Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nancy Sells NW Handspun Yarns to Meg

Yes, I'm selling the shop -- to Meg!! Maybe you knew this, but this is the BIG news for us right now! She will take over and keep things the same, but add her "spin" on it, to create another something wonderful! I'm going back to work with my husband, Jim part time (commercial real estate), spending more time with him and my ailing, isolated Mom. AND DOING MORE FIBER ARTS, both personal art and teaching! It's about time! I'm looking forward to this transition and Meg is too! We are really enjoying working together to make this happen! The change will take place about September 1st.

NW handspun Yarns was started by me (Nancy)10 years ago, with a passion for the fiber arts and a desire to see spinning, weaving and knitting continue and thrive in the Bellingham area, and surrounding region. With the success of NW Handspun Yarns and the vision of new owner, Meg, the shop will continue to offer a wide variety of classes, spinning wheels and looms, other fiber art related products and services. Plans include expanding the quantity of yarns and other fiber related products and gifts currently offered.

Nancy and Meg have been long time friends, 15 years (!) and have worked together at the yarn shop for the last 5 years.

All our favorite "Yarn associates" will continue to work at the shop -- Margaret, Debbie and Kyle -- and Nancy from time to time!

Please join us for our OPEN HOUSE on Friday, October 8, 5:00 – 8:00 in celebration of this ownership transition. At the yarn shop, 1401 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225 (360) 738-0167.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Elizabeth Zimmerman Study Group Gets Started

Last Wednesday evening 17 of us joined up for our first EZ Study Group. We started it off with a potluck dinner, watched a DVD clip and ended up with our project and homework for the month. We'll meet monthly just for the sole purpose of getting to know Elizabeth Zimmerman really well, through readings, knitting, and being together.

The part of the "Knitting Around" DVD we watched was EZ Digressions, chapter 8 and 9. Elizabeth talks dreamily in her British accent about her immigration to the US in the 30's. Being poor, pregnant and newly married to "her German". She talks about her three children, and the development of "School House Press", in the later years. In my humble opinion, she is truly a loving soul, who had definite care and concern not only for knitters, but for everyone. She had a real sense of humor!

We loved the DVD excerpt! We loved the way she talked, the way she told stories, some in "that's the way it is" fashion, and other stories very opinionated!

After the DVD, we had some brief discussion about what project(s) to tackle first. I say brief, because just about everyone in the group was ready to start a Baby Surprise or Adult Surprise Jacket. So off we go, checking out our yarn stashes, or to purchase yarn for the project.

Our other assignment is to read the book, "Knitters Almanac", and come back next time with small projects in mind for holiday knitting. And of course to bring the completed or "in progress" Surprise Jackets.

Our next time to meet is October 28, 6:00 - 8:00 at the shop. If you'd like to join us, please do!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Earthues: Dyeing with Color not Chemicals

Wow! I don't know if I'm tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, excited, in love, or what! I just finished a two day class with Michele Whipplinger, here at the shop with nine other wonderful women, three from Canada, one from Maple Valley, and the others more local. It was so intense, so colorful, so full of information! Michele teaches not only color in every class, but takes you on the journey that she has been on to get the dyes from indigenous peoples from South America and Asia. She tells you about the way the dyes are harvested, way the families live, how she lives with them when she visits and trains with them, how she has helped to make their lives more sustainable, by dyeing more safely.

Michele Whipplinger is the founder of Earthues, a natural dye company, that uses only alum as a mordant, safe kitchen grade alum. The dyes are absolutely colorfast, and brilliant. She has been a colorist for over thirty years, and has traveled the world to bring in dyes to dye beautiful colors for all fibers, protein and cellulose. This company does not used any chemicals in the dyes, such as chrome, tin, copper, and the like. Her motto is: "What comes from the earth shall not harm the earth."

A little history about how I became involved with Earthues, personally and professionally. I would participate in dye days at spinning events, but leary and never wanted to be involved in chemical dyeing on my own, so I never would buy any dyes (except from the lovely Judith Mackenzie McCuin, which are a WEAK acid dye). So I stayed away from dyeing for the most part. When I opened the shop I knew I needed to have some dyes present on the shelves for sale. So I started with the Louet Gaywool and Judith's Dyes. I've had more experience dyeing with Judith's than Louet, both are really easy.

I kept reading and hearing about Earthues Natural Dyes - Extracts. Time came to make the phone call. I place a generous first order to have many of the basic colors, kits, books on the shelves. Then I went to a dealer meeting at Earthues.

Do you remember the Road Runner cartoon with Wile E Coyote when he gets hit on the head and he looks into the camera and his eyes look like big round spirals, and his body is flopping back and forth?? That was me at the meeting! Good Grief!!!

Myself and other yarn shop owners, artists, farmer dealers from around the U. S. were in the meeting to study the effects of mordants on colors. It was just like when I learned how to spin! I was so jazzed, so excited, to have found a whole new world to play in! My insides tingled! I didn't know I would love this dyeing so much! I thought I would just learn about it enough to bring it into the store!

But, no, I'm so excited about this because it is SAFE dyeing. The colors are COLORFAST. This product helps SUPPORTS indigenous peoples around the world. The colors are BRILLIANT.

