Every June and November I try to attend the amazing semiannual River District Art Stroll. In spring I usually go with my peeps Rowan and Katie, AKA the Glitter Girl Gang. But Rowan is still recovering from minor surgery; Katie has no excuse that I know of yet, but better be there next year. So I went with my friend Heather, who has bright blue eyes and makes me laugh.
It’s a wonderful spring outing, one of my favorite things to do all year. The River District is one of Asheville’s most interesting places, a shaky, crumbling, blighted old area by the railroad tracks where deserted brick warehouses and weird old mazelike 3-story buildings that I can’t imagine are up to code are being turned in studio space, art galleries and workshops. The artists are an inspiring and interesting group, and make everything from wearable art made from weird vintage clothing (get yer fur-trimmed purple prom gown here) to “singing bowls” made of fired clay, photography, oil paintings and your very own brain-tanned buckskin bikini top, which Heather and I agreed no woman can do without nowadays. Mutant warlords could take over at any time, and we want to have the proper attire.
The buckskin bikini top, which for some reason Heather sniffed at because she is Heather and does things like that, still smelled of woodsmoke and was very, very soft.
The artists put out wine and water, grapes and cookies for people to snack on (last year there was even fresh, ripe organic strawberries at the Cupcake Gallery), and everyone browses and wanders and sometimes even buys.
I love to talk to the artists. Last year I sat and chatted with a woman sculpting a nymph’s head. What kind of clay was that? What kind of armature did she use? What nymph was she making? This year I visited with my knitting friend Michael, a Thursday night knitter at Purl’s, who runs Craven-Hofman. Craven-Hofman makes fine glazed pottery into which vintage lace has been pressed, making strange patterns that sometimes look like lace, and sometimes look like snake scales or feathers.
I liked his work a lot, and Heather decided that she wants one of her wedding presents (she’s getting married next month) to be a mismatched dinner set from Michael’s “bargain bin” of not-quite-right pottery.
A fine idea.
We also visited with spinner and knitter Stacey Budge, also known as the Urban GypZ, the organizer of my city’s weekly Stitch ‘n’ Bitch and a maker of fine yarns through her Etsy shop. Stacey is currently trying out a new sock yarn, bamboo and merino, more muted in color than her bright pure merino yarns but with a lovely drape and “hand” (knitter talk for how yarn feels when knitted up). She says the bamboo-blend yarn is lighter and cooler than merino, so I might nab some to make some socks for my semi-estranged dad, who lives in South Florida.
Pictured above is the fat and pink-pawed Inky, a sock in progress, and my Manx cat Sid’s little tailless butt. The sock is made from Stacey’s Mod Olive Cocktail sock yarn, which is pricey but lovely. I’ll pay more for sock yarn when it’s local and comes in such vivid, lovely colors.
I came home and ate a taco salad made from homemade chili I made last night, deliciously creamy organic sour cream, shredded extra-sharp cheddar and greens that my friend grew in her garden. You know how greens can be — sometimes there’s lots to share with friends. I washed the dirt off them, smiling and thinking that it was good Asheville dirt from my friend’s yard. It feels good to be connected.
These socks I am making are for her.