Cool Tools I Saw at TNNA (and will have SOON!)

Recently I had the opportunity to attend TNNA in San Diego. For those of you unfamiliar with it – TNNA stands for The National NeedleArts Association and it is an international trade organization representing the manufacturers, retailers, designers, teachers, and distributors of all things related to the fiber arts. TNNA hosts at least 2 trade shows a year where the people who make yarn and tools come to show the new lines to the people who sell yarn and tools. It can be loads of fun and in years past has been pretty exciting as well. I think my first TNNA show was in 2003 – during the knitting explosion and there was lots of new yarn and tools and so many people you could barely move in the aisles.

Each year since – there have still been new yarns, books, tools and companies and yet there has also been lower and lower attendance as the knitting market has slowed and some shops have closed. This year I heard from many that expectations were low but that sales had generally exceeded expectations.  This is one of the few shows I go to each year where I get to be a shopper. This year was a bit different for me because I volunteered to help in the Wild Fibers/ Keep the Fleece booth. So I shopped less and talked more and got a slightly different vantage point than I sometimes do. What I saw that excited me most were the conversations and networking happening between fiber people at all levels.  In some ways the slower pace seemed to allow and facilitate folks figuring out ways to work together to get thru the hard economic times we are facing. People met in the aisles and joined up to plan joint projects and ventures that usually there is not time for. I had the opportunity to talk to so many people about Keep the Fleece and the International Year of Natural Fibers. We generated lots of excitement and support for raising awareness about natural fibers. I will be writing more about Keep the Fleece events as information is available.

But I said I was going to talk about new tools…….. and I am. In my humble opinion – part of Spinning (or knitting or weaving/felting crocheting) for Peace is having tools that make things easier. (It helps if those tools are also beautiful!) Clara Parks reviewed the Knit Kit in Knitters Review and it is a fab find – it will be available in March at Carolina Homespun  and hopefully at a LYS near you as well. I found 3 other great tools I think are also worthy of notice.

My personal favorite is a tool called Wanda. Why this you ask – well there is some history here. It is a long history that involves Jen Heverly (Spirit Trail Fiberworks) and Shelia January (letstalkstash) and the Golden Gate Fiber Institute and Myra Wood and a whole host of characters. But the short version is Susan Bates makes this marvelous little tool they call a replacement tool (it works with their French Knitter aka spool knitter). This is a most divine fiber artists tool about 3-4 inches in length, it has a crochet hook at one end and a knitting needle at the other and you can use it for almost anything.  A must have tool. Fits in any bag and is always there when you need to catch a dropped stitch, pick up stitches or weave in an end. It doubles as a cable needle – once everyone has one I think we should have a what have you done with your Wanda contest.  The Susan Bates version is metal and the new Lacis version will be available in 3 sizes and you can get it in Rosewood or Bone. TheBone should be out some time next week, soon to be followed by the rosewood.

Another tool I am very fond of is also from Lacis. It is called an In-Line Yarn Roller  and it is the perfect portable ball winder. It winds the ball side ways, has a moving thread guide and is small enough to stick in your bag and take anywhere. All the gears are inside so you don’t have to worry about yarn getting stuck in the gears.

The third new tool is the new interchangeable needle set from HiyaHiya. There are now many interchangeable needle sets on the market and each has something to recommend it. The HiyaHiya set is actually 2 sets – the small set is sizes 2-8 and the large set is sizes 9-15. Each comes with 4 cables – 16”, 24”, 32” and 40”. An optional cable set is available that includes the cable to make a 60” circular. What I loved about these needles besides the absolutely fabulous brocade carry case is the fact that the needles screw tight and seamless and the cable swivels! The needles are a bit short but working with them was very easy.  I can hardly wait until they get here in April.

One of the things I love about what I do – is finding new tools. Sometimes I even get to nudge them along or help in their creation – like the rosewood Wanda. I hope you will enjoy these as much as I do

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Spin For Peace Super Bowl Sunday Sale

Has any one ever noticed that there just are not enough hours in the day? I am working like crazy and at the end of the day the to-do list seems to have gotten longer rather than shorter. How does that happen?

Super Bowl Sunday is coming right up and we are having our annual Spin For Peace Sale. Those of you who know me have heard it before – but I will tell the tale for those who have not heard it. The Super Bowl Sunday Sale started back when I first bought Carolina Homespun. Our first sale was at the end of my first year as the new owner.

