Mom of 3000…

Mother’s Day is tomorrow. I honestly don’t pay too much attention to Hallmark holidays. This time last year we were in Japan. My daughter bought me flowers last night, and a small piece of my favorite cake, Tiramisu. That’s a holdover from my late husband, something we both loved… And she made these tiny arrangements out of a Lego knock-off that are lovely and will sit in my window in the kitchen. My son is half way across the world doing military duty. I wish he were home.

This has been a crazy few weeks. I wanted it that way. With my son away, and drama all around me, I wanted big projects to stay as busy as I can to focus on that which I cannot change.

Everything came together in the last week. Last Sunday my music group, Montclair Early Music had their spring concert. Called Myth and Magic, it celebrated the Renaissance, and fantasy, video games, and Harry Potter. I borrowed a dress that was more fantasy than Renaissance. So I can now cross that off my list of things to focus on.

I finished the cat appliqué quilt block number 4, and this one was really really hard. All that feathery cat fur was very challenging to appliqué.

I’m working on block 5, my goal is one a month and finish by the end of the year when I can give it to my mom. It was her project, quilt block of the month from Maggie Walker, purchased in the late 90’s. She asked me to make it for her since she is in her 90’s and her eyesight and arthritic fingers make it too difficult for her to work on. I found the endless stitching to be centering, soothing, and really really good for my mental health.

This past Thursday night, my retrospective at County College of Morris, in Morris County, NJ reopened. Though the magic of the first opening will never be matched, a number of my guild members came and we had the most lovely time, chatting, talking about weaving, and we met a new fellow weaver wearing an awesome handwoven scarf, which we were all over, and convinced him to join the guild. Which he did. Our numbers are growing…

Monday I give the keynote address to the Morris County Teen Arts Festival, and then that will be behind me. The exhibit will be open through the summer, now through August 22. Hours are M-F 9-6. There is hope that there will be Saturday hours, but a lot of people have to agree, including security, and they aren’t always on the same page.

Meanwhile, this week, my landscape designer, who has been here for more than a month, finished planting more than 3000 perennials, with a couple dozen bushes and trees, almost all native, and designed to attract pollinators, and bloom from early spring into late fall. I have so much to learn. But I’m starting with something.

My job is to keep everything alive for the next few weeks until root systems are established. A couple hours of watering a day will be required. I knew what I was getting into, but what I didn’t know, was how magical early mornings are, with robins, and butterflies, and bugs, and nature all doing its thing. I’ve never spent so much time outside. There is a robin that comes and finds me every morning. And a pair of cardinals that lurks nearby. And there is a painted lady butterfly that is checking out all the new plants. I’m learning each type of plant the designer put in. We went around today and labeled things so I’d be able to learn to recognize plants from their earliest spring sprouts through blooming, and dying back in the fall. The ponds continue to be a challenge, but they are full of happy fish.

The designer laid two palettes of gorgeous bluestone. Some of it is surrounded by grass, but the rest will eventually be buried in beds of phlox and violets. All those little plugs will fill in and there won’t be visible dirt to weed.

I’ve had well meaning friends wonder why I don’t just invest in sprinklers. Not only is that an indiscriminate waste of water, but what I water and how much depends on each plant and its location. And if it rained recently and how much. This is sort of like having a new baby, scant directions, developing new instincts, flying by the seat of your pants, because you have little idea of what you are doing. But I’m trying, and hoping to keep my 3000+ charges alive. And make sure the southern Magnolias and American Holly don’t get root rot.

And I’ve been clearing a decent size bed, between my property and the edge of the backyard next door, of bags full of Creeping Charlie. And other invasive nasties. I’m thinking this is where I want to put my dye garden. I just have to look up what to plant. I’m going shopping next week! In search of dye plants… And maybe start a watercolor gardening journal, there are some really beautiful things in my yard…

I’m doing what I love, learning something new. Discovering a new magical world. And I am willing to work hard to keep it all alive. We didn’t kill all the invasives, there are still a lot on my property. Mostly what’s left serves a purpose, privacy, screening, shade, beautiful fall color. Bit by bit, as the newly planted trees and bushes grow, I’ll be taking a lot more out. And I’m finding things I didn’t know I had, violets, fleabane, and some other cool things the landscape designer identified, but I’ve already forgotten. And yes, that is an Alaskan Weeping Cedar, and no it is not native to NJ, but as my landscape designer said, it is a really cool tree…

So Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and everyone out there who cares for something, whether it be a child, a dog, a cat, goldfish in a pond, or a tree. There is something healing about caring for something outside yourself. It takes a village, it takes a planet.

