Reordering my little corner of the universe

Yes, I suppose it does sound somewhat grandiose, but by God, I’ve had it with all the detritus that has plugged up my energy lately. I need flow!

A little esoteric for you? Ok. The house is a wreck, I’m a wreck, my knitting isn’t getting done, and all of the wonderful things that I’ve been wanting to do are so far out of scope, I’m apt to get to them sometime after Nixon is re-elected, unless…

I’ve taken matters into my own hands. I started by organizing the closets in the shop. They were pits. They’re still less organized than Martha would have them, but frankly, it’s 2003, and the days of making Martha Stewart a roll-model are behind us (just don’t quote me on that). I then went through the bedroom and did at least organize a lot of the mess, put everything into new stacks, and shove the stacks unceremoniously into a seldom used closet. There still needs to be some organization in that closet, but that’s for another day.

The really big work has been in the basement. We’re supposed to be getting our wheels in within the next few weeks, and I already needed room for the looms. I started on the basement late last week, and the morning of Memorial Day, my friend Christy came over and absolutely blasted the whole room. I’d taken her down there to show her the minor progress I’d made, and when I moved a couple of things (yeah, I’m one of those people who can’t leave well enough along), she jumped right in. By noon, we had the entire room reboxed (tons of old Red Heart for charity projects and old afghan projects that never happened), the floors swept, and the desk, sofa, both looms, and the warping tower cleaned and set up. It’s still not exactly public-space cleaned, but it’s definitely workable as studio space.

So now, I’m back upstairs, and it’s time to run break-neck for the end of the month, our guild newsletter that needs to go out tomorrow, and web updates. Oh, and I suppose there’s that whole working thing, too. Thank God, I work at home and can be in the office at three in the morning without anyone questioning what I’m… Wait a minute. Did I just say, "Thank God, I… can be in the office at three in the morning?" BWA-HYEE-HYEE!! That’s freakin’ rich!! I’ve apparently lost my mind.

Anne’s Amazing Shawl
And then, friends and neighbors, there are our friends and neighbors. One of our newer friends is a wonderful woman who has pratically fallen into our lives splash. Anne contacted Rob one day quite some time ago asking for a pattern for Koigu’s Charlotte’s Web Shawl. We set one aside for her, and somehow, between that setting and her arrival, the pattern vanished. We searched everywhere for it, couldn’t find it, and having never had any other contact with the woman, we were sure that we’d absolutely lost one customer for life. And it really sucked, because she seemed really nice.

Well, she came back. Not only did she come back, but she also started making friends. She hasn’t been around for very long, but she’s become one of those people that drops into your life and makes you wonder where they’ve been all this time.

Anyway, she fit into our insane little band of wayward fiber hooches frighteningly well, and her Charlotte’s Web Shawl pattern finally did come in. Anne, if you recall, inspired me to take up needles on this project. Now, mine is languishing, and hers… well, her’s is simply amazing. Judge for yourself.

Rachel’s Ravishing Rambling Rows Afghan
Don’t you just love alliteration? Since I’m already showing off other people’s work, let me tell you about Rachel and her Rambling Rows Afghan (from the Cottage Creations pattern). If you recall, I started one of these (yes, it remains on the unfinished list) some time back. My friend Rachel saw it, and thought that it would make a nice project to give as a gift for friends of hers who were expecting a child. The dad-to-be, as a commercial artist, was painting an undersea mural all around the nursery, and they were avoiding the typical pastel decorations. So Rachel made this.

She chose five dynamite aquatic shades of Cascade Sierra (cotton-wool) and absolutely blew the barn doors off knitting this thing. Granted, it is a child-size afghan, but she did finish it in record time. One comment that she made to me during the knitting was that it was addictive; she had to knit the next panel just to see how it would look.

I understand. Mine is very different both in color and fiber (mine’s knit in Cascade 220), but needing to see just one more panel is universal. It’s a fun and relatively simple pattern.

To the right is the colorway as we laid it out in Photoshop when she was picking out her yarn.

Oh, and before I forget, the massive bowl of pansies was a gift from my wonderful friend, Margaret. She, Anne, and I are going to do some weaving together over the summer. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. Anne and I wound the warp for the fingering-weight sock yarn scarf in the most recent Handwoven over the holiday weekend for practice, and we’re already gearing up for whatever comes next.

