First back, then forward

Another year closes and before I put it fully behind me I’ll spend part of today looking through my journal, looking through past blog posts, my Ravelry project folder and listening to some nice jazz.

One thing apparent is that I did accomplish my goal of 10 shawls in 2010. Here is the last one finished. The pattern is 198 Yards of Heaven and the yarn is Lost City Knits Worsted Merino/Silk in a colorway I dyed special to go with my mother’s winter dress coat.  It turned out nicely. That’s me modeling it, not Mom.

My daughter Hillarey and I took gifts out to my folks on Christmas Eve. Dad took a good photo of the three generations and then I snapped a quick photo of Dad as he was getting on Facebook. Yep, my 84 year old father is on FB! I think that’s pretty cool.

 
While I did finish more lace than you can shake a stick at in 2010, I also finished a few other knitted items like several pairs mittens, and made some progress on a nice sweater.  What’s still on the needles? Where do I want my knitting to go in 2011?

Good questions. As are what are my goals beyond knitting and dyeing? What about the garden and flower beds and the farm in general? What books do I want to read? Where do I want to travel? What about my spiritual life and personal life? What do I not want to repeat in 2011? What valuable things did I learn in 2010?

Are you Dear Readers making any goals for the upcoming year? Are you reviewing the past year? Are you writing things down?

One of the most enjoyable things about 2010 was reading blogs and sharing blogs I enjoy with other people. Thank you to all my online friends!

If you’re a blogger – please leave a link to your blog in the comments, 
another reader will surely enjoy finding you!

………………

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();

Just call me the Darling of Distraction

Today there was no towel in the front bathroom.

I remembered seeing pale sage green linen yarn in the Closet Stash recently. (Closet Stash is not the main stash but those few yarns that I bought for no apparent reason. You know what I’m talking about right?)

My mind whipped up in a frenzy of imagination and creativity thought it’d be a brilliant idea to knit a pale green linen towel to go in the front bathroom. I could see it clearly – big and wide and mostly stocking stitch with a little cable edging or maybe a bit of eyelet.

This is much akin to the notion of being cold and casting on a new sweater. Right?

Fortunately I was distracted by several overdue bank reconciliations, which took most of the day.

By 5pm though I was trolling Ravelry for a nice complimentary color of linen to go with the ten pale sage green linen skeins I had on hand. People are often destashing skeins of leftover yarn on Ravelry. Would a nice ecru – a pale blue called Watery – or maybe a soft purple be best?

Which brings up the question – “Does it count as stash busting if you have to buy two skeins to use with your current ten skeins to create the project on your mind?”

Obviously distraction is a theme with me. To take care of the filing after the bank reconciliations I moved some graph paper that was on the extra chair in the Rabbit Hole. Two beautiful skeins of yarn were below the paper. Both wound nicely into cakes ready to become something…I just don’t remember what.

AMartin@firstitle.comvar 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();

Biscotti Day!

All across the globe – and blogland – people have been making and decorating cookies. I’ve seen bedazzled Christmas cookies and read friend’s Facebook status updates about making Danish Julepepparkakor, Brunekager, S-Kager, Pebernødder, & coconut cookies. Another friend made glogg and gingersnaps for St Lucia day. 

It’s been a few years since I made cookies for decorating but last year I baked some mighty fine biscotti. My basic recipe is from BiscottiRecipes.org. You can juj it all you want once you have the basic recipe down. Almonds are good, chocolate dipped is excellent, and amaretto sounds tasty too.


Today’s version of biscotti has Clementine peel instead of orange peel and shaved dark chocolat – the real stuff. Brought back from the Makouti collective in Haiti where friends did a farmer-exchange program. This bar was given to me as payment for some sewing. I consider myself well compensated and use the chocolat only on my favorite desserts.

Now that the biscotti has cooled and the coffee is hot, I think I’ll settle down and get a little knitting done in front of the fire. 



Yvar 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();

Did you see it?

As midnight neared Chris took our camping mattress outside to inflate. He put it in the bed of the trailer we use to haul stuff around the farm. I took a brief nap so I wouldn’t doze off.

Outside bundled in hats, scarves and coats and snuggled under blankets in the wet night we watched the moon change. As the shadow crossed the moon we noticed a cloudy halo surround it. Shooting stars occasionally darted across the night sky. Dogs barked in the near and far distance. The moon darkened.

A panting was heard not far from us, near the wood pile. Not one of our dogs from the sound of it, a coyote? In the woods coyotes howled and yipped in wild abandon, maybe one had ventured across the creek.

The moon wasn’t disappearing. It was turning a burnished red as the shadow overtook the brilliant white. I wondered about how primitive humankind had reacted to these events. A primeval spookiness settled over me and a jitter shook my breathing. Exhalations fogged my glasses as I pulled my scarf over my mouth.

