Past, Present, and Future…

It is a new year, and there isn’t enough popcorn and Dramamine to keep me sane, (Popcorn for the political entertainment, both national and local, NJ is always one for the front page, and Dramamine for the severe ups and downs of the stock market, I’m a bit nauseous with the whole thing).  So what’s a stressed out 60 something year old to do?  Fiber of course.  And not the edible kind.  I am grateful every day for the ability to get up in the morning, tend to the animals and breakfast, read the paper and then bury myself in stuff related to the execution of interlacing soft colorful chaotic elements into some kind of controlled thing of beauty.   That’s what I’m telling myself anyway…

My holiday celebration was lovely.  With my husband gone, my children and I have had to find new ways of celebrating family events, and we drove to Maryland to visit my mom, who is still alive at 87, and my sisters.  They are my rock and I can’t imagine life without them.  My New Year’s Eve/Day was spent quiet, and alone and I couldn’t have been happier.  I was in bed by 10pm.  This was a good thing…  Though I will say there was lots of nostalgia of past New Year’s Eve’s, spent with a group of friends, remembering days when my husband was alive and how life was in our earlier years.

I really never make resolutions, though this year I’ve seriously rethought that concept.  And you will laugh, because though I like my life in general, in spite of the complete chaos I tend to find myself in, especially with two dogs and a cat and two 20 something children living at home, there are lots of things I’m missing out on because well, there are too many cool things to do in life and not enough hours.  Take the movies for instance.  The day after Christmas, I drove home from Maryland, unpacked and decided that I really wanted to see Mary Poppins, and I wasn’t going to wait around to find someone to go with me, because I’m perfectly capable of seeing it myself.  I took my little self to the movie theater, which I haven’t done in years, bought my $7.99 senior discount ticket, that had an assigned seat, who knew, and entered the theater and OMG, they have heated recliners for optimum viewing and that was just the best two hours I’ve spent in a long time.  I grew up with Mary Poppins.  Between that and the Sound of Music, I knew all the words and the dialogue in between, and sitting there in my heated barcalounger recliner watching the silhouette of Mary Poppins descending from the clouds holding on to a tattered kite, I burst into tears.  I’m not kidding.  The music isn’t memorable, but the story is sweet, and needed in this day and age, and the nostalgia and dancing and Lin Manuel Miranda, and Emily Blunt are just perfect for their roles.  But the costumes.  There is a plaid short handwoven jacket on Jane, you remember Jane Banks, all grown up now, a social activist, that I wanted to scream out, stop the film, I want to get a close up of that jacket.  

I found this image on  I’m sure it is copyrighted, but hopefully they will forgive me…

Anyway, the point here is I never go to the movies, nor do I watch television.  Really.  Except for Project Runway, which has gone through all sorts of turmoil after 16 seasons, I have never seen Game of Thrones, only watched two episodes of the Crown, only saw the first season of Outlander, though I’ve read all the books twice,  only saw one charming episode of the Durrel’s in Corfu, haven’t seen Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you get the picture.  So I vowed, to actually occasionally watch something on Television, or Netflix or Amazon Prime, on my little tablet, tucked in bed because well, people do that.  And like it.  I will say in my defense, that most respectable fiber enthusiasts knit or spin while they are watching, but I need to read the closed captioning to understand what the actors are saying, especially with British dramas, so I can’t multi task.  I’ve now watched 5 episodes of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and just the costumes alone are totally worth it.  When she showed up in court to answer to lewd behavior charges dressed in Jacques Fath, I nearly slobbered on the screen.  Oh and thanks to a dear friend, I found out that there is another Project Runway All Stars, which started Wednesday, on Lifetime, probably the last since the franchise is moving back to Bravo network, hosted by Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano as the mentor.  Heidi and Tim are starting their own fashion show on Amazon Prime…

