Black Dog

Just a little outpost on the web for me to ramble, post pix, share ideas, and be a part of the crowd.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Nothing Profound Today

Thanks for the great exchanges yesterday regarding my very opinionated post and perspective on things. If there's one thing I am, it's opinionated (or is it stubborn). Marcia commented that she nearly married a Lithuanian man awhile ago, but that he was one of the best men she ever knew, but stubborn. I'll second that--we're good people, but we're stubborn as a mothaf----. Combine that with my being a poster child for scorpio (and all of the horrible, passionate, jealous, dedicated, spiteful characteristics that come with it) and you might understand why I'm such a handful. In spades. Cubed. To the 45th power.

Today, I'm knitting. I was up at 5:30 this morning and have been working on a small project using one of the new yarns we received on Wednesday. Speaking of which, we got in TONS---six large boxes from a big multi-brand vendor. We received:

  • Araucania's Nature Wool in both worsted and chunky (bulky)
  • Noro Shinano
  • Noro Kureyon--just colorways 126 and 130 (but plenty of each; and we have others on hand already)
  • Noro Big Kureyon in colorway #2 only, to go with #9 that we have; despite ordering the full range of colors back in May, it's still not here
  • Noro Silk Garden--just 39, 65, and 74 (we have others on hand, too)
  • Debbie Bliss Merino DK
  • Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby
  • All kinds of Flutter and Flutter Metallic
  • Missing colors of Spice to bring us back to having every color
  • Sirdar SuperSoft Aran--an awesome machine washable/dryable yarn
  • Sirdar Country Style DK, but only in the new shades for Fall 2003 (the 500s)
  • Extensive pattern support for the above, including Debbie Bliss books, Noro books, and more

    Whew! No wonder Matt's not been blogging--he's been assembling and stocking shelves!

    Several have asked about our regular shop hours. Here goes

  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sundays Noon to 5 p.m.

    Back to my knitting........I'm trying to get it completed today, so you have a new garment to see here tomorrow. Until then, be well!

  • Thursday, September 25, 2003

    Up on the Soapbox, Click Click Click

    (sung to the tune of "Old Saint Nick"........). It's my blog and I'll preach if I wanna........oops, another song. My apologies to Wabi Sabi, as her "thing" is song lyrics and blog posts.......but I'm hoisting myself up this morning, so ready yourself with tomatoes--but the content is how I believe, and you can believe differently, agree in total, or just pick and choose parts as they apply to you. This is why we live in a somewhat free country (though lately there's been some efforts to curb free speech and dissention....)

    I believe that my knitting is more of a craft and not so much an art. Though I would have to agree with this author that there is a continuum--not a black vs. white, all or nothing perspective (the quotes in the left margin are awesome, by the way). What I do and the items I produce are far more craft than art, but I've seen some phenomenal art pieces (some of the exhibits on the East Coast recently, of knitted items in museums are far from practical and very much on the beauty/aesthetic side of things). I mean, there is the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, which features classes on knitting, spinning, weaving and so much more. People I know who have attended RAVE about the curriculum and the hands-on teaching and learning--which very strongly appeals to me--my first life was in vocational business education, where I taught high school students practical skills like keyboarding, accounting, and more; I eventually completed my terminal degree and worked in teacher education, helping others become HS and post-secondary teachers of business subjects as well as taught students going to work in computer environments (not programming, but "doing" things like network management, software applications, and more). I've always been a hands-on learner and teacher, so this fiber arts gig is a natural transition, most say. So I do greatly appreciate new books, patterns, and techniques that introduce fiber artists to the great traditions of various cultures, ethnicities, and regions of the world. Personally, I think taking some classes on cultural anthropology would be way awesome, as you could focus in on certain cultures and the how/why of their implements and adornments.

