Category Archives: Dogs

But what about Matt?

Ok, ok. So what am I doing now?

Well, I’m currently officially unemployed, but as a dear friend and fellow entrepreneur commented to me recently, entrepreneurs are never unemployed. Thankfully, I’ve found that to be true.

I’m working on a major “saw-sharpening” project that will hopefully pay off in a marketable skill in the near future, and as it comes along, I’ll be excited to share it with you. Yes, it’s knitting-related, and yes, it’s a logical fit. But I’m a beginner, and I—like the vast majority of the people I’ve worked with over the years—don’t care to share my fumbling first steps with the world. Yet. At some point if I’m very, very lucky, it will be something I can share entirely, and oh, that would be fun for a whole huge lot of people. But I’ll stop teasing.

Something I am at liberty to share is a by-product of recently downsizing to more affordable accommodations. I’ve had to unpack, resort, and reevaluate all of my stash and unfinished projects.

Now, if you’re the kind of knitter that I was prior to opening a yarn shop, you probably have at least a room dedicated to your stash and projects. You’ve likely got stitch markers in every upholstered piece of furniture in your home and possibly some in your pet’s bed. It happens. You have a kit that’s literally within an arm’s length at least most of the day every day. Now imagine that same person had access to one of the largest inventories of independent-market yarns in the country for a few years.

When you’ve regained consciousness after the aneurism that thought caused, let’s just say that I was conservative. My collection was limited largely to yarns that I truly loved and were one-of-a-kind opportunities (frequently as products were being discontinued) and projects that I either taught as a class or had planned for either classes or my own patterns. Luckily for me, I suppose, I’m also notoriously non-project-monogamous, so I have a lot of projects on the needles. Some will most assuredly be finished, and some most assuredly will never be. But that also means I have yet more yarn to incorporate into stash.

In the coming days, I’ll share some of the treasures that I’ve unearthed and that I’m going to be using in projects moving forward. But since I haven’t yet gotten much of anything in enough semblance of order to want flash photography involved, I’ll just offer yet another tease.

For one thing, any visitors to my home in the last year or so would know about the three-and-a-half foot tall Collins glass of various shades of Koigu KPPPM that I kept at the corner of the kitchen and living room. I’m a collector. What can I say? I love that yarn, and I absolutely love their dyeing. I’ve been an addict for years, and I expect there are quite a few folks out there still sporting Charlotte’s Web Shawls for which I put together colorways in the early days of ThreadBear. My God, we must have been shipping those things a dozen a day at the height of the craze if not more. I definitely recall many afternoons standing in the post office with tub upon tub of small double-fist-sized envelopes going to every corner of the globe (except Antarctica—I suppose if you haven’t knit it before you get there, you’re kind of screwed).

There’s a similarly tall blown glass vase full of various shades of Mission Falls 1824 Wool. I’ve always loved that original Mags Kandis palette, and of course, this is old enough product to have seen her tenure. In any case, I’ve got a project in mind for that whole vase, and it’s going to be amazing.

There’s a bag of multiple shades of Jamieson’s Spindrift and Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply Jumper Weight in appropriate shades for an old Alice Starmore Fair Isle pattern that I’ve wanted to knit since before the shop ever got rolling. I’ve got the pattern around here somewhere, but that will also have to be unearthed.

I’ve got sweater quantities of Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool (my favorite all-purpose worsted-weight wool on the U. S. market until it no longer was), Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino and Alpaca Silk, Classic Elite Bazic, and even a fine-gauge red cashmere that I’m still deciding on a final use for. I’ve blown the dust off The High Helen Sweater, my decadent and damned-near-unearthly Pyramid Sweater, and my Colour-Your-Own Philosopher’s Wool sweater.

And sock yarn? Sweet Jesus, I’ve got sock yarn. It doesn’t hurt that I worked as a sales rep for some of the fastest-selling sock yarns (at the time) in the country for several years, but I already had an extensive collection. And that doesn’t even count the Koigu, and yes, if you want a truly luxurious experience, make yourself a pair of Koigu socks. No, they don’t have an iota of nylon in them, and they’ll wear through like butter if you stomp around in them. But they’re like sex on your feet while you’re sitting on the sofa or really getting dressed. Seriously.

But enough for now. I’ll have the camera up and running before much longer. And I’ll have to toss in some gratuitously cute dog pics for those of you who know my penchant. I may have lost my own beloved mutt, but my roommate is the proud papa of four—count ‘em, four—adult Chihuahuas.  Life is never boring.

Matt, Mom, Dogs and more

Thanks to everyone who’s touched base to see how things are going in Georgia. I’m fine and am currently looking for work.

My mom’s chemo continues, but the first drug showed little success, so they switched her to a more aggressive drug a couple of weeks ago. She’ll likely lose her hair over the next week or so, but after multiple recurrences when she didn’t lose her hair, she’s okay with it now. We’ve been wig, hat, and scarf shopping, and she’s having fun with it as much as she can. All in all, Mary remains herself. She’s grateful for what she has and hopeful for the future.

As for the dogs, I boarded them with a friend outside town while I’m been at my mom’s. They had cats, chickens, and another dog to play with and were quite comfortable. Tate remains happy and healthy, but I’m afraid that Busby got out a few weeks ago and followed his nose into the night. I’ve put out flyers, notices, and everything, but I’ve heard nothing for nearly a month, now. He is chipped, so there is still hope, but I’ve almost resigned myself to the idea that he’s found a new home with someone who will love and care for him… almost. I know myself well enough to know that I’ll continue to look, call, and check in with places that might have word of him, but out in the country where he was, it’s likely that someone would simply have taken him in without much of a thought. As we all know, he’s a sweet, sweet dog.

And on…

There’s a proverbial “ancient Chinese curse” whose age and place of origin I cannot verify. It’s a wish that one live in interesting times. These are they.

Leaving my job and relationship was difficult, and certainly not having an income is scary as hell. That’s not to oddest part, though. What’s truly interesting is my own lack of… well, direction. Obviously, I’m sending out resumes and filling out applications. I’m also working to develop the contacts I would need to start my own web design and development business. I’m also brushing up on a lot of the technical skills that I’ve let atrophy a bit while working in a retail environment.

I even attended the Michigan Works Job Fair yesterday at Lansing Center. I had to scramble a bit because I’ve worn business casual or just plain casual for most of the last eight years, and as incredible as it must seem, I’ve put on a pound or two since I last purchased business attire. I got my hair cut, took out my earrings, got—in the lexicon of my youth—purty, and headed to town. I did make a few wonderful contacts, and I’m genuinely excited about the prospects of a couple.

That said, there was an awful lot of recruitment for positions for which I simply have too many teeth. If you’re a meth head and are reading my blog, when you’re going for a job interview, you should really consider soap. Your Sunday jeans might also be a good idea. And if at all possible, delouse. Oh, and stop reading my blog. Ew.

What’s blowing me away, though, is how much time there is in a day. What on earth are you supposed to do with it all? I mean… I’m using it to try to find a job, of course, but after all of the running around and spending hours on Monster and Career Builder and Dice and Thingamajob and every business’ website who, when I visited them in person, said, “you should visit our website,” I’m left to walk the dogs, fix myself some lunch, and figure out which other thousand sites to visit that afternoon. Seriously.

Fortunately, I really am in good spirits. It’s been sunny, and there’s been considerable promise—at least from retail businesses—in terms of looking for Christmas help in the next few weeks. I’m also amazed at the number of jobs for which I actually am qualified. I haven’t gotten any callbacks, yet, but I’m hopeful.

Knitting? Now that’s another story. I’ve not knit a stitch in weeks. I have had several ideas, though, so once I am again gainfully employed, I’ll be very happy to get my fingers dirty with a little design work. In the meantime, the pups are good, Rob and I are figuring out how we intend to cohabit, and I’m actually feeling very purposeful. Interesting, no?

Saturday Morning Fever

I rolled out of bed at 9:38am.  On a Saturday morning, I got out of bed at twenty-to-ten.  You don’t have to get how nice that was, but I do, and it was glorious.  Busby was still snoring in his crate at the head of my bed, and Tate was curled into his accustomed little fox roll at my knees.  I rolled over, powered up the Blackberry, and scrolled through several good tidings after last night’s posts.  Thank you to everyone.  I sincerely appreciate your concern and fond wishes.

As for today, though, I’ve just watched the morning fog lift off the river.  I’ve had my shower and powered up the laptop to wish the world a good morning.  I’ll be heading downstairs to mow the lawn shortly, but I don’t hear much activity up the block so I’m hesitant to rev up the mower.  For now, I’m enjoying the view over the river and Riverwalk and into the park across the way… the view that sold me on this house to begin with.  It’s been my little corner of pastoral life in the middle of central Lansing.  There’s a blue heron wading in the shallows, and I hear the ducks bickering from time to time.  The trees across the water are just starting to show the first signs of changing leaves, and I likely won’t be here to see them in their full autumnal finery.  I have, however, gotten a lead on a potential replacement.

I’m heading downstairs to let the dogs out, put on coffee, and start breakfast.  As I mentioned last night, I’ve got my heart set on a nice, fat omelet and crisp, buttery toast.

There’s a kayaker on the river, now.  Good day for it.  Better days are coming.

Starting fresh

It’s true that I’m no longer affiliated with ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio. There is loss involved. I suspect that it will take a while to work through that loss, but I’m well, the dogs are well, and we’re all moving on.

Beyond that, I’m in the first hour of my first real Saturday off in what seems like forever. I just got back in from a little light grocery shopping, and I’ve got onions, mushrooms, and ham for an omelet and a nice whole wheat bread for toast. I plan on mowing the lawn, cleaning house a bit, folding some laundry, and maybe even getting a little knitting done. I also have several videos that are due tomorrow that I’ve yet to watch, and I expect I’ll run those while I’m folding and knitting.

Sound boring? Then you’ve obviously never worked years on end of six day workweeks that always… always included both Saturday and Sunday. It’s amazing what you can look forward to when you’ve lived without it for a while.

