June, and all that goes with it

There’s certainly never a dull moment around here.  We have kids finishing high school and starting college and graduating, kids leaving and coming home, little trips and medium trips and family illnesses and heat waves and guitar lessons and gardening, and on and on.  Throughout it all, we just keep dyeing yarn.  It’s nice to have a constant.

First up was a sweet little self striping order we dyed last month for our LYS, Knitique.  We called this “Salute to the Red, White and Blue,” after the annual 4th of July fireworks festival here in Elk Grove: 

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They may still have a few, they are happy to ship to you, and we have exactly one in the shop.

We’re also still dyeing lots and lots “Fishy Wishy” for Wool Girl’s August Dr. Seuss “Red Fish, Blue Fish” club.  Not sure if it’s sold out yet, but if you want one, check it out here.  We’re enjoying the bright and cheerful colors!

And for more fun, we’ve added a nice selection of semi-solid Heel and Toe Mini Skeins, in our strong 75/25 merino/nylon sock base.  They’re 1/4 the size of a normal skein – 115 yards/25 grams – and currently come in 16 colors.  We plan to add more colors and will be taking special orders for other bases as well as smaller minis for hexi puffs, etc.

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What else? A few new summery colors, most of which get snapped up once we put them in the shop.  We also introduced a three month self striping sock club option and are happy that customers are taking advantage of it.  By signing up for three months at a time, you’ll save a little on shipping as well as yarn.  We love coming up with unique colors for our club customers, and they are often the first to get to try a lovely new yarn, like this singles construction sock yarn we dyed for our most recent three month Kettle option:

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(Oh, and that pink skein is a sample of one of our new Mini’s.  Also, unless it’s really hot, we love to send chocolate.)

This ‘n That

First of all, we have exciting news!  We are part of a Woolgirl kit this August, custom dyeing the self striping Fishy Wishy color way for “Red Fish, Blue Fish”!  Over 2/3 of the kits have been presold already – wow!  That should keep us busy for a while.

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After our current shop sale is over and we’ve created some space for new yarns, we’ll start updating the shop regularly again.  We’ve changed up the sock clubs a little, added a 3-month option to self striping, and have brought sports team custom pre-orders back so that you can have your sock yarn in plenty of time to knit for fall.

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On the home front, I just bought myself a beginner’s acoustic guitar.  I decided about a dozen or so years ago that I would commit to learning something new every year.  It can be something small or large – it just has to be something I’ve always wanted to do.  So I’ve learned to swim (at age 41!), learned to cook decent Thai food, became a Master Gardener, and learned to knit socks (and you can see what THAT lead to).  

One of these years, learning to speak Italian and wine making (they go together!) will be on the list, but this year it’s guitar.  Music used to be a huge presence in my life (at one time or another, I have played the violin, viola, piano, trumpet and ukelele) but it has fallen by the wayside.  I’ve been going to concerts again after many years and love seeing my old favorite musicians up on stage, most of all the ones who play acoustic guitar.  So there you go.

(Oh, Sheri just reminded me, I was supposed to learn to spin this year too.  OK, this year can have two learning adventures…)

— Meg

 

 

 

 

Sale! And, we’re back in action.

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(The sun and rain taking turns, in Lagos, Portugal.)

First off, how about a little sale? Everything in the store is 20% off until May 6th (this doesn’t include clubs, custom orders, Chubbies or gift certificates).  We’re clearing the way for some new things.  This is the biggest discount we’ve ever offered, so enjoy!  Coupon code is MayDay20.

I just got back from a pretty amazing month travelling in Europe, most of the time with my husband and kids.  (Actually, I got back about a week ago, but my jet lag is finally gone so I have regained coherency.)  I haven’t been to Europe in 24 years, since my husband and I were first married.  I had a great time but a month is a long time to be gone, five countries is a lot to visit, and I am happy to be back home.  I’m also thankful to Sheri for keeping the shop smoothly running.  Great teamwork!

The really nice thing, though, about being out of the U.S. for that long is that I was really able to appreciate so many things that are not typically American.  I ate a lot of great food, saw a lot of amazing sights and art, and tried to embrace and immerse myself in the culture wherever I went.  I only went to Starbucks twice – and really, it was only because I needed the wifi!  I loved all the local coffee shops and bakeries, especially the chocolate pastries my husband brought me every morning.  Thank goodness nearly every country seems to have some version.  I will admit, though, I got tired of the bocadillos de jamon – I was in Spain the longest and I’ve eaten enough of those little ham sandwiches to last me a long time.  The paella, however, is another story!  I’m going to have to buy myself a paella pan.

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(Spring bulbs blooming in the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid.)

It was unfortunate for me, the garden lover, that Europe was experiencing an atypical cold spring.  That meant there were few flowers for me to walk amongst, although I did go to a few botanical gardens to see spring bulbs blooming.  Instead, I concentrated more on museums, palaces, castles, ancient walled cities and other sightseeing.  For instance, I took a cooking class in a centuries-old castle near Dublin with my daughter that was really fun, and I saw the End of the World in Sagres, Portugal (the end of the world before 1492, anyway).  We created some great family memories and some even better, funny family stories of all our mishaps, many of which involve my poor husband trying to drive a rental car through the medieval streets and traffic circles of Spain.

It was a fulfilling, exhausting trip and I loved it.  We met wonderful, helpful, friendly people everywhere we went and had amazing food and wine all along the way.  And of course, as a knitter and dyer, what is a trip to Europe without making a side trip to Pfaffenhofen, Germany?  Yes, I visited the famous Wollmeise shop, and luckily I had packed a few space bags, because I brought all of these beauties home with me in my carryon:

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What a great shop, and what a lovely town, too!  

I may post a bit more about this trip later, but for now I’m happy to be back and firing up the dyepots again.  I saw so many, many cool and colorful things that I know will inspire my work in new ways.  We’ll be updating the shop soon after the end of the sale!

— Meg

 

Nose to the Grindstone

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Things have been quiet here, I know – that’s because lots of things have been happening behind the scenes.

I’m going on a big trip soon with my family, to meet up with our daughter who is studying in a faraway place and then travel on to other faraway places.  It will be an amazing trip. In order to get there I have had to work twice as hard this winter, both at home and in the dye studio.  But it’s going to be totally worth it.

I expect I’ll be refreshed, rejuvenated and inspired by my travels.  I’ve been in a little rut lately and I think this will be like hitting a much needed “reset” button.  I’ll be seeing some breathtaking landscapes and art and architecture, and meeting amazing people, and I’m looking forward to how all of that will transform my dye work.

Some of the things we’ve both been working on this winter are our new sock clubs.  So far, the self striping club has been the most popular.  We offer them in “brights” and “subtles,” and take turns each month dyeing them.  We’ve also been dyeing lots and lots of custom and team orders, which helps teach us more about color properties.

We’ll keep the shop open and shipping will continue while I’m away.  While we won’t do any custom orders or a lot of new dyeing, we’ll have lots of yarn in stock and monthly Chubbies and yarn clubs that you can pre-order.

Oh yeah, one of the places I’m visiting while on my journey? The great Wollmeise’s brick and mortar store. She was the inspiration for me to become an indie dyer.

— Meg

As the New Year Begins

Taking a leaf out of the Yarn Harlot’s book (she has such great ideas), the house is clean, laundry is done, bills are paid.  Start as you mean to go on is a wonderful way to begin the year. Hopefully for my family, it will mean a big change.  Both of my boys will graduate this year, S from Humboldt State and N from High school.  The time has flown by and I can’t believe my babies are this old! My husband and I have been waiting a long time for this. You see, for us it means a drastic change. A change in lifestyle and a change in location.  This is the year we have been waiting for since 2006. This is the year we leave California and embark on the adventure of starting our own Hobby Farm. Just a little enterprise with Sheep (of course), chickens, pigs and a dairy cow!!  Finally, I will have the space for the garden and orchard of my dreams!! Finally, we can raise our own meat and dairy!  It will be a big adjustment, not only finding a place to buy but all the work it will take to make it our own. But, nobody ever said we are afraid of hard work and we are so excited to begin!

I was never one for making resolutions. I figured, if you want to do something, theres no time like the present! Why wait for a day on the calendar.  But this year, I think that I will start the year with a few… let’s call them goals!  My spinning. Oh, what can I say about my spinning other than, who has the time! Well, I am going to MAKE time. It is important to me and it is something that I love.  Poor Kaylie is sitting in the corner with the same fiber one her that I started at the cabin with the girls in October.  My goal is to get it plied and off the wheel tonight and use the drum carder tomorrow to card some of the lovely fiber I have in my closet!  After all, what am I saving it for? And if all goes according to plan, I will have my fiber from my OWN SHEEP next year to spin!! The goal for spinning will be to spin a little everyday.  Even as little as 10 minutes would be grand! It is so relaxing for me, just what I need after a stressful day at work!

Speaking of the drum carder, it has been sadly neglected, also. But, I am hoping to change that this year also.  Things in the shop are shifting this year, and I would like to get more fiber up for sale.  That would mean more time with the drum carder as I love working with the batts.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful year full of dreams coming true and time spent doing what you love! I know that Meg and I both wish the very best for you!

 

Happy New Year,

Sheri

 

Pausing, in the midst of the holidays

Hanukkah is just past… Christmas and Kwanzaa, right around the corner. Things have been very busy at the Ladybug Fiber “factory, and of course, life in general.”  Last thing I remember it was Thanksgiving and I was driving back from Seattle – today, I looked up and noticed it was, unbelievably, December 15th.  I almost panicked.  Yet somehow, things have been happening all along, gifts and a tree and poinsettias bought, baking and cards started.  And yarn has been dyed, and dried, and wound, and sent out into the world, hopefully bringing smiles to faces.

Here is something I found while gardening between rainstorms a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a nest that held several baby birds last summer, little ones we tried to protect, despite the nest being tucked under a structure that fell during a freak June windstorm, putting it within reach of one of our cats.  He prowled and yowled for three days inside the house, as we waited and watched for the baby birds to get big enough to fly away to safety.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Amazing how soft the inside of the nest is, considering what it’s made of.

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Our own children are getting ready to fly the nest.  Sheri and I each have two, one each in high school and one in college.  This is the point where you realize they may not always come home for holidays, and that each holiday season now is more special, in some ways, than when they were little.  Our holidays, this year, will be fairly simple.  We are trying to save money to visit our daughter in Spain in the spring (she is there, studying abroad, for her junior year) so we are limiting the presents, the decorations, even the activities.  When she comes home – for just 12 days – we’ll exchange some small things, but mostly focus on food, laughter, games and good friends. We’ll make latkes and cookies and cioppino, and I’ll enjoy spending time with her, listening to her stories, and taking her to the dentist and to get her hair cut before she gets back on a plane and heads far, far away.

There’s something nice about this simple but special year.  I’m on a schedule, but I’m not rushing like I have in years past.  What gets done is great, and the rest, I’ll let go of.  I even have time to dream up some new yarn colors for the coming winter and finish a knitted gift or two.

Happy holidays!  — Meg