Establishing a Craft Zone

Early in the morning, poking along getting ready to drive south with Denny and Rachel H for a Sara Lamb weaving class that we’ve been looking forward to for a while.  (We’re going to learn how to do cut pile weaving like on the cover of her book.) A road trip with the ladies is always fun, and we’ve spent the last few days gathering up tools that we don’t know anything about and putting them in bags to take with us.  (I shouldn’t say that.  Rachel H and I are gathering up things we don’t know anything about, Denny  is a competent and experienced weaver. She’s been helping us figure out what to get.)

We needed 12 dent reeds for our rigid heddle looms, C-clamps and nippers, #10 crochet cotton (Rachel got that.  Thank you Mary Maxim) and we needed small amounts of tapestry yarns, though Sara did say we could spin our own.  Yesterday I gathered my forces (such as they are. My forces have been all over the place lately) and I looked around for some fibre to spin, but what to do if you need small amounts of several colours?  The answer was here.

Tina bought this fleece from Francine at Rovings.  It’s beautiful.  I pulled one handful from each of several different areas…

I carded them,

I spun them…

and now Denny, Rachel H and I have some pretty little yarns to learn to do cut pile weaving with. Denny and Rachel H have been spinning too, so I can’t wait to see what grab bag of stuff we’ll have to work with.  In the meantime,   a roadtrip to get there. Rachel and I take turns driving and navigating, and Denny establishes a "Craft Zone" (It’s her invention, she gets to name it) with several craft stations in the backseat.  Spinning station, knitting station, weaving station – she gets them all set up and rotates through them as we drive.

The most remarkable and stunning thing about "the craft zone" isn’t how it looks (and it looks pretty remarkable and stunning) it is that we have never, ever been asked about this at the border.  Denny smiles up at the agent from a sea of wool and it’s related tools, beams at him or her and they look sort of stunned, check our passports and let us in to the US without a word about the drum carder in the back window.   Denny thinks it’s because they’re impressed. I think they’re dazzled.
Craft Zone.  It’s how we roll.

149 thoughts on “Establishing a Craft Zone

  1. Go, ladies, go!!! Sounds like a hoot. Enjoy it all and each other. Cheers and red wine(later), Hazel.

  2. I love the pictures of the roving. It actually reminds me of a bouquet of flowers(roses).I love the colors, how did you spin them so quickly? I’ve only tried using a drop spindle:-)

  3. Please please give us a craft zone picture. I am thrilled to think of Denny afloat on a sea of fibre and tools.

  4. Excellent! I just went to the US and the agent looked at the socks I was knitting in the passenger seat, commented “wow, that looks great!” and let us through with nary a worry.

  5. I would pay good money to see the expressions on Customs’ faces when you roll through surrounded by wool. I also LOVE the idea of a craft zone on a car trip!
    …a friend of mine has just pointed out that “Craft Zone” is only two letters away from “Crazy Zone”. I don’t know whether to laugh at her or agree. 😉

  6. Ah a craft zone. sounds lovely! what a way to travel!!
    Enjoy your trip and welcome to the world of weaving. (A knitters loom is a gateway drug….)

  7. Denny really gets the best part of the deal, doesn’t she!! Learning to weave–just the regular kind, even–is on my List for when the kids are older. Have fun!!

  8. The Craft Zone! You could market those like the packages they sell to keep the kids quiet in the back seat. A bag to hang over the back of the front seat, pockets for your scissors and pointy things, a place for the big picture book, some miraculous invention to stop the beads from getting lost…

  9. Craft Zone! So cool! I, too, would like to see pictures. I’ve wanted to try spinning or even cleaning fiber in the car, but have always just settled for knitting (not settling in a bad way, mind you!) Craft zone would greatly improve my output while on road trips!

  10. There is absolutely nothing better than a road trip with a fellow fiber fanatic or 2. You really need to travel with someone who doesn’t groan when a yarn shop is spotted, and who understands the wisdom of stopping at the next rest area “because I can’t stop until I finish the increases.”
    Have fun …… and enjoy the fellowship.

  11. Love the craft zone idea. I’m allowed a project zone in the front seat when we drive to the cottage. Husband drives, kid watches movies in the back and I knit. Charted stuff is okay during the day, but I need plain socks for night time driving.

