It lives…

Most of the handweaving community by now is aware of the F & W Media debacle over the past few months, F & W Media owned just about every craft, art, farming, woodworking, and a slew of other publications in the country, with the exception of Taunton Press, still valiantly publishing up there in CT (They publish Threads Magazine).  F & W had been on an acquisition frenzy over the past few years, and had acquired Interweave Press, publisher of Handwoven Magazine, among other important fiber publications in knitting and spinning.  F & W declared bankruptcy early this past spring.  All of use who were owed royalties will never see them paid.  More importantly, the fear in the fiber community of our print institutions’ survival was a complete unknown.

In June, a “fire sale” as the legal rep I talked to handling the whole affair called it, (I was of course one of the people who will never get paid royalties due from last spring) was held, I think somewhere in Delaware.  I sat glued to my Google search engine for a week to find out what happened.  The F & W Craft Division, was successfully bid on by a company…

Macanta Investments, a private-investment partnership for Terence O’Toole and his family, put up $2.85 million for F+W’s crafts group that includes a network of 10 knitting, sewing and needlework magazines, along with nine quilting titles.

O’Toole is a managing partner of Tinicum Inc., an investment firm that bought a majority interest of F+W in 2014.

This mediapost article has a few more details, but F & W Craft Division including Interweave’s Handwoven Magazine will live on assuming the goal of this acquisition was to keep publishing.  The book division was sold just prior to the auction to Penquin Books, so hopefully it is in good hands.  A quick perusal of the Interweave Press website shows all the books gone, but digital content is still available for sale and is being heavily promoted.  These would include my five webinar series on Sewing with Handwovens.  

There is a lot of buzz on social media that makes me sort of sad.  Full disclosure, I was the Features Editor for Handwoven Magazine from about 2002 to around 2007, writing in every issue for 35 issues straight.  Madelyn van der Hoogt was my editor and I enjoyed every minute I spent under her careful and watchful eye.  I’d like to say she was responsible for my career as a journalist, as I’ve now written more than 100 articles in various publications and have even branched into video.  

But it all started at Handwoven Magazine.  The buzz on social media complains that the  magazine isn’t what it used to be, that the projects are mostly for rigid heddle weavers, that there isn’t a lot of content, that it is very thin, and a discussion ensues about cancelling subscriptions in protest, or stopping advertising, because, well no one reads the magazine anymore.  In fact I stopped writing for them because of the reduced rate of author compensation.  That said, Handwoven Magazine has been around for 40 years.  How do I know this?  An advance copy of the September/October issue is sitting on my desk because I have an article in it.  

There has been no other weaving publication that has hung in for so long and provided so much content as Handwoven Magazine.  I have every issue on my shelf and it is an incredible wealth of knowledge.  Many of the issues are available digitally, so they don’t take up shelf space, but I’m a paper kind of gal.  My art and weaving library is huge, because I’m a writer and a researcher and a creative person and well, there is nothing like a spread of a half dozen reference materials across my floor or cutting table as I compare content for an article.  I did a quick perusal of this issue, their 40th anniversary, Issue XXXX number 4.  (Yeah I know that the Roman Numeral for 40 is XL which is also a size, and XXXX reads better!)

The issue is thin.  Publishing print isn’t what it use to be.  My favorite current weaving magazine is of course Heddlecraft, published by Robyn Spady, but that publication is digital only with no advertising.  It is theme specific, provides extensive drafts, and has some lovely features columns.  But I doggedly continue to subscribe to Handwoven because it still provides inspiration, articles, and advertising, so I’m on top of what’s new, who is selling what, who’s who and who is writing what, and I will often use one of their dishtowel drafts for my annual dishtowel warp.  This issue is about remembering.  It has a look back over the six editors of Handwoven Magazine, and comments from them.  It has projects that reference many of those editors.  It has a sweet article from Sherrie Miller, whom I adore, about the Weaving Hall of Fame, a look back over those who have contributed most to the craft.  I get a mention at the end, which I totally did not expect.  I have an article on Weaving a Memory.  It is a technique I’ve taught in the past, and have a full monograph available for more content. (The link is for the digital version, there is also a bound paper version available.)

