Last Thursday through Sunday was an annual event that takes place in NJ, called the Wool Walk. I have not participated in the past. I don’t know why…
Most of the state’s yarn shops get together and put out promo materials and remain open for four days (many regularly close on Sundays but remained open for this event). NJ isn’t that big, so it is entirely possible to actually visit all 14 shops on the list. The furthest shops are only a couple of hours apart. It is a very cool idea. I have not participated in the past. I don’t know why…
Actually, I admit, although reluctantly, that I’ve never been in a single one of the local yarn shops in the state of NJ, except the Woolery in South Jersey, where I taught so many years ago I can’t actually remember, but not since then. I live about two hours away.
A friend sent me the information and the list of participating local yarn shops. I looked over the list and put it aside. I’m too focused on prepping for my trip Sunday to even ponder this…
I was tidying up my inbox and the list came up again. I looked over the list again, and noted to self that there was a yarn shop, unknown to me, called Trillium, in Morristown, right behind the Century 21 department store, about two blocks from where I practice with my recorder consort every Sunday. The shop isn’t open on Sunday’s usually, but for this event, it was. I decided that in the spirit of things, it would take me five minutes to walk over and check it out, and this followed me home. The shop was completely charming and Beverly was a delight.
Frog Tree Llambrosia Llama
It was 20% off. And I’ve never knitted with Llama. And there were nine balls.
Let me just mention here that I don’t know the area yarn shops, not because I’m a yarn snob or a yarn.com Webs junkie. I travel the country for my job. And it is not unusual to visit a local yarn shop on the road. And it isn’t unusual for things to follow me home because the sale bins always call to me. I always raid the sale shelf at Sievers when I first arrive for teaching, and grab whatever makes sense I know I’ll use. It is the way I replenish the stash. I do this with fabric stores as well. I NEVER shop for a project. Except once when I was traveling and had finished off what I brought to knit. I was just getting back into knitting and the shop in Mississippi sold me my first and only sock pattern, the yarn and needles, and I’ve managed 12 pairs of socks since that fateful day.
Instead, when I enter a fabric store or yarn shop, I look at the sale wall. It narrows down the possibilities for me exponentially. I get way too overwhelmed looking at thousands of yarns/fabrics, and where does one actually begin. So it isn’t unusual for me to buy an entire bin of remnants when I’m in a fabric store, I’ll figure out later what I’m going to do with them. And I do. Really. It is the way I like to design, pull something out and figure out what it goes with and what I can make with it. So the Llama goes into the stash (I have almost no knitting stash to speak of, I’m using the last of the yarn I bought last September at Sievers, well ahead of schedule). As a matter of fact, I finally finished the Drops First Lady skirt I started the end of last year. Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. I’m knitting up the last three skeins of Blue Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool into a summer tank. Should be finished by the time I arrive in Seattle on Sunday.
Anyway, I digress…
So I remembered that there was a really well known knitting shop, also on the list, about 10 miles east in Madison called The Blue Purl. It was a lovely day for a drive, and well, it made no sense to not at least look at the place.
And then this happened…
Shibui Heichi Silk in Trail and Brownstone
When I realized that the yarn from the sale wall was actually nearly 40% off, I went back over and added this.
Shibui Heichi Silk in Spore
And when I got home, I found a freebee skein in a little package with the Blue Purl label on it, tucked into my shopping bag. J’adore.
Tristan Viscose and Linen
So now I’m merely another 11 miles from a yarn shop in Summit called Wool and Grace. How could I not?
I loved the shop, a beehive of activity, and then I spotted the baskets by the window seat in the front. 50% off… There was nothing to be done but pull out my slightly smoking Mastercard…
I bought this…
Rowan Alpaca Colour in Iron
Rowan Alpaca Colour in Topaz
And then this…
Rowan Fine Art Sock Yarn in Maple
Most likely I’ll end up weaving with that yarn.