  12. Perhaps they were just happy that their significant others hadn’t thought of doing such a thing to their cars 🙂

  13. We want Craft Zone pictures! I’ve received strange looks in drive-throughs and gas stations for both the knitting set up and the baby care setup. But I don’t think I’ve gone as far as Craft Zones, or Baby Zone.

  14. I’m amazed there can be so many “stations” in one back seat. I really want the road trip movie of this.
    And minority view on the gauge thing apparently! I like the looser one. I think it’ll puff up when washed. Plus, assuming that the designer did her homework, she actually preferred the gauge she chose and was using the same yarn. And you liked the picture of it you saw knit that way…

  15. We totally need pictures of the craft zone! Sounds like an awesome way to roadtrip. Is there designated music for these adventures?

  16. Those carders look much like (to a non-spinner anyway) the wire brushes I groom my dogs with. I’m just sayin’…
    You guys have fun!!

  17. Perhaps it’s the wool fumes. Customs agents might recognize the essential rightness of wool fumes and their ancient ties to human comfort and creativity.
    What you lot need is a Volkswagen bus with a custom paint job on the outside and a permanent craft zone on the inside. You could call it the Magic Bus.

  18. I’m still working on getting a craft zone together in my house! I can’t imagine getting enough of it done to have a craft zone in a car. Wow. I reiterate with the rest, picture please!

  19. It works with soap too. And you know what if you just left your car unlocked who is going to steal wads and wads of wool? or 100 pounds of soap in my case

  20. I’d love to see pics of the craft zone. I can imagine the look on the face of the Customs agents! Hope you guys have a wonderful time!

  21. please take LOTS of pictures at this event!! i just visited sara’s blog for the first time (LOVE those little red, woven shoes!!)… are you really driving to northern california or is she teaching at some closer location??? anyhow, drive safely in the Rolling Craft Zone!

  22. I love it when the border guards don’t quite know what to do with you. Once I was travelling down to visit family with some friends, and took some Cadbury eggs with me to give to my mum. I was taking the bus, so to get into the US, you have get off the bus, have them scan your luggage, and ask you questions. They wanted to know what all the “round things” in my bag were. I opened it up and showed them the chocolate. I think they were confused. On the way back into Canada, I think we spent about 30 seconds going through customs. No scanning of our bags, no weird looks.

  23. So that’s what it’s called! I’ve been establishing craft zones during road trips for years. Once in college I took the furthest back corner seat in a 12 passenger van (that way no one else would want it) and set up all my notions, spare yarn, needles, etc for an entire sweater project in the cup holder and wall pockets. Over the course of the week I knit an entire sweater and only once did someone else sit in the craft zone. They were definitely dazzled…

  24. I’ve been reading your blog for about 2 years. I’ve thought Denny was male all that time. Weird.

  25. A friend just went to a mill in Canada to have her wool processed–68 pounds!– and had no problems going through customs. Craft friendly border, perhaps? I’m interested in seeing how it goes when she brings it back!

  26. I would consider doing something like this in my house or car, but I feel it would be redundant. My entire life is a craft zone. (And I forty-second the motion…pictures please!)

  27. We rolled up to the US customs window at Niagara/Buffalo border and to my undying shame, my two year-old in the backseat promptly ordered, “FRENCH FRIES!”. I swear up and down that I have never taken him to a drive-thru. Grandparents have a lot of questions to answer.

  28. Stephanie – you are amazing! Is there anything that you can’t do! It sounds such fun – wish I was coming along too!
    As a long-time admirer of your blog – and books – I wundered if I might add you to my blogroll?
    Have a great weekend!

  29. Zones sound so official! We just call my book & project bag “the stuff that keeps Mom from wigging out on car trips.”

  30. Where on Earth was the Craft Zone when I was riding in the back of the truck from New York to Kentucky? What an awesome idea.

  31. CRAFT ZONE! That is brilliant! I could totally do this next road trip. Of course that would mean I would have to tie the two kids/carseats to the top of the car…..Hmmm, maybe not…

  32. I can’t wait to see a pic of the Craft Zone… What on earth are you driving??? A HUGE Suburban? A large conversion van… Maybe with shag carpet on the ceiling? Be safe!

