Saturday, September 29, 2012


OK, it's time for YOU to talk with ME.   Should we extend the Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival to Sunday?   And what else should we do that hasn't been done -- beyond extending market hours?   svb

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Photographs from Third Coast......!

Well, I still have a maddening cough -- but Larry has transferred a few decent photographs from my little camera to the laptop, so let me share some of the people, and perhaps you can get a sense of the airiness of the McGregor Conference Center atrium.  When classes were out, it was utterly jam-packed with people -- pure joy!

Click on photographs to make them bigger. 

Here is the amazing Sybil Williams at her loom, weaving a shawl that we actually auctioned off at the Saturday night reception:

Here are the people who made it possible -- Pam Champagne (seated, almost hidden, behind her sister Judy on the right) and the volunteer staff in "Knit-Wit" T-shirts......and then a shot of the amazing Judy Champagne -- all from the Champagne Nation:

Martha Kurtz (think of the needles as weapons) guarded the door to one of the big vending areas:

...Here is a long shot of the Artisan Knitworks booth (in the beautiful atrium -- we were shut out of the vending areas because -- surprise! -- someone who shall remain nameless neglected to write down all of the vendors !!!) -- and after that, a shot of the fabulous Rita Merino, the kid sister of Polly Esther Cotton (who lives in Chicago), with someone adding to her skirt:

Thanks to everyone who made this event so vibrant and life-giving!!!!   I'll try to write more, and tell you something of people's responses, when I'm entirely rid of this malady.     svb

Monday, September 24, 2012

Third Coast next year's date

.....still incredibly sick, and not yet able to download pictures.  But let me tell  you what I loved best about the Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival -- I'll finish when I feel better and have pictures at hand:

*  The way participants sat around the beautiful atrium of McGregor Conference Center sharing all kinds of new ideas and techniques -- a card weaver showing a knitter her work, conversation about how it could be a belt or a purse handle on a knitted bag, and so on....cross-fertilization!
*  The dozens of faces glowing, beaming, thrilled to death.  Some of these women had never been to this kind of festival before, and it was truly life-affirming to see those faces.  Maybe they'll go to Stitches now, or to the Madrona Festival, or similar events.  My fave is Madrona (Tacoma, WA).
*  The democratization so much a part of the event -- teachers with international reputations knitting in circles with students who had never imagined they'd spend time with famous designers....
*  The glorious market rooms -- dazzling displays of colorful handpaints, handspinnings, rovings, beads and buttons, garments -- on and on.  It took my breath away.


More later.  I really do need to take a nap.  Wretched virus.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thoughts from Sick-Bed!

What a mess.  I got a huge, huge, ugly cold the first night of the wonderful Third Coast Festival -- so I won't say much right now.  Except this:   What a joy!!!!   and what a blast.   I loved the energy in the Center, the sense of celebration, the jazz band (which we'll have on Friday night next time so they can play for a longer time), the wonderful interaction between students and instructors....... Now let me get better and I'll include some pictures and more detail.   Hugs to everyone.     svb

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Tomorrow's the big opening day, friends, so if you have been postponing registration for one of our incredible workshops, do it right now.   Three of the classes (2 of them Sally Melville's) are on the verge of closing..  Once we've opened on Friday, morning classes are closed; once noon has passed, afternoon classes are closed; and so on.

McGregor Conference Center is 1/2 block off of Cass Avenue along the Ferry Mall.  You can park in any of the WSU parking structures with your credit card.  And there is ample meter parking along Cass Avenue and elsewhere.  Be sure to ask us for a restaurant guide.

At the very least, come down and have a wonderful, slow walk through the atrium -- meet Rita Merino, add to her garments with knit or crochet, walk through the MARKET, which fills two big rooms, and sit 'n knit for awhile in the atrium.  On Saturday night, hang around for the amazing JAZZ RECEPTION, featuring Prof Chuck Newsome (WSU, Music) on jazz guitar, with some of his best students.   For the entire time, there will be demonstrations in the atrium!!!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Back to the needles....! (and final note on Third Coast)

Coast stuff first:  If you are waiting for a parking pass to be sent by US Mail, you have important news in your e-mail, so CHECK!  It contains news of a new, improved parking system.  Or call 586-871-2884 for information. There will be a man standing at the entrance to Structure 5 to let you in.

But NOW (blare of trumpets):  I'm TIRED of not knitting, not talking about knitting and crochet, not being able to relax with wool and tools.  So here goes.  Today, I went through the studio and pulled a pile of handspun yarns (with a couple of handpaints to add texture and color -- two from the brilliant dyepots at Laura Bryant's Prism, one more from Trendsetter that didn't make it in the photo).  I'm still looking for a hank of acid green with some sheen that will draw it all to a point.

The idea is to create a couple of simple garments that will show people how to blend a nice pile of handmade yarns, particularly handspuns.  The trouble with handspuns, which I dearly love when high quality, is that people haven't the slightest idea how to use them, or even how they will look.  So they shy away from them.  If I can develop two or three simple patterns that will encourage people to make a trip around the place and make piles of them, with one base handspun in sufficient yardage to use periodically and especially at the front edges (to create even edges and symmetry), then I think appreciation for handspuns will increase.  So I am beginning with a small vest knitted side to side, I think in seed stitch (half-linen might be more fun, but it's slower going, and too slow for many knitters).  It has two slit pockets (easily done in a side--to-side piece, basically a big buttonhole at the sides a couple of inches from where the sideseam would have been).  I am going to start with the green tweedy wool made by Eileen McCormack, now of Wyoming, formerly of New York (it's the one in front near the bottom of the picture), and then just lay in different yarns, including the rare dash of the nubby yarn with clusters (Prism).  I'll leave the yarn hanging at the bottom edge after and before each row so that, when I'm done, I can tie it into a fringe.  Body without fringe maybe 10 inches.  I'll use Jean Frost's backward-setting shoulder seams (easiest here -- I can just work straight with all of these yarn additions and still have a back neck drop).  Then I'll find 5 small fabulous buttons.  Maybe an attached I-cord edging, depending on what it looks like.  Might not need that much -- we'll see.  It will need something at the edges.  CLICK on the sketch to see it better.

I'll keep you posted.   Enough is enough.   I need to stop worrying about Third Coast, which is doing JUST FINE, and get back into doing what I love.      svb

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Third Coast Enrollments Update

Everyone, if you mean to register, do it soon.  I'm not kidding.  Some of our classes are going to fill within the next few days.  Others have been less agressively filling, but even those could end up surprising us.  So act right away.  We will accept workshops reservations up to the morning of the classes, but it's going to get riskier with each passing day. 

Marketplace vendors are getting eager, chomping at the bit, etc.   So -- plan on bringing your friends!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Well, enrollments are picking up -- I'm afraid we'll have closed classes by the drove well before people finish picking workshops at the wonderful Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival.   So if you mean to come, be sure to register soon.  You can sign up at the last minute, but it's risky.  If a workshop fills, it's just plain too late, and I'd hate to see that happen to people.

Here is what I'm seriously pushing today:   First, the classes in beading taught by Judy Pascale are not being noticed quite enough.  She is the queen of beads -- everyone looks to Judy when the question comes to be how to include beads in knitting or crochet.  So have a look at her amazing courses.  One of them has to do with a scarf, another with a small bag (that can be made bigger, etc.), and the final one involves a darling floral vest. 

Then there are courses taught by Candace Eisner-Strick, one of the smartest and funniest people in the western world.  REALLY LOOK at the Strick-ly Shawls class.  You start with a 9-stitch tab, then construct a well-fitting shawl from any yarn, any stitch pattern, any edging -- you need to do this one if you want to wear or give away beautiful shawls.

 And then there is the whole range of stuff that might close if you're not careful -- Sarah Peasley's amazing trip through circular knitting of all kinds; Sheryl Thies' courses about Tunisian Crochet (she has published a book about it!); and so on and so forth.

Have a look -- do it soon -- and I'll see you ten days from now.  We give a free in-out pass to the parking structure when you register!    And don't miss Sally Melville's wondrous dinner lecture.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Evidence of Summer....and Canadian Slovaks?

Here is a spectacular photograph, Larry's triumph, not mine, that perfectly captures the beauty of a late-summer rain in late-afternoon light.    

and a real mystery:    How many Slovakian people do you suppose live in Canada?   svb

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Home from Kitchener today was the Waterloo-Kitchener Knitters' Fair at a very nice and quite large conference center in Kitchener, Ontario -- I have wanted to go for a couple of years but had always gone to the Jefferson County (Wisconsin) fair instead -- I decided to put Larry in the car and go to Canada finally, knowing full well that if I went nuts and bought too much stuff for the studio, I'd have to explain myself to the customs guys, who sometimes don't have a sense of humor.

It was a good, good day.  Why can't we have highways like that?  Smooth, beautifully free of ugly billboards, and well appointed with gas stations (though well off the road).   Not a long drive, but I am tired to start with (the Third Coast festival looms, my semester at Wayne State has begun, I have an unfinished book ms., etc.).  There were about 70 vendors, maybe a few less -- maybe a third of whom were yarn shops -- The rest were handdyers and other makers of beautiful goods -- beads, buttons, roving (though not as much roving as at American festivals, for which I was personally glad).  VERY high quality, which has been my experience each time I go to a Canadian festival (as with the Frolic each year in downtown Toronto). 

