Category Archives: Free Form

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: Customize Your Knitting

Customize Your KnittingAs you learn more about different fiber arts, whether it is crochet, knitting, or something else, you begin to develop favorite people, designs, and styles. One of my all-around favorites is Margaret Hubert.

I met Margaret in-person for the first time over a decade ago at a fiber arts convention. I met her virtually a few years before that on the International Freeform Crochet Guild discussion group. From the beginning, she has always been a great teacher, mentor, and friend. She is a wonderful woman and I am proud to know her.

Over the years she has published many articles, patterns and books. One of her most recent books is Customize Your Knitting: Adjust to fit; embellish to taste and as always, she hits it out of the park!

We all know how much time and effort it takes to create an article of clothing. There is nothing worse than finishing a project and it doesn’t fit. We wind up offering it to someone else who may, or may not, appreciate all the work you put into it. Margaret helps solve that problem.

Her new book takes you through all the different body types and the all-important taking measurements. She then moves on to specific pattern examples for each type. She provides suggestions on developing “good habits,” joining new yarn, and weaving in those pesky tails. She then gives you beautiful ideas to customize your piece so it has your own special personal touch!

Margaret HubertAll the directions are presented in easy-to-understand language. Even this very basic knitter could understand the concepts within the book. It ends with steps on how to create buttonholes, pockets, and the all-important seams. It even includes embellishments and motifs! They are just great!

I will say, as my usual complaint, it is a perfect-bound book. HOWEVER, it lays flat VERY well! It also has an extended flap so you can keep your place as well as keep the book fairly flat. This may seem minor, but it is great! We have all been there when you are trying to work out of a book that keeps closing on you and you lose your place.

As a basic knitter, I think this is a great book. If you are a more serious knitter, you will LOVE it!

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 Thursday, August 18th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

National Crochet Month Blog Tour 2016

To everyone who is checking out my blog for the first time – welcome! I hope you enjoy my post and will come back again.

I want to thank Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka, the co-owners of Crochetville. They put in a tremendous amount of time putting the blog tour together and I am truly grateful for all their efforts. If you aren’t familiar with their site, I highly suggest you check it out.  It is a great resource for information and crochet friendship.

I am blessed to receive samples of many books. I enjoy reading through them, sharing my thoughts on them with my readership, and then I give them away! For my blog tour day, I have another great book review and give-away.

And now without further delay, my book review. This post – Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers from Suzann Thompson.

I love small projects. Scarves, small household items, you name it. I especially love when I can add some type of embellishment to it. That’s where Crochet Bouquet comes in.

Crochet BouquetThis book has something for every crochet level and style. It begins with a introduction from Suzann. It talks about her love of flowers since childhood. After she discovered the use of flowers in Irish crochet, she learned how to combine her love of flowers and her love of crochet.

Something I especially love is that the book shows these beautiful flowers used on non-crochet and non-knit items, like jeans and backpacks.  Another reason I think these flowers are great is that they can be used in free form projects. If you aren’t familiar with free form, I highly suggest you check out four of my favorite free form fiber artists: Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert, Myra Wood, and the original James Walters. These small pieces, mixed with some scrumbles here and there and poof! An awesome free form project!

I always try to pick a favorite project in each book I review, but I have to say it was really hard this time.  I really like the Mumsy and the Sunflower. The foliage at the end of the book also can add a nice finishing touch to the flower patterns. What I think is great is that Suzann provides the “basic” pattern, and then shows how to “embellish” the embellishment. Brilliant!

Ultimately, any crocheter would love this book. I plan on purchasing one for myself.

And now 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 Friday, March 25th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner!

Book Review: The Fine Art of Crochet

Of all the types of crochet, I love when it is brought to the level of high art. That is probably why I love the Free Form Guild so much. I wish I had more time to spend on it. There are tons of ideas swirling around in my head and just not enough hours in the day.

The Fine Art of Crochet
So why am I telling you all this? Because I am VERY excited to share this week’s book review. Great artist Gwen Blakley Kinsler has a new book out, The Fine Art of Crochet: Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Artists and it is wonderful! It highlights different fiber artists, all with different approaches. It is certainly a feast for the eyes!

