Forty-Eight: 52


the 52 project.
Portraits of my main squeezes every week.

O, this week you…

…asked me about 50 times what the word “lasagna” means as you were reading your most recent acquisition from the library. I felt like a terrifically irresponsible Italian mother by never having introduced you to one of our native dishes, but you know…the gluten thing. I explained that it’s quite delicious and comforting and I would look for g-f lasagna noodles next time I’m at the Co-op. “But Mama,” you said, “Why is it served in a litter box?”

Clearly, I don’t use a casserole dish often enough.

…pretty much had your mind blown by the idea of mixed media on canvas. You were upset by the way your watercolor painting was going, so I suggested giving the accidental blob some shape by outlining it with pen and turning it into something else. You used to be a strictly pen-and-ink OR watercolor guy, and now you can be both at once.

I’ll leave it here, as there’s catching up to do. What a crazy weeeeeeeeeeeeek.

Oh, and btw, I did contact a winner for my giveaway. Holly Eqq is the lucky duck this time around. If you haven’t gone to my biz Facebook page, I do a giveaway every 100 likes. Share it up and there will be another one very soon!!! Thanks so much for playing and sharing your thoughts and gratitude with me. xoxo


nablo…what? gratitude and, a giveaway

hi hi hi

I didn’t make my goal of posting here every day this month, but I have been writing every day. Does that count? I was here this week


with my serial poem on Literary Traces, Autumn, and I was here this week


sharing a special Advent project on the Sparkle Stories blog.

Oh, and there was Thanksgiving, when I gave myself an internet fast except for pictorial representations of oven drama and a quick recipe search. We had friends over, and it was lovely, but the boy stayed up until ridiculous o’clock and then he and I were on our own today, having woken up at the usual AM version of ridiculous o’clock. I wrote up a preposterous, impossible to-do list (typical), and when I looked up from it, O was curled up under blankets with The Way Things Work and a cat.

In an instant, I put the brakes on. It was 28-but-feels-like-2 degrees outside. We were tired. So, I decided to make today about him. I did everything he wanted to do. We drove 15 minutes to the library that was closing in 30 minutes. We made the most of it and came home with a silly adorable book. We drank cocoa and made a list of all the people we want to give gifts to, and brainstormed handmade ideas. We went for a walk and crunched the icy leaves. We played a card game. He painted while I made him lunch, and I stopped what I was doing whenever he wanted me for something.

There is something special about a day home from school that isn’t the weekend. The weekend is full of all the errands and tasks we couldn’t perform during the week. More harried, even, than the crash of coming together on a weekday evening to dohomeworkeatdinnerwashupstorytimebed, especially as we enter the final stages of winter preparations.

So, I put the brakes on. I didn’t wash the yarns for an update. I didn’t cross off 80% of the things on my list. And my heart is full.

I’ll let that be the first on the list of things I’m grateful for today:

full heart * the sound of thin ice cracking underfoot * he still wants me to hold his hand * the wood on my porch * kitten cuddles * leftovers for dinner * lovely neighbors * new traditions * the capacity of our new-to-us oven (there are five baking dishes full of winter squash on one rack in there right now) * our menagerie of creatures who nourish us in so many ways * fulfilling collaborations * supportive family * blankets * patience * color * the sound of him coming home * Earl Grey, hot * well water, cold * good stories * clean laundry * the ability to create with my hands * the folks who appreciate it *

Let’s talk about that last one. You’re awesome, and I’m glad you’re here. If you play on Facebook and haven’t yet found my page, I encourage you to check it out, even if it’s only to be reminded every once in a while that I have a coupon code just for you that is valid 365 DAYS A YEAR for a good chunka change off any Etsy orders. No expiry.ย  So, you won’t see any special holiday sales for The Spun Monkey. You can choose to make it a sale day for yourself any time you want. Or not, if you don’t need to save the dough and you wanna help a mama out. Heh. Anyway, it’s yours to use as you desire, and always available. If it makes the difference between you picking up that one-of-a-kind spun-with-love-and-luxury for yourself or a loved one and, say, not picking it up…well, I want my work to be accessible.


Speaking of the Facespace page…my likeage has exceeded 700! I want to celebrate with a GIVEAWAY! A randomly chosen winner will receive his/her choice of a fiber-y gift, a yarn-y gift, or a gift certificate towards a custom hand-spun, hand-knit wearable. To enter, leave a comment on this post before midnight Sunday. I’ll choose a winner via random number generator on Monday morning. Tell me something you are grateful for!


