Sunday, September 30, 2007

Home Again!

I missed my Austin Knitting Group friends. It was so good to see some of you again today at the North Austin meetup at Kneaded Pleasures.

A lot of you asked me about pictures. Well, they're coming. Soon. I promise. First things first, though: I really do need to finish all the laundry we generated from this trip and unpack the last bag, which is the wheeled carry-on loaded with the goodies we bought while cavorting around Europe.

Every time we travel, I SWEAR I won't buy any breakables. And every time, I break that promise. This time on the third to last day: I saw a lovely Portmerion 'Sophie Conran' teapot and mortar and pestle in St. John's, Newfoundland, in a WONDERFUL shop called HOME. I just couldn't come home without it. I came soooooooooooo close to keeping my vow, but that last port did me in. Mea Culpa.

Above: St. John's, Newfoundland
downtown area as seen from the ship

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Crossing!

This will be the last post for awhile, as I am absconding for yet another transatlantic crossing, this one on Celebrity's CONSTELLATION, leaving from Dover, England with stops in Dublin, Cork, Cornwall, Le Havre, St. John's Newfoundland, Halifax NS, and Bayonne NJ. Yes, I will be knitting on sea days. No, I don't plan to take the Cherry Leaf project or any lace knitting, for that matter: I need uninterrupted time to do lace, something that isn't realistic on a crossing. So my Shoulder Shawl in Cherry Leaf Pattern is going to sit home and sulk for a few weeks. I will be casting on the Pea Pod Baby Set and the Tweedy Vest during this trip, though.

I am hosting a charity knitting event on sea days, for Stitches From the Heart, asking those on the Cruiseline Fans and Cruise Critic roll call boards, and anyone else who is on the ship for this crossing to participate and/or donate machine washable/dryable worsted, DK, sport weight, or fingering weight yarn in baby/child colors, and/or straight needles in size 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8, to make their preferred knitting patterns or crochet patterns. Don't forget to print out the pattern directions and put them in your knitting tote! We will meet on sea days, beginning with the 2nd sea day, on Deck Twelve forward, in the Revelations Lounge, at 2 p.m. If you are on this crossing, I look forward to meeting you, continuing the tradition of charity knitting events aboard ship on sea day afternoons that Ann Landau started last year on CENTURY.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Gorgeous Setting for Inspiration

Of all the schools we visited, our first one, Appalachian State University in Boone, NC has the most beautiful setting, hands down. Home to roughly 10,000 students, it nestles into the hillsides of the Blue Ridge Mountains at 3,000'+ elevation, with amazing views. It's a good 6 to 10 degrees cooler here than the base of the mountain. It's a campus where walking is a pleasure. And it's a darn good thing, since you will do a lot of walking. One thing is for sure: You will stay in shape.

We made a reservation for the generic campus tour, but our group of 43 was so large it was impossible to hear the student guide most of the time. Tours begin in the admissions suite auditorium to view a slick video designed to make prospective students warm and fuzzy. A short Q & A follows, where the admissions rep asks most of the Q's, eliciting raised-hands responses: Who is from NC? Who is from out-of-state? What made you decide to visit? .... etc. Finally, the walking tour begins, which lasts roughly 2 hours. Most of it is what I would call a 'fly-by': our student guide points to buildings, stating their uses as visitors continue along the footpaths. We did visit the Student Center (FYI: there is a spiffy new one under construction, about 70% complete) the library, a dorm and a dorm room (typical: concrete block walls, Cargo-style furniture, central hall baths), business school, bookstore, and student union building. There has been a lot of construction activity here in the past six or seven years: There are at least a dozen new buildings, and campus expansion/updating continues at a brisk clip. It is all beautifully maintained, with a lot of native flowers, colorful annuals, and seasonal perennials in abundance. Try this link for a quick-and-dirty tour.

After the official tour, Claire and I made for the College of Fine and Applied Arts building on our own, home of the fiber arts program. We were in luck: the program's lead faculty member, JEANA KLEIN, was in a studio. (Here is some of her work.) How often does that happen in JULY? She was very cordial and friendly, answering Claire's questions with great detail. We wound up in a neat discussion, concluding forty minutes later with Jeana chronicling some of the future plans for expansion of the program, which includes adding more faculty. This was a great start!

