Nothing but gratitude…

I printed the last of the handouts and monographs, bound the last of the handouts and monographs, cut and packaged the last of the interfacings and pattern paper and filled the boxes.  The last load is ready for shipping for my month on the road.  I did it.  I really did it.

There are small personal triumphs we experience in life, as anyone who has ever done anything with their hands can understand.  It may seem insignificant to someone else, even a family member, but to us, they are the things that make us smile and say to ourselves, “You did good.”  Prepping for ten days in Colorado, preceded by a weekend in NC, which was moved to tomorrow because of weather, followed by a month on the west coast has been the hardest thing I’ve ever prepped for.  You can’t know how much ink I went through, how many reams of paper, how many hundreds of yards of interfacing and pattern paper I’ve cut.  My daughter helped a bit last week when she was home, but mostly I did this alone.

I have of course that real fear that I’ve printed the wrong handout for the wrong group, or that I didn’t print the right amount or that I sent the wrong box to the wrong person.  Or that a box won’t make it.  These are the things that keep me awake at night.  That and flights that go haywire, missing bags, the usual stuff that makes a frequent traveler nuts.  This is where I relax, breathe deep, open the wine and say, “It is what it is, and I’ve done my best.”  The rest is out of my hands.

But the gods smiled on me today, I got finished what I needed to complete before getting on a plane tomorrow.  This photo represents the second half of the April trip, everything that has to go to Washington State.  I shipped the California stuff out yesterday.  More than $125 in shipping costs, a couple of monster boxes, and a lot of hours of work.  So this all goes to poor Judy in Olympia WA.  Each box is for a different guild, I had spread sheets and cross checks and rechecks and if I made a mistake, I’m sorry.  You’ll still learn something.


And so, I’m off to pack, and have a glass of wine, and work on my sweater.  I did well.

Stay tuned…


Pure Chaos…

I knew that my life this spring would be completely unmanageable and I was right, but I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other and get through it.  It will soon be May, and that will bring an entirely different set of challenges, and such is my life, though truth be told, I’m not sure I would want it any other way.

It seems like such a long time ago, the North Carolina trip was postponed a month because of snow in Raleigh Durham, and in fact I fly there next week.  I kept a watchful eye on the weather for my trip to Colorado, and of course, another storm was brewing, affecting my area, and I hightailed it out of Dodge a day early.  I called Maggie from Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins in Boulder and said, “Put the kettle on, I’m on my way…”

I made it to Denver airport uneventfully, the way I like my life, (giggle… not possible), and that left me with a day to play. Coming from the airport, winter weary, Maggie and Judy took me out to eat at the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House.  There was green stuff.  Both the kind you eat and the kind that makes lovely Oxygen.



The icicles in Boulder were pretty awesome… (though they were actually gone completely after only a couple of days of sun).


Maggie drove me around to all the area fiber haunts in Boulder, and there are many and one of my two favorites of course, was the tour I got of Schacht Spindle and Loom company.  I can’t believe I’ve never been here.  Barry Schacht couldn’t have been more accommodating, and I got a private tour of the facility.  I am soooo impressed with their manufacturing operation.  It was clean, and safe, and used the most up to date technology, and it ran like a tight ship.


And of course, my favorite fabric store in the whole world, since Waechter’s Silk Shop in Asheville closed…  Elfriede’s Fine Fabrics.  I did very serious damage to my credit card.  Her remnant bins are too great to resist.  I had to pay $50 just to ship it all home.  All for the stash.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise…  Now if I could be home long enough to sew some of it…


And finally, I started my class in Boulder at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins.  Which in itself is just the most wonderful fiber shop.  The classroom space was ideal.


The class was very social, even with those who were from out of town.  We had two women fly in from Texas, and one come up from New Mexico.


And they worked really really hard.  Some of the fabrics were challenging to say the least…  (Note to my readers who weave…  Sett 8/2 tencel at 36 epi for garment yardage, NOT 24!)


And slowly, we began to get real jackets.  Full of pins and basting and tailor’s tacks, but they couldn’t have been more excited. These were all handwoven.


Though these are commercial fabrics, I just couldn’t resist a photo of Jamie and Stephanie, they were too adorable!


