Mind explosion…

What a two weeks this has been.  A roller coaster of a ride, spectacular, scary, and really really fun.  So much to tell…

I’ll start with the vacation I took with a friend and my daughter, to weaving heaven.  My former editor from when I worked for Handwoven magazine is a fantastic weaver and runs a weaving school in her home on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Washington State.  For all my readers who are weavers, and even those who aren’t, Madelyn van der Hoogt’s school is a bucket list item that should be at the top.  She teaches four times a year, two weeks at a time.  The first week is Weaving 1, where you get a solid footing on the joy of handweaving, and the second week, which is what we all took, since we are somewhat experienced weavers, called Weaving 2, is all about structure, design, blocks and profile drafts.  I visited Madelyn’s school when I was on the island teaching for the Whidbey Weaver’s Guild back in May of 2016, right before my husband died, and I vowed I’d be back.  With my daughter.

In fact, when we first went round the room to introduce ourselves, I followed my daughter, and really really tried hard not to be Daryl Lancaster but to just be Brianna’s Mom.  It is hard to be a student when you are a nationally known instructor and to gracefully side step all the questions about garment construction and what to do if…  I was there to learn, and be Brianna’s mom.  That part eventually worked out well.  There were 13 of us, and Madelyn’s assistant Suzie, who owns Eugene Textile Center, was there to help in every way, and she brought a huge selection of books and weaving equipment and well, my poor credit card was smoking…  I realize that after 40 years of weaving, there isn’t much I don’t have, but because I was Brianna’s mom, and she moaned and whined about how much she really needed an electric bobbin winder, (I did too at her age) what could I do but buy a new one, state of the art, for $380, but that one is for me, she gets my old one.  Fair is fair.  I’m not that generous of a  mom…

Brianna was of course, the star student. But I was pretty close behind.  There were 32 looms, prewarped in various 4-8 shaft plus structures, many of them double shuttle, that means a ground cloth and some decorative element floating across the surface, like overshot.  That’s my sample on the loom.

The first loom Brianna tried, of course, was the drawloom.  Madelyn had three in the studio.  This is a monster piece of equipment, the precursor to the Jacquard loom, allowing complex pictorial weaving by controlling individual threads.  Usual time on this little sample was about 6-8 hours.  Brianna of course did it in 4 1/2.  And she did it perfectly. 

 

We both hopped from loom to loom (I opted not to spend time working on the draw loom, at almost 63, I know this will never be part of my repertoire and though I understand the premise, I had no desire to even try.  There were two many other looms to tackle)

There were a couple rules, we always had to use a temple, that toothed stick across the warp that maintains width, which assured that no one would break a thread.  And we had to weave a full square sample.  The samples were generous.  Most were about 12-14 inches square.  That’s basically a pillow and I thought about looking for some plain pillows and just mounting the samples on the front for some pretty cool decorations on the couch.  Except there are the dogs…

We wove until we were punch drunk and cross eyed, and yet we kept on.  There were lectures every day, Madelyn is such a great teacher.  Though truth be told, I’m not all that interested in complex structures, they just aren’t that important in my regular body of work (I’m a color texture sort of gal) but nevertheless,  I had a blast, each new loom was like starting a new 500 piece puzzle and you know how I love those.  

Four of the looms had structures on them that all shared the same profile draft.  There was huck, double weave, turned twill and summer/winter.  And the design was the same for all.  I found that completely fascinating and that the weaving software I’ve been using for some 20 years, actually had a block substitution feature I never knew existed, where you can plug in any unit weave into a profile draft by just clicking a menu item…  That just made me smile. 

One of the looms had a Swedish Snowflake Twill from Mary Atwater’s book.  Brianna wove on that one, and the evening after the first day of class, I got an email from one of my former students Cheryl Wolf, who took a workshop with me in northern Washington State last May.  She wove the same sample in Madelyn’s class, and went on to weave yardage from it.  We worked together in the class with the Whatcom Weaver’s Guild, to carefully match the snowflake pattern in the back.  I talked about it in this blog post.  She finished the jacket (my swing coat pattern with optional shawl collar) and sent me photos and I was thrilled to pass them around the class.

