Nacktschnecke... plus the best yarn photos of the week

It has been raining here in northern Colorado. I grew up in the land of sunshine. I expect Colorado offer up 300+ days a year of the stuff. It has been raining for weeks. Now don't get me wrong. The water is wonderful and my worries about all the forests burning down this summer have decreased drastically, though the worry about flooding has increased proportionally. Clearly I have a long-standing habit of worrying about things I can't do anything about. We are currently simultaneously under a Flood Warning, Winter Storm Watch, and Flash Flood Warning. It is supposed to snow later, so it seems reasonable to just stay home today. The family in the SUV stuffed with camping gear towing a pop-up trailer that just drove by by is going to wish they were sitting on the couch knitting and reading books about color as well.

It is so wet that as I was drinking my tea yesterday morning staring out the slider at the rain, I noticed a little visitor on the other side of the glass.
Nacktschnecke is one of the only words I remember from the brief German tutorials we enjoyed while visiting Erfurt from my friend and colleague Conni Theimer Gardella. I remember because schnecken means something like cinnamon roll which looks like a snail which is schnecke and nacktschnecke is naked snail which is a slug. I think my learning of the German language is pretty hopeless in general, but if I applied myself in just this way, perhaps I could learn some of it. Really I just need to know all the words for my favorite foods, some pleasantries for idle conversation, and all the words for yarn and weaving.

Yarn, weaving, and textiles being the most important things in my current sphere, here are some yarn photos I shot during a brief break in the rain Wednesday.
Yarn is Harrisville Highland by Harrisville Designs
I had the blessing of a friend coming to help me skein yarn yesterday. I was unreasonably, undeniably excited about this. She saved me three hours at the skein winder and seemed to have a great time. I hope she comes back. She is also originally from Germany so maybe if I bribe her with some schnecken?

From skeins to tapestry...

This is a photo of the yarn I dyed a couple months ago for the piece currently on the loom--also pictured here. The dye job took about three days as I only have one two-burner stove currently... so it takes a couple hours to get two colors. There are many more than two colors here. And since I was attempting to dye on the porch of the cabin on three of the windiest days summer in the San Luis Valley had to offer, I had to build little wind breaks around the stove with coolers and pieces of plywood and do the measuring and stirring on my knees. They're still recovering. But the sight of the finished yarn drying in the wind (the wind is good for fast drying) with Mt. Blanca behind them was worth the effort.
And then those colors started making a tapestry--this piece on the loom has a labyrinth motif (which really isn't a labyrinth at all because you couldn't walk those paths continuously, but it was what I had in mind while designing). The design hanging on the loom in the photo is only part off the piece. Just wait a few more weeks and I'll show you the whole thing (with luck and some extra time).
Weaving has been good for me lately. It brings me to a similar place that yoga or long distance hiking brings me... some indescribable place of peace (and sometimes exhaustion).

Actual Size

They say size matters, but sometimes smaller is better. This is a photo of a car I saw outside the yarn shop in Buena Vista. I'd love to drive a Mini Cooper, but there is the small matter of being able to afford one, and then fitting four big dogs into it not to mention weavings, yarn, and stacks of books that usually accompany me pretty much everywhere. I guess the mini is not for me. My little Volkswagen Golf will have to do for now... and once it goes to the big car place in the sky (hopefully after many more years although I may be deluding myself as it has almost 170,000 miles on it now) maybe then I'll be ready for a mini. Or maybe by then someone will be making a super fuel efficient, small, high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle that can handle my tendency to drive up dirt roads looking for trailheads (which has caused me twice to have to replace the oil pan on my Golf--thanks to my brother-in-laws it didn't push me into bankruptcy), the snow drifts that form instantly after a half inch of snow falls and the wind sculpts it into cement walls, and the mud that is axle deep after that snow melts. And we can't forget the 4 big dogs. I don't think that is too much to ask of a vehicle. Oh, and considering the miles I drive for my job working in the rural school districts around here, I'd like it to get at least 45 mpg. I'm pretty sure this car doesn't exist at this point. I'm also pretty sure the mini isn't going to meet any of my criteria.

