Hearts to You January 24 2014, 0 Comments

When I was a young girl, the words, “Be My Valentine” meant romance and school girl crushes.  The Valentine with "to Dotty from.... " held special meaning, and I would spend hours the days before the class party working with paper doilies and construction paper on handmade cards bound for the classroom "Valentine Box".  

After being married for 35 years, despite the fact that the days of young love have long since past, I haven’t lost my love for doilies and glue, and for an excuse to  once again cut out paper hearts, bring out my paints and brushes,  and put together my own hand made Valentine cards.

These days, Valentines Day represents an opportunity for me to let those I love in my family and friends circle to know, in just a small way, that I am thinking about them and that I CARE about them.

It is this word CARE that just seems to be on my mind lately.

As a noun ( a person, place or thing) it seems to be more about concern, provision and serious attention applied to something, but as a verb it has more to do with 

affection, liking, and looking after.

I have been reflecting on this thought  that it is in the ACTION of caring that we demonstrate our affection.

In some cases, it can merely be  the kind and gentle tone of voice we use, and in the intentional choice of the words we speak. Sometimes it may simply be a touch, the gentle warmth of a hand held, or a loving hug or embrace.

Presently, I am on a trip, and, because they are so readily available where we are staying, last night we opted to get massages, a rare treat for me. My mind was stirring about as the thoughtful masseuse, dear kind Wilma, was touching my weary and aging body with her thoughtful and caring hands. It almost brought me to tears as she attempted to work out the accumulated strains and tension spots within my body. The word CARE kept rolling over and over again in my mind.

It was a physical manifestation of thoughtfulness and kindness. I felt so cared for as she touched me. Some people seem so adept at this. Nurturing just comes naturally to them. They are CARE GIVERS. I watch and learn. I do believe that down deep we all have a desire that someone would care about us.  I think Valentines Day just provides us an excuse to spread a little of this needed love around.  It is a perfect stage to actively care for others.

For me,  the best means to express my care and loving thoughts flows from my creative side. Being a crafter,  I show my affection with paint, glue and paper, felt, or fabric, thread, glue, whatever inspires me at the time. Once I get started, more ideas always seem to arise, and I have SUCH FUN DOING IT. 

Colleen, our mail order and yarn manager, is always packing up these wonderful care packages for loved ones, and I think back on the day a wonderful Valentines box arrived from a cousin I hadn’t heard from in years, and how wonderful it felt to hear from her and receive her package. I opened the box to find heart cookie cutters and a cookie making party in a box. It made my day, and made me want to turn around and pass that care along to someone else, because of how it had made me feel. . .  that she had been thinking of me across the miles, and cared enough to put together a little care package for our family. Care packages seem to say, "You are important to me.  I haven't forgotten you, I want you to know I  am thinking about you and I CARE."

SO in the context of Valentines Day, which is right around the corner, now is the time to assemble and get care packages and cards in the mail. Is there someone with whom you have lost contact ?  Who doesn’t love receiving mail? Even if they are a friend in the same town, they will certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness. 

Not sure where to start?  Jessyka  Dart-Mclean will be teaching a block printing Valentine making workshop next weekend at the shop.  By taking the workshop, you will have time to create and finish, and put some of your own creations in the mail to be received by February 14. The Net Loft has some fun Valentine candy to slip into a package, as well as these lovely new Annie heart glass dishes in a gift box for that extra special someone.  They are beautiful handmade glass  hearts overlayed with lovely gold and silver designs. They would make a treasured candy dish and would be perfect with a package of fresh chocolates or a batch of homemade heart cookies. Our online customers may email us at the shop and we would be happy to put together items we have at the shop that may not be listed on the site.


And for our yarnies, a special treat for you from Shelly Kocan’s Snow Capped Yarn Collection, a limited edition rosy yarn entitled “Be My Valentine". Perfect for a cowl or scarf dyed on luxurious Perry, OR wrapped up with red tissue, a very special valentine for a beloved knitting friend.

We are all at different stages of life, but caring is something that knows no limits. Whether we slip a little love note into a child’s lunch or leave a little hand made treasure on a friend’s desk at work or school, as always, it is the thought that counts. Of course for those in the midst of romance, a hand made card (of course paired with chocolate) is always treasured. Caring nurtures those around us and helps them know they are valued in the midst of a life that may sometimes feel lonely and perhaps isolated.  In simple words, IT IS A GOOD THING.


There are so many fun ingredients at the shop, we hope you will set aside some time to be creative and think of some special new ways to let someone know you care. As I have said many times before, always remember, size never matters. for a big amount of thoughtfulness can surely come in a just a small package or kind gesture.