And we kept weaving…  

Between the two of us, Brianna and I  covered all but one of the looms in the studio.  There were three draw looms in all, and the morning of the second day, Brianna decided to design a piece using one of the other draw looms, taking the block pattern that was already “programmed” in the loom, and modifying it for a very personal design.  That’s the loom in the back corner, I went over to take a photo of her weaving on it and she was already finished.  When I saw what she had woven once they came off the loom, I cried.  My husband was a pole climber back in the day, before I met him, and spent 47 years in the telephone industry.  She wove telephone poles and clouds in his honor.

I was the first one to weave on the newest addition to the line up, a parallel threading based on the Echo and Iris technique du jour.  

And Sally caught a great shot of me weaving on the Louet Megado digital dobby loom.  The weave structure was pretty complex, but the computer did all the work so that was really the easiest one of all the 20 samples I managed to do.  I think Brianna did 23 total, including two draw loom pieces.  I have a fabulous stack of samples. And so does she…

We traveled back to Seattle that Saturday morning, and Brianna arranged the airport hotel, and the Uber ride up to the Chilhuly museum.  Wow.  Just Wow.  I’ll talk about that in my next post…

Stay tuned…

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There’s a knot for that…

Dearest readers, I’m back from the Pacific Northwest, exhausted, crazy busy, and picking up the speaker for the Jockey Hollow Guild meeting at the airport in just a few short hours, for another three day workshop in weaving.  I have so much to tell, so much joy and hard work, so worth it, but alas, no time to tell it all in…

Meanwhile, during my 3 mile walk this morning with my trusty office assistant and walking partner, I mentioned my poor wind chimes.  Another casualty of the wicked winter from hell and actually, just age.  My late husband gifted me these beautiful Mongolian wind chimes perfectly tuned and the sound is just magical.  They stopped chiming, and I discovered that the wind catcher thing that hangs from the clapper thing that makes the tubes chime had blown off and landed about 100 feet away in some bush, which I accidentally found during yard clean up a couple weeks ago.  With the lovely weather I really miss my wind chimes.  I had just tried to tie it back on, but alas, all the cords had rotted away, and the next wind storm we get, I’ll have a pile of tubes sitting in the pond.  The chimes hang off the balcony outside my bedroom, basically right over the pond.  

Anyway, my assistant came up to the studio for work, and we took a look at the situation.  She said she had a tube of black nylon cord that could work, and scampered home to get it.  Have I mentioned she lives 484 steps from my house?  

I brought in the chimes, and proceeded to discreetly mark the tubes, take accurate measurements of how far they suspend, trace the root of the seven cords, for six tubes and the center clapper.  I made drawings.  The problem was, each cord started attached to the center welded pin down the middle of the tube.  I had no idea how we were going to manage that.  

Cynthia looked down the tube and looked at me and said, I think that’s a hangman’s noose knot.  REALLY?

She tried it out on a peg from my warping wheel, and after a couple of tries, figured it out.  We dropped the cord down the tube with a fishing weight, turned the tube over and then dropped the weight back up the tube so the cord would loop over the welded bar in the middle of the tube.  Then she made this hangman’s noose knot. She pulled the long end and the knot slipped right down the tube in place.  I have no idea how she knew how to do this knot, something about making 5000 rosaries for a Catholic organization she once worked for, my eyes crossed and I just thought the whole thing hysterical.  We carefully worked together, figuring out each step and each knot as we reassembled the chimes.  We got it outside and hung it up and I wanted to cry.  My beautiful wind chimes started singing again, and I could have hugged her.  I actually think I did.  Bosses aren’t supposed to do that sort of thing, but she made me so happy.  Who knew?  A hangman’s noose knot, from a Catholic rosary, for Mongolian chimes…

Stay tuned, there is so much to tell!

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Leaving On A Jet Plane…

I came in my studio one day last week, and my assistant Cynthia was listening to a John Denver song, clearly coming out of my Echo Dot.  I asked what station she was playing and she said she had created a John Denver station on my Pandora.  We listened and laughed and sang along at the top of our lungs…  Of course, Leaving on a Jet Plane came up in the rotation.  I remembered many of the harmonies.  What fun.

