Jun 24
And… She has a name!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Taking it Personally | icon4 06 24th, 2014| icon33 Comments »

I knew I wanted something “nature-y” for my new car’s name, so I looked up botanical girl names and one really struck me as feeling right – Laurel, a nice green plant used to make wreaths in ancient Rome.  Then I found out that Laurel means Peace and Success, and I knew I had it.  Then because I called Bettie “Bettie Lou” a lot, I wanted Laurel to have a middle name and since I bought her in June and June was my maternal grandmother’s middle name, I sounded Laurel June out and liked it.

So, I dubbed her Laurel June.


Jun 9

I was asked by Cindie Kitchin of Eweniquely Ewe to participate in a blog hop to answer certain questions the on creative/art/writing practices of my blog. She is third in line of this (from what I can tell) and I will be the forth.

Question One: “What am I working on?” Currently, I am working on the last four patterns for the series of sequential art socks I have slowly been releasing. Each pattern includes a story that develops as you knit the socks. Two have been released, two more are supposed to be released sometime in June and the last four as they are done.


Also, I am working on getting the math worked out for mittens, gloves, scarves and hats to go with each of the eight sock patterns. I have the scarf pattern for Trip Up The Nile already written, but I need to test knit it to make sure it looks as good in real life as it does on paper. At this time, the thought is that only the sock patterns will be released prior to them all being complied into a book. I’m still thinking on that though.

Question Two: “How does my work differ from others of its genre?” I have written stories and books since I was a kid and am currently a script writer for the long-running superhero series “Johnny Saturn.” Seeing my story come to life get turned into art by my husband, Scott Story, has been really interesting, but I wanted to give it a go myself. The problem is that I am no artist as far as what Scott does. So, I was playing around in Excel one day and realized how easy it was to create images using the “fill color” tool. I started messing around in it until I came up with the pattern that eventually became Trip Up The Nile. I have been a sock knitter for several years, so I did some math and test knit a sock using the pattern I came up with.

The first sock I did was way too tight, so I redid the math and tried again and BINGO! I had it. Then I came up with the idea of creating stories with my sock patterns. The one for Trip Up The Nile was pretty simplistic, so when it came to do a second pattern, I actually sat down and wrote a story before designing the sock pattern. That became Walking Through China.


So how does my work differ? Each sock is a bit of story art – sequential art like in comics but with no word balloons. All of the rest of the patterns are based on stories I have written specifically for this series and using historical designs for a particular country or ethnic group. Doing the research into the historical images and patterns has been very interesting and has taught me a lot about different cultures through-out time.

Question Three: “Why do I write/create what I do?” Part of this was answered in question two, but I will add that I love telling stories and I love how history and people and art have come down to us through time. I guess putting together different elements of what I love into something as unique as these patterns is just fulfilling on so many levels. My day-job is working as a bookkeeper in a commercial real estate management company, which entertains the left half of my brain pretty well, but the right side gets pretty bored with it all. I am lucky enough to be one of those people who is well-balanced between the left and right sides of my brain, so I get to explore each side’s strengths. I do know that if I do not let the right side of my brain get any exercise that it really affects what the left side of my brain is doing. I can’t type, I transpose numbers, reports don’t balance, etc. As long as both sides get sufficient challenges, then my entire life is more productive and fun.

I supposed I could do just about anything creative (and I have tried lots and lots of areas), but right now the story-art patterns are giving me plenty of scope for my creativity. Never have I had the chance to combine so many disciplines into one effort before (writing, art, color, texture, designs based on real history, etc.) and I am having a blast doing them. And it is giving the right side of my brain lots and lots of exercise to balance up with what the left side of my brain does the rest of the time.

Question Four: “How does my writing/creative process work?” That is a hard one. Something creative is going on in my head all of the time, whether it be comic book stories, knitting or weaving patterns, color blends, designs, or anything else that pops in there. I am always creating something even while using Excel spreadsheets for their intended purpose. I do spend a lot of evenings and weekends putting ideas to paper (or computer) and I have notes, scribbles and such on wee pieces of paper all over the place. And I get feedback from friends when I do come up with something, just depending on what area it is. I sure don’t approach fiber friends with comic book ideas, but then my writing friends really don’t get my love for knitting and spinning either.