Slowly the world above me changed and the only white in the sky came from the stars. I looked through the binoculars that Chris had brought. The spookiness faded as I stared at the moon. It seemed more solid now to me and more magical as well.

~~~~~

I didn’t stay in our cozy outside bed to watch the moon reappear bright and white in the night sky. Holding on to that image of a burnished red orb seemed more important.

As Mama Donna Henes would say – this Solstice was a celestial auspicious occasion. 
 
I’m glad I saw it with the man I love on his birthday.

……..

Did you see it? As midnight neared Chris took our camping mattress outside to inflate. He put it in the bed of the trailer we use to haul stuff around the farm. I took a brief nap so I wouldn’t doze off. Outside bundled in hats, scarves and coats and snuggled under blankets in the wet night we watched the moon change. As the shadow crossed the moon we noticed a cloudy halo surround it. Shooting stars occasionally darted across the night sky. Dogs barked in the near and far distance. The moon darkened. A panting was heard not far from us, near the wood pile. Not one of our dogs from the sound of it, a coyote? The coyotes in the woods howled and yipped in wild abandon, maybe one had ventured across the creek.The moon wasn’t disappearing. It was turning a burnished red as the shadow overtook the brilliant white. I wondered about how primitive humankind had reacted to these events. A primeval spookiness settled over me and a jitter shook my breathing. Exhalations fogged my glasses as I pulled my scarf over my mouth. Slowly the world above me changed and the only white in the sky came from the stars. I looked through the binoculars that Chris had brought. The spookiness faded as I stared at the moon. It seemed more solid now to me and more magical as well. ……..I didn’t stay in our cozy outside bed to watch the moon reappear bright and white in the night sky. Holding on to that image of a burnished red orb seemed more important. As Mama Donna Henes would say – this Solstice was a celestial auspicious occasion. var 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();

Winter Beauty

Tomorrow marks the Winter Solstice and the official beginning of Winter. Here at the farm we like to mark the first day of winter, whether it’s a hike in the woods, late night star gazing, or getting up in the middle of the night to catch a total lunar eclipse.

While many people (myself included) will rave about the fresh green growth each Spring, or the end of a heat wave in Autumn, Winter has its own charms. This is my quiet time of the year usually and I find many good hours are spent in front of the fire knitting when it’s too blustery to be outside for long periods. Now is when I rekindle urges to knit socks, mittens and hats.

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();
To celebrate the Winter season this year I’ve added a few new yarns in thicker weights. Both are luxurious 50/50 wool/silk blends. One is a single ply worsted weight, about 219 yds per skein. The other is a 2 ply DK weight, about 270 yards per skein. Both yarns have the deep sheen that we knitters enjoy whenever we encounter a yarn with that much silk, but they also have the warmth factor for which merino is much applauded.

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();
I’ve just begun dyeing the heavier yarns so you’ll see a few new colorways now and several more in the next two – three weeks.  The yarns can be located on the Worsted and DK Silk/Merino Shop page. These have already had a little test run on my own needles and I’d love to show you what I’ve knit from them – but the projects are part of my holiday stealth knitting and I don’t want to give anything away before Santa makes an appearance. You understand right?

There are also some new additions to the Lost City Silk lineup,  and the Oklahoma Merino, and a few new things in the Sock Yarn department as well.

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();

Beauties from the Wool/Silk DK & Worsted Shop
Happy Winter my friends!
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();

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();

Brain Suck

It’s brain suck day here at the farm.

Zombies?

Vampires? (although technically I guess vampires would be blood suckers not brain suckers)

Neither.

Today is the day we package up the fiber to send to the mill for processing. I’ve had several people ask how I go about shipping raw fiber. Raw fiber is fluffy and well, voluminous, which is one of the most tricky things about shipping. All that fluffy softness is part of what we knitters like about good fiber, but shrinking it before sending it to send it to the mill is helpful and less expensive.

My llama lady, Lisa, shared the secret of brain suck. Lisa is a veteran at shipping fiber and can manage brain suck solo. I’m not there yet, so I get Chris to help me. It’s a comical sight as you’ll see from the photos.

When the fiber is clean and ready to be mailed it’s put in plastic bags. I’m a goof ball planner type and usually have the fiber type written on labels that will be quickly slapped on the bags for identification.
Fiber shipping day

We insert a shop-vac with a thin cloth napkin covering the nozzle into the bag full of fiber. While I hold the bag tight around the nozzle Chris flips the switch on the vacuum. A quick withdrawal is key to allowing as little air back into the bag as possible. I yank the rubber band from my wrist and try to secure the back quickly. Then I plop it onto the scales and weigh it before tossing it into the shipping box. See? It looks like brain.

Fiber shipping day
Fiber shipping day

