During my New England trip, I had a weekend where I drove completely around the state of Massachusetts. I’ll call it circumnavigation though I think that only applies to boats. We were shooting photos in Harrisville, NH on Friday and I stayed in a hotel on the border of MA that night. From there I headed south of Boston for some time with Sarah Resnick who owns GIST Yarn and Claudia Chase (owner of Mirrix Looms) who made the long drive from her home in New Hampshire.
GIST Yarn doesn’t have a retail store so to speak, but it is in a beautiful old mill building. If you haven’t seen Sarah’s online shop or heard her marvelous podcast, make sure to check that out. Maybe start with THIS one. Sarah is working hard to source her yarns from small producers and US growers and mills wherever possible. We spent a lot of time dreaming and scheming about future projects and it was wonderful to spend some time with these bright women.
From the Boston area, I headed a little west to find a gluten free bakery. When in areas of the country that have lots of people, there is usually a gluten free bakery somewhere within striking distance. This was one of the best I’ve ever been to. I should have filled the car with goodies for the last week of the photoshoot. I had some kind of fantastic grilled sandwich and an “Oreo” cupcake. I couldn’t help myself—I asked the lady if she was sure that was gluten free. I got a bit of a sideways glance of course. It is just reflex to ask and not to believe people who say something is (because sometimes they don’t know). But this place was 100% GF.
From there I headed southwest to visit family in Stamford, CT. Thanks to some help from my uncle and aunt, I was able to visit my grandmother. I think the two photos below sum it up pretty well. She is still feisty as ever. I really enjoyed being able to see her even though she doesn’t know who I am. Uncle Carl and I played the piano for her and whomever else wanted to listen. My rusty sight-reading skills were grateful for the intro-level book Carl had!
Grandma and her late husband, my grandfather, were weavers. I use their looms today. I think my first inkling that you could make your own cloth beyond knitting came from watching grandpa weave and hearing grandma talk about weaving. Because that is mostly how it was.
And this is the tapestry by my grandmother hanging on the wall in her room. I don’t know the title but I’ve seen it many times over the last 4 decades.
And next to that is one of her bookshelves. My grandmother had a lot of books and she loved to write in them. I’m happy that she did now because I’ve inherited a lot of her weaving books and it is so fun to see what she thought about whatever the author was writing. I was happy to see that next to the piano books that my uncle plays out of was Johannes Itten, The Art of Color. Of all the art books she kept, this one seems fitting.
After a wonderful time with my aunt and uncle, I headed back to North Adams, MA on the TSP. Oh how narrow and windy the roads in the east are! I’m happy the speed limits are lower than they are in the west (because, curves), but my goodness, aren’t any roads straight? Also I can’t navigate because I can’t see the (any) mountains!
I rented a minivan for this trip. On purpose. I was pretty offended that the young man at the car rental counter seemed to be doubting my ability to drive such a vehicle. I stoped short of telling him I could drive anything and undoubtedly drive him under the table. Was it that I’m a woman or that I’m that much older than him that agism has kicked in? I can drive everything from a huge loaded moving van to a manual transmission Mustang. Don’t mess with me young man! I drove that Caravan as well as any soccer mom.
After three weeks and 1000 miles driving this Dodge Caravan, I have to say that I understand why people like this vehicle. It handles well, has some oomph, gets somewhat decent gas mileage for the size, and it can hold a TON of stuff. Which is why I rented it in the first place. I had huge pieces of luggage plus multiple huge boxes of weaving equipment for the tapestry retreat and then the photoshoot. (I can’t wait for the day I can get on a plane with just a carry-on. Scratch that. I can’t wait for the day when I never have to get on a plane.)
The photo below is just some of the mess I created in that car with all of my driving around and staying at eight different places. The seats fold flat and there were many times I wished I had stuck in my backpacking mattress so I could just sleep back there.
The “circumnavigation route” included parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. That you can drive through all those states in less than 500 miles is amazing to a westerner. I really wanted to take a trip to Maine to see some friends there but I was just too tired. Next time.
Storey Publishing gets a corporate rate at Porches, the amazing little hotel across the street from Mass MOCA. I recommend staying there if you’re in North Adams. I had 8 lovely nights there. When I checked back in after the weekend, there was this flower and a personal note from the staff welcoming me back.
I’ll write a little more about the actual experience of doing the photoshoot right after I have another nap!