And there are projects, one rigid heddle, one for a pin loom, and plenty for four shaft looms and one for an eight shaft.  The ads are colorful and remind us of who is still out there selling supplies to handweavers.  There is a great look back over the 50 year career of Schacht Looms.  And a wonderful side bar about the decision to start offering projects at Handwoven Magazine, and why.  I never knew that part of the story. And Tom Knisely has a great article on weaving borders.  So here’s the thing.  There aren’t many print publications left.  Heddlecraft is digital only, and Weavers Craft will publish their last issue, #32 this year.  They also had no advertising.  You can still get back issues of Weavers Magazine (44 in total, have them all) and Prairie Wool Companion (16 in total, have many of them, still looking)  and the Weavers Journal (I’m still collecting them as well).  There is VAV magazine, a Swedish publication, really wonderful, which has been translated into English since 2006.  You can get back copies of that magazine from The Loom Room.  And so we have Handwoven Magazine.  It is important for the handweaving community to rally around and support what we have left, because even though you can find anything you want to know on youtube, there is something to still be revered and respected about holding the latest issue of anything.  I get very few magazines anymore.  I get this one. And of course, Threads.

And since I have every issue, I still use them for reference.  Especially my own articles.  Especially the Color Forecast.  I have almost all of the original content that was photographed for the magazine, the color chip cards and the yarn wraps.  I use them all the time for instant color and inspiration.  I just leafed through my binder and randomly picked the palette for Jan/Feb 2004 issue, called Retro, part of the Fall 2004-5 forecast.

And I gathered all of the yarns I had on all of my shelves, leftover bits in bins, hand dyed skeins, and wound a scarf warp in four parts…  The last part was the supplemental ribbons.

I spent yesterday threading this baby, and this afternoon I’m going to get it beamed, mostly because I don’t want 14 yards of warp chains lying around the floor to tempt my animals.  Hahahahah!

I often thought that it would be fun for Interweave Press to put together a digital collection of all of the forecasts I wrote, there are some pretty inspiring palettes.  I would know since I researched and wrote them!

I’m heading off to renew the Handwoven Subscription for our weaving guild.  I’m the treasurer so I get to write the checks.  Keep those issues coming…

Stay tuned…

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All over the place…

I’ve been back from my last conference about a week and a half.  I leave next week for another venue, this time a five day class up at Peters Valley.  This isn’t one of my regular offerings, this one I do as a favor to Peters Valley, since they have a great facility, with all the equipment, looms, some yarn, and since I can drive there, I can bring some of my own stash for students to use.  The class is Designing and Weaving Handwoven Yardage.  I’ve refined this class a lot since I started teaching this there in the mid 1980’s.  Since it isn’t something I do regularly, and I’m always coming up with new ways to teach things, I have more than the regular prep, so I was grateful for some downtime in between.

I’ve actually had fun this last week and a half, moving from one project to another, catching up on things, weeding the vegetable garden, you don’t want to know, doing some minor household repairs, though I still have to change the fridge water filter.  That warning light annoys me every time I open the fridge.  I’ve had the opportunity to do a couple of social things, a luncheon with old friends, a couple theater experiences, all which constitutes a balanced life, which is the thing I strive for most and the thing that alludes me the most.

I’ve taken care of bookkeeping, filing quarterly sales tax returns,  applying to various events, and the regular stuff that businesses are made of.  

More importantly I’ve been able to play.  First up was to clear a loom that had yardage on it, because well, I could use the sample, fresh off the loom, and since I’m going to be teaching a yardage class…  I was thrilled when the knots came up over the back beam.  The cat was watching…

The yardage turned out beautifully, all washed and rolled up.  This is mostly rayons and rayon cotton combinations, an odd assortment of things on my shelf I combined in a repeated pattern.  It is my most favorite way to work.  This was just a combination of plain weave and twill, on eight shafts, one of the things I’ll be discussing in the workshop next week.  I think I’ll call it driftwood…

Meanwhile, I’ve had a number of requests from younger students, who tell me that they only want to make and wear things with hoods.  I’m laughing, not a silhouette I ever considered adding to my vast offerings, but when the 5th or 6th person asked, I thought to myself, self, you could easily add a hood to the tunic pattern.  And I’ve also had enough guys in my classes that offering more of a men’s shirt sleeve in the tunic, essentially a drop shoulder, could easily be an option, so I thought I’d draft both onto my existing fit model.  The current tunic has a set in sleeve, the same one I use in my jacket patterns. 

The newer version ends up looking more like a man’s tunic.  Though I realize the line between gender specific silhouettes is blurring so much it is often indistinguishable, offering two different types of sleeves is not a big deal.  As a matter of fact, the original tunic I made had this sleeve.