Stay tuned…

While I was planning something else…

Most of you know at this point that my son has been deployed to a place in the middle east that is challenging. My goal this year was to stay so busy I wouldn’t have time to think about that challenge. And so far that has been my life saver. The exhibit was one of the greatest things to happen to me professionally. It is down now, or rather the 41 dress forms have been moved to a smaller gallery, the Titan Gallery, around the corner from the main gallery. That leaves the main gallery for their end of semester student show. I had wanted to get there to see it. At the beginning of May, the full exhibit will return, exactly the way it was, to the main gallery, with another reopening May 9th, coordinating with the Teen Arts Festival. The exhibit will remain up until the end of August. I expect to be there the final couple days before reopening to check that all the labels are correct and all the clothing hanging the way I like it. Lots of zhuzhing up…

Here are a couple images from the Titan Gallery.

The show will reopen with a formal opening from 6-8PM on May 9th, that’s a Thursday, and the hours of the show, from what I understand, are M-F 9-6, and probable Saturday hours, but that’s not confirmed.

The response has been overwhelming, carloads of friends, guild members from across three states, friends from my High School in South Jersey, I’m touched and honored at the support. What a beautiful way to end my professional career, allowing me to do fun things that retired people do. Like weave, knit, garden, volunteer, you know. Have fun…

I made the decision last fall, that I really needed to remove the invasives from my property, and so I hired a fantastic landscape designer, highly recommended, to basically redesign my property. I mentioned this before in my blog. She has been remarkable. Covered in mud at the end of the day, she is out there with her one helper, hauling dirt, hauling trees, moving boulders around my yard. This is just one area that she has cleaned out and reworked, and the hundreds of plugs of perennials will eventually be added. My entire property will basically look like this but full of perennials. My only job is to keep this watered and weeded until everything is established. No problem she says with complete confidence…

Meanwhile, I had this beautiful vine covered gazebo that became invaded by a horrifically invasive Akebia vine. Which I did not plant. It killed everything else, except one pocket of cross vine, struggling for any kind of survival. I gave my daughter permission to start ripping. 11 bags later to the brush recycling, and the structure had been so compromised that we decided to purchase a similar domed structure that would help support the crossvine and any new ones we planted, and anchored the two together. It will be a few years, but I’ll have my gazebo back.

So while all of that is happening, I signed up for a three day workshop through my guild, with Rosalie Neilson, on Rep. Rep is a warp face structure, with alternating thick and thin wefts. It is great for rugs, and bags, and I just wanted to hang with my weaving buddies. Day 2 was entertaining in that we were about 15 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake that struck western NJ. It was felt up into Boston. They are still talking about it. 4.8 magnitude. Not common on the east coast. At first I thought the building had been hit by a truck, but the rumbling and shaking kept happening. It took us a long time to figure out it was an earthquake, and so we ran outside. I have to honestly say, it was an incredible experience to feel the earth under my feet swaying back and forth, like waves, subtle but very intense. I’ve never felt anything like it. It was a powerful thing to witness. We stayed outside for about 15 minutes and decided we were cold and went back to the workshop. No discernable damage, we kept close watch on our phones for any updates. There have been something like 85 aftershocks, none of which I felt.

We ended the workshop on Saturday, and though I still have warp left, I cut off what I’d done, and we all got to take pictures. I’ve done rep before, so I understood it, but I had never tried Warp Floats, which is a sort of turned Honeycomb structure, except both sides are the inverse of each other unlike weft Honeycomb. I want to try more of that.

Sunday, one of my guild buddies and I headed into NY to the NY Botanical Gardens Orchid show. It was of course gorgeous, and I couldn’t take enough photos. Their infamous glass house of course had other types of plants, and I’m always up for cactus and succulents.

