Fork in the Road

So many inspirations, and so many choices of paths to follow..So we have decided to follow the path of fiber….fleeces processing, hope to have some photos to share with you soon!

Before Processing…off the animal

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Madrona is “ON”

The long awaited date (November 14) has finally arrived, Class Registration day! Finally got to register at noon (9 a.m. PST) and registered Sarah and I for a class each on Thursday, Valentine’s Day 2013. So no hubbies, no romantic dinner…just yarn, needles and several thousand other crazy yarn/fiber obsessed women (and maybe a few men).
The time will fly by, and we will meet some fab friends, eat lots of chowder, drink Gallons of coffee and collapse into bed at the end of the day…

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Ho Ho Holiday Times

The end of the year often cause us to reflect back on the year and to consider what is to come.  It’s hard to imagine how so much time has passed so quickly. It seems like I just got my wheel back from Schacht Spindle, took  my first class with Jacey Boggs (Insubordiknit), and just opened the shop (Alpaca Yarn USA). We’ve been out one more time to Washington, immersed ourselves in the magic of Twilight, and explored some of the Olympic National Peninsula.  We had the best time.

I love being able to meet new people, and seeing new places.  Fun is reading the board at the trail, reading instructions about “what to do if you encounter a BEAR” “what to do if you encounter a “Mountain Lion”.  REALLY!  I know this is important, but it’s interesting that they need to tell you “if you have a small child, pick them up FIRST”.

We had visitors from out of town at the shop. Rebecca Danger’s online Ravelry group hosted a shop hop for the monsters…We loved having them for a few days before they had to move on to their next stop. 

I’ve discovered the excitement of discovering homespun yarns in different places. I’ve even contacted one of the spinners to ask “do you have any photos of what you’ve made with this?” and I was told “I don’t knit”.  Wow!  I meet people who love to spin in public places!  And I’m considering purchasing a portable wheel.  This week I will try a Victoria and a Sidekick.  Both can be packed for travel, and how can you not want to spin yarn in the airport??  How about FLASH SPINNING????

In February we will host Esther Rodgers of JazzTurtle Creations at Alpaca Yarn USA. Visit her website at http://www.JazzTurtle.com. She has a wild and crazy way of blending batts for spinning some outrageous yarns!

In April, we will bring Jacey Boggs back to Atlanta!  She is just now releasing her first book! You can visit her website: http://www.insubordiknit.com for more details!  Order a copy or sign up for the workshop!

I am thankful for the many people I’ve met this year, the many friends I’ve made.  I hope that the new year brings you many opportunities for fun.  Bring your needles and your enthusiasm to the shop. Join us in the Knitting Lounge, and have a cup of coffee or some hot tea.  We always have something yummy in the shop to play with…won’t you come and stay awhile?

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Brr. Fall is Here

Fall happened suddenly this year. Hot hot hot all summer, then October 1, 46 degrees.
The leaves? Snap! ShaZam! Colors changing almost immediately as if a switch was turned on to “Full Color-Begin”.

The shop is celebrating their Grand Opening, and we’ve started by bringing in the new alpaca fibers and yarns. All natural colors, and the girls (and guy) are working feverishly to complete projects made of…Alpaca.
In addition, we are increasing our inventory of wools, since our customers apparently like wool, in lots of colors. We are hat-crazy, shawl-crazy knitting fools.

We are kitting up some lovely stuff. You know, you walk in you see it, you love it and then you think “what the heck can I do with it?”. Well, I have an answer for you.

Kits will be coming soon!

Beautiful yarns require an inspirational project


We’ve added a lot of classes this month, and expect to see new yarns from smaller Indies. Yup, you got it. Lots of gorgeous, one of a kind, hand dipped and dyed bits of enticement that will keep them in your hands and out of your closets! Come in and see it at Alpaca Yarn USA, Alpharetta, GA

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Just back ..

One of the most beautiful places I've seen...