We try to work fast and fill one box at a time then tape the box shut before moving to the next box. If you dilly dally the air seeps into the bags and they begin to expand and you’ll never get the box taped shut. You’re likely to have ten boxes to ship instead of three.
Fiber shipping day

Once I get all the air sucked out of the fiber and the boxes taped shut I calculate the fiber weight per batch and create a packing list to tape on the outside of the first box. I’ve tried to include the packing list inside the boxes but you do not – do not – want to reopen one of these boxes and think you’re going to easily close it back up again. There is a poof and a whishing sound whenever the tape is cut on the box to open it. It’s like something is alive in there and just waiting to escape.

……..
Zombies?Vampires? (although technically I guess vampires would be blood suckers not brain suckers)Neither. Today is the day we package up the fiber to send to the mill for processing. I’ve had several people ask how I go about shipping raw fiber. Raw fiber is fluffy and well, voluminous, which is one of the most tricky things about shipping. All that fluffy softness is part of what we knitters like about good fiber, but shrinking it before sending it to send it to the mill is helpful and less expensive.My llama lady, Lisa, shared the secret of brain suck. Lisa is a veteran at shipping fiber and can manage brain suck solo. I’m not there yet, so I get Chris to help me. It’s a comical sight as you’ll see from the photos. When the fiber is clean and ready to be mailed it’s put in plastic bags. I’m a goof ball planner type and usually have the fiber type written on labels that will be quickly slapped on the bags for identification. We insert a shop-vac with a thin cloth napkin covering the nozzle into the bag full of fiber. While I hold the bag tight around the nozzle Chris flips the switch on the vacuum. A quick withdrawal is key to allowing as little air back into the bag as possible. I yank the rubber band from my wrist and try to secure the back quickly. Then I plop it onto the scales and weigh it before tossing it into the shipping box. See? It looks like brain. We try to work fast and fill one box at a time then tape the box shut before moving to the next box. If you dilly dally the air seeps into the bags and they begin to expand and you’ll never get the box taped shut. You’re likely to have ten boxes to ship instead of three. Once I get all the air sucked out of the fiber and the boxes taped shut I calculate the fiber weight per batch and create a packing list to tape on the outside of the first box. I’ve tried to include the packing list inside the boxes but you do not – do not – want to reopen one of these boxes and think you’re going to easily close it back up again. There is a poof and a whishing sound whenever the tape is cut on the box to open it. It’s like something is alive in there and just waiting to escape. var 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();

A Balance of City Streets and Dirt Roads

Last week we met a customer in downtown Tulsa to drop off an internet order. Normally we mail orders but this time we knew we’d be in Tulsa and thought it’d be nice to hand deliver the order. I know many people shudder at the thought of dealing with the sparse parking and the one-way streets that downtown Tulsa are known for, but we’re not those people.

We parked in front of Mods. It’s a funky little shop at 5th and Boston. You can get a Nutella crepe, some gellato, or even a cup of peppermint mocha. It was cold. I chose the peppermint mocha.

Chris and I sat and enjoyed our steaming cups and stared out the window for a while. After finishing he left to find a restroom and I took our cups to the counter to save the barista a few steps. Then I walked outside and sat in one of the chairs on the sidewalk. I imagine these chairs get a lot of use in warmer weather. I was warm inside though and that was enough to keep me happy.

As I looked around and watched the people going about their day on the streets of downtown Tulsa, I thought about how much downtown Tulsa is a part of my life. Ten and a half years ago I left a house and a marriage and moved downtown into a little rented condo. My actions upset my world, and a good many people. It was risky. I could have easily lost the most important person in my life but I hoped she’d come to accept the changes I’d been forced to make. Not forced by anyone else, but forced in the way that if I didn’t make a change I would lose myself, my sanity, and any hope of leading a happy, stable, and balanced life.

I got a second job after I moved downtown. An office job by day, a bookstore job by night. The small second income helped me to be able to buy the little condo with the atrocious green interior paint, annoying neighbors, and minute kitchen. It had a small abandoned patch of a flower bed. I grew a few herbs here, a bit more there, some flowers, and a little butterfly bush. Before long both the flower bed and my spirit were beginning to heal and bloom. I lived just a mile from work and would walk to the office if the weather was reasonable, or money was tight. I seldom got beyond my little 5 mile radius unless it was the weekend jaunt to flea markets and thrift stores. Downtown became my home.


When we are in “town”, as we call it now, we’ll often eat at one of the downtown restaurants – Elote, McNellie’s, or El Guapo. The knit shop where I met some good friends and learned the basics of knitting was in downtown Tulsa. There’s a good locally owned wine bar at 18th and Boston where I used to walk to meet my friend Cathy to knit and drink wine during the dark winter months.

