Goodbye to San Antonio


On the last day we were in San Antonio, after the movers had taken our furniture and boxes, after we scrubbed the apartment clean and loaded up our car, we went out to the little square that anchors the Pearl Brewery, where we spent the last 13 months, and took one last photo of ourselves outside our favorite cafe, Local Coffee.

So much distance and time to cover between this photo and the present. I may or may not try.







Running: From different angles


This weekend was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, with the children’s races on Saturday and the adults’ on Sunday. V had signed Little A up for it a while back and as the date approached, she alternated between excitement and fear. Little A had been at home sick with asthma and allergies for three days, and we weren’t sure if she was going to be up for the challenge of running 1/2 mile.

V ran with her, just to make sure she would be OK. It was wonderful that parents were able to join in on the fun too. And the moment the race began, she took off like a shot.


I’ve never seen her so determined, and she completed the whole course without stopping. Her favorite part of the race, besides getting a medal for participation? Beating Dad.


Here they are crossing the finish line. Where did she learn about the lean in?

Early the next day, we could hear the preparations outside. We live right on the marathon route and Little A decided that she was going to go down early and get a good seat.


Little A made sure to wear her sparkles and, of course, her medal, and she also brought down her art supplies. The first thing she wanted to do when she woke up that morning was to draw the event. We’ve been talking a lot about how drawing is not just about being able to control the pencil but also about learning to see. I think that really resonated with her as she is such a curious and observant little person, and drawing has become a way for her to take it all in.


Sitting in our chairs, with me sipping my morning coffee, we watched over 26,000 people bike, run and walk by. (The man in blue is V’s friend.) It was inspiring to see so many people run, and it looks like Little A and V have caught the running bug. V is now going to run a 1/2 marathon in March and Little A also wants to run too.  As for me, yarn crawls are more my speed.


Here’s her picture. It is actually a time line of the event–the police officers setting up the barricades and the orange cones, the cyclists who set off first and the runners who came after. The lady with the dog is the neighbor below us that we finally met.



We left Portland just before Black Sheep Gathering and the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival took place. So, when we got to San Antonio, one of the first things I did was to see if there was something comparable in the area. It is not an exaggeration to say that I had been counting down the days to Kid ‘N Ewe and Llamas Too, the fiber festival just outside of San Antonio in Boerne.


Besides the general thrill of being surrounded by this much color and texture, what I like about these events is that you get to meet the people behind the scenes–the dyers, the breeders, and the artisans that make and produce these fabulous fibers. These festivals are the fiber equivalent of farmers markets where you have the opportunity to meet the farmers directly and learn where your food comes from. Little A also likes learning about where these fibers come from, but she likes to go directly to the source and feed them.

Here is Anne Podlesak of Wooly Wonka. I discovered her fibers during the Hill Country Yarn Crawl, and it was nice to able meet her in person.  I’m currently spinning a beautiful mixed BFL/silk braid dyed by Anne, and it is magnificient.


I haven’t been to enough of these kinds of events to generalize, but what struck me about this small but long running (25 years) event is its deep roots to the Texan landscape. Here is a representative from the Mohair Council of America, which is based in Texas. Texas produces 90% of total US mohair. He facilitated a fascinating conversation with other angora goat breeders on the features of prize-winning goats and the different considerations that go into breeding them. Not only did they know their stuff but their knowledge was cumulative and historical, passed down from one generation to the next. I loved that during the talk, the breeders would talk about their daddies and cite their experiences and perspectives.


We also spent some time talking to these two men as they sat outside carving arrowheads. The tarp on the ground is not only to make cleaning easy but also to preserve the archeological integrity of the place. They didn’t want the shards to be left in the area. In the event that this landscape is studied many years from now, they didn’t want someone to mistake these shards as native to this location.

At one point, someone asked us where we were from. Normally, these questions put me a little on the defensive. And given how often I have moved, I’m never really sure how to answer that question. But somehow, at this event where origins are an important part of the story, I didn’t mind at all.   “San Antonio” V answered.  “Portland,” I added.