Where have I been

I’ve just returned from a trip to a world away..cooler, greener. But to get there you have to fly into a large city with ridiculous traffic. Awful awful traffic…
But the upside is the unending water views, expansive mountains. But for an area that has so much wilderness, they pack their homes together with about 5 feet in between. Horrible congestion. Why in the world would you slam so many cheap awful houses into 1/4 acre lots? (I mean cheap as in poorly made, not inexpensive).
A mere 30 minute drive and a 30 minute ferry ride to Kingston, and we have entered another world. There is forest and mountains. Signs that warn of ELK crossings. Signs on the trails telling you what you should do if you encounter a BEAR or MOUNTAIN LIONS. Really. Instructions are very similar to what they tell you to do on the airplane if those oxygen masks drop out. Pick up you small child, and wave your arms in the air. Make horrible loud noises (not squealing like a little girl).
The drive in the rental car is wonderful. There are espresso huts (imagine your tool shed with a large ESPRESSO sign on the top), everywhere. There are Starbucks in the grocery stores, and free-standing, you imagine a large population of people off the grid, drinking large volumes of caffeine. You find one small donut shop. Several bookstores, and references to Twilight everywhere.
Eventually though, the vacation is over and it’s time to come home.
By the time the plane lands, you are formulating what needs to be done.
Our Alpaca Yarn and fiber has arrived. Our back ordered yarns are arriving this week, and some of our goodies from the Northwest Needle Market, too. We have class schedules to set for October, our Grand Opening is Saturday October 1, we are inviting guests to tour our new space, meet our teachers and find out what Alpaca Yarn USA is all about.
It’s not Washington State, but it sure is good to be home!

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Change just doesn’t happen…

It’s been a heck of a month.  We decided that classes, workshops, customers could not comfortably co-exist in 1000 s/f of space. So we signed on for 2400 more.  I remember now that another shop owner warned me about this, getting a space that was too small…but of course I remember it NOW.

That being said, we’ve knocked out walls, endured plaster dust, noise, noxious fumes and undeniable turmoil.  Classes continue, the long awaited fiber from this year’s shearing has arrived and we are struggling to make sense of the misplaced paper work, 1/2 of our electrical outlets in the new space are non functional (“it must have been something one of your guys did”) , we had to get a new phone number because one provider cut off before the other provider picked up.  I have lots of new faces to help us, God Bless them all.

We met Doug, a school teacher from California who came to Georgia only to find out that the job he was expecting never happened. Thank goodness he knits and spins, because it has been his lifeline to sanity.  We met Lynn when we advertised on Ravelry for teachers, she’s absolutely lovely and the most prolific knitter…she must not sleep much!  We met Valerie..my Tooltime girl. She’s amazing and has alot of energy. Totally no nonsense, and I don’t know how I let her roll all over me, but she does because I need her to roll all over me.

I’ve been accused of multi-plexing in my conversations, starting one sentence, interrupting myself and going in totally opposite directions. Quite honestly no one is able to keep up, and last week I had a melt-down when I had to move a jumble of wires. Staff and friends were warned by Margaret to “don’t go in there until it gets quiet”.  Today I was unpacking fiber onto the shelves when I should have just gone home. I feel like it’s my baby, and I’ve got to do all these things….I kept thinking..just a few more minutes..I can do this, I can do this.  I’m thankful that people who know me, don’t take offense. They just go away until it gets quiet again.

But, it can wait, because things don’t always happen when you want them to.  I can have one idea of a timeline, but if the contractors and Bellsouth don’t have the same perspective, what can I do.  Out of phones for 2 weeks, no internet, no email, phone number changes…AGH!  The baby is being born (Open House) is just a couple of weeks away, and I need it all to be ready…and I’ll have more grey hair when October 1 gets here because no one seems to have the sense of urgency that I do about getting it done NOW.

I need to follow my own advice, have a glass of wine and chill.  I’m sure that when I come back to it, everyone will do what needs to be done.  I have great friends and choose people with great strengths. I just need to trust in my choices, trust in their skills, and allow the best to come from them, without having to hold their hands.  Maybe it’s the new Gummy Vitamins I’ve been taking everyday.  Maybe I need to get everyone on the same vitamins so we can all be crazy at the same time…

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School of Fiber Arts…wow!

It’s mid-August now, the kids have gone back to school.  This means lots of time behind buses as they come and go. Just adding to the frustration of the daily commute for most Atlantans.  We suburbanites who work closer to home? Fewer frustrations. Those of us who set shifted work hours? No frustrations at all.  Our shop hours are 11-7 which means we miss traffic both ways.

It looks like we will be expanding our space to accommodate classes.  If you’ve been by our little shop, you can see that it’s cozy and welcoming. Customers and friends like to come and sit. Which is good. Add a class, and then you start tap-dancing.  Conversations, instructions and friendly banter take over the air waves and if you add a few more walk in customers, you’ll notice that 1100 s/f is not that big.

Consider this…2500 s/f more.  Separate classrooms, a large “wet” room area for wet felting and dyeing.  Classrooms for weavers, knitters, spinners. Workshop space for other fiber arts groups, lots of lighting, electrical outlets, and a REAL office to keep business records. This is our direction. We will add a lovely high ceiling gallery for our Wheel and Loom sales area, add a Teacher’s Gallery, and maybe some nice hand-crafted gallery sales.