I spent a few days drafting and testing the new version of the tunic.  And of course the cat couldn’t have been more helpful.

I made up the sample, in a bed sheet, in a fuller size so my daughter could try it on, because she is of the generation that prefers hoods on stuff, I’m not a good judge.  She loved it.  And she declared that the hood size was perfect.  She likes them big so she can cocoon or nest in them…  Whatever…

The patterns are drafted, notes taken for how to alter the direction sheet, adding probably another half dozen pages to the handout.  I’m still working out a few of the finishing options, I’ll probably make a sample to fit me out of real fabric, but the main part of the work is done and I have it drafted in all sizes.

Of course there is still the button down version with inseam buttonholes…

Meanwhile, as I was hanging out at the cutting table, I was also thinking about the sequence of what I’m teaching next week, because I needed to create an extensive handout, and design slides would be important.  I thought about some of the demos I’d do and that led me to look at my shelf and start designing the next yardage to go on the loom.  You know, since I have a now empty loom and all…

I gathered up things I thought might work in this new yardage, small bits of this and that, handdyed skeins I could demo with.  I found a half dozen spools with the remnants of a handpainted rayon from a challenge project I did back in 2007.  The spools were dusty but very usable.  Time to clear them.  I prewound a circular warp to show the students how to line up variegated yarn for an ombré effect.

My daughter came home the other night with a new basket she had made, as the fiber assistant at Peters Valley this summer, she gets to sit in on all the classes and the one this past weekend was a basket making class.  I immediately claimed it for my own.  Well the cat did first…

Meanwhile, I finally sat down to start weaving on the dishtowel warp I put on last month.  Too many empty looms lying around not doing their job, and so I got a head start on the dish towel run for the year.  The draft is an alternate colorway from a draft from Webs, the Kaleidoscope towels.  Loving this.  I’ll do a few with a black weft and then change to something else.  I usually design my own structures and warps, but once in awhile, it is just a peaceful and gentle choice to buy a draft and weave someone else’s work. Sometimes it is lovely not to have to think so much…

Meanwhile I’m steadily working on a 165 slide program for an early music group I belong to, Montclair Early Music.  This one involves works of Rembrandt and music from the 17th century.  It is a huge project, one I reluctantly agreed to, but now that I’m in the middle of it and most of it is in place, just the timings and the commentary and the captions on the slides to finalize and polish, I remember why I agreed to do it.  I’m really good at this sort of thing.  I like researching stuff, and have plenty of references in my vast library of art books, and I’m learning a ton.  I’m not a huge fan of 17th century Dutch masters, but the geo political situation, fresh off the Spanish Inquisition, is just too interesting.  Imagine no more commissions by the church or the aristocracy, where artists had to rely on common people for commissions and revenue.  Sort of like things are today…  Makes you think…

Meanwhile, the latest of my videos on Threads Insider is available, this one on covering and installing shoulder pads.  It is weird watching yourself on TV so to speak, but I’m really happy with what they’ve done, and what I said, and what I showed, and I can’t wait until they put up the rest.  Threads Insider is a subscription service, if you already get Threads magazine, it is something like $12 additional for the year, but well worth it, the videos are wonderful, short about specific techniques, and there are lots of ideas there which I know have influenced some of my work.  

Stay tuned…

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Shutting down the rumor mill…

Word gets out fast, and it isn’t always accurate.

So first, let me say that I’m not giving up teaching.  I like to teach, I adore my students and I’m looking forward to developing new patterns and new techniques for them.

What I don’t want to do anymore are conferences. And not because I can’t deal with another conference tote bag, I probably have about 100…

Let me explain.

This was the Pearls Before Swine comic in yesterday’s paper when I sat down to have my breakfast yesterday morning.  It really explains where my head is at…

I just returned from the Mid Atlantic Fiber Association Conference in Millersville, PA.  Typically regional conferences are held at college campuses, mostly for cost reasons.  And typically they work well for a venue like this.  The MAFA conference was a large success from what I’ve seen, and the feedback I heard, and the posts on social media I’ve seen.  It came on the heels of Midwest, which was held in Iowa, and ANWG which was held the week before that in Prince George, BC.  There were instructors who taught at all three.  And I understand that NEWS, the regional conference in NE is right around the corner.  I have done all of these conferences, though this year, I only applied and was accepted to teach at MAFA.  Thank God.

