The Guild Meeting

Even though I travel around the country and lecture and give workshops to handweaving guilds, up until about two years ago, I hadn’t actually joined one myself.  Way back in the late 70’s when I first learned to weave, I did belong to the Palisades Guild in Northern NJ, but once I became a professional weaver, selling my work in craft fairs, I didn’t really see how a guild would benefit me, and how I could even take the time.  Once I started to teach, giving up the craft fair circuit in 1989, I still hesitated to begin a relationship with a guild, even though I knew many of the members from conferences and from lectures I’d given.  How sad for me…

In 2006 when my fiber mentor mother-in-law Margaret Lancaster died, at age 99 (you can read about our fiber relationship on my website, look at the story called Circle of Threads), I felt like I had lost my fiber family, and as I traveled around, I felt jealous of guild members that had made the guild their family, the members watched out for each other, and when one died, the guild stepped in and absorbed their stash, keeping the fibers productive and the memory of the handweaver alive.

So I decided, 24 hours after the death of my mother in law, to attend a guild meeting as a member.  I confused some of the members there when I showed up, they thought they might have booked me to speak and not remembered.  But then they opened up their arms and welcomed me, and made me one of them and I have loved every meeting I have attended.  I’m now a member of two guilds, one that meets in the evening, and one that meets on a Monday during the day.  The meetings are well attended, by a variety of fiber enthusiasts, not all of them handweavers, some young and inexperienced (like my 16 year old daughter) and some very old, and whenever they manage to get to a meeting it is a cause for celebration.

Today was the January meeting of the Frances Irwin Handweaving Guild.  There are some amazingly talented handweavers, fiber enthusiasts, and sewers in the group, and I feel blessed to be able to bring a project to them and have some real feedback.  I love show and tell, it is my favorite part of the meeting.  I learn so much.  Even the most beginning projects, I learn from and I love the encouragement given to members who show their work.

dress3back2dress3frontdress3backSo I put on my dress, even though not all of the handwork was finished, and there were still tailor’s tacks everywhere, and modeled it for the group.  Many of them were following the blog, and were thrilled to be the first ones to see the dress.  Everyone ohhhh’d and ahhhhh’d until I turned around.  I could tell something was wrong.  One of the difficulties of sewing a garment for yourself is not being able to really see behind you.  I had Sally, one of the members, take a photo of me in the dress, and when I checked the images to see if I was happy with them, I was rather shocked.  I called over another member Margriet, may I say an exceptional weaver and sewer, and asked if my butt looked like the beachball that it did in the photo?  She admitted that it did, and we discussed the problem, which was basically the angle of the grainlines as they moved in on the bias line towards the bodice.  I looked like I stuck a gargantuan pear into the back of the dress.  So we talked about the fix, and I felt much better, ready to take the dress apart in the back, and rework the skirt under the bodice.  I need to straighten out the skirt grainlines in the center back, and take small darts around to the side.

So what went wrong?  Two things, one, the muslin fabric was a solid, not a stripe, so I couldn’t have foreseen this effect, and two, the drapey rayon fabric grew a lot as I sewed and pressed it, not unusual for a handwoven, and to get this to fit my narrow back snuggly, I had to take in about four inches in the upper back, changing the angle of the grainlines.  So stay tuned to see how this all turns out, I will make an attempt to fix this, and do another quick photo shoot.  Meanwhile thanks to all the Frances Irwin Members who had the guts to tell me when what I did wasn’t so great!

PS, you may want to check out the comment from Fran in the previous post.  Fran asked for me to comment on how I accomplish so much, as a new weaver, Fran found it hard to get to the loom, life kept getting in the way.  See what I shared, and please feel free to add your thoughts on how you find time to weave during your busy day.

A Snowy Saturday and Proj. 1 Update

It is a beautiful Saturday, the snow is falling, the wood stove is warm, the kids are both working, Eric teaching on the ski slopes and Bri caring for the animals at the local kennel, and my husband is safely back from Ireland. (He brought me back my favorite Irish dark chocolate this time…)   I call this a puttery day, I puttered around, tidying up, reading the morning paper.  I took the recycling to the dump, before the snow got started, and started the laundry.  Which is always needing to be done, with two active teens.  I took advantage of the quiet house, and sat by the wood stove and read, I’m almost finished the latest installment of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, this one titled Miracle at Speedy Motors.  I adore this series, and I think it was a handweaver I stayed with that first told me about them, years ago, I look forward to each new addition.  The gentleness and kindness of the well developed characters, and the beauty and harshness of a place on the other side of the world and the interesting mysteries that are carefully woven through each installment are always entertaining for me, and I find the book ends too soon…


And now for an update.  I am making slow progress, and the dress is beginning to take shape.  The main body pieces are together and pinned on the form, now I have to assemble them carefully, basting and constantly checking the fit on my body.  I need a second person for that, so I’ll work on that tomorrow with my daughter home from school.  It is a beautiful dress, and I am anxious to see it all finished, handwork in place, and photographed for jury.  It is a long process, but it is about the process, and I’m not really in a huge hurry.  I’m enjoying this.

I had a roll of 1″ wide nylon tricot bias in a Wine color in my stash, from the old Seam’s Great company which is no longer in business.  I took advantage of it and used it as a seam finish which worked well on the bias edges and especially for the ravely rayon.  The gathered areas are very bulky with this fabric, and I’m a little concerned how the invisible zipper I have will work with the bulk in the back.  I’ll keep you posted.

Project One pt. 5 and an Opening


layouttailorstacksWell I made the decision, and went with the pattern from the muslin.  I played around with the layout for quite awhile today, I admit, I was stalling for time, not wanting to make that first cut.  Once I cut, there was no turning back.  Since there was no repeat over the length of the yardage,  the center front seam would be critical and I would need to match colorways as best I could.  I was reasonably happy with the way the darks carried through the two halves and I’m now working out the bodice part, which is cut in two halves, left and right, there is no shoulder seam and the pieces eventually become bias.  What appears to be the shoulder seams on the photo above, are really the side seams on the bias.  I transferred all the markings with tailor’s tacks.

galleryphoenixgalleryI attended the opening of the gallery show in NYC tonight, of the Textile Study Group of NY’s member’s show, Economies of Scale.  It was a beautiful show, very crowed, and I was thrilled to have a couple of my pieces in it.  Details of the show and images of the pieces I had in the show are in the Upcoming events box on the right, it is up through January 31.  No work in the show could be larger than 6 inches in any dimension, and it was amazing to see how the 48 pieces in the show in various textile techniques accommodated the constricting parameters.  Bigger isn’t always necessarily better.  Even in my own work, I was pleasantly surprised that the pieces I did, scaled down from larger works, were as effective as they were in that scale.  The feedback was very positive.


Detour Day

I love days when you have something planned, and everything else happens.  I started the morning, catching up on paperwork, the deadline for HGA’s Small Expressions is Friday, so I got my application in.  I’ve never been accepted to Small Expressions, but yet I keep trying.  And I got the financial disclosure forms done, (my husband is an elected town official), and my sales tax reported.  All those annoying deadlines, it was great to cross off a number of things on my to-do list.

I had a number of events scheduled today, all of them were canceled for the weather, which remained icy and dangerous.  That meant the guild meeting was canceled, and all of my daughter’s baking will now sit and stare at me until I eat every cookie…  My only deterrent is that if I eat every cookie, I won’t fit in the muslin for the dress I’m about to make…

So I got the gift of an extra few hours today.  And I chose to spend it watching a PBS special Great Performances, a filming of the Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac, which I actually saw on Broadway last year, an unbelievable preformance with Kevin Kline, and Jennifer Garner.  It was such a treat to see it again, and to really see the characters faces up close.  What an amazing production.

Before the show started, I was checking a few things on the blog, and realized that when I cut and pasted so cleverly, the information from the other site, that the images were not coming up, that they had to load through the eBlogger site, and were mostly coming up blank.  So I reloaded all the images to this site directly, and in the process found a way to install the images as thumbnails, and then be able to click on them to make them bigger.  So now that I’ve figured out how to do that, future images will be able to load quicker and be viewed bigger with a click.  Bear with me while I learn this new technology kicking and screaming all the way…

Project One Update Pt. 4


I just returned from a yoga class, much needed, with all the holidays and the celebrations, I haven’t been to class in a month, and sitting all day at the computer and the sewing machine is taking its toll.  I feel three inches taller and my posture is so much more upright after a workout.  Sadly the roads are treacherous.  We are in the middle of an ice storm.  My daughter is overjoyed as there is a two hour delay tomorrow morning for school.

Meanwhile, our weaver’s guild meeting is tomorrow night, and my daughter and I are both down for bringing snacks to the meeting.  She jumped on that and is in the middle of making ginger molasses cookies, and spent all day Sunday making 8 more batches of her flavored hard candy.  You can read about the original adventure in the blog titled ‘Making Candy’, December 21st.  She lined up all the flavors, and this time, rum was among them, along with coconut (which oddly enough is my favorite), and she worked all afternoon.  She needed something to put them in to take them to the guild meeting, so last night, she rescaled the pattern for the box she made, (see blog from December 19, Snow Day) and made a huge container, lined with plastic, to hold her 20 pounds of candy. The tie dyed cotton was a sample I did in a pre-conference class at Convergence with Irene Munroe, once my daughter spied it in my stash, there was no other fabric suitable for this box…

dress3muslin2dress3muslin2backAnd now for the update on Project 4.  I went ahead and drafted a pattern based on the muslin I draped on the form.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be with all the pinning and the gathering and the pleating.  I just transferred all the marks with chalk, and then opened the muslin out flat, and worked a pattern off of it.  I cut the pattern out of a new piece of fabric, and sewed it up to check the engineering and the fit.  I didn’t put a zipper in the back, just had my daughter pin me into it, and I love the dress.  I just have to see if I will be able to get the patterns out of the fabric, and have it match reasonably well across the front and back.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I am heading in NYC on Thursday night, weather permitting for an opening of a show titled ‘Economies of Scale’ at the Phoenix Gallery down in Chelsea.  I have work in a miniatures show there, sponsored by the Textile Study Group of NY.  You can read more about the show and see images of the two post card size pieces I have in the show, under events over in the boxes on the right. If you are in the NYC area, the show is up through the month of January.