So, I’ve acquired a little bit of my life back. I’m also unemployed with two dogs to feed, and sometime soon, I get to move. It’s not an ideal situation, but I am excited. I’ve always been a fan of change, and this change, while bittersweet, is for the best.

Stay tuned for updates regarding food and cooking, my knitting (of course), the dogs, the move, and the hunt for an employed October. Light a candle, say a prayer, and come back to see me soon.

What’s up

My mom’s had another cancer issue. It is being resolved as quickly and as effectively as medical science allows, but it’s still a pisser. She’s tough, my sweet Southern Moma, but I worry about her. And I try not to get her involved with drama here. That winds up meaning calling less, though, and she’ll string me up by the short hairs if I call her any less. Like I said, my sweet Southern Moma can be tough. So we stay in touch.

I haven’t given her the good news, though. I think we have a very strong candidate for the new great grandbaby’s knitting project. Kathy came up with it, and I think it’s great. Unfortunately, it’s at the shop, and I’m at home. So, that will have to be revisited.

For today, though, I’m home at the dining room table with Busby baking into the carpet at the screen out to the deck. There’s light traffic on Oakland, and the mowers have been out in the park across the river. A young woman’s walking a chocolate lab up the Riverwalk path, and a jogger in State shorts coming the other way has slowed to a walk with his jersey over his head catching his breath.

I’m forty, now. We had a party and everything. I was delighted by the black balloons particularly once I realized that I was still nearly if not the youngest person in the room. Since, I’ve had a stomach virus, picked up a taste for Gatorade G2 Strawberry-Kiwi, picked up smoking again briefly (don’t comment… my mother’s already been all over it), and am now still kind of trying to put a diet back together. Not a Diet, mind you, but a diet. A food plan. A sustenance plan with room for delight.

I like food, and I miss cooking. I just recently uncovered a copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I’m hoping for great things, but a decent meal every once in a while would be satisfactory. In the meantime, I’m glad it’s summer. Produce looks fantastic at the local shops. Even my favorite Asian market appears to have some fresh seasonal offerings. I haven’t a clue what several of them are, but maybe I’ll get a chance to find out. Maybe not.

I’ve been working on getting a new ThreadBear website up and running over the last several months, and we’re hoping to get that open to the public soon. Of course, given the time of year, we’ve been meeting with sales reps from various yarn, pattern, and accessory companies in anticipation of the fall season and the TNNA Market in June. That’s always entertaining. I’m sure this year won’t disappoint. I’m most intrigued by the idea of getting to see what’s new coming down the pike. That’s this show for most yarn shop owners. There’s a fashion show the night before the Market opens, and vendors from all over show you when they’ve got. It’s very cool… and very tempting. We try to shop there primarily for chocolate jimmies to put on top of what we’ve already ordered with sales reps. It’s easier to browse if we’re not pressed for getting our fall orders in, and it’s helped us find some of the more interesting products that have graced the shelves at ThreadBear. Personally, I can’t wait.

For today, though, I’m going to finish up K1CToo and Rowan and see what else remains to get online at the new site.

Wait. What August?

Yeah, as a matter of fact, I did miss the entire month of August. Yup, I even missed most of September. But guess what. I got to go see my mom. That made a whole lot of issues seem not quite so important. Love you, Moma!

I’m back at ThreadBear, now, though, and we’ve been through a series of classes with Modeknit star, Annie Modesitt, a blowout summer clearance, a phenomenal Yarn Tasting, and a whole heaping pile of catch-up. No, not ketchup. Catch-up. As in dragging my ass out of the fire back into the frying pan for a change. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like I’ve had my head up ass for the last several months, and I feel like I’m just starting to get that crick out of my neck, when low and behold, the weather’s starting to cool off. That means our season’s a-comin’, folks. We’re wool people. And it’s looking like a seriously major season on the horizon.

I’m just now catching up on getting classes scheduled and published. Rob, Sabrina, our independent instructors, and I are being joined this season by staff Malabrigo monster, Suann, and our friend and regular face (and laugh) about the shop, Jean, for a few interesting offerings of their own. Amy Singer of Knitty and Jillian Moreno of Acme Knitting Company (co-authors of Big Girl Knits) are rolling in come late November for a series of weekend classes, and we’re gearing up for a blow-out weekend. It’s never a dull time with those two around, and this time, we’re doing pajama parties on the river all weekend. Lord, Old Town won’t know what hit 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.

For now, though, I’m back to work to get yet more on the calendar that’s already been scheduled. Like I said: catch-up. But there are lots of site updates and other such projects looming. And today, we finally replaced the trusty Sony Mavica that has been our stock and trade for the last six years at ThreadBear. It was a workhorse, but I’m very happy with the quality of the images we’re turning out with the new camera. I’ll leave you with a few samples shot in the shop this afternoon.


Shop shot… click for enlargement


another


another


Her highness, Connor. Our own dowager queen.


And his highness, Tate. The beautiful but oft daft prince.

See you soon.

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.