Basically, it is rare that I am not thinking about my creative interests. Even when I am reading novels, ideas will pop into my head. I am always seeing something, hearing something, reading or watching something that will give me an idea. 75% of those ideas are horrid. 15% start off as something but peter out. 9% develop into something interesting but keep changing as they go, and about 1% actually becomes something I can show off. That other 99% isn’t wasted because I have to get through all of it in order to find that 1% that is worth keeping. Like the sequential art patterns I am doing. I have thrown out more ideas than I have kept (doing a sock based on the Bayou Tapestry and limiting yourself to two colors per row was not the best idea I’ve ever had, but it still rears its head once in a while and I may come up with something yet). And even if I throw an idea out for one project, it stays in my ideas bank to be used on something else. “Nothing learned is ever wasted” is one of my favorite quotes from the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. Boy! Is that true!

Apr 26

This is one of the hardest decisions that I have had to make for a long time.

The last couple of years, preparing for Dye Day has gotten harder and more expensive and has become more of a hardship than it needs to be.  This week, while washing out the dyepots for a friend to use for a class, I discovered that every one of them has a hole or a slit in it that causes it to leak.  They were all put into use at the same time and they are all failing at the same time due to the high heat of the fires they have been subjected to over the years.  This means an outlay to me of about $500 to replace them, which I simply cannot afford.

On top of this, dyes like cochineal, which everyone loves, has gone from about $50 per pound to nearly 5 times that, which makes it prohibitive to me to buy.  And other dyes that we all love are getting harder and harder to find due to conservation of the trees or plants in their country of origin, which I support.

In the beginning, I had people who volunteered with helping Scott and I set up Dye Day, but their lives have changed, and no one has come forward the past couple of years to help start fires, help fill the 15-18 pots or get them going.  Two years ago, I had to do this alone, and it was hard on me.  I was completely wiped by the end of the day and worthless the next day.  Even with Scott’s help, it is not easy.

Also, there are other factors involved that I am not prepared to discuss that has added to the decision to discontinue hosting the annual Dye Day Event effective this year.  I am sorry about this, and I have lost sleep agonizing over this decision, but I really have no choice. I took this event over believing I could continue it for many years to come, so, in a way, I feel like I am failing to uphold a tradition.

If there is someone who wants to continue this tradition here in the central Indiana area, I am more than willing to volunteer as a consultant.  If so, please contact me.

Please pass the word that Dye Day that was scheduled on Columbus Day in October in Pendleton, Indiana, has been cancelled.

Apr 24

Okay, already I have a taker for my doll making supplies and bag making fabrics.  Woohoo!

Scott and I had a good, long, hard talk last night about what we want our future to hold, and none of this extra stuff is included.  In fact, more than I thought is going to be finding new homes.

We have given ourselves a year to whittle down our belongings to the bare minimum of what we actually want to do and use.  At the end of that year – or sometime next summer – we will take a look at what we have and revisit this to see where we want to go next.  The fact that I am finding homes so readily for some of this stuff leads me to believe that God’s hand is in this and that He is getting us ready for something.  Maybe just simplifying our lives, maybe something else.  We will see when the time comes.

Apr 23

No, I am not going to start talking about hot flashes or wanting to eat everything not nailed down (been there, finished with that, thank heavens), but this post is about the change in my creative tastes.

Over the years, I have made everything from dolls, to quilts, to clothes, to cloth, to…  You get the idea.  And there has been a lot more things I have wanted to try, but just never got around to doing, but have the supplies anyway – like basket weaving, soap making and so forth.

Well, it is time to face facts, know that I am never going to do anything with them and push them off onto new homes.  And that means, I am going to give you guys the first dibs on all of this.  For the cost of the postage, I will happily send to you the items I will be listing over the next few weeks.

Sunday afternoon, I am going to dig into my doll-making supplies (books, patterns, shoes, wigs, stands, cloth, buttons, zippers, you name it) and get some of the stuff up here.  If you are a doll maker or know of a doll maker who would like these things, please let me know.  I have an entire closet full of stuff and I’d like to end up with a shoebox of those items I have earmarked for special projects I know I am going to make for myself only.  I will take pictures of what I have and either send them directly to whomever contacts me or post them here for anyone to take.

Over this summer, I want to dwindle my stuff down to what I actually use and what will fit into my studio easily.  Of course, I’d rather have it all go to those who will use it rather than just drop it off at Goodwill.

