Saturday, January 29, 2011


Sally Melville will return to Artisan Knitworks the weekend of May 21!!!  We don't have the schedule yet, nor the workshops' costs.   But!   We do know that one of the three workshops will probably be her brilliant Essential Skills (suitable for knitters of ALL levels, including advanced knitters) -- a course designed to teach new skills AND to correct errors that we pick up when we are self-taught.  Another probably will be her amazing course, Making the Most of Your Yarn Collection, which is THE essential course (lots of knitting involved!) if you want to use up what you already have in the closet and don't quite know how to do it imaginatively.    Call the studio quickly if you want to be put on a list for either of these workshops.  We have yet to designate a third workshop.  We're going to do a general survey first -- so read our newsletters in the next week or so.  We want to make sure that, in this dicey economy, everyone gets something they really want.  Stay tuned!!    svb

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Charity Knitting Dilemma

I have been puzzling over how to establish a charity-knitting group at Artisan Knitworks – headed by the wondrous Elaine Clark, who knits continually for Russian orphanages and a number of other worthy institutions – and now find myself confronting an unanticipated problem.  The orphanages want woolen socks, sweaters, etc.  It lasts, and it’s warmer than anything we ordinarily use for basic garments.  But other institutions want acrylic.   So I told Elaine that I didn’t want members of her group buying yarn at the Big Box Stores.  Why?  Because the yarn people ordinarily buy for so-called charity projects at those stores is often of really poor quality – and I have been yelling and yelling and yelling for years now about how women should respect their labor sufficient to rule out that kind of knitting stock.  So the question becomes:  Why would I recommend nasty yarn for charity projects and not for other projects?  I can’t.  Either we use a worthy fiber or we don’t.  But I’m not sure that Elaine agreed or understood, so I need to think it out carefully and come up with something more intelligible than the sputters I managed to come up with the other day.  In the meantime:  I need to find some really good quality acrylic yarns from companies with whom I already do business.   That will be a challenge.   First, I really don’t like plain worsted-weight acrylic.  It feels like fishing line to me.  But, second, it will cost more than at our Big Box friends.  So I’ll give a discount – but – it still can’t cost VERY much.   And, no, I don’t deal with either Plymouth or Cascade.  Ideas?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mea Culpa...

I apologize most heartily for being so negligent with this wonderful way to 'talk' with friends....The new semester started, of course, on the 11th, and I am feeling a bit like a skindiver struggling to find air under a thick layer of ice.  What a time these first few weeks always are!  Yesterday, a new student wrote me an e-mail to tell me, after one class period, that she "doesn't think much of history," and to ask, "What will you be doing to help?"  Now, this gives pause.  This is part of the idiotic assertiveness training (so-called) that students are getting, in a quite distorted form, in some of our public schools.  When you're feeling unhappy, make it someone else's burden.  So I had to write back and ask her please to come visit during an office hour -- at which point, I'll ask her how she knows that she doesn't think much of history -- certainly not from any experiences of MY classes.  I also have to say, don't I, that the work will be hers to undertake, not mine.  I get so weary of this kind of thing.   Time to retire.  I love teaching too much to get jaded.

On the fiber front:   I think I'm going to go to the rapidly growing Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Show in mid-February -- not a long drive, an opportunity to be alone with myself and my unfinished book chapters (motel or hotel evenings are prime writing time with a laptop), and a vendor list that contains maybe 7 or 8 dyers that I've never met.   I might even take a workshop -- though I can't quite decide which ones.  Maybe I'll bone up on color work.  It's been awhile and I have listed a colorwork class at the studio.  It wouldn't hurt to take a refresher course!

In the meantime:  I'm more and more into disencumbrance.  Wouldn't it be FUN to have a wide open loft, or some such space, full of a handful of precious books (instead of 12,000 books), piles of yarn, the cats, the husband, and necessary furniture?  I want OUT of this huge, expensive, drafty house.  Why do cats, one man, and one woman need 3,200 square feet?  So I have sold the baby grand piano to a reputable piano company.  And I"m selling spare books steadily on  I'm also hauling bag upon bag of yarn that I'll never use out of the third floor (two more huge bags found their way out the door today) to sell in our infamous Stash area in the studio.  People don't quite believe that it has mostly come from my attic.  But it has.   If it weren't so funny, I'd be embarrassed!

More later.   I need to rest awhile and maybe work a bit more on the wonderful men's sweater I"m cooking up from three shades of Naturally Vero in half-linen stitch.  Tomorrow, two classes, two office hours, and a meeting.     Sigh.      svb

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How NOT to ring in the New Year....!

What a joke!  Last night at midnight, when literally everyone in the world was toasting the New Year, where do you suppose I was?    You guessed it:   at the computer, completing a course syllabus and sending the draft around to a whole bunch of no-doubt-sotted students.   I need to get a life.   So over the next week, I'm going to be thinking about 2011, what it ought to contain -- what kinds of things we have the power to control, which things we simply have to do, etc. -- and I'll make report.  I was reminded yesterday, when a wonderful woman named Linda came into the studio after months of valiantly battling a fairly serious form of cancer, that the fiber arts really ARE life-giving.  She is switching gears, away from marketing and her former occupation, to art history, tapestry preservation/restoration, and classes at a great local university.  She is knitting up a storm.  So let's think about Linda right now, and all of the Lindas of the world, who confront disaster and decide to grab hold of it, transform it into a triumph.  Every one of us needs to find a way to do that in our own lives, with our own disasters, large and small, and use fiber arts as an ally in our own recovery from the ravages of the modern world.    Love to everyone, and of course happy new year.    svb