Time for some heavily spiked tea…

I skipped out Thursday morning for a couple hours, to visit a fibery friend, a well respected fiber artist that is one of the most productive and prolific people I know.  I’m jealous of the time she is able to devote to her work.  We sat over a cup of tea on her deck, enjoying the outdoors, taking time to breathe.

I knew the first six months of this year were going to be challenging.  And they are.  The funny thing is, everything that’s happening is wonderful, the amount of work I have, my daughter’s graduation and subsequent move back home.  My son returning home from a 10 month middle east deployment.  My 60th birthday.  Spring planting season.  The happy birds and blooming flowers and warm days for eating outside.  Summer salads and bare feet.  None of this is really problematic, except there is only one of me, and even though I’m a true blue Gemini, which means there are at least two of me on a good day, it isn’t enough to accomplish all I want to accomplish, and be and do all I need to be and do.

And so, I sat on my butt with my friend Diane, and she listened to me with profound patience, and nodded knowingly through it all, and she didn’t try to fix anything, since there is nothing to fix.  My beloved housekeeper has lyme disease and is really struggling.  So gee, I guess I have to clean my own house.  How tough is that?  I have constant interruptions, because, gee, my lovely wonderful and talented daughter is in the next room and doing a bang up job of reconfiguring her life.  We have only had one serious meltdown so far.  That’s a record.

I’m trying to finish writing my last webinar for Weaving Today.  Part 4 airs on Monday. Part 5 isn’t until June, but I have to submit it in the next week, surely before I leave for Peters Valley on the 29th to teach my yardage class.  So the extent of my creativity today was to make a ball button and photograph it step by step.  I do really really love what I do, this is my job and I’m good at it, but there is no balance right now.  And truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing.  My son returns on Monday, and I have his room sort of vacuumed and sort of dusted, and the sheets clean, and the rest will be up to him.

I’m spending a couple hours a day weeding and cleaning up the yard and the decks.  I’ve filled so many cans for the compost pile at the dump, that we take a trailer load every couple days.  I’m literally forced to stop and smell the flowers and decide which ones stay and which ones go.  Curse you Ajuga, even if you are pretty right now.  You have infiltrated every bed we have, every plant we have, and you are choking out everything else.

The winter was hard on our house.  The ancient air conditioning system needs replacing, and we have a contract with a local company, but they can’t come until June.  Nothing to be done but patiently wait.  We need stone work.  Have to call for estimates.  We need a new roof.  We need a lot of things.  But I have what’s important.  I have my family close, or almost close, just a few more days and my son returns.  I have my health, and my work, and life is really really good, and the time to set all this aside so I can create again will return, but for now, everything has its season and I need to enjoy the moments life is giving me now, they won’t come round again quite like this.

Friday is my 60th birthday.  I’ll be teaching second graders about fiber all day in a local school district.  We are planning an open house, impromptu, the best kind, for Saturday May 23rd.  If you read this and are within shouting distance of northern NJ, please come by and help us celebrate all that is good.  Any time after 1pm, until…

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yardage on the fly…

Of course I hit the ground running when I arrived home last Tuesday.  I took care of the most pressing things, still haven’t worked through all of my emails from the month I was gone, but be patient, I’ll get to you if you are still waiting for a response from me.

Meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to finish something and get it into the closet, though it is now too warm to wear, I tweaked and added a zipper to this lovely sweater I finished up while I was in Washington State.  The yarn was a discontinued color from Elsebeth Lavold, Silky Wool, that I picked up last summer on sale at Sievers Fiber School.  I love top down sweaters because I can knit until I run out of yarn!  The pattern was from Baby Cocktails, a sweater called Vodka Lemonade.  My version is considerably longer in both length and sleeves.  And I zipped it up.


