Category Archives: Flow

Living In A Show Home

Buy My House

Buy Our House

I haven’t written much about the #HomeSaleFixUp, mostly because we’re actually IN the buyers-looking-at-the-home portion of the process, and it can feel so demoralizing, that I just didn’t want to write about it much.

We put the house on the market on June 1, and we’ve had A LOT of interest. We’re showing the house an average of once a day, which means we need to keep the house looking tip-top (hard when you’re trying to run a messy home business and living with three cats, one dog, two teens & a tinkering husband…)

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

But overall it hasn’t been unduly difficult.  We find reasons to scoot out of the house when folks want to see it  (shopping, picking up dinner, going for a bike ride) and Jasper’s never HAD so many long walks.  Max’s habit is to take him out for an hour-long walk whenever we need to leave to show the home.

Sometimes we’ll pack a lunch and go sit in a park and enjoy ourselves – we keep a blanket in the back of the car just for that reason.  We think the house is showing well, we’ve had a lot of good comments and the home is consistently rated 3-4 on interior & exterior appearance (out of 5)

The main problem seems to be the busy street, which we always knew. It was a consideration when we purchased the home, we thought long and hard about it, but I can honestly say that in nine years it hasn’t really been a huge issue in our lives.  But every family is different!

killroom

Dexter Prepares to Dye, er, Kill

I’m becoming quite skilled at dyeing yarn in a teeny-tiny space, only using as much room as absolutely necessary and doing everything over washable rugs and with plastic draped around the walls.  My friend Deb likened it to Dexter’s “Kill Room”, which is more truth than poetry when I’m dying those bright reds.  I’m DEFINITELY more careful than I was when it didn’t matter how the room look when I finished! I’m also really glad that when I painted downstairs, I used deep, saturated colors.  If I DO spill, and wipe it up, it’s not as much of a tragedy as if the walls were white!

I just finished dyeing up a large order for Bijou Basin ranch, before that I was rushing to fill orders that had been placed while Kathleen and I were on the road.  We’re getting more and more wholesale accounts, which is amazing and great, and which also means more dyeing (which is also great!)

(L-R) Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti, Community Clinic & A Lovely Thing

(L-R) Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti, Comm Clinic & A Lovely Thing

Mostly I’m trying to get a lot of yarn ready for our trip to Stitches Midwest in early Aug in Schaumberg, IL.  We’re excited to give it a second go, and see how it all pans out this year.  It’s DEFINITELY the easiest show to load into and out of (we can pull right into the show area!)

After that is finished, we have a trip to the Michigan Fiber Festival in late Aug.  I have taught there and I LOVE this festival,  I’m thrilled to be teaching there again!  It’s such a lovely event, the atmosphere is amazing and it’s in the sweet little town of Allegan, MI.  Kathleen’s never been to Michigan, so it’s a great introduction to the state for her!

(L-R) Lilac FLOW, Iris FLOW & Hydrangea FLOW

(L-R) Lilac FLOW, Iris FLOW & Hydrangea FLOW

We’ll be dropping Andy off at school (Earlham College, oddly enough Michael C. Hall — Dexter — is an alum…) on the way (she’s going back early to work Freshman Orientation) so to kill a few days before the MFF Kathleen and I are doing some cabin-camping on Lake Michigan – I’m really looking forward to that!  it’s pretty bare bones, but I’ll be certain to shower before heading to Allegan for my first knitting class of the festival!

Now if we could just find the perfect family to love our home as much as we have, and THEN find the perfect “aging couple” home for Gerry and I, we could relax!

I’m Shorter.

The last time I went to my doctor and was measured, I was a full inch shorter than the last time.  ONE INCH! This was a different doctor’s office, and I’m certain there are some discrepancies in how hard the nurse pushes down that little metal arm on top of my head to get the reading, but an inch is a LOT!

So it’s not so much that I’ve gained weight this year, as that I’ve lost height. And it shows! Clothes seem to fit differently, my own ‘personal space’ just feels different.

It’s frustrating as I’ve been eating pretty intelligently this year (although never enough leafy greens, always working on that!) but I haven’t been cycling as much as I have in the past.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.48.09 AMOr maybe I have.

I just made a chart of my total miles per month (I’ve been keeping track of all these numbers via Daily Mile since 2010) and it looks like my cycling has actually INCREASED in the past few years.

Wow.  I guess I am cycling a lot.  Those 4 and 7 mile rides really add up!

That doesn’t change the fact that clothes are fitting weirdly (not tight, just weird) so I have NO idea what’s going on…  It’s so odd when a portion of your personality’s been based on being tall, and suddenly it seems you’re one of the short ones in the room!

