Category Archives: Teaching felt classes

Finding a new normal and getting back to fiber

Well, last week was the annual BCMA (Book Club, My Ass) meeting on the shores of Lake Michigan but it wasn’t quite what we are used to. We women friends of very long standing always manage to find our way back together, come hell or high water, at least once a year and the Michigan Fiber Festival is the best excuse in recent years. Most of you know by now that we gather at Roberta’s 1920’s pink cinderblock cottage perched high on the dunes and we eat, drink, buy wool, talk to alpacas,knit, spin, skinny dip, surf ride, campfire and s’more our way through 4 or 5 days of estrogen (half of it synthetic) heaven. Really, it’s like heaven, like a great movie, like your best high, like your best book ever- we are friends like that.

This year things sort of came undone, with hell and high water. First Kristen, after years with NWA, got transferred to Atlanta and Delta headquarters. Bah. Then I got totally swamped with the remodel-that-turned-into-an-entire-new-house situation. Plus, Rich surprised me with the upcoming long-awaited honeymoon/60th birthday trip to Italy and we used almost every frequent flyer mile to make that a first class trip. And then came the worst bit and that was when a core member of BCMA got the terrible news I wrote of in my last post. So three of us were out and we sorely missed the week and they claim we were sorely missed although it appears to me that they had fun in any case.(I have no idea. Really. I guess you had to be there and I wasn’t, dammit.)

My dear friend has had her surgery and that went well and I just this minute finished talking with her husband who said they were home from the hospital. He reported that she was cranky and on his case and their daughter, who is Abby’s friend from nursery school, can do no wrong. So I said, “Great! Sounds like things are pretty much normal!” and he agreed. She has good supports in place, including her brother who is a nurse and her favorite sister. Next Wednesday they will meet with the tumor board (what a name- gak) and discuss lab results and what’s up next. And we continue to send her massive amounts of bad internet humor, good wishes and sincere prayers- plus I believe that BCMA has concocted a comforter of sorts and I will post photos of that when I get them. Kristen and I had to mail in our contributions.

Back here on Little Mt. Pisgah, we hosted our first official dinner party to thank some of the neighbors who have so kindly fed and sheltered me during construction, who leave me plants on my doorstep and bring fresh eggs and goat’s milk soap. I made grilled pork tenderloin and then sliced it into medallions on a dried Michigan cherry demi-glace and topped with a blue-cheese pine nut cream. We had local Yukon gold mashed potatoes, greens from the earth boxes and a ginger-crust apple tart with caramel sauce and french vanilla ice cream.

I also made an appetizer that I worried would be too hot but it was snarfed up in an instant before we could even get seated on the deck. I roasted some poblano peppers from the garden on the grill until they were black and then let them sweat off their skins in a paper bag and cut them into thin strips. Then I sautéed and crumbled andouille sausage. I spread some delectable goat cheese blended with ginger and apricots on flour tortillas, added the sausage and peppers, folded them in half and made quesadillas that I grilled and cut into triangles. That was some spicy starter but yum, yum, yum. And I made up that recipe and now I’m giving it to you. It would probably work with datil peppers, too, if you had such a thing.

Anyway, it was a wonderful evening with like minded folks- lots of laughter and good story telling. I figure everyone had a good time because they all stayed late. I can report that our new dishwasher, in addition to being very quiet, does indeed hold service for 14 and gets them clean.

With everything that has been going on, my fingers have not been near fiber, except to finally unpack it, for a couple months (I’m not counting the week of epic pillow making with seven-year olds at art camp). This morning I had my neighbor, Diana, over to do some silk dyeing. I wanted to use her as a guinea pig before I offered a free afternoon workshop when people can become acquainted with my teaching here in the Asheville area. We had a great time with some good results and the new studio space works well, with lots of counters, light and sinks. I also felted a couple of bars of this beautiful goat’s milk soap and I like how they turned out, too. Makes for a nice all-in-one loofah with natural antibacterial properties.

Right now I am very excited because Kristen is driving up from Atlanta, sort of spur of the moment, so we can have a little satellite session of BCMA these next couple days. Things are going to get fuzzy around here as we get the drum carder and spinning wheel moving. How cool is it to have friends who call and say, “Hey! I think I’ll drive 4 hours to come hang out with you.” ? I can’t wait to see her. I’m thinking we should felt a hot water bottle cover for Roberta’s tummy.