Thursday I  dove into the project for the weekend.  I had volunteered to demo all day yesterday at Peters Valley‘s annual open house, which is always a great event, opening workshop season for the Valley.  But I needed something to demo with.  If you were following my blog last year, you know I was one of the key players in restoring the looms donated to Peters Valley from a local University, they now have 11 sturdy workhorses, 8-12 shaft Macomber looms, and since I’ll be teaching a yardage class there at the end of May, it made sense to dry run the yardage class, on one of the Macomber looms, since I don’t work on them regularly.  My own looms are Tools of the Trade.  Also workhorses.  They really don’t make looms now like they did in the 1970’s!  They are solid, and heavy and you can abuse the crap out of them and they outperform anything made today.  (Not that I abuse my looms…)

So I looked through my extensive stash, groaned a little because it is pretty extensive, I don’t remember how that happened, and pulled a 1000 yard skein of Rayon RickRack yarn hand dyed from Interlacements I had won from a show.  I added things from the shelf that coordinated and complimented it, and did a series of yarn wraps.  I ended up with 20 ends in a repeat.


I loaded up a warping paddle with all 20 ends and zipped through a 6 yard warp, winding it in three bundles.

Saturday I headed out to Peters Valley, and spent the day visiting and schmoozing, and setting up a loom.  Mostly it went smoothly until the end while I was beaming, one of the cranky odd flat steel heddles had an odd bend that kept cutting into the fine cotton flake yarn.  Once we figured that out, a spinner from my weaving guild had stopped by and offered to help, all was well and by 6pm, I had sleyed, threaded and beamed 520 ends, 6 yards long.  I did a quick test that all was OK and left.

Sunday my husband and I headed back out to Peters Valley, and I got there in enough time to sample a few wefts.  There wasn’t time to cut off the sample and wash it, so I made an educated guess how the Shetland wool weft I chose would full when the yardage would wash and away I went.


This is what the room looked like at 11:45am.


This is what the room looked like at noon once the public started coming in and it stayed steady till about 5pm.

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I paced myself, knowing I had to make the 6 yard warp last until 5pm.  At 5:05, I finished the last couple of picks of weft, and cut off the fabric.  I talked the whole time I wove, and had a wonderful and productive afternoon but boy am I paying for it today.  Note to self.  Do not sit and weave for five hours straight when you haven’t done it in awhile.  I have back muscles that are screaming at me for the abuse.  Must weave more often to keep those muscles in shape.  So in just three days I designed and wound a warp, dressed a loom, and wove off net five yards, washed it and voila!


Fortunately the class I’m teaching in weaving yardage is actually five days, so I don’t have to punish anyone by making them sit for five hours straight!  The studio is beautiful to work in, I love teaching at the Valley, and there is plenty of yarn to play with!  I can’t wait to figure out what to make from my yardage.  For more information on the class, click here.

Stay tuned…


Wrap up…

I’m home.  In an excessive use of Facebook today I’ve been trying to post things that should have gone out all month long, on top of my 37th wedding anniversary (which is today) on top of my children wrapping up their lives in their current locations (not here at the house obviously) and I feel like I’ve spent more time on social media than anything else.  Happy Anniversary to my husband who is still in Sweden as I write…

Reentry is always entertaining if not challenging.  A tripped circuit breaker left me without my car momentarily since I couldn’t get it out of the garage, which I would have manually overridden eventually, but instead chose to zip over to the kennel to pick up my dogs who had been boarded for a month, using my husband’s car.  Which proceeded to have a flat tire as I was leaving the kennel.  The usual stuff.  But the weather was too glorious, and I was too grateful to be home to let any of that silly stuff bother me.  I said on Facebook that I’m a Jersey girl, we don’t pump our own gas (by law) and I don’t change tires especially in a dirt parking lot with a hand knit/hand spun alpaca sweater on, I do have my priorities.  I patiently waited for AAA, and did not in the least take it personally when I knew he was thinking what a stupid blonde I was… :-)  I tipped him well.

The trip ended on a high note.  The last two venues were workshops that involved a lot of information and no actual hands on finished garment.  I love doing this type of workshop, so much information without the pressure of getting students to finish an actual garment.  Seattle Weavers had the two day version, and Greater Vancouver Weavers had the three day.

The venue for Seattle was lovely, once we found out that the third floor location did indeed have an elevator. (There was a lot of moaning on my part looking at three flights of stairs and all my 150 pounds of luggage especially after being told we’d have to pack up each night.) The coordinators did a splendid job of finding the elevator and arranging to be able to leave sewing machines and all my luggage tucked neatly away for the evening venue unrelated to us.


