Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Postscript....and the NY Sheep and Wool Festival

I just added an important postscript to the entry called "On Being Older."     Also, tomorrow morning, we leave for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival -- which is wonderful.   I will take some work in my laptop.   And of course I will take many photographs.   We (Larry and I) will be staying at the house of a dear friend, Melissa Cragg, in the Berkshires  both coming and going.   We'll take pictures there as well -- apparently the neighborhood features a mountain, a farm where the honor system prevails at a dairy and meat shop, and the darling downtown of Williamstown, Massachusetts.   Stay tuned.   svb

Friday, October 10, 2014

Knitting, thinking...

...sitting here knitting, and wondering whether other American citizens (including and especially knitters and once-upon-a-time voters) will see the incredible social danger that lurks in a life lived more and more remotely.   An Amazon Prime subscriber said this:  "The day I can have Amazon ship next day Ramen is the day I will stop leaving my house... Oh wait..."  This was supposed to be funny.  Here's the central idea:   If we can use the web to buy everything we need and have someone we don't know deliver it to our door, we can live entirely solitary lives and never have to interact.  I don't want to go on.   I'll knit some more and then I'll go to the shop where, I hope, someone will come in and actually talk with me.    svb

Monday, October 6, 2014

On Being Older

Today, October 6, is my 70th birthday.   I don't remember feeling OLDER when I was 50 or 60, but this time, I do.   I've spent the day trying to figure out what's going on -- indeed, today I didn't do anything but sit in a comfortable chair, watch endless and disheartening news about America's newest paranoid reaction to yet another supposed "contagion" (one case of Ebola in Texas, when we SHOULD be worrying about hundreds of kids sick with Enterovirus or maybe the fact that measles is resurging.....parents unwilling to vaccinate innocent children....and so on.)   And then I remembered how knitting and crochet increase endorphins in the brain, so I've also been making yarn-paintings on some linear squares (log cabin).  All in all, a non-day of exactly the kind we need from time to time.

 I'm still going to go to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in ten days or so -- Wish I could find someone who'd like to share the driving.  But, if not, I have been gifted at least with a lovely offer of a house in Williamstown, MA -- owned by Melissa and Tom Cragg -- and so I can spend some time in the Berkshires coming and going.  What a joy.  A belated birthday gift.

All is well.  Aging is inevitable.  People say it's not the body's age that matters -- but of course it is the body's age that matters.  We wear out.  It's difficult only to realize that life really WILL end, that we have very little to say about it, and that I will never be able to do everything that I have set out to do. I have another book to write.   I wish (against reality) to find lots and lots of students in the fiber studio who really want to learn TECHNIQUE rather than simply to copy things that already exist.  I want to believe -- no, I need to believe -- in the human race's capacity for creation and innovation.  I have particular faith in women's abilities -- and, after a class this past weekend when two of my students didn't even want to try something completely new, I sometimes lose faith.  That's my Achilles heel.  I cannot lose faith -- not in others, and not in myself.

I am sure this sense of extreme contingency and mortality will pass.  But, for now, I feel an intense, not quite unbearable, ineffable sadness.      svb

POSTSCRIPT:   My heartfelt thanks go out to the students in the freeform class who came back the next week, reminded me that new things can be scary, and affirmed my faith in THEM and in the human race.   What lovely, lovely people.  I, too, have things to learn. 

Monday, September 29, 2014


....FINALLY the term has advanced a bit, the first draft of the book is done, and now I can knit and crochet from time to time.  WHEW.  So today I took a skein of ESSEX, a new chunky wool yarn by Plymouth, and cooked up a cool little wool cloche .....Photos in this post were taken by Larry in what we are calling the BBQ Studio -- that is, in the back yard in pitch darkness atop the gas barbecue.....(you do what you can....).   The hat has a reverse-stockinette edging and on top two fat I-cords that form a huge monster bow (simply reduce top to 6 sts, divide onto two needles, and make 2 cords at least a foot long each....).  Free pattern in shop with yarn purchase.

