No rest for the weary…

I returned home very late from Harrisville, NH on Friday night and had the car unloaded before I went to bed, had a miserable night, and got right to work Saturday unpacking, opening up the house, processing a boat load of produce from the garden, and beginning the long slog of catch-up after a week away.

I woke up this morning, and although I did sleep well finally, the dogs needed to be fed, and let out, and the day called.  I dug my heels in and did something I absolutely never do.  I went back to bed.  Except I didn’t sleep, couldn’t sleep. So I sat in bed knitting and watching last Thursday’s episode of Project Runway.  I felt completely decadent. And guilty.  And I felt renewed.  But still guilty…

I started a new knitting project with the handspun I did during the Academy Awards last spring, from the leftover fibers from the felted jacket I made, also last spring. I combined it with a group of single skeins of Angora/Silk I bought a couple years ago on sale in a knitting shop on the West Coast.  I’m crossing my fingers it will be enough.

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But I digress…

I finally got up and wandered outside and retrieved the morning papers.  After the Sunday comics (I actually avoid the headlines now, too depressing) I turn to the Perspective pages in one of the two papers we get, the Star Ledger.  There, on the front page of Perspective was this…

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It made sense to read it with my morning tea and to my complete dismay, I have apparently lost the art of being able to do absolutely nothing.  I measure my hours, days, weeks, by what I get done, constantly checking things off my overwhelming to do lists.  So doing absolutely nothing for a time, only produces less stress and more creativity and focus according to the article, but nothing crossed off the to-do list.  So my guilty morning in bed was actually productive, I knitted a few rows on my sweater and crossed off a TV show that had been recorded a few days ago.  Damn.

tshirtI admit that my lifestyle isn’t a 9-5 with weekends off.  It never has been and never will.  I do have days, even weeks where I have nothing on the calendar and on those days I’ll do chores, clean, laundry, etc.  I wouldn’t know what to do with a weekend.  I’m usually teaching.  I think I may need to schedule a few minutes each day where I do nothing at all.  Some call this meditation.  I wouldn’t know.  I haven’t tried it yet.  I’ll let you know how I do…

Meanwhile, another amazing week at Harrisville Designs, in NH.  Harrisville is like this  step back to a simpler time and place, quaint picture postcard New England, with spotty connectivity and almost no Verizon wireless signal.  I have to say it is tough when you’ve become so dependent on the ability to communicate 24/7.  Even the phone call from an events coordinator for an ASG chapter left both of us shouting into the phone, “Hello?  Hello?  Can you hear me?  Who is this please?”  I’m hoping they call back this week while I’m in NJ.

The class this year was small.  Small classes are always lovely, more individual attention, and less stress for me when problems arise because when they arise it is usually for a number of students at once.  And like my class at Sievers School in Wisconsin (coming up the end of the month) I have a core of repeat students whom I’ve really gotten to know well.

There is Amy.  We are both stubborn and when Amy, who is a fantastic weaver and has become a competent garment maker, decides she doesn’t want to do a technique a certain way, she will dig her heels in and refuse, demanding I come up with a better way.  She loves my technique for putting in flawless bound buttonholes.  She couldn’t understand why I just didn’t apply that technique and design an easier way for putting in welt pockets.  I thought the old fashioned way worked just fine.  But not for Amy.  So after much arm twisting I did, and I re-engineered an easier way to get perfect welts on a welt pocket and Amy was thrilled and really really proud of her welt pockets in her gorgeous jacket from handwoven Zephyr (silk/wool) and Cashmere.  Amy chose a complicated garment, and some different ways of executing certain areas, since many of the patterns are now becoming dumbed down in their construction directions.  She wanted to make the under collar out of wool Melton, and hand attach it to the back of the collar to reduce bulk.  What’s left is hours of pressing and hand sewing but the jacket, with it’s gorgeous silk lining from Mood Fabrics in NY is mostly there.

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And her best buddy Carole is one of those students who works really well independently, until there is a major screw up.  And we had a couple.  It happens in a class full of distractions no matter how good a sewer you are.  In spite of the pile of 47 pattern pieces all cut out and ready to go, we all did a head scratch when three of the four jacket fronts went missing.  All we could figure was they were never actually cut out.  So I sat down to figure out how to invent two jacket front pieces and a facing out of the handful of odd shaped scraps.  Of course none of the scraps worked for the full pattern piece.  There was one bound buttonhole at the waist of this jacket, and so to me the obvious thing was to run a seam through the buttonhole, cutting the pattern piece in two, and creating an in-seam buttonhole. We also had to reshape the shoulder and armhole seams, they made her look like a linebacker. It all worked and she was really happy.

