Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Coupon!

For the Bazaar Bizarre in San Francisco.

Spend $25 and receive 10% off. (Sorry but this excludes spindles/spinning equipment.)

Click here to print out the coupon.

Hope to see you on Sunday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bazaar Bizarre 2008

On Sunday, we will be a vendor atBazaar Bizarre in Golden Gate Park. We will be in the large room, near the stage (booth 2). Our booth is cozy (small), so I will not be bringing the whole kit and kaboodle, because it simply won't fit. If there is something that you would like me to bring, please leave a note, and I will make sure to do so.

Also, another local favorite will be there, Girl on the Rocks & Abmatic. You may remember their mustaches and tweed chickens from Color Fiber Festival.

Amongst us, there will be approximately 100 other vendors selling everything from stuffed meat to handcrafted soap. This is a great venue to pick up locally made, unique gifts. I am always astounded by the quality of goods found at this show, and the creativity exhibited. Plus, now, there is the new California Academy of Sciences right up the street and the Yves St. Laurent show at the DeYoung. Shopping and art/science -- always a crowd pleaser, especially if your family is still in town.

I hope you stop to say hello! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mushrooms for Color

So, I admit. I am sick. I am one of those people who feels like if they say something out loud, then it must be true. Or, if I say something out loud, it will make it true. This rings very loudly with nausea. So, at first, I said that "I am fighting a cold". (Ah ha! this cold is not going to win!) And, then I said "well, I may be coming down with something". (No, I can't really be getting sick. cough. sneezes 30 times). And, now I am here. Sinuses ringing. Slow and lethargic. However, this gives me a bit of time to blog and do some story-telling.

So, on the weekend of my birthday, Marlowe, Kathleen, Sara, Adrienne, and myself went to a 1 day workshop titled Mushrooms for Color, taught by Dorothy Beebee.

I have to admit, the dyeing portion of the workshop I was curious about, the mushroom bit, not so much. This is why. Adrienne has been obsessed with mushrooms over the past year. Every hike that we go on - Adrienne lags sometimes a quarter mile behind, digging in the weeds, under the right so-and-so tree looking for mushrooms. I am ahead yelling for her to get out of the ditch - and to get over here already. Cleo is in between the 2 of us. She won't let one member of the team get lost. The pack must stay together. It does not help that my family totally indulges this obsession by purchasing 3000 page mushroom bibles for Adrienne - which she dives into for endless hours - trying to figure out if this brown blob she has just found - is x or y -- or maybe it's the extremely rare z!! And we will be famous because we have found it!

So, there is the short and dirty version. Now, back to this beautiful afternoon in Berkeley. The workshop was held at the UC botanical garden - which means that you get to walk through this gorgeous garden, which is arranged by continents, and then you get to spend the afternoon dyeing with all of this gorgeousness surrounding you. On this particular day, we were receiving a kind of weather which is truly a gift from above. Low-lying fog with a bit of rain, and the temperature is about 55. The resulting grey sky creates a backdrop for everything of color to just pop. In this case, it would be the plants. Even objects of darker color, the silhouette of such, stands out even more. The rain makes everything shimmer. The weather is warm enough to walk around and take everything in.

Dorothy Beebee has been studying mushrooms alongside Miriam Rice for many, many moons. (Actually, she said that some mushrooms, dye more intensely when picked during a full moon, but that she could not say that in front of a more scientific colleague, for fear of a much larger debate. I thought that it was an interesting concept and was intrigued. Call me ignorant - or better yet a witch!) Anyhow, back to the story, (it's the cold medicine!). Miriam Rice has written Mushrooms for Color, Mushrooms for Dyes, Paper, Pigments, & Micro-Styx, and she has lead many symposiums on using mushroom as dyestuffs. Dorothy Beebee has been Miriam's right hand woman, helping with documentation and doing all of the illustrations for the above mentioned books.

