Hi all! As you can see it has been awhile since my last update. Well coming soon you will see a brand new blog in a brand new location! You can check out the continuation of my fiber musings and discoveries at my new website: http://www.alvbfiberart.com/blog/.
So as children around the world write letters to Santa, I make sure to send in my letter as well. Mine, however, always has a fiber theme to it!
My 2017 Christmas list starts off with what else, but yarn! I have always wanted to spin qiviut. If you aren’t familiar, this is the inner fiber of the muskox. It is incredibly warm and very soft. The down side is that it is very expensive. I would love to spin some qiviut for a special project. Maybe a short neck scarf with some pretty buttons!
If you crochet, you usually wind up collecting hooks! So of course I need to put a hand made hook on my list. The hooks from Nelsonwood look just wonderful! I especially love the rich look of the wood on their Olivewood hook.
From the “if I hit the lottery” part of my list, I would definitely need to ask for a beautiful spinning wheel from Golding Fiber Tools. Whenever I get to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, I always stop by their booth to see what is new and wonderful. A particular favorite of mine is the “Architecture” wheel. A handcarved single flyer cherry spinning wheel with ebony and walnut accents and a hand-rubbed bronze plated ring. Their designs are just amazing! Even if you can’t afford their fiber tools, I highly recommend you check them out if you have the opportunity to see them in person.
Another new find this year at Rhinebeck was Shaker Boxes for yarn by the Suffolk Shaker Shop. I’ve always loved Shaker style furniture and woodwork, so these definitely caught my eye!
So there’s my list. Short and sweet. I hope you enjoyed reading my Christmas list to Santa. What’s on your list? I hope everyone has a warm and wonderful holiday season!
A little more than a week has passed since the 2017 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. Instead of taking the train up for the day, I decided to make a weekend out of it. So hubby and I booked and AirBnB (will never do that again!) and headed upstate.
The weather was just glorious! It really gave us the opportunity to check out the area. We spent Saturday visiting some of the lovely open spaces and antique shops. We picked up a paper while enjoying dinner in Rosendale and even the locals were looking forward to the event! Every individual we met was incredibly nice. We were offered suggestions on where to have lunch, different areas we should ride to, and even the history of the large bridge that was recently built!
Saturday’s exploring was very nice, but let’s face it; we were there for the Festival on Sunday. We were about 20 minutes outside of Rhinebeck. After a nice breakfast we headed over to the Fairgrounds. We knew we were getting close when the traffic started to back up and we saw this billboard!
Now I have been telling the hubby how huge the event is but he was still surprised when we walked into the Fairgrounds. As usual it was packed, but not as busy as Saturday from what I was told by those who attended both days. Everyone was very pleasant – and why not? After all, we are all there to enjoy everything fiber-related!
As always, there were plenty of wonderful little furry creatures to visit. And they certainly know everyone was there to seem them! There were a few young alpacas that were quite friendly and wanted to check out everyone. There was also a beautiful sheep hanging out that was just really interested in sitting comfortably letting everyone take his picture.
This year they held a live auction for used equipment like they do at the Maryland Sheep and Wool. Unfortunately, it was only held on Saturday so I missed it. The one time I went to Maryland I checked out the auction and it was great fun. I even won a few items! I hope they do it again next year and maybe offer it on both days.
Obviously there were wonderful items in every building and barn. Of course there were a few items that really caught my eye. Over the last few years, more and more people are using yarn bowls to try and tame project yarn. Well this year I saw beautiful shaker boxes from Suffolk Shaker Shop
that do the same thing. I love Shaker style, so I had to stop and check them out.
A “must stop” booth for me is always Golding Fiber Tools. They create the most ornate spinning wheels and spindles I have ever seen. But they are not just a pretty face. They spin like a dream! I am the proud owner of one of their spindles and I always need to try out the latest wheels they have on display at the Festival. A Golding Spinning Wheel is at the top of my “if I hit the lottery” list – and of course a matching chair must go with it!
