Living in Albuquerque means that I am surrounded by artists and you become kinda numb to the whole scene after a while. So when I tell you that this artist has a unique look, it means he really stands out in a crowd of artists. He has both a website and Etsy shop which I strongly recommend, especially for those looking to burn through some holiday money. (His photo with permission)

Meanwhile, I have been catching up on some birthday knitting. I wanted a shawl, a wimple and 7 socks. It is the time of year when I toss out the old socks that can’t be mended anymore and need some quickie socks to fill in. I also want to clean up my stash of self patterning sock yarn since I don’t really use it as much these days. I am happy to blast through it with just plain old knit socks that can be tossed into the washer and dryer and used every week. When those are done, I get to go onto some fancier knitting.

But you know what? That stupid plain knitting in the round without thinking is bringing back my speed. It is like finger exercises when you were learning to touch type. Slow, boring, mindless and yet a skill is perfected. So I will get 7 pairs of usable socks and speed, baby, speed.


Sheep Cake

While I am woefully behind in posting, I did have to share this special treat. Fiberguy really earned his name tonight when he came home with this:
Curly little sheep on my cake instead of the dreaded roses. Lovely and soft and tasty.
I have been beading since I tore my biceps tendon and only knit slowly right now. I would love to show you all photos, but I either sold everything or they are for upcoming gifts. I just have to make some more to show you all. Meanwhile, fiberguy is just pumping out the socks.


Cotton processing and insurance

I think I was a little overwhelmed when I got back from SOAR this year. Between getting so sick there and losing my luggage with all my treasures, it was a bit much. Then having 6 socks fail for one reason or another, mostly user error and blind optimism, well, I was in a funk. However, now that the insurance check has come in and I can begin to replace those things replaceable, I feel less stuck. And finally, after 6 weeks, over the whole SOAR bug, I can see forward progress. I even finished 3 pairs of working socks. I did have to go back to the basics and work my way up. Still, I never did find that stretchy bindoff that I used to know but there is time to look around for it and use a sewn bind-off until then.

Meanwhile, fiberguy is processing cotton like mad this week. Most of it had to be put into the dehydrator since our freezing weather came very early this year. I am normally out in a tshirt still but it is full jacket, scarf and gloves weather. The bolls pop just like popcorn in the dehydrator and while the cotton is a bit more compresses coming out, it fluffs just like the good stuff. I am very behind in my seed deliveries this year, but they are still coming along.

I still want to start every project in sight, want to spin every fiber in my stash all at once (not actually acomplishable) and weave every pattern in every book all at once. I have a driving need to create. But I am plugging away on some holiday stuff and can't really branch out right now, drat. Being sick always gives me a wicked case of startitis. Lace looms heavily but, again, I think I need to start slowly and work my way up. Perhaps a simple Swallowtail?

For those waiting, there are still some SOAR photos that will come along, perhaps in the dead of winter to warm us all.

Oh, and one simple little thing that brings me joy right now. I know some make their own lotions and ointments, I am not one of those. But I often like to add stuff to commercial lotion to fix it up a bit. So Winter 08 healing lotion is:
1 large (580ml) Lubriderm daily moisture
1 small Peppermint essential oil (1/3 oz)
1 small Lavender essential oil (1/3 oz)
Aloe Vera gel - about 2 oz
Jojoba Oil (between 1-2 oz)

Mix the Aloe Vera 50/50 with water to thin it (or it clumps). Dump the rest all together and mix for a while - it resists incorporation but will get smooth with a lot of stirring. If the scents are too strong, and they may be, cut the essential oils in half. Fill small decorative bottles or plastic bottles for your purse and every room of the house. I get mine here.

I used to add a lot of other things, like tea tree oil and rosemary, but this mix suits me well and really has an effect on my hands. Immune issues mean that I was my hands over 30 times a day and I need the extra healing. I thought you might like a dry skin cure too.


SOAR 2008 part 3

The Power Trio at the spin-in.

Carol and Jennifer are really splendid in these colors, don't you think?

Here Denny approaches the tricky Dino with her trusty hammer cheered on by Beth and Anne, who finally snatches a minute to join us.

I can't tell, but I think Abby is singing. What do you think?

Class samples from the review.

More class samples from the workshop review.

This is Charlene. She is the bravest person I know. She has ripped this sweater back at least 3 times. She was doing it there in front of all of us. I don't mean a row. She ripped it right back - a sweater's worth. Her yarn maintained integrity and it is now finished. She makes me have a little courage with my knitting problems. She makes me want to rip a project back to the cast on row right now and fulfill my knitting dreams. Charlene is my hero.

Here is Nancy Bush in the 3 day Estonian Lace with Judith MacKenzie McCuin.

Fiberguy and his friend Jodie from our home guild. She ties for second most SOARs.

Our friend Jeane stopped by to drop off some yarn at Carolina Homespun. She has lots of new colors. We used her yarn for Vivian Hoxbro's class and she liked it too. It is perfect for her patterns.

Wormspit was examining Jeannine's spendid bands during a demo of his band weaving setup.

And this is Elizabeth. She learned to spin cotton from the seed in under 1 minute and proceeded to spin a bag of it. She has amazing natural talent. Did I mention she was a SOAR virgin? She fit right in.

And I made the big 20,000 on my blog counter today, woohoo! Thanks all.

More to come on SOAR.

SOAR 2008 part 2

And more pics in no particular order
This was a group gather, one of the first few nights. This location had some problems, but there were large areas in which to meet.

During one of these meetings, Marcy performed one of the funniest imitations of Lamchop I have ever seen. Kelly and I were screaming with laughter. If I could rewind my brain to play this again and again, I would.

Janel examines some Alpaca spindle spun yarn.

Beth fondles some yummy yarn that matches her beautiful shawl.

This is John's most seen expression - pure delight.

Here is Pete in Deb's class demonstrating, ah, what?

Sharon's class examine felted samples.

Abby's class

Pat dropped by to show some new goodies.

Samples in Sara's class.

Vivian's class tantalized us all with color.

I don't know what class Rita was in but don't the sample tables look great?

Amy and Karen squeeze time to have a laugh. These guys were everywhere doing everything. I don't know how they even had time to eat lunch. We are all so grateful for your hard work. Thank you to everyone at Interweave for the gift of another SOAR.

SOAR 2008 part 1

Pic heavy post ahead to show you the wonders of this year's SOAR.

There was much celebrating to see each other.

That is Abby, Judith & Maggie

Abby, Shelia & Jennifer

Steph, Juno (C)

Rachel with her friend Angelina

And more joy to meet new people I have know online.

Maia who spreads joy in her wake

And Jim

Lots of newbies that seem to fit right in:

Cosette who helped fiberguy in spinning class

Dana & Meghan, Ravelry friends showing off class samples. Oh and Pat with her camera behind.

And people that warmed my heart

Steve & Connie of Spindlewood

Carol & Pete & the wonderful Marcy showing off a strange spindle.

Two of my especially treasured friends, Jeannine & Denny. Here Jeannine is showing her amazing bands that she wove for this year's fashion show. Perhaps someday she will show them all to the world as they are astonishing. Marilyn M. said Jeannine is always the wedding dress of the fashion show. She always goes last and gives us all a jaw dropper.

OK, there is much more to come.


On Healing and loss

… I put away old my old projects. I went through the house and all the travel bags and gathered up those started and planned, bagged with patterns and needles, poised for fibery pleasures. It was like burying a beloved pet. The container they all went into was one of those giant plastic bins; it almost looked like a coffin. I counted and cataloged them, photographed them all. Goodbye my little friends, time to sleep, all of you. I'll be back when my shoulder is fixed. A big box of stored potential, stored dreams.