I’m sure it is pretty obvious I had a fantastic day, and came scurrying home with my little treasures, and have been dreaming of what to knit with all these beauties. The silk is already spoken for… I have the C2Knit patterns pulled and I’ll be balling up at least one group shortly because well I’ll be doing a lot of traveling the next ten days, and I expect there will be time to knit. Summer is coming…
The operative word here is had…
So I’m heading out of town in exactly 10 days. The pressure is on. I am reasonably sure I have enough time to accomplish everything I had set out to do, and prep everything I needed to prep by the deadline, which is actually well before the 10 days, since everything for the workshops must get shipped out at least a week in advance. Travel time to the pacific northwest. From NJ.
Plus I wanted to finish the run of scarves so I could take a couple with me.
Four down and one more to go!
So if I am able to get everything I need to for the workshops ready to go, and shipped out, and all the stupid computer work I have to do as well, that will give me a week to do something fun.
Everything is printed and bound…
Everything is cut and packaged… (I actually hired someone to help)
So I’m in good shape right?
See there is this exhibit I want to enter. The deadline is May 1st. But I’m leaving on the 24th. So my deadline is much earlier since whatever I want to enter, I actually haven’t made yet. And so it has to be made and then photographed and then images culled and uploaded, you get the idea…
The exhibit has different categories, of course clothing is one of them. Since this is an annual exhibit I already sent them for the exhibit last year all the cool stuff I did from two years ago, took a couple of awards, and last year was so god awful busy that I didn’t make any new work I would want to exhibit. But I have yardage. I have some pretty cool yardage. And yardage is also a category. It isn’t my preference to enter yardage, obviously I like to make garments and to me yardage is just a vehicle. Not an end product.
But I had a plan.
I have this tartan I wove last December, which I’ve showed in the blog already.
And I have these absolutely gorgeous three caviar leather lambskins, in a plum brown. The photos from my cell phone can’t nearly do it justice. I thought they would be splendid together.
I searched through patterns and came up with this idea of creating a trench with leather side panels, welts, collar and underarms. I did a quick layout and I think it can work. I had it all planned out. I even found a yard of gorgeous raw silk that would give me bias and pocket linings, since I hadn’t planned to line the coat. I cut the pattern out and am ready to test in muslin.
Then my sister came to visit last night. This sister lives a couple hours away from me, and last visited me for Thanksgiving. She happened to be in the area for a gardening event. She is big into gardening and floral design, but knows nothing about weaving, or fibers, can’t knit and doesn’t want to, and knows just enough to run up a hem on the sewing machine.
So I brought her into the studio to show her the current crop of yardage, ending with my pièce de résistance, the tartan and the leather.
First I showed her the yardage that just came off the loom. This is the handdyed raw silk twill with the bamboo weft. I have about 5 yards.
Then I showed her the handdyed ikat warp I pulled off the loom a month or two ago. She loved that one.
Then I showed her the tartan. She sort of shrugged and said, “Eh, it’s OK”. I was crushed.
Then I showed her the leather.
She picked up the leather and put it with the ikat and said, “No, it needs to go with that one.”
Damn. She was right.
I was crushed…
And the raw silk fabric, that was pretty obvious it had to go with the raw silk twill with the bamboo weft.
And so, I had a plan, and my lovely opinionated sister shot it down and she was absolutely right, though now I have no plan as to what I can do with this yardage before I leave on the 24th.
I rooted through my stash a bit more and found a little under a yard of gorgeous camel, the perfect color for the tartan. Not sure if there is enough to still do the trench. But I found this gorgeous fabric on the shelf I could possibly use as a lining.
The problem is here that I need more time to mull all this over. I can just enter the yardage and either it will get in or it won’t. It isn’t what I had hoped, but I love all three pieces and I love the course correction and now have to let everything age just a bit more…
It will all be good in the end. You just can’t rush genius…
I’ve been home for more than four months. Except for a weekend getaway back in January to my sister’s cabin in the Catskills, and a weekend in March when we went to Orlando, I have been in my house, in through the winter, holed up in my studio, hard at work.
I like my house. I like my town. I like getting into NYC when I can. I like the guilds near me. I like the knitting group in the library in the next town over. I like having my family with me. I play music, on my own and with a consort. We had a performance this morning. I like my life.
