Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Wishes

I've been taking a break from weaving and scarf dreaming to spend time with family, catch a few movies, eat a few too many tortilla chips, and dread the passage of time.

Yes, I admit it - I've been dreading the obligatory looking back/looking forward of New Year's like a trip to the dentist. Sixty scarves aside, this has been a year of loss, and looking forward I have to accept that 2012 comes with no guarantees. You just can't put "become a mom" on your New Year's Resolutions list. Hence, the dread. I usually relish list making and planning and dreaming, but who wants to think about resolutions when there's nothing you can do to get what you really want?

Or so I thought. I was in full-on avoid-all-New-Year's-worksheets mode until Sara at Feeding the Soil posted this one, from Superhero Journal. Just the first few questions made me want to weep and run to get a pencil to fill it out. Behold:

What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in regard to 2011?
What challenges did you face with courage and strength?
What are you proud of?

Yes, yes, yes! These are my kind of questions! Life is messy, so why should a reflection worksheet or a resolutions list be neat and tidy and tear-free? And even though this worksheet had me at hello, it sealed the deal with Question 2:

What is there to grieve about 2011?

Just seeing those words, being given permission not to celebrate, is so powerful. But the most important part of all is about moving forward:

The final step is to consider your primary focus for the year to
come. What is your primary intention or theme for 2012?
Is it the year of joy?
The year of self-care? The year of kicking ass?
The year of ease?
Stand up and say it proud, “2012 is my year of ________”

So, here it is. I am saying it to you.

2012 is my year of being happy with what I have.

Isn't that better than resolving to eat better or walk more or make time for yoga? Of course I'm putting those on my list too, but whether I stick to them or not I'll be happy because 2012 is my year of being happy with what I have. Yes.

I'm wishing all of you more happiness in 2012. Whatever year it is for you, may it be a great one.

"Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you - all of the expectations, all of the beliefs - and becoming who you are." Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

"Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am." Thomas Merton

(This project - this audacious determination to make 100 scarves - is a big dream, so I was pleased to see that the authors of my new favorite reflection worksheet are offering an online course in dreaming big. )

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Wishes

This time of year - whether we celebrate the holidays or not - can bring a wide variety of experiences and emotions. If you are with loved ones, I hope you are hugging them close. If you are missing loved ones, I hope you are hugging yourself. If you are happy, I wish you moments of joyful awareness of your blessings. If you are hurting, I wish you moments of peace, remembering that the pain won't last forever.
Wishing all of you warmth, unburdened hearts, and stress-free travel!

Happy 24 - oops, 28 - Day!

Well, this is a little embarrassing. See, I'd written a nice post celebrating the 24 scarves that I've sold, planning to share it with you today - the 24th of December. The only problem is that when I began compiling photos, they didn't add up. I had 28 sold scarves staring at me, not 24. A little investigating and cross checking revealed that I'd accidentally left four sold orders off of my spreadsheet (good thing I figured this out before tax time!).
Any way you add them up, these scarves are a happy reminder of all the threads twisted and smoothed, all the combinations of colors and textures, all the connections and conversations with friends, family, and far-off customers. Thank you, dear customers, for buying my scarves. I hope they are warming you or someone you love.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What Shall We Do with the Drunken Yarnball?

No, this is not a commentary on the ever-increasing constraints imposed on American childhood. It's just what happens when you have a ball of wet yarn and an extra highchair lying around.
Remember when I told you how I threw a few balls of yarn into the dyebath with Scarf 56? Well, here's the moral of that story: tightly wound balls of yarn do not dry out. I knew this, of course, but conveniently forgot it as I tossed the ball of pink yarn into the pot.
A day later I realized I was going to have to do something about this soggy-on-the-inside ball of yarn, and just as I was thinking about it my eye conveniently roamed over the highchair. It made the perfect frame to loosely hang the yarn around, giving it space to dry. It looked so cool, I had to share.