    Another part of me appreciates "folk arts" or "crafts" because I did grow up in a very ethnic environment. My first ten years were spent in a very Eastern European part of Chicago, in the city on the southwest side. I am third generation American, so my people arrived in Chicago in the late 1800s and my mom's side were very much like the folks you read about in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and dad's were very Czech/Slovak/Bohemian (that's where Matyska comes from--mom's a Petraitis and VERY Lithuanian). To this day you can travel in my old neighborhood and hear people speaking in Polish, Yiddish, Lithuanian, and other very cultural tongues that make me yearn for that kind of ethnicity in my life. So much so we nearly moved to Chicago a couple years back instead of Indiana (yes, polar opposites...). I was taught to crochet and knit by my maternal grandmother, all 100% Lithuanian of her. (I'm misty-eyed just thinking about it, and she's been gone for over 5 years now). She could sew ANYTHING without a pattern (or one cut freehand from brown paper sacks) or look at something handmade and recreate it perfectly. My other grandmother was a cook and an amazing host--she could feed you until you burst and was always bustin' a hump to make sure her family "had"--a trait that colors almost everything I do to this day with respect to wanting to provide for my family unit. Both sides were very hard-working people who lived through amazing strife--things we can't even imagine. And the stories they'd tell--Dad's mom worked at the University of Chicago when they were perfecting "The Bomb" and she fed Fermi and other scientists. Then we moved to RURAL Missouri, deep in the Ozark Mountains, where there's a heritage of folk crafts, especially whittling and carving and other "hill folk" things.

    So when Interweave Press came out with their new book Folk Bags by Vicki Square I knew I'd be an instant fan. Yes, there's a history of ThreadBear being built on the finished goods business where we sold things like felted bags, hats, and more and grew from there. So this new book is a sort of combination of two major threads in my life--knitting and ethnicity combined with functional items. And therein lies my reasoning for most/all of my knitting being craft--what I produce, even the flashy-trashy scarves, is functional and useful and slightly decorative. I mean Vicki herself states in the foreward that "....almost every culture that I have researched, the making and using of containers is significant to daily life..." (p. viii, Folk Bags). So I adore this book

    and when our case of them arrived last week I read it cover to cover almost immediately and completely loved it. It's not just patterns, it's stories and far-away places and things that are so amazingly cool to learn about. But I digress (and will again, mark my words...). The felter in me is immediately drawn to two projects, the shigras

    for their colorwork and felted fabric (and the fact that Vicki said that she could almost get in the unfelted large one and a small child could get in the felted version of it) and the bushoong zigzag

    for its strong visual elements and felted nature. Very very cool stuff! Another interesting project is the Chinese Fish of Prosperity

    Of course, it's felted, but it also has amazing embroidery that's applied after the fact. When I was in graduate school in the early 90s, we had a significant number of colleagues from Thailand (where my love of Thai food comes from), mainland China, Taiwan, and other Asian countries. I worked closely with many and remain in touch with some to this day, over a decade later. Their attention to details and small gestures of kindness and ceremony are things I will always carry with me. Another amazing bag is the Korean pouch

    as it is very delicate and is a simple piece of knitting that folds up into a wonderful small bag with some serious style and flair. Somehow I can see Denise carrying one of these on the streets of downtown Cincy.

    My last position was at Indiana University in the Jewish Studies Program, where I worked in a very administrative role. The building we were housed in, however, was much like a small United Nations. The basement was used for ESL classes for new Far Eastern students, the first floor was Near Eastern Languages/Cultures, Central Eurasian Studies, and another program. Second floor was the East Asian Languages/Cultures program, and upstairs was Jewish Studies, the Inner Asian/Uralic National Resource Center, Tibetan Studies, and the Mongolian Society. You almost never heard English in this building--seriously. And the diversity of experiences and resources available---the IAUNRC brings in experts in the linguistics of all types to teach a wide variety of languages you may not find anywhere else--Kazakh, Uzbek, Turkman, Kyrgyz, and more. Which brings me to this bag, the napramach

    It's an Uzbeki bag that is just incredible! (others in the book are from this region of the world as well and quite striking, too). It reminds me of the wonderful bags and hats and all sorts of cultural things that emblazoned the walls of offices across the building. One room had a hat collection to rival none--and wild hats they were. And one of the faculty members would wear them in the hallway and come visit--and make me laugh like mad. Yeah, I miss my work on campus, but it's more the people and the cultures, not the work. And I wouldn't trade what I'm doing now for ANYTHING--but it made leaving hard. Very hard.