The drama at chez Daryl never ends.  January 3rd was a pretty hard day for me, because I took my daughter to the airport at 2:30am to catch a flight to Miami for a Star Trek cruise to the Caribbean, which is all fine, but the ensuing dram of arriving in Miami without her bags, was just a bit much, and at 9:30pm I drove my son to the armory where he will do his 10 days of winter artillery training and then deploy for another year to the middle east.  He is a Sergeant now, responsible for a number of troops, so much different than the first time he deployed, where he was just a Private and people watched out for him.  These are tough unstable times and of course I’m afraid.  Meanwhile, he has lived in my basement since he was 15 years old, and now, turning 29, it is time to move on.  So the frantic packing and cleaning out of his home for his entire life, you don’t even want to know, began just before Christmas, and when he returns a year from now, all of his stuff will be in storage, my daughter will take her turn as a bottom basement dweller, and hopefully move some of her many looms and equipment out of my studio so I can work in there again.  That’s the plan anyway.  So with both of them gone, I hired a crew, spent an exhausting day packing up what my son didn’t get to, and we will move everything of my son’s to a storage unit tomorrow morning (it was pouring rain today, of course) and my painter is already starting to prep the walls and floor. Hopefully when Brianna comes home next weekend, she can start the process of moving herself, her incredible amount of belongings and her cat to the basement.  There isn’t enough alcohol to get me through this…  I wish for my son a safe return home, for him and his unit, and I will do my best to keep his Jeep safe and running, and his belongings safe and stored, and the rest is completely out of my hands.

So the shining light in all of this is the fact that I’m knee deep in a very intense article, which keeps me centered on what defines me, which is definitely not all this swirling chaos.  I’m writing an article on a weaving structure I played around with many many years ago, at the start of my career.  The structure is called Doup Leno  and I’m writing the article for Heddlecraft Magazine. If you are a handweaver you should be a subscriber.  It is a fantastic publication, no advertising, available as a PDF download only, and it does not contain any projects.  There are other publications for that.  Instead, Heddlecraft will explore a structure in depth, and it will be one of those publications that one refers back to time and time again, the images of the samples are clear, the drafts are all given in WIF files to dump into whatever weaving software you use, and for the $19.99 a year, it should be in everyone’s tablet or desktop.  

So, I’m writing an article on Doup Leno.  What is that you may ask?  You’ll have to subscribe to the issue  to see how to do it. Maybe the March issue, maybe May, I’m not sure where I am in the line up, but I learned this technique really really early on in my career, taught to me by a fabulously technical weaver named Lois Chernin, supported by the only place I’ve ever found it in print, a 1980 Shuttle Craft Guild publication, Monograph Thirty-Two, called Doup Leno by Hella Skowronski and Sylvia Tacker.  

I started weaving “professionally” in 1979.   I started my career weaving for another designer, which taught me speed, efficiency at the loom and that with enough hard work, I could earn a modest living.  I eased into craft fairs, starting with my first booth which held everything I’d ever woven in my life, to show my versatility, and then began the arduous process of narrowing down my focus, which eventually became handwoven clothing.  Armed with this unusual technique of doup leno, which for the curious is a loom controlled system of producing a leno effect, where two or more threads do a half twist and are held in that position by a weft thread, I started out with the obvious, spaced warps held in place by twisted threads.  


I had been asked to create a series of window curtains in a very lacy “leno” style, mixed white warps, for my employers, and after producing the four panels, much to my horrid dismay, I almost quit weaving, I realized one panel was an inch too short.  So on my own dime, I rewove the commission, delivered the four panels of the correct length, and had four left for me, which of course did not fit my windows.  I offered them as shawls, in my early craft booth days, but someone who I’ll forever be grateful for, changed my life forever when they said, “cut a hole in the neck and sew up the sides and people can wear them.”  

And so the rest is history, my first “body” of work was a group of tunics, variations on a theme. 

I did well with these very rectangular garments, but the need to cut and fit, and not produce “one size fits most” garments won out, I am too much of a tailor to put rectangles on people.  So the leno fabrics eventually became stripes of leno contrast in yardage, and then eventually, when I realized that most customers didn’t care about the leno, they wanted fit and color at a price point they could afford, I phased that out as well.

