Category Archives: Inspiration

Something New

I have never used lace weight before. For some reason I just never really thought about giving it a second thought. But when I was at Juniper Moon Farm for shepherding camp, there was a great big bowl of their new yarn line in the living room, and I could not put the Findley lace weight yarn down. Inspired thus, I came home and procured myself two skeins of merino lace yarn. (Pictured above. Dyed myself, of course, is my favorite wintery plum color.)

My plan is to someday, make this sweater. Because I am nothing if not ambitious. No lace bookmarks or skinny little scarves for me. Give me all or give me nothing, apparently.

Have you done anything with lace?



Just in time for the holiday season, I am kicking off a new line of tops for spinning. Most folks dye their spinning fibers in about 100g or 3.5-4oz batches, myself included. While this is really great for small project like what I shared yesterday, I understand that sometimes 4 oz just isn’t enough.

That’s why I will introduce a new complementary set of hand painted tops every month. The two braids will make up at least 8 oz worth of fiber for spinning or felting, and while they are different colorways, they will be close enough that when used together, they will complement each other very well. The two braids will be listed separately, and can be purchased individually or together. However, if only one of the braids is sold, I will not be able to duplicate the colorway exactly, so I would get them both while you can!

November/December Complementary Hand Painted Top:

4 oz Falkland Top Hand Painted in December

5.3 oz Falkland Top Hand Painted in Winter Solstice

Happy Making!

F. O.

I have a small parade of Finished Object to share. I finished them off over the weekend and should probably get myself back to work.

First up, I spun some merino which I hand painted and then navajo-plied. (Not bad for my first try if I do say so myself).

Became Athrun’s open fingered gloves for this year.

Once they were finished, I couldn’t get him to take them off.

Then I made a matching hat.

Which I had to frog three times due to twisted stitches and gauge issues.

It worked out in the end though. I absolutely love the fabric of this hat. I might do nothing but navajo-ply in the future to get this same texture in all of my hand spun. It is luscious.

Also, Athrun wanted a really big pom-pom

Behold! My very first pom-pom.

I also finally finished Brock’s Cobblestone Pullover. The photos kind of speak for themselves.

Picking Up New Skills with Pretty Things

When I first got bitten by the spinning bug, I ordered a drop spindle and some generic fiber off etsy and just kind of went at it. I mean, I had read a spinning book, and watched a few youtube videos, as you do, and then tried it myself. It was horrible. I had no idea how to draft, let along pre-draft, so I was spinning giant slubs of awful pink yarn. It only took me a few days before I was done working with the spindle and off to the Yarn Barn’s website to sign up for wheel spinning classes.

Fast Forward a year and some months and we have the 2nd annual Topeka Fiber Arts Bazaar. As one of the founding members of the brand new Potwin Fiber Artisans, I was there all weekend. I even had a table, see:

While I was there, I was admiring the lovely fiber over at Lori’s booth from Blushing Ewe. Go check out what she has up in her etsy shop. I can wait.


Gorgeous right?

What got me was some amazing hand-pulled roving that was spectacularly sparkly.

And with drop spindles sitting right there, what was I to do?

I picked it up and tried again. Obviously, it has been working for me much better than it did before. Part of that is because I understand the basic principals of spinning after wheel spinning for over a year. The class I took helped a lot, and I was able to apply that information to the mechanics of drop spindling. A big part of it was that I was in a supportive environment, surrounded by enablers friends who made me feel confident in my abilities. That my tools were pretty was kind of just a bonus.

Of course, now I am addicted to the hand-pulled roving, and want to work with more, more, more. Which means I probably need to figure out how to make it myself. Being newly unemployed there is no way I can justify spending money on hackle or a drum carder, so I am going to make my own hackle as soon as I can get into my dad’s garage and borrow his drill.

I am really excited to be a part of the Potwin Fiber Artisans. One of our first classes is an introduction to the drop spindle. The other is beginning knitting, taught by yours truly. I can’t wait to start teaching. Are there any fiber arts classes you would like to take?

A Little Taste of Shepherding Camp, In Pictures

I made it home from from Shepherding Camp at Juniper Moon Farm last night. I had the best time hanging out with Susan and Zac (Caroline was sick for most of the weekend, but is on the mend) and my fellow campers as we learned about taking care of sheep. I learned to trim hooves, worm, herd, separate flocks, and how to build a fence or two. The best part is, I get to go back in April for shepherding camp 102 when all the ewes we put in with Solomon, this year’s ram, should be in the midst of lambing. SO EXCITING.

Just as an intro, here are a few of the pictures I took while I was there.