I didn't buy much -- four beautiful, fat skeins of chunky wool with gorgeous variegations.  I think I'll put them in little kits with the Mad Hatter pattern and see if people see what I'm imagining.  They'd be great material for chunky bucket hats with a big retro flower on one side.  I also got a dozen elegant (not encrusted with cutesy painted crapola, as they often are) yarn bowls -- hope people like 'em as well as I do.  I've had some requests, and I just can't find very many that aren't overdone.  I also found a gorgeous, gorgeous maker of wool-cashmere blend fingering-weight yarn in just plain stunning monochromatic, layered colorways.  So I got several skeins to see how people respond.  They are a bit on th pricey side.  Worth every penny.  One skein would make a small shawl -- and if people love them, I'll get more (IndigoDragon).  And, finally, I grabbed maybe a half-dozen shawl pins, THE most beautifully crafted polymer clay pins I'ver ever seen, beautiful surfaces, a steel shank in the pin part, unbelievably gorgeous in shape.  Again, not overwrought, just well crafted.  Here's Cynthia, who makes the pins:

We also connected again with a woman we once bought yarn from at the Frolic -- Creative Yarns -- who is making some truly beautiful, silver-laced lightweight wool.  I'll wait until I get a packet from her and then glom onto some of them.

On the way back, we drove 25 kilometers out of the way to find a MEADERY -- what a wonderful, Olde English concept!

 They have honey bees and they make not only honey but mead!  We both had thought it would be too sweet to tolerate -- but NO.   It's like a lovely, complex semi-sweet white wine with low undertones of honey.  Got two bottles, one sweet, the other medium sweet.  If you come into the shop today or tomorrow, you can taste it!  Also the little honey candies they make and sell......

While we were there, I was talking to the owner, and as we talked about currency and whether she could take American bills, I was reminded all over again of how awful Americans can be.  She apparently has lots of people come in with American money and DEMAND change in American currency.  It's Ontario in another country.  So she says to them, "Do you think I'd get Canadian money back anywhere in the United States?"  And of course most people in the US won't even take Canadian money (now on a par with ours), much less give Canadian change.  Someday, I hope to see a bit less colonialism -- that is, too many Americans don't really think of Canada as a sovereign nation, not even in borderlands like Detroit, where Windsor is across the river and Canadians readily take U.S. money.  Why not do the same?  Or at least not get mad when people don't want to stock two currencies when they give change.  What a sad commentary.    svb

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Here's Rita Merino!  She will make her inaugural appearance in the atrium of McGregor Conference Center at the Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival.  I'm including a photograph of her, profile and full-length, as well as one of the little sign she wore until I actually finished making things for her.  (Socks courtesy of the wonderful Elaine Clark). The vest is a side-to-side crocheted number made of Paton's SWS -- tagua nut buttons.  And no, there isn't a pattern -- just half-double crochet with crab stitch edging and side pockets.  Someday I'll write it down because it's a simple little thing, great with hand-paints.  Rita got an I-cord and rhinestone belt this afternoon.  At the festival, I'll introduce her at noon on Friday -- people then will be able to add whatever they want to her clothing -- strips for a skirt, patches for sleeves, flowers on surfaces, and so on.  There will be baskets and baskets of yarn, needles, and hooks.   It will be wonderful.  I hope our friends in the Windy City Knitting Guild approve of Polly Esther Cotton's kid sister!!!!!   svb


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rita Merino and the upcoming festival.....and shawls again...

By Wednesday or so, I should have a cool photograph of Rita Merino -- our festival denizen whose garments now are accumulating quite nicely.  As some of you know, Rita is the kid sister of a Chicago chick named Polly Esther Cotton -- the lovechild of the Windy City Knitting Guild.   Before her very recent retirement, Polly Esther's skirts had reached 8 feet or so -- her sleeves were unbelievably decorated and heavy -- She therefore was replaced by a new kid, Maureen O'Wool, who I"ve not yet met.  BUT:  When I last talked with them, the Windy City people agreed that it would be very cool for Polly Esther to have a Detroit sibling.   So.  Today we put on her black body stocking.  She has a curly black wig (she's Asian, but with a perm).  I added a preposterous yellow crocheted flower to her hair.  She is wearing a sleeveless vest cardi that I made some time ago from some quite nice Paton's SWS (soy wool stripe), with tagua nut buttons.  We will put her on a low table so people can work all around her and start skirts from the bottom of the vest -- sleeves from the armholes, etc.  Ijust made an I-cord belt from one of L. Harding's metallic and wool ribbons and, of course, I added some truly gaudy rhinestone clasps to hold it together.  She also has a pair of handcrafted socks (made by my friend Elaine Clark -- not quite matched, which is also cool).  Rita will be stunning.  She will have a jar at her feet silently inviting people to contribute a buck or two to the First Step shelter for domestic and sexual violence.  But mostly she will permit people to meet other people and to remind themselves that, once upon a time, all clothing was made by hand.  All of it.  I will surround her with baskets of yarn and jars and jars of tools.

As to shawls:   OKAY YOU GUYS.  Register for Candace Eisner-Strick's utterly amazing Strick-ly Shawls course.  I do NOT know what is going on.  This is one of the most wondrous classes you could possibly take -- I surely loved it.  You start with a nine-stitch tab.  You can use any weight yarn, any pattern stitch.  You can add any kind of edging.  It fits over the shoulders.   I cannot believe that this course has only a handful of registrants.   UTTERLY amazing.

But watch out generally, folks.  Some of the classes are filling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!