And so Robyn Spady, editor of Heddlecraft asked me to revisit this technique, it is pretty cool, one step of a treadle and the threads twist back and forth, allowing for pretty rapid weaving, and so in the middle of all this swirling drama, and a son who will soon be on his way to the middle east, and a daughter who will soon be moving to the basement once the painter is finished, I’m setting up looms, and sampling and assembling hundreds of technical photos, because this structure is pretty technical, and that my dear readers is what is keeping me sane at the moment.  That and wine and popcorn and dramamine…

Stay tuned…


Going Home…

And I’m home.  It has been a challenging, wonderful, inspirational four months, I’ve met so many wonderful people, saw some incredible things, reconnected with old friends, taught some pretty terrific students, and the support along the way has been absolutely critical.  A huge thank you to all who put me up, put up with me, who picked me up at airports and restaurants, who made my life manageable, and who cheered me on from the sidelines.  It is all a fitting end to a well done year.

My last stop was Wisconsin Handweavers, a quick in and out, direct flight to Milwaukee, and though my plane was a couple hours delayed getting in, we still had time to hit the Milwaukee Art Museum to see what treasures we could find.  I adore art museums, I’ve been able to see so many this year, not just on the road.  The week before I left my daughter and I spent a Saturday at the Newark Museum, and saw the Kimono as Fashion exhibit.  The entire museum has been updated, renovated, and though I worked in it teaching in the arts workshop for many years, I didn’t recognize much.  It is fresh and interesting, with exciting mini collections from all over the world.  The Kimono exhibit was worth the trip just by itself.

So my lovely hostess Paula took me to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the one with the famous gull wings that open to the sun. 

I’ve been there a few times, but this museum has also been renovated, it was fresh, with wonderful collections and the current exhibit was really unusual.  The website description says it all

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America explores the projects of over 40 designers who advocated for playfulness and whimsy within their creations for corporations, domestic interiors, and children. The exhibition presents play as a serious form of inspiration, experimentation, and problem solving. In midcentury America, such playful design occurred against the backdrop of a booming consumer market and as a counterbalance to Cold War–era anxiety. Furniture, toys, textiles, films, posters, ceramics are among the objects featured.

It was an eclectic collection of stuff from the middle of the last century, a lot of Eames designs, and curiously, or sadly, I’m not sure which, I found myself wandering around thinking, “We had that in our kitchen growing up, or I played with that, or I remember that!”  It was very eerie to see your childhood in a museum.  That said, there were treasures to be found and I came around a corner and saw this…

Wow, just wow.  This is a rug designed for ALCOA, Aluminum Company of America, woven by Marianne Strengell in 1957 for an ad showing the new aluminum fibers.  A copy of the ad was also featured.  I have used metallic fibers throughout my weaving career, and I haven’t ever given them a thought, that prior to 1957, they were not a thing.  This was a gorgeous textile, beautifully preserved, and worth the trip to the museum.

Paula and I wandered through the permanent collections.  I came across this Georgia O’Keeffe I had never seen before.

And I saw a few works by Gabrielle Münter, a German artist that has only recently come across my radar, there are a couple of her works in the Neue Gallerie of German and Austrian Art in NYC.  This was painted in 1912.

And there is an exhibit of Haitian Art, and I fell in love with this painting, which I took a picture of and made it my wallpaper on my computer.  It is by Jasmin Joseph and was painted in 1958.

And then I did a two day workshop.  I will say that hands down this was the best workshop space ever provided by a guild, at least for this particular workshop.  I had four tables to lay out my newly numbered and ordered patterns and though there were a couple minors errors, this all went swimmingly well.  So thank you to all who complained over the last year about how tough it was to keep everything straight, I seemed to have solved all the problems in one fell swoop!  This is a great two day workshop for a guild, called Custom Fit and Fabulous, and we even had time to explore sewing with handwoven fabric and things you need to know to sew the garments together.

Saturday I gave a lecture on Color and Inspiration to the main guild, and there must have been 100 people in the audience.  I even had beloved friends come down from Washington Island, and there were a number of my Sievers students as well.  I got a photo of Crystal, LuAnn (in a short sleeve version of a Daryl Jacket) and Cindy, all wearing stuff they made in my class or as a result of my class.