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Carole finished this gorgeous handwoven jacket in two days in spite of the mistake and then pulled out the fabric for jacket number two.  Also handwoven, this jacket turned out equally well and had a lovely silk lining, also from Mood.

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Katie was also a return student from last year.  She had tried on my walking vest last year and vowed to make one for herself this year, and spent the last few weeks weaving trim on the inkle loom to match her handwoven fabric.  I love Katie.  She is like a kid in a candy shop; every step of the way she tries on the garment and dances.  It always makes me smile to see a student obviously so delighted with what they have done.  Most are very serious and I put myself in that category.  Katie still has a lot of handwork to do to sew on the inkle trim, but for now it is basted and the vest is fun and suits her and she is really happy.

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Rita was a new student for me this year.  Rita has been weaving probably as long as I have, and I recognized many of the yarns I use to use in the 80′s.  Specifically Silk City Fiber’s Contessa.  We all mourned with that yarn was no longer available.  And we are both hoarding a few remaining cones.  Rita brought her vast stash of fabrics, and really needed help polishing her garment construction skills.  It isn’t unusual to have a self taught competent garment maker in a class, but with that comes some major pieces of missing information and I just about fell through the floor (which wouldn’t have been a bad thing because the Store and Gallery was right below us) when Rita said to me, “I’ve learned so much, I always thought that ‘grainlines’ were just a suggestion.”  Anyone who has ever studied garment construction with me knows how I feel about grainlines.  Anyway, Rita made a lovely vest from some of her stash, a cut of fabric, a scarf for the bands, and an old skirt for the lining.  She was so much fun to work with.

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And that leaves Liz.  I’ve never worked with Liz before either.  Liz unrolled the most gorgeous piece of  handwoven Saori fabric I’ve ever seen, full of random clasped wefts in an exquisite palette, and I helped her make the best use of different areas of design.  I have to say that I’m sort of jaded at this point, I’ve probably see a couple thousand Daryl Jacket variations and this one jumped to the top of my favorites.  It suits her so well, she lives in Florida for a bit every year, and the fabric, though horizontal in nature worked beautifully with the jacket design.  She learned to do Hong Kong seam finishes on the interior of the unlined jacket and seemed genuinely happy when the jacket was finished (except for the handwork).

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The class all got along well, always a plus, helping each other make decisions…

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…enjoying an evening of wine and cheese while they worked late into the night.

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My daughter Brianna drove up from Massachusetts, and met us on Wednesday for the scheduled tour of the spinning mill.  Since everyone in the class had already been on the tour at least once, that left Brianna and me to head over for a private tour.  Again, experiencing anything with an enthusiastic 21 year old is fun and informative and I always see things in a very different way when I’m with her.  It was great to have her come up to see Harrisville, and she looked longingly at the gorgeous classroom space and turned to me and said, “Mommy, this is the kind of studio I want some day, plenty of space.”

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Friday night I left, stopped at her apartment, marveled how she packed so much of herself into such a little apartment bedroom, had dinner with her at the Panera in Hadley, MA and headed home.  Here is the final class shot.  The next garment construction intensive at Harrisville has been tentatively scheduled for next September, 2015.

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I have about a week to prep for my month of teaching before I leave for a couple of days vacation down the shore with family.  There is the Potomac Guild outside DC, and then a weekend in Louisville, KY with an ASG chapter, followed by 10 days at Sievers in Wisconsin where I’m the keynote speaker at The Gathering before I start my seven day class.  And then suddenly it is October… Stay tuned…

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Goals…

I’ve largely decided that surviving the next few weeks is my main goal.  The amount of work/opportunities/requests/requirements/ and commitments that are flying past me at breakneck speed are beyond comprehension, and all I can do is just sit back, laugh, and watch the sh*t fly.  There is no way to do all of it, and I am getting some satisfaction in being able to say, “sorry, I’m already booked.”  I have check lists and apps that keep track of everything for me, and I’m printing monographs and handouts while I’m hemming pants for a job I get once a year and it showed up at my door yesterday afternoon.  Six pairs.  Have to be finished today.  Sigh…