Now I live a satisfying and happy life on a large farm just over sixty miles from downtown Tulsa, but almost weekly I’ll make trek into town for several hours. In a few days my daughter Hillarey and her partner Lance are coming out for a farm visit. We’ll bake a chicken and enjoy a relaxing evening together. It’s been a good year at school for her and she has some new work to show us. She’s a finalist in a national art contest and will be going to Philadelphia in February to the awards ceremony. Lance is a talented musician and cook. He’s in several bands that play in the Tulsa area at night, by day he’s the kitchen manager at Elote. They are good people.

We’ll talk, we’ll eat, we’ll take a farm hike, and we’ll play with the dogs.

Last night we walked out our front door a little after midnight. We stood in the far end of the North Pasture that serves as our front yard and we stared at the starlit sky. A car slowly drove the dirt road beyond the tree line as we watched the Geminid meteor shower, seeing maybe fifteen meteors race across the darkness in about five minutes time. The temperature was in the teens and we were bundled in layers, cold but happy.

Now I sit in my little Rabbit Hole of an office, at a messy desk, a cup of coffee at hand and know that both the one-way city streets and the dirt roads are home to me. There is nothing that says balance has to be 50/50 though. I prefer a 95/5 farm/city balance. I had no idea ten years ago this was the balance I sought, but I’m glad I’ve found it – or it’s found me.

Christmas week 2009

Last week we met a customer in downtown Tulsa to drop off an internet order. Normally we mail orders but this time we knew we’d be in Tulsa and thought it’d be nice to hand deliver the order. I know many people shudder at the thought of dealing with the sparse parking and the one-way streets that downtown Tulsa are known for, but we’re not those people.We parked in front of Mods. It’s a funky little shop at 5th and Boston. You can get a Nutella crepe, some gellato, or even a cup of peppermint mocha. It was cold. I chose the peppermint mocha. Mods has an offer going on right now. Bring in the cup from your chain restaurant or coffee shop, toss it in the giant bin and they’ll give you a cup of locally roasted coffee so you can experience the difference that freshness makes. Chris and I sat and enjoyed our steaming cups and stared out the window for a while. After finishing he left to find a restroom and I took our cups to the counter to save the barista a few steps. Then I walked outside and sat in one of the chairs on the sidewalk. I imagine these chairs get a lot of use in warmer weather. I was warm inside though and that was enough to keep me happy. As I looked around and watched the people going about their day on the streets of downtown Tulsa, I thought about how much downtown Tulsa is a part of my life. Ten and a half years ago I left a house and a marriage and moved downtown into a little rented condo. My actions upset my world, and a good many people. It was risky. I could have easily lost the most important person in my life but I hoped she’d come to accept the changes I’d been forced to make. Not forced by anyone else, but forced in the way that if I didn’t make a change I would lose myself, my sanity, and any hope of leading a happy, stable, and balanced life. I got a second job after I moved downtown. An office job by day, a bookstore job by night. The small second income helped me to be able to buy the little condo with the atrocious green interior paint, annoying neighbors, and minute kitchen. It had a small abandoned patch of a flower bed. I grew a few herbs here, a bit more there, some flowers, and a little butterfly bush. Before long both the flower bed and my spirit were beginning to heal and bloom. I lived just a mile from work and would walk to the office if the weather was reasonable, or money was tight. I seldom got beyond my little 5 mile radius unless it was the weekend jaunt to flea markets and thrift stores. Downtown became my home. When we are in “town”, as we call it now, we’ll often eat at one of the downtown restaurants – Elote, McNellie’s, or El Guapo. The knit shop where I met some good friends and learned the basics of knitting was in downtown Tulsa. There’s a good locally owned wine bar at 18th and Boston where I used to walk to meet my friend Cathy to knit and drink wine during the dark winter months. Now I live a satisfying and happy life on a 250 acre farm just over sixty miles from downtown Tulsa. In a few days my daughter Hillarey and her partner Lance are coming out for a farm visit. We’ll bake a big chicken and enjoy a relaxing evening together. It’s been a good year at school for her and she has some new work to show us. She’s a finalist in a big art contest and will be going to Philadelphia in February to the awards ceremony. Lance is a talented musician and chef. He’s in several bands that play in the Tulsa area at night, by day he’s the kitchen manager at Elote. We’ll talk, we’ll eat, we’ll take a farm hike, and play with the dogs.Last night we walked out our front door a little after midnight. We stood in the far end of the North Pasture that serves as our front yard and we stared at the starlit sky. A car slowly drove the dirt road beyond the tree line as we watched the Geminid meteor shower, seeing maybe fifteen meteors race across the darkness in about five minutes time. The temperature was in the teens and we were bundled in layers, cold but happy. Now I sit in my little Rabbit Hole of an office, at a messy desk, a cup of coffee at hand and know that both the one-way city streets and the dirt roads are home to me now. I had no idea this was the balance I sought, but I’m glad it found it me. var 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();