Since I last posted in February of this year, I have received e-mails from other bloggers asking why I had gone silent. The answer to that question is simple: The 45th president of the U.S. After the November 2016 election, I was angry and, worse, despondent. Since that fateful day two months later (inauguration day), my interest in researching and writing on fiber-related topics seemed, well, irrelevant given the political damage that I anticipated would be wrought by the most unprepared and unsuited president in the history of this country. As a retired political science professor, I seriously thought about establishing a separate blog focusing on politics. Yet every time I sat down at a computer, my fears, angst and depression about the future of this country choked my voice.
Sadly, my fears were all too prescient, as substantiated by the outrageous behavior, words and decisions of 45. In an attempt to loosen the choking panic and anxiety that I had been fighting for months, I decided to read Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book, What Happened. Though I have been crying while reading it, I have been able to breathe a bit more freely. But I still wasn’t able to sit down and write about fiber art.
Three things happened, however, that shook me back into enjoying fiber: My new friend K; the 2017 Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFFF); and Flora Felts.
First, my friend K, whom I met on a senior van trip. (Yes, I have become one of those white-haired ladies!) K – creative, intelligent, determined and energetic – asked if I would teach her how to knit. I thought “sure,” thinking I could maintain an emotional distance from fiber art. (After all, it’s just knitting, right?!)
Second, yesterday K and I drove over the Columbia River to OFFF in Canby, Oregon. I started to feel pulses of excitement and anticipation as we neared the fairgrounds, passing women and men (mostly women) of all ages toting large baskets and bedecked in an array of hand-made creations. I could smell the wool-producing animals and heard their quiet bleats. Over the course of the day, K posed an array of intelligent questions (why do these two skeins from the same dye lot look so different? When can I knit with mohair? Would this yarn work well for a beanie? What is qiviut and why is it so costly?), and by the end of the day, both K’s curiosity and my chatting with vendors (both new and old) had gone a long way to prodding me out of my fiber lethargy.
Third, the creations of one vendor specifically sparked my interest: Flora Felts – the work of a Seattle-based Hungarian-born artist Florá Carlile-Kovács (first pic below). The photographs below I took with my iPhone fail to do justice to her silk and wool felt work. Florá’s pieces are colorful, bold, powerful and, well, capture (demand?!) your attention. She seemed delighted to speak about her work with K and me, two women in their sixth decades – something I’ve learned that not all newer, younger fiber artists are eager to do. (I discussed that in my post two years ago, The Pisher Paradox.) I left with one of Florá’s wall hangings tucked securely under my arm (paid for – not stolen!).
As K and I perused the award winning creations on display (the judges awarded Florá’s nuno felt dress Reserve Grand Champion, second pic below), I realized that the fiber lethargy that had been heavy on my shoulders had fallen away. As last year my political despair had led me to cancel the party I had planned to celebrate my birthday (as well as the inauguration of our country’s first female president), I decided this coming January I would celebrate two birthdays. With that in mind, I returned to Florá’s booth and exchanged the wall hanging for one of her felted pieces of clothing. It now hangs secure in my closet, and I will wait four months to wear her beautiful art on my next birthday. (At the next event where K and I see Florá, one of Florá’s wall hangings will go home with me!)
So thank you K, thank you OFFF and thank you Florá!