Monday, January 30, 2012

Spring Before Winter???

Snow melts the minute it hits the ground.  Surely this is some kind of bizarre joke -- when does winter start?  It's already February first.  Or maybe I'm just being a Minnesotan who KNOWS (has always known) that Michigan typically has really pathetic excuses for winters.  This one is just particularly wimpish!

The plans for the spring season are already forming.  I really look forward to the fiber festival season this year; I am yearning for a series of road trips -- anything to get me away from the computer and these messy, unfinished footnotes, maybe with chunks of text stowed on a laptop so that I can work them over in the peace and quiet of motel rooms, where phones don't ring and e-mail doesn't seem so urgent.

There is an intriguing tiny festival (maybe a dozen vendors) in Indiana in early March -- the Jay County Fiber Festival in Portland, Indiana, from March 8-10, to which I've never been.  Might be the first year of the event -- can't tell from the website.  I may just rent a car and have a look on that Friday -- it's only 4 hours, maybe less, the way I drive..........I note with more than the usual interest that Portland, IN, seems to be some kind of mecca for antique shops.  Larry might want to come with me (buttons!!!!).  Then Greencastle, also in Indiana, and of course after that, the pace quickens.

Also, Larry and I will go to Minnesota at some point in my spring break -- between March 12 and 17th -- for at least 4 days.  What a good thing.  I can see my dearest old friend, Julie, and her partner, plus my two (or three or four) nieces and favorite nephew -- and maybe hit all the antique shops and wool shops while showing Larry why I think St Paul and Minneapolis would be good places to live.  I really do think that.  I have some fears about such a return, which I won't spell out here -- it's family stuff.  But in the end, I have yet to find an affordable city with such wonderful amenities.  Chicago is better in physical terms, but it's WAY too expensive for people like us.  The only down side, of course, is the horrible winter.  But the cool thing about Minnesotans is that they adapt -- really well -- with tunnels and lots of other clever apparatus.  So we will go look.  If he hates it, we'll hunker down here, once I retire in a couple of years.


Thursday, January 19, 2012


Sounds like Rick Perry, doesn't it?

Except it's me.  I am SO sorry to have neglected the blog.  It's the start of semester and I"m really done in with three classes this time -- my payment for having only one last term. 

But I'm excited about some things at the studio.

First:  Candace Eisner Strick will be coming April 26-28 with two fabulous FABULOUS workshops -- the first a day-long treat called 25 Slick Tricks for Knitters (life-saving and ingenious), the second a long half-day's workshop about socks -- employing her amazing book, Strick-ly Socks.   So call the shop and ask quickly.  We are already getting some reservations based on word of mouth and Larry's newsletters.  It's 586-871-2884.  

Second:  I can't reveal much now, but.....four shops are working on a Big Deal for September, 2012.  Mum's the word.  But look for a huge, huge announcement.

Third:  I am half-done with my wonderful little vest (for Larry, but really as an addition to my pattern series -- the world NEEDS men's patterns) that I'm going to call Eastern Shore Vest, because the  yarn in which I'm working is Solitude, a truly stunning real American wool, handdyed in Maryland, by two women who are part of the small farm movement.  They sell it at Maryland Sheep and Wool and also at a farmer's market in D.C.  My god it's wonderful stuff -- toothy, spongy, as good wool always is, with a little bit of the lanolin remaining after the hand-dying (no chemicals!!!!), and so it's like putting on a thin film of hand lotion every time I pick it up and knit for awhile.  This Aran-weight yarn will wash like a dream and plump up into a spongy, springy pile of fat stitches -- something that I wish knitters would consider when they pick up these gorgeous American or old-breed wools and say OOOOOH it's PICKY.   Not picky.  Just wool.  That's the way wool is supposed to be until it's washed in gentle soap -- or, better yet, a rinseless agent like Soak, which was created by two Canadian women trained in chemistry.  You can have softer wool, you can even have single-ply wool.  But often (not always), it's overprocessed.  It will pill.  It won't wear as well as plied wool.  And odds are that neither single-ply nor overprocessed yarn, when made into knitwear, will be heirlooms.  Solitude (and maybe the Eastern Shore Vest, unless Larry drops food all over it!) will be found in a tomb or some kind of basement in an urban ruin, long after we're all gone, ready to wear, albeit with some dust and maybe some worm holes.  Knitting has been found in Egyptian tombs, for heaven's sake, still in good enough shape to be recognizable.  You just have to pick the right materials.  I will be glad when knitters come to their senses about wool, which really DOES come with texture sometimes!!!!!  The range is much broader than people think.  Outwear (thick cardigans, peasants' vests, some jackets, coats) really benefit from sturdy, toothy materials.  Merino is only one kind of wool.   And toothy wool really DOES bloom and soften in water.  Remember how sheep stand out in the rain?  Nothing horrible happens.  GOOD things happen.  Too bad they don't know how to wash themselves -- they'd smell better AND soften in the summer rain!

Anyway:  I promise to check back more often, with some photographs.