Finally, My Move News!

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Waaaay back in February or March, my brother, Tommy, called to say that he and his wife (also named Jennifer), were purchasing a ranch in New Mexico, about an hour north of Silver City, smack in the Gila National Forest near Lake Roberts.

They plan to rent the ranch house out for weekly or monthly vacation rentals on AirBnB for several years, and would I consider moving there to be the caretaker? There is a 1,200 square foot workshop building which can house my yarn / painting studio, and a small living space when the house is rented (and eventually a yoga studio). They knew I would be divorced by the end of the year, and wanted to give me an option, and an opportunity to shake up my life (yeah, he’s a really good brother, and SIL 😀 ).

My first response was ARE YOU INSANE?! How could I possibly move that far away from my kids, my family, my friends, from the forest and the mountains, from my hometown of Washington, DC, from everything familiar?! … How could I move that far from MY KIDS! Nope. No way. Nuh-uh. But, hey, thanks for thinking of me.

one the way to the ranch, and views from the many porches at the ranch

My brother, being the more rational one of the two of us, told me to just take some time to think about it. From their view, it was the perfect opportunity for all of us – I’d have a place to go that was new and different, where I could regroup and figure out my life and future. They’d have someone they totally trust to watch over the place. So, I said, fine, I’ll think about it (all the while thinking to myself there was no way I could every consider doing something so crazy).

But he sent me the real estate link to the property, and links to the area. And I sat on it, and thought about it, and agonized and obsessed and pretty much drove myself crazy. And then I talked to a couple of friends and one of them, who knows me so well, said, in her infinite wisdom, “JEN. This is not a decision for the rest of your life. Just go do it for a year. You can do anything for a year, and it might be just what you need.”

exterior of the ranch house, built to look like an old adobe dwelling

And then I didn’t feel quite so crazed about it all. Took a deep breath, and started to envision whether I could actually do it. And I made plans to visit in April, when Tommy and Jen were headed out for the house inspection.

more exterior shots (don’t you want to come stay? It will be for rent! stay tuned for more information on that!)

And … OMG. It’s enchanting. All of it. The ranch house, the workshop building, the Gila, Silver City, and everything in between (yeah, they don’t call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment for nothing!). I walked out on one of the balconies at the house, looked at the view, heard the wind through the pine trees (which I think might be my favorite sound of all), and I fell in love with the idea of making such a move (because, really, if not now, WHEN?), living somewhere so different, having time and space to figure my own self out.

Ranch house interiors. Yeah, it’s really cool!

Still. Moving that far away from my kids, my parents, my friends … that’s really, really hard to envision. In the end, I talked to my kids and my daughter was all over the idea, telling me to go for it and it would all be fine. My son was much more cautious, but in the end he’s at least mostly supportive of it. I seriously couldn’t even contemplate doing something like this without their support.

I’ve never been much of a risk-taker. I feel like I’ve tended to take the safer, more secure route when making decisions. Maybe I’m older and wiser, but I realized something during this process: We only regret the chances we don’t take (okay, I guess there may be some chances we could regret taking, but on the whole I think that’s true).

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view from the road between Silver City and the ranch (it all makes Rappahannock County, VA and the Shenandoah look downright suburban)

I asked myself two questions: “If I don’t do this, will I always wonder ‘What If?'” And, “If I don’t do this, will I regret it?” The answer to the first question was absolutely yes; the answer to the second question was most likely yes. And in honestly answering those questions and listening to my intuition and my soul, I had my answer to the question of whether or not I could move so far away. Yes. Yes, I could. As frightening and fraught a decision as it was, yes.

a little bit of Silver City – artsy, funky, quaint, friendly town about a hour from the ranch

Also? Thank goodness for technology – if I couldn’t keep in touch with my kids so easily through FaceTime, text, Find My Friends, and old-fashioned calling, I doubt my answer would have been yes.

I could stay where I am. Find another house in Virginia, stay close and comfortable and secure. But I don’t think we grow as much in the safe, secure, comfortable spaces. I’d already made a huge, scary decision in ending my marriage. And looking forward, I know I want more from life than the safe, secure, and comfortable.

