Hogs


Harley Davidson FXCWC Rocker C

As much as I’d like to say, yes… no, I’ve not gotten a new motorcycle. It is lovely, though, isn’t it? Brooding, yet full of the potential for noise and movement. It’s easy to see why these spectacular machines are so popular.

Realistically, though, I run a yarn shop, and the overwhelming majority of our income goes right back into the business. *evil grin* But not all.


Raleigh Passage 4.0 Hybrid… in Green

I spent the morning with this bad boy under me riding Lansing’s Riverwalk. Um… if you haven’t been on a nice bike lately, you really should consider it. I had the most wonderful ride. The wind was in my face, the morning air was cool but sunny, and the views (despite the low level of the Grand River at the moment) were spectacular. And that was nothing to how good it felt… to be out… knowing that you’re doing something pleasurable that is also very, very good for you. I’d forgotten what that endorphin buzz could do for you. I like it.

As of today, I am thirty-eight years old, and I am morbidly obese. That’s the medical term for it. I’m so overweight that it could literally kill me. No, I’m not going on a crash diet. No, I’m not having liposuction or joining a cult. What I am doing is getting things under control. ThreadBear is a big boy, anymore, and while it still needs constant supervision, it doesn’t need every moment of our time and energy. And we… I, in particular, need to spend some real time getting life back in order.

Exercise, certainly, is one of the things that I’m doing. I’m also putting a significant focus back into my teaching. I won’t be teaching every other day, but I think I can reasonably dedicate a little more time to being "in the classroom." I’m also hoping to spend a little more time in the kitchen, so keep an eye out for good recipes or places to find them. And, of course, I’ll be reading.

Most of all, though, I’m pointing my rocket toward design. I’ve had several designs in my head or in the drawing or swatching stage for too long. That’s about to end. And it will end, very specifically, with this:


Schematic for Bad Ass Baby

This is the rough schematic for a plush baby biker’s jacket… for the biker-to-be with a very understanding old lady. 😉 The pattern is forthcoming, but the yarn arrived today, and I’ll be casting on tonight for the prototype.

Now, does anyone know where to get very tiny chains?

Inspiration

I’ll have to motor through today, but I’m frantic to get a post up. We’ve got company in from Atlanta/Baltimore in our old friend Crystal B (Sister Paul, to those who know her well), and it’s been a busy week to boot.

There’s tons going on at the shop as we continue to bring in summer fibers and work on bringing in fall stock. We’ve pushed out our next Yarn Tasting since several of the yarns that we wanted in either weren’t in the States yet or needed models knit and weren’t yet in the store. Every yarn has to have at least one model for the event to make sense, and if the yarn’s still on a boat, then nothing’s on the needles yet. EEK! So that’s pushed back.

Yarn’s still pouring in, though, and we’re very excited to be working with Alchemy again. We’d tried a bit out when we were still in Indiana, but A) we didn’t have models, and B) we never reordered, so that went the way of the dodo. We had a long, wonderful conversation (if an hour or so of giggling and being generally evil with Austin and Gina constitutes a conversation), picked out tons of patterns, got offers from them to supply us with some fantastic models, and we’re back in the game. They’ve got beautiful product, and I’m really happy with what’s come in so far.

So much so, in fact, that you’re soaking in it. Yup. The swatch from my last post is Alchemy-based. What is it? Oh, silly reader. You know better than that. I’ll get there eventually. But not today.

Today, I want to talk about inspiration. As corny as it sounds, my family has been much of my inspiration lately.


Ailing Connor resting her weary head on Tate’s back.

Well, yeah, they’re my inspiration, too, but I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about Rob. When we’re together and talking and generally relaxed, I see things that just make me want to design something. Sometimes it’s an architectural thing.


Stained glass dome inside Houlihan’s Restaurant. Lansing, Michigan.

Every time we eat at Houlihan’s not far from the shop, my eye is drawn to this dome. How it’s going to show up in a knitted piece, I have no idea, but it’s in my head, and it won’t go away.


Decorator pillow from a recent visit to Pier 1.