One of my last stops of the day was to the Author’s Section to have a quick visit with the great Margaret Hubert. She is not just a talented fiber artist – she’s a good soul. Someone I don’t get to see nearly enough.
She is always more than happy to share her knowledge and offer encouragement to fellow fiber fanatics when they are struggling with a project or specific stitch. She recently published her 31st book – Customize Your Crochet – so I had to pick up a copy and have her autograph it!
Finally we headed out for the day. We didn’t get to see everything, but it was just great. I am already on the wait list at one hotel for next year and will continue to check out other hotels in the area to see if we can book a legitimate room next time.
So what did I buy you might ask? Hubby bought me a few presents! First, a lovely antique box full of thread spools. Second, two antique cameras! Yes, I know. Not exactly fiber gifts, but I have several analog-based hobbies. I’ve always wanted some older cameras so I am now the proud owner of a Kodak Duaflex II and an original Polaroid still in the carry case! So cool!
So, I wait with fiber-filled dreams until next fall.
One of the best things about the fall is all the artisan events that take place around the country. New Jersey offers some awesome events and a favorite of mine is the Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair.
If you have never been to the Peters Valley School of Craft, you are missing something wonderful. Located on what was originally known as Bevans, New Jersey, Peters Valley has been offering the finest in artistic instruction for almost 50 years. The retail gallery offers wonderful arts and crafts for sale and the exhibition gallery upstairs always has a great exhibit taking place. It is nestled in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area surrounded by beautiful countryside.
Each September, Peters Valley holds its Fall Craft Fair. It brings together an eclectic gathering of incredibly talented artists. Each building on the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta includes unique hand-crafted items and demonstrations. I can’t even say how inspiring it is to walk around and feel the wonderful creative energy!
I wanted to tell you a little about some of my favorites at this year’s event.
BeeZ Vintage Book Purses
This is a truly ingenious idea. Kathleen Scranton is a very nice woman I had the pleasure of meeting at the Fair. She takes our favorite books from childhood and repurposes them into works of art that you can use as a purse or laptop bag. She had every hard cover book you could think of. She even had purses made using the hard covers from the Harry Potter books released in England. They were just awesome!
Grateful Gathers Glass
I absolutely love hand blown glass. And Danny from Grateful Gathers Glass certainly has a gift from God. He had everything in his booth from small acorns to large vessels. You could just feel his pride as he posed for this picture! His work is definitely on my Christmas list. I truly hope he did well at the event because his work certainly deserves attention. The mix of colors in his pieces are just amazing. I was especially drawn to his reactive series. Some of the colors reminded me of coloring of different brook and brown trout commonly found in New Jersey.
Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits
A post wouldn’t be complete without including a fiber artist. This year at the Fair I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa of Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits. We had a great chat about free form and shared our common admiration for artists such as Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert, and Myra Wood. Melissa’s work is simply amazing and has a sophisticated playfulness about it. I really enjoyed talking to her about design, yarn, pattern writing, and the beautiful bullion stitch!
While this year’s event is finished, I encourage all my readers to visit Peters Valley School of Craft. It is in a beautiful part of the state and the fall is a great time to take a ride and enjoy the colors of nature. Each spring the new catalog is sent out announcing the new classes for the summer. I hope you check it out, support the school and support those great artists!
Regular readers of my various blogs know I am a proud New Jerseyan. I even have a blog about how much I love New Jersey. Well, yesterday I had a great opportunity to head to Jockey Hollow in Morristown for a yarn spinning demonstration at the Wick House.
For those of you who are not familiar, Morristown played a key role
in America’s fight for independence. There are multiple sites within Morristown that are part of the National Park Service. Known as “Where America Survived,” Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.
When you head into Jockey Hollow, you quickly leave modern day behind. You see the expansive acreage that made Henry Wick the largest land owner in Morristown. The trees on Wick’s property attracted Washington’s army to the area as a winter encampment site because they needed logs to build cabins for shelter and wood to burn for heating and cooking.
After a short walk to the Wick House, I found a wonderful spinner happily explaining the importance of spinning during the American Revolution and dispelling a number of the myths associated with Revolutionary living.