And a sewing publication just contacted me for an article for next spring.  Outline due Monday. Manuscript due in two weeks.  I leave Sunday.  Sigh…

My son writes, “quick send board games to Qatar”.  Sigh…

My garden…  I’m not even going there…

So, in the true spirit of sanity preservation, I’m doing what I can, apologizing for the rest, and trying to focus on the important stuff.  Like saying goodbye to my daughter.  She leaves tomorrow to go back to school.  Fortunately I’m too busy to get depressed about it.  Yet.  She needs all kinds of last minute help, and I am doing what I can.  And we are squeezing in last minute fun things, as the summer comes to a close.  Like yesterday, we had a private tour of  WoodsEdge Wools Farm in Stockton, NJ.  They raise yaks both for meat and for fiber.  And of course they have something like 90 alpaca and llamas on the farm as well.  I bought some gorgeous alpaca yarn, and stuffed my freezer with yak meat. The best of both worlds for my daughter, the animal science major, who works with beef cattle and has more yarn than me… (course most of it she stole from me…)

Last Thursday was the Peters Valley Annual Auction.  My scarf looked beautiful on the table.

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The wife of one of my oldest friends from Peters Valley, woodworker Jim Whitman was seen wearing another one of my scarves at the event.

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Friday morning I hopped a bus into Manhattan and then hopped on the Megabus to Baltimore to meet up with my daughter who was spending time with relatives, and working on a cousin’s dairy barn for some dairy cow experience.  The trip was horrid, I won’t bore you with the details, but five hours later, I finally arrived and we were on our way to visit with my mom.  We had a great family reunion on Saturday and Sunday morning we drove home, via Winterthur, the Dupont estate in Delaware, where there is a fantastic exhibit of costumes from the Downton Abbey PBS series, along with a wonderful display explaining the role of the English Country house in the 20′s and comparing it to the American equivalent, which of course was the Dupont estate, Winterthur.  We adored the exhibit and the tour of Winterthur.

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I did have one small goal, and that was to finish a dress I was knitting by the end of the summer.  You may recall I won a gift certificate to Interlacement Yarns, as a result of a fiber exhibition in Colorado earlier in the year, and I bought a couple of skeins of their Rick Rack, a hand dyed rayon novelty, 1200 yards per skein. The color I used was Scottish Lichen.

Knitting1I thought I’d knit this little top from C2Knits, and when I got to the hip (it is a top down sweater) I realized I had only used a third of the yarn, so I kept going.  I finished up the last bit of the dress on the long miserable bus ride to Baltimore, tied in the ends, washed and blocked the dress, and the color ran so badly while it was drying flat, it pooled at the sides creating what looks like a seam, and I can assure you there is no seam.  It was knitted in the round.  I wore it anyway.  The dress stretches badly when I wear it, which I expected, and it became pretty obvious I need to wear a slip.  So I’ve washed it again, this time in the machine, in a bag, with a couple of color catchers and though the color isn’t as bright, there is no line down the side.  The dress is beautiful.  I got so many compliments on it.  Yeah, and I found a long slip in the closet that will work, I’ll just pop in a hem.

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So in spite of all the craziness, I managed to actually make a new dress, and that makes me happy.  I have a new knitting project all lined up to take with me when I leave for Harrisville Designs on Sunday.  Class starts Monday morning!

And the mail today brought the much anticipated (by me) fall issue of Threads Magazine, which of course has my article on Weaving your Own Trim for garments.  The photoshoot was beautiful, I loved what they did with my jacket.  There is my vest on page five of the six page article which looks beautiful as well.  They did an amazing job given the space and editing out anything that wasn’t critical.  So look for it on the news stands.  November 2014, issue 175.

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And the summer ends with a bang and the fall season is upon us…

Stay tuned…

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The dust won’t settle…

Here it is Tuesday and somehow I thought by now I’d be unpacked, house would be in order and I’d have a relaxing couple of days to myself.  On what planet was I living?  I finally finished unpacking from  my very entertaining but draining week, and this morning I scrubbed the orange mildew from my shower stall, with a toothbrush it was that bad, and so my house is finally safe to inhabit, but really, the list keeps growing…

It all started last Sunday (now a week ago), when I packed up and left for Peters Valley.  I got called to do a four day fiber experience with a group of high school kids from Pennsylvania, through a National Park Service grant, held at Peters Valley.  It was a great tie in with Park Service Rangers from the Weir Farm National Historic site in CT.  I must visit sometime.  Two of the rangers were from Weir, and gave a presentation to the students the first morning after they toured Peters Valley.