I gave two lectures to the very large and wonderfully organized Seattle Weavers Guild and when the lecture coordinator Jane asked what I’d like for lunch and offered sushi, I actually thought she was kidding.  Seattle wins.  No one ever provided me with sushi for lunch.


There was a group of former students at the Seattle Guild meeting who all wore garments made in previous classes.


And of course, my three lovely ladies who came to the Olympia and Skagit workshops and met up at Seattle with their finished garments.


I was whisked away from the guild meeting as soon as we could cram everything into my suitcases, and we set out for the trip north to Bellingham, where I was met by a member of the Greater Vancouver guild, and taken across the border into Canada.  Border crossings can always be chancy, but I breezed through, the customs agent was kind and efficient, and I settled into yet another bedroom and had to learn yet another kitchen, and bathroom.  I loved that on the back of the toilet was a copy of the latest New Yorker.  In Canada.  :-)

The Canadians are of course amazing people.  Often more well versed in politics of the US than most residents of the US, it was a pleasure to discuss how each country handles difficult issues and how each city cares for its citizens.  I’m always curious about real estate, and taxes and home prices, especially since I come from NJ where we have the highest property taxes of all the 50 states.  Sigh…

I had my first taste of a Nanaimo Bar.  It is a three layered confection specific to Canada, which I found in the bakery section of the local grocery store.  Even grocery stores across the country both US and Canada entertain me, the way they are laid out, foods that are commonplace, and the way they are marketed.  (I can’t get three buck Chuck in my local Trader Joe’s, liquor laws). Unlike my own grocery store where you have to navigate the bakery section as soon as you walk in to get to the produce section, in the Vancouver Savon, the bakery section was tucked back at the end of the store.  Says a lot about US priorities… :-)


And the Vancouver group was of course nothing less than this side of awesome.  They worked hard, took lots of photos of my work and my story boards, and the details of my clothing and they made lots of cool samples too.  The space was light and airy and beautiful.  When a workshop is over, it is always lovely to hear someone tell me that it’s the best workshop they’ve ever taken, but what makes me even more thrilled, is when someone says, “I’m so excited to start sewing again.”  I know I’ve done my job.


And so it is with huge huge gratitude that I end my wonderful west coast adventure.  None of this would have been possible without the group of coordinators and hostesses and drivers that made my connections flawless and my job easy.  There is not enough room in this blog to say how grateful I am to each and everyone of you, especially the one who found out a couple days before the workshop they had lost their venue, and had to scramble to find a new location.  Especially the drivers who always had to navigate rush hour to get me from one venue to another in time to start a new workshop at a new location in the morning.  Everyone did their job, and the participants were fantastic and lovely to work with.  Thanks to all for allowing my privacy in the evening to rest my voice, who fed me well, who made sure I wanted for nothing.  It takes a village and in this case, it took two states and Canada. :-)

I returned unceremoniously at 2am Tuesday morning, to find that the world had imploded on itself, grief in Nepal, and grief in Baltimore.  I’m doing my best to catch up quickly.  I have about 150 starred emails I have to address, thanks all for your patience.  I had all the bills to pay, after all, I’ve been gone a month, not to mention orders to fill, banking to address, financial forms to fill out, conference proposals to send out, a webinar and marketing plan to submit, and pages of things to do, before we head north to Massachusetts for Brianna’s college graduation next Thursday, followed by my son’s return from a 10 month deployment in the middle east.  There are all kinds of wonderful things happening to me this month (including my 60th birthday), and I can’t help but feel a bit guilty that there are parts of the world that are suffering so much grief.  I end the month of April on my knees in Thanksgiving.  It was quite the ride!

Stay tuned…



Fiber Celebration 2015

postcard front FINALpostcard back FINAL

Opening tomorrow May 1, 2015, Fiber Celebration 2015!

Tointon Gallery, Union Colony Civic Center, Greeley, CO

Sponsored by the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild!

