Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Teaching

The Summer Solstice was last week. It’s officially summer. And here’s my official summer teaching schedule.

In July, I’m off to Millersville, Pennsylvania for the MidAtlantic Fiber Association Conference, “A Kaleidoscope of Possibilities”. Dates are July 20-23, 2017. MAFA is a biennial event, with all workshops in a 2 ½ day format. In addition to the workshops, there is a marketplace, fashion show, and the keynote speaker this year is Madelyn van der Hoogt. 2017 marks my fourth time teaching at this conference. I’m teaching “Woolen-Worsted Continuum”.

In August, I’ve got my annual pilgrimage to the Michigan Fiber Festival. This delightful festival is held at the bucolic Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan. Workshops are Wednesday through Saturday, August 16-19. Some vendors will open on Friday, August 18. All vendors will be open Saturday and Sunday, August 19-20. Also on those two days, there are demonstrations, exhibits, fleece and fiber animal judging, and more! I’m teaching Wednesday – Friday: “Beginning Spinning at the Wheel” (sold out), “Knitting Petoskey Stones” (also sold out), “Diversity of Wool” (3 spaces left), and “Creating the Yarn You Want” (3 spaces left). So, I will have Saturday and Sunday to enjoy all the festival goodness.

September is the month for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, in Jefferson, Wisconsin. This is a terrific festival. Fiber, farmers, food. Fun! There are some workshops on Thursday, September 7. And the full festival continues Friday through Sunday, September 8-10. I’m teaching a one-day version of “Woolen-Worsted Continuum” and I will be teaching “Blending Board: Basics and More” twice!

At the end of September (ok, I know it’s officially past summer but it still may be warm enough to swim in Lake Michigan), I’m headed to Petoskey, Michigan to teach some knitting workshops at Cindy’s Northern Crafts. I’m teaching a full-day version of “Knitting Petoskey Stone Medallions” as well as two half-day workshops: “I-Cord Edges and More!” and “The Surprising Yarn-Over.” I stopped off at the shop in May to deliver my Petoskey stone wall hanging for display. 

I hope you can join me on some – or all – of these fiber activities.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day at the Museum

My visit to Indianapolis and the Midwest Weavers Conference, “Textiles at theCrossroads”, was a delight. After an 8-hour drive, I arrived late Wednesday afternoon. When I got out of my car, I was blasted by the 92degF temperature. Oh, and the humidity. But the fiber fun – and other fun – more than made up for the melting heat.

There are two things in particular I want to mention about the conference. First, there is a lot of volunteer work that goes into making a successful fiber conference. And I want to thank all of the volunteers for their efforts. They really helped me personally – to make sure I had my workshop space in order, to help me load and unload all my workshop materials, to direct me to locations of vendors, exhibits, coffee shop, and cafeteria. They were all tireless, cheerful, and effective. I do so admire them and, again, thank all of them.

The second thing I want to mention is my visit to a local museum. I had arrived a day early, so I had Thursday to spend as I wished. This is an unusual opportunity for me when I travel to teach; often I arrive, I teach, then I leave.

Nora, Tammy, and Nancy invited me to join them for breakfast at Café Patachou, followed by a visit to the Eiteljorg Museum. This museum has as its focus Western American art and Native American art and culture. I was mesmerized. I took some photos with my phone. I want to share some with you, even though some of the photos are fuzzy (or worse).

One of the first things I saw was a triptych of paintings by Wilson Hurley, “October Suite, Grand Canyon”. The paintings are large. They are beautiful. I was especially struck by the “blurb” posted next to the paintings. Here:

So, George James was wrong; Wilson Hurley was right. Here are the paintings.

Just after spending time admiring those paintings, I glanced at another which at first didn’t strike me as all that interesting – until I read the title of the painting, “Shadows”. Then I took some time examining the painting. It’s beautiful, and aptly titled. I can’t quite decipher the artist’s name from this photo.

In one of the rooms, there were several sculptures by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. I was quite familiar with Remington, but not of Russell. I have to say that I preferred Russell’s work to that of Remington. The pictures I took of the sculptures were a disaster, but here is some interesting commentary comparing these two artists:

The museum was hosting a special exhibit, “Dogs. Faithful and True”, that focused on the role of dogs in the West and in Native American cultures. There were several pieces that I just loved! And I loved reading the commentaries that were posted, such as these:

Here is a picture of a painting by John James Audubon, “Hare-Indian Dog”:

There was a magnificent bronze sculpture by Alan Houser in this exhibit. I loved that it was beautiful from all angles. Here is one picture (the others are too crappy to share), and description:

It was a marvelous day at the museum. I didn’t get to see everything before we had to leave. If I ever get to Indianapolis again, I will most certainly make another visit to this museum.

