So, I've been up since 3 am, and as I'm writing this, I'm sitting in the trashed remains of what was once considered a habitable space. Thankfully, the floors are clean, because my sister-in-law took pity on me while hanging with my kiddos today. But that's pretty much the only thing going for it right now. My house is in shambles. But it is done. #blubirdsupplies is not only a reality, but today it joins its fiber brothers and sisters in a proper, real live retail space. It's small, but it's real. And it is PRETTY. Oh so pretty.
I know, I know. I didn't make them myself. But let's be real. There's only so much I can make with these two hands. And while I feel very strongly that an artisan's work be priced appropriate to the time and skill that they invest in creating handmade, I'm also a realist. Makers cannot exist on handspun alone. Well, you could. But you'd be broke. As a joke. If you've ever bought 200 yards of handspun, you know what I'm talking about.
Enter the next phase of Blubird Studio: #supplies.
You know a little bit about Tami, and Blubird, I think, by now. What you may not know is that I grew up on a farm. A no joke, real, live, low down, gritty farm. I grew up half wild with no shoes and no shirt, riding bareback and hiding in the woods and cleaning stalls and hauling water buckets (while whining. Loudly). In the spring, we'd make maple syrup in a sugar shack that reminded one of an odd marriage of Appalachia and Rockwell, with a team of Belgian draft horses. In the summer, we'd haul hay and build grass tunnels in the fields. In the fall, we'd mend fence and harvest.
When I was fourteen, my mother brought home 4 crazy ass mixed breed sheep in the back of a minivan. And we spent the next three months that spring into summer converting the entire farm from barbed wire to grid fencing. It was back breaking, hot, dirty work.
I hated those sheep. But such is life when you're an angsty adolescent. Impotent rage is par for the course. Then more came. and more after that.
The thing is, from a very young age, it was painfully obvious that I was just not wired the same as the rest. I was the dreamer, the changeling, the feisty flighty one that couldn't settle down and ATTEND to the task. The butterfly girl. I had no business anywhere near farm equipment. I could trip on a blade of grass. God forbid I was wet, or cold. I was a royal PITA.
They tried to teach me to drive a tractor when I was 15. One Time. Only once. It did not go well.
The hard fact of the matter is that I was never meant to be a farmer. Which (as you may imagine), was no great loss to me. My grades were good, and I was off like a shot into the great wide world just as soon as I had the chance. Like a rat out of an aqueduct!
And like a boat sailing with a broken rudder, I ran full circle and found my way home, as so many of us do. And while it would still be a decade before my hands caught up to the loop and my heart lines got with the program, I did get to watch my mother struggle and strive and work, through what I see now as the last twilight of our life as a united family on that hill. And by god, by the sheer force of her will, that desperate WNY hill farm became something truly magical, before it all fell apart.
In 2007, I watched her do the unthinkable. I stood helpless and wretched and watched as she struck out for her own western wilderness, with everything she owned in a horse trailer and a pickup, an invincible modern day pioneer of sorts, like the westerns she so loved as a child. She struck west for her own Oregon Trail with 2 horses, mad dreams, and a sheep dog named Lady. Anything that didn't fit, she left behind. It was the most insane, dangerous, irresponsible, noble, brave, beautiful thing I think I've ever seen someone do. My mother is a real life Amazon.
And she began to build. Because that's what she does. And build, and build some more. What you may not know about me is that I'm not just a fiber artist. I'm part of a fiber family. My mother raises sheep. Really good sheep. Champion sheep. Drool-worthy sheep.
She and her "Martin-man" have built one of the best herds of Purebred American Gotland sheep in the country, and she has created an award winning herd of Teeswater longwools, through dogged insistence on conscientious upbreeding. I am so unbearably proud of her. When I launched Blubird, I wasn't just starting a business. I was coming home. It took me a while, yeah, but I made it. I figured it out.
Today my mother flies home to Oregon, freshly discharged from a hospital in Wisconsin. She almost died there last week, after a tragic disagreement with her intestinal fortitude during a mad marathon cross-country AI tour.
Last Wednesday, UPS left a ridiculously large box on my porch. This beauty was inside.
I found out yesterday that she completed this transaction on Saturday AS THEY WERE PREPPING HER FOR EMERGENCY SURGERY. She figured if she died, I'd at least have that to remember her by. And I can absolutely see her in her bed, surrounded by doctors and nurses, with her ipad in her lap and that "don't you dare mess with me right now" look on her face that she wears when she won't be defied by anything - fear, reality, ruptured intestines...apparently...nothing gets in her way. So today, I am very thankful that she's still with us right now, that I finally figured it out, and we get to give this a proper go.
So, beginning November 2017, here and now, Blubird Studio is not just a fiber girl making with these two hands. Blubird Studio is also the exclusive retail distributor for Shepherds Lane of Oregon, Joy Dally, Shepherdess Extraordinaire, Sky Cloud Architect. Through #blubirdsupplies we've finally found a way to combine our strengths and even out our disparities. At long last, we are multi-generational!
#blubirdsupplies line launches a small Market test run of Luxury Gotland and Teeswater roving for spinners and Gotland knitting yarn in Muse Jar, downtown East Aurora, this weekend for Small Business Saturday. You can also find some with me at A Very Merry Main St in Springville Friday and Saturday.
Every item in #blubirdsupplies line is small sourced, from mother's farm to daughter's hands, and has a completely transparent supply chain. They are produced with the highest possible attention to quality. In short, they are the epitome of Slow Goods; Goods with Integrity. I am so proud of this new move, just as I'm proud of everything that Blubird has accomplished this year, and what it's allowed me to do in mending the breaks in the fabric of my life. As I explore each new direction that this venture takes me, I am amazed at how the universe provides when you open yourself to the possibility that anything is possible.
I am so insanely excited to be a fiber woman, and that I get to do this work, and to inspire a whole new generation of makers and fierce women through pursuit of craft and art, form and function.
So, right now I have a pumpkin pie in the oven, cranberry sauce is bubbling away on the stove, and the apples for tomorrow's pie are peeled and sitting in lemon juice in the fridge, ready to go. I am bone tired exhausted. But tomorrow, we feast.
I'm thankful for so many things this year.
Most of all, for all the wonderful people that have provided support and encouragement as I fought to make this a reality. Even though it's messy and confusing and at times, and sometimes you get held hostage to wordy blogs riddled with terribly pedantic sleep deprived prose. I'm sorry. I'm just too damn tired to edit this.
If you're reading this, you're one of these people. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, for supporting Blubird. And allowing me the opportunity to explore what it's (and I'm) capable of. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.