We started with frame loom weaving, speed tapestry as I call it.  I have them quickly cover the warp with wool roving and then go back in and add color and texture using tapestry and pile techniques.

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Even the park rangers got in on the fun.  They had to leave early to get back to CT and were really sorry to have to stop.  I hope they can figure out a way to continue adding to their pieces.

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The coordinator from Peters Valley, Linnia, loved the technique and spent that evening and all the second day working on hers.

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Day two had students working on warp face bands on the inkle loom.  They were quickly set up and finished the first band by lunch time.  They all had time to set up and weave off an additional band.

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Day three I brought out the shaft looms.  I was originally told there would be 12 students and two park rangers who would be participating but as with enrollment in anything, that is subject to the whims of the day, and though I brought and prepped 14 of each type of loom, I only needed 6 and the occasional extra for a participating staff member.  Easier on me, but a  lot to haul.

They warped quickly, ready to weave just after lunch.  Some were content to follow the draft, and others just did their own thing.  It was fun watching them explore.

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In the evenings I worked frantically at Hilltop doing the final prep of all the looms for Kathryn Weber’s class coming in on Friday morning.  There were suppose to be 10 signed up with a loom for the instructor, which would put all the new to us Macomber looms through their paces.  Armed with pizza and a couple bottles of wine, we finished up late Tuesday night reorienting all the heddles, and reinstalling all the more than 100 shafts on the looms.

Wednesday afternoon I packed everything up and loaded up the car, drove home, threw everything on the floor of the garage and ate dinner.  My  husband moved our theater tickets from the end of the month, to Wednesday night, which I would never have done, except he got called for a job in Istanbul Turkey and was leaving Saturday for a month.  No stress here.  By the time I got back from the theater, a classic piece by Ben Johnson, a contemporary of Shakespeare called The Alchemist, I was so bone tired I was beyond functioning.  I still had to pull everything and repack the car for Thursday’s fiber adventure which was all about felting.  I was so tired I couldn’t remember where anything was in my studio.  My daughter was there to assist, keeping me standing…

I put the last thing into the car, and staggered into the kitchen ready to fall into bed, and my husband walked in and said my son was on the phone, it was his last stateside phone call since he was leaving Texas in the morning for the middle east.  I don’t remember much of that phone call except I laid awake the entire night overwhelmed by it all.

Somehow I managed to drive myself Thursday morning back to Peters Valley, and left my phone on the counter.  Which means no photos.  Which was really a shame because the kids did amazing work.  There were a number of photos taken, from the park service and from the photo resident, but I haven’t received any of them yet.  So you will have to wait for the update on that.  If I had it to do over, I’d limit all the techniques I taught to only three hours, high school kids have very short attention spans and work very very quickly.  Of course that would have meant having to pack even more stuff so maybe what I did was OK after all.  By lunch time they had completed two felted panels each!

Photos will be inserted here when they become available!

I packed up Thursday night and drove back home (Peters Valley is about an hour from my house) and I was stunned to find my lovely daughter had put away or at least brought up to the studio all the looms and bags from the first three days I had just hurled into the garage, and I could have kissed her.  I once again, hurled all the felting debris into the garage/studio and laundry room (there were about 20 wet towels I couldn’t leave), and then I repacked for Friday.

I had already been asked to demo for Peters Valley on Friday at the state fair, which is up near the valley, so I wasn’t able to teach the 5th day of fibers, someone else did that, but I had to pack up all the demonstration stuff, inkle looms, shafts looms, and bobbin lace pillows, along with my work and a clothing rack and assorted things to sell.  Since I don’t have a computerized list like I do with classes, I had to rely on logic to think what I’d need, and considering my exhaustion, I’m not surprised that I arrived at the fair, without a shuttle or yarn for the demonstration loom.  A quick call to my husband who had left after us, showed he was almost to the fair grounds, and God bless him he turned around, drove all the way home to fetch me a shuttle and some rug warp.  Good thing too, it was the most popular thing in my booth.  I taught a number of kids to weave on my trusty Structo.

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And I taught a woman named Marge the basics of bobbin lace.  She was over the moon.  She stayed for a good half hour, so excited to understand how lace works.