  33. We went over to Windsor for dinner last Saturday and I was working on a sock on 4dpn. The Canadian BP asked if we were bringing any weapons into the country besides “those sharp, pointy sticks you’ve got there”. We both laughed and he said, “well, they could be, in the right hands, eh” and sent us on our way. For the first time ever on the way home the US BP agent politely asked me to put down my knitting while we answered the standard questions. Hey, at least he knew it was knitting! We always make sure that at all border crossings I am actively knitting. I have been asked what I am making on several occassions, and even when traveling with a car packed with stuff at busy crossings and complex itineraries, we have never had even a moment of delay or extra questioning. We totally think knitting is the reason.

  34. Huh. Must be a road trip weekend. I’ve just driven an hour south to meet a friend who has driven an hour north so we can spend the weekend writing. (But I have a sock in my suitcase, just in case there’s time.) Enjoy your weaving class, and I thirty-ninth the request for Craft Zone pics. Spinning looks like real magic to me.

  35. At first I thought you meant something about a Craft Zone in one’s home. Silly me – that would be the whole place anyway, right?

  36. Um, in case you’ve forgotten the requests for photos of the Craft Zone, I’m here to remind you. And a road trip sounds wonderful about now.

  37. The “craft border” I think is very official-specific. I have been to Vancouver on two different occasions to take dye classes. On the way up, Canada wants to know where I’m going, how long I’m staying, keep the line moving. On the way back first time, just a nod about my dyeing activities. On the way back second time, U.S. wants to know did I bring any of the vegetable matter back. You could see the wheels grinding … is the dye a controlled substance? Sure, she SAYS “woad” and shows me a bag stuffed of blue yarn and fabric, but there is a strange odor coming off that yarn and fabric…. [I found out later that Woad is a form of controlled substance in the U.S.- it’s considered a noxious, invasive weed in many states/counties/etc and even possession of seeds can get you in deep.] No vegetable matter to declare, but when the dye explanation was getting me nowhere (who drives into Canada to learn to dye yarn and fabric with woad, really?), I shifted to Mel Gibson blue paint in Braveheart references. That got more of a response, and ultimately a wave through.

  38. My husband always insists I knit when we drive across the border. He’s convinced it makes us look more respectible.

  39. I want to see pictures of the different zones :-)it sounds fantastic! a traveling piece of craft heaven.

  40. I can’t imagine that the reality of the craft zone lives up to the fabulousness I’m seeing in my head. But I’d still like to see pictures.

  41. Rollin, rolling, rolling raw wool.
    Hummed to the tune of Rawhide. Ok, yeah, I just dated myself big time.

  42. There are few better images than a rolling craft zone.
    And now I have ‘Convoy’ stuck in my head. Let those crafters roll!

  43. What a great way to spend a weekend with fiber friends and a traveling craft-mobile! Can’t wait to see what you make!
    Eve from Carlisle

  44. On the road again is a good song for you three. I sent my niece home up the 401 with her back seat FULL of silk plants and really wondered if the OPP would stop her to inspect them but she made it home without getting stopped , but border guards are a different kettle of fish . Good luck and have fun .

  45. I bet it’s because the border guards don’t even know what question to start with! Either that, or it’s not even close to the weirdest thing they’ve ever come across. The craft station sounds like my kind of road trip!

  46. Pictures nothing, I want to see the movie of how you fit 3 different activities in one back seat (I’m assuming you are not driving a Hummer).

  47. I once had to explain my smocking pleater, at an airport, to a security official who spoke no Fiber Arts and very little English.
    Apparently they look just something you might use to detonate a bomb.
    Lately, my CPAP tests positive for explosive residue. Seems it’s my hand cream.
    I’m living on the edge.
    May the Craft Zone be with you. (Pretty sure that need to be a T-shirt.)

  48. Sara’s book is so inspirational! I’m on project #1, still marveling over how my color choices did and didn’t work. Can’t wait until I get to the cut pile work. That’ll be a blast, I bet. Hope to see your write-up and results soon! Spinning your own yarn was genius. And probably perfectly obvious 🙂

  49. Ooooh, so lucky! I’ve been weaving here in toronto for a few years and this sounds great… Can’t wait to see photos!

  50. In the Zone again/
    just can’t wait to get in the Zone again/
    The life I love
    is crafting woolies
    With my friends/
    And I can’t wait to get
    in the Zone again!

  51. Willie Nelson would approve, silfert!
    What are you gals driving in? Imagine the yarn money you could make doing a car commercial! I can hear it now… “Der Fibervagon! Solar powered and enough legroom to card, spin and weave a rug!”

