Saturday, September 29, 2007

Knit me a home where the buffalos roam.

Well, I wish it wasn't but it is. This is our last night in Ashland. And we are listening to KD Lang singing covers -- playing name that tune -- trying to guess the original singer.

We've had lots of ups and downs on this trip. Which in some ways was expected. The back story: My mom, her husband, Adrienne, and myself decided that we would try to look for a farm together. Currently, my mom and her husband, Jim, live in Minnesota, where I was raised. I love Minnesota. It's beautiful, green, warm summers, and is affordable in comparison to California. Yet, I can not imagine living there now. Even as a child I felt the winter stifling and depressing. Sometimes, I tell myself that if I moved back, the close proximity to my family, and the ability to afford a home would make the cold worth it -- in my gut I know this is not exactly true.

I have this little dream of living in the country, dyeing fiber with plants out of my own garden, eating out of my garden, warming up next to a wood stove, spinning yarn, making art, sleeping under the stars, living like a recluse for a few years. Honestly, I enjoy checking out every once in a while. Allowing the world to go on without me. Giving my brain and body room to explore and expand. Yet, I freak out a little bit when thinking about leaving the city. What if I lose my grip? What if by the time I get back here, someone will have already cultivated my dream? How on earth am I going to make money living in the woods?? I live a paradox of loving the city and wanting to be in the middle of everything and checking out and living a little bit like a hermit.

Add to the equation that I really love spending time with my mom and want to live near her and her husband. So, here we are seeing if we can work out something. One by one, my mom and I eliminate potential states of residence. One of the first on the list for my mom and Jim is California. This is sad. I truly love California. Yes, as a lady born and raised in the Midwest, California can be a little kooky, a little too quirky at times. Overpriced and high maintenance. But then again, often times, I might use those descriptions to characterize myself. California's landscape is dynamic, the climate mild, the people energetic, creative, and forward thinking. All that being said, I've tried pushing but they will not budge.

Oregon (ashland)is one area that we agreed may work. Now, I have to admit, Ashland is about as California as you can get without actually being in California (sorry to any folks from Oregon who might get offended by this remark). There are a bunch of hippies, it's fairly liberal, geographically looks like CA, have good food, etc. Plus, they have the Shakespeare festival. I think that my mom and Jim like this area but I don't know that they love it. I think that they love Colorado. Looking at houses and farms, I think that we have found that we are looking for different styles of living. Adrienne and I want alternative energy, funky houses, uneven floors, crazy gardens. We did find some pretty amazing farms here that are doing just that. I guess in the end, Adrienne and I are going to push our dreams and continue our search. I want the easy answer, the straightforward path -- ha!

Anyway, I highly recommend visiting here. We went to The Tempest last night. It was amazing.

Today, we went to Crater Lake.

Cast-on: Tangled Yoke Cardigan in Silky Wool.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cleo's Garter Pup Jacket

This is Cleo.

She has a new fall jacket.

We are in Ashland, Oregon looking for a farm. More to come soon...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fiber Crazy at Camp Vejar

We've had a very exciting week over here at Camp Vejar. We built a mini-sweatshop. About two weeks ago, our friends Maia and Brooke offered us the opportunity to sell our fiber and yarn in their booth, Sincere Sheep, at California Wool and Fiber. This festival takes place in Boonville which is about 2 1/2 hours north of here. As to be expected, I was delighted and accepted their offer without much thought. Well, I have this part of my personality which goes into overdrive. Some may call it ambitious. I guess therapists may call it compulsive. Anyway, before I know it, I am in the midst of mordanting about 20 lbs of wool. The kitchen is completely trashed with dyes and pots and wet wool. The bathtub too. Adrienne is really an angel. It was kind of like camping but in our house.

The highlight of the week, after 8 days of straight dyeing, came when Adrienne took the bread out of the fridge to make toast, and said "Gee honey, there's even cochineal on the bag of bread". I, in the midst of dyeing, glance briefly over my shoulder, and say "um yeah". Thinking that it is like a drip or something and that she is overreacting. She puts the bread back in the fridge. A few minutes later I go open the fridge to look for some OJ. And, find "the accident".

I had made a titration of cochineal (beetlejuice), poured it into a Ball jar, and placed at the back of the fridge. For some strange reason, the fridge froze the cochineal, turned it into a cochineal icecube, which cracked the glass, and cochineal was _all_ over the fridge. Including in the veggie drawers, under the veggie drawers, etc. There really was cochineal all over the bread.

Point being, we accomplished alot. Here, is a glimpse of the work table.

I have to say I am really proud of our work. Michelle - thank you for helping me out!

70 Alpaca/ 30 Silk. Yarn perfect for shawl lovers. I did not want to part with this yarn.

Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in colorways Kyoto, the Revolution, and Trixie.

Bluefaced Leicester Sock Yarn -- sorry about the poor quality photo.

Wish these kids luck in the world, may they be beautiful socks, scarves, shawls, etc.

Out in the garden, we have more exciting things happening. Dye plants are growing like weeds! I love them. They are so beautiful.

Dyer's Coreopsis


Shungiku Edible Chrysanthemum

Adrienne is taking 2 horticulture classes. One of them is about building a greenhouse. And, she is going to grow another dye garden at school. Hopefully, in the next couple weeks, we will have some yarn and fiber dyed from our garden to share with you.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Pomatomus: You are a beautiful fish.

I have good news. I am knitting the Potomatomus Sock by Cookie A and can not stop. I love this pattern. It is interesting and I love to see the colors of the yarn devlop within the pattern. This is my first Cookie A pattern and I think she is a mastermind. I am using superwash merino sock yarn that I dyed with madder and cochineal. The name of the yarn is Indian Summer.