    So see, no matter what I do, I end up surrounding myself with culture and beauty and function--thus my perspective on what I do being more crafty, and not artsy. I mean come on--I have NO artistic talent. In grade school I was forbidden to be the one to add the body parts on the hangman because my drawing skills were (and still are) horrid. And my mom's sister was an art teacher at the University of British Columbia for years, as well as an accomplished artist in Canada (she tried to teach me some drawing techniques on a holiday visit around 8th grade, and she gave up....I'm hopeless!). Her brother is an amazing architect. My maternal grandmother used to paint decorative elements on her sliding glass porch doors and her soffits in the kitchen on a regular basis, as a means of freshening up the place (you'd go visit and the strawberries on the space over the cabinets were gone and pears were there, or leaves on the sliding doors turned into spring flowers--all freehand).

    And that, my friends, closes the entry for another day. I'll step down now, before you switch to things more serious than tomatoes to throw.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2003

    The Power of Friendship

    Today's entry will be much shorter than yesterday's--I promise! Some time in the latter part of the morning yesterday I started feeling a little queasy in the tummy, retired to the bedroom for a nap with the dogs (I had both of them up on the bed with me), and tried to sleep it off. It didn't work--I had some sort of one-day tummy ick, which I think was brought on by the restaurant leftovers I had for lunch on Monday. I didn't feel so hot on Saturday after eating out Friday night, but I attributed it to being tired and run down (last week was wild, as you've read here). But now, after a second bout of the same ick the day after eating said food and leftovers, I'm blaming that. I'm no investigative ace, but.........tummy cramps and a low-grade fever don't just come and go. By late evening I was better, but my knitting productivity was diminished by my feeling poorly, so all I accomplished yesterday was this

    It's a scarf using Crystal Palace Splash and Deco ribbon, knit the long way. It's a fun thing and will be warmly received at the art fair next weekend, I'm sure. We're trying to build stock in all kinds of scarves and other reasonably-priced accessories between now and then. Today I may work on some thrummed mittens soon. There's two patterns available online--one for two needles and one for four needles. We have some wonderful rustic worsted wool that will be perfect for this, and of course we have great spinning fiber (roving and carded batt) that I can use for the thrumms. Yeah, I'm in a fall mood.

    As for the title of today's entry, it kinda struck me at some point yesterday how we've made some incredible friendships, both local and at a distance, through this blog, through ThreadBear, and through the craft of knitting (don't start on the art vs. craft thing...please). I mean, how else would I have come to know that Theresa of Bagatelle was a Georgia native like my Matt? She and I had an e-mail conversation about permission to use her Fuzzy Feet pattern for a workshop and out popped something about cornbread, and it turns out she hasn't had good cornbread since leaving for Norway. I would never have shared my Lithuanian heritage with TheresaW had I not mentioned having partly grown up in Chicago, not a mile from where she and John were married. We would never have met Jenanne in person without blogging, and she was at our May Third Thursday (Indian Cuisine) dressed in a sari! The next month brought us Pat and Nini and Charlotte from St. Louis--again, due to blogging--and they were wonderful additions to our gathering that month. They brought awesome projects for show-and-tell, they were fun to be with, and we helped enable them by providing directions to three other local yarn shops for them to investigate on their trip. Just recently I've come to share a long phone conversation with Em over the weekend and we commiserated about the lack of grammar skills, as both of us have attempted to enlighten college students about writing (her in an English program and me teaching business writing). And then yesterday's mail brought me this delight

    These wonderful pictures were shared by a new friend of ours out west, as she wanted me to see who we were speaking with and to share some of the delights in her life--her granddaughters and her beloved companion. This made me very happy, as I wasn't feeling well and it made me smile to know that there's a connection with her, despite half a continent between us. I could go on and on and on and I don't want to offend anyone by not including them on this list of fab folks we've become acquainted with, but I did promise a shorter entry. Suffice to say that this blog and this business have both put me in touch with fantastic folks from around the globe, and I'm thankful.

