Category Archives: Community

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2017

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.

Rosendale, NY
Rosendale, NY

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!

Rhinebeck Billboard
Getting close!

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.

Sheep

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

Suffolk Shaker Shop
Knitting box from Suffolk Shaker Shop

that do the same thing. I love Shaker style, so I had to stop and check them out.

Golding Spinning Wheels
Golding Spinning Wheels

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.

Margaret Hubert
Me with the great Margaret Hubert!

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.

Peters Valley Fall Craft Fair

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.

Blacksmith
Blacksmith demonstration during 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

BeeZ Vintage Book Purses
BeeZ Vintage Book Purses by Kathleen Scranton

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

Grateful Gathers Glass
Danny Polk Jr., 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

Honeybee Mountainwall Handknits
Melissa, 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!

Book Review: Indispensable Stitch

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!

2017 National Crochet Month Blog Tour

2017 National Crochet MonthOK, 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!

All Aboard The Crochet Express

March is National Crochet Express and there are some awesome events planned!

National Crochet Month 2016Thanks to the great efforts of Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka, Co-Owners
Crochetville, there are some great events planned. Want to check the special events that will take place every day? Check out the complete list on Crochetville.

My post day is March 20th and I’ll be doing a special giveaway. I hope you join in on the fun!

Neuroscience Proves What We’ve Known All Along

I came across a study recently released by “knitting therapist” (really? who knew that even existed!) Betsan Corkhill that says there is a direct relationship between the frequency of knitting and respondents’ perceived mood and feelings. Frequent knitters (those who knitted more than 3 times a week) were calmer, happier, less sad, less anxious, and more confident.

Now, even though the study is based on the information from 3,545 knitters, the results can easily be applied to any type of textile craft. The study concluded, “Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to well-being and quality of life.”

The study also found that people who knitted as part of a group were even happier than solo knitters. We used to have a stitch ‘n bitch at a company where I worked and we loved it!

According to her study, “the skills and feelings experienced whilst knitting and stitching can also be used to facilitate the learning of techniques, such as meditation, relaxation and pacing which are commonly taught on pain management courses, or in the treatment of depression.” Even Albert Einstein was known to have knitted between projects to “calm his mind and clear his thinking.”

So next time you get grief about buying too much yarn, just pick up your WIP and go to your happy place!

Upcoming Fiber Arts Exhibit: Coal – Not in Any Backyard

The following is a press release from a wonderfully gifted fiber artist Bonnie Meltzer. The exhibit will be at the Buckley Center Gallery, University of Portland and will run from January 13th until February 6th. A reception will be held Saturday, January 18th from 2:00 – 4:00 with a short gallery talk at 3:00. I hope you check it out!

Coal mined from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming would travel on barges and trains through our beloved Northwest (including the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area) and on to Asia by mega-ships. At the time of this writing, three out of the six coal terminals are still waiting for permits to be approved or denied.  Three of the original six proposals have withdrawn but the three left would have a destructive daily impact. Dozens of trains will stop traffic and spew toxins.  Meltzer not only makes art about the issue but testifies at hearings, organized an informational rally, and writes a Facebook page about coal.

Born in New Jersey, Meltzer came west to get her MFA in Design at the University of Washington — and she never left. She has exhibited throughout the Northwest and across the nation.  Her work is in many private and public collections including the the National Science Foundation, the City of Portland, the Community Music Center and the University of Washington School of Business. The sculpture, “Global Warming”, which will be shown at this University of Portland exhibition, is on the cover of the new book The Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler.

When Meltzer saw Thom Caccamo’s ceramic fish skeleton series and Kelly Neidig’s traffic and cloud paintings she invited them to exhibit with her. Their artworks fit right into the coal and environment theme.

Make Sure to Visit Your LYS

In the last month I received word that two local yarn shops in my area decided to close. While they were for very different reasons, it was still very sad to me. Both shops were run by wonderful ladies and they had great shops. They would not just sell yarn, but run classes and help their customers. Oftentimes when anyone would head in either shop, you would see customers happily sitting working on their projects.

I certainly wish them well in their future, but it is a good reminder to all of us to support our local yarn shops. They provide a level of personalized care that will far surpass anything you may receive at the big box stores. They offer a wide variety of yarn brands – also by other small business owners – you will not find elsewhere.

So the next time you need (or let’s face it – to WANT) to make a yarn purchase, seek out your local yarn shop first. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Crochet for Oklahoma

Dee’s cousin’s house before the tornado and after.

This week were all watched in stunned amazement at the destruction from the tornadoes in Oklahoma. I simply can’t imagine what it was like to live through that nightmare or lose a family member or friend. We all want to do our part to help get them back to normal living.

One person who has a direct connection to that devastation is crochet designer and fiber artist Dee Stanziano. Her cousin’s house was destroyed in Oklahoma so she is doing her part to help her cousin by giving her all the money she makes from her pattern sales this weekend. Dee has some beautiful patterns available and is an incredibly gifted designer. If you have been thinking about picking up a new few patterns, I encourage you to check out her designs and make a few purchases so your crochet can help one family in Oklahoma get back on their feet! Please consider spreading the word to other crocheters in your circle. Thanks all very much!

Peters Valley School of Crafts Annual Open House & Historic Bevans Day Celebration

If you are in the northern New Jersey area today and looking for something to do and enjoy this beautiful weather, there is a wonderful event going on I highly recommend you attend. The Peters Valley School of Crafts is hosting Annual Open House & Historic Bevans Day Celebration. This is a great event that I have attended several times in the past.

There are tours of all the different studios, which include blacksmithing, ceramics, fiber, fine metals, photography, weaving, and woodworking. At each studio visitors will be treated to an artist demonstration of that media! Additionally, there will be artist demonstrations scattered throughout
campus and professional artists selling their wearables, jewelry,
ceramics, sculpture, and more!

The Peters Valley Store & Exhibition Gallery features fine craft from over 300 artisans.

There are hands-on activities for the kids include making paper and weaving on a loom. For the adults, there will be an exhibition of roughly 12 different artists selling their work.

You can learn more about historic Bevans from the Walpack Historical Society. Bevans was the town formerly on the grounds where Peters Valley is now located and many of the builds of Peters Valley are original to Bevans.

The event runs from noon to 5:00 p.m. today. For more information, check out the Peters Valley website. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!