A Houston Fiber Festival

This past summer, the Knit at Night Guild (KANG) organized the first ever Houston Fiber Fest. The event took place the weekend of July 17-19, 2015. That very weekend, I was on my way out-of-town on business to South Africa and almost missed it. On Friday after work, I raced over to the Berry Center located in a suburb of Houston for about an hour before they closed. The exhibit area was large but very doable. Many yarn shops from the greater Houston area were there with their wares.

At Little Monkey’s Stitch and Spin, they had hand dyed two-stranded sock flats (those little bags hanging from the sides of the display). Each flat is already knitted together from 80% merino and 20% nylon. As you knit up your socks, you are basically, unraveling the flat. The result is two socks or mittens whose stripes or color patterns will match perfectly – very clever! You can find this shop on Etsy.

Little Monkey's Stitch and Spin

I thought the booth for The Barbed Dragon was a lot of fun. According to their website, the shop is “a Texan’s flight of fancy into the fiber arts.” The dragon motif carries through to the names of their gorgeous hand-dyed fibers and yarns such as Dragon’s Indulgence and Dragon’s Treasure. They are located in Burleson, Texas (had never heard of it) but you can find them online. I think this shop partnered with another called Brazen Stitchery because they had this wonderful sparkly yarn in the booth. The names of these yarns were also so creative like a sparkly hank of Zombie American Princess variegated sock yarn.

The Barbed Dragon

The Purl & Loop booth featured needlecraft kits by yet another Texan. I love Angela’s (the owner’s) story. As a career woman, she had little spare time to devote to crafting and would order kits that had all the materials needed to complete a project. Out of that need, she launched her shop primarily devoted to kits for the busy modern person who wants to create but has little time. She even features how-to videos on her website for weaving and needle felting.

Purl & Loop

Park Avenue Yarns lived up to its name with tastefully curated yarns and these lovely silk braids. The sheen is gorgeous and they are oh-so-wonderful to touch. They also carried packets of precut quilting squares in fabrics with modern designs and vibrant colors.

Park Avenue Yarns

Finally, the members of the KANG yarn-bombed the area outside the conference center with smile-inducing knitting and crochet. Trees, benches and even trash cans were covered in yarn! I particularly liked the crocheted mandalas hanging off the trees like ornaments. And no yarn-bombing in Texas is complete without a crocheted Texas flag!

HFF Yarn Bomb 1

HFF Yarn Bomb 2

HFF Yarn Bomb 3

HFF Yarn Bomb 4

HFF Yarn Bomb 5

It was one of the most delightful hours I’ve had. A bit rushed but very much worth the effort. Kudos to the KANG for a wonderful festival. The 2016 Houston Fiber Fest is scheduled for June 24-25, 2016. Mark you calendars!

HFF-LesterLogo

(Source)

College, a President and Needlepoint

During the Winter break, my son and I went to visit colleges. It was sort of a Mother-Son trip. We hung out, talked, tried new restaurants, and toured the campus. It was nice having that one-on-one time with my 17-year old. Soon enough he will be gone from home and I cherish these moments together.

While visiting the campus of Texas A&M University, we stopped at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. A long time ago, when I worked on the Hill, I came within a few yards of then President Bush (the elder, not “W”). Visiting the museum gave me a deeper appreciation of him. The museum chronicles his time in the service, how he was married with a baby during college, and his rise in politics. Coincidentally, while we were visiting the museum, he was hospitalized in Houston; and more recently, he and Barbara Bush celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary! Regardless of your politics, that is impressive. He even tweeted about this milestone – so sweet!

As interesting as all the artifacts and exhibits of his life were, my attention was diverted by several yarn-related installations. Much to my son’s chagrin, I spent a considerable amount of time admiring and photographing these adorable yarn houses and an amazing Noah’s Ark and Nativity Scene done in needlepoint. They were stitched by the Saintly Stitchers from Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. The Nativity Scene was presented to the President and Mrs. Bush in 1989, and the Noah’s Ark was presented to them in 1991 along with needlepoint ornaments for the White House Christmas tree.

I highly recommend clicking on any photo below to view larger images. That way you can see the detail of the needlepoint. So much care went into each figure. All in all, it was a wonderful trip with my boy.

February FO: Azzu’s Shawl

While I didn’t write out any knitting goals for the year, I knew that I should put my ever-growing stash to good use (besides just being beautiful to look at and soft to the touch).