    We've met wonderful folks locally, as well--don't get me wrong. And now that word-of-mouth is spreading of there being a yarn shop in Columbus, Indiana, we're meeting more and more people every day. Later today a woman will come down with her husband and they'll drive 90 minutes from the northern suburbs of Indy. We'll laugh with them, she will shop a little bit, and she'll pick up two more felted purses that she's knitted and I've felted for her. I don't mind felting for people, as we're almost always felting something around here, between shop models and finished goods for sale (and it's prime season for us--I need to get knitting on felted stuff). So to toss an extra bag or two in a load is not a problem for me, and it's another one of those "perks" that is a ThreadBear touch. Well, felting this morning reminded me of how much I adore seeing this color, Cascade 220 9412 (also known as Scotch Tweed), in its felted form. Behold the beauty of this felted fabric

    I love that richness and depth of color. The bag almost looks black indoors, but when sunlight hits it, the russet undertones come through (I took that photo in full sunlight so you'd be able to see it how I love it). That's fresh out of the washer this morning, so it's a little feral and needs a shave.

    I'm going to close with an incredible picture that was shared by one of our new customer/friends just this morning. She lives in Maine and has today off, so she's going to be knitting (smart woman). We shared a few e-mails, I commented on how I'd like to visit the northeast some time, and she gave me an incredible reason why

    That's the scene just a short mile from her home. It's fall, her skies are blue there today, and she's got the day off to knit. It doesn't get much better.

    Well, speak of the devil, the felted bag lady from north of Indy just pulled up...........I gotta run! (seriously--they're out front right now). Bye for now--BE WELL!

    Late-breaking PS--The cleome seed pods are ripening and I've been collecting seeds for those interested in having some. Also, we got six HUGE boxes of yarn from NYC today--still unopened, but the sides are marked with contents (Auracania, Noro, Debbie Bliss, and more)

    Tuesday, September 23, 2003

    Makin' Up For Lost Time

    Sorry about the hiatus, folks. And much thanks for the comments, tagboard notes, and e-mails about how you miss entries and hope everything is alright. Everything is fine, so to speak. It's just that the third week of the month, every month, gets a little busy. Monday is a knit night in Franklin, so that means a drive. Tuesdays are knit night in Columbus, so we're busy. Thursdays are our monthly Third Thursday Knit Night and Dinner, so it's beyond hella busy, and this month we had a day-long workshop thingie to run for our great Indy dental office ladies. Then the weekend hit--and Saturday was recovery day, plus a busy day at the shop, Sunday was the same, plus the start of our monthly gathering for locals who are interested in pursuing the TKGA certification for Master Knitter--Level I. WHEW! No wonder I can't scare up enough time to post anything! But I'm back now, after last night's monthly function (details below).

    It's NIPPY here this morning (I just checked for a temperature online and it's in the low 50s). I need some Fuzzy Feet! A cool, crisp Indiana morning must mean that fall is finally here. HOOO-RAAAAY. It all makes sense now--Teresa just posted that the atumnal equinox hit this morning around 6:45 a.m. EDT, right about the time I finished last night's dishes and sat down at the computer this morning.

    My So-Called Fabulous Life is summed up in these two photos, the spoils of Third Thursday (no comments about the heinous acrylic crocheted granny square af-a-ghan, please--it comes with a story)

    You mean if you put them on the washing machine, they don't come clean? Oh.........

