From the basement with love

We had moved to our current city in 2015 from the west coast with the dream of being able to afford more than housing every month. (I'd also grown up here.) We first lived with my brother and then the most depressing apartment and I couldn’t easily bike anywhere. I'd switched to biking as my main transportation method in 2008, and not being able to bike places was almost worse than starting everything over again. I worked in a mildew-laden warehouse for a little while while applying to public library jobs almost daily. My heart was and still is firmly set on the west coast so I was just trying to keep my head from falling apart.

Luckily, there was knitting - learning and unlearning and making soothing + beautiful things was something I could do anywhere and just about any time. We eventually found a house to rent, and by that time I had a handful of part time jobs, no spare time, but was able to bike any time I didn't mind a massive hill! A local fiber collective was offering a dyeing class, and things began to take root. A few months later my Portland cadre and I stocked up on dyes and yarns and they both flew out here to have a giant dyeing retreat in my kitchen.

At some point between there and here, our landlord offered to sell us the cinderblock bungalow we were renting and we didn’t even flinch about accepting that. It’s cute and too small inside and looks like a bunker outside - but it does what we need it to. I am a believer in only using what you need - so three rooms and a basement is good enough and is an easy way to limit accumulation of objects.

And from there, there was no stopping! I became swamped in yarn and started listing yarn on Etsy and haven’t slowed down since. I was terrified: I had saved up for months to make my first wholesale yarn order, and there were a lot of feelings around growing up with a scarcity and hoarding mentality and thinking I couldn’t afford to put a lot into (or take a lot out of) into this creature I'd created.

So for months I didn’t have a dedicated space and would carry boxes and burners and pans and precariously balanced vessels of liquid up and down my basement stairs. My fella had originally claimed this workbench in the basement, which is pretty much built into the house and not easily removable, but I kept convincing him it would make a great dye spot. He cleared it out and we had some electrical work done, a friend helped fix the laundry sink, and I had no time to really clean up the years of craft stuff that kept living under the workbench for many months more until the first round of quarantine in 2020. But it was still a mess, even for me who can usually find a way to thrive in a profusely chaotic workspace. (you can't public librarian without this skill!)

The first weekend in January 2021 I put serious effort and resources into sorting it the eff out, and am happy that I’ll be able to dye more yarn a lot more efficiently! I call it a studio but it’s really butted up right against the laundry and the furnace, but it’s tucked away enough that I don’t see it every time I go in the basement, and it’s close to the sink and the floor drain. It is dreadful but it is mine.

I've dyed up the January update and the first yarn club of the year in the newly organized space and it's just a world of difference. Things have a place and are not everywhere when I go to do laundry, and it's so much easier to implement organizational systems and processes when everything has a place. 

There are many hands involved in this, from the west coast besties who came to learn to dye yarn with me a few years ago, to my fella for handling the stuff that requires a car, another friend who we hired to wire my own dang circuit, and all of you that have shared or liked anything on here or keep coming back for this dang yarn! Thank you.

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