Monday, January 26, 2009

Full, Full Day

Yesterday I got to do something I seldom get to do - I got to take a class! A knitting class! From Susanna Hanson!

It was an exceptional day, so much fun, and a delight for me to be part of a class - almost like a little vacation.

In addition to meeting Susanna, who'd I'd heard so much about from Vivian Hoxbro a few years ago, I also got to see Wendy Johnson (who shot the photographs for a little booklet associated with the exhibit at the Swedish American Institute in Minneapolis) and to have lunch with Ruth Sybers of Knitter's Treat and a lovely woman in my class who's name I have forgotten. ( I'm so sorry! Please let me know and I'll correct the above!)

I knew the angora content of the yarn used in the class would be a problem (angora gives me asthma attacks), so Susanna kindly sent me a sample of the yarn colors we would be using and I brought a fine merino in similar colors so I could work a bit more easily. My own partially finished "blue shimmer-esque" cuff is in the photo above - the colors obviously aren't the same as the kit, but they were still pretty nice!

Unfortunately even with my merino precaution, all of the bunny yarn in the class and in the beautiful bohus sweaters on display did a major number on my breathing. I was up a good part of the night with my old friend, Mr. Nebulizer.

I always forget how strong a reaction I can have to some of this stuff.

But I wouldn't have missed the class or the day, even if I'd known I'd be wheezing a bit later on. It was a delight! The class was wonderful, it was very nice to see so many friends that I rarely see (I'm a hermit.)

Hearing a talk by Mary Jo Burke of Stagecoach Yarns on Bohus knitting in the US and all of the work involved in matching the original colors with ever-changing dye compounds and different waters was quite interesting, but the story of how her small rural community is at the mercy of a large Mega Dairy Farm developer - and how they're fighting back - was both moving and terrifying.

In light of the whole ethos of the Bohus movement - empowerment of the small householders through their own hard labor - the situation Mary Jo is facing seems a sad and modern metaphor for how easily the smaller farmer can be shoved out of the way by a larger entity. The WalMartization of farming. It's not new, that's for sure, and it's disturbing every time I hear about it.

Mary Jo said something very interesting after the movie as she, my friend Karen and I were chatting. A friend of hers has commented that The Omnivore's Dilemma will be the Silent Spring of our generation. Please let it be so.

For me one of the highlights of the day was an exceptional, sweet and quite funny documentary on the Bohus phenomenon, Bohus Knitting From Relief Work to World Success. introduced by the filmaker, Kjell Andersson and featuring the last Bohus designer, Kerstin Olsson. I introduced myself to her later and had her sign my Poems of Color book - it was very exciting for me!

I appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the Bohus sweaters, but I can't see myself knitting many of them (the same way that I love hand knit socks, and appreciate sock knitters more than anyone I know, but I'm just not a big sock knitter myself...)

I would love to try to introduce some of the feeling of the sweaters in some work, but there's a fine line between inspiration & reverence and lifting a design.

I wondered on the way home if anyone's done any Bohus inspired crochet work - that might be fun to try!

I returned home to find the most beautiful cat in the world posing on the dog bed (from Men Who Knit) with her little Christmas toy, an Ikea white rat I colored in to match her own black and white coloring. She LOVES that rat, and carries him all over the place, it's very sweet.

She tosses him in the air, and catches him - joyful rat.

It might be the cold I've been fighting off, or the asthma episode last night, but I feel so danged blue. And it's sunny and lovely out - just beautiful, so I have no good reason! Is it habit? Am I just falling into a pattern? I hope not. The best way to avoid a pattern is to see it, admit it, and make a move to change it.

To that end I took the kids treasure hunting after school today (wouldn't it be a kick if we found the prize!) Every year during the Winter Carnival in St. Paul there's a hunt for a medallion. The winner gets $10,000! (A brother/sister team who'd been looking for the medallion every year since they were kids won last year - very sweet!)
So since I was up last night I used my time wisely by going over all of the clues and I think I may have a handle on where it is. How on earth can we resist when a poodle is mentioned in the clues?

We probably have no chance - we had no luck this afternoon and had to leave before we froze off our toes - but with two dedicated red-headed helpers and the aforementioned poodle, how can we miss?

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OpenID kmkat said...

Um, I think it is a different Wendy Johnson who helped make the brochure, Wendy J. (the photographer) vs. Wendy D. (the knitblogger).

Love the kitty and her rat!

January 26, 2009 6:22 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Dang! I always do that!

January 26, 2009 7:36 PM  
Blogger twinsetellen said...

For what it's worth, there is a picture of Wendy D in the booklet!

January 26, 2009 8:20 PM  
Blogger Annette said...

As for Bohus-like crochet, the only example I can think of is Julia Vaconsin's Northern Dreams Pullover:

January 27, 2009 6:26 AM  
Blogger shoeboots said...

Note to self: must somehow try to find Poems of Color for purchase!

Every time I hear about the megafarming, I always think about the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and all the ways big Agro gets into our lives. Good for them for fighting back!

Also: lovely colorwork! Perhaps you are blue to match your swatches?

January 27, 2009 6:32 AM  
Blogger another Jennifer said...

Your 'blue period' may have multiple causes, including seasonal light levels (days stay short in the north for a *long* time) and the continued stress that arises from travel; teaching; concern about Gerry's health and about the kids; and lastly, respiratory distress.

That's a lot on anyone's plate. Add to that the stress that moving to a new place, with its relative lack of established social supports, and you have a pretty good chance of situational depression. It will resolve on its own for a lot of folks. If the blue just won't quit, however, I would encourage you to talk to someone (counselor, clergy, doctor, best friend in the world) to help sort it out.

Thank you for sharing your work and life with us on you blog.

January 27, 2009 1:35 PM  
Blogger Mo said...

You've been going through so much for so long, you must feel as though life never gives you a break sometimes. Maybe that's why you're feeling a bit blue?

Take care of yourself.

Best wishes.

January 27, 2009 6:21 PM  
Blogger HeadKnitwit said...

SJ is coming to NCKG in San Diego this Spring. I hope to take her class and you have made me excited to try this technique. Sorry i missed you at the Grove. I wanted to be there. I wish you had done a reading/meet and greet for moi. Considering your fragile health you need to rest more. We are all just delicate flowers. Consider yourself so.

January 28, 2009 4:49 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

I sympathize with you on the asthma inducing angora. Never knew I had asthma until I had a close encounter with a friend's domestic angora and ended up in the emergency room.

I can spin anything but angora...none of the other animal fibers trigger the attacks. But I really have to watch out for those booths with the bunny cages when I go to fiber festivals.

January 28, 2009 6:05 PM  
Blogger Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


March 31, 2009 10:33 PM  

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