They made me do it…

Wow dear readers, lots to catch up on!

It is snowing.  Before Thanksgiving.  Sigh…  Sorry everyone, I don’t care what side of the political fence you sit on, but weather patterns are changing rapidly and it isn’t a pretty thing.  My heart bleeds for all those who lost everything between the devastating hurricanes this fall and the wildfires on the west coast, storms seemed to be vying for cable news attention in a big way.  Knitting was cancelled tonight for bad weather.  We shouldn’t be having snow days in November, not in NJ.  I have always joked that one day NJ will no longer be here and that the Delaware River will be beach front property, but I didn’t think I’d be seeing it in my lifetime, or my children’s lifetime.

That said, I’m doing what any self respecting fiber enthusiast would do, I’m making stuff.  

First off, my guild held its annual show and sale this past weekend.  The guild did really well.  Which is a wonderful thing.  I’m the treasurer, I do numbers.  This will help with our wonderful programs, two of which were rebooked from snow events last spring, which blew our budget this year, which I wrote, and we haven’t reached December yet!  In a last ditch effort to have something to sell, I made two totes out of scraps from one of the last handwoven garments I made, currently on exhibit in Asheville at the Blue Ridge Fiber Show.  I made two, forgot to photograph the second one, it was nearly identical, and both sold to the same person in the first hour of the show on Saturday.  This person, who has bought a ton of stuff from me over the years, loved that they were the same but with different color linings, and bought both for two different sets of files.  Go figure…

When I was in CT filming video for Threads magazine a couple weeks ago, I had partially made five garments to illustrate specific techniques we were going to be filming.  I have since finished two of them, and have already worn both and am enjoying the newest additions to my wardrobe.


The first one is this lovely pencil skirt, from an old Vogue pattern 8677; I’ve made it before.  It has a high waist with waist stays, which I made from plastic cable ties with the box end cut off.  The skirt is really comfortable.  It is made from a Ralph Lauren cotton I picked up in Nashville a couple years ago, and the skirt is completely underlined, which was the point of the video I was shooting.

The second garment I finished up in the evenings at the OBX retreat last week, or was it the week before!  This is a quilted cotton vest, with a raw silk lining on the inside, trimmed around the perimeter with bias cut linen strips.  There is a thermal interlining between the layers and it is toasty.  The vest is supposed to be reversible, and I trimmed it that way on purpose.  The video I designed it for was specifically for illustrating how to bind off a perimeter edge, miter corners, and join the two ends together.  There was a lot of handwork on this but it is really fun to wear.  The pattern is from my class patterns, the collared vest.

Speaking of…

Because of the number of patterns I offer, when I teach a class like I did in Reno, and like I will be doing in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks, the biggest takeaway I got was that I need to present the patterns in a way that people can keep track, of what goes with what and what pieces are needed for each silhouette.  I’ve been mulling this over for a long time, and making notes, tweaking and reworking because once I assign a number to a piece, and write it on, I can’t change my mind without retracing the entire pattern section.  Just to let you know, in a class where students are all tracing different things, I have 9 different silhouettes, with multiple views, and multiple copies of each of the half dozen pattern pieces in that particular silhouette.  We are talking hundreds of pattern pieces floating around.  Things get put back in the wrong envelopes, and in the case in Arkansas where space was tight, students were falling all over each other trying to find the next piece they were looking for.  I know it is an issue.  I have additional silhouettes in mind, but had to first get control of the pattern situation.

So this is what I came up with.  Each of the silhouettes will now have a hundred number to identify beyond the description, and each pattern piece will be numbered accordingly.  Plus each pattern envelope will have an image and description of what’s in there, with a line drawing of each pattern piece and the match points clearly marked.  I have four of the nine silhouettes completed, at least that envelope part, but I won’t write on the actual patterns until I’m really really really sure!  Even this morning, I looked at what I had done yesterday and found mistakes.  This kind of task takes a lot of proofing.  A lot.  And still, I know I’ll get something wrong.  But my wonderful students don’t hesitate to point out when I do! (Which I’m really really grateful for.  Really)

Please don’t write and ask me if I sell my patterns.  I do not.  I can’t.  Not yet.  Mass producing these for sale will take a whole other block of time, research and investment and that will be a goal down the road when I give up teaching but for now, these are for student use in my workshops.  

