I’ve returned temporarily…

I’m almost done with the travel, one more trip next weekend to Cleveland and I get a nice long entertaining break in the studio, and boy do I have plans.

Note: I’m quite aware that life is what happens when you are making other plans, and that more than likely life’s little roller coaster rides will derail my best intentions, but I can pretend for the moment I’m going to do great new work in the studio over the long winter hiatus, so work with me here…

This past weekend was actually quite the wonderful diversion, I joined the Northeast Feltmakers Guild, which meets three times a year in various locations around the northeast. Coincidentally, the November meeting was to be held at WEBS, in Northhampton, MA.  If you have followed my blog at all, you will note that my lovely daughter is now a student at UMass Amherst, which is exactly 10 miles from WEBS.  🙂

First let me explain about this very wonderful group.  At least what I figured out from my weekend with them.  Like all fiber enthusiasts, the felters are tenacious, and resourceful, and love a good party, and they bring their creativity to the kitchen as well.  I’m especially impressed with this group, centering on the Western Mass area, because, if you have been following the news at all, the northeast got pretty slammed in the freak October surprise snow storm, and the worst hit was Western Mass, which reported as much as 30 inches of snow.  On top of trees that hadn’t lost their leaves.  It was a lethal combination…

The schedule for these weekend events starts out on a Friday night with some sort of pizza gathering, followed by a Saturday all day program/event and huge show and tell, followed by an evening pot luck affair at some generous felter’s residence, and ending with a Sunday morning business meeting.

The pizza party and Saturday presentation/program were organized by Flo,  an enthusiastic felter who lives in Amherst.  She coordinated all the housing for anyone coming from a distance, and kept the Yahoo group informed of any changes.  And there were a ton.  As of Friday evening, Flo still had no power, as did many of the felters who trekked to Amherst, dodging the traffic because UMass Amherst is actually in Amherst and this weekend was Homecoming.  I thought I’d seen traffic nightmares living my whole life in NJ.  Yikes!  20,000 students, plus parents and alumni, well you can imagine.  And I hear that Amherst College, also in Amherst had parents weekend.  There wasn’t a hotel room available in a 300 mile radius.  And yet, the local felters all took it in stride, including no power.

Pre pizza refreshments were served by candlelight, and the party headed down the street toting flashlights and food, to a different part of the neighborhood where Myra lived, because Myra had power.  It is the little things in life… (Note here that the storm was last Saturday, before Halloween, no power means no food, completely empty refrigerators, and often no water if the house has a well.  Also no heat.  Flo had city water and a wood stove, it was toasty and romantic…)

I arrived Friday afternoon at the UMass campus a couple of hours late, hitting traffic like I’ve never seen, and got to drop off a car load of “Mommy can you bring me XXX…” kind of stuff.  I gave Brianna the biggest hug, doing my best to stand upright because no matter how hard I hug, she can topple me off my feet, since she is bigger than me…  I invited Brianna to accompany Jenny and me to the pizza party, Jenny was my encyclopedic car company for the five hour plus trip, traveling with Jenny is like having the encyclopedia Britannica on the back seat. Brianna was thrilled to escape the campus if only for an evening.  After the party I got her back to campus so she could get some sleep since she had donkey watch at 3am.  One of the donkeys (she is a pre-vet major) is ready to give birth, and the club members take turns watching from their dorm room on a web cam, reporting any difficulties to the resident vet.

Brianna was so thrilled to be around all “those fiber people” again, she asked if she could tag along on Saturday.  So I agreed to pick her up Saturday morning and Jenny, Bri and I headed off to WEBS.

On top of all that organizing, Flo presented a terrific program on Shibori, both in terms of working with felt, and on silk, since a lot of felters use a laminate technique called Nuno, where the wool is layered onto a silk backing and then felted.  Shibori is the Japanese art of resist, and there are a number of ways to go about it.  For every Japanese term Flo presented to the class, Brianna furiously scribbled the actual Japanese symbols.  Her four semesters of Japanese language at the community college paid off.  Flo did an excellent job, she has taken many workshops and had boatloads of samples to share with the class of about 25. I think many of the samples shown here are from a Chad Hagen class.  And of course there was shopping built in because well, we were at WEBS, enough said.

In the afternoon, we all got to sample some of the stitching, clamping and assorted resist techniques on silk, and Flo, even though she had no electricity, planned to dye the samples that night during the pot luck supper.  Fortunately for her, her power came back on and the celebrating began.  My daughter was so thrilled to be able to spend the day with a bunch of fiber enthusiasts and she got a few contacts from members of the Pioneer Valley Handweavers, who meet at WEBS, and she is hoping to join that guild.  I took her back to the campus on the way to the pot luck supper, with a stop at Trader Joe’s for my contribution, since Brianna had an ice hockey home game to attend.  She is wicked into ice hockey.  Makes my husband proud. He is a long time supporter of the NJ Devils and had season tickets for many years.  Apparently UMass has quite an ice hockey team.  Who knew…

Anyway, Sunday morning’s meeting was in Springfield MA, at the Exposition Center there, in conjunction with the Third Annual Fiber Festival of New England.  It was sort of like a mini NY Sheep and Wool festival under one big roof.  Jenny and I decided, that we had way too much stuff in our studios, and she had already done her budget at WEBS, and that if we didn’t attend the festival, only the felter’s business meeting, we wouldn’t be tempted to buy anything.  Sad I know, but it was a wise decision and by lunch time we were well on our way home, crossing our fingers that the traffic would be minimal, which it was, and we made it to my driveway without stopping, in three hours.  🙂

So another grand adventure is crossed off my calendar, I have another group of fiber friends to connect with, and I’m looking forward to another road trip with Jenny in December, this time to a class we are taking in Vermont, Freeform Machine Embroidery-Design Techniques for Felt with Christine Fries at the Northeast Fiber Arts Center.  I suppose I’ll be driving up 91 through Massachusetts, which passes right by the University…  🙂

Cleveland, here I come…

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November 8, 2011 8:16 am

Your adventures are amazing! Is Brianna enjoying her college experience?

Candiss Cole
November 8, 2011 9:21 am

What fabulous fun. I love the combinations of techniques, my favorite kind of fun! Keeps regular people guessing on how you got to that and gives those in the know a moment to smile! Glad you and Brianna got to enjoy the weekend. And YES, New England women are singularly a monumental tower to strength, but together “in mass”….(tee hee)….unstoppable! They love the challenge and always rise to the occasion!

Elizbeth E
Elizbeth E
November 8, 2011 10:45 am

Way cool. I’m so inspired by your blogs and pictures, and by hearing of people who were “making it” (!) in such tough conditions! Great to hear Brianna is still drawn to fiber adventures, despite the allure of “donkey watch”.

Barbara M.
Barbara M.
November 9, 2011 11:39 pm

How lovely to share your fiber addictions with your daughter! We lived in Ridgewood, NJ when our daughter chose Keene State in NH. We found Harrisville Designs on a visit and the rest is history! Since 1998, we’ve taken a lot of classes together, including one when she had a 6 month-old and my job was to babysit and deliver the baby in time for breastfeeding…… a little tricky timing that, but the NH instructor was cool with the whole thing! It is such a joy to share your own loves with your daughter! (During the storm, she and her… Read more »

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