Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Status Check!

OK, everyone, I'm ALIVE -- and grading is done.   Have already gone to the Greencastle Fiber Arts Event in Greencastle, IN, and bought some incredible (REALLY incredible) handspun kid mohair (barely spun locks, from the 2nd shearing, which is the best) -- not cheap, but one of a kind and ready-made for luxe cowls and trims.  I also bought some amazing mill-end skeins from an Illinois mill that processes wool, alpaca, mohair, llama, and's gorgeous all natural colors.  I have pictures in my cell phone, but damned if I can figure out how to get them HERE.   So I need to consult a twelve-year-old.   This coming weekend, I will drive to Minnesota to attend the Shepherd's Harvest Festival in Lake Elmo, which is near Stillwater (the place of my birth)(well, the town where my parents lived when I was born -- I was actually born in St Paul).  I will be sure to figure out how to transfer photographs from phone to blog by then.  I also get to talk at long last with my dearest, dearest buddy from way back, Julie Larson, over a long lunch on Friday -- and I get to squeeze at least one niece, and hopefully multiple nieces, in Stillwater (at the Freighthouse) on Friday evening.  So -- toodles!  More soon       svb

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

and another note re: my day job....

....and let me note briefly, though it's not a minor deal to me, that I have been promoted to Full Professor -- in the wake of Cambridge's publication of new book, but of course it has to do with decades of work, so the book was icing on the cake, so to speak.  That's it.   This blog is supposed to be about both parts of life.   To celebrate, Larry and I took to the road (!) and bought an enormous pizza at Antonio's in Farmington Hills.  (Well, we were on the road for maybe ten minutes).   Before that, by the way, we had gone into Cortina's in Farmington which Larry had seen as he drove down 11 Mile Road.....  We should have asked to see a menu, which they didn't produce until AFTER they served us water and a basket of so-so bread.   A plate of spaghetti with a very fancy name was 54.00 -- appetizers started at 20 dollars.   We simply walked out (5 bucks on the table).   What a damned outrage.  Antonio's is great, complete with kitschy pseudo-Italian art and a really really really wonderful staff.   Huzzah to me.   It's been a long, trying, wonderful life.    svb

PS  Don't miss the long KNIVES the women are wielding..........these are cannery workers.  You don't mess with 'em.

Gender Remade

Sunday, April 10, 2016

the shop!

....and here is the new view from the front of Artisan Knitworks -- new display units coming in steadily -- Here we have a gorgeous new shawlette in Rylie from Hikoo -- a truly delicious blend of linen and some other lightweight fibers -- silky in the extreme -- The sample was done up by the wonderful Jennifer Stover (Missouri).  And then behind, barely visible, an entire wall full of Prism, Laura Bryant's hand-painted some Prism hand-dyed cottons in a basket on the floor -- and a big load of Trendsetter and Lana Grossa yarns in the trays....on and on.   I don't think there is any shortage of touchable beauty here.   Once we get the new fixtures in place, we'll have LOTS more room for yarn than we have now.  Stay tuned!!!  


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Back again....with thoughts about yarn stashing

....back again, thanks to Larry who figured out how to 'find' the blogger home page.   I used to enter all of this by means of Explorer -- but it mysteriously disappeared, leaving me helpless (no entry, no blog).   But.   Larry is a computer nerd.   Here I am!!!!
.....also today, I had a brief exchange with my cousin Renie, once Renie Hoffoss, now Renie Wilson, who lives in Missouri (we began life in Minnesota).  She is apparently a yarn fanatic -- and of course I own a yarn shop, so it's a match made in heaven.....
When Renie said something about how her yarn collection had become too too too, I was reminded all over again of the hundreds of women (almost entirely women) who continually apologize for their yarn stashes -- even if it's only a boxful, or closet, or chest of drawers.  I hear things like this:  
"Well, I just put it in the trunk under some bags so he doesn't know it's there, and then I bring it into the house a skein at a time,"  or   "You know, I just can't buy any more yarn -- I'm ashamed of myself for not doing something with it," or   "It's a sickness, all that yarn."    And I think, every time, how women are the ones who apologize for buying lots and lots of things they truly love.
Here are some of the things in my life that wonderful men have never apologized for:
My father's endless supply of screwdrivers, drill bits, hammers, and table saw blades.
My first husband's expensive and seemingly endless fountain pen collection.
My first husband's and my book collection.
My grandfather's hand-tied fish fly collection.
Do I have to continue?   When was the last time you have ever heard a man characterize his most loved things as evidence of neurosis, or as something to hide, or as something to smuggle into the house so nobody would know he had it?
At this point, I need to say that Renie and probably many others have in mind the cost (it's a tight economy) or simply find the whole thing amusing.  Piles of wool under the bed!
But, still, for hundreds and hundreds of women, it's evidence of neurosis.  And that's worrisome.  What can possibly be neurotic or shameful about loving something that's incredibly beautiful, tactile, and useful, all at once?   Why not revel in it?  Stamp collectors do.  It wasn't necessary for my father to DO something with each and every drill bit.  It was surely enough for husband number one to HAVE the thousands of expensive books all lined up on shelves so that he could finger them and (this is important) show them off, not hide them in closets.  
Yarn, woolen roving, all of the beautiful things so generously given to us by animal friends, are gifts from artisans -- to be enjoyed, shown off, used eventually to make beautiful and useful objects -- or not.   It's enough to have them, to squeeze and revel in them.
I'd like to live long enough to see the day when yarn literally could come out of the closet.  It is life-giving to collect yarn.  Arguably it's more life-giving than collecting screwdrivers.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

What to do when you can't breathe....

