Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Doin' the Tidy Up

Nothing like the new semester to force you to clean your office, file last semester's papers, organize this semester's work and generally spend a bit of time getting one's house in order. I had an outrageously busy summer with teaching an undergrad class, designing and teaching 3 (three!) new professional development workshops for teachers, including the pilot testing of some learning activities with real live students - 5th and 6th graders who attended our 'science camp.' "Next year can we do this for a whole week?" Hmmm... I am closing out one grant program and starting up a new one. But academia is still hugely better than Corporate America, so I never complain. OK hardly ever.

The Etsy store is hopping! Again, I'm not complaining, but it's all I can do to keep it full these days. I have dye(crock)pots going most mornings and evenings, with extras on the weekend, and plenty of roving shipping out in it's natural state. This morning I got up early to photograph some roving to post it later in the week, so I am trying to stay ahead. This weekend is Labor Day and my sweetie and I are heading off to spend time with friends. I plan on taking knitting, my beadbox and the unfinished patterns to finish editing and getting the photos right. Writing the patterns is fun. I thought it was a bit silly, but my colleague at Asheville Homecrafts tells me that people like to buy patterns and has asked me to develop a couple more. So that is on the list. I'm also taking sock yarn to be skeined. Not the sexiest, but it needs doing!

We got about 4 inches of rain over that last few days - Thanks, Fay. Of course I found a roof or chimney leak that I didn't know about, but that just one of the thrills of owning a house. The garden is happier already!

The Monday night dance with Cailen Campbell was great - fabulous music, high energy, well attended but still danceable. It was another of those nights that make me know why I call dances.

psst! 122 pounds, courtesy of the South Beach Diet. I guess I can quit now.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Raining!

And rain is very good news here in Western North Carolina. The region has been in extreme drought all summer for the 2nd year in a row. But luckily the tail end of tropical depression Fay is bringing us a few days of much needed rain. The garden is looking pretty peaked, the grass and a number of the perennials are about gone, but now looks like we are in for a good soaking.

Progress on the fiber front continues as well. I spun 4 big, fat Louet bobbins at the WNC Farmers Market on Saturday, drawing interested people into Locally Grown, the craft shop that sells my yarn and fiber. In the meantime I made a decent delivery to Asheville Homecrafts in the Grove Arcade, finally filling up the allotted area for hand dyed fibers in spinners' quantities. The sock yarn is doing very well there, selling several skeins per week, so I dye-painted several more skeins this weekend. They have also started stocking my patterns and have requested more.

So I have to complete the development of 'Trailside,' and 'The Mad Russian' - that's it in the photo. Sally was pretty taken with the early version of Trailside, developed for Brown Sheep Bulky, so I've decided to keep working on that pattern as well. It is a good one, and works well for commercial yarns. I've got a healthy quantity of KnitPicks Bulky, which knits to the same gauge. Sounds like just the thing for my upcoming travel knitting!

I have had very good results with the merino that I have been felting. I made a healthy amount of flat felt, made up a number of flower parts and did some assembly, completing at least six pins. Sally gave me a handful of barrette backs for felt hair jewelry. Looks like a job for flowers with lots of leaves. another travel project? hmmm....

Classes start tomorrow. I am teaching 2 day classes of the educational technology course that has become my stock in trade and will start another class for the short semester of the evening program. The class looks better than ever, so I am looking forward to getting started.

Tonight, I'll be calling the contra dance at the Grey Eagle in Asheville. Cailen Campbell is playing his wicked fiddle. Looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Although I admit that I was a bit aghast at my 'to do' list in the previous post, I feel as if I will be able to meet the goals. I found a small spiral notebook that can live on my desk or in my purse and I can keep track of the projects that I have accomplished (or not).

So far, I have...
  • Completed 2 hats (this one during the staff meeting)
  • Posted to Etsy daily
  • Made progress (writing, testing, photographing) on the freebie hat pattern (working title, Trailside).
  • Dyed green roving (3 batches)
  • Made flat felt to use in flower pins
  • Updated the SAFF site
I have also taken on a special order and (so as not to be in a completely fun-free world) took in a movie. My Sweetie and I saw 'Sex and the City' last night at the local Brew and View. Lots of fun, even for people who never actually saw the TV show. Cute and a bit predictable, but still great fun. I also knitted most of a felt hat while watching. I've never actually knitted through a movie at the theatre before, but this one was highly knit-friendly.

I made 2 sheets of flat felt from some merino I purchased a number of years ago, but never liked carding or spinning it. But I came upon some blues and purples a few months back, so I thought I'd test their feltiness and it was excellent. I think it's time to get out the rest of the box and dye it in 'flowery' colors!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Returning to Normal

At least I hope so. After a summer of teaching a summer school class that moved at breakneck speed, teaching a number of brand new Professional Development workshops, helping a friend get her business up and running, it looks like a welcome mildly relaxing period. Of course for me, this means doing the financials for the grant, creating next year's budget and getting ready to teach my class (3 sections) while gearing up for the fall fiber season.

It occurs to me that the Mars Hill Heritage Festival is only 6 weeks away. Though it's just a one-day fair, I still have to do it! That means knitting hats, spinning yarns, making fiber bundles for spinners and felt makers and just showing up with all my goods and chattels ready to sell. So I need to set realistic goals to be ready. On top of the new fiber put ups in the Grove Arcade shop (4 ounce fiber 'wheels' suitable for spinning), my spinning at Locally Grown has cut into my stash of dyed fibers, so I need to ramp up the dyeing, the lone crock pot is just not quite keeping up with demand. The Etsy shop is hard to keep stocked as well. Although I have neglected it in favor of the day job of late, I need to get back to daily posting.

Fall 2008 Goals:
  • Knit 5 hats per week.
  • Develop freebie pattern as hangtag for Locally Grown yarns
  • Dye 2 crock pots per day + 4 big pots of fiber weekly
  • Dye 6-8 skeins of sock yarn per week
  • Make 4-6 felted pins per week
  • Spin 300 yards per week (1/2 natural; 1/2 dyed)
  • Weekly deliveries to Asheville HomeCrafts
  • Bi-weekly deliveries to Locally Grown
  • Spin at Locally Grown every week or so
  • Post to Etsy shop at least 5 times per week(try for daily)
  • Update SAFF site weekly.
Now I realize that there is a serious lack of fun in this plan. So let this be a warning to me and everyone around: Fun will happen! It will just be covered in fiber! There are dances to be called, gardens to be tended, classes to be taught (wait, that's not always fun!), but it's fall fiber season!

Lots of fun the past few weekends, calling dances in Blacksburg, visiting friends in North Georgia,and just generally enjoying summer - not too hot, just summery!