With Halloween approaching, which is one of my favorite holidays, I decided to add a holiday themed colorway and some other goodies to our ETSY store. I love Halloween because my neighborhood is a favorite for the nearby trick or treaters. Literally hundreds of children come our way for goodies on October 31st. I sit on my porch steps with family members and giggle and squeal over the cutest little goblins and princesses running (and sometimes tripping) to get their treats. I’ve costumed plays for a living, so its no great surprise that I love seeing all the fun costumes on the eager children. I had fun trick or treating as a child, but I think I enjoy handing out candy even more as an adult.
My intentions were to create a traditional orange and black-based Halloween colorway. But as I was at the fabric store looking at the novelty Halloween fabric to get inspiration, I noticed a sugar skull themed fabric. Sugar skulls are a tradition during the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. This is a holiday celebrated on November 1st and 2nd to honor the dead. Altars are made for the home and covered with candles, flowers and lots of food. All of this is to please the spirits of family members who have returned home for those two days. Happily contented souls bring protection to families that honor them well. The sugar skull is one of the sweets that you might find on altars. Each skull represents the soul of a deceased person and with the name written on the forehead. Over time images of sugar skulls have become a very popular form of Mexican folk art. I have always loved the Day of the Dead and sugar skull folk art; so many bright festive colors are used.
So I switched gears and used the sugar skull fabric to inspire a new colorway and create a sock project bag.
Kitman and I are also introducing a yarn kit, which includes one of our self-striping yarns and a mini skein for contrasting toes and heels. Each self-striping skein has had a semi solid mini colorway dyed to compliment that particular colorway. We are calling these skeins “Lil’ Pardners”.
Visit our ETSY store for more details on our new additions.
Happy knitting and crocheting,
In honor of the beginning of the new school year, we have added to our line of self-striping yarn. All of my children made it adorably through their grammar school years, awkwardly through their middle school years and even managed the sometimes-tumultuous high school years. And I am proud to say they all three graduated from college in a timely fashion; which is quite the opposite from me, I was on the 6-year undergrad degree plan. Yikes! So the beginning of the school year in our household has evolved and changed throughout the years. Even though we don’t pack lunches anymore for our wee ones, we still have that excitement once a year at the beginning of fall. The reason being that my husband is a college professor at the University of Texas, Arlington. He has been teaching at UTA for over 35 years. And even though there is not as much pep to his step as in his younger days, he is still excited by each new school year. So in honor of my husband and the first year students, we have named our new self-striping yarn with the college life in mind.
We also dyed our first new fall color of the year, Pumpkin Patch.
We hope to have more soon.
Visit our Etsy website to get a closer view of these lovely yarns.
Thank you to our Instagram follower, andylanechapman for the school inspiration!
In other news, Kitman and I are working hard to stock our shelves for our next fiber fair. We will be participating at the Blackland Prairie Artisan & Fibre Faire in Van Alstyne, Texas on September 20th and 21st. http://www.bpaff.com/bpaff/
Come out and see us if you are in the neighborhood.
Happy knitting and crocheting!
Tumbleweed Yarn decided to use wildflowers as inspiration for our new colorways and Kitman’s summer MKAL. In October of last year my husband and I bought a house just outside of Galveston, TX. We currently live in Fort Worth, TX and we have plans to move to this new house in 3 years after he retires. Currently the house is undergoing some renovations, and I have been overseeing the work long distance. This is something I do not advise doing. Fort Worth is in north Texas and Galveston is in south Texas. The drive takes approximately 5 hours. I have been making this drive almost once a week now since the renovations began. Wheeeeeee! Although I do like road trips, taking this long drive solo has been trying. Until…the wildflowers. In the springtime our Texas highways are covered with delicate blankets of vibrant color. Almost every household in Texas has a portrait hanging on their wall of the family nestled in a field of bluebonnets.
And for someone who loves color, this has been a welcomed change in the scenery. The 3 flowers we chose to be inspired by are the bluebonnet (which is the state flower of Texas), the indian blanket, and the thistle.
