Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Big Announcement: Stitches West 2008 Passport

If you are coming to Stitches West, and I hope you are, I have a game for you to play. I think this is going to be a lot of fun. I hope you will participate and think it is fun too.

Wait, let's back up a minute.

First, I need to make a proper announcement.

A Verb for Keeping Warm is going to be at Stitches West 2008.
February 22-24. Booth 840.

I will be sharing a booth with Tactile Fiber Arts. They also use natural dyes. Their fiber and yarn is extremely beautiful. There selection of sock yarn is amazing. You are going to be in fiber heaven.

I will also be carrying Zero Stitch Markers. I am so excited about this. These stitch markers are gorgeous. I bought them for my mom for her birthday. Let me put it this way, we, the people in the world who choose to spend our time and money, knitting, spinning, felting, crocheting(ok, get the point, fiber loving people of all kinds) love color and the tactile experience. Zero Stitch Markers only enhance the process. Imagine, there you are knitting stitch after stitch, you get to the end of your row, how do you know? You are looking at a beautiful semi-precious stone, coupled with a freshwater pearl. I don't think I need to explain what beautiful stones do to the human condition, however, I will add that it makes everything a little brighter. That's what knitting is like when you use Zero.

Ok, now back to the game:

I will not deny, the fact that I am going to be a vendor at Stitches West gives me a certain amount of stress. I try to practice my Buddhist, existentialist principles. "If it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done. What is the worse case scenario? Will I go out of business? Will I lose my mind?" Ultimately, the answer is no.

My personality's natural tendency is to make a long list of things to do today, and an even longer list tomorrow. For the past two years, I have been working to balance that. To listen to my body, to not blindly follow my big brain ideas until my body breaks down (The rib!). Point being, you guys will all come and see me at my booth even though I did not finish dyeing every teensy tiny yarn or piece of fiber in my house, right?

Above and beyond, I want Stitches to be fun. I want to meet a lot of people, talk about fiber and yarn, and to touch as many soft, fibery things as possible. Moreover, fun balances stress, right?

So, I had this idea (thanks mom, and the U.S. Forest Service), and with encouragement from Maia and Brooke, I contacted Casey and Jess at Ravelry. Here's the low-down:

1. When you get to Stitches, go to the Ravelry booth, say hi to Casey and Jess, pick-up a "Passport".Inside the passport, each page will be dedicated to a different vendor/ Raveler.

2. As you make your way around Stitches, visit each vendor in the passport and get a stamp.

3. At the end of your day, stop by Ravelry's booth, drop off your passport, and you will be entered into a drawing. You will be eligible to win lots of beautiful yarn and books, supplied by the vendors in the Passport. A Verb for Keeping Warm will be donating yarn and fiber.

Once Stitches comes to an end, Casey and Jess will draw names and contact the winners. We will ship out your goodies to you.

I hope you play! And I hope to meet you at Stitches.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hairline Fracture

oh, ouch, I cracked my rib. I can't believe it. Except when I turn to the right, and there is a sharp wedge of pain. Oh, and when I try to pick something up, there's that pain again. I had this awful virus that seems to be taking the Bay Area by storm (maybe other parts of the states too). Of course, the minute that I could stand straight and walk, I begun to dye. I was washing out a big batch of indigo, my back was getting tired and I was coughing alot. I guess that was enough to crack my rib. So, my doctor said.

Adrienne has been a great help. Lifting pots. I get up early before she leaves for work, and wake her with a "little" task list. Then, I wait like a puppy for her to come home from work. "Will you lift this for me? Wash this for me? No, not like that, like this!" I feel bad. She has been such a great help. I will have to do something special for her.

Otherwise, the weather in these parts has been rainy and pretty cold for the Bay Area. I get a little bit bitter about that. I must remind myself: Do I really have room to complain? We have maybe 4 days a year that are 40 degrees. And maybe 7 days a year that it reaches 90-100 degrees. Rather temperate weather really. I guess it makes me appreciate the 350 days out of the year when I walk out of my house and don't realize I am outside. Same temp on or out.

I am working on a pair of Monkeys and will post soon all about that. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Polwarth is here.