Well, regardless, I’m off for a long bike ride today. I’ve earned it, damnit, and I deserve it!

Brahmin MothYesterday I did something I haven’t done in months, I biked over to St. Kates and sat on the porch, knitting.

I’m finishing up a sample garment that we’ll be releasing in December, a scarf (shawl?) I’ve based on the beautiful Brahmin Moth.

I’ll reveal the images later, but it’s one of the nicest things I think I’ve ever designed.  I’m really excited about it, as soon as it’s tech edited I’ll have some folks test knit it, then I’ll release it!

Cuckoo Wasp

Cuckoo Wasp

I often get inspiration for colors from insects, they’re so beautiful! While looking through a bunch of moth and butterfly images I ran across this amazing moth, and knew I had to create a garment that reflected the stunning contrast and tone gradations.

I’m terrified of wasps, but one of the most beautiful creatures on earth is the Cuckoo Wasp, which was the basis for one of our colorways in our FLOW club last year.

I was so excited to find this baby online (and NOT in my house) and it was thrilling to be able to match the colors in yarn!

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn in ModeWerk Fingering

Here’s some of the Cuckoo Wasp yarn already dyed, ready to be rolled into balls.  I knit all the fabric up, then dye it (so I can place the long-color gradients) and then roll it into balls.

Yes, it’s labor intensive, but it’s worth it for the beautiful FLOW effect!

I’d be interested in hearing from you what color inspirations you see in your life!  Please add a link in comments to an animal, landscape, food, book – anything that gives you a ‘color shiver!’

According To [Business] Plan!

Tonight I’m reveling in the enjoyment of an Epsom Salt bath, a nice warm dip on a cool, almost Autumnal evening here in MN, watching TV on my iPad while I bathe my sore skin. Absolute heaven.

If I could have another child I would name it Epsom.

I visited my acupuncturist (Susan at Crocus Hill Acupuncture) today for the first time in a LONG time, she said that she’s seen quite excellent results with acupuncture and shingles, and also gave me an herbal oil essence (Yin Care) which does seem to help a bit.  Having said that, the pain continues in insane ways, but knowing what it is removes the mystery aspect, which is always the hardest part of pain (at least for me!)

I’ll keep you posted on the efficacy of the above therapies; if I’ve learned anything, it’s that – as Gerry’s wonderful Aunt Arlene says – “EVERYONE gets shingles!”
If I can save someone some of this pain, I’ll feel that it’s been a bit worth it!

So with that squared away, I have dyeing to do!  We’re having an EXCELLENT August, lots of great orders, and I think the excitement about our Caledonian Colors (in honor of the Outlander mini series) has a lot to do with our increased sales!  Our Lanark Plaid Cowl doesn’t hurt, either!

Personification of Caledonia by the Victorian artist William Hole, photographed by Kim Traynor

Personification of Caledonia by the Victorian artist William Hole, photographed by Kim Traynor

Caledonia is the Latin name given by the Romans to the land in today’s Scotland north of their province of Britannia, beyond the frontier of their empire. The etymology of the name is probably from a P-Celtic source. Its modern usage is as a romantic or poetic name for Scotland as a whole, comparable with Hibernia for Ireland and Britannia for the whole of Britain. — Wikipedia, Caldonia

COLOR CHOICES

These colors are very close to my heart, as is Scotland (where I felt immediately at home the first time I set foot in St. Abbs to stay with Louise of Woolfish)  She runs an an amazing shop, by the way, you should stop by there if you’re on the East coast of Scotland!

Some of our earliest Semi Precious colors, as interpreted in FLOW

Some of our earliest Semi Precious colors, as interpreted in FLOW

I’m enjoying working up our FLOW colors, creating colors that graduate in hue and value as the yarn is unwound. In fact, I find it more satisfying than the way I’ve been doing all of our yarns so far, so I’m trying to figure out a way to create our basic colors along the same lines of our FLOW colors.

The No Spoilers line is doing extremely well, and YES, we DO intend to bring the 221B Colors back.  We were going to wait until the next season of Sherlock, but we may break down and do a holiday run… Stay tuned!

All of this is exciting because it’s pretty much exactly what we’d envisioned for this section of our business growth.  Our plan had been to develop some good base colors (our Semi Precious) then add new colors as they seemed pertinent (No Spoilers) and to introduce different ways to display those colors in the yarn (semi solid, chunky colors, blends and now FLOW)

I’m also working hard to develop uniformity, to make follow-able recipes and techniques to create our colors so that, as we grow, I can hire dyers and hand off some of the more physically difficult work.  The importance of this has become very evident these past 2 weeks.