Lots of inspiration here, especially for dyeing…

Meanwhile, because I’d pulled a lot of old work and scraps from the attic looking for things for the retrospective, I had piles of scraps, still, from the production years in the 1980’s. I hate to just toss all of it. I keep thinking that there has to be some fun thing I can do, some patchworky thing, besides all the ornaments, bags, totes, greeting cards, etc., I do already for my guild sale. These are not my best fabrics, these are plain weave, mixed warps, all from the early and mid-1980’s. But they are still valid fabrics. So I thought I might try my favorite sweater jacket pattern, and maybe a larger size, so someone bigger than me can fit into it at my guild sale. I started to lay out the fabrics in a blocky random way.

I have lots of colors in scraps of silk noil, that I made into bias tubes to put between the butted handwoven scraps, which were fused onto a backing. I added a layer of punch needle fleece, so when I stitch down the bias tubes, I’d be essentially quilting the jacket.

I wasn’t sure at first, but now that I see the back finished, I’m really liking it and can’t wait to see it as a finished jacket. There is a four part series of this piecing technique on my YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews. They were some of the last ones I recorded.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing work on the cat appliqué quilt blocks my mom gave me last year, something she wanted to start in the 90’s, but never got around to it. She asked me to make it for her. I was horrified at first, but then started playing around with it, and truth be told this is so much fun. I love watching each cat build from the fabrics they give you. This one is particularly challenging with all the fringy fur. But I’m finishing up quilt block 4 of 9. Blocks 1-3 are in previous blog posts. This cat is a Persian, and all that is left is the face, which has something like 35 pieces.

And in between all of that, I’m rehearsing for a concert in May, with my early music group. I love the music, Renaissance music is fun and fun to play, and this particular concert will also include music from video games like the Legend of Zelda.

I should have been at rehearsal tonight. But life sort of got in the way. You know, things happen when you are planning something else?

So Tuesday, I was running around shopping and packing boxes to send to my son overseas. He asked for some things like K-cups and snacks, and I’m a good military mom, and got right on it. Trying to fit everything into one box proved challenging, so I went out to our recycling bin for a second box. I was running up and down between floors, my house is 125+ years old and there are practically steps between every room. I came down carrying the second box and missed the last step and next thing I knew, I’m screaming in pain, and the indignity of it all, and please don’t let it be broken.

I did manage to get to the post office, to ship two boxes of stuff to my son in parts of the world that are challenging. I left the post office and knew at that point that it was broken. Three hours in the ER confirmed. I’m pissed of course, because I’m having fun, and keeping busy doing the things I want to do. I want to be in the gardens. I want to be at music rehearsal. I want to be weaving, and planning, and volunteering. The diagnosis is a cortical avulsion fracture at the dorsum of the navicular, with a possible fracture at the lateral aspect of the cuboid. Or in simpler terms, I broke the top of my foot.

They gave me a temporary splint, and a pair of crutches, and may I say that giving an almost 70 year old woman a pair of crutches is pretty dangerous. I almost killed myself a half dozen times on the way home.

I saw the foot specialist today, and in the corner of the waiting room was this really pretty fake hydrangea. I got a picture of it. I loved the colors. I’m already thinking it will be my next warp. The foot specialist put me in a boot, but wants an MRI, scheduled for Monday to make sure I didn’t tear the tendon coming from my ankle. I doubt it, and I’m in absolutely no pain. There isn’t much swelling, and I’m learning to navigate with this giant thing on my foot. Please don’t tell me I’m doing too much. There is no way I can sit on the couch with my feet up for anything longer than an hour or two. I just can’t do it. There is too much going on, animals to attend to, and too many fun things I want to do. So I will find a way. My next goal is to figure out how to get out in the garden, sit my butt on a cart, and continue pulling out invasives. A broken shoulder two years ago didn’t stop me, and a broken foot won’t either.

So I’ll be at my opening in a boot, I’ll give the Teen Arts Festival keynote address in a boot. I’ll perform at my early music concert in medieval garb, with a boot. I’ll take a workshop in natural dyeing at Peters Valley in a boot. And I’ll drive to a farm in south Jersey for a lecture on growing dye plants, in a boot. And I’ll do what I always do. And if I have to weave on a floor loom, I still have one usable foot. Mostly I’m working on table looms, so that isn’t an issue at the moment.