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Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day

Whenever a day rolls around, about once every 8 months, when I don’t have something to do I get very antsy about everything I have to do that day. That’s because, the one day when I don’t have anything to do is invariably the day I need to catch up on a thousand things I’ve put off doing on all those other too busy days. You follow? Today, Monday, is just such a day and I’m sitting here all anxious and stewing because I have nothing to do today and should really get started.

Likewise, when about ten days pass over here without an update, I get increasingly anxious and by  2 weeks I stop even dropping by because there’s nothing happening but I have about a thousand things I could catch up on in a blog post. But I’m not going to. Briefly-

Since last we talked, I’ve been to the mountain house twice more and it’s almost a home. I am like Lookin At Lucky in the gate to get there. I should be gardening right this minute instead of doing this. Abby loaned me Misha for a couple of days and he kindly helped load a UHaul with the IKEA innards to our new closets there, plants, wool, the Frank Lloyd Wright dining table and Rich’s motorcycle. Then he drove it north and unpacked it all into a onsite storage thingie because we are in the sheet rock phase of construction when there is dust,dust,dust and more dust. I met with the electrician over lighting details- where we need them and what kind (as long as we seem to be redoing the whole place it’s a good time to put lighting over Rich’s desk area, small spots in the hallway for art, etc.), picked out a chunk-o-granite for the guest bath, carpet for the master bedroom-the only room that will be carpeted- and made other flooring choices: cork, slate, tile. Then we turned around and raced back here. The best part of this last trip was the car trip back, learning a bit more about Misha and his life back in Russia, BA (before Abby). He’s a fairly quiet guy and I appreciate that. He generally doesn’t chatter and if he doesn’t have something to say, well, he doesn’t just fill the airwaves. But we had some good talk time in the car.

Okay, I don’t want to write about this anymore until I can be there for good and that should be in a couple of weeks. I did order the radio signal wi-fi installation for June 1, so I do have plans to continue on about house things then.

Let’s see, what else? I’ve taught some more workshops and decided once and for all that I need to neatly sever felting business from personal ramblings so today, with nothing to do, one of the things on my list is to lay claim to my felt weblog name I’ve been holding for a year now and design that site. I’m loving teaching, doing it more and more and stretching out into silk fusion and some mixed media classes. I’m hopeful I’ll find an inroad into that community of fiber artists in Asheville.

Everyone around here is fine, knock wood. Abby is excited about going to Duke but first she is going to Mexico this summer. The musician is happy with his art teacher. Rich is busier than ever with work and fast pitch old guys baseball. That is a very big deal here in St. Petersburg, complete with some Hall of Famers. The Half-Century league, aka Boys of Winter, have been playing for 78 years. Babe Ruth used to watch them play when he was here for spring training. And if you’re on the Half-Century League you just live to, well, live to the Kids and Cubs League. You can’t join that until you’re 75. In the meantime, Rich comes home from games and practices covered with massive bruises that cause me great concern, especially given the state of our personal health insurance- which, once COBRA runs out, will be non-existent and we will have to divorce and go off and marry Canadians. Don’t get me started. Before that happens, we will go for our long postponed honeymoon to Italy in October and stay here at La Frateria and Mondo X. What do you think? Good?

(With nothing and everything to do today, I should take up golfing. Except it’s raining hard today. Rich, without fail, sends me phone photos from the golf course of the most wonderful birds. I know what these babies are. Do you?)

While I can’t get anything much posted up here, my good friend Ken is lighting out across Death Valley today in his scooter trip across America to raise money for the little school in Ecuador. If you haven’t been keeping up on the Scooter Diaries you have been seriously missing out- now THAT is a blog worth reading. Get out of here and go check out Ken’s adventures. I’ll let you know when there’s something worth reading here.(I donated for Ken’s Death Valley/Bakersfield stretch but he best not run out of gas because I am NOT going to be part of a search party…in Bakersfield)

Ya, it’s a YURT

Here’s the finished effort, although I still might add some earthenware beads around the entryway. This was 6 panels, done largely by very small hands. I gave the panels a simple tumble through a short cycle in the washing machine to further tighten up the wool but it was impressive how well the children managed to hand felt these panels without holes or gaps.The cats are in heaven and wondering why there hasn’t been a wool yurt in their lives before this. It stands almost 3 feet tall so it’s plenty roomy for two cats. They like it best with the flap closed, thank you very much.The colored bits and pieces of wool and fleece that the children chose for surface design make this yurt a bit more flashy than most authentic Mongolian yurts, but, you know, those Mongolians could take some design cues if they were so inclined. The yurt has been here for a couple days while I hand stitched the panels together and tomorrow it will go back to the Morean Arts Center and be on display there until further notice. And then, the cats want it back.