I’m still learning, and as with any yarn there are differences from dye lot to dye lot, but my goal is to create colors that I can recreate with a certain level of consistency.

Finally my 20K graduate degree in “folding” (and dyeing) is paying off!

YARN CHOICES

We’re offering five yarns right now

  1. ModeWerk Superwash Merino Worsted
  2. ModeWerk Superwash Merino Fingering
  3. ModeWerk Superwash Merino Bulky
  4. ModeSock Superwash Merino/Bamboo/Nylon Blend
  5. ModeLuxe Silk & Merino Blend

Before we offer a yarn we test it thoroughly for wear, washing, knitability and just general good yarn juju.  We haven’t yet found a lace we love, or a MCN we want to stick with, but we promise that we won’t add a yarn to our permanent line unless we LOVE it ourselves!

We are also working with suppliers who we feel will be able to continue to carry these yarns for a long time, it’s so annoying to fall in love with a yarn only to see it head off to yarn heaven!

PROFIT MARGIN

As well as things are going, Kathleen and I keep reminding ourselves that we didn’t intend to be able to pay ourselves quite yet, and that being able to pay off all of our yarn, dye, and the cool (but expensive) equipment we purchased in June (using only profits from the business) is actually a huge WIN!  Aside from our initial investment and a couple hundred dollars more a few months in, the business is paying for itself so far.  Now we have to grow it so the business can pay US, too!

CLUB, ANYONE?

To that end, we’ve been discussing different types of Yarn Clubs we might work up.  We’d love to have your input on the type of club that you would like to belong to – tell us in the comments what your ‘dream club’ would be!  Would you like it to be project oriented?  Yarn centered? Maybe a mini-skein club?

IMG_0810Would you like different weights of yarn in different deliveries of the same club, or would you prefer to have a sock yarn or bulky yarn only club?

And what do you feel would be a fair price for this dream club you may be envisioning?

Obviously I’m asking you for some market research, but any advice you’d care to share would be happily and gratefully accepted!  I’ve committed myself to making at least one pattern a month available for free (patterns move yarn!) and perhaps one aspect of the club would be patterns which are only available to club members?

So, friends, as we grow and develop and try to address the hand-dyed-easy-care market we’re carving out for ourselves, know that we appreciate your comments, your business, your chatter and your good thoughts.  Thank you!

I must have been VERY bad

In a past life I must have REALLY pissed off someone – or maybe in this life – because the pain I’ve had the last few days is crazy.  A sore back sent me to bed early on Tues, where the pain became SO bad at 3am that Gerry said we should go to the ER.

Test, test, test.

Test, test, test.

Apparently I had had a kidney stone. Different tests showed that there’d been one, and the fact they couldn’t see it on the scan led the doctor to say that I’d passed it. “The pain should go away now, just rest for a few days and make an appt to see your own GP.”

But the pain didn’t go away, it got worse.

And added to this pain was an incredible skin sensitivity (think of how your skin feels during a bad flu, then add poison ivy pain to that) and I had a lot to talk about with my doc on Thursday. As she was examining the part of my back that hurt the worst, in the general location of my right kidney, I half joked, “It couldn’t be shingles, could it?”

Yes, yes it could.

My constant companion

My constant companion

I’m on the watch for shingles all the time, but for Gerry, not for me. Because of his stem cell transplant and various drugs he’s on, he’s more susceptible to develop shingles. There has been at least one time when I caught the symptoms on him just in the nick of time (earning raised eyebrows and a smile from our oncologist) At the time it was taken care of with a quick course of Valtrex.

But these shingles had a bit of time to settle in, and they are intense.  Everything you’ve heard in those TV ads is true. I have so much pain that I’m nauseous.

The nausea makes it hard to keep the pain meds down. It’s a vicious circle, and I’m in the center of it.  I haven’t had this kind of out-of-control nausea since my first pregnancy.  I can’t wear anything but the loosest cotton dress, anything touching my body is cause for agony.

In other words, I’m not a good date.

In fact, if you asked me what was going on with my body (and if I hadn’t had a hysterectomy and wasn’t 52) I’d say, “Obviously I’m in labor!”

Since Tuesday. This sucks.

Work Continues…

Our newest design, Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

The worst part is that I can’t get much work done. I finished up some schematics for my new book and got that out the door, and yesterday I wrote up a simple plaid pattern for a multi colored cowl (in our new Caledonian Colors) but my concentration is poor, and I can only knit for a few minutes before pain causes me to change my position into a non-knitting one.

Thursday evening we had to reshoot three sweaters for my upcoming book, and I KNEW that if we didn’t do it, it would be BIG TROUBLE. Andy goes off to college next Thursday, and I really needed to get front shots of 3 garments.

