I went to the annual MN Textile Center "Garage Sale" Friday night, Fundraiser night (when it costs $25 at the door, but I'm not a member so it's a worthwhile donation.) CW agreed to go with me, surprisingly, and the three of us with H actually found a parking space in the rear of the building on University Ave. The Textile Center is nestled into the side of the Prospect Park neighborhood, a big hill overlooking the river flats and lots of industrial space, with twisting roads and beautiful old homes. Capelen's "witch's hat" water tower is perched on top, a landmark visible for miles. Anyhow, parking there is always a trial, we were blessed. I poked my head cautiously out the car door after we pulled in, raising my eyebrows at two ladies holding an impromptu barbeque (with beers) on the back steps. "Can we really park here?" I asked, and they laughed and nodded.
The place was of course a mob scene -- mainly giddy, disheveled women with bags and bags of stuff piled up to be counted out and paid for. A trio on accordion, fiddle and clarinet played fast-paced folky-sounding music -- klezmer maybe -- and my five year old was immediately mesmerized. Now he wants an accordion, but I suspect that's because it looks like a machine, a notion obsessing him for months on end. The music was perfect for that environment -- frenetic, joyful, lunatic. Cloth mongers of every shape and size jammed into the very modestly proportioned Textile Center, snapping up deals on everything from cotton and wool remnants and leather pieces to organza by the bolt and hand-dyed yarn, vintage tapestry and kimono scraps; plus piles and piles of normal, even boring quilting cotton. H was at first a little taken by the abundant silliness of it all, and many women smiled down at his comments and observations. He (I think intentionally) kept picking out the ugliest stripes and plaids for my approval. How about this one Mommy? And how about this one? Giggling every time. I wasn't putting down his choices, but I truly think he was messing with me. He's a kid raised in fabric stores. As he began to wear out, after CW paid for her finds and hit the snack bar, H located a bag stuffed with black-and-rainbow dyed yarn straight out of the Eighties. He hugged it to him, he had to have it. I tried to talk him out of it, hoping he'd settle instead for something I might actually use, but no-go. I don't knit, so I suppose we should try wrapping things with it -- sticks and such. Maybe make a God's Eye. (Yes, we also have one of those potholder kits, weaving with loops of dyed jersey.)
Life is good. I scored many fine bags of scraps, including some really lovely silk brocades, some kimono pieces, a pile of masterfully collected African print fabrics, and a whole host of not-so-boring cottons. At the last moment, as they announced the fifteen-minute warning, I found a beautifully-textured hand-knitted scarf in pastel rose for just $2, and grabbed it up off the floor where it had evidently tumbled during the fray. CW loves it and it will look good on her in the fall. Filled up my giant cloth bag from the State Fair full of goodies, and we spent a few more minutes wedged in at one of the cafe tables, enjoying the klezmer trio while CW chatted with a woman I remembered from way, way, WAY back in my W.A.R.M. days.
CW gleefully pulled out all my finds and examined every piece when we got back to the house, as H relaxed with a snack and a glass of cold milk. We sat and speculated about the origins of some of the scrap pieces, imagining what sort of woman had collected the fabrics and what she had created with the original yardage. We scoffed at the obvious "dogs" used to "bulk up" some of the $6 bags, fabrics you couldn't see unless you had taken everything out of the ziplocked bundle before you paid for it (something you just don't do at these affairs, there's no room) -- pajama pieces and synthetics from the seventies. But it's all good fun. I confess, I was thinking about Jude Hill's work during much of the trip -- see the sidebar under Recently Overheard. I'm hoping to take a similarly rule-breaking boundary-shattering approach to my next quilt, and these disparate scraps will make creative fuel. Delightful.