Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Long Overdue Postcard

Dear Alice,

When we went to Illinois to visit Mom at Thanksgiving, Scott and I decided that we would really like to visit Bishop Hill again. It had been many years since we had gone there the day after Thanksgiving with the children...it is always fun to try to catch the Julbuck playing tricks on people. We also needed to stock up on some Kalle's caviar.

Bishop Hill was an early Swedish settlement on the Illinois prairie. I remember studying it in the 70's when working on my BLA, and wrote a paper for my urban planning class at the time. Back then the buildings were in terrible disrepair. By the late 80's the settlement had been restored somewhat as a historic site by the state government, and sadly, the most recent governor pulled any supporting funds from important historic places like Bishop Hill and Black Hawk State Park.

There is a wonderful spinning guild that serves much of the western Illinois community, the Bishop Hill Fiber Guild. Many of those who are members have work in the Prairie Arts Center, a lovely shop that we visited. They have really grown since the last time we were there! On the 28th of November, there was a lovely lady demonstrating weaving--weaving rag rugs with sock loopers. In fact there were four looms set up that day, but only one weaver at the time we visited.

There are wonderful treasures in some of the other historic buildings, things that unfortunately will be hidden away now that they have lost funding, so some of the State-owned buildings will not be open to the public. Do not hesitate to visit Bishop Hill, though! The architecture is fascinating, and there are some great little privately owned shops and restaurants.

I'm sorry it took so long to get this in the mail to you,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Little Like Pennies from Heaven

Dear Alice,
Last Monday we had 'Member Showcase' at our regular Guild meeting. At first I thought I would be lucky to find something that I had done in the past year, since often I give things away before that meeting rolls around for me. I had sent Caiden's newly finished sweater off the week before, I had finished Penny's sox shortly after New Year's Day (but not yet delivered them), I had just finished weaving my first-ever rag rug, and not yet hemmed the ends, and I had finished weaving the Big Bluestem project, but not yet finished the ends and sides as I have envisioned. So...nothing to show? I decided that I could take the "It's Spring Alice!" fabric--after all, it was finished! I carefully unrolled it from the tube I had rolled it on, packed it up and took it along to the meeting. Tuesday morning, when I decided that it should be rolled back on the tube (so as not to become creased where I had folded it) I tipped the tube as I was about to put it on and lo! a roll of paper fell out. "What's this?" thought I. Indeed. Notes from Heaven. Alice, it was the instruction sheet for your crackle weave blanket gamp. Thank you...it made me smile, and it made my day!

In the meantime, I have hemmed the first-ever rag rug. It was merely an experiment. I used Janet Meany's Rag Rug Handbook instructions to get an interesting pattern. Rather than use wool, though, I used cottons, a cotton/linen blend, and even a velveteen (OK, yes, it's too thick with the other fabrics, but it was the right color), and I used quarter-inch seams. Of course those are little bumps all over the rug. That day, though, I tossed perfectionism to the wind and recalled Jean's words as I did it. One of the cards I tossed into the fire on New Year's Eve said 'perfectionism'. I really just wanted to play with the rag rug warp since I had never done one before. Jean had said the day before: "I'm always a bit anxious about trying something new like this, but I keep reminding myself that it's only a bunch of thread, and if it gets too ugly, there's always the wood stove." Don't you love it?

Thanks for the serendipity!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Best Wishes for a Wonder-filled 2009!

Dear Alice,

Last night I wrote out my most important weaving goal for 2009. If I post it here, there are a lot of folks who will hold my feet to the fire.

I will have every 'Apprenticeship' requirement finished by the end of 2009 so that I can send my submission to the Weavers' Guild of Boston for judging at the beginning of 2010.

There! I have committed fully to my goal.

What is your most important weaving goal for 2009?

Happy New Year!