Long, HOT June & Restful July

Sunset at Estes Cabin

ModeKnit Yarn was on the road for most of June (the busiest month of our biz so far) but now we’re home.  Huzzah.  We will will rest until we go back on the road in August.

Kathleen’s planning a short trip with her husband to visit a good friend in Seattle and I’m hoping to dye up a bunch of orders (with the assistance of the lovely Layla) and RESTING.

And I am hopeful that I’ll be climbing out of this pit of pain called Costochondritis that I’ve fallen into*.

[cue flashback music]
On Mother’s Day this year, back in May, we had a booth at Shepherd’s Harvest in Minnesota and had an AMAZING show!  Both kids came out to help me tear down and pack up the booth, and as helpful as they were, I still did something ridiculous and strained some muscle trying to  catch a stack of gridwall that was sliding off of a hand truck.

(Kathleen was dealing with a case of conjunctivitis AND bronchitis, so she was home healing, or she would have thrown her body between me and the aforementioned gridwall.  Which might have been cool to see…)

What started as a ‘back sprain’ has slowly consumed my ribcage in a conflagration of pain.  Connected — although I’m not certain how — is a lower back pain which rivals anything I felt in childbirth*.

For the record, Max was 11lbs, I used no meds except a touch of post-delivery demerol.

[cue more flashback music]
Actually, when I think about it, I’m certain the whole pain mishegas had it’s conception in a fall I took at Target in late April on their icy sidewalks…  Damn.

Ice, Ice, Baby…

Cycling, my panacea for pain, has been just outside of my grasp.  Simply trying to climb onto the bike is torture, trying to ride to the end of our alley is Just. Too. Painful*.

So now I’m in my recliner, waiting to see the doctor this morning, happy to have found a position where I can sit for 10 minutes*.

Iowa Sheep & Wool Fest

For now, every breath, every movement, every time I bend to pick up something, I’m in agony*.

Sleeping is so damn hard because there is NO position that is comfortable.  Nightly back seizures are a new trick my body is playing, and I wish I could just knock myself out at bedtime!*

This June was a sort of experiment for MKY — trying out 2 new shows, plus a LONG trip back to Colorado for Estes Park again.  We loved being at all 3 shows, but I don’t think we can realistically do this again, not without some younger, stronger backs to help us on our way!

Max accompanied Kathleen and I to Iowa AND to Houston, and if it weren’t for him I’m certain that we would not have been able to do either show.

I know I wouldn’t have been able to.

TX Salt & Pepper

In many ways, this physical nonsense is a wake up call to K and me to take a good, hard look at our business model, and consider which parts are working well, and which aren’t sustainable continuing as we currently are.

Lifting and carrying heavy things, even when my back and body are healed, is something to which I must bid a fond farewell as I ease into my sixth decade.  Growing older doesn’t mean the business will slow, but it DOES mean we have to work smarter!

*I know this is simply a blog post of complaining and whining, I’m so sorry.

Back in Cool, Cool Minnesota!

Education Situation

This evening I attended a small gallery opening where items from a class I took were displayed.  It was a class in Rug Hooking, taken at my local Textile Center and taught by Rug Artist Mary Logue.

Snail Rug by Annie Modesitt

The class was AMAZING fun, and I discovered things about myself, my design process, my color likes and dislikes, that I hadn’t expected to learn.  And THAT is the best thing about a class, I get to learn a little bit more about ME!

Krumkake Cookies

I don’t get to take as many classes as I’d like, but this year I promised myself that I would take at LEAST two classes in new subjects.  In the Winter I took a class to learn to bake Scandinavian Christmas Cookies.

Mosiac Piece

In the Spring I took a class to make Glass Mosaics.  The above piece was based on a photo I took while Kathleen and I were on a road trip and she was driving, a highway in Minnesota.

Charted Entrelac

I’ve found each of these classes to be so inspiring – and just FUN!  It’s very helpful as a teacher to experience classes from the other side every now and then!

I teach a LOT! I teach at many fiber shows, and sometimes at yarn shops and at knitting conventions around the country.  I know that I enjoy my classes (the students are always such a surprise, and SO much fun!) but I tend to forget how great it is to just LEARN a new skill!

This June I’ll be teaching at three different fiber festivals around the US.  Perhaps you – or someone you know – would be interested in taking a class with me?

I know I’d LOVE to have you in class!



On June 7 & 8 I’ll be teaching 4 classes at Estes Park Wool Market in Estes Park, Colorado.  Kathleen and I are also vending there, selling our yarn and making friends!

The classes I’m teaching are Finishing, Combination Knitting, Knitting with Wire and Charted Entrelac.

I know a few of my Estes Park classes are sold out, but I’ve also told the Estes Park folks that I can take a few extra students if necessary, so check out the classes and email them with any questions!


Backyard Leaves Scarf

We’re barely home before Kathleen and I climb back into the Pilot for the Iowa Sheep & Wool Fest, where I’m teaching a class on my popular scarf pattern, Backyard Leaves, on Saturday morning June 16.

This is a great class for someone who feels she’d like to mistress charts, and learn about how lace can create wonderful shapes in a garment.

I’m also teaching my favorite class, Combination Knitting on Sunday morning, June 17.

This class has opened SO many minds to different ways of knitting, I feel that it’s the class that speaks to the most folks (and not ALWAYS about yarn and needles!)

It’s our first time at the Iowa festival, and we are PSYCHED to be at a landmark event so close to home! There are still spaces in both classes, you can sign up here!


Finally, June 22-24 ModeKnit Yarn will be at the Houston Fiber Fest, and we’re SO excited for our first time at this great event!

(We’re not so excited about late July heat in Houston, but we’ve been told the entire city is air conditioned.  Right..?)

In addition to selling our wide variety of yarns and patterns, I’ll be teaching a LOT of classes.

Mad About Plaid

These include; Double Knitting, Knitting With Beads, CableMania, Combination Knitting, Mad About Plaid and Knitting With Wire. 

These are all exceptionally FUN classes, I really hope you’ll consider joining me for a delightful morning or afternoon!

And, as always, Kathleen and I hope to see you in our booth for a visit and a piece of Tea Candy!

Knitting With Beads

Learning Curve

ModeKnit Yarn is in it’s 5th year, which kind of blows Kathleen and me away.  And every day we learn new things.

The Slippy Cowl, Our First Pattern!

We started this with $2,000 and an agreement on who would do what (which was pretty fluid, but for the most part I do the dyeing, and Kathleen does all of the less-sexy-but-more-important stuff like insurance, taxes, booking us into fiber shows, etc.)

Kathleen is also the booth maven.

It’s her world, I just hang out and tell bad jokes.

When we first started it took us 4+ hours to set up our booth, and almost as long to take it down.

Our First Year At Yarn Over in Minneapolis

So much blood, sweat, tears and toil…

Now we can get the booth up in 2+ hours (depending on helpers…) and our breakdown time runs from 1-2 hours (depending on how difficult it is to get to our trailer from the show floor.)

We’ve recently streamlined our yarn display, now we use pants hangers so we can display an entire range of colors on one hanger, and make it easier for folks to pull out yarn and compare it with other colors (or carry it to the doorway to see it in daylight, etc.) 

New Yarn Display at Shepherd’s Harvest, 2018

As a side benefit, it also REALLY cuts down on our setup and breakdown time, and allows us to organize our yarn by color much easier.

For a few years now we’ve displayed our yarn in long, un-twisted skeins, but now we’ve been able to cut out a great deal of grid wall and those metal arms!

Layla & Her Beautiful FLOW

All of this has taken time, and we’ve had ‘bright ideas’ that were anything BUT bright when we actually implemented them.

But that’s how we learn!

Another learning curve was making our FLOW yarn.  It’s a pretty labor-intensive product, it takes time to knit the fabric, dye the fabric, then UNKNIT the fabric into balls so the color change is visible from the top of the ball.

When I think of my first experiments in trying to create a slow-color change gradient yarn, I could both laugh and cry.

WORKING Machine!

Now we have a pretty streamlined method, and the best part is we’ve been able to teach our employees (Becca, Layla, sometimes Andy) how to create relatively consistent colorways, which has always been our goal.

But in the time since we started, I’ve become an expert at taking apart and repairing Silver Reed 150 knitting machines, and have discovered resources for some of those pesky, easy-to-break parts.  The things we learn…

Broken Machine…

I’ve also become a dab hand at taking apart and cleaning our electric ball winder and swift.  Because I love the glamour.

We’re still growing, we’re still working on breaking that ‘more going back into the biz than in our pockets’ threshold, but we’re both very lucky that we love what we do, and love spending time together and meeting so many lovely fiber folks at the various festivals where we vend.

2015 Our First 5×8 Trailer

One thing we’ve learned THIS year is that we are NOT superwomen.  This Spring Kathleen seemed to go from one cold to another, with sinus infections along the way.

When bronchitis reared it’s ugly head last week, we made an executive decision to opt out of one of our favorite fairs, The Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Fest, and stayed home so that BOTH of us could rest.

2018 Our NEW 5×10 Trailer!

It was perhaps the best decision we made all year, and taught us what we both already knew; you can’t run on empty and expect to go very far!

We hope to see you at one of the shows we WILL be able to attend, just coming up in the next weeks are The Great Lakes Fiber Show; Estes Park Wool Market; Iowa Sheep & Wool Fest and Houston Fiber Fest.

So, yeah, I guess it IS good that we took this week “off”!

And now, for your visual enjoyment, here’s some of what Layla and I worked up this week.!

FLOW Yarn Drying, May 2018