Once again, it's a "back to mother earth craft" for me. Like spinning is. It goes way back to the roots of fiber from long ago. Only this time, it's with color. Michele is teaching us, old skills brought to our modern world, to be appreciated and used safely. It is something that is tangible and fresh in today's world. Safe. Sustainable. Refreshing. Alive.

Thank you Michele, for your teaching and sharing of your world with us!

PS. Jennifer, a fellow student took wonderful photos and set them up in this photo display. See them here:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Two Great Classes with Nancy Bush

Nationally known knitting teacher and author Nancy Bush came to teach Vintage Socks and Making a True Haapsalu Sall. We made a wee sock, not even a baby sock, but a sock like you would wear over your toes if you had a cast on your leg. We learned several tricks of the trade from the olden days. Nancy brought ALL the socks from the two books, "Knitting Vintage Socks," and, "Knitting on the Road." What a treat to see all the socks, hold them and look at them up close.

For the shawl class, Nancy brought many Estonian shawls that were made from the women of Estonian to show us. Umm, Umm, BEAUTIFUL!! And the shawls and scarves from her book, Knitting Lace from Estonia. (Just a note, the first shawl you see in her book, near the title pages, does not have a pattern in the book, but you can get the pattern and yarn in a kit from for about $32.00. This is Nancy Bush's web store.) What a truly wonderful experience to sit and knit with Nancy as she taught us about the customs, traditions and techniques of the Estonians for the shawl class. I am a novice lace knitter, having knit a couple lace shawls in my recent knitting past. I was able to get though this class enjoyably with the supportive help of Nancy (I really goofed on one of the nupps, rhymes with soup).

The last lace photo is the sample we made in class -- a lily of the valley pattern. We knit the edges separately, the Estonian, traditional way, and then sew them onto the lace panel with a special technique. Truly unique, and inspiring. I loved this new information! But, I love history and cultural traditions, so it fits right in!

I so enjoyed this class, Nancy and I talked about her future classes with us... so now it's a question of when and what.....!

Of course we always do these classes with a good round of potluck brought in from the students, and it's always good and plenty! Nancy ended the class with a wonderful show and tell of all the shawls from Estonia and the book, highlighting the different yarns, needle size, handspun, or commercial (in most all cases). And there was plenty of time for her to autograph the books we brought.

Thank you, Nancy for coming to share and teach at the Shop!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Moebius Baskets

Cat Bordhi was at the shop on December 6. Students had a choice of learning how to do the moebius cast on and making a harvest basket, or making a sample little sock. The books we used were "The Adventures of Sock Knitting" and "The Second Treasury of Knitting", both written by Cat.

I'll have to say it was the MOST relaxing learning knit days I've had! By the end of the day, students either had a sock finished or a basket near finished.

I went on to make 8 moebius baskets, I was so hooked. I think someone said they were addictive! I put down all my other knitting, weaving, and spinning projects and just cranked out those little baskets, during the snow storms, and holiday frenzy. And It kept me sane! You can see the unfelted and felted ones in the photos, with Dino, our 18 pounder, one of the two who is always with me supervising or assisting.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Christmas 2008

We had a wonderful snowy Christmas this year, finally reaching 15" at our house. COLD northeaster from the Fraiser Valley in Canada dipped temps down to -10 at times. The yarn shop kept busy with shoppers coming in to buy yarn to take home to cozy up to make mittens, hats and scarves for the cold weather. It was amazing, so much snow everywhere, people stranded at home. So the boldest of them got on the busses and on their feet to get where they needed! It was great to see so many knitters come to the shop, all bundled up, in good spirits! And for what?!? More yarn to make presents, or to tread back out into the cold so they could go get cozy at home by the fire and knit!

While we waited for our traditional dinner of stuffed turkey to finish, the three of us went out to build a showman, and then the neighbor kids joined us. What started out as a snowman, changed to a chair, and ended up as the Lincoln Memorial!

Camera is Dated the 24th, date is really the 25th!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Judith McKenzie McCuin Recommended Reads

Judith was here the first week of November doing a three day workshop for us. During that time she dropped several names of books that are good reads. I thought I'd pass them on to you.... Margaret has already started reading one of them!!!

Of course if you like ranching, the Ivan Diog books are fabulous, as he talks of sheep ranching on the range. I have them, but not read them yet, and should, with the history in my family of my great-grandfather's sheep ranches. "This House of Sky" is one of them.

Judith has a unique style of teaching. I think she comes to "class" with a basic idea of what will be taught, and with her wealth of knowledge stored in her head and hands, she can naturally, literally pull things "out of her hat" at a moment's notice. Her love and experience with fiber and animals is really demonstrated in class. She is a real natural. So while I went to class to learn new techniques of spinning, it was also an "experience" of a sort, hearing stories of other spinners, ranchers, knitters and weavers of the past and present. I loved these few days!

One evening after class, after we had done some combing she mentioned a book that was out of print. Alan Fanin is the author of "The Art of Handspinning". She said he was a crotchety old guy that nobody really got along with, but he really knew combing! And the section in his book on combing is the best! VanNastrom Press.

"Three Blankets, Three Legacies" and "In the Cloth of My Grandmother". Don't know the author, same author though, I think. If you know, please reply to the blog and let us know!

And lastly, the book Margaret is already reading, "The Midwives Tale", written by the same author as "The History of Knitting".

If you have any other information on these or other books to pass on about spinning and weaving history or stories, let us in the blog, Thank you!