Hmm… those wheels are coming in soon. 😉

Post-Apocalyptic Regrouping

Hallelujah!

The month’s almost over, and I’m finally starting to really regroup after our several weeks of nonstop running. I thoroughly enjoyed the Broadripple Art Fair and our recent trip to Evansville, but it’s good to be home. The chaos is slowly beginning to show the influence of order, and what was a minefield of yarn and boxes…

…is slowly becoming the shop again.

We’ve gotten in even more stock as I’ve been trying to get everything back on the shelves, so I had to run out yesterday and purchase a few more boxes of shelving units. I’ve joked repeatedly about us moving into the basement, but methinks this weekend may bring the reality. Our weekend plans were suddenly nixed, and despite my deep disappointment, I’m thinking it would be the perfect time to tackle the task of reorganizing everything that just sort of got assigned to the basement when we moved in nearly two years ago.

Basically, there are lots of things that I’ve let go for far too long. As our business has grown in the last few months since I started working from home full time, it’s been easy to put other things aside "for the sake of the business." Well, that’s a bunch of pucky. It’s time to get roaring on some stuff. The basement is a definite must; we’ve outgrown the two-and-a-half rooms dedicated entirely to ThreadBear upstairs. But I’ve also let my knitting and other fiber work languish. One of the things the basement will give me room for is to set up my loom, and coming toward the middle of June… drumroll please… Ashford is shipping our wheels! So the basement gets an overhaul, and some nearly finished projects need to get some attention, too.

So, here goes.

The last project that I actually completed was the Asymmetrical Vest from Sally Melville’s The Knit Stitch that I made for a shop model. Love the finished garment, but um… it wasn’t exactly a great technical achievement unless you consider the fact that I made it from the first printing without the errata. Let me tell you—I thought I’d lost my mind a couple of times. Given that, there’s a stack of other… more challenging projects that are about to see the finish line.

The Aslan Socks are mostly complete except that I knit the second sock too long and will now have to rip back and add the cuff. No biggie, but it’s a hurdle for me to pick it up when I know I’ve got to back up to finish it. Bleh! Again, it’s not a real technical achievement (for anyone but Wendy who designed them—AWESOME technique, Wendy), but just going back to something that I’ve got to back up on hurts. It’s an accomplishment for me.

My Philosopher’s Sweater is coming along nicely. I’m probably up to or just past the armpits, and I’m completely unconcerned with adding the steeking purls. I’d rather go back and find where the steek should go than interrupt my knitting along the way. Yeah, I’m lazy about stuff like that. Oh, and if anyone is interested, I love my Philosopher’s Sweater; I love the yarn, I love the texture, I love the knitted fabric, I love the color, and I love the technique. I completely understand that some people don’t agree, and I’m cool with that—more for me! 😉 Love you, Mar!

I did start a second pair of toe-up socks using my own hand-painted superwash. I love them. If you saw us at Broadripple Art Fair, they’re the ones I was working on while Rob worked on his new Fixation sock design. The knitting of them is pretty basic, and they’ve become my new mindless knitting, but I loved dyeing the yarn, and it’s been wonderful to see the yarn take on a life of it’s own in these socks.

The High Helen Sweater is all but complete. The body is knit, and the sleeves are knit… mostly. I don’t want to finish the sleeves, though, until I figure out how long they need to be. Then, while we were in Evansville, Rob made the comment that I was afraid to steek the armholes. “Preposterous!” I said. But now, the kernel of doubt is there. GRR!! I’m thinking it might be best, now, if I complete the new Fair Isle teddy sweater that I’m designing and steek it with the group before I finish up High Helen.

That brings us to the teddy sweater. The whole purpose is to knit a Fair Isle to fit a teddy bear so that you learn all of the techniques of making Fair Isle sweaters in a smaller, quicker, and hopefully somewhat less stressful project. We were asked recently to work out colorways for a pattern that was presented to us from another online source. Turns out, permission to use that pattern was never requested from the author, and we were asked to cease and desist our involvement in that project. We did, so now, I need to develop a set of patterns of my own that will be freely available from ThreadBear. We’ll post the patterns (vest, pullover, and cardi) at ThreadBear, and anyone interested in joining a knit-along for the project is welcome to contact me. Also, just so that everyone is satisfied that the pattern is my own, I’ll post the details of each step I take to complete the design here in a very public forum. Of course, ThreadBear will sell kits for the colorways that I develop, but you’re more than welcome to purchase your yarn anywhere or use whatever scraps you have available. This is intended to be a fun and educational project. Anything that detracts from that is useless; throw it away.

