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.

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…

Clap on 1, on 2, on 3…

I’m slowly learning a new language for podcasts, videos, recordings, and one of them, that absolutely delights me is when the cameras and audio are rolling for our Friday shoot for the YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews, and my daughter says, “Clap on 1, on 2, on 3” and then I try to clap as loud as I can. We snicker when I do a pathetic clap, and cheer when I do a loud crisp clap, that is perfect for aligning the audio and video tracks. It’s the little things that we hold on to for entertainment in these trying times…

I talked about the design inspiration and how I got to decide what components to use for the vest I videoed the last couple of Fridays in my last blog post. This is my 500 vest pattern, and I used handwoven fabric I wove for this vest, called Shadow Tapestry, which I developed for Silk City Fibers since they comped me the yarn, to see what I could do with it. The draft is free and available here.

I finished up the vest this weekend, and I’m more than happy. For the closure, I ended up making a twist ply rope for a button loop, and using an industrial epoxy to glue a flat button on the back of a piece of Polyform clay that use to be a pin, purchased sometime in the 80’s or 90’s, when Fimo was a thing, and it has been sitting in my box of oddities for many many years. I like my oddities box.

This morning I woke up to an Instagram message that a podcast I recorded a few weeks ago had dropped, and we had such a good time and we talked for such a long time, they made it into a 2 part podcast. Part two airs next Sunday. The podcast was from a group called The Professional Weaver Society, and I’m episode 42. I started looking over the Professional Weavers who have recorded interviews with Tegan and Eric, the brains behind the podcasts and I was stunned. There are some amazing interviews on this podcast, and I have a lot of listening to do. Tegan took a workshop with me at Harrisville Designs a couple years ago, and she was such a delight, grilling me with questions on marketing, selling, and general questions about doing this whole weaving thing for a living. She so reminded me of myself at that age. She is an amazing powerhouse of talent and energy, and her guy Eric is a huge support.

Meanwhile, I listened to my episode today while I finished up the vest. It was a cold rainy day here in NJ, and the flowers and lettuces were loving it. Even though I know how the story turns out, obviously, it was still hilarious listening to myself talk about how I got to be who I am.

And while I mull over the topic for next week’s shoot, I started on a massive project for the loom. This is one of the more ambitious things I’ve done, and it all started with this odd pile of hand dyed wools, mohairs, and odd protein fibers, some of which I can’t completely identify, but they took an acid dye well (Cushings) and I’m including all of it.

I love giving myself really tight parameters. Toss some yarn on the table and see what I can do with it. I’ve got empty looms, and lots of yarn. I spent the better part of this past week doing careful calculations on what’s in each skein, how much, and how far it will go.

I calculated a 55/45% split, and decided, even though I love single shuttle weave structures, that I wanted to do another plaid, like this one, which will be featured in an article in the next Handwoven Magazine.

So I sat down tonight on my computer and carefully plugged in a plaid, using all the yarns from the pile on the table, and got this. When I told the software to “Weave as Drawn In” and selected the Colors and the Draft, I squealed in delight as this popped up on my screen.

Only problem is, I need to put this on my 36″ loom, because my daughter is hogging the two 45″ looms we have, and I don’t have a 6 dent reed for the 36″ loom. Which means I have to buy a new reed. Which means this project will be delayed, but I can still wind the warp and get it ready. The sett will be 12 epi, and I’ll sley two ends per dent. (If you aren’t a weaver you have no idea what I just wrote. I’m sorry…)

I know I’ll probably regret picking a project where I have to change the weft every two picks or so, but I like challenges, and it is such fun to use up stuff that is just sitting in a basket calling to me every time I go out in the studio…

I also mentioned in the last blog post that I had donated a handdyed and handwoven scarf to the Shakespeare Theater of NJ for their spring virtual auction, which is happening now. I promised to let you know when it was available for bidding. I love this theater company, and right before the pandemic hit I was volunteering in their fabulous costume shop, and loving every minute of the experience. I’m doing everything I can to support them and my other favorite arts organization Peters Valley.

