Thursday, October 11, 2007

Travelblog, Thursday

Wow - that seems to be the theme of this trip.

On Monday, my major trip outside the hotel and convention center was to Beadazzled, a bead store that advertises heavily in Ornament magazine and in DC tourist literature. I was rather disappointed -- there was little that was different from most other bead stores I've visited. I did pick up an ankle bracelet for our neighbors who are taking care of the animals, and a few interesting laser-carved wood beads suitable for buttons.

On Tuesday, I went to the Textile Museum. It's small, but worth the trip out to three blocks beyond Dupont Circle. And it's not too far from Beadazzled, but since Monday was Columbus Day, the TM was closed when I went the day before.

I really liked the explanatory interactive exhibit they had set up for spinning, dyeing, and weaving fibers. It could have had a bit more explanation of the terms they were using, like complementary weft, but that's a real quibble.

The only other complaint I have is that I wanted a more complete catalog to bring home! I'm not as interested in the Persian rugs as I am in the other works -- I'd love to have an image of the Lia Cook work "Hidden Digits". (later note: Go see this page) It was all in black and white, but not actually a tapestry weave. It was more like a double weave twill, with the contrast forming a pixel or pointillist effect. The depth of shadowing and detail still haunts me.

I got to meet fiberkat, Katherine, who is a fellow Thriller (as in Sheep Thrills). We toured and re-toured the galleries, and raided the museum store... I splurged and got the Dominique Cardon book on Natural Dyes. It's pricey, but the most comprehensive book I've seen so far. Not only does it have a world-wide listing of dyes, but also gives recipes and cultivation tips.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was rather low-key. The energy level was low, so I answered emails in the morning, and haunted the AUSA hall for freebies in the afternoon and evening. I got enough pencils and pens to equip the library for a year! I got a bit greedy-- but there were other people with multiple tote bags full of stuff!!

Today, we're going to Annapolis for a boat show this weekend. We'll pick up the rental car this morning, go to the Native American Museum, and maybe to the Springwater Fiber Arts store in Alexandria before heading up to Annapolis.

Ah, life is good - I'm exhausted, but grateful. Plus - the weather is cooler today!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Travelblog, first post

Wow, what a whirlwind... and an exercise in contrasts.

Update: I'm here in DC, because my beloved Roketman didn't want to leave me alone in California while I was waiting for surgery. There are anxiety issues- I'm 92% sure those will go away once the ovarian cysts is gone and therefore not putting me in hormonal overdrive.

It's been HOT in DC!! Yesterday it got up to 92F, which in California is no big deal. The difference is that in California, 92F comes with 20% humidity, and there was 90% humidity here in DC.

And it doesn't cool off after sunset here, either. I'm sure the Roketman would come up with an intelligent explanation, suffice it to say that this isn't the desert, despite the drought.

Here's another contrast worth exploring-- the AUSA conference vs. the Green Festival.

AUSA is the Association of the US Army. Google them for details if you want-- from my perspective it's like a trade show for defense contractors to entice contracts. There are a lot of lobbying type endeavors, too, as in lobbying Congress for more defense money.

Our hotel is about 5 blocks from the Convention Center, 3/4 mile according to the hotel info. That means I'm walking a lot - smack me if I start whining about the blisters on my toes. I toddle along slowly with my cane, and this time I'm smart enough to put the tote bag on a luggage carrier.

TMI? Sorry, want to explain why I'm not going to each and every fiber thing in town!! It's $9 to take a taxi from the hotel to the convention, yikes.

So, yesterday, I was resting my toes by the gee-there's-another-Starbucks in the lobby, and I notice a lot of people streaming in, that really didn't look like military. I ask the info booth if there's another exhibit -- and it's the Green Festival. Worth the $15 admission, even if they didn't give me the school discount (I am a librarian, doesn't that count? Apparently not).

Wow. Let me list how different:

Green vs. Military. You need more details? Happy to oblige:

Ralph Nader spoke at the Green Festival. I don't know who's speaking at AUSA, but I bet there are more than a few stars on his lapel.

The size of the halls: The Green Festival was major, a big hall with 4 aisles and more tucked in along the sides. AUSA goes on and on forever, with lots of HUGE booths that reflect the Big Bucks at stake.

The AUSA hall is amazing -- big motorized displays hanging from the ceiling, set up with cranes and forklifts and power tools. Set up by professional convention stagers. The GF was much more modest in their displays - there were corporate people there, but they were like Organic Valley and Numi Tea. Their booths were professional, but not over the top (to make a bad pun).

There are bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling the AUSA exhibit hall. The only dog I saw at the GF was an assistant dog, a cute cocker spaniel. (I did see one of the sniffer dogs bolt at a squirrel across the street, jerking at his lead. I'm going to bet the cocker was too polite and well trained to do that.)

Mood: At the GF, I got some really nasty glares until I took off the exhibitor's badge for the AUSA hall. In the AUSA hall, I got compliments for knitting among the frenzy of setting up the hall. Since I made sure to stay out of the way, I was more than welcome. (even though I made sure to mention my sweater was made out of hemp...) Of course, I was talking to the regular folks setting up and building the booths, not the attendees or the bigwigs.

I did challenge the people in the "free trade" textile booths, especially if I could tell the dyes were commercial and not natural dyes. The UN conference last year in Hyderabad was really focusing on the use of natural dyes as a remedy for the pollution that commercial dyes cause.

Where did I feel more comfortable? Need you ask?