It’s October and you know what that means!

That’s right, it is the month of fundraisers! Seems like  every day my daughter has brought home yet another large envelope bulging with the catalog of all the wonderful things I need for my house, my bathroom reading basket, and my freezer.  Let’s see, I have one here for Yankee Candles.  That would be the HS Junior Class fundraiser.  Did I mention I am terrified of burning my house/studio down with a candle accidentally left unattended?  My ADD is too severe to stay in the same room and watch a burning candle.  I have a hard enough time remembering to shut off the iron… (My studio iron is an industrial…)  At least I can get wrapping paper…

And, do I support the PTO, or the Girl Scouts, both have magazine subscription fundraisers on my desk…  Alas, we get about 20 magazines or more a month, but the bathroom reading baskets are always entertaining and educational.  I think I won’t renew Martha Stewart Living this year, I stopped looking at it when she had an article on the well organized garage and it had four things in it.  Hell, I can organize four things…  I want to see Martha do an article on organizing a garage with real people using it…

And the yearly music department cheesecake order brochure is coming in tomorrow I believe.  We still have frozen choco chip cookie dough in the freezer from last year.  I know, it’s pathetic.  No time to even make a batch of frozen cookies.  But the cheese cakes are pretty good and they are already cooked!

Excuse me while I go spend a few hundred dollars in useless things I don’t need…

So, I took a look at my to do list, which is a pretty cool strip parked next to my now well functioning Google Calendar.  I’ve successfully moved my calendar off my Palm Pilot, and now it syncs with everything I own that’s sync-able…  (I’m sure that has to be a word…)  I leave Thursday for my last trip of the year, two workshops and a lecture for the Hudson Mohawk Guild outside of Albany NY.  I’m driving for this one, so I’m not worried about luggage or weight.  I am going to try to bring a loom too.

monographsThat means it’s monograph/handout printing day!  Oh joy…  My poor laser printer gets quite a workout, and I get to spend hours at the binding machine.  I’ve got my daughter working on this mega task tonight so I can blog and attend to other things!  🙂

double_corduroyMeanwhile, yesterday was the Frances Irwin Guild meeting, and my trusty Leclerc “Stucto” wannabee, and I learned all about Double Corduroy, and how to do it on the loom.  For the non weavers reading this, it is a popular pile rug technique, done on a loom. The idea is similar to corduroy fabric, the wales are cut once the fabric is woven, and in this case, the pile is creating by cutting apart the long floats.  I’ve done a few pile rugs in my past, and the technique I used was rya, tying small pieces of wool around the warp threads with a Ghiordes knot.  Tedious…

Here are two images from my vast archives, I did these two rugs in 1976.  They are about 3’x5′.Argent_76Daleth_76 Tying individual knots is much better for achieving imagery, which was critical in these two rugs.  But the double corduroy goes faster, and makes more of a flokati look, and less of a precise color placement.  It was fun and I’m amazed what I can do on this little loom that fits in a tote bag…

While I had to sit all day and babysit the laser printer, I decided to look ahead on my long range to do list, and the first thing that popped out at me was to make another tote bag, the next_toteingredients were just falling off my shelf into my hands.  The scrap in the foreground is from the sandstone jacket I finished in the spring.  On the left is a wrinkled cotton sari from India, I love the wrinkled quality, and I might fool around with trying to capture that in the tote bag.

Meanwhile…  I am now offering a workshop, a two day class, in making a vest.  I’ve done this vest as a pieced class, similar technique to the tote bags I’ve been working on, but students never get to actually make the vest in the class.  They just get to do the piecing. Since I’ve had so many requests for a two day jacket class, which I can’t do in two days, I thought I’d try to have classes make the vest, no piecing, and I have about half a dozen bookings already.  The next one will be at the Newark Museum in November.

The Vest of the Vest (I am not responsible for this title!)
with Daryl Lancaster
Vests are multi-purpose garments that allow you to go from
work to play. The vest is simple to sew, will have a lining
and looks fabulous in whatever fabric you choose for its
construction. The instructor will custom fit you to be sure
all looks good when you are done. Beginner/Intermediate
Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7, 10 am –5 pm
Member: $153, Non-member: $170, Materials: $25

patternI realized when I used my vest pattern at Siever’s a couple weeks ago, that I really needed to grade down another size, I am starting to have really tiny women in classes, and I needed the next size down. So I took out one of my multi sized patterns, and following my vestgrading schematic, I graded down to the next size.  That meant of course, I needed a muslin.  So I rooted through my stash to fine some fabric scraps that I wouldn’t be caught dead using for any real garment purpose.  So, as odd as it looks, the vest above is the muslin for the smallest size vest I offer.

Now I need to actually make a really nice sample, one that I would wear.  All the vests I have are  pieced.PassionFruit So I want to make a vest I can use for the class, and do all kinds of cool techniques on it, and have it fit me, so I can actually enjoy wearing it a few times…

Off to search through the stash, my favorite thing to do…

This exercise netted me a large hunk from an old production throw (called afghan back in the 1980’s), from Harrisville singles wool in graduated shades with an alpaca weft.  I had woven them for sale in four colorways.  My Aunt had asked if I could make one of them into a vest for my Uncle, this would have been back in the very early 1980’s.  I remember Afganmaking the vest and finding out I made a major mistake in copying one of my Uncle’s vests, and had to redo it, so I had a huge hunk of a second throw just sitting on my shelf for 25 years.  I liked this color combination, though I have to say, I never really liked the hand of the fabric I wove for these throws. (Pictured is the one in the blue/gray colorway and I know the wrinkled sheet is a big no-no, but that’s what I did back in the 80’s).  So I decided I had nothing to lose by tossing the wool/alpaca throw in the washer and dryer.  🙂

throw_detailOMG!  It is gorgeous.  The fabric is unbelievably soft and fluffy, and for all you weavers out there, take a scrap of something you made years ago, where you didn’t machine wash and dry a fabric, and see what happens!  This is all part of a class I teach on washing your fabrics when they come off the loom, but I’m still surprised when I take things from the archives, that were washed, though not very aggressively, and run them through the washer and dryer and see what would have happened.  I even found some balls of the original Harrisville singles I used for the warp.  Wonder what I can do with that…

Anyway, I rooted some more in the stash and came up with some items that I thought had potential to work together.throw_stash The wool challis in the upper right corner would be perfect for a lining, and in case I didn’t have enough of the alpaca throw, I did have a light gray wool in the stash, but I was pretty determined to make this small hunk of a throw work for the project.

pieced_bandI managed to cut out the vest, in my size, and got everything but one armband, but there was enough small scraps to be able to piece.  And I had to cut it on the Scrapcrosswise.  I’ll add piping, so the conflict of grainlines won’t be so noticable but all I had left once I finished cutting this vest out, was a handful of dust!  I love when that happens…

Enough creativity for one day, my brain is tired.  I won’t get to make the vest until after my trip to Albany, I’m thinking of trying to do triangular bound buttonholes on the center front band, I need another teaching sample using this technique.  Plus I still have the pile of stash for the next tote bag…

I’ve had a couple people request the text from the survivor’s statement I wrote that accompanied my photo in the Pete Byron exhibit at the Morris Museum, The Faces of Breast Cancer.  So here is the text in case you couldn’t make it out from the photo.

Looking back over the years since my 2002 cancer diagnosis, I can honestly say that my diagnosis and the year of treatment that followed, though truly difficult at times, became one of the most life changing, positive experiences of my life.  I learned to trust, to let others in to help. I learned to live without fear, living my life in a fuller way, grabbing at opportunities, not being afraid to try. This has completely changed the way I work and think as an artist.  My own fiber artwork, has become more narrative, I have a voice now, and though my body has been altered, my scars are a road map of my journey, and I celebrate that journey.

I chose not to have reconstruction for the missing breast, partly because I just wanted to get back to work, to life, and to do what I love most and be with those I love most.  And partly, I wanted to remember how life was before cancer, and the celebration of life now, without fear, with confidence, with passion, and with living only in the day.

— Daryl Lancaster

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Rita R
Rita R
October 7, 2009 6:57 am

When I read this, I hear your saying it and it is so cool. I will not be around for the classes (my great loss), but your blog is so inspirational and encouraging. The piece on breast cancer is truly touching. You have great courage, and certainly you are a person I look up too. You are the BEST!!

October 7, 2009 12:12 pm

Just discovered your blog and it is going into my favorites must-read list. I’m not a weaver but I know you will inspire me as I pursue my creativity with textiles. And I too had the positive, life altering experience of losing a breast and choosing not to have reconstructive surgery. So each day ends with my left “breast” still nice and perky and my right breast continuing it’s relentless migration toward my waistline. Ah. . . such is life. Isn’t it wonderful!


[…] I needed to finish the remaining handwork on the vest I made a couple of weeks ago from an alpaca throw I wove, circa 1980?  I love how the triangular buttonholes came out, and I know I’ll enjoy […]

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