Free at last… free at last

Have you ever come to one of those times in your life when you felt like all of the work you’d been putting out there was really starting to come back to you? Liberating, isn’t it?

Have you ever had a secret that you were monumentally excited about but hadto keep under wraps? Remember how you felt when you could finally shout it?

Well, as most of you know, ThreadBear has had us bursting at the seams for months. I’ve had almost no time to post entries, and even my new wheel isn’t nearly as broken in as I’d like it to be. Connor has gotten so used to us being gone every evening for some event or other, she positively clings to Rob (and me, but she’s definitely Rob’s baby) from the moment that we come in the door until…well, she always clings to Rob—to the point we’ve dubbed her Speed Bump. One doesn’t just turn and start walking in this place anymore. You’re apt to trip over about eighty pounds of dog.

A few weeks ago, our landlady mentioned that they had a space for rent just next door to her office here in Bloomington, Indiana. The space is smallish, but it’s about a block off of the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington. We’d be just a few blocks from Indiana University, too. The rent wasn’t high, but between what we’re already paying for rent at home and what that space would cost us, well… let’s just say the combination is prohibitive.

Rob and I talked about it that night. It sounded good, but the money was a serious issue. We sort of tabled the idea for the time being, but we came back to it several times over the next few days. Then one evening, our friend Helen called while we were discussing this. Rob answered the phone, told her what we were talking about, and discussed the whole issue with her for a while. By the time they got off the phone, Helen had given us about four-hundred-some-odd reasons for opening a shop in her hometown of Columbus, Indiana instead.

The following day, Helen and another friend call us from the car. They’re riding around Columbus jotting down the telephone numbers of every commercial space for rent in Bartholomew County. We laugh, but it’s both gratifying and exciting. Within forty-eight hours, we come up with something. Another friend and client of ours in Columbus, Cathi, has a brother, Jim, who is trying to convert a two-story early twentieth-century house from duplexed apartments back into a single-family rental unit. The neighborhood itself is on the leading edge of gentrification, and the house in on a corner lot overlooking the neighborhood. There’s a small yard, and there was already a small cigar shop that Jim and Cathi are running on the back of the property facing the side-street, so zoning shouldn’t be an issue.

We stop by, meet Cathi, Helen, Jim, and his wife (another of our novice knitters) Amy, check the place out, and discuss the kinds of things we’d all like to see done to the place if we were going to put a shop into the building. Of course, we’d supply a lot of the TLC necessary to bring the house back to life, and Jim is very amenable to opening up the house by breaking down the walls that separate the apartments. There are several other things that need to be done, but basically, we all agree to think about it, and get back in touch.

To make a long story short, we’re doing it.

We made the announcement Sunday at our Open House, and Rob is talking with Jim today. From here, we have a whole lot of packing and a whole lot of planning to do.

The house is two blocks off of Hawcreek Boulevard or IN-46/IN-7 in Columbus, Indiana, and IN-46is an exit off of I-65 going through Columbus. We’ll be about 30 minutes from Franklin, 50 minutes from Bloomington, 50 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, an hour-five from Ellettsville, an hour-fifteen from Louisville, an hour-forty-five from Cincinnati, two hours from Brazil, two hours-twenty from Dayton, three hours from Evansville, three-and-a-half hours from Olney, Illinois, five hours from Lansing, eight hours from Atlanta, ten hours from Toronto, ten-and-a-half hours from Annapolis, twelve hours from New York, twenty-three hours from Grand Junction, Colorado, and about forty-eight hours from Calgary.

Does that about cover everybody? Louise, if you want travel times from France, contact your travel agent.

Well, obviously, she needs a little love. This is the main part of the house. Jim’s having central air installed, so the window units won’t be there, and the whole house is being pressure washed to reveal the white underneath. I swore it was grey to Rob and Helen, so here’s my public apology. It’s white. It justlooks grey.

I’m very excited to have a front porch again. I’m looking forward to dragging a wheel or a loom out there, but there will have to be a rocker or two, too.

I’m brainstorming madly for what to put behind the big double windows, but something will come to me certainly. There are actually a couple of back exits, but now that Dolores is in Colorado, we shouldn’t have to worry about frisking anyone! (Just teasing! PLEASE come for a visit!! We’ll make desserts! Chocolate, even.)

Ok. That’s enough for today. I’ve got to go to fill orders. If you’ve got an order pending with us, know that I’m on it. But obviously, we’ve had some pretty hefty distractions! 😉

Much love, people!
Matt.

A little catchin’ up to do

I know. I know. If I couldn’t have gotten it posted earlier I would have. But that’s life for you.

Hi, everybody! I actually started a post ten days ago, but well… that didn’t happen. So what I’m going to do is cull my photo folder and see what’s been going on that’s taken up so much of my time.