Azzu's Shawl 1

I decided to use this hand spun that I bought at a crafts fair. The combination of Bluefaced Leicester and silk (80/20) felt luscious in my hands.

Wool/Silk Handspun 1

Wool/Silk Handspun 2

There were 490 yards of it to play with and the color changes were lovely to look at as they unfolded.

Azzu's Shawl - In Progress

Azzu's Shawl - Blocking 1

Azzu's Shawl - Blocking 2

The size is just right to use as a scarf, a shoulder wrap, or to keep Bear warm on chilly nights.

Azzu's Shawl 2

Here are some colorful close-ups.

image

This was the perfect little gift to me.

Azzu's Shawl 3

Wishing you a happy valentine’s day full of love and yarn.

Ashley's Art illustration {source}

Toasty Hand Warmers

My husband has a true appreciation for handmade items. So as I considered my knitting queue, I decided to make him a pair of fingerless hand warmers for the cool weather ahead. He has a wonderfully warm charcoal gray coat so I wanted yarn that would complement it. I found this hank at Nimblefingers, one of Houston’s local yarn stores.

Heritage Quatro by Cascade Yarns. Fiber content: 75% Merino Superwash, 25% Nylon. Yield: 437 yards, 100 grams.

For the pattern, I went to The Purl Bee and fixed on their Ribbed Hand Warmers. It is a nice gender-neutral pattern. As I started knitting, I noticed that the swatch was too flimsy and it didn’t seem like it would keep his hands warm. So I unravelled my knitting and doubled up the yarn. Much better.

Here is hand warmer #1 in progress.

Once the first one was all done, the second one went quickly.

I think he liked them.

Of Handmade Quilts

These are the last two quilts from the International Quilt Festival last weekend. Undoubtedly, they both represent superior craftsmanship but what appealed to me most was the theme. If you read My First Post, you will understand why I love these quilts showing a woman’s hands at work.

This first quilt, “The Mending,” captures a woman’s hands mending fractured lives. In the quilter’s words:

Women find themselves continually mending the fabric of their lives, trying to restore beauty and function in the aftermath of war, greed and lust. This quilt began as a collage of photos collected over a decade of living, working and traveling overseas. The quilt top was then torn, cut, burned and shot – literally, tearing families apart. Finally, the woman’s hands are shown working to stop the destruction, mend the damage, and repair the vision.

The Mending by Lea McComas, Colorado.”

Upon seeing this quilt, I couldn’t help but think about atrocities committed against women. Just the other day, there was an article on CNN about how women and girls in Haiti continue to be raped in the makeshift tent cities that serve as their not so temporary homes. A BBC report recounts details of sexual violence against prisoners in Syria. There are many more stories every day.

I did not mean to lead you down an unhappy path. But my heart goes out to these women and I am ever more grateful for so many blessings in my own life.

On the other end of the spectrum, this next quilt represents the power of friendship and community-building. The artist made this quilt to commemorate her ten years as a quilter. Her design inspiration was “the people who gather at a quilting bee.”

Viva Quilt by Noriko Nozawa, Japan.

It is heartwarming to see so many hands at work. Each person contributes busily cutting, sewing and ironing and each leaves his or her mark on the quilt. This quilt fills me with joy and leaves me feeling hopeful about what people can do when they come together, each contributing their own unique gifts.

More Fabulous Quilts

More quilted beauties from the International Quilt Festival Houston 2012.

Flora …

Pink Snow by Vivian A. Kapusta, Canada.
Papaver Somniferum by Grace Meijer, United Kingdom.
Award of Merit.
The Button Box by Rebecca Navarro, Texas.
Detail of tree branch covered in button flowers.
Leaf Like Life by Dalia Eliraz, Israel.
Workmanship Trophy.

… and Fauna

Rainbow Lorikeet by Helen Godden, Australia.
Honorable Mention – Art Painted Surface.
Show Your Colors; Stand Out From the Crowd by Kristin Vierra, Nebraska.