I get my second vaccine on Wednesday, and hopefully that will keep me safe, especially since I have my last two in-person workshops scheduled at Peters Valley this summer. They are both weaving workshops and I believe both are filled!

The trees and bulbs are spectacular this year, I’d like to think the superior air quality and lack of pollution from last year contributed to this glorious spring, I don’t really know since I’m not a scientist, but they are spectacular for whatever reason.

Enjoy spring, wherever you live, there is light at the end of this long endless tunnel. Stay tuned…

Inspiration and some help…

I’ve been giving a lot of remote lectures the last couple of months. And I’ve done another podcast, which hasn’t aired yet. And there are the questions that come in connected to my YouTube Videos, The Weaver Sews. Lots of opportunities for Q&A. I would say that the one question that I get asked over and over, (other than, how do you cut into your handwoven fabric, now I can happily say there is a video for that…) is, where do I get my inspiration. I think people really care about this issue, they want so badly to produce great work, and original work, and really want to know how others interpret what’s around them into something awesome.

Some of it, actually a large amount of it is confidence. And confidence comes from doing. Confidence means that even though you are in uncharted territory, and you have no idea how this is going to work, or if it will be great, or awesome or really stupid, confidence means no fear. So what if it doesn’t work, it is cloth. So what if it isn’t great or even stupid, you never know if you didn’t try. And whether it is great or stupid, something is always learned, something tangible, that will serve you on the next grand adventure.

So I just started a new project and went through all the steps to come up with something I think is going to be great, but maybe won’t be, but I don’t care because it will serve my purposes. I thought I’d go through my thought processes the last couple of days so you see how I think, and that it isn’t so special or brilliant or inspired, it just is a series of steps that lead me on an adventure. I sometimes can’t decide, so I’ll send a photo to my weaver friends, we message daily, or I’ll ask my daughter, and sometimes she actually gets me to make a decision by allowing me to talk through what I’m thinking and why. And a good portion of the time I don’t take anyone’s kind advice. I just go with my gut.

First, and I’ve said this over and over in my talks and podcasts and videos, I weave when I’m in the mood to weave, when I have an idea and something sparks my curiosity. I never have a plan as to what I’m going to do with it. This just happened with the last warp I did, which I pulled off a couple days ago, tossed in the washer and off it went onto the shelf. There was no plan for what it will be. I weave to weave, and I make fun cloth. What I do with it down the road (probably clothing) remains a mystery. I was determined to finish this off this past weekend. I had lots of help.

I had done a similar cloth for Silk City Fibers, the draft is available here for free. I called the fabric Confetti, and I liked the idea that you could take a fatter yarn and float it over and under two weft picks having a stable ground underneath. I rooted through my hand dyed yarns and found a whole bunch of skeins of some natural colored silk I probably bought from a friend a number of years ago. A fat silk.

So I sat with a draft, and figured out how to make all these skeins work in yardage, and I have no idea what I’m going to make with it. It will sit there and age like fine wine until the mood strikes. Here it is washed and finished. I definitely want to play with the stripes and have them intersect on the diagonal. That would be fun…

Meanwhile, I wove this fabric last year, another one using Silk City Fiber Yarns, the draft is available here for free… It is called Shadow Tapestry and uses their old standby variegated chenille, with their newer yarn, a Cotton/Bamboo combination with a lot of loft, soft and spongy. I combined the two in a Shadow Weave Structure. Apparently my beat was less than perfect and the end result was that each repeat was just slightly off from the previous repeat, which is why I encourage people not to do weft repeats when weaving yardage.

But there is always a way…

So we have finished up the video series making a couple of my 200 jackets, showing step by step how to do some pretty complicated things. The last installment of that series should drop Friday. We have one more in the can, the one for the “Ask Me Anything” segment that should air the following week and then I need a new theme. I figured that the 500 vest and 600 walking vest, were pretty close to the construction of the jacket, with a couple of differences in how the armhole and lining are treated, and I could probably knock them out in a video. And I’m scheduled to teach a three day remote class using this vest as a background for my piecing technique, so it would be helpful to have a video to direct students to areas of construction they might not understand in the printed directions. I should make a vest next.

