Loose Ends…

It has been a dense couple of weeks, lots happening, vaguely reminding me of what my life used to be like. I’m not sure how I feel about that…

I got all of my work shipped out to Convergence for the conference fashion show. The fashion show was this past weekend, more about that in a minute. The cost with insurance, there and back was over $200. I was an invited artist for their fashion show, in fact they asked me probably five years ago. Life was different back then. I declined the opportunity during the Reno Conference, which was 2018, because I was the judge for the show. In the art world, it is considered inappropriate to have your own work in an exhibit that you are curating or judging. So they offered me that same opportunity in Knoxville, in 2020. We all know how that went, or didn’t, because the 2020 conference finally happened this weekend in Knoxville, 2022.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, there are others besides handweavers that read this blog, Convergence is the every two years big deal international handweaving conference sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America. I’ve been teaching pretty regularly at this conference since the one in Cincinnati in 2000. I missed a couple, for reasons that aren’t important, but I’ve been a presence at most of them in the last 20 years. To be asked to show my work as a featured artist is quite an honor.

Lots has happened in the world, and in my professional life since I was asked. I made some new work for this exhibit, what I had planned a couple of years ago, is now old, not my current work. So I sweated over what to send, lined up the images of eight different works, and finally decided on what I thought would work on the runway, hold up while on exhibit, and read editorially in an image in their magazine, Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot. I had lots of friendly opinions to those to whom I reached out.

And so, off my pieces went, at the end of June, they arrived safely. And in addition, Silk City Fibers asked to borrow three works that were made from their yarns. So I was well represented at this conference. But I wasn’t there. For many reasons. That aren’t really that important. Instead, I chose to attend a wedding in Virginia, for one of my oldest dearest friends, someone who had known me since my first craft fair in 1979. Her son was getting married. Family and friends, as we age, sometimes take priority over seeing my work walk the runway.

A huge thank you to those of you who sent me photos and videos Friday night during the fashion show, and afterward when the pieces hung in the exhibition hall. I apologize to those who thought I was actually there, who ran around trying to find me. I was safely in Maryland, having a long overdue visit with my mom, who is 91, before heading down to the wedding. Priorities are personal. I don’t have to explain.

So here are a couple of images from friends in the fiber world, of my pieces. The long vest from the puzzle fabric I did earlier in the year came in as a low res video clip, which showed the model really working the piece. I was unable to extract the video to include here, so there is only a brief screen shot of a moving video, but I included the links for each piece if you want to see more. The theme from what I understand, being the conference was held in Knoxville, TN, was Dolly Parton, Blue Grass, and Country music. I loved the boots.

https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/AutumnPlaidTunicFrontLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/ChaosShirtFrontLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images5/WinterFloralsSwingCoatWithHoodLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/PuzzleFabricWalkingVestLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/MagicalBiasDressLG.jpg

And here are the works on exhibit.

I wish there hadn’t been a backdrop since the back of each of the works is as interesting if not more interesting than the fronts. I would have been that pain in the ass attendee who went around zhuzhing my work (It is a thing, look it up), pissing off the poor gallery docents, who spend their time yelling at annoying conference attendees that insist on touching everything. In fact, having attended so many conferences I lost count years ago, getting the garments from the fashion show, and installing them into an exhibition space through the night, is a Herculean effort of the highest degree. There isn’t time for pressing and zhuzhing. I’m just grateful to have been asked to participate.

Meanwhile, I had a student fly in and study with me for the week starting July 4th. She was an absolute dream of a student. Sharp, experienced, and actually finished her yardage by the end of the 3rd day. I was able to help her learn some more advance skills, warping with a paddle, and creating a mirror image with a paddle, which is something I hadn’t done in 40 years. I only got a quick shot of her fabric before she pulled it off, so here it is, 7 shaft, combination plain weave, 2/1 twill, and supplemental warps. Her warp sequence was based on Fibonacci numbers so the 2/1 twill made sense.