And, I expect I’ll rediscover things that will make me go “So that is where I put it!” or “Gee, I forgot about that!”

I’d like to change from a full 4-bedroom house, to a 4-bedroom house with lots of extra space so that we might say, “Why are we living it such a big house?” and move to someplace smaller and easier to keep clean.

Feb 24

Kokomo, Indiana, knows how to put on a fantastic event.  The Winter Woolen Workshop was a great way to start off 2014 for Sandy and I.  We took everything in the shop with us, tie dye and spinning fibers and we are glad we did.  A full 90% of what we sold was fiber and people were buying several of them by the pound.  If you check out the Spinning Fibers department, you will see one sold out completely and several inventory numbers are quite a bit lower than they were on Friday.


Here is our booth.  The layout could not have been better as people had plenty of room to shop and we could separate the fiber from the tie-dye for the most part.


We started this year’s shows off with 36 different fleeces in just about every natural color available.  The most popular here were the alpacas we brought.


This one sold out really quickly, and out of 4.7 pounds of the black alpaca (Ethan) we brought, we have a pound left.  One lady bought two pounds of the Cormo/Columbia to spin and knit her husband a sweater.  I’d love to see that sweater when it is done, because of all of the fibers I tested for this year, it was one of my favorites.

Another favorite of mine is the Teeswater/Cotswold fiber.  Sandy asked when she should spin on her spindle while there and I chose this fiber.  And look at what she is getting out of it!


She wants to spin up about an ounce in total and make a lace swatch from it.


I love how Ohio Valley Natural Fibers puts the pin drafted fiber into the bags.  It made weighing it out very easy.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you what else was there as well as take you on a tour of the mansion where the demonstrations and classes were.

Jan 14

This morning, while pulling the rest of the items together for tonight’s beginning spinning class that I teach at Starstruck Cat Studio in Greenwood, Indiana, I came across something I didn’t recognize.  It was a small package – maybe 2″ X 3″ X 3/4″ – wrapped in Christmas paper and tied with a ribbon to a sealed envelope.  It was way at the bottom of the case of tools I take to each class.

So, I sat down and looked it over.  Then, I opened it.  And look at what I found inside!

spinning wheel necklace

The card had a note from this student thanking me for teaching her how to spin saying it was a dream come true for her.  I just sat with my jaw dropped open for a couple of seconds, then I put the necklace on.

Folks, I have to tell you something.  I love teaching.  I love the people I meet and I love how each and every one of them has touched and added to my life.  And it’s good to find out that, maybe, I have added something to theirs as well.

I am so blessed!

Aug 29

8/31/13 There are still a few items remaining below.  Anything left tomorrow morning will get donated to someplace.  Tomorrow morning, I will do the random drawing for the extra special prizes I mentioned, so if you want in on something extra sweet, you need to leave a comment and claim something.

This is my 1,000th post.  It has taken me a little over 6 years (August 4th is my bloggiversary).  And what a wonderfully full 6 years it has been.

1,000… Just think of that number.  1,000 pennies would get you $10.  1,000 dimes would be $100 and 1,000 quarters would get you a quarter of $1,000!  1,000 hugs and kisses is a lot of lovin’ and I am sending those 1,000 hugs and kisses out to each of you who have been on this ride with me.  You have become my friends and comrades in fiber.  Lordy, the things I have learned from you!!!

I look back to my first posts and how unsure I was that I would have anything to say that anyone would find interesting to read.  The posts were sporadic at best and there were no comments at all.  I doubt if anyone has ever read them except me.  I wasn’t teaching, like I am now.  My only real extra-curricular business was writing comic book scripts for Johnny Saturn.  I still do that, but my life has become so much fuller and more fulfilling than I ever thought it would be.

As a thank you (and in celebration), I want to give away some gifts to you.  You all know that I have been working to move and resort my studio and, as I have been going through everything, I have set aside lots of yarn and other items that I either no longer need or just know I will not use.  I want to share with wealth with you.

All I need from you is this: make a comment and say what you would like from the list below.  Give me what your first, second and third choices would be, and I will send you something in the order they are claimed.  For example, if someone wants a particular yarn I show below, if you are the first person to claim it, it is yours, but if someone beats you and you have listed it as your first choice, then I’ll go to your second choice and see if it is still available. And so on.  I’ll do my best to update this page as items are claimed so you won’t waste a choice on something already claimed.  Also, read through the other comments to make sure what you want is still available, too.  The numbers on the pictures below are not going to be in any order, just the way WordPress uploaded them.