As I was sitting in traffic for the long three plus hour drive there, (actually it was short compared to what many of the participants had to endure) I thought hard about what I was feeling and why.  30 years ago this coming December I remember feeling extreme burnout, my attitude about everything was in the toilet, I was cranky and tired and I was also 8 months pregnant.  I struggled to get through my last craft fair.  After an amazing ten year run, in 1989 I had decided I’d had enough, and I stopped applying to craft fairs.  Actually I had made this decision in 1988, but when you book a year or two in advance, once you make the decision not to apply anymore, you have to see through everything you’ve already promised to do.  Because that’s how I work.  I made the commitment and I only ever had to cancel twice in my life, once when I went in to have a mastectomy, and the second time when my husband died.  I’ve taught through the flu, chemo, my husband in intensive care, I’ve taught through a ruptured ovarian cyst, and back pain issues.  I’ve had fevers, I’ve had missing bags and stomach viruses, but the show must go on.  

Guild work, or small venues like Harrisville or Sievers allows more personal attention to the instructor.  I know I sound like a diva, and maybe at this point in my life I’ve earned that right, but I left craft fairs 30 years ago, and though I missed the camaraderie of the other artists, I never once regretted the decision.  My attitude had gotten so bad I no longer wanted to weave.  I don’t want that to happen again, but see the writing on the wall.  I am in demand more than ever, and looking at my in box and all the request for guild venues while I was at the MAFA conference, starting in 2021 just made me scared.

Conferences themselves are hard on the instructors.  Yes, the participants are often dragging looms, and disabled attendees have to navigate buildings that are accessible but often require traveling around campus in very convoluted routes to find ramps and elevators.  There is always a lot of walking, to the dorms, to the dining hall, to the classroom and back.  MAFA was one of the easier conferences to navigate, it wasn’t very hilly.  But walk and haul I did.  I carry a lot of baggage, and it is quite different backing up to a building where you are teaching and having the staff help you unload, when you are the only teacher vs 400 conference participants and 50 – 75 instructors.  Everyone needs help.  The volunteers who help with loading in and loading out are saints.  And of course there is also the vendor hall.  And the installation of exhibits.  Conference coordinators have a reserved place in heaven, it is a thankless job, they are pushed beyond limits and there is always someone who isn’t happy.  I remember attending Convergence Rhode Island a few years ago with my daughter in tow.  I wasn’t teaching.  I drove around the state looking at all the fibery exhibits and got a one day pass to the conference.  It was amazing and non stressful and inspiring but I was so grateful I wasn’t participating.  

All of my teacher friends’ social media sites are lighting up with the news that they have been accepted to teach at the next Convergence in Knoxville.  There are new faces just breaking into the scene, and many seasoned veterans.  I never applied.  I looked at all their enthusiasm and was so pleased for all of them but so grateful I didn’t apply.  I was hugely relieved.

Saturday night, towards the end of the conference, I woke up on my plastic covered dorm mattress and felt that dreaded twinge, my sciatic was acting up again.  I had a restless night and it went downhill from there.  That’s twice in the last month and a half.  It is hard to stand upright and hard to haul stuff.  It is hard to sit in a car for three plus hours home, and hard to sit at the computer answering all the email requests for future work.  And I also came home to more than $500 worth of orders for books and interfacings from my eShop.  So I painfully sat at the computer all day yesterday printing and binding and packing.  Typically my wonderful office assistant would do this, but she closed on her home yesterday and has moved away.  I am alone. And missing her terribly.   But I carried on…

I only have two weeks before the next venue, a five day yardage class at Peters Valley.  I love the Valley and am looking forward to teaching in the new weaving studio, but I need the full two weeks of prep.  Right now I work an hour, rest an hour and work another hour.  The animals never leave my side.

So the bottom line is I’m done with conferences.  I recognize burn out, I’ve been down this road before.  I will really miss sitting on a plastic dorm mattress with my fellow instructors talking about the things that are important to us, plastic water bottles full of wine, just like I really missed getting together with the other exhibiting artists in craft fairs after I stopped.  I have made some life long friends in this business, but my life has changed drastically since my husband’s death three years ago, and I’m now responsible for all of it.  I want to weave and paint and play music and write articles and teach on my terms.

