Slow Living Byron Bay

What a whirlwind...whoosh, bang! Here, there, back. Seven planes, stormy seas, long highways, fish and chips at servos, salt-sprayed ferry rides and a small army of friendly taxi drivers. The travel was fast, but the living was remarkably slow. Sleepy slow. So good slow. I've been back in the States for two weeks now, and Tennessee feels all rascally flowers and riverswamp after the tropical paradise that is the eastern coast of Australia. And not in a bad way. But, oh...how I love it over there! The animals--the colors--the alternate-universe night sky. I shut my eyes and try to imagine what it would feel like to grow up there, for all those fantastical things to simply feel like home.  And I can't.  It is a magical unicorn of a place. No wonder they call it Oz. 

The retreat itself was beautiful, thanks to the sweet energy of the participants and the talents and hard work of our team. And, of course, the setting didn't hurt. Avalon Lea is a dream: a gleaming white Queenslander perched on a 120-acre working organic farm, just a short drive from the coast. Most of our meals and classes were held inside, but we slept on the grounds in a little village of cozy bell tents. (These are the tents. Have any of you ever been camping in a tent like this? I hadn't! It is game changing!) My workshops were centered around dyeing and weaving with foraged bits from nature. We dyed fiber and yarn with madder root and eucalyptus, and as usual, folks started taking off their clothes and throwing them in the dye pots. It never fails. Two of our participants got some really pretty madder-dyed linen and silk pieces thanks to their bravery. 

Beth and Luisa were a pro team as usual, teaching styling and photography in a way that was engaging and fun (I learn so much from those two.) Aaron of Studio Neon (a Byron Bay native!) kept us all well-fed with the most beautiful, beautiful locally-sourced food. His picture never gets posted anywhere so there he is above, mid-chicken thigh. Hi, Aaron! He is the greatest. And sweet Lean came along to help as well, by assisting us in the workshops and leading the participants in sunrise yoga each morning. 

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Thank you so much to Jess and Happy Glamper for providing us with the bell tents, Cultiver for letting us use your most scrumptious linen, and Kara Rosenlund for being sweet enough to lend us so many things! And thank you most of all to the participants who came and shared your stories, your visions, and your time with us. Getting to know you was--by far--the best part. You each have a little fragment of my heart, and I hope I can come back to Australia before too long! 

Since I've been back, Lisa and I have moved out of our studio and are finalizing the buildout for our new space! Because of this, my shop is closed, but it will reopen on Monday, June 1 at 11am CST. I can't wait to share the new space with you here and on Instagram. It's shaping up to be really special :) 

*branch weaving photos by Lean and Meadow*

Lately

Knit, knit, knit, coffee, slip and fall on ice, knit, check local news for weather report, coffee, knit, knit, knit, repeat. Here in Nashville, we relish our one, two, or three allotted snow days per year with fabricated annoyance ("Nobody knows how to drive, I swear! This city just shuts down in the snow!") and genuine, pure joy. The schools close for a dusting; for an inch, we're all at home. Last week, there were three days where we couldn't maneuver down our icy driveway at all, so we walked where we could, which wasn't far. I can not imagine...can't even try...what it's like to get the kind of weather they do up north. Of course, those folks are much better prepared for it. 

And, of course, it's a knitter's dream to be snowed in. I have mostly been working on the Amanda sweater for the Fringe and Friends Knitalong. You may have seen my sob story already on Instagram, but this sweater has been a true trial of patience. I've started over twice: once by choice, and the second time by necessity (it was destroyed by a very cute puppy who I could not be angry with). I changed yarns, deciding to use the Angora Wool Worsted, because I wanted the silky texture and fuzzy halo of mohair (kid mohair!). And I also decided that I want a longer version to fit my 5' 10" frame, so I'm adding an extra three diamond repeats to the length. Now that I've started all over, I might as well make the shawl collar version, which should keep me nice and snuggly warm once the sweater is finished, which, at this rate, will be right in time for the Fourth of July. Mercy. But sweaters like these are made not for a season, but for life. Right? 

Today, I'm off to the studio to shoot the new yarn for March, as well as these scrumptious little hats. We're releasing a pattern kit on Monday with the shop update, the Shelby Baby Hat designed for us by Julia Belsante. Each kit will include a printed copy of the pattern, a ball of our cozy Alpaca Wool Bulky in one of three colors, and some seashell pink, madder root-dyed yarn for the inner ears. Instructions are written for newborn, 6 months, and 12 months sizes, and the 12 month size will typically fit a toddler up to two years. Oh, they are sweet! Simple, too...I'd say they'd be an easy knit for an intermediate knitter, and a doable challenge for a beginner.  

And...did you see this? I think my heart might split right down the middle :) 

A Year of Weavings

One of the best things...no, the very best thing...about selling yarn is that I'm able to supply other fiber artists and crafters with the materials to do what it is that they do. Every time I package up a box of yarn, I think about what it might become. Not many things make me happier than when one of my customers emails me with a photo of something they knitted or wove. Rarely do I get to see them in person, though, so this collaboration with my friend Allison of Shutters and Shuttles is one of the most exciting (for me!) projects I've ever been a part of. Each month, I will be supplying Allison with a selection of yarns, both undyed and from that month's dye batch. She will create a one-of-a-kind wall hanging on one of her floor looms, and we will showcase and offer them for sale right here

And this is January. The yarn in this weaving is a collection of domestic, mill-spun merino wool, both undyed and hand-dyed with natural indigo, and hand-spun Tennessee alpaca. It's over four feet long and was created on her Schacht 8 harness floor loom. Allison's work is so truly exquisite and just so truly fun...I love the tiny details and playful patches of texture. It would be really pretty in a living room, or hanging over the headboard of a bed, or goodness...anywhere! Such an honor to work with her on this :) 

This piece is available here, and I can't wait to introduce the others as the year unfolds!

Katie Marx Makes a Bouquet

I found these photos on a rogue camera card tucked into a crevice of the abyss that is my suitcase. They're from our Melbourne Slow Living workshop in September, taken at Butterland in Newstead. Butterland is a heritage-listed WWII era butter factory, venue rental, and home of florist Katie Marx and furniture designer Greg Hatton. They are expert foragers. One of our favorite moments in the workshop was when Katie demonstrated how to make a colossal bouquet from foraged wattle and eucalyptus (so Australian, hey?!).  Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are just now entering the belly of Winter, but looking at these photos reminds me that Spring is just off stage right, crouching, waiting in the wings.