Thursday, October 29, 2009

Progress Report

I'm making progress on the studio. Cairo isn't helping -- he's just sits in that basket of scraps, no matter where I put it!

I'm still washing wool, and still carting things in from the garage. I'm hoping to be finished by the end of the weekend. Ha! Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moving Day(s)

I'm moving my studio. I am a little sad, because I love the light in the garage, and the amount of space and storage options. But the building sits on a slab and it is getting too moist in there, and in the winter, it is too cold for my aging bones. I struggled with the wood stove and the mess the ash made daily, and I'm tired of people at rug shows asking why our booth smelled like a campfire. Pete, who is both a painter and a sculptor, will be moving into the garage (he loves playing with the wood stove), and I am moving to the basement in the new addition, which has radiant heat in the floor.

The move is taking me forever. I am washing every bit of wool I own (which is considerable, I must say). I want to get the wood smoke smell out, and make sure there are no critters brought into the new room. Every time I bring in another pile of wool, Cairo tries to find a way to sit on it. Here he is in a basket of scraps:

And here he is sitting in the wire cubes I'll be using for wool storage:

I'm going through every scrap of fabric, every piece of paper, every button, in an attempt to have a neat an orderly new studio. I'll let you know if I succeed. Needless to say, I'm not taking any bets . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zippy Pins

One of the funnest things about the Sheep and Wool Festival is meeting new people. An energetic and creative mother and daughter team stopped by our booth on Saturday to tell us about their new business venture: Zippy Pins. They are manufacturing all manner of buttons with cute and clever sayings on them.

They have several pins aimed at the fiber fanatic market, but they'll create almost any button you could want -- for yourself, or to sell. (Yes, they do wholesale!) I saw scads of people with buttons all over their backpacks, camera straps, tote bags, hats -- you name it, people covered it in buttons. Jamie and Jenna gave us some samples to sell. We sold four within minutes of displaying them in our booth.

Their website has an artists' gallery, as well as a page for creating your own designs. They make key chains, zipper pulls and magnets, too. They're both very friendly, and I'm sure they're easy to work with. I plan on ordering a bunch soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back from Rhinebeck!

Last week was tough -- I hooked long and hard on the dog rug and ended up with pain in my shoulder, and I spent hours worrying about the bad weather predicted for the weekend. I was sure this would be our worst show ever. Wrong! Fiber fanatics obviously don't care about rain and snow, because they showed up in record numbers and nearly wiped out our booth on Saturday.

Here's our booth early Saturday morning before the gates opened. See my red, white and black dog rug? I love it.

Other views of the booth:

We shared our spot with our friend Susan Borger, who has given up lavender to start the buttonshow -- a collection of her own needlepunched and vintage buttons and shawl pins. I neglected to get a photo of her always charming booth, but I am sure she will have a picture on her blog, susanbmade.

I sent Susan up the hill (man, I walked that sucker more times than I can count!) to Barn 36 to see the fabulous work of Julia Hilbrandt. She creates very sophisticated purses and pillows from industrial felt. Susan came back to our booth sporting a beautiful purse. When I spoke to Julia, she was sporting a big smile. She had a successful weekend, too.

Our friend Linda Repasky of Woolen Whimsies once again occupied horse stall H in Building 26. It sparkled with Kevin's clever lighting fixture and all the beautiful Gloriana Lorikeet wool thread Linda stocks for needle punching. Linda's work -- including the frames she so carefully paints -- is just magical. Here's a somewhat blurry photo of Linda's smiling face.

Linda's partner, Kevin Cooke, made that wonderful set of nesting Shaker boxes piled on the table. He also made the teeniest tiniest shaker box I've ever seen -- just about an inch long!

My baby Clara -- now a senior at Skidmore -- came down from Saratoga to visit me and her Aunty Barb on Saturday afternoon. Skidmore's Parent's Weekend always coincides with the Sheep and Wool Festival, so I have to miss it. I was really pleased she made the effort. We left Barb in charge of the booth and went in search of furry things that we could pet.

Every year we see this fellow with one of his flock on his lap. This is Vasey, a very friendly angora goat.

I am always happy to see Toni of The Fold, who sells the famous Socks that Rock yarn. She moved from Building A to a bigger booth in Building B this year, which helped to accomodate the hoards of knitters waiting for a skein of that delicious stuff. Her friend Thor joined her team this year. It's great to see a 6'2" Viking who loves to knit!

