Saturday, December 31, 2011

life is simply all those moments

strung from here to there

we go from being a child into an adult and the days go by
one by one

there are hard things
and easy things
good things
mundane things
sometimes the hard things are so hard
we wish they would just go away very quickly

and sometimes
there are such good times
we wish they would never end

I am a lot like my mother
her life is marked by her stitching
the needlepoint bouquets she drew and stitched alongside her own mother
the liberty print quilt from the time when she broke her ankle
the tops she knitted when she couldn't paint for awhile
her needlework marked the days and times of her years

she is the one who reminds me

stitch in the hard times
make something beautiful out of something difficult
stitch in the good times
remembering times of being together with friends and stitching
alongside them
or for them
with thoughts of them
in memory of them

to remind us
of how and who we love
and where we have been
and where we are headed

with hope for the future
for weddings and births
and birthdays

for encouragement
and friendship...

for we stitchers
the clicking of the needles and the needle and thread
mark the days and times of our lives
and create the legacies we leave behind

a part of us
is in every stitch
and our days are marked by what we have made of them

and as for tomorrow
my only question is...
what will I make today?

there is always


Friday, November 11, 2011

thinking on Thanksgiving

I am busy in the throws of Christmas plans for the shop. I will be decorating next week for our annual Open House, and so my head has been flooded with multiple ideas and projects. Glitter, glue, papercutting, ribbons, what to do with this and that, and how to pull it all together to reflect the joy of the season, desiring to inspire the sacred in the midst of a commercial environment. And so it lies, between our Net Loft Open House and Advent, a very special holiday that I hope and want to not get lost in the sea of the oncoming season. It is hard sometimes, because before the brown and rusty gold have a chance to fully mature, I sense the red and green encroaching everywhere, pressing on us, demanding our attention.

For me, I just want to savor these remaining fall days. I feel a need to take the time I need to settle myself, to organize my projects, to reassess my goals, to reflect on that which is around me and for that which I am grateful to God; to make this be a time to cast aside all the differences within my family and come together, bake, make place cards, eat and rest in one another’s company. I don’t want to miss thinking on Thanksgiving, even though everywhere I turn I am being told to think about Christmas. In light of this I have not abandoned my half finished wool appliqué fall apple candle mat, in hopes that it will be ready for the culmination of fall at our family Thanksgiving celebration. I will continue to savor the sweet autumn images of apples, acorns, pumpkins, and squirrels, and I will take the time I need to make this Thanksgiving be a special and meaningful celebration and appreciation of our family’s many blessings and how best we can be a blessing to others.

Enjoy your remaining fall creative projects, and, in doing so, I hope that this time will also be for you, a time for thinking on your own Thanksgiving, and provide for you that necessary reflective and inspired calm before the storm of the oncoming holiday flurries.

All the best in needle, thread, yarn, ribbon and paper....
with love, Dotty

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mushroom Dyers Update

I had a chance to weave a scarf with my mushroom dyed wool and wanted to share a photo of the results.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Net Loft Custom Totes

For those of you who saw our custom totes on Bonnie Hunter's website, these are the ones we currently have in stock. There are two kntting needle cases at $59.95. and two different totes with vinyl zip storage for $70 each. We are expecting more in the near future. Give us a call at 907 424-7337 or email us at and we can mail order, if you need us to.
They are great bags, made in the United States with quality construction.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On a fall day...

So what's to do on a fall day?

It is cozy up fall time. There is so much inspiration out there lately I can hardly keep my my excitement contained. How about you?

Need some inspiration? Come on in and breathe in some fall creativity at The Net Loft.

So much inspiration, I hardly know where to start.
Fall is the time for settling down with family and friends, lighting candles, trying out a new recipe…cozying up on the couch with needle or needles in hand or spreading out a craft project on the kitchen table.

Ah yes, crafts… there are SO many new books and patterns and projects to be made. I feel like we are bursting at the seams with all the great new projects and yarns and ideas for handwork. Lots of new scrapbooking papers and embellishments, plus new hand dyed wools, threads, and cross stitch patterns.

