Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Not all bad

Thank you for the kind, supportive comments from my last post. It means a lot to me, and I'm feeling better. Went to the doctor today, and we discussed things I can try to help with the pain and anxiety. Maybe they'll work, maybe not - a doctor visit was a good first step though!

Despite the encounters with Grinches I talked about last time, there were some pleasant moments over the past few weeks. Here are a few.

This is one of the views at Spence Farm. The little rodentlike creature on the right would be Jimmy.

Both dogs loved being able to roam, explore, and play in the snow. At least they had this opportunity to do so. I gave Toki Dramamine and pulled his food the night before we left, and also before the trip home. It didn't seem to help his motion sickness, although his having an empty stomach was easier to deal with. I still want to be able to take my doggy places, so I will try other remedies the vet's office suggested, such as a certain pheromone he can be given to soothe and calm him. I forget the name of it now. Ginger doesn't work because I can't get him to eat it.

I love this pic of my 3 cute guys!

I discovered that in Spokane there are no longer any places to buy good yarn other than Paradise Fibers. They were, of course, closed Friday and Sunday in addition to Christmas Day. That nice shop on the South Hill, A Grand Yarn, appears to have gone out of business. I knew Toki needed a sweater while there, so my only option was Jo-Ann. I used 1 ball of Stitch Nation Alpaca Love and a small amount of a second ball to knit the chest piece. It seems to fit him well.

Here is one of the gifts I gave my mother-in-law, the Feather and Fan Circle Wrap from The Naked Sheep Knit Shop's blog. I used most of a skein of Mushishi wool/silk blend. Mom seemed to like it; she had just bought herself a teal sweater that matched the wrap.

Not sure what those mysterious orbs are on this picture, other than maybe a dirty camera lens - but here is the zip front cardigan I made for my brother, in Imperial Stock Ranch Columbia wool.

Pretty good fit, and he can wear the shawl collar up or down. He was really happy with it, and so was I. You just can't beat those Knitting Pure & Simple patterns. Drove myself about half crazy trying to put in the zipper with a knitpicker - the method is outlined in the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. After several frustrating hours and colorful swear words, I gave up and stitched the zipper in place by hand. Should have tacked it down better at the bottom; easy fix, though.

And that's mostly how I'm keeping my loved ones warm this winter!

Monday, December 27, 2010



For too long, I've been neglectful of certain things in my life that I need to address. Now they seem to have all converged, from small localized blazes into one massive conflagration, and I've got no choice but to put out the damn fire.

1. Stop the madness

First of all, the way I have been pursuing my business seems to no longer be working for me. I haven't quite figured out everything I want to do in order to make a fresh start in the new year, but I am at a point where I can no longer handle large volumes of wholesale orders. I just had a very negative experience in which I knew a business arrangement wasn't working for me but I didn't speak up in time. I ended up falling behind, the customer got pissed and I lost a major account. Without going into too much detail, I got my ass chewed out in a yarn shop in front of staff and customers, three days before Christmas. And I was facing another stress-filled car trip to Spokane to spend the holiday with my inlaws, which I'll get to later. In all honesty, I wasn't enjoying dyeing dozens upon dozens of the same 2- or 3-color sports team colorways. I really don't want to sound conceited, because I still have tons to learn, but I feel that I've established myself as a fiber artist. I can't mass produce. I need to be in the drivers' seat when it comes to how much output I can create and what colors I use. Dyeing textiles is an art, and art requires inspiration! At least for this artist. I now know exactly how a gifted, driven artist feels when they have to sell out for a paycheck. Those rah-rah colorways were the fiber art equivalent of having to make, say, 50 clown paintings for people to hang in their bathrooms. There, I said it, but it needed to be said. I am simply taking back some control. That much, I have learned this year. I'm not saying I will refuse wholesale orders; perhaps the only major change I need to make is in what I am willing to custom dye. Most of my customers order colorways which I created and still love to dye, so I'm glad to continue making what they want. There might be constraints on volume per color/colorway and adjustments to my production time, but I think they are reasonable when I remember that I'm working in a small kitchen, I have little to no storage space for materials, and I perform every step of the process myself. What it boils down to is that I will work at being more realistic about what I can actually do and how long it actually will take. I'm aware that I may lose more business as a result, but until I have the dye operation of my dreams, I'll have to accept the outcome.

2. Health issues

During the past year, I've noticed a sharp increase in both physical pain and anxiety. The pain is worst when I am on my feet for hours doing dye work, and I'm out of commission for quite a while afterwards. This is a big part of why I had the bad experience described above. Although I haven't seen my doctor in quite a while - she's been out on maternity leave but I think she's back now - I think the anxiety and sleeplessness is a part of aging. My goal is to see the doc by the end of this week and get some answers and some help.

3. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

OK, you've all heard me bitch and moan about visiting the inlaws in Spokane. This time, however, my brother in law, who is an abusive alcoholic, abused me verbally in front of his mother on Christmas Eve. I did not stand for the abuse; I got right back in his face. Oh yeah, it was a Jerry Springer Christmas spent in a split-level instead of a double-wide. My husband defended me, thankfully, and the upshot is that I never have to go back. Ever. As much as I love my mother-in-law, staying in her house is unsafe as long as her drunken mess of a son lives in the basement. Unless he changes, it will only get worse as time goes on. It's a sad state of affairs, but it's freeing for me to have the pressure off at last.


It seems appropriate to be facing significant changes in my life at the end-of-year holidays. I don't make New Year's resolutions. I just seem to be waking up to some facts. People pleaser that I have always been, I'm the one who is living this life, not anyone else. And I've got to make it work as best it can - for me.

Monday, December 06, 2010


A month of Glam

Well hi! Still here, still yarning. I've gotten so much into Facebook and Twitter over the past few months that my blog is starting to fall by the wayside. However, when you want to say all of what's on your mind without worrying about character count and put up a mess of snapshots, there's nothing quite like the blog.

A couple of weeks ago I finally received my eagerly awaited shipment of base yarn for Glam Sock, and was able to finish and deliver orders that were open since July and August. My customers were infinitely patient, and since I've improved my dye techniques and skills since the last time Glam was in, (at least in my humble estimation), I got some great feedback!

Since I had a whole case to play with, I came up with some new colorways.

Victorian Christmas

Black Magic

You'd think black would be a no-brainer and I'd have figured it out early on. Not so! For me it was a matter of finding the right dye. For much of my black dyeing I use Country Classics Raven, which is more of a charcoal gray than true black. Trying to get the right black for my textile artist friend was a challenge and forced me to experiment (which was a good thing). Next I tried Ashford black, but that wasn't working either. Finally I used Jacquard jet black, and voila - that seemed to do the trick. It works great on Glam; usually I double dye it in a pot for developed and even color. For handpainting a variegated colorway, though, I still use CC Raven, because the Jacquard tends to separate into brown at the edges of the dyed area.

The Mulberry's a challenge, too. To make this color I combine 2 dye shades, and can never seem to get the ratios exactly right from skein to skein, session to session. Usually they come out so much prettier than my camera can show, that if there is hue variance it's slight and not much of an issue. As for Victorian Christmas - this colorway danced in my vision like sugarplums for months. Finally got to do it, what fun! It's just a little twist on a Christmassy silver, red and green.

Didn't think you were gonna get a dyeing tutorial, did ya?

Socks Are Not For Suckas

Shawls in hand dyed fingering weight are awesome sauce, yes they are. However, I still love sock knitting. One at a time. Top down. On dpns. It takes me immediately to my happy place!

I love the Nutkin pattern, and have been itching to knit it and drooling over the skein of Madelinetosh in Baltic that was percolating in the stash. I then proceeded to change just about everything about the design, except for keeping the beautiful (and easy) stitch pattern on the leg.

Finally there's a blue pair in my sock drawer!

Not an afterthought...

I got my spinning wheel! It's a beautiful brand new Lendrum that works great, but we haven't exactly bonded yet. There are a few issues with me, spinning, my house and pets. First of all, I'm not as consistent a spinner as I thought I would be - and it will take lots of practice, not only to spin uniformly but also to build those leg muscles! I went to a spin session, and it was more of a workout than I imagined. However, those things aren't really obstacles; I shall overcome. The biggest issue is keeping my wheel safe from dog whiz. To Toki, it's just another piece of furniture to lift his leg on, so I've got the wheel put up out of reach. I also need to be sitting in one of the kitchen chairs when I spin; my knitting chair won't work ergonomically. Holy cow! Over the next year one of my goals is to work out all these bugs, so I can spin as leisurely as I knit.

Look out, it's Christmas

Without sounding like a bah humbug scrooge, I really, really don't want to do much for Christmas this year. I don't want to put up lights or spend $60 on a tree that we'll throw out, although we will do these things for Michelle. I guess the reason I don't want a tree is because I can spend virtually zilch on gifts. So while it'll be simple holidays for us, I'll do what I can to make it decent looking around here. My objective for the coming week, along with keeping Stitchjones going of course, is to transform the clutter of a business office, warehouse, winding station and mail room - along with a music room - back into what they started out as, our dining and living room. I put away a lot of stuff today and did some cleaning, and although it'll take some doing, I'm in a "believe and achieve" frame of mind. That means the psychoactives must be working!

I promise not to be absent from here for so long, and am about 3/4 done knitting a sweater. I'm eager to finish it, do a photo shoot and blog it, of course, so I'm off to knit more on the sleeve. Hope you are all finding ways to stay warm and happy in early December!

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