One of the cool perks of what I do is the interesting people I get to stay with.  Husbands of weavers are just the best.  Paula’s husband was just one of the most interesting people I’ve ever come across, (although the geologist with the succulent collection in Northern California is a pretty close second), Andy has traveled to the most amazing places like Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, places I wouldn’t ever imagine people travel to on purpose, and taken gorgeous photos.  We spent hours pouring over his vast collection of books, not only of photography, but mostly botanical illustrations and illustrators.  We both love a good botanical illustrator, and I told him  about Mindy Lighthipe, who was a former weaver in the 1980’s, and he immediately bought a book she wrote on botanical illustration, Amazon delivered it the next day, and he turned me on to Margaret Mee, whom I had never heard of, but immediately bought the book and it was waiting on my doorstep when I returned.  

And so, my trip home was uneventful except for the 150 MPH tailwind which got me to Newark from MKE in less than an hour and a half.  Gotta love tailwinds…

And that threw me back into instant reality.  Right before I left my daughter did this…

Which has been declared a total loss.  So I’m down a car, which isn’t actually a terrible thing, since I had three after my husband died.  She still can’t afford her own, so at least I have something for her to drive. 

Monday I drove to CT to the annual Threads Magazine Holiday Party, it was great to see everyone, and I was thrilled to have an office party to attend, I’ve worked for myself since 1979, and never had an office holiday party, this is my third one at the magazine and I feel like family.  And I spent some time talking to Pamela Leggett, a fabulous designer, her patterns are mostly for knits,  author and frequent contributor to Threads Magazine, and she gave me some insight to creating digital versions of my patterns.  So I’m mulling that over in my head.  It is far down on the to do list, but it is at least on the list…

The ice maker on the brand new refrigerator failed after the first week, so now that has been replaced. The gas stove people have been here and I’ve put a deposit on replacing my wood stove with a gas one. That should happen towards the end of January once all the permits are in.  I’ve been to the eye doctor and ordered new glasses.  And the towel run is off the loom, washed and ready for hemming.  That’s tomorrow.  And today I started planning my next article, this one for Heddlecraft Magazine.  This one will require a lot of loom sampling…

It never ends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way… stay tuned…


A gentle Saturday…

In December of 2008, I picked my new copy of Handwoven Magazine and read a tech column by Syne Mitchell that talked about setting up a blog.  Here is what I wrote…

I received my latest issue of Handwoven Magazine in the mail yesterday, and found Syne Mitchell’s column Weaving the Web, the title this issue is Blog Your Weaving. Syne gave a number of reasons for creating a Blog, and the idea stuck in my head, so much I didn’t sleep the entire night. I was so tempted to get up and work at 4am, but I held off, and now, with the blog created, I decided this would be a good opportunity to cronical my creative journey with 6 new garments, portions of which have already been started, I’ll outline what I have so far in later blogs, and hopefully inspire someone else to just jump in head first and create with what’s at hand.

Apparently I had an issue with spelling back then, chronicle, not cronical, but hey this is my 786th post and I think I’ve done OK.  I wrote this blog, because I need to remember, to celebrate the ability to add images to journal entries, which I couldn’t do easily in my written journals, and to be able to store and retrieve that information when necessary.  And retrieve it I have, there isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t do a search of my own blog for something I can’t remember or for something I want to show someone.  So thank you dear readers and subscribers, for your patience with all of my technical woes, my life experiences, my misspellings, my occasional rants and my complete exhaustion after 4 or 5 venues in a row.  It has been a word filled 10 years and I hope to keep writing for a long time to come.  Because it is a lot quicker to be creative with words than to thread 4000 ends of hand dyed yarn! (And hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing that too.)

I woke this morning to sad news, like everyone else, that George H Bush had passed.  To be able to say at 94 that I made a difference in the world would be the ultimate goal.  I have enjoyed listening to the eulogies on NPR and other places about what a good person he was.  In this divided country, where civil discourse is a forgotten skill, there seems to be unanimous feelings that he was a good man.  That’s all we can ask of someone.

I am making progress on my towels, a few bobbins a day keeps the joints working anyway.  The Bockens cotton linen is weaving beautifully.  The towels are simple and pretty.

I finished the Herculean task of creating a guide for all the pattern pieces in my nine silhouette envelopes.  This was huge, and each pattern piece, and there were a lot, is now labeled with an identifying number.  I retraced all the missing patterns from the vest pack, someone is still sitting on a full set of my vest pattern, much to my great dismay and I hope that one day it turns up in my mail with a big Oops!  It is the grading schematic that I most care about, it took me 35 years to develop it and I’m not happy that it is floating around out there.  I will be testing the new system next week in Wisconsin, so I’ll report back if it worked!

