Final Awamaki Update for 2013

Wow! December flew by with tons of Christmas knitting, spinning, and creative work. My etsy shop was buzzing with lots of custom requests, so first..the update for giving to Awamaki. After I took out supply costs, this months giving landed at $242!! Total that with November and the year will close out with $354 going to support an amazing organization. Here’s the “Thank You” video they made for their donors this year. Take a look and you will see why I love this organization so much: Awamaki Thank You Video

More soon, but here’s a few pix of my recent productivity.

Rustic Swirl Yarn:

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Funky Handsun Hat for my daughter:

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And a peaceful spinning morning for me:

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Spin On!

Thank You!

It’s the early dawn of Thanksgiving on the west coast, and I’m quietly having coffee and reflecting on all abundance of things I have to be thankful for in my life. I’m so grateful for my family, the fact that my mom is still with us despite her battle with two kinds of cancer. We’re all gathered at a house on the beach, and I just feel overwhelmed with gratitude–and it doesn’t take a holiday for me to feel like that, but that does give me a reason to write about it.

But, I am also so grateful for all of you who read this blog. You are all around the world, from the US, to Canada, to Saudi Arabia, to Africa, to the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand…it’s crazy awesome!! You encourage and motivate me. I learn from you when I read your blogs. This spirit of companionship connected through art has changed me this year. You’ve given me the courage to start my etsy shop AND make it not-for-profit, which is a dream I had years ago–to celebrate art and use that passion to give back. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s GOOD crazy, and you are all a part of it.

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You are people who see handspun yarn like this with (pearly beads) and think of possibilities. Who stop by to comment on color or technique and give me ideas as to what to make with it. You inspire me with your own pictures/stories and how you spin, knit, or weave your life moments into your art.

So, thank you. From the depths of my creative heart, I appreciate you all! May your sunsets be as amazing as this one…Spin on!

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Priorities…what are your top five?

20131022-162233.jpgSometimes life can get crazy. Not just out of balance, but cuh-razy. Seems like everything hits at once. When I have those compact moments (like the past few weeks), I like to pull it all back and think through what matters the most, and then my craziness slows down.

For me, it looks like this:
1. Faith. I can’t imagine life without it, and starting my day with quiet time and prayer grounds me.
2. Family. Moments with family and friends are the things that make life real. And joyful. And sad. But oh, so….real.
3. Exercise. If I don’t take care of myself, how can I enjoy the rest of what life has to offer?
4. Art. For me, that’s knitting, spinning, weaving, creating. I come alive..or get introspective. Both are great.
5. Work. Yes..in my top five. But, it’s the last on the list, and that makes me happy. For years, it would have been #1 or 2.

Here’s the deal. Last weekend, my mom came to visit. She’s ill. Two kinds of cancer, and the liver one is untreatable. So I love the moments I get with her. We went to the beach and she took pix of the knitwear that’s on my etsy site.

We. Had. A. Blast. We laughed at the really bad pix, at the cold, and enjoyed the fall leaves. I’m no model, and she’s not a photographer. But somehow..it all came out good.

I’ll leave you with a few moments of fun…and I am off to my wheel.
Spin on!!

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I love flying..

20131004-084149.jpgAirport knitting rocks. I always get there to the airport early, get my coffee, and have a travel project cued up. Knitting with a paper pattern means I can knit during take off, taxiing, etc., and I honestly don’t care how long it takes.
I’m not a chatty flier, so I tend to put earphones in even if there’s no music 🙂 because I like being in my own space. But I have had two knitting and flying stories worth repeating.
The first was hilarious. I was knitting a shrug with some handspun I had made that had about 20% angora in it. The guy next to me started sneezing, but I didn’t put two and two together until he opened the window shade and the sunlight streamed across my lap. I was sitting in a cloud of angora fluff that was floating around me as I knit peacefully away! I did apologize..but wow. How do you recover from that???
The second was a sweet story. The woman next to me was also quiet, but at the end of the flight, she asked what I was making. We chatted for a few, and then she got teary and said “My mother used to knit like that, and watching you brought up such good memories of her.” It warmed my heart to see her smile like that.
So, you never know the blessing you can be passing on..even when you don’t mean to!
Spin (and knit) on!