Yarn Crawl Hero


Thank you, V, for being my Yarn Crawl Hero. Even though you find my fiber obsession weird and totally incomprehensible, you:

  • willingly spent your day off to drive me around the Hill Country of Texas in a baby-blue Subaru.
  • greeted everyone you met with an enthusiastic, “Are you a crawler?” as if you worked at the store.
  • tried to show how “down” you were by breaking out some yarn puns.
  • were unperturbed by the fact that you did not encounter another male on the entire crawl.
  • looked after Little A as she darted around the stores or when she got impatient.
  • played along by squeezing different skeins to “feel how squooshy they are.”
  • never once asked me to hurry it up or to make up my mind.
  • paid for everything without complaint since my new debit card had not arrived yet.
  • only got slightly annoyed when I mixed up my “right” and “left” and led us in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go.

I love you, V. You make life sparkle. Your scarf is coming up next. Wait till you feel how squooshy it is.

Toque Cute


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This was an incredibly fast knit (for me). Inspired by SouleMama’s recent post “27 hours to a hat,” I wanted to see how quickly I could knit a hat up too. I was definitely in the mood for instant gratification. This is probably closer to a 35 hour hat, and it did involve staying up past 2 am both nights, but it was totally worth it. Is it possible to be wired from too much knitting? Even after staying up late, I had to read Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel MaddAddam to ease me into asleep.

The details:

Yarn: Handspun worsted 2-ply sport/DK weight Finn from Hello Yarn in “Winter Storage.” Fractally spun. Details about how I spun this yarn linked here.

Pattern: Brier Toque by Cecily Glowik MacDonald from the book, Weekend Hats: 25 Knitted Caps, Berets, Cloches and More, edited by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre.

Gauge: 22 stitches per four inch swatch.

Modifications: Since my gauge was different from the pattern (the knit would have been too stiff otherwise in my opinion), I cast on 110 stitches using US 2 needles for the ribbed brim then switched to US 5 for the rest of the hat. Knitted 8 inches and then proceeded to decrease.  During the decrease sections, I alternated between decrease row and one knit row, but towards the final four rows, I decreased every rows.

As you can see in the fractally-spun yarn, the larger bands of colors (most notable in the pink and green sections) are from the large length-wise section I spun across the top. And the smaller stripes are from the four smaller length-wise sections.

While I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought about spinning Finn because of the slight compression that made it sometimes a bit difficult to draft, I can say without a doubt that I loved working with it. This Finn is silky and soft  enough to be worn next to the skin. I still have quite a bit of yarn left and I will be making some fingerless mitts to go with this toque.

These photos were taken at Old Oaks Ranch and Fiber Center, one of our stops on the Hill Country Yarn Crawl. Little A was a good sport to pose in the 85+ degree weather with a toque but, of course, had to inject a bit of attitude at the end.

Percentage Dyeing




I’ve been meaning to post about one of the first things I did when we arrived in San Antonio–take a percentage dyeing class with the amazing textile artist, quilter and all-around wonderful teacher, Kim Eichler-Messmer. Her work is phenomenal, and what’s more, she is coming out with a new book on dyeing for quilting this November.  The class was offered as part of the biennial Surface Design Association Conference, and this year, it just happened to take place in San Antonio a couple of days after we arrived. I took this as a sign that I was meant to be there, and it was one of the best classes I have ever taken.

Percentage dyeing is a precise, mathematical way of dyeing that allows you to create color recipes that you can then reproduce. It allows you to understand the relationship between different colors and how to quantify the slightest shift in hue and tone. When I tell people about this class, they sometimes just laugh and say, “Why would I want to reproduce a color I just made? I want to try something new! And, isn’t the point about creativity the process of play and exploration?” It’s true. There is a lot of measuring in this class, and you do some math. Maybe it’s the nerd in me, but I love this kind of stuff! I love to know how colors come together. I love being able to track how the different percentages and ratios of water, stock solution and fiber come together to give me the particular gradation I want. I may not want to reproduce some of the colors I made, but I want to know that I can if I need to. There is something incredibly empowering about that.

The top photo is a sampling of my color explorations. The assignment was to choose a series of colors from color chips that you find at a paint store and to reproduce them. I wasn’t able to match them exactly, but I got pretty close.

I came away from this four-day class with a book of color recipes. It is my book of magic potions. This is all part of my eventual plan to start dyeing my own fibers. There. I said it. Now it’s real.