The Planets have Aligned!

For a day that started out poorly, it ended most spectacularly!  I didn’t sleep well last night.  I had too much partying, more alcohol than I usually consume (which is almost nothing, hence the problem) and rich food, and too much of it, and I laid awake most of the night, trying to sleep, but finally giving up and reading. (Joan Dideon’s Year of Magical Thinking).  Which meant I was a wreck in the morning.  And my daughter called from school to have me make a doctors appointment to have her checked for strep.  So by the time I finally got up, made the appointment, drove to the HS to get her, took her to the doctor (she did not have strep, only a virus, and the doctor sent her back to school) and drove back home, it was lunch time.  My plans of all I was going to accomplish were rapidly sifting through my fingers.  And on top of that, a miserable cold rain made everything soggy and frigid.  One of those bone chilling days where you just can’t get warm.

But I decided to try to make some headway on the new website.  I only had four pages to go, and one of them was pretty critical.  My schedule.  I hadn’t updated the old site in awhile, and a lot needed to be entered.  Once I decided on a format, I just had to look through all my files and emails to plug in as much information as I had, all the dates and contacts, and the topics I was teaching.  Then to simplify the site, I linked PDF files for the prospectuses instead of all the lengthy descriptions like I had on the old site.

So I plodded along, got my son to take my daughter back to the HS tonight for jazz band, and sent him out for a Chinese Food run.  And I continued to plod…

The upshot is, I FINISHED THE SITE!  I can’t believe it.  I’m done.  I’m so proud of what I’ve done.  And I put a temporary home page on the old site to direct to the new site, eventually when I’m sure everything is correct, and my husband returns from New Hampshire, I’ll wipe out the old site, and park it with the new one, so whether you go to or, you will end up in the same place.

Just as the last file uploaded, an email came in from Sandra Bowles, executive director of the Handweavers Guild of front-lrAmerica, Inc. telling me that they have approved my presentation for the Challenge Project I did last year for them, and I’m OK to market the presentation on a CD, to any guild that would like to show it for a guild meeting or program. I have to say that Sandy went out of her way, doing way more than I asked, by carefully working through all 81 slides, and proofing, editing, and watching for copyright issues, in a very professional and thorough manner.  I am very grateful Sandy.  So, give me a few days and I’ll have the CD up on my eShop.  I think I’ll offer it as both a PowerPoint and a PDF file on the same disk.  If you are a member of a guild, weaving, sewing, whatever, or just plain curious, this CD presentation is intended to stand alone, without me, as an inexpensive hour and a half program, following the year long challenge presentation, where I was paired with a designer I had never met, given yarn I’d have never picked to work with, in colors that don’t appeal to me, and we had a year to come up with a runway ensemble to debut at the Convergence 2008 Tampa Bay Fashion Show.  The 81 slide presentation starts with the design process, which was completely done with emails, and then the step by step sampling for the woven fabric, the design and pattern making , the cutting out and construction of the coat and dress, and the final embellishments, hand felting and beading that kept my partner Lorretta Dian Phipps up too many nights in a row.  There are some great production photos, and I’m really proud of the finished ensemble and the presentation as well.

And I even got an hour off to watch the latest installment of the new HBO series, #1 Ladies Detective Agency, starring Jill Scott.  (I had recorded it from Sunday night since I was driving to the airport while it was airing). It is as delightful as the series by Alexander McCall Smith, and I have to almost say, I like it even more.  The gentle life in Botswana, the interesting cases that fall into the lap of Precious Ramotswe, the endearing characters, and the spectacular scenery all keep me captivated and yearning for more.

Dare I hope to get the lining done on the coat tomorrow?

A Great Diversion

I packed up a long list of supplies to bring to the American Sewing Guild neighborhood chapter meeting this morning.  My local chapter is called the Clifton Clippers, which meets in, obviously, Clifton, NJ.  It is a growing group, the few meetings I have attended, there are always a handful of new people.

Unlike my weaving guilds, the sewing guild programs tend to be more hands on, bring a machine and make a project.  That’s really tough to do in the parameters of an average weaving guild meeting.  So I’m not use to packing up supplies right before a meeting, and I enjoyed poking through my studio looking for stuff on the list.

renie-helen-dorothyToday’s program featured ASG member Renie, a talented sewer quilter, who lead the group step by step in turning a sweatshirt into a decorative cardigan. That’s Renie in purple on the left.  I didn’t shop ahead of time, and purchase a new sweatshirt for the occasion, I just rooted through my closet and picked the two that didn’t have anything written on the front.  Works for me.

We were suppose to bring a half yard of coordinating fabric.  In this group, it is assumed that your fabric will be a cotton quilt fabric, but I’m not a quilter, and my stash consists of a lot of odd things, and lots of handwoven scraps.  I had a half yard piece of handwoven fabric, left from my production days, (that would be the 1980’s), poorly sett, plain weave, with lots of mixed warp yarns in various textures and colors, and a variegated rayon weft.  I really wasn’t sure what we were going to be doing with it, but I packed up my machine and stuff on the list, and hit the road.

The meeting was fun.  I love the companionship of others who think like me, are creative, I love show and tell, in any of my groups.  One woman turned a daughter’s wedding gown into a Christening gown for her daughter’s baby.  It was beautiful.  What a great idea.  And of course I showed off the dress I wore in the fashion show in California.

So the program started, and Renie carefully laid everything out step by step, she had a sweatshirt/cardigan on that was lovely, and had another one in various stages of development.  She explained the process and then turned us loose.  This guild is beginning to get use to me, only having handwoven fabric to play with.

DarylCuttingDarylSewingWell, I had a blast.  Once I got the sweatshirt cut apart, and the bottom trim on, I packed up my things, to continue at home so I could use my own powerful iron, and I could concentrate.  And take pictures….  🙂

So, the first step was to remove the wrist bands and waist band.  Then after carefully measuring, I cut up the center front, instantly transforming the sweatshirt into a cardigan.  Renie showed a sweatshirt turned inside out, and I loved the feel of the inside of my favorite red sweatshirt, which I was cutting apart for this adventure, so I turned mine inside out as well.  So the outside now feels like soft cotton fleece.

sweatshirt1Then I took my handwoven and cut 1 1/4″ strips off the selvedge, these I sewed to the bottom and fronts of the wrong side of the  jacket, and brought them around to the front, top stitching the selvedge into place.  Renie used quilt fabrics, which don’t have the same kind of selvedges as handwoven fabrics, so she left extra to turn under on her strips.sweatshirt2

We were told to bring stencils if we had them, shows how much I know, I brought my fabric painting stencils, with fabric paint.  Duh… what they really meant was quilting stencils.  So I borrowed a pretty one from Renie, and traced the pattern onto the back of my materials list.  I brought it home, and expanded it to fill the space on either side of the center front.  I then finished off the edges of a wider strip of handwoven, and pinned it down on the back of one of the garment fronts, and then traced the quilting stencil pattern onto tissue paper.  The old fashion kind that tears away easily.  Renie could just draw the stencil onto the back of a quilt fabric, but that doesn’t work for a slubby multi-colored handwoven.  I placed the tissue drawing down on the top of the handwoven strip, which was cut just a bit wider than the stencil design, and pinned everything into place.

sweatshirt3I went to my trusty Janome 6600, God I love this machine, and carefully followed the stitching outline I drew on the tracing paper with a medium size stitch length.sweatshirt4

Once I finished the stitching, I tore away the tissue paper, and then from the right side of the jacket, I clipped away the sweatshirt fabric to reveal the handwoven underneath.  Obviously you have to be careful here, and it helps to have sharp scissors with really blunt tips.

sweatshirt5I worked on the second front, I was a woman possessed.  Forget any thoughts of cleaning, or cutting out my poor arctic sky jacket lining.  I wanted to finish this jacket.  It is my new favorite thing to slouch around in.  I’m calling it my studio sweater, for when I need something comfy to put around my shoulders while I’m working, my well worn sweatshirt is now a stylish jacket trimmed with handwoven.  I finished edging the sleeves, and Voilá!

I realized that this is an excellent thing to do with a surplus handwoven scarf.  The selvedges can be used for the edge trim, and the interior of the scarf can be the strip that peeks out of the cut away stencil design on the front.  I have a few extra scarves sitting around, and I’m thinking there are other sweatshirts that could use a transformation…

Of course I worked right through dinner, and that meant we had to go out, so I got to wear my new jacket to the pizza place.

So now I’m going to totally blow off the rest of the evening, and watch the episode I missed last weekend while I was away, of Desperate Housewives, on my computer.  Oh, and BTW, when I was exiting the subway Thursday night in NYC, I saw a poster on the wall advertising a new HBO series, starting on March 29, at 8pm, Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency Series.  So those of you who don’t watch television often like me (Desperate Housewives is the only thing I watch other than Project Runway when it is airing), and don’t get advertising for this kind of stuff, you might want to tune in, the books are terrific!