Irony…

I finally got a couple of days to myself, much needed and very much appreciated.  Sadly it was short lived.  I found myself driving to Maryland as my mother took ill.  I was grateful for a number of things, one that I wasn’t traveling somewhere when she went into the hospital with a pulmonary embolism, and that she lived to tell about it.  She is slowly recovering, and I was so glad I was in between trips and could go to Maryland and support her, and my sister who lives close enough to get the phone calls when something happens to my mom, and my mom’s husband, whom I adore and know this is just as hard on him as it is on us.  So at the moment, all is moving forward in a hopeful direction and time will be a gift.

I’m home again, though briefly as I travel once more on Friday, this time to Atlanta.  It will be a quick in and out, but I have to prep for four classes, mostly lectures, and the packing for this, and prep of handouts, etc, is leaving me scratching my head.  Everything must be shipped by tomorrow if I hope to have it in time for the weekend. Priority Mail is usually very dependable, but my experience at Sievers showed me that it isn’t perfect!

Meanwhile, the results are in…

Back in September, I entered the Blue Ridge Fiber Show in Asheville, an “international celebration of fiber arts”, in both the Felted/professional category and the Woven/professional category.  I certainly don’t consider myself a professional in the felted category by any stretch of the imagination but I know there are some that would argue since I’m certainly a professional in clothing,so I selected that box when I sent my application. Since my daughter was with me at the time I applied, I encouraged her to enter the show as well.  Unlike other fiber exhibitions, everything entered would be exhibited, and the show is judged for awards only.  And there is an amateur category as well as professional.  Entering exhibits is all part of the fiber journey, and having judged many many shows myself, I know how subjective jurying can be.  You never know.  I actually judged the Blue Ridge Fiber Show show back in 2010.

The show opened the beginning of October when I was still at Sievers, and since no one wrote me on facebook or otherwise, there was of course the assumption that none of my work won anything, though in the 2012 exhibit, I had won an award and didn’t find out until I got a letter from the show committee about half way through the exhibit. I made a few discreet inquiries and found out that not only had I taken first place in Felted Clothing for this piece…

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I had taken second place in Woven Clothing for this piece.

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And I was just overjoyed that my daughter, bless her, had taken a couple of honorable mentions for her two entries as well.  It was a Lancaster sweep.  Let me say first, that already my daughter is way more of a technical structural weaver than I’ll ever be.  Multiple shafts is not something that interests me nor do I care to explore structure pushing boundaries and looking for the next way to push the loom.  I weave very competent cloth, and make really good clothing, exploring color and texture, and I’m happy doing that for the rest of my life.  I am a sewer first and a weaver second. My daughter however, thinks like an engineer/scientist, and the number of shafts never holds her back, she just figures out how to make it work with what she’s got.  She is her father’s daughter…

And so the letters arrived, with our awards, I opened my daughter’s letter as well, only to repackage it in a new envelope to forward it on to her at college.  I was surprised when a second paper slipped out from behind the letter from the exhibit committee.  At first glance it was from the Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) about them retaining her images for publication, and I did a head scratch and actually read her congratulatory letter.  Apparently, my lovely 21 year old daughter won the coveted HGA award, for the entire exhibition with her turned Krokbragd Inkle Woven Sheep Juggling Balls, set of three.  This is the best I could come up with for images.  (She left me one for my box of Inkle woven examples to use for classes.)

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So how do I feel about this?  I think the whole thing is hysterically funny.  I have been working in this field and entering exhibits for probably 35 years and I’ve never won an HGA award.  I have given them many times in my tenure as a juror, but never actually won one myself.  Ironically I’ve won the Complex Weavers award, but never the HGA award.  And here, my enthusiastic science major with a linguistics minor college senior nails the award her first time out.  I am very proud and just a little bit jealous?  I knew she would surpass me at some point in life, as all children do, but at 21?  I’m laughing as I write this, there are  no words…

And of course she won an honorable mention for this piece as well, it is a complex eight shaft summer/winter with pick up showing Star Trek motifs.

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The interesting twist to this story is my daughter broke the cardinal rule of the art world, never let work leave your possession unless you photograph it first.  My daughter has no photos of her entries to share.  So it is with interest that I see how she manages to send magazine quality images to the HGA for her work when none exist and the pieces are tied up in the exhibition until the first part of January.  Even Daryl’s daughter must learn things from personal experience…

Stay tuned…

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Winding down…

After a brief trip to Massachusetts, and a horrific drive home late Wednesday night in a torrential rain storm, I’ve spent most of the last couple days in and out of slow motion, sleeping when I can, and attempting to actually do things like clean my house (I haven’t been successful yet), laundry (better success there), show up for a few social events (mostly in a foggy state) and generally force myself into a state where the adrenaline isn’t surging full tilt. It is harder than it looks.