My first surprise is that prior to the American Revolution, a number of products were still imported from England; including fabric. The restrictions on sheep raising and wool manufacturing, along with other limitations, such as the Stamp Act and other taxes, contributed to the Revolutionary War.
The colonists fought back in their own protest and boycotted the use of fabrics from England and went back to spinning yarn to make fabric. Women would meet as a group, spin together, discuss the happenings of the day, mostly politics, and became known as the Daughters of Liberty. As a result, spinning and weaving were considered patriotic acts. It eventually became popular to wear hand-spun and woven clothing from America. You may even consider this the first “made in America” movement!
I also learned that when the men went off to war, some of the women followed and assisted the soldiers as they moved from battle to battle with duties such as nursing, darning socks, laundry, and yes, spinning yarn for later weaving into fabric.
I certainly learned a lot during this very informative demonstration. I also enjoyed spending some time at Jockey Hollow again as it has been quite a while since my last visit.
If you are in the area and want to learn more about Morristown’s role in the American Revolution, I hope you check out all the great historical locations throughout the area; and maybe learn how to make yarn while you are there!
In July, another fiber-related even is taking place at the Wick House – Clothing an Army – which will discuss the role of weaving played during the Revolutionary War and why the colonies needed France to contribute to their uniform needs. I hope to check it out!
While I don’t normally head into New York City on a chilly day in early spring, I found myself having to do so for a job interview. After my interview was done I took advantage of already being in “the city” and got some shopping in that of course included yarn!
First, I went to Tinsel Trading Company. I discovered Tinsel Trading Company years ago at a fly tying show. I actually wrote about the company in a earlier blog post. The antique French tinsel they sell is perfect for not just fiber arts, but fly tying as well. It is a charming little store full of vintage ribbon, tinsel and other unique items. They are in the process of looking for a new store location from their small space on Lexington Avenue. I hope they find a new location. It would be a shame to lose such a unique shop that has been around for close to a decade.
After finishing up my shopping, I had to, of course, find a yarn shop nearby. So I hoofed it uptown about 10 blocks to String, a great little place. There is something always so inviting about independent yarn shops. I don’t know if it is the space, the lovely yarns you just don’t find in the “big box” stores, or the great staff, but I just love going to them.
Their yarn options were just amazing! Of course it took me a bit to settle down and focus. The staff was incredibly nice. We chatted about the different yarns and about attending Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. I picked out a few nice yarns and they made them into center-pull balls for me. I then headed downtown to meet some friends for dinner, which was a lot of fun. After that, I headed back to the ferry to make my way home.
Once the weather is a little warmer, I’ll head back into the city and go downtown to visit more shops, but for now, this was a great unexpected visit!
To everyone who is a first time visitor for National Crochet Month – welcome! I am happy you joined in the on the fun!
As many of my regular readers know, I have a HUGE library of fiber arts books. I am lucky enough to occasionally get some from publishers to review and then I get to give them away! Today, I get to bring you my review of Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection.
I absolutely love stitch collections and this book doesn’t disappoint. This book is full of great stitch patterns complete with step-by-step directions and charts. The photos are nice and clear so you can see each part of the stitch.
The short introduction provides suggestions on how to use the book and read the patterns. There is also a nice added section about designing from scratch and shaping pieces, which will be a huge help when using these stitches to making a special garment. The stitch patterns in the book are broken down by category: solids, shells and fans, openwork and lace, textures, and edgings. The end of the book has a help section with how to complete stitch.
There are several patterns I liked in this book. As slow as working in single crochet is, I love the look of the alternating front and back loop single crochet and the Soft Moss Pattern. The Rose Trellis pattern is especially lovely and delicate. And I always love textured patterns and use a basket weave pattern often. Some day I plan to tackle crochet cables!
Overall, this is a great book. Of course, as my readers know, I have one pet peeve – it is perfect bound. Especially when you are trying to follow a specific stitch pattern, I always feel that a spiral bound book is important. But other than that, you will not be disappointed with the patterns in this book.