My beloved suitcase didn’t survive the trip, actually it didn’t survive the Boise debacle, which I think I talked about a couple of posts ago, and so, as I was packing to go, I researched replacement suitcases and what I needed just isn’t made anymore. I refuse to use suitcases with spinney wheels.  The best I could do was a 29″ Pullman from REI.  It is narrower than the one it is replacing, but well made and guaranteed.  I’m hoping I can still fit 70 pounds of clothing into it.

I only took one photo while I was on the road.  I took a quick snapshot of the class, there were sixteen of them, and they were all wonderfully incredible and enthusiastic.  The class was called Custom Fit and Fabulous.  They learned how to fit their bodies and particular fit issues, while trying on my loaded suitcase full of samples in all sizes.  They traced patterns until they were cross eyed.  With an aching back, I lectured for a couple hours on Sunday morning and there were really wonderful responses from what they learned.  It is a terrific class for a 2 1/2 day format, typical of a conference.  

On of the conference attendees walked around the studio walk through Saturday night where all the instructors in their classrooms talked about what they were teaching, she got this shot of me selling my little heart out! Thanks Alison!

And I debuted my new silhouette, the swing dress, which is now out in the latest Threads Magazine, I believe issue 204, mine was waiting at the post office when I went in today to get my mail.  I drafted the dress in all sizes, wrote the handout, and crossed my fingers.  Everyone who tried it on seemed to love the fit, minor tweaks for some, but I’m so happy I nailed it.

I know I keep getting letters as to why I don’t offer my patterns for sale.  And I keep trying to explain that it isn’t that simple.  The venue for me to offer digital downloadable patterns doesn’t yet exist for me.  It will take me a couple of years to scan everything, and convert to vector drawings and then convert to a downloadable size PDF.  That is a huge goal, but not possible while I’m on the road all the time.  And I’d love to have a video archive.  I had so much fun shooting videos for Threads Insider last fall, I’d love to have a group of my own, short videos on weaving and sewing techniques for weavers.  But I can’t do that while I’m on the road teaching all the time.

And so, yes, I’ll continue to teach, to go where I’m asked, but no, I’m not doing conferences anymore and yes, I’m in talks with Montana about their short gathering next summer, because it is still easy to twist my arm…  

Stay tuned…

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Helping out an old friend…

Many of you know that today is the third anniversary of my husband’s death.  All of us deal with anniversaries, both sad ones and happy ones in different ways.  My children each have their own way of dealing with the death of their father, but my way is always to stay as busy as I can, acknowledge the passing of a major event, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  A series of coincidences led me to today’s adventure, I told my daughter that my new philosophy is, “It isn’t worth doing if you can’t make an adventure out of it…”.  

I’d like to crack a joke here and say that what would any self respecting fiber enthusiast do during the anniversary of a very sad event, and the answer of course would be, “Go yarn shopping.”  I don’t know if that is really an appropriate joke, given the gravity of what today stood for, but in my own way, knowing this was coming, I planned to do just that.  To keep busy and do something I haven’t done before, (of course I’ve bought yarn many times) but not in these circumstances.

Let me explain…

Back in the early 1980’s, when I was new to the craft fair circuit, I have this clear recollection of this couple, Maureen and David, who would come down the aisle at every craft fair in the northeast, showing all the handweavers their line of yarn.  They were new to the business, though David dealt in mill end yarns, Maureen and David decided to put together a regular reproducible line of yarns, ones that no other weaver was working with or could find.  Rayon, and rayon silk yarns were just starting to become accessible to the handweaving market and they were the ones who ushered in a new era of wonderful, high end yarns in gorgeous colors and innovative fibers.  They called their yarn company Silk City Fibers.  

Many of the weavers from that era, including myself, and my friend Candiss Cole all used their yarns.  It was easy to set up a wholesale account, you just needed a tax number, which was easy to obtain, still is.  During the prime of my craft fair career, I probably spent $8,000 a year on yarn, which back in the 80’s was a lot of money.  Silk City Fibers got its name because it was located in Paterson NJ, which was considered for many years in the 1800’s the Silk Capital of the Northeast.  Paterson NJ was 15 minutes from my house.  Silk City Fibers was housed in an old warehouse, a kind of slum of a place, cold and dark and dank but they had yarns.  A number of years ago, they opened the warehouse one Saturday a month, and you could find all kinds of bargains, discontinued colors and styles, at very reasonable prices.  I tried to avoid going there because 1, I didn’t need anymore yarn, and 2, I always came home with yarn I didn’t need.  Because who could resist.  Mostly I was usually traveling when the warehouse was open, so that was always a good thing.

