Part of what I love about what I do for a living is there is always something that pops up and commands my attention away from what I really want to do.
Part of what I hate about what I do for a living is there is always something that pops up and commands my attention away from what I really want to do.
Yeah, life is like that…
I wove a bit on my Christmas towels, cut out a knit dress, with my new Kai Serrated 8″ scissors (J’adore). The dress had something like 16 pieces and took all afternoon to cut out.
Then I headed up to the attic to get a cut of discard fabric I could use for a skirt muslin.
That’s when I got derailed…
I have tried to look the other way this year concerning my weaving guild show and sale. I know, that’s not in the best interest of a team spirit, but I knocked myself out last year, pulling scraps and oddiments from the attic and reworking and sorting and bagging and making all sorts of new old work to sell off, and I did, and what was left I took to Peters Valley where it has mostly sold throughout the last year. All of the garments eventually sold, and most of the smaller items, leaving a few scarves and mats that I picked up last weekend and brought home. Frankly I just wasn’t in the mood after the intense fall teaching schedule I had to even think about the guild sale. Until I went to the guild meeting the 5th of November.
I was of course reminded that this is a team effort, that occurs once a year, and it is a prime opportunity to once again pull together a bunch of things taking space in the house, that I can rework and offer for sale and bring the joy of handweaving, etc, into someone else’s life.
And so, while I was in the attic getting a cut of discard commercial fabric for a test skirt, I wandered over to the drawers where my daughter and I reworked the handwoven scrap stash last summer and pulled out stuff that we had located on yet another clean out. I think really that it all breeds whilst I sleep. I hurled it all down the attic steps.
I brought armfuls of stuff I thought workable into the studio and piled it on the cutting table.
I told myself that I’d just do a few pieces to make another dent in my seemingly endless stash of stuff from my craft fair days. Most of the garments left up there are either just unusable, or are usable but too small for anyone currently existing on this planet. And there are still nice size chunks of handwoven fabric suitable for tote bags.
I grabbed a stack of the grey mohair scraps and a length of Fusible Tricot Interfacing…
I started to assemble the scraps in a gridded way.
I added a linen trim to cover the butt joints after fusing the scraps onto the backing.
I assembled a vest. This one is a large.
Then another. This one use to be a top and skirt that though cute, wouldn’t get around a 13 year old. The vest is a size medium.
Then I reworked a dress, again, very cute but would fit no one, into this jacket. It helped that there was a matching scarf to go with it that I used for front trim.
I made five tote bags. The red one use to be a skirt.
And I took a couple of silk scarves that were less than attractive in their dye jobs, and tossed them in a pan with Spectra Art Tissue. A vinegar spray wetted everything down, and I let it sit awhile.
After drying and heat setting and then rinsing and drying again, I have some really pretty scarves that should round out my offerings for the guild sale.
And I found a dress from circa 1984 that I hadn’t known was up there and though it is very wrinkled from being stuffed in a drawer, and needs some tweaking and restyling, it is quite adorable and fits me well and I will keep that one for myself in my never ending quest for a handwoven or hand knitted dress I can wear while traveling in the summer.
And so I’ve inventoried everything, printed some 95 computerized hangtags, pressed, hung, and labeled everything and I’m ready to pack. The sale is really lovely, and if you live in the north Jersey area, come on down (or up, depending on your orientation), to the Jockey Hollow Weavers 21st Annual Exhibit and Sale. Saturday November 15 10-5, and Sunday November 16th 10-4 at the Brookside Community Club (1 East Main St., Brookside, NJ). Click here for more information.
See you there!
Often when I finish a great read, I’m sad the book is finished and the time I spent with it getting to know the characters has come to an end. Hopefully the book has a great ending where everything worked out for the characters and all is well. I’ve come to the last chapter on yet another year of teaching, and though I’ve loved every minute of it, and all worked out and I got where I needed to get on time and had almost everything I needed to work with there when I arrived, it has been challenging and stressful. I stayed with some wonderful people, met new faces, revisited with old beloved characters from previous books, and generally had a successful year. But unlike some of the great stories I’ve read, I’m glad for this one to be finished. It was a long hard slog since late spring.