But really this post was connected to weaving because the car was sighted at the YARN SHOP. Of course I was buying knitting yarn, not weaving yarn. Fortunately for my budget, the weaving yarn I use is all the same and comes from a mill in Harrisville, NH in very big boxes, all in white which I dye myself. This doesn't leave much room for impulse purchases. As far as weaving goes, the yarn shop holds little temptation. Unfortunately, I also love to knit and find it an essential activity when stuck in situations where I have to stay awake (like meetings involving lots of boring discussion on policy and procedure or gatherings with people I'm not the most interested in)... so the knitting gets me in trouble in yarn shops. I've recently discovered the Yarn Harlot. This woman is an unbelieveable knitter. I want to watch her knit somehow because I just can't believe she knits as many items as her blog features. She is a knitting goddess for sure (and her books and blog are damn funny). I'm not sure if the knitting has just become a distraction from my focus on weaving, or if it is an essential part of my life. It does often save me from falling asleep or drifting off into reverie at inappropriate moments when used as described above. And I've knit up an impressive collection of baby hats lately. I don't know enough baby heads to wear all those hats.... but I figure eventually I'll be off on some other kick and the hats will last until the baby heads show up. Despite the overpopulation problem on this planet, babies seem to continue to arrive. And when you consider how cute those hats are, how could you not want a baby to put under it?

Lastly, here is a photo of one of the dogs on top of my Golf. I think she was trying to tell me that she is both a goddess, and that I shouldn't be so angry when she misbehaves. After all, well-behaved women seldom make history! Her name is Ten. Actually, her name is such a long story I can't get into it... but her full name is Big Ten-Jita-Pumpkin Martinez-Diez-Barbie Cinnamon. And sometimes she just gets called Trouble.

Small Town Life

I spotted this sign in Fort Garland, CO right on Highway 160 on my way to Taos to meet with some weaving friends. Fort Garland is only a few miles from my current home. I was struck by the small-town assumption that people would know where Tina's house was. There were no other signs or balloons to mark the yard sale anywhere in line of sight. I guess I haven't lived in the San Luis Valley long enough to know Tina personally. I hope her yard sale went well.

Living in rural Colorado or New Mexico where I have spent the last few years has a lot to teach me. I have more time to look at the landscape--often while driving long distances to work or meet with friends or family. I was wondering about how our environment leads us to choose certain things--a way of building a house or perhaps a color of yarn or technique for the next work of art. Definitely the landscape leads me question what building methods I use when discussing building a house or a studio (hopefully some day soon)... I have always wanted to build a straw bale house and I think this comes partly from growing up in New Mexico where the sky is big and you feel more connected to the ground. A straw bale house feels grounded. The walls are thick and the air inside is cool and quiet in the summer and warm and quiet in the winter. The walls are covered with mud and it fits into the landscape. I imagine the porch where I can watch the thunderstorms in August and dye my yarn. And I wonder if I'll put little designs or perhaps broken tiles into the mud as decoration to make it my own.

Yarn choices also stem from my environment more than I would guess. NM and the San Luis Valley encourage my sensual addiction to yarn and color. Somehow it is a place that feels more real to me than the suburban neighborhood I lived in with manicured lawns in Reno, NV. Somehow experiencing the dirt, the rock, and the cactus under my feet every time I step out the door as well as watching the clouds moving across the Sangre de Cristos, hugging 14,000 ft. Mt. Blanca connect me to the land and maybe to myself. This probably doesn't work for everyone, but for me it is an important part of my life. Somehow yarn is part of that sensual connection. I love nothing better than going to Village Wools or Serendipity and feeling the yarn, imagining knitting a scarf or wondering how that dyed-in-the-fleece yarn would change the look of my tapestry.