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Bonus Podcast: Pandemic Fatigue

Today’s podcast is a bit off my usual topics. I felt that I needed to address what I was feeling last weekend. And I thought that maybe I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling. I thought is was important enough to not only talk about this with my family but to also talk about it with my family of listeners. Last weekend I hit the wall. I was tired. I was frustrated. I was disappointed. I was down right mad too. That is so unlike me. Well not the tired part. But I’m usually a “glass half full” kind of person. I tried to find the best in every situation. But last week I just wasn’t feeling like me.

I happened to listen to Brene Brown’s podcast while going on my walk and what she was talking about really made sense. It gave me an AHA moment. When I got back to the house, I immediately found the article she was talking about. I studied it. And I really had a feeling of relief. What I learned was that we all have a “surge capacity”. An ability to use our inner strength to get things down and survive in a short term disaster like a hurricane or fire. But this Covid thing has become a slowly evolving crisis and no longer short term. We are being whiplashed around with good news and bad news on a constant basis. And I know that I’ve run out of these short term resources. They need to be recharged for the long haul.

At the same time, I started to read the book “Making a Life”. It is a beautiful book about makers who have built a life around their making. The first chapter included an interview with Ellen Dissanayake who uses her observations of children and peoples who are not “modernized”. She found principles to pass on from her observations. She noticed that every thing we create is made with out hands whether it be the written word or a clay pot. And that making is not simply utilitarian. She found that we humans thrive on “Artifying” what we make. We make the ordinary, extraordinary. We take the mundane and lift it in celebrations.

These 2 ideas really came together in my head. As makers, I think we can use that artifying and using our hands to bring us through this crisis. We can use our making as a contemplative practice. We can use our brains to not only use the here and now…feeling the yarn, touching it’s softness, hearing the clicking of our needles. But we can also use our brains to plan for the future. That’s the fun part, the planning of the new project. And that can be part of our recharge.

You can hear more about this by clicking here. You can also subscribe to the podcast on itunes.

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WIP Wednesday: No Rhinebeck Sweater Update

Okay people. I’m on the second cuff. I’ll be finished with that this afternoon, I think.

The next step will be to finish the bottom of the sweater. As a recap, I was worried about having enough yarn. So I put the sweater body on a cable and I decided to complete the sleeves. I knew I wanted a sweater and not a vest. And happily, yes, I have enough yarn… I may have enough for a hat too…

And now I’m thinking about buttons. I raided my button box…I have a good one. And here are my top choices.

I only have these 2
I have 4 of these
Just these 3
Just these 3 I think.
I have lots of these all different but related
Just these 3 and their little…but if you like the white flower look, I could look for something like that.

I want you to help me, so reply to this blog and on my social media and pick your favorite!! I have 3 weeks to finish. I think I will. I’m pretty excited to be done with this handspun lamb’s fleece sweater from my own Gina.

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New Podcast: A Conversation with Emily Chamelin-Hickman

In this episode, I talk to Emily about shepherding. We talked about how she became a shearer and shepherd. We talk about raising healthy animals and how she is using regenerative practices to improve her land. We also talked about what it takes to be a woman shearer in a man’s world.

Emily is one to the strongest women that I know. She made a place for herself in a really physically demanding profession. She is empathetic to the animals and the shepherds who tend to them. And she has raised a strong, smart daughter.

Click here to listen

Click here to see how to find Emily

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Another Virtual Show This Weekend

Let’s be real….

How are you feeling? Are you continuing to knit or crochet or spin? Are you making way through your collection? Are you excited about the possibility of seeing some great yarn and roving and pottery and buttons this weekend?

This weekend, really starting tomorrow, Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival is going to a virtual show. I am grateful that the festival organizers have taken on this new world of virtual festivals. I am grateful for the teachers who will teach on zoom. I’m grateful to all the shoppers who are supporting us. So I hope that you will be able to come out and see what we have for you this weekend.

This festival is on a new platform called Eventeny. Here is the link to the festival page. That platform is much like ETSY. You as a shopper will be able to fill your cart with items from many different vendors all in one place. I had to make a decision about this platform. I made the decision to not migrate my whole webstore to this platform. I have put my special collections there. Click here to see our page. You can find much of my Autumn collection, Viral collection and my new colorway in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

BUT, I do want to give you a perk for buying from my webstore this weekend. You can use the code SVFF on my website only, for free first class shipping on your purchases. This coupon code is active now and it will expire 9:30am on 9/30. There you will find all our yarn and roving and kits and swag.

I will also be doing Facebook Live sessions at the following times (click here to watch):

Friday 10am and 5pm

Saturday 11am and 4pm

Sunday 9am.

I hope that I will see you virtually this weekend. Keep making beautiful items. It is good for your soul

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New Podcast: Fast Fashion

In today’s podcast, I talk about “Fast Fashion”. This is the push by marketers and manufacturers to make cheaper and cheaper clothes that we buy, wear once or twice and cast away while chasing the next fashion trend. It used to be that there were 2 “seasons” in the clothing industry. Now there are 52 “mini-seasons”. The pursuit of these fashion trends is making our planet sick. The chemicals to make and dye the fabric is toxic to us and to the environment. The pursuit of this fashion is making our bodies sick as well. There are hormonal changes that are happening, not only to the people who work in the industry but also to those who were the products on their skin.

I offer some ideas for how to wean ourselves off this hamster wheel.

This is just the first in a series talking about fast fashion vs. slow fashion. I’ll be talking about the Fibershed movement too.

Click here to listen!

