Spindles!

My incredibly generous friend Teabird sent a wonderful package!

Mvar gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

That’s right two spindles and green roving! 
 
Pardon the short post but I’ve got to play…
DMvar gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

The Slippery Slope

After the joy of finishing my Icarus shawl that had been languishing for nearly a year I gave myself a little talking to about getting a few WIP’s off the needles. I wanted to feel that triumphant joy again and Brandywine was an easy choice on which to focus.

Good news is that I’ve finished ten of the fourteen planned repeats. Bad news – I haven’t picked it up since returning from War Eagle. Truth is I picked up the charting for the Sangiovese Shawl that I’m designing and have been working on it almost every evening. A gigantic chart pad rests on my lap while I stitch and note each row. It’s coming along beautifully. Originally I thought I’d test knit this in silk. Silly me. Who in their right mind test knits a lace pattern in slippery silk? So what you see here is my test knit in Oak Barn Merino colorway Horseshoes with VanGogh. It’s purply-blue and I love this colorway madly. I’m also madly in love with how the pattern is coming along, but it’s just not travel knitting or mindless knitting at this stage of the game.
 Sangiovese Shawl

So back to that triumphant joy expectation from finishing the Brandywine Shawl by Romi (who is a brilliant designer!). I’m starting to feel what I thought was imminent joy going down that slippery slope. Why you ask? What often happens….I was diverted by a new pattern that caught my attention. Have you seen Anjou by Laura over at Fiber Dreams?

Yeah – I thought you’d understand. Now the question is…sock yarn or llama yarn?

eta : How did that Persimmon Sock Yarn get in my knitting bag. It’s all wound up nicely too.

Ivar gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

Three Blacktops and a Dirt Road


Rereading a book a decade after the first reading can put you in a totally different mindset. Your personal politics may have changed, your living conditions may have changed, your health, maturation, and a multitude of other contributing factors to your thought process may have changed. Thus – the book while the words have lain on the page unchanged, may have a little twist or new meaning for you.

Recently when we altered our (never firm in the first place) vacation plans from a road trip to Savannah to a (possible) camping trip at Arches National Park I pulled Desert Solitaire off the bookshelf for a reread. When I first read Edward Abbey’s account of his time as a ranger at Arches I lived in a mid-sized city, Tulsa, and spent weekends here at the farm with the man I’d recently fallen in love with. I was in my early forties and had started my life over and had discovered that I just didn’t fit in the little box of mainstream life that I had been leading for most of my life. That box was never me, but I’d never had the gumption to find the true me.

My life now is vastly different than it was, and I’d assume quite different than the lives most people lead. According to the US Census there has a been a drastic reversal of urban versus rural living since 1900. Looking at Oklahoma specifically, in 1900 7.4% of the population was urban versus 1990 when 67.7% of the population were city dwellers. The 1950 statistics showed a nearly equal percentage urban/rural population in Oklahoma (Country wide this occurred in the 1920’s, not in the 1930’s as I would have guessed.). Nationally speaking, comparing the 1900‘s to the 1990’s show 39.6% to 75.2% urban, a less dramatic rise but still quite a turnaround. Although the census no longer tracks urban/rural population in quite the same way the statistics from 1995-2000 show that migration from large cities to medium cities is up, and non-movers in nonmetropolitan areas is highest. (An answer to the simple question of what % of Americans lived in rural versus urban areas in 2000 was not located by your humble rural blogger.)

The lane to our farm


This morning at breakfast I read Abbey’s tirade in the fifth chapter about Industrial Tourism and its effect on the National Parks. His concern primarily was for road building, taken to a deeper level – road paving. I don’t recall much of this tirade from my previous reading but this time around I was set to pondering.

When we turn off the highway, we take three blacktops before getting to our dirt and gravel road. Our double mailbox (one for the old farmhouse, one for our house) stands on that road. We call three of our four dogs “dirt road dogs” because they either wandered down the dirt road to our house looking for food and affection after being dumped by some scumbag, or in the case of Tess, because we found her lost on a dirt road – again with the looking for food and affection after being dumped by some scumbag.