  52. Confuse the Muggles. I think the pins on the drum carder would be the only questionable thing (you can keep small metal hooks hidden). Espionage or terrorist equipment may look a little different- wait, the laptop could be ‘an implement’.
    Hope you can extricate your body into a better position when you complete ‘The Photos’

  53. I read your blog just before I went to pick up my Great Pyrenees puppy. The breeder had saved me a bag of her parents fur to spin up. (Think baby alpaca texture.) On the ride home, I was thinking that my very own wool supply was in the back seat craft zone. Grow baby grow.
    Can you spin right off of a dog? hmmm…

  54. Can you just imagine the convresations those guards have at night over dinner? “Tell me about the funny stuff again, Daddy/Mommy”!!

  55. Can I ride in your car?
    My craft zone is taken up by two lovely children, who are a craft project themselves, but don’t leave much room for a drum carder.
    I’ll bring snacks!

  56. Please tell us about the fleece. I didn’t see any on Rovings web site. Beautiful colors!

  57. THe craft Zone sounds like fun! I live about 20 mins from Rovings. Great Stuff! Have a good time! :o)

  58. So you’ll be back in Michigan this weekend? Try more of those great microbrews. Have a great time! Can’t wait to see what you make in the workshop.

  59. Those are some beautiful little balls of tapestry yarn.
    I love the idea of the back seat “craft zone”. My next trip is definitely getting one.
    Although I’m very focused on one project lately. I am up t my elbows in a piece of Estonian lace, a bridal shawl for my nephew’s bride (10-10-10) so my craft zone might have only one station until I get this lace done.
    Julie in San Diego

  60. Denny has a bewitching smile that mesmerizes muggles better than any spell. Very nice wool samples you got there.

  61. wow, i love the colors on that first fleece. have a lovely time and great road trip home. I love road trips.

  62. Oh dear G*d – I haven’t laughed so hard in Months!!! Thank you for the visual of Denny in the back seat, smiling seraphically at the border guards, and keeping on “keeping on”!! I do hope you have a blast at your weekend “do” Thanks for everything you do! Jenni in Edmon ton (I found us in your blog- the date at Audrey’s bookstore in Edmonton – so I know it wasn’t just a dream!)

  63. What a riot! My fiber fanatic friends and I have done all sorts of fiber related things in the back of a car/station wagon/van and we never knew that we were playing in a Craft Zone. That just cracks me up. I’ve done carding with hand cards in the back of a car, and even used my flicker and board in the back of a car, but I’m having a really hard time with figuring out how you would manage a drum carder! On the way to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival (and other various fiber related field trips) my various friends and I managed knitting, crocheting, spinning on a drop spindle, and even spinning on a tiny traveling wheel, along with other assorted fiber tasks with the possibility of hand carding. We had a Craft Zone and didn’t know it. I hope you have a great time at the Sara Lamb class. I have that book and love it, and I would really like to make one of her bags. That is if I could ever find a way to wrestle the time needed to accomplish the task away from all my other commitments. I swear I’m going to have to schedule studio days for myself! That fiber and your yarn looks like a spring bouquet. Mmmmm, Rovings Polworth, yum!!! Have a great time and happy weaving. (You didn’t tell us what kind of loom you were taking with you!)

  64. OMG! I just bought a cricket rigid heddle loom and I’m on my second scarf. Now, it seems, everywhere I go in blogland people are talking about weaving. I can’t wait to see what you make.

  65. You lost me at Sara Lamb! I love her book Woven Treasures and I’m working my way through it. Not at the cut pile yet. Very envious that you are taking her class.

  66. Having met you (briefly) a few times, Denny once and Rachel H. from your blog, all of you are clearly forces to be reckoned with. It is a blessing that your focus is to spread fibery goodness around the world!

  67. I did not realize the potential of the back seat of the car for crafting purposes…particularly carding. I would do that waiting at the Peace Arch crossing and for once not care how long the wait was at the border.

  68. Sounds like a fun day! Surely, there will be more stories to share.
    Thanks for continuing to blog. Twitter and Facebook are NOT the same and I don’t get the “inside” stuff – well, since I’m not on the inside.

  69. I totally understand why you aren’t publishing a picture of the alleged Craft Zone. Canadian national security and all that. You’re really a double agent for the Canadian Wool Board, eh?

