Books

East Coast Book Tour – Wrap Up

Phew, has it really been three weeks since my book tour ended? Sometimes it feels like seconds, and other time it seems like YEARS since I was on the road with Betsy and Kim.
The first stop of our East Coast Tour was the Textile Museum of Canada. Have you ever been? If not, go! The museum has an exhibit on about textiles and story-telling Telling Stories that is on until January 25th, and I’d highly recommend it. In fact, Betsy came across some pieces that she’d been researching online for her new exhibition, and up until that moment, she had no idea that they were part of the permanent collection in Toronto. The museum is really a treasure.
Being in Toronto felt like a home-coming for me, because I’d been there a year ago to do research for Strange Material, and it was wonderful to be talking about the book in the place that I’d been writing it. Amy Singer, editor and creator of Knitty.com hosted our conversation – and we also had an appearance from one of my favourite Toronto icons Kingi Carpenter of Peach Berzerk. I’d written a fan letter to her when I was 17, so it was so fun to meet her in person.
Amid visiting some of my favourite Toronto people, Betsy and I had the craziest lunch at the world at this place: Mystic Muffin. The owner is a true character, and I’d highly recommend eating there if you are ever in Toronto. We were told what to order (it was delicious), his happy toddler occupied one corner of the restaurant in her playpin, and we watched him comp a fireman lunch. All in all, it was a wacky experience and I’m still smiling from it because it was my favourite kind of harmless chaos.
Our next tour stops were in Philly and Boston, and in both cities there was a heavy rainstorm that seemed to be following us from city to city. Luckily the rain didn’t deter people from coming to our events and we had some very interesting conversations at both events. Garth Johnson, of Extreme Craft, was our host in the Philadelphia at  The University of the Arts. Before the event we had drinks and he showed us photos of his wife, Claire Joyce’s, artwork – she is a glitter artist. At first  I didn’t know what Garth meant, but then I had my mind blown. Look at this. Yes, all of it is glitter.

Rainy #Philly A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

After less than 24 hours in Philly, it was onto Boston. We ended up waiting in the airport for a couple of hours, in which time we sought out famous Philly pretzels and watched the piped in CNN. By the time we got to Boston, we were soaked and tired, so we decided to hide in a basement of Lucky’s, a fabulous bar where I ate the best clam chowder of my life, and I’m from the Pacific Northwest, so that’s saying something. 

Boston clam chowder makes me very happy. #Boston A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

 

Escaping the storm at #Luckys #Boston

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

 A stellar group of women joined us for dinner (if you are interested in craft, business or social media, I suggest looking all of them up online – they all have stellar resources for creative businesses on their websites): Meighan O’Toole (who was our host at ICA) – blogger, digital strategist, and super-cool lady; Abby Glassenberg –  soft toy designer, podcaster, blogger at whileshenaps.com; and Caro Sheridan, knitwear photographer and crafter.   

Boston was so much fun! Off to Brooklyn tomorrow. A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

The ICA in Boston has a stunning workroom, which included crafted walls. Despite the rainy night, we had a very satisfying conversation about craft, perfection, and curation. I’m used to people connecting my name to my first book Yarn Bombing, so it was really wonderful to meet several people from Boston who knew me through my second book Hoopla, the Art of Unexpected Embroidery. Unfortunately the storm had us arriving to the venue just on time, so we didn’t get to see the new exhibit Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present, which looks stunning. If you go, drop me a line and tell me about it. I wish I could go back to Boston just to visit it and spend more time with the fabulous women that we met. It was a very special night.

The craft room at ICA #Boston. Such a great venue for our panel tonight.

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

We only had a day in Boston, so the next morning we were of to the train station to head to Brooklyn. It was my first time travelling by train on the East Coast and it was so pretty. I tried to catch a bit of it with my iphone:  

  So, the train from Boston to New York is super pretty.   A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

New York is my happy place. There was a guy playing steel drums behind us. #nyc A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

Our panel discussion in Brooklyn was at a beautiful making space called the Brooklyn Craft Company. So many of the artists who have been in my books were in attendance: Philip Stearns, Maria Damon, Iviva Olenick, Tamar Stone, Gina Dawson, and even Matilde and Chris Tumim of Tumim and Pendergast (who were featured in Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery) who were visiting New York from Scotland. It was such a thrill of me to see all of these people in one room. 

In Brooklyn, we taught another creativity workshop at Makeshift Brooklyn. There were lots of stories and lots of ugly creatures! Some of participants had travelled several hours from their homes to take this workshop – we felt honoured that they had gone to so much effort. Makeshift Brooklyn is just as cool as Makeshift San Francisco.

 

The creatures that were made during yesterday’s Make, Mend & Reflect workshop. Regram from @kpwerker with @craftivista

 

A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

Brooklyn was our longest tour stop which afforded us some time in the city. We visited Lotta Jansdotter‘s studio (not a surprise, she’s incredibly nice and humble) during the Gowanus Open Studios with Iviva Olenick and a dinner with crafter/artists and Make Magazine writers Andrew Salomone (check out his knit masks!), Haley of Zen of Making (who cooks delicious bread and soup) and Kim’s literary agent Kate.

Lotta Jansdotter’s Studio. #brooklyn #latergram A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

The next morning, after an official Brooklyn lunch with Betsy and Sarah, I was able to sneak in a visit to The Brooklyn Museum to see Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party. Seeing it in person for the first time sparked a lot of questions and theories, which I won’t get into right now for brevity, but I think needs another blog post.

Our final stop was in Betsy’s home town of Washington, DC. Nora Atkinson, curator of the about to be re-opened (currently under renovation) Smithsonian Renwick Gallery was our moderator. While we discussed craft, creativity and politics – Nora had THE BEST opening question: “what’s your superhero power?”

As you can imagine, hilarity ensued. You can’t get too serious at the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian_600

 

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