Once a student is threading and then weaving, I have lots of time to just sit and hang, in case they need me. That’s when I get in trouble…

There is a quote from Peter Pan, that always makes me smile, “Oh the Cleverness of me…” A number of years ago, I attended a workshop with Deb Silver, through my guild, on Split shed weaving. It is a pretty cool technique, and she does have a book on the subject. I documented the class here. (You’ll have to scroll way down to find it). Last year, in an attempt to clear one of my 8 shaft table looms, that had the remnants of the class and a partially finished sample, which only needed 4 shafts, I finally finished the last sample. I cut off the warp, finished off the samples and put them in my book. I talked about that here. Because, who ever remembers what you did in a workshop that many years ago…

The interesting thing is, I still had a couple yards of usable rug warp on the loom, because when a teacher says, put on a 4.5 yard warp, I do what I’m told. Remember the Rainbow Double Weave Workshop? (You’ll have to scroll down for that one as well.) I didn’t want to waste the warp, but I really wanted the 8 shaft loom back. While I was watching my student Sherry, in case she needed me, I got this amazing idea, since I own five of the same table loom, all made by Tools of the Trade, three of them are 4 shaft, and two are 8 shaft. The frames are all milled the same, the only difference is the depth of the castle, and it occurred to me, that I could just swap out the entire back of the loom, with a 4 shaft model, and get the warp on a 4 shaft loom, freeing up an 8 shaft. Oh the Cleverness of me!

I grabbed my tools, and set to work, and within about a half hour, still watching my student who was working about 6 feet away from me, I managed to swap out the two back beam/warp beam mechanisms and I was soon rethreading.

Our handout mostly had the samples worked on a straight draw. But there was one sample, using a different threading, a tied Biederwand, which meant I couldn’t do that sample on the original threading, but I could now since I was rethreading anyway. There weren’t clear directions for what to do once it was threaded, since it was a class handout, but I own her book, which sitting down for a day, I was able to figure it out eventually, design a long cartoon, and gather my weft threads. I did all that part after my student left, but I was pretty proud of myself for having the idea to just switch out the whole back mechanism on the two looms, and then figure out how to do this split shed tied Biederwand. Split Shed work is pretty clever, and I didn’t want to forget how to do it. I made a few errors in the beginning, but I’m well on my way.

So I went to a wedding this weekend. The wedding was fabulous, I saw old acquaintances I hadn’t seen in 40 years. I spent the night at a resort in VA, and then slowly worked my way north on Sunday. I stopped about half way in South Philadelphia, to meet up with a couple of fiber friends from that area for lunch, and to pick up another Structo Loom. They have a way of finding me. I think this is number 20 for my Structos, I’m starting to lose count. And it doesn’t matter now many I have. We all have fun together, and I’m constantly thinking up new things to put on them. They are all named after characters from Star Trek, and this one is Kes. From Voyager I think.

We drove to a corner specialty shop and sat and talked and one of the women brought her knitting and I had my own little conference gathering. I didn’t know that Philadelphia claims that it has more murals on the sides of buildings per square mile than anywhere else in the country. I’d believe it. We saw this…

And to wrap this up, I’ve been slowly weaving off my mohair blankets. I finished up the second and third, and after each one, since each requires long fringe, I’m cutting them off. Less issue with mohair grabbing onto itself with those dreaded tentacles.

I gathered with a knitting group that meets at a neighboring town’s library for the first time in two and a half years. It was really lovely to see everyone again and catch up. I mentioned I was working on this 18 yard warp of mohair and by the time I left, I had two additional bags of mohair to bring home. One of the women had some in her car, on its way to being donated, because the social knitting she does can’t use wools or anything scratchy. I was more than thrilled. It was a profitable evening. Another woman used to own a yarn shop. She periodically brings bins of yarn from storage, and happened to bring a random bin to the meeting, which was half filled with, you guessed it, mohair. I laughed, tossed her some money, and came home with even more.

I’m thinking now that 18 yards is no where near enough warp to use all this up…

So here is blanket number 4…

I’m trying to reestablish a routine, now that I’m back, and still dodge Covid, because there are pretty high transmission rates where I live. I have lots of stuff on my to do list; one is an extensive article for a weaving publication and there are lots of guild assignments. We are soon starting a new fiscal year and I’m the treasurer, so new spread sheets, and budgets and all that stuff I hate but I’m really good at. I said to someone today, I have a lot on my plate, but now at this point in my life, I get to choose the plate.

Stay safe dear readers, and stay tuned…

Works well under pressure…

Truth be told, deadlines are my friend. I am focused, organized, and have been doing this long enough to expect roadblocks, detours, and the myriad of things life throws at you when you are planning something else.

