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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Seventy years ago this very day, Barbara Pierce of Rye, NY made me the happiest, and luckiest, man on earth. pic.twitter.com/rgZqpL9XfE
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.