Friday, May 6, 2011

sheepish

here i am showing off the superb socks catherine knitted with yarn from her very own sheep.
 i helped her out with the dyeing part of the project. isn't her farm beautiful?

i am not a hugger. anyone who knows me from way back will confirm that i have a big personal bubble. but over the years i have been moving over to the softer, more tactile side of friendships. case in point, the business-transaction hug with stranger.

a couple years ago i was hanging out with my friend annie. she had just returned from a little afternoon getaway at the farm of a woman she had recently met. she was telling me all about the idyllic spot with sweet sheep, green rolling hills and how excited her max was to ride a tractor. but the thing she was really raving about was the yarn she had gotten there and how awesome it was to knit with. she said that catherine had just processed a bunch of her flock's wool into yarn and needed some guidance on getting it dyed. she suggested i help her out. mmm, sure.

i am not an expert by any means. i am an experienced dabbler and mess maker. fully expecting her comment to amount to nothing, i was kind of surprised to get an email from catherine a few days later. we had a nice electronic exchange over the course of a week or so which culminated in her asking me to dye a few skeins for her. what the heck, i love doing it and it would be a fun fall and winter project.

we met at a coffee shop in hastings and really, the moment i met her, i felt like i knew her forever. she was easy to talk to, super-passionate about her farm and her beautiful sheep. we talked a lot about how she was raising them and how she wanted to take some baby steps toward maybe, possibly selling the yarn from her sheep. i felt like i was meeting an old friend or distant sister, she was talking my language. we worked out all the details about the dye job. i suggested making a bunch of small dye lots to be able to experience the greatest variety of colors. we agreed to meet up in a couple months for the hand-off.

and when we parted, without thinking, i hugged this woman. hard. she may have thought i was kinda nuts. but i was really excited. excited to get my hands on the yarn, excited to read the handful of (autographed!) books she sweetly gave me, and excited to be making another connection with my people. my sheepy people.

i'm not going to give anything away, but she liked it. and in that period of time while i was knee deep in dyeing her stuff, i was also reading her books. "hit by a farm" pretty much took care of any fantasies about being a farmer and "compassionate carnivore" opened my eyes a little wider about small-scale operations in contrast to factory farms. since then, our family has been making regular visits to buy meat from cows raised on catherine and melissa's farm.




i am thrilled to report, that after a long period of anticipation, i have gotten my hands on a preview copy of her new book, "sheepish." it's a continuation of essays about life on the farm and their experiences with sheep.

yes, i will absolutely buy it at next week's launch party at magers & quinn. i had spied it on the book editor's desk months ago but there are strict rules about taking stuff out of her cubicle. (books tend to walk off from there sometimes) so i plopped myself down in her chair and flipped through until i found what i was looking for.

it was SO surreal. there was my name. in a book. a real book.  it was just a couple quick references about dyeing her yarn and roving, but it made me feel really great. like i had actually had something to do with her transition from sheep farmer to fiber freak. perhaps all the energy, stress and self-doubt (with some fun and creativity) i have woven into my crafty pursuits have been worth it. so gimme a damn hug!




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