Now, after almost exactly one year, I pull out my spindles and knitting needles. My first touch of fiber was at SOAR. It was both joyful and sad. I lost skills. I didn’t think that could happen. I had been in a groove. Now I had holes in the corner of my first sock. How could I forget the secret magic to not having those holes? It took me so long to learn those things. How can I forget in only one year? It was crushing to realize I had lost my chops. I feel adrift in a world that was so familiar, like looking in through a window at something I can’t touch.

I have to admit that it was difficult to leave fiber alone at first. I went through my fiber bins, both yarn and fleece. I photographed them all. I weighted them. I cataloged them in database after database. Now, if I want the green silk/merino handspun from MDS&W from 1997, I can just say to fiberguy to go to bin 6 in stack 2 and get the item in this photo; there should be 6.5 oz.
And those projects I so lovingly stored? The ones that held all that potential? Some are ashes in my mouth. A pair of gloves that I loved now are clearly the wrong yarn choice and will be remade properly. I am finishing up the tiny things and ripping out more. I want a fresh start. I lost a piece of luggage on the way to SOAR that contained my nearly finished Pie Are Square shawl in alpaca along with many other treasures. It detached me, somehow, from all the other projects. I loved that shawl. I invested hours into it. It was the perfect color/yarn and now, sadly, no longer sold. My favorite needles, too, all gone.

I know a year from now that lace will fly off my needles without thought and I will be back into the groove of knitting. Spinning will come first. But it seems like I lost a piece of myself when I lost the skills. Like forgetting how to talk English or how to walk. Some fundamental loss that was a surprise and rather deeply disturbing.

And I did gain something else during the time I was losing myself. I learn to bead more seriously. I applied myself. I went through hundreds of books. I learned project after project, technique after technique. I would practice until comfortable. I took them all to SOAR as gifts as if to say, ‘Here, this is my healing. This is what I learned. This is for you.’ Yet that, too, was lost in the same bag on the way to SOAR. All my splendid pretty things to give to those who inspire me and I treasure. I had my best efforts in there to payback special favors that meant a great deal to me (Deb M). Yet I went empty handed; felt ungiving. Somehow that seems tied to losing myself too.

So now, I have projects that are ashes in my mouth, diminished fiber skills, an empty feeling of loss. It feels hard to get over this hump with no fiber to make me whole. When knitting helps you heal from loss, where does one turn when knitting IS the loss?


Awesome Gifts

6 weeks of flu left me weak and wobbly, but I do have energy enough to read. And just in time, some wonderful books have come into my life.

First from a friend:

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Ethnic Knitting Discovery and I love it. But I was surprised and delighted by the Priscilla Gibson-Roberts updates. I think that Knitting in the Old Way should be in every one’s library. And as a spindle spinner, I just loved Spinning in the Old Way. It was a thoughtful gift and I just love them.

The paperback of Victorian Lace Today came out finally and I am flipping through that too. I missed getting the hardback and then saw everyone’s nice projects and, well, was jealous. I wanted some nice lace too. The reprint is reasonably priced and fits perfectly on my shelf – two reasons why I didn’t select the hardback.

And lastly, out of the blue, a new and wonderful friend from SOAR sent me the best gift ever:

Isn’t it splendid? Oh, and it just sparkles in real life. The back is great too. I was mesmerized by this band. It is so precious that I am a bit afraid to use it. But it is so great that I will buck up. I feel like I have some museum quality piece in my hands and it was just a total surprise. Thank you so much, John Malarky.

Fiberguy has been busy too. Just look at these socks:

Gentleman’s Fancy Sock by Nancy Bush from Knitting Vintage Socks in Araucania Ranco
He is on his third pair of socks now and the first written pattern. There are some mistakes, but he has chosen to leave them in as part of the learning experience. He is working on them concurrently so no second sock syndrome for that boy.
I have much more knitting that I've been working on, but I will save that for some photos. I can write, but I can't take many pictures yet, still too tired. Now I think I will go nap.