It was delightful to see my daughter, and she was a great help during the evening presentation I gave to the Pioneer Valley Guild, which is her guild, and meets at WEBS. I called her Vanna Brianna.  I spent most of Tuesday afternoon, checking out all the cool yarn, great deals, and trying really hard not to blow out my credit card.  I was only minimally successful.

One of my goals while I was up there was to figure out this year’s Christmas towel run which was catapulted to the top of my to do list when I found out that WEBS brought in a new line of Cottolin to replace their old line which was discontinued some time last spring.  Similar weight and content, 60% organic cotton and 40% linen, the Cottolin is from Brassard, brought in from Canada.  This year’s inspiration comes from a towel project I saw in the Sept/Oct issue of Handwoven magazine.  My intent was to use up what I already had, partial cones of the old 8/2 Cotlin, so all I’d really have to do was buy the weft.

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The Pioneer Guild, like many weaving guilds in the north east, is a bit like family, I know many of the weavers, I’ve taught for this guild a few times over the years, so it was a bit like a reunion, except now my daughter is part of that family as well.  I gave them a lecture called Weave a Memory, and showed how I print images on cloth, and then cut them up and weave them back together again.  It is the same topic I did for Florida Tropical this past spring, except there I did it as a workshop.

Wednesday I taught a workshop for them, and I think of all the one day workshops I give, this is my most favorite.  I did the Color and Inspiration workshop, I hear over and over again how much inspiration participants get from the workshop and how pleased they are about the confidence they gain in putting together combinations of yarn.  I gave this class last month to an American Sewing Guild group in Kentucky, almost none of them were weavers and yet the class still works well.  This group were primarily weavers, and they dove right in and followed the directions for each of my exercises.

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I had them explore value, and complementary colors, and I have them create a card that they think is intentionally ugly.  The card gets reworked by someone else in the group, and the results are always surprising and fun.  I’ll let you figure out which is the before and after.

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Then we moved into working with Color-aid papers to help simplify an image and select a palette to work from.  This helps if you haven’t amassed a stash of thrums!

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And at the end, they created a gorgeous warp sequence inspired by the image, they were all so lovely and rich and thoughtful.

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So now I’m home for a couple of weeks, before I head to Atlanta and my last trip of the year.  I was able to attend a meeting of a local bobbin lace group, so in anticipation of that, I dug through my extensive collection of lace pillows, all with projects in various stages of progress, and my goal in the next year or two is to clear some of these pillows.  The problem is, like anything you put down for a few years, I have no idea how I did the patterns.  This little one I was able to figure out, after searching through my lace books and finding the original pattern.  It is one from the Stout book, and I remember setting it up using embroidery floss, single strand, along with some four strand floss for the gimp.  I love lace in color.

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And Thursday night, I dragged this pillow out from the top of my closet, where I took a look at it and didn’t even attempt to understand how I did it.  I took it along to the lace group, where Pat graciously and competently set me on a forward path.  I am about half finished the hankie, working through my second corner, and again, I love lace in color.  This is a Russian pattern, from a class I took with Holly Van Sciver at an Ithaca Lace Day many many years ago, it may have been 10.  Embarrassing…  It is time…

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And in anticipation of my critique group, which meets on Tuesday after a many months hiatus, of which I’ve done no new art work, I decided to card up a batch of batts, and make a felted mat that I’ll cut up and reassemble to play more with my Chromosome series.

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I’ll eventually clean my house, and eventually catch up on all my sleep, and eventually calm my constant adrenaline rush.  Sleep helps.  And I’m doing a lot of it.  Meanwhile, I have all kinds of projects to keep me happy and moving in a forward direction.

Stay tuned…

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A Tale of Two Jackets redux…

I’ve mentioned this before many times in both my blog and in my lectures, I buy when it is time to buy, when I come across things at a great price, and I fill up my stash so I can be creative down the road with what I have.  I never have any plan for what I buy, and part of the fun is to make it actually work once I do.

Back in October of 2010, I came upon Lisa Merian of Spinner’s Hill, at a booth at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.  I fell in love with her crazy ball, hand painted roving, from her cross bred Corriedale, Finn and Rambouillet sheep.

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I sat on it for a couple of years, and it wasn’t until a trip to northern California and Thai Silks that I figured out I wanted to felt the crazy ball into a jacket.  I bought five yards of Silk Chiffon which was half price because it was a discontinued design.

