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!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

Snowshoeing and Tahquamenon Falls

There is little time for vacations these days - only a day or two to put off what should be already done. P put down all his work for three days straight to enjoy the cold and the snow in the U.P.  - where they had recently had a 38-inch snowfall.  Snowshoes were mandatory - without them the snow was thigh high.

straits of Macinac

virgin trail

breaking trail
trying to be patient
frozen falls

Tahquamenon Falls - lower falls
the Mackinac Bridge

We stayed in the log cabin again - snug as bugs!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Remembered sunshine

Painted Desert, Arizona

Friday, February 15, 2013

Winter Husks

I could really use a little sunshine.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Snowshoe

The big winter storm just missed mid-Michigan, but we still received a respectable 6 inches of snow.  Today was my first opportunity to get out and enjoy it - with Zeby, of course!  I strapped on my snowshoes and away we went.

We saw ducks congregating in a small pool of open water.  And Zeby wanted to figure out how to get closer to them.

My favorite trail in the area is part of a flood plain for the Red Cedar River. This section obviously flooded and froze recently - the highwater marks were left as frozen ledges around tree trunks hovering over the ground.

Nothing better than wool for a cold snowshoe.

Pattern: Brioche Hood Hat by Valdis Vrang, a free pattern on Ravelry
Yarn: Happy Fuzzy Yarn BFL worsted in the color Shadow. Purchased at the 2011 Ann Arbor Fiber Expo.
Needles: US 8
Mods: I lengthened my ties to about 14 inches. I worked out a system to make sure I did my short rows correctly. I inserted a stitch marker at the point where the short row wedges would end, and inserted a locking stitch marker where the short row wedges began.  Every time I worked one short row I would move my locking stitch marker one pair of stitches closer to the other stitch marker. When they met, I knew I had finished my wedge. This will make more sense to you if you are actually knitting the thing.

This is my Use it Or Lose it Project 02 - working from my stash!

Zeby hunted voles on our way back. 

 I relish these quiet moments in the woods. I love winter, especially if there is snow.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Handspun backlog

When we were up at the log cabin I kept thinking about my wheel, and how I wish I had brought it with us.  When I got home and wanted to spin I realized that all my bobbins were full of singles.  So I spent an evening spinning, plying, skeining, and finishing.

And then spinning again.

Pagewood Farms Merino Tencel, unnamed colorway.
And now I have six empty 2 oz bobbins and two empty 4 oz bobbins. Now we just need to go up to the cabin again.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Greta the Second

Soon to be traveling to a nephew in Virginia! This project was part of the Use It or Lose It challenge on the Stash and Burn boards on Ravelry. The challenge: knit with old stash yarn, and commit to knitting 13 projects in 2013. If you can't knit the yarn, then it is time to find a new home for it.

My Artyarns Ultramerino came into my stash when I spent a few days in Burbank, California with a group of knitters and crocheters.  It may have been 2004? 2005? Regardless, old stash!

Pattern: Greta the Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger
Yarn: Artyarns Supermerino 1.25 skeins, in color 113, brown.
Needles: US 5
Notions: two vintage buttons and a little bit of DMC embroidery floss, polyfill.

I knit the body on the way up to the cabin, knit the arms, tail and ears while at the cabin, and sewed on her face and put her together once I was home again.

Inspector 13 approved

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Snowshoeing in the Great White North

Hiawatha National Forest, New Year's snowshoeing