Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Inspiration Monday #8: Creativity

I just started reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit last night and stayed up much later than I should have, enthralled by the concept of a creative habit and preparation for creativity. More on this as I get through the book and have some time to process it all.
Creativity keeps popping up:

I'm also thinking a lot about knitting with my own handspun. I can't seem to get up the courage to dye and spin the 24 oz of Merino I received as a gift over 2 years ago! I've yet to settle on a project that would meet my demands that 1. It be a project that I can see/use a LOT, not just during the (short) winter months and not so bright and “homemade” that I just wear it around the house. Nothing sloppy 2. It be doable and finishable – no intricate lace shawl with cobweb weight 3-ply! I've been perusing the following links, in hope of inspiration:

After seeing see this sweater, it all clicked: I need to knit a comfy, wear-everywhere hoodie out of my handspun! Nothing too bright, just muted, slightly stripey handdyed, handspun hoodie!

It’s time to make the…

Donuts! The following is a photolog of the making of these donuts, last Saturday afternoon:

rolling the dough (after it's risen for an hour). Note the French Press coffee maker wearing it's handknit cozy!

Cutting out the donuts, using the only round thing I had available.
You can see that I also used some square cookie cutters.

Fresh out of the oven, doughy and puffed!

After their bath of cinnamon and brown sugar! Yum!

Other Domestic Pursuits

…well, they don't always turn out as well as the yarn.

This bread, following Amanda's WHO Bread recipe, ended up a bitflat. We fed it to the birds and went without bread this weekend. When my confidence picks back up, I'll try again. Any idea why it wouldn't rise and would stay so doughy on the inside?

Last week I got a yearning for flannel pants. In full disclosure, I live in flannel pants. Everyday, after work, I come home from the office and put on a pair of flannel pants. For the last 2 years, I have had 2 pairs, gifts from my in-laws that were BRIGHT orange plaid. Not attractive, but very comfortable. The last few months had been hard on the pants and they were holey in some, uh, unholy places. Last Thursday, while packing to go out of town, I decided to sew some new pants. Out came a pattern, old flannel sheets and my scissors.
I'm pretty happy with the pants, except for one thing, barely noticable in the picture: I laid the front pattern piece down upside down and so the wrong side of the fabric is showing on the front of my pants and the right side is showing on the back. Make sense?

Yeah, me neither. But no matter: they're comfortable!

More successfully, I covered a never-used throw pillow with some on-sale Amy Butler fabric. (I got the fabric from this shop, they have a huge pile of “bolt-ends for just a dollar or two)
Finally – Success!

Inspiration Monday #8: On the farm

As buds unfurl and sprouts start reminding us of tasty green things, the conversations around the Boutique (ie. my living room) are turning towards farmer's market, gardens and our future farm. Jay and I have long known we wanted to live rurally, on some land with a sheep or two. But lately, as he nears graduation and we both are closer to 30 than not, we've decided we'd rather have that farm sooner, rather than later. We'd like that self-sufficiency and simultaneous reliance on the local community to be a little more within reach. And so this Monday, I'm inspired by the books I'm reading, blogs and the Ravelry groups I've joined; all on the subject of sustainability and homesteading:

The Rural Life
You Grow Girl
Crave's 100 mile diet
Sustainable Table (Ravelry group)
Live Simply (Ravelry Group)


I started blogging in 2001, when it wasn't called a blog, but a “online journal”. All throughout college, I updated it with musings, lists and ideas. After I started knitting, I started a knitting blog, which also included bits of my life: pictures of family, grocery lists, etc. I maintained it until last fall, when I felt that it was important to have a separate business blog, one that didn't include too much personal information; a place to fully discuss my materials and methods. I didn't link to my old blog, but I feel that without that great big archive a big part of what BCB is and who I am as a knitter and dyer is lost.

To remedy the situation, I'm now importing some of my old posts into this blog, mostly the posts about finished knitted things. At each year's end, I've done a recap of all my knitting through the year. However, those year-end posts are mainly lists of links to other posts, so I also have to import the post that originally discussed the piece.
While I move things here, some links in those old posts won't work . Please bear with me until I can fix it all. Oh, and I think that every time I add a post, it'll generate an update in my feed. If you keep track of me via a feed reader, just ignore all those “new post” notifications! If you don't subscribe via a feed reader or you don't know what I'm talking about, read Sharon's excellent post on the subject. It makes blog reading SO much easier!
What prompted this was a search for banana bread: I remembered that my old blog linked to my favorite recipe. All of a sudden, I wanted to start merging all of this together TODAY!
As I look back over the old blog, I realized I started it the day I dyed my first skein of yarn. That day, I felt I finally had something to say. As I was typing this post, I thought I should go back and read my first knitting blog post and was shocked to discover that I started it exactly 3 years ago, on March 13!

So today is my (knitting) blog and dyeing anniversary!

The pictures in this post are the first I every blogged.


When admiring the photography of my yarn-photo heroes, I often wonder how they do it. I'm not so interested in the cameras and settings (I don't plan on buying a new one for quite some time), but want to know about when and where. Lolly has written a great post about making a lightbox and although I don't have one, I appreciate her generosity. In the same spirit, I'll share my “photo studio”.
It's located in the 2nd bedroom, in “the office”, in one corner. My “studio” is straightforward: a sheet, on a chair. When not in use, the sheet gets folded up (to avoid the inevitable snuggling by the pup and cats) and the chair goes back to being a chair.