I’ll post the updated promotional materials for the exhibit once I have them, and I’ll keep you posted on the gardens and all my other adventures. The pieced jacket will probably be on hold a bit, because when I build these pieces I stand at the cutting table. Standing is a bit challenging at the moment, but I’ll figure out a way.

Enjoy your spring my friends, heavy rains due in tonight. Everything will get a good drink of water.

Stay tuned…

And what a night it was…

My heart is full, and my gratitude endless at all who came out last night to celebrate my retrospective, and share with me a lifetime’s work. It was a fantastic party, magical, and probably one of the top ten nights of my career. So many of you have asked for more pictures, and specifically my mom, who at 92 can’t really travel to actually see the exhibit, I promised to do a lengthy blog post for those that feel like they missed out.

The show runs to the end of the month, when the college needs the gallery for their final student shows, and then it returns the beginning of May, and runs through the end of the summer. So there is time to go see it, and spend time with the work.

The gallery is quite large, and I stood in awe, when I walked in yesterday, to see my name in, as a friend described it, size 2000 font. And of course I’m wearing the dress I finished Monday night realizing I had nothing to wear to this monumental event.

The two garments flanking the title wall are Busy Bistro Walking Vest, and Wildfires. Details can be found in my website gallery, 2022-202* and 2011-2014

There is a long hallway in front of the title wall, and then side entries into the gallery behind.

There are fifteen groups or themes in the exhibit, plus a demonstration area, and I wrote an artist statement for each of them. I’m including a link to a PDF to each of the artist statements, in case you want to read more in depth about each theme. Most pieces in the exhibit are on my website in one of the many galleries, with professional photos, details, and descriptions, including the year it was made. I’ve linked each grouped theme to the gallery page or pages where they appear if you want to see each piece up close. The goal is to film a documentary, but that will be awhile coming. It will involve my daughter who is my film maker, editor and producer for all my videos, and right now, she is in Disney World. Incidentally, some of you are aware my son is deploying to the middle east and has been doing extensive training in the southwest getting acclimated to desert life again. He is heading to the middle east imminently, but two of his friends came to the opening, with a cell phone and my son was on Facetime, and I got to see him, and his friends walked the phone around the gallery showing him my work. Whatever I’ve said about the intrusion of technology into our lives, I take that back. I couldn’t stop crying at how special that moment was. Godspeed Eric. Stay safe.

Group 1 artist statement. Group 1 contains the following works, click on each work for an image from my website. The gallery pages are here, here, here, and here. Leaves and Berries Coat, Mitered Silk Twill Tunic, Autumn Plaid Tunic, Ikat Swing Coat, Forest Fire, Magical Bias Dress, Winter Florals Coat, Winter Florals Jacket, Autumn Patchwork Duster, Autumn Patchwork Tunic. These last four pieces are actually part of Group 10, which I’ll provide details when we get there. A handling piece was provided for each garment because we textile people need to touch!

Group 2 artist statement. Group 2 contains the following works, click on each work for an image from my website. The gallery pages are here, here, and here. Complex Wanderings II, Peacock Fantasy, Spring Rain Pieced Dress and Tote Bag, Slice and Dice, Cocoon. Peacock Fantasy was used in a County College of Morris Production as a costume for the God of Water, in Once on this Island, in 2009. Images are on the wall on either side.

Group 3 artist statement. Group 3 contains the following works, click on each work for an image from my website. The website gallery pages are here, here, here, and here. Note, this group was repurposed from other works, and images of the original work are included on the wall behind the garments. Frosted Florals Top, and Frosted Florals Bias Top, (reworked from Frosted Florals Gown), Spirit Mist, Jacket with Felted Collar (reworked from Amigas Virtuosas Dress), Vintage Revisited Vest, Vibration, and Color Blocked Dress.

Group 4 artist statement. Group 4 contains five art garments I created between 1996 and 2004. There is a gallery page on my website that shows all of them, with descriptions and details. Click here.

Group 5 artist statement. Group 5 contains a series of woven memories, using images printed on fabric, cut into strips and rewoven in an inlay technique. There is a gallery page on my website that shows all of them, and many others that have been sold over the years. That page has all of the descriptions and details. Click here. There is one piece, on the far right, that is a collage, and is found here, in the website collage gallery page. All of the works in this group are for sale, information can be found on the respective website gallery pages.