Knitting, Wool Applique, Punch Needle Embroidery, Papercrafting… Projects for fall, and projects to get started on for Christmas...

Take an opportunity this fall to learn something new. There is so much to learn from and be inspired by. There are some great Fiberart DVD’s that can lead you through many lessons right in your own home. I think the one on designing your own crochet hat looks VERY interesting.

And there is always just a shopping excursion…More Maruca bags have arrived and more Atendi bags are on the way…New lamps, Fall serving dishes, Paddywax candles, and diffusers to fill your home with sweet fragrances. Let the fall winds blow you into The Net Loft door. It is our pleasure to serve you and help you find YOUR fall inspiration.

This Saturday we are planning a “Fall Inspirations Open House” . We will have hot apple cider and the upstairs tables will be set up for you to flip through the notebooks of all the new patterns. We are hoping for a release of a new Snowcapped Yarn Color, PLUS we will also be having a Trunk Show of “Never Not Knitting” patterns. Come see the lovely samples of her patterns and plan for your next projects.

Churchmouse is known for it’s absolutely lovely pattern line and we have their new set of fall patterns just released. I just love the tea cozies.

So...please set some time aside this Saturday and join us at our OPEN HOUSE... prepare thyself to be thoroughly inspired!

We will also be holding a fundraiser on Saturday for the Cordova Library. We received some slightly damaged candles and diffusers from the Paddywax Library Collection, and the Paddywax Collection is allowing me to donate the proceeds of the slightly damaged collection to a local organization, so I thought the library was a perfect candidate. Support the library and purchase a fall home fragrant candle or diffuser at a reduced price, this Saturday, October 15.

pps... if you haven't seen the new Snowcapped Yarns yet by Cordova's own Shelly Kocan, do look at her blog and see.
We will be releasing her latest Autumn colorway this weekend. This is an example from her first release. Colorways are limited edition seasonal short run in a variety of yarn weights.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall Distraction

It happens this time of year. It goes like this...I am driving to the shop, with a very very long long list of "very important" things I must do, and my car somehow swerves to the side of the road, and I find myself in waterlogged dressy shoes, in boggy puddles with hands full of what I call "my fall distraction". I cannot help myself. "They" beg me to visit the forest and escape the walls of the shop which have held me in all summer. Something about the dusty orange gills that somehow beckon me to check that little spot in the woods with the vibrant green moss and lure me with the exciting prospect of finding fall treasures growing along the base of ancient stumps and roots. It is "their" fault.

There is one tree that holds the polypore with the golden dye, and one beaten down spot that yields a little treasure, whose cinnamon claret gills shed spores that turn persimmon when in contact with wool and heat. It is my fall delight to swerve to the right, let my eyes peruse the mossy roadside, and then allow my feet to wander into the secret places.
Every year this happens to me. I find myself wandering into the woods, even in torrential downpours. I cannot help myself.

And then there are the many pots and jars that follow.

The handfuls of fungal treasures fill jars and buckets, and after the rituals of washing and mordanting, the excitement of dyeing begins. I am never quite sure of what I am doing other than escaping what I am supposed to be doing. But for some reason, something tells me that more than
anything else, this is what I am supposed to be doing. And, I would say, the previously white wool would agree.
After a heated bath in Cortinarius water, how the delightful tangerine becomes them.

Rain and sun, the crispness of fall, the mushrooms are here....I hear them really, how could I refuse them.

They could be calling you too, if you let them...Come and's a perfectly wonderful...

" fall distraction ".

Sunday, July 31, 2011

In the summertime, one day you can drive down the road and the lupine are wonderfully in bloom and then you can turn away, be very busy, and poof, the lupines are gone..

