Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Wednesday, July 14, 2004  

Ahhhh. Nothing like getting back into a routine to make things feel right again. I must be getting so creaky and crusty as I begin this second half-century journey. Only, I was always like this - fuzzy headed after a trip. At least I can still fit my shoes back into the familiar track of the Life-0-Bess. But the question remains ... in order to feel normal will I have to work forever?

And was it only a week ago when Jen called and said there was a schedule change - we were needed at Creative Strands at 10 a.m. on Friday, set up and ready to sell? Yep yep yep. I remapped my weekend. I still had to get the car fixed, but Thursday a.m. ReallioTrulioBigDarling offered to drive me up to Jen’s and come pick me up on Sunday. I can drive. I do drive - everybody has to these days - but I do not like to drive. I knew I’d be particularly tired if I had to drive those extra 2 hours from Jen’s house on Sunday night. I snapped up BD’s offer in a flash.

Jen, otoh, is a very good driver, a confidence inducing driver - and we were on the road by 2. The route up 15 through Leesburg would be pretty only, there’s so much vinyl construction going on, superhomes of the super vulgar variety, that it was a relief to cross the state line. I had never driven up the Susquehanna valley, but I sure will do so again. I have this prejudice that Pennsylvania is all shabby cinder block houses with unfinished rooms and linoleum on the living room floors. This is because when I was 5 we visited an aunt whose house was like that - on a busy highway with no front yard and cars whizzing past, and too many daughters in one bedroom. Funny the prejudices that settle into a subconscious when one is tiny. My aunt, married as a teen, was probably 30, with 5 kids. Of course they were in a modest, rather humble setting. Who isn’t when she’s 30, with 5 kids? Anyway, PA just stayed in my mind as the place where shabby people live in shabby houses. I never had the opportunity to revisit the state till I was an adult - and each time I have, I’ve been amazed at how beautiful it is.

So - first the complaints - since they are always easier to start with.

Creative Strands was held at Bucknell University in Lewisburg - a darling little college town with great shops, great pubs, and restaurants with tiny portions. I really looked forward to wallowing among fiber people. I’m used to fiber shows being filled with energized folk moved by tactile hunger, dropping any usual reserve and shyness to share each discovery of beauty, color, texture. What I saw were lots of folk “just looking” without time to either decide, or get swept up in the excitement. As Jen said in her Monday post, there was no excitement.

There were good reports about the classes - but there was also a kind of ennui and I am guessing some of that was due to an over-packed schedule. I’ve taken a few pretty high energy classes and when I’m done, I’m pumped, but I also know I’d start to grow vague if I had to turn right around and take another high energy class. My brain eventually grows full. I wonder if that happened to these folk. The solution to that is a bigger break during the day: A 2 hour or even a 3 hour block for lunch for r&r and, by the way, visiting the vendors.

There were other things that pointed to a top-down problem. We really busted butt to get to PA in time to open our booth on Friday at 10 a.m. and guess when the classes started? Yep. and with one hour for lunch before the cafeteria clanged shut and classes resumed, potential buyers had about 10 minutes to spend in the market. Worse than that, the only time the booths had customers was during those 1 hour meal slots - which was also the only time the cafeteria was open - and the snack bar was not open at all on Saturday! Guess who didn't get lunch. Thank goodness I had brought some snacks. There wasn’t even a coke machine - and if I hadn’t bought bottled water on Saturday morning I would have been in big trouble. Vendor beware - bring your own sustenance.

With about 23 vendors, and 250 students - that’s about 20 customers per booth. Not a great ratio. Rumor had it that some of the spinning classes had been canceled - and I know one of the knitting classes was - but of the vendors there, 10 were primarily yarn/fiber shops. Yes - they offered different types of yarn/fiber, but my goodness - most of the students I talked to seemed to be weavers, and honey, the put up of yarn for a weaver is not the same as for a knitter. Not by a long shot. Though the shopping portion was open to the public, there was no sign in front of the building where the vendors were, and on a Saturday in the summer, you can bet there weren’t many people lounging around, to ask for directions. I had more than one customer complain that she’d driven all around over the campus before finding anyone who could tell her where the fun was.

One other administrative thing really rubbed me wrong. At the very end, as the vendors were packing up, the woman in charge began yelling out to everyone a long whine about how it wasn’t her fault and it was her insurance company’s fault but it wasn’t her fault, see, so don’t be mad at her, but see, her insurance company was making her, see how it wasn’t her fault, so .... (fer cryin’ out loud, lady, get to the point) The point was: You have to have liability insurance next year, if you want to sell there.


To have this screamed at you while you’re in a frenzy of packing and lifting and toting and you may not have made much over your costs at this show anyway? Isn’t this the sort of thing that is written in the letter someone ought to send you, thanking you for helping to make things such a success and asking you if you want to reserve a space next year? Not blabbed in an almost unintelligible garble of words and defensive apologies to hot sweaty lifting and toting bodies. A little professionalism is needed when issuing bad news.

Okay - now the good stuff.

There were some wonderful vendors at this show. Beautiful fibers in natural dyes with great polymer buttons to match. Hanks of silk yarn that made your mouth water. “Supported mylar” thread on spools (if you quilt you know about this stuff) that could also be used to create glittery core spun spiral and boucle yarns. Ditto spools of silk thread. Gorgeous spindles, folds of lovely silk fabric - and the Mannings’ book display.

And the vendors themselves were warm and friendly and sharing and full of advice for a newbie on the circuit. And we sure had plenty of time to get to know each other. (ooops. sliding back into the complaining section - see how easy that is?)

There were also some happy customers who were thrilled to touch and feel and even buy.

Another wonderful treat was the chance to just sit and spin with Jen’s beautiful fibers for hours at a time. I had my Golding and I bought a little Bosworth mini spindle, and I just twirled away on samples. Plucking one magnificent fiber after another, fondling it, manipulating it, knitting it into a little soft square - days of doing this, hours of pure bliss.

Best of all, though, for me, was hooking up with SfNY and AM and meeting LindaD and just playing, laughing, joking and eating. See - I was just a hitchhiker for Jen’s booth. It was pretty much all play for me. I don’t have to do the accounts when I get back home so there wasn’t really any pressure on me. This whole weekend was a gift from Jen to be able to spend the time among people and things that mean so much to me. So I have to give the weekend an A+ even if the organizational stuff wallowed down near the bottom.

And even that was saved from a D- grade by the one brilliant decision the organizers made. They had hired strong boys (and girls) who could lift heavy things, to help people pack up. There were plenty of dollies to haul things out to vans and trucks. There is nothing quite so welcome as some 20 year old muscles, when you’re lifting and toting. We were packed up and ready to go in an hour and a half - and not really all that exhausted either.

We took 81 back - ending up on a beautiful winding Virginia backroad and BD was giving me a bear hug by 8 o’clock.

So. It is back to the routine for me. Good news from staff about last week’s puppet show, good news yesterday about managing the stuffed animal pet show. Today is Wednesday, and we all know what that means. Off we go.

posted by Bess | 7:16 AM