NEXT DAY:   Here are two better shots: 

.....and then I'm adapting Sally Melville's idea, exemplified by her Step-Dance Shawl (which sells tons of yarn in the studio), of vertical and horizontal panels.....I'm starting at the center back with a wide strip, then stepping up as I move the piece strip by strip to the front.  It will have kimono sleeves and some kind of Asian-style shawl collar.  This gorgeous yarn is Liberty Wool prints.  Watch this space for whatever advances occur!!!!!  I'm also planning to attend the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in mid-October, and I'll be sure to take photographs.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Okay, everyone, time to come look!   Larry and Ellen and Sunday Holm and I have worked like beavers to get an entire basement-level (I guess I'm supposed to say 'garden level') room lined with new and vintage buttons!   Come look.  It's pretty amazing.  If you have suits or coats with boring buttons, a fun thing to do is to buy vintage ones -- even mismatched ones -- and replace them.  You can decorate necklines with a billion small buttons; you can put a huge one in the center of a pillow.  Come look.   ALSO:   We have a weenie roast going tomorrow (Saturday).      svb

The Button Room Is Ready To Use.
enamel buttons indiana ohio buttons
It took a lot more effort than we thought, but The Button Room is finally presentable. We will be doing final sorting and adjusting, but whew!! Amazingly, even with over 30 linear feet (240 square feet) we're not going to put all the buttons on the boards. 

We're putting an assortment of fancy and workaday buttons up first ... both vintage and artist-made. You can see amazingly wonderful incised mother of pearl buttons that are over a 100 years old. There is also probably the best collection in these parts of Victorian black glass and fancy Victorian metal buttons. There are single buttons and sets.

Upstairs, in addition to the Button Room, we have created an easy-to-access display of glass buttons by well known artists.  They include: Michigan artist Terry Voigt, Oregon button maker Sheila Ernst and sets of buttons from the Canadian studio Bejeweled & Bedazzled. And, more will be coming.

There will be a little bit of "pardon our clutter" as we put the finishing details to the Button Room, but do stop by and see it.
Another Reminder:

  Sandra & Larry  
bug with yarn
PS: Stop by this weekend. Just sit and knit. No purchase required. Just your smiling face.

artis├ín knitworks  
23616 Farmington Rd |Farmington | MI | 48080 |248-427-0804 
springtime framed

Friday, August 1, 2014

OK guys, listen up!

Everyone, I just concluded a long series of e-mail exchanges with a good friend of mine in another Metro Detroit  knit shop.  She had forwarded a newsletter to me from yet another shopkeeper-in-distress, this time in northern Michigan.  Shops are comparing notes.  And here is what we are learning.  Now, this may be how things have to be.  But if you think it does NOT have to be this way, do what you can to support local yarn shops.  There is simply no substitute for face-to-face talk, for face-to-face instruction, and for actual TOUCHING of yarns.   Here is what we experience:

*  People buy  yarn on line and then come into shops to have it wound into balls. (!!!)
*  People buy yarn on line and then come into shops to get help with a pattern they downloaded.
*  Customers come into shops (I had one two days ago) to find out what they like, copy down the yarn name and color, then go away and buy it on line. lt might be cheaper by a few cents.  But you should at least think about the fact that a website has very little overhead.  
* Customers buy yarn from us, then download free patterns, can't understand them or find mistakes, give up, and try to return yarn that no longer has labels.  People learn to hate knitting when there is a bad pattern.  Remember that it's not the yarn's fault, and that shops will help you fix a bad pattern or sell you a good one. 
* Customers (this is a common one) get on YouTube for instruction, need more help because the video was too fast or not very good, and then get mad because a shop want to charge for help.  Five bucks is usually all it takes.  Why?  In my shop, one woman said, "Well, You Tube is free."   That's pretty hard to dispute.

I could go on and on.  I have to say I'm troubled.   Fiber-arts people are incredibly honest, nice, good people.  In all of the years of business, we have had only one bounced check, and t hat was from a scam artist known to the police.   I love fiber people.   It's only that we need to think about our choices before making them, and agree not to ask things of LYS's that are unfair and even costly.

OK?  Knit on and Stay Calm.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014


LOOK what Laura Bryant has done!!!!   My god, this is drop-dead amazing.  And it also speaks to the blossoming that I have seen in her designing over the past 2-3 years -- as I told her yesterday, it's as if she's made a quantum leap into some new realm.  This looks like couture woven fashion.  One side of the fabric uses a gathered/ruche stitch.   

This is also the last issue of Knit-Style, which is hugely saddening.   If you want to attempt this beautiful design, we can get kits from Prism Yarn.  Just come in to Artisan Knitworks and ask.