"Oh What a Tangled We WEAVE" AKA "Without Your Help, Dange LOOMS"
May 5, 2008 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I need help coming up with a fabric based vacation in California. As in literally, fabric. The stuff you make socks and clothes out of. Is there such a thing?

Here's the deal:

I started dating this girl who actually majored in fabric based arts in college. It's been a part of her life on and off since and is definitely part of her hobbies. She even went to Ghana to study Kente cloth.

And that's how I dug myself a hole.

Basically I went to the LA Festival of Books and passed by the booth with books produced by the school. And boom, there's a book about Kente cloth from Ghana. I hear a ding in my head and plop down the money. Then a week later I give her the book. She's floored. And in a good way. I get a pretty amazing night out of it.

FYI - Reading IS Fundamental.

But somehow in the postmortem I tell her I found out about all these activities we can do and I can't believe she didn't know about it. She lights up like a Christmas tree and says she'd love to go do these fabric related adventures with me. I say "You're on."

Now I need some fabric related adventures.

Yes, my mouth has written a check for which I currently do not have the funds to pay for. But metafilter's dug me out of these self inflicted dating holes before, hopefully I will again.

I need things to do in the LA, or, if necessary, California, or if REALLY necessary, US - that involve world fabrics or cloths in a cool unique way. Like Kente or weaving or looms or stuff like that. Clearly there's more to it and I plan on consulting the wikipedia this afternoon. But if you all have any ideas on it, please pass them along asap.
posted by rileyray3000 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Stitch Cafe looks fun, and it seems like they have a bunch of classes.
posted by txsebastien at 2:27 PM on May 5, 2008

NY has a Kente Cloth Festival in June with Royal Kente Cloths on display
posted by hindmost at 2:31 PM on May 5, 2008


Local - you might explore Navajo weaving. Not sure if she's more interested in actual making or in just study, but you could look into workshops and such (note: I found this guild on a quick Google, and have no idea how authentic or valid the work is).

You might also try connecting with local weaving guilds to see what's going on - I'll bet there are several in your area - and with the textile museums. The San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum is a pretty far piece, but it's there and seems to have some pretty interesting exhibits on.

What is she actually interested in? Fiber art? Folk art? Weaving? Dyeing? Cultural mapping through textiles? A particular region of the world or particular discipline?
posted by peachfuzz at 2:36 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

You might want to ask the woman at the Dress A Day blog. She travels a lot and always finds fabric-related places.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:53 PM on May 5, 2008

I realize I'm breaking your restrictions, but there's a Museum of Textiles in Toronto that she might be interested in. There's also one in Washington, DC, but I've never been to that one.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:40 PM on May 5, 2008

Perhaps expand to fiber arts (spinning, weaving, etc.) might work? The spinning store I used to go to (in Solvang- Village Spinning and Weaving; definitely recommended) has a list of the shows they're going to; she might like some of those, if weaving and knitting will work...
posted by JMOZ at 4:08 PM on May 5, 2008

Alternatively- Griffin Dye Works has a big retreat every year (in Castaic) in June: www.griffindyeworks.com/retreat/index.html.

Warning: a lot of these people are VERY involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and may weird some people out a bit (myself included).
posted by JMOZ at 4:11 PM on May 5, 2008

There are a couple of fiber art related events going on in your area, according to Fiberarts magazine.

Maybe you can go check out an alpaca farm somewhere out of town. Alpaca fleece makes nice soft yarn and they are gosh darn cute animals.

And Santa Monica is having a fiber fest in August.
posted by medeine at 4:30 PM on May 5, 2008

Come visit the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection! Madison is beautiful in the summer.

How about something sheep-related? Sheep and Wool festivals are great; try Rhinebeck, NY in September, but most states have them.
posted by Madamina at 5:51 PM on May 5, 2008

If you want to stay in the LA area, you have to take her to Piecemakers which is actually in Long Beach. It is a crafter's dream store started by a crazy cult of old women-- several of whom have been imprisoned because they don't believe in paying taxes. While they have supplies for many crafts the emphasis is on fabric. But I promise this is not an ordinary fabric store. The room of dyes! The spools of silk ribbons! The hundreds of finished quilts! The room of buttons! It goes on and on. She'll love it. And they used to have food, but possibly the authorities have closed down the kitchens by now. I know they never had a license to sell food.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:14 PM on May 5, 2008

May I suggest a downtown LA day? First you'll be viewing the forthcoming (and free) exhibition at FIDM, “Aesthetes, Bohemians & Craftsmen: Artistic Dress, 1880s-1920s,” opening on May 20 and entered through a fabulous doorway inspired by Greene & Greene's work. Afterwards, take her down to Michael Levine and tell her she can buy 3 yards of anything that catches her eye. Don't miss the upholstery shop across from the main store, as it often has more interesting stuff (silver lame naugahyde, for instance).
posted by Scram at 8:30 PM on May 5, 2008

The DeYoung in San Francisco has a textile collection, including an appointment only textile study library.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:42 PM on May 5, 2008

The Fowler Museum at UCLA has a large collection of textile and clothing from around the world, and admission is free (Am I correct in assuming that you purchased one of their books at the festival? Maybe try calling/emailing their education department there & seeing what they recommend).

Also, if/when you go to FIDM, be sure to go to their Scholarship Store for cool fabrics at fantastically low prices.
posted by mogget at 8:57 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Look further into what Scram recommended. A few very good friends of mine do a lot of sewing and they find everything in the Fashion/Fabric District in Downtown LA. In fact, I've heard from people that don't live around here (LA) that Downtown LA is the best place in the whole country to buy fabrics.

The thing is that places like Michael Levine are great and everything (also Diamond Foam and Fabric in Hollywood) but they're retail. The really great and amazing places with super quality fabric only do wholesale. That means you have to buy a whole damn bolt of cloth - or, if you're lucky, the remaining portion of one. Apparently there are fabric trade conventions down here that you need a special wholesaler's license or something to get into. I don't know anything about how that works.

If she would be up for seeing tons and tons of fabrics, then maybe something like that would be awesome for her.

Since LA is this big fabric source, maybe there are some factories that actually make fabric here. I imagine that fabrics are all made in Asia somewhere, but it's a possibility.

Whatever you decide, LA is probably going to pop up somehow. If you come here, make sure you look at all the other Ask MeFi posts about visiting LA. I love living in this wonderful city, but it can be a shitty place to visit.

Good luck!
posted by redteam at 1:55 AM on May 6, 2008

Santa Fe has a yarn festival and tons of weaving and I believe a whole museum about fabrics. There are probably equally good things up in Berkeley, because there is this whole fabric culture here that goes back a few decades, but Santa Fe is what I know about.
posted by salvia at 8:59 AM on May 6, 2008

If you make it out to NM check out the rug auctions in Crownpoint, the weavers are at these.

There's also a whole Hispanic weaving tradition in nothern NM.

Santa Fe has a museum of international folk art, probably will have quite a few fabric items there.

Oh, and socks aren't usually made out of fabric. Most socks are made out of yarn. Yarn is a textile, but not a fabric.
posted by yohko at 1:23 PM on May 6, 2008

A lot of cotton is grown in the San Joaquin Valley. It is in full bloom in the fall and that's when they pick it...
posted by FergieBelle at 4:40 PM on May 6, 2008

« Older Wiretapping with VOIP and VPN?   |   no bumbag zone Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.