In the early years I would visit Silk City, sometimes to pick out yarn for a project for Handwoven magazine, or sometimes to consult with David or Maureen.  Sometimes they even had me consult on colors.  I remember many many years ago picking out furnishings with Maureen for a NYC showroom they were opening.  That was a long time ago.

Since I’m no longer a production weaver, I don’t really need to buy yarn in quantity and sadly there are a number of, too many really, opportunities to restock the stash when a beloved weaver in the guild dies.  Many of the older members had large stashes of Silk City Fibers.  I remember one recent studio sale from a weaver who passed who was sitting on huge multiple pound cones of white Silk City Contessa, a rayon and silk yarn that had been discontinued a long time ago and is still my most favorite yarn I’ve ever used.  I bought all of for dyeing.  And when my friend Candiss had one of her weavers return yarn from many years ago when the weaver was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Candiss passed all of it on to me for a price I couldn’t refuse.  All of it gorgeous Silk City Fibers.

Last year I got word that Silk City Fibers was sold.  David retired and the whole enterprise was purchased by Lion Brand Yarn.  Huge knitting yarn manufacturer.  Available everywhere.  The word was that they wanted to expand into the weaving market.  I don’t know how true that is, but that dank dark basement warehouse moved, with everything in it, to Lion Brand’s gorgeous spacious facility in Carlstadt, which is only about 30 minutes from me.  Silk City has only been in their new digs about 4 months.

Alice who the Silk City Fiber yarn development director, and an old friend, lives in my town.  We ran into each other at Shoprite a couple of weeks ago.  She caught me up to date on everything and talked about how to get the word out about Silk City Fibers to a new generation of weavers.  We talked about conferences, we talked about social media.  We talked about getting a flier into the conference bags at the Mid Atlantic Association Weavers Conference which is in about 10 days.  I’ll be teaching there.  Here is the flier they came up with…

So I decided that today, I needed an adventure, one that would take me out of the house and away from the memories of what today is, and I got in my car and drove to Carlstadt.  The GPS struggled to find the facility and I ended up lost in a town full of warehouses, but I called them and they talked me back to the correct location.  Wow, just wow.

The outlet store, filled from one end to the other of Lion Brand Knitting yarn is open 6 days a week, every day but Saturday.  So on a Sunday afternoon, when everyone is watching football this fall, drive yourself down there all of my peeps in North Jersey.  Wow, just wow.  There is a lovely classroom set up along the side wall, and in there are racks and bins of labeled coned Silk City Yarns, not nearly the selection that the old warehouse held, but in my discussions with the women who worked in the outlet, there are thousands more cones still to be labeled and put out.  And there are bargains. 

The outlet is opened to the public and for anyone living in NJ or NY, it is a great destination for an afternoon of serious yarn shopping. Of course I ended up with two carts full of yarn I didn’t need, but still had to come home with me. Much of the yarn was between $1, $3, and $5 a cone.

Silk City Fibers is actually a wholesale enterprise.  You need a resale/tax number in order to be able to order from them online.  That isn’t a difficult thing to obtain.  But they have no minimums.  As long as you have a tax number, you can order cottons, rayons, wools, their famous Bambu line, and all sorts of fabulous stuff, one cone at a time.  Alice is hoping to expand their 5/2 perle cotton colors, and no one has better rayons than Silk City Fibers.  Skinny Majesty, Avanti, Linen, rayon Chenille, they are all still there, in gorgeous colors and available wholesale.   For those of you who don’t have a resale number, many yarn suppliers like Cotton Clouds are still great retailers who can get anything you want from them, or order online directly from their retail site.

And so, I’m going to go down to my car and unpack six large shopping bags and fondle my goods.  It got me through today.  I’m grateful for coincidences that led me to today’s adventures.  I will be fine…

Stay tuned…

 

1,804 views

The dust has finally settled…

What a week.  From absolutely brilliantly successful to completely terrifying and everything in between…  And yes, this is my life.  I suppose if I were really really honest, in spite of my complaining, I really do love what I do.  I just wish at times it didn’t have to be so intense…

I flew uneventfully to Helena MT via Denver on June 7th.  My lovely new friend Dawn picked me up and drove me the four miles to the college campus where I was to give two solid days of lectures to almost 60 weavers across Montana.  I will say up front that not only is it really really tough to be entertaining and articulate for two solid days, it is harder I’m guessing to listen to lectures for two solid days.  But they did.  I had just the best most interested group of women (there might have been a guy in there somewhere, I didn’t look really carefully, I just know there were a lot of people out there in that audience…)  They asked questions, they were eager, they were excited and inspired, and when it was all done, I got a standing ovation.  That hasn’t happened in awhile.  It reminded me of why I love what I do.  Someone even ran out at one point and bought me a box of lidocaine patches for my sciatica which for the most part continued to heal, as long as I don’t sit for hours at a time…  Hahahahah!

