Green grass, winged tigers, and Arkansas…

Many years ago my father said something to me, sort of prophetic, but not something I appreciated at the time.  I had asked my parents to babysit my young children while I attended a weekend event in the next town from them for a HS reunion.  He declined, saying to me, “Grass doesn’t grow under your feet, you’ll figure it out.”  I did figure it out, hiring the teenage daughter of one of my HS classmates to watch my kids at the shore resort, but the comment has stayed with me for more than 20 years.  When my husband was dying, I desperately asked him about finances, and how to connect with his HR department at his office, and he said, “You’ll figure it out”.  Really.  That phrase has haunted me, because in fact, I did figure it out.  I always figure it out.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t figure it out kicking and screaming silently all the way.  There are many many times when I would love someone to figure it out for me.  And yet, the two most important men in my life pushed me to stand on my own feet, and “figure it out”.  The grass does not grow under my feet.  By any stretch of the imagination.

A little over a week ago, I attended an expensive fund raiser for The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ.  I adore their productions and since I was home, a rare occurrence this fall, I not only attended, but called them to see if they wanted a donation of a handwoven scarf for their silent auction.  They were thrilled, and I shipped off one of my handwoven scarves to the director.  I was very pleased to find the scarf displayed quite creatively, and there was some furious bidding for it.  The winner was the actual director of development for the Shakespeare Theater and I was more than pleased that it found a good home for a good cause.  I got a “backstage” tour of their facility, and it was fun to meet some of my favorite actors, seeing them in real street clothes instead of Shakespearean costume!  

Saturday a week ago, I drove down to Clinton NJ to the Hunterdon Art Museum to see an exhibit called Lace, Not Lace.  This museum has had some wonderful exhibits in the past, and though the lace exhibit is continuing until January, I believe, The Urchins, large lace sea urchins by artists Choi and Shine, which hung outdoors over the river, would be leaving that weekend.  

Unfortunately the area was mobbed from a festival, so I had to park about a mile away, and it was hard to get up close to the urchins, but I managed a couple of lovely photos.

The exhibit inside was incredible.  I am a lace maker, bobbin lace specifically.  I’ve blogged about those adventures in the past.  So this exhibit was especially exciting for me, to see what the global lacemaking community is creating, and how they are pushing the envelope as to what is lace and what is not.  Which is really lace after all.  The highlight of course, is a lace carriage, full size, from copper wire, that fills an entire room.  I took many photos of the carriage, the lighting and shadows the lace created on the walls were a completely wonderful dimension to an already breathtaking piece.

I showed my daughter the images I took and she looked curiously at this one…

She said to me, “Mommy, I’ve seen that image before, we had a book I loved as a child called the Winged Tiger, that image is in there.”  OK, now I’m completely blown away.  We had the book on the shelf, and she showed me that indeed, this lovely quirky children’s story was illustrated with images of panels from a lace chariot in progress and there, in the middle of the book was the lace panel from the carriage.  As a matter of fact, the whole story is about a lace princess building a lace carriage to release the winged tiger.  

The book is called The Winged Tiger and the Lace Princess, by Phil Yeh and Lieve Jerger.  The lace carriage in the exhibit is by Lieve Jerger, and it took her 45 years to complete.  This book was published in 1998, when my daughter was 6 years old.  Lieve Jerger had only half completed the carriage, and there is a photo of her on the back cover with the work in progress.

The fact that my daughter remembered this image from 20 years ago was remarkable in itself.  But then we know she is a remarkable kid.  I am even more stunned by the images of the carriage knowing this particular part of the story that isn’t shared in the wall bio of the artist.

Sunday morning I got on a plane for Arkansas.

OK, I’m going to say this right up front.  Arkansas?  I’m a northeast snob and had no idea that there could be anything worth traveling to in Arkansas, and I have never been so wrong about anything in my entire life.  And being wrong and admitting it is not such a terrible sin in this day and age.  

There is a lovely little knitting shop called Red Scottie Fibers in Northwest Arkansas, in a town called Eureka Springs.  The town was built in the mid 1800’s, around the restorative waters of the mineral springs.  It is a fairly liberal enclave with a lovely group of residents and shop owners who have migrated there from other parts of the country.  There is a huge arts community there, studios, craftsmen, galleries, all built in and around beautifully restored and maintained 1800’s structures.  It is all in the Ozarks, some of the streets go straight up, very well read and educated community, and I desperately wanted to move there.  I’ve never been more serious in my life.  The restaurants were amazing, the scenery breathtaking, hiking and biking trails unlike anywhere else in the US, all a 2-3 hour plane ride from Newark, depending on the direction you are going.  

The shop was cozy, and fortunately the class I was teaching didn’t involve actually making a garment.  It was a three day garment construction intensive, geared to handweavers, and I had a full class of 12 squeezed in among the looms.  Everyone was flexible, figuratively and literally, since many of the participants decided to spread out on the floor to trace my patterns.  They were enthusiastic and fun to be around.  They had the opportunity to trace all of my patterns, and there are a lot, and I interspersed lectures on various aspects of garment construction in relationship to handwoven fabrics.  It is a great class if you only have three days. They want me back for a five day intensive, the earliest I have free in my calendar is May of 2020.

I didn’t fly home until the evening following the last day of class, so my lovely hostess, and owner of Red Scottie Fibers took me to see Crystal Bridges Art Museum which was close to XNA, Bentonville airport, which is home of Walmart.  And it was Mrs. Walton, wife of the founder of Walmart who created this incredible art museum, focusing on her vast collection of American Art, and included a Frank Lloyd Wright house which was painstakingly moved, brick by brick from its former home in Millstone, NJ.  Huh…

The museum is world class, even the courtyard at the entrance of the museum had one of Louise Bourgeois’ famous spiders.  I look forward to returning and spending more than just a couple hours.  

While I was in Arkansas, I was able to finish up my sweater, and start a new one.  This one is a pattern called Brianna, from  I knitted the sweater from 2 strands of shetland wool and a silk/wool, both mill ends I bought years ago from WEBS.  It hasn’t been blocked yet, and will really soften up, but it is now in the 40’s and my heat isn’t on yet in the house.  Next up on the needles is a Merino and Silk yarn from Berroco I picked up at Sievers, I’m making a vest.  

I got home late Friday night.  My daughter has moved back home, which isn’t a terrible thing, I do enjoy her company, but the down side is she moved back home with all her stuff.  And she has a studio that exceeds the quantity of yarn and looms  I have collected over the last 40 years.  Much of the equipment is temperature sensitive, meaning looms can’t sit in the garage all winter, besides, I want my garage bay back, winter is coming.  She moved home to take a job at a research facility, which sadly still pays less than she will need to get out on her own, but it is a good career move.  She had only unpacked a few boxes in the week I was away.  

Because I care a lot about looms and keeping them in optimal conditions, I decided, really reluctantly, to make room in my studio, my lovely roomy recently redone studio, for two additional 8 shaft 45″ looms.  Sigh.  This means that now to work in my studio, I need to shimmy sideways around the furniture like the cutting table, ironing board, and of course numerous large looms.  I’m not happy, but it needed to be done for now.  My son will be deploying to the middle east again in January, and I’m hoping she can take at least one of the large looms and move to the basement to take over his space until she can afford to move herself out.

Winter is coming…

Meanwhile, I got word that my duster coat won the HGA award at the Blue Ridge Fiber Festival in Asheville, an award that has always alluded me, and now I can say I finally got one.  And my latest article is out, this time in Heddlecraft Magazine, an online digital handweaving publication, a terrific magazine, if you are a handweaver, you should be subscribing.  My article is titled Ten tips for inspiring good design and better creativity.  I had a blast writing it.

And today, I joined a local chapter of the American Sewing Guild for a field trip to a historic site in Morristown, NJ, called Acorn Hall.  It is mid 1800’s Italianate Victorian mansion, part of the Morris County Historical Society, and they have just installed a wonderful exhibit in the rooms of the mansion called “Iconic Culture: From Little Black Dress to Bell Bottoms, A Cultural Retrospective, 1920-1979.”  We had a private tour and it was a great way to spend the afternoon.  The garments were lovely staged among the period furnishings in this grand home, and all of this only 20 minutes from my house.  

Grass does not ever grow under my feet.  My dad was right.  Reluctantly, I always figure it out.  