I can not pull myself away to take a photo but I will in a day or so and post it for you. I love big bright photos on blogs and am disappointed that I do not have to share with you at this moment. [Scratch that -- it is too depressing. I must insert photos]

I am going to try and take tomorrow off. This means that I will only skein and mordant a couple pounds of fiber and leave it at that. I look forward to seeing what Adrienne and I will come up with. We love to start projects -- and we need a new project like we need a hole in the head.

On Sunday, we are going to Maia's for a spin-in. This will be my first one over at her house and I am very excited. Little spinning wheel, where are you? How have you been?

This skein of yarn was our last foray together.

I don't know if I mentioned this but I bought a second spinning wheel. Did I say that I don't oficially have a job? Yet, I can not stop myself from buying more fiber related gadgetry. The very low price of $120 for a Louet S51 somewhat sealed the deal. It is so beautifully simple -- single treadle, the bare components to make fiber spin into a yarn. I had 3 ideas when buying this wheel:

1. Adrienne could use it. She now knows how to drop spindle and this wheel will be very easy for her to spin on.
2. I am toying with the idea of renting my friend's 1960's trailer in Nevada City. Yes, I said a trailer. BUT -- it is very very cute. And, it is in the country. And, it is 5 minutes from the Yuba RIver. I pictured this little wheel sitting in the trailer, waiting for me, and spinning in the country. Ahhhhh.
3. I thought that if someone wanted to learn how to spin, this could be my loaner wheel. Does anyone out there want some spinning lessons? Fall is coming... think how great a handspun scarf would feel.

I might as well come fully out of the closet...I also bought a Schacht rigid heddle loom for $50! That feels really good to say. yet again, do I really need this right now? At the store, I looked at it, and a bubble formed over it, and in that bubble my imagination took me to my famiily room, the loom clamped to my coffee table, I am watching trashy television and weaving very simple handspun white cloth. So, I bought it. Sick bastard!

The loom has been sitting on my living room floor for the past week. I walk over it, carrying buckets of newly dyed and washed fiber to the backyard. I resist putting it away because I really want to warp it ("it only takes 40 minutes to warp, and you can warp straight to the loom" the saleswoman exclaims). But when on earth do I even have the time to calculate a warp? Finally, yesterday, I stubbed my toe on the corner of the loom, I think tomorrow it may have to find a new home in storage. Loom, please don't look at me that way.

As an endnote to my last post, I replied to Ms. SJ's sweet message very simply letting her know that I did receive her message. She replied that the email was meant for internal use only, and that she does not know how I got the message, and she apologizes for that. However, her opinion is her opinion. Cheers!

My original question was never answered.

Needless to say, I have decided to not apply to the SF Craft Mafia Winter show. At this juncture, I want to focus my attention and energy on positive people, attitudes, and venues. The world is full of positive opportunities if you allow yourself to see them. I think that theoretically the SF Craft Mafia is a good idea and I hope in the future they will support new, up and coming artists and craftspeople. God knows if we don't support one another, who will?!

On that note, I hope everyone is creating beautiful things.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Emotional Ups and Downs of Spinning and Knitting

Wow! It has been wayyyyy to long. From the ache in my back, I think I have been working too much. You know when you haven't seen a friend in a long time, and you don't know where to start -- that's how I feel right now.

Let's start right with this moment, where the wind has been taken out of my sails - I am awake this morning bright and early very angry. What a wonderful start to the day! Part of the reason I haven't been blogging is that I have been working hard on updating my website because I wanted to apply to the SF Craft Mafia's Winter sale. This was going to be my first attempt to get my product out to the public. So, I thought that I would pitch my products, and my wonderfully talented friends products, Maia and Brooke. They will be out of town and can not represent themselves and they have a great product. So, I wrote to Craft Mafia for their advice regarding how to apply/ proceed.

This has been our interaction so far:

Hi --

I am applying to participate in Mafia Made Winter 2007. My business's name is A Verb for Keeping Warm.

I have a question -- I am in a co-operative with 2 other businesses, Tactile Fiber Arts and Sincere Sheep.

I am wondering if it would be OK for me to represent our co-operative and sell products from all three companies. Unfortunately, the owner of Tactile Fiber Arts and Sincere Sheep will be out of town the 21st. All three companies have similar goals overall -- to offer earth friendly fiber and yarn products. More information can be found at Tactile Fiber Arts currently does not have a website.

Also, would I apply as a joint applicant? And pay $95?

Please advise.

Kxistine Vxjar

And, this was their response:

From: Bxrbe Sxint Jxhn
Date: September 3, 2007 8:48:57 PM PDT
To: Kxistine Vxjar
Subject: RE: Mafia Made 2007 Question

Well, I'm gonna vote no for her regardless of her coop businesses. Shes a
yarn spinner and she says WAY too cheap

Are you kidding? This is your response? hmmmmmm -- ok. what do I say to that one? I am having a very hard time trying to write something back even vaguely professional. This hits right on the edge of my personality that some may describe as sensitive and emotional -- a nice way to say bitchy and aggressive! And, why is she speaking to me in third person?? Do yarn spinners cheapen the DIY craft movement?! Let me tell you, when you are working your ass off -- it does NOT feel good for someone to call you cheap.

So, I thought I would turn to my fellow fiber bloggers for support. Argh!

On a happier note:

Brenda Dayne's new sock pattern, Brother Amos, has been posted. I am going to download it and hopefully start on it soon.

I finished a hat for Adrienne out of Judith McCuin's shetland yarn. She looks very cute in it.

I have been dyeing like a mad woman and having alot of fun. I really feel like I am learning alot about natural dyeing.

I have just cast-on Pomatomus.

My mom is coming at the end of September from Minnesota. We are going to Ashland, OR to look for a farm. I love when my mom comes to visit.