Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do You Love Maps?

I do - and it appear my students do too.  Or at least they fake it well!  I've recently taught 2 undergraduate classes and 2 in-service teacher workshops based on historical maps.  I'm doing another one today to a self selected group of middle school teachers as one of the selections in a teacher workday.  Because maps work nicely across the curriculum, they are nicely flexible for teaching social studies, language arts, science, math, and plenty more.  I've got a couple of special ed teachers in my group today.  One teacher told me about an interesting learning disabled child who could become totally engaged with maps.

In the fiber world, I statrted processing a mohair fleece I purchased a month or so back and I'm very pleased with it.  I bought a faded red fleece (2nd clip kid) that is dyeing beautifully. The colors are deeper and more muted.  There are a number of black fibers in the fleece that are giving it a heathered look - quite lovely.

I spent last weekend at a contra dance weekend where I called a beginning English Country Dance workshop that went very well.  I also knit six hats for my local yarn shop and galleries.  I was hanging out with friends from the community where I lived several years ago - before I started spinning.  They were a bit surprised and fascinated how I had left my corporate life behind to become an academic (who, me?!) and fiber artist.  To be honest, I was quilting back then, but seldom in public - one of the reasons I switched to knitting. 

I'll be knitting in public this weekend too, at another dance-related event - this time I'll be a serious student of English Country Dance.  Perhaps I should knit something fancier?  Not likely, though I may just take the Mossy Cardi.  I finally looked closely at the pattern and where I am on the sweater.  Not too mind bending!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Maybe I'm weird.  OK, I am a little weird.  It makes me happy when the numbers on my odometer line up.  My 1996 Toyota pickup, Truckito has quite a few miles on her. 233,866 as of this morning.  I like the rhythm and the repetition.  So I made a wish this morning - that I have a great weekend. 

Am I the only person who makes wishes on the odometer readings? Don't you love seeing the little numbers line up?  Do you know that the moon is roughly 238,900 miles from the earth?  Perhaps I should throw a little party for Truckito when she makes it that far.

I know it's not world peace or the end of hunger, but it's only an odometer wish.  I am going to a contradance weekend near Winston-Salem where I used to live.  I'll be teaching a beginning English Country dance workshop, so asking for a great weekend means...
  • That the workshop goes well
  • No traffic problems on the way.
  • No knee blowouts or other dance related injuries
  • No relationship breakdowns or other undue emotional distress
  • I get in a nice hike
The weekend is in a beautiful setting, a 4-H camp in the foothills not far from Hanging Rock State Park.  The music should be wonderful with the Great Bear Trio and the Skytones.  Since I used to live there, I'll see lots of old friends.  I'm bringing knitting, but probably not my spinning wheel as there is more community space at this camp than at the last one. I'll be knitting hats, but I may bring the green cardi, even though it requires thinking.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spinning Calm

It seems that when I am super busy, spinning is what I want to do the most.  It forces me to slow down.  When I am spinning my default yarn, I can totally zone out and spin without thinking.  The prepared natural creamy fiber just flows through my hands and onto the wheel, creating the yarn that I love to knit with and my local yarn shops want to sell.

When I spin something trickier - hand blended merino-angora lately - I have to think - to concentrate - to be present.  Again, it slows me down to just make the yarn I want to make right now.

I'm quite busy right now with the several deadlines at the day job.  SAFF is nearly here and I have work to do for that.  I also am responsible for a dance event that needs my attention. Did anyone notice that it is fiber season? Smoky Mountain Fibers doesn't run itself, though I wouldn't mind if it did.

I love all the things that I do.  I don't want to drop a single one.  I know how to say no and not take on more responsibility.  So I spin.  I went back to graduate school a few years ago.  The last summer I took 3 classes so I could finish.  I worked on school starting in the early morning; went to my regular job; stayed late to do school work.  When I came home about 20 minutes of spinning brought me back to myself.

This evening I'll be joining old friends and new to spin at the local yarn shop Friends and Fiberworks.  I brought hand dyed merino roving in saturated shades of purple, blue and dark teal.  I like that it happens on Wednesday too.  A nice break in a busy work week.

So tonight I'll spin yarn; but mostly I'll spin calm. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Bit of the Fair

Yes, there were sheep.  Yes, there were giant pumpkins. But for me, the main event was going with my friends Sally and Jeff and Sally's grandson Nate.  Nate just turned 2 and everything was wonderful - baby chicks and ducks, the big veggies, the petting zoo, a baby tiger  - all the cute stuff tiny people love.  Who knew he'd be captivated by the dioramas - those shoeboxes depicting farm scenes make by grade school kids around western NC.  But for all of us, it was the Carousel.  Let this be the official documentation of Nate's first ride on the merry-go-round.  Too sweet!