Gila Cliff Dwellings, about 40 minutes from the ranch

It sort of seems like destiny. The name of my business is, after all, named after a concept in Navaho weaving called the Weaver’s Pathway, also loosely translated as the Spirit Trail. When I mentioned my plans to a few “industry friends,” a number of them said they actually thought I lived in New Mexico. The cliff dwellings and Chaco Canyon have been on my bucket list since high school. And Georgia O’Keeffe … don’t even get me started on how I wanted to be her when I grew up – so independent, so incredibly talented, so strong and opinionated and living life on her own terms. I have to wonder if it’s all been leading me to this point, and this decision.

Who knows! But, after several delays with the ranch purchase (the last of which had to do with the fact that it’s IN the Gila National Forest, and there were some boundary line issues) off I go! Well, it’s not that easy, of course. I’d by a liar if I didn’t admit I’m terrified, sometimes to the point of paralysis. But, as is often the case, I think making the decision was the hardest part. I still question whether I’m nuts to even be considering this move, or might ultimately chicken out … and I probably will up until I arrive there (who knows, maybe even after I get there, but I do hope not). You know the saying, courage is not the absence of fear, but being afraid and doing the scary thing anyway. I’ve never considered myself all that courageous, but maybe I am. A little.

Gila Hot Springs, about 30 minutes from the ranch

As I mentioned above, the house will be available for vacation rentals on AirBnB, so once the deal is done and the website is built, I’ll most certainly share the info in case any of you fancy a vacation in a really cool place, with so much beauty surrounding it, and so much to do and see (Silver City, the Gila Cliff Dwellings, the Gila Hot Springs, hiking in the Gila National Forest, fishing and boating on Lake Roberts … and the Tour of the Gila Bike Race, the Silver City Blues Festival, and so many other events in Silver City to enjoy, too). Or, hey, get a group of friends together and rent it for a fun weekend; there will be three bedrooms available (queen, double, twin), plus several additional lodging options right nearby (with advanced notice and coordination, we could potentially add a dye workshop to your weekend!).

I have lots of thoughts and ideas about potential knitting and / or dyeing retreats, and have even talked in general with some of my designer-friends about teaching. So, stay tuned for that as well! Once I get out there, get settled, and can look forward and actually plan something, there may just be some retreats and other events at the ranch.

I’ve now moved out of my studio in Sperryville, VA, so my journey has begun. Soon I’ll be moving in with a local friend for the month of January and possibly part of February, and will be sharing her studio so I’ll be able to dye yarn for some shop updates I have planned for the first part of the year. And then I’ll be packing everything up, a three day drive West, and getting settled into my new life (at least for a year … it’s just a year spent out west, at this point … I can’t think beyond that yet).

I won’t be traveling alone though: this is Saoirse (pronounced Seer-sha), my new puppy! She was born on October 18; her mom is an American Bull Terrier and we’re guessing her Dad was a German Shepherd (those ears!). Time will tell!

What this major move also means is that I will no longer be vending at either the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival or the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. I’ve been a vendor at both for 14 (or 15?) years and the latter was an especially difficult decision. I love NYSW so much; it’s hard to imagine not vending there, most especially seeing everyone who comes to my booth. You all are the best part of doing shows, and I’m really going to miss having that face to face connection with you.

But the realities and technicalities of vending from so far away are just more than I can contemplate (I know many vendors do travel extremely long distances to attend these shows; it’s just not something I can see for myself). I am happy, though, that I’ll be going to NY as a regular attendee in 2019, along with most of my booth babe cohorts, so perhaps we can have a STF get together at some point at the festival!

I look forward to sharing the coming year’s adventure with you. I’m excited to see whether this new environment will change my color sense, colorways, and dyeing!

Which brings me to one more topic: 2019 Yarn Club! I’m still working out the specifics, but this year it is called (appropriately) New Beginnings. If you’d like notice of the club openings before they’re live to the general public, make sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter. I’ll be sending a quick newsletter out sometime the first week of January (which is this coming week! Yikes!) with secret subscription pages, before they go live to everyone.

Here’s to adventure, and to living life with an exclamation point! Happy New Year, everyone!

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! and a NYSW Preview

First, a preview of just a few of the new colors coming with me to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival (and many of them will be available in future online updates):

Clockwise from upper left: Sweet Coral; Last Light of Day; Radagast; Nightshade; Ladies of the Canyon; Peaceful, Easy Feeling; Wild Mushroom; Crazy Little Thing Called Love; Camelicious; Crystal Ice

I have a lot of other new colors, but I’ve run out of time to get them photographed! I’m bringing a ton of yarn, in lots of bases – everything from laceweight to super bulky: Nona, Philomena, Aurora, Sunna, Selene, Birte, Andromeda, Luna, Verdande, and Zaftig. I’m also bringing, for the first time, mini-skeins of Philomena which will be available for purchase in a few gradient kits and lots of single skeins so you can pick your own. Here’s a peek at some of the individual mini-skeins:

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I’m also bringing my adorable logo camp mugs, gleener tools, and fun temporary tattoos:

Enamel logo mug (front and back); temporary tattoo

And, as I had last year, a special set of NYSW stitch markers from Katy at Katrinkles. I just love her work!

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I’ll also have lots of new handknit samples to fuel your inspiration, including TanisKnits’ Charlotte’s Web Mittens, Debra Gerhard’s Sinistram, and Valerie Hobbs’ Hillside Cardigan:


In other news, my life has been going through some major changes this year. Both my kids headed off to college this Fall – my daughter, Caragh, is now a Freshman at Duke University, and my son, Jackson, is a Junior at James Madison University (they’re both doing so well, and absolutely LOVE where they are and what they’re doing). Additionally, and an even bigger change, my husband and I are in the process of splitting up. Our divorce will be final in December.

I’ve spent the last 10 months thinking (ad nauseum some days) about my life, my future, and all that goes along with being on my own for the first time in more than 22 years. It’s been a bit stressful, to say the least. I have an opportunity to move quite far from where I’ve lived on the East Coast my whole life. As much as I’d hoped I’d be making a big announcement about it now, I can’t reveal full details yet as it hit a slight snag last week. I hope that this opportunity will in fact become a reality, and I’m really excited to tell you all about it as soon as I can. One detail I’ve come to realize over the course of this year is that no matter where I end up, I simply can’t afford a house payment and a separate studio payment. So in addition to moving out of my home, I’ll also be moving out of my current studio space in December.

My relocation is not going to be an inexpensive endeavor. I’m not ruling out holding a special Kickstarter campaign, but I’ve realized that’s not the best plan until I know for sure where I’ll be going and what the actual costs will be to relocate and get my studio set up.

What I’m going to do now is to offer some specials and discounts over the course of NYSW weekend, in hopes that you’ll support me and Spirit Trail Fiberworks by purchasing something from me at the Festival.

Here’s the run down (and these will all be posted in my booth, too):

Saturday, October 20:

9:00 am to approximately 1:00 pm (while supplies last):
—  a free temporary tattoo with purchase of $50.00 or more
—  your choice of a free tattoo or fun STF logo enamel camping mug with purchase of $150 or more
—  your choice of a free tattoo, logo mug, or Gleener de-piller with a purchase of $250 or more.

1:00 – 5:00 pm (closing):
5% off purchases of $50 or more
10% off purchases of $100 or more
15% off purchases of $250 or more

Sunday, October 21:

9:00 – 1:00 pm: 15% off all yarn in the booth; no minimum purchase required.
1:00 – 4:00 pm (closing): 25% off all yarn in the booth; no minimum purchase required.

Of course, the earlier you come to shop, the more selection there will be!

With everything so up in the air, this may or may not be my last year vending at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. I know it will be my last with my current booth set up (I may go back to a single booth rather than a double, and a different overall booth set-up, but everything is too up in the air right now to say for sure what 2019 will bring).

I made the decision last month that I will no longer be vending at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and, while I’d absolutely love to continue vending at NY, I won’t know until my future plans and move are finalized to say one way or the other.

So, I hope you’ll come see me at the Festival if you can, and support me and Spirit Trail Fiberworks if you find something you love!