    (note to Clara--yes, that is your Boys Who Knit mug that you gifted me with earlier this year. Yes, it's been shanghaied by Matt and he uses it almost daily--when it's washed daily). This, my friends, is just part of the fun that faces us the next morning on Third Friday--and now we don't have a dishwasher in the new place (YET), so it's even more of a chore. And with a busy Friday already lined up (we left for Indy at 7:30 a.m.), these lovelies greeted us when we returned. Mmmmmmmmmm. I'm so glamorous.

    Third Thursday was a very fun evening, especially since it was our first one here in Columbus (August was on hold, as we had just moved in and the place was a wreck!). I fixed Italian-themed foods, so we had stuffed shells, chicken cacciatore, rice and veggie salad (it wasn't good--no one ate it either), garlic bread, green salad, stuffed mushroom caps, tiramisu, brownies, chocolate ricotta pie, and more. If your memory is excellent, you'll remember that Tate found us in the latter part of July, and with the move and more, this was his first Third Thursday. And people love him so much (as do we)--several have said that if he goes "missing" to check their homes first. So, combine rich human food with a cute dog and folks with sympathetic souls........and you get a dog that no longer had a waist--he was BLOATED after all of the grazing (he even ate green salad). Connor got her share, don't worry. But people fed Tate constantly. And he was in a deep sleep by the time we turned in. (this all figures in to the next day....LOL).

    Speaking of Indy, we had a B-L-A-S-T with this group on Friday. Lois and Adie are the ringleaders (HI TO EVERYONE) and we met at Adie's lovely home on the northeast side of Indy. We got there right at 9 a.m., as the crowd started forming. We brought our yarnmobile (my Explorer, laden with stuff) and set up on tables around the pool. Feeding frenzy commenced, folks got started on projects, and we knitted and learned and laughed and ate and had a great day away from the mother ship. Well, we left Amy, Low Helen's neice (HI AMY, HI HELEN), in charge of things at home. Given his intake of the previous evening, let's just say that Italian food doesn't agree with Tate. Amy had her hands full, between folks coming into the shop, the phone ringing, and the dog....well.....not feeling up to par. After a few incidents, he spent a good portion of the day in the back yard. 'Nuff said. And we're putting up some "please don't feed the dogs" signs for next Third Thursday....LOL.

    But you came here for So I need to get busy. I've been knitting, but not particularly interesting stuff. It's pretty, it's fun, but it's not the challenge of a good fair isle, or the beauty of deep texture. But it's pretty....see

    We got in a nice, hefty order from S.R. Kertzer on Thursday, in the middle of getting ready for that evening. We loaded up on Fizz, Multi-Fizz, and Magic Buttons DK back in July with the sales rep, and just now arrived. The yarn got put on shelves and sort of left alone for a few days. I discovered it again over the weekend and went a little nutso on scarves. These are scarves made by holding multiple colors together at once. I think they're fun, and some of the new knitters in town do as well--it's moving the yarn and it's a quick project for them.

    Again, not a fascinating project, but one that's good for reading blogs and mindless knitting while doing so, is this fun thing. I'm knitting what will become a felted jacket/coat. The back is nearly a yard of stockinette stitch and is nearly complete, as of yesterday--see

    The most amazing thing about it is the color--a rich royal purple with heathering of pink and blue.

    This yarn felts amazingly well (no, it's not Cascade 220)--try again), this particular color is enticing (right Cathi?), and the felted fabric has a great hand. Given that the remainder of the project is similar to this piece (minimal shaping, vapid knitting, etc.) I hope to have it done shortly. Especially if I find time to read the ring for a change.

