That’s not why I did it…

It has been a very long time since I’ve dealt with a major loom screw up.  A really long time.  Like I don’t remember the last time?  And it isn’t because I’m so very good at this whole weaving thing, but it sort of is.  I’ve been weaving since the mid 70’s.  If there is a mistake, or screw up, I can assure you I made it or did it at some point in my career.  One of the glorious things about being a weaver is the pure tenacity that controls what we do and how we approach a situation.  

Of course by now, you are all familiar with my daughter and her major accomplishments as a weaver.  She works for me now, and is responsible for converting all of my garment patterns into digital downloads.  She is also responsible for filming, producing and editing all of my videos for my YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews and writing all of the Closed Captioning.  (Yes, I caught that there were a couple of misspellings in previous episodes…)  I couldn’t have moved into this next portion of my professional life without her, but that’s not why I did it…

My daughter, Brianna, yes she has a real name, not the one she uses on Facebook, was asked back last winter if she would give a lecture to her old weaving guild in MA, near where she went to school.  The lecture, on differential sett, was scheduled for April of this year.  And of course we all know what happened in the northeast by April.  The world was cancelled.

Since my daughter is a soon to be 28 year old millennial, she does her best work under deadline pressure.  (Truth be told, so do I…)  The guild called her last week and asked if she would be willing to give the lecture remotely.  Hahahahah!  Of course she said yes, which is what I would have done at that age.  I use to have a sign on  my studio door that said, “Say yes, then worry…”

So my daughter had to build an entire lecture that only existed as an outline, and weave all the samples in less than two weeks (the lecture is next week), plus edit and create new content for me, plus work in the evenings on her schooling, (yes, she is still in school to get her vet tech license).  But that’s not why I did it….

One of the samples Brianna decided to weave, was exploring what happens when you use differential sett with really slippery rayon, warp and weft, and then slippery rayon warp and a dragging kind of weft like Shetland wool.  The sample with the slippery rayon warp, though challenging, was completely successful.  She then wound a warp with the Shetland wool, and the idea was she would tie into the rayon warp and repeat the experiment with a rayon weft and a wool weft, producing an additional two samples.  

At one point, she said to me, as I was weaving on another of the looms in the studio, “This is ridiculous, tying in a new warp, I could have started fresh, sleying and rethreading in half the time…”  and I couldn’t disagree with her.  I’ve never found tying in a new warp to be a time saver.

I went off to do something else and came back and she had only tied in about 2/3rds of the warp, and she moved onto a different loom to do other samples of different weave structures.  She told me that she was fed up and didn’t have the time to waste tying in 600 ends on a table loom.  But that’s not why I did it…

I went off to other projects of my own, like writing the script for Friday’s The Weaver Sews Youtube installment.  I came back and decided to finish tying in the rest of the warp, which would have been 200 ends.  It wasn’t a big deal, and I can do stuff like that in my sleep.  I was surprised when she directed me to make a square knot, I had always tied in new warps with an overhand knot, but I learned long ago that I didn’t argue with my late husband, and I don’t argue with his daughter.  Even though I have almost a half century of experience…

I finished the task and then turned the job of beaming the 1  1/2 yard warp of sticky Shetland wool, onto the warp beam, over to my daughter.  I think I went off to bed…

I came back the next day to find the warp abandoned.  It was a complete disaster.  I don’t think even at my worst I’ve ever had a mess like that.  Partly I take some responsibility because my daughter has worked along side of me since she first learned to throw a shuttle.  She never had the opportunity to fall flat on her face, like most weavers, including me, have had to do.  I’ve always been there to guide her, when she chooses to listen to me.  But that’s not why I did it…

Largely what happened, is that when she put tensioning bars in the back of the warp, and tried to beam the new sticky Shetland warp into the old slick rayon warp, the square knots didn’t hold, they slipped right out.  And for some reason, the Shetland wool ends, that slipped out of the knots, ended up in the front of the beater, probably about 200 of the 600 ends.  I think this wins an award for the most messed up warp I’ve ever seen.  That’s partly why I did it…

I felt really sorry for my daughter, she was trying so hard to see this lecture into fruition…  But that’s not why I did it…

I felt partly responsible because I knew that when you tie in a warp, you always use overhand knots.  There are a lot of things I know, but I don’t know why I know them.  And because my daughter requested square knots, I obliged.  But that’s not why I did it…

I laid awake all Thursday night haunted by the mess on one of the looms in the garage right underneath of me.  I kept thinking, if that were me, I wouldn’t have gone to bed without fixing it.  But that’s me, even though I knew I had a video to shoot in the morning. I didn’t sleep the whole night.  My daughter just moved to a different loom, and started on a different group of samples she had been planning.

In fact my daughter was so upset by what happened that she couldn’t even look at the loom. She couldn’t even walk over to that area of the studio.   She is not use to having major loom screw ups…  I’ve largely protected her from that…  But that’s not why I did it…

We stopped everything to shoot the new video Friday morning, and I had some computer/business stuff to attend to, but Friday afternoon, I sat at the loom and thought, it has been a very long time since I’ve bailed a loom out of a major temper tantrum, and you know what?  I really wanted to just dive in there and fix it.  That’s why I wanted to do it.

A couple of years ago, I had my new to me dog chew up a skein of yarn that was being wound into pirns for the weft yarn for a project I was working on.  I got distracted by the doorbell, and when I returned I found  the skein stretched around my loom, and all the way down the stairs, and the skein chewed beyond help.  I can’t believe the number of weaver’s who offered to have me send them the skein and promised to untangle every last yard.  There is something about fixing a monumental disaster that is really appealing for a weaver.  

I sort of think that it has to do with creating calm in chaos.  There is so little in the world that we have any control over.  But what happens at our looms, that thing, we have control over.  And if what happens on our looms becomes total chaos, then patience, tenacity, and time will make it work.  That’s why I did it.  

So I started Friday afternoon, after the shoot, and I began to reassess the 600 ends and how to best resolve the mess.  Cutting the whole thing off and starting over was an option, but it would mean wasting a perfectly good 1 1/2 yard Shetland warp, that I paid good money for…

I decided that the best way out, was to carefully pull the warps that ended up in front of the reed, since they were only 1 1/2 yards, and resleying them where required (because this was a differential sett warp, there were dents where there were as many as five ends) and then carefully tying them back into the slippery rayon warps that went through the heddles, one by one.  I probably spent 10 hours.  This was really really challenging.

I did it because there is something intensely satisfying about bringing order to chaos.  There is something intense about saving a project.  I had my doubts that this was even weaveable, 5 ends of Shetland in a 12 dent reed on a table loom didn’t see realistic, but that wasn’t for me to judge.  I grabbed my 5X glasses, a magnifying OTT lite, and a sley hook and started in.  10 hours later I was triumphant.  

As I suspected, the warp was unweaveable at that dentage, Brianna had to pull some of the densest parts of the warp, but after much bitching and kvetching, she managed to get the sample she needed, but that’s not why I did it…

For all of you out there who have ever had to deal with the warp from hell, remember that there is something healing in finally controlling that which would not be controlled, something triumphant about making something from total chaos.  And that’s  why I did it.  It has been a long time since I’ve had to bail out a major loom screw up, and I loved every minute of it.  It wasn’t my screw up, but I felt like a warrior on a mission and I was ultimately successful.  Mission accomplished.  It was sort of poignant that in the middle of the last inch and a half, that the election finals were called.  No matter who you supported, the wait is over.  And there is a sort of relief there, and now we as a nation can move forward to what I hope is a common goal.  My ten hours of determination over a warp from hell was finally over.  And I won.

Brianna did manage to beam and weave the new samples.  She did as I suspected have to cull some of the warps in the densest part of the reed.  But she learned that on her own.  And she also learned that when tying in a new warp, you should use overhand knots.  But kids learn by falling flat on their faces and picking themselves up and reevaluating the experience.  I never had anyone to tell me otherwise, so I learned the hard way, by trial and error, but that weaver’s tenacity kept me moving forward.  


To say that I’m so proud of the body of samples she has produced as a result of this exploration in differential sett would be an understatement.  And what she has learned from things that I would have loved to have prevented from my vast experience would have deprived both of us from an experience that ultimately benefitted both of us.  

So next time you are faced with the warp from hell, have a drink, and dive in head first.  There is some personal triumph that no one else but a weaver will understand…

Stay tuned…


Simple days, complex world…

The days pass quickly in a routine that is pretty pleasant truth be told.  I’m not missing traveling, not missing even leaving the house.  I see friends and family enough via zoom, and with all the remote lectures I’m giving, I feel as though I’ve just attended the world’s largest weaving conference.  Each day I bounce around to some part of the country, and each lecture there are old friends and familiar faces in those tiny boxes on the screen.  I’ve been corresponding with someone in MO, who was supposed to take a workshop with me in August in Kansas, but appeared in a lecture in western MA.  We weavers get around…

Having my daughter here, working with her, developing new content, shooting a new video every Friday for my YouTube site The Weaver Sews.  It has kept us busy.  The biggest challenges are keeping the animals quiet, and hoping the landscape people don’t come through in the middle of filming the way they did last Wednesday in the middle of a class I was teaching remotely.  Those leaf blowers right outside the garage doors were pretty noisy.

So the election in the US is Tuesday.  I don’t hold hope that things will be resolved by Tuesday night.  I don’t hold hope that things will be resolved for a very long time, no matter who is declared the winner.  I’m sad for the polarization, I’m sad for the divisive language used by both sides, I wish we could all get along and move forward.  We are in the middle of a couple of international crises and I’m a firm supporter of science (having a daughter with a science degree means I can’t even cook without a science perspective thrown into the recipe), and no matter the results, I hope moving forward that we as a nation can come together to solve some of these major issues.  I’ve just heard of another weaver who lost their entire studio to one of the fires in Oregon.  She took a workshop with me just in March of this year, my last stint before the world shut down.  I sent her digital files of everything we could piece together that she lost from my workshop, but that doesn’t replace yarn, samples, looms, weaving equipment, spinning wheels, and a life time of knowledge in physical form.  My friends in California, Oregon, Washington, as well as Louisiana have taken the brunt of this year’s climate disasters.  I wish the world had a plan moving forward.  For me, I voted within 24 hours of receiving my mail in ballot (only mail-in voting in NJ this year because of the pandemic), so on Tuesday night, I’ll be teaching remotely for a guild in Toronto.  I can only do my best to keep moving forward, being kind, paying attention to the science, fighting for equality for all, and embracing my countrymen no matter what and who they are passionate about.

Since  Tuesday night’s lecture is on Doup Leno, a technique I wrote about a couple years ago for Heddlecraft Magazine, (January/February 2019), I needed to have something set up for a live demo.  The warp that I had been using was mostly used up.  So I rewarped this week, with a couple of handdyed skeins of cashmere I had sitting around, one a dark and the other a variegated turquoise.  The goal is a couple of scarves, the leno structure will keep them lacy, but the structure will hold together.

That said, I’ve been rather busy with my simple days.  Simple means I can fill my days up with juggling 40 things at once, because I can’t imagine a day when 40 things aren’t happening simultaneously!  

I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on a new project.  The last two vests I made both had welt pockets.  It has been on my to do eventually list for a couple of years.  I finally sat down, designed a diagonal entry welt pocket and then once I did a few of them, drew illustrations and wrote up the 12 page directions.

Now you can actually purchase the Welt Pocket Variation as a download.  The download contains the 12 page heavily illustrated directions, the two pattern pieces full size for the welt and pocket, and replacement pages for the 100 jacket, 200 jacket and 800 vest.  By substituting the pages in the pattern digital files, you’ll see where the pocket goes.  So if you’ve purchased the 100, 200 or 800 vest, you might enjoy this variation.  Of course it will work for any jacket or vest you make from anyone’s patterns, you’ll just have to figure out where to position it.

The second vest I finished is the one I’ve been using for demonstrations during my last few YouTube videos.  The fabric was a remnant I bought somewhere, can’t remember, but it was a gorgeous sleezy Chanel type tweed, really challenging to work with, like your worst case handwoven.  My handwoven fabrics aren’t nearly as challenging!  I made up the 200 jacket but left off the sleeves, bringing the lining to the edge of the armhole.  With the shawl collar and welt pockets, it is a much different look than my other vests.  

I realized of course that I haven’t updated my gallery on the website with the last couple of pieces I’ve made, the Summer Rain Top, and of course the leopard trimmed and lined Confetti vest shown above.  It is much more important to be timely in those updates because my daughter references those details and images when she creates the show notes for each video I do.  We took one of our guest rooms, since we aren’t getting a lot of guests (none actually) and turned it into a temporary photo studio.  So I popped the Summer Rain top onto the dressform, and perched it on top of the table to take a quick shot of the top.  The free draft for the fabric for this top, using Silk City Fibers is available here.  The pattern is a combination of my 1000 Swing Dress, very modified to take out the “swing”, and the armhole and sleeve from my 200 Jacket.

Meanwhile, now that all my looms are full, I filled them up for the HGA remote studio tour the beginning of October, I need to start clearing looms because I’m getting more ideas of stuff I want to weave.  So I cleared one of the table looms first.  This one had a test for Silk City Fibers, their Supermerino yarn, sett in an 8 dent reed, plain weave, to simulate what one would experience with a rigid heddle loom set up.  One was a single end in an 8 dent reed, single weft, spaced a little far apart for my taste, but that was the point of the test.  I gave that one to Silk City and kept this one, which is two ends together in an 8 dent reed with a doubled weft (I used a double boat shuttle for that scarf).  Supermerino is a superwash yarn.  It doesn’t say that in the description, but it doesn’t full at all when washed.  The result is actually quite soft and lovely, and I’m glad they let me keep one of the scarves.  I suspect I’ll be venturing outside a bit this winter, if only to walk the property and pick up dog debris, and I think this will be quite warm.

I did a round robin sort of day earlier in the week, I wove a yard of two on each of the other floor looms, just to get them moving forward.  I can probably just sit and weave and finish off a couple of them in a day or two.  To have time to just sit and weave is such a gift.  And that means I’ll have yardage to sew.  And empty looms to rewarp…

There is this one, which has been on the loom for way too long.  The yarn is Noro Taiyo Lace, a pain to work with but really beautiful in its gradient effect as the weft.  4 shaft, warp is vintage Harrisville singles Shetland wool and vintage Maypole Nehalem worsted.  I’ve probably got less than two yards to go…

This is another test for Silk City Fibers, their new Cotton Bambu yarn mixed with their Chenille Tapestry yarn.  I modified an 8 shaft shadow weave draft, it is a bit slow to weave because of the two shuttle complicated repeat but it is moving along nicely.  

And this one is also using Silk City Fibers, their new Nile cotton tape mixed with Skinny Majesty variegated.  The weft is their Wool Crepe.  I can’t wait to weave off this fabric, it is weaving like butter and I want to make swing dress out of it. Over a black turtleneck, this could be fun for winter, something new to wear, even though I don’t go anywhere and only dress for the upper third of my body for remote Zoom meetings.  And for the videos, I get to dress up, put on makeup and look remotely professional, but everything has to be 2-piece to support the remote microphone pack clipped into my waistband.

Days are cooler now, we have finally had frost in NJ.  I cuddle up with the gas stove in the living room, and a 1000 piece puzzle and some wine in the evenings, or watch late night political satire on the TV with my daughter.  We need to keep laughing, we need to surround ourselves with art, humor and good food and drink.  And of course animals, there is a cat asleep on my lap as I type, with one paw draped over my typing hand.  And yarn and good books.  I have all of that, and new flannel sheets coming this week from LLBean.  My daughter stole my other set.  Life is OK for now in my small neck of the world.  I quietly keep making up new stuff, and keep an eye out for important things to know about.  

See you all on the other side of this election, stay safe, wear a mask, and don’t forget to vote…


Everyday feels like a year…

This is the weirdest year I’ve ever experienced, and there have been a lot of them.  You’d think by 65, especially having lived through the 60’s and 70’s that you’ve seen it all.  Hahahah!

I’m not going to comment on any of the current world situation.  You don’t need one more voice in the cacophony of voices and events and situations screaming at you for attention.  Because you all know or should know that the world is imploding like some sci-fi novel and that we just all have to buckle our proverbial seatbelts and hold on for the ride.  A bottle of wine or something more powerful would help for fuel.

That said, my last couple of weeks have been wild and crazy, and that has nothing to do with all the drama and sturm und drang happening in the world.  

In case you missed it, I did finish my Confetti vest, lined with a vintage leopard coat.  It makes me smile in so many ways when I look at it.  I’m ready for winter, this will be warm as s**t!  

So this week is Spinning and Weaving week.  It is a big deal in the fiber community, usually full of events, and gatherings and all sorts of fibery happenings.  The Handweavers Guild of America is giving it the valiant try of doing a bunch of fiber related events virtually.  While not ideal, in essence it allows participation by anyone, anywhere, in the comfort of your own home.  I know our homes are getting too comfortable and we are looking to get out and go anywhere, but inspiration comes in odd packages, and basically all this is free and all you have to do is register for a specific event.( I think it helps if you are a member, because everything is free, but there are modest fees if you aren’t a member.)  All this coming week, the HGA is sponsoring studio tours of various fiber artists they have selected, whose studios they think might be of interest to the fiber community at large.

And guess who is featured Thursday at 4pm EDT.  Yeah, so there is that hanging over me.  In preparation for a virtual studio tour, I mistakenly said, when they inquired if I would be willing to be a part of this, that sure, I’ll even have something on every loom that I can talk about and explain, and fill up space for an hour.  I need to learn restraint!

So, in anticipation of Thursday’s live virtual studio tour, filmed by my daughter who will be tethered to the laptop, camera and sound system, we will walk through my wonderful new garage space, and then on to the basement where I have my cozy sewing room.  But all the looms had to be warped…

So, my 8 shaft 36″ loom was unwarped and very lonely.  I still had a couple of cones of Silk City Fibers yarns to test out, one was a Cotton Bambu, in Silver, and the other was a Chenille Tapestry variegated called Japanese Red Maple.  I envisioned a light dark shadow weave, something sett well enough to keep the chenille from doing silly things like worming out of the structure.  Some day I’ll recount my early experiences with chenille, but with a lot of experience behind me, I thought I’d give it another go.

I used the Powell book for inspiration, but since I’m aiming to publish the draft and specs for this fabric, I needed something that was mine.  I started out with this 8 shaft version, and wasn’t completely happy.  (Actually I started out with 24 epi, alternating the CottonBambu and the Chenille.  Resleyed to 20 epi, and then resleyed again to 16epi.  Don’t ever be afraid of changing course mid stream.)

The change might not be obvious, but I redesigned it to reverse in a more pronounced way, and to better square up with the sett.  I’m pretty happy with this.  Now I just have to weave it off, but not before Thursday…

And my big loom, the 45″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade, my first loom and first love, still with me after all these years, purchased in 1977, delivered in 1978 was also naked and really not happy.  Since every fall I put on a run of dishtowels for holiday gifts, I decided that that would be an appropriate thing to put on the loom, and then at the end of October into November, I could weave it off and have my holiday gifts.

Social media can be really challenging and full of untruths and misinformation and a lot of passionate people on both sides of the fence no matter what the subject.  But the social media sites dedicated to fiber and specifically weaving has some very dedicated moderators and some very talented contributors and every morning when I wake up I feel like I have just been to a fantastic inspirational gallery opening.  

The Facebook site Strickler in Color has been a tremendous source of inspiration.  Carol Strickler wrote a lovely book, now considered essential for every weaver with 8 shafts on their loom, full of patterns, all black and white, and you could spend a lifetime with this book and not make a dent.  So this Facebook site has talented contributors who post what they’ve woven, but in color, with a nod to the draft.  Strickler 728 keeps coming up, and if you looked at it in the book, you would have just turned the page.  It really is rather boring and not very inspiring.  But I’ve seen so many people use this draft in eye catching ways that it was on my list to try.

In keeping with the need to stash bust, because I’ve acquired a lot of 8/2 cotton in the last year or two, I pulled a length from all of my cones and sat with weaving software until I was happy.  I decided to put 15 yards on the loom because turns out, I can never have enough dishtowels.  I’m always needing one as a gift, and I’m tired of running out in July. (I still have two left from last year because I haven’t been anywhere since March, but hey…)

My table top warping mill technically holds 10 yards.  I’ve successfully pushed it to 14, but I decided that my AVL warping mill, now 20 years old, would probably serve for this purpose.  I rigged up way to make a cross, and I wound 15 yard bundles in 2.5″ widths.

I threaded the loom.  My ott-lite magnifier has changed my life!  

I beamed the 15 yards.

And I started weaving.  I am completely in love.  This is why we do this.  I am so thrilled to have been forced to fill up my looms, because now, after Thursday, I can walk in my studio and just weave.  A lot.  I have a whole fall’s worth of looms to clear.  Which will mean, except for the dishtowels, a lot of sewing this winter.  I can’t wait when we reemerge from this protective cocoon to wear half the stuff I’ve made this year.

Speaking of…

In addition to studio tours and virtual vendor halls, the Handweavers Guild of America is also sponsoring a virtual fashion show next Sunday.  Not the same as sitting in an auditorium at a conference and watching cool handwoven garments strut across the stage, but they are trying to put together a virtual fashion show.  That would be next Sunday at 2pm EDT.  Of course I’ll have a piece in the show, but I hear they could use more participants.  WHERE ARE ALL MY STUDENTS, AND WHY ARE THEY NOT SHOWING OFF THEIR WONDERFUL GARMENTS!  This isn’t like where you have to be juried.  Just sign up!  You need the ability to Zoom, log in and they will tell you what to do.  The rehearsal was today, but I think they still want more participants!  Come on guys, you have some great work!  The link to enter is here.  I know the deadline has passed, but I believe they are still looking for participants.  The link to view the virtual fashion show next Sunday is here

And finally, there is my new Youtube site.  We now have four episodes of The Weaver Sews.  Every Friday we film a new episode on something related to sewing handwoven fabric.  Four are launched with Closed Captioning, which my daughter writes, so it is accurate and synced.  Two more are shot and I’m planning the topic for next Friday as I write.  I will create a script, which makes it easier for my daughter to write the Closed Captioning, and then I work all week on creating the samples and supplies I need for the video shoot.  We are having fun with this and I hope it is helpful and informative.  Sales of my patterns are certainly picking up!

So my head is spinning with all that is on my plate.  I’m old enough to remember The Ed Sullivan Show, and the guy from some Baltic country that did plate spinning.  He would keep 10 or 20 plates spinning all at the same time.  I remember watching with fascination and thinking, “How does he keep them all going at once?”  Well now I know.  Somehow that skill managed to rub off on me and I’m doing that every day.  And I wouldn’t wish for anything different.  My days are full, I have plenty to keep me busy.  I am lecturing virtually almost every other day, somewhere in the country.  It is so great to log in and see familiar faces.  I can do this… (though sometimes I wish I could redesign the plates).

Stay tuned…


No Guts No Glory redux…

Back in 2013 I wrote a post with the same title.  I  reread the post in prep for using the title again, and yeah, this one should be titled, “Hold my beer…”

As the story went, “back in my college days, I befriended a nun who worked on campus. We all called her Sister Fran.  She had an old station wagon.  She use to drive students around to wherever they needed to go off campus, and we’d pile into the back of the wagon and head off into the town.  When Sister Fran would come to a rather busy intersection, especially one without a light, she would barrel on through  shouting , “Fran, no guts no glory!”  I learned a lot about life through that mantra, and learned a lot about driving in NJ.”

I recalled that mantra this past couple of weeks as I embarked on a rather risky use of fabric from my box of yarn that Silk City Fibers encouraged me to play with.  This fabric featured a very muted orange Cotton Bambu, one of their newer yarns, heavier than I would normally use in any weaving, and I combined it with some of their old standby’s, and came up with this…

The draft and notes are available for free in my shop, since they gave me the yarn, I feel obligated to share anything I come up with for free.  Click here.

As I’m weaving this fabric, the vision of a leopard skin coat, that has been living in my closet for many many years, I’ve lost count, kept swimming into my head.  At one point I pulled out the coat and looked at it with the fabric still on the loom.  This is one of those times when “No Guts No Glory” came into my head.  I knew I wasn’t going to have much fabric, net maybe 3 yards if I was lucky, I only have what yarn Silk City Fibers gives me,  so a vest made sense.  What if I lined the vest with the fur?  It could be either really really cool, or really really awful.  I voted for “let’s find out…”

So I finished the fabric pictured above, and brought the coat to the sewing studio in the basement.  The lining had been pulled from the coat a long time ago, I seem to remember it was disintegrating.  Maybe not, maybe I was just curious. I also remember loaning it at one point to the HS for a costume for a production of Little Shop of Horrors.

If you have never been inside a vintage coat, it is really something to behold.  All those skins are strategically stitched together into an amazing pattern. 

Please, no letters.  I would never purchase a fur coat now.  But many years ago, having used vintage fur in a couple of art pieces, here and here, I have this vague recollection of someone giving me a coat, thinking I might incorporate it into a garment some day.  It was a long time ago.  The problem is, a number of animals died for this coat, and it is old, out of fashioned, dry rotted in places, and what do you do with something that should probably be tossed but I don’t have the heart.  This was once a living breathing thing.  So if I can give it yet one more life, I feel like I have maybe brought some good karma into my own life and saved something precious from the landfill.  

I started to dismantle the coat, and found in one pocket a name and address.  Kris Kolber, if this is your coat, it is being put to good use.  The other pocket was full of sunflower seed hulls.  I’m not going to comment on that, except to say that at one point, in the old studio, where this coat hung for years, I did have an issue with a couple of mice who secretly hoarded a stash of bird seed in all the yarn cones on my shelves.  They apparently made it to the second floor via a baseboard hot water heat pipe…

Meanwhile, I didn’t want to put patch pockets on this vest, but I did want pockets.  So I designed a welt pocket.  The goal is to write the directions for it, so it can be used in my jackets and vests.  Please be patient…

I also debated whether to leave the fabric as is, fuse with a fusible underlining, or quilt the fabric.  I needed the fabric to support the weight of the fur lining, so I opted for the quilted body, and underlined collar.

Working with old fur coats is a challenge (and no, I’m not looking to acquire anymore), mostly you are trying to salvage areas that are brittle, torn, cut for design purposes, and of course, there will be fur EVERYWHERE!

I’ve spent the last few days in massive handwork, sometimes with a pair of pliers, but I’m completely loving how this is coming out.  The real challenge will be the armholes, and I have an idea how to finish them with the fur.  Meanwhile, I’ve looked at many button options, and come up with these.  I’ll be using Scunci hair ties as the stretch button loops.  I think.  I won’t really know until I try it.  

This vest is my 800 vest pattern, without the zipper of course which wouldn’t be practical. You can purchase the pattern here.


I have some really big news here, I feel like I’ve just given birth.  Bri, my daughter and I have been quietly filming and editing footage for a YouTube channel,  We launched the channel for real, though I should say she launched the channel, because without her, this would never have happened.  She has been tirelessly slaving away at the Adobe Premier tutorials online, learning how to edit multi camera and sound footage, and for a novice, I’m really impressed. We call the site “The Weaver Sews“. (And yes, I’ve applied for a trademark)

So I now have a YouTube channel, which will hopefully contain a weekly upload of a short video that pertains to sewing with handwovens.  We have shot four videos, two are launched, two are waiting for edits.  We write our own close captioning, so it is accurate and sync’d.  Please check it out, and if you feel like this is something you will benefit from, please subscribe.  It is free.  As I add content, you will be notified.  

And I gave one of my first remote lectures since the pandemic began last March.  It was incredible to be able to turn on my computer in NJ, and give a presentation to a group in the Pacific Northwest, almost on the border with Canada.  I know many of these ladies.  Last year this time I was on Whidbey Island with many of them doing a private retreat sewing event.  Seems like a lifetime ago, now.  All the pre planning, monies spent on upgrading my equipment, video, sound, ethernet speed, it all worked in the best way possible.  This is a completely viable way of sharing my knowledge without dragging 170 pounds of luggage 3000 miles away.  I’m hoping that this can become the new normal in much of my life.

I’ll continue the handwork on the vest tomorrow, and hopefully work out the armhole trim, and start a new week with hope and confidence that all will be well.  Because I know deep down that all is not well in the world, but I can only wake up each morning, do what I can with my day, and hope I get to learn something new and share that with someone else.

Stay tuned…



One thing led to another…

Wednesday night my guild had their first meeting of the new year, and sadly it was remote.  Still.  We won’t be back at our regular meeting place for while.  But a healthy amount of members tuned in and  we got through the business meeting in short order.  The program was actually put together by our program chair, because it was discovered that our guild was celebrating its 40th anniversary and she had requested last spring for older members and those with early archives to come forth and share stories.  She did a wonderful job on the PowerPoint and shared her screen, and there were lots of good remembrances…

So I got to thinking and doing some remembering of my own…

About 10 years ago, I was asked to be the keynote speaker for the Syracuse, NY weaving guild as they celebrated their 50th anniversary.  I put together a short slide show of the weaving world in 1960, which is when the guild got its start.  I knew it was somewhere in the archives, and it was a pretty cool presentation even though I’m not sure it had the effect I wanted since most of the members in attendance were students in the weaving program at the University.  They wouldn’t appreciate the ad for a Peacock Loom.  They wouldn’t appreciate the gossip columns and who was who.  

I started to think, well damn, I have the means to make this public, and so I started searching and found the presentation and posted it on my site.  It is a short PDF, but if you’ve been weaving awhile, you’ll enjoy it.  The link is here.

On Tuesday I was the guest on The Shi Show, which is a daily live broadcast on the Lion Brand Facebook site.  It was huge fun, and I copied the link to also post on my site. (You probably need a facebook account to watch it, I come in about 6:50).  Trying to figure out the best place to post stuff like this, I started actually looking through my website.  Hmmmmmm……..

Whenever I have special events happen, articles, exhibits I’m a part of, major teaching venues, etc, I try to enter them into my resume when they happen so I remember things like who the juror was, where the gallery was, where the conference was held, etc.  I wanted to enter the link for the Shi Show into my resume and to my complete horror, I haven’t updated it since last fall.  I know I haven’t gone out much, but still…

And the Published Work section of my About Me, on my website hasn’t been updated since 2017.  My bad…  And the Exhibition section, same thing.  So I spent a number of hours trying to update pages that haven’t seen the light of day in awhile.

It was then that I discovered  that I hadn’t entered all the videos that I did for Threads Magazine Insider.  It is a subscription service, modest yearly cost, and totally worth it if you make clothing, of any kind.  I kind of lost track because they were shot in October of 2018, and slowly over the next year they were released.  I know we shot 9 segments over the two days I was there for filming, but I really did lose track.  I have a vague recollection that the bound buttonhole segment was broken into 6 parts.  So I started doing a search and found all kinds of things I was missing in my resume, and to my complete surprise, the last of the 9 segments, featuring crocheted edge finishes, was released February of this year, and I completely missed it.  


Video: Threads Insider COVER AND INSTALL SHOULDER PADS July 2019
Video: Threads Insider UNDERLINING TECHNIQUES June 2019
Video: Threads Basics Video STAYSTITCHING BASICS August 2019
Video: Threads Insider FITTING A FULL BUST October 2019
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: INTRODUCTION (Pt. 1) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: COMPLETING THE BUTTONHOLE (Pt. 5) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider CROCHETED EDGE FINISH February 2020

Hopefully that’s all up to date, it all started because of my guild meeting Wednesday night…

Meanwhile, Silk City Fibers is looking at a new yarn, and they had samples in two different weights.  The yarn is a tencel, one an 8/2 and one a 6/2.  I was asked to run a quick test to see what they could do.  Well, actually weavers can’t really run a quick test on anything.  Because you have to set up a loom, weave it off, and wash it before you can make a judgement.  

Sidebar, one of the looms in my studio is a small 12 shaft Leclerc Voyager I purchased last year from one of my guild mates.  For some reason she didn’t want it anymore, and I didn’t really have a 12 shaft loom, and the price was fair.  It still had a warp on it from her last workshop she took.  The warp was a 12 shaft point twill, 10/2 cotton in white, 24epi.  It occurred to me that I could wind a one yard warp combining the two tencel yarns, because I’d probably sample them at 24epi, and I could just tie into this existing warp, and make quick work.  I sat down at my computer and knocked out a draft.

The yellow is the 8/2, and it is a little meatier than what I’m use to seeing in an 8/2 tencel.  And definitely a little meatier than a 10/2 perle.  I love the yarn, the finish on it is slightly overtwisted and not as shiny as other 8/2’s, but silky smooth.  The red is the 6/2, and it is slightly thinner than many of their standard yarns, like the Nomad and Bambu 7.  Both have their place, but I think they are trying to pick one.  So I spent Thursday tying in the one yard warp…

And Friday afternoon I started weaving…

I cut the sample off and headed to the washing machine and loaded in a bunch of towels and washed and dried this little sample on high, within an inch of its life.  I like to see how far I can push a yarn.

Wow.  The point twill threading gave a bit of a waffle effect, but I had about 20% shrinkage.  The yarn really bloomed and filled up the spaces.  Tencel usually doesn’t do that.  The surface is smooth and silky, typical of a tencel, and I’m loving both of the yarns.  I’ll let you know what they decide to go with but this was a fun exercise.  

Saturday night I blew out an article for my local chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  That request came in earlier in the week, so I had actually a couple of days to think through a topic I thought appropriate.  Like how to work with digital patterns!  I get a lot of emails on the subject, I’m sure you can imagine.  And I realized that I have to go back and reformat all the intros to include my new logo, because nowhere does it say, Daryl Lancaster Pattern Collection!  Mine is the second one in from the left.  Yeah, I need to add the logo… (And before you start sending me letters, each of the patterns here were downloads that I printed and put in a catalogue envelope with the lead page taped to the front. I talk about that in the article.  My patterns are only available as downloads.)

And today, I sat down to actually sew the top I cut out last Monday from the Summer Rain yardage I wove using Silk City yarns.  I blogged about what went into this yardage here, and the draft is available for free as a PDF download here.  The top is a combination of my 1000 Swing Dress and the armhole and sleeve of the 200 (C) jacket.  Many of you probably already have the patterns from my classes.  The goal will be to do a series of videos that show how to combine patterns.  We are working on it!

I’m just coming up for air, and realized that tomorrow is a federal holiday.  Somehow I missed that. Can’t go to the post office to ship orders.  I live in a world now surrounded by fiber and light and color and assignments and the chance to explore, and yes, I’m still quarantining because it just isn’t worth going out and risking anything unless I have to ship an order.  So I forget that there is a big world out there, with a lot of turmoil, and a federal holiday thrown in.  Oops…

For my US friends, enjoy the holiday.  Fall is coming.  My favorite time of the year because I get to break out the cool sweaters and handwoven garments.  And I can’t wait to turn on my gas stove in the living room.  Stay safe, wear a mask, and stay tuned…