Like a fractured shoulder the end of December.

Like another flood in my sewing room last week.

My shoulder is progressing. Chris, my PT, is confident that I will gain back most of my rotation, and he doggedly pursues a course of action that is helping slowly but surely. He knows what he is doing, that is pretty obvious, and I trust the professional. I’m about 75% there, but that obviously doesn’t stop me. I’m always a woman on a mission, and figuring out how to meet deadlines in spite of what the universe throws at me, is my specialty.

Tuesday morning I had the plumber in, because once again, I took water in the basement sewing room. It was a bad storm, on top of an already ridiculous water table in NJ, much of the town flooded, but I should not have taken water under the wall in the corner where the sump pump lives. Turns out the hose of the dehumidifier was laying on the float, probably causing it to work improperly. You can’t make this crap up. So plumber installed a completely new sump pump, because why not, I don’t want to take a chance with a unit that is probably 25 years old, now that NJ is slowly sinking into the Atlantic, and the dehumidifier hose is properly mounted so it doesn’t interfere. Meanwhile, scrubbing the concrete floors and mats with heavy duty cleaner, on my hands and knees with a fractured shoulder that is still healing wasn’t my idea of a fun and entertaining couple of days…

But I persevered…

And was hugely rewarded. I will be honest and say I’m so freakin’ proud of myself, in spite of the tears these last couple of months. I had a deadline and I had to meet it. Three years ago I was asked to be an invited artist at the Convergence Fashion Show in 2020 in Knoxville, TN. I of course agreed, and started thinking about what I would send. We all know the curve ball Covid threw into the works, not only was the conference postponed for two years, but I retired from teaching on the road, and spent those two years developing content for my YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews. I’m not planning to be at the conference.

And so, back in January with one arm in a sling, I looked at the loom with the narrowest warp, which happened to have two shuttles, and I wove slowly, 6 inches a day, with one hand. Just clearing that 4 yard warp was a feat that I still marvel that I accomplished. I had no idea what I was going to do with a 9″ wide 8/2 tencel warp, about 3 1/2 yards long, but then I saw this piece from Urban Outfitters. I have not been able to find the piece on their website.) It was part of an article on sustainability with fashion designers, trying to use what they have. (Shacket is the term for shirt/jacket, apparently)

The shacket is not my taste, but it inspired me to do this.

My jacket is constructed almost entirely by hand and is completely reversible. The most challenging part was finding a reversible separating zipper. Though the piece doesn’t fit with my regular body of work, the response to everyone who has seen photos of it has been really wonderful, Jennifer Moore, whose workshop I wove the double weave fabric in, was really hoping to see it at Convergence.

The pattern for the jacket is from my pattern collection, a combination of the #800 vest and the armholes and sleeves from the #1700 tunic.

Meanwhile, if you have been reading my past posts over the last couple of months, you know I’ve managed to design, set up, and weave off yardage, hand dyed yarns, mixed structures on 12 shafts, inspired by a puzzle we were fixing. All with a fractured shoulder. I was able to get this walking vest out of the fabric I had, and I’m so freakin’ thrilled with this.

I used scraps of a caviar leather I had to make epaulettes, since there was no way I could match the shoulders, and there is leather piping down the front and armhole bands. I finished up the handwork yesterday. The pattern is from my collection, the #600 Walking Vest. It has pockets!

And because this fabric, woven a couple of years ago, kept calling me from the shelf, (it sat on the shelf for the last couple of years because I couldn’t think of what to make with it) asking me to make a dress. For the runway. Something that celebrated the stripes. Bias… I listen carefully to my materials.

I’m not certain how the dress will ultimately perform, it fits like a dream, being bias and all, but how will it hold up on exhibit in a fashion show? Normally I would have the dress folded on the shelf. I’m still up in the air whether I should send it. But I love the look of the dress, the way it chevrons on the side. The yarns are a combination of a bunch of stuff that was on my shelf, including a hand dyed warp from Blazing Shuttles, that’s the aqua tones large stripe. Again, a combination of structures, plain weave, twills, and some supplementals. And it has pockets! I modified my #900 bias top pattern.

