I have no idea what day this is…

SedonaViewI woke up in Sedona, and the view was amazing from my room.  Hot air balloons slowly rose up over the hills, and the colors were breathtaking.

On Tuesday afternoon, after finishing the first day of the workshop for the Verde Valley Weavers in Sedona, AZ, one of the members of the guild drove me around the corner from the workshop to stop and see the house of one of my oldest friends, Candiss Cole, an amazing woman, and designer who lives in Sedona.  I stood for Candiss for her wedding in 2004, we go back all the way to 1980 when we were across the aisle from each other at the Gaithersburg Craft Fair in Maryland.  We became instant friends, and have shared many amazing adventures together.  It was my one regret on this trip that Candiss would be on the east coast while I was in her home town, teaching around the corner from her house.

So we stood in front of her house, listening to her dogs bark, sending big hugs back to the east coast, and that night, I posted on her Facebook page how I missed her and I loved how her house looked.

Candiss_DarylTurns out, she was home, her trip had been delayed a couple of days, and on Wednesday she ran over to the workshop with her staff, and we had a great little visit.  That night, Candiss and I went out to dinner to a wonderful local restaurant, Elote Cafe along with two of the women from the workshop.

I left Sedona after dinner, and we drove the hour and a half to Prescott, over a treacherous mountain in the dark.  I’m glad it was dark, I’m not use to mountain passes and javalina pigs running across the road, and cliffs straight down the mountain, and winding roads that seem like you are riding a Tilt a Whirl in an amusement park.  I’ll take a NJ interstate anyday.  I know I’m a wimp…

When I arrive at a new location in the dark, and it is dark, it is always a treat to wake up and see where I actually am in the daylight.

PrescottHouseThe house I’m staying in is just a cacophony of colors and artwork, and fibers and books and I felt instantly at home.  The house is nestled in a hilly area of Prescott, with a very different terrain than Sedona, and much different views.  There were small patches of snow on the patio, and Prescott has more of a winter, with temperatures in the 40’s.  The driveway was amazing, a simple dirt drive, but it meandered through the most beautiful rock formations, huge boulders and craggy trees, and made a stark comparison to the magnificent red rock formations of Sedona.  I loved it.



I just finished the 2-day workshop for the Mountain Spinners and Weavers in Prescott, AZ.  What a wonderful group of women.  They worked like Tim Gunn was in the room telling them, designers, you have one hour to complete your look before leaving for the runway.

PrescottWorkshopThe workshop was another class, where the students brought their handwoven fabric, and they all made vests from that fabric, custom fit to their bodies.  They still have a lot of handwork, but I’m so proud of  the fact that all 11 students actually had a vest to try on at the end.  There were still some armhole bands and neckbands that needed to be finished, but they all seemed happy and thrilled they had gotten so far.

PrescottGuildTomorrow I lecture to the full guild, and then make my way back to Phoenix, where I will give the same two day vest workshop to their guild.  I’m on autopilot, and all my hard work before this trip has paid off, I have everything I need waiting at each stop, and everyone has been so great at feeding me terrific food and putting me up in such wonderful comfortable homes.

I’m in heaven…

Phyllis Hirsch led the guild in making a holiday ribbon ornament.  What fun!
Phyllis Hirsch led the guild in making a holiday ribbon ornament. What fun!

Wow, this was one of those rare gifts of a day, where the planets just align and someone says, Daryl, you are going to spend the whole day having fun.  Actually, the fun started last night, in the dreary cold rain, my daughter and I drove to our Jockey Hollow Guild meeting, where one of the members, Phyllis Hirsch led us in a holiday make-it-take-it project, making a ribbon ornament.  I like little projects like this, first because it is quick, and I can see doing something like this with handwoven scraps, and secondly, it is one of those kinds of projects that allows you to work on it and chat non stop through the whole meeting.  🙂

In the middle of the meeting, my dearest friend Candiss Cole called on my cell phone.  A rare treat, I didn’t expect to hear from her for awhile, since we got together and played last month!  Candiss, turns out, was in NYC, and had an extra day to hang out, and called to see if I could come out and play.  Woo hoo!  We scheduled a lunch date for today, and I went back to the guild meeting.

