BIPOC Fiber Dyers

Sheepspot Cheviot in the color Mexico. Photo by Sheepspot

Sheepspot Cheviot in the color Mexico. Photo by Sheepspot

I am a white-passing Latina and my way in the fiber industry has been easy do to my privilege. I have not supported or promoted BIPOC fiber dyers and growers as I should have, and for that I am sorry.

I am listening, studying, and thinking a lot about what has been said over the past week.

Today I am starting a list of BIPOC fiber dyers that I will maintain here on my blog for spinners.

The list will include a link to each dyer's shop and a list of what they dye. More information on the dyer and the fibers will happen in upcoming reviews of their fiber.

BIPOC Fiber Dyers - Updated 1/16/19

Sheepspot Dyed top, fiber and fleece clubs

Alex Creates Dyed top, locks, art batts, and yarn.

Abstract Fiber Dyed top and yarn.

Neighborhood Fiber Company Dyed top, yarn and kits.

SweetGeorgia Yarns Dyed top and yarn.

I will add to this list of fiber dyers regularly. If you’d like to share your favorites, just comment below.

Knitting and Reading: The Agony and the Ecstasy

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My battle with knitting gauge has been long and hard fought. My gauge freqently changes between swatching (which I love) and the actual project. Knowing this, I still go way past the moment where my inner crafting voice is shouting 'your gauge is off, your gauge is off!'

Here's my latest adventure with gauge. I am so excited about knitting a Carbeth cardigan. I bought Weekend Wool from Green Mountain Spinnery and swatched, several times until I got gauge with the yarn doubled. I finished each swatch like I would finish the sweater, hot soak, dry flat. Fast forward to my having knit 8" of the sweater (yes, I kind of knew after 3" that the gauge was off - I was hoping for the best, I'm an optomist that way), and my gauge is off by 1/2 a stitch per inch (UGH). I'll be visitng the frog pond this weekend.

The stitcky bit? I like this fabric better. The guage fabric was a little stiff. So do I rejigger the numbers and use this yarn at this gauge, or hunt another yarn?

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To soothe myself and to ignore my gauge issue, I've decided to do a reading challenge this year.

My friends Carla and Sarah are doing the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, and I decided to hop on. It's an easy one.

I read a load of books last year just following reccomendations and reviews, and this challenge just gives a little direction. I'll even have to step out of my usual generes. I'm not making my whole reading list now becasue I know I'll change my mind. I like to pick my next book one at a time.

I actually audition books to be the next book on my nightstand. I take a pile of would-be books to the couch and read a few paragraphs of each to decide. A book has to suit my current mood or I just won't enjoy it.

2019 - Going Slowly

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This year I am purposefully going slowly into 2019. Usually I stack up a huge amount of giant goals that I more or less abandon by June. This year I’m taking the month of January to really think through goals and what they mean to my work and life. I love the planning, love it, but I’m not so good about seeing how much work those plans are generating. Just because I can see it and map it out, doesn’t mean I can do it.

2018 was tough on people I know and love. Not just the political climate, and social media chaos, but so many people I know had a hard personal year. My work year was wonderful, my personal world was tough. We’re dealing with dementia in our family, and my daughter has been ill and is having surgery this month. On top of that, I spent a lot of 2018 comparing myself to other people, coming up short, and feeling bad about it.

My hope for 2019 is that we are kind to ourselves and find happiness, even small joys, especially when life feels dark.

For me that means slowing down, and stepping away from things and people that make me feel less. It means seeking out and enjoying the people and things that make me feel happy. I’ll be doing a lot of spinning, knitting and weaving this year, my way, at my pace.

I feel grateful that my work allows me to connect with people through teaching and writing. It gives me such joy if words I write or things I teach answer a question, help someone relax or make someone happy, even in the smallest way.

Here’s to a slower year full of creativity and laughter!

Unsticking December More or Less

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I’ve been doing a little creative something every day this month so far, emphasis on the little. I’ve always wanted to be able to doodle little things, but am intimated by drawing. So, I got an Ed Emberley book out of the library and started drawing little faces in his style. Then I found a Japanese drawing book, that has more things than people to try out.

I feels really awkward and good at the same time, even just 10 minutes.


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I bought myself a giant box of colored pencils, and have been coloring in a tiny coloring book while watching Christmas movies. I’m kinda into the sappy Christmas movies this year.

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Not everything has been going smoothly. I tried to embroider in a mostly dark car, and made a wonky, wonky flower. It was supposed to be an outline and it looks like hatching. I’m going to leave it and stitch around it in bright light, because I think the wonky stitches are funny.

So far I haven’t found the big swaths of time I had envisioned, but I’m playing, dabbling and having fun.

