Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Black Swamp Spinners' Guild Event!

Well, Larry finally found time to download a rather large packet of photographs, so let me tell you about the day trip we took this past Saturday to the Black Swamp fiber event in Bowling Green, OH -- where once the Black Swamp Land Company sold shares to unwitting souls for perfectly useless swamp land.  George Washington was a shareholder.   I'm not making this up.

What a season!  It's a time of new, celery-fresh greens -- I think of it as Baby Green, particularly on the coming-to-life willows, which generate fronds that look just like crocheted fringe, or some kind of exotic Italian novelty yarn made into skinny scarves:

Bowling Green is one of those midwestern/Easten woodland communities that you'd drive right on by unless you knew better.  Of course, it's home to Bowling Green University, a pretty good institution actually with a much better than average history department and a reputation for taking very good care of its graduate students.  When you first drive into town, the university fills the right hand side of your car windows, and fast-food restaurants the left side.  You have to keep driving.  The downtown area has blossomed since I first encountered the town; now, it has a marvelous independent coffee shop called Grounds for Thought, a truly wonderful restaurant called Sam B's (where we had a great lunch -- really great), and a whole range of interesting shops covering a half-mile or so of street.  SO you don't need to stop on the fast-food strip if you don't want to.  That's a major change. 

At the festival, which is held at the Wood County Fairgrounds in nice-enough buildings, we found Riin Gill of Ann Arbor -- who is finding who here?  Riin is the one with purple hair:

....and then we moved on.  It's a small show -- but a good one.  Here's a general view from one side of the main building -- tap on the pictures to make them bigger:

....Here is Bad Amy, by her own definition a small-town girl who made good with perfectly astonishing bags (totes, gadget bags, etc.) and a new line of drop-dead gorgeous hand-painted yarn, the best of which is semi-solid:

....and here is (in order) a cute little fella found in one of the booths, and some YARN!!!!  and some MORE YARN!!!!!!!!!

So, you see, it's worth the drive -- in this case, maybe an hour and a half, perhaps two if you take your time, which I'm never inclined to do when I'm driving (VROOOOOM).  I bought some stunning green semi-solid skeins from Riin that blend beautifully with some of her DK-weight variegated yarns (already in the studio).  And we found some really lovely hand-painted alpaca -- bought quite a few batches actually, though there are only a few skeins per batch, from an alpaca and llama farmer.

Time now to go to sleep so that I can greet the morrow, as they used to say. 


Sunday, March 25, 2012


Isn't that a line from Alice in Wonderland?  Larry and I went to Bowling Green, Ohio, to walk through the Black Swamp Spinning Guild's Annual Fiber Event -- and I will have much to say, once I get the house cleaned up (there are two groups coming through tomorrow and Tuesday to view the place -- I'm trying to sell it again) and myself a bit more rested and the photographs downloaded, ready to organize and show off.  It was a wonderful drive -- I have a kind of kindredness with certain rural landscapes that dates to childhood years spent on the plains of South Dakota and Minnesota, where tornados actually happen, where the skies are wider than you can imagine, where weather systems don't change for days and can be predicted accurately, where trees don't always grow and so cannot stop the wind.  I am always soothed a bit in some pretty primal ways when I get into a car and drive into flat, actively farmed midwestern states.  I will say more when I have pictures.   svb

Friday, March 23, 2012

...another meditation....

Today, as I contemplate yet more footnotes on my never-satisfied computer screen, I'm drawn instead to the second-story deck (which I will soon be without if the house sale actually happens), and not just because of the sunlight flooding the stained cedar, the furled brown umbrella, the indoor plants recently hauled outdoors to revive after a gray, utterly bizarre winter.   I'm thinking instead about how springtime exonerates Detroit, year after year, without fail, clothing this otherwise ugly, cemented, boarded-up city with unspeakably beautiful greenery, the yellow blaze of forsythia, blossoms on tulip trees, and soon apple and cherry blossoms unlike anything I've ever seen before.  Not in Minnesota, and not even in Washington, D.C., which is supposed to be famous for its cherry blossoms -- which blossoms, by the way, sprang to life almost a month early this year (how scary is THAT).  I have thought before, and I'm thinking again this time, that the incredible surprise that one senses with this sudden decision to simply burst forth, to exhale and begin to breathe again, to clothe everything brown and grey in ravishing colors, is partly a function of Detroit itself.  The colors are much brighter, I suspect, than what they would be anywhere else.....achingly beautiful actually, against the unrelieved drabness of the center city.  So, for now, I think I'm going to spend an hour on the deck watching it happen, drinking it all in, letting it fill me with something other than a sense of foreboding, which has been too much a part of my life recently.  I send love to all.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