We will be able to lease space by the day for outside groups and even offer catering, box lunches, yummy cuppy cakes from Once Upon a Cake, maybe some lattes and cannoli from Plantation Italia (maybe even our own espresso bar!) What was “one day” may be upon us by October 1.  You heard it right, October 1 of THIS YEAR!

We have added a couple of specialty knitting instructors, Doug and Judy, Sarah will be going back to school for some more Fiber Education, we are adding a Wet Felter (Libby White) who will join Judy Ree (sculptural needle felting).  Spinning Workshops are on the books for February and April, and if we have our way, we’ll be introducing our own line of Alpaca hand-dyed fibers and yarns.

Oh, and our baby alpacas that were born this spring, they’re growing like Alpacas! Our spring shearing, almost 400 lb of fiber should be arriving any day now. That will fill up what spaces we do have left in our current space.  Imagine lots of shawls, scarves, socks, and our upcoming Afghan Kit, all in yummy Alpaca!

The future is here folks, let’s all get on the Party Bus!

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My wheel is prettier than your wheel….

Express Yourself in through your Equipment!

Lovely Sheep painted wheel Wish I knew who did this!

I was dancing on the internet Saturday morning before heading to the shop.  Before my first cup of coffee, and I completely forgot to write down WHO the person was that customizes these Louet wheels.

Keep in mind that the painted side of the wheel is facing outward, so there’s no chance of you getting motion sickness while spinning.

I think it’s funny that we try to keep our equipment as pristine as possible, when in fact it should stand out from a crowd, and say something about who we are (not to mention making it easier to FIND our wheel in a room full of spinners).

Spinners as a whole are generally a little quieter than quilters.  I say “Generally” because this is not always the case.  If there are a room full of spinners in a class room setting, they tend to go inward as they process the new information.  However, there are many social gatherings where spinners are not so quiet and the chatter is endless.   When they are in familiar Spinning Territory, the ZONE, they know their chops and are just in production mode.  If you are on the outskirts, observing, you can usually pick out the newbies.  We lose control of our yarn, and are frequently left with un-spun fiber, and can be seen hunting all over the bobbin, looking for the end that spin off at 40 miles per hour.

Spinning does have speed limits. It is prudent to know that like driving a car, their is highway driving and what I refer to as school zone driving.  Texting, and chatting on the phone is not advisable in either case.  And the polite thing to do is to take you phone outside the circle to talk.  Talking on your cellphone is disruptive to others, and we really don’t need to know about your neighbor’s pregnancy test.

Courtesy suggests that when people compliment you on your spinning, you say “Thank You”. It’s always polite to watch others spin and to ask them about their spinning.  Questions like “How long have you been spinning?”, “What kind of a wheel is that?” and ultimately, “How many wheels DO you have?”

If you are interested in Spinning, find a guild where spinners go.  You will find every imaginable wheel present in the room.  Find a shop that carries more than one model, so that you have an opportunity to try them. Prices can vary from $350 upwards of $2000 and maybe more.  I cannot say that a beginner should be considering a $2000 wheel but if they have it to spend and price is important, be sure to leave the price tag on it when you take it to your meeting.   They will be really impressed.  Find a shop that offers lessons. Fine one where they understand that you may have a budget in mind, and they help you stick with it.  If they offer you a payment plan so you can stretch your $$ all the better!

Start with Merino, maybe a splashy color, so you can have some fun.  Take some time to feel the fiber turning into yarn as it leaves your fingers.  Give it a name, it may remind you of Kermit or Bert.  Meet other spinners, they are kind to beginners, because they were beginners once, too.

Beautiful colors to inspire the new spinner

Share your enthusiasm for your craft, and show it on your wheel!  Find someone who knows the real you who can personalize your wheel, and you will enjoy it for years to come!

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Spinning

Do you remember spinning?

Do you remember being a kid and you’d spin?  Arms spread wide (for balance?), and you’d close your eyes and spin.  Did you open your eyes and fall down, or fall down and just enjoy the spinning sensation?

Really, there’s no reason I’m asking, just wanted to know.  There are a lot of things that we don’t do after we’ve grown up.  Name calling, followed by sticking out your tongue.  ‘I know you are, but what am I?”  Ugh…horrible ways to annoy your mom since she had to listen to it with 5 kids in the house.  A Greek House.  Yes sometimes it was noisy, but not compared to some other friend’s families.  In some cases, we were pretty quiet.  My aunt and uncle’s house? Loud, all the time.  I miss that.  The banter, especially once my cousins were all grown up and would challenge their parents. Wow, that NEVER happened at my house.