So WHAT if I can't breathe or swallow or even think?  So WHAT if I had a flu shot and it apparently mattered not a whit?   So WHAT if I can't grade papers (the job requires a brain).  One can knit.  So here is the start of a vee-shaped shawl -- I'm working on the left side now -- think diamonds, with the diamond seen here at the lowest point being the bottom point.  The outer edges will also be edged in gray.  Liberty Wool is one of my favorites -- the paints look so water-colory.  These is two colorways (Moss and Middle Earth) with gray edges.  So far, two balls of the paint and about half a ball of gray.  There will be a workshop if you want to make this shawl or a smaller version (scarf).   See the spring schedule -- should I not expire from this g___d___ virus.   No I do NOT swear.

For some reason, I've lost maybe ten readers on the blog -- guess I'd better try to post a bit more -- though I won't be able to do it in a predictable way until the idiotic term is over at WSU!!!!   


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sitting here with a cold...

Sitting at the computer, wondering why I'm not in bed -- I have the world's most godawful cold, or maybe flu -- disturbing amount of lung congestion, an insanely sore throat -- but it's HARD to just lie in bed.  Nothing to look at -- nothing to knit.  Very hard to read when you can't breathe.  And then I got to thinking about Jenna.   Here she is:

Jenna Woodcox was in the studio the other day -- I first saw her sitting on the floor more or less like this, like a kid in a sand box, utter delight written all over her very pretty face -- a quite handsome young man standing nearby, just as smitten with her as I was... As it turns out, Jenna is a design and arts student with considerable experience in such things as interior design, a formidable crocheter, somebody I would like to hire for a day each week. 

We need to think hard, those of us who are now long in the tooth, about what happens to the knit and crochet business, the MEMORY of knit and crochet, if and when the industry continues to contract, as it is now, after decades of expansion.   Shops are closing; wool is getting more expensive because of scarcity; yarn manufacturers are also feeling the pinch.  Many of the dichroic glass button makers stopped doing it during the Great Recession (reminds me of the way indigo bit the dust more or less permanently in the American Revolutionary years -- the original, REAL royal blue never resurged except among die-hard, natural surface artists and dyers).

I see quite a few Jennas -- many of them male -- in the shop.  We need more.  Let's figure out how to carry these irreplaceable skills into new generations.  If everyone in the shop looks like me (or, for that matter, like Larry), it makes me very nervous.  That's one of the reasons I love it so much that we have the delightful Nick leading a group on Wednesday night.  He's young, brilliant (8 languages!), and a superb fiber artisan. 

Now I'm going to go back to bed.   And, oh, by the way....Artisan Knitworks is moving a half-block away on Grand River Boulevard in April (!!!!).  No more basement stairs to descend.  Stay tuned.  And, no, I won't say any more right now. 


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Here's to your health.....!

In a recent issue of the New York TImes is a fabulous summary of the truly miraculous health benefits of knitting and crochet.   Larry is getting the URL for me.   (I have lousy computer skills).  In the meantime, see if you can find it: 

LATER:  HERE IT IS (see just below)!    svb
7:02 PM (13 hours ago)


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Young 'uns

....noticing today that the number of young people in the shop has increased substantially since we moved to Farmington.     HURRAH.   And it's both young women and young men, which is doubly wondrous.   Men, after all, were the first knitters....made socks, sweaters, etc., for themselves and for sale, especially in northern it's time they all came home.  Hence, our wonderful Wednesday-evening group led by the fabulous fabulous fabulous Nick (one of those young 'uns).  But I wonder if many of the younger knitters/crocheters know how vital they are to the survival of these very old and venerable, healing arts.  That's one of the things we have to teach, isn't it?   There is real urgency, perhaps always, but especially now as we confront a world made less and less personal almost daily, less and less MINDFUL -- that is, living in the present world, the world at hand, and not in some cyber-world.  Now and again, I think about the Real Science that has shown knitters who do it every day are virtually immunized against the symptoms of Alzheimers.   So.  Knit.  And do it in the company of others.  Up with face-to-faceness!     svb



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kid's Sweater???

Larry took a picture of the colorful pieces and yarn balls on my footstool -- "It's PRETTY," he said -- so I'm going to pass it along.  

What is it, you ask?  We'll see.   The wee little pictures next to the aqua-blue wool suggest a wee little kid's sweater (in worsted-weight wool) with an orange diamond in the center, front and back.  Garter ridges run horizontally in the central diamonds.  Reddish edges and seams, all picked up from pieces as I go.  Blue and yellow triangles at the corners and then (I don't yet know the color arrangement) on sleeves, with some more orange and deep red lines, probably in cuffs.   There will be an opening in the front at the top edges of the orange triangle with some durable bow-ties -- or buttons?  We'll see.  The pattern will be written in 18" or 20" chest size upward in two-inch increments.  I am in the process (under yellow cake) of trying to shape a front neckline.  If you're really keen-eyed, and especially if you tap on the picture, you'll see another adult sweater -- a modular-square cardigan tunic -- that's about half done, under the tool kit.  Sleeve has been modified in another drawing.  And the super-keen eyed viewer will note that my tool kit is covered with brassieres.  Stay tuned.   I need now to dash off to university.      svb