Group 6 artist statement. Group 6 contains three works, all created using one of my patterns, the 600 walking vest, featured here on the wall. Rather than take a photo of the door between the first and second of the walking vests, there are two images. Website gallery pages are here, here, and here. The three garments in this group are Fantasy in Fur Walking Vest, Checked Mohair Walking Vest, and Evolution.

In addition, there are two pieces that aren’t part of a group, a short jacket on the left in the first photo, Shadow Play, gallery page here, and The Journey, a digitally woven tapestry, gallery page here. The Journey is also for sale.

Group 7 Artist Statement. Group 7 contains works made in workshops with other instructors, included here because continuing education is critical for any creative person. There are two views as this group is freestanding in the aisle. The reversible doublewoven jacket is positioned so that one can view the inside as well as the outside. Gallery pages are here, here, and here. The first image features Bubble Cloth Vest, Krokbragd Tote Bag, Turned Taqueté Vest, and Doubleweave Patchwork Jacket. The second photo features Crimp Cloth Vest, and Huck Sampler Top. There is no image on my website for the Huck Sampler Top, it was never formally photographed.

Group 8 artist statement. The gallery page for this group of garments is here. All four were woven specifically for Silk City Fibers. Shadow Tapestry, Summer Rain Top, Confetti Vest, and Antique Jewels Swing Dress. PDF’s project sheets are available as free downloads from my eShop. Shadow Tapestry, Summer Rain Top, Confetti Vest, Antique Jewels Swing Dress.

Group 9 artist statement. This grouping celebrates my writing career, these garments were featured in articles that are paired with the pieces. Gallery pages are here, here, here, here, and here. From left to right, Surgically Tied, L. A. Attitude, Noro Flower Garden, Noro Jacket, Mohair Collared Vest, Mohair Coat with Hood, Fulled with Sari, Tartan Trench Coat. The first garment Surgically Tied was created from kumihimo braiding I did while undergoing out-patient surgery, and the experience with the nurses wanting to learn to do what I was doing, became an Endnotes column for a 2003 issue of Handwoven Magazine. You can read that column here.

Group 10 artist statement. Gallery pages on my website are here, here, here and here. Pendleton Worms Vest, from leftovers from a Pendleton Worms jacket featured in a Handwoven article, an Evening Top Commission, and Sunlight on the Water, from the scraps of that commission, which aren’t on my website. Splash Dress, which was woven from the leftovers from Amigas Virtuosas photographed with the dress. Around the corner are Driftwood Swing Dress, and Driftwood Motorcycle Vest, and Winter Sunset Coat and Winter Sunset Motorcycle Vest. Also included were Autumn Patchwork Tunic and Duster and Winter Florals Jacket and Coat. All four of those pieces were included in Group 1.

Group 11 artist statement. Gallery pages are here, here, here, and here. Garments featured here are Phoenix Rising, Dragonfly, Big Shirt, Vertical Barriers Swing Skirt, and Chaos Shirt. Included are two pages from one of my forecast columns for Handwoven Magazine.

Group 12 artist statement. This center display features an Inklette Inkle loom under plexi, and three garments that were made using commercial fabric with Inkle woven trim. Two of the garments were featured in a spread on how to weave trim, in Threads Magazine. The website gallery page is here. Lower front right is Vest with Inkle Woven Trim, back left on the form, Floodlights, back right on the form, With a Nod to Chanel.

Group 13 artist statement. There are three garments in this group. Gallery pages are here and here. Included is a photo of a County College of Morris intern, who worked with me and helped me felt the panels for Winter Landscape. Garments are Winter Landscape, Second Time Around, and Arctic Sky.

Group 14 artist statement. This group features felted artworks and can be found, with images, details and descriptions, along with prices as they are all for sale, on this website gallery page. In addition there is a small 4-shaft floor loom with a hand-dyed warp, and alpaca/silk weft from my previous blog post.

The last group of works are all from the early years. Because this exhibit will tie into the Morris County Teen Arts Festival in May, telling the entire story of my career should include work as far back as I could go. There is a macramé vest from High School, a couple of works from college, a couple of garment ensembles from my craft fair days, and some tapestries. Artist statement 15 is here. Because most of this work is not on my website, I’ve taken a few extra photos of the work. The tapestries are all on my website gallery page, and are all for sale.