Meanwhile, I’m actually leaving on a jet plane, Saturday morning, Brianna, weaver Sally Orgren from my guild, and me, we are all heading to Seattle, and then to Whidbey Island to take a weeklong advanced weaving class with Madelyn van der Hoogt.  I booked this at the end of last summer, actually right after MidWest conference, because, life is short, and none of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but I wanted my daughter to have a chance to study with Madelyn and well, I wanted to too.  Though I’m not that interested in complex structures, you sure couldn’t tell from what came out of my studio this week…

I’m on a roll.  As fast as I make something, I’m thinking about the next thing.  And oddly enough, there seems to be time to do it.  Life is beginning to run like a well oiled machine, thanks to so many people who are working behind the scenes, like Cynthia, and my handyman Rick, and the pond guys, and the plumber guys, who have done wonders cleaning up my exterior and trying to salvage the ponds and the exterior plumbing from the winter from hell.  All the pumps, outdoor lines and filters had to be replaced.  We discovered that a patch in the pond, I didn’t know it was there to begin with, failed and one of the ponds was leaking, the one where the fish survived, so they were transferred to the second pond, and everything is up and running but the pond level is very low until they can patch, but the weather has to be above 70 degrees.  Hahahahahahahah!

The website, web shop, blog, hosting company, all seems to be running well and efficiently, and super fast.  With no effort from me except a lot of money.  Isn’t that always the case…

So I get to go to the studio and make stuff.  I am so happy.  Really, this is what the goal was and now I’m there.  I start traveling heavy duty in another month, but for now, I have two back to back workshops that I’m actually taking, the other with my guild with Heather Winslow, warps are on the loom and I’m ready for that, which happens three days after I return from Whidbey Island.  

So back in June 2010, my guild did an exchange, called Potpourri, where everyone the previous fall put yarns in a brown bag and sealed it.  Brown bags were exchanged and the idea was you had to weave something with the yarns in the bag for the person whose yarns they were.  You can read the blog post about the exchange here.  

Back in April of 2010, I actually began to figure out what to do with this…  These were the yarns Sherrie had put in her bag and I had to weave something out of it.  That’s a very large cone of fine pink kid mohair.  The other two cones are unmercerized cotton.  ?!?!?!?!?

Here is the post where I figured it all out, after counting out the 100 yards of the pretty knitting yarn and knowing I wanted to highlight it.   This is the actual draft I made up. 

I have to say that I was pretty freaking proud of this, it was really out of my wheelhouse and I’m not a complex kind of person, but I figured out how to do what I did with what I had to work with and well, I patted myself on the back.  When I presented Sherrie with the yardage at the meeting in June, she didn’t seem really enthusiastic, I reread my blog post and I think her words were something like, “How Couture.”  

Many years later she came to a meeting with the bolt of fabric and said, she was cleaning things out, came across the yardage and really didn’t know what to do with it and did I want it back!  Well heck yes!  I felt bad that she really didn’t respond to it, maybe the color, size of the motifs, whatever, she is rather petite, but I stuck it on my shelf and it sat for another couple of years…

Until last week.  Bottom line is I looked at the patterns I developed for classes, played around to see what fit on the yardage, and to my complete surprise and delight, the front couple yards and back couple yards matched exactly and I was able to do this.

Getting weft patterning to line up is really really hard, and I can’t believe how effortlessly it matched.  I was not able to match the shoulders, so I added linen epaulets.  The shawl collar/band would not match up, so I got the idea to cut it on the bias.  The linen/rayon I had on my shelf warmed up the pink and created a nice detail and gave me the extra fabric I’d need to make this work.  It is my walking vest pattern, with the armhole from my Daryl Jacket C pattern, with side seam pockets and a shawl collar. 

I could not find any buttons that would work, so when all else fails, cover your own.

I finished it up last night and pulled another piece of handwoven cloth off the shelf, this one from a Diane Totten workshop on Crimp cloth.  I have a plan, and can’t wait to dive into this.  