And now as usual, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!
I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, March 19th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!
And again, to those of you who have visited my blog for the first time, I say thank you. I hope you visit often!
OK, I know. I haven’t been doing a very good job blogging regularly. I’ll spare you the excuses and get right to it. If you are a fiber fanatic, especially when it comes to crochet, March is a VERY exciting month!
March is National Crochet Month. And of course Amy and Donna at Crochetville have done another awesome job putting together an exciting event full of blog posts, giveaways, and more. Check out the official National Crochet Month Facebook Group for all the latest information. Find out about the latest info from crochet designers, local yarn shops, and indie dyers and spinners, and find out about new patterns, sales, coupons, giveaways, and free patterns and tutorials! It is always a great event!
My post for National Crochet Month will be on March 16th. I’m lucky enough to share the day with two heavy hitters – Vashti Braha and Marty Miller. I love reading the posts each day throughout the month. I always learn something.
I hope you will check it out! I promise you will not be disappointed. You may even win one of the great daily giveaways!
So it is that time of year again. I’m going to tell Santa I have been a very good girl this year, so I have a a few special fiber toys on my list.
This one has been on my wish list for quite awhile and some day I am going to break down and purchase it. The silver crochet hooks from Celtic Swan Forge are true works of art. Each hook is hand forged made of silver. It is then hammered while hot and twisted to create beautiful designs. Celtic Swan also makes lovely knitting needles, and even drop spindles! Like I said, someday I will make this special purchase.
I have been trying to find time to do more weaving. I especially love some of the “on the go” weaving tools that have become popular as of late. I recently came across Hokett Tapestry Hand Loom Kit on The Woolery’s website. I also love the “Minnow” Small Hand Held Loom from Eden Bullrushes Inc. from Eden, NY. These tools are just so lovely and I’m sure they are fun to use!
I have also wanted a hook holder for awhile and I think I found something I really love. The Padauk Caddy by
Hornshaw Wood Works from Holland, Michigan. I absolutely love the deep wood!
If price was no object, I would have to go for this beautiful “Spinning The Yarn” by Antonio Borsato. It lists online for about $1,000, so I don’t see this turning up in my curio cabinet anytime soon. But how beautiful is this piece!?
So like I said Santa, I’ve been very good this year so if you want to send some fiber toys my way I would be very appreciative!
What is on your wish list this year?
So I will first apologize for being woefully overdue with posts. It has been insane – I’ll spare you the details. Nevertheless, I have some great topics so I hope you’ll come back and give them a read.
As some of you know, in addition to being a fiber fanatic, I am also a fly tyer and angler. My husband and I are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in different tying events in the northeast. For those of you who aren’t familiar, fly tying materials are just great to combine with your fiber craft. One of the great materials is tinsel.
At the recent Fly Tying Symposium, I had the opportunity to see a vendor I had not seen in several years Her name is Marcia and she is the owner of Tinsel Trading Co. on Lexington Avenue in New York City. The last time I saw her a fly tying show I picked up tinsel for not just tying, but to mix with my crochet. I was very happy to see her again and, of course, had to stock up!
In 1933, Arch Bergoffen bought the Old French Tinsel Company,
located in the Garment Center of NYC. He was a serious collector by the time of death, 55 years later, he had amassed a fantastic collection of antique thread, trim, tassels, and ribbon, all made out of metal tinsel. Most of the stock was from France and Germany from the 1900s. When he passed away, his granddaughter, Marcia, took over the business and continues to provide these fine materials to designers, fiber artists, and anyone who appreciates the quality of these materials.
Marcia and I were able to chat for awhile and I could just feel her passion for this business and how much she loved sharing such beautiful tinsel.
I left the show with several spools of different colors and textures. I plan to use them in my crochet and my spinning, as well as my fly tying. I know they will make my work even more unique! I hope you will check out Marcia’s amazing collection for sale. The next time I head into NYC I am going to stop into her shop and see her entire collection. I also liked her Facebook page so I can keep up to date on all she has available. I hope you will too!