Meanwhile, the latest issue of Threads Magazine is here, issue 200, a very big milestone in publishing.  I have an article about Crocheted Edges in the Embellishment Column, four pages.  Great technique for handweavers.  I also shot a video of the techniques which will come out sometime next year.

Because time is getting close and I’m an overachiever anyway, I needed to get my holiday towels on the loom so they can be woven off by the first holiday party, which is coming up right after I return from Wisconsin.  I’ve got this…  While I was in Arkansas, Debbie the owner of Red Scottie Fibers and I spent a lot of time talking about Bockens Nialin Cotton and Linen vs Brassard Cottolin, which I can get from Webs much cheaper.  Though I don’t want to come across as cheap, these towels are all gifts and I’ve never had a problem with the Brassard Cottolin, and its Webs American predecessor Valley Yarns Cotlin.  They both made nice thirsty towels.  I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and bought the Bockens, which is Swedish, from Debbie and will report back what I find, though I won’t be able to say how good they are to use or how absorbent they are because they aren’t for me.  So if you are on my list this year, you know who you are, you’ll have to give me feedback on the more expensive yarn.  So far, winding the warp was a dream, the yarn is smooth and clean.  I’m using a draft I picked up at Webs awhile ago, for their Cabana towels. The towels are woven in a mock basket weave, and look to be quite dense and lofty.  We will see. 

The biggest thing is to keep the cat away from my 11.5 yard warp.  That would not be pretty.  I’m getting use to this cat thing, which my daughter brought with her when she moved back home, and I can’t trust it to even leave my charging cords alone.  I just got this one with my new tablet.  We hadn’t treated it with BenGay yet, which is supposed to keep cats from chewing phone chargers.  They cost about $17 to replace from Samsung, ask me how I know that, and they are specific for fast charging.  The things I learn that I wish I didn’t have to know…

So dear readers, stay safe in this first winter storm of the season, to my fiber friends in California, there are no words to describe how my heart bleeds for all of you.  To those who have lost homes, studios, businesses, animals and even loved ones, this is a cruel world and I hope that in all this pain and darkness we find a way to come together as one family.

Stay tuned…


I did it!

This has been a long haul, I’ve been mostly on the road non-stop since August.  There is one more brief venue I need to fly to in December, but my marathon is done.  I still have buckets of stuff on my plate, including the guild show and sale this weekend, and though I probably won’t have any work to show, I’m the treasurer, and will need to spend the three days locked in the kitchen of the facility processing lots and lots of sales.  And then the follow up.

But for now, as I drove up the Eastern Shore of Virginia into Maryland and then Delaware, over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, finally heading up the length of the NJ Turnpike, the leaves were at their peak, and the traffic minimal on a Saturday morning, and I listened to NPR Now on Sirius XM and all was well with the world.  I arrived home much earlier than I thought I would, in time to get my doggies from the Kennel, stop at a Trader Joe’s for my favorite yogurt, and completely unpack and put everything away, getting ready for my heavy calendar on Sunday.  I had a recorder performance in the morning followed by a rehearsal, and then theater tickets at my beloved Shakespeare Theater of NJ.  My daughter and I saw Charlie’s Aunt, and if you are in the area and want a raucous time, laughing until your sides hurt, this is a welcome diversion on all things political.  The perfect British farce.  

That said, I’ll say it now, OBX wins.  For those not in the know, OBX is an abbreviation for the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, coastal, Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk and the Wright Bros memorial and museum.  This is my third year teaching at this lovely five day retreat.  It is organized by Linda Ihle of Island Fiberworks, and she did a bang up job with this one, held at a beachfront resort called Sea Ranch. 

We stayed in condos, I got a beach view and every morning I woke up to this…

And went to bed looking out my balcony to this…

The view is lovely, but mostly I was in the classroom, from 7:30 when I went down to breakfast to well after 10pm each night.  So I didn’t spend my time sitting on my balcony listening to the surf drinking wine.  Actually I spent no time at all.  Sad.

The reason OBX wins is the participants, or rather their fabrics.  I have never seen such a combination of handwoven fabrics, the Blazing Shuttle influence is definitely here, but not everyone used hand dyed or hand painted warps.  I believe everyone but one student used handwoven fabrics.  And the one who didn’t has taken this class with me before, a couple of times, and used gorgeous handwoven fabric, but this time, she was interested in fitting a pile of test garments from patterns she brought, or ready to wear she wanted to copy, to presumably use eventually on handwoven fabrics later.

