Thursday, April 30, 2015

OFF TO BALMORE, as they say in Baltimore....

Well, sometime in the morning I'm driving off to West Friendship, MD, which is maybe 25 miles to the west of Balmore.......yup, that's how it's said.  The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is held annually at the Howard County Fairgrounds in, well, Howard County.....gorgeous rural area, lots and lots and lots of fascinating fiber artisans, thousands of visitors, tons of handcrafted yarn and roving and buttons and so on.   I am dying to see old friends.  I have not been back to the Maryland festival, which is one of the two biggest (the other is NY's festival in the autumn) for three years, and it's time.   Stay tuned.   I get to drive through SPRING again -- here, the leaves are barely showing; as I move toward Maryland, spring will HAPPEN.  There will be baby green, then real leaves and flowers.  I can hardly wait.   I will take picture.    svb

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Back from the Carolina FiberFest

Well, I drove to NC -- a feat never to be undertaken by the faint-hearted if the weather people predict thunderstorms.  What a mess.  HUGE rainfall, heavy winds, in waves..........but I got through, all the way to Sanford, North Carolina.  En route, I stopped (of course) at antique centers -- some of them in Amish Country (Ohio).   Here is a fun mall that I found early on: 

and then, of course, the Amish part began:

Presiding over this wonderful shop (Herschberger's) was an Amish woman with a beautiful daughter, the latter possessed of a horse-drawn cart.  I have to say I have NEVER seen an antique mall with such shiny, dust-free floors:

In Sanford, NC, I pulled into a very nice iteration of Holiday Inn Express -- my newfound fave motel chain (I think that my old standby, Hampton Inns, are getting a bit dated and old -- someone needs to get after the now-matted down comforters).  The next day, the Carolina Fiber Fest opened.  Here are some interior shots, with one of the makers from whom I bought some gorgeous handpainted yarn:

and here is my wonderful old friend, Jane the white tunic.  She's from Greensboro.  I had plotted to surprise her, and I guess I did.   She hardly knew what to do when this white-haired lady screamed, "Hey JANNNNNE" across the show floor.   We then went out to dinner -- a real treat.  Jane runs Emerald Isle Designs -- we met years and years ago at a Stitches Camp in upstate New York, when both of us were new widows. 
I found another delightful antique mall in downtown Sanford (here are some shots) and yet more wonderful antique buttons and buckles (really fine, in fact -- lots of Bakelite and celluloid, plus a set of mint crystal and gold buttons still on the card from "U.S. Occupied Germany") (!).

After that, on Saturday, I was off to Asheville, NC -- the home of my dear, dear old buddy, Stacey Budge, who makes Urban GypZ yarns and rovings and spinnings.  She also offers on-line classes and occasional, live workshops with the inventive Canadian, Jane Thornley.  I found her on Hendersonville Road in her delightfully messy little basement studio, made un-basement by huge windows.  Here she is!   I was her first wholesale customer, she once told me.  And she still has only three.  Take a look at her Etsy shop.  I bought a BOATLOAD of really interesting fingering-weight wool (single-ply, saturated), some lace weight Merino in hot pink and deep reds, and some idiosyncratic fingering (an experimental dying technique involving immersion dying and spatters) that she called Magical Snow (we made up some names for newly dyed lots while I was there).  We had lunch at a really nice place in the Biltmore district, across the street from where a good yarn shop used to be.  We talked about how tourist-y Asheville has become, how the rents are driving out artists who don't make stuff primarily for tourists (including Stacey and her husband, a therapist, who are looking around for a less pretentious and more authentic art district).  The situation is not helped by the fact that Stacey is also politically progressive in reactionary NC.  I bought the kind of things you see on her desk, in embarrassingly large quantities.  
..........and then I drove home.  Tennessee countryside still takes my breath away -- and then I stopped (do not laugh) at the Berea, Kentucky, craft center to buy Larry some dry-cured bacon (also in large quantity).  No accounting for what some people want most!  Here is the craft center and its interior:

Home mid-day Sunday -- tired, but greeted by some of our best customers who proceeded to buy lots of Stacey's yarn.
Why do I do this?   First, and the storms notwithstanding, I love to drive -- though I have to say it's much less fun with the number of highways under construction (what a mess in America!) and multiplications of huge semis.  Second, and more important, Artisan Knitworks continues to support small producers, the largely female artisans who sell their wares mostly at fiber festivals.   So.  Next up will be either Greencastle, Indiana, or the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.   Stay tuned.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Off to North Carolina

I feel the need to get out of Dodge, as we used to say, and so I'm going to drive to a new festival (at least new to me) in Sanford, NC, this coming weekend.  That's roughly southeast of Greenville, and (if it's not raining) a reasonable distance to the oceanfront, if I decide to keep going.  I do not recognize very many of the vendors at the festival --though one of them is my dear old friend, Jane Schwartz, who runs a small design company.  I'll surprise her.   I'm a little bit worried about the weather; long-term predictions are for rain and maybe some thunderstorms.  But who knows.   If the weather is bad, I'll hang around and save my gas money for the festival later in the month in Greencastle, Indiana, and of course for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on May 2-3.  I will take lots and lots of pictures, especially if I go to Carolina.    I say with a red face, by the way, that I did take pictures beyond the ones I posted previously at Bowling Green, but I can't figure out how to get them from phone camera to computer (!).   Nor can Larry.  The cord doesn't fit.  I'll be sure to use a real camera the next time.   I'm also working on some embellished modular squares that I will organize into a jacket; I'll post pictures of that one when it's done.   svb