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5 ways to celebrate Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!


Sometimes I think Earth Day (or Month or Hour) is silly…shouldn't we be working on these things everyday? But I'm starting to think that setting aside one day draws more attention to the issue and gives a reason to reflect or research on changes we may already know we need to make!

I write about these things pretty much all the time, so in celebration of Earth Day, let's go over a few way to make your crafting decisions a bit more green:

1. Be a locavore! (I know it's not technically crafty, but I think of cooking and baking as crafting!)

2. Spin with recyled fiber!

3. Use organic cotton. Why? Here's your answer!

4. Work with local, small-farm materials!

5. Rethink bamboo

What are your ideas for creating “geen”? Any topics I haven't covered that you'd like me to research?

The Meaning of Green

I might be a bit obsessive.
I wish I wasn't.
I wish I was smooth and casual and je ne sais quoi.
But I'm not.  I'm excitable. And squeal-y. And a bit obsessive.
When I learned the new Yarn Forward was available in the States (it's UK-based), one that I had been interviewed for, I began stalking Barnes & Noble.
I've been 4 times in the last month, scouring the magazine racks, looking behind every title.

Yesterday, my mom and I had a bit of free time and we decided to pop into the bookstore for a cup of coffee and magazine perusal. I did my normal magazine-rack-hunting. The girl next to me set down one she had been flipping through and

There it was, the April issue.

I called my mom over as I flipped through, and was shaking before I even landed on this page:

"Meaning of Green" in Yarn Forward 62/365

That's me, in the upper left corner!

The article is a discussion with several “ecological experts” (squee!) about what “green” means to them, in terms of yarn and fiber choices. It's a fabulous article with input from Lorna's Laces, a Rowan rep and other experts on the subject!

You can find buy Yarn Forward online, at your yarn store or at a bookstore!

Oh, and the geeking out doesn't end there. My mom and I both squealed, jumped around, hugged and celebrated! This little excitement-party happened again when I told my husband (who, for the record, does not squeal)

Winter Manifesto

Inspired by Amanda's beautiful Winter manifesto, I've started writing my own.  I'll be adding to it for the next few Fridays.

February can be a cold, hard month: full of ice and short days and a deep longing for spring.
I find there's no better way to combat the cold than to embrace the light where I find it and to look for the small moments of joy. To remind myself that there is really just one more month of winter (spring comes early in East Tennessee!), I'll dedicate myself to this manifesto.

1.  Enjoy and relax with my loved ones;


with coffee,

chocolates  52/365

with chocolates,

baking with troy 33/365

while baking,

My boys

while playing.

What do you want to enjoy this winter?

Begin as you mean to go on


“Begin as you mean to go on”

I heard this phrase at the beginning of 2008, on Breda Dayne’s Cast On. I was struck by it then – such a clever phrase – but never explored it. It's really lovely, so much more poetic than the idea of New Year's Resolutions and with so many more implications. Every new project that can be started with the notion of  “Begin as you mean to go on”.

At the beginning of this year, as I started work on my new website, it came to me again.
How do I want to go on in 2009? How do I want the new website to go on?

I don’t “do” resolutions. I love lists and I love setting intentions. But the concept of “resolutions” doesn't resonate for me. I'd rather remind myself on a regular to basis to learn, improve and grow.

And that, the growing, is what appealed to me in Chris Brogan’s  post about picking a word as a goal for the year. At about  the same time, Lisa Call wrote about choosing a word to set her intention.  These two posts stirred something, stirred that phrase “Begin as you mean to go on” and I began to think about my intentions for this new site and the new year.

I set intentions for nearly every day, could I expand that to a year? The intention would need to be simple; just a few, memorable words that would guide my business decisions this year. I can look at every decision and say, will this be in alignment with my intention?

So what did I come up with?

Kill it. Share it.

When it came to me I knew that's it! But, ugh, I hate the violent connotations of the phrase “kill it” or it's similar “crush it”. What I mean when I say I want to “kill it” is that I want to achieve excellence, I want to become as fabulous as I can, to learn as much as possible. But the phrase “learn it” just doesn’t have that same push, that same insistence. Is there another word that invokes this sort of insistent drive towards excellence?

