Ready to Go!

As chaotic as the couple of days before I leave for a trip are, I sort of like the frenzy and the tying up of all the loose ends.  And once I am on the road, I don’t have to think about anything that goes on while I’m away, I have a very competant husband, and the kids do just fine without me.  As a matter of fact they appreciate me more I think.  Course now, with a nineteen year old son living in the basement, he doesn’t have a whole lot of need for me anymore, and my daughter is away at camp.  So my husband will get into all sorts of adventures while I’m gone, like having a new driveway put in…

The weather here has been glorious, and yesterday was no exception.  After I did what I had to do in the studio, I took my lunch outside, and enjoyed the deck, except the neighbor decided to have a monstrous dump truck back into his backyard, and dump a gazillion pounds of stone down the back of the hill.  I sort of needed ear plugs to enjoy my lunch.  Once the truck left, I gathered my yellow legal pad, and a pencil, and the journals for one of the Designers’ Challenge Teams from 2008, and sat in my gazebo, listening to the birds, and the waterfalls, and the Mongolian wind chimes, and wrote my article for Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, the old fashioned way.  There is something to be said for a yellow legal pad and a pencil albeit a mechanical one.  (I love mechanical pencils, there is something about always having a crisp fresh point!)  It felt good to get that out of the way, and really good to just sit outside and enjoy the gardens.  I really tried hard to avert my eyes to all the myriad weeds that have sprouted with all the rains.  We have about 300 maple trees springing up all over the place.  They are only an inch tall, but they grow fast!

wool1fleeceThe crock pot is getting a much needed rest.  I have quite a collection of beautiful shades of wool, and there is still one batch drying on the rack in my studio.  There is plenty more fleece to dye, so I’ll crank that puppy up when I return.  I did scrub the bathrooms down today, so I’m not leaving a dye ring around the bathroom sink.  Since I’m dyeing the fleece in the grease, there is a bit of a lanolin ring around the bathroom sink, tinted with whatever color I used that day.  Comet is a wonderful thing…

My husband figured the crock was never coming back to the kitchen, so he went out and bought me a new one from Sears.  🙂

So today I worked on updating my files in the laptop, moving over presentations, my keynote address, burning additional CD’s and pen drives, just in case.  And this particular conference has me doing 6 different talks/seminars/workshops, so there is a huge amount of different materials to pack.  Because I’m not getting on an airplane this time, I have more flexibility in the suitcases, and I’m bringing equipment I can’t fly with that I don’t normally bring, packedlike a warping mill, and cone holder, for the class on Paddle Warping, and my larger inkle loom for the inkle loom workshop.  I have a suitcase or totebag for each of the seminar/workshops I’m teaching, that way I can be organized for each changeover, and I never know if my classes will all be in the same place.  I HATE when they aren’t!

I’ve printed out driving directions to the Amherst Inn where I’m staying for the conference.  The conference itself will be at Smith College, in Amherst, MA.  So I found an address for the college to plug into my trusty GPS.  And I loaded up a book on tape, except now it is a book on MP3 player, to listen to during the three hour car trip.

Now that I’m working again, there is a big discussion about updating my electronics, exciting on one hand, but a huge roll your eyes headache on another, while I adjust to new equipment and a huge learning curve.  I would dearly love to reduce my 25 pound computer/projector bag to just a few pounds, this is getting sort of critical with airplane travel.  So I’m looking to get a NetBook, and a much smaller digital projector, and upgrading from my trusty Palm Pilot (Ok so I live in the dark ages, it works for me…) to an iPod touch.  My tech savvy husband and girlfriend convinced me last night at dinner to try Google Calendar which syncs with my Outlook Calendar, and can also sync with my husband’s Google Calendar, and will eventually sync with an iPod Touch, and my head is already reeling…  I want to go back and play with wool…  So I tried to load into my Google Calendar two months worth of data, to see how I like using it, instead of the one I’ve used for years on my Palm, which sync’d up well with my computer.  And of course I desperately need to upgrade my office suite to Microsoft Office 2007, (I’m still using 2003) and I have to install and move all my bookkeeping over to Quicken because Microsoft Money is no longer being supported…  So much technology and so little time to learn it all.  The stupid thing about technology is you work at learning something, finally get a working proficiency at it, and the software and/or hardware changes and you have to start all over again.  Blissfully, handweaving is NOT like that.  You can hand weave the old fashioned way and get great satisfaction from four shafts, throwing the shuttle back and forth, and watching the threads slowly become cloth.  And sewing too, I have a high tech machine, but I sew my garments the same way I did when I learned 40 years ago, with a straight stitch, that goes forward and backward, a good pair of shears (now there is something that hasn’t changed since the beginning of time…) and a needle and thread, and yes, I still use a thimble.  So, sewing and handweaving are my antidotes for the swirl of technology that leaves my head in a frenzy.  And if the power goes out, I can still hand sew and throw a shuttle.  🙂

