And then There was Yarn.

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I started collecting yarn a few years ago. First I bought the traditional way; by going to Michael’s or Joann’s and clipping coupons every week. Then I moved on to the bigger sized purchases, made through eBay primarily. In the process, I discovered many wonderful yarns that today I make a staple of my business. I would like to introduce you to two of them

The bulk of the yarns in this picture were purchased though Stephanie’s Studio. I discovered her on Etsy and have since done a fair amount of business with her through he main website, http://sumi-soft.com/yarn/. She sells yarn in bulk from her sale page, saving you A LOT of money and giving some fun surprises too. I have never been disappointed. What I love most about Stephanie’s yarn is that it is designed to be used in a knitting machine. This gives the hand worker (like myself) a few really cool advantages.

  1. You get A TON of yarn on a single easy to use spool. Thousands of continual feet. No need to find enough skeins or worry about dye lots. As for knots I have never found one!
  2. This is high quality STRONG yarn. It was designed to be yanked about in a machine, so while most of her yarns are very light weight (fingerling-sport) they are anything but weak. Your product will stand up to the tests of time
  3. Too light a yarn for your purposes? I think not! I have a wall of these yarns because I can create my own pallet that way. I combine 2 or three yarns to make a standard weight and have a truly unique product. Add a soft green marl and a thin black 2ply and you get a yarn that is sweater soft, but not found anywhere else!
  4. Quality. Her acrylics are not waxy and synthetic like most of the yarns you can get at a craft shop. You won’t be disappointed.
  5. Almost all are 100% USA made! – All the one’s I have purchased are, but I don’t want to make a blanket statement without proof.

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Another yarn that I am very fond of is Cestarti Yarn. The wool for these yarns comes from Cestari Farm in Churchville, Virginia. They make the yarn on site adding cotton and silk to some of my favorite varieties. The best part about their wool is that it is not chemically processed. Most wool is sent through a bath of acids that removes every last trace of vegetable matter that might be stuck in the hair, but as a result, the proteins in the wool are also destroyed. Advantages to this yarn include:

  1. Because it is not chemically processed, it remains soft and much less scratchy. It is machine washable! You may (OK do) find small bits of straw embedded in the yarn from time to time, but they are easy to pull out.
  2. End projects made with this yarn have a very natural look, feel and drape. Very authentic.
  3. The colors they offer are all very natural and work well with the yarn
  4. 100% USA made! (It’s a theme)

The only down side to this yarn is that it is hard to buy. I bought a large amount from a yarn store that was going out of business. Otherwise you have to call the farm and request and order. http://www.cestarisheep.com/about.html. You have no visuals for colors and the shipping is quite slow, but the yarn is worth it! There are very few stores that carry this yarn. The closest to me is 300 miles away and I live in a very urban area,

So there you have a first glimpse into my studio. There is still quite a bit more yarn than that. I deconstruct high end cashmere sweaters in one corner to make my own spools of yarn and I salvage every bit of yarn I do not use in hopes of making a really cool hand woven rug one day.

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Baby blanket combining three machine weight yarns

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A wrap made with Cestari yarn

A New Beginning

I have just re-written the business side of my life.

My online store name used to be Gillsie (which was a nickname I had in high school) until I realized that someone else had also been using that name and I felt like an impostor. The new name I have chosen is “Tangible Imaginings” because that about sums up how I feel about the creative process. If you are interested, here it is : etsy.com/shop/tangibleimaginings

I started my store in earnest about two years ago, when a series of events made me believe that I had the luxury of being able to quit my day job and pursue a dream.

My uncle passed away in 2008. I had only met him once, but I knew that he was schizophrenic and old and that my father was afraid of him. He came to my first wedding and fully believed that he was a Texas millionaire, complete with the boots, hat and accent. I am relatively certain he had never been to Texas, but because my parents had recently moved there, he was trying to fit in. When he died, there was a moment of sadness for me, but audible relief from my father. A few months later, I got a call that made me park my car on the side of the freeway and not move for a very long period of time, it felt like hours. My uncle had a trust fund, set up by my grandparents to take care of him and due to his low maintenance life style, it had grown into a huge sum of money. A huge some of money that my brothers and I were now to inherit, a HUGE sum of money….a shook for hours, stopped breathing a few times, felt my head pound with the meaning of the words that the lawyer was quickly ticking my way….how much? what?

I quit my day job as an underwriter for Farmer’s Insurance, and decided instead to put my time where I thought it would be better spent; with my family and art. I made wedding plans to marry my boyfriend of two years. I started cooking elaborate meals, I bought a used,  red, convertible Mini Cooper, tires for our cars, mattresses that did not poke you in the back, furniture that was not full of holes and a TV that you could see decently from across the room. The kids got braces, the dogs got their shots, my daughter traveled to New York on a school trip and I BOUGHT YARN.

Some month later, I got a call from the same lawyer. Seems there was an issue with my grandfather’s estate after he died in 1992, seems neither the IRS, nor the lawyer could come up with his tax return, seems what was supposed to be a generation skipping tax skipped the wrong generation, seems there were back taxes, penalties and such, seems like we were screwed.

About the same time, my step son started his new crusade to become the worlds youngest drug lord….and addict….and focus of my entire life. We put him in rehab, we sent him to counseling, we spared no time, expense or moment of thought, love and support. My life whirled around phone calls, meetings, methods, appointments and huge bills but when my head felt ready to explode, I would crochet, and crochet and crochet and then I BOUGHT BEADS.

Now it was 2010. My step-son was living with his mother, who let him do whatever he wanted, my youngest daughter started having medical issues and my blood pressure was through the roof. I was hording piles and piles of yarn. I had purchased another jewelry makers entire stock as she went out of business and I started making plans to open an Etsy shop.

There is, of course, a great deal more to this story….like having both of my feet reconstructed, getting paid back by the IRS and buying a house right before the IRS changed it’s mind and took the money back AGAIN.

in 2011 Gillsie: Tangible Imaginings was born out of the dust of a crazy, chaotic mess like a phoenix with a serious head cold.

I am a meticulous artisan. detailed, exacting and educated. I am NOT a marketing guru…nor even passable apprentice. What I do have is a good sense of humor, a tremendous faith in a greater power that I call God and life!

This blog, and all of its links and references to come is my attempt to reach out to the world and share the stories behind my creations. There will be hits and misses, thoughts and utter failures and no doubt, a great deal of soul searching from which I hope you can glean some value.

Now to begin the new beginning.