Kitman’s shawl MKAL is also inspired by the wildflower. I have seen the completed shawl and it is BEAUTIFUL! Those of you who are already signed up to knit it will not be disappointed. It is probably my favorite shawl of hers to date. And if you are not signed up for the MKAL please visit Kitman’s Ravelry site and look at her other designs and get the details for this knit-along. It might help you to decide to come on board with this one.
I’m pretty good at a lot of different things, such as never having sour milk in my refrigerator. Just approaching the expiration date within a couple of days causes me distress so that I either guzzle down the remains or with much guilt pour it down the drain. The thought of opening a carton and getting a whiff of the curdled remains of outdated milk turns my stomach and causes my compulsive behavior. Another example of something I’m gifted at is reminding my husband that the sweet puppy he brought home with him at the beginning of the year (without asking me, mind you) is his responsibility not mine…”So go pick up that poop!”
And there are some things that I’m not so good at and blogging would be one of them. I’ve been remiss the last few months in writing about the happenings at Tumbleweed Yarn and my journey of becoming a better knitter. One of the most exciting things that we did recently was participate in the DFW Fiber Fest.
Back in November 2013 we had our first vendor experience when we had a booth at the Etsy Craft Fair. That was a success for us but nothing like we had at the Fiber Fest. We met so many people who were so wonderful. Creative people who love yarn and all things fiber! And Kitman was fortunate to meet people who have knitted her designs. She was so honored when one of her admirers asked for an autograph on a pattern she had designed. She is a rock star!
Several opportunities to promote our business were presented to us at the Fiber Fest. Kitman and I were invited by Carmen Jones to be interviewed on her podcast, Tapgurl Knits. There are podcast about knitting! And Carmen is adorable. You should give her a listen. She knows knitting and has personality plus. Kitman and I can’t imagine being on a podcast. I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of gal and Kitman worries about English being her second language, or third or fourth. She is multilingual! She speaks English better then most of us natives.
Our booth neighbors, The Shepherd’s Wool and Antiques, out of Wichita Falls, TX introduced me to the world of rug hooking. I have another craft to spend money on! Ack! The owner Susan Myers is a wonderful person and has some beautiful items in her shop. Facebook her if you are interested in hooking rugs. The wool fabrics she offers are glorious.
So this was a highlight of the last few months. I’m determined to do better at chronicling our adventures. Maybe if I imagine my blog having an expiration date with dire, sour consequences I would do better…
Just finished my first attempt at knitting a lace shawl. Focus would be the word of the day in lace knitting. It was a big difference from the simple knit, knit, knit, purl, purl, purl, that I have been doing in my previous projects. Lace knitting switches up stitches. There is a lot of variety and this can be fun, but for me a higher risk of errors. I chose to do a lace shawl designed by my sister-in-law Kitman Figueroa. This beautiful pattern is called Xeni and you can find it in Kitman’s Ravelry store. Another place to purchase this pattern is at our Etsy store where you can get the pattern free with the purchase of a skein of our yarn.
What I gained from this knit is
- sharpened concentration skills
- identifying emerging patterns
- how to tink…(that is knit spelled backwards, so undoing knitting)
- I learned to read written instructions for this pattern. Next lace knit I will use a chart. Maybe I’ll have better luck.
My shawl is knitted with our Toro colorway, which is a very primary red. So spicy. Kitman expertly knitted the other shawl pictured below. Notice how I photographed my shawl in a clever drape so that it would be harder to do a comparison.
I enjoyed knitting this lace shawl but I think I’ll try toe up socks next. I still have a quest to become a sock queen.
Xeni by Kitman Figueroa
Happy Knitting and Crocheting,
Wow, where has the time gone! We here at Tumbleweed Yarn have completed our first year of business and it has been a great year. We have learned so much and are inspired to do so much more this next year.