I think what blew me away the most is while I was reading through it, I discovered that I was mentioned! To be in a book highlighting such wonderful artists is an honor I could’ve only dreamed of. I was completely without words. She also mentions the Sticks, Hooks & Mobius at Lafayette College in 2012 and the annual challenge from the Free Form Guild.

In this book, Gwen highlights the art of 20 wonderful artists, but she also looks at the art crochet movement from 1915, to the Crochet Revolution of the 1960s, to today. Gwen is the founder of the Crochet Guild of America and a well-respected fiber artist in her own right.

Gwen refers to the works of these amazing artists as “awe-inspiring” and “cutting-edge” and I could not agree more. I have barely been able to put it down since I received it. It is a joy. I am not going to even attempt to pick a favorite. If you want artistic inspiration, this is definitely the book.

And as always, you can win this copy!
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 Friday, April 11th. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely want to be in this giveaway. Good luck!

Give Yourself Permission

Anyone who knows me for more than 10 minutes knows I have just a slight obsession with Billy Joel. OK, a giant obsession. I have been a fan of his since I was a child. I have every album, every box set, and have spent tons of money to see him in concert. I played those albums over and over and over as my cousins will attest. I still have a t-shirt from the River of Dreams tour. So I was in heaven last night when there were two separate television shows on that included my favorite piano man. First, he was on the celebration of Carole King’s receiving the Gershin Prize. Second, he was on American Restoration to have Rick Dale work on a motorcycle for him. Talk about television watching perfection!

While Rick was walking Billy around, he shows him an old Steinway spinet in the boneyard. What does he do? He starts to play like it’s nothing. Amazing!

Like many, I took piano lessons when I was younger. I liked it, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for. I didn’t mind learning classical, but I wanted to learn how to improv. I wanted to learn the concepts of sight reading. It never happened.

Most of my time in high school was spent in the music department. Band, chorus, orchestra, marching band – you name it, I was involved in it. My schedule was developed around those classes. Even though I loved spending time in the music department, I knew early on that I just didn’t have what it would take to go to the next level.Still, it gave me wonderful experiences and most of all, it led me to my wonderful husband – a band director.

So why am I telling you all this you might wonder? Watching Billy Joel just play a tune on the Steinway like it was nothing made me think of the first time I attempted to do free form crochet and my experience playing piano.

Um, what? I’m sure you are wondering where this is going. Welcome to my thought process…

Growing up, we are all taught to follow the directions. Color inside the lines. For me, I learned how to read notes on a page of music, but I never learned how to interpret music. I never learned how to lift the notes off the page. My crochet experience was similar. I learned how to follow directions in a pattern, but that was it. I wanted to play. I wanted to sing!

Easier said than done.

Well, luckily, I had some wonderful guidance from four specific free form artists: Prudence Mapstone, Myra Wood, Margaret Hubert, and Melanie Gill. They taught me an important lesson which was the basis for all my creativity. Give yourself permission.

What might that mean you ask?

That means to give yourself permission to NOT color inside the lines. Lift the music off the page! Don’t think about what you are doing, just do! And most of all, don’t worry about how your work will be judged.

While these may sound like straightforward concepts, they have been very hard lessons for me to learn – in my fiber arts as well as in life.

It may take time to unlearn the early lessons of childhood in order to unlock your creativity, but don’t give up.  I haven’t.

Meeting Other Artisans

Today I participated in a unique craft and lecture event at Saint Clare’s in Denville. While the attendance was light – and on such a beautiful fall day, who wants to be inside – I did have a great time and was able to meet three incredibly talented artisans.

Next to me was Miriam Seiden. She had some of the most lovely jewelry I have seen in quite a while. Her work was of high quality, incredibly creative, and certainly unique. She used a lot of big stones and silver in her work she had available. Each piece made a statement.

Ameenah Designs designs capes, shawls, vests, coats, and hats. Each piece is made by her and has great style and quality. It is easy to see the care and creativity in her work.

My favorite, I think, was Peach Fuzz Fiber Art. She had great bags, fiber bowls, jackets, shawls, and other incredibly creative items. Her free form-style work had just the right touch of whimsy!

Overall, it was a fun day, even though we didn’t have many customers.

A Creative Project and a Wonderful Cause

Since 2006, the International Freeform Crochet Guild has conducted an annual project focused on fiber arts creativity. Over the years subjects have included fairy tales, mythology, the four seasons, earth – air – fire – water, and more. This year, the challenge was to interpret a work of art or music.

Inspired” includes artwork from fiber artists from around the world. The pieces inside are just beautiful and show the creativity of all the different participants.

The best part of the project Inspired is that the book highlighting all the artists is supporting  Doctors Without Borders and Souls of Somanya. All profits from “Inspired” will help these two worthwhile organizations. Doctors Without Borders works in nearly 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. Soul of Somanya, Inc. is a small organization staffed mostly by volunteers, headquartered in Mobile, Alabama in the U.S. Soul of Somanya, Inc. is working hard to develop sustainable employment opportunities there (currently in the field of jewelry-making and other bead work) for disadvantaged youth whose job prospects are very limited by their lack of family support and/or limited levels of education.

I hope you check out these amazing works of art!

What are Your Fiber Art Goals for 2011?

As 2010 draws to a close, many of us start to make goals for the next year. Along with the usual wants like “lose weight” or “exercise more,” I think about what fiber arts goals I would like for 2011.

So what are my goals? I want to find more time to spin as well as improve my spinning skills. This year I haven’t had anywhere near enough time to spin, so that is right at the top of my list.

Next, I want to actually crochet (and finish!) a pair of socks. Yes, I know this sounds a tad silly, but I can’t tell you how many socks that start out, well, as socks and end up as wrist warmers!

I want to spend more time being creative. That means developing more patterns, focusing on my free form and felting and writing more fiber-focused articles.

So, I would say those are my three main fiber goals for 2011. What are your 2011 fiber goals?

My Ultimate Fiber Christmas List

It is the time of year when everyone makes their lists. So, here is my ultimate fiber Christmas list.

pocket spinning wheelWhile at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival this year, I saw the original Pocket Wheel. This wheel has a great feel and spins like a dream. This is on the top of my ultimate fiber list!

To go with the pocket wheel, I’ll need to get some fiber. That  means getting fiber from Laurie’s Lambs! Additionally, Susan’s Fiber Shop and The Woolery have great fiber options.

To go with my new wheel and fiber, I of course need to add a new spindle to the list. This is easy. I have always wanted a Moosie spindle from Journey Wheel. These amazing spindles are made from Moose antler sheds. While we are talking about spindles, Golding spindles are always just beautiful and spin like a dream! I have always wanted the Golding Spindle“Midnight Sky” spindle.” Team Golding is incredibly talented and should be seriously considered when looking for that special spindle.

At the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year, I treated myself to a mini glass crochet hook from Michael and Shelia Ernst . Well, on my ultimate fiber Christmas list, I want the full one! They are just gorgeous. The Turquesa model, please. Also while at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past May, I won a Weavette in an auction. These are incredibly tough to find. I would love to get a few more in different sizes.

Fiber arts and books always go hand-in-hand. That means, I have lots of books on my list! First and foremost, Creative Crochet Lace: A Freeform Look at Classic Crochet by Myra Wood is at the top! Myra is a wonderfully talented artist and an even better friend.

During the past year, I have been fascinated by hyperbolic crochet. That  means I have to add Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes to my list. If you have seen hyperbolic crochet, I highly recommend you check it out!

Along with crochet and spinning, I also love to felt and enjoy reading the history of fiber arts. That means I have to add Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, The Art of Felt: Inspirational Designs, Textures, and Surfaces and In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool to my list.

Last, but  certainly not least, I have to add a felting machine. I currently do needle felting, but would love to try it on a machine. Janome makes some great machines, but I hear the Singer felting machine is just as good and less expensive. I also saw a mini felting machine somewhere once; that would be perfect!

So there you have it. My ultimate fiber Christmas list. What’s yours?