It's here, it's here. (squeel)

The Polwarth has arrived. Sometimes, when I can see the forest for the trees, I think it's funny what I get excited about these days. But you have to be some kind of numbed out shell of a person to not get excited about this wool. It is soft, lofty, shiny, it smells like I don't know what, but it's good. Very good. And, I am offering it to you. I carded some of it last week on my had cards. It plumped up, little pieces of wool floating, like a dandelion puffball.

I will be posting more soon to the polwarth page. I am currently dyeing polwarth top.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Feeling Red and a few other colors too.

Ah-ha! I have updated the lil' store. I thought that I would walk you through some of our new products. For those of you who love natural dyes, and are trying to learn how to do some of this yourself, I am going to categorize this by the most dominant dye used.


50% Baby Camel/ 50 % Silk Tussah

"The Finishing Touch"
50% Cashmere, 50% Silk
Very soft!

"Tangerine Dreams"
50% Silk, 50% Merino

In order to get the blend of reds, yellows, and oranges, I blended fustic and madder.

Black Blue-faced Leicester dyed with madder.
This is hands down one of my favorite fibers and one that I like to suggest to newer spinners. It has a wonderfully long staple length and is so soft. I love the rich brown color natural to the black blue-faced leicester sheep, and thought I would spice it up a bit by overdyeing it with madder.


100% Blue-faced Leicester
Cheri main color is a subtle, yet rich coral color with little specks of grey. I created the coral color by combining quebracho yellow, wattle, and cochineal. The grey flecks were made using logwood grey.

100% Blue-faced Leicester
A brighter, cooler pink than Cheri. Pink is the dominant color, with flecks of purple.

100% Black Blue-faced Leicester overdyed with cochineal.

Logwood Grey

100% Blue-faced Leicester
This is named after one of my favorite places, Point Reyes, a point which looks onto the Pacific Ocean about 45 minutes from my house. No matter what time of year it is, Point Reyes usually has a foggy cliff, that you can sit on and look out at the ocean. This fiber has the dark greyness of the ocean, the light greyness of the sky, and the light creamy brown color of the sand.


"The Sea Inside"
100% Blue-faced Leicester
*Ding* Contest time! Each person who can give me the name of the leading actor in The Sea Inside will be entered into a drawing. You have until 8pm pst to enter your best guess.

I will draw one name on Tuesday, January 22nd at 8:30pm. The winner will receive 2 oz of "The Sea Inside". Free.

I will give you a hint, he might have been in a movie recently where he wore a lot of black.

Well, this is where the tour ends for now. There is always more to come. Always.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rise and Shine

Last night, in the dark, I hung a bunch of fiber that I had dyed. This morning, I went outside to check on things and this is what I found:

I especially like the single rose in our winter garden poking its head into to picture. From growing up in Minnesota, I really appreciate the presence of flowers in winter. OK, back to dyeing...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Learn Your Parts! The Spinning Wheel T-Shirt.

So, it dawned on me that I designed these great new t-shirts and forgot to tell you all about it. My best friends Anna and Forest came to visit at the end of October. We had a packed four days of debauchery. I was wining and dining like a person who has a job. Like the old days, I won't necessarily call them the good ol' days because these days are good too. But these days are definitely different. Two highlights of the weekend were eating roast chicken at Zuni (most highly recommended) and designing the spinning wheel t-shirt.

Forest is an amazing artist and printer. We really wanted to draw some kind of yarn monster, birthing itself from a spinning wheel. But decided to go with the beauty of antiquity, and use this very simple, direct design. I can't promise, but there is a good chance that there will be a yarn monster in the future.

The t-shirts are available here and here. They are organic cotton. My chose to use ink colors that are reminiscent of natural dyes colors, like madder red, indigo blue, cochineal pink, and logwood grey.

Well, I better get back to dyeing. I am hustling for Stitches. I hope you all are having a great day!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Green Day 2008: Part One

I want green. Much more green. Now, in natural dyeing, as far as I have seen from others and witnessed in my own process, greens are best accomplished by over-dyeing yellow with indigo. I will admit. I get lazy. No, not lazy, that is way too harsh. I get tired. When I grow tired, and the 2-step process lurks in the corner, the greens walk right out the door. Not anymore though. I am going to try really hard to take it slower. I will have more green this year.