And dear Krista from Texas.  Already an accomplished garment and pattern maker, she brought her grandmother, and they both were so much fun to have in the class.  Krista would disappear to her hotel room at night, and rework her jacket, redesigning it, and figuring out ways to personalize, customize and make the rest of the students envious.  Her latest plan as the class ended, was to remove the band, recut, and add in-seam bound buttonholes (after my closures lecture), and piping, along with welt pockets.  And so she did…  And yet, she told me that she learned soooo  much.  It was great to bounce ideas off of someone so knowledgeable.  She reminded me of me when I was that age.


The final class photo was amazing…


I managed to squeeze in two guild lectures for the Boulder Guild before heading south to Pueblo.  The night I finished up in Boulder, I didn’t sleep a bit, awake the whole night, sensing that something was amiss.

Turns out I was getting sick… :-(

I haven’t been sick in so many years, I can’t even remember.  Which is a really good thing, but boy did I feel like crap.  Turns out it was just a nasty head cold, and I probably infected everyone in my next class, but they were good sports, as there is no calling in sick when you are a teacher on the road.

Another classroom space that was spacious and well lit.  Makes such a difference. Thank you Handweavers of Pueblo…


Many of the fabrics the participants brought in were from the woven fabric stash of a guild member who has since passed on to that yarn shop in the sky.  It was a great testament to know that when you die, your stash gets absorbed by people who can use it and celebrate your life the whole time they are cutting up your fabric. I didn’t keep track of who wove what, but my lovely class of 13 made some pretty cool vests.


The final class photo was also amazing…


And so I’m home, starting to recover, not stopping to rest one minute because I have such a tight turnaround before I head to North Carolina for my rescheduled class, and then on to California, Washington, and BC for a month.

To top it off, my lovely fun and wonderful daughter came home a couple days ahead of me, for spring break.  She has been able to help me somewhat, in between applying for jobs, internships and other opportunities, since she graduates in about 8 weeks.  She is stressed out as well and I suggested she just put one foot in front of the other like I’m doing and she looked at me and said, “…in which direction would you like me to put it?”  She started the process of bringing home what she won’t be using in the next few weeks.  Which means most of her yarns, and stash and weaving equipment.  Which all has to somehow fit back into my studio.  We spent the afternoon moving things around to fit things I thought were actually gone.  Sigh…


Both of my children should be returning back to the nest in the next six weeks or so, with all of their belongings.  I can’t wrap my head around where we will fit it all.  Sigh…

Stay tuned…


Will She or Won’t She…

Make it to Denver…

As it turns out, my heavy spring teaching schedule is starting out not so well.  Last weekend’s class in Chapel Hill NC had to be postponed at the 9th hour because Raleigh Durham got 7 inches of snow, and before you laugh and eyeroll, know that snow removal equipment in NC consists of leaf blowers.  They don’t know what rock salt is.  (Unless they retired there from the northeast to escape the snow, and I assure you no one thought to pack a couple 40 pound bags…)

I’m suppose to fly Thursday to Denver.  That’s not going to happen, since we are experiencing rain all day, and then the temps drop sharply and everything changes to snow, and then all hell breaks loose because all the melt and flooding from today’s rain will freeze over and NJ will be one giant skating rink.  And I don’t own skates…  So I’m leaving for the airport shortly, after changing my plane tickets to fly out today, hoping I have a lovely day off tomorrow sitting in Boulder Co, instead of at Newark airport.  Crossing my fingers. They are having a snow storm as I write.  I have two large and long back to back classes to teach in Colorado.  We can’t cancel.

The good news, if I make it there, is that Boulder is suppose to see 60 degrees by the weekend.  And sun.  Glorious sun.  I’m psyched…

Wish me luck…

Stay tuned…


It’s all good…

I can’t let yesterday get too far away without acknowledging the milestone.  2/22/2002.  A day in infamy.  The day of my breast cancer diagnosis.  Changed my life forever and not necessarily in a bad way.  There were many good things to come out of that dark year, and it has been many years now since I went through it.  I’m sure now, if I had to go through it again, that the treatment would be completely different, but I survived.  And I not only survived, I lived.  Another 13 years.  It was with a bit of trepidation on Friday when I went for my routine colonoscopy, so close to the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, but when I woke up from anesthesia, it was so incredible to hear, “Everything is fine”.  Same last month with my mammography and sonogram.  There is always that lurking idea in the back of your mind that all is not OK with the world.

