Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wild Fiber Magazine

If you've been looking for a new fiber related magazine, but want something different than your standard pattern magazine, check out Wild Fiber Magazine. Their website is very out of date, but don't let that turn you off. The magazine is wonderful. In college I studied anthropology and often miss it. I never wanted a career in anthropology, but I loved learning about different cultures and ways of life. Thats what Wild Fiber is all about, but with a fiber twist. Each article is about a different place in the world where fiber is produced, milled or worked with. Its fascinating! This is a magazine that I keep beside my bed and read an article ever night, working my way from the first page to the very last. That way it lasts me a good long time, unlink a pattern magazine that I'll flip through a couple of times and then be done with. Usually there is only one pattern in each Wild Fiber magazine, I think; its not about the patterns.

I think that the next time someone asks me for a gift idea, I'll ask for a subscription!

ETA: I don't have any sort of connection, business or personal, to this magazine. I just picked up a copy out of curiosity and fell in love with it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Call for Yarn Donations

Do you have old straight needles that you never use anymore? Plastic needles that you've since replaced with Addi Turbos? Remember that yarn you bought when you were first learning, before you discovered the nice stuff at your LYS? Or that time that you couldn't resist all that gorgeous worsted weight red wool because it was on sale and who can say no to a sale, even though red really isn't your color? (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about...)

Well my good friend Elizabeth works for Girls Inc in Sante Fe and really wants to teach her girls to knit. I taught Elizabeth how to knit a year or two ago and now she wants to pass it on. But, being a non-profit, Girls Inc relys heavily on donations. 

If you have something to give, please contact me ( for the mailing address. I'll also be putting together a little gift box of Unique Sheep goodies and I'll be randomly drawing a name from the list of people who donated to decide who to send it to. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I know that everyone else thinks that us Southerners are are absolutely nuts for how we act when it snows. I know. I agree, we are a bit looney. But I don't care. Snow happens so seldom here, it is reaso n for celebration! Especially if you can still remember being in school and hoping for it to snow so that they would call off school the next day. Ok so I'm not in school anymore. And since I work out of my home I can't really use snow as an excuse not to "go to work". But still. Its so pretty!
This weekend we were at the mountain house with some friends and on the last day, it snowed! Not much, but it was so pretty to watch.

And then we got home (no snow for the drive, thankfully) and it started snowing here! And kept snowing and now its all white and beautiful. The only negative is that we have nothing to eat in the house, so we might have to go to the grocery store in the snow (which as a native NCer I find an impossible task).

Even Honey is enjoying the snow. Part of the bunny porch is covered and snow free (including her cage) but does she stay in the nice dry part? Ohhh no, shes bouncing around in the snowy part, eating snow and wondering why she can't get her paws clean.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Knitting for Good

I just started reading the book Knitting for Good. The basic idea is that knitting (or any type of crafting) can be a form of activism. I don't really consider myself an activist, though I've been called that by others in the past. But its an interesting perspective on knitting and I'm looking forward to seeing where she is going with the idea. The first section addresses how knitting can be beneficial on a personal level, and from there delves into knitting for the community and finally knitting to make a statement about global issues. At the end of each chapter she has some questions for reflection and I thought I'd explore the questions from the first chapter here.

How did you first come to knitting or craft?
I first developed a love for crafting of all types, and the basics of knitting, crochet and other needlework, as a very young child from my mother. I can't remember a time when craft of some sort wasn't a major part of my life. Even during my most chaotic and superficial years (middle school) I was developing a passion for sewing that lasted my through highschool and part of college. 

What paths crossed in your life to bring you to knitting?
Though I learned the basics of knitting early in life, I didn't become a Knitter with a capital K until college. My sophomore year in college (I think) I discovered that a group of students had formed a knitting group. I knew one or two of them somewhat from class and wanted an excuse to spend more time with them. I knew enough of knitting to justify going to club meetings, but quickly learned more and became passionate about it. A year or two later I heard that a LYS had recently opened in town and stopped by to check it out. The owner, discovering that I was a college student, told me that she was looking for help in the shop and to let any of my friends who were seeking a part time job know.  I applied for the job and became even more engrossed in the knitting community and lifestyle. Then when I was about to graduate and realized I had no career (or even job) plans for after graduation, I decided to try making money doing something I loved. And thats how I came to create The Unique Sheep. 

What would the you of ten years ago have thought about your interest in the handmade now?
Ten years ago I was 14 and in 8th grade. At that time I had just had a mid-adolescent crisis and realized that the superficial "friends" who made fun of my homemade clothes and odd hobbies were wrong and had decided to be myself and be more independent. I had started spending a lot of my free time designing and sewing. I think the me of 10 years ago wouldn't be terribly surprised to learn about my current interest in the handmade. 

And then there were some questions regarding other people in my life and their relationships to knitting...

How many people in your family or social circle learned to knit from family?
My mom learned how to knit from a woman on a boat on one of the family's trips from Europe to the US (my mom's step dad was in the army and often stationed in Germany). We think that this explains why we knit continental rather than English like most people in the US. Though my grandmother crochets a bit, I don't think she knows how to knit, or at least never taught my mom. Nor does my other grandmother knit, though she paints beautifully. 

Cassie learned from a "Teach yourself to Knit" book, Alli blames her knitting on early pregnacy hormones (though I'm not sure how she learned). Chris and Elizabeth both learned from me. 

I don't know how many of the other people in my "social circle" learned how to knit. If you have a few minutes to spare, leave me a comment and answer the following questions:

Did you learn to knit from a family member, someone else or a book/internet?

How old were you?

Was it unexpected?

Thursday, January 8, 2009


For several months now I have felt...listless. I guess maybe it started when I moved to Chapel Hill over the summer, but before that I was so stressed out by all the wedding planning that its hard to say for sure. I LOVE what I do with The Unique Sheep and if I gave that up I would miss it sorely, so thats not an option. Its my life outside of The Unique Sheep. I love my husband, but he is literally the only person I spend quality time with in this new home of mine. I've never had many friends, but I think I need more than one. More than one that is physically present, that is. I have many friends, but none of them are here. They are in Winston-Salem (my home town), Trinity (Kelly) or New Mexico, or scattered elsewhere. Thats the problem with being in your 20s. Everyone keeps moving around and starting new lives elsewhere.  Its hard to have an in-person relationship that lasts for more than a few years. And though I value my long distance relationships, they aren't the same. So I guess in part, I'm lonely. I don't know how to meet people without the crutches of school or work. 

But its not just the lonliness. I think my biggest problem is my lack of goals. It's January, and so everyone is talking about their goals for the year. I don't have any. I am very happy with the direction The Unique Sheep is going, and so I suppose a goal would be to keep it going in that direction, to keep it growing and fresh. But thats not much of a goal, really. I have other goals for my life, but nothing that I can work towards right now. I desperately want a home that I own with land for animals and gardens and space to breath. But thats not going to be possible for many years. My husband is in his second year of medical school which means that in 2 more years its likely that we will have to move to whichever city hosts the hospital where he is to do his residency. Its possible that we will buy a house then, but even so we will likely only be there for 4 years until his residency is over and its time to look for a more permanent position. And of course we have no idea where his residency will be, or where he will end up after that. He has promised me (and a grant committee) that we will end up in North Carolina, but who knows where, or if we will have to go elsewhere before then. So for now I'm stuck in an apartment that is adequate. I'm able to cram a surprising amount into it, including a dye studio, dog and rabbit. And a tiny bit of living space, on the side. But I always feel claustrophobic and its useless trying to keep it neat and clean. Even after I've spent a weekend cleaning it still looks like a mess because there isn't actually space to put everything away. And it doesn't feel like home to me, so I've never taken the time to decorate. Our lease runs out in May, and I am thinking about trying to find a town house to move into. That might help. But still, it would be a rental. It wouldn't be mine, and to me that matters. 

I know that real estate is almost worthless now a days, but I guess I'm from a generation that still believed that the only thing with real, physical value was land. A place that was owned, not just financially (though thats important), but owned by your soul, as well. A place that you can change and make your own. Where if you want to paint murals on the walls or tear down the walls, you can. Land that will provide you with plants to eat and air to breath. A place where you can create and grow. 

On most days I am able to accept that I can't have everything I want immediately, and that some things require patience. But I am also afraid that if I learn patience too well I'll be waiting all my life. 

And its off!

Guess what I did today? I mailed off the Colbert Cozy! This project has been months in the making and to be honest its kind of sad to see it go. But now the really fun part begins-- waiting to see if it makes it onto the show!

I tried to get some good pictures of it but its hard to do because its so big and because it has rained for the last week, so I haven't been able to take it outside to photograph. I did take a few more this morning, for reference the bed is Queen sized and it completely covers the top, without very little draping around the sides.

I shipped it priority mail, so it should arrive pretty quickly!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Homemade Caramels..mmmm

Yesterday I got a craving for caramels but couldn't find anything that looked good at the store. So I decided to make my own. The first batch turned out ok-- the flavor is great, but its too soft (I should have cooked it longer/hotter). Then my mother in law heard about my efforts and gave me her grandmother and great-aunt's recipe. Tomorrow I'm going to go to the grocery store and get the ingredients to try again. 

Great Grandma's English Caramels
 1 bottle of light Karo syrup
1/4 C. butter
 2 C. sugar
1 can evaporated milk added slowly
1 teasp vanilla
2 cup of chopped English Walnuts or Black Walnuts (they usually went out and collected the nuts in the country) 

cook until just reaches 250 degrees, pour out into shallow buttered not put in fridge to cool. cut into small rectangles, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate 

Colbert Cozy

For the past several months I have been collecting knitted and crocheted squares in red, white and blue that I have joined together to create an afghan for the comedian/news host Stephen Colbert. I'm not sure how this idea got started, but as soon as I came up with it I found lots of people who were eager to supply a block (or two, or three..) in the Ravelry "Fans of Fake News" group. Every week a few more blocks would arrive in the mail and I'd add them to the growing pile. Eventually I was able to start seaming them together, and finally I had enough to assemble the whole afghan and crochet a simple border around it. I think it looks great! Because we didn't specify a yarn (other than that it be washable), we ended up with lots of different shades of red, white and blue. I think it really adds to the patch work/ home made look. One of the group members has "connections" to the show and has alerted them to our project so they not only know that its coming, but are reported to actually be excited about it! And she got me the mailing address of one of the producers so I can mail it directly to someone close to Stephen. So tomorrow I'll be saying goodbye to the afghan and sending it off. Keep and eye open for it on the show!!


I don't know that anyone really wants to follow my life moment by moment, its not terribly thrilling, but if you do I have set up a Plurk account. So if you are on Plurk too, let me know. I'm "Painty" (of course). Be my friend. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009