The committee for the Montana Association of Weavers and Spinners Conference for next June, 2020 sat me down and tried to bribe me to come.  I tried to explain that I’m done with conferences, but they weren’t having it.  Made me smile, and actually consider coming back…

Sunday night I packed up, loaded everything into Dawn’s car and we were to her house in McAllister, MT within a couple of hours.  We had wine on the deck while her accommodating husband made steaks on the grill.  This was the view from her deck.  

Dawn had her husband drive me down to the lake, just down the road, in this…

And this is the “lake”.  This is so far from anything I’ve every seen in my small but diverse and pretty state of NJ.  He gave me a geographical rundown of their lake and its tributaries and where they eventually feed, which would be the Missouri, maybe I’d heard of it…

Dawn and I set off the next morning for the 7 hour drive to Boise Idaho.  There was a lot of flat land, scrub, mountains in the distance, with a town about every hour where we stopped and refueled and grabbed a bite to eat.  Mostly what struck me were the road signs.  This one says “Bear Aware, Food Storage Required”  The paw print is that of a grisly.  I’m definitely not in NJ.

So we were driving through the Targhee National Forest, home of the Targhee sheep, developed by the USDA, a dual-purpose breed, with heavy, medium quality wool and good meat production characteristics.  I’ll be damned…

And this sign.  I have this vague recollection of the Continental Divide, from my early grammar school geography classes (I wish I paid better attention) and yeah, this is a thing.  With signs and everything.  The feeling was kind of like standing on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich England.  

And of course, this made me smile.  Leaving Montana, welcome to Idaho.  I can drive through four states in a couple hours where I live, going north or south, but this….  Yeah, these are pretty big states and I didn’t scratch the surface…

And then it was on to Boise, ID.  The city itself is gorgeous, clean, modern, diverse, thriving and we ate at a couple of great restaurants. The classroom, in a church all purpose room, was bright and roomy and we had plenty of space.  I love that they were able to put the ironing boards in out of the way places to space out the electrical needs.

The Handweavers Guild of Boise Valley was a great fun and enthusiastic group, all were weavers, some brought commercial fabric but most brought their handwoven fabrics.  Most everyone made a jacket, some with shawl collars, and one student made a vest.  Her fabric was handwoven, probably from India with a decorator fabric trim for the bands.  And Jenni, second from the right, who has taken my jacket class before, is making the tunic.  What you can’t see is the gorgeous placket down the front, with in-seam buttonholes, no machine made buttonholes on this baby!  She just needed sleeves and buttons.

Keep in mind that this was a three day class, they all still have a lot of handwork to do, along with tons of tailor’s tacks to remove, my rule is they can’t remove any until I’m safely back in NJ.  Scroll down for that debacle…  Dawn is on the right in the middle photo.  She forgot her fabric, left the box sitting at the door, a gorgeous wool made with Zephyr wool and silk, and so after a quick run to a nearby Joann’s she compromised with a chenille upholstery fabric.  

And here is the class of 2019, Guild of Boise Valley, plus my hostess and transport from MT who got to take the class as compensation for the drive across the Continental Divide…

Friday morning I took my time getting to the airport.  When I’m heading to a destination, I always take the first flight out, planes are serviced, crews are fresh, and in the summer the air hasn’t become too volatile, and I rarely have delays or travel issues.  When going home however, it is hard to ask my hostess to get up at 4am to get me to the airport.  So I arrived at 11, for a 1pm flight to Denver, we took off on time,  but as we approached Denver, we started circling.  Turns out a thunderstorm materialized out of nowhere, and though they thought circling for a bit would allow the storm to clear, it wasn’t and we would run out of gas…