    The Mango Moon Recycled Silk sweater from a kit is moving along nicely (I promised a picture last week, so here goes)

    Again, pretty vapid knitting, so I should be able to knock this out shortly as well. (Yes, that's a Denise needle hanging off the end--of course I'm using my set, and we got another box of 18 on Friday, while Amy was here) We have a dozen or more of these silk and mohair sweater kits arriving in the beginning of October (they're ordered, but the folks at Mango Moon are so busy that it will take a couple weeks or so to get things packaged and shipped). I can see why they're busy--great fibers, great designs, and awesome finished projects. MORE MORE MORE

    Our Monday brought a box of fun that I've been looking for since I found out last week it was being shipped........behold the majesty of a pile of lovely Mountain Colors yarns

    We received a little bit more stock in their 4/8s wools

    new additions to our supply of the wonderful Moguls

    including some of the elusive new colorways in Wilderness and Pheasant and more. Also in the box was some of the last Mountain Goat available until November (there's a shortage of the blank/undyed yarn used to make it) and I all but cleaned them out with this batch

    I've got my eye on the Sierra in the bottom right or the Obsidian in the upper left, but that Bitterroot Rainbow in the lower left is wicked as well. Check out the new colorway Sweet Lavender on the lower right--it just shimmers in the Mountain Goat. Ya gotta love the way mohair takes color. I think my next mindless knitting project is going to be one of these, using the Goat

    Julie made one of these this summer and it's a fun, single-skein project that shouldn't be missed. So I won't. You'll see progress here shortly---any suggestions on colorways? You see which I like..........what would you like to see done up?

    Also in the box were two skeins of the elusive Bearfoot sock yarn from these folks. Just two skeins--of a much larger order that we've got in the queue. Now that the blank/base yarn has arrived, they are dyeing like mad and filling orders. This stuff in quite nice--60% superwash wool, 25% mohair (nice and durable), and 15% nylon. It knits at a suggested gauge of 6-7 sts/inch and I look forward to starting some socks with it shortly. We received two colorways

    Lupine (a new colorway for Fall 2003 in all of their yarns) and Bitterroot Rainbow (one of my all-time faves from them). I can't wait to see more of this stuff, as I'm sure the interesting blend of materials in the yarn will make for some gorgeous colorways.

    Last but not least, the fourth Monday of the month means Philosopher's Wool Sweater Group here at ThreadBear. We fell in love with their designs and sweaters when we lived in Michigan a couple years ago, and we had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ann and Eugene Bourgeouis at the LYS in the Lansing area. They put on a one afternoon workshop, told their story, shared their two-handed (weaving) fair isle technique, and answered tons of questions. At the time, it was just a five-hour drive to Inverhuron for us, which is more like ten now that we're south of Indy--but I still want to make a run up there sometime soon. Many around the blog ring have castigated these sweaters and this wool as harsh (it's not overly processed), simplistic (worsted- and bulky-weight designs), and many other descriptors. Fine--you don't have to knit one. Just like I don't have to knit with Rowan's Summer Tweed because I think it smells like a catbox. (grin) Opinions are great, no matter which side of the fence you sit on. Many around the ring have also made one of their sweaters--Ginny, Rachael, Cindy, and more come to mind right away, and Sarah is the queen of PW knitting--she's made a few and has had dozens of folks in her classes, and continues on to this day.

    I've had a devil of a time with this sweater project, mostly because I didn't practice before starting (causing me to not like the knitted fabric), due to me not liking the color striping I did in the cuff, and due to my being overly picky of the finished look of my knitting (see above). So I've started this sleeve a grand total of five times--this latest incarnation being one I'm definitely going to love and live with. See

    I had the cuff completed from a previous month's dinner and knitting gathering, but I did the three rows of diamonds and a little bit of the first motif last night. I like the way the colors and the design are coming out and I'm quite happy with the progress I made last night. I tend to only work on this project on the specific evening of the month we have dinner-n-knitting, so it languishes in my WIP list for a month at a time. No longer. I'm excited about the design, I like the texture of the sleeve so far, and I watched their video twice yesterday (it is dorky, CHRISTY, but I still get inspired by the designs and the colors--so there!). I'm enthused and this will be a project I work on alot in the coming days -- HOLD ME TO THAT PROMISE.

    And with that, I need to dart to get ready for the day. Whew--that was a whopper of an entry. I guess I made up for lost time, no? BE WELL, KNIT LIKE MAD, and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND EACHOTHER!