One thing I always think is fun is when people I’m friends with from all walks of life pick up a Bewilderknits item that I made and later on, I see them wearing it. Or what about when they go on Facebook and get tagged in an image, far out of town, and happen to be wearing it? It’s just fun to recognize first their face, and then go, “Oh hey, that’s the scarf I knitted!” This one made it to Arrian at an event in Ohio.
In the Bewilderknits blog, which is a sister blog to this one, a blog commenter asked about our creative process. I responded to his question with a new blog entry! I realized that talking about knitting, for me, ends up being about places in town that I like to go, music I like to listen to, movies that resonate and have lasting impressions on my psyche, and fragments from my childhood.
The blog entry is located here:
Getting hooded was like being knighted. Not really, but I did have to kneel down for the hood to get put over my head and everything. There was a bagpipe player and only four of us getting our masters degrees. It was very exciting. Second in excitement only to my wedding and Shay’s graduation.
I was wishing I could do something this awesome more regularly, like maybe once a year. All of the friends and family who were around me made me feel so super-special and happy! Dinner afterwards was at Dick’s Hideaway and Rich comp’d the whole party. My mom gave me a sculpture and delivered a speech that had a lot of people sniffling. Even our friends from the honors college dorm that Shay lived in Freshman and sophomore year came with their darling daughter.
The ASU West campus is the most beautiful place to have a graduation ceremony, too. It’s small and takes place on the winter grass lawn. The whole ASU West campus is a smaller community and a gorgeous campus. I always strolled and cruised, never ran, around that campus because it smelled so good and there were so many trees and scenery to soak up. I’ll be missing riding my bike around there, for sure.
Before graduation, I had to deliver my defense. This was a 15 minute speech about my Kittyknitter project and how it worked, what I learned about running a communication campaign, and how I put communication theories into action. I delivered the speech to a group of professors who were on my committee, after they had already read my 72 page paper summarizing the literature review and my project. Then, after the speech came 45 minutes of a question and answer session. Shay came and recorded the whole thing.
After I passed my defense, I tied up loose ends having to do with my teaching assistantship and immediately got to work on Bewilderknits art walk events. Bewilderknits participated in four or five events in December alone, and gained representation at another shop in downtown Phoenix called MADE. MADE has won Best of Phoenix awards for the last four years in a row, and we appear there on First and Third Fridays now. I’ve had little down time between graduation and now. Between the defense, the holidays, and making items to stock MADE, Practical Art and our own event booths, I was super duper busy.
We’ve also been getting some really great creative infusions from the art walks. Cold wintertime craft fair events generate trades and relationships with other vendors. Plus, all the events have been reminding me how much I LOVE being outside and how amazing the weather is here. I used to spend so much time just living outside when I was a kid. When I moved out, into a house that had rocks in the front yard and dirt in the back, I slowly started spending too much time inside. Sure, I went outside for bike rides, but I didn’t live outside anymore. I LOVE being outside! So, this year, I plan to do things to make myself be outside more.
Finally, we spent a lot of time with family. This whole season has been really marvelous. There’ve been a lot of times I wished I could freeze time. I just sit quietly and notice how perfect things are right at that moment. There’s so much laughter. I see the big picture more often lately. The picture is all good.
I came to Charlotte to visit my lovely family for a week around Halloween and brought my Spinolution Bee!! Snazz, snazz all-around – there’s no other way to describe it. I have much love for the Spinolution wheels, much appreciation for Mike who makes them in California (he chats with me through any questions or difficulties I might have), and much respect for the Bee. The Bee is like the Mini-Me of my wheel at home, the Mach II.
There’s a zany story about how its treadles landed under my feet, and I’d been in the market for a super-compact travel wheel, but not RIGHT NOW. It just was kind of like how people who want a kid sometimes get them earlier than they planned, or how people suddenly find themselves with a puppy or a kitten. It’s all good.