Celebrate Life & Dare to Dream!

yarnTime to share a dream.  On the eve of my 45th birthday (halfway to 90!!), I am stepping out to do something that started as an idea almost 10 years ago.  I had just started spinning, and I knew down to my core that this was a form of art for me.  I would dream patterns, yarn colors and styles, and I taught myself how to weave, knit and clean/card my own wool so that I could create things that are as close to locally sourced as possible.

All the while, I was wondering that the true value of this is.  Yes, it brings me joy, and Yes, I love to give people things I have made.  But was there more?  I started reading about alpaca farmers in Peru, and local artisans around the world and I suddenly felt incredibly blessed to be able to create for the sake of art while others do this to survive.  So, I had this idea…

What if I created a business model that meant I would make what I wanted, sell it for the value it was worth as a handmade item, recover the costs for my supplies..and give the rest of the $$ to an organization that was helping other people around the world?  Honestly, my friends thought I was nuts…but I couldn’t shake the idea.  A few years later, I ran across Awamaki, an amazing cooperative for women in Peru that was started by an awesome woman who lives in the Seattle area.  The dots started to connect, but between work and family things, the time wasn’t right for me to dig in.

scarfI’ve decided the time is more than right, right now.  My new SeattleSpinner Etsy Shop opened tonight.  I’ll keep adding to it to my heart’s content, knowing that what I am making will serve two awesome purposes.  People can buy handmade items that also support local U.S. farms and know that the proceeds will go to benefit women in Peru.

So, that’s my birthday present to myself.  Dare to dream…and even more…dare to do it.

Spin on!

Knitting and Yoga

What do knitting and yoga have in common besides tying oneself in a knot? Funny, I had that question and wondered if it was a unique thought (ha). I did a quick google search and found an interesting series of pages. What really fascinated me was that much of the conversation is about the relaxing and meditative quality of both…yet was drew me to the search is the physical biomechanics of knitting and spinning and how GOOD I feel when I counter those positions with yoga.

We do a lot of rounded-shoulder sitting both while knitting and spinning, and I’ve recently found myself trying to bring my upper body into a seated tadasana pose (basically better, more intentional posture) and it’s really helped me feel more comfortable at the wheel. Or..at the beach while knitting, which as you know, I tend to do quite a bit.

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I think it’s really important that we counterbalance these long seated postures with a little grace and spinal stretches. To me, it feel like the best of both worlds. One of my favorite sources for very good quality audio yoga classes is Yoga Download. (This is my own personal recommendation–no bennies to me for giving them a shout out.) But here’s the deal. They have tons of free 20 minute classes that are just perfect for a quick loosener or stretch. The paid classes are longer, but I have done both and find them to be very high quality.

So, Hubs and I are off for another backpacking adventure this weekend. A few nights in the middle of the mountains at an alpine lake with no reception (eek). Lots of hiking, fishing, reading, knitting, and yoga (also feels really great after a night of sleeping on the ground) in my future. I hope to come back with some great pics and maybe a project update!

Have a great weekend everyone and spin on!!

Fiber Friday and Real Life

Last week, I left you all with a happy post that started with the pic on top and made its way to the pic on the bottom.

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Which then became this:

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But in between, there was this:

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And this:

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Followed by this:

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My sweet daughter, who is 24, was driving her motor scooter and was hit by a car who backed out too fast. Her right knee was shattered and she went in for emergency surgery.
Things happen in life that we can’t predict. I’m so grateful that her injuries weren’t worse. That her love of snowboarding caused her to instinctively tuck and roll when she was flying off of the bike. Her head, neck and spine are fine, as is her attitude, despite the fact that she won’t walk on her leg for three months.
Today is her birthday. Mostly, I am grateful beyond words that she is here to celebrate it and continue to grow into the amazing woman she is only now discovering that she is.
Spin on, and hold your loved ones close..

Work~Life Balance

Sometimes we have to step out of the fast lane and just make things for fun..as was the case with my latest adventure.