Here are some of Tumbleweed’s most memorable experiences of 2013:
DYE WORK SHOP
Kitman and I traveled from our beloved state of Texas to the great state of Massachusetts to attend a workshop with fiber artist Vicki Jenson. We had a great time meeting people from other states who have an interest in perfecting their crafts with better dyeing techniques. Discussing their varied interest in fiber arts such as felting, weaving, spinning and Kakishibu, just whetted my appetite to learn yet another craft, but I must resist! One woman had recently moved her family to a farm and aspired to raising her own sheep; her goal was to go from sheep to sweater! It would be so rewarding to handle the fiber from animal to garment. I think my favorite part of the workshop was learning the backgrounds of these talented women. Just to list a few, there was a biochemist, a banker, a professor in political science, a theatre lighting technician and a psychologist. I felt like I was in very good company. Vicki was a wonderful instructor and we left the workshop with hundreds of samples of various colors for us to play with and use in our colorways in the future.
2013 marked our first craft fair. We participated in th3 Dallas Etsy Jingle Bash. It was a lot of work building our stock for the fair and putting together our display booth. The weather was cold and rainy so there was not as much customer traffic as we would have liked, but I felt like it was a big success for us. We earned enough to pay for our cost and still put some money in the bank. Being first timers participating in the fair, we only expected to sell a skein or two, just enough to buy ourselves a beer afterwards. So we were pleasantly surprised when we did as well as we did. We look forward to our next fair in 2014.
Kitman had a couple of MKALs this year. She offered the patterns free if you bought our yarn and we got a nice response to the deal. The amount of orders we received for the first MKAL took us a little by surprise and we had some long nights filling the orders. Which was a nice problem to have! It was yet another great learning experience.
Our focus for this year is to try to get the word out about our yarn. We are feeling confident about our process and now we want to share our wonderful products with more people.
So as you daydream about your next project let us help you be inspired. We continue to add to our stock and below you can see our newest colors. And please visit our shop to see our other offerings.
Lariat Self-Striping Yarn
Diana Story and Kitman Figueroa
My latest project was a cable knit scarf, which I selected for the purpose of learning how to do the cable stitch. I am quite proud of the results and now I have another tool in my knitting toolbox, both figuratively and literally. Beginning knitting can seem a little boring; knitting and purling over and over again to learn consistency in tension and confidence in technique can seem somewhat unglamorous. However, these are the building blocks and most essential of stitches to master. As I learn different stitches the more my imagination and creativity start to flow, which just increases my love for the craft.
Featuring Tumbleweed Yarn colorway Crimson Tide
The pattern I selected was a free pattern I found on Ravelry by Lauren Sanchez. It is an interpretation of a scarf worn by Kevin Costner in the Hatfields & McCoys mini series. I knitted this scarf as a gift for a dear friend who lends me his computer graphic talents from time to time. The scarf is knitted in our Tumbleweed Yarn colorway Crimson Tide. I hope he enjoys the scarf as much as Kitman and I have appreciated his graphic contributions to our little business.
The literal tool I gained from learning to cable knit is the cable needle. Although I was initially taught how to cable without using an extra needle, I opted to try one after watching a couple of different video tutorials. Having lived in a fixer-upper house for 23 years, I much appreciate and value the use of a good tool that makes the job easier. I tried cabling with a plastic u-shaped needle, a crochet hook and a birch wood cable needle. I found that I really liked the birch wood needle. It is a straight needle about 3” in length and is thicker on the ends then in the middle. The needle is shaped this way so that the loops that you transfer to this needle will not easily slide off as they hang waiting to have their turn at being knitted. I also like that the needle was made of the same material as the knitting needles I was using. It help to give a consistent feel to my stitching.
When doing any sort of creative work, having the right tool makes the experience so much more enjoyable. With that lesson learned, I will continue to add to my toolbox, both figuratively and literally.
Next…I think I’ll try a hat!