As I was thinking over this excellence, I read about succulence – the state of being juicy. That’s what I want! I want to infuse my work with juiciness –  full of richness of texture and color.

It somehow goes along with “kill it”. I want to bring succulence to it, to enjoy it, to delve into it thoroughly.
I’m still unsure of the right word, something to align the ‘Kill' with the ‘Succulence'…is there anything in between?

There we go, that’s my expanded Intention for 2009: Kill it (make it juicy), Share it.

And what is the “it”?

The “it” is whatever it needs to be. The “it” is yet to come, the “it” can change. For the next few weeks, the “it” is designing the Month of Love Series, learning about video editing, launching a new video project, organizing a mill-spun line of yarns.

So this is how I'm beginning. I'm learning, infusing and sharing.

What do you want to learn this year? What do you hope to share?

Reentry and Recap – Seattle and Urban Craft Uprising

I'm a homebody. A real, honest-to-goodness, I-could-stay-inside-for-weeks type of homebody. I've built a home-friendly business (spinning and dyeing requires that I remain near my kitchen and couch!) and if it weren't for the dayjob, I might never venture forth.
Which is exactly why I insist on applying to crazy-huge, far-away craft shows.

They challenge me and stretch me and, yeah, force me out of the house. The last two weeks, nay, the last two months have been consumed with preparing for Urban Craft Uprising. I made more yarn than I ever thought possible, created a new “mini-series” (yarn with jingle bells! yarn with pompoms! Holiday Happiness!) and packed it all up and lugged it across the country. Once in Seattle, I met customers, vendors, authors! I explored, I rode busses and ferries and planes, I consumed hundreds of cups of coffee (if you'd like a coffee review, I kept embarrassingly detailed notes, which I'd be happy to share here).

So fun and so worth it, but also a little too much. I was only gone for one week but for the two months preceding I allowed my entire life to be focused on preparing for the show, keeping the Boutique stocked and fulfilling custom orders. I love being that busy, feeling the crush, buzz, but the truth is, it's not healthy. I promised myself that when I was done with the show, I would take a step back. But being away from what I love the most (you, the fiber, the color) isn't healthy either.

When I returned, I eased myself back into it. I've been away from my dyepots and my wheel and the whole business for one FULL week. I thought it would be restful but I feel all at odds. So odd, I've actually done a lot of *gasp* cleaning. Like, my whole house. Obviously, I'm not well.

I need to work on balance: yarn time and personal time. Accomplishment and relaxation.
I'm going forward with that intention.

That said, I can't leave Seattle behind without a second glance!
A quick sum up: Urban Craft Uprising was magically delicious. I brought NONE of my own display units, everything I could possibly need was donated by the wondrous Kayce, of World of Whimm.

Carissa at UCU

My friends helped me at the booth (that's Carissa above) and I met the most fabulous customers.

Yarn Hair - on a customer  31/365

Like this one, who bought the yarn on Saturday and returned on Sunday, with it as her hair. Weird. and Wonderful.

The girls (3 of my college roomates) managed to show me every good thing in West Seattle.

Bakery Neaveau 29/365

I showed myself a bit of Pike Place Market:

Pike Place

On Tuesday, while they worked, I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island

View from the ferry - downtown Seattle 33/365
(view from the ferry)

It was here that I experienced the best yarn store of my life, Churchmouse Yarn & Teas.

Churbmouse Yarns & Teas

All in all, a really smashingly wonderful trip.

It certainly consumed my life there for a while, so I don't intend to do any more shows until next summer. But I AM on the lookout for more big shows like this one (I need to get out of the house, remember?) Big enough to sink my teeth into and to push me into adventuring places I never thought I would.
With that in mind, as I sneak back into my regular routine of dyeing, spinning and blogging, can you share your favorite craft (or yarn or knitting) show?
Do you have adventures in your town that I simply can't miss?