First, I have to thank our friend Margaret for this wonderful bowl of pansies. They’re gorgeous, and they’ve just brightened up both the deck and the dining room that opens onto the deck.

This, friends and neighbors, is Targhee combed top in an acid bath prior to dyeing. It’s not terribly pretty, but it made an odd photo, so there you have it. I wound up hand-painting this sucker in a couple of shades of green, some rust, khaki, brown, and a little pop of purple.

Sound peculiar?

Well, it turned out great! That’s eight ounces, and it’s very tightly combed. Somehow, it’s still huge. I left my coffee mug on the table for perspective. I can’t wait to see it spun.

But in all fairness, that wasn’t my first try. I also painted a couple of small bumps the day before to work out the process and make sure I wasn’t going to have a big ugly mess.

Case in point: the turban of hand-painted Brown Sheep Beast that appeared on Rob’s blog sometime back. It felted horribly, and I wound up having to run it through a drum carder to get anything back out of it. All the dyeing work on it is now all mixed up, so it looks like grey. That was the first try.

The photo on top to the left is my second try. There’s not much of it, but it’s much nicer. It’s the first of the Targhee that I painted.

The second photo (and my personal favorite) is the third try and the last before I wound out an eight-ounce bump. I’m still not terribly satisfied with the saturation on the eight-ounce bump, but I like it. I know now how I’d modify the process to get fewer areas where there isn’t much color at all.

Koigu’s Charlotte’s Web Shawl has also been very popular. We’ve had several orders for them, so I started putting together pre-developed colorways so that I could show them to people when they inquire. There still needs to be several more, but I’m working on that, too.

One last thing, and I’ll go run my afternoon errands.

In my review of photos, I found this picture that Rob took of me dyeing quite some time back. It’s quite a good photograph, in my opinion, but neither the artistic merit nor the quality of the photograph itself is what grabs my attention.

Vanity, though art truly God.

Are my arms really that hairy?!?

Stasia’s questions

Just in case the TagBoard cycles through and you miss the Q&A, let me offer you a little background. Apparently, Stasia of Stasia’s Place of Grace was referred to yours truly by Kary of Kary’s Musings to check out the Rambling Rows afghan of Rachel’s that I posted last week.

Stasia mentioned several things, and Rob basically covered much of my weekend at Black Dog, so I thought I’d answer her multiple TagBoard posts in my own post today.

Stasia: Am enjoying my visit, recommended by Kary… what great pics! What a great idea to lay the RR afghan out in Photoshop first (I’m working on a BIG one now).
Matt:
Sounds awesome, Stasia. I was working on the lap-size, myself, but with everything else I’ve got going on, I haven’t had much of a chance to work on it. It did, however, inspire my friend Rachel to make one as a gift. That’s the one I blogged last week.
As for Photoshop, I use it regularly for planning colorwork. I started out in advertising and web development, so it’s second-nature to me, and I’m much faster in Photoshop than I am as a knitter. If anyone needs colorway help, I’m quick to pluck colors from our ThreadBear yarn scans or a quick color card scan and see how different colors in a particular yarn will look together. (If anyone wants a copy of the Photoshop .psd file for Rambling Rows colorways, I’m glad to share it.)
Stasia: I’ll be back! And I love the Technicolor ram!
Matt: Oh, do definitely come back, and as for the ram, thanks. He’s been a fun addition to my day.
Stasia: But MOSTLY I want to say that your handpainted sock yarn is FANTASTIC!!!
Matt: I know I make fun of Rob sometimes for being an enabler, but I’m about to have to stop. Um… How evil would it be to suggest that ThreadBear might start selling our own line of hand-painted sock yarns? We don’t have the facilities to be a major contender in the market, but it really is a huge amount of fun, and we really are knocking the idea around. Just a little FYI. 😉
Stasia: Still reading… will you donate the Fair Isle sweater bears to a local charity, perhaps? Police, maybe? (They sometimes hand them out…)
Matt: Well, that will be up to the folks who knit them, actually. I know that one woman who is making one teaches an elementary school class. The class keeps up with her knitting progress on other projects, so she discussed knitting a her Fair Isle for the classroom bear. The kids all crowded around her monitor to look at colorway options, and if I recall correctly, they got to vote on the colorway that she was going to knit. Something tells me that one will never leave her classroom.

As for others, well, the whole purpose behind this project for me is to help people learn the technique of knitting Fair Isle sweaters. To that end, I’d recommend that anyone for whom this will be there first Fair Isle hang onto the sweater to refer back to when they get stuck on larger projects down the road. Certainly, if anyone would like to donate their sweater, I’m sure I could find a good home for it via Ebenezer Project.

Oops… look at the time. I need to run, folks, but I’m always glad to answer questions!

Be well, and happy knitting!
Matt.