In our workshop, we used:
phaeolus schweinitzii
pisolithus tinctorius
gomphus flucossus
dermocybe phoenicea
dermocybe semi-sanguinea

whoa! Each group broke apart a type of mushroom into little pieces. My group did phaeolus schweinitzii.

Here are some folks mushing the pisolithus tinctorius.

Fresh from the pisolithus tinctorius dyepot:

The final results from the 5 mushrooms:
Can you believe the range of colors?!

So, in the end, I have drunk the kool-aid, and am converted. For the first time ever, I spent my afternoon hike with Adrienne, under an Oak tree hunting for mushrooms. And, you my doves, may have the opportunity to purchase fiber dyed with mushrooms...I don't know about you - but I think it is pretty darn cool. And better yet, for those of you who are in the Bay Area, there just might be a workshop thrown in there.


Monday, November 10, 2008


Your dreams are beautiful! Amazing how many of us wish to own a farm - or more control over the space in which we inhabit. In my mind's eye, I have a fiber farm of my own. A place that has strawbale guest houses, so that all of you can come, stay, and take textile workshops with teachers from around the world. We would have a production dye garden, a large vegetable garden, and a handspinners flock.

The winner of the contest is ikkinlala. Please write to me with your address and let me know if you are a spinner and a knitter - or just one or the other. So that I know what types of goodies to put in your package.

Thank you everyone for sharing your dreams! Sleep tight.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Heads and Tails: Taking in the Bay Area & a Birthday Contest

I have my warm cup of tea. My emotions feel a bit more in control. And, I am ready for a bit of storytelling. What a week! What a month! What lies in the year ahead? This month at the Verb house, things have been exciting, hectic, tense, and productive.

I have been going through a period of intense love for the Bay Area. Which is a large shift from where I was for the past 2 years. I was very uncomfortable living here. Everything seemed overpriced and crowded. I was yearning to stretch my legs, live in a house where I would have a view, of even a tree would do, maybe a washer and dryer, oh, and the real kicker, a dishwasher. I searched for a home in New Mexico, Oregon, various regions of Northern California. I miss my Midwestern family and even entertained the idea of moving back to Minnesota before the memory of ice cold air hitting my face snapped me back into reality. If it wasn't for that damn cold...

My love affair with the Bay Area has been re-ignited due to spinning and knitting. Over the past year, I have met so many awesome people. Those who are talented, always pushing the envelope, searching for new ways to express themselves. I had a lot of tension over "wanting' to carry forth my dreams and creativity. Now, that I find myself more in this position, I have become a generally, happier person - and am able to see the beauty of the Bay Area again. It really is amazing to follow your dream, even though it is risky, and there is still stress, but seeing your dream lift from your mind into reality. To begin to mold it with your actual hands, I highly recommend it. Can you imagine if we all said, "Enough!" and we went on to create our dreams, what that would look like?

Earlier in the month, A, Cleo and I hiked at Point Reyes.

Getting back to work, we went over to Alameda to shop for some furniture and design ideas for the new store. On the first Sunday of the month, on the old Naval base, there's Antiques by the Bay. Love! So, let's set the scene, Alameda is an island, right off the coast of Oakland. The Naval base, is like a large parking lot on the water, strange but interesting. And, then there is this huge antiques market with 400 vendors. It is sunny. You have a view of SF. And look what's there:
The cranes in the distance marks the landscape of Oakland.

We came home from the Market with a new, drop leaf, oak table and a rocking chair for the store. Oh, the store, we are so close to being - I hesitate to say done - because this is certainly a work in progress - but close to being able to really move into the space, and put away all of the power tools. I have decided to limit my photos of the actual store because I want it to be a bit of a surprise for the Grand Opening (December 6th, mark your calendars). But here is a taste:
The Y Knit boys and K painting.

Alongside working on the store, I have been dyeing. We have 2 new lace weight yarns.

Shimmer. 100% Silk.

Holding. 100% Superfine Alpaca

New products are pouring into the store, getting ready for the opening. Like our new Spindlewood Spindles. Yikes, these are so beautiful. They spin like a little rocket and the folks in Oregon that make them are the sweetest people. I love supporting great people.

In September, I started teaching beginning wheel classes at Article Pract. Previous to September, I really had not been spinning on my wheel. Most of my time was spent using my drop spindles. Teaching has been great, it has gotten me back on my wheel. Last week, I gave myself the day to just sit home and spin. Here are some of the results.

My birthday is on Sunday. I think this year's birthday theme is going to be in celebration of living out one's dreams. I would like to start the celebration by offering a contest. The winner will receive a package full of surprises. What would your world look like if you lived out your dreams? If you would like to share what one of your dreams are, or perhaps a dream you had, that you have already experienced, you will be entered into the birthday drawing. Please leave your comment by Sunday, November 9th at 8pm pst. I will let everyone know who the winner is on Monday, November 10th. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we can!

And we did, and we will, and we are going to.

And prop 8 will be overturned.

Monday, November 3, 2008

the story of a voting hopeful

Whew. I just did a speed walking tour of our neighborhood. I had to get out of the house for a bit. Adrienne is on the phone with her sister and they are literally screaming about this year's presidential candidates. As probably all of you know, we are gleefully and tearfully voting for Obama. Her sister, on the other hand, is voting for McCain. I totally understand Adrienne's pain, there are members of my family as well that voted for Bush and will vote for McCain. However, I would never call and talk to them about it -- especially on the eve of election night when emotions and anticipation run high.

I am stunned by the transition surrounding me. It seems like everything from my own personal growth as a friend, family member, and business owner to the world around me is expanding and contracting at phenomenal speeds. Even the weather, rainy one day, sunny the next, and rainy again. If anything it reminds me, that each bad mood, or point of angst, can literally not be held or fixed, beyond my control a moment of happiness, a point of inspiration comes sweeping by. To me it is a question of percentages spent in each emotional space.

The first time my attention was drawn to the percentage of time spend in each space occurred when I arrived to India in 2001 to research textiles. A very large, 7.6 earthquake hit the area I was researching in, destroying 3/4 of the city and surrounding areas. Nearly 20,000 people died. 150,000 people were seriously injured. 600,000 people were left homeless. International aid workers poured into the region. At first they were a great help, but as time went on, the region became sorely inflated as foreigners altered the value of rental properties and food. Those native to the region, called Kutchis, were pushed out of the marketplace and a long standing depression occurred. Many Kutchis had no idea how long it would take to repair there homes, or if ever. That said, life went on, as the months went by, weddings started to take place again, holidays came and went. We celebrated, ate simply, and gave thanks for our health and aliveness. But the anxiety and depression would climb back in, under our skin before the night was out.

I was in India when 9-11 happened. When I came back to the U.S. in 2003, the feeling in the U.S. was very similar to the personal and societal feeling I experienced in India. Yes, I, and many of those I know, am healthy, and basic needs are taken care of, however, there is a malaise, a sense of helplessness, or hopelessness that I feel pervades the U.S. For the first time, in the last 8 years, I feel like I have the hope that things are going to change. That my country has an opportunity to have Barack Obama as President. That I am going to have a leader that I truly believe in. A person who I think is intelligent, articulate, diplomatic, and truly believes in the U.S. and the citizens of the United States, and will ultimately choose to do what is right for the entire country not just a particular portion of the population. We have an opportunity to heal.

It is a remarkable feeling and experience to see people around me, fellow Oaklanders, getting out there to participate in this election. To drive down the block, to see home after home, with posters of Obama in their windows. And to anknowledge that this person, Barack Obama is inspiring people, across class, race, and gender to come out and vote. That in this election, we will quite possibly have landmark numbers of voters come out to participate.

Honestly, I had a whole other blog post ready for you. One filled with tales of Northern California beach front, spinning, new spindles, and yarn. But that will have to wait until after the election.

I hope everyone reading this gets out there and votes!

p.s. Vote NO on 8. Keep church and state separate.