Salida Fiber Fest

Quilts by Linda Heltzel. Amazing quilts by Linda Heltzel! (The above photo by Sally Gilchrist.)


Tapetes de Lana and Mora Valley Spinning Mill, a nonprofit that trains rural New Mexicans in weaving and fiber production

Hat from Paxknits

Lassitude, deadlines and wonderful distractions like mountain vacations have allowed this post to languish since...Sept. 8. 

The day was splendid. As you can see, nuno felting was trending at the Salida Fiber Festival. Mr. Nake-id is wearing a wet-felted boa with aplomb. Our Denver neighbor Sandy came home with a gorgeous silk-and-wool wrap (not the one she's displaying above). And Ms. Nake-id. An extravagant hank of Fusion Yarn from Cat Mountain Fiber Arts. The "mallard" colorway. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

Naughty Bohemian Knit Skirt in the Mountains

Naughty Bohemian in the Mountains

The stores in Telluride were full of down-filled minis, to the point that I actually carried one over to an associate and brandishing the thing asked, "What in the world does one do with this?"

Tights and boots. (Alrighty then. So off I go to the Interwebs where the copy describing a North Face product unfortunately monikered, the Thunder Skirt, advises: "Look way cute whether you're at a condo, cabin, yurt, or snowshoeing with a special somebody. You won't just look cute, you'll also stay warm because this skirt has 800-fill goose down insulation keeping you nice and toasty all winter long."

Has this copywriter ever been snowshoeing? You want frostbit lady parts, you wear a skirt in the backcountry. The way the wind blows in the Rockies? For pity's sake!

But it got me thinking, how much better to rock a much-more slimming, more comfortable wool version, at work or curled in front of the fire post snowshoe?

Hence the restyle of my black knit pencil skirt (pattern available here) ala Telluride. Pair it with thick leggings and winter accessories and off you go. It looks so adorable, I might have to dig out my old Lopi and take it for a spin in the wind.

Telluride style


Just back from leaf-peeping in SoCo, including a couple of days in Telluride. Colors were just starting to splay out on the hillsides but that didn't prevent Mother Nature from bestowing a little snow.

Vendors at Telluride's Friday Farmer's Market were shivering, clutching steaming cups of coffee and hoping the hardy souls in attendance would think salad was a good idea on a very cold day.

Every town has its own look. And with the colder temps, Telluriders brought out their boots and knits. We bought very little: A hunk of cabra blanca (makes me feel very fancy to type..."cabra blanca") from Avalanche Cheese, a fabulous, non-barny goat; and a bottle of San Juan Mountain Beer Mustard Steamworks Backside Stout, a tangy-sweet condiment that we loved with eggs and fried potatoes.

And do you see the photo of the booth with the organic clothing? Yoga friendly, comfy, plant-dyed goods from Damselfly Organics, cute-and-righteous-enough to inspire a yoga tog upgrade from hiking shorts and old tees.

Love the relaxed, thrown-together vibe of the locals. So-not-Aspen. Ready to go native?

Why I won't wear camo

She breaks the silence for this?

On the brink of a U.S. attack of Syria? Why, yes.

Camouflage prints come and go much like animal prints; they always work, but at times, are particularly a la mode. To my eyes, camouflage has been having a moment--nay, a full decade--since our attack on Afghanistan in 2002. Shirts, pants, jackets, bags, shoes even prom dresses. Sixteen-year-olds can look like they're ready for desert warfare; make sure they carry a wrap and an m16.

Frankly, I like camo prints--not overdone (seriously, evening gowns?) but a pair of cargo pants or t-shirt peeking out from beneath a jacket. Not this. But this. And this! Cute, fun, classic even. Completely versatile, almost a neutral.

Won't do it. As long as we have men and women serving our country in harm's way.

My boycott makes no statement but to remind me that we are at war. Rightly or wrongly. Justifiable or no, when we are at war--and that's what's at stake when the President talks about a punitive strike on Syria--it's so easy to sit in front of our computers as if our morning was the same as the morning for women in Damascus. Are they taking their tea in front of their iPads today? Or are they setting aside provisions, anticipating an attack?

This may or may not be a righteous move on the part of our government. But to think that one strike or series of tactical missions will end the Syrian civil war is naive. To address the humanitarian issues in the country means to take Assad down; it means nation bulding in a place where the leader we hate might be better than the leader we install. We shouldn't kid ourselves; it means war.

So the camo stays off and the prayers for peace continue.





Put a fedora on it or in praise of hipsters

Just got through writng a story about Denver's creative class, and no, that's not an oxymoron. Young and not-so-young people here and all over the country are rethinking the way we work, dine and even wrap our produce. They're opening vegan groceries, nano breweries and, um, unique gallery spaces. They're opening bookstores that do more than sell books. They're making hats, yarn and soap. They're co-working and collaborating and cooking and contriving to make this one really cool place to live.

Whether it's the devastation wrought by the economic collapse of 2008, a lack of interest on the part of Millennials to work for the man or a realization that if we don't raise a few vegetables, dye some yarn or upcycle clothing, our way of life is going to become so unmoored from earthy, tactile things as to be unreal.

It's easy to poke fun at the handlebar mustaches or the writers lugging their typewriters to coffee shops (puh-lease, what editor is going to take paper copy? Sorry, but really.) But I tip my fedora to y'all, who are making your livings in ways that make this city that much cooler.