So we were diverted to a very small airport in Western Colorado, called Grand Junction.  And I mean small.  We were supposed to stay on the plane while they refueled and wait for clearance to head back to Denver.  Then they discovered something wrong with the plane.  Apparently not repairable while we were in Grand Junction.  They requested a replacement plane.  The only one they could get was from Newark, and they were in a ground hold back home.  So they let us out of the plane, we walked across the tarmac, taking all our carry on belongings with us.  The terminal was tiny. There was one small food vendor where you could get some grill food and snacks, six gates, and a couple restrooms.  170 people instantly got in line at the food vendor.  Actually 169.  I did not.  United, to their credit, brought in something like 75 pizzas to feed us all, apparently when I inquired, they have an account with Domino’s.  Apparently this happens a lot…  I should have taken a picture of two tables with 75 pizzas right by the gate area.  You can’t make this up.  And the pizza was pretty good.  They had plain and pepperoni…

We stayed at Grand Junction, not allowed to leave the sterile area, because we didn’t have tickets to get us back through TSA.  We stayed 7 hours.  I read a great book, called The Gown by Jennifer Robson.  It was about the embroiderers who worked for Norman Hartnell and embroidered then Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown for her marriage to Lord Mountbatten.  It was a great way to be entertained for 7 hours.  And a huge thank you to all my friends in the area who volunteered to whisk me out of the airport for a proper night’s lodging, except I couldn’t take anyone up on that because we were’t allowed to leave the “sterile” area.  

I managed to get a seat on the last flight out of Denver, leaving around Midnight, arriving in Newark at 5am.  By the time we reboarded in Grand Junction and all the luggage was transferred, I made it to the Denver/Newark flight with 10 minutes to spare.

Red- eyes can be pretty interesting if you have a window seat and are actually awake when the sun starts to come up.  I was completely mesmerized, there was a thick cloud cover as we began to make our descent, which allowed a slim sliver of daybreak to shine through.  The last photo, if you look really carefully, you can see the silhouette of Manhattan along the horizon.  Not bad photos with a cell phone on a plane.  

And so, exhausted, with little sleep on the plane, it was only a 3 1/2 hour trip, I arrived on Saturday morning at 5am.  With no bags.  Sadly my two 70 pound monsters that hold my entire life’s work, did not follow me home.  I made a claim and then jumped in a cab, since I’d had to cancel my limo service and they had no available cars at 5am with such short notice. (When I contacted them at midnight Denver time, it was 2am in NJ, so I really can’t argue…)  It was oddly freeing to jump in a cab with a couple carry ons, missing 140 pounds of luggage.  Oddly freeing and terrifying.  

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details of that day, except to say that though my bags did eventually make it to Newark, they experienced all sorts of delays including an accident from the driver who was heading to work to pick up the bags from the airport, pushing the delivery pick up time into the next shift.  I was assured they would be to me by midnight, I’d already been up 36 hours straight, and when they didn’t show by 2am, I had to come to terms with what would happen if I did not get them back.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say my garment construction teaching career would be over, because I don’t have it in me to spend the next couple of years recreating all the samples.  I laid awake until 2am thinking about where my life would take me should that happen, this has been an issue for most of my teaching career.  I’ve been very very lucky.  

What I did decide though, was the need to at least scan and digitize each of my patterns.  It is my goal to eventually make them available for sale, but it will be a couple of years process, one I’m not ready to undertake at the moment, but if the patterns were safe digitally, at least I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.  I’ve made arrangements with my sister, who is an architect and lives in Maryland to stop there on the way home from the Outer Banks Retreat the beginning of November, and spend a couple of days doing sister bonding and scanning patterns.  She has a very large format printer/scanner/plotter.  

And at 7am Sunday morning, a small red beat up car pulled in my driveway, and I watched a guy hoist two 70 suitcases intact out of the hatch back and bring them to my front door.  All is well.  I gave him a good tip.  

And so, Sunday night, I finally began to catch up on my sleep.  I got my dogs, and the cat, and I began the lengthy process of unpacking and sorting through all the lengthy emails that came in while I was gone.  I really don’t mind when students and guilds contact me about all sorts of stuff, it is just when they all come in at once, each one a couple pages long, while I’m on the road, that makes me cranky and weary.  I still have a couple to answer, be patient, but mostly I’m caught up and prepping for the MAFA conference in PA in a couple of weeks.  I am driving to that.  Which is a whole ‘nother set of possibilities for things to go wrong.  But mostly I just sit back, do my job as best I can, and hope the Universe is on my side for today.

Stay tuned…

 

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