Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

good mail

A few stolen hours - a quiet morning, because I worked late last night to finish up the shop's weekly newsletter. I finally refilled the bird feeders. I took my personal knitting out of the bag I haven't opened since the end of September. I might even make tea!

Lest you think my life is beautiful and organized, I am also looking out on my snowy backyard that I didn't get to rake, and the garden I hardly had time to weed this past summer. Time doesn't improve weeds, and now they have gone to seed. It will mean so much more weeding to do next spring and summer. Or maybe I will just get goats and be done with it.

Yesterday a lovely A2 boxboard envelope was waiting for me at the breezeway door. Return address: Reading, Berkshire, UK. Finally - good mail!

There are many wonderful things about owning a yarn shop - discounted books is one of them. However, when a book you want is not available from a US distributor, you order straight from the source - overseas postage be damned!

Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is one of those books a stranded colorwork knitter will want with every fiber of her being. Felicity Ford demonstrates how to turn everyday details into stranded colorwork. Her photography is beautiful, her narrative voice is lively and personable. I want to read it cover to cover and devour it.

This winter I want to try her system of moving from points of inspiration, to a color palate, to a design, to swatching. I won't have quite the color range she works with, as she uses Jamieson & Smith yarn, and I will be using my US Shetland wool source - Elemental Affects, but I hope some careful editing will still yield beautiful swatches of my own.

You can buy her book digitally through Ravelry, and I urge you to do so. However, if you want the printed book, order from Felicity.  Each book is imprinted with a unique download code so you may have a digital copy as well.

To see more about Felicity Ford and her beautiful new book (and buy it if you wish), check out her blog: Knitsonik. I also urge you to listen to her soundscapes that capture the world of fiber.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A moment's breather

Hard to believe that it has been over a year since my last post. All is well in mid-Michigan, and yarn shop ownership is agreeing with me. My time is definitely not my own anymore - but it is not an unpleasant thing.

Today is a rare day off, and since it is damp and cold, I am working in my studio with a cup of tea, a macintosh apple, and a cat horning in on the back of my seat.

Fall color outside my window.
The rest of my October is already spoken for - and a good part of November, too!  But I hope to make a reappearance here from time to time as I can.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Colorado, Utah and New Mexico ~ July 2013

The first ever Schacht loom - handbuilt in 1969 - Tapestry Loom.
Joe putting a driveband on a 24" Reeves wheel

Boat Shuttles Drying, Schacht Spindle Company, Boulder, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Arches National Park, Utah

Pine Tree Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Double rainbow at sunset - Devil's Garden Campground, Arches National Park, Utah

Newspaper Rock, Utah

Newspaper Rock, Utah

Castle Rock, Utah

Sandia and Manzano Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Mission Church, Pecos National Monument, New Mexico
Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico

Monday, July 1, 2013

It started innocently enough....

....when I peeped into the window of an East Lansing shop window in May 2007.

 At the time my husband and I were living in Boston.  In town for a job interview, my husband was tied up most of the day - so I did what came naturally, and hunted down all the yarn shops in the area. I quickly discovered it was not going to be hard to be a knitter in mid-Michigan. I liked all of them, but my favorite had Habu yarn in the window. My favorite had local handspun yarn for sale. My favorite had yarns that I had heard of, but had never seen. My favorite had obscure books. My favorite had textile art on the walls.  My favorite was Woven Art.


My knitting history is probably similar to many. I learned as a child, taught by my Aunt. My mother is a beautiful knitter, and I am sure she tried to teach me, but sometimes it is best to learn from Not-Your-Mother.  This skill was put by the wayside until I was in grad school in New York City. I was working nearly full time at a Contemporary Art gallery and working on my Master's degree in Islamic and Medieval Art History. I needed a stress relief. I needed something I could do as a special treat for myself once the dreaded language translation homework was finished. It didn't matter what I was knitting, just that I WAS knitting.

Knitting became increasingly important to me when I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2001. Away from family and friends, I found it daunting to find peers. But I had my knitting, and when I found colleagues who knit, we banded together at a local coffee shop, collecting secret knitters, lonely knitters, and teaching eager beginners as we went. Knitting provided me with a family where I had none and a community who understood my obsession. Knitting also gave me my best friend from that Knit Night in Albuquerque.

Two more cross-country moves found me in Michigan, with my face pressed eagerly up against the window. Once again it was knitting that provided me with friends and happy faces. And it was knitting that emphatically proclaimed what my career choice was going to be. I had started a second Master's degree in Library and Information Science, but a severe illness made me question whether that was my true path. And again, the siren song of yarn pulled me in.

I started working for Nancy at Woven Art with the idea that I would be a "business intern" - that I wanted to learn the business. And graciously, as ever, Nancy agreed. And I had a mentor. Just like that. I don't think either of us thought that I would one day buy her carefully grown business, but I tried to absorb everything that I could - teaching classes, working the Open Knitting nights to help 2 or 3 or even 8 knitters at a time, helping knitters pick out new projects, meeting with yarn reps and attending conventions. And Nancy has been generous with her knowledge, experience and yes, her opinions, through it all.

I am so honored to be Woven Art's next owner. But really, I feel that I am a custodian of this wonderful shop as it continues to work its magic on all who enter!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Finally, Spring

Classic Elite Sprout 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sweet Chipotle Walnuts (For Beth)

Normally I don't do recipes around here. I am not a cook - sometimes I get onto little enthusiasms for cooking, but it doesn't last long. My dinners are pretty utilitarian - I rely on Mark Bittman and Smitten Kitchen to figure things out for me and make me look good. I don't mind experimenting when I am comfortable with a recipe, but, eh, cooking? Not my favorite thing.

That being said, I do enjoy baking. If I have a free day I love making bread.  And with a little spare time I like to make goodies to add a little sparkle to my otherwise by-the-book meals.  The following is based on a number of recipes bumming around the internet, adapted to be a little spicier for those of us who love a little ZING!

Normally I use my Dad's honey, but sadly, his hives haven't been very productive in a few years, so, store-bought honey. Can't wait for the farmers' market to open this spring!

Sweet Chipotle Walnuts

3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups whole walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack in the middle of the oven.

In a medium bowl, combine salt and sugar - stir well. Set aside bowl.

In a skillet, combine honey, chipotle, and cinnamon, and warm until the spices are incorporated and the honey becomes very runny.

Add the two cups of whole walnuts to the skillet and stir with a spatula until the nuts are coated and the pan has very little pooling honey.

Put wax paper onto a cookie sheet, and spread the nuts evenly as a single layer onto the sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes - you should start to smell the walnuts releasing their oil. While the nuts are baking, spread a second sheet of wax paper on the counter.

Take the walnuts out of the oven and allow them to "set" for about 1 minute on the stove top. Carefully pick up the wax paper with the cooling nuts on it, and pour it into the bowl with the sugar and salt mixture. Be very careful not to touch the walnuts as the honey will stick to your skin and burn you!

With a spatula, mix the nuts and the sugar/salt together until there are no loose grains at the bottom of the bowl.  Pour onto the second piece of wax paper and spread into a single layer.

Let them cool completely. This is super important! If the walnuts are still warm when you put them in an airtight container they will release moisture as they cool - then they get soggy. Not nice.

Store them in an airtight container. For gifts, I like to put about 1 cup's worth of walnuts into old jam jars. These would be amazing with either pecans or cashews for those unable to eat walnuts.

I serve the Sweet Chipotle Walnuts on top of salads with goat cheese and cranberries. But often they don't last very long - P eats them straight from the jar. I usually make two batches at a time (back-to-back, rather than just doubling the recipe) because honestly, these suckers disappear so fast!