This morning, after I got my daughter off to school, I headed over to the cancer center, and had my annual check-up with my oncologist.  There is always this tiny bit of apprehension when I go, fear that maybe she might find something that could start the whole breast cancer scenario all over again.  But I went, and the visit went well, and I got a clean bill of health and was told to call in December of 2010 for my next visit.  Woo Hoo!  🙂

A shoe shopping extravaganza at DSO
A shoe shopping extravaganza at DSO

I picked up Candiss at a hotel in NJ, and off we went to play.  We hung in the studio for awhile, catching up and looking at each others ideas and directions, something we always use to do regularly.  We headed off to lunch, Candiss knows my Thursday Philosophy Club ladies, and we all had a delightful lunch, and afterwards Candiss and I  went  SHOE SHOPPING!  This is one of those things that works so much better with a shopping buddy.  A new DSW opened not far from me, how did Candiss know about it and not me?  She lives in Arizona!  So we went to the new DSW and OMG!  I headed right for the back room and the clearance shoes.  We had so much fun trying on the Steve Madden and the Stuart Weitzman shoes, I tried on shoes that nearly broke my ankle, after all, I’m over 50.  And I ended up buying some very practical pairs of casual shoes, and one killer pair of leather lace-up boots.  Candiss and I both wanted them but I won!

I dropped her off at her hotel, quick hugs to her husband Rodger for giving her up for the day, and I headed home to find a quiet house, and boxes everywhere in my living room.  UPS, and the USPS had a field day at our house.  We are buying most of our Christmas presents online, we usually do, so we let the Brown Santa do all the traveling.  Speaking of the Brown Santa, my son is now working as a seasonal driver assistant for UPS, and it was so cute when he walked in around dinner time, in his brown uniform.  Since he leaves for boot camp on January 4th, the seasonal work was perfect for giving him some extra cash and a reason to get out of bed in the morning…

Anyway, if you are a handweaver, you are most likely following Tien Chiu’s blog, she is a very talented complex weaver, embarking on weaving her wedding dress.  We had some correspondence earlier in the year about some interfacing issues.  And you should know that Tien is one of the founders of the online weaving community Weavolution.  Tien has been taking a break from weaving and has picked up one of her other specialties, making chocolate, and I’m not talking a couple of milk chocolate eggs here, I’m talking combination’s that I can’t even begin to imagine.  She has been carefully blogging about the whole chocolate experience, and I had to replace my keyboard twice this week for drooling too much while reading about it.

My very own box of Tien's Chocolates!
My very own box of Tien's Chocolates!

So, back to my living room full of boxes.  I worked through the Amazon boxes, hiding the presents from the family, and then I got to a box that had Tien Chiu’s return address on it.  What could be in this box?  I opened it and well, I screamed for 20 minutes.  Good thing no one was home.  I don’t know what I did to earn a box of Tien’s chocolates, but there is was, in the Priority box from the USPS, and I ran right up to the computer to write a thank you note.  Wow.  The first one I sampled was the square white one in the front, Coconut Tequila Lime fudge.  OMG!  Tien if you are reading this, I LOVE YOU!

I'm having fun making hot mats and mug mats from coiled handwoven strips and the sewing machine.
I'm having fun making hot mats and mug mats from coiled handwoven strips and the sewing machine.

Writing this blog has been a wonderful experience this year, I’ve met so many readers through it, and gotten some terrific feedback.  After my last post, reader Diane thought that the little bowls I was making from coiled scraps of handwoven fabric would make great hot mats for the kitchen or table.  I had actually made a hot mat first, to get back into the technique, and then played around with the bowls.  Diane had a point, a hot mat is a usable functional item, and would be a great gift, a fiber bowl isn’t the most useful thing, and it is hard to dust.  It is a lot easier to just zoom around in a circle on a flat mat, and so I did.  I made a couple of 8″ round mats, and then thought about how smaller versions would make great mug mats.

Caution Spoiler!  If you are in the Frances Irwin Guild, do not read this paragraph!  For everyone else, the guild is having its annual exchange at the holiday luncheon this year, and this year’s exchange is mug mats.  Weave six and get six in return.  I hadn’t planned on participating, but these little mug mats are so cute.  So I am going to make up a half dozen of the 5 inch size and take them to the holiday luncheon on the 15th.