Tess


Our vehicles are usually covered by enough dirt and dust that you could write a decent poem on them without much effort if you’ve got one memorized or proclaim a penchant for the art, although goofball sayings are usually all that is written on dirty vehicles in these parts. According to our mechanic at Dobson’s in Hulbert, cars that travel dirt roads in rural counties tend to need more attention. Our checkbook can attest to that.

But – do I want our road paved? Blacktopped? The answer comes swift and certain – no.

Except for a few of the attendees to Mass at the monastery next door (by next door I mean I can hear the bells but have to drive two miles to see the actual monastery) who ricochet at high speeds down our road because they are either late to the service or late to lunch following the service (I assume), people drive slower on dirt roads. They may be lost, or taking the time to see the foliage in bloom (or blowing as it is on this windy day). Or maybe they are worried about the deer or other critters that dart out of tall roadside grass. Or maybe – just maybe – they are amblers, people like me whose shoulders drop with a settling of ease when they leave civilization behind.

Our dirt road – the way we like it.


Now admittedly there are people, mostly newcomers or visitors I’d guess, who would like to see our dirt road paved. I think I know what Edward Abbey would have to say to them. Stop whizzing by and consuming the miles, you’re missing important parts of our country. Why do you drive or move to the country and expect or want it be just like the city you left behind?

tvar gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

Autumnal settling in…


Today is our first Saturday off since April.

We didn’t set the alarm, slept late, had a big sausage bagel (Pork N Greens sausage if you’re curious) and steaming coffee (locally roasted in Broken Arrow) for breakfast. All the while Tess the Wonder Dog went back and forth between us and beat a wild tattoo with her tail against the china cabinet (not really a china cabinet and we don’t really use china – but cabinet just seemed to vague).

I took a nice but short hike through the lower pasture this morning and the view of The Devil’s Backbone was splendid. The Devil’s Backbone is what previous owners called the high humped wall that includes the north facing bluff along the creek on our property. (I’ll share that story and some photos as the season progresses.) The leaves are turning yellow and fluttering to the ground with each slight breeze. It’s cool enough outside for a long sleeve t-shirt but not much more. The sky is overcast and helps create the mood that tells me to slow down and enjoy the changing season. I have no desire to rush through anything today. Black walnuts in their thick green coat are scattered across the ground and an easy way to twist an ankle, another reminder from Nature to slow down.

The wheel of the seasons has turned, and I feel happy and settled again. Autumn does that to me. Every time. The crazy busy spring and summer seasons leave very little time to actually enjoy living on a 250 acre farm. The ache in my body that cries out for me to slow down and enjoy my life eases with Nature’s change.

The chimney sweep will be out on Monday. Then we can begin using the wood stove when the temperature drops low enough. The earthy smell of wood smoke can fill your senses and slow your breathing just like smelling fresh baked bread, another winter treat for us. 

When the first heavy frost is crunchy on the ground it will signal the ability to walk in the woods again without fear of ticks or snakes. I’ll bundle in hiking boots, hand knit socks, scarves and hats for treks to parts of the farm we haven’t seen in months.

Animals are scurrying and preparing for winter and I need to do my part too. Birdseed is high on my shopping list.

I’ve missed reading my regular blogs lately. I’ve missed writing regular blog posts lately too. But it’s now Autumn and I’m settling in. Expect more rambling blog posts…

…………………..

Sock Yarn Giveaway!

Lost City Knits Sock Yarn!

Last weekend was the debut of our new sock yarn line and War Eagle customers were snapping up skeins right and left. The fiber is a scrumptous blend of fingering weight 65% superwash merino and 35% bamboo. The sheen is to dye for! The skeins are approximately 90-100+ grams, 400+ yards, enough for a pair of socks. The price is as soft as the yarn at $20 per skein.