and for the fun of it......our Knit Togethers!

Just for fun, let me add these photographs -- two of our youngest clients learning to crochet, and then some of our very good, creative friends at a Saturday night Knit-Together.   Chain on!!!!!!!!!!!!


Off to Indiana...!

So the big black rented Chrysler 200 took off (with us in it) on Friday night -- and, by the way, don't buy one of those things.  The electrical system doesn't work well and the thing has THE worst shock absorbers I've every experienced.  EVERY bump in the road (and in Michigan, that's quite a few) have been memorized and compared.  The object of the exercise was a wee fiber expo at Portland, Indiana (the Jay County event), a two-day festival in a medium-sized agricutural town right in the middle of Amish Country.  The Amish are an amazing people -- their horses are even more amazing -- dark, sleek, well-tended, trained to move like trotters behind the carriage.  How do you like this guy?

In Amish country, it's common enough to see farm after farm without electricity and with carriages parked in the driveway.  I have wondered if the Amish ever live and work in cities -- it's a question I should have put to a lovely young couple we met in a cafe happily munching away on fried chicken and gorgeous french fries (they were munching, not we).  He was wearing THE most gorgeous teal-blue linen shirt I've ever seen.  Decided not to photograph it -- I think they would have been either annoyed or embarrassed (the Amish are not in a zoo, after all).  But of course it was hand-crafted by one or the other of them.  So was her bonnet, her black cape, her beautiful teal-blue skirt.  I do know that the Amish and Mennonites buy bolts of fabric and simply make garments until it's gone -- How I wish the rest of us could have just one ounce of that kind of thrift, that lack of regard for display.

At the small but reasonably good quality festival, I decided almost at once that we would be buying a boatload of roving and only one lot of yarn.  There was some handpainted yarn on display at a couple of booths, but it was not unlike yarn we already have, so I walked on by.  One woman, however, had made some really spectacular, chunky weight handspun, very soft, with natural (not chemical) dyes blended in the roving to look like two-ply when finally spun up.  I bought her out of the handspun -- didn't get any of her handpaints (we have too many yarns more or less like them).  The handspun was wonderful - We emptied the white wire cages you see in this picture.  The maker is not only talented but nice -- here with her back to the newly-empty white cages:

  Here is Ms. Habeeb close up: 

...amd then, of course, I found Jamie again.  He and his partner make spectacular roving (Wooly Knob).  So the trip turned into a buying spree for our small spinning program.  He had brought some truly gorgeous black, undyed alpaca-wool balls that I quickly put into the "Sold" bag -- plus some semi-solid colors in various combinations of wool, alpaca, angora, and (in one case) angelina.  Jamie specializes in yarn with thrums -- odd stuff thrown in to add texture.  So I got some brilliant yellow with silk shreds and a couple of other varieties with unusual, colorful additives.  One of them looks a lot like a black night with shots of red and green and gold lightning bolts.  Here's the guy himself:

All in all, this was a good but exhausting trip.  The antique shops are numerous in the area -- locals call it Antique Alley -- and we got just plain exhausted moving from shop to shop in search of buried treasure.  We found some -- but it took a toll.  By Saturday night, we were home again more than ready to watch some junky television. 

But then we woke up:  GUESS WHAT IS GROWING NEXT TO THE DRIVEWAY?  It's SPRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    svb

Enjoy the season -- the quiet but certain awakening, the soft, musky smells of greening leaves and flowers.  Nothing on earth comes close to being so comforting, so much a reminder of the cycles through which every life must move.                 svb