It has been a roller coaster ride these last 13 years.  I’ve grown so much, in age and in wisdom.  I’ve reached so many more students, in so many more venues.  I’ve started this blog, which is now more than 6 years old.  Technology has changed so much, and today I did my first webinar for Weaving Today, part of a five part series on Garment Construction for Handweavers.  I heard it went well, but the real feedback has yet to come in.  If you weren’t available today for the live post, the recording will be available for download shortly.

My kids are all grown up now, they were young when I went through cancer, and I’m thrilled for the extra years to watch their journey.  I have so much to be grateful for, and they are pretty cool decent people.

I start my heavy duty spring travel on Friday, crossing my fingers that there are no travel/weather issues.  I’m heading to North Carolina where there is a spitting chance it is a touch warmer than the 0 degrees we have had here for the last month.  Wish me luck!

And the latest issue of Threads Magazine has just hit the newstand.  In it is my four page article on Staystitching, an old school sewing step that I still think is pretty critical but mostly lost on the newer generation of garment makers.  Check it out!



Stay tuned!


Nothing like a professional photo…

I’m staying indoors as much as possible.  It is pretty damn cold out there.  I know it is winter, and this is NJ, but -2 degrees?  That’s pushing it.  At least we don’t have continuing two foot snowstorms like Boston.  I can push an inch or two of snow around with a shovel.  We do have a snow blower, and I do have a husband who loves his toy, but he flies to Sweden tonight, and I’m hoping the next weather incident is mild and shovelable… (My spell-check just freaked out.  Get over it…)  I don’t do power tools.

So I spent the day Saturday ripping my studio apart, finding all kinds of lovely colored dust bunnies in places that the vacuum doesn’t reach.  I do this a couple times a year so I can do a formal photo shoot, of all works worthy of a formal photo shoot, for portfolio purposes, updating my website gallery, and of course, applying to exhibits.  It’s that time again!

I went through my closet for the pieces I knew had to be photographed and I found a couple of minor works I’d forgotten to photograph the last time around. Like this jacket from 2012.  I had created it from handwoven fabric from Jerri Shankler, part of a Potpourri exchange from my weaving guild.  We all put yarn in brown bags and swap and the recipient weaves something for the owner of the yarn.  It was all great fun and Jerri wove me this lovely crackle weave fabric  from my yarn and I used it to make a jacket for a Sew News Article back in 2013.  The trim is linen.  It is a Vogue Pattern. #2919


And then this one, which I made last year from a commercial fabric.  I needed an additional garment that featured inkle woven trim, since I teach this a lot, especially to non weavers.  And I needed a jacket for illustrating how to bag a lining in my “Behind the Front Lines” lecture I did last summer for the ASG conference.  I’m into killing as many birds as I can with one stone. (Really we need to come up with a better metaphor, those poor birds…)  The trim is inkle woven with a supplemental weft.  The pattern for the jacket is from Burda Style Magazine.  December/2013


And I decided to include one of my knitted garments that I’m real proud of.  This is the handspun I did from the leftovers of this felted jacket.  I remember spinning it during the Academy Awards last year.  It is a really modified C2Knits pattern, I know it looks nothing like the original, but I’m proud of how I incorporated Angora/Silk yarn from my stash, and made the few skeins of handspun I had last. I had about 8″ of handspun left when I was finished the sweater. To support the heavy metal buttons, I wove my own grosgrain for the underside of the button area on an inkle loom from the leftover angora/silk.


The mohair warp coat I made at the end of last year from my handwoven fabric, with some 20 hours of hand blanket stitch and crocheted edging, photographed better than I thought it would.  The joy of the color gradation on this coat is really subtle.  Most miss it at first.  I’ve already worn this coat to death, it is great for layering in sub zero temps.  It is a McCall’s pattern. #7057


And finally, the big shirt.  This is so colorful and so pretty and I’m so happy with it.  I’m patiently awaiting spring when I can start really wearing it, not mushed under 20 layers of clothing.  Unless it gets into an exhibit.  Then I won’t really be able to wear it until fall.  The pattern is a vintage 1980’s oversized shirt pattern from Burda. (Heavily modified) #6381


A productive weekend, and my studio is back together, and the photo equipment, lights, backdrop, etc. all returned to their closet.  My husband installed some lovely bright LED strip lighting under some of the cabinets in my sewing and ironing areas, and I’m happy about that.  You can’t ever have too much task lighting. And now we are getting close to the count down, when I start traveling, and I am tying up loose ends, getting ready for my first installment of the five part webinar series for Weaving Today, (next Monday 1pm EST).  I have lots to do in the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned…