Monday, October 27, 2014

HATS HATS HATS ('tis the season)

....and now I'm in Holiday Mode.   I am turning to my annual  hat-knitting and hat-crocheting binge, which typically yields a couple of dozen hats, to be deposited in the shop when I'm all done, probably by about November 10.  It's wonderful fun.  I gather up my 16-inch circular needles in an array of sizes beginning with about size 9, ending with 15 -- some double-points -- and piles of yarn of many descriptions, usually stray balls.   I love combining strands -- right now, I'm knitting a strand of variegated Liberty Wool with another, thicker variegated wool, both of which share orange and not much else.  The fabric is wonderful -- size 11 for some 3/3 ribbing, then some expansion (bigger needle, 6 additional stitches) and I'll go until I think it's done.  Made two other hats earlier today, one with an I-cord pigtail, from a skein of Gina Chunky, another one from a very old ball of Aracaunia Lamari, which is a lot like knitting with woolen clothes line.  But the result is surprisingly attractive.  Has a simple stockinette roll at the edge, then several rounds of seed, which form HUGE surface bumps, and the rest a simple cloche.  On Friday, I'll go raid the yarn room in the basement -- gather up a couple of dozen stray balls of different textures and colors and haul them all to the shop so that I can keep it up on Saturday and Sunday.  I also want to make a couple of side-to-side crochet hats of multiple yarns with loose fringe tops.   If anyone wants to make hats, I'll be there in the afternoon both days! Bring baskets of wool.     svb

Thursday, October 23, 2014


So Larry and I drove away with the idea of spending two nights at Melissa and Tom Cragg's gorgeous home in the Berkshires (in Williamstown, MA), which would have put us within striking distance of the huge and ordinarily wonderful New York Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, NY..... at which I would have been able to hug Ellen Minand (of Ellen's Half-Pint Farm) and a number of other good friends.    The house in Williamstown exceeded all expectations.  We arrived in the dark and had to call one of Melissa's neighbors (Suzi) because we couldn't find the driveway.  Here she is, and here is the driveway (can you find it? the visible pathway is the main road!). 

and here is our rescuer, the brave Suzi and her red Subaru:

But, after that, look at what we found! 

The latter, of course, is from Melissa's front porch, which has a round area suitable for deck chairs and mountain viewing..!  Here's a different view of porch, etc.:
but here is why you want to go to the Berkshires (THIS is the view from the porch):

But, in the end, Nature won out.  It rained cats and dogs on the Saturday of the festival, which was the only day we could attend.  So I got some editing  done, but the festival was out of bounds.  I have been at the Duchess County Fairgrounds in the rain.   You do not want to be there.  The parking lots turn to deep, deep mire (tractors pull out unlucky attendees), the many buildings turn into damp, dank death chambers, and you end up soaked to the skin -- in October, when it's not warm to begin with.  So, no.  Once burned, never again at the stove.  The weather report for Rhinebeck was especially grim (thunderstorms).  Instead, we went to a nearby alpaca farm, made the acquaintance of Dave and then, at the local farmer's market, Beth, both of the Sweet Brook Alpaca Farm.  We made the acquaintance of a number of individuals with names like Preston (he's a fawn alpaca, not pictured here) and I bought ten skeins of natural brown-vanilla alpaca with the names of the producing alpaca preserved on the label, which are now available in the shop.  When we visited the farmer's market, they had some of the same yarn in a basket -- one of them (the flecked one) is barely visible in the photograph.   THEN HOME.  No mud for me.  Trying to suppress disappointment, I have to say.  Along the way, of course, we bought a myriad of utterly amazing vintage buttons.  Who can resist?  We were especially taken with the supply at the Interstate Antique Mall in North East, PA -- yes, that's the name of the town, so-called because it's NE of Erie.  Dave, the owner, has a great eye.     
....and finally, this guy -- a puppet inside the Sweet Brook shop.   I almost bought him.
STAY TUNED!!!!!     svb

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Postscript....and the NY Sheep and Wool Festival

I just added an important postscript to the entry called "On Being Older."     Also, tomorrow morning, we leave for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival -- which is wonderful.   I will take some work in my laptop.   And of course I will take many photographs.   We (Larry and I) will be staying at the house of a dear friend, Melissa Cragg, in the Berkshires  both coming and going.   We'll take pictures there as well -- apparently the neighborhood features a mountain, a farm where the honor system prevails at a dairy and meat shop, and the darling downtown of Williamstown, Massachusetts.   Stay tuned.   svb

Friday, October 10, 2014

Knitting, thinking...

...sitting here knitting, and wondering whether other American citizens (including and especially knitters and once-upon-a-time voters) will see the incredible social danger that lurks in a life lived more and more remotely.   An Amazon Prime subscriber said this:  "The day I can have Amazon ship next day Ramen is the day I will stop leaving my house... Oh wait..."  This was supposed to be funny.  Here's the central idea:   If we can use the web to buy everything we need and have someone we don't know deliver it to our door, we can live entirely solitary lives and never have to interact.  I don't want to go on.   I'll knit some more and then I'll go to the shop where, I hope, someone will come in and actually talk with me.    svb

Monday, October 6, 2014

On Being Older

Today, October 6, is my 70th birthday.   I don't remember feeling OLDER when I was 50 or 60, but this time, I do.   I've spent the day trying to figure out what's going on -- indeed, today I didn't do anything but sit in a comfortable chair, watch endless and disheartening news about America's newest paranoid reaction to yet another supposed "contagion" (one case of Ebola in Texas, when we SHOULD be worrying about hundreds of kids sick with Enterovirus or maybe the fact that measles is resurging.....parents unwilling to vaccinate innocent children....and so on.)   And then I remembered how knitting and crochet increase endorphins in the brain, so I've also been making yarn-paintings on some linear squares (log cabin).  All in all, a non-day of exactly the kind we need from time to time.

 I'm still going to go to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in ten days or so -- Wish I could find someone who'd like to share the driving.  But, if not, I have been gifted at least with a lovely offer of a house in Williamstown, MA -- owned by Melissa and Tom Cragg -- and so I can spend some time in the Berkshires coming and going.  What a joy.  A belated birthday gift.

All is well.  Aging is inevitable.  People say it's not the body's age that matters -- but of course it is the body's age that matters.  We wear out.  It's difficult only to realize that life really WILL end, that we have very little to say about it, and that I will never be able to do everything that I have set out to do. I have another book to write.   I wish (against reality) to find lots and lots of students in the fiber studio who really want to learn TECHNIQUE rather than simply to copy things that already exist.  I want to believe -- no, I need to believe -- in the human race's capacity for creation and innovation.  I have particular faith in women's abilities -- and, after a class this past weekend when two of my students didn't even want to try something completely new, I sometimes lose faith.  That's my Achilles heel.  I cannot lose faith -- not in others, and not in myself.

I am sure this sense of extreme contingency and mortality will pass.  But, for now, I feel an intense, not quite unbearable, ineffable sadness.      svb

POSTSCRIPT:   My heartfelt thanks go out to the students in the freeform class who came back the next week, reminded me that new things can be scary, and affirmed my faith in THEM and in the human race.   What lovely, lovely people.  I, too, have things to learn.