There is a lot to keep me here, keep me busy, really I don’t ever have to leave. I can walk to the grocery store, shop online, have more stash than God so don’t even have to leave the studio to have yarn and fabric and art and craft supplies, and things to entertain me and make me think. I download my books on Kindle, and there is more than enough to take up the few hours we are given each day. I can even walk to the yoga class in town twice a week.
You won’t hear a complaint from me. Unfortunately, my job requires that I leave my little nest sometimes. A lot of the time actually. And when I do go away, there are days of prep and focus, and then of course days of reentry when I’m finished. It is always good to come home. Last year I was gone way too much. This year promises to be a bit better. I turned down some work because I need to be home more than I was last year. For my sanity.
Once in awhile I have to go on a solo adventure, which doesn’t involve getting on a plane, being picked up on the other end, and standing in front of a class for 2 days, or 3, 5 days or 7. Thursday, I was asked to jury a fiber show at a place in Philadelphia called The Plastic Club. I will say that the name was off putting, what does fiber have to do with plastic, although we used a lot of it when I was in college in the 70’s. I met the exhibition chair last summer while I was teaching at Peters Valley, but I didn’t know her affiliation with the group at the time, I had never heard of the group.
So I get in the car, and figure out how to sync up my current read on the Kindle, to the audio version, to play through my car speakers while I had my trusty GPS take me down the NJ Turnpike, across Southern NJ, over the Ben Franklin Bridge and into center city Philadelphia. I found a parking garage, and with my printed email I looked for the restaurant where I was to meet Susan. It is about a 2 hour trip depending on traffic, and I arrived at lunch time. Can I say there was a little bit of a fist pumping yes moment when I rounded the corner and there was the sign for the restaurant? I did it. All by myself. I got there, and found where I needed to be, and was pretty proud of myself. I remembered sort of where I parked the car, and was really proud of myself for remembering that the parking ticket from the garage has the address of the garage on it!
I had lunch with the most wonderful woman, we talked like old friends about all kinds of things, life as an artist, science fiction vs. historical fiction, books, travels, adventures, it was like I’d known her forever. Eventually we got around to talking about The Plastic Club. I have to say right up front, I’m blown away. The Club, apparently was started in 1897, at a time when Women were not permitted to participate in guilds or clubs, especially the Philadelphia Sketch Club, two doors down.
The old section of Philadelphia is famous for its tiny alleys, with cobblestone streets, and its very old buildings, many still serving their original function. This is the front of the Plastic Club.
So the Plastic Club dates to 1897, before there was such a thing as plastic. I looked up the definition of plastic, and it is pretty wonderful, the plastic we know today took its name from that term. The word plastic dates back to 17th century,
(of substances or materials) easily shaped or molded.
“rendering the material more plastic”
(in art) of or relating to molding or modeling in three dimensions, or producing three-dimensional effects.
(in science and technology) of or relating to the permanent deformation of a solid without fracture by the temporary application of force.
offering scope for creativity.
“the writer is drawn to words as a plastic medium”
The website for The Plastic Club has this to say about the origin of the club’s name.
The name ” Plastic Club,” suggested by Blanche Dillaye, referred to any work of art unfinished, or in a “plastic” state. The term also refers to the changing and tactile sense of painting and sculpture.
Started as a Women’s group, the club began to accept men as members in 1991. They make up about half the membership. Susan said there were over 200 members. They have classes, life drawing models regularly available, exhibits, and all media is represented.
So this month, they are putting on a Fiber Show.
And I was asked to be the juror. It was a mixed show, meaning that the show was open to outside the membership and everything submitted was hung. All areas of the fiber arts were represented, weaving, dyeing, surface design, bobbin lace, basketry, quilting, silk painting, soft sculpture, fabric college, crochet, and a slew of other fiber media including something called Gyotaku, which is Japanese Fish Printing (Google Gyotaku Fish Printing images, your jaw will drop on the ground), and I had to pick awards from all that. It was an interesting show, and I really enjoyed myself, and I was finished, and back on the road by 4 in the afternoon.