As an adult, who had a lot of “hurt” feelings growing up, I remember all to well that words hurt just as much as actions.  I’ve promised myself that I would always do my best to respect the space that other people live in, their zone.  Because what I perceive, may not be their reality.  Working in a shop, I look forward to people stopping in, and I really do want them to stay a while to visit.  I want to get to know them, what is important to them, and if I can give them time to speak what is on their mind, I’m richer for it.  The shop may not see a penny, but I feel like I’ve received a gift.

One of our customers came to the store several weeks ago to try out a spinning wheel. She drop spindles, but a wheel is so much faster.  She stayed an hour, tried out several and said she’d be back.  Well, she came back with a brand new wheel that her husband had delivered to the house (not one of ours).  We were all so happy for her, and confirmed that her husband was a keeper.  We continued to talk about it after she left.  Another customer called and said this same woman told her about our shop…”she was here yesterday, did she tell you that her husband surprised her with a spinning wheel?”.  That was our chatter for another 3 or 4 minutes.  Confirming that said husband “was a keeper”. I’m sure we both hung up the phone, smiling.  And somewhere the woman with the new wheel heard ringing in her ears.

A spinning wheel

My point is that sometimes when the world is spinning, it would be wise to close your eyes and think of all the good things that life brings.  We can worry about jobs, the economy, the price of gasoline, but in the end we have so many more things to be happy about.  Not just for us, but for those people who would be strangers if we hadn’t taken the time to listen to what was in their hearts and confirming that their life was good.

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Knitting Needles, paper cups and Living in the Now

There’s a book in my guest bedroom.  It was left by a previous visitor, and entitled “The Present”.  In a nutshell, the book talks about how people live for tomorrow, next year, etc. I think being “retired” from a good paying job, being out of what you expected your career path to be, and exiting the “fast lane” makes you realize that all you can do, is live today.

It’s not so much short sighted, actually it’s actually long-sighted.  If you bring your “best” person to the present, live in The Present, you really will experience more of your lifetime and less of anticipating your future. Let’s face it, we can only hope of what that will hold, and today we can put it in our hands.  I remember always thinking, “one day I will have more time to… ” (you can fill in the blank). Spend time with your kids, play in your hobbies, visit with friends.  But what if you did that today?  Be who you love being, the quilter, the spinner. The husband, the Wife. The best mom in the world?  You can do it if you live in The Present.  I encourage all of you to give yourself TODAY. Call someone TODAY and tell them that you’ve been meaning to call them and TODAY is the day.  I’m not going to rattle on about it, you can order the book if you want to, and read it yourself. It’s a quick read.

Take Time to Play

Mondays and Mid July.  Atlanta, like a lot of places in the country are downright HOT. Awful.  We have intermittent rain, and some days, like last Friday, it rained all day.  I was at the shop, not a single customer was to be seen.  (Not the rain keeping them away, I think it was Harry Potter)  I called my new friend *J* and left her a message that Happy Hour was that afternoon, and that my “first ever box of wine” was chilling in the refrigerator.  At five, she shows up, dressed to the nines for her day-job, and announces “It’s Happy Hour”.  Knitting Needles and Paper Cups.  The air conditioner never went on, the breeze was refreshing, and two friends spend a couple of hours just chatting and knitting, sharing a little wine.  Living in the Present.

The weekend starts for Sarah and I at 4 on Saturday afternoon, when we close the shop.  It was a great Saturday. Our 3rd Saturday, and we had a full table of customers/new friends, knitting all day.  Really. Until just about 4 p.m.  We had an impromptu group of girls (from a sleepover, sleep deprived and not the worse for it) who came in for a weaving demo that turned into a make and take.  Cardboard looms and shuttles, and some wool wound into balls.  All in all they were remarkably well behaved (it was only an hour or so) and I’m hoping they’ll be in with their finished mug-mats this week.

Sundays are relatively lazy. Coffee and bagels with my husband, maybe a drive, a couple of loads of laundry, etc.  Spending time with my 9-5 friend Nancy, who is the only friend I have left with a full-time job.  I have a few friends, and I make it a point to keep in touch regularly, but honestly, the phone does work both ways.  Someone could call me instead of me making all the calls.  Ah, wait. Maybe they are living in their “Present”…ok, nevermind.

My week starts Tuesday, and I do keep to 8-hour workdays, keeping the store open from 11-7 so working customers still have time to stop by and shop.  Not many come in after 4, I don’t think they’ve moved into the Living In The Now, and are thinking “I’ve got to stop by there One Day”. Just remember, that we never know when our Last Day is coming.  Live just in the Present. Love In the Present.  It will be your best day, everyday.

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