  70. I’m fighting the urge to run out and convert the wayback in my van to a Craft Zone. The only thing stopping me is knowing how much I’d want to try to get back there to play…and it’s not exactly compatible with driving!
    Love the rainbow fleece, too.

  71. Patiently waiting for Craft Zone pictures… and the creations you bring back!

  72. Please. In the Name of all that is Woolly. We NEED a photo of Denny sitting in the back, surrounded by fluff and tools.

  73. I, too, am very interested in seeing a picture of the Craft Zone! The little bits of fresh yarn are beautiful.

  74. Hey, Stephanie! I can’t find any other way to contact you! Are you interested in teaching next April 29, 20 and May 1, 2011 in warm and beautiful Gatlinburg, TN at Southeast Fiber Forum? Please contact me, if so! We’d love to have you!

  75. Don’t try that going in/out of France – I just had my #1 wooden needles ripped out of the socks I planned to finish on the ride home. CDG airport – not so craft zone friendly!

  76. Well, not quite passing through a border, but two friends and I were returning from a knitting weekend away when we were stopped by the police for a routine check. I was driving, my Spinning Wheel was riding shotgun (if it has to sit in the back it takes up two seats), wearing its seatbelt like all good wheels do, and my friends were in the back, surrounded with BAGS of knitting stuff, working away on assorted projects.
    Police man didn’t even give us a funny look.

  77. I want to know what kind of car you’re driving – I can’t even set up two “craft zones” in my house!! 🙂

  78. I, too, had a class that I had been looking forward to for awhile (it was a Christmas present from my hubby) – drop spindling with Denny! Guess I know why she wasn’t in town for it! Hope you had a good time!

  79. Love the pictures!! The second and fourth ones look like abstract floral arrangements. How cool!

  80. I once got pulled over at the U.S.-Mexico Border (going into Mexico) because I was knitting. Not so much because of any threat – just because some Federali wanted to chat me up . It was pretty embarrassing, but we did have over our limit of goods that we were bringing across the line for a conference and they let that pass. All worked out.

  81. My whole house is a Craft Zone. At least that’s what I’m going to tell the infrequent guest who drops by and ask why my living room looks like a yarn factory exploded. Craft Zone. Yes. That’s the ticket!

  82. Oh man, I must need coffee. I looked at that first picture and thought “ew, what kind of mushy soggy flowers are those?”
    *smacks head*
    Doh…not mushy flowers…flower colored wool….much, much nicer….

  83. Gee, that story made me laugh! Lovely wool. Lovely colours – whoever said it looked like a bouquet of spring flowers was spot on!
    I once had a funny experience with an airport security guard and a hands-free embroidery hoop. As my hand luggage passed through the x-ray machine, he stopped me, and said “Lady, I’ve never done this before, but what the heck is it?’ I then had to explain to a middle-aged man what a hands-free embroidery hoop was and why a 20-something woman wanted one. I was also glad that the rest of the knitting and needlework stuff was packed in the hold luggage otherwise I could have spent an awfully long time explaining things!
    There is also a really old joke here in Oz about knitting in cars.
    Little old lady is driving down the street, one foot on the pedals, and the other knee controlling the steering wheel and both hands on her knitting. A motorcycle policeman sees her, pulls alongside and yells out “Pullover”. The little old lady, without missing a beat, screams back “No, socks!”

  84. This doesn’t have to do with this particular post — just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me to become a regular donor to Doctors w/o borders. When I pay my credit card bill every month and see the donation, I’m reminded there are inspiring people in the world. Thanks for being one of them.

  85. With so many different stations in the backseat, I have to wonder what on earth are you driving??? A bus? A limo perhaps? Or maybe something wickedly fun like a knitting trolley!

  86. This is not related to your post but I was wondering if it is possible to access this blog with my Kindle. I couldn’t figure out how to ask you a question any other way… maybe I am too old for all this technology :o)

  87. Stephanie et al, Please check this out if you haven’t seen it already! This is a knitter’s knitter! Knitting and nature come together once again! ” Police hunt ‘The Midnight Knitter’ wool graffiti bandit | ” (cut and paste but don’t include the quotation marks.) A new meaning to all dressed up and nowhere to go? Enjoy.

  88. regarding gauge and tension, of the previous post. Isn’t there a knitter who teaches one to knit tightly on small needles, and then block the bejabbers out of the piece, so that it has a smooth and uniform presentation?

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