As a bonus, I have special items held back to send to some randomly chosen people and I will announce these in a couple of days.

So, here is what I have to gift to new owners.  I will ship them all out at the same time (on September 6th) so I can have time to get everything packed up and the special gifts doled out.  I will confirm what you are getting via email and will get your mailing address from you at that time, so please don’t put your address in the comments unless you want the whole world to see it.


No. 17 – This is a miscellaneous allotment of yarn.  The dark semi-solid green on the upper left is a full skein (caked up already) and a partial.  It is worsted weight wool, but I have no idea what brand or the yardage.  The middle top is a full skein of some black worsted-weight wool, the upper right is a full skein of a black 100% Merino from Muskoka Yarn Company out of Canada, and the bottom skein is a 100 gr (220 yards) cream alpaca.


No 3 – This allotment contains 11 skeins of Noro Lily Yarn which is 30% silk and 70% cotton.  Each skein is 40 grams or 108 meters.  The color No. is 8 with a Dyelot of A. Next is a close up of this yarn. This has been claimed by Tamara.


As you can see, No 3 is either a knitted yarn or a braided yarn.


No 4 is three skeins of recycled sari silk yarn.  The two on the right look to be the same colors, but the one on the right is lighter.  I have no idea how much yarn is on these skeins.  This has been claimed by Sandy O of My Yellow Swing


No 5 is 1 skein of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in a sort of dark tealish color.  It is 65% wool and 35% silk, is 50 grams and 175 meters.  The gauge is recommends is 22 st X 30Rows = 10 cm on US 6 needles.


No 6 is two skeins of I Love This Cotton yarn in Color 64 – Aqua Ombre with a dyelot of either 2945 or 2045.  Each skein is 3 ounces and has 153 yards.  It is 100% cotton and is similar to Sugar & Cream cotton, only feels softer.  I wove the fabric for the fabric exchange a few years back from this yarn.  This has been claimed by Jennifer W of Jennifer Wiles.


No 7 – There are 6 skeins of this pink monochromatic yarn from Plymouth Yarn Company.  It is 100% worsted-weight wool, 100 grams, 210 yards.  The color no is 604 and dyelot is 64963.  This is the same type of wool I knitted my felted bag out of recently and what I am currently knitting the Cia’s Striped Vest from.  It knits up very nicely. This has been claimed by Roxie of Sanna’s Bag.


No 8 – There are 10 skins of this Berroco Softwist yarn in 41% wool and 50% Rayon.  Very shiny.  Each skein in 50 grams and 100 yards.  The recommended gauge is 20 st X 28 rows = 4 inches on US 8 needles.  The color # is 9443 with a dyelot of 73627.  This has been claimed by Shelley B of My Journey to Fit.


No 9 is exactly the same as No 8, except the color is 9446 with a dyelot of 72475.  Both 8 and 9 are in unopened bags. This has been claimed by Laurie D. Laurie, you need to email me your mailing address.  My return email bounced back as undeliverable.


No 10 is 13 skeins of Artful Yarns Serenade which is 70% Pima Cotton and 30% Angora.  Each skein is 50 grams and 100 yards.  The color is 6007 with a dyelot 0442.  The suggested gauge is18 st X 24 rows = 4 inches on US 7 needles. Claimed by Judy S of Ordinary but Interesting.


No 11 is the same as No 10, except there are 8 skeins and the color is 6011 with a dyelot of 0904. This has been claimed by Cindy M of Delighted Hands.


No 12 is the same type of yarn as No 7, except the color is 602, dyelot is 64963 and there are 9 skeins.


No 13 is the same as 7 and 12 except the color is 91, dyelot 94214 and there are 10 skeins (unopened bag).


No 14 is Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere (85% cotton and 15% cashmere).  There are 6 50 gram, 95 meter skeins.  The suggested gauge is 22 st X 30 rows = 10 cm using US 5 needles.  The color # is 15005 and dyelot is 1. This has been claimed by Sue O.


No 15 is a skein of Lorna Laces Color No 3ns – Grapevine Lot 9228 and a partial skein of a Lornas Laces yarn with a matching color in it.  I have no idea how much is in the partial skein, but the full one has 225 yards (worsted weight).


