Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

An Adventurous Life

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?

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?


Ravelympics sweater - 8/26/08

Polite people would use a different word.
But let's be honest:

I failed.

My Ravelympics goal, which I knew was lofty and difficult and challenging (but that was the point); well, I failed at it. I set out to spin and knit a sweater in 17 days and I didn't accomplish that.

And that is fantastic.
Ravelympics sweater - 8/26/08

The risk of failure

incites action.

Without this challenge, I would have never begun. I have been talking about knitting a sweater from my handspun for months but without this challenge, it would still just be a dream.
Not only did I commit the goal, I worked hard towards it; spinning 400 yards of beautiful yarn, swatching, designing and knitting half of a sweater in 17 days!

The risk of failure creates commitment
The feeling of true commitment to something I really want feels great! By focusing all my knitting energy on one project, I've accomplished a lot, reminded myself what I'm capable of and started creating a sweater I am SO happy with.
And that was the point: to create a garment that I'm proud of, that fits well and that feels incredible. The timeline was just a little push to do it faster and with more focus.

Failing leads to success.

Failure in the Ravelympics isn't failing at knitting and spinning. It's failing at one goal. The overall goal is (still) to knit and spin an entire (wearable) sweater and that is still well within my reach. Risking failure with the Ravelympics is leading me towards success in the overall goal.

This is just a little reminder to myself and the other failed Ravelympics Ravletes (and regular athletes, too, I guess) that what we created during the Olympics could never be a failure because we were, simply, creating.

Finished Quilt

Today my very best friend is getting married.
Jamie and I have been through high school orchestra, family vacations, deaths, parental weddings and divorces, college graduations and my wedding together, as best friends.
Closeup of handquilting
As I sat with this quilt, her wedding gift, in my lap, I thought of all the hopes and worries and happiness we've shared. The giggle fits and camping on the beach and loud singalongs to Les Mis.
lines of handquilting
I wanted this quilt to symbolize so much: the warmth that our friendship has brought me, the years of letter writing we've engaged in, my hope that she'll enjoy husband-snuggling under a blanket as much as I do.
Making the quilt was a ritual I needed; to stitch our friendship into something tangible, to allow myself to believe in our new lives, to physically labor my prayers and happiness for her into something she could hug.
Jamie's wedding quilt, finished!

The quilt is comprised of 12 blocks that are 16 in square.

Separated by 400 miles, I purchased 4 fabrics, 1/2 yard of each while my mom did the same. We met up to exchange fabrics and buy the border. We retreated to our own homes and Mom pieced 5 blocks and I made 7; neither of us using a pattern, just throwing together the 9 fabrics however we wanted.

When I stayed with my mom during the weekend of Jamie's bridal shower, we sewed together the blocks, added the 6 inch border, purchased the batting, backing fabric and bias tape. I brought it home and handquilted the entire quilt by myself in 3 weeks.

Corners of quilt
The border is a double fold bias tape, machine-stiched on the front and hand blind-stitched to the back. I am SO proud of my handstitching – this was my very first time quilting or blind stitching anything!

I'll give it to her today, her wedding day, hoping that all of my thoughts, prayers and wishes make it out of the quilt and into her life.

Local Lunch

  • Spring Salad Greens from Abingdon Organics
  • Strawberries from Bishop's
  • Farm Fresh Herbed Goat Cheese from Oak Moon Creamery
  • Dried Sweet Cherries from the guy at the JC Farmer's market (no signage, no business card)

Not pictured:

  • Toasted Rosemary Focaccia from Scratch
  • Sumatra from Cooper Coffee Co.

PS. After searching for each of these vendor's websites, I am struck that only 1 has a website or even a small little information page! People, websites are imperative! What do you think is keeping these small businesses from embracing the technology? Lack of knowledge? Perceived cost? This is something I would really love to help other small businesses with and I wonder what the barrier to entry really is!

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