What was my problem…

My dearest friend Ginnie says that things you put off get bigger than they really are. I completely identify with this…

Back in October of 2019, in a particularly hellious month of stuff happening, I warped a loom and gathered stuff and headed off to my weaving guild for a three day workshop with Deb Silver, who exploded onto the scene with a very cool technique called Split Shed Weaving.

I actually loved the workshop, and thought the technique was brilliant, and her interpretation of it and what she did with it and how she conducted the workshop were all absolutely brilliant. I actually talked all about the works in a blog post back in October of 2019, you can read about it here, but you’ll have to scroll pretty far down because that month was so full of stuff I’m thinking the blog went on for pages… (I actually cringe when I read some of my past blogs and realize how out of my control my life was most of the time.)

I was in the middle of what I thought was a pretty cool sample when the workshop ended, no problem, I’ll just pick it up when I get home…

Hahahahahah!

I think I left the next day for parts unknown, and when I got back, we started the plans for the possible studio rennovation. The looms got packed, yarn and books and shuttles and tools all got packed up and moved, shelving units were relocated, and the rest is history.

The loom was nicely set up in the new studio on an adjustable workbench from Home Depot, alongside my daughter’s version, she took the workshop with me as well.

And there it sat. In March of 2020 I hit the road yet again for Oregon, and of course, the rest is history. I have been home since then, reinventing myself and how I work, not sitting still for one minute, but every time I walk over to that loom, to dust or get a reed, which is in a rack right behind that loom, I look at it and feel guilty. It isn’t like I needed the loom for anything. I have 35 looms, or did at the time, now I have 37. Yeah, I know…

The problem is, I can’t remember what I was doing. There must have been 50 pages in the handout. Everything was tied together, there were four shuttles involved in this specific sample. Five if you count the one with the warp color on it. I even sat down one afternoon and tried to make sense of it. I quickly gave up.

My daughter of course wandered over after some very obvious vocal frustration on my end and looked and said, “Oh, you are doing polychrome Taqueté.” Really? I hate when she does that… And yet, there are times when I think I’d be lost without her.

And then I remember, I’m pretty good at what I do. I’m pretty good at figuring things out when I put my mind to something. I’m spatial and good with sequences and have good deductive reasoning. There is no earthly reason why this should vex me so.

I actually had a free weekend last weekend, with nothing technically on the calendar and I think it rained all weekend so there was really nothing to do outside or in the garden or going for my daily long walk. There was nothing to do but prep for upcoming classes, plan warps, update handouts, update databases, all stuff that forever sits on my to do list but really, I just kept looking at that loom and said, this will be what I do today if it kills me.

And so I unpacked the shuttles, started to study what shed they came out of, and the sequence they came out in, and looked at the information for split shed weaving, and the cheat sheet for Polychrome Taqueté. Just an FYI, this really complex looking thing is done on a straight draw in carpet warp on four shafts. Really. This is not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination.

Seriously, what was my problem…

Within 15 minutes, the lights went on in my head and I suddenly realized that there were only two possible sheds, and that this was a simple structure that was pretty easy to execute. I’m sort of embarrassed.

So I began. It felt good. Really really good. After almost two years, I figured it out. But of course, I had help.

Mulder the shop cat has to be into everything I’m doing.

He finally settles down and curls up on what I’m weaving. Sigh…

Once I encouraged him to move along, I just kept going. I watched the rain from the windows and kept weaving.

I got into a nice rhythm with four stick shuttles on a table loom. Once in awhile I’d realize I made a mistake, and I was proud of myself for being able to go back a row or two.

And by that evening, I was finished the sample and could cut off the warp.

I wet the samples, and a few days later stitched them across and cut them apart.

It doesn’t look like much, but I’m really really proud of myself for figuring it out and finishing. This whole experience has made me realize that there are so many fun things out there to try that I just don’t have enough hours in the day to ‘learn all the things’. This is becoming a goal of mine, to retire from teaching, hence the brain dump of everything I know about creating handwoven clothing into my YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews, and then being able to play, to create, to try all the things. My textile library is ginormous, and my resources and raw materials grow exponentially without much effort on my part. I do not know why…

And in case you were wondering about the progress on restoring the rescued Macomber, parts are starting to roll in from them, and as I get a package, I install the parts. New aprons, a new friction brake on the upper warp beam, 200 inserted eye heddles on each shaft. Lots of other little pieces replaced or repaired. A lamm depressor installed. Just waiting for the bench, and the most critical piece, the dog and spring for the sectional beam ratchet. Somehow that didn’t make it in the original shipment of parts. She is starting to look whole again.

And so dear readers, I made something that was no big deal into something that was overwhelming to me, until I realized it wasn’t and then I was pretty annoyed with myself for letting this thing get bigger than it really was. I wonder if I do that in any other areas of my life…

Stay tuned…

It’ll be fine…

My daughter has a snippy saying, when she has had enough, or doesn’t want to engage further, she will look at me and say in a really dismissive attitude, “It’ll be fine”. Sometimes it relates to I’m being overly worried about something, or sometimes it means, that whatever she is doing, it is good enough and I should stop thinking that she should do it differently.

It is one of those sayings that I have learned to embrace and hate at the same time. Really, in most of life, most things are really fine, they will be fine. But sometimes that statement can be a sort of shorthand for, “I’m really being lazy and don’t want to see what else I can come up with…”

This all started when I went wandering through my yarn stash, just to see what would spark my interest. I found a bunch of hefty cones of a Silk City Fibers Skinny Majesty, a very slippery rayon bouclé, in a color probably long since discontinued, probably part of a stash I purchased from another weaver long ago. There were probably 6 or 7 pounds of it. I really love the color and I had hoped, since many of Silk City’s variegated yarns are engineered with a repeat, that I could get an ombré effect out of it.

Though I usually don’t pick wefts, I always sample first, I had four cones of this beautiful Wool Crepe tweed on the right, which I recently purchased from the same Silk City Fibers during a sale. I like how Wool Crepe washes, it is very springy and does collapse a bit. I thought it would tame the very slippery rayon.

My four shaft Tools of the Trade 32 inch loom was crying for a warp, as of tonight I still haven’t received my shipment of parts to rebuild the Macomber loom (tracking stopped saying USPS was going to deliver it tonight), and so over the past couple weeks or so while I’ve been waiting, I wanted to warp up another loom. My looms are much happier when they are warped.

I pulled my trusty copy of Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book and started leafing through and found this really lovely block huck structure called Julia Larrabec’s Linen. There was a lot of surface interest, in different blocks, but all on four shafts.

I tried for a couple of days to find a repeat in the Skinny Majesty Variegated. I gave up. So I searched for other Skinny Majesty yarns, in solids that would coordinate, for the separate block areas where there is a collapsing huck lace weave. I did a yarn wrap. I thought this would work.

I wound the warp in short order, and threaded the loom pretty quickly. At the start of last week I was ready to weave.

I really wasn’t impressed. There wasn’t a lot of contrast with the warp, and I was honestly disappointed, the colors were so gorgeous on the cones. I showed my daughter. She said, “It’ll be fine.”

I sent a picture off to my weaving buddies, and they encouraged me to send a picture of it washed. I really didn’t want to do that because I knew it would collapse, and I really wanted to use this weft, and I really didn’t want to cut off what I’d done and re-tie on, and I was being just really really lazy. It’ll be fine I said to myself.

But it haunted me. I knew I should push ahead and see if I could do better.

I asked my daughter what other colors of wool crepe she had hidden in her bedroom, she has her knitting machine stash up there, and will occasionally abscond with all of a specific type of yarn for projects on the knitting machine.

So there was a beautiful chocolate brown. Sigh.

I started weaving the fabric with the brown, and yes, it did look better. Sigh.

So I just got over myself and cut off the sample and tossed the whole thing in the washer and dryer with a load of clothes.

Yeah, of course it is lovely.

I actually thought that because it is blocky in nature, that I really liked the block with the twill and that might be better fabric, to just weave the whole thing only repeating one block.

So I tried that, and yeah, it was OK, but sort of boring.

So I’m back to the full draft, of two distinct blocks using the brown weft, and now I’ll agree that it’ll be fine. Sometimes ‘good enough’ isn’t really good enough when you were being too lazy to really see what the alternatives are. I should know better…

At least it is really easy to weave and now I know what it will look like washed. It really will be fine…

So I did a thing…

Last weekend I taught a three day class, a real honest to goodness three day class. In Indianapolis. From my studio. They all met in person, and I sat happily in my studio, on Zoom for three days straight, with my laptop focused on the classroom, and basically I just hung out, keeping busy watching the screen in case anyone came up to the laptop on their end to ask a question. The whole weekend went swimmingly well, from my perspective.

The group met together to create a vest from leftover fabrics, scraps, handwoven pieces, samples, whatever they had. They got, as part of the class, my 500 vest pattern, and the fusible backing and the pressbar, in a kit shipped to them. I lectured, was available for questions, and because they also employed the use of an iPad, they could carry it over to someone’s work station and really zoom in (pun intended) on what someone was working on, especially pattern alterations, and I could direct the student how to do the alteration I wanted them to do, with multiple people assisting. I could clearly see what they were doing, and the only glitch was because I was looking at my screen, through someone else’s rear camera from their screen, at a person sitting backwards, facing the camera, my orientation was completely off. I found myself prefacing a situation by asking, where is Florida? That seemed to help everyone know the orientation of what I was seeing and I could direct them accordingly.

They were to trace their size pattern and create a test garment, which I evaluated the first morning of class. I’m frantically creating YouTube videos to assist in this, so a lot of the work can be done prior to class. With the assistance of Mary Alice’s iPad, I really felt like I was there.

Anyway, once they had the patterns worked out, they cut a fusible foundation and laid out their pieces. Of course I have no pictures to show, but hope that they will eventually send me pictures of finished vests. Note to self, ask them to take a cell phone shot and email it to me every day. Duh…

So I created a sample for the class, prior to the class, and finished sewing it up earlier this week. Here are the images from my version of the pieced vest. I blogged about the components of this vest here.

But that’s not the thing that I did, referring to the blog title.

During the workshop, sometime on Saturday or Sunday, in a lull in activity, I checked my email. And there it was. Typically I get at least one email a week from someone who obtained a Tools of the Trade Loom, and has questions about it, because if they Google the loom brand, my name pops up. Probably because, the looms are no longer made, and I talk about them in my blog a lot, since I own 13 of them.

So this email was actually someone who had a Tools of the Trade Loom and was interested in selling it and did I have any idea of what it was worth?

It was a 12 shaft loom. I was a dealer for Tools of the Trade back in the 80’s. I love the loom. I have always loved the loom. And they find me. But I never knew that they made a 12 shaft loom, until I joined my guild and found out that one of my guild mates owned one, she isn’t far from me, she got it from a person in Oregon, and paid a fortune to have it crated and shipped back across the country to NJ. The loom was originally made in Vermont. She knows that if she ever dies, that I will pay her husband anything for that loom.

Anyway, I nearly had a heart attack, I have coveted a 12 shaft Tools of the Trade loom since I found out that Tools of the Trade actually made one. They didn’t make many, but here, I had a letter from someone who had one to sell. I asked how wide, this is sort of important, and crap… 55″ weaving width. Crap. I called my daughter to come into the studio, because I’m still on standby for my workshop, and she walked in and took one look at my face and said, “Who died?” I said, “Worse, take a look at this email…”

Long story short, my lovely beautiful brave, completely competent daughter got up very early Saturday morning, (tough for her since she sleeps till about noon) and ate the Taylor Ham, egg and cheese on an egg bagel I went out and got for her (It’s a Jersey thing…), packed up the Rav 4 with the trailer, and drove 5 1/2 hours to Rochester NY. She completely dismantled the loom down to just lumber, carried it all to the trailer, and reassembled it in the trailer, covering it with a couple of tarps, and tying it down to within an inch of its life.

She said the loom smiled at her when she walked in to see it. It is beautiful she said, barely used, gorgeous condition, but assembled wrong. The entire back beam assembly had been reversed. She corrected that for the trip home, and 5 1/2 hours later, she pulled into the driveway, I raised the bay door, and we moved it into the garage studio, making this shaft loom number 37, and there is no more room in the inn.

Earlier in the week I had a discussion with all my other looms, letting them know that the Macomber was coming to live with us, it was a rescue, and I expected them to play nice together. (See my previous post). Looms can get jealous, and sometimes they get uncooperative, but I expect harmony in my lovely studio. I have a feeling that while I was sleeping there was a bit of mutiny and my 13 Tools of the Trade Looms decided once and for all to cement their solidarity against this Macomber interloper and find me the mother of all looms, the largest one Tools of the Trade ever made. There is no other explanation…

And so dear readers, I am in the process of assembling the shafts, correcting some things that weren’t quite right. I’m putting 225 inserted eye heddles on each shaft, though that number is fluid. I have over 100 shafts in my studio that all take the same size heddles and I am constantly moving heddles around. I’m very efficient at this, every shaft is clearly marked with how many heddles it has, and I’m very careful and organized at how I accomplish this.

So I opened a bag that came with the loom and found this…

Sigh…

So for the weavers who are reading this, we need to have a discussion on heddle etiquette. I’ve taught many many times in weaving studios, and taken workshops involving round robins, so I’m working on other peoples looms. There seems to be a lack of understanding in the weaving community about heddle etiquette in general. NEVER NEVER NEVER just remove heddles and toss them into a bag. First of all, that pretty much ensures that the fine wire heddles will end up bent and misshapen. Secondly, each heddle is canted a specific way, and they all must face the same way. Heddles are canted so that they nest close together when a loom is warped.

THEY ALL NEED TO FACE IN THE SAME DIRECTION… I spent hours, days really, sorting and replacing all of the heddles on more than 100 shafts when I was involved with the donation of a dozen Macomber looms from William Paterson University to Peters Valley School of Craft. You cannot imagine what a mess. Apparently no one got the memo that all heddles had to cant in the same direction. Towards the right if you are right handed and towards the left if you thread with your left hand. You can easily make a loom cant left by flipping the heddle bars on any shaft. Takes about 15 minutes, depending on how many shafts.

NEVER NEVER NEVER just remove heddles and toss them into a bin or bag. Heddles are carefully slid onto holders, some use stitch holders in knitting, I’m particularly fond of old pairs of steel or plastic knitting needles. With a couple of rubber bands, I can effortlessly slide heddles off and on the heddle bars, storing them in a tidy fashion, canted in the same direction and they can easily move from one loom to another.

I spent about an hour per shaft tonight, resetting the heddle bar hooks, wiping down the shafts with Howard’s Feed and Wax, and fitting 225 inserted eye heddles all canting in a right handed manner. I’ve only got two shafts done. This will take awhile.

Meanwhile, it is Mother’s Day. My daughter gave me the ultimate gift by volunteering to drive to Rochester NY to pick up this beloved loom, and I let her sleep until noon of course. Once she was up and functioning, we headed out to the garden to do the Mother’s Day weekend planting of the vegetables. Our zone is pretty much safe to plant after Mother’s Day. Tomatoes, basil, peppers, cucumbers, all went in amongst the radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, and other greens. I’ve been eating garden salad every day.

I thinned the turnips, kohlrabi, and radishes, and brought in a bowl full of thinned baby greens, took a handful, washed and destemmed, and sautéed them with a couple of chopped anchovies for a nice veggie side dish with my turkey burger. I know. I love anchovies. Turnip greens sautéed with anchovies is just the best… I put in a whole flat of Marigold’s, and then scrambled to clean everything up because it just started raining. It has rained steadily on our new plantings well into the evening. Life is good. Or wet. Depending on your perspective.

And so dear readers, for those of you who care for another living breathing thing, be it a loom, an animal, a person, a child, a parent, you are all mothers. And for those whose mothers have gone on to another life and another world, know they watch over us, and guide us, and give us hope, and comfort and really good memories.

My delightfully curious cat couldn’t wait to explore that stack of shafts spanning the counter over the sink. Our fur buddies keep us smiling and on our toes.

So I did this thing, and now it is tough to move around in my studio, but this thing I did makes me really really happy and I am accumulating lots of good loom karma. I’m still waiting on the shipment of parts to get the Macomber loom functioning, and I am already winding a warp for one of the other empty looms. There is always a loom needing a warp. Sort of an ongoing thing in our house…

Stay tuned.

Castle Notes

A couple of blog posts ago I mentioned I was embarking on one of those tedious, slow cloth kind of projects, that would use up almost three dozen various handdyed mixed skeins of wools, mohairs, and other mystery protein fibers. I did some furious mad calculations, a job that oddly appeals to me, and figured out how much was in each skein, and divided that into a 55%/45% split. I calculated I would use the larger amount for the warp, since there is loom waste, and the lesser amount for weft.

I did a similar project a few years ago, and really really enjoyed weaving it, even though I would be changing wefts something like every other pick. That coat from that plaid I wove will be in the next issue of Handwoven Magazine. Look for it…

Meanwhile, I realized that my original calculations were for a 36″ wide fabric, and the two larger 45″ looms were busy (my daughter commandeered them…). I have a 36″ wide Tools of the Trade, with 8 shafts, so I could spread the warp out over 8 shafts, even though it is a simple twill structure, to keep the warps from sticking to each other.

I calculated 12 ends per inch for the warp, but wanted to put two ends in a 6 dent reed, also to prevent sticking. I didn’t have a 6 dent reed for my 36″ loom. Sigh…

So I ordered a bunch of used reeds missing from my collection from my favorite place to purchase used weaving equipment. Oddly enough I’m a fan of older carbon steel reeds because the steel gauge is pretty substantial. Some of the new stainless steel reeds have a gauge that is too thin in my humble opinion… But I digress…

My favorite place to purchase used weaving equipment is Eugene Textile Center, in Oregon. I’m in NJ, so I knew I’d have to wait patiently for anything I ordered to cross the country. It came by pony express. Just kidding. The package of reeds, (I got a 5 dent while I was at it because you never know, plus some for a 32″ loom that I had acquired a couple years ago), was shipped FedEx Ground on April 19th. Watching the tracking was pretty hilarious. They went from Eugene, to Portland, to Seattle, to Montana, to North Dakota, to Illinois, to Ohio where they sat for a few days, to three stops in Pennsylvania, where they were delayed by some sort of mysterious weather, and then finally on to NJ where they arrived Thursday.

I wasted no time in sleying that 6 dent reed.

I threaded in record time, I mean 12 epi is nothing.

I beamed while teaching a remote three day workshop, I could watch the class on my laptop, and while they were busy working, I could quietly beam.

And then I tied on. I started weaving with some scrap wools I had just to check threading and sett, and I was definitely not happy. My immediate instinct is, “It should have been sett denser”, which is my main motto in life. The next size reed I had was an 8, which would put the sett at 16, and I didn’t want to go that dense. But by the stroke of luck, I had purchased a 5 dent, and three per dent works out to be 15 ends per inch.

So I resleyed the reed, and now my fabric, which used to be 36″ wide, is now about 29″ wide. That’s actually better because I plan to hand feed balls of weft across, I don’t want to juggle about 36 shuttles, and it is easier to reach with 29″ than 36″.

I started weaving and OMG it is perfect. It is exactly what I envisioned and I just absolutely love when that happens. The twill lines are at a 45 degree angle.

So the next step is to carefully plan out the treadling and the reverses and what yarn goes in what pick. There are almost 36 different wefts. And most are only used 1 or 2 times in the weft before changing. This will be very slow cloth.

I printed out the treadling (I’m splitting the shafts between two treadles for each pick so both halves of my body get equal exercise and to further enable the wools to separate easily while weaving.) Next to each treadle pick is a color that codes to a yarn, but some are so close in color I didn’t want to get confused, so I put small bits of the yarn with double faced tape with each weft pick.

I have little treadle notes taped all across the castle (that’s a loom part for you non weavers).

And I have two basket trays of balls, carefully placed in sequence order, so I can just draw the next one, glance at how many picks I need of it, and double check that I’m on the correct treadles. This will be really entertaining to weave. And slow. But I’m not in a hurry.

Meanwhile…

Because nothing in my life is ever boring…

I got a call last week, that a beloved friend, who had acquired a loom in very poor condition, decided that after a number of years, would never really be able to put in the time to get the loom up and running. I was with him when he acquired it, it is a lovely loom, a full size Macomber with 8 shafts, double warp beam, but only 24″ wide. It had originally been stored and nearly ruined in a screened in patio through a number of very wet and cold winters. It was missing a lot of the beam hardware, and was very very rusty and dirty. He sadly had not been able to do anything with the loom in all the years he stored it. So I adopted this loom.

Yeah, I know… This is number 36…

Though I’ve woven on Macomber looms since the 70’s, I never actually owned one. I rehabbed all the looms that we moved from William Paterson University to Peters Valley probably back in 2014, I know this loom well. And Macomber is still making looms, way up there in Maine, and they are really knowledgeable about the history of every loom they sell. This one apparently was part of a large order from 1970, built for Philadelphia College of Textiles. It has not fared well through the years.

So I put in an order for all the replacement parts I needed, and 800 new inserted eye heddles and a bench while I was at it, and $1000 later, hopefully it won’t take as long to tour the country as my poor reeds from Oregon.

Sunday a week ago, I got a bucket of Murphy’s Oil Soap, and scrubbed this poor child down, changing the blackened water after wiping down every beam. A very generous coat of Howard’s Feed and Wax was applied once it was dry.

I’ll tackle the shafts when I get the new heddles. There is a lot of rust, but I’m confident I can bring this loom back to its original glory. Can’t wait to get a warp on it.

So that’s my week, more to tell, but I’ll save it for another time. I wake up each morning ticking off an agenda of cool things to accomplish, including spending some time weeding the yard, something I’ve never been able to do on a regular basis with all the travel.

Carry on dear friends, I’ve got fabric to weave, looms to rehab, gardens to tend, and videos to produce. My life is full!

Stay tuned…

Complex Wanderings…

…Or the fabric that keeps on giving…

This is a very long and convoluted story, so grab a cup of coffee and know that even I can take years to complete something…

I started this blog in December of 2008. I really didn’t know much of what to talk about in a blog, and here, more than 12 years later, I’m guessing I figured that out. I remember outlining a handful of projects that I thought I’d like to work on, and I thought I’d document how I made them, the decisions I’d make, and if nothing else, it would make a great record of my process for me to look back on.

Side bar… (My life is full of them…)

I’m going to be teaching a three day workshop, remotely, in Indianapolis at the end of the month. The topic is creating a pieced vest, using my creative piecing technique and appliquéd bias tubes. Participants will be making my 500 Vest, and I’ve already sent them the pattern, the interfacing, the tracing medium and a press bar. I’ve rewritten the 500 Vest directions to include some of my YouTube videos, The Weaver Sews, and I’ve actually created a couple of videos to help with the final vest construction; techniques that might not be intuitive. The first one aired last Friday and the second one should air this Friday. Indianapolis has agreed to be a sort of test for this type of workshop, and it helps that they plan to meet together, so they can help each other and take photos of each other to help me assess fit. So far so good.

The issue is, as I started pulling together the presentation on the piecing technique, as it relates to creating a garment, different than the one I’ve updated and am using to create a pieced mat, like the one I’m teaching for the MAFA conference (wait list only) this summer, I realized that the images in the presentation I’ve used for more than 15 years, are ones I shot for my first article for Handwoven magazine, using a film camera, which debuted in the November/December issue of 2000. Yeah, 21 years ago. Film camera. Yeah…

So I needed some fresh process shots, step by step, using the actual garment pattern they would be using. Though all of my teaching content existed digitally, going into the pandemic, the need to constantly update presentations is still there, and even more so.

Back to my blog of 2008. One of the projects I outlined back then, called Project Four, very original name, came from what to do with the generous leftovers of this coat I created called Complex Wanderings.

Here is the original post, from 2008, because I can’t explain the journey this fabric has been through any better.

“The components for this project have filtered in and out of my life over the last 12 years. It started with a complex 8 shaft point twill fabric, of which I put way too much on my little 8 shaft loom many years ago. I was doing a sectional warping demo, so obviously a long warp was in order. I wove about 5 yards of the laborious two shuttle fabric back in 1995, and it was exhibited in the Portland Convergence 1996 yardage exhibit. The rest sat on my loom. For years. (Note: the fabric is an 8 shaft 2-block Point Twill by Sue Beevers from Carol Strickler’s 8 Shaft Patterns, #165)
Fast forward 2002, I am diagnosed with breast cancer, and one of the odd things that came to me as I wandered through my studio, looking at the stash I’d accumulated, at the unfinished projects, at the yardage still stuck on the loom (I had something like 6 more yards to go), and thought to myself, “What if I died from this cancer thing and never actually used any of this stash?” Somehow that silly thought was just what I needed to move into high gear, and dive into my stash and weave/sew with abandon. I had nothing to lose and suddenly, the idea that we are immortal and will always be there to play with our stash was blown away by that one diagnosis, and I thought, how sad if I never got to see where something takes me, to use some of the precious things I’d acquired, and what was I saving it all for?
Getting that remaining 6 yards off the loom became a priority. Besides, I really liked my little 25″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade Loom and wanted to use it for something else. It had been out of commission for 8 years by then.
I did manage to get the fabric off the loom, and obviously, I lived to write this story, and I did make a lovely coat from the fabric, shown above, titled Complex Wanderings, which is an appropriate title given my state of mind at the time. The piece was exhibited at Convergence 2004 Denver.
In 2006, I had an opportunity to take a five day workshop in Florida with Diane Ericson, sponsored by the Surface Design Guild in Tampa. I adore this group, and hopped a plane in February of ’06, and played in the sunshine with Diane and the rest of the terrifically talented women in the group. It was up there with my top fiber experiences. I can’t recommend Diane enough as a teacher and as a mentor.
I had to bring stuff to work with. Scraps of things, we would be working on many projects over the 5 days, mostly wearables and accessories. To get the most from the workshop I chose to start many projects, and finish them later at home. Some of the scraps I chose, came from the leftovers of Complex Wanderings, the 8 shaft fabric, and scraps of the light blue leather piece. And I searched my stash for other elements that would coordinate. A silk ottoman, a brocade, a raw silk yardage from my mother in law’s stash.

There wasn’t enough of any one thing, but together the palette was beautiful. Using one of Diane’s patterns, I started a jacket, just feeling my way along, letting the elements take me by the hand, and seeing what direction they went. While I was in the workshop, I loved what I was working on, and after I came home and put it on the dressform, the momentum was lost.

Life got in the way, and I never returned to it until a year later. I just couldn’t recapture the direction I was going with it, and put it away for another year. So we are coming on Feb 2009, could that poor half finished jacket be almost three years old? I always tell my students that a piece will tell you what it wants to be, but you have to listen carefully. And it is pretty clear that this piece does not want to go in the direction I had taken it. So, my goal here is to listen carefully, and take this piece to completion, I love the elements, I love the textures and the palette, and I’d like to see something that celebrates all of it, in a playful way, that I will wear and remember a 12 year adventure.

Yeah… That was 2008. As a matter of fact, I recently came across a set of images my late husband shot of my daughter Brianna and me in my studio, from 2007. Yes, that’s Brianna, about age 15. And there I am trying to appear interested in what’s on the dressform. And yeah, that studio is appalling…

The piece eventually got removed from the dressform, and stuffed in a zippered bag, along with all the fabrics and leftovers I had pulled for the original trip to Tampa. It stayed in my attic until just this past year, when I rebuilt the studios and started pulling bags of stuff from the attic, just to see what was there. I have a cabinet under the stairs now of scraps from old pieces and occasionally make stuff and put it up in my eShop.

So now, April of 2021, my kids are grown, that fabric that I first wove back in 1995, when Brianna was just a toddler, has once again appeared on my cutting table.

I’ve taken out the lining, what was I thinking, and completely taken apart the jacket so it is back down to just a pile of raw materials.

I’ve reworked the pile into what I think is a more pleasing group of fabrics, and found a lovely handpainted silk lining, probably from a long ago trip to Thai Silks in northern California.

So now, the next step is to create a new vest, using my piecing technique, and documenting the process so I can update the tutorial/presentation for my class in two weeks.

Can I tell you how much fun I’m having?

And this afternoon, I finished up all the pieces, cut the bands and the lining, and I think I have all the photos I need to update the tutorial. Once I do that, I’ll actually construct the vest…

Yes, it took me 26 years to get to this point. There are no words…

Meanwhile, part two of my podcast with the Professional Weaver Society dropped on Sunday. It was hilarious. The three of us went off onto a few tangents, like getting a hobby, that were downright funny. So if reading this post isn’t enough Daryl Time, you might want to check out Part 2 of my podcast with Tegan and Eric. This is episode 43. Episode 42, or Part 1 is here.

Stay tuned…