Physically, the large studios are in a 1970's-era building that is undergoing some renovation, and there are an impressive number of looms in all sizes. Jeana noted that students keep their work on 'their' loom(s) for as long as it takes to complete a project, eliminating set-up time each class. Students can come after class hours to work, which means the dead of night as anyone with college kids knows. There is also a dyeing area, and a studio with sewing machines, drafting tables, small looms, quilting frames, spinning equipment. Design is heavily emphasized, including all things knitted, sewn, woven ... whatever students want to pursue. There is also a wonderful study abroad program, high on Claire's list of "must haves".

More about the Appalachian University College of Fine and Applied Arts is on their blog.

Monday, September 3, 2007

So You Want To Make Fiber Arts Your Life

All of my kids have varying artistic afflictions. The latest to go off to college is majoring in painting in an extraordinary dual program between Penn and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. We just finished delivering her to her new life, driving a total roundtrip of 4,009 miles Texas - Philadelphia - Texas in 10 days with a rented van packed to the ceiling. Not so oddly, we haven't heard from her much. But when she has called, it was clear that she is loving every minute of every day, finally living the dream she's had for most of her short 18 year life. She did a lot of painstaking research, national portfolio day reviews, and visits to find exactly the right program fit, and it paid off.

So what about all of you who don't want to abandon your knitting or crocheting or other artistic fiber pursuits when you go to college? What if you want to make it your life? Don't despair. Programs exist. REALLY! I only know this because my fourth and last child is attempting to go this route. So guess who did a lot of initial research? Of course you know. Mom.

This past summer was highlighted and dominated by the culmination of a two and a half week college tour road trip that included all the colleges with programs that passed my youngest dear daughter's investigative muster. She's a rising senior, a creative dream-child, but not so hot on the research end of things. She and I did all our initial research on the web, which led to receiving loads and loads of information by mail from over 30 schools. From this, 20 colleges were chosen. And from that 20, 11 were selected for a visit, and we actually visited 9 of those. The ones discarded weren't bad schools, they just didn't have all the elements my daughter was seeking, or were located someplace she didn't want to live. I hope all of our research and experiences help you on your quest. So if this is what you want to do, keep checking back. This will be an ongoing odyssey with frequent posts highlighting specific schools visited, with all their pros and cons.


Here is a list of the four year schools that offer majors/programs in fiber arts/textiles/weaving, either formally or by designing your own major and receiving faculty support. There may be more out there, but if there are, I don't know about them.

Feel free to add a school to the comment section below the post, or pass along your own information about the schools on the list. Even better, if you are enrolled in one of these programs, we'd love your feedback about your school.

Included are cut-to-the-chase links so you won't waste your time wading through huge, deep and sometimes daunting college websites. This lets you look at the program first, then decide if you want to look at them more closely. Believe me, I wish someone had done this for us!

July 8: Claire at the start of our road trip. I picked her up at the beach house of her best friend's family in the NC Outer Banks, then drove to the opposite end of the state for our first college, Appalachian State University, the next morning.


Academy of Art University

Appalachian State University

Arizona State University

Baylor University

Beloit College

Berea College

Bridgewater State College

California College of the Arts

Chester College of New England

Cleveland Institute of Art

College for Creative Studies

College of the Atlantic

Colorado State University

Cornell College - Mt. Vernon, IA

East Carolina University

Eastern Michigan University

Hiram College

Kansas City Art Institute

Kent State University

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Longwood University

Maryland Institute College of Art

Massachusetts College of Art

Memphis College of Art

Moore College of Art and Design

North Carolina State University
Oregon College of Art and Craft

Philadelphia University

Rhode Island School of Design

Savannah College of Art and Design

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

State University of New York College at Buffalo

Syracuse University

Temple University Tyler School of Art

Tennessee Tech University Appalachian Center for Crafts

University of the Arts

University of Georgia

University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth

University of Michigan

University of North Texas

University of Oregon

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Virginia Commonwealth University

Western Carolina University

Western Washington University

From that, we whittled and honed our list to visit to these:

Appalachian State University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Longwood University
Moore College of Art and Design
University of the Arts
Kutztown University of PA
Hiram College
Beloit College
Cornell College

NEXT BLOG POST: First stop: Appalachian State University in Boone, NC