Getting buzzed at the state beekeepers meeting

Being curious new beekeepers we found the prospect of a day's worth of bee education on the Western Slope irresistible, especially when followed by a five-course dinner with wine and mead pairings.

The Colorado State Beekeepers Association summer meeting was held at Paul and Nanci Limbach's Western Colordo Honey bee farm and animal sanctuary. Bobcats and foxes and bees, oh my.

Their hives produce several different types of honey, depending on where they're located including rabbit brush, honeydew (from the sweet secretions of aphids, ah nature) and wildflower. (Their honey can be had here.)

When you consider that bees visit 2 million flowers to make a pound of honey it gives you a sense about how miraculous these critters are.

Speaking of flowers, here are some things we learned:

As you know, bees need all the help they can get. if you want to help, eat your honey, plant bee cuisine (currently they're going nuts for the salvia and dabbling in the poppies) and eliminate pesticides (the bees don't need it and who wants Junior to play on the Weed and Feed then suck his toes?).

This organization is doing a lot to build and sustain research around bees.

This is your brain on honey.

Beekeeping is part art, science, luck and a whole lot of wisdom.

Can't wait to try these fabulous honeys (and more). And these gorgeous beeswax candles.

It was one of those days that felt big and full and rich with many fine folk and bees. We left feeling that our world was just that much larger.

Bee stylish in a bee hat

Yes, I'm exploiting the neighbors' dog as a model. And Petey was none too happy to find himself in an earflap bee hat. Avec antennae.

Better than poor Mr. Nake-id, who's done star turns in many an FO.

(Look, another pet pressed into service.)

The hat was crocheted with Lionbrand Vanna's Choice (lots of great colors, proceeds go to St. Jude's, lots of splitting, too). The intended recipient is a hard-working, swarm-chasin beekeeper, so the 100 percent acrylic yarn was a must. It strikes just the right amount of silly, don't you think?

Should you want your own (of course, you do!), the pattern is available here.

Hope your week is full of good buzz.

Eighties Sweaters: The Reveal

Bernat Book 582. Bernat Sweater Classics - knit

I'll let you be the judge. Do they stand the test of time?

I knit this when I was about 22. The bobbles have flattened out and there are a few pills here and there. But check out that smocking! Should you want to knit your very own, it's available in Bernat Book 582 Sweater Classics to Knit.

This was either a Phildar or Pingouin pattern, the yarn and pattern purchased at the late, great Skyloom Fibers in Denver, if memory serves. I use to rock this little number with grey, pegged jeans and grey pleahter heels. So no provenance on the sweater, but we definitely know from whence the incipient bunyon derives.

That's it from my knitting archives. What do you have to show for your salad days of knitting?

Eighties Sweaters: I'll show you mine, if you show me yours!

A few months back, Kelly at Wild Yarns was sharing vintage copies of VK she had received from a customer. Flipping through one issue, I was horrified to find a sweater that I knit prominently featured in an ad. I was a mere slip of a girl, newly graduated from college...and if that sweater could talk. (Well, it would probably whisper to my husband that I was duller back then.)

We yucked it up at the yarn shop, tee heeing over the flashy, discordant garments. Ah, the Eighties. Oversized sweaters. Shoulder pads (admit it, you still have some lurking in drawers). Mini skirts.

My salad the disco. Cringe.

Yesterday, I was rooting around in my handknits when I stumbled on THAT sweater. And another I knit during the same period. (Intarsia, baby!) Made me think, wouldn't it be fun if we shared our shame? If we blogged about what we remembered about those pullovers and cardis and the yarns and clothes we loved?

So next week, post your favorite handknits from The Decade of Greed. We'll have a good chuckle and share a few memories. I'll even show a few Mom made!

Who's in?


You see that brown mass in the tree that looks like a saggy market bag? Bees. A whole mess of teeming, ready-for-new-lodgings bees.

We should have been working, but when the Bee Guru called saying he had a swarm removal in the neighborhood, we "absconded" for a lesson in swarm removal.

Bees swarm because they've outgrown their current hive. The swarm ball is a half-way point, giving the bees a chance to decide where to move. They aren't particularly dangerous and move on in matter of hours. Stumbling on a ball of bees is likely to give anyone pause. But the bees are more interested in finding new digs than deploying their stingers. So rather than spraying them yourself, which is likely to result in this (queue video), or call an exterminator, the best solution is calling a professional beekeeper, who will relocate the bees to a rescue hive.

In this case, the neighbor with the swarm is another beekeeper. She was ready with a fully prepared hive, happy to be the beneficiary of these rogue pollinators.

Conditions, though, weren't ideal. The swarm had collected in the upper branches of a pine tree about 25 feet off the ground. The only way to access the bees was from the roof.

The process is extremely low tech but treacherous at such a height. Clipping away a few branches to get at the swarm, the Bee Guru shook the bees into the plastic bin and immediately covered it.

While the bees are relatively docile all balled up in their swarm, they don't take kindly to being shaken into a plastic tub. Nor do they like being unceremoniously dumped into a new home.

Bees were everywhere. And mad as hornets.

But soon were ensconced in their new home, if not happily, at least satisfied that they were in a nice, sticky place full of sugar water.

The bees--and the people who care about them--continue to amaze.