There was a small corner when you first walked into the gallery, that featured a dress I made for a conference fashion show gala. I grabbed a piece of old production fabric from the attic and made a dress that wrapped around the body with one seam. It is featured here on the wall with my 9 page resume, which is on my website here, and a Lucite bin with rolls of handwoven yardage.

The last area of this exhibit is one I’m proud of, a hands on experience for everyone. My daughter and I filmed a 12 minute how to weave video, using a few of my Leclerc sample looms and my Structos. I set them up ahead of time, provided yarn, and let the public play.

And here is one more that was just sent to me from my friend and guild mate and fellow weaver Sally, who grabbed me holding court near the felted wall pieces. It was a grand night, I wish all of you could have been there, but I’ve done my best today to let you see what we put together. A huge thank you to CCM and Brian Sahotsky, Gallery Director among other things (he also teaches art history), for this amazing opportunity to bring what I do front and center. Overheard was someone who had a loom languishing in the basement and as a result of the exhibition, was inspired to dig it out and start weaving again.

I am very tired. It is time to close my eyes, get some sleep, and start on the dreaded tax season, which will then lead to glorious planting season and I will be off and running.

Stay tuned…

Bringing up the bodies…

With apologies to Hilary Mantel…

I wish I could have taken a picture of me following a County College of Morris Dodge Caravan heading west on Rt. 10, loaded with 20 dress forms, all stacked like bodies, on the way to the college gallery with the second load for the exhibition. It was pretty hilarious.

This has been one of the most intense but awesome assignments of my life, to organize a retrospective of my work, and all the moving piece parts, assign labels, write 15 artist statements for the 15 categories of work, some 90 pieces, including wall/art pieces. Enormous.

My best friend in High School said to me on Facebook, “I knew you when…” and “Is this like getting an Oscar?” Wow. What a lovely thing to say. I wouldn’t know, since I’ve never gotten an Oscar and have never done anything to deserve an Oscar, but this retrospective is pretty important to me. I think of it more like a lifetime achievement award. Slow and steady. Because one of the sponsors of the show is Morris County Teen Arts, there was a request to go back as far as I could with work to tell the complete story. So there is a macramé vest I did in 1972. I’m still proud of that piece. I was 17 years old. (And Macramé was all the rage.)

So the last couple of weeks, I’ve done nothing but dress bodies, and store bodies in my guest rooms. The forms I purchased through Amazon were really inexpensive. About $21 each. But… each form costs $25 to ship via Fedex, and the hip measurement of each form was only 33 1/2″. I do not know of a single adult human being with a 33 1/2″ hip. I don’t know who they were designed to fit. Maybe that’s why they were so cheap. So I invested in a few rolls of large bubble wrap, and armed with a tape gun, and a box of shoulder pads I found in the attic from my production days, I bubbled up some 41 dress forms to fit my garments.

All the forms were stored in my corner guest room. I also invested in something like two dozen shirt forms, for the smaller less important pieces that were necessary for the stories. The gallery director came up with a 40 form limit for the existing gallery floor space, and so I needed to also fill the walls.

On Tuesday, I moved everything to the living room to wait for the van. The dogs were initially curious but ultimately bored, nothing I do is of much interest to them. Unless food is involved… That was my workout for the month. I moved probably 40 pieces down a couple flights of stairs, one at a time.

And so everything for the show is now at the gallery. Except the demonstration loom. I designed a 4-shaft fabric, that sort of looks like my 8-shaft fabric, (a variation on my Custom Runner draft in my eShop) on a 25″ floor loom. I started with a poster from one of my Magic Puzzles. This one is called Sunny City. It was sort of sepia-toned and nostalgic. All the yarns are hand-dyed with fiber-reactive dyes.

I got the loom set up in record time. 5 yards beamed.

And I played around with wefts, struggling to decide if I wanted to focus more on the soft palette of vintage looking colors, or showcase the interesting combination of structures which would require a darker warp. In the end I settled on a mid-grey Alpaca/Silk, from WEBS, but I didn’t have enough on the cone for the 4 1/2 yards I would ultimately be weaving. I went to the WEBS site and not only did they still have the yarn, but it was on sale! Score! There is a second cone coming soon. (But I won’t be weaving this off until the fall. The loom will be at the college until the end of the summer.)