No 16 is two Skeins of Paton’s Rustic Woods yarns, one in Col 1003, Lot 1, and one in Col 1007, Lot 1. Both are worsted wight, 100 grams and 187 meters.

No. 18 is one set (of 5) of 6″ US size 0 Clover bamboo double-point needles.

No. 19 is one set (of 5) of 6″ US size 1 Clover Bamboo double-point needles.

No 20 is one set (of 5) of 6″ US size 6 Clover bamboo double-point needles.


Thank you for listening to me ramble on and on (and on) for all this time.  You guys simply are the best!!!!

May 23

A couple of years ago, I did a year of photos taken at the same place – one photo every week.  It was fun, a challenge to get there and kept me focused on my camera.

There are several blogs I read that show a certain subject for a week, and they take pictures for that subject.  The subject is pretty vague, which gives lots of room for interesting interpretations.  I find them simply fascinating.

I do not have an expensive camera.  Once film for cameras (and places to get the film processed) started disappearing, I got rid of my 35mm cameras and went to digital.  Getting my dream camera is still down the line for me since it and the lens I want are over $1,000 and that just isn’t in the current budget.  So what I have is a Canon PowerShot A3100 IS, which has gotten very high ratings as a good back-up camera to professional photographers.  Hey, if the pros like this baby, then it must be a good camera.  I have been playing with some of the settings and over the past couple of years, I have gotten some very good shots, at least in my opinion.  I know it is not what I need to take really professional photos, but it is all I have at this point.  And I can practice with it until I can afford that dream camera.

So, using the idea of themed weeks, I decided to take the next 26 weeks and do the alphabet (no this is not an original idea, but I liked it so I borrowed it).  Starting on Mondays and going through Sundays, I need to think about the letter for that week and see how I can translate that into photos.  So, this next week starting on Monday, obviously, is A.  This will take me most of the way through October, and there is a lot going on between now and the end of October – plenty of opportunities to take photos and look for my letter that week.

Then on Mondays, I’ll post the best of what I have taken the past week.  Since this is a learning opportunity for me, I invite comments, suggestions, and ideas of how to better what I am doing and increasing how my imagination sees the world.  Also, I invite you to join me, posting your own results on your blog and sending a link to me so I can add your link in for everyone to click on.  I have learned how to see the world differently through my husband’s art and seeing through his eyes briefly, but I would love to further that and see if I can use this in my own art and designs.

Continually learning new things and increasing my skills and knowledge base is very important to what makes live worth living in my opinion.  If you are joining me, just let me know and see what we can learn together!

Mar 20

Okay, let me start at the beginning.  I grew up around cows.  My dad’s family had a good-sized dairy farm, we kept lots and lots of calves at our place and my mom’s family always had a cow or two plus some extra calves here and there.  They knew cows, understood cows and loved cows.  Except for an occasional horse thrown in here and there, and a few chickens, ducks and geese, I, primarily, was around cows from birth until I went to college.  I have milked cows, helped pull calves, let calves suck on my fingers, beat on a cow’s side to get her off my foot, chased cows and feed fresh grass from the mower bag to the poor bull in the barn because I felt sorry for him.

My mom’s dad hated sheep.  Called them snotty-nosed and a few other choice words.  He had nothing good to say about sheep, which was odd because he was such a funny, loveable and loving person.  Sheep, though, were one of his few exceptions to the list of the things he loved.

And here is where I have to break both sides of my family’s hearts.  I love sheep.

This is not just because I am a spinner, knitter, weaver and natural dyer.  It’s not just because I love wool and what I can do with wool in all of its varied types.  I do love wool, and love all the things I can do with it.  But my loves goes deeper.  I just plain love sheep.


tootsieroll pretty&black handsomeisashandsomedoesBP-&-Galadriel Galadriel Brownie-the-CVM kyS&W2 Willow-Shetland-knuckleheads Marshmellow-Shetland-knuckleheads Corn-the-sheep

Sorry, Pappy.  Sorry, Grandpa.  Sorry Uncle Ernie, Uncle O.D. and Dad.  I appreciate cows, I love milk, cheese and ice cream, I love things made with leather, and I am glad I was raised on a farm.  But cows have been replaced in my heart and my life.

I love sheep.

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