Fearing a slow slog home in rush hour, my GPS happily took me around traffic in a convoluted way home, but I never once sat in any kind of back up for the next two hours which is pretty remarkable considering I left Philadelphia, crossed NJ, traveled the turnpike north and crossed back west, getting me to Morristown by 6pm.
I stopped for a bite to eat at a Panera, and then headed over to an opening at the Morris Museum, in Northern NJ, not far from where I live. There was a basketry exhibit opening there and one of my weaving guild members reached out to a bunch of us to attend.
I was blown away. If you live within 200 miles of this museum, try hard to get here. I think the show is there until mid-June. The Title for the exhibit is Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers. The show was curated by Browngrotta Arts, an unbelievably amazing fine craft gallery in CT, and by a woman whose name I can’t remember and it isn’t on the website, but she was a former curator for the Renwick. The baskets in the show were all from natural materials, all different kinds of assembly techniques, but all wonderful, powerful, contemporary, and breathtaking. I hung out until the place closed, chatting with one of the curators at the Morris Museum. I apologize for the poor photos, I was too busy looking at the exhibit to waste time photographing and you can see by the one blurry photo it was really crowded.
I came home, swimming with excitement, ideas, inspiration, and pride for managing to accomplish all I had done, and making it back home to my nest.
So, even though I think I can curl up in my little nest and never leave, the one thing that is critical to what I do and who I am, is to get out of my little nest once in while, and see something of that great big world we live in. See how others create, how others invent, how others keep themselves sharp and focused, see what others use as inspiration. One can’t create in a vacuum, no matter how colorful and full of yarn and fabric that vacuum is.
I’m happy to report, especially to all of you who are sick to death of me reporting on the progress of my class sample jacket overhaul project, that I have finished the sample jackets, all 21 of them. I have a clean master copy of each of the 15 pattern pieces, and now have to make three copies of each of them, and then I’ll be done with this project unless they don’t work, and then it is back to the drawing board. I leave in three weeks, and part of me can’t wait, and part of me is scared to death to actually see how these updated patterns work. I’ve also redone all the handouts and have to start printing to get ready for shipping, which has to be done in the next week or two, since it takes about a week to get to the Pacific Northwest from NJ.
And I’ve woven three of the five scarves on this warp. Finally.
And I’m percolating an idea for the tartan yardage…
I’m slowly plodding along with the remake of all my class jacket samples. I have only four jackets remaining and my poor machine and I can’t wait. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read the last post.
I’ve had a good long break from teaching, and that has been needed and wanted. I think I’ve been incredibly productive, but really, there is never enough time to do all that you outline in your head when you wake up in the morning. Like Daily Goals, not to be confused with Monthly Goals, Goals for the Next Hour, Goals for the Year, Goals for the five months I’ll be home from teaching… I’m sort of a goal setter, or list maker, and I just get the most incredible amount of joy when I cross something off the list. On really oppressive days, when the tasks are not quickly crossed off, I’ll add silly things like, Eat Lunch. That sounds stupid, but it serves a two fold purpose, makes me remember to eat, and gives me something to cross off that isn’t oppressive. And when I wake up to a slew of inquiries, from venues, students, potential students, former students and people who do a Google search and come up with my name, a good chunk of my morning is in old fashioned correspondence. This venue needs materials list information, that venue needs updated press photos. This venue wants proposals for 2018, that student needs information on how much yardage to weave, what fiber and what sett… You get the idea…
Anyway, that wasn’t actually a complaint. I get to cross emails off the list much more quickly than say, “Make 9 Daryl Jacket samples…”
In between there, I am usually working on an article for a magazine. This past year I’ve been involved in a series of Essential Techniques Articles for Threads, a beloved publication of mine, I have every issue and have enjoyed every one. I have hard copies of each issue, as well as 1985 – 2012 on DVD, and 1985 – 2015 on USB Flash. I subscribe to the online Threads Archive, and Threads Insider. And I use them. Of course when I started to write articles for them, I was especially thrilled. I’ve written for a number of magazines, and though Madelyn van der Hoogt was the most wonderful person to write for, and my 6 years as Features Editor of Handwoven Magazine one of my top ten professional experiences, I really enjoy writing for Threads. My immediate editor Carol is super to work with, and she is also a weaver, go figure. And Threads is thorough and exacting in its styling for articles, its editorial department, and its layouts. There is a color theme set for each issue to make the magazine look more cohesive. Who knew?
So I took a welcome break from the stack of Daryl Jackets, and piles of old sheets, and I started to make a sample for my latest Essential Techniques Article for Threads, this one on Inserting the Perfect Lining, (by hand of course) for the October/November 2016 issue. The editors at Threads decided, for the garment sample for the article, that it should coordinate with the chosen palette for the issue, and that the fabric should come from Mood. If you are a Project Runway Fan, you will know about Mood. I’ve been there a number of times myself, it is just across the Hudson River in NYC, but to have a package arrive with a generous amount of wool with a viscose satin splashy lining from Mood was just too much fun. I glared at the pile every time I cut out another Daryl Jacket out of sheets.
The pattern is Butterick 6169. Youthful and fresh. The basic motorcycle jacket. Each front piece is actually three sections so matching the stripes was a bit of a challenge, but I’m so happy with it that I want to make one for me. I can’t keep this one because it was made in a tiny size for the model. The lining is a wonderful pop of color!
The manuscript is complete, right on schedule, (due this week but I’ll be with my husband all day tomorrow at the chemo center, and I’ll be judging a show in Philadelphia all day Thursday) and that my dear readers means that I have three weeks until I start traveling again, less because class prep starts shortly with printing monographs and handouts, and cutting pattern paper and interfacings, because those have to be shipped out in the next two weeks to arrive on time on Whidbey Island. I have a five day garment construction intensive followed by a three day vest class for an adjacent guild. And then I’m only home about 10 days and I’m out again to Eugene Textile Center and Fiber in the Forest, followed by a cruise to Alaska with my husband. We are crossing our fingers he will be well enough to make the trip. And then it is summer season, conferences, and the prep for the fall, when September looks to be a repeat of last year. I basically wasn’t home.
So it has been a productive few months. Not a lot to show you dear readers, but nevertheless, really productive for me, the fruits of my labor won’t really start to show until I start using all these jackets in the classroom. I still have about 4 dozen patterns to duplicate, but we tackle this one day at a time, one item on the list at a time. And now I’ll go cross off, “Write a blog post” from my list. And then start cutting out another Daryl jacket…
I know it has been awhile. Not that I haven’t been busy or anything…
My husband’s illness is in a holding pattern while he receives the next round of chemo. He feels much better in general than he did last fall when he couldn’t eat or drink anything and ended up in the ER numerous times. He is more mobile with this round of chemo, so we are taking advantage of my actually being home for once and trying to do things together, things we haven’t done before. Though we both hop on planes all the time, or at least he use to (note he finally achieved million mile status on United three months before his cancer diagnosis), he wanted to get outta “dodge” so to speak, so we hopped on a plane about 10 days ago and went to Florida.
It was a lovely and memorable couple of days, including a trip to Kennedy Space Center, neither one of us has ever been, and we actually got to see a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch, which had been postponed five times before it took off without incident the day we were there. We also saw the Atlantis space shuttle in its final home, and saw some incredible images and some incredible things, and learned some amazing stuff that I never knew about the space program, its history and its future.
We headed over to West Palm to visit a couple who are probably my oldest friends, and saw a production of Curtains, a murder mystery within a stage production, where my friend had a minor role. We got to see the matinee after lunch in their lovely home on the intercoastal, and then met them again for dinner on the Atlantic Ocean in Delray Beach. The “Tower” for four and the watermelon salad were worth the trip to Florida. And I got to wear my newly reworked skirt and the cotton shell I knit last season. (C2Knits Zoe Tee)
I spent a lot of time on the plane, in the airport lounge and in the car from Orlando to West Palm and back. I decided to take something small to knit, and I managed to use up all my bits of fat cotton and linen balls, and ended up with seven new dishcloths. The guy next to me on the plane, the bass guitar player for a rock band coming home from a gig in Daytona Beach, just kept shaking his head as he watched me knit my dishcloths from odd bits of yarn. He had a new respect for household textiles and the wacky women and men who make them…
Today we got to do something really fun, we got a backstage tour of a wonderful theater, the Papermill Playhouse, where we have had season tickets for probably 30 years. We have never been on the other side of the curtain, and the tour was amazing. Subscribers are always invited to a behind the scenes tour in the spring between shows, and this is the first time my husband and I have been in the same state at the same time to actually attend. That’s me in the knit sweater…
Meanwhile, I’m actually doing work in the studio. Really. But it isn’t anything exciting or showy or will get 150 likes on Facebook.
For those who have never taken a class with me, and actually for those that have, I use a jacket pattern that I’ve had for years for my classes. It was tweaked from my production patterns in the 1980’s when I sold jackets and coats at craft fairs in the northeast. I have a master pattern with many copies, and my sizing is all my own, illustrated in colors, so there is no reference with current ready to wear sizing which is so inconsistent that it isn’t even worth trying to mimic.
My patterns get pretty worn and marked up and every few years I take the time and recopy everything. The problem is that over the years, I’ve wanted to tweak a couple things, adjust sizing, add a size or two because bodies are changing, really, and if I make any kind of adjustment to the master pattern, I have to recopy 20 pattern pieces or so, and make all new samples. Right now I travel with 13 different jackets, a half dozen vests and now that I offer the tunic, I think there are a half dozen of them as well. All of them are made from commercial fabrics, some of which are weighty and take up a lot of room in the suitcase, and create a dilemma for workshop participants trying to compare one size to another since the fabrics are so different.
Since I was about to recopy the patterns anyway, and the sizes and details needed to be tweaked, and I needed to change the colors of the sizes I use, orange is now purple and purple replaces the cyan blue which always faded to the same color blue as the real blue, confusing students, and there was also the need to be able to create a princess seam jacket from one of my designs for people who have narrow handpainted warps where a full back or front can’t be cut from one width of fabric, my entire repertoire of patterns needed to go through a massive rewrite. It was long overdue. I’ve been diligently working behind the scenes since early January, reworking my jacket patterns and testing them, and ultimately making all new samples. In sheets.
Yep, we came across a windfall of pretty colored sheets and they are light weight, consistent in fabric, and hold their shape really well so they stay true to the pattern even after many many try-ons by students. I think I’ve made close to a dozen jackets at this point and many more to come…
In addition to all this, in a quest to have more variety, I went back to my old production silhouettes from the 1980’s (did you know that 1980’s styles are really fresh and current? I can’t even…), and looked at this jacket from 1987. I liked the shawl collar which is an add on, not unlike the band I usually use, but a little more complicated. They take more fabric, and more time to install, and I’m always cognizant of the three day time limit I have in a jacket class, so I spent some time working out that pattern as an add on.
Which meant I had to write directions.
And while I was at it, I needed to rewrite the original jacket directions because my illustrations are way better than those early attempts with Microsoft Draw and I never spent the time to get really good with Adobe Illustrator. Even though I’ve owned it for 20 years. There is nothing like a hand drawn illustration to get the point across.
I’m very happy with the edits and redrafts of the patterns, and so far the jackets have been successful on the friends who have tried them on. I’m fortunate that my daughter is a completely different size and build than me, so she is always recruited to try on a jacket. Even my weekly walking partner Sherrie had to try on a jacket before we set out on our regular hike down the Boulevard in Mountain Lakes.
I won’t really know how successful I am until I actually use all these in a class. The goal is more variety, without making participants crazy with too many choices. (But you know that’s going to happen). I hate when a guild contacts me for a workshop and says they want a jacket class but there are only six new members who haven’t taken the class before and what else can I offer for those who’ve made a jacket already… Well there is the tunic…
I’ll eventually finish making all the samples and making copious copies of all my master patterns… Meanwhile guild meeting tomorrow and the accountant comes on Tuesday.