Sometimes it’s a combination of colors or shapes that catches my eye. This decorator pillow didn’t leave Pier 1 with me, but it’s with me constantly. I can’t get the multiple tones of each color our of my head, and the sections of colors over multiple blocks is making my teeth itch. I want to translate this into fabric… badly. My own fabric, I mean. Knitted fabric!

How will it happen? Hell if I know. When will it happen? Ha! That’s funnier than the first question. The point is that it’s in the cooker. It’s rolling around, banging into the sides of the pot with steam roiling around it. Eventually, it’s going to hit something and stick. Hopefully, it won’t be cauliflower. I’m not a big fan of bland design, and cauliflower doesn’t particularly excite me.

What does excite me, though, is happening. Change. I don’t know how, but my life appears to be changing. I’d like to say I’m at the helm of this boat, but I think I might not be. But I can feel the engines. And they’re rumbling pretty hard.

And on a final note, this is me. First of all, the rest of the picture was horribly overexposed as many of my images lately have been. Why? I’m using my phone to take pictures. They suck, in my less than humble opinion, but that’s what I’ve got at the moment. We keep the good camera at the shop, but I’m looking strongly at having a nice, new camera soon. Why? Well, because I’m a raccoon, and I like new and sparkly things. But more realistically, I see wonderful things all over the place very, very frequently, and I sincerely want to share them with you. And if my camera sucks, you might not see the beauty that I do. And we simply can’t have that.

P. S. What I’m working on: updates to the website. Here’s yet another teaser:


Screenshot of new ThreadBear main page under construction.

More Magical Knitting

While I’ve got Harry Potter on the brain, I’d like to present you with a little bit of a teaser. One of my dearest knitting friends fell in love with a swatch that I was playing with and inspired me to design a women’s cardigan with a touch of her essence about it. Her name is Sheila, and I credit her and our mutual friend Judith with bringing me back into knitting full-force as an adult… and helping cement the decision to return to Lansing. Her design is Bewitching.


Swatch for Bewitching

No, that doesn’t mean that the men’s book is on hold. It means that I’m impatient, and I’m positively giddy to get a design into the hands of knitters. The men’s book is coming, and you’ll get teases of that along the way, too.

For now, though… keep an eye out specifically for this one.

POTTER!

I won’t lie about it. I’m a geek from the word “GO.” I love Sci-Fi, animation, crossword puzzles, reading, Beltane (and really, what self-respecting hedonist can’t get into Beltane?), Star Trek (Enterprise, but not DS9—yeah, I’m a geek, but there are limits), finishing, swatching, and of course, Harry Potter. “What?!?” you ask. “Harry Potter isn’t just for geeks!”

No, of course not. Harry Potter is for all of the really cool people. And if you’ve ever been called a geek, then you probably realize that geeks generally are some of the world’s coolest people. We not be the most popular. We may not even be the smoothest. But we really are cool. Think Farmer Ted, people. Cool is just cool. (Screw it, everybody knows I’m really thinking Jake Ryan, but you see what I mean, no?)

But have you taken the quiz? I have.


Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

Yeah, we’re geeked—excuse the pun—over Harry. We’ve got one of our model knitters crankin’ out the house colors hat, mittens, and scarves from the Charmed Knits book by Alison Hansel. You haven’t heard? Get with the program, people! There’s a m**f** Knit-Along! (With all apologies to Daniel Vosovic.)


The book


Baskets of yarn sporting house colors in various yarns


EEK!! Slytherin!


Other projects from the book
Images photographed from Charmed Knits by Alison Hansel

Color Me Bad

Restraint has never been my strong suit. Frankly, excess is generally more my shtick. So, is it really any surprise that with the popularity of our Manos Block of the Month group, someone would put colors in front of me that just HAD to become a 20-block throw? Yes, I know. The original concept is for one of the 12-block throws, but given that bent for excess that I mentioned, few people are ever likely to call me small (and my utmost sympathy unto those who do).