Ultimately, it’s awesome to have this teensy wheel for travelling. My Mach II is super huge and is great for making giant, furry, chunky-monkey yarns and has very large bobbins. But it also weighs a lot and requires trunk space in the back of a car to lay it down flat and take it out on tour. It’s so big, I call it Ferris, because it’s giant like a ferris wheel. The Bee on the other hand folds down into a teensy rectangular box shape and has a built in lazy kate for 3 bobbins, albeit smaller than the Mach II’s. I’ll save my super chunky or hairy yarns for the Mach II and make my plain-old-bulky yarns and thick & thins on the Bee while out & about.
I took it to Ross before I left town and had it try on a bunch of carry-on suitcase outfits. I also brought my measuring tape and a paper with notes from Delta and Continental on it. It has a personality like mine, I guess, because it chose an orange suitcase. Tommy Hilfiger, no less. $45 for the carry on, too! Not bad at all, and there’s zipper space in the front for fiber and yarn. Suave.
At the airport, I got a little shake-down from Continental Airlines at the gate, saying it was “too big” since the expandable zippers were unzipped. But ultimately, it’s only “too big” if the plane is totally full and everyone in your area wants to put a carry on above them. The suitcase fits overhead even with the expandable zippers unzipped, but not with the top handle pointing toward the aisle, only stowed sideways. The good news is, if this is an issue, I can take the wheel out of the luggage, zip up the expandable zipper and put the wheel underneath the seat in front of me. So either way, no biggie. Seem like too many details? If you’re a spinner looking for a travel wheel, these things are good to know. I was in NO WAY going to check the luggage under any condition, because it’s a spinning wheel, not a basketball.
This was truly valuable to know for the second leg of our flight – sweartagod it was smaller than a Hawaiian inter-island plane and it was a 4 hour flight (Are you KIDDING ME?) and there were two seats on the right of the aisle and one seat on the left of the aisle and those on the right side had no overhead compartments at all. Shay woke up and said “Are we there yet?” And I said, “No, another hour,” and he took these pictures out his window.
Needless to say, we all made it in one piece (after a weatherly delay, around 3AM, but nonetheless) … I woke up the next day to glorious Charlotte Fall Leaves and my baby niece, who strings together sentences now! I gave her a baby hat I knitted and she’s darling. There are kind of no words that do justice.
Virtually every morning, Shay and I trek through the back alley paved walkways to the coffee shop where I can work remotely … there’s a wine and cheese bar nearby that we’ll walk to at night sometimes. The walks are the Ultimate Morning Walks. Everything is gorgeous and the weather is perfect.
They have moss everywhere here.
And English Ivy grows on the trees wildly, just because.
(I could now wax poetic for a thousand years about my neverending, undying, hope-we-die-together-in-our-sleep love for this guy, but I’ll spare everyone I guess).
In the evenings after work, my brother and sister-in-law and I sit around on the sofas and watch whatever’s on. I’ve spun a couple neat yarns since I’ve been here – I have to fill up two bobbin’s full to get a nice sized skein of my bulky yarn. Here’s some hand-dyed handspun yarn pics in lovely fall colors, made of merino and soysilk.
Peace-out for now, there’s more to come.
Well, I have to say the Slope Art Walk in October went swimmingly well. All of us made some sales and we debuted our new Bewilderknits business cards!
We practiced for a couple weekends in a row doing mock-ups of our booth. Some things worked better than others, as things always go. We had a neat wall of scarves – lighting design by Shay (of course … my husband is an electrical engineer and likes to design lighting). Below, you can also see the back side of our new folded price, fiber contents and care instructions tags.
We made a fancypants sign and put it above the wall o’ scarves that said “Please touch & try on” and put a full length mirror next to them all, but few people seemed comfortable taking them off the wall to try them on. The Wall o’ Scarves might need a Vanna White to encourage folks along.
I made a few sales – we all did – but the really fun part was actually just being in the same place as some of the other amazing vendors. How amazing? Oh, like New Times Best of Phoenix 2009 Amazing: Stacey Gordon, the puppeteer behind Puppet Pie (see her awesome etsy shop of puppets here) was behind us next to Erin and her Sock Zombies. And the spinner supreme Lisa Takata (see her super sustainable fiberous shop here) who re-taught me how to cast on a thousand times at my first knitting circles a few years ago, and then later inspired me to learn to spin yarn, was seated right beside us.
Between this all-star crew and the visits we got from family members & friends, we had a really swell night. I improved my Kittyknitter basket this time by printing out some copy about how the Kittyknitter scarf sales work. Shay and I came up with some branding for the Kittyknitter line, which I debuted at this art walk. I’ll develop it further across time so that I can both help people get to the Kittyknitter scarf shop online but also learn about TNR resources in Phoenix like AZ Cats and Altered Tails.
I think I’m going to give the alley cat in my new Kittyknitter logo a striped scarf. Then I’ll get new little mini cards from moo.com with this logo & a link to the Kittyknitter box in my Etsy shop.
I’m very pleased with how things are going. Sure, I don’t sell a MILLION Kittyknitter scarves (YET!) but I have sold a couple on Etsy to kind customers out-of-state. This winter, I have my eye on three new kitties traipsing around my back yard.
Also, Stacey learned what I was doing a couple months ago and has started a line of kitty finger puppets which works just like my Kittyknitter line – and she has now, with the help of Altered Tails, run around HER neighborhood and successfully trapped, neutered and released many strays in her part of Phoenix. When you visit her shop (and please do), keep your eye out for these! The whole Kittyknitter project has been a very inspiring experience for me.
Also what was fun was getting a whole lot of spinning accomplished in the 5-hour block of sitting at the booth, answering questions (referring some of them to Lisa), and interacting with a lot of interested kids, old guys, and cops on bicycles who said we should be in a circus. (While I probably WOULD work pretty well in a circus, I didn’t think yarn-spinning was the reason for my qualifications).
Now, I’m in the middle of making a slew of new yarn and knitted items for our next events and to re-stock my Etsy shop. We already had to reorder more business cards. The “To Do” list never ends and the ideas keep coming in. I’m happy with the work-in-progress status of this venture.
This year marked the 10 year anniversary of our tradition of going camping in Lockett Meadow in the fall. Ten years ago, this was started with Cora when she went to NAU in Flagstaff and we first discovered the fall foliage there. Ordinarily we go in October, around Shay’s birthday, but this time we went over the 3 day weekend due to scheduling issues and Karen’s birthday. Karen is one of the Bewilderknits girls.
This year, we reminisced about many foibles of previous camping excursions and Cora (another Bewilderknits girl) commented, “Do any of our camping trips ever go completely smoothly?” Not really. This year followed that tradition. On morning number 1, just after breakfast, I spun up 4 ounces of yarn on my new drop spindle and waited for Shay to come back. He ran an errand – to drive to a place with cell phone signal to call others joining us and ask them to bring beans and firewood. The previous night we’d stayed alone, on Thursday night, and it had thunderstormed BIG TIME – lightning flashed through the tent walls and I would say “One-one-thousand,” and the earth beneath us shook our bodies in our bed. Thunder was rolling from the left to the right just above us across the sky. It was a real stormchaser’s dream. Our tent, which in 5+ years, has never been really put through an honest water-resistance test (we’re in Arizona, after all) handled the rain really well that night. We were pleased to wake up to sunny weather and only really needing beans and dry firewood.
Shay returned and when we went to cook breakfast, we realized we actually had plenty of beans and what we really needed was eggs. But it was too much work to make another trip for a phone call, so we made do with a giant burrito. Since we’d heard about the storms, we also had purchased and set up, for the first time ever, a 10 x 10′ tent with open walls, specifically for rain coverage. We even moved around the picnic table the day before so that everything would stay dry. Shay said “I have a feeling rain is coming again,” because we could see the gray fog moving in across the trees in the distance. I started calling this ominous fog “Gorillas in the Mist” because it kept proving over and over to be a forewarning of huge, thundering rain.