So I’m sitting back and smiling at myself and all of my hardwork these last couple of months, mentally, physically, and all because of a postponed deadline from two years ago. I am my happiest when I meet a personal challenge head on and win. And I won this one.

Stay tuned…

Slow and Steady…

I’d like to think I’m a patient person. I suppose it depends on what or whom I’m required to be patient with…

I’ve undertaken a couple of major projects in the studios, which completely thrill me, yet create stress, and challenges, and a couple of probably unrealistic deadlines. That’s my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I work best under unrealistic deadlines. Except when my body doesn’t want to cooperate…

Though my fractured shoulder is improving, little bits at a time, I’m impatient. I’ll admit it. I carry on with great fanfare, but secretly cry a little bit each time I am held back from what I want/need/have to do.

The Rainbow Double Weave Jennifer Moore Workshop sampler turned into a completely reversible jacket is nearing completion. This wasn’t so physically challenging, I just had to sit for hours hand sewing. And I mean hours. About 90% of it is sewn by hand. Including the entire interior. All that remains is the collar, and I hope to get that finished up this week. At least get it mounted on the jacket and ready for handwork.

I am just so in love with this jacket; it is how I imagined it in my head. I combined my 800 vest, with added seam allowances on the front, with the armhole and drop shoulder sleeve from the 1700 tunic, patterns from the Daryl Lancaster pattern collection. There are two layers of wool suiting to create the garment, basted together, with windows cut out, where the double weave cloth fits between the layers, and both layers are then sewn to the double weave cloth in reverse appliqu√©. Once the individual sections are completed, the outer garment layer is sewn together by machine, and the entire inner layer is sewn by hand at all the seams and hems. There are days I think I’m absolutely brilliant, and there are days where… I’ll leave it up to your imagination ūüôā

The fabric inspired by the Magic Puzzle Company Busy Bistro Puzzle I fixed with my daughter, has proven one of my most difficult physical challenges. I use a heavy end feed shuttle, which is tough enough on my poor fractured shoulder, but the loom I’m weaving on, new to me, is a monster. 12 shafts and 54″ wide. The beater alone could kill you! Yet it is gorgeous and comfortable in the hand. Assuming the hand isn’t attached to a fractured shoulder. The most difficult part though, is lifting the shafts. Most picks required lifting 6 of the 12 shafts, and each shaft had 225 inserted eye heddles, which I didn’t remove because there was room on the sides to store them, and I spent so much time putting them on to begin with! Trying as hard as I could, I just couldn’t consistently lift 6 shafts and get a consistently clean shed every time. I’m past my mid-60’s and my joints just can’t lift what I could in my 20’s.

I’d lay awake at night, with my fractured shoulder aching, especially when bad weather approaches, and think, how am I going to weave this… If you ever watched the Queen’s Gambit, a Netflix series, you might remember how the main character, I’ve forgotten her name, could see chess moves happening across the ceiling. That’s the way I sometimes think, I can see the mechanics behind a draft, and how things need to move up or down to create what I want. And what I wanted was a clean shed opening. When that happens in any other situation, I revert to using two feet to help lift, break apart the tie-up, and figure out a logical treadling sequence that will get me what I want with a lot less physical effort. I watched the ceiling in the dark and saw how I could do it. I flew out of bed in the morning and went to the software and reconfigured the tie up and crossed my fingers. (An apology to my non-weaving readers, this all makes no sense, just know it worked.)

The original tie-up and treadling
Revised tie-up and treadling using two feet.

It was miraculous, and magical and I just wove like the wind, or maybe a slight breeze because I’m still dealing with a fractured shoulder. I use to be able to weave like the wind. Maybe someday soon. But I’ve got a deadline now, and I’m frantically trying to pace myself to get what I need to get done before April 15th. That’s the deadline to submit the five garments I’m planning to exhibit at the Convergence Fashion Show this summer, sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America, in Knoxville, TN, as an invited artist. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to send, but I want more choices than I have, from what I’ve made in the last two years, and I’d love for this puzzle inspired fabric to be one of them.