Dreary Day #37

Well it seems like it anyway.  The headlines of the newspapers talk about how much rain we have had for how many days straight.  It starts out promising in the morning, but by mid afternoon, thunderstorms, dreary rain, what else can one do but stay inside and play?  🙂

This was a great day for just laying low, and doing a mindless but necessary project.  My goal now is the conference next week, I leave for the New England Weavers Seminar in Massachusetts on Wednesday.  And I’m teaching an unusually large number of very different seminars, all needing specific prep.  There is the Inkle Weaving class, and though I will have students rent looms from WEBS , they may not have enough, and I need fifteen anyway for the following weekend when I teach a class down at the Jersey Shore for the Shore Guild.  So my daughter helped me out with that one.  She is quite the assembler…  Now they are all lined up across two of my looms, like little soldiers looms2waiting for active duty.

looms1Meanwhile, the crock pot is still going.  I gave up drying anything outside, and found two lovely pans that would keep my floor neat and avoid using all my bath towels.  So I’ve got a lovely green cooking in the pot, and the blue and a pinky taupe color are drying on the floor.  The burgundy from Monday is finally dry and in a bag.  I tried carding a little bit of the burgundy color and it is a really nice fleece.  I think it is a Corriedale cross.wool crock

While all that was happening, I worked on the Photographing your Work Seminar, and in this particular version, workshop participants are sending images of their work ahead so I can load them into PowerPoint and then critique the images after the main presentation.  I have a great group of images to work with, but they all had to be sized and popped into the PowerPoint slides.  So that’s finished.

I’m also giving another Color and Inspiration Seminar, like I did in Iowa last Saturday.  All those little quills of yarnmess I dumped on the table for the students to play with, are in a horrid jumble and really needed to be rewound onto the quills and refilled.  Students added to the pile, and those little reelings needed to be put onto quills as well.  I use to just carry a suitcase full of little balls of yarn, but those got just as unruly and it was a huge waste of space in my precious luggage allowance, so I got the idea a couple of years ago to wind off yarn onto bobbins.  There are too many to waste my plastic shuttle bobbins, though a fair windingamount of my plastic bobbins were in the bags.  I really needed to empty them.  I started by making paper quills from business card stock, but it was my daughter who came up with the idea of drinking straws.  They slipped perfectly on my small shank Swedish Bobbin Winder, and weigh almost nothing.  I’m all for weighing almost nothing…

So I sat today, for a number of hours, untangling, rewinding, tidyrefilling, and organizing a massive mess of yarn, carefully onto skinny plastic drinking straws, and turned the above disaster into this lovely organized bag of color.  I still have another bag to go, but tasks like this are what make my mind still and my creativity soar.  It’s like refolding fabrics neatly on a shelf, organizing fat quarters by color, or sorting buttons.  This is meditation for fiber enthusiasts.

In addition, I finally got to vacuum my poor house.  I seriously thought about bringing in the heavy artillary, a rake, but my old vacuum did the job, and I filled a vacuum bag with all the debris, tracked in crud from all the drenched blossoms and tree detritus, tracked yarns and threads from my studio, and general dust.  I’m a bit grateful we no longer have a dog, that would have really added to the mix.  Then I would have definitely voted for the rake…


I love living near New York City.  I will admit, that for many years, I’m embarassed to say how many, I avoided going into the city, working myself into a state, finding all kinds of reasons why I was too busy, but in the last couple of years, I have discovered two very important things.

NYC is an amazing place and like anything in life, you just have to practice.

It is critical that I get out of my studio and see what’s happening in the world if I want to be a player in art or fashion.

So, my daughter and I boarded the bus this morning from the transit center which is 5 minutes from my house, and within 40 minutes, we were in Port Authority Bus Terminal in mid-town Manhattan.  $12. round trip, you can’t beat it. The trip is usually faster but there was a particularly large amount of traffic this morning, summer tourism I’m thinking…

First stop, Columbus Circle via the C train, uptown, express.  The new digs for the Museum of Art and Design (MAD Museum) are just gorgeous.  They have space, their exhibits are classy and interesting, and they have a fantastic permanent collection of fine craft.  The exhibit we wanted to catch is leaving July 5, so we made that a priority.  The exhibit was titled Elegant Armor: The Art of Jewelry, featuring innovative pieces from the permanent collection, dating from 1940’s to the present.  Fortunately the website has a great selection of images from the show.  And I was thrilled to see a couple of pieces from craftsmen I use to exhibit with when I did craft fairs in the 1980’s, like Tom Mann, and Bob and Loes Pfuelb and Arline Fisch, yep, that Arline Fisch who wrote the book Textile Techniques in Metal.  We really loved this exhibit, and there were drawers full of additional pieces we didn’t have time to open.  I would have loved to have gone back, spent the day with a sketch book, so I’ll do the next best thing, I already have my order ready to go on Amazon for the catalog.  The pictures are gorgeous.