I’ve been slowly making up the garments I started for demo purposes for the Threads Video series I shot in October.  They should air in the spring, but I used demos that I could eventually turn into actual garments, one of which was a tunic from my patterns, so I could demo the application of tricot as a seam finish.  In viewing some of the Threads Insider videos available by subscription, and there are some fantastic ones in the collection, I came across one by Louise Cutting.  It showed how to convert a button placket down a shirt, into one that had in seam buttonholes instead of machine made buttonholes.  I thought that I might be able to actually use that technique, and adapt it for my tunic pattern.  Her method didn’t really work for what I wanted, but I used the concept and came up with my own version.  

Then came the hard part, illustrating it.  So five pages later, 15 illustrations later, I have directions.  I’ve already printed the direction books for Wisconsin, so this will have to be an addendum, but they will eventually be part of the Tunic handout, which will eventually be available for free in my eStore.  Be patient…  I want to do a little more proofing…

This is a season of celebrations, of all kinds.  I’m totally into simple, my life is complicated enough, my to do list never seems to thin out, and suddenly it is year end and I’m putting to bed another business year and all that went with it.  We had a simple Thanksgiving.  My son works retail, and my daughter works in the medical field, neither industry takes off for holiday’s such as Thanksgiving.  So I stayed close to home, until they have their own families to celebrate with, we had a simple feast, my daughter cooked, and my son came home from retail hell long enough to toss some Norwegian Salmon in a cast iron skillet and blacken it.  My trusty office assistant and dear friend Cynthia came to dinner and I did absolutely no cooking.  I was responsible for the clean up, which I did all day long and it was nice to bond with my kids, standing at the sink watching them be adults.  And we are still eating that tart, a raspberry almond paste confection…  OMG!

Last Saturday I drove to south Jersey to where I grew up for my 45th High School reunion.  I will say that I’ve been to every reunion, they have been regularly every 5 years, and it isn’t about High School anymore.  It has been a joy over the years to make new relationships with people from a common past, to talk with and gather with classmates whom I didn’t have a relationship with in High School, for whatever reason.  Most are retired now, caught between children who can’t or won’t launch and aging parents where there are no good long term solutions in how to care for them.  My children are in their 20’s still and my mom is in her late 80’s.  I get this.  The fun part of this story though, was stopping to visit and ultimately stay with my sister on my way to the reunion.  She wanted to see the dress and asked about what I was wearing on my feet, jewelry choices etc.  The dress you may recall, was purchased, a rare thing for me, at a Scandinavian Shop where we stopped for lunch in Door County Wisconsin on the way back to the airport after my week teaching at Sievers.  It is an Icelandic Merino knit dress, and I fell in love at first site in the gift shop waiting for my lunch table.

I don’t have much in the way of footwear.  My go to is booties and tights, and I buy expensive ones that last years.  I don’t think I’ve been in a shoe store in a long time.  My sister took one look at my choice and said, “Absolutely not!  Just no…”  It was pretty funny.  Since her footwear was way too small for me, and I had nothing else, she took me out to a local DSW and we settled on a pair of somewhat comfortable, bearable for the night low heels for $39.99 and then we had to hit the CVS to find a pair of stockings.  I haven’t bought stockings in years, because no one wears them anymore, and it was too cold and rainy to go bare legged…  Once I was dressed she looked at my jewelry choice, rolled her eyes and pulled out her own jewelry box and proceeded to drape about 10 pounds of metal on me.  It was one of the best sister bondings we have ever had, and though I think I would have looked fine with my original plan, I loved that she made this work, and I felt a little more fresh and current and I had an amazingly wonderful time at the reunion.  I danced and danced, and realized that sadly this was my first one without my late husband, and there were a number of newly widowed classmates as well, and I just danced and danced, with no one in particular because I discovered I could still do that.  Even in my little DSW heels.

Remember to keep dancing.  It does the soul good.  Along with weaving and a good nap on the couch.

Stay tuned…



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!