Speaking of my blog…  Jenny, one of my most prolific commenters (and I do love when people comment!), mentioned to me last night at the guild meeting, that my anniversary was coming up.  I took a minute to think what she was referring to, and then I realized, I’ve been blogging for almost a year,  December 16th, 2008 was my first post.  With almost 250 posts, I’ve had a great year of writing about and celebrating the creative spirit and am really grateful for all of you who take the time to read my posts.

And, in case you haven’t gone back to follow the comments for one of the previous blogs, the one where I made the plaid skirt from the handwoven skirt panel from Avoca Handweavers from Ireland, there was a string where I attempted to locate a source for the Burda Style Magazine, the current issue, for one of the blog commenters who loved the skirt pattern.  I did an online search and didn’t find anything but how to order a subscription, which won’t help the commenter get the December issue.  I called the US distributor for the publication, and they were completely sold out.  But they sent me an email with two online retailers who sell individual issues, and have the November and December issues available.  One of the retailers is Fashionista Fabrics and the other is Sew Baby.  I love this magazine, and I’ve been subscribing for more than 10 years.  Each issue contains over 60 patterns, and I love the style and engineering of the garments.  The directions are scanty, one needs to know how to sew, and the pattern pieces have to be traced off of a large sheet of paper that looks like a road map from hell, but once you get use to it, the patterns are always at your fingertips and just leafing through each of the monthly issues gives me tons of ideas and possibilities.

And, on a final note, I caught the first episode of Bravo TV’s newest launch for a fashion design reality TV show, and I actually enjoyed it.  Called Launch my Line, it involves fashion designer wannabees who are already known in another field, and they are paired with  designer/experts, who can actually sew, and there was some exciting stuff.  So, until the next season of Project Runway starts in January, this is a nice early winter treat.

Did I cover everything???

Candiss and Daryl’s Excellent Adventure

I got the biggest treat this week, a call from my favorite fiber buddy of all time, and probably my closest longtime friend, Candiss ColeweddingCandiss is a handweaver from Sedona, we met around 1980, across the aisle from each other at the Gaithersburg, MD craft fair, and have been the best of friends ever since.  My husband gave Candiss away, and I stood for Candiss at her wedding in 2004 to Rodger Footitt, in a tiny little hamlet in northern England called Bagshaw.

Sidebar: I made the dress I’m wearing, and the vest is another long story, I handbeaded it over the beadingcourse of 9 years, finishing it up for the wedding.  Two beads at a time, a labor of love.  The ground fabric was a vintage jacquard upholstery fabric, in the color Candiss and I referred to as Starbuck’s Caramel Macchiatto.

Candiss continued to do craft fairs, while after about 10 years, I stopped to have a couple babies and redirect my career.  Her work has evolved and she continues to reinvent herself year after year, each time I look at her collection I think, Wow! Candiss, this is the best one yet!

Anyway, Candiss called, she was en route between a fall show in Maryland, and the show in Westchester, NY this weekend.  She had a couple of days to “play” and play we did!  Her husband headed off to the golf course, and Candiss and I hopped in my car and headed into Manhattan.  On my list of wannasee was the textile woven from Golden Orb Spider Silk now on display this month at the American Natural History Museum in NYC.



This is an amazing textile, if you can’t make it to NYC to see it, make sure you look at the link from the American Natural History Museum, there is a slide show of details that my poor little camera phone, (yep, the one the dog ate), couldn’t begin to capture.  The story is amazing, and I’m glad I slipped in to catch it before it leaves NYC.

Candiss and I had a lovely lunch together, just like old times, chatting about stuff that only Candiss and I can chat about, old friends, museumwho have spent a lifetime together, and then we went on to see the Cezanne exhibit at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ.

First I want to say that the Montclair Art Museum is a lovely old architectural beauty nestled in a residential area of a very wealthy section of Montclair, NJ.  It is always a pleasure to venture over there, but alas, I am spoiled, for another 10 minute trip on the bus, I can be at the MET in NYC.  So I don’t venture there nearly as often as I would if it were the only game in town.