So given my arm limitations, I’ve just resigned myself to only empty one pirn a day, with 2/12 wool, which is about what my shoulder can handle. Still, that’s about 15″ and that adds up. I looked at my warp beam, and was shocked to see the I’m on the last round of paper. This was a seven yard warp. I’m almost there…

What really surprised me, is I’ve had no tension issues at all so far, which I completely expected given the dozens of different yarns I’m combining together in a dozen different structures. It will be interesting to see what happens when the fabric is off the loom and washed…

On a completely different note, spring is here, though we are supposed to get one last frost tonight through Tuesday, but in celebration of my late husband’s 71st birthday last Tuesday, my daughter and I went to the garden center and bought a couple flats of cold weather greens, and some pansies. We got everything planted, started the spring clean up in the yard, which means bags of animal excrement, because, well, if you have dogs, you know what spring means…

The garden center was just a riot of color…

And last Tuesday I was interviewed for the Handweavers Guild of America series Textiles and Tea, which I adore; The Textiles and Tea interviews are the highlight of my week. They are live interviews, over zoom, but also simulcast over Facebook, and of course recorded. You don’t need a Facebook account to watch, it is a public site. The recording will eventually be posted on the Handweavers Guild of America YouTube channel, (it might take a couple of months) but for now, if you missed the interview, you can watch it here. Kathi’s questions were thoughtful, and fun to answer. Apparently there were 600 people watching in the webinar, and another couple hundred watching the live Facebook feed, which they said was a record. I don’t know, I just had fun answering the questions. Everything for me has a story, which is why I still have something to say after almost 14 years of blogging. I know few people blog anymore, and far fewer people read the blog than did a half dozen years ago, but that isn’t why I write it. I used to journal, but it is more fun to type what I’m thinking and be able to add cool pictures, and then be able to go back and search for what I want, because blogs have that built in feature. And it is there forever, or as long as I pay for the hosting fees…

So dear readers, spring is upon us, and that means outdoor stuff, and I have a lovely garden with ponds and fish and places to sit and weave, all coming to life, and I’ll have a garden full of salad fixin’s, and I think, each spring, that this season I’m going to spend my time outdoors and do fiber-y things, and by fall I realize that none of that happened. It is an amusing cycle, but still, I am determined each spring and we will see how the year progresses… Deadlines await…

My Convergence To-Do List…

I’m nothing if not organized. ¬†Compulsively organized. ¬†Obsessively organized. ¬†I took a daytimer, the old fashion kind you write in, and I plotted out everything that needs to get done before Convergence, crossed off days where I wouldn’t be in the studio, and carefully filled in the remaining days so I had a feel of the time crunch ahead of me. ¬†It all fit in nicely, and I did a little exhale. ¬†And then the universe laughed at me. ¬†I know well that nothing goes as planned.

First thing up on my list, which I started Tuesday afternoon, was to finish the Rest in Peace¬†Diptych. ¬†The story here, is I created one of my woven postcards, a Diptych, and entered Small Expressions. ¬†The piece wasn’t accepted. ¬†So I decided to send it to the faculty exhibit for Convergence. ¬†No problem there. ¬†Except I entered an exhibit in Massachusetts on a whim, and of course, it got in, and the timing is too close to ensure it will be back from one exhibit, to turn around and ship to the other since I’ll be leaving more than a week ahead for Convergence. ¬†(For a mini vacation with my husband, can you believe it?)

The exhibit committee, graciously agreed that I could send a replacement piece to them, actually the same piece in a much larger scale. As long as it matched the photo of the original piece. ¬†Which meant I had to weave it. ¬†One of the panels had been finished last year, but I needed to do the second one. ¬†That’s the piece I wove last month when I ran out of warp. ¬†I squeaked it out, splicing in 900 ends. ¬†So all I had to do was mount the two pieces, right?

I budgeted a day for this effort, maybe a day and a half. ¬†Silly me. ¬†I spent an entire afternoon at the art supply store, just trying to figure out how to mount the two panels, so they would look like the original. ¬†The original piece was 6″ x 10″. ¬†I mounted the woven fabric by wrapping it around stiff interfacing and used the spine of a spiral notebook for the bridge in between the piece. ¬†The replacement work is nearly four times that size, roughly 24″ x 38″.

I bought all kinds of stuff, and came home and plowed in head first. ¬†After careful measurements, the pair of 18″ x 24″ canvases I purchased were actually one inch too wide. ¬†So I consulted my tech guy, who happens to be in the country for a brief week or two before heading back to Saudