Wednesday, August 12, 2020


I would have thought I'd be posting much more frequently, as with everything cancelled I have been home home home and having a lot of time on my hands.

When I posted last on March 22,  I did not want to mention the elephant in the yard, for fear of I don't even know what.  In March we were still so innocent.

The last show I exhibited at was Stitches West in late February.  I had bought a package of Seventh Generation sanitizing wipes from a plentiful shelf at Target in San Jose, in case the one I had in my van ran out.  I'd actually started using them to wipe off things like door knobs and remote controls in hotels a few months prior, to try to keep from getting regular colds or flu.  I had no idea that in a few weeks I'd be giving that soon to be precious package of them to a friend with CLL that had to go up to Denver for a medical procedure and stay in a hotel, because by that time they would have vanished from stores and she needed them more than me.

On my way home from California back in that naive February, I stopped in Santa Fe to visit Looking Glass Yarn & Gifts to drop off some yarn, and did a big shopping run (I always do this when I am in a "big town" since there is not a lot of choice in the San Luis Valley) getting a few extra things in case this virus I'd been hearing about on the news turned into thing.  At that time I was just happy to be home for awhile, because I'd been on the road to places near and far for 5 of the last 9 weeks.  I had more shows to get ready for (I thought) but could take a few days to rest.

We all know too well what happened next.  Some of it was particularly sinister to me, seeing headlines of the first cases of "community spread" reported on February 28 in Santa Clara County. Stitches West, where I'd just been interacting with lots of people for several days was in Santa Clara County.  I'd also been in New York City in late January, interacting with lots more people at Vogue Knitting Live.   I caught two colds since December, and still had one of them on the drive home from California.  After seeing the story about the cases in Santa Clara, I recall laying in bed, repeatedly checking my temperature, cringing with every cough, wondering if I had it.  Wondering if maybe I needed to go to a hotel so I wouldn't give it to Brian, and what we'd do if I got really sick.  I still don't know if I had COVID 19, and will never know.

Everyone has stories of how things went down for them with this virus; illness, lock downs, job losses, and even losing loved ones.  We have been extraordinarily fortunate to not have lost anyone close to us, and even though our businesses have been suffering we are in no danger of losing our home and not in any immediate difficulty.  Compared to many people, I have no real reason to complain.  I'm not really meaning to, just writing about my experience.  I'd be interested to know how others are doing.  If you are reading this and would like to share, please do.

So here, now, over four months later, what I am doing?  The next show I have that has not (yet) been cancelled is Stitches West 2021, over six months away and a full year after the last one I did.  I know that I need to re-invent my business for this new world we are in, work on getting more on social media and etcetera etcetera.  I know that many people are facing the same things, and may feel the same lack of motivation and often bewilderment about how to proceed that I am feeling.  I see lots of people in the fiber arts and other industries doing a great job with this transition, and applaud them while also being envious and wondering how they manage it.  Some days I get excited about new projects, and others I get lost in anger, sadness and a general feeling of malaise.

There is a scene in The Good Wife a TV series that I have watched about half of (its really good and included with Amazon Prime if you have that, or on CBS All Access, if you have that) in which Alicia, the main character, comes home exhausted and in profound grief after learning that her former lover, friend and colleague has been shot and killed.  She is in her professional clothes, and goes into her bedroom, where she takes off her heels and then does this sort of dive from the foot of the bed, to go under the fluffy comforter from the bottom of the bed to the top, ending up completely covered by it.  On bad days when moving about the house, putting away folded laundry or just tidying up, I see my bed and want to do that sort of swan dive under the covers and not come out until things are normal again.

I decided to write a post to just ask, offer, whatever, if anyone would like to share how and what they are doing.  Things are not going to be normal again for awhile, and maybe never.  What soothes you? What is making you sad or angry, beyond the obvious?  I am trying hard to not get political on this blog, because I do enough of it on Twitter and Facebook, but its ok if others need to.  What is making you happy?  For me, right now, it's knitting, walking, a mug of tea.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Danube Waltz

We have a new design, this one made from two skeins of fingering weight yarn - a great stash buster for those of us who have lots of that lurking around!