I arrived home late Sunday afternoon and was greeted by 72degF temperatures. Ah!

Something to look forward to: the next Midwest Weavers Conference, “Uncommon Threads”, is scheduled for June 17-22, 2019 in Grinnell, Iowa. I can hardly wait!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Three Weekends in a Row

How is it that the busier you are, the less you get done? I was home this weekend after being away from home the previous three weekends. I got some things done, but I still have some catching up to do.

My travel-to-teach season started three weeks ago when I drove north, across the Mighty Mac (the Mackinac Bridge), to Pickford for the Spring Fiber Fling. Travel went without a hitch; a small miracle with my aging car. In fact, I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. When I pulled up to the toll booth to pay my bridge toll for the crossing north, the toll worker informed me that the driver in line ahead of me paid my toll. That was the beginning of a sweet, sweet weekend.

The attendance was down a bit, but that was nice for me. I liked the extra room to spread out knitting and spinning projects at the lodge tables. It was fun to see what others were working on: beading, basketry, embroidery, quilting, crochet, and more. How delightful!
I taught two workshops: Variations on Long Draw on Saturday, and I-Cord Edges and More! On Sunday. I teach the long draw class a lot. It’s been awhile since I taught the I-Cord class; I’d forgotten how much fun it is. In the class, we knit a miniature version of a wrist wrap that I designed that features I-cords in several ways. Last week, one the folks who took that workshop, Åsa Chong, sent me a picture of a full-size wrist wrap that she’d finished. Here it is:

Another highlight from this trip: I bought a fleece from Selden Collins. She lives in Pickford, and she raises Corriedale sheep. Her fleeces are fantastic. I snagged Wilma’s fleece. Selden told me that she’s saving the fleece from Wilma’s twin, Willy, to possibly enter in the fleece competition at the Michigan Fiber Festival in August. Selden’s fleeces won best in show and other awards at last year’s Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. I am so looking forward to playing with Wilma’s wool.

The following weekend, I traveled to Wooster, Ohio for my first time at the Great Lakes Fiber Show. Again, a nice, eventless drive. Except. On the way there and on the way back, I saw more dead deer along the side of the road than I have ever seen on any trip. Dead deer are not an uncommon sight in Michigan, but the numbers this time were first alarming then exhausting. 

The Great Lakes Fiber Show was Great! The folks in my workshops were enthusiastically engaged, so my teaching experience could not have been better. Oh, wait. Yes it could. And it was! My classroom was in the fairgrounds Dining Hall, near the Grand Stand and the track where there were harness race practices going on! I’d never seen sulkies in person before. It was very exciting for me.
Even though this was my first time at this show, I did see many friends that I know from other fiber festivals. I came to appreciate the practical advantages of gaining friends in the fiber festival circle: I got some excellent driving direction advice from Chris Roosien of Briar Rose Fibers (“Don’t pay attention to Mapquest. Going to Wooster, just follow US23 south to US30 east and that’ll take you right to Wooster – without a toll!”) and from Edie Bowles of Spinning Moon Farm (“Ignore the gps directions to the motel. Just take a right at the gas station and go straight through town and the motel will be on your right.”) These two bits of advice made a huge difference in my driving comfort.

Hey, on the way home at the end of the weekend, I was heading north on M115 and I noticed that The Frosty Cup is no more! I’ve been travelling along this section of highway nearly all my life. The Frost Cup was the place the family always stopped for an ice cream cone on either the way to the cottage or going home from the cottage. That joint had been there for over 50 years. When was it demolished? Anyone?

The following weekend I stayed in Frankfort to do some dog sitting. “Auggie” is a very handsome and fantastically well-mannered Weimaraner. I got to walk Auggie a couple times a day, which gave me an opportunity to learn a bit about Frankfort. It is a charming town. And how nice it is to get to a Lake Michigan beach with a 5-minute walk!

This weekend I had planned to catch up on chores: make granola, garden, laundry, put winter sweaters away. But, you know, I ended up watching Netflix and knitting. I’m nearly done with a vest that I’m making from some handspun.

Now I need to turn my attentions to the finishing touches of preparations for this week’s trip. I leave on Wednesday for Indianapolis and the Midwest Weavers Conference. The notebooks are ready. Today I’ll gather supplies, tools, and samples. More fiber fun! Woowee!