The truth of it is that someone came in looking to put together a throw of their own. She didn’t want help (no, of course, not), but she hemmed and hawed with her hands in her pockets at the wall del Manos long enough that eventually, I happened by. Now, no one gets out alive where color and I are concerned, so I immediately grabbed a basket and started throwing skeins of yarn in, auditioning colors in the basket, considering, pulling another similar shade, trying its opposite, and making a pretty fair spectacle of trying things out. That’s my passive-agressive way of telling people to actually touch the yarn… you know you want to. Pull it out—see what looks good together.

Soon enough, she had the throw that she wanted, and I had a craving for a big-ass project that I have no time to knit. Grr…


My completed basket

We laid hers out and figured out the order they needed to be in for the final throw, decided which she would start off with, picked her first couple of skeins, and off she trotted to the register.

Me, I was left deciding on my own.


My final colourway

Dammit! I just hate finding something gorgeous that I don’t have time for. This, my Fair Isle kimono (that I’m not even going to be able to wear unless I start cross-dressing… and NO one wants to see that), that hunky little guy that smiled at me this morning at the post office… It’s hell, I tell you. Hell!

*sigh*

But I’m excited. My Design from the Ground Up class meets tonight, and several of us already have our schematics done and are actually going to get to start knitting tonight. Wish me luck! And them!

A Knitting Life Examined

I’ve received numerous e-mails and in-person comments regarding my lack of upkeep on this blog. It’s all true, of course. To say I’ve been remiss in keeping Crowing Ram’s readers informed is akin to saying that Antarctica is chilly. Certainly, it’s not for lack of interest. I miss being here, and I genuinely enjoy interacting with you all.

I’ve spent much of the life of ThreadBear trading in one secret or another, though. We’ve always had something up our sleeve, and I’m the world’s worst at keeping secrets. So, I’ve just tried to keep my mouth shut entirely. It’s worked, at times, but I’ve suffered for it, and so has Crowing Ram.

By the way, T, I’m knitting with the Habu Textiles Silk Stainless Steel, too. By itself, no less. Funky stuff! WOW!

I’m going to attempt a different tack. My friend Theresa of Keyboard Biologist told me years ago on a visit to the old store in Columbus, Indiana that keeping my blog updated meant sitting down daily—or at least nearly so—and just writing what’s in my head… whatever is going on. I’ve often thought that what’s going on in my life behind the scenes at a busy yarn shop just wouldn’t be that interesting. In retrospect, I suppose that’s kind of short-sighted. I’ve been told frequently over the years that what is painfully mundane for me is of genuine interest to many of you. Finally, I stand corrected.

Here’s what’s up. My mom’s sick in Georgia, and I’m in Michigan. It sucks. I have a thriving business to run, I need to be here, and she understands and supports that—but not being there when she’s hurting… not being there for my sister while she’s doing so much… that sucks.

I’ve also got a book idea that’s absolutely awesome, and it’s gotten very little of my time over the last year. Yeah, the concept for my book was put together over a year ago. Guess how many patterns are completed and in the hands of test-knitters. If you guessed zero, you win the prize.

I have a challenging relationship with a partner that I love very much, and repeatedly, we find ourselves angry and disappointed with each other… after nine years of saying things are going to be worked on… things are going to get better.

Crowing Ram started as a means for me to connect with a set of friends from whom I was feeling deeply disconnected during those years that Rob and I spent in Bloomington, Indiana. You were my support and my confessor. Welcome back.

Today, I’d like to give you a little something to chew on. Over the last couple of weeks, there’s been a volcano brewing just beneath the surface of "me." Designs have been flashing through my mind, ideas for the business have flown, and ways of participating in life in ways I’d almost forgotten are becoming clear.

Keep an eye on the ThreadBear main site over the next week or so. There will definitely be some changes going on there. Keep an eye here for glimpses of patterns and swatches for patterns that are flying off the needles. And just keep an eye out on the horizon. Something big is brewing, and I, for one, am feeling the deep vibration of it.


Harley Davidson USA website

Or perhaps that’s just the sound of an engine… hm…