Here is the flier for the show, or rather both halves of the postcard. The show technically ends the end of March, moves to a smaller gallery (just the bodies) and everything else goes into storage while the college puts on its students’ final show. Everything gets remounted the beginning of May, there is another opening, and I give the keynote address for the Morris County Teen Arts Festival. The show will remain in the Main Gallery through the summer. Apparently CCM is redoing its website, so if you Google the gallery, the information is from last October and that won’t be helpful for this show.

We recorded a 12 minute video on ‘how to weave’, and there will be three Structo/Leclerc Sample Looms there for gallery patrons to try. I’ll swap them out each week to freshen, re-warp, etc. I gave a number of my teaching Structos to one of my guild mates who will be taking over the Learn-to-Weave program for my guild, so I needed to clear one of the 4-shaft looms I had set up previously with some random structure. I chose the Leclerc Sample Loom which had a linen warp and wove off the couple yard huck lace sampler. I still had linen on the spools so I figured, this should be easy, I picked one of the designs, and started to weave off the rest of the spools. This was a couple months ago. I’m still weaving. I’ve determined this loom is magical and that it is a warp that will never end. I know a pre-warped Structo spool, back in the day, could hold 20 yards of 20/2 cotton, and this linen is a similar weight. Dear Lord… The spools came to me with the loom, a hand me down from my late mother-in-law. I had no idea how much linen was still left, but how bad could it be? Bad…

I weave an hour or so a day, and still I look back there and it looks the same. I keep hoping I’ll start to see the end soon. I need this loom. Five of the six sample looms are ready to go. I have a five yard carpet warp waiting. Sigh…

So that’s a wrap up of Daryl’s Greatest Adventure, a 40 years look back over an amazing body of work, which isn’t even half of what I’ve done, because there is a ton that has been sold and I didn’t even count the hundreds of garments I sold in my 10 years of craft fairs. I promise to take pictures, and my daughter, who is currently on a Star Trek cruise to the Caribbean, promised to film a documentary when she gets back.

My only real problem now, is I have nothing to wear to the opening, since everything I have will be on exhibit… Hmmmm…..

And I should mention that today, in spite of everything else that is happening in my life, is the 22 year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. 2/22/2002. I will never forget this date. And so it is fitting that I’m mounting a retrospective of what I’ve accomplished in the years since that diagnosis, and there have been many of them. I wish my late husband could have been here to see this accomplishment. I was one of the lucky ones to have lived through a cancer diagnosis…

Stay tuned…

Keeping very busy…

It’s what I do…

There have been some pretty dark times in my life. We all have them. And we all have different ways of getting through them. My way, is to stay so freaking busy I don’t have time to dwell on anything I have no control over. And so that will be my solution to the darkness that has set over my small family, with my son’s deployment to Syria.

NJ is sending 1500 troops from the 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, their largest deployment since 2008, to bases in Iraq and Syria. I am heartsick of course, and will worry constantly for all 1500 of them, because right now, that part of the world is in crisis and no one knows how to fix it. Mid month I joined my son in Trenton for a large send off, speeches by our Senator, Governor, and all kinds of higher ups that said meaningful things, in support of our troops.

My son is the bald guy right in the middle.

At this point, he has deployed, first through Texas, and then will be making his way to Syria. I won’t know until he can get word that he is there, and I don’t expect to be able to hear from him regularly. Internet is poor, and of course Verizon doesn’t have a cell spot in Syria. He dropped his jeep off for safe keeping and final hugs on Saturday, while I was teaching a two day remote workshop, with the Baltimore Guild, each participant making a vest over the two days. While the workshop was wildly successful, I’m glad they didn’t see my tears when I came in from outside, because my glasses had turned dark from the sun. And I’m incredibly glad I was in the middle of a workshop, and had no time to grieve.

Mid January is my guild, the Jockey Hollow Weavers’ Learn to Weave class, which I teach, along with my daughter. I bring 15 Structo Looms, and the weather cooperated. I bring prewound warps in 8/4 cotton rug yarn, and they set up the loom in a pattern gamp. They get to weave all sorts of structures with different wefts to experiment with color interlacements. It was a really fun day, and I’ve passed on 12 of the Structos to another guild member that would like to carry this forward.