I flew back on Monday from Atlanta, and the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance, just a quick in and out, and though I had hoped for more participants in my classes, those that did sign up were really wonderful to work with and were very patient with me while I lectured for 10 hours straight, three different seminars on Saturday. I didn’t take a whole lot of photos, since the first seminar Saturday morning was on Photographing your Work, but the second seminar in the afternoon, was my beloved Color and Inspiration class. Since there were only a handful in the class, I took the opportunity to participate myself, and made my own yarn wraps along with the rest of the students. I really should do this more often.
The class did some pretty great wraps too!
Saturday night I lectured on What to do with Leftovers, an old standby, and since I haven’t given that class in awhile, I got to see it in a fresh new light. The audience was mixed, not everyone was a handweaver, and that always makes things fun, especially when talking about leftovers. The Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance represents a lot of different fiber disciplines, and so the wide variety of classes selected were chosen to appeal to all.
Sunday I taught a one day class in fitting muslins, and I had four very enthusiastic participants, and we even got to fit a couple pairs of pants.
My delightful hostess and I had crossed paths before. Kay took a class with me many many years ago in Atlanta, for their local weaving guild, making a pieced vest from leftovers. I always love teaching that class, but it is rare that I actually ever get to see the finished garments, usually they are still in some kind of unwearable stage, full of pins. I was thrilled beyond belief when Kay pulled her vest out of the closet the night before I left to come home. It is one of my favorites to ever come out of one of my classes.
And so I’m back. And I’m done. And now I need some me time, to “nest” as my sister calls it, to find my center again, get back into a routine, be very kind to myself, and to prepare for a spring teaching schedule unlike anything I’ve ever done. But for now, I need to re-energize in the studio, and there are Christmas towels to weave, and fall clothes to sew, and sweaters to knit.
On the loom… Four shaft towels using up all my discontinued Cotlin from Webs. I only had to buy weft from their new line of Cottolin from Brassard. The inspiration came from the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Handwoven Magazine in an article/project by Linda Gettmann Bright. I altered a lot of the specs, including the sett, I much prefer my 8/2 sett at 24 epi. The warp beamed on like a dream and is now weaving like a dream. As should all things in life…
Just a side note, my two large Tools of the Trade floor looms sit back to back, the 36″ having the shorter castle tucks under the 45″ loom. Sort of a meeting of the minds. I think they get into all sorts of mischief whilst I’m away…
I use regular rolls of craft paper as a warp separator, they wind on without me having to do much, and with a careful rigging of a tie yarn at either side of the warp, the roll self re-winds itself back up as I advance the cloth during weaving. Pretty cool.
And on the needles… This is an alpaca vest, the “handspun” yarn (not by me) came from Woodsedge Wools in central NJ. It is the softest and most glorious thing I’ve ever knit. Also slow and tedious… The pattern is from C2Knits, my favorite knitwear designer.
And I have started on a couple of new garments, just to get back into the swing of the sewing machine. I have a sheer knit to make into this layered stretchy dress from a Burda Style Magazine pattern, and this gorgeous tencel/wool in a beautiful khaki color to experiment with a Marfy skirt pattern, from their free download. Should be entertaining since there are no directions with Marfy patterns. The Italian’s must be pretty intuitive garment makers. I have a stack of Marfy patterns to play with and can’t wait to dive in.
And so, fall is here, sort of, though the weather has been glorious. And no disastrous storms this year. I expect the winter will be long and hard, but that’s OK, there is plenty of wood on the woodpile for the wood stove, garden vegetables in the freezer, and I have lots of warm fibrous things to keep me happy…
And for those who read my last blog, my mom is scheduled to go home from the hospital either today or tomorrow.
I finally got a couple of days to myself, much needed and very much appreciated. Sadly it was short lived. I found myself driving to Maryland as my mother took ill. I was grateful for a number of things, one that I wasn’t traveling somewhere when she went into the hospital with a pulmonary embolism, and that she lived to tell about it. She is slowly recovering, and I was so glad I was in between trips and could go to Maryland and support her, and my sister who lives close enough to get the phone calls when something happens to my mom, and my mom’s husband, whom I adore and know this is just as hard on him as it is on us. So at the moment, all is moving forward in a hopeful direction and time will be a gift.