There has been extensive advertising for the Cezanne exhibit that just opened there, more correctly, the title is Cezanne and American Modernism.  More correctly the title should read American Modernism and the Cezanne influence.

There were only a handful of Cezanne paintings and a few of his watercolors and drawings mixed in with well over 80 early paintings of American greats like Marsden Hartley, Man Ray, Max Weber, and Arshile Gorky.  The American painters weren’t even exposed to Cezanne until after his death in 1906, when Cezanne’s work first appeared at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery in 1910, largely in the form of photographs of the paintings and then at subsequent exhibitions including the 1913 armory exhibit.  The Montclair exhibition was well done, but I have to say, I kept getting the nagging feeling as I wandered through the paintings, looking at numerous Cezannesque still life’s and nude bathers and impressionistic landscapes, that there is a fine line between “influenced by” and a direct knock off.  We struggle with this fine line today in fashion, and I kept thinking that in the artworld, this is almost expected, you learn from imitating the masters.   Each of the above mentioned painters went on to create their own vastly different styles, and the early paintings, clearly “influenced” by Cezanne, were sort of a surprise.

Anyway, if you live in the north jersey area, it is a great show, but don’t expect to see a retrospective of Cezanne.

Yesterday Candiss and I met up again, this time at a veritable institution for handweavers, Silk City Fibers.

Sidebar:  I live about 15 minutes from Silk City Fibers in Paterson NJ.  I’ve had an on again off again relationship with them over the last 25 years, most of my yarns came from them in the 1980’s when I did craft fairs, many from that era remember the old stand-by Contessa, rayon and silk, a staple in most handweaver’s stashes.  Silk City Fibers is a wholesaler, which means only those who establish wholesale accounts and buy in large quantity can purchase from them, but there are a number of retailers across the country that carry their lines of yarn, for both knitting and weaving, most know about Bambu 7 and 12.  They are Silk City yarns.

I did some color consulting for Silk City Fibers around the time my son was born, (he is almost 20), and I used their yarns heavily in the color forecast column I wrote for Handwovensilkcity Magazine for a number of years.  They open the warehouse once a month, on the second Saturday of the month I believe (same day as my American Sewing Guild meeting), to handweavers, knitters, and other interested fiber enthusiasts, where they discount their discontinued colors and lines, and offer them for sale.  Though I am choking with yarn, and have no need to add to the stash, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along with Candiss and her husband, see Mady, who I’ve known since 1980 ish, and is now probably in charge of everything Silk City, haven’t a clue what her title is, but there were lots of hugs and how are the kids, and how’ve you been kinds of greetings exchanged.

I found some thin rayon rickracky kind of yarn, Skinny Majesty, (I remember the plain old Majesty line, which I still have remnants of floating around on the shelf, twice the diameter of it’s skinnier counterpart), and picked up a few cones to fill in the stash.  I also got a number of cones of assorted cottons and rayons that are undyed/unscoured and will really need to get out the dyes and start winding and painting warps soon!  I of course haven’t a clue where I’m putting this yarn, but an opportunity is an opportunity and there is always room for one more cone, (or in this case a dozen).  In addition, I found a gorgeous fine linen, that I think will work in my adventure with converting my two Structo looms, into one that can weave postcards for my artwork series.

Candiss opened the back of her truck and showed me her latest garments, and like I said earlier, I always feel like, “Candiss, this is your strongest line yet!”  Check out her website to get a preview.  It was great to see my old friend, and it gave me a wonderful diversion for a couple of days, I’m feeling worn out and burned out, and just want to sleep for a week.  Are you surprised?  Now I have to focus and get my next article out for Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot.  It is dreary and rainy and cold here in NJ today, I’m scheduled for a lunch date, the Thursday Philosophy Club, but I think I’ll crank up the wood stove when I return from lunch.  And I really have to scrub every inch of the house because it still smells of the smokey remnants of seriously burned bacon from my son’s cooking adventures while I was out playing yesterday evening.  And the dog ate two of the pieces of our expensive chess set on the coffee table this morning, silly me, I heard him chomping but I thought he was eating a bone.  Dumb…  This dog and I are not friends at the moment…

Down to the Wire!

