Category Archives: New Jersey

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!

Yarn Spinning at Jockey Hollow

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

Spinning at the Wick House
Our revolutionary spinner educating us about the role of spinning during the war.

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!

What do you do When you hit a Slump?

We’ve all had it – the slump. You can’t focus. You can’t take ideas you’ve had and act on them. Almost zero creative spark. You sit and watch television and can’t do anything else. Except sleep. You are a champion sleeper. And the migraine’s aren’t helping.

slump
Source: Jones, G. (2002) What is this thing called mental toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sports Performers, Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, volume 14, issue 3.

That’s where I am at the moment. I keep saying “I should be blogging,” but it doesn’t happen. I look at the pile of books to review and giveaway and just can’t motivate myself to do any of them.

The slump. It’s rough.

Maybe it’s the heat. If you live in Jersey, you know how ridiculous the heat has been lately. It does make it hard to focus.

So I know I am WAY overdue to post. I just want you to all know I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ll be back…soon.

What do you do to help get out of a slump? I would love for you to share!

Thick, Thin, Slubs, and Coils: Yarn Spinning at The Spinnery

Today was a wonderful day. I had the opportunity to head to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey for a class about how to spin thick/thin yarn (known as slubs) and coils. I wanted to take this class the last time it was offered, but I was still doing battle with my ankle after surgery. Well now my ankle was amicable and ready for class!

Frenchtown
On the way to Frenchtown.

My day started with a lovely ride to Frenchtown. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. Once you are off the highway, you are surrounded by historical homes, open fields, and preserved farmland. Today was the perfect day for this ride. Roof open, windows down, Billy Joel on the radio. Just wonderful.

Rebecca Dioda
Master Spinner, Rebecca Dioda and our class.

The class was taught by master spinning teacher Rebecca Dioda of Simpatico Fiber Collective. She made the day fun and informative by giving an explanation, then demonstrating, then helping each member of our intimate group get started. We started by unplying a base (yes, sounds uncounter-intuitive, stay with me). Then we started with our main fiber, making thick and thin “slubs.” She made it look so easy! Then we all started giving it a try. Well, lets just say the easy chatter became serious concentration. As we progressed, we all seemed to improve.

slubbed yarn
My attempt at thick and thin slubs.

What I really found funny as I was working to master this I thought back to when I first started to spin. Initially, I was very good at spinning…rope. Then I improved to thick and thin. Then I learned to spin more even yarn. Now that I need to spin thick and thin yarn like I did in the beginning, I found it very challenging. Go figure.

So it was time to start to ply our base and

Coiled yarn
Rebecca makes coils look so easy!

our slubbed yarn together. Plying has never come easy to me, so I was definitely thinking about multiple techniques simultaneously.

Of course I forgot my lazy kate. Luckily Betty, owner of The Spinnery, came to my rescue and had one I could use. Rebecca taught us the importance of “vrooom!” in our spinning when preparing for a coil. She made the entire process a lot of fun!

So I went to work. I quickly determined I needed at least one more hand. My lovely Majacraft Rose was not in the mood to ply without issue. She is currently in a time out so she can think about her cranky

coiled yarn
Starting to get the hang of coils.

behavior. Hold core in one direction. Hold yarn at a 90-degree angle. Spin in the opposite direction of the yarn. Pinch. Roll. Push. Pinch. Spin more. Vroom! Don’t let the yarn wind before they should connect. Oh my! Like I said. Lots to think about.

After some mumbling to myself, and encouragement from Rebecca, I started to get some decent-looking coils.

I still have a lot to do to become

coiled yarn
My finished coiled yarn.

more comfortable with my coils. But I definitely felt like I understood the process by the time I left. Of course I can never leave The Spinnery without picking up a few things. So what did I get? More fiber and core to practice!

After class I took a little time for a late lunch, pick up a few treats, and then the ride home. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try again!

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.

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!

We are Jersey Strong

“The Jersey Shore of my youth, it is gone. No question of my mind, we will rebuild it, but it won’t be the same,” ~Chris Christie

I am a proud Jersey Girl. I have posted in the past for my devotion, pride, and love of my state. Well like many this week, my heart is breaking.
I’m lucky. I made out very well. We have had minor inconveniences. I look at what my state has been through – it just breaks my heart.