So what should I use to make this vest…

I looked through the handwoven fabrics I had on the shelf, and a couple of commercial fabrics I could justify using (sort of like a handwoven), and the Shadow Tapestry fabric jumped out at me. So I rolled it out. I’m not even sure at this point if there is enough, but that never stopped me.

I tried on the samples for my 500 vest and yeah, quarantine has been tough, food plentiful, and exercise non existent. Yes, I’m now walking 4 miles every morning and starting to work in the yard, but that doesn’t help me with the 10 pounds I gained last year. So definitely cut a larger size in the lower half…

Once I have a pattern I can play around with the fabric. There is definitely not enough to do the bands. So I’ll have to come up with a plan B for that… And the layout is tough, I’ll have to have a center back seam, and that means that matching these mismatched shadow weave blocks will be a challenge. I actually measured each repeat to see if I could find like areas. Cutting a yoke would help, the lower part could be cut from one area, and a full yoke across the back would fit across the fabric, EXACTLY. Complete luck.

Which means piping between the lower body and upper yokes.

Last month in a disgusted clean out of all of my skirts and pants that no longer fit, there were some treasures that I hated to toss, so I thought of them as new raw material. Surely that skirt had enough fabric for the trim on something. And my beloved leather pants. I didn’t wear them last year, because I never got out of my pajamas, but I couldn’t get them on. So I lovingly carried them to the studio and put them on the shelf. They would find their purpose one day.

I thought I found their purpose, because they went beautifully with this handwoven Shadow Tapestry. I would cut them into bands and piping and it would be gorgeous. I started to remove the lining in the pants, and realized that years ago, leather of course gives and they had gotten too large for me and I had taken them in substantially in the center back. So I let them out. And they fit. And I’m over-joyed. I loved these pants. I could do a whole blog about the history behind them. But largely this meant that I couldn’t use them for my vest.

Plan B…

Back in 2007 I made a vest out of a very small warp someone gifted me, I wove off the warp and turned it into this lovely vest, which I adored, but sold in a guild sale to one of my guild mates. It was called Native Woods.

I lined it with a woven alpaca pile fabric, the kind from a vintage zip out lining in a men’s trench coat. The pile fabric was gifted to me by someone, the card exists in my design journal from 13 years ago, but I always loved that bit of pile fabric trimming the exterior edges of the vest. I sort of missed that vest after I sold it.

I have the scraps. And I think it is enough for a neck band and pair of armhole bands. And the color is good. But that means I have to come up with something else for the piping. In the middle of the night, I woke up with a voice telling me to check if there was any leather left from the Harris Tweed jacket I just made.

In the morning I checked, and I had enough in the scrap bag for piping for the two front yokes and the back yoke.

Which left the lining…

I rooted around in my stash, and pulled out a couple of contenders, one of which is here. A lovely silk print, maybe from the old Waechter’s Silk Shop in Asheville. I mourned when it went out of business. I use to raid their remnant bin whenever I would visit.

And then I spied this silk blouse I had just added to my stash. Back in January, armed with a dozen masks, I drove to Maryland to help my 89 year old mom move to a smaller apartment in the senior complex where she lives, after her husband, my step dad passed in December. It was a busy week, and as we moved her clothing, she culled some of the pieces she didn’t think she would ever wear again. My mother and I are not even close to the same size and shape. But she had in the “to be given away” bag this lovely silk shirt, not anything I would fit into or wear, not my style, but it was silk. And silk is silk. So I took it and added it to my fabric stash.