That’s my sweater on the post card!  In fact I have four garments in the show, an all time record for me!  These two are handwoven…


This one is wet felted,


And this is knitted with handspun.



Where the heck am I?

If it is Tuesday it must be…

I’ve completely lost track of days, and am just showing up where my hostesses put me and doing my job with as much grace, humor, and professionalism as I can.  But I don’t really have any idea where I am or what day it is.

I flew into Seattle oh, sometime last week I think, and my driver Judy and her husband dropped me off somewhere near Olympia.  I think it was a town called Lacey.  My hostess welcomed me and showed me around and out the back deck door I saw this…


Dang, I get to see/live in, some pretty cool places.  Apparently this is Long Lake.

The Olympia Weavers are a wonderful group of course, and our location, a neighbourhood Fire house, was lovely and spacious and well enough lit and we had a great two days making vests.  Two days is never enough time, though really three days or four days, or whatever time they get, it is never enough time!


There were lots of beautiful handwoven fabrics…

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Though we didn’t all finish our vests, most were far enough to just have the armbands to finish up.


In the afternoons, my hostess Lana and I would walk her little dogs around the lake.  This is Grace and Oly.  Grace is the little one that looks like a wind up toy.


We even went paddle boating one afternoon.


We reconfigured the room for another one day workshop, this time on Seam and Edge Finishes.  They worked hard on lots of samples and learned tons of techniques.


Last Friday, at least I think it was Friday, I gave a guild presentation in the afternoon, Great Garments from Handwoven cloth, and then I was whisked away by Judy and Larye and we started the trek north to the Skagit Valley, somewhere in northwestern Washington State.  Larye drove us the long way around, taking the scenic route, including a ferry to Whidbey Island.  We were the first car up front.


We drove through Whidbey Island and headed over Deception Pass, just as the sun was setting.  Timing.  I was sitting on the opposite side in the passenger seat, but Judy who was in the back, grabbed her camera and actually got a shot of the setting sun.  It was a spectacular site, fiery sky and perfect cloud formations, and it lasted only for an instant doing 50 miles an hour over the pass.


We arrived somewhere in the middle of the woods, somewhere in Washington State.  It was dark and my hostess Anne showed me my room, handed me a glass of wine and I don’t remember much after that.

I woke up and headed off to the next class, a three day jacket class with the Skagit Valley Weavers.  Another really fun group in another lovely neighbourhood Fire house.

The space was great, and well lit…


There were of course some beautiful handwoven fabrics here too…

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There were two women who had taken my jacket class two years ago at the ANWG conference in Bellingham.  My hostess Anne finished her jacket in the interim, but I had not seen it completely finished.  It came out really well. She spent the three days repurposing some of her old handwoven garments that needed some serious restyling and updating.

ANWGJacketAnne AnneRepurposing

Molly was on the committee running the ANWG conference.  Sadly the committee members are always running around like crazy people never getting to sit long enough to enjoy a conference class.  Molly was determined to finally finish her jacket.  She is very happy. (That’s Molly and Val on the left)


And the rest of the class by the end of the three days had almost completed jackets, missing a sleeve here and there, but there were lots of smiles and it always warms my heart when I hear, “When can you come back?”.  I’ve gotten lots of encouragement to move to the west coast on this trip… :-)


We left the Skagit Valley this afternoon, and my lovely driver Val got me back down to Seattle where I start a Two Day Garment Construction Workshop.  I still have no idea what day it is, but everyone is following my itinerary I set late last fall, and so far we have had smooth connections and my hostesses couldn’t be more accommodating.

I have another week to go, and I’m not sure I want to travel back to Jersey anytime soon.  The weather here has been so incredibly glorious, and the spring blooms so prolific, I’m starting to wonder if all the “Pacific Northwest always rains” hype is just a ruse to keep people out!  Meanwhile I’m getting all kinds of warnings from the weather app on my phone from NJ.  Lets see, there are apparently violent thunderstorms tonight, something about flooding, and a couple of days ago, there were wildfire warnings with temps hitting 80 and humidity 25%.  In NJ?  I left three weeks ago and it was 25 degrees.  There are no words…

Stay tuned…