Me and my friend Gina at my Uncle’s
bungalow in Seaside prom weekend.

While Jersey is often the butt-end of jokes and many think of stupid so-called “reality shows” are New Jersey, many of us know better. We know the jewel we have.

Like many, the Jersey Shore was my birthright. My Aunts and Uncles lived in Seaside, right down the street from Rainbow Rapids. I spent prom weekend at Seaside, piling people into my Uncle’s bungalow after a ride down the Parkway blasting my Meatloaf cassette in my 1986 Mercury Cougar. Yes, I was the essence of cool.

It was a right of passage we took for granted. Playing the wheel at The Union Jack. The Chair Lift. Skee-ball at Lucky Leo’s. The Casino Pier Carousel. Cheese steaks at The Midway. Clams at the raw bar under the Log Flume. Cotton Candy. Kohr’s Frozen Custard. Salt Water Taffy. It wasn’t just walking the boards for me; it was the food. All the stuff you weren’t allowed to normally eat – those rules went right out the window Down the Shore. I could go on forever.

Our view from our motel room at
The Crusader in Wildwood.

After I was married, our Shore plans moved further south to Wildwood and Cape May. Our spot was The Crusader – a classic Jersey Shore Motel. One year we went straight down the day my husband finished school in June. It was great.
Now… I’m speechless. Watching Chris Christie after his first tour of Seaside – it broke my heart. When he said The Midway was gone. That’s what did it for me.

But let’s face it. We’re Jersey. We’re tough. We’re Jersey Strong. To live in a state that is mercilessly made fun of – you have to be tough. We’ll be back and better than ever. But for those of us who grew up going “Down the Shore” – it will never be the same.

I pray for those who lost everything that they will find the strength to move forward.

We are all doing our best to help. With that said, all proceeds from my pattern sales will be donated to The Red Cross to help my fellow Jerseyans. If you are in need of a crochet pattern, I hope you will consider making a purchase. You can find them on Patternfish, Ravelry, and Craftsy. And if you don’t – well, I hope you will consider making a donation to The Red Cross.

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.

Upcoming Arts & Crafts Event!

On September 23rd, I will be a part of a unique event in Denville. The Image Forum. This event is sponsored by a physicians group and will be a lot of fun!

The Image Forum will be held 11 AM Sunday, September 23, 2012 in the Urban Auditorium inside Saint Clares Hospital on 25 Pocono Road, Denville, NJ. The event includes a light brunch, chamber music, several medical lectures, and an arts and crafts show. The best part is the entire event is FREE to the public! Simply register in advance (so they have an accurate head count) by calling 973-994-2484 or emailing Lmichaelson@nj.rr.com. Please tell them you are my guest.

The medical lectures include understanding thyroid cancer, today’s use of cosmeceuticals, what’s involved in permanent makeup. Additionally, there will be a presentation by the non-profit Center for Food Action and music will be provided by The West Essex Chamber Players. A variety of medical professionals will be on hand to answer questions about skin health, breast health, and plastic surgery.

There will be LOTS of artisans, crafters, and unique shopping opportunities, including home decor, unique accessories, custom made table cloths, couture clothing, jewelry, scarves, shawls, hats, Lia Sophia jewelry, Longaberger baskets, and more!

I am very excited to be a part of this event! I hope you will consider joining in on the fun!

WWKIP Day Event in Denville, NJ

This year’s World Wide Knit in Public takes place this year from the 9th to the 17th of June – second Saturday to the third Sunday in June. There are great events all over the world, but I wanted to let you all know about a great upcoming event in my neck of the woods – my beloved New Jersey.

On Saturday, June 16th from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Nonna’s Yarn Cafe will be hosting an event to knit and crochet squares that will be made into blankets for St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville. They will supply the yarn and patterns, you bring either a size H crochet hook or size 8 needles and the fun will definitely appear!

Nonna’s Yarn Cafe is located on Broadway in the center of Denville. I hope you will be able to participate!