And so I pulled it out and put it next to the Shadow Tapestry fabric and my eyes lit up. It was unexpected and fun and though my daughter didn’t like it, she liked the first choice, I just thought it was perfectly timed and meant to be…

So now everything is cut out, and I spent the day assembling the parts. Tomorrow I will write the script and Friday we will shoot the complex parts of the construction. I don’t know if the fur bands will be successful or not, but I won’t ever know unless I try. I can always take them off and replace them if I change my mind. Then I can shoot a video on how to rip out handwoven fabric…

And of course I had help, this morning when I came down to start constructing this is what was waiting for me, letting me know that he kept the pile warm and it was all ready to sew. This cat makes me laugh… He is sitting in my lap as I type…

Anyway, this is pretty typical of how I go through the process of deciding what to make. The fabric came about because Silk City developed a new yarn and asked me to test it and see what I could do with it. I asked for a cone of it along with a variegated chenille. I don’t know why when I looked at them I thought Shadow weave. I hate weaving anything with two shuttles. But I did, and so far it is working out. I’ve got so many threads of ideas, like seeds that germinate, and it is a process getting that little seed planted and see what sprouts from it.

Stay tuned…

Keeping Busy…

I handle stress by keeping busy.  Having a project, a mission, a purpose, a challenge, keeps me from diving into paralysis, which sadly is happening to more and more of my friends as this quarantine keeps us from doing the things we love.  I’m so very lucky to have things that can challenge me.  I have a couple of wonderful studios, lots of supplies, more than I can use in a lifetime, and some wicked cool ideas.  And time.  If nothing else, I have time.  

I decided to take a page from my mom, because I’m not sure when my housekeeper is coming back, and since I’m not traveling, I really can do this myself.  I thought, with nine rooms, I could do one a day, maybe 15-20 minutes, depending on how dirty, and cover the whole house well in the same two weeks between when my housekeeper would normally come.  I decided on the den this morning.  It is a room I rarely use, I’m not sure why, but there are other areas of the house with more purpose for me.  This was the TV room, and it was where my late husband spent most of his non working time, in his Lazyboy in front of the TV.  I rarely went in the room. I never watch TV. Lazyboy lounge chairs don’t invite cuddling up on the couch.  Well, my husband died in that chair, the kids took it out of the house within two hours of his death.  I replaced it with a gorgeous leather Chesterfield couch, replaced all of the furnishings in there, and I really do love the room, but somehow, it still isn’t mine.  There are other rooms that call to me more.  Anyway, it was time to clean it.  I enjoyed tidying up, using the Swiffer to get cobwebs and dust, polishing the wood surfaces.  I used the Swiffer to dust the fan blades in the ceiling fan, and realized that the glass dome was pretty full of dust and bugs.  I reached in with the Swiffer and proceeded to melt the fibers onto the bulbs.  Really…

I turned off the light fixture, climbed up on the coffee table and tried to scrape off the melted Swiffer fibers.  My girlfriend called, her dad died, and she is struggling with the whole idea of a virtual funeral, Shiva, and family connections that aren’t really family connections since you can’t hug anybody.  We talked for awhile.  When we were finished, I tried to turn the light back on.  It wasn’t working.  Really?  

Long story short, and half an hour later, so much for my first day of, “I’ll spend 15-20 minutes cleaning one room…”; I ended up dismantling the glass globe, replacing the burned out bulb and screwing in the ones that loosened up when I tried to scrape them clean.  I washed the globe properly and reassembled the light fixture.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for all the maintenance one can end up doing in a multi room multi floor 100 year old house.  Sigh…

Meanwhile, Brianna and I and my editor Ann Marie are furiously working on launching patterns.  I launched the 500 vest yesterday, very proud of myself, and then woke up at 2am with a panic attack.  I’m such an American.  And I mean that in not a good way.  I’m selling downloadable patterns to those who can’t take my workshops, many of whom live in parts of the world that use a different measuring system than we American’s use.  The entire rest of the world uses the metric system, and we here in the US insist on using an Imperial measuring system.  How could I be so self absorbed to not even think that my materials all need to have metric equivalents?  So I spent the morning rewriting the free directions for the bias top, to include Metric measurements, and uploaded that today.  I’ll try to tackle the rewrites on the newly launched vest directions tomorrow.  I promise I won’t abandon my worthy readers from parts other than the US.  You count too.  Pun intended.