My photographer (Lara Need of Math4Knitters) is amazing, and she did most of the work. The models (Andy & our friend Lydia) were beautiful with great attitudes, so it was as stress free as a shoot could go.

I consider it a huge success that I was able to wait
until we got home to be sick. We all have different yardsticks.

I haven’t been able to ride my bike (the idea makes me break out in a cold sweat) and that makes the fibro pain grow in unwanted ways.

Well, what doesn’t kill us… right?

I find myself SO hesitant to write about this (I’ve actually been rather hesitant to blog at all these days…) because I know that someone will pop up to say, “Stop whining about your pain, just work through it!”

And they’d be right in a sense. The best thing to do with pain is to find a path through it, and sometimes talking about it isn’t the best path.

But the last 3 days have been overwhelming. I gave birth twice, to two big babies, the last one (11lbs) with no medication. This pain is worse. And it doesn’t seem to want to end.

Having said that, the pain does seem infinitesimally better since yesterday. I think the meds are working, but the nausea is as bad as ever.  But even that small change for good is reason to hope.

The cowl, down Jasper gets around

The cowl in it’s down position.
Jasper gets around

Your Reward

For reading my long tale of woe is that I’d like to gift you with the cowl pattern!

Lanark Plaid Cowl To download click on image of pattern.

Lanark Plaid Cowl
To download click on image of pattern.

Bear in mind, it’s been written by a woman in pain, and the tech edit was pretty quick and dirty. But the pattern is crazy simple [notice I didn’t say EASY, just SIMPLE] and if you want, you can consider it a fun test knit…

And (because I’m not in my right mind) I’ll pick ONE name from the comments of a person to receive a ball of ModeWerk Bulky. This is soft, beautiful yarn – it knits up like a dream – AND it’s super wash. I so hate making a gift for someone, then attaching a “care instructions” card to it.

Just leave a comment below, I don’t care what it’s about, and your name will go in the hopper for the drawing!  I don’t want to restrict this to US folks, so if you want to participate and you’re in a foreign country you’ll have to pony up $10 for shipping (I’ll cover the rest, and all of the shipping costs if the winner’s from the US) Leave your comment by midnight on Sun, Aug 17th (US Central Time) and we’ll pick a winner on Monday.  Good luck!

So go, leave a message, and make me laugh.  Please.

Summer in Minnesota FLOWS On!

Gorgeous, MN

Gorgeous, MN

I love it here. I’m a woman who likes cold weather, and I LOVE chilly Summer evenings and sleep-with-the-windows-open nights.  I love Minnesota.

And, being a Virgo, I love home.

Being home is better than anything else to me (and I do love travel!) so this is a very special time – I know I’ll be home for a few weeks and I’m in heaven!

Butts at Olds!

Butts at Olds!

Last week I traveled up to Olds, Alberta to teach at Olds Fiber Week – which was lovely – but I am SO glad to be home, back on my bike, and getting my health back in order!

Travel really takes it out of me (out of so many of us) and it generally takes me about 1/2 the time of the trip to feel like ‘myself’ again.

Having said that, at the start of August I’ll be teaching at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair! I’m offering 4 classes (listed to the right in the calendar area) and some are filling up very fast! If you’re in the Chicago area or will be attending this great festival, please register soon so you’re not disappointed!

Bolero Book

Right now I’m focusing on finishing writing the 25 patterns for my book, working up the schematics and charts.  It will be published by Stackpole books, and the samples have received HUGE positive comments whenever I show them while teaching. I’m afraid I cannot show pics of the finished items (it’s in my contract) but I can give a small taste of some of the items!

I have a feeling this will be an pretty popular book; the patterns are very wearable, many of them are very simple to knit, and the yarns I was able to use are just gorgeous!

And – BONUS! – I just heard from my editor that I can have a bit more time for the pattern writing. This is HUGE because I’m dealing with a cracked tooth/abscess thing right now, so my thoughts are scattered, to say the least.

Dealing with mouth pain is not the best frame of mind for doing lots of math.

ModeKnit Yarn

In our own little corner of the knit world, we’ve begun a new line of colors called FLOW!

They’re long-color change yarns, and we’re using our established Semi Precious colors as a jumping off place – here you can see Spessartine (hand painted) vs Spessartine (Flow)  Basically I’m deconstructing the colors and layering them, separately, with the actual blending happening between the hues.

Right now we’re offering selected colors, you can buy them by the ball (limited quantities, once they’re out of stock they’re gone until I dye up more!)

I’m open to any color suggestions you might have for blending; what would YOU like to see?