The gauntlet was thrown down and the first night I arrived after a long drive from north of Baltimore, I was greeted with a lovely spread of food and of course wine!  It flowed regularly and often (after happy hour of course!)

Participants spent the first couple of days with challenging layouts.  This is one of the toughest parts of working with fabrics that combine hand painted warps, finding common areas for matching across the fronts and backs of a garment.  I spent a number of hours the first night of the workshop with one student alone trying to find the best layout.

Because there were wonderful photographers in the group who hardly missed a shot, I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do, and so many of these came from Leigh and Natalie and some of the other students, I swiped them off of Facebook. Mea Culpa dear ladies, I hope it was OK.  There were some really fun pictures of me in action, I rarely ever get into the shot!

Margaret was the participant who brought her own patterns, and she cut out a number of them, including this lovely paneled dress, after I showed her how to copy a beloved piece of ready to wear.  She thought up the pocket treatment herself.  She used a Guatemalan babywrap for the fabric.  Then she made a purple linen bathrobe that will eventually have a belt.  She modified my swing coat pattern, creating more of a duster.

Elizabeth, Dornan, and Cyndi all made Daryl Jackets with the Shawl Collar and Gaila made the same, except without sleeves.  

The rest of the class dove right into my new collared vest pattern that zips up the front.  Natalie led the pack with fabric she wove using Blazing Shuttle Warps and a modification of my Chaos draft, available here. She was hilarious with her camera taking all sorts of documentary selfies.  She made me smile.

Linda, Peggy and Leigh also wove gorgeous versions of my vest, all with fabrics they wove.  

Mary combined my jacket pattern with the collared vest pattern and made this gorgeous jacket.

And Victoria, who has also taken my class a couple of times before, experimented with working on some of her vast collection of smaller cuts of fabrics, thinking of pillows and bags, and then at the end of the class, brought out the walking vest she made two years ago, to finish it up.  It is one of my favorites of all the fabrics, as a matter of fact, I got some of her scraps and am having another pair of clogs made from them.  I wish I had gotten better photos, it looked really lovely on her.

Kathrin Weber came in a few hours before the end of the class, to begin the transition to her class which followed mine starting this morning actually.  As I was packing she was laying out all of her dyed warps for her students to purchase.  I got a great shot of us, she is wearing the collared vest I made, using fabric I wove from a class I took with her last year.  Or was that the year before…  Time flies when you are having fun surrounded by glorious color.

I’ll be back next year, last week in October, all of you who are booked for 2019 in other classes in the country, this one will be a hard act to follow!  

If you are in the area, the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild annual show and sale will be held at Grace Lutheran Church in Mendham NJ, Saturday and Sunday, the 10 and 11, 2018.  I’ll be in the back all weekend doing the numbers!

Stay tuned!


Well that was fun!

I’ve never worked so hard nor been so prepared for anything in my life.  I’m still a little mind blown at how I pulled this off.  When Threads Magazine, whom I write for pretty regularly asked me last summer if I could do a Podcast followed by two days of video shoots for their Threads Insider series, I jumped at the chance, and then looked at the dates they gave me.  One of the weeks I was already committed and the other was squeezed in between my trip to Arkansas and the retreat in the Outer Banks of NC.  Like really squeezed in. Like a  48 hour turn around from when I returned Wednesday evening from CT and will be leaving in a couple hours for NC.  Sigh…  Such is the life of someone who doesn’t allow grass to grow under their feet.  

That said, I had to prepare Step-outs and Scripts for 9 different technique shoots, though really, only 7 because two of the techniques I’d recently written about and I was able to reuse all of those samples.  Step-outs are the step by step samples that show the process, and rather than actually demo most things on a sewing machine in a video shoot, it is easier to film and explain in a seamless string, when you just grab the next sample and show the step completed.  There were something like 30 samples alone for the bound buttonhole series.  

This wasn’t something I could start last summer, as we only finalized the list of what to shoot a couple of months ago, and of course by then, I was permanently on the road.  The scripts weren’t difficult, I just had to show steps and tell the camera crew where they would be shooting, and we were able to rehearse each sequence so we were all on the same page.

 In addition, I needed a manicure.  I never get manicures.  I’m too hard on them.  But it was requested, neutral or clear polish.  So last Saturday I went to a nail salon recommended by the hairdresser who cut my hair in town.  Yeah, I had that done too.  The manicure is still holding a week later.  Best $10 I ever spent, you get a neck rub and hand massage as well.

Side bar.  I’m sure dear readers that you didn’t notice that my wedding ring is gone.  It was one of those private struggles that widows go through, what to do about the wedding ring when your husband is deceased.  It would have been a no brainer, sometimes wear it and sometimes not, but truth is, I couldn’t get it off.  I had it removed and resized 16 years ago when I went for surgery and cancer treatment and it hasn’t been off my finger since then.  It wouldn’t come off.  It was on my list to go to the jeweler and have it cut off.  But it was far down on the list.  

As the manicurist was greasing up my hand, I asked if we could try to remove it.  She didn’t understand at first, since she didn’t speak English, but we eventually communicated that I really wanted it off.  So with a lot of greasy oil and some heavy duty pulling to where I thought at one point I broke my knuckle, we got it off.  I tipped her heavily.  It is now safely hidden away with my husband’s, his had been cut off when he started his cancer treatment back in 2015.  It seemed like the private end of a 40 year relationship.  There is a ridge of course, because the ring was too tight, but I doubt it showed on camera, at  least no one said anything.  They were too worried about the cat hair all over everything, since the cat decided that sleeping in the suitcase while I was packing was great fun.  Remove cat, insert next garment, cat jumps back in, repeat.

Next stop was Walgreens and the Makeup counter, or aisles.  The lovely sales clerk helped me pick out blush.  I bought two.  And I needed to replace my mascara, so I went looking for the same one I used in HS.  Mabelline should never change the packaging, that Pink and Green tube is easy to spot, it is the only mascara I’ve ever liked because it washes off easily.  I don’t wear it in situations where I might cry.

And so, armed with a box of makeup, and pretty nails on my hand, I headed off to a hotel in Danbury, CT and curled up watching Masterpiece Theater on PBS, while I worked on my knitting project, a Merino/Silk from Berroco and a Drops vest.

Monday morning I gathered at the Taunton Press Headquarters in Newtown CT and we recorded (and filmed) a podcast.  It won’t air until probably sometime in February, there are a few in the queue before me, but I actually started listening to them and they are quite good.  Check out the current 9 that have aired here.  They are free to listen to, and it was fun sewing last night, just listening to people talk about sewing.

Tuesday and Wednesday were exhausting.  The crew was fabulous to work with, there were two cameras, one on me in a wide shot, and a close-up camera shooting my lovely hands and all the samples I had carefully stacked and orchestrated.  My late husband use to complain bitterly about how anal and over organized I was all throughout our lives, but those traits are what made what I did Tuesday and Wednesday possible.  I was prepared.  And it was fun.  It was fun to talk to a camera, tell it what I thought was important and the best part, when I messed up a word, I just took a deep breath and repeated the sentence correctly, and through the power of editing, all will be made right in the end.  

And so dear readers, you will eventually get to watch me do some of the garment construction techniques if you subscribe to Threads Insider.  I believe the subscription is $19.99 a year, which really is nothing, and you get unlimited viewing of all of their substantial collection of videos on specific techniques from big names in the industry.  And now I’ll be one of them.  Makes me roll my eyes and laugh.  They are usually short, great tips and explanations, and I can’t wait to see mine up in the list.  They will most likely start coming in also in February when the podcast airs.  Meanwhile, if you subscribe now, you can watch all kinds of great inspiration.  I’ve already got a few techniques I want to try to incorporate in my class patterns.

And now, I need to shower, finish packing my clothes for the week, take the dogs to the kennel in the pouring rain, and maybe if there is time, get another manicure.  I’m thinking I like this celebrity thing…

Stay tuned, next stop, the Outer Banks in North Carolina…


Green grass, winged tigers, and Arkansas…

Many years ago my father said something to me, sort of prophetic, but not something I appreciated at the time.  I had asked my parents to babysit my young children while I attended a weekend event in the next town from them for a HS reunion.  He declined, saying to me, “Grass doesn’t grow under your feet, you’ll figure it out.”  I did figure it out, hiring the teenage daughter of one of my HS classmates to watch my kids at the shore resort, but the comment has stayed with me for more than 20 years.  When my husband was dying, I desperately asked him about finances, and how to connect with his HR department at his office, and he said, “You’ll figure it out”.  Really.  That phrase has haunted me, because in fact, I did figure it out.  I always figure it out.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t figure it out kicking and screaming silently all the way.  There are many many times when I would love someone to figure it out for me.  And yet, the two most important men in my life pushed me to stand on my own feet, and “figure it out”.  The grass does not grow under my feet.  By any stretch of the imagination.