The 500 vest is one of my oldest patterns.  I’m not going in any particular order.  Just what seems most reasonable to “tackle next”.  The swing dress directions are at the editor, and the tunic is basically ready to go, but the editor is much slower than we are. She is pretty amazing. The 500 vest is the one, for those who have studied with me, with the square armhole and armhole/neckbands.  

 

Side bar…  We all have them.  Warps on the loom from a workshop that finally get woven off years later because we need the loom.  Mostly they are samples and not really usable as a finished thing.  In a round robin type workshop with Karen Donde on Bubble Cloth/differential shrinkage, my table loom had four yards of a tencel and wool/silk warp.  It was ridiculously slow to weave.  It took a few years until I needed the loom for something else.  It was a cool piece of 8″ wide yardage, and not being a scarf person, I pulled out my 500 vest and used the sample for the bands.  This is also a great place to use Inkle bands or Card/Tablet woven bands.  

 

So the vest pattern is now up on the site, available for purchase here, and the directions as always, are free downloads, but now they will be on my regular website under Extras.  I’ll add metric measurements ASAP.  

Meanwhile…

I had an odd day between projects, and I pulled a couple things out of my closet.  A couple of years ago,  I had made a sort of zippered vest from the Crimp Cloth fabric from a Dianne Totten workshop, and honestly, never liked the way it fit or looked. 

But the fabric was pretty cool.  I pulled it out of the closet and decided to start hacking it up and eventually came up with a vest I actually like.  I took about 8 inches out of each side.  I love reworking stuff that isn’t working anymore or never really worked to begin with.  Makes you really think, and God knows, I do need to do that on occasion…

My 27 year old daughter is always on me to give my silhouettes a more youthful feel.  That isn’t my demographic, but I listen.  I’ve had enough younger students request a hood on at least one of my garments that I drafted my tunic to include this option.  I made this striped wool, commercial fabric into a prototype, and I gotta say, this is one of my go to pieces in my wardrobe.  I’m starting to get the point of a hood.  Anyway, my daughter said I needed to add a Kangaroo pouch.  I had enough scrap left, that I could at least try.

So I tested the pouch, after measuring 47 of her hoodie sweatshirts, and drafted and constructed the pocket.  The next step was to add it to the directions.  So I illustrated the construction details, and all that is waiting on my editor, who is still working on the dress.  I’m being patient.

I then got the idea to do a swing coat, not only with a hood, but to try it with the in-seam button front option from that same tunic.  That meant that the center front had to be cut on the straight of grain, but the rest could be cut like a swing coat.  I drafted it, figured out the construction sequence, and pulled a purple wool I’ve been sitting on for so many years I couldn’t tell you when or where I obtained it.  And I found a very cool rayon challis for the lining in the stash.

The purple hooded swing coat is a prototype for this yardage.  I wove this at the end of last year, in a huge hurry because I had to clear the loom in order to move it to the new studio.  All the wool and mohair in it is handdyed.  The weft is a commercial black wool.

I want to lengthen the purple coat, about 4″, and make the in-seam button placket 2″ wide instead of the 1 1/4″ from the tunic pattern.  The hood is pretty cool.  And it has pockets.  Really!  So I’ve corrected the pattern, and laid out the pattern onto the wool/mohair yardage.  I’ll cut it out tomorrow in between the tedious metric recalculation of  my vest directions.  

My daughter has had a bit of a setback.  Her computer system is pretty old, like college days old.  It just didn’t have the computing power or memory to handle a program like Adobe Illustrator and all the layers it takes to vectorize my scanned patterns.  She ordered new components from a computer store in our area, picked them up curbside last night, and spent the evening trying to build herself a faster system.  She is mostly there but stuck on something to do with Windows 10, of course, and we are trying to get in touch with my tech support, who has been great directing her from afar, but we may need a physical intervention…  She was in the middle of the tunic drafts, so hopefully she will be back up and running soon.

Tomorrow, I’ll tackle cleaning the dining room and see what trouble I can get into there…

Stay tuned…