I started to felt the jacket, got the fronts and back done, and then life got in the way.

January of this year, with an intern from the local community college, I set out to finish the jacket pieces, which if you were following my blog back then, you know how painful I think felting is, and that the goal here was a jacket, not to really be a better felter.

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I achieved that goal, and I made the jacket from my standard Daryl Jacket pattern, the one I use for classes, as a sample for when I have a felter in one of my classes.  I love the jacket and it is currently on display at the Blue Ridge Fiber Show in Asheville NC. The hand couched trim is handspun from the leftover fiber that didn’t go into the jacket.

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As a matter of fact, there were a lot of leftover fibers, in colors that weren’t that appealing, the muddy khaki green, gold, raspberry, and bits of yellow and cream.

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I decided in March, to spin up what was left, into a few skeins of a bulky yarn.  I didn’t care where the colors that remained showed up in the skein, and just had fun one night, while I watched the Academy Awards.

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I loved the result, and measured about 650 yards, which wasn’t a whole lot to do much with.  I looked at sweater patterns, and vest patterns, and wandered through my knitting yarn stash, which is so not extensive, there is very little in the drawers, but I came upon this angora/silk yarn, I had purchased in September 2011 in a knitting shop in Central Coast California.  It was in a bin marked $3. a skein, originally $25 and change.  A skein.  I bought one of each color they had and then sat on it.  I had originally thought of intarsia, and looked at a few patterns and decided that it would be more complex than I wanted, since I do knitting when I’m traveling or with people.  I do social knitting.  Following complex charts defeats the purpose of knitting for me.

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The palette was exactly in line with the handspun. :-) ( I left out the teal.)

I chose this top down sweater pattern from C2Knits, though I will say it is my least favorite of her patterns (which I usually adore and most of what I knit now comes from C2Knits), but the shape would mostly work for what I wanted to do, just not in garter stitch.  And I could redesign the sleeves. The great thing about top down sweaters is the ability to knit until you run out of yarn, and then you stop.

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I did a test swatch.

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I kept redesigning the horizontal stripes as I was knitting along based on how I thought the yarn would work out.  I ripped regularly.

I finished up the body and sleeves and the collar of the garment, while I was in DC and Kentucky a few weeks ago, knitting the collar and lower edge of the garment simultaneously from the same ball of remaining yarn.  I had about 18″ of handspun yarn left when I was finished.

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And I had a small amount of angora/silk left as well.  I was pretty proud of myself, for no other reason than I “used it mostly up…”

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I got most of the ends tied in and the edging put on the front, after a couple of re-do’s, while I was at Sievers.  Which was pretty great because I ended up needing a warm sweater there, and I basically lived and slept in it.  Truth be told I was unhappy with the front edge, it looked OK, but the weight of the buttons caused the crocheted edge to roll inward.  Made me nuts.

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One of the Sievers’ students, Ginnie I think, said to me, it probably needs a grosgrain backing to support the buttons.  That’s a pretty standard finish and I’ve done it on other sweaters, but the collar is designed to be rolled back like a lapel and expose the underside of the knitting.  I didn’t want to see grosgrain ribbon.

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Ginnie said, well duh, why don’t you just weave your own!

I obsessed about it the whole time I was there.  The first thing I did when I got back from the city Monday night after flying into Newark that afternoon, was to set up my inkle loom with the remaining bits of angora/silk.  I hand measured all the remaining bits, to see what yardage I could get, and threw up a design based on how many ends each of what I had left.  I’m grinning the whole time.

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I had a bamboo in the exact color of the selvedge edge of the band, to use as weft, and I was off.  I was supposed to demo all day yesterday at a local historic site, and though the loom isn’t historic, band weaving is, but the event was cancelled because of the horrific rains.  So I loaded up the wood stove, lit a fire and curled up in the living room with my inkle loom and wove off the two yard band in about an hour.

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I love the way it coordinates with the sweater.

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I hand sewed it to the back of the front edges, instead of the  traditional grosgrain, and now I have a new thing to do with my already trusty inkle loom, color matched grosgrain from left over knitting yarns. And of course the front lays perfectly…

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Stay tuned…

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Seven Day Sievers Over Achievers…

This is the part of a lengthy class I love best.  There were five die-hards that hung in there for seven days, three of them have taken my class so many times we lost count.  Seven, eight times?  I love these women, we have worked with each other for a long time and I know them well, and their bodies.  They have terrific “assets” which can make fitting quite difficult, almost impossible to do by yourself. I’m not sure if they continue to take the class because we do get things to fit, or because they do get the opportunity to stretch themselves, or maybe because we have such a great time together.  Maybe it is a combination of all three?