Endings and Beginnings

Last March I was desperately attempting to finish up an essay for my last undergraduate non-fiction writing class when my blackberry started going nuts. I made eight sales in my etsy shop in under an hour. My first eight sales ever came in under an hour. A few more came later on that night and my ability to complete the essay, due the next day was completely shot. I had spent three lonely weeks promoting my shop with confidence with no luck, than suddenly, I was overwhelmed with my initial bout of success. I turned in an inadequate first draft for critique the next day.

I had ostensibly written about my paternal grandfather (most of my essays are actually about me.) I wrote about the Holt family and the tall tale exodus of the Bavarian Jews from Germany just in the nick of time, about their setting up shop as bootleggers in Kentucky, about my Grandfather’s miraculous and supernatural conversion to Christianity. How he became a preacher. How he sparked a trend in Holt men becoming preachers. How he set an example for my generation to do something legendary to keep up with our forebears. I revised the paper for my final at the behest of my professor, earning myself a big fat “A” for the first time in that class. (He was an old school tough grader. And I appreciated that.)

I am nearing the end of my tenure at Ice and Olives. If all goes well, I should be successfully unemployed within the next couple of weeks. (The exact date is still unknown.) I am leaving to pursue a writing (and knitting) career. One of the writerly endeavors I have lined up for this fall is to put together a book proposal based on the Tall-Tale Essay (as I refer to it in my head.) On Friday, I am loading up my siblings and my voice recorder and road-tripping it over to Jacksonville, IL where my grandparents currently live. Part of the motivation is to get interviews for my book. The main reason for the trip however, is that two months ago we found out my grandfather’s cancer was back, and apparently had been for some time now. We were going to say goodbye.

This afternoon, after a stressful day at work that leaves me doubting whether I really will be able to leave the day job in early November, I received a message from my dad warning that my grandfather might not make it through the weekend. I sat on the stoop to my apartment building to call my fatherback. The sun was shinning, but as I heard the real story of my grandfather’s rapidly declining condition for the first time, it started to rain on me as if I had summoned my own personal dark cloud.

I have been close to panic all night. I didn’t go to knitting. I didn’t take the nap I desperately needed. Athrun is with his dad. Brock is at work. I was alone and I buried myself in Tom Perotta’s The Leftovers instead of working on the finishing touches for my craft show in ten days. The book is difficult to put down, but not exactly cheery so I got up and made something that I suppose would qualify as dal since the main ingredients are lentils and curry, but it just has a little bit of everything from the CSA bag in it too.

I tend to think about writing when I cook.

As I chopped onions to the sound of popping mustard seeds, I realized the connection between my single rainy cloud and the supposed supernatural events that has punctuated my grandfather’s life. This weekend I am packing all the trappings of the writerly trade: voice recorder, notebook, pencil, camera, laptop. I plan to record this trip, however long it ends up being, so I have my facts straight, but I am not going to rule out the possibility of a little bit of magical realism either.

It’s just the way it goes with us.

Inside Outside

The 100 degree has started in Kansas already this summer and my garden is exploding. Pictured above is my baby basil plant, which doubled in size yesterday My surprise cucumber plant, which I thought was dead at one point, has made a monumental comeback, complete with vines, blossoms, and little baby cucumbers. My roma tomato plant is visibly adding inches everyday as well. I have to say, this growing stuff thing is all very exciting. I have never had a garden before, and while my balcony garden is fairly low maintenance, I have really come to love going out each day and spending time with each plant. And now that the finch chicks that were nesting in my spider plant have all flown away, I might actually be able to spend a substantial amount of time outside without the mother finch having a panic attack.

The heat has also not stopped me from getting out and around on this beauty.

The bicycle was a graduation present to myself. My summer goal is to get to the point where I am riding everywhere (within a manageable distance) I want to go when I don’t have the kiddo in tow. Unfortunately, my job is not a manageable distance for me at the moment, and riding through eastern Topeka at 5 am is also a little scary. My bike and I have done a couple of trips to the grocery store and back successfully, as well as a few pleasure rides. I have even made it up the giant hill, at the top of which sits my apartment. It was slow the first time, and I am sure I looked awkward, but I am proud I did it, because last week I couldn’t. And when it did it a second time, it was ever so slightly easier.

The period it has taken me to adjust to not being in school has been longer than I expected. I kind of thought I would hit the ground running like I always have in the past. I did not count on being as physically exhausted as I have been, even though I have felt that way for much of the past year. I have been taking time out each day to rest and enjoy myself, and not forcing myself to work constantly. It has been good for me, but it means my productivity has been low. Here’s a look at the first BA-certified skeins.

I hope to get some more dyed this evening, but my hands are itching to spin and I am working on some top-secret birthday projects as well. It’s kind of nice having birthday presents as my only deadlines. Though, I don’t intend to keep it that way for long.