So, here are a few of the first sketches of motifs that I’ve come up with. Nothing fancy, but I’m sure your bear won’t mind. Be well, and look for more progress soon.

Much love, folks.
Matt.

The Once and Future Blogger

Whew! I’m back!

Howdy, folks. How’s everybody been?

I’m doing all right despite a little freak back pain, but otherwise, I think everything’s getting back to normal… well… Ok. Not really. Let’s just say that normal has been redefined.

First, let me tell you that our volume of sales at ThreadBear is through the roof. You guys are great. So if I disappear for a day or fourteen at a time, please know that I’m still here and that I still love you all very much… and that I’m buried with orders and events and dyeing and getting stock on the shelves and knitting and rearranging furniture and spinning and driving all over God’s creation and weaving and putting orders together and shipping out orders and actually being a web developer occasionally and being our local guild coordinator and cleaning house for functions at the apartment and oh, fiddlesticks. You get the point.

Here’s the deal, though. In case you didn’t notice there actually are some fiber-related projects going on in there. I’m pulling my WIP list today to revamp that sucker. It’s woefully out-of-date. I’ve started a new pair of Toe-Up Socks in my own hand-painted sport weight superwash. I’m still doing a bit of spinning on my drop spindle using Brown Sheep’s Beast roving, but mainly I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of our wheels!! I’m so excited. I recently started a Koigu Charlotte’s Web Shawl (as seen in the skeins previously), and that’s coming along slowly but surely.

But possibly most importantly, I’ve come to a point where I’m absolutely dedicated to clearing out some nearly finished projects. Those include but are probably not limited to: The High Helen Sweater, The Aslan Socks, and The Fair Isle Embellished Christmas Stocking.

Tonight, we’re off to Columbus, Indiana for their Knit Night. If anyone is in the vicinity, please join us. We’re at the Eastside Community Center. If you need driving instructions, call or e-mail. I’m at 812-360-7016 and matt@threadbearfiberarts.com respectively.

Be well, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Broadripple, Colorways, and Koigu! Oh, my!

You know, it may actually have been a sound theory, but it’s been H-E-double-hockey-sticks putting it into practice. In my last post, I vowed to post three times a week come Hell or high water, and that was a week ago yesterday. Can you spell wishful thinking? I thought you could.

This time of year is especially busy for us. Rob and I participate—or rather ThreadBear participates—in the annual Broadripple Arts Fair in Indianapolis on Mother’s Day weekend, and this year, Rob’s been making felted goods for months in preparation. I, as the finisher of said goods, have been unfortunately slack while I’ve been working on other things. (By the way, if you’re in Indy this weekend, stop by and see us in the Basile Gallery Gift Shop booth.)

Those of you with faint hearts, look away. Mother’s Day Weekend is now four days away.

Oh, yes, I’ve started work on the bags, hats, and clogs that need to be brushed, fluffed, shaved, sorted, tagged, priced, and packed up for shipping, but there’s still plenty to do. On top of that, though, we have functions four of the five nights this week, Koigu that came in week before last still hasn’t been updated online, Noro came in yesterday that needs to go up, Cascade’s coming in today, and we’ve got both BairIsle and Market Bag colorways for upcoming knit-alongs and classes that haven’t been posted yet.

I’m going to be a very sleepy boy come Monday.

You know what, though? I couldn’t ask for a better life. I hope you all know how absolutely incredible it has been working with so many of you on projects, color, yarn selection, wheel orders, etc. I don’t know about other businesses, but we’ve got the most amazingly wonderful clientele. Everyone is so creative, and it truly delights me to see new messages pop up in my Inbox.

Well, except right now. Right now, I’m feeling painfully guilty for not having all of these colorways out. So, I’ll cut this short. If you’re waiting on something, know that I’m on it. If you need a time estimate, drop me a line. I’m trying to clear my calendar of client jobs by the end of the week. It may not happen, but know that I’m going to be busting hump to try.

Have a great day, folks.
Matt.