Finding Inspiration

As the days get shorter and the opportunity for color fade into the brown of winter, I find it harder to become inspired. My TN mountains become brown, the flowers are long gone and my local farmer's market closes up. While I'm bursting with colors, ideas during spring and summer, come October, I start to worry about drying up with the leaves.

Pink shoes, brown leaves - 5/365
Day 5

There seems to be something about October that makes me want to pick up my camera. It's surely the trees and leaves and wonderfullness of fall, but I think it's also the threat of winter. More than any other time of year, I need to be diligent in searching out inspiration in the winter.

Market St - 16/365
Day 16

To combat this ennui, I give myself little challenges. In October, I challenged myself (and some Twitter friends joined me)- take a photo every day. Looking for the right shot and trying to capture it compels me to find the beauty and celebrate it.

Yarn "storage" - 15/365
Day 15

Now that the leaves are coming off the trees and it's almost dark by the time I get home from work, I'm finding it harder to find the shot. This forces me to look inward – to my cozy home, my cute pet and even my office.

To DO - 20/365
Day 20

How do you find inspiration during the ever-shortening-days? Any colorful movies or shows the light the fire?


Twist& Shout in car

After a death in the family last week, I've slowed down quite a bit. Being out of town for so long (first a craft show, then helping my mom move, then the funeral) resulted in me feeling a little scramble-y. But instead of snapping back into action, I'm taking it slow. Completing custom orders, pushing back the debut of a new line of yarn, spending some time with my new drum carder. Yarn is slowly re-appearing in the Boutique, but I'm taking my time and relaxing my demands (I'm a pretty demanding boss)
Here's how I'm slowing down:

Baking: banana bread, pumpkin bread, apple pie

Knitting: Twist & Shout (pictured above)

Sipping: Orange Dulce, Orchid Oolong

Listening to: Adele, Ray la Montaigne, Iron & Wine

Looking forward to: SAFF on Saturday, Urban Craft Uprising in December

I'll be back in full force later this week, with a new tutorial for Fiber Friday, on carding the fleece and the launch the new line on October 31st. The new line will be yarn and fiber made entirely from the first fleece I processed. I'm still looking for a good name for the line, as this is something I'd like to do every month – wash, dye, card and spin one local fleece and then offer the washed locks, dyed fiber, batts and yarn all from this one sheep. Any suggestions? I'd love to hear what you'd most like to see (locks, batts or yarn?)
How are you slowing down as the weather cools down?

Craft Show Preparation: When yarn ATTACKs

The yarn, fiber and wooly goodness is taking over my house! I've been getting ready for CRAFT ATTACK, a craft show held in Charlotte, NC, this weekend. It's only second craft show and I am overwhelmed and overexcited and swirling around trying to get ready in time. My mom and I are leaving Friday to take the scenic route, through Boone and Blowing Rock (3 yarn stores, right near a great coffee shop).
I met a few of the CRAFT ATTACK organizers at my last craft show and have since been Twittering with them. They've planned an excellent show that will have over 80 vendors in the lovely Independance park.
Since this is is just my second show, I'm still learning about preparation. Here's how I've been getting ready:

  1. Stock – trying to make as much as possible! What looks like “a lot” in my apartment, looks pitiful in the booth! I make a schedule a few weeks out and plan for how many skeins I need to spin a day that I WON'T list in my Etsy shop. Then I stick with my schedule (or try to!)
    As I work on creating, I add the “show stock” to my inventory list, just so I can know what I'm bringing, what sells and what doesn't. This is also an excellent way of figuring out what the “value” is of what you're selling. If you don't bring $2000 worth of stock, you certainly can't expect to make that much! I find this helps me have a much more realistic view of what I could potentially expect from a show.
  2. Labels – When adding those items to your inventory, this is a fantastic time to label them! I believe EVERY item should be clearly priced, so customers don't feel shy about asking the price. I print out my labels, on recycled paper and make little hangtag ‘books”. I fit 3 tags/sheet of paper and then fold them in half. The front has my logo, the back has my “story” and the inside left is printed with info about the fiber (so I have different labels for local wool, banana fiber, etc – each explains what makes these fibers eco-friendly). I then handwrite the yarn’s info on the inside right (name, yardage, weight, etc). It’s a much easier process when I do it once a week…instead of waiting until the night before the show!
  3. Displays – there are lots of great examples of displays on this flickr group . You want depth, height and movement. I use baskets on tables, a 3 tiered basket thing (it’s about 5 ft tall) and a hanging sweater thing (made for folded sweaters hanging in your closet). I also have lots of clear glass jars (like at candy stores) with a pop of bright fiber. People like to feel up yarn, so I try not to pile anything up (or else they can’t get to what’s at the bottom).For my sign, I sewed a simple rectangle that folds over a dowel (or can be used as a table cloth), the bottom half is the actual “sign”. I cut out and sewed on my name (in the font from my logo) with my logo next to it (overlapping rings) in both fabric and handstitched yarn (ok, so far the yarn hasn't worked so well, so I'm still experimenting). It’s super bright and I love it! Pictures to come after this weekend.Oh, and tablecloths! Cover each table all the way to the ground so that you can store stuff under them! As for the tables themselves, I like a rectangle table for the back of the booth (with business cards, newsletter sign-up and my cashbox on it) and a round table near the front of the booth.Because so few people have actually seen yarn being created, I bring my wheel and spin. This is really a major part of the “display”, so I have to make sure I have room with it (and that I bring plenty of fiber to spin. It draws people in, and I can talk and spin at the same time (I have a little explanation I do about how the wheel works, if they look interested and start asking questions). But once they start to look at the yarn, I stand up to talk to them. If your craft is small and fiddly (I’m thinking earrings), you’ll probably turn people off by being focused on something they can’t see. Knitting and crochet is similar…is it interesting or do you look bored? It’s a fine line!
  4. Marketing – I bring so many business cards I think I'll never give them all out. And yet I do. Bring all you have! And pens! I also have my newsletter signup sheet on a clipboard. The wind was really blowing it around last time, so I tied a length of yarn around the whole thing with solved the problem perfectly! I offer 10% off to anyone who signs up and if you’re already on my list (and you tell me that!) you get 10% off. This time I'll have a little bowl full of giveaways (and something to hand kids who try to touch everything else) – felted baubles, tiny bits of yarn, etc) and stickers. I'm still trying to figure out a way to tag the little free balls of yarn, so that they remind the customer of my business, but they're too round to tie a business card to. I don't want to put them in a little bag, because then you can't feel them! Any suggestions?Also be prepared to answer the “Can you make this in ***” question. Know how long it would take you and how you’ll handle payment for a custom order. If you don’t want to do custom, come up with a nice way of saying no, so you’re not taken by surprise in the moment.
  5. Packing the car – Obviously you need your stock, your tent, table, display units and cashbox. As for what else, this is the most comprehensive list I've ever found!

When planning for the show, I found the following articles to be super helpful

What do you do to get ready for a show?
Will you be at CRAFT ATTACK? If so, let me know!

If you’ve been thinking about doing craft shows or you’ve been wanting to them better, check out my How to Rock The Craft Show class!

Autumnal To Do

leafy sky
Photo from Nov 2006

Each season, I like to set an intention for how I will enjoy it. It's a pleasant To Do list celebrating the crunchy leaves and crisp apples. This year, I want to:

  • Bake an apple pie
  • Finish knitting a sweater (probably Twist & Shout) by the end of November
  • Find my favorite flavor of tea (this group has been helpful)
  • Spin fall-inspired yarns (my favorite suggestion to the contest, so far, is “Hayride”)
  • Make the perfect cup of hot chocolate (cocoa, honey, homemade whipped cream)
  • Eat lots of roasted fall vegetable (turnips, butternut squash, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, yum!)
  • Go on one last picnic, before the weather is too cold.
  • Finish dyeing, carding and spinning my Coopworth fleece
  • Take a photograph every day until the end of the year

What's on your Autumn To Do List?

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