Itchy & Scratchy

Madison is home to a lot of really unique and well-organized communities. It's kind of an embarrassment of riches for those of us with a lot of interests. Want a great group of people to take long, country-side bike rides with, there's an organization for that. Interested in saving feral cats? There's a group for that. And, of course, there's The Madison Knitters' Guild. Honestly, if you have an interest, there's probably an organized group of Madisonians doing that activity and providing support for people who want to join.

One new and extremely well-organized community - of particular interest to us crafters/artists - is Handmade Madison: Indie Artist League.

The website's claim is that they are "A source for information on shows, events, workshops, products, questions, answers, and especially calls for artists in the Midwest region."  The site is really nicely designed (as one would hope from an "artists' league") and a great resource for networking with other artists in the region.

But, perhaps the coolest thing Handmade Madison does is organize "pop up markets". These are one-day-only events with a number of different, local artists setting up shop. From their site:
Handmade Madison pop-up markets are an opportunity for artists and craftspeople to showcase the things they love to make and for those who appreciate good craftsmanship and clever creations to find something they will truly love, or love to give!  We pride ourselves on our wonderful vendors – people who create with sincerity and passion.
We offer our shoppers a menagerie of handcrafted items sold to them by the very folks who create them.  Patrons can experience first hand the gratitude of our makers and delight in supporting local and regional independent artists.  We hope you shop locally  and support local artists whenever possible!
This past Sunday I attended my second Handmade Madison pop-up market and, for the second time, really overspent my "unnecessary spending" budget. I think that, when you're an artist or a craftsperson yourself, it's important to support your fellow artists with your dollars (at least that's the way I justify my much emptier bank account!)

I got this great pair of earrings:

The pic doesn't do them justice.

And a cool t-shirt:


And some organic, homemade dog biscuits: 

BBQ Flavored, All-Natural Biscuits

And two bars of felted soap (Yes, bars of soap covered in felted wool. "A natural loofah" according to the seller):

Yes. There's a bar of soap under that wool.

I learned about a process for wet felting roving to make gorgeous, soft hats.

And I found this amazing needle-felted rabbit that cost more than I could justify for a piece of art when there are electric bills due.

Seriously. How gorgeous is he?

So... maybe you're wondering about the title of this post. Well, I used one of my new (rather expensive) felted soaps and, sadly, had a wicked allergic reaction. I don't believe it's the wool - I knit with wool nearly every day and I wear wool against my skin all the time - so I think it might have been the soap itself. Regardless, every inch of my skin, from my neck down, itches. I mean REALLY, REALLY itches. All day I was running to the rest room to claim enough privacy to scratch the heck out of my legs, arms, chest, and belly. As soon as I got home, I took a shower with a moisturizing bath gel and used a BufPuf to scrub all the itchy bits. Then I dried off, put on some lotion and took two Benedryls. Keep your fingers crossed that I wake up to some relief. :)

Selfishly, I'm a little sad that my cool felted soaps have to be gifted away. Hopefully, the recipient won't have the same problems that I have!

- Alex

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