In The Spirit of the Season

As is probably true for many of you, this week has been one commitment after another. All good things — volunteering, visiting friends, getting our home ready for friends to visit — but non-stop nonetheless. Today, I’m carving time out of my no-less-crazy day to share a story with you that is dear to my heart. I invite you to take the next five or ten minutes to put your feet up, take a deep breath, and spend just a little time here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fiber arts community lately for a lot of reasons — reflecting on the past year, looking forward to the next, and just plain being thankful for this craft that does so much for so many of us. To say this community is made up of some of the best people I’ve ever met would be the understatement of the century. This collection of men and women are kind and generous in ways that are always beyond expectation and often in quiet, anonymous ways. One thing I’ve come to whole-heartedly appreciate is that when one of us is in need, we all step-up with support in whatever way we can.

In this spirit I wanted to share the story of Samantha Troia.

Over the years, many of you have seen projects I’ve spun and knit with yarns from Bumblebee Acres Farm. They are regular vendors at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival which is where I met them. I’m not sure when they started attending or how many years back I have shopped there, but my first real memory of interacting with the ladies behind the farm was in their festival booth. I remember that I was there with my mom and daughter on a Friday. It was quiet because the weather wasn’t spectacular and one of the girls happily chatted with my daughter while I shopped. I was so thankful for their kindness and patience with my little girl. I left with what would become the first of many gorgeous hand-blended batts and rolags I would buy over the years and my daughter left feeling so special. It was an interaction that made an impression on me and one I’ve never forgotten.

As I’m always curious about where my fibers come from, I went on to learn about this farm shop. Theirs is a story rich in history beginning in rural Latvia in the early 1900s and extending all the way to the present at a little place called Bumblebee Acres Farm in Northern Illinois (you can get the full story here). It’s run by Carissa and her four children — Sarah, Samantha, Hailianna, and Joey. Their fibers are as beautiful and wonderful to work with as the individuals in this family and I’ll admit to hoarding their batts and rolags. My absolute favorite treat when shopping in their store is to match one batt with a set of rolags and spin each onto a bobbin and then ply them. It’s just so much fun!

But I digress…

Early this week, I received a special newsletter from the Bees. They were asking for help. This is Sam.

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Photo courtesy of Bumblebee Acres Farm

Sam handles much of the farms’ social media accounts and regularly designs knitting patterns to showcase the beautiful yarns offered. I’m also convinced she’s literally one of the nicest people on Earth. Sam also has Type 1 diabetes and is in need of a new insulin pump. Like so many small business owners, this medical necessity isn’t covered by insurance and is very expensive. The “Bees” are asking for help to get Sam this device.

As soon as I read her story, all I could think was, what if this was my daughter? And that was quickly followed by, how can I help?

So how can you help?

  1. You can purchase Sam new “Joyful & Cozy” pattern right here. It’s just $5 and includes 2 cup cozy patterns.
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    Photo courtesy of Bumblebee Acres Farm

    All proceeds from this PDF pattern will go toward Sam’s new insulin pump. They would be make great gifts knit up. I also asked about purchasing additional patterns and having them sent to knitting friends as gifts and you can totally do that, too! Just purchase the number of copies you’d like and in the notes section of the check-out, include let the Bees know that you’d like to send the additional copies as gifts and a list the email addresses where you’d like them sent. Easy-peasy! (And don’t forget you can certainly grab lots of fun mini-skeins for this patternin their shop, too, they’re right here — just remember to grab the Squishy DK option in the drop-down menu of each set).

  2. Donate here through Sam’s fundraising page. You fill in the amount, so you can send whatever amount works for your budget — from $1 to the sky’s the limit.
  3. Share Sam’s fundraising page with your own family, friends, & community.
  4. Continue to shop in their wonderful online shop and visit them at shows!
  5. Follow Bumblebee Acres Farm on Facebook,  Instagram, Ravelry, and their new Podcast, Caught in the Wool (hosted by Sam!) to stay up with the latest from the farm.

I will say that I had planned to purchase the pattern as gifts for the ladies in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry group only to find that as soon as I went to make the purchase (I was actually at a volunteering shift when I got the newsletter), I thought to check the group first. It had literally been less than 2 hours and these amazing ladies had already shared the letter, the links, and many had already purchased the pattern and some yarn as well. I purchased patterns for my remaining friends there and made a cash donation in honor of the rest. It’s just one example of how incredible this community is — really & truly!

I know we are all stretched thin this time of year for time and funds alike, but I hope you’ll consider sending Sam and the Bees what support you can — a donation, some social media love and sharing, or even just a kind note, thoughts, or prayers. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you so much for helping support these wonderful people in the fiber arts world!

Martine’s Road to 26.2

You know, I’ve ‘known’ Martine Ellis for about a year now and I can honestly say I never know exactly what she’s going to do next. I can also honestly say that I believe she can do anything.

We’ve never actually met — our homes are about 4,ooo miles apart — but I’ve had the good fortune of collaborating with her in the Merry KAL and iMake Magazine. She tirelessly produces more than a small army of creative types put together — from her popular podcast, to knitting patterns, to editing her magazine, to her countless crafty endeavors that she documents on her blog. Somehow she has even made time to answer questions for me from time to time as I worked on setting up the Socks with Sarah KAL and encouraged me to open my own Ravelry group. In fact, I don’t know that I’d have had the courage to do a lot of what I’m doing with my blog & the Socks with Sarah KAL without her. Martine is just such a force for good in this world — for that, for her energy, and for her all her tireless, fearless work she is someone I very much admire.

When she announced last fall that she intended to run the London Marathon this April, I can’t say I was surprised. Running to raise funds for Anthony Nolan, the UK’s blood cancer charity & bone marrow register, Martine — who is “not exactly a runner” — has been doing just that since October. I am just in awe of her dedication and all the work she’s been pouring into this race. I’ve also enjoyed the photos she’s shared of her runs via instagram and on her blog

guernseyIsn’t her island of Guernsey beautiful?

gorgeousguernseySuch beautiful paths…

guernsey run2And picturesque shorelines.

She has just done a tremendous job of sharing this journey — from the inspired photos to the snapshots of her training times. Her artistic documentation is only outdone by the actual physical effort involved. I’m so proud to say that I’m a supporter of her effort.

Today I’m telling you about Martine & sharing this undertaking of hers because she’s got just over a month to go before she transforms herself from this crafting, podcasting, magazine editing powerhouse…

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To this Anthony Nolan fundraising hero…

martinerunsWho will run 26.2 miles for a good cause.

If she inspires you like she does me and you are able, please hop over to her fundraising site & sponsor her effort. Every donation — the big & small alike — gets her a step closer to her goal and provides funds for an organization that does a lot of good for a lot of people. If she inspires you like she does me, please follow her journey these final few weeks on her blog and instagram and cheer this amazing lady on. That kind of support is oh so important, too.

Join me in a chant, won’t you?

Run, Martine, Run!

All photos used with the permission of the lovely Martine Ellis.