We were fortunate this year to have been able to take a lovely trip to central Europe over the holidays.  I'd wanted to see the Danube River ever since I was teenager reading the magnificent Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M. Auel.  I used to pore over the tiny maps in the books, following Ayla's journey, imagining the places where she was, excitedly noting that the "Great Mother River" must, in fact, be the Danube River, the "Sister" must be the Rhine, and that these were real places that I might some day visit.  After seeing the Rhine a few years ago, this year I finally saw the Danube.  Beautiful blue, even in winter,  making its way through the city of Vienna, which is also home to a museum that any fan of Auel's books would love, the Naturhistoriches Museum Wien,   

If you are ever in Vienna, you simply must visit this museum.  It has the single best exhibit of artifacts and interpretation related to prehistoric man that I have seen anywhere, and is the location of the famousVenus of Willendorf.  I was also thrilled by the small artifacts related to spinning and fiber work.  Imagine spinning on a spindle with these stone whorls!   I have always been interested in archaeology, especially that related to the Paleolithic Period, so I was in hog heaven at this museum.  Someday I'd like to return to the area, as there are a great many sites in the vicinity with artifacts from the same period, not to mention, the landscape in northern Austria and southern Czechia is stunning!
Our trip was originally scheduled for November, but due to a detached retina my husband needed emergency eye surgery a few weeks before we were to go.   I was luckily able to reschedule things over the last days of December, meaning we were able to spend New Year's Eve in Vienna.  I've never been abroad on New Year's Eve, nor yet spent that day in a city that rolls out a huge celebration like Vienna does - wow!  Close to midnight we joined the crowds heading towards the Hofburg Palace to see the fireworks.  I had read that at the stroke of midnight they play the Danube Waltz and everyone starts waltzing!  No one near us waltzed, but we could heard the Danube Waltz playing nearby amidst the popping fireworks.  Having grown up watching looney tune cartoons, we found this hilarious.

Right - so the pattern!  Inspired by the colors of the winter Danube.

That is, of course, the Great Mother/Danube River behind me.  It was a windy blustery day!  And no, I did not make the sweater.  It's the Elsin Sweater Coat from Prana, and I think they are on sale right now in case you want one.

The pattern is available here.  Ours is made from Cat Mountain Fiber Arts Mist, one each of the colors Rain, and Stoney Brook.  If you purchase two skeins of Mist from our web site, we'll include a free paper copy and email you an electronic copy of the pattern with your order.  If you already purchased the pattern through Ravelry, let us know and we'll refund the pattern cost to you.

Thanks for reading and best wishes for your wellness!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Taos Wool Festival (and how did it get to be October already?)

I swear someone keeps turning up my treadmill when I am not looking.

Taos Wool Festival was beautiful and fun, thank-you to everyone who stopped by!

We had lots of Nightshift kits, including in our new color way, The Neutral Zone (remember me musing about one in browns months ago?)  Well, I did one.   

AND I did the cowl.  

I love these patterns so much!

Check our Etsy store in about a week for these, after I restock.  We completely sold out in Taos!

So next I am off to Pennsylvania and New York to visit my brother's family and, for the first time ever, attend Rhinebeck.  I can't wait!  I have been running like a lunatic for what seems like months, and the prospect of 6 whole days where even if I wanted to I can't work at my business has me a little bit dizzy.  I have queued up a silly number of books on the IPad, and of course am taking yarn for more knitting than I could complete if I knit for every single minute that I am gone.  Does anyone else do this?  

Here's hoping that if I see Andrea Mowry at Rhinebeck that I don't act too much like a fan girl!

Happy Fall!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Catching Up

Other than last week, I haven't posted in a long time.  Mainly its because I spend so much time dyeing yarn, going to shows, knitting samples, and waah waah waah.  Anyway, I haven't actually been twiddling my thumbs for the past two years, and its time to catch up on some patterns!

Starting with my favorite new one:

One of the things I love about the drea renee Find Your Fade pattern is the asymmetrical "kite"shape. It wraps so nicely and has that subtle "v" that looks so pretty with variegated yarn.   So I figured out the formula for making shawls in that shape, and not running out of yarn before you get to the end (basically you use 40% of your yardage on the first section, leaving 60% for the part after you stop increasing on each side  -  I explain it all to death in my pattern!) 

This one is made out of a Fusion 800, in Stormy.

So fun with the eight textures of yarn, and the 800 yards makes it a very nice size.  Its mostly garter stitch, with an optional eyelet row to make it a little more interesting if you want that.  

I'm thinking one out of Fusion 750 might be nice too. 

Meanwhile, this pattern is added to the right side bar with our others,and as always is free on Ravelry.   If you aren't on Ravelry and would like to have it emailed to you, just drop us a message.  

Sunday, May 26, 2019


First I want to start off by saying Andrea Mowry is a genius.  I have knit several of her patterns and they are all exquisitely written, very clear and just so clever.  

First the Fades, oh the fades. Love them!!  I am not comfortable confessing how many of them I have knit to date.  Maybe when I get to know you a little better I will tell you.

So then this Nightshift shawl came up in the Ravelry top 20 patterns.  And stayed there. And stayed there, sometimes falling out of the top 20 but I've never seen it out of the top 40.   I didn't actually like it at first, because it seemed too big, blocky and chunky.  Then I saw a few up close and thought that it actually was pretty cool looking.  

And just let me gush for a minute here.  Have you seen the flipping darling "Shifty" sweater yet?  It is so cute.  Not for me, mind.  We's way too big of a girl for a cropped sweater with horizontal-ish stripes, but I have a few skinny pants little nieces that it would be very cute on.  Right, done gushing for now.

Being someone who now only buys "other" yarn under the rarest of circumstance (since I make my own) I decided that rather than spend nearly $200 for the yarn it calls for (which I am sure is awesome yarn and well worth the price - I'm in no way disparaging it) I piddled around with some colors in a nice DK weight that I get from one of my suppliers.  Its an 85% Polwarth Wool and 15% Silk blend that blooms delightfully when its dyed, and is super soft to boot.  I liked the way the colors in the pattern sample looked, so I tried to get reasonably close to those.  

Yummy earth-ish tones.  My favorite is that carmine, second from the right.  When I was first knitting it, I actually went back to my original "too blocky" opinion, and didn't like it much.  I decided I was going to soldier on at least until I got through the initial section, where you knit the first background color completely through with all of the other colors.  As soon as I started with the second background color, I decided that I did, in fact, love it.  Abso-freakin genius pattern.  Here it is finished, whee!

Next, I did something I have never, ever done.  (Ok, maybe I did do this on those darned addictive Find Your Fades.  Seriously though we are not going to talk about that.)  This thing was so fun, I immediately started another one, and whacked it out in about 2 weeks.  It would have been faster if I had not been frantically dyeing as much yarn as I could for my first time vending at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  

I'm knitting something else right now, but I have to own up to fantasizing about one in beiges and browns.  I even have a color name picked out.  Stay tuned for that.

Since you asked, these are available now as kits, currently in our Etsy Shop and very very soon on The Yarn Gallery web site.  The first one is named "Eartha" and the other one is "For the Love of Purple."  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gluten Free Recipe - Polenta with Veggies and Duck Eggs

My husband Brian was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago, and this has changed and limited our diets.  We both love to cook, so I am always looking for new things we can try that are healthy, tasty and gluten free.

My most recent adventure occurred because a bag of polenta that I was storing in the freezer split open, making an annoying mess in the bottom of the freezer.  As I cleaned up the tiny specks of corn grits while on my hands and knees, I thought "now why was that at the bottom of the freezer anyway - you should use it!"


I love the fresh corny taste and smell of polenta, love it.  In the past we've cooked it up and put it in a loaf pan, slicing off portions to fry in olive oil with eggs or just by itself.  This time, I decided to use it as a "bedding" for a dinner meal, cooking it to a soft consistency.

I really like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Polenta.


Now that we are using it more,  I order it with our monthly subscription on Amazon, and its an excellent deal that way (free shipping too!)

The polenta takes about 45 minutes to cook thoroughly, so start with that.

Enough Polenta for two people:

1/2 cup Bob's red Mill Gluten Free Polenta
2 1/4 cup water

Heat the water in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, and while its warming up, stir in the dry polenta.  A general rule of thumb for good polenta is one part polenta to four parts water.  I use extra water because we live at 8500 feet elevation and grains always take a bit longer to cook, and use a little more water.

Cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook over medium heat, stirring every few minutes to keep it from sticking (it will stick a little bit anyway, but stirring will help).

About 20 minutes or so after you start the polenta, cook up the goodies you are going to top it with.  The first time I made this dish,  I used bell peppers, onions, garlic, green chilies, and duck eggs.  

We keep chickens and ducks, and have a large number of eggs this time of year.  Duck eggs have a richer and stronger flavor than chicken eggs and I generally don't like them for breakfast.  But for dinner with the other ingredients, they were perfect!

Additional Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Red bell pepper
1 Yellow bell pepper
1/2 White onion
1/2 cup 505 Green chilies 
2 cloves garlic
2 duck eggs
1 Tablespoon butter

Chop the bell pepper and onions and mince the garlic, set aside.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet, and starting with the bell peppers, add them to the oil and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add the onions and stir, sauté this mixture for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the onions start to soften.  Add the garlic and lightly brown it, then add the green chilies.  When everything is combined and nicely bubbling, reduce the heat and start the eggs in another small skillet.  (Don't forget the stir the polenta occasionally while you are doing all of this!)

Cook the eggs in a small skillet in the butter.  I did ours over easy-ish, but you can cook them any way you prefer.  

The polenta should be done by around now.  You can tell its done if it has thickened nicely and the individual granules are not visible because they have dissolved and cooked completely.  

Spoon the polenta into bowls, and top with the veggies and eggs.  Garnish with cheese, sour cream, and slices of avocado.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Polenta with Veggies and Duck Eggs

You can easily add chicken, sausage, beef strips or anything else you'd like to this.   It was surprisingly hearty and delicious with the eggs, and made a very nice low cost, nutritious and satisfying dinner.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Knitting Across the Pond

Last month I had the amazing opportunity of exhibiting at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in London.  Having decided to do it on relatively short notice, I had only four days after getting home from Stitches West before I was on a plane heading to the UK.  Whew!

The Spring event is held at the Olympia exhibition hall, located on the west side of central London.  I had the tiniest of stalls, but that was all I needed, since I wasn't exactly bringing truckloads of product with me.

Brian designed a special scaled-down banner for me, and made these dandy little velcro hangers (the walls provided are velcro compatible - jolly!) for me to hang things from.  The table and shelves were rented.  Probably won't do that again - they were very expensive, and the black paint on the shelves rubbed off on my labels, ack.  

Knitters in the UK are every bit as enthusiastic about yarn as they are in the US and I had a blast talking with them.  I met some fantastic people!  

Imogen, owner of Fig Tree Yarns on Jersey (Channel Islands) had actually purchased a skein of my yarn at Yarn & Coffee in Santa Fe, and now is carrying my yarn in her lovely shop.   I also made contact with editors from  Simply Knitting and Simply Crochet magazines, both of whom took some Cat Mountain Fiber Arts yarn for their design team to create projects for features this coming fall.  Whee!  

I even had a little time to play tourist: visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, went to the Borough Market, walked in Hyde Park, and ran across this landmark outside of the Earl's Court Tube Station

I learned a ton about what to do and not do should I decide to exhibit again, and was overall very pleased with how the show went.  There is another one at Alexandra Palace in London in October RIGHT after the Taos Wool Festival.  As in, I'd need to leave the next day.  Not sure how that might work out, but we'll see.