Day 2, and Don’t Bite on Stuff from the Duck House (isn’t that a Cramps song?)

Firstly, thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses to my previous post. Your talk of baked pumpkins, applesauce, and knitting projects has me feeling dreamy and ready to cast on a sweater.

I had hoped to bring you this second installment of my Squam experience sooner, but the curve balls, lately…they are flying at me from all directions. This weekend was completely absorbed by caring for creatures great and small, stacking an unexpected delivery of wood before the rain, coming into free tomatoes and getting them put up (still not done), while shuttling my husband to and fro the hospital, late nights for the boy (with the bonus of snuggles when Papa was at the ER), and bleary, sleepless nights for me. Said husband contracted salmonella. Ugh. Please, whatever you do, don’t get salmonella. It’s awful. Terrible. There’s nothing you can do except ride it out, but C was in so much pain and so dehydrated, that I finally just brought him down to the ER so they could get some liquid back into him and bring his blood pressure up. It was a good move. I should note that, in this case, the infection did not come from food. It was a daring, early-morning (as in, all synapses not yet firing), duck rescue involving using teeth to release said duck from a tangle of twine.

(and I know the song is Don’t Eat Stuff Off the Sidewalk, but I think it applies, yeah?)

Sometimes, I feel like I’m in some sort of tragi-comic graphic novel. The author is pushing the line of just how much this little family can take. This is one of the least-desirable weeks for C to miss several more days of work. We were also taking care of our neighbor’s goats, some of them needing to be milked. I had never milked a goat. I did try, though. What a disaster. All I succeeded in doing was pissing off the goat and getting head-butted. I still have not milked a goat.

During a particularly off moment, O and I will press the Do Over button. I wish I could press the Do Over button on my entire week. Right now, I would probably give a kidney to be right back here:


Just for a moment. To breathe. To bathe my fatigue in the lake. To laugh with Miranda, who posted a picture of my backside. And to pretend, for just a moment, that I feel I am master of my own fate instead of a helpless character in someone else’s hilarious story.


Sit on the edge of the dock with me here, and everything else will melt away. This little piece of the planet is yours to inhale and exhale.

It was a really intense and fantastic day, my second day at the Taproot Gathering. I took a class called The Map Home, tenderly guided by Julia Shipley. I signed up for the class because I knew it would involve prompted writing and sharing, which would be a huge challenge for me, and also because my sense of home has been a blurred and messy place in my heart for the last decade.

This class stirred me up, and Julia created a space that made each one of us feel safe in our vulnerability and held as we explored the idea of home and our sense of place in past, present, and future. There were tears and revelations, laughter and moments of silence. All of it was perfect.


During our mid-day break, I explored a little around “home”base, and came upon spontaneous artful arrangements of woodsy litter.


And delighted in the beauty of the organic forms all around me. When I saw this mushroom, I wished I were a 1/4″ tall.

During the second half of class, I wrote a piece (well, I should say that it’s the beginning of something) that I was encouraged to share during Lodge Night that evening. There was a fashion show of sewn pieces, and then a few of us willing to read our own words. Into a microphone.


I thought I would throw up, but I made it through, even with laryngitis and pitifully shaking hands. I’m glad I was encouraged, and I even thought about Next Time once I sat down.


It was unedited, written in a 20-minute period, which is how I usually write.

Oh, and then Stephanie Pearl-McPhee took the stage and she was funny and charming and hey, guess what? She’s a very lovely person and I’m glad to have met her.


Once I relaxed, the evening festivities were exactly the right way to end a day of perfection and open up connections beyond my class and housemates. I felt inspired in so many ways by so many people and words and visions that I’m still processing my experiences.

There’s more, but here:

PicMonkey Collage

I brought some things home with me. For you.

Click the collage to get to my shop. Enjoy.


Oh, and the Taproot/yarn giveaway? Random Number Generator says Kelly gets it! She wrote: “The children love collecting, so when we gather all of our nature-gifts and start putting together an acorn or leaf garland really tells them itโ€™s time for autumn. And the wool socksโ€ฆ putting on those wool socks is a sure sign that the barefoot season is coming to a quick end.”

Congrats, Kelly!

