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.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

OMG -- Look at this!! Copied in its entirety..... !!!

Penguins wearing sweaters are the cutest thing ever

Feb. 13, 2015 at 3:35 PM ET
Humans aren't the only ones bundling up right now: Some penguins can also be found warming up (adorably) in sweaters.
Penguins at Phillip Island Nature Parks who have been affected by oil spills wear tiny knit sweaters as protection against the elements, since oil affects their feathers and makes them vulnerable.
Little Penguin in knitted sweater
Phillip Island Nature Parks
"Knitted penguin jumpers play an important role in saving little penguins affected by oil pollution," Danene Jones, a spokesperson for the nonprofit, told in an email. "Oil separates and mats feathers, allowing water to get in which makes a penguin very cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food."
The phenomenon of penguins wearing sweaters has charmed the Internet a few times over the years, as stories have emerged of Good Samaritans knitting tiny garments for the animals in need.
Little Penguins in knitted sweaters
Phillip Island Nature Parks
This week, another such story went viral, as the 109-year-old Alfred "Alfie" Date revealed in a sweet video interview that he started knitting the creations after hearing the call for sweaters.
"I can't say no," said Australia's oldest man and avid knitter. "It's a good way of getting along in life. You make friends all the time but you don't make a fool of yourself either."
Little Penguins in knitted sweaters
Phillip Island Nature Parks
Over 400 little penguins were affected by the last major oil spill near Phillip Island in 2001. Ninety-six percent of those animals were successfully saved and released back into the wild.
Though Phillip Island Nature Parks did put out a call for the sweaters for little penguins (a species of penguin unique to southern Australia and New Zealand), the organization now says it's got all the sweaters it needs.
"Thanks to everyone who has contributed," Jones told "We don't require any further jumpers!"
But penguin lovers can still find other ways to help the little creatures in need on the Parks' website, The Penguin Foundation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WOW! Ann Arbor in the News!

Look at this!   Some of you may know Ann Arbor's Riin Gill, one of the region's most gifted hand-painters of knitting yarn and roving.  She also has been working hard to make use of Michigan-raised wool -- you can see some of the fruits of that project here in gorgeous semi-solid skeins (mostly DK and worsted weight, with lots of non-Michigan yarns in lighter weights).   Artisan Knitworks has over 800 skeins of her yarn available in a trunk show through the 15th.   You have to see this to believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    svb

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

For Friends of the Third Coast Festival

So very many of you have asked what we plan for the future of the Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival that I think it's probably time to provide an answer.   The two experiences we all had together at the beautiful McGregor Center at my very own university (Wayne State) were pure joy, at least for me and my very small staff.  The amazing instructors all had a memorable time as well, both years; some of them have asked when they can come back.

The problem, as I have told some of you, is that the second year of the festival coincided with the godawful publicity that dogged the city of Detroit for so many months during the bankruptcy.  We have artisanal vendors tell us, somewhat incredibly, that they were afraid to drive along freeways into midtown.  The vendor floor was about half of what it had been the year before -- and people didn't ask me WHY, they just concluded that the event had drawn fewer vendors (all of them were wonderful, by the way....numbers ought not to matter -- we had a LOT of them).  We had absolutely fabulous classes, many of which were one-of-a-kind.  I don't need to tell you how wonderful the instructors were; everyone knows the merits of people like Barry Klein, Laura Bryant, and Lily Chin.  In addition, our day-trippers (people who just cane in for the day) were less than half of the year before; and, once again, people told us later that they were afraid of the city.

Now, I am of two minds about this.  I work in midtown, and I know (as do thousands of other people) that midtown is bustling and fairly vibrating these days.  It's the opposite of something to fear; I have my own ideas about what animates some of these so-called fears.   But, to be sure, they are real, and I think this is important -- the media hypes this kind of thing day in and day out.

So here is the bottom line:   I am frankly tired of losing great loads of money -- when revenues run short, I'm the one who has to pay.  The classes were a raging success, and of course we had no trouble there ... we just didn't have enough to cover the catering, the hall, etc., in its entirety.  And the staff was barebones, exhausted, and (I'm sorry to report this) subjected to occasional abuse from people who must have thought we had a paid staff.  Three people put on a festival!

I am proud of what we did.  I loved the idea of bringing something beautiful to my beloved midtown.  I only recently paid it all we will wait awhile, I will try to figure out how to hold a mostly-educational event perhaps in a location that won't make people think they can't come.  I do conclude that I can't change people's minds.  The only way to learn about midtown is to actually visit, go to a restaurant, go to the campus and walk.......and so on.  It will  have to be somewhere else, maybe Dearborn, and I will want to find a sugar-mama or two before I try it again.   I'm not rich, and yarn operations in any case are under stress as the entire industry contracts.  But I'm an educator by day, also by night,'s hard for me NOT to try again. 

 OK?   That's as straight as I can get.  In the meantime, KNIT ON, CROCHET ON, and enjoy every minute of it.

So h