We had a great time. We always have a great time. We're already getting ready for next year: October 16 & 17. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Studio, Pre-Sheep & Wool Fest -- aka "Hurricane Sarah"

I'm leaving for Rhinebeck (The New York Sheep and Wool Festival) on Friday. I am still hooking on the rug that will be the focal point of our booth in between packing and pricing and dyeing (I dyed 5 yards of wool by 9 am this morning). My studio is a complete and total mess. I can;t spare the time to stop and clean it, so I am wading through snippets of wool and whatever else falls on the floor.

I was reading Tammy's blog the other day (Skip to My Ewe). She said she never hooks in her hooking room because it is such a wreck. I told her if she'd post a photo of her studio, I'd post a photo of mine. I haven't heard from her yet, but decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I had a good laugh a few minutes ago when I looked up from my rug frame and realized I couldn't find the dog until a pile of linen in the corner moved. Did you spot Cairo sleeping on top of the linen basket? Poor little guy -- he can't wait until this show is over and life gets back to normal.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's My Birthday and I'll Work If I Want To

You would work too, if it happened to you . . . . (Sing the title and first line to the tune of Leslie Gore's "It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To.")

I woke at 5 am today and at 5:38 decided to can the idea of more sleep even though it is Sunday and it is my birthday. I decided to get up and work. The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is less than one week away and my head is full of ideas and my studio is full of stuff that needs to be finished. Today I am revving up the sewing machine to prepare the binding for three rugs that need it, and to put together a slew of pillows I have made tops for. I've been working away on my new dog rug that will be the centerpiece of our booth this year. It is hooking up quickly, so I can afford to put it aside today.

On another front: Pete and I did a quick tour of tag sales yesterday to see if we could scrounge up enough chairs for the dining room without spending huge amounts of money. Remember, we bought a table last month at Brimfield and it has been sitting chairless in the dining room since then. Well, luck was with us yesterday. A restaurant in Southold went of of business and we bought a bunch of chairs at a bargain price -- cheaper than Ikea! We are very pleased with our purchase. So pleased, in fact, that Pete went back and bought four more for the kitchen.

The icing on the cake, however, was the delivery of my newly reupholstered hand-me-down couch. I LOVE my couch. It is at least 25 years old, has a hardwood frame, and had two owners before me. It was covered in a horrible shiny fabric that smelled musty. I kept it in my studio for naps on rainy Sunday afternoons. I've wanted to recover it for years, but never got around to it. Now that we have a family room that needs a sofa, I convinced Pete to let me get it redone.

I am a ninny when it comes to decorating. I tend to keep things on the quiet side. I've never owned a sofa with a print fabric on it. But this fabric just sang to me when I first saw it on my friend Paula's love seat. She was kind enough to give me a piece of the fabric, and the name of her upholsterer and voila! I now have the most beautiful couch I've ever owned. It looks a little stark against the white wall in the picture, so try to imagine it with the walls painted the color of the elephants in the fabric, and a long leather ottoman with a wooden tray on top of it for a coffee table, and an attractive rug on the floor. I can't wait to spend time in there once the Sheep and Wool Festival is over . . .

Now I really have to get back to work . . .

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm Cold

I'm freezing. I just made myself a cup of cocoa to warm up while I work on the design for a new rug featuring dogs. I've been talking about this dog rug for a year, and Barb and I plan to use it for the centerpiece of our booth at Rhinebeck. In two weeks and two days. Ha. As my daughter says, "I work best under pressure." We shall see.

I first made this apricot and prune stuffed pork roast for my husband's 30 birthday 26 years ago. I made it again when my sister Barb came to visit last Friday. It was my homage to Sheila Lukins, who, along with Julie Rosso, created The Silver Palate. She died from brain cancer in late August, but I only just read about her death. I was surprised that it wasn't on the national news, or that my husband, an avid daily reader of the New York Times, never said a word to me about her obituary. She was, for me, the Michael Jackson of the cooking world back in 1982, the year the first Silver Palate cookbook came out. I loved the little shop on Columbus Avenue and I loved that cookbook. I still do. My original copy was so worn my daughter bought me a new one for Christmas last year. I still make The Silver Palate pesto recipe every summer when the basil in our garden is full grown. My neighbor Jane makes Chicken Marbella so often that our family calls it Jane's Chicken. And Chili for a Crowd -- nothing is more comforting on a cold winter's day -- or on a cold October's evening. Gotta go -- I'm off to the the grocery for kidney beans . . .