Official fiber content:  I did not enter hand spun yarn or knitted goodies, but I wish I had.  There were very few entries, and although some were very nice (and would have kicked my behind) I could have been a contender!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not as Quiet as it Seems

The blog, Facebook and Etsy shop have been quiet this week, but I'm not asleep.  I've been knitting and spinning, and doing the behind the scenes work that keeps Smoky Mountain Fibers the fun business that it is.  It's not the kind of work that makes good blog posts.  I can't imagine that people want to here that I have been making up grab bags or tagging hats for the retail accounts.  But it all takes time and a wee bit of effort, particularly during a time that I'm on deadline for the day job.

The picture here are some of the hats that are in inventory and are going out to my newest account, Garrou Pottery in Black Mountain, NC.  In addition to selling their own beautiful pottery, their gallery has work by a number of local artists, including functional wood items, jewelry, and now my hand spun and hand knit hats.  These hats were knit while I was on my trip to Colorado.  I am also taking hats and fiber to my other shops this weekend.

My weekend plans include knitting a few hats (it's time to knit a hat a day!), going to the NC Mountain State Fair for the wool breeds sheep show and fleece show and leading an English Country Dance on Sunday. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Take Time for Color

The day job is keeping me busy, but I am finding time to dye a good bit; spin a little and knit a wee bit.  Fall has really kicked in with an increased workload.  My day job is developing and implementing professional development for teachers and all of a sudden my calendar is filling up.  The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) is coming up,so that is keeping me busy too,  I'm not complaining,but it just seems that everything is happening at once. 

But one must take time to play, so for me that's spinning and knitting, contra dance and English Country dance and hiking.  These pictures are the Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) roving that I have been dyeing lately.  I've been dyeing lots of merino for the bast year or so, so it's fun to work with a new fiber.  It's not as fine as merino, but very springy and the roving has a lovey luster.  So far I've only spun up a sample, but I really like it's 'squishyness.'  I'm planning on spinning a bronze green hank of roving this weekend. 

I'll be attending Moon Dance, a contradance weekend in upstate South Carolina.  The music will be great, the company fine, but I am no longer the dance-aholic that I once was.  Last year my knee was in a brace (the 'too much fun' alarm had gone off earlier!) so I brought my wheel and spun to the music.  This year I hope to dance more, but need the fallback of my spinning and knitting to keep me busy and not feeling too out of it! 

By the way, I love my clothesline!  It was part of this year's home improvement plan.  The drying roving looks beautiful and dries fast, the towels are a wee bit scratchy, but the sheets smell great!

Friday, September 3, 2010

ATreasury of Blues - and a Sale!

As Labor Day is upon us, I am winding down my workweek with a lunch at my desk that looks like I am cleaning out the refrigerator.  Oh, I am.  The last of the baby carrots, a wee dollop of cottage cheese, a piece of leftover chicken and a clementine that may not as juicy as it once was.  But I always feel rather noble when I finish up bits and pieces and not let things go bad. 

As my regular readers know, I love ending up in Etsy Treasuries - this time, it's all about the color blue, including my Paintbox for Feltmakers, The Blues.  In yesterday's post I mentioned that my dyed fiber stock was nearly gone, so the dyeing frenzy came at about the right time.  I'll be making up these multi-packs over the weekend, so I'll soon know what else I need to dye.

In honor of Labor Day, I'm having a sale in my Etsy shop.  Take 20% off everything (excluding shipping) just by mentioning 'Labor Day' in your notes to the seller.  I'll refund your discount (as well as any shipping overage) to your PayPal account. 

Hope to get in a hike, but my plan is to spend the weekend pretty devoted to Smoky Mountain Fibers.  Dyeing, spinning, knitting, visiting my customers - getting the fall fiber season off to a good start!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

At the Dyepot

I've been at the dyepot a good bit lately. My dyed fiber that fills the grab bags in my Etsy store and in the local yarn shop, Asheville Home Crafts  and the Locally Grown gallery has some been depleted.  So for the past week or so, I've been dyeing around the spectrum.  Here is a partial result:

These are semi-solid colors, perfect for felt makers and spinners.  Blues and greens and purples and reds - in a number of shades and hues.  Last evening I made up the blue and green grab bags as well as a few of the totally mixed colors, The reds had to wait,as most of the red roving was still wet.  Seems that I need more greens (as is often the case) so I am dyeing again this morning, including another semi-solid and a bronze-green.  If I can keep up the pace over the weekend, I hope to get back to my more artistic shades soon.

Tonight is my fiber night - dinner with my women friends where we have dinner, talk about our lives and knit or crochet or sew a bit.  Since I have mostly been spinning and dyeing this week, I think I'll take my knitting and mix it up a bit.