And just so you know the challenges I face trying to photograph anything in this house:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Scarf 57 & Scarf 58: Nice People are Nice

When I was in sixth grade my English teacher banned the word "nice" from his class. "Good" met the same fate. While I genuinely appreciated his attempts to expand my vocabulary, sometimes "nice" really is the best word for the job. Let me introduce you to two nice scarves that are on their way to meet their nice new owners. Scarf 57 and Scarf 58 couldn't be more different, but they both have nice stories.
Scarf 57 is a custom design for a friend who wanted a gift for her mother-in-law from West Texas. Wouldn't it be nice, she asked me, if we could find a local Texas yarn to make her scarf from? After asking on Facebook and calling around, we ended up at Gauge, a friendly little local yarn shop, where we picked out two lovely skeins of Texas Two Step from White Bear Fibers. This yarn comes from alpacas on the Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch in Navasota, Texas. As a dyed-in-the-alpaca Texan myself, I loved the concept of this gift and enjoyed every minute of making it. The yarn was perfect to weave with too - very thin but strong - making a lightweight scarf with elegant drape.
And aren't those colors beautiful? White Bear Fibers calls the sagey green "Cedar" and the variegated blue and green "Peaceful Cedar," but by any name they are soothing and sophisticated and subtly striped. (Thank you, Mr. Perryman - it's true that "nice" doesn't quite cut it when describing this yarn.)

But back to the nice stories. Ah, Scarf 58 - my elusive friend. Scarf 58 was dreamed up at the yoga studio where I teach. One of my students, in love with Scarf 17, asked if I could make a similar confection in sparkly pinks and purples. The scarf-to-be was for her niece, who was going through a very difficult time, and she felt the scarf might be a comfort to her. My goodness! What could I possibly love more than to make something comforting for someone who needs comforting?
I had recently heard about dyeing with Kool-Aid, so I thought that would be a fun project. Scarf 56 was the result and though it turned out rather well, it wasn't as sparkly or pink as desired. I started again, this time with pink cotton, purple wool, and lavender sparkles, and everything came out just right. Like some of the other ruffle scarves, Scarf 58 has a wool stripe running down the center, which, when felted, creates the ruffles. Here it is, still flat on the loom:

And here it is at last, all ruffled up:

I think my friend is just the nicest daughter-in-law and my yoga student is the nicest aunt. Not that they're the only nice ones around - I've had gift orders for friends, daughters, moms, newlywed-husbands, and soon-to-be-sister-in-laws, all from very nice people who were nice to buy my scarves. Sorry, Mr. Perryman, it's official: nice people are nice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Scarf 56: The Dye Job

Adventures in dyeing - first in Kool-Aid . . .

. . . then, when that didn't work out, in chemical dye (along with some balls of yarn, for company). . .

Scarf 59: Classic in Black

It's hard to tell from the photo, but those stripes are silver, offering a subtle shimmer to Scarf 59. The black is a smooth alpaca blend, making it classic, lightweight, soft, and chic. It's a secret special order for a dear friend of a dear friend. Let's hope she likes it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Scarf 50 Finds A Home

Scarf 50 was purchased at the Lake Travis Holiday Bazaar and given as a birthday gift to this lovely person. I opened my email this morning to find this picture and the note that the recipient loved her scarf and is wearing it today! I'm glad to hear it because brrrr, is it cold here! We woke up to frost on the lawn for the first time and a measly 23 degrees outside - definitely scarf weather!

If you have a scarf photo to share, send it to We'd all love to see these scarves in their (new) natural habitats!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Say Sayonara to Scarf 25 . . .

. . . because it's on its way to Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan!!!! No joke!

It all started with a message on Etsy:
"I love your "Scarf for Men and Women, Handwoven Red & Black"(No25)I would like to get this item!
But I live in Japan.....
Could you send to Japan?"

That's actually a good question, because shipping internationally is complicated. In addition to shipping fees, which can be tricky to calculate before the item is purchased, there are also taxes and duties, which may not be calculated until it gets there. And then there are the forms.

But this intrepid weaver would not be daunted! After a few hours of messages back and forth and lots of digging around for hints and tips, it all came together. And in the end it was much easier than it could have been because PayPal, which creates all my shipping labels for me, prompted me through the necessary customs forms. I'm crossing my fingers that there are no surprises or extra duties due at Japanese Customs, but so far so good.

Have fun in Japan, Scarf 25! Don't forget to write!

Something's Afoot

What? That's not a scarf, you say? Consider it cross training. After weeks and weeks bent over the loom, I needed a happy little knitting project that I could do on the couch. I also needed an inexpensive holiday gift for my nephew who loves musical instruments (yep, spoiler alert to his parents!). Behold, the result: Jingle Feet.
I'm not going to pretend they're scarves for your legs or anything silly like that - they're a complete departure from my scarf project - but I'm having fun with them so I'm sharing them with you anyway.
They're meant to be worn on the ankles or wrists so you can shake, dance, and jingle toyourheart's content. They're big enough to fit an adult wrist and I believe will fit the ankles of 1-10 year olds. I tested them on an 18-month-old, and they fit perfectly. Then she tested the Jingle Feet by trying to pull all the bells off and into her mouth. Her mother tried to stop her but I insisted we let her do her worst to make sure they would hold up. And they did. Beautifully. The bells are knitted in, rather than tied on, for exactly that reason. I'm not too interested in sending choking hazards far and wide across the country.
And this morning that's just what I'm doing, because these Jingle Feet sold to a nice person in Washington! I listed them in my other Etsy shop yesterday and they're already sold! I listed them again and will make some more today.
I also made a Yeti pair for Henry's Yeti Holiday Gift Guide. If you click through you'll also find my Yeti Scarf.
If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll know that I got the inspiration for Jingle Feet from this nice knitter in England. I changed up the pattern to be knit in the round, attached the bells differently, and made the bells smaller so they won't hurt if you sit down while wearing them.

I'm taking my Jingle Feet, along with my Christmas and Hanukkah coloring books and crayons, to the Lake Travis Christmas Bazaar tomorrow, where I'll be selling my scarves (yes, I do still sell scarves around here. Sheesh!).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Mystical Energies of Scarf 34

Remember Scarf 34? It was a custom design for a yoga student of mine who wanted an extra-wide, extra-long scarf with jewel tones against a dark background. He is very tall and has had difficulty in the past finding scarves that fit his frame. I found this yarn and took it from there, even buying a new accessory for my loom (a 5 dent heddle, for those of you who know what that means) to accommodate the extra chunky yarn.

I was so pleased with how it came out and was excited to introduce it to its new owner, but then he got sick and wasn't able to come to yoga class for several weeks. We emailed back and forth - him sending notice that he wouldn't be in class, me sending back photos of the finished scarf - until he was finally able to return to class this week.

This scarf had had quite the build-up and many weeks of anticipation to live up to, so I was thrilled when I took it out of the bag and saw its new owner's eyes go wide in delight. Success! He jauntily wrapped it around his neck and immediately two women standing nearby lunged towards him to feel it, saying "Wow!" He responded, "It works! I'm never taking it off!" And we all laughed and laughed.
Amidst the laughter and spin-off jokes, he continued to admire it and tell me how much he loved it. My heart grew three sizes! Making something that makes someone so happy is just not a gift we get every day. He even called it an "heirloom" as he walked out the door.

This morning he sent me the following message, with the subject "My Scarf Now Probably Wants to Be Named":
My scarf seems to be able to be glow in the dark; I suspect the presence of mystical energies.

Thank you again for creating it. I look forward to wearing it across the next several decades.

Does it make sense to you if I tell you I feel like I should be thanking him rather than the other way around?

Funnily enough, another very tall former-yoga-student of mine recently purchased a scarf and inquired whether or not it had magic powers. Perhaps I should just tell him yes.

Etsy On Sale

I'm trying a new tool called Etsy On Sale. It's a separate website that facilitates store-wide sales. I'm using it to host a holiday sale of 20% off everything. In addition to listing my scarves at Etsy On Sale, it also updates the prices in my Etsy shop, adjusting the main image to show the original price. You can see this new look in my mini Etsy shop at the top right of this blog - see how all the listings have tiny red writing at the top? That's the sale info and original pricing.

Yes, I'll admit - it hurts a bit to see all the prices drop so much. I had them all priced to try to pay myself a fair wage of $10 per hour, but I'm afraid that just wasn't realistic for the craft market. I'm thinking about new techniques to explore, but in the meantime I'm mostly just happy to connect people with scarves they love, regardless of profit.
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