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My favorite parts about this project..

1. It was organic. In that, I mean I just moved with the flow and let it develop naturally at each stage. I wanted to dye the fleece I had washed and blend it on the carder. The picture above is grey wool, dyed in equal parts of purple, red, blue, and pink. It matches the flowers beautifully.

2. I didn’t follow a pattern, I just made what I needed for my alpine camping trip. Hat and mitts.

3. I love projects that fit within 4 ounces of fiber for quick fixes.

4. It’s so “me.”

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So the question is…where to go next? Spin on!

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Home sweet home..

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Spinning in public in the town of Looe..awesome memory.
But wow. Jet lag + work + travel for work = really interfering with my blogging! I still have so much knitting and fiber stuff to write about from this trip. But after the cleaver situation this week, I am glad not to be in London. My condolences to my new British blogging friends..what a difficult thing to process.

I loved my trip and time in the UK. The English countryside really is magnificent, and I loved walking through the streets of London. I found this amazing book when I was in Polperro that had local guernsey designs, and that is part of my inspiration for a new knitting project.

We also flew through Iceland and has a short amount of time in the airport to wander through the shop that sold sweaters knit from Icelandic wool. Again..I fell in love with local design.

So with all that on my mind, I couldn’t decide where to start, but I wanted to be knitting, so I started knitting a shawl pattern from one of my favorite indie designers, Lee Meredith. She has a great eye for creativity and patterns that have very clever construction. I am cranking away at this with my grey handspun until I can decide what sweater to begin. I got such great advice from all of you and I am totally in for “fleece to sweater!”

But now..four ounces of peaceful spinning when I got home last weekend.

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From Cornwall to Devon (and a wooly story)

Wow. Hard to believe we are done with our costal walk. We started at Falmouth and ended last night at Plymouth. To be truthful, we didn’t walk the entire 80 miles…after the first two days of 14 & 16 miles, and arriving at our destinations so tired that we couldn’t walk around, we decided to walk a little over half the course each day and then take a bus. Of course, there was the day with the gale force winds..we opted out of that afternoon because 60 mph winds while cliff walking is a tad scary!!

The walking is amazing and the towns were spectacular. I love the English countryside. Love. This is one of my favorite stops.. Polperro. We had a house right on the bridge at the end of the quay, where the river flows underneath. So lovely. And, I discovered a knitting book with Cornish stitch patterns that I will talk about in my next post.

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But now for the wool story. I’m not gonna lie..I was so excited to see fields and fields of sheep when we were on the train from London to Falmouth. At that stage, I think I saw more sheep than people. However, I didn’t really think we would see them on the hike…too close to the cliffs and all, right?

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Wrong. On the very first day, we went through a gate that said “stock grazing,” and I figured it would be cows. I looked over the hilltop and thought I saw something moving, so I called out “sheep!” to my hubs. Right when I said that three heads popped up like ET and stared at us…from that point over we were walking through fields of sheep, which was glorious.

And then the crazy coolness started. It’s great to look at them and appreciate the beautiful coats, etc…but really, I wanted wool to spin. Not like that’s going to happen, right? Well, apparently there’s been some sheering in this area recently, and when we rounded the corner, chunks of wool were floating around. Real chunks, clean with locks, etc. It was crazy!! I wasn’t going to gather any at first, but then thought that even if I get a little, it’s a cool souvenir, right? Wool from Cornwall? Yeah!

Well, for the next few days, each time we entered a farm, there was wool floating around..to the point where I was getting very picky about what I picked up. Hubs was even getting into it and one time scaled a fence to get the perfect piece!! Now it’s dirty, mind you..but soft and long! I ended up with a half gallon ziplock bag that is crammed full, and I can’t wait to take it hope and wash it. It won’t be anything huge or stellar, but maybe a his/her hat with a local stitch pattern? I’ll have to be careful on the return trip through customs…”no, I haven’t been on any farms…”

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Yep. I wool gathered along the coastal cliffs of Cornwall. Awesome!! And now we are off to Portsmouth to see friends and then finishing next week in London! Best. Vacation. Ever.

Spin on!

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