Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ETSY TX Crafters Trunk Show

I'll be participating, although not attending, the ETSY TX Crafters Trunk Show at the Etsy Labs in NY City Sept 28-29. See http://www.etsytx.org for more details & join in all the fun!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nothing Makes a House Feel Like Home....

Nothing makes a house feel more like home than curtains you've sewn for yourself. Or so said my friend in Berkeley when my friend in Iowa City took me to the fabric store to pick out fabric for curtains 2 years ago when I moved into an apartment that is now 4 dwellings past. (Yes, I moved three times in a year and a half).

I think I must be feeling settled in this little house Austin because I've finally sewn the curtains.

I'm not overly sentimental usually, but sewing the curtains gave me cause to think about said friend in Berkley, whom I knew in Minneapolis, and other said friend in Iowa City, whom I also knew in Minneapolis. I find myself here in Austin, sewing curtains, thinking it's a little bit amazing how far and wide friends can scatter and still stay friends. And how much things can change, but still be sort of the same. And how where you live isn't always home, but sometimes it is.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Minneapolis - From a Knitter's Perspective

A little more on my recent trip back home to Minneapolis, this time from a knitter's perspective. I am a knitter after all.

First up, my knitting. I knew I'd have ample opportunity to knit on this trip. There was the airplane, the two and a half hour car rides, and quality time with my sister, who also knits. I brought all the ingredients for the Blue Sky Alpaca Fitted Tank. A fine choice since Blue Sky Alpacas also calls Minnesota home. I made respectable progress on the tank, finishing the front and a solid 4 inches of ribbing for the back.

I love this project, the pattern is simple without being tedious. And the Blue Sky Alpaca Dyed Cotton is quickly becoming a favorite yarn, it knits up fast, doesn't split, and is amazingly soft in the hand. Delicious.

A side note of irony - the this is really sort of stupid kind of irony - I was not allowed through security at the airport because the hair care products in my carry-on baggage were to large. I had to return to the check-in counter and check my carry-on. I was however allowed to cram my knitting into my purse and sit happily knitting on the aircraft with my pointy, metal knitting needles. hmmm...

I visited the MN Textile Center. Another amazing resource tucked away in Minneapolis. The gallery was a bit sparse. Although there were several pieces in the foyer by Sock Monkey artist Rebbecca Yaker. They involved sock monkeys, blenders, and meat grinders. Just exactly the sort of dark ironic humor I appreciate.

I made a few stash enhancements, although I was very disciplined, and didn't go over board, and only picked up things I couldn't get here in Texas. From the shop at the MN Textile Center I bought one beautiful, and hefty skein of hand-spun yarn by The Cat That Walks on Water. And I picked up a copy of Annie Modesitt's Romantic Hand Knits. A true celebration of style. It was reasoned that carrying books home on the airplane, since I had to my check bags anyway, was cheaper than the shipping charge from Amazon.

I only visited one yarn shop, the one that was my mainstay when I lived in Minneapolis. I was honestly a little disappointed. It's not that it's not a nice yarn store, it is, but it's not Hill Country Weavers. I have a new appreciation for how truly wonderful my LYS is. I told my sister, who has visited me here in Austin and therefore been to Hill Country Weavers, that I was sadly disappointed, and she confirmed I've been rightly spoiled by the inventory at Hill Country. Despite my disappointment, I didn't leave empty handed. I picked up almost 300 yds. of hand dyed soy silk by Two Sisters At Play, another MN vendor. It's gorgeous.

So with a restrained stash enhancement, a new book, a slightly more than half done sweater, and an appreciation for my LYS, I left Minneapolis. A pretty great place from a knitter's perspective.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Minneapolis - The MN Center For Book Arts

I've returned from my first visit to Minneapolis since moving to Austin TX. I remembered Minneapolis was a beautiful city, and a great city, and was only a little amazed at just how pretty it really is. I felt a little nostalgic, and like I missed it a little, but reminded myself that the weather is truly a factor for most of the year. Our visit was over one of the nicest weeks of the year, and I only needed to remind myself that soon it will be cooler here in Austin, and I wont freeze my ass all winter.

In addition to lots and lots of family, and a pleasant run around Lake Nokomis everyday but one, we visited several of my favorite art and craft related places. What else would I do.

The first was the MN Center for Book Arts. An old familiar stumpin' ground for me - prior to my move to Austin I worked in The Shop for years, and was a member of the Artist Co-Op. The MCBA is a rare resource in the world of Book Arts, as well as a beautiful place to visit. There is a bindery, a letterpress print shop, a gallery, and of course The Shop.

The current show in the Gallery space is "We, too, are Book Artists" and features the largest collection of Book Arts by Afro American Book Artists any where in the world. At only 24 artists it seemed a little sad in an ironic way that it is the "largest" collection. The work was mostly political. There were several letterpress printed broadsides that I liked quite a lot, as well as a few books available to "gently handle". I appreciated this not only because it makes art feel more democratic, but also because it is the only real way to interact with a book.

The Shop there at the MCBA has been re-arranged some and was presently well stocked. I took advantage to add to my humble but growing collection of Artists Books. My favorites were two miniatures by artist Jessica Rosenkranz of Headless Press - "Chicken Story" and "30 White Roosters" and a fun little spoof called "How to Care or Your Art". I also picked up a few new zines, including two issues of the letterpress printed zine Ker Bloom, which is also available on Etsy at Artnoose. And a booklet titled "Notta Lotta Love Stories" by Evil Twin Publications, it is absolutely some of the best writing I've had the pleasure to read in a long time.

I also took advantage of the bindery and cut myself an ample supply of Davey Board for journal making. If I had been in Minneapolis longer than the 6 short days I would have loved to spent some time printing on one of the old Vandercook Proof Presses. But time was limited , as it always is on vacations.

Housed in a restored warehouse space just one block from the river the architecture alone is reason enough, but of course not the only reason to visit the MCBA, next time you find yourself in my pretty, pretty home town.