Balloons and Fireworks…

I should be celebrating, this is five months of hard work, and it is finally completed.  But I’m already onto the next adventure, so much to cram into this quarantine that doesn’t seem to be going away.  Oddly enough there are deadlines looming, pun intended, more about that later.

So we launched the last of the 12 patterns I use for my classes.  At this point, you can purchase my  patterns, all of them, on my website.  This has been a huge deal, we have never worked so hard.  It took a team, I created the content, my daughter created the layered files that actually created the patterns, and I hired a tech editor for the instructions.  The instructions are, as always available for free on my website.  There is a lot of great information in there about sewing with handwovens, but I’m really looking forward to creating YouTube videos on specific areas of support.  Like how to actually print and create the full size patterns.  

Because so many have written me and asked, and many in the handweaving community haven’t ever purchased a downloadable pattern before, I want to do a video explaining how to basically print and tape together all the sheets into a full size pattern.  Yes, you have to print them yourself.  Yes, you can have a place like Staples print the file for you.  Yes, you have to tape all the pages together.  And no, I don’t sell the printed pattern.  Only the download.  I’m even wanting to get away from printing and shipping the monographs which at the moment are available digitally and in print form.  Printing and shipping costs are ridiculous, and with the delays in the post office, I’m wanting to get away from shipping altogether.  

Anyway, huge celebration.  The last of the patterns is up.  This is the 1800 jacket which is like the 800 vest only with sleeves and waist darts.  There is a look book available here.  There aren’t a lot of images in it because the pattern is only a couple years old.  But you’ll get the general idea.  You can purchase the pattern here.

Meanwhile, my relationship with Silk City Fibers continues to grow.  I’ve always adored their yarn, and I’m getting to really play with styles I normally wouldn’t have looked at.  And really loving the possibilities.  I wrote in my last post about the yarns that they sent me, new yarns to the collection for me to explore.  So refer to the last post about what I actually used.  The fabric came out fantastic.  I called this Summer Rain, because I was weaving it during tropical storm Isaias, and lucky for me I was one of the few that never lost power. So I kept weaving.  The fabric is exactly what I envisioned.  It has been washed and dried, and is a gorgeous drapey but stable rayon, cotton, linen, and bamboo fabric that will make a great summer top.  I’m thinking I want to combine my 1000 Swing Dress with the 200 Jacket for the armholes and sleeves and make a basic top with short sleeves.  At this point, I’m having fun seeing what my patterns can produce by combining them.  

Silk City has promised me more yarn.  Oh, goodie!

Meanwhile, I finally cleared a loom that has had a bunch of my handdyed scarves on it for more than a year.  I was able to move the loom to the new studio with the warp intact, so there it sat.  I ended up netting six 2 yard scarves from a 14 yard warp.  I love these soft retro looking scarves.  They are mostly all handdyed rayons and cottons.  The weft is tencel.  Actually three of the scarves have a tencel weft, three have a bamboo weft.  It is hard to tell the difference. 

Normally these scarves would be donated to arts organizations for fundraisers and tricky trays, and whatever makes me feel like donating a scarf worth a couple hundred dollars.  I’m really careful whom I donate to.  But sadly all of the arts organizations I support have had to cancel major fundraising events this year for obvious reasons.  And even my lovely guild show and sale in November has had to move online.  So I’ll be populating my eShop with whatever scarves I have, and things like totebags from scraps, that’s my project for the next couple of weeks.  We are setting up a lightbox and photography area in one of the guest rooms.  Since I can’t have any students or guests, one of the rooms can easily become a photo area.

With that loom cleared, and more yarn from Silk City Fibers coming in the next couple of days, I’m wanting to get another warp on the loom I specifically use for these scarves.  It has to have a second beam for the 14 yards of supplemental warps.  So I looked through my huge binder of all the color forecasts I developed for Handwoven Magazine, back in the early 2000’s and picked one that appealed to me.  Mostly it appealed to me because it was called Autumn Harvest and fall is coming.  And I can’t wait.  Normally fall means I live on planes and travel and I’m not doing any of that this year.  I’m doing different things.  I have a huge amount of bookings for guild remote lectures, and some remote workshops and I’ve had to rewrite most of my prospectuses to indicate what can be done remotely.  Actually most of them so far.  You can look at what I have to offer for remote learning here.  I just have to figure out how to do some of my garment classes remotely, especially now that you can buy the patterns… 🙂 

So anyway, here is the Autumn Harvest palette drawn from a 2004 column in Handwoven Magazine, and I pulled some yarns to see if I had the right combinations. 

I just couldn’t come up with enough of the right muted dusty purple.  Everything was too blue, and I needed something softer that leaned warmer.  So I dug out the dyepots and for the first time used my new dye sink/area in the new weaving studio.  Lots of firsts here.  I did have to ask my daughter where we put stuff, but this worked remarkably well.  The sink was built high enough so I didn’t have to lean in.  It is stainless so I don’t have to worry about stains.  And I can hang skeins to dry right over the sink.  I think this color will work, if not, I’ll dye another batch.  I’ve got plenty of white yarn…  And you can purchase the 8 shaft draft I use for all my scarves here.

And the push is on because I’m booked to be the guest on the Shi Show, if you aren’t familiar with this, it is a half hour daily live show on Lion Brand Yarn’s Facebook page.  Shira is a descendent of a long line of family that owns Lion Brand Yarns.  She is young, and savvy and enthusiastic and represents the next generation of makers.  I’ll be the guest host on the September 1st episode that airs 12 noon EDT, I’ll let you know when we get closer, but I need my YouTube channel up and functioning, and the page in my eShop as well, with my lovely scarves and other items that I would have sold at the guild show and sale.  This year has been about reinventing myself in fast forward timing.  I’m doing my best.  

And speaking of my best, my daughter and I came up with a new logo for the videos I want to produce.  I’m pretty proud of this.  I designed the concept and my daughter turned the whole thing into a vector drawing in layers in Illustrator.  Everything is falling into place.

Stay tuned for more adventures of “The Weaver Sews…”

Quarantine recap…

I’ve talked to so many people who secretly admit to loving the simplicity of being at home and enjoying what little treasures life has to give.  It is no secret that though financially it is tough having all of my work cancelled, I’ve been able to make use of the time, creating new work, and developing digital product.  There are enough Zoom meetings a week, to keep me connected with knitting, weaving, and critique groups, and now a free artist lecture series at Peters Valley every Friday night, that I feel like I’m still part of a bigger whole.  I’ve had friends come and sit on the deck and play recorders, and we have enjoyed the gardens, the weather, and just the simplicity of being together.  I have not been out of the house except for a couple of runs to the post office, and the eye doctor and the dentist since March 15.  I’m not complaining…

I’ve always done my own photography, I sort of have a degree in it, I’m not a novice around a camera, and early on in my career, I invested in a set of used strobe lighting and decent equipment, which after all these years, I’m grateful is still going strong.  It has been on my “list” to do a photo shoot, long overdue, of all the work I’ve done recently, along with my daughter’s work, all of her knitted dragon shawls and cowls.  She has those photos, so I won’t include them here, but suffice it to say we worked from about 10 am until about midnight, and shot more than 600 photos between the two of us.  This is the first time using my office as the photo studio;  prior to that I always spent a couple hours cleaning out the front end of my weaving studio, and then a couple hours putting everything back.  You need a pretty sufficient amount of floor space to do an indoor photo shoot of garments using strobe lights.

Of course the major issue we had was the four animals, three large dogs and a cat, who insisted they had to be exactly where we were working.  No matter how much we separated them, gave them marrow bones to chew, threw them outdoors, then kept coming back to be right under where we were working. (Yes, he is wearing a diaper.  I have two intact champion males who enjoy pissing contests in the house.  Belly bands made my life bearable again!)

The shoot went really well.  I got everything photographed I had on the list, and so did my daughter.  It was a really long day.  But I felt really good about how well I used my time since I returned from Oregon in mid March and the entire world came crashing to a halt.  It was really great to document what I’ve done.  Of course at this point I’ve launched 7 patterns, and we are close to launching the swing coats.  If you are interested, my digital patterns are available here.  

I did photograph the princess seam jacket and the swing dress, though they aren’t made from handwoven, formal photographs were needed for use in the pattern directions, and promotional materials.  Shooting stuff on me in the mirror isn’t the best advertisement for my patterns!

I also shot this vest, which I made last fall, for the guild sale.  It didn’t sell, and I made it in a much larger size than I am, and I love it so much in the photograph, that I’m tempted to take it apart and cut it down to fit.  The Pendleton Woolen Mill Worms are woven into a Theo Moorman inlay.  All of the details can be seen on my website, the link to the gallery is here.

And so I was quite amazed at all the pieces I’ve done since I got back in March.  One of the first things I tackled was a remake of a vest I made a few years ago, from the fabric I made in a Dianne Totten Crimp Cloth Workshop.  I never liked the way it turned out, and it sat in the back of my closet for a couple of years.  I finally dug it out and re-draped it and cut a lot out of the sides…  Now I love it!

Then I worked on creating a swing skirt from my swing dress pattern.  The fabric was woven a year or so ago, called Vertical Barriers.

I followed that by working with the Driftwood fabric.  I created this dress with a semi attached leather yoke with sleeves.  And I couched an embroidered design on the yokes, both front and back, and added beads.

The leftover Driftwood fabric and leather, went into making this motorcycle vest.  Leather is pretty tough to photograph, there is no way around the glare of the lights.  Even using diffused lighting with umbrellas.  Leather shows everything.  But I’m pretty happy with the photos.

I went from there  to the swing coat from the handdyed wool/mohair yardage I wove at the end of last year.  This one was a challenge, it is a combination of my 400 swing coat, which should be released shortly, and the hood and in-seam buttonholes from my 7001700 tunic.    One day I’ll write up a PDF of how I actually did this.  It is on the list.  The list is very long…  I need more quarantine time…

And then I dove into a loom that has been sitting idle for years.  It had about 30″ left of a Theo Moorman threading, poly sewing thread tie-down warps on a linen ground.  I played with novelty yarns and stripped recycled fur.  I had so much fun with this, I’m waiting to set up a loom specifically dedicated to this technique so I can play and create in a spontaneous way, which is so not what a weaver usually does…

The end result is this walking vest, it is a combination of my 600 walking vest pattern and the 800 zippered vest pattern with collar.  Both are on the table for creating digital downloads, but it may be another couple of months.  

It is amazing to look back over how productive you’ve been when the world is falling apart.  I admit that it is sort of unusual to be so productive when everything looks so bleak.  My daughter just rolls her eyes at me.  I can assure you she is responding to all of this in a much different way.  I’ve always thrived when the chips are down, by losing myself in my work.  There is something about designing and executing something really difficult to take you away from current reality.  It has always worked for me, through my own bout with cancer, through my husband’s cancer and subsequent death, through the raising of two young adults, to my son’s military deployments in the middle east.  Keeping busy has always gotten me through.  

And now come the tedious part, where I process the photos, update all of my social media, website, even the new patterns, because I have new images for the 1000 Swing Dress and the 200 Jacket with Princess Seam variation.  

It is very satisfying to cross off a large project on the to-do list.  Now I can move onto the next major hurdle, but I know that the new photo space in the office is quick to set up so I won’t have to wait a couple years between shoots!

Stay tuned…