Taproot Gathering, Taproot Giveaway, and 500 Something or Other

I wish I could share the Everything of my experience at the Taproot Gathering with each and every one of you, but in the words of Inigo Montoya:

“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

Really, too much. I must extend my most sincere gratitude to the Taproot and Squam Art Workshops lovelies, especially Elizabeth, Kaitlyn, Amanda and Jason for putting together such a deeply meaningful event, full of creativity, connection, inspiration, and beauty. And amazing food. We were nourished in every way possible.

The sum up:
I arrived at the Rockywold-Deephaven Camps late in the evening, and when I had unpacked from my car into the cabin, the sky, which had been lightening-lit the whole of my drive, finally released a torrent of rain. So, I missed the opening ceremony, affording myself the opportunity to explore the indoors and settle in quietly. I’m a nester like that, so it worked out well.

I hadn’t stalked my roommate ahead of time, so I knew nothing about the person who would be sleeping in the bed one foot away from mine in our cozy little room. It turns out she’s pretty awesome, has excellent taste in chocolate, and doesn’t mind giggling until 2am. She also creates sweet house portraits.


Oh, that? Eh, just my walk to class in the morning.

I took Forage and Ferment, a natural dye workshop with Rachel Bingham. We used powdered natural dyes and then explored in the woods for various materials to experiment with.



Above is from a cochineal dyebath, and below is the pot I pushed for: black eyed susan. These flowers weren’t exactly in the wild, but the landscaping needed a little tidying and so I dead-headed the bushes, clipping only the flowers on their way out. The mordant used was alum and the result is a the loveliest sage green. I have a feeling the susies in my yard will find their way into a dyepot, too, since the frost will take them soon, anyway.



Another favorite was goldenrod, and I’ll share the results once I spin the fiber. It’s nearly exactly my Biohazard blend, but with plant dye. Oh, and there is so very much in the way of goldenrod lurking all about my world right now.

I’m overwhelmed, so I will tell you about day 2 tomorrow. I’m still processing all the emotional Whoa, reigning it all in and absorbing it as I settle back into a daily grind which is different than the one I left behind.

In other news, this funny thing happened. At some point during the Sparkle Stories tutorial posting frenzy, I passed the 500th post mark. Is this significant? Not really, but I thought it might be worth mentioning, and that it’s a nice excuse for a giveaway.


I happen to have an extra copy of the current issue of Taproot (#7: Gather). I also happen to have a piece included in its pages, so if you want to make my Blueberry Pie Sauerkraut, you’d best get your hot little hands on it. How about I send it to you?

How about I also sweeten the deal by sending the winner a skein of my handspun merino, dyed up with cochineal during the class I took at the Taproot Gathering? It’s bulky and squishy and delicious and is pictured above (the skein on the left), dripping with blood beautiful dye.

Leave a comment between now and Sunday, September 22nd, and tell me one of your favorite recipes or crafts that gets you feeling all Autumnal, and a winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Snow Day 101

Welcome to my new e-course, Snow Day 101.

It’s really quite simple. Here are the main points:

  • Stay in your jammies all morning.
  • When you can’t stand it anymore, hastily dress for going out and play hard in the fresh powder, preferably while it’s still falling.
  • Be sure to laugh at yourself when you sink into the snow up to your thighs and can’t get out, even though you’re wearing snowshoes.
  • Come in when you’re famished and bake cookies. This is very nearly the most important point.

  • In fact, it would be the most important point except for this: bake these cookies. Why? Because there are more chocolate chips in this recipe than flour (I used sprouted millet and they worked up perfectly fine), you don’t need to remember to soften the butter and they bake up with a satisfyingly crisp outside with a chewy middle.
  • Oh, and this one: use an ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the parchment. I am now converted.

  • Celebrate that we are half-way there (Spring, Spring, Spring!) with a feast and don’t forget your table manners.

I’m not sure this course needs to evolve beyond the main points, so I’ll leave it at that and hope you found some valuable information.

In other news, the fabulously crafty Molly of A Foothill Home Companion is graciously holding a giveaway for new contributors to The Spun Monkey Dyeworks and Lounge on Kickstarter. Check out her post and, when you pledge, contact Molly and you will be entered to win a sweet Mini Hearts Crochet Garland!

Let me show you how sweet these garlands are (picture stolen from Molly’s Etsy shop):

Serious sweetness.


The Winner!

This will be brief, as I had a full day of public transportation and an awesome felting workshop at Urban Fauna Studio today. I had a great group of students who all made beautiful pieces of nuno felt. I’m always very inspired after a workshop…expect some new pieces in the near, near future. Now, though…me sleepy.