First there is Cindy.  Cindy took her first class with me back at the Midwest Conference in Sheboygan in 2005.  She has a collection of jackets from my classes that date almost that far back, and she wears them all, and brings them with her each time she comes.  Note to self, get a photo of all Cindy’s jackets!

Cindy worked hard on her pattern alterations.  She used a Vogue pattern as a starting point, but we changed it a lot along the way!

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She cut out her handwoven fabric, it is a combination plain weave and basket weave on eight shafts from a Robin And Russ sample page. It is downloadable from somewhere. Post in the comments if someone figures it out.

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She spent a good half a day attaching her gorgeous handwoven fabric to a fusible underlining.

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She practiced making bound buttonholes for her self covered button.

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We tweaked the fit continually, and she is really happy with the results.

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Ginnie and I have kept in touch outside of Sievers, she sews all the time, and we share projects and adventures, it was Ginnie and a friend of hers that came to my studio a year or so ago and helped me sort through my stash after a buying trip to NYC.  Ginnie has a stash that makes mine look paltry, many of her fabrics now bordering on Vintage.  She contacted me ahead of time to see what I thought of her using a twenty year old cashmere she had on her shelf.  She picked a vintage Vogue pattern to work with.  There were seventy nine steps in the construction of this garment.  I added additional steps because I wanted her to underline the cashmere with silk organza.

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She posted regular progress reports on Facebook.  There was definitely a fan club cheering her on, both in the studio and on her Facebook page.  And in one truly silly moment, she changed her Profile photo!  Talk about dropped shoulders…

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She sampled bound buttonholes, her first ones.  Cindy gave her button blanks to cover her own as well.

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She pad stitched her first undercollar.

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She sampled pick stitching with about eight different yarns from the Sievers Store.  She thought the 8/2 Tencel looked best.

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And so the jacket progressed, and it was time for the lining, which was cut from a vintage Silk Charmeuse, also from her stash.

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Terry is one of my favorite people in the whole world.  She doesn’t have much of a sewing background and had doggedly worked to improve her skills, challenging herself each time with new projects, mostly from her handwoven fabrics.  We worked on two patterns, one for a jacket she will work on next year, and this lovely vest from handwoven cotton.

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She carefully cut out all the pieces after extensive pattern alterations and a couple of test garments.

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She sewed tricot on the edges to keep them from raveling. (She is wearing her vest from last year).  We trimmed the armholes with the bias tricot as well.

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The vest just needs buttons/snaps and of course, lots of handwork.

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Meanwhile she brought some handwoven fabric and pillow forms and wanted to learn how to do piping, put in a zipper and make pillows.

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The results were great, and Terry put in her first zipper to wild applause from the rest of the group. (Cindy in the foreground is wearing her first Daryl Jacket I think from 2007?)

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And of course, the Daryl Alert, the one thing that keeps me sane during a workshop like this, kept me quite busy…

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And there were my two additional first time students who decided to take advantage of the extra two days, especially Janene, who flew in from Alaska for the experience.  She showed us a map of where she lived.  Apparently it is only accessible by cruise ship, ferry or by plane, there are no roads to the mainland.  I can’t even begin to understand that, seeings how I’m a Jersey girl.  We have a lot of roads, and a lot of people.  It may take time, but at least our roads go somewhere.  Of course Sievers is only accessible by ferry…

Janene wove a gorgeous piece of fabric.  Apparently the design is called Whale’s tail, and I believe she made it up.  Coming from Alaska, that’s an appropriate motif!

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She finished her Daryl Jacket in timely fashion.

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Then she took advantage of the extra couple of days and made a vest from a small cut of handwoven she had in her suitcase.  She used a cotton fabric for the bands and side panels and her intent is to knit Alpaca insets and attach them over the cotton.  I can’t wait to see how that turns out.  (Note: I’ll be teaching a vest class at the 2015 MAFA Conference in Millersville, PA)

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And finally, there is Kathleen.  Kathleen lives locally and works for Sievers in the shop.  Though she doesn’t weave, she loves to sew, and create her own fabrics with dyes.  Fit is of course, always an issue and we spent a lot of time going over pieces she had done previously to see if we could improve on the fit.

Kathleen made a Daryl Jacket from corduroy, but brought some lovely hand dyed cotton fabrics, and wanted to use them to embellish.  I had her make bias tubes with a press bar, and away she went.

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She sews quickly and had the jacket and embellishment mostly finished along with the rest of the five day students, and Kathleen spent the remainder of the time working out a closure.  She loved the idea of ball buttons, and came up with the idea of a decorative bias tube along the band that contained three buttons, the tube is uninterrupted as it passes down the band.