Happy knitting and crocheting,
Diana Story and Kitman Figureoa
This month’s photo inspiration comes from Suzanne of Owensboro, Kentucky. This photo was taken at her sister’s house, just down the road from Suzanne. She wrote to us that they were experiencing a Dogwood Winter. As you can see the fireplace is in use on this particular spring day. I had to look up the definition of a Dogwood Winter. Which is when in late spring … a freak cold snap hits and reminds you that winter only ended a few weeks ago. Before modern calendars and the Farmer’s Almanac, our ancestors relied on the signs of nature around them for indications of the different season beginning and ending. Dogwood Winter usually falls during late April or early May, right around the time dogwood trees start to bloom. I’m not sure why I have never heard this expression before Suzanne’s email; maybe it is because I am a Texan and we hardly experience any sort of winter weather.
There are a couple of reasons Suzanne’s photograph was chosen for this month’s inspiration–first, pink and green is one of my favorite color combinations, and the pinks in these dogwood blooms are amazing. Secondly, there is the thought of an unexpected cold snap in the middle of the spring that to a Texan sounds wonderful. Where I live temperatures in late spring are quite often in the upper 90s, pushing in on that all too familiar 100 to 110 degree weather we have all summer long. And we Texans have a lloooonnnnggg summer. Thank you Suzanne for sharing. We will be sending her a skein of the yarn inspired by her photo, which we are calling Dogwood.
The majority of the yarns we dye are created with the immersion method but we decided to try hand painting the yarn for our Dogwood colorway. We used 20 oz plastic soda bottles in which we drilled a hole in the caps to apply the dye solution. This method gave us more control over where we place the dye as compared to immersion method we most often use. But not quite as much control over dye placement as we use in our self-striping yarn, where every 4 yards is marked for a color change. We are VERY pleased with the results. We also hand painted our Painted Lady colorway. The colors reminded me of a saloon girl costume I once made. The petticoat was a collection of red and purple ruffles trimmed in gold. That was a fun costume to make then and this was a fun yarn to make now! I am sure Kitman and I will be creating many more hand painted colorways.
Happy knitting and crocheting,
Diana Story and Kitman Figureoa
I love being a grandma! Even though I cannot believe I am old enough to be one. Aging is funny the way it creeps up on you. One day your eyesight is a little blurry and you seem to find it harder to get up from a seated position on the floor in a fluid graceful movement. I’m not sure I was ever able to really do that but you know what I mean. Despite the slowing down of my body, I have found the benefits of aging out weight the disadvantages. And at the top of the benefits’ list is being a grandmother! My two beautiful granddaughters, Isabella and Juliana, have been a joy. When my older granddaughter Isabella was born I wondered what kind of grandmother I would be? What was my role? But it all seemed to come so naturally. Everything they do seems so cute and funny to me. For example, lunch time with spaghetti. Juliana seems to get more on herself and the floor then in her tummy. HA!
I remember the same sort of things being done by my own children– but not being so cute and funny to me at the time. (Benefit of aging—you seem to have more patience). And because of my new business and the quest to call myself a knitter, I did a very grandmotherly thing. I knitted for my sweet granddaughters. Because I have just begun to learn to knit, I missed the opportunity to knit booties and I am not yet skilled enough to knit a full-fledged garment. So I decided to knit them a toy.
These little monsters are from designer Rebecca Danger. I read a great article about her in the Spring/Summer issue of Vogue knitting magazine. My younger granddaughter, Juliana who is 18 months old, was initially startled by her mama and baby monster but after big sister Isabella explained that these were nice monsters like the ones on Monster’s Inc. she now finds her duo cute and cuddly. Isabella wondered why I gave them moustaches; I had to explain they were teeth. You see how cute and funny they are? I love being a grandma.
My next knitting project will include learning to cable. I have a scarf in mind and a friend I will be knitting it for. I hope it turns out well. My friend dresses very fashionably and I really want him to actually wear the scarf. As always Kitman and I are working in the studio to create more colors to add to our inventory. If you would like to see all the colors we have to offer please visit our Etsy store.