Friday, November 19, 2010

How "Shtuff" Happens

Valerie Says:

So...if you were to take a close look at a piece of your yarn, you would see that it is made up of two, three or even more single strands of yarn. Each strand is spun seperately and begins its life as a single. These singles can be made in a variety of sizes and colors. The spool of the single is then taken to our plyer machine where it is twisted "plyed" together. Sometimes, though, we don't get the exact amount of yarn on all three spools and so there will be a little bit left over. Its not a big deal if the yarn is our Lilura. It is a fawn brown and so easy to see. So rather than empty the spool, we will sometimes just leave that little bit on there, knowing that we will be able to see when we've gotten to the end of the spool.

One day, our #1 cowgirl spinner Chele came to me and said..."Lookee what I just made!" She had two Lilura singles and one soft grey plied together. Because I am such a creative soul I just blinked my eyes at her and mumbled something like.."Swell" or "Neat-o" or something profound like that. We were, afterall, trying to get things tidy for our fancy visitors from both coasts. I shoved the bobbin to the side and chased after another dust bunny in the craft room.

So there it sat until it caught Jill's eye!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Yarn is . . . Found!

Jill Says:
If you have never owned your own fiber-related business, you might be surprised at the all the hats we wear in order to make this fuzzy stuff an important part of your lives. Susan and I have been at it for about 10 years (doesn't seem possible! Our mother was right--the days may be long, but years are short) and consider ourselves incredibly lucky to be able to do things we love and that this work has brought us so many wonderful fiber-friends.

Susan and I went to Wyoming in May of 2010 for a "pre-enactment" for our Y2Knit Buffalo Event to take place there in September. [A pre-enactment is when we go and scope everything out so we can present the special Events Y2knit puts on. Susan lives in an area where people do Civil War Re-enactment--so our trips are like planning out how the battle will go!) Prior to that trip in May, we reconnected with Karen and Valerie at TNNA in Long Beach. We made arrangements to go out to dinner with them, where I showed them samples of things I'd knitted with their yarn and we got to know each other a bit. Susan and I felt a great deal of affinity for both Valerie and Karen and they were fun, enthusiastic, and we loved their story and their yarn.

Back to Buffalo. Susan and I met Karen and Valerie for lunch (you know it was at the Sagewood Cafe!) then they took us to the Mill. Nothing is quite as exciting as going to a Mill for anyone who works with yarn, fiber or fabric, so we were pretty excited! We're getting the tour (pre-actual mill) and Karen goes to put water on for tea and I spot this pretty soft gray heather skein of yarn on the table in the Shop. Okay, I'm surrounded by yarn in the shop so what made me even look at the worktable? Probably the same thing that always makes me spy the most expensive piece in a shop! But my hand went out for it, and I called Susan to look. When I asked Valerie what it was she said "oh, that's a mistake. I haven't even shown it to Karen. I might not show it to Karen." Or something like that. And I said, "Oh no, you must make this yarn!" And Karen came in and found out about the mistake.

And no, that's not the yarn!

Basque Connections

Susan says:
I share the same history as Jill in terms of being introduced to the Basque culture as a child. As I read and learn more about the Basque culture now, I love the way they are connected to the earth. There's a respect for nature that has ancient roots.

I recently watched the video, "The Last Link" about some Wyoming Basque. that went to France where they have many cousins in the Pyrennes region where the Basque are found. I was so struck by the way they live and their respect for nature. It's so grounding and seems like if people have that, then they tend to live peacefully and take care of the land and it's inhabitants.

I loved seeing (in the video) how they make all this cheese. The French government has supported and worked with the people to revive and grow this art as part of an economic development plan. I don't know if they are doing this in Wyoming. That's another project, "A Cheese is Born"!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Basque Envy

Jill Says:
I share your Basque envy. Mine comes from exposure to a couple of Basque things when I was a child. We grew up with a book called Tales of a Basque Grandmother (like Grimm's) and although I've not looked at it in years, I recall it as a fairly thick book. I think Mom must have read it to us and for unknown reasons, she treasured the book. I recall reading it on my own as well. The second was that when we would visit our grandmother in San Francisco we always ate at the Basque Hotel in North Beach. Looking back, I'm sure it was chosen for the quantity and price of the food offered and that it was a great place to take kids. It seemed very special and it was always lively. I ended up having a very strong feeling for the Basques, although it is not rooted in anything other than those childhood exposures. On a particular route doing my errands I now drive by the alley that the Basque Hotel was on. The sign remains, but I can't imagine that the restaurant still serves family-style meals anymore.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Basques in Wyoming

I have Basque jealousy. Or more like…Basque envy. I’ve admired the Basque story and the immigrants for years. Perhaps it is my own Polish Mountaineer heritage that resonates because a recent DNA search ties my Dad’s haplogroup to this culture. What ever its origin, I’ve long admired their fierce independence, strong family networks, great food and a sense of balance in their hard work and relaxed play.

The following link is a great short video produced by the Wyoming Arts Council on the Basques in our area:

The Basque region is located on the Iberian Peninsula…sharing land currently held by Spain and France. It is believed that they are some of the first people to appear in Europe perhaps having originated in Egypt tens of thousands of years earlier. Perhaps you have heard of the cave pictures in Spain that are the oldest graffiti in the world? It is believed to have been produced by the Basque. Their culture produced a unique mathematical system based on the number 7. They were excellent seamen and some evidence exists that they landed on the East coast of the Americas 1000 years before Columbus. In fact, most of the sailors that went with Columbus on his voyage to the new world were Basque.
Young men from the region travelled to the United States to make their fortune beginning in the late 1800s. They would spend several years as herders facing isolation and the elements in remote pastures of the American West. Once they had a bit of money saved and perhaps a small flock to begin with, they’d break out on their own, inviting more friends and family members to join them in the opportunities that the US provided. This group became heavily involved in the sheep industry and has probably done more than any other ethnic group to make it what it is today.