First, I attended a retreat in Wisconsin:
yep, hard labor, 7 days, 20 people, good food, good company and a lake! Just looking at that photo gives me a sense of calm, of serenity, of timelessness, and of doing just what we wanted to, for days and days. We all of us had more to do than time allowed, spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, stitching, and meals with friends, lingering over conversations, no hurry, and no place particularly to go. Bliss!
Then upstate New York, for a whirlwind visit and fiber festival! And what a wonderful festival it was: big enough to have plenty to see and do, small enough to get around easily, seeing and doing. The weather was perfect, (for me, a bit blustery and cool, but it's Fall), there was very good Fair Food :), and the people I met were more than cordial, they were downright friendly and welcoming. I was given the royal treatment, and a big basket of goodies made by locals: everything from snacks, an excellent local wine (the basket included a wineglass and bottle opener!) to handmade soaps, a spindle!, knitting pattern, dyed hankies and so much more that I can't remember it all:
(shawl Pattern, Tina Turner Knits, spindle by True Creations, handmade soap, handmade doll, dyed hankies, project bag, and fleece ornament, just a few of the goodies in my basket at FLFF)
Next, after a brief visit home (how odd to say that, but it was) including hosting some friends from out of town, I was off to Baltimore, for a workshop and guild talk. Again, wonderful people, who made me feel not only welcome, but at home. A room full of enthusiastic spinners, for two days, apple tasting and delicious potluck lunches, and quiet evenings. There was a bit of touring around the area, the woman with whom I stayed made sure I saw a few local sights, and a yarn shop :), and I also had a few days between engagements for a two day jaunt to DC, to the Smithsonian and the Textile Museum.
I've been to these venues several times before, but there is always, always, always something new to see or that I notice new, for the first time. Going to museums alone is a treat: all the time you want and need to look closely at whatever takes your fancy, and no concern that your partner is bored or wants to move on. Can you tell that I am slow in a museum?
At the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, I searched for fine crafts, a part of the Luce Foundation collection, in an adjacent building which houses furniture, craft jewelry, glass and textiles. While the textiles housed here are mostly baskets, I did find a few pieces made by my first weaving teacher, Kay Sekimachi. The two boxes on display (Click on Works in the ollection, then scroll down to Haku #5 and Ikat box) were exquisite.
But the item that stopped me suddenly, had me searching the database for information and images, was a glass vessel by Paula Bartron. As with many things, the photo is a shadow of the Real Thing. In life, the vessel is more red, deep and mysterious, with many layers of color. It stopped me dead in my tracks: displayed beautifully, up high, with light from above, the vessel was glowing velvet, the colors vibrant and extreme. I stared at it, willing myself to remember. Willing my mind to see it forever as it was: soft and lush, not shiny as one would expect of glass, but textured and deep. I am not a glass maker, but I hope someday to interpret this surface, this color, in silk pile. I know I can do it, maybe not on first attempt, but it will be worth the struggle to get it right. Gasp-worthy, that's all I can say.
The Textile Museum will remain one of my favorite parts of all this travel: I attended an event called "Ask a Conservator, Ask a Curator." As a member of the Museum, I have long wanted to attend one of the regularly scheduled events held by the staff and members, events which discuss rugs and textiles from Central Asia, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. People can (do) bring textiles for discussion: where was it made, how was it made, perhaps by whom was it made, and when. The curators/conservators (there were 4) were very helpful with information: how to store, repair, restore and display the textiles brought in, and how best to care for them. They were kind when they needed to be, but honest as regards to value, condition and provenance. It was a treat to sit in the old house for the last time (for me) and listen to people talk about textiles as if they mattered. For we all know that textiles, especially as regards textiles we make, rarely are considered to matter. A very memorable afternoon, a very quiet and understated highlight, for me.
And now? Home, to a busy fall schedule of making, but no travel. In other words, home: to what I love best, staying home. It's hard to describe to an extrovert, but what I need most is time away from people. Long stretches of visiting, despite its pleasantness, leave me drained. I am re-charged by staying home, re-charged by working at making, recharged by long stretches of the dailyness of my life here. I love my life here, my studio, my companions and my friends. I miss them all when I am gone.
I'll be ready next year to venture out once more,but for 2014, there is no more traveling to teach. I am spinning, lots, which is by way of recovering for me:
Getting back to some long-neglected weaving:
Knitting a bit, and weaving another baby blanket, this time a pink one :), for a friends grand-daughter...
Sipping tea, resting, recovering and renewing. The "New Year", indeed, begins for me in the Fall, the season I love best. Happy to be here!