Meanwhile, I want to give my assistant something to do while I’m gone, so I went back into the archives to the binder that has all the yarn wrapped cards from the years I wrote the color forecast column for Handwoven Magazine.  They should publish the whole series in an ebook, because there are some great resources and inspiration in there.  But I have the actual wrapped cards that they used for photography.  This one was called Down on the Farm, from the Spring/Summer 2006 forecast, published in the Sept/Oct 2005 issue of Handwoven Magazine.

Together we pulled all the yarns from my shelves that remotely went with the palette, and then from there I finalized my selections and she is busily, as I write, winding all the dyed skeins into pull balls so I can wind a warp when I get back from Seattle.  I can’t wait… 

This will be a run of handwoven scarves, and my stash of scarves is empty, the last one sent as a gift to my daughter’s pediatrician, now adult doctor, who every time Brianna goes to see him asks when he is going to get a handwoven scarf from me.  He has been asking for 25 years.  It was time…  And now I have to weave some more.

I spent the weekend up at Peters Valley school of craft, where Brianna and a team of volunteers from my local weaving guild, refurbished all the looms, I replaced 12 Macomber loom aprons, with Brianna right behind me removing and replacing as I sewed them up.  Everything looks fabulous, and Saturday night, we all went down to the store/gallery on campus for the opening of the show, Act 2: Art as a Career Sequel .   Since Art is my career, I didn’t qualify for the show, but Brianna, my lovely talented daughter who works for a vet hospital during the day, got a piece accepted, only 50 pieces were selected out of more than 600.  I adore the piece, it is from her Gender series, called The Gender Game.  The figures are woven in a summer/winter pattern with porn video tape.  It is a pretty powerful piece. 

And so, life marches on, there are some great things happening in my own little corner of the world, and I try to stay informed as is realistic, but not get too caught up in the rest of the world politics.  Election time will be soon enough.  Otherwise I’d be paralyzed from the helplessness of it all.  Spring is slowly coming, I finally have daffodils peaking out of their little heads, and I have fish swimming happily in the cleaned up ponds.  There is a pile at the curb of junk from the yard, for bulk pick up on Monday, thanks to my handyman Rick, and I’ll be flying off to Seattle to study with Madelyn soon. 

Stay tuned… 

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Over the Rainbow…

I did it.  My tech crew and I did it.  This has been an issue for so long I can’t remember when I didn’t have tech issues.  I had a lovely old fashion cry this afternoon, I haven’t done that in a long time.

Last Monday Pair Networks took on the job of moving my sites, both weaversew.com and daryllancaster.com, which are linked, to their hosting services.  I’ve needed to move off the hosting company I had for a long time but couldn’t until all the other items were in place.  Which they finally were.  I’ve been emailing back and forth between my personal tech support and their moving team, trying to figure out what they are talking about when they ask specific questions and very proud of my self when I figured it out and answered them.  All by myself!

Yesterday they had copied all the files from the website, the blog and the store and made up a dummy site that I could check before everything went live.  The website was pretty easy to run through, and the store as well.  There isn’t that much on them.  Links seemed to work, and photos for the most part went where they were supposed to go.  I did find a couple of errors that I never caught initially which I made a note to fix.  I also noted that my prospectuses needed serious updates.  They aren’t incorrect, they just aren’t current.  Add that to the list.  

But the blog.  My lovely life story.  I have almost 800 posts spanning just about 10 years.  There have been 46,000 comments and lots of views.  There is a counter at the bottom of each post to show how many people view a post.  Recent posts always give me a little thrill when the count goes over 1,000.  Which it eventually does.  I have about 600 subscribers, but a lot of people just view my posts on an RSS feed.  Occasionally I’ll get spikes in posts like the one from Cuba, where people share it with friends since it has nothing to do with weaving.  