For the next few days I’ll be hustling to get the online shop updated with the current inventory – adding new yarns and new colorways. Next week I’ll be back in the studio dyeing like a mad woman. The squeals and hoops emanating from the open windows will be from the pure joy of creating again! As much as I enjoy meeting all of the lovely knitters and crocheters when we’re on the road I really miss not working in the studio. I’ve been asked lately to teach or demonstrate dyeing, always declining, because for me the magic happens when I’m working in the studio alone. A little of this and a little of that goes in the cauldron – stir – heat  – say a few words over the brew and wait to see if the goal of the intention is achieved.

Sorry about that – I kind of lost myself in the moment….

Giveaway – that’s where I was heading! While I’m working behind the curtain to get the online shop up-to-date there will be a little contest over on Facebook. Here’s a sample of the very few skeins of sock yarn that we brought back from War Eagle.

How to Enter: “Friend” LostCity Knits on Facebook if you haven’t already (the Facebook badge in the sidebar is a link) and then tag a skein in this photo that you like with your name. The photo is titled October Sock Yarn Giveaway. One lucky winner will be chosen to win one skein. Drawing will be held at midnight Sunday October 24th, Lost City time.

Good luck to everyone! 
The contest is over  –
Congrats to Marilyn who has won a skein of sock yarn!

More Road Tripping with Yarn –

We did more road tripping with the yarn last weekend! It’s fun to show up at an event with yarn not knowing if it’s a festival that knitters attend. There’s a little questioning in the back of your mind that has you wondering what the response will be. When you’re setting up a festival booth you put your best foot forward hoping that it will be appreciated and enjoyed.
Lost City Knits

Then you wait….

A few minutes before 8am on Thursday I looked out of our big top tent and didn’t see many people lined up to get through the gate. That was unusual since most years there is an eager crowd waiting. What I hadn’t realized is that they were lining up the shoppers a little different this year. I was stoked already though, other vendors had already been shopping for yarn!

The good news was there were plenty of knitters in attendance over the weekend, not just from Northwest Arkansas, but people from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado!

There are sometimes people who walk by the tent and stop to fondle the skeins and ask – “If I unroll this thing will it look like that?” while pointing at a finished shawl. We smile, then explain that knitting isn’t instant gratification but requires some effort on their part to create a shawl, scarf, hat, socks or sweater. I’ve always believed that everyone has the ability to be creative in some manner. But sometimes you’ve got to encourage people to believe that they can do things for themselves.
Lost City Knits

Most knitters are the type people who are interested in not looking like the magazine advertisement, they want to do something unique. They love working with their hands, they like the feel of fibers, they feel empowered by turning the heel on a sock (for example). They are not knitting because it’s cheap and easy – they are knitting because they are creative souls. (end of rant)

There were plenty of people fondling yarn that haven’t knitted or crocheted in many years too. I spotted a few twinkles in eyes and expect several will be unearthing needles and hooks that haven’t been lovingly held in a long time. To those knitters and crocheters — welcome back to the craft!

Although our farm is across a state line and seventy miles from War Eagle Mill, there was a good response also to our line of Oklahoma Fiber. I was especially thrilled when I began talking to two women in the booth and discovered that one was the niece of my friend with the llama farm! I showed her the yarns, which include the name of the llama on the skein. She walked away with a skein of yarn from a llama named Montana – who she remembers from visiting her aunt. How cool is that?
*Correction! Susan is Lisa’s cousin – not her niece!*


 

Craft Fairs and Art Festivals are also a good chance to catch up with our artist friends, like Pat of   Goldenrod Jewelry. She makes beautiful earrings, hair slides, and yes  – shawl pins.
Jeweler Pat Bergman

I’m happy to say we’ll be home for a few weeks before our next show, which will be in Tulsa at the Garden Deva Open Studio (3rd and Trenton) where we’ll have the Clear Creek Lavender set up and Lost City Knits. The Garden Deva Open Studio is a funky and intimate little gathering of local artisans. Come out and enjoy the fun!

Memphis recap and Arkansas bound!

The calendar played a nasty trick on us this year with two of our regular fall festivals. Instead of the usual week break between the Memphis Pink Palace Festival and the Arkansas War Eagle Fair we only have two days here on the farm before heading back out the door!

I thought I’d show you what arrived just a few days before we left for Memphis. Llama yarn! Yep, more of the glorious llama yarn from Oklahoma. Although it’s more economically priced to have all of it spun together, I couldn’t resist keeping each animal’s fleece separate. This big shipment included a lovely array of gray fiber. As you can see in the photos, each animal is unique. It’s so dang pretty I decided immediately not to dye the gray! Isn’t it fabulous! There are a few skeins of cream colored sport weight llama that were dyed but none of the rich grays.
Shades of gray llama yarn
Llama yarn

When yarn arrives back from the mill I gently wash each skein to remove any left over residue from the milling process. Then it hangs out in the fresh open air to be dried by Mother Nature. It’s satisfying to look out the studio window into the side yard and see so much locally raised fiber gently swaying the Oklahoma wind. The little white tags that you see clipped to the drying rack have the name of each llama written on them so I can keep it straight to write on the yarn bands.
Llama drying in the Oklahoma wind

Memphis is a great city, and we love checking out new places to eat. Our friend Diane, who for some reason I didn’t get a photo of, is our “tent mother” under the big top at the festival. Diane is a Tulsa transplant in Memphis and has good advice on local eateries. When we told her we were looking for fried chicken she steered us down to Front Street and Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken. Everyone knows about the blues and bbq in Memphis but Gus’s will knock your socks off! Chris swears it’s the best fried chicken of his life. I’m inclined to agree.
The BEST fried chicken! Gus's in Memphis

Our first night in Memphis our good friend R.P. invited us down to his place in Olive Branch, Mississippi for ribs.  Finger lickin’ good ribs! This is R.P., he sells wonderful bird houses and has been our tent neighbor three years running. We’ve got two of his blue bird boxes on our farm!
RP
Our other neighbors are the fellas from Eagles Nest Outfitters. I can tell you that having a tent neighbor selling hammocks is a mighty fine thing, especially about 3pm.
Eagles Nest Outfitters
Here are a few other Memphis photos….
Lost City Knits in Memphis
Memphis loves crafts

When traffic was slow in the booth I managed to get a little knitting done. In an effort to knock out some of those languishing UFO’s I took along a really old one, Icarus, made with you guessed it – hand dyed llama yarn! According to my Ravelry profile I began this beast 27 September 2009. Wow…that’s pretty long for me to be working on a shawl, and mildly embarrassing. Several times Icarus went into hibernation mode while other projects got my attention. Good news is that I have finally – FINALLY – finished Icarus. In all honesty, somewhere along the way I lost track of repeats and did a few extra of the first – or was it the second – chart. The finished shawl is HUGE. Chris just walked upstairs to look at it pinned out and I could hear his “OHMYGOD” all the way down here in my rabbit hole. Really – it’s that big! The wingspan is 84 inches, the center spine is 50 inches. HUGE! Keep in mind that I am only 60 inches tall. HUGE!
Icarus Shawl
I can’t even get a good photo of the shawl stretched out on the blocking wires. Here you can see I was standing on my tippy toes trying to get it all in the photo!
Icarus Shawl

Next stop – Arkansas! We leave on Wednesday morning for the War Eagle Fair. If you’re in the area and think a drive to see the foliage is in order, come to Northwest Arkansas and enjoy the winding drive through beautiful tree lined roads. Both Lost City Knits and Clear Creek Lavender will be set up in Tent Two of the War Eagle Fair. Say hello when you come through, fondle (and buy) some hand dyed yarn, pick up a few lavender sachets for your stash, and ooggle the HUGE Icarus that I’ll have on hand.

Oh and I almost forgot –  my hand dyed Percy in Blue Shawl won first place at the Tulsa State Fair! Here’s the photo my sister took with ribbon and another old photo so you can see it all stretched out!

Percy Shawl