Mission Green: A little peak at what we have been dyeing.

Day One. I mordanted 1000 grams of bluefaced leicester aran yarn.
Day Two. I dyed this yarn yellow with 4% fustic.
Day Three. I fired up ye olde indigo pot.

I dipped the yellow yarn.

See the beautiful green yarn? Emerald.

And, here are the samples you may remember. This fiber was dyed with flowers from our dye garden. I am so pleased with the range of greens.

Right now, as I write, there are many more greens that we dyed in my bathroom "oxygenating". In indigo dyeing, it is best to allow the indigo to sit on the fiber for as long as possible before washing. In 3 or 4 days, I will wash the indigo out. And post are more comprehensive report about the greens that we dyed and the final results.

I have been playing around with a few ideas and would love to get your feedback. This concerns mainly two programs that I would like to develop over the coming year. Now, these ideas are very rough, so play nice.

1. The Verb for Keeping Warm Natural Dye Program --

For $x, over a year's time, you would receive a sampling of natural dyes, fiber (or yarn), instructions how to use them, and be a participant in an online forum, building knowledge about natural dyes, contributing feedback and photographs of how your dyes turn out, relay your experience, etc. By the of this year, you will be a natural dye master and have a totally unique stash upon which to draw from when creating new things.

2. The Verb for Keeping Warm Fleece Program --

This is heavily inspired by my trip last Summer to the Black Sheep Gathering and the joy I have had learning about different kinds of sheep, and spinning different kinds of fleece. In this program, for $x, you would receive different types of fleece over a year's time. My idea is is to visit farms, meet the growers, and the sheep. Post interviews with the growers online. Purchase the fleece from the grower. Clean the fleeces, and pass along pieces of the fleece to you. Again, the idea would be to have an online forum to see how everyone is processing their fleece, how you are spinning it, knitting it, etc. Of course, the amount you would like to contribute to such a forum would be up to you. This program would support a wonderful connection between the growers and spinners. You will learn how to process a fleece, how to choose a fleece, etc. Moreover, you will have tried many different types of fleece, expanding your knowledge of materials.

Well, that's all I have today. I would love to hear any feedback. I would especially love it if you would be interested in participating in either of the above programs. I think they will be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hello and Happy New Year!

I gotta tell you it has been quite the year for me. Last year, on this day, I walked into my 9-5, and announced that I was done. Through.
Period. Usually during major life transformations, I am excited, anticipating the new next thing. But this time, I was terrified. And had been terrified for many months up to that day. Now here I am. A year later, still alive, eating, paying my rent. Less savings but much happier. Walking on my path in this life. Practicing my life's purpose. If you asked me what my life's purpose is, I am not sure I could answer you directly. But in my heart and in my body, I can feel it. It's amazing.

Adrienne and I had not planned on going anywhere for the holidays. We both desperately needed time to sit, relax, create. We don't do very well at that though. So, about a week before Christmas, we decided to travel to Indio, California to visit Adrienne's parents and family. Honestly, this part of the world is not my most comfortable. But we had a really good time. Her mom made tamales, lengua, and nopal salad. We soaked up the warm weather. Last Summer, Michelle Wipplinger over at Earthues did a series of dyeing workshops in Desert Hot Springs (not far from Indio). I am hoping she will do it again. That way we can see Adrienne's parents and learn more dyeing skills.

Later in the week, we went in the opposite direction of Indio to Nevada City in the Sierra foothills. Here, I finally get to some real relaxing and knitting.

And then there is the nature in the Sierras...

A teensy tiny piece of fallen fruit. An apricot for a mouse.

The view of the Sierra Valley floor

I hate how I can never capture the largess and beauty of the mountains. This is the best I can do at the moment. I hope you enjoy this little bit of nature. Next post I will fill you in my knitting progress. I will give you a hint: I am knitting an Anne Hanson scarf "That Little Scarf". That woman is too amazing! To be continued...