Gone, gone, gone... Missed them. Hardly picked more than one bouquet of them. And then one day, you notice a single fireweed in bloom, and then, in a blink of an eye, a field of fireweed have exploded and are as tall as the sky. Just like that. In that blink, they have become plentiful, bold and beautiful, and I am in awe of the absolutely striking massive magenta pink of them. From out of nowhere, the grass of parnassas appear in meadows out the road. Fragrant, graceful, lovely. In my garden bed, harebells nod their heads in the wind, lilies pop from their large Alaganik, the iris appear and the purple is glorious. But, we know well, now you see them, now you don't. If you put off seeing them, you will miss them. My one thought, they come and go so quickly.

For me, this summertime life is like that. One day there is a face that walks through the door. I have to take a good long hard look at this face, savor the sound of the voice, for like the blooming wildflowers, in a blink of eye, they will be gone, and so will I. Sometimes, I feel like if I don't take that moment and be with them, I will miss it. If I am not attentive, that friend, like that flower, will come and go without me hardly seeing it. They will be off on boats, or ferries or planes, or just occupied somewhere. That is how summertime is.

Today, this early Sunday morning, I had an old dear friend over for tea and conversation. I went to pick a little bouquet to put in a teacup for our table, and I went to pick a rose from my bush out front of the shop. When I went to cut it, the petals all fell to the ground. I was too late for that rose. I gathered up some other flowers, but the thought of that rose carried with me throughout the day. I have felt like this all summer. It reminded me of the importance and value of taking time out, because opportunities pass by so quickly. If I don't take the time, the flowers and friends will be gone, and I will have missed them.

I love to paint. I love wildflowers. I especially love painting wildflowers. I think that is because I get to spend time looking and appreciating them as I paint them. I look and I look and I love drinking in their color and beauty. I love looking so closely at them that I see things in them I never saw before. It is a different thing to paint them from memory, and a far better experience painting them face to face. I not only love painting them, but I also love stitching images of them in thread, felting their colors into wool or even just placing a bouquet of them into a vase. It takes time, you know, but it is one of those simple pleasures in life that brings me great joy, and so worth the time I take out.

And so, please know that I consider you to be the wildflowers that wander before me into my shop, and that I treasure and hope to savor these summertime moments as they arise. Hope you are having a wonderful summer. Still lots going on at the shop. We have several open studio times, as well as weaving, needlework and papercraft classes coming up. There's still time...and some good summer fun to be had. Let us know if there is a class or event you would like to see happen, and do soak in those friends and flowers that the rest of the summertime still has to come.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Three Irish Girl

I was trying to think of a way to describe it.

These past several weeks, from about April on, has been a steady spin of activity.

How do I describe it?

And then it came to me...

I envisioned a pinwheel caught in the current of the wind

Perpetual motion,

Colors and petals blurring into one, as the pinwheel spins in constant in motion

And then, the wind settles, and,

it stops

And in the same way, for just a brief moment, I now stop...

and, in this quiet and brief space in time of inactivity, I write you.

I had wanted to write you sooner, but the wheel was spinning so fast, it could not be stopped.

I really had wanted to write about our Three Irish Girls weekend right after it was over.

But now, three weeks have passed?

How could that be?

But no matter, I cannot wait to describe to you what it was like.

so I shall tell you...even if it is now instead of then.

There are spaces in March and April that are just sticks and mud and bare places, patches of snow, exposed rocks and gravel.

When you see it, it is hard to believe that at any other time there could be anything else but that.

Grey, brown, black, white.

And then the green begins to come, first buds and shoots, followed by leaves and blossoms.

And now, as the goats beard plumes and cow parsnip’s lacy edges frame the expanse of fading lupine and incoming fireweed, the iris arrives at Alaganik and the yellow buttercups are scattered on roadside edges and parking lots.

And so it was, three weeks ago, as I raced to the airport where lupine patches had replaced snow patches, I was met by Sharon of Three Irish Girls, and her husband, Chris, and MANY large suitcases bursting at the seams. What was in them were suitcases of yarn that, when unpacked, overflowed and filled the upstairs room with such an explosion of vibrant color, that it just felt to me like full on summertime in a mountain meadow of solid wildflowers…so much color, such variation, that it just plain took your breath away.