And now dear readers, I am going to hide in my studio for a week, coming out only to answer the back log of emails, pay my quarterly sales taxes and monthly bills, and fill out a few contracts for 2019, and the rest of the time will be devoted to prepping the scripts and step-outs for three days of video shoots the following week with Threads Magazine.  I’m having anxiety attacks over the amount of work I still have to do, but my dad and my late husband’s confidence in me keeps me moving forward.  48 hours after I finish the video shoot, I start the trek down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for another five day garment construction retreat.  

Stay tuned…


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October 14, 2018 9:45 pm

Small correction. Crystal Bridges Museum is the pet project of Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Still .. it is all in the family

October 14, 2018 10:17 pm

I so enjoyed this blog, Daryl… I can’t resist commenting. First, what an amazing story about the lace carriage! Then, I was delighted to learn about Eureka Springs because I’m planning to be near there later this week. On Wednesday I start a road trip east, stopping Thursday and Friday nights at Bentonville, AR, specifically to visit the Crystal Bridges Art Museum. Eureka Springs was just added to my itinerary. Finally, I’ll be visiting the Blue Ridge Fiber show in a couple of weeks… congratulations on your HGA award! I’ll send you a photo.

Jacquie Tinch
Jacquie Tinch
October 15, 2018 7:23 am

I know exactly where you’re coming from with letting grass grow – my dearly loved other half is good at encouraging me do things for myself even though it would sometimes be much quicker and easier for him to do them, and often end up with a more professional result. Strangely he doesn’t like it when I try to do it back to him so I do sometimes wonder if he’s really doing it to encourage my skills and independence, or because (hush my mouth) he can’t be bothered!

Alice Sharick
Alice Sharick
October 15, 2018 8:07 am

As always, I am blown away by your blog. Congratulations on your award. I loved the photos of and story about the lace carriage! In addition to your weaving and many other skills, you are a fantastic travel guide! I want to visit all the places that you described. Stay warm in your beautiful sweater!

Nancy Weber
Nancy Weber
October 15, 2018 10:28 am

Wow — the Lace exhibit looked like it extraordinary! Beautiful! We’re home from the East Coast and week in Boston. I blubbered when we passed by the Statue of Liberty in NYC as I never expected in my life to ever see her in person. Missed the ‘color’ by 10 days, they said. Oh, well, we saw some. The Arkansas trip sounds like it was refreshing for you and glad you got to a place in the US you really, really liked! Enjoy your week in the studio — time to think, plan, and energize and do some creative things.… Read more »

October 15, 2018 2:32 pm

What a wonderful story – the lace princess blew me away & I’m sure it was quite a delightful surprise that your daughter not only remembered it, but the book was still on your self. Funny about Arkansas – I moved to the Austin, TX area 30yrs ago from NYC. There was a weaving shop, which is still here, The town was filled with runners, which was also very important to me the time. I thought that this was the only place in the whole area that a nice (Jewish) girl from NY could live. Wrong! A few years ago… Read more »

October 15, 2018 7:41 pm

…and I am SO GLAD that you do not let that grass grow under your feet, because I cannot tell you how much I enjoy reading all of your blog posts. I can live vicariously through them – hope that is the right use of that phrase! You always inspire me tremendously! Living in Texas, we have had the opportunity to visit Eureka Springs – love the town – and Red Scottie Fibers is SO AWESOME and Crystal Bridges is an absolute treasure – so glad you were able to enjoy them all, and I am hoping that maybe I… Read more »

Meg Wilson
October 16, 2018 11:02 pm

OMG! Fred and I were just in New Orleans and there is a Louise Bourgeois’ spider in the City Park there across from where we got beignets. I had no idea!
Daryl, my name for you is engergizer bunny! Grass has no chance! Meg

Kathy Inozarks
Kathy Inozarks
October 17, 2018 8:24 am

Wow, all I can say is that I totally enjoyed reading your post today

Mary Still
Mary Still
October 21, 2018 2:15 pm

I just love your blog! Thank you for it! For the enlightening, personal stories and the peek into your workspace and family!

Carole Herrick
Carole Herrick
November 3, 2018 5:03 am

Hi Daryl, I’m trying to order your Advanced Inkle Loom Digital Monograph. It’s so complicated, after trying 3 times I gave up with all the information requested, such as a phone number. I live in Israel, gave my phone number but it was rejected. We have PayPal which is so easy but I can’t seem to get the right info to order from you. Can you help? Thanks. I enjoy your blog, am a weaver.

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