In my previous incarnation as a psychotherapist I “specialized” in working with family violence – I worked with incest and child abuse survivors and with same sex domestic violence. The worst day of the year for domestic violence was believed to be Super Bowl Sunday – no real statistics just anecdotal evidence. In other words – experience. The experiences of many shelter and hot line workers led us to believe that on this particular day there is a higher than average incidence of domestic violence. I could go on and on about my theories – but lets save that for some later time. What I did decide was that thru fiber I might be able to make a statement and a magical act so I started the Super Bowl Sunday Spin For Peace Sale.

This year beginning on Saturday, January 25 – we will start our Sale with in the shop and internet specials on fiber.  First up will be this great bump of merino I got from Australia. The regular price is $22 per pound and while it last the sale price will be over 30% off or $15/pound.

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Invitation to The Fourth Annual Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam

Feel free to copy the following to your blog and spread the word. Let poetry bless the blogosphere once again!
WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2009

WHERE: Your blog

WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

HOW: Select a poem you like – by a favorite poet or one of your own – to post February 2nd.

RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post.  So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun. Started by Reya at The Gold Puppy and continued by Deborah Oak at branches up, roots down.

Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers.

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Fiber Community

I am constantly amazed at the internet – Blogs and websites and how fast information travels. I must really come from another century where information traveled so much slower and clothing took time, care, attention and intention. (Watch for more on Slow Clothes!).

To those who have commented – thank you! It means a great deal to me to be part of such a loving and warm fiber community. I love the sense of tribe I feel when I go to the Black Sheep Gathering or Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival or Stitches. The feeling of building a village that goes with each festival. I guess it is not really just a feeling – in many ways it is a reality. At Black Sheep Gathering the volunteers, organizers teachers and vendors start gathering early, the ranchers and farmers start arriving with sheep and bunnies and goats – many of us set up our tents and trailers out in the parking lot and the village begins. Next morning we begin to build the market place and by the time the fair opens we have done it – created our own little village – complete with market, food and animals. This same building of community happens over and over – through out the year at all different kinds of fiber events. Each one has its own unique flavor but all are intentional communities.

We come together to share and to show off the things that matter most to each of us. We show off what we have created in the past year – all the skeins and shawls and sweaters and socks – whether entered in the competitions or simply worn with pride – we share our accomplishments with friends and family. We come together to share our news – new lambs, new loves, new babies, new businesses, and new farms. There are hugs and laughter and tears when we connect with friends we see maybe only once a year. There are also the hugs and tears that go with sad news and losses shared.

I don’t in any way mean to idealize our community. We have our fair share of struggles and difficulties – even meanness. But I like to think that with intention we can create the kind of community that we want to live in. I believe that we can choose our actions and behave in the ways we want to be treated – kind of like that saying that you want no more tension in your spinning wheel than you do in your life.

I am learning to be grateful for the internet and the ways it allows us to stay in connection – all the invisible electronic threads that weave us together throughout cyber space and through out the year.

We had a sale at Carolina Homespun this past Saturday – almost no notice except I put it up on the website and sent an email – oh like the day before. And we spent the day laughing and hugging so many old friends we had not seen for many months. It was FABULOUS!!!!

So now I am getting ready to go for a visit to see my Mom and then on to TNNA in San Diego. When I get back we will be ready for the Super Bowl Sunday Spin for Peace Sale. Last year we started the sale early so everyone could be ready for Super Bowl Sunday. We will start this year on Jan 22 (which just happens to coincide with the official beginning of the International Year of Natural Fiber) and continue thru Feb 1.
Spin For Peace

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Spin For Peace

Happy New Year!

Tis a beautiful day to start something new and i am starting a blog. I have had my share of experience learning from the Fool in the Tarot – taking a leap of faith and beginning anew …. moving to San Francisco to go to graduate school, believing in love and getting married to my partner of 26 years and hoping the State of California will allow our marriage to stand, buying Carolina Homespun and closing my psychotherapy practice of 20 years to follow the fiber road and make spinning and fiber my life.

Starting a blog should be a piece of cake by comparison. Yet somehow today it seems a huge leap to go from private to public with thoughts and dreams for the future.  To create a place to talk about what is going on in my world – whether it is about fiber, knitting,  spinning,  my travels on the fiber road, magic, the politics of equality or world peace is my goal here. I hope you will join me in this conversation.

Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts wrote a beautiful piece this morning on Knitting for Peace where she invited knitters around the world to knit with the intention of Peace, to invoke Peace as we knit, even to knit Peace swatches. I am drawn to the intent of Tibetan Prayer flags and have thought about knitting Prayer Flags for Peace. Wouldn’t it be a lovely sight to see hills and homes fluttering with hundreds of knitted prayer flags for peace?

Spin For Peace- I have long believed that if everyone, everywhere spun for an hour every day – the result, intended or otherwise, would be world peace.

ASHÉ  May it be so!

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