Hearts and Flowers and little bit of Chocolate too,

Happy Crafting

with love,

Net Loft Dotty




Interview: Shelly Kocan of Snow Capped Yarns December 17 2013, 2 Comments

Meet Shelly Kocan, the woman responsible for the amazing collection of the hand-dyed skeins, Snow Capped Yarns. Shelly creates beautiful colorways by pulling inspiration from her local surroundings of Cordova, Alaska. Her new collection Olde Salt that debuted at the Net Loft recently, is sold exclusively at The Net Loft and their online store.

Last week I sat down with the Shelly over a cup of tea.

How did you first learn to dye?  What made you want to start?  

It was serendipitous that I started, I wouldn't say that I had a longtime plan of trying to learn to dye.  But Dotty had brought Sharon McMahon from Three Irish Girls here to Cordova, probably about two and a half years ago, and she did a series of classes.  The last day of her classes, she did a workshop on dyeing, and it just looked really fun.  It was really fun!  I remember we were still wanting to be dyeing even after the class was over at the end of the day.  She sent us home with our leftover dye stock, which was probably very important, I don't know if I would have gone out and gotten more dye right away.  Since I had that, I was very compelled to get more undyed yarn and keep at it.  I dyed at home that summer. I still remember those first skeins hanging in the shower to dry, losing sleep getting up every hour to see how they looked or what had possibly changed.  It was such a fun process.  I brought some to the Net Loft to share, and after a couple of months, Dotty noticed that I was still buying yarn and still dyeing it, she asked me if I was interested in dyeing yarn for the shop to sell.  I thought that sounded like a fantastic idea. She was going to give me the yarn, then I would dye it, and she would pay me for that.  It sounded amazing.  I started with 8 skeins of a color and that was the beginning.

Do you have your first color here?
I found one skein left of it.  When Dotty gave me that mission, I went out in late July, the salmon berries were still on the bushes.  They were a dark melon to yellow color, and the fireweed had already started blooming that a lovely fuchsia color. I snipped off pieces, brought them back home, and experimented making colors that matched the berries and flowers. Then I dyed this first colorway, Salmonberries & Fireweed.


How do you describe your style?  Where do you get your inspiration?

I do really try to draw a lot of inspiration from Cordova, Prince William Sound, and this area.  We live in such a beautiful area, also really unique place as far as lifestyle.  There's so many great dyers and hand-dyers out there right now, what I try to focus on is capturing some of the colors of coastal Alaska and the lifestyle of people around here.  Looking back to this fall, I did a color about the chanterelle mushrooms that are great to go out and harvest, cook up, save for the winter or enjoy in the fall.  I also dyed some to commemorate duck hunting which my husband is really passionate about, colors called Chest Waders, Duck Blind, and Autumn Comes to the Delta.  I try to do things that are seasonal, specific to our lifestyle.   


My dyeing style I would say, even though my first colorway is pretty bright and variegated, is that I tend more towards tonal and semi-solid colors.  I think that is because that's what I like to knit with.  I enjoy a highly variegated skein for accessories, but for sweaters and bigger projects I like the timelessness of semi-solids and tonals.  That's the direction I've gravitated to. Even the style of dyeing I do is different than what we learned initially, I don't do much hand-painting or even kettle-dyeing, I tend to do layers of immersion of colors, playing with saturations, playing with laying colors on top of one another.  I feel like I can get a product with enough similarities for knitting a sweater, everything will look pretty similar, but still have the richness of hue and variation.


What part of dyeing is the most satisfying?

There are a few parts, because dyeing is definitely a process from the color inspiration to the time it's in the store.  There are plenty of parts of the process that are laborious, wet, and sweaty, smell like wet wool and vinegar.  One of my favorite parts is when you do finally get a color you were thinking of, after playing with different ratios, and trying to figure out how to get just that red or just that orange.  There's so many variables with dyeing, and it's not an exact science at all, especially when you're trying to replicate something with variation.  When you get a color that you've been aiming for, that's very satisfying.  I would say I still feel a lot of satisfaction when I see the skeins of yarn hung up and dry, when you just look at them and say "yes!" You've finished the first part, and they're like squishy rows of color.  That really is a good feeling, in the preparation part, those are it.  On the other end, it's pretty great when you bring them into the store and people see them.  When people have a visceral reaction and they're excited about it.  So much of the creative process happens on your own and you never know if people are going to like it.  When people are moved by the colors, that is pretty satisfying as well.

Do you feel like the colors you like best are the colors people react to best?

No, I think it's really different.  In the Olde Salt collection, people have been most drawn to Rusty Anchor, a rusty orange color, and Low Tide, the dark purple-black.  I like those colors plenty, but they're not my most favorite colors.  It is interesting that in a series of 3 colors, the color I'm least excited about could be the most well received.

We made a little video to introduce readers to Shelly's Olde Salt collection, enjoy!