A little over a week ago, I attended an expensive fund raiser for The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ.  I adore their productions and since I was home, a rare occurrence this fall, I not only attended, but called them to see if they wanted a donation of a handwoven scarf for their silent auction.  They were thrilled, and I shipped off one of my handwoven scarves to the director.  I was very pleased to find the scarf displayed quite creatively, and there was some furious bidding for it.  The winner was the actual director of development for the Shakespeare Theater and I was more than pleased that it found a good home for a good cause.  I got a “backstage” tour of their facility, and it was fun to meet some of my favorite actors, seeing them in real street clothes instead of Shakespearean costume!  

Saturday a week ago, I drove down to Clinton NJ to the Hunterdon Art Museum to see an exhibit called Lace, Not Lace.  This museum has had some wonderful exhibits in the past, and though the lace exhibit is continuing until January, I believe, The Urchins, large lace sea urchins by artists Choi and Shine, which hung outdoors over the river, would be leaving that weekend.  

Unfortunately the area was mobbed from a festival, so I had to park about a mile away, and it was hard to get up close to the urchins, but I managed a couple of lovely photos.

The exhibit inside was incredible.  I am a lace maker, bobbin lace specifically.  I’ve blogged about those adventures in the past.  So this exhibit was especially exciting for me, to see what the global lacemaking community is creating, and how they are pushing the envelope as to what is lace and what is not.  Which is really lace after all.  The highlight of course, is a lace carriage, full size, from copper wire, that fills an entire room.  I took many photos of the carriage, the lighting and shadows the lace created on the walls were a completely wonderful dimension to an already breathtaking piece.

I showed my daughter the images I took and she looked curiously at this one…

She said to me, “Mommy, I’ve seen that image before, we had a book I loved as a child called the Winged Tiger, that image is in there.”  OK, now I’m completely blown away.  We had the book on the shelf, and she showed me that indeed, this lovely quirky children’s story was illustrated with images of panels from a lace chariot in progress and there, in the middle of the book was the lace panel from the carriage.  As a matter of fact, the whole story is about a lace princess building a lace carriage to release the winged tiger.  

The book is called The Winged Tiger and the Lace Princess, by Phil Yeh and Lieve Jerger.  The lace carriage in the exhibit is by Lieve Jerger, and it took her 45 years to complete.  This book was published in 1998, when my daughter was 6 years old.  Lieve Jerger had only half completed the carriage, and there is a photo of her on the back cover with the work in progress.

The fact that my daughter remembered this image from 20 years ago was remarkable in itself.  But then we know she is a remarkable kid.  I am even more stunned by the images of the carriage knowing this particular part of the story that isn’t shared in the wall bio of the artist.

Sunday morning I got on a plane for Arkansas.

OK, I’m going to say this right up front.  Arkansas?  I’m a northeast snob and had no idea that there could be anything worth traveling to in Arkansas, and I have never been so wrong about anything in my entire life.  And being wrong and admitting it is not such a terrible sin in this day and age.  

There is a lovely little knitting shop called Red Scottie Fibers in Northwest Arkansas, in a town called Eureka Springs.  The town was built in the mid 1800’s, around the restorative waters of the mineral springs.  It is a fairly liberal enclave with a lovely group of residents and shop owners who have migrated there from other parts of the country.  There is a huge arts community there, studios, craftsmen, galleries, all built in and around beautifully restored and maintained 1800’s structures.  It is all in the Ozarks, some of the streets go straight up, very well read and educated community, and I desperately wanted to move there.  I’ve never been more serious in my life.  The restaurants were amazing, the scenery breathtaking, hiking and biking trails unlike anywhere else in the US, all a 2-3 hour plane ride from Newark, depending on the direction you are going.  

The shop was cozy, and fortunately the class I was teaching didn’t involve actually making a garment.  It was a three day garment construction intensive, geared to handweavers, and I had a full class of 12 squeezed in among the looms.  Everyone was flexible, figuratively and literally, since many of the participants decided to spread out on the floor to trace my patterns.  They were enthusiastic and fun to be around.  They had the opportunity to trace all of my patterns, and there are a lot, and I interspersed lectures on various aspects of garment construction in relationship to handwoven fabrics.  It is a great class if you only have three days. They want me back for a five day intensive, the earliest I have free in my calendar is May of 2020.

I didn’t fly home until the evening following the last day of class, so my lovely hostess, and owner of Red Scottie Fibers took me to see Crystal Bridges Art Museum which was close to XNA, Bentonville airport, which is home of Walmart.  And it was Mrs. Walton, wife of the founder of Walmart who created this incredible art museum, focusing on her vast collection of American Art, and included a Frank Lloyd Wright house which was painstakingly moved, brick by brick from its former home in Millstone, NJ.  Huh…

The museum is world class, even the courtyard at the entrance of the museum had one of Louise Bourgeois’ famous spiders.  I look forward to returning and spending more than just a couple hours.  

While I was in Arkansas, I was able to finish up my sweater, and start a new one.  This one is a pattern called Brianna, from  I knitted the sweater from 2 strands of shetland wool and a silk/wool, both mill ends I bought years ago from WEBS.  It hasn’t been blocked yet, and will really soften up, but it is now in the 40’s and my heat isn’t on yet in the house.  Next up on the needles is a Merino and Silk yarn from Berroco I picked up at Sievers, I’m making a vest.  

I got home late Friday night.  My daughter has moved back home, which isn’t a terrible thing, I do enjoy her company, but the down side is she moved back home with all her stuff.  And she has a studio that exceeds the quantity of yarn and looms  I have collected over the last 40 years.  Much of the equipment is temperature sensitive, meaning looms can’t sit in the garage all winter, besides, I want my garage bay back, winter is coming.  She moved home to take a job at a research facility, which sadly still pays less than she will need to get out on her own, but it is a good career move.  She had only unpacked a few boxes in the week I was away.  

Because I care a lot about looms and keeping them in optimal conditions, I decided, really reluctantly, to make room in my studio, my lovely roomy recently redone studio, for two additional 8 shaft 45″ looms.  Sigh.  This means that now to work in my studio, I need to shimmy sideways around the furniture like the cutting table, ironing board, and of course numerous large looms.  I’m not happy, but it needed to be done for now.  My son will be deploying to the middle east again in January, and I’m hoping she can take at least one of the large looms and move to the basement to take over his space until she can afford to move herself out.

Winter is coming…

Meanwhile, I got word that my duster coat won the HGA award at the Blue Ridge Fiber Festival in Asheville, an award that has always alluded me, and now I can say I finally got one.  And my latest article is out, this time in Heddlecraft Magazine, an online digital handweaving publication, a terrific magazine, if you are a handweaver, you should be subscribing.  My article is titled Ten tips for inspiring good design and better creativity.  I had a blast writing it.

And today, I joined a local chapter of the American Sewing Guild for a field trip to a historic site in Morristown, NJ, called Acorn Hall.  It is mid 1800’s Italianate Victorian mansion, part of the Morris County Historical Society, and they have just installed a wonderful exhibit in the rooms of the mansion called “Iconic Culture: From Little Black Dress to Bell Bottoms, A Cultural Retrospective, 1920-1979.”  We had a private tour and it was a great way to spend the afternoon.  The garments were lovely staged among the period furnishings in this grand home, and all of this only 20 minutes from my house.  

Grass does not ever grow under my feet.  My dad was right.  Reluctantly, I always figure it out.  

And now dear readers, I am going to hide in my studio for a week, coming out only to answer the back log of emails, pay my quarterly sales taxes and monthly bills, and fill out a few contracts for 2019, and the rest of the time will be devoted to prepping the scripts and step-outs for three days of video shoots the following week with Threads Magazine.  I’m having anxiety attacks over the amount of work I still have to do, but my dad and my late husband’s confidence in me keeps me moving forward.  48 hours after I finish the video shoot, I start the trek down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for another five day garment construction retreat.  

Stay tuned…



Three in a row…

This has been quite the marathon, and I’m only at the midpoint of the fall extravaganza of crammed together venues.  I so want to fire my booking agent, sadly there is only me to blame for the tight schedule, but so far I’m handling it.  She says with perfect confidence.  Hahahahahah!

All kidding aside, I adore teaching at Sievers, like I do at my regular gigs like Harrisville.  After a week at John C Campbell where I didn’t know the ropes, the campus, the studio, the meal routine, anything about the place, at Sievers, like Harrisville, I know the routine and know what to expect and I know most of my students.  In fact at Sievers this year, only four of the twelve in the class were new to me.  And the new women were really strong sewers.  They worked independently, and were great to work with.

This year we were back in the Walter studio, an octagonal building with lots of light and air.  Tables are paired for many of the students, and this year in particular there was a lot of humor and joking and pranks, especially when I fell asleep in the middle of class.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that, or if I did it wasn’t captured on film.  They were planning all sorts of mischievous deeds.  But they settled on just posting the photo on social media.  The comments were hilarious.  And touching.  Especially this one from Rebecca Mezoff, and extraordinary teacher herself.  

“Just remember, that is what your teacher feels like at a workshop! It is such hard work! (fun, but exhausting)”

Sievers always starts with the ferry ride.

The studio was all set up and ready to go when I arrived the day before.  They all know what I need and everything is in its place.

In a five day class, my students can explore whatever they want, some make my patterns, I have lots of silhouettes now to choose from. Others bring their own. 

Cindy, Ellen, and Gerri made variations on my collared jacket.  Cindy and Gerri’s jackets are handwoven.  Remember everything is still full of pins, tailors tacks and none of the handwork has even been started.  They save that part for home.

And Terry and Ginnie made swing coats.  We all got lots of laughs when we carefully planned out the back of her digitally printed silk lining, which looked great as the back, but when she held it up to her front, well, it was pretty entertaining.  Ginnie’s is handwoven.

Terry worked harder than I’ve ever seen her work.  She has taken more than 14 classes with me, and I can’t imagine a Siever’s class without her. Even she fell asleep!

Karen and Janene made my new vest pattern with the collar, and Terry started one the last day after finishing up all but the handwork on her swing coat.  Both Janene’s and Terry’s are handwoven.

Linda brought her own patterns, and worked on a plaid shirt, and then a Today’s Fit Vogue, which Joy played around with as well.

Janene started cutting out a tunic from the most gorgeous chenille, once she finished the vest, and I had to smile when I looked over at one of the cutting tables and saw Terry and Karen hard at work, both wearing their tunics they made last year.  Terry’s is handwoven.

Jill made a straightforward Daryl Jacket from Ultrasuede and then started on my vest with armhole bands, piecing the bands with a stack of beautiful quilt fabrics.

Cristel made the same vest in a longer version from handwoven fabric, and then went on to play around with another piece of fabric and made up her own vest pattern based on one I had from an article I wrote for Handwoven Magazine many years ago.  Cristel is pretty skilled.

And one of my new students Wendy has a special place in my heart.  Wendy is very skilled, but came from a professional alterations background, she spent a lifetime working for others, figuring out what the client needs, and is now looking to start listening to what she wants to make for herself.  I so got where Wendy was coming from, I felt like that when I gave up alterations and then again when I gave up craft fairs.  Wendy had no other agenda but consulting with what she brought, and tracing all my patterns.  She is a bit of a weaver, and had a couple of nice pieces of yardage which she can’t wait to work on.  Meanwhile, she did play around with my bias top, test garments are hard here since all fabrics fall differently on the bias.  She whipped up a sample which gave us clear direction on how much to increase the bust cup.  I know she will be fine, her smile says it all.

Ginnie presented me with a copy of my side pocket pattern where she wrote what she thought was my ultimate job was, and I can’t help but smile.  I did feel like a forensics expert, trying to figure out where a pattern or construction detail went wrong and then making it work.

And so, another Sievers group graduates, this is my 13th year teaching at Sievers.  They made me all promise I would go back to the 7 day format next year, which I couldn’t do this year for obvious reasons.  48 hours to turn around between venues is not enough!

There were lots of group hugs as we all started packing up the last day, and five of us managed to be together on the ferry going home.

Joy was my driver to the airport and we stopped for lunch at a place I’ve never been, Al Johnson’s in Sister Bay, famous for having goats on the roof.  Really.  While waiting for a table, I wandered around the gift shop and managed to come home with an Icelandic knit dress in Merino wool.  That was an expensive lunch.

And so I have caught up on bookkeeping for the quarter, balanced the accounts and paid the bills.  And now I prep for Arkansas, I leave next weekend.  No rest for the weary…

Stay tuned…