I photograph a week's worth of products all at once, after I've spent the previous week making it. I love this schedule because it gives me free time to create during the week, with a deadline of when at least 5 skeins need to be dyed, spun and dried. During the photo shoot, I try to take at least 3 photos of each of the following “poses”:
Hot stuff

Vegan delight

Grass - Bananiere

side view of swirl:
Fire in the Sky - side

long view of skein
Plum tweed

I take pictures on the weekend, usually 1 or 2 in the afternoon on Saturday (if I have my act together that week) or Sunday (after spending the morning spinning to finish the last bit). The room has high windows that face West and at that time of day the sun is just coming through them, but not directly onto the chair. The best days are sunny, but if it's overcast, I take the pictures in my living room (which has East AND West facing windows and the light is more diffuse).
After taking the photos, I transfer them to my computer, crop the best 5 or 6 in Photoshop (I do NO other alteration of the picture color or clarity: just cropping for size!) and save in a ‘ready to list' folder.

If you have any photo tricks or questions, please comment!

Inspiration Monday #7: Recycled

After just an hour in the fabric store

I'm thinking a lot about spinning with ‘non-traditional fibers': plastic, newspaper, material. There are many cool options out there and so many people willing to share how to do it! Here are just a few of the tutorials, ideas and inspirations:

Now that we're in Daylight Savings, my evenings are full of sunshine and I plan on taking more pictures of the process and will share if I make anything with these odd fibers.

Have you spun or knitted with anything not intended to be yarn?

inspiration: Asheville

Every Monday I try to post a list of things I've found inspiring throughout the weekend, something to make Mondays a little more pleasant.
This Monday needed no help, since I took the day off and went to Asheville in search of art (Jay had a school project that involved writing about an exhibit).
We started with the Blue Spiral gallery, where we were completely mesmerized by the work of Kyoko Masutani (click any pictures to see bigger):

That's at least a hundred tiny shoes made entirely of…used teabags!

artwork of Kyoko Masutani

Most of her work was ink on paper or wood, intensely dense line drawings of repeating, organic patterns, layered on each other. I kept commenting that I was drawn to them like fabric and some of the pieces, from afar, looked like a pile of patterned paper or fabrics, collaged on top of one another.

ink on wood

This sort of obsession with detail and tiny little lines is the stuff I'm made of. There's such a…fantasy and organic quality that reminds me of smurfs. I'm no art critic, but this stuff just overwhelms me with happiness.

Early Girl Eatery

The happiness kept coming with a lunch at Early Girl Eatery, grilled asparagus salad (newly in season!) with local goat cheese and creamy sweet potato soup. The perfect lunch for hiking all over Asheville. Next we hit Chocolate Fetish and I carried my truffle and chocolate-covered fig to Malaprops,


my very favorite bookstore in the entire world. I enjoyed the truffle with a coconut mocha while appreciating the coffee art.

Coffee Art

We dawdled there, talking books and green architecture and found some books that I'm hoping I get from the library, on sustainable farming and self-sufficiency.
Next up was Earth Guild, as I had some supplies to pick up for the Boutique and well, I can never pass by this behemoth of crafting. Hours passed as we browsed books, I dithered over dyes and we chatted with the very crafty, very hippy employees. I love that place.
Before going home, we grabbed a Thai dinner at …oh, I can't remember the name of it OR find it on any maps…it was Dr. ____, a Thai restaurant on Biltmore Ave….and a cupcake at The Sistster's McMullin

All in all, a lovely day trip!

Inspiration Monday #5

This weekend I spent much time curled up with hot fudge sauce, my puppy and Robert Grudin's The Grace of Great Things. I can't think of anything better to prepare me for a Monday that involved 2 meetings for a total of 4 hours in the airless, miserable conference room.
So I thought I'd share the bits that moved me, while I continue to ponder the connections and beauty:

“in both good science and good art, the mind must suspend it's usual assumptions in order to meditate on something fundamentally new” (p 50)

and his definition of Integrity:

“1. an inner psychological harmony or wholeness
2. a conformity of personal expression with psychological reality; of the outer with the inner self
3. Continuity…through time” (pg 73)

Monday Inspiration #4

Ok, so it's not still Monday..but here's my weekly round-up, inspired by my trip to Boone, NC. If you're ever in Boone or Blowing Rock, these are the places you should check out (I'll be adding pictures later today)
Espresso News: Good coffee that is roasted on site, fantastic truffles, cozy/grungy atmosphere with 3 walls of floor to ceiling windows and loads of magazines and newspapers to read whilst lounging. There's a used bookstore upstairs, but we didn't check it out. On a brisk, sunny day (like Saturday was), I could spend hours soaking up the sunshine in the warm/coffee drenched air.
Cha-Da Thai: we've only had Thai food one other time (which is crazy, since we're vegetarians) and it didn't impress us. This place turned it all around. The dishes were complex and totally satisfying. Although we both had brown sauces, Jay's had chilis in it while mine was sweeter and they tasted completely different. Ah-mazing! The restaurant also has a definate ‘vibe' going on with tapestries, gilded chandeliers…so much that you wouldn't think $14 would cover both lunches!

Ms Babs yarn

Laura's Yarn-tastic: Cheesy name, amazing shop! It truly was a fantastic experience as the employee (not Laura) was friendly, knowledgeable and FUNNY! Even my husband had a great time talking with her about men's knitwear fashion. I found some locally dyed yarn (always a bonus!) – Miss Babs handpainted yarn. I got the Rose Garden colorway, in sock yarn…which isn't really me at all, that's how much I loved this place and wanted to buy something! Oh and for selection: they had all of the Rowan yarns, including the new organic, naturally dyed cotton; a big selection of Noro; Brown Sheep; Arcaunia; SWTC; and much more!

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