Home Sweet Home

Berne House Quilt. Made by members of the Bernese Quilters in Switzerland. 150 different blocks were made separately and then put together.
Colores by Michelle Jackson, New Mexico. The quilter was inspired by a photo of an old adobe house in New Mexico.
Lazy Afternoon by Michelle Jackson, New Mexico. “I love the character of older homes. This one was inspired by a photo of a house taken in Madrid, New Mexico, as it basks in the afternoon sun.”
The Jennings Homestead by Suzanne Mouton Riggio and 26 members of the Milwaukee Art Quilters, Wisconsin. “… a group of 40 artists, have been meeting for over ten years in the business space [of the homeowners]. In gratitude … the group made a slice quilt of their Victorian home.”
Tutti Frutti Village by Susan Bleiweiss, Massachusetts.
Honorable Mention – Art Whimsical.
The quilter used hand-dyed sandwashed cotton.

What’s black and white and red all over?

Lady Dova by Deborah Stanley, California. Inspired by the horse race scene from My Fair Lady.
Searching for Coco Chanel by Teresa Shippy, California.
The Red Shoes by Linda Stone, California.
Flamenco by Jin Gook Yang, Korea.
Wrath by Dianne Firth, Australia.
“…wrath can be used to describe the uncontrollable forces of nature that wreak havoc on humankind through fire, flood, cyclones and other disasters.”
Convergence by Latifah Saafir, California. “‘Convergence’ is about coming together and meeting at a common point; but, it is also about approaching limits.”

Peace Quilts

The Rainbow Staircase by Nairn Stewart, Canada. “The individual steps, which are high relative to the size of the figures, represent the obstacles which threaten women’s security.”
Let the Sunshine In by Anna Hergert, Canada. “The collective spirit empowers women around the world, whether rich or poor, covered or uncovered, old or young, oppressed or free, no matter what our skin color or spiritual convictions.”

Award Winning Quilts

This is the second year of enjoying the breathtaking artistry of quilts at the International Quilt Festival Houston 2012. It was like seeing works of art at a museum. It was sometimes hard to believe that what I was seeing was actually pieces of fabric. My camera loved the quilts so there are many photographs. If you can’t wait to see more, you can visit the Textile Ranger at Deep in the Heart of Textiles. She was there too although we didn’t bump into each other!

These quilts were all award winners. For a complete winner’s list and even more quilt pictures, go here.

America, Let It Shine by Sherry Reynolds, Wyoming.
The Handi Quilter® Best of Show Award.
“The 5,121 Swarovski cystals represent the words of the Constitution, Star Spangled Banner, Pledge of Allegiance and the age of the country.”
ElaTED by Ted Storm, The Netherlands.
The Founders Award.
“To challenge myself, I started with my least favorite color and fabric: brown and plaid.”
Hot Africa by Janneke De Vries-Bodzinga, The Netherlands.
The World of Beauty Award.
“I was in Kenya during the dry season, took this photograph, and made a quilt of this impressive moment.”
Crème de la Crème by Bonnie Keller, Chehalis, Washington.
Award for Traditional Artistry.
“I put the vibrant green Morris reproduction backing fabric with the right side facing inward in order for it to shadow through to the front, creating a subtle grayed background.”
Fiesta Mexico by Karen Kay Buckley and Rena Haddadin, Pennsylvania.
Master Award for Innovative Artistry.
“The original appliqué and quilting designs were inspired by the bright colors in Mexican pottery and flora.”

More quilt pictures coming soon.

A Very Crafty Evening

This is my second year attending the annual Artisan’s Market presented by the Contemporary Handweavers of Houston (CHH). The market runs from September 6 – 8 so if you are near Houston, you still have Saturday to stop by.

I am so glad that I went on their opening night. I did my usual walk around the rooms to look at all the displays. I then picked up a small plastic basket from the front so I could begin collecting the beautiful handwoven textiles, baskets, handmade jewelry, handspun yarn, and felted ornaments that I had singled out. I was too slow. Those ladies are fierce! Several items I had on my mental checklist were gone! Nonetheless, I had a great time looking, touching and taking pictures.

I saw beautiful handwoven textiles.

There were felted bracelets, handmade cards, woven rugs and artwork.

There were felted baskets, silk baskets and other sculptured baskets.

There were ghosts and goblins and catnip wrapped like mice for the upcoming Autumn holidays.

Even Saint Nicolas’ helpers offered their wares for the yuletide season.

Of course, there was yarn.

A huge round of applause to all of the fiber artists who produced these beautiful handmade items. By the crowds and the long line at check out, I am pleased to say that Houstonians truly appreciate the handcrafted arts.

If you want to see more lovely items like these, this is the post I wrote about last year’s event.