…and all I can do is hold on to my painted pony for dear life…
The last couple of weeks have been so chocked full of drama and intensity that I’m not even sure where to begin. My daughter and I joke that if you can’t write a great blog post about it, it isn’t worth doing…
Seems like a century ago, though it was really only a couple of weeks ago, I actually got a weekend get-away with my beloved sisters “down the shore” a strictly NJ term for heading east to the Atlantic coast. I grew up summering at the Jersey Shore, Ocean City specifically, Mac and Manco’s pizza on the boardwalk, Kohr Bros Ice Cream, Crabs and Beer, Miniature Golf, and of course the boardwalk and the beach. It was absolutely perfect, we had a lovely stay at the Blue Water Inn, an old sort of Victorian, close to everything, with an awesome veranda where we got take out and played board games late into the evening. We are crossing our fingers we can do it again next September.
It was just a few short days later I was on a plane to Seattle, and then a long drive to the top of Washington State, where I gave a lecture to the Whatcom Guild on What to Do with Leftovers. We had some time to wander the town and have a bite to eat and check out a few shops. I did a bit of damage in the sale rack at a local boutique…
We headed down to Whidbey Island, crossing through Deception Pass, where I settled into a conference center, along with my 15 students for the week long intensive Willow Pond Garment Construction Retreat. We all lived and worked and ate and shared together, and it was especially fun because many of the students have taken classes with me before so it was like old home week. The space for the classroom was wonderful.
And the students dove right in. Many had handwoven fabric.
Unfortunately, living that close and sharing everything, we seemed to all share a respiratory virus that spread like wildfire. I held off until the trip home, but I have to give all these guys credit for hanging in there, sometimes late into the night, feeling pretty crappy. In spite of feeling lousy, there were some amazing garments to come out of this retreat.
Toni on the left came to make another vest, but this one, she is planning to piece together her fabulous collection of fabrics and trims. Molly made a similar vest in a previous class, and unfortunately the antique kimono silk she used for the band and much of the binding dry rotted right out of the piece. So Molly spend some time carefully removing all of the offending silk and replaced it with more stable cloth and a new handwoven band.
We had a few ladies making tunics, that’s Linda on the left, using a fabric she had in her stash from a trip to South America. JD is really a felter but wanted to dry run a tunic in regular cloth before digging in with some felt laminate. And Val got her handwoven tunic finished in time to start another garment from some fabulous handwoven cloth from her stash.
Rose spent much of her time tracing patterns and reworking and finishing up a vest from a garment construction class with a different teacher. It is always unfortunate when students don’t finish a piece, but she was thrilled to be on her way and we had the pleasure of her constant companion Hope to keep us smiling.
Sue made a gorgeous jacket from her handwoven and I’m thinking if I remember correctly handspun yarn, and Susan brought some commercial fabric because well, life got in the way of finishing her cloth. We debated for a number of days about the neck band, she bought a beautiful grey wool to coordinate with the jacket fabric, and we loved the border printing so much she went for it and decided to put it front and center on top of the band. Just needs sleeves.
Jodi and Cheryl both made my new zippered jacket with a collar. They got to test my new directions. They did really well. At the time of the photos, they still had some finishing on the trim, but they both came out fantastic. Both are handwoven. In addition, Cheryl, who has worked with me before and made a swing coat a couple of years ago, shortened the pattern and left off the sleeves and made an adorable swing vest. I can’t wait to try this myself.
Janet is making the regular zip vest, which will be completely trimmed in blue corduroy like the seam finish once the collar and zipper are in. Maryann made a lovely collared jacket with a wow lining, and Lisa wove a spectacular fabric to make a short duster coat.
And of course Dori. I’ve worked with Dori before, and she has been taking sewing lessons since I last saw her. She was on her game! Dori wove her fabric with a Kathrin Weber/Blazing Shuttles warp and there was a lot of social media buzz about this handwoven fabric before she came. The warp wasn’t very long, so we had to do some creative cutting and piecing, but she stayed with it and we both squealed in delight when she finished.
And here is my wonderful Willow Pond Retreat, 2019.
And then that happened… (You thought I was done… Nah, I’m just getting started!)
Thursday before the class ended I woke up to a frantic text from my daughter complaining of severe palpable abdominal pain, nausea, and I immediately thought, OMG, her appendix. Sure enough, in the middle of the final prep for the Peters Valley Craft Fair, they rushed her to the hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to have her appendix removed. According to the doctor it was a very angry appendix and had been for a long time. Credit to the staff at Peters Valley for staying with her through the surgery.
I will say that as much as I travel, there is always the fear that something will happen at home where I’m needed, and in this case, being on an island 3000 miles away, there wasn’t a damned thing I could do but try to find someone to take my place. My beloved sisters dropped everything and raced to help, and the gratitude I have is immeasurable. My Maryland sister drove in the dark, four hours to get to the hospital soon after my daughter woke from anesthesia, through the fog and the Delaware Water Gap, and I will be forever grateful. My other sister relieved her on Friday so she could get home and to the theater for a show she professionally costumed. Social media is a wonderful thing, once I posted about the situation, about a dozen friends were ready to jump into action as well. It takes a village and no man or woman is an island. Knowing there were so many who cared was a life affirming experience for me who occasionally feels like I’m driving the bus alone since my husband’s death.
So Friday night, a week ago, (wait, it gets better…) I hopped on a plane, the red eye, home to NJ. I did not sleep of course, even though I was in first class, so I was able to take advantage of the one thing I adore flying home on a red eye, dawn over Manhattan as we come in for a landing.
I pulled in in the limo at 8:30am, my sister left at 8:40am, and Brianna and I were on the road to the Peters Valley Craft Fair at 9am, because she was committed to be there and couldn’t drive of course. I know you are all going to tell us we were both nuts. But we are both professionals with my family’s work ethic, and if there is any way to see through a promise, we will make that happen. Brianna has worked at the Valley all summer and would have been devastated to miss this event. They gave her a comfy chair and she worked the cash register all day in the Peters Valley booth while I wandered around and got into a lot of trouble. Yeah, this happened…
It is coming in December. IP Furniture Designs. 72″ table and six chairs. The most comfortable wooden chairs I’ve ever sat in.
I drove Brianna home Saturday evening, and returned the next morning for day 2, left her there, and by Sunday night she was able to drive herself home.
Meanwhile, I prepped for this weekend, and cursed myself for my complete stupidity in signing up for a three day workshop in some fiddly technique with my guild. What could I have been thinking considering I’m just back from WA and getting on a plane Tuesday morning at 5:30am for a seven day Garment Construction Intensive at Sievers on Washington Island, WI.
But again, when I commit to something I will see it through if it kills me. Of course I’m sick from the virus I caught in WA, and I dragged myself and all the looms and equipment to the guild meeting Wednesday night, because of course both my daughter and I had signed up and she couldn’t lift anything heavier than a water jug.
The speaker was Deb Silver. I had only recently become aware of her and her fantastic work, she had a piece in Complexity, the Complex Weavers Show in an nearby gallery during Convergence Reno in 2018. She has a new book out on her technique called Split Shed Weaving. I had no idea what it really entailed, except my guild was sponsoring the workshop and it sounded fiddly.
Deb was fantastic. I can’t say enough about her work, her organization, her preparedness, and her gentle nature, her samples and handouts are generous and fabulous. And yes, this technique, done completely on a four shaft loom, is fiddly and it turned out the be the perfect remedy for a merry-go-round that was spinning out of control. I am above all a handweaver, and the world does truly stop when I concentrate at the loom. It is one of the reasons why we do what we do. I sat quietly in the corner, so as not to infect anyone with my virus, and that allowed me to concentrate on some really amazing samples… (And by lunchtime the first day of the workshop I felt remarkably better)
The first sample was with a single shuttle, split shed work, Han Damask. Deb provided a number of simple designs that would show off the techniques.
Then we tried a double weft in a broken twill, weaving on opposites.
The next sample was a summer winter, this one pairs, and I can’t believe I didn’t start with the pattern color in the header… Duh…
This afternoon, I tried summer winter polychrome, combining two pattern shuttles for shading.
And of course later this afternoon my daughter unwound her samples so the class could Ohhhh and Ahhhh and take copious pictures.
There is still one more day of class, and I have already started a lotus in split shed double weave. The world has slowed down enough for me to actually sit properly on my painted pony and enjoy the ride… I have a whole ‘nother 48 hours before I get on another plane…