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There were a number of  photos taken, but they are probably in my husband’s camera and he is now in Turkey, and I don’t have the energy to go hunt for them.  I did get a great one posted on Facebook from Gary McNabb, my wonderful friend and woodworker who was demoing for the Valley as well.

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Brianna left for Maryland for a week, to observe on my cousin’s dairy barn, and I drove Kevin to the airport on Saturday afternoon.  I wish I could say I just collapsed for a couple of days but that wasn’t to be.  There were pounds of tomatoes and beans and cucumbers from the garden waiting for me and I made spaghetti sauce, canned a dozen jars of refrigerator pickles and dried a couple trays of cherry tomatoes in the oven. I’m still hauling in produce.  I have to freeze a bunch of beans left on the vine too long.

I drove out to Passaic yesterday to pick up some yarn that had been donated to Peters Valley, so that is in my garage waiting until I next travel out there. And I spent the day packing and shipping a guitar and some care packages to my son in Qatar.  The house is finally presentable, and everything put away where it belongs from last week’s adventures, but there is no rest for the weary.  I was hoping for some lovely violent thunderstorms today, so I wouldn’t have to water but alas, the storms have split, moving around either side of us and so everything is still bone dry.  Somewhere in there I have to mow the lawn as well.

This too shall pass.  Soon it will be fall and I have six weeks straight of teaching, in six states,  followed closely by my guild sale in November.  By December I’ll be ready to sleep through the long winter.  Stay tuned…

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A Historical Perspective…

Yesterday Brianna and I headed west to volunteer for the day.  We’ve done this before, and we work well as a team, and it is fun to watch your daughter interact with the public, explain the history of looms, of weaving, of lace traditions, and take responsibility for a historic building for a day.

Every year we try(though lately we haven’t succeeded) to volunteer at least a day at a historic village on National Park Service property, this particular one, isn’t far from Peters Valley (where I’m headed this afternoon), called Millbrook Village, it sits nestled up close to the Delaware.  Millbrook sustained a considerable amount of damage from the hurricanes from hell a couple years ago. The weaving building, Hill House, dating from around 1840 or 50, survived the storms but there is a constant battle with the mice.

There is an 1850 rug loom, and a 1790 barn loom, used for demonstrations, and an assortment of four shaft and two shaft table looms set up to allow the public to try weaving.  The first thing Brianna did when we arrived, once she put on her cobbled together costume, was to try out each of the looms to familiarize herself with what was on them.  I jumped on the barn loom, and quickly figured out the rosepath pattern.

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Brianna tied herself to an old Victorian tape loom (actually a replica) and quickly figured out what was happening there, the warp was in a bit of a mess, so now it is all back the way it should be.

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The day was slow, since the NJ State Fair started this weekend, and it is just down the road.  But a Photography class from Peters Valley came by and the students and the teacher all had great fun shooting close ups of threads.

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Brianna and I used the time well, we brought many things from home to work on, including spinning and bobbin lace making.  Brianna learned the basic first pattern years ago, but never had the patience or interest to sit down and learn more.  Recently she discovered that her grandmother was in the process of making her a wedding handkerchief and was 3/4 of the way around the hankie when she put it away, getting too old to see lace or be able to do that kind of fine work anymore.  When she died in 2006 at age 99, I inherited all of her lace making pillows and equipment, and the responsibility of finishing Brianna’s hankie.  There are no weddings in the near future that I’m aware of, and Brianna may not even marry, but the hankie exists, partially completed and it is hers.  I think Brianna wants to finish the hankie herself, out of respect for her grandmother and desire to not let lacemaking die.

So she quickly mastered pattern number one.

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She quickly mastered pattern number two.

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She was rather annoyed that I didn’t bring along pattern number three to Millbrook Village, but later on in the evening, she pulled down the pillow with pattern number three, and mastered that in just a couple of repeats.  There are no words.

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We’ve pulled out all of the lace pillows I have, mine and my mother in law’s, and I could see Brianna calculating in her head, which one to tackle next.  Her time here this summer is drawing to a close, she will be spending a week in Maryland at a dairy farm,  and then head up to Massachusetts the following week to return to school, and I think she is scrambling to figure out how to fit all her new found passions in her car, along with all the rest of the stuff she brought, and what to work on in the dark days of winter when the only thing there is to do is study and watch marathon Netflix.