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Once she worked that out, it was more difficult to settle on how to make the loops and what shape they should take.  I’m there for support and occasional input, but Kathleen mostly figured this out by herself.  The result is beautiful and so fits her personality and design aesthetic.

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I spent my evenings assembling and tracing off a couple of Marfy patterns.  There are free Marfy patterns on their website and so I downloaded the PDF’s before I left.  I don’t have any experience with Marfy patterns, they are an Italian pattern company, and I’m excited to try them out.  I understand that they have no seam allowances (no problem there, neither does the German Burda in the monthly Style magazine) and they have NO directions.  :-)

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We took a final shot of the remaining seven day over achievers!  There are some beautiful jackets!

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I have a busy weekend ahead of me, I’ll be in costume demoing at the Doremus House in Montville, NJ, one of George Washington’s many stops during the Revolutionary War.  That’s on Saturday the 11th, and then on Sunday the 12th, I’ll be teaching near Princeton, at the West Windsor Arts Center.  The class is a one day introduction to weaving, using a shaft loom, I have enough looms for all!  You’ll learn to set up a loom, read a draft, experiment with structure and color and go home with a small sampler of what’s possible with a loom.  Join me…

Stay tuned…

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Five Day Sievers Achievers…

First, we are having trouble again with subscriber notifications.  The plug-in reverted to some invalid settings, or something like that, while I was away, so if you are reading this and didn’t know I posted yesterday, scroll down for part one…

Meanwhile, my annual Garment Construction Intensive at Sievers began with a wonderful and large group, there were ten in all this year.  We break this class, (affectionately called now a “Sewing Retreat” by one of the regulars, because her husband can’t understand why she keeps repeating the same class), into two parts.  There is the usual five day, and for those who want more of a good thing, or have more ambitious projects, there is an additional couple of days option.  One of the five day participants actually ended up staying one additional day so she could finish her complex garment.

They copied their patterns after the initial fitting, and then laid out their fabrics. Three of the four making Daryl Jackets had handwoven fabric.  Lorraine had a printed corduroy, and found out quickly how difficult it is to work with a fabric printed off grain.  But she valiantly pressed onward and did a great job!

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They sewed like the wind.

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They had buckets of handwork.

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They all finished their jackets except for Lorraine who actually could only stay four days since work was calling her, but she was far enough along for the group photo to have one sleeve in.  I’m confident she will finish.  She plans to add a zipper to the front of hers.

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My Indiana ladies, Linda, Cindy and JoAnne all looked wonderful in their handwoven Daryl Jackets.  They all had really gorgeous fabrics, nicely woven.  I hear they had a great weaving teacher! Linda (below right) is actually Linda Adamson of Tabby Tree Weavers in Indiana!  If the wovens they brought are any indication of the level of instruction at Tabby Tree Weavers, I highly recommend them for classes!

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And the group photo on Thursday afternoon showed garments in various forms of construction.  This small ritual at Sievers of taking a group photo towards the end of the class is really important to me.  This is my eighth year at Sievers, and I have eight class photos on my wall.  I remember each of the students I taught, and what they made.  My five day students are all in the front row with me, I”m on the left.

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Wally is one of my returning students, her third time with me, and she brought a huge challenge.  She ended up staying for an extra day.  Wally brought a stack of gorgeous assorted black and grey fabrics, some metallic, some knit, all lovely and all coordinating.  She also brought along a vintage white brocade tablecloth.  Her plan was to piece the assorted fabrics together, and her pattern was copied onto clear plastic.  Unfortunately she forgot to bring the original pattern with photo and directions.  I can put things together without directions, but with no photo for reference, I wasn’t sure how the collar piece was suppose to attach since it didn’t seem to fit the body of the jacket.  All Wally could remember is that the word Pacific was in the name. It was pretty hilarious watching all the students pull out their phones and start Googling Pacific Jacket and seeing who could find it first.  I believe it was Ginnie who nailed it, Lorraine Torrence’s Pacific Rim Coat, and once I saw a photo, I was good to go.

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I suggested to Wally that she use my traditional piecing technique fusing onto a backing, which simplified things for her, and she got right to work.

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She changed her mind regularly about what would be the collar and lining, and what would be the binding strips, but that’s all part of the process.

She spent a couple days just sewing on the binding strips.

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She used the brocade tablecloth for the lining.

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Her jacket is a masterpiece.  We all loved it and congratulated her, and rumor has it that she wore it to the Lyric opera in Chicago Monday  night.

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More tomorrow on the seven day Achievers!

 

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