Monday, May 6, 2013

L.A. on My Mind

One difficulty of having road trips in quick succession is that I don’t get enough time to mull over all the experiences of each trip. As I’ve been preparing for my Minnesota trip this past week, I’ve also been reflecting on my recent trip to Los Angeles.

So much happened during that trip. I’d like to share some more details.

My flight to L.A. was the most beautiful flight I’ve ever taken. I had a window seat on the right side of the plane, with a view mostly north. Much of the flight was through clear skies. As we approached the mountains in the west, I think we flew over southern Utah. I can’t be sure. It had recently snowed a bit, and the sun was lowering in the western sky, so the light was hitting the geological formations just right. The textures, patterns, and colors were endlessly mesmerizing. W.O.W. I didn’t even mind getting a bit of a stiff neck from looking to my right for such an extended time.

When I got to LAX, I was picked up by Ana Petrova. She was wearing a stunning vest that she’d designed and knitted. The pattern was an evolution of the “Wingspan” pattern by Maylin (Tri’Coterie Designs).

Ana was kind enough to give me a copy of her vest pattern. It will be a fun knit! And a swell vest to have in my wardrobe.

We chatted mostly about knitting over a delicious Thai dinner in the Venice beach area. Then Ana drove me to Anna Zinsmeister’s house in Burbank, where I stayed for the duration of my trip. Anna, her husband, and their two cats were all so kind and gracious. Anna was also my main taxi driver; she drove “the 405” while I relaxed.

Anna is a very accomplished weaver, and over breakfasts we chatted about my knitting and her weaving. We discovered that we are both currently exploring areas of our crafts that are quite similar. I’ve been playing with stitch patterns that pull in (ribs and welts), with fibers that are stretchy, and with spinning yarns that make ribs and welts do weird things. Anna is doing the same thing exect on a loom: weave structures that pull in, yarns that pull in, and their combinations.

And every once in awhile, Anna would pull out a weaving book about some topic that we discussed. I enjoyed my quick perusal of Ann Field’s Collapse Weave. Anna also showed me a very cool book about the tapestry art of Helena Hernmark. And she showed me another cool book that contained some intriguing approaches to weaving for beginners:  Spiders’ Games. A Book For Beginning Weavers, by Phylis Morrison. I got sucked in. I must hunt down this book for myself.

Anna also explained some work she’s been doing on her draw loom. She showed me the loom in her studio. It’s incredibly complicated. How did anyone think it up!?

We also chatted about photography, cameras, and photographing our craft work. She encouraged me to get the book by Steve Meltzer, Photographing Arts, Crafts & Collectibles. She also mentioned some articles by GregoryCase in old issues of the magazine Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot.


I’ve already mentioned that the members of the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild were delightful. Many of the members who took my workshops, or who volunteered to assist with logistics, gave me gifts. Very sweet indeed! I regret that I didn’t make a note of who specifically gave me what specifically. Silly me.

One treat that I came home with was a small sample of a cotton/silk roving. I had taught a workshop there on spinning silk hankies, and one participant asked if I’d ever spun such a cotton-silk blend. I had not. So she gave me some to try. I spun up a bit of it yesterday. Quite nice indeed. I can envision a lovely 3-ply yarn for a summer sweater. Someday…

Another workshop participant, Nancy Boerman, has a fiber business: Custom Handweaving. In fact, she vendored on Saturday at the Guild’s meeting, when I bought some brightly dyed targhee combed top, some dyed silk caps, and 2 books:  Sarah Anderson’s TheSpinner’s Book of Yarn Designs, and Ann Field’s The Ashford Book Learn to Spin.

Nancy gifted me a sample of some top that is 70% Bluefaced Leicester in a natural oatmeal color and 30% tussah silk. I look forward to spinning this bit up!

Another spinnable gift was a few ziploc bags of thinly cut strips of cotton fabric. I wonder how I’ll incorporate this into yarn…..It should be fun! I watched one of the guild members using a blending board. I’d never seen that before, and I was fascinated by the “rolags” she was creating of wool blended with loads of tiny bits of cut up yarn. She then spun a rather cool looking yarn out of it. I want one of those boards now. Now!

Each night, Anna and a few other guild members took me out to dinner. How fun to get to know those folks over fabulous meals! On night, over Mexican food (and a delicious Margarita), Lorinda Chard (the person who originally contacted me to teach in L.A.) told me of a book that sounded so fascinating. A book for older children, a Newbery Medal winner: The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois. And then! She sent me a copy! I’m taking it with me on my Minnesota trip as travel reading.

At the end of my last workshop on Sunday, the guild president, Leslie Rodier, honored me with a gift of an apron with the guild’s logo, and TWO boxes of chocolates. I am impressed with myself that I waited until I got home to open the chocolates. I’m even more impressed that there are a few still left.

What a terrific trip. So much to think about. So much to explore. I feel inspired and grateful.

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