Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Off to Pittsburgh...!

This past weekend, I went off on a seat-of-the-pants trip to Pittsburgh -- actually Mars, PA -- to take a workshop with Stephen Be, who is an amazing designer-shop owner working in Minneapolis at a place called the Yarn Garage.  Google his shop name and prepare to be astonished. 

As it turns out, SB was trained at a number of art schools, including the Minneapolis Institute and the Parsons School before undertaking a number of detours into work that I took to be wholly unsuitable (I cannot imagine this quite interesting man working at Munsingwear!).  But now he's doing his thing with yarn and other fabrications.......The workshop was supposed to be about making creative use of knitting and ancillary crafts.  No rules, he kept saying -- and what happened wasn't his fault, to be sure.  As it turned out, I didn't feel very well, and so was absolutely not prepared to crawl around on the floor with everyone.  He decided we ought to work on ArtFelt projects, which involved ArtFelt backing, big pieces of thin feltable wool, and other kinds of yarn to create designs for scarves and hangings that woud be hauled off for heat treatment at the end of the workshop.  First, I'm not a wall-hanging, needle-felting kind of person -- especially when you have to do entire acres of it on your hands and knees.  I had brought a plain-jane felted mohair scarf that I had hoped to do something with and to with embellishment.....also a yard of gorgeous black suede that seems to me to fairly sing for "poncho" or "capelet" transformation, with some kind of artful crocheted trim and sleeves, etc.   But I frankly didn't think that I was going to get much help with these off-the-main-drag projects, given the size of the class, and the very idea of being on my knees did me in.  I begged off on the ground that I didn't feel good.  Not untrue.  I went to the market instead and connected with friend Demian of Blue Heron Yarn, walked off with three gorgeous skeins of his metallic-rayon yarn, and contemplated driving home.  The weather was turning.

I should have followed my first instinct.  Didn't feel good.  Postponed.  But:  How much harder would it have been, after all, to sit in a fancy rental car on cruise control than to sit in my room knitting?  Overnight, the weather turned really nasty.  VERY early in the morning, I got in the car, quite alarmed at the amount of snow, the wind, the weather reports, and began the trek back.   Just outside of Pittsburgh, things worsened -- there was a squall-type blizzard.  Cars were moving at about 25 miles an hour.....kept moving.  Then I got lost looking for some kind of decent breakfast (not to be found at the Sheraton Four Points, where the Pittsburgh Fiber Festival was held -- they wanted a HUGE sum of money for a big buffet, and all I wanted really was outmeal, which they wouldn't provide).  I found myself lost and hungry, having got off the road to wait out the storm, and then I really got lost -- decided just to drive and see where I ended up.

The result was just amazing.  Getting lost can be delightful.  I found myself in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, across the street from Geneva College -- which I gather is a Christian College of some quality.  I saw "coffee" on a big brick house, stopped basicaly in a no-parking  zone (who cares when it's snowing?), and went in.  I had accidentally stumbled on the Beaver Falls Coffee Company, a really great espresso and light meal place specializing in WAFFLES!   The coffee was superb.  The students with whom I got to talk were really really really FINE.  And then the waffle came -- a big, fluffy affair called a Veggie Waffle laced with -- you guessed it -- vegetables.  I skipped the sour cream -- it didn't need anything.  Savory.  A restful, delightful place to spend an hour.  If you're anywhere near this little town, it's well worth the detour.  The owners live upstairs!

Then I got back in the white Chrysler 200 and found the freeway with the help of my trust Mathilda, who I had thought I wouldn't to the Ohio border, when all of sudden another big blizzard.  At that point, I was really glad I'd grown up in Minnesota.  I'm generally not undone by snow and ice.  Just slowed down.  And, predictably, I got to the studio in late afternoon.  

But the 4.5 hour trip had become 6.5 hours, I was exhausted, and so I went home and dropped into a chair, thinking that I'd never get up again.

I did, of course.  Everyone, stay well, and happy looping, whether knitted or crocheted!   svb


  1. Dear Sandra--so glad you made it back safe and sound. Wish you had been feeling better--could have been a hoot & a half with Stephen. Knit on!

  2. I know -- and it was, for as long as I stayed!! svb