So, C has picked a winner out of the hat (okay, no hat…more like crumpled pieces of paper on the kitchen table. Like I said, me sleepy).

The winner is Holly, who commented via LJ. Congrats and Hooray!

Thanks so much for playing everyone…Wordpress might not have told you, but I did answer all of your thoughtful questions. ๐Ÿ™‚

As the Boy would say, I could fall asleep “right this even minute.”

Baste the world. It’s raining!

After lights-out, the Boy often shares a Deep Thought or two. Sometimes he asks for my input on an Important Question…

Tonight he wanted to know why the stars are like tiny glowing lentils.


In other news, the rain hath given us a LAKE!

So, of course, we ran outside with a turkey baster.

Usually, there would be grass behind him, maybe some leaves and pine needles. Once pails and jars had been filled and dumped and filled again, and the baster sufficiently clogged with muddy water, we moved on to lake soccer!!!! We were sopping, dripping and bedraggled with glee when we finally came inside for some hot soup.

Sledding it ain’t, but we dig the H2O in all its forms. All our favorite haunts will be quenched and lush.

I have been enjoying the dark, damp days, but the low light level did not help me get a decent shot of the most recent batch of kimchi put up in the crock today. This time, C used watermelon radishes, kale and dragon carrots. The colors will seep and blend as the mixture ferments, but the bright pink disks of radish, deep green of the kale and the blood orange colored carrots made for quite the mouth-watering vision of loveliness. The Boy had a blast choppity chopping.

Tomorrow I will be fulling a batch of long-draw 2-ply yarns. I have been loving this method of spinning batts, whether textured or smooth, but it is quite time-consuming. They are, however, quite fine and would be lovely for lacework. I’m getting about 90+ yards per ounce.

I’ll leave you with something tweedy (Dijon Tweed):

Don’t forget to enter the ‘Tangled’ GIVEAWAY! Scroll down or click here to comment on yesterday’s post before midnight Friday. I’m enjoying everyone’s comments and questions! Off to answer some. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, and thank you, AmpuTeeHee, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing Pride and Prejudice as told using Emoticons. It brought a smile to my face, too.

Butter, Whining and…a Giveaway!

When the world gives you rain…and LOTS of it…make butter.

Miss M used pasteurized cream and it came together very quickly and while the butter was very nice, it left her with thin, watery buttermilk. My mother-in-law put lemon salt in half of the butter, which was AWESOME.

I cannot digest pasteurized milk so I used fresh raw cream for my butter and while it took forever to separate, I have rich buttermilk (we will use it for baking) and amazing butter. I thought about adding herbs while it was so soft and creamy, but it seemed a shame not to allow the full butter flavor toย  be the star of the show…just some salt and it’s perfect. I think I need a churn. And a dexter cow.

Which would require getting away from this horrid urbanity. It’s killing me slowly and I need to get back to the woods. After four years away, the Bay Area feels stifling and oppressive. I am adrift, cut off from my dearest friends and community whom I left 3000 miles behind, longing to return to my rural existence. I thought I would feel somehow at home, coming back here, but I just feel like I’m going to crawl out of my own skin.

Our search takes us up into Oregon…the job hunt is difficult without word-of-mouth connections as we had in Vermont, but perhaps enough of our at-home biz pursuits will come to fruition so as not to need the day job. We shall see.

In the meantime, I’m working on wholesale orders this month, scheduling workshops and stocking up for a new event:

CRAFT HAPPY! This event is happening March 20th, 10AM at the Niles Banquet Hall in Fremont, CA. I’ll post more about it later as the event gets closer, but if you’re local, please do save the date!

And, because every stormy day needs a GIVEAWAY

Please leave a comment on this post between now and Friday midnight and I will draw a winner on Saturday for the above-pictured ‘Tangled’ nuno felt scarf/necklace.

One stipulation: in your comment, tell me something about yourself and/or ask me a question you’d like me to answer. No pressure. If you want to just tell me your favorite ice cream flavor, that will do as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Off to read to the Boy, and when C gets home from working on a leaking roof (which I’m thrilled about him doing in this thunderstorm, let me tell you) they are going to build a doghouse for a certain favorite stuffed animal. Wednesday has been “woodworking day” these past few weeks, and it’s been a joy and a challenge to find projects that hold the Boy’s interest…so far, we know he does not enjoying prolonged periods of sanding. Today, he’ll be hammering in pegs…I’m pretty sure that will bring him a great deal more satisfaction. ๐Ÿ™‚