As we sat under the tent, it began pouring rain – a serious downpour. I threw a cheap rain parka on over myself because we began getting soaked even under the tent. Then the rain turned into icy hail – then the hail turned into simply giant balls of ice. Huge ice balls were falling everywhere, bouncing off of whatever they originally landed on and landing somewhere else. Shay held a plastic cup out for a few seconds and captured half a cup full of ice balls, even though most of them bounced out of the cup.
Then the water began coming through our campsite down the hill. Lockett Meadow is inside the center of an old caldera, a meadow surrounded by tall trees on hills the climb uphill on all sides. Campsites are on the edges of these hills, and water began pouring down and forming small rivers and then waterfalls at various locations through our campsite. We were pleased to see that the waterfalls were on the outer edges of our picnic table, and then realized a river was created going underneath the corner of our tent. Shay ran out in the hail with a shovel and dug a new manmade river re-routing the water away from our tent. I was amazed to see that eventually the water even climbed slightly uphill to go back downhill. All of this water met up at the main road surrounding Lockett Meadow and became a rushing river leading to the watering hole.
Shay was soaked to the bone, and his head was hurting from being pelted by big ice balls too. We sought protection inside the tent – amazingly it was barely leaking at all. As long as we didn’t touch the walls we were fine. It was a good thing we’d saved our tent’s instruction manual – we actually read it while setting it up this time and learned that as long as you don’t touch the walls, your tent will be a more effective umbrella for you.
We laid in bed for at least 3 hours just waiting out the storm. We learned that if we touched the floor of the tent, which was made out of tarp material, it just felt like touching the surface of a waterbed, and made our hands damp. I said worst case scenario, we stay on the air mattress and float up to the ceiling with it until something gives and then keep floating around on it as a floatation device.
Eventually the rain stopped, and we knew it for certain when the birds began chirping again. We came outside and realized it looked like we were sleeping inside a beer cooler. The ground was covered in little ice balls of hail, some places were 8 inches deep of hail. It began to melt and absorb into the ground so quickly, because the soil there is so different than it is in Phoenix. When Karen & Cora arrived, the first thing they said was “Why didn’t you tell us when you called us that it was SNOWING?!” The drive up had been full of storms and cars pulled over on the side of the road, and then it looked like everything was lined with snow from the road. They had to step in the ice balls themselves to realize it was just hail.
Later on, our friends Judith and Robert arrived. They had gotten lost – even though Judith proved herself to be ready for the End Times. I started calling her End Times Judith when she kept on proving herself to be more ready for strandedness than anyone else was. She offered us tamales and gloves and an extra tarp to cover firewood with. Robert went crazy chatting us up about his awesome latest cooking toy, and school. They’d intended to “spend the day” with us, but didn’t arrive until a couple hours before sunset. We were just thrilled that anyone even showed up! We’d said to each other “No one is coming.” It was outstandingly fun to have such a crowd to hang out with.
That night was pretty chilly in the tent, I felt like a small creature sleeping inside a very giant icy styrofoam cup. But the weather warmed up the next day – the leaves hadn’t even turned green there yet, after all – and we spent the whole day outside knitting and chatting and playing with the camera. On the last night, perhaps because it had been soaking in water on the ground, our air mattress completely went flat. For once, we hadn’t overpacked, so we had nothing extra to try to sleep on. Shay said, “I know, let’s go to a hotel.” I was more than happy to jump on board. We drove into town for a good night’s sleep the last night, before driving back in the morning to pack up. Karen and Cora stayed behind and wrote a list for future trips including “Bring an extra air mattress.” One day we’ll get it right, whatever right is. Until then, I guess we’ll just keep going and knitting through the days, playing with our flashlights in the dark, and cameras.
On that note, here are some pictures of Lockett Meadow. When I googled for some images of Lockett Meadow last year, I could barely find anything. I’ve no idea why, because it’s so picturesque. I’m so happy that after all these years, we finally have a camera that has the capacity to portray what this place really looks like. Here are some of my favorites from the trip this year.