I’m home again, though briefly as I travel once more on Friday, this time to Atlanta. It will be a quick in and out, but I have to prep for four classes, mostly lectures, and the packing for this, and prep of handouts, etc, is leaving me scratching my head. Everything must be shipped by tomorrow if I hope to have it in time for the weekend. Priority Mail is usually very dependable, but my experience at Sievers showed me that it isn’t perfect!
Meanwhile, the results are in…
Back in September, I entered the Blue Ridge Fiber Show in Asheville, an “international celebration of fiber arts”, in both the Felted/professional category and the Woven/professional category. I certainly don’t consider myself a professional in the felted category by any stretch of the imagination but I know there are some that would argue since I’m certainly a professional in clothing,so I selected that box when I sent my application. Since my daughter was with me at the time I applied, I encouraged her to enter the show as well. Unlike other fiber exhibitions, everything entered would be exhibited, and the show is judged for awards only. And there is an amateur category as well as professional. Entering exhibits is all part of the fiber journey, and having judged many many shows myself, I know how subjective jurying can be. You never know. I actually judged the Blue Ridge Fiber Show show back in 2010.
The show opened the beginning of October when I was still at Sievers, and since no one wrote me on facebook or otherwise, there was of course the assumption that none of my work won anything, though in the 2012 exhibit, I had won an award and didn’t find out until I got a letter from the show committee about half way through the exhibit. I made a few discreet inquiries and found out that not only had I taken first place in Felted Clothing for this piece…
I had taken second place in Woven Clothing for this piece.
And I was just overjoyed that my daughter, bless her, had taken a couple of honorable mentions for her two entries as well. It was a Lancaster sweep. Let me say first, that already my daughter is way more of a technical structural weaver than I’ll ever be. Multiple shafts is not something that interests me nor do I care to explore structure pushing boundaries and looking for the next way to push the loom. I weave very competent cloth, and make really good clothing, exploring color and texture, and I’m happy doing that for the rest of my life. I am a sewer first and a weaver second. My daughter however, thinks like an engineer/scientist, and the number of shafts never holds her back, she just figures out how to make it work with what she’s got. She is her father’s daughter…
And so the letters arrived, with our awards, I opened my daughter’s letter as well, only to repackage it in a new envelope to forward it on to her at college. I was surprised when a second paper slipped out from behind the letter from the exhibit committee. At first glance it was from the Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) about them retaining her images for publication, and I did a head scratch and actually read her congratulatory letter. Apparently, my lovely 21 year old daughter won the coveted HGA award, for the entire exhibition with her turned Krokbragd Inkle Woven Sheep Juggling Balls, set of three. This is the best I could come up with for images. (She left me one for my box of Inkle woven examples to use for classes.)
So how do I feel about this? I think the whole thing is hysterically funny. I have been working in this field and entering exhibits for probably 35 years and I’ve never won an HGA award. I have given them many times in my tenure as a juror, but never actually won one myself. Ironically I’ve won the Complex Weavers award, but never the HGA award. And here, my enthusiastic science major with a linguistics minor college senior nails the award her first time out. I am very proud and just a little bit jealous? I knew she would surpass me at some point in life, as all children do, but at 21? I’m laughing as I write this, there are no words…
And of course she won an honorable mention for this piece as well, it is a complex eight shaft summer/winter with pick up showing Star Trek motifs.
The interesting twist to this story is my daughter broke the cardinal rule of the art world, never let work leave your possession unless you photograph it first. My daughter has no photos of her entries to share. So it is with interest that I see how she manages to send magazine quality images to the HGA for her work when none exist and the pieces are tied up in the exhibition until the first part of January. Even Daryl’s daughter must learn things from personal experience…
After a brief trip to Massachusetts, and a horrific drive home late Wednesday night in a torrential rain storm, I’ve spent most of the last couple days in and out of slow motion, sleeping when I can, and attempting to actually do things like clean my house (I haven’t been successful yet), laundry (better success there), show up for a few social events (mostly in a foggy state) and generally force myself into a state where the adrenaline isn’t surging full tilt. It is harder than it looks.