I clicked on and skimmed over a little less than 800 posts over the last day and a half.  It was gut wrenching when I saw the ones where my husband passed, and the ones where we said goodbye to my son when he went off to boot camp, there is a lot of history there.  I often search my blog when I can’t remember when I did something or what I saw when I was there.  Like last night.  I watched the final episode of Project Runway All Stars, which is the only show I watch on TV, I adore it, and last night was no different.  I was rooting for all three finalists.  But one of the episodes this season took place at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan where the contestants toured an exhibit about Isaac Mizrahi.  I did a head scratch because I went to that exhibit.  It was fantastic.  But that exhibit ran between March and August 2016.  In fact I went to the exhibit 6 weeks after my husband died.  Which means that series of PR All Stars was shot in 2016.  I knew that because I did a blog search and there it was.

Anyway, as I went further back in the blog I started seeing some pretty respectable numbers of page views, most were in the 5,000 range.  I was blown away that anybody cared about what I did back in 2013.  Then I hit a couple that had 70,000 page views!

 

I kept going back and hit this one and nearly collapsed on the floor.  

Yeah, 123,000 pages views.  I’m going to guess that because I had keywords and people did searches that the site popped up.  They might not have actually stuck around and read the post, but for a brief moment let me bask in the love that 123,000 people saw my page.

Note to self, always add keywords to the metadata of each post…

It was almost anticlimactic when I saw this one at only 110,000 views.

 

So the move is finished.  I had my office assistant place a store order and all was working there.  And I got the FTP transfer information from Pair and by myself, all by myself, I changed the settings in Dreamweaver so I can just click on the little “put” arrow and any changes to my web pages and content will actually happen.  The speed was so fast I wasn’t sure anything actually happened.  But it did, and I burst into tears.  I did it.  Kevin, I did it.  I hope you are watching.  You said I’d figure it out, and with a lot of expensive help, I actually did it.  The final test of course is if this blog post gets to all of you, that it loads quickly without timing out, and that you all get your notifications.  The I’ll go off and have a well deserved celebratory glass of wine and pack for a lecture tomorrow in South Jersey. (In fact it did not go as planned, I couldn’t load images, I had to tweak some more things, talk to Pair tech support, and I’m going to try this again…)

Meanwhile…

I finished the jacket I started last week.  All of the handwork is done now, the photo still has pins everywhere.  I love this jacket.  I love the fabric  and can’t wait to weave more.  I searched my blog for a photo of the original yarn when I bought it on Bainbridge Island, WA back in 2016, I had only purchased two skeins, the ones on the left, but the dog ate one of them forcing me to purchase two more at full price from Yarn Barn of Kansas.  I was lucky.  I have four of a different colorway and I can’t wait to warp up a loom to use those skeins.  The yarn is Noro Taiyo Lace.  The warp was a 2 ply shetland, mill end from WEBS.

And I looked longingly at my shelves of stash, which my studio assistant has spent the better part of the last week organizing, refolding fabrics to keep the edges from fading in the light, and generally moving things around.  She pulled the bulky Krokbragd sampler I wove last spring in a Tom Knisley workshop with the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild, and asked me where it should go.  I looked at it, re-looked at it and then did this…

I love this tote.   I love that I have things that make me happy and make me proud and make me just smile because life can be pretty dreary and depressing what with those proverbial handbaskets we are all traveling in and a spring that has seriously failed to launch…  (There was another dusting of snow this morning). All of my outdoor waterlines froze and ruptured over the winter, yes I drained them and blew air through them.  They all still ruptured.  The ponds are in terrible shape, the pumps are shot and if they do manage to go on, they blow the circuits in the house.  There is a lot of money going to be poured into the exterior again this spring. 

But for today, just for today, I did it.  I crossed over that rainbow into hopefully a smother future technologically and that Pair Networks will be way more reliable and responsive and the upgraded speed will be felt all around.

I love you all, thanks for your patience…  Stay tuned… 

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testing 123…

So sorry for this post, there will be a real one coming soon!  

We are trying to figure out why there is a Gateway Timeout when I try to load, and I just want to warn everyone that in the next few days I’m going to attempt the impossible, change all this to a new hosting company.  Which is already giving me a major anxiety attack.  But it has to be done and is the last part of the equation.  So the blog and the store and the website and everything will be moving just as soon as I initiate things, so if you can’t get onto the blog or the shop or my website, don’t panic.  That’s my job!  Meanwhile…

This is what I’m working on…

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