Next week is Christmas, but our family is doing most of our celebrating this week. We’re headed to Chicago to see Hamilton, our family’s gift to ourselves.

I hope everyone gets a day or two off next week and uses some of the time to play. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, happy lounging day to everyone else!

The App That Helps Me Get Spinning Done

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Dear Libby, I love you.

Libby by Overdrive is a free app that hooks up to my library and allows me to download and listen to audiobooks or read ebooks.

Audiobooks help me focus when I’m spinning (or cleaning the house), and help me relax when I just want to check out.

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I could never figure out how to use Overdrive. I was born way before apps; I remember saving my money for the first Walkman.

For me Libby just works. I can search by what’s available, by type (ebook or audiobook), see the book cover (because it matters!), and can hear or read a sample (also matters!).

I can put books on hold and the app tells me approximately how long I’ll be in line, and I get a notification when my book is ready for me. I can see clearly how much longer I have to finish a book.

I can speed up my audiobook if the reader is slow, and it has a magnificent sleep setting. The perfect, for me, 30 minute countdown, then it shuts off. I also use Libby a lot when I have insomnia.

Did mention it’s free? Audible just isn’t in my budget right now, and Libby does the trick for me.

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I’m enjoying my do something creative everyday December. So far I’ve spent most of my days knitting and weaving in ends on a sweater. But I’ve also colored, watercolored, and figured out how to draw cups.

I’ve never been very comfortable drawing or doodling, so I checked out a bunch of Ed Emberley kids drawing books from the library to play with, and they are fun!



tinyStudio Magazine

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I subscribed to tinyStudio as soon as it was available and was eager to read my first issue. I really enjoyed the Big Book of Fibery Rainbows and have followed the work of Suzy Brown for awhile. Suzy is joined by Evanita Montalvo and Arlene Thayer in this creative adventure..

tinyStudio is not a spinning magazine or I should say it’s not just a spinning magazine. It uses spinning as the base for a creative mindfulness practice and for adding creativity into your life. There are layers to tinyStudio, if you aren’t interested in creative mindfulness there is good and interesting crafting and making information too.

Suzy loves and lives a minimalist creative life. She talks a lot about paring down without restricting, having just what you need, and how it makes her more creative.

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You know how sometimes you say a person has a beautiful soul? Well I would say that about this magazine. The photos are stunning clear, and full of texture. The articles are varied, from what you expect from a spinning magazine, yarn and tool how-tos, reviews, a breed study, and articles on dyeing. What makes this magazine unique are the other things that Suzy has layered in. Things like the opening article about how mindfulness and working within her environment led a spinner to create art from grass. There is a recipe for tea, and articles on honoring imperfection, finding your flow and how letting go is the path to mastery. I found myself scanning the articles I might find in other magazines and really digging in and sometimes rereading bits of the articles that are the true heart of the magazine.

I’m looking forward to my second issue.

The facts

  • Quarterly

  • Digital magazine, PDF and ePub format

  • 123 pages (this issue)

  • There is a video library for subscribers with new videos for each issue. I haven’t visited it yet.

  • $4.95, per month, charged monthly.













Here's to an Unstuck December

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As the year winds down I'm feeling a little stuck. Stuck in the way where I feel like I'm marching in place; I'm feeling creatively run down. I've had a busy year, a wonderful year, but I need to shift something for this last little bit.

I want to really recharge the creative part of me and get ready for 2019, which is already shaping up to be different than I thought it would.

I've decided to do something creative every day in December, a little something that doesn't have to do with any kind of a deadline. It can be something that doesn't have to do with fiber, like coloring, or something useful and creative, like finally hemming my teaching apron, or something that stretches my fiber skills, like working on spinning beehives. I will do it for 5 minutes or 50, it just depends on the day.

I worked hard this year and I want to give myself this little gift to say thanks and recharge. I'm excited, and of course pilling up things to do.

What do you do to get unstuck?

Thankful

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Before the bustle of US Thanksgiving starts I want to take a minutre to say, "Thank you!". I am so grateful for all of the people who make it possible for me to keep doing this job I love. Every year it gets better.

The folks at Knitty and PLY, the spinners and knitters who take my classes, buy my book, hire me to write books and articles, invite me to teach, read my blog and newsletter, all of you allow me to spin and knit and weave as a job.

The people who are closer get an extra thanks becasue once in a while (or very often) I need to be told, "You can do it" or be coaxed out from under the couch with treats.

Thank you! It's becasue of all of you standing behind me that when a smug someone says, "You can make a living doing that?", I get to answer with a giant dimples a-blazing smile, "Yes!".