It was delightful to see my daughter, and she was a great help during the evening presentation I gave to the Pioneer Valley Guild, which is her guild, and meets at WEBS. I called her Vanna Brianna. I spent most of Tuesday afternoon, checking out all the cool yarn, great deals, and trying really hard not to blow out my credit card. I was only minimally successful.
One of my goals while I was up there was to figure out this year’s Christmas towel run which was catapulted to the top of my to do list when I found out that WEBS brought in a new line of Cottolin to replace their old line which was discontinued some time last spring. Similar weight and content, 60% organic cotton and 40% linen, the Cottolin is from Brassard, brought in from Canada. This year’s inspiration comes from a towel project I saw in the Sept/Oct issue of Handwoven magazine. My intent was to use up what I already had, partial cones of the old 8/2 Cotlin, so all I’d really have to do was buy the weft.
The Pioneer Guild, like many weaving guilds in the north east, is a bit like family, I know many of the weavers, I’ve taught for this guild a few times over the years, so it was a bit like a reunion, except now my daughter is part of that family as well. I gave them a lecture called Weave a Memory, and showed how I print images on cloth, and then cut them up and weave them back together again. It is the same topic I did for Florida Tropical this past spring, except there I did it as a workshop.
Wednesday I taught a workshop for them, and I think of all the one day workshops I give, this is my most favorite. I did the Color and Inspiration workshop, I hear over and over again how much inspiration participants get from the workshop and how pleased they are about the confidence they gain in putting together combinations of yarn. I gave this class last month to an American Sewing Guild group in Kentucky, almost none of them were weavers and yet the class still works well. This group were primarily weavers, and they dove right in and followed the directions for each of my exercises.
I had them explore value, and complementary colors, and I have them create a card that they think is intentionally ugly. The card gets reworked by someone else in the group, and the results are always surprising and fun. I’ll let you figure out which is the before and after.
Then we moved into working with Color-aid papers to help simplify an image and select a palette to work from. This helps if you haven’t amassed a stash of thrums!
And at the end, they created a gorgeous warp sequence inspired by the image, they were all so lovely and rich and thoughtful.
So now I’m home for a couple of weeks, before I head to Atlanta and my last trip of the year. I was able to attend a meeting of a local bobbin lace group, so in anticipation of that, I dug through my extensive collection of lace pillows, all with projects in various stages of progress, and my goal in the next year or two is to clear some of these pillows. The problem is, like anything you put down for a few years, I have no idea how I did the patterns. This little one I was able to figure out, after searching through my lace books and finding the original pattern. It is one from the Stout book, and I remember setting it up using embroidery floss, single strand, along with some four strand floss for the gimp. I love lace in color.
And Thursday night, I dragged this pillow out from the top of my closet, where I took a look at it and didn’t even attempt to understand how I did it. I took it along to the lace group, where Pat graciously and competently set me on a forward path. I am about half finished the hankie, working through my second corner, and again, I love lace in color. This is a Russian pattern, from a class I took with Holly Van Sciver at an Ithaca Lace Day many many years ago, it may have been 10. Embarrassing… It is time…
And in anticipation of my critique group, which meets on Tuesday after a many months hiatus, of which I’ve done no new art work, I decided to card up a batch of batts, and make a felted mat that I’ll cut up and reassemble to play more with my Chromosome series.
I’ll eventually clean my house, and eventually catch up on all my sleep, and eventually calm my constant adrenaline rush. Sleep helps. And I’m doing a lot of it. Meanwhile, I have all kinds of projects to keep me happy and moving in a forward direction.
I’ve mentioned this before many times in both my blog and in my lectures, I buy when it is time to buy, when I come across things at a great price, and I fill up my stash so I can be creative down the road with what I have. I never have any plan for what I buy, and part of the fun is to make it actually work once I do.
Back in October of 2010, I came upon Lisa Merian of Spinner’s Hill, at a booth at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. I fell in love with her crazy ball, hand painted roving, from her cross bred Corriedale, Finn and Rambouillet sheep.
I sat on it for a couple of years, and it wasn’t until a trip to northern California and Thai Silks that I figured out I wanted to felt the crazy ball into a jacket. I bought five yards of Silk Chiffon which was half price because it was a discontinued design.
I started to felt the jacket, got the fronts and back done, and then life got in the way.
January of this year, with an intern from the local community college, I set out to finish the jacket pieces, which if you were following my blog back then, you know how painful I think felting is, and that the goal here was a jacket, not to really be a better felter.
I achieved that goal, and I made the jacket from my standard Daryl Jacket pattern, the one I use for classes, as a sample for when I have a felter in one of my classes. I love the jacket and it is currently on display at the Blue Ridge Fiber Show in Asheville NC. The hand couched trim is handspun from the leftover fiber that didn’t go into the jacket.
As a matter of fact, there were a lot of leftover fibers, in colors that weren’t that appealing, the muddy khaki green, gold, raspberry, and bits of yellow and cream.
I decided in March, to spin up what was left, into a few skeins of a bulky yarn. I didn’t care where the colors that remained showed up in the skein, and just had fun one night, while I watched the Academy Awards.
I loved the result, and measured about 650 yards, which wasn’t a whole lot to do much with. I looked at sweater patterns, and vest patterns, and wandered through my knitting yarn stash, which is so not extensive, there is very little in the drawers, but I came upon this angora/silk yarn, I had purchased in September 2011 in a knitting shop in Central Coast California. It was in a bin marked $3. a skein, originally $25 and change. A skein. I bought one of each color they had and then sat on it. I had originally thought of intarsia, and looked at a few patterns and decided that it would be more complex than I wanted, since I do knitting when I’m traveling or with people. I do social knitting. Following complex charts defeats the purpose of knitting for me.
The palette was exactly in line with the handspun. ( I left out the teal.)
I chose this top down sweater pattern from C2Knits, though I will say it is my least favorite of her patterns (which I usually adore and most of what I knit now comes from C2Knits), but the shape would mostly work for what I wanted to do, just not in garter stitch. And I could redesign the sleeves. The great thing about top down sweaters is the ability to knit until you run out of yarn, and then you stop.
I did a test swatch.
I kept redesigning the horizontal stripes as I was knitting along based on how I thought the yarn would work out. I ripped regularly.
I finished up the body and sleeves and the collar of the garment, while I was in DC and Kentucky a few weeks ago, knitting the collar and lower edge of the garment simultaneously from the same ball of remaining yarn. I had about 18″ of handspun yarn left when I was finished.
And I had a small amount of angora/silk left as well. I was pretty proud of myself, for no other reason than I “used it mostly up…”
I got most of the ends tied in and the edging put on the front, after a couple of re-do’s, while I was at Sievers. Which was pretty great because I ended up needing a warm sweater there, and I basically lived and slept in it. Truth be told I was unhappy with the front edge, it looked OK, but the weight of the buttons caused the crocheted edge to roll inward. Made me nuts.
One of the Sievers’ students, Ginnie I think, said to me, it probably needs a grosgrain backing to support the buttons. That’s a pretty standard finish and I’ve done it on other sweaters, but the collar is designed to be rolled back like a lapel and expose the underside of the knitting. I didn’t want to see grosgrain ribbon.
Ginnie said, well duh, why don’t you just weave your own!
I obsessed about it the whole time I was there. The first thing I did when I got back from the city Monday night after flying into Newark that afternoon, was to set up my inkle loom with the remaining bits of angora/silk. I hand measured all the remaining bits, to see what yardage I could get, and threw up a design based on how many ends each of what I had left. I’m grinning the whole time.
I had a bamboo in the exact color of the selvedge edge of the band, to use as weft, and I was off. I was supposed to demo all day yesterday at a local historic site, and though the loom isn’t historic, band weaving is, but the event was cancelled because of the horrific rains. So I loaded up the wood stove, lit a fire and curled up in the living room with my inkle loom and wove off the two yard band in about an hour.
I love the way it coordinates with the sweater.
I hand sewed it to the back of the front edges, instead of the traditional grosgrain, and now I have a new thing to do with my already trusty inkle loom, color matched grosgrain from left over knitting yarns. And of course the front lays perfectly…