Ah, packing day.  I leave tomorrow morning for Grinnell, Iowa, and the Midwest Weavers Conference. The day before I leave on a trip is always a little frenetic, getting everything finished I put on my list, things like watering the plants, finishing the laundry, organizing bills so I can pay them the day I return, and filling up the suitcases with everything I need to bring for the trip.  And because this is a weaving conference, it means pouring over the notes in my files, what I promised for the faculty exhibit, what I promised for the fashion show, what I need for each of the classes, and any supplies I need to bring for any seminar I am actually taking.

This conference has been a little nerve wracking, for a number of odd reasons.  First, this will be the first time in years I’ve traveled without my own LCD projector.  I know I longed for the day when I could fly someplace, armed with only a stick drive or CD, pop it in, and start the presentation.  I have been assured, at great length, that the different facilities I am lecturing in, all have projectors and equipment for both PowerPoint, and PDF presentations.  So, this means back ups of everything.  I have a CD copy in one suitcase, my laptop in another, my stick drive in my purse, and another hard drive in another suitcase.  One can never have enough back ups, and one has to remember to update all of the back ups when one changes anything on a presentation…

This has been another nerve wracking down to the wire experience because of the proverbial overlap of work, coming from one exhibit, hopefully in time to take to the next.  When an artwork finishes up at an exhibit, there is always a lag, as the volunteers or committee get to the packing and shipping of each work.  It is an overwhelming job, and I’m not really complaining, but I asked when I shipped the piece to the last exhibit if they could make an exception and get mine back to me sooner than the contract stated.  That’s always a crap shoot, and I was really lucky, the Frosted Florals Dress made it back to me  from the Surface Design Fashion Show in Kansas City with 6 hours to spare, in time to pack it for the conference.

And then there was the 37 pound box I shipped last week, to someone in Grinnell Iowa.  I got an email notification it was delivered, but what I didn’t know, was that the address I had been given was wrong, and someone called today from the conference to say they retrieved the package from a vacant house.  I’m really glad I didn’t know this until after the fact.  It would have been hard to teach the class  without the handouts and the pattern paper, which were in the box, along with hundreds of dollars of Monographs.

The most stressful of all, that I absolutely have no control over whatsoever, is the flight.  So, here is the itinerary, I fly out of Newark around 9am tomorrow to the hot spot of air travel, Houston.  Home of the summer thunderstorm.  I have a couple hour layover in Houston, and then on to Des Moines, Iowa.  Thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow in Newark, in Des Moines, and I’m sure Houston.  I arrive in Iowa at 4:17, and have a dinner engagement at 5:15 (it takes more than an hour from the airport to the conference), and then I have to give a lecture at the Faulconer Gallery for the Small Expressions Exhibit reception at 7pm.  So you do the math…  The chances of me actually making it for dinner are pretty slim.  The chances of making it in time for the reception/gallery talk are only slightly better.  I’m pretty good at just letting go of that with I can’t control, but I went ahead and followed up with a plan B, I wrote out the whole talk and plugged it into a PowerPoint presentation along with the accompanying images, and emailed it to the gallery.  So if I don’t make it in time, my words of wisdom will be projected on a screen for all to read instead of listening to my lovely voice with a wicked NJ accent.  It is about the best I could come up with.

I am all packed, except for my personal clothing, and files are all copied and backed up.  My daughter has a trombone recital tonight, I look forward to it every year.  The sound of brass instruments including the Baroque Sackbut (early trombone) in a vaulted ceiling church is just gorgeous.  The kids are wickedly talented, and the music teacher, Bob Ferrel, is one of the best trombone players in the state. Here is a video clip of a performance he did at the middle school jazz festival in our town last year.  Skip past the talking part in the beginning.

So, once again, I’m on the road, I’ll be home late Sunday night, I am assured they have wireless in the dorms, oh goody, I get to sleep on a plastic dorm mattress…  But the good news is, I’ll be seeing my friend Robyn Spady again, and my oldest and dearest friend, weaver/designer Candiss Cole, will be only an hour away in Des Moines at a craft festival.  I’m hoping we can connect while I’m there.

Will Daryl make it tomorrow night, or won’t she, that is the question…  Stay tuned…