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No Rhinebeck Sweater update and needle round-up

I’m live every Thursday at 1pm on Facebook. I hope you’ll join me. Today I showed the update of my No Rhinebeck Sweater. I’m nearly finished with the first sleeve. I also had an epiphany about needles. And I wanted to share. I share my favorite needles, some needles I hate and a circular needle keeper.

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Back to School

As most of you know I was a public school teacher up until the end of the 2019 school year. I am feeling all the love for my dear teacher friends as schools here in Maryland open.  The public schools are starting our virtually.  That is hard. Really hard for families, teachers, administration and kids.  It is a whole different kind of school and a whole different kind of learning. So if you are a teacher or a parent of little ones, know that I’m thinking about you.  

More than January 1st, my year has always started when school started.  This started when I was a kid, new clothes, new subjects, new friends and new opportunities.  Do you feel this way too? 

What is on your list this time of year? Do you want to learn a new technique? Do you want to learn to dye? Are you willing to do some online learning? I’ve got 2 classes up and running right now and working on 2 more.  You can learn how to dye yarn. You can learn to knit socks 2 at a time.  Coming soon you can learn to dye roving to spin or use in felting and if you are a weaver, I’m also working on a warp painting class. 

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I love top down sweaters!

So many of you are following my progress on my #norhinebecksweater. I was talking about on my facebook Thursday Thrums yesterday (do you know I am live on Facebook every Thursday at 1pm?)

In case you missed it, I am making my no rhinebeck sweater from handspun lamb fleece from my Cormo/Blue Faced Leicester sheep. It’s been in the works for 3 years. I know, it’s a long time. But I’m finally making the sweater. I have the body mostly done. BUT, I was afraid that I didn’t have enough yarn. So I put the body on a cable with stoppers on it and started to work on the sleeves. And if I do run out, at least I’ll have the sleeves done and if I must use another yarn, it will only be for the ribbing. Smart, right? It took me a while to figure that one out. But I’m in progress.

So as I’m doing this, I realized that I LOVE top down sweaters! Why? Because I can try it on at every step. I can see if the body is long enough. I can see if the sleeves are decreased enough. I can do that over and over again. And when I’m finished, I KNOW it will fit and it will be exactly what I wanted to make.

How do you find one? Well I do a ravelry search. I know there’s lots of controversy about ravelry right now, but it is still the biggest repository of patterns. I search for a sweater: cardigan. I pick construction: top down. I pick the yarn I’m using: worsted. The algorithm whittles and whittles until you get a set of patterns to choose from. At that point I have 1591 patterns to choose from. I wanted steeks and colorwork so that whittled it down to only 19 choices. And I was good with that. I found 3-4 that were possibles for me.

So if you are looking to start a sweater, please consider a top-down sweater for a more pleasant experience and a more fitting and flattering sweater.

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Picking the right yarn for your next project

I just dropped Episode 7. It’s all about how to pick the right yarn for your next project. I start with some of the questions I ask myself as I’m dreaming of a new project. Don’t you love starting something new? I do! I do think it’s like dreaming. There is the entire world of garments and yarns and colors and weights to choose from. Yes, it can be overwhelming. But there are still some parameters.

In this podcast I talk about what I’ve learned about picking yarns for cables and laces. I talk about when to sure semi-solids and when to use variegated yarn. I want to help you to start a project that will be enjoyable and will meet your expectations. For instance, for both cables and lace stitches, you need to have yarn that is stretchy. You also need to have yarn that will hold its shape when it is blocked.

Are you knitting for a picky person: toddler, teenager or senior? Are you knitting something that is fitted or something like a shawl where size doesn’t really matter? You have to take these into consideration.

You can click here to listen OR you can subscribe on itunes so that you don’t miss an episode.

Have a question about yarn, shepherding or knitting? Reply here or send me an email, I’m planning a Q & A episode, but I need your questions to do that. I look forward to hearing from you.

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upping my knitting game

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I live every day during these pandemic times.  How many times do I get up and walk around the house or around the block…well our “block” is 25 acres of trees, grass, deer and rocks.How many times have I walked to the fridge or the pantry as a way to use up time or quell some anxiety or to relieve some boredom.  If that is you too, watch this great video

I’ve been thinking about being the slowest knitter in the world too.  I have to say that my stitching isn’t that slow. No, really it’s that my time over the target, at the needles, is really limited.  It’s not that I don’t have time either.  It is about building the habit of knitting every day.


This week I am combining these 2 areas of my life and working towards a healthier life.  If you have been reading lately, you know about my #norhinebecksweater. This is a handspun, colorwork, steeked cardigan.  I want it to be done by the time that Rhinebeck really would be happening. That’s the 3rd week of October.  

Iounn Sweater published in Knitty

I consistently look for snacks at 3pm….you know….an after school snack.  Geez.. how many years has that been a habit? So from 3-5pm, I will be knitting on my sweater.  This solves 2 problems. I have more time at the needles. It’s built into my day. AND I won’t be snacking, because my hands and mind are occupied. There won’t be anxiety, well only a little bit when I wonder if I have spun enough yarn for this sweater. And I will not be bored. I can not eat because my hands are busy.  It is a win-win.  I’m in my 10th day today.  I know it takes 28 days to form a habit, but I’m 40% finished with that. And I don’t suppose that this sweater will take 18 more days, but who knows, maybe it will.  If I finish this, I’ll pick up another unfinished project.  I’m feeling better already!!

What are you knitting these day? Anyone working on a No Rhinebeck Sweater? I’d love to be accountability partners if you are!!