And then there was Sharon, funny, interesting, vibrant. After months of preparation, she was finally here, and we were delighted and excited to have her. It was quite nice, in my semi exhausted state, to just sit back, listen to her sweet stories, and simply smile.

We released four new colors inspired by four works of art and photography.

Bald Eagle with a photo by Milo Burcham

Chugach and a lovely pastel painting by Dorothy Hook

Scott Creek or Scott River, whichever you want to call it, inspired by a watercolor from the 80’s by Nancy Taylor Stonington, which I had purchased from her years ago when she was in town painting,
and Lupine

which I have hanging in the store beside a wood cut of Lupine and Miles Glacier by Mazie Van Den Broek. This release was accompanied by a trunk show array of yarns which Sharon had brought with her for especially for the weekend.

When it was all over, before we packed what little was left back into Sharon’s suitcases, I picked out a small selection for the shop to keep for those who were unable to make it to the program, as well as a little stash that made their way into my own little pile of yarn treasures for future knitting projects. And, after some wonderful workshops and a what felt like to me a speeding whirl of activity, she was gone.

The wind blows

The pinwheel keeps spinning around

The colors merge

I tried my very best to stop and savor those moments as they were happening.

The sound of her voice

The stories she told

The taste of the Net Loft punch

Diane’s cakes

The colors of yarn that emerged from the dips and brushes of the dyers workshop

The presence of surrounding friends whose presence was such an important part of the specialness of the weekend.

It goes so fast all of it.

I like the excitement of all kinds of things going on, but also I just like it when everything stops,

even for just a brief time.

It happened there at the glacier with Sharon.

After a heaped up plate of potluck dinner and a giant piece of Diane’s chocolate cake

Feeling the warmth of the fire

Standing there, eyes closed, listening to the voices and conversations

And then, Malani and Sam O’Toole began to sing a couple of the most gentle and beautiful harmonies

And I could see it plain as day

The pinwheel


The most beautifully painted, intricate pinwheel with elaborate detail

I saw it

All the beautifulness of it

In that moment

And then,

We packed up

Drove home


The wind began to blow

The colors merged

And once again I was swept into the racing rivers of summertime

Whose currents

Still hold me.

Sometimes my knitting traps in it these moments somehow.

When I am in the midst of it and I knit into that project the activity I am in the midst of

The lupine scarf I am finishing up from the new lupine yarn will be that for this time

It will take me back to these summer days

And especially when The Net Loft had this very special guest and new friends, Sharon McMahon, the Three Irish Girl who makes the colors sing, and her husband Chris, and all of you who came to join us.

We hope you enjoyed yourselves as well. We’ll have to do it again someday…don’t you think?

The wheel is still in motion… come knit, crochet, spin, weave, scrapbook, bead, cross stitch, embroider, punch needle, felt, needlepoint, paint, draw, craft with us….we love it all…especially surrounded by friends. Come join us…

With Love,

Net Loft Dotty

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

My father passed away almost 10 years ago. As I reflect on my times with him, I have many thoughts, but I am most thankful for his love and how he would hold my hand as we would just talk and exchange thoughts and ideas. He knew how much it meant to me to have The Net Loft and what an expression it was of the illusive art and ideas that stirred within me. My father, James Biram, often said that we were a lot alike in many ways, and because of this, he encouraged me, in the midst of all the trials of life, to pursue this heartfelt dream, even though he knew that my passion sometimes overshadowed that which was realistic and sensible. In retrospect, I don't think it really would have become The Net Loft as it is today, if I had been overly realistic or sensible, and so for his encouragement and belief in me, I continue to be grateful.