Brianna has done some amazing work pulling together archives and files, and organizing areas I thought I’d never get to.  The latest task was to take a huge bag of yarn reelings, that had been dyed with food grade dyestuffs, like Kool-aid, and Easter Egg Dye and organize it by color in a binder with formulas.  She is a great sleuth, and deciphered all the little scrawled pieces of paper from students that went with each sample.

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The end result is a terrific reference.

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My son heads to the middle east this week after a month training in El Paso.  My husband is scheduled to leave for Istanbul the end of next week, for a month, but that can change at any time.  I’m heading out in an hour or so, with 14 frame looms, 14 full size inkle looms, and 14 Structo four shaft looms, to teach weaving to a group of High School students at Peters Valley.  Bri got all the looms up and working, made all the kits, wound all the warps, and actually figured out how to fit it all in the car.  I will miss her terribly when she is gone, she is a great worker and wherever she ends up in life, they will be really lucky to have her…

And the produce continues to pour in from my generous gardens, my husband did an outstanding job this year, (like father like daughter?), and if he does indeed head to Turkey for a month, I’ll really really miss him too.  This little farmstead we have is not a one person job I can assure you.  I might have to investigate which one of my son’s friends is around to bribe with ham sandwiches…

Stay tuned…

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Under the Arch…

I just returned from yet another amazing weekend.  I’m always surprised at how I can experience something and think that I’ve hit nirvana, and then the next experience is even better.  I’m really lucky that way.  I work hard, and don’t always get awarded for that, no one is on a regular basis, but now and then, the planets align, and I know that I’ve done well and that I’m happy with where life is taking me.

StLouisArchI just returned from the American Sewing Guild Conference, this year it was held in St. Louis.  My hotel room window had a great view of the arch.  The conference moves around the country, and is an annual event, unlike weaving conferences.  There were somewhere between 600-700 people, I wasn’t sure of the exact count, and we all dine together in the hotel for breakfast and lunch, with main events like the fashion show and the keynote address happening during the lunch session.  Actually class workshops and seminars happen throughout the day, some are 1 1/2 – 2 or 3 hours, and there are half day and full day workshops as well.  Even though I taught four seminars/workshops, I still got to take four classes as well.  I always learn something, and burn a little plastic in the vendor hall.  There is always a new sewing tool I need to have…

I worked really hard on one of my presentations, harder and longer than I’ve ever worked on one.  I talked about it all throughout this year, and I thought it was tight and thorough.  I had a couple of trusted friends proof it, and other than spelling Michael Kor’s name wrong, (as the designer of a jacket of mine that had a bagged lining), (I spelled it like the ice cream establishment at the Jersey shore, Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard), I felt pretty confident.

My first class was a Master class in making bound buttonholes.  The class filled, I had 18 students making rectangular and triangular buttonholes and the window for the back facing.  They had little kits, thanks to my efficient daughter, and they all worked step by step for four hours.  Honestly, though I adore the process, I wasn’t sure how many others would share my passion for couture precision, but I heard at the end comments like, “That was the best class I’ve ever taken”, and “I had so much fun!”  I heard further comments later on in the weekend from those who were rooming with people from the class and who had dinner with them, watching their enthusiasm passing around their samples.  And the senior editor for Sew News Magazine sat in on the class as well and we talked about a possible article as a follow up.  Pretty heady stuff.

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My next class was of course, my old standby, “Weave your Own Trim”.  I shipped 20 inkle looms to St. Louis, and all the kits.  I taught the 20 students, another full class, how to set up the inkle loom for a simple trim, and then use supplemental weft for effects to make trim for things like a Chanel Jacket.  My article in Threads Magazine is coming out in the next issue. They all did amazing work, and 15 looms were sold, an additional two went out later in the day, so there are 17 new inkle loom weavers out there with looms!  I’m proud.  I did  not take a single photo, too busy running around trouble shooting, but the ASG photographer kindly let me have one of their photos, of me curled up on the floor trying to demonstrate how to get good selvedges on one of the student’s looms.

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I managed to take a few classes, with Louise Cutting, on Insider Designer Techniques, Ann St. Clair on sewing without a muslin, Sandy Miller on techniques for the white shirt, and an absolutely fantastic class by Sarah Veblen on Understanding Knits.  We got a stack of 23 different types of knits and she explained knit construction in an amazingly thorough way, and I can now tell the difference between an interlock and a jersey, and I can assure you there is a difference!