We left Columbus Circle, continuing uptown on the C train local, and got out in front of the Museum of Natural History at 82nd Street.  My intent was to find the entrance to Central Park, and walk across the park to the MET, but there was a huge sign hanging outside the American Museum of Natural History that said Extreme Mammals and Bri turned to me and said, “Oh Mommy, I really want to see this…”  So in we went.  This is a real kids museum, they have all the great dinosaur skeletons, and the place was packed.  The exhibit cost extra, in addition to the entrance price, but it was a really terrific exhibit, Bri was so thrilled, she suprised me at how much she knew about living and extinct mammals and marsupials, and said, “You know, I’m thinking I really need to go into a career that involves animals.  I work in a kennel, I am fascinated by all aspects of animals, and I think I need to go to school and become a zoo vet.”  Bri is at that age (16) where she will need to come up with some kind of direction for college, within the next year, which is so ridiculous, but her skills are all over the place, and she is having so much trouble focusing on any one thing.  As it should be.  Last year it was Biomedical Engineering, and two years ago, it was Jet Propulsion Engines.  Meanwhile, she sat in my studio the other night making Temari balls…

So, we left the Natural History Museum, and walked across Central Park, the weather was perfect for a summer day, not too hot, and we came out the other side of the park, and into the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  My most metfavorite place in the world.  I could easily live in that museum.  Since it was well after lunch, we grabbed lunch in the basement cafeteria, one of my favorite places to eat in NYC, the food is great, and reasonable for NY, and then we went up to the second floor to see the Exhibit, The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion.  “This exhibit focuses on iconic models of the 20th century and their roles in projecting, and sometimes inspiring, the fashion of their respective eras.”  The exhibit runs through August 9, so there is still time if you are planning a trip to NYC, and I will say it was a blast back in time, following fashion and those famous faces we all remember, through the 50’s, 60’s, (remember Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton), 70’s and the supermodels of today.  This photograph by Alex Hills is from the MET website, there are all kinds of images of the exhibit including ones “behind the scenes”.  It is so frustrating not to be able to take photos in any of these exhibits, but fortunately they are all just a click away!

Weather permitting, I always take a quick ride up to the roof of the MET whenever I’m visiting, there is always some wonderful installation, and the views of Central Park and Manhattan are the best around.  Roxy Paine, an American artist, created a 130 foot long stainless steel sculpture for the museum’s roof, called Maelstrom.  It is pretty amazing.  Here are a couple of shots, the first is one with my daughter Bri.

rooftop2rooftop1We left the MET and headed downtown on the M4 bus, which picks you up right in front of the MET.  It heads all the way down 5th Avenue, past all the grand windows of the best stores in the world, to Penn Station at 34th Street.  We got out there, and walked down to the Museum at FIT, I can’t say enough about this museum, which is totally free, they have the best fashion exhibits anywhere, and an unbelievable textile collection.  The latest exhibit, in their spacious basement gallery, is Isabel Toledo, Fashion from the Inside Out.  This exhibit runs until September 26.  Opening next week, in addition to this show, is one called Fashion and Politics.  I’ll just have to go back later in the summer to see that one as well.  But I wanted to see the Isabel Toledo exhibit, and I will say, I am on sensory overload.  OMG!  I felt like I did when I saw the Ralph Rucci exhibit there a couple of years ago.  Who knew anything about this designer?  Remember Michelle Obama’s lemon grass dress and coat toledocombination she wore at the inauguration?  It was designed by Isabel Toledo.  Mostly Isabel makes her garments from basic shapes that fall over the body in the most amazing ways.  There are a few of her garments pictured in the press release for the show.  The catalog for that show is already on pre-order through Amazon in my little shopping cart…  What I loved about this show, besides how close you could get to the garments and how well it was lit, was the little illustrations below many of the garments that showed the actual layout when the garment sections were flattened.  Origami is just the beginning. Like this apron dress from her 1997 collection in silk chiffon.

We left the museum at FIT, and headed for the long walk uptown to the Port Authority.  The skies were getting very dark, and the wind was picking up, blowing grit in our eyes, and it was definitely looking like a major summer thunderstorm was brewing.  We walked as fast as we could through the rush hour crowd, and made it to the door of the Port Authority just seconds before the skies opened up.  We boarded the bus the second we got to the platform, no waiting, and off we headed back to NJ.  When the bus exited the building, we were hit with torrential rains, all the way to NJ.  When we arrived back at the transit center to pick up the car, the rains stopped, miraculously!

woolRemember my wool cooking in the crock pot yesterday?  Before I left for the city this morning, I carefully rinsed it, a beautiful shade of burgundy, and laid it out in the sun to dry on the back balcony.  Silly me.  I forgot to check if there were any thunderstorms predicted…  So when I got home, there was my completely drenched wool, so I went to plan B, and I used the rack in my dryer to dry the wool out.  I have more wool cooking, this time a lovely navy blue.

Tomorrow, a trip to the Allentown Art Museum…