I signed up for 8 workshops this year at Peters Valley School of Craft, because they all interested me, and because, I’m trying to book myself into oblivion! The first workshop took place over the last two Sundays, and thankfully it was recorded since I missed the second installment as I was teaching. The class, taught by Natalie Stopka, who is one of the best teachers I’ve ever taken a class from, was on Natural Dyeing, and it was remote. In January. I have never worked with botanical powders, and couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. My dye kitchen worked extremely well, I didn’t have to buy any new equipment, and the kit Natalie sent provided everything I needed for a successful natural dye experience. The second session was working with a fructose indigo vat.

So these are the results. I dyed the samples with madder (salmon color), weld (bright yellow color), logwood (purple to black color), and of course indigo (the chambray blue color). On silk…

On cotton (Note that I also played around with resists with items included in the kit.)…

On wool yarn…

Ombré effect on a silk scarf from my “to be dyed” stash…

Ombré effect on a cotton scarf provided in the kit. I used the indigo to overdye the weld producing a pretty aqua color in addition to the blue.

And to exhaust each of the pots, I used up the remainder of the dye with skeins of silk and wool. The blue indigo is still wet.

There is something about creating color in January that just makes me come alive.

And of course, it is not lost on me that the mother of all projects fell in my lap last fall, a retrospective of my work over the last 45 years, at County College of Morris in their main gallery opening February 29th. There was some major divine intervention that allowed this huge project to absolutely consume me in one of my darkest months since my husband died. I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get this all organized. There are something like 90 works involved. The really cool thing is that I’m pouring over archives, storage, attic, scraps, closets, 40 year old slide images, searching for each of the components I need to pull this off. I spent two hours the other day on the floor of my late husband’s closet looking for an image from 1994. I was just ecstatic when I found it.

And in all that I found a few things I’d completely forgotten about. Like this handspun sweater I made from cashmere, somewhere in the 1970’s. It’s been in the back of my closet since then. Miraculously it fit, and I like it, and it is unbelievably warm. It is my new favorite thing to wear. Go figure…

The gallery staff requested I have handling swatches with each garment. I know the public really appreciates it, most weaving conferences require it, and I spent at least five days rooting through the archives, attic, basement, and even my teaching bags, which I no longer need, and my design journals looking for a scrap of the original fabric. I found all but two maybe?

My guest rooms are packed with dress forms, which come in weekly. My cat Mulder of course likes to help whenever he can, especially if there are boxes. And there are a lot of boxes.

Each form is bulked up with bubble wrap because the forms I purchased, which were very inexpensive, have hips that are only 33″ wide. I don’t know anyone with 33″ wide hips. There are no words… But the forms work for me, and bubble wrap adds the additional couple inches I need to fill out the work. I’ve had to do repairs on some of the pieces, especially ones I wear a lot, and even had to reweave a small area on a major piece when I discovered a cigarette burn all the way through. That was one of my more impressive feats. So one of my guest rooms is pretty packed with forms, each one ready to display, with handling swatch and temp label. The permanent labels will be fixed to the wall.

The college van comes Friday for the first load.

And I think the universe is sending multiple angels to help support me, suddenly people who have been off my radar are popping up in unexpected places and encouraging me to get out, meet up, do lunch, and just be with people. A former guild member reached out to see if I’d help her jumpstart back into spinning and we had such a delightful morning, as I dusted off my wheel, my old Ashford Traditional which I bought after my freshman year of college and still gets the job done, and we sat together spinning, and decided to do this weekly. It felt amazing. I think this is handpainted merino but I’m not completely sure…

And so dear readers, know that I am really fine. There will be moments of course, and all I can do is hope that all 1500 return safe and can get on with their civilian lives. I have people who are watching out for me, and I hope that my late husband is watching out for my son. Thank you for all who reached out privately, I know I’m not alone, there are 1500 other families who are in the same boat. I have turned off notifications on all of the news feeds I subscribe to, I can read the local paper each morning and that’s it. I cannot follow the news 24/7.

Back to writing artist statements and dressing forms. Stay tuned…