I taught a somewhat risky class on Saturday, called What Went Wrong.  It was risky because I had no idea what the participants would bring in terms of problems and questions.  But I had suitcase full of examples and garments that explained different techniques, my extensive repertoire of PowerPoint presentations, and a handful of my monographs, and I was able to talk for the three hour class covering things they hadn’t even known to ask.  One of the Threads Magazine editors sat in on that class.  One of the things I had to get use to at ASG conferences, this is my 5th, was that sewing magazine editors scout around for article ideas, from many of the classes taught.  My Threads and Sew News articles have come as a direct result of teaching at this conference.

Saturday night I had dinner with Sarah McFarland, the Editor of Threads Magazine, and an assistant Editor Dana Finkle, the one who sat in on my class, and it was wonderful to talk about future contributions I might make to the magazine, and I shared my Behind the Front Lines handout with them, even though I hadn’t yet given the class.  There was a lot of great conversation, and about three quarters of the way through the meal, we all found ourselves glued to the large window where we sat, overlooking the main drag in downtown St. Louis, as some 350 naked bike riders came peddling down the street.  Apparently as the waiter explained, this is an annual event in St. Louis, growing larger ever year, and Bike Naked St. Louis featured all ages, men and women, all shapes and sizes, happily biking down the streets of St. Louis  completely naked.  It was a sight to behold…

Sunday morning I gave my final presentation, Behind the Front Lines, the class I’ve worked on for months.  I covered Underlinings, Interlinings, Linings, Interfacings, and Facings.  We covered a lot in two hours.  I raced to get it all in at the end, and I really wished for another hour, but again, I had great response to the class, and I was really proud of the job I’d done.

There were of course some real highlights to the weekend, the keynote speaker was Nancy Zieman, for those who don’t sew, Nancy has been a television personality for more years than I can count, with her show on PBS, Sewing with Nancy.  And many of you may know her as the Nancy in Nancy’s Notions.  She has an autobiography out, Seams Unlikely and I was actually about 20% through reading it on my Kindle when I got to hear her tell her story, with some hilarious photos, and it was one of those top ten moments in my sewing career.

The Weaver’s Guild of St. Louis actually had a large booth in the vendor hall, first time I’ve seen a weaving group participate like this.  They had many items for sale, and constant demonstrations of weaving, spinning and tapestry.  And of course this is a hot bed for Card Weaving!  Yes, I had dinner with John Mullarkey Wednesday night when I flew in.  We talked bands…

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And my roommate, whom I’ve only known through the vendor hall, was the rep for Sulky Threads, and what an amazing wealth of knowledge she is.  Suzy and I never stopped talking, and we felt so similarly in our passion for fine sewing, she is the expert in threads and needles. In our conference tote bag, there was a sample of Sulky’s 12 weight cotton thread, a beautiful thread designed for surface work but perfect for fine inkle loom bands.  A 50 yard spool costs about a dollar and a half, and the cotton comes in 66 colors and 14 blendables.  Unlike a variegated, blendables are engineered to not repeat themselves so colors don’t pool.  Who knew?  Well what could I do?  There was a terrific show price on the box of all 80 spools, so I had to order one.  I’m dying to try a band on the inkle loom from Sulky’s 12 weight cotton, I already have a Paired Pebble example on one of my looms out of Wonderfil 12 weight cotton and I love working with it.

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I also finally bought, two pair of Kai shears.  They’ve been on my bucket list forever, and I had the opportunity to actually feel them in my hands, and see how they cut, and they just had to come home with me.  One of the pairs was serrated, which keeps slinky knits from jumping away as you cut.

And on the flight home Sunday night, I had this view to look at for most of the trip.  It was hard to capture on a cell phone, but the rainbow band of vivid color as the sun set and the night sky enfolded the ribbon in darkness, was breathtaking.

Sunset

I’m of course playing catch up this week, bills and paperwork, trouble shooting emails, and prepping for the next adventure, I leave next Sunday night to return to Peters Valley to teach fibers to high school students for four days.  My daughter has been prepping 14 frame looms, 14 inkle looms, and 14 shaft looms. And we won’t discuss the produce that was waiting for me on the counter when I arrived.  I’ve managed to make large bowls of cole slaw, Taboulleh, 8 more jars of refrigerator pickles, beet salad, and pickled cucumbers. I’m tired but very very happy…

Stay tuned…

 

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