He only knew the Net Loft in its’ true Net Loft years, and somehow wish he could see what the seeds of those days grew into.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there, past and present. I know a lot of me is entangled with who he was, and on this day, I am missing him greatly.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Iris in Bloom

It is that time of year, like so many years before, that I pack up a multitude of items to be shipped northward to the store. It is such a familiar task, that, in doing so, all the years somehow seem to meld into one. Boxes, bubble wrap, labels and tape. There happen to be certain things that I love to have for the shop which are unable to be shipped direct to the store or to my shipper, so in these cases I act as the freight forwarder, so we are able to have them available for you in Cordova. One of these things comes from a place that I get to see, and it is something I want to share with you, so you may see the beginnings of what you see on the shelf, and the special face behind it.

I would like you to meet Linda, and take a peek at her backyard kiln.

Linda is a potter who has a small pottery studio in the little town of Davenport, California, a spot with the sweet fragrance of the sea and, at this time of year, is laced with hillsides of blooming wild radishes .

Here are some of her berry bowls drying on the rack, waiting to be fired, then glazed...

Each piece is individually thrown on the potter's wheel and hand painted by her... with a little help from a little furry friend...

Linda used to work with a partner, Will, but now works solo on the lovely Iris mugs, vases, and bowls we have been selling in the shop for over twenty years. I had thought, years ago, that they would be perfect for Cordova, because they were reminiscent of the beautiful fields of wild iris that bloom in the fields beside Alaganik Slough and along the banks of the Eyak River in the summertime.

Before the time of the current baggage charges, I would pack the pottery into boxes and trunks with each of my children's clothing. At that time, I had the dimensions and weight restrictions memorized, and with seventy-five pounds allowed per box, I could get quite a lot of freight transported up as luggage. In light of this, my children always used to roll their eyes when I would ask for their summer clothes, as they knew the fate of what would become of their personal effects. And so, as they knew well, stacks of clothes disappeared and found themselves surrounding and cushioning stacks of bowls, mugs, and dishes, and it would be awhile before their T-shirts, pants and sweaters would resurface. At that time, I remember heading to the airport with kids in tow with sometimes as many as 15 boxes ( and coolers filled with chocolate), an assortment of musical instruments, and the massive mountain ahead that faced me of unpacking the shop from its winter rest, just as the lupine and wildflowers came into bloom.

Somehow picking up the pottery brings back all these memories of all those times back then. It is a seasonal ritual for me, and it is when, like the salmon, I sniff the air and smell the northland calling for me, not just for a week or two week stint, but for the season. And so, as I arrived at Linda's on a spring in Davenport day this week, the memories flooded and the years washed into a stream of nostalgia. When I entered her studio, I had a tinge of excitement as I felt the familiar rush of seeing all those beautifully painted mugs and dishes made just for The Net Loft.
I loved seeing her spot in the back of her coastal cottage where she throws her pots in a sunlit corner surrounded by windows, and looking out on her well tended garden.

After a nice cup of tea with Linda, and a quick catch up of the time that had passed between our last visit over a year ago, we set to our other ritual, that of wrapping each piece carefully in newspaper for its journey northward. A time of chatting, wrapping, and chatting some more...Piece by piece, preparing them carefully for their long journey ahead. It is funny how such a simple action can spur so many memories. It means summertime is rushing in, and there is nothing I can do to hold it back. Soon, like the traveling Iris pottery, the real ones will be making their grand appearance. Fields will be full of flowers, fish will return to the streams, and friends who have been away will show their faces. It is the only life I know.

Today, as I am packing the boxes to be shipped north (air freight these days), I am thinking about all those boxes, and all those clothes I used to pack them with, and even more specifically, about the children who used to fill those clothes. It reminds me of how much I miss them. I smile as I remember those times and the thought of summertime ahead, and although my travel companions (my children) won't be with me for the airplane ride, at least a couple of them will be there for the fishing season. And, I believe, there are many more memories just waiting to be made...hikes to be hiked...bouquets to be gathered...classes to be taught...salmon to be eaten...and special times upstairs knitting around the Net Loft table with friends. When I drink out of my iris mug, it is a cup of summertime, and I don't want to miss a single drop of it...
See you soon.