Thursday, August 29, 2013

very soft opening.....

Blare of a few trumpets (not an entire orchestra):   Thanks to the heroic efforts of our new staff, we are MORE OR LESS able to be open beginning tomorrow at our new Farmington digs.  Come!!!!  It's at 23616 Farmington Rd., Farmington, MI.  We will have a class schedule out within the next two days, initially in a newsletter.   svb

Sunday, August 25, 2013


“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” -Buddha

"Of Filipino heritage..." ???

Some days ago, I wrote a blog entry entitled something like "Thanks, and some belts..." in which I said, among other things, that we had hired two "delightful, very young Filipino women," or some such thing.   The two young women in question are Holly and Cherie, who really ARE delightful.  They are also intensely proud of being people of Filipino extraction.  This morning, I opened my e-mail and found a quite upsetting note from a woman (let's not name her) chastising me for using an ethnic label for my two delightful young women, observing that I must be white, and then adding, for good measure, that she was sure this did not reflect on my character -- which, of course, in her view, it did.  So until I could resolve it, I got rid of the dread ethnic language.  I then exchanged notes with the two people in question.  They are indeed PROUD to be Filipino, proud that I mentioned their ethnicity, and so on, so I put it back into the blog entry.

But it is worth a little note, isn't it?  It is no proof of anything that I am probably the only yarn-shop owner anywhere in the metro area who has been a card-carrying member of the NAACP for decades, even though I am indeed pink (a more accurate term than white).  But there it is.  I am.  This is where the far left and the far right are in agreement these days -- on the one hand, the bare mention of racial or ethnic or gender distinctions suggests that some lunatic lefty is "playing the race card," and on the other hand, the same bare mention suggests that some lunatic righty is besmirching non-white people with what Justice Harlan once called a "badge of servitude."  So we are unable to describe who and what we are in relation to one another???  I would have to say that I am a "Dutch-Jewish woman of Minnesota extraction" every time I say "African-American" or "Filipino"??? 

Both of these positions ignore the fact that  in the mix , particularly among feminists, are people like me who think that we have an obligation to do things the hard way -- that is, to celebrate difference while insisting on equality and justice.  For feminists, it's called cultural feminism -- there are all kinds of feminists (radical feminists, equal rights feminists, etc. etc.).  We all know this is the hard way.  It has been very hard in our civilization for people to notice differences -- all of the glorious ways in which we are different, live differently, and so on -- without instantly creating some kind of hierarchy.  But the challenge has to be, not to chastise people for noticing our collective experiences, the RICHES that we possess as a group, or accusing someone of being racist because she mentions someone's ethnicity by name (!), but instead to create an EQUALITY BASED ON DIFFERENCE.  Here, I am quoting my friend Joan Wallach Scott.

Let's try to avoid absolutism and venom of all kinds in our dealings with one another.   svb

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Announcing a Scarf Bombing.....!

OK, so here is something wonderful:  We will be undertaking a "soft opening" for the new location of Artisan Knitworks --  23616 Farmington Road in Farmington, MI -- sometime this coming week, I'd expect before mid-week (though we won't be entirely done, it's best to be open).  

But I want to have a Grand Opening the week of September 22-29.  We will be having ice cream and some daily drawings for prizes (many of them supplied by the companies that stock our shelves). 

Most important:  Please encourage everyone you know to make bulky-knit or bulky-crocheted scarves, at least 6 inches wide, in any kind of wool, wool blend, or good quality acrylic at hand.  They should be 5-7 feet long.  Any kind of patterning is okay.  I want to BOMB the entire area around the shop with the scarves, using them as strips -- could use helpers, too, for the bombing, on the 22nd or so.   These long strips can be fringed or not -- the plan is to have them up for the week all over downtown Farmington and then collect them again.  I will personally launder them by hand, reblock them, and deliver the entire bunch to Detroit Rescue Missions.   Winter is coming.  Each scarf used in the bombing will have a little tag attached with the maker's name and information about where it is going to go when we're done.

If you want to help us with this warming project, .LET ME KNOW.   We will be collecting the scarves at the shop.   Pass the word.

LATER NOTE:   We have scarves piling up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   svb


Thursday, August 22, 2013

another rumination......

So we're well on our way into a new space, with a gorgeous, gifted new staff (thanks, Teri and Lana and Carolyn and Holly and Nancy and so on and so forth!) -- we even have volunteers from the neighborhood popping in the door and asking what they can do to help -- and today, while I was not much good in the shop (I am not recovering well from the extraction of SIX teeth last week), still I was struck all over again when I walked in the door and saw the amazing rainbow of wool (Shepherd's Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill, in every conceivable color) that our volunteer, Mary, was arranging in a rainbow -- or rather three rainbows in three weights -- that there is something truly magical, almost mystical, about the ways in which wool, yarn, knitting, crochet -- LOOPING of all kinds -- bonds people together, forges community, creates love.  I don't know what explains this.  But it made me weepy today, and I don't think it's ONLY because I am feeling a little bit punk.  We took our staff to dinner last night, and I had the same feeling at the dinner table -- incredible comraderie, volunteerism, a sense of common purpose, an almost irrational willingless to work for truly crappy wages to make other people and ourselves happy.  And maybe a desire, in some cases subliminally, to connect with all of those men and women for centuries past who have made loops from wool and alpaca and cashmere, all over the world.  We should be ready inside a week -- call  248-427-0804 if you can't stand the suspense, sometime next week -- and in the meantime be sure to tell everyone you know about the Third Coast Festival.      Love to everyone.     svb

Friday, August 16, 2013

Moving and the Allegan Festival

Well, today is the day Artisan Knitworks moves to Farmington Road (23616) in Farmington, MI -- the relocation company arrives this morning, and presumably we'll have a huge pile of rubble at the other end, as last time.

But tomorrow, I am stuffing Larry in the car and hauling him to Allegan to the Michigan Fiber Festival.   The mess can wait.  Allegan cannot.  If you have never taken the trip, for heaven's sake do it.  Vendors are wonderful, the animal sheds have splendid displays, and you can have lunch at a picnic table.   You can even buy some on-the-spot-fresh lemonade.

And of course I'll probably buy some new yarn for the new place.  Fittin' and proper.   Give us a week maybe and then stop by to see how we're doing.  We will have a wonderful new staff eager to lead social knitting groups and topical classes, or to help you find knit or crochet projects.  By mid-September we also will have  big piles of new stuff in the place -- and you can have a cuppa on our NEW out-back patio.

The new contact information is on the Artisan Knitworks website at "Contact Us." 


Monday, August 5, 2013

Thanks! plus some BELTS...!

and thanks to all of you for your generous, excited responses to the idea that Artisan Knitworks will now be housed on the other side of the city.  We now have a nice, big, outrageously talented staff, including two delightful, very young women of Filipino heritage, thanks to responses to this blog and announcements at local guilds.  [On the Filipino point, see entry for August 25].  We will be moving the weekend of the 17th -- don't miss the big moving sale that's going on right now!  see previous post -- to 23616 (I think that's right) Farmington Road in downtown Farmington.  We even have a back-door patio!  So look for us, and know that we will try to open within a week of the move. Now I need to get back to footnotes (the book I've not yet finished) and  then to the Wool and the Floss (in search of some ribbon yarns -- I don't have enough colors to make some belts that I'm working on).  Jean has wonderful novelty yarns.

Here are two of the little wonders that YOU TOO can make with vintage buckles and novelty yarn (in this case, Trendsetter ZOE for the yellow one and Checkmate for the other).  I'll then download my little pattern -- I suppose you could use new belt buckles -- just get BIG ones.  And take off the metal keeper.   svb



Copyright 2013, Sandra VanBurkleo, Artisan Knitworks LLC

This belt can be made any length, almost any width, and in almost any non-animal fiber light-to-medium weight yarn.  Animal yarns stretch too much (though some animal blends would work – test for elasticity).  You can substitute any semi-flat pattern stitch (including plain SC or HDC)  for the simple pattern stitch used here.  I used this one to introduce a slight bit of texture.  Crocheted seed stitch would work as well (rep SC, DC across all rows, ending DC).  Consider a simple row of SC with shells worked on either side of the row.  You could also work several rows of trellis stitch and run ribbon, fabric, or leather through the spaces.  And so on.  The belt shown tapers at one end by increasing in the first stitch on every RS row.  If you prefer a blunt end, simply omit increases.  Or, if you prefer a pointed end, increase for half of the width and decrease for the remainder.  For the adventurous:  Wear the belt on a tunic of the same yarn, knit or crochet, with belt loops at each side, or use the belt yarn for trim or as a second yarn for a tunic made in a two-yarn pattern stitch.    


2-3 inch vintage belt buckle (no metal keeper) with enough space for two layers crocheted fabric

1 skein Trendsetter “Zoe” or other DK/heavy fingering yarn, not 100% animal fiber

Size D-G crochet hook (test to assure a firm but not armor-like fabric)

Measure waist.  Loosely chain as many inches as the desired waist, plus 7 inches.  Turn.

For simple texture stitch:
Row 1:  Beg with 2nd ch from hook, SC across row.  Ch 1 to turn.
Row 2:  Rep row 1.
Row 3:  Work 2 SC in 2nd ch from hook, * ch 1, skip 1 in row below, SC in next st, rep from * to * across, ending SC.  Ch 1 to turn.

Rep rows 2 and 3 until belt is wide enough to fill the central bar of belt buckle with a bit of room to spare (no more than 1/8 inch more), ending with Row 2.  Break yarn leaving a long end for sewing (10 inches).

Steam-block belt on WS (hold steamer at a two-inch distance).  Let dry.  Tightly wrap square end of the belt around the buckle’s central bar.  Using darning needle, whipstitch in place on WS.  Darn in ends with tapestry needle, backstitching to secure the ends.  Do not use crochet hook to darn in ends.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


From Monday upcoming through Saturday, August 10, we will have a big moving sale at Artisan Knitworks -- lots of stuff we don't want to move at steep discount, and then a modest (10%) discount on most (not all) full-price merchandise.     svb