Thursday, April 16, 2015

Back from the Carolina FiberFest

Well, I drove to NC -- a feat never to be undertaken by the faint-hearted if the weather people predict thunderstorms.  What a mess.  HUGE rainfall, heavy winds, in waves..........but I got through, all the way to Sanford, North Carolina.  En route, I stopped (of course) at antique centers -- some of them in Amish Country (Ohio).   Here is a fun mall that I found early on: 

and then, of course, the Amish part began:

Presiding over this wonderful shop (Herschberger's) was an Amish woman with a beautiful daughter, the latter possessed of a horse-drawn cart.  I have to say I have NEVER seen an antique mall with such shiny, dust-free floors:

In Sanford, NC, I pulled into a very nice iteration of Holiday Inn Express -- my newfound fave motel chain (I think that my old standby, Hampton Inns, are getting a bit dated and old -- someone needs to get after the now-matted down comforters).  The next day, the Carolina Fiber Fest opened.  Here are some interior shots, with one of the makers from whom I bought some gorgeous handpainted yarn:

and here is my wonderful old friend, Jane the white tunic.  She's from Greensboro.  I had plotted to surprise her, and I guess I did.   She hardly knew what to do when this white-haired lady screamed, "Hey JANNNNNE" across the show floor.   We then went out to dinner -- a real treat.  Jane runs Emerald Isle Designs -- we met years and years ago at a Stitches Camp in upstate New York, when both of us were new widows. 
I found another delightful antique mall in downtown Sanford (here are some shots) and yet more wonderful antique buttons and buckles (really fine, in fact -- lots of Bakelite and celluloid, plus a set of mint crystal and gold buttons still on the card from "U.S. Occupied Germany") (!).

After that, on Saturday, I was off to Asheville, NC -- the home of my dear, dear old buddy, Stacey Budge, who makes Urban GypZ yarns and rovings and spinnings.  She also offers on-line classes and occasional, live workshops with the inventive Canadian, Jane Thornley.  I found her on Hendersonville Road in her delightfully messy little basement studio, made un-basement by huge windows.  Here she is!   I was her first wholesale customer, she once told me.  And she still has only three.  Take a look at her Etsy shop.  I bought a BOATLOAD of really interesting fingering-weight wool (single-ply, saturated), some lace weight Merino in hot pink and deep reds, and some idiosyncratic fingering (an experimental dying technique involving immersion dying and spatters) that she called Magical Snow (we made up some names for newly dyed lots while I was there).  We had lunch at a really nice place in the Biltmore district, across the street from where a good yarn shop used to be.  We talked about how tourist-y Asheville has become, how the rents are driving out artists who don't make stuff primarily for tourists (including Stacey and her husband, a therapist, who are looking around for a less pretentious and more authentic art district).  The situation is not helped by the fact that Stacey is also politically progressive in reactionary NC.  I bought the kind of things you see on her desk, in embarrassingly large quantities.  
..........and then I drove home.  Tennessee countryside still takes my breath away -- and then I stopped (do not laugh) at the Berea, Kentucky, craft center to buy Larry some dry-cured bacon (also in large quantity).  No accounting for what some people want most!  Here is the craft center and its interior:

Home mid-day Sunday -- tired, but greeted by some of our best customers who proceeded to buy lots of Stacey's yarn.
Why do I do this?   First, and the storms notwithstanding, I love to drive -- though I have to say it's much less fun with the number of highways under construction (what a mess in America!) and multiplications of huge semis.  Second, and more important, Artisan Knitworks continues to support small producers, the largely female artisans who sell their wares mostly at fiber festivals.   So.  Next up will be either Greencastle, Indiana, or the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.   Stay tuned.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Off to North Carolina

I feel the need to get out of Dodge, as we used to say, and so I'm going to drive to a new festival (at least new to me) in Sanford, NC, this coming weekend.  That's roughly southeast of Greenville, and (if it's not raining) a reasonable distance to the oceanfront, if I decide to keep going.  I do not recognize very many of the vendors at the festival --though one of them is my dear old friend, Jane Schwartz, who runs a small design company.  I'll surprise her.   I'm a little bit worried about the weather; long-term predictions are for rain and maybe some thunderstorms.  But who knows.   If the weather is bad, I'll hang around and save my gas money for the festival later in the month in Greencastle, Indiana, and of course for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on May 2-3.  I will take lots and lots of pictures, especially if I go to Carolina.    I say with a red face, by the way, that I did take pictures beyond the ones I posted previously at Bowling Green, but I can't figure out how to get them from phone camera to computer (!).   Nor can Larry.  The cord doesn't fit.  I'll be sure to use a real camera the next time.   I'm also working on some embellished modular squares that I will organize into a jacket; I'll post pictures of that one when it's done.   svb   

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bowling Green added!

Close at hand is Bowling Green, Ohio, the home of Bowling Green State University and one of the best independent coffee shops I've ever seen, no matter where in the world -- it's called Ground for Thought, and it's in the historic downtown area.   If you are anywhere near Bowling Greene (which will happen if you travel north and south through Ohio on I-75), pull into town, go all the way through the fast-food strip to the real downtown, and turn left on Main Street.  I also had a fabulous lunch at Panera's, which people continually underestimate.  They make amazing black-bean soup, and I had an equally amazing Thai Chicken salad, with fresh, fresh greens and soy beans in it.

This annual event, sponsored by guilds, is a small but fruitful event -- one building on the Wood County Fairgrounds.  It doesn't look like much of anything.  But, as I told Carol Larsen of River's Edge Fiber, which is at Grand Ledge, Michigan, it's also one of the best in quality terms.  I always find great things to buy for Artisan Knitworks.  Here are two of the finds -- one a pile of drop-dead-gorgeous tweed alpaca blend (natural alpaca with coloring spun in from an amount of fine-quality Merino wool) and a small pile of alpaca with a copper binder (all from a farm in Ohio), and then some of Carol's stunning new gradient yarns -- LOOOOOOOOONG color runs of the kind usually associated with Freia Yarns or the equally beautiful versions done up at Twisted Fibers in Mason, Michigan.  Like the others, Carol has used the best quality Merino.   I think Carol's productions are really gorgeous, and, if you know the other companies' products, the prices are lower than you'd expect.  Come have a look if you're near the shop.   One of the cakes (actually two cakes packed as one to make socks) sold within an hour of my arrival.  If they go like hotcakes, I'll get in touch with Carol and have her ship some more.     svb

Friday, March 27, 2015

For Artisan Knitworks' Newsletter Readers

Note that Larry will be sending out another edition of the last newsletter.   Sarah Peasley's workshops are three hours long, not two hours; there will be lunch with the tuition; and the captions with the workshop descriptions were reversed.  Also, the 'dollar-off' promotion of Merino 8 goes on for another week; it does not end on March 24th (which was, um, some days ago).      Stay tuned.     svb

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Season is Upon Us!

Time to hit the road!   This weekend, I am going to inaugurate the fiber-festival season with a short jaunt to Bowling Green, Ohio -- to a small, delightful festival sponsored by the Black Sheep Guild (not the same guild as our own Black Sheet Guild in the Royal Oak area).   I love some of the people who sell stuff there -- such as the woman who calls herself Bad Amy.   I still carry a little gadget bag that she made -- covered in brassieres!   I thought it was odd that nobody on the east side of Detroit wanted it -- !!!!  It's a hoot.  So I adopted it.   Anyway:  Next up will be the fabulous and huge Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on May 2-3, just after the great, medium-sized fiber event in Greencastle, Indiana, just to the south of Indie.  I hope to find some more one-of-a-kind hand-painted and hand-dyed yarns at all of these places.  Stay tuned!  I will take pictures.    svb

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Everyone, just look at this drop-dead beautiful thing.   Terrie Voigt (the gifted glass-button maker and all-around fiber genius from Troy, MI) made it in the wake of the workshop I did several weeks ago for the wonderful Textile and Fiber Arts Guild of Michigan (free-form crochet).   Sometimes, when I see this kind of thing, I well up.   What extraordinary joy this brings to the world.   If you want to see more, visit Terrie's blog --   


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Are you COLD and BLUE? A remedy...

So here is what you should think about if you get to feeling BLUE and COOOOOLD and afraid that warmth will never return in your lifetime.   It's ALMOST fiber-festival time, which means that, across the country, also across Canada and England and some other countries, people pour out of their locked-up houses with bushels and boxes of gorgeous hand-crafted yarn and set it up in tents in the middle of fields or fairgrounds -- and sell it to people like me.    I just bought some of the amazing yarns produced by Solitude, which is a small-farm-project enterprise in the Chesapeake.  We have had some of their amazing yarn (locally sourced, handdyed, locally spun, etc.) in the shop for awhile now.   It's gorgeous wool -- not the ruined kind of wool that American knitters sometimes think they prefer (made too soft, will pill instantly, etc.),   This time, I got a dozen skeins of the undyed alpaca-wool lace-light fingering weight shown below (the ones on the far right) with little slubs of dyed blue and green spun into the natural animal colorations.  When I go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool  Festival in May I'll talk with them some more, try to grab some of the stunning luxury-fiber hand paints made by JOY (Just Our Yarns), which is a survivor from the utterly amazing coop that closed in Alexandria, VA, a few years ago, Springwater Fiber Workshop, operated by two women who were principals at the fiber workshop.    So you see?  There is ground for optimism.  Soon there will be the Ohio and Indiana festivals (Bowling Green, Greencastle, etc.) and a bunch more.  I will put on lots of miles in the little Moonrock Silver Beetle.  Stay tuned.    svb


Lovely undyed black alpaca is blended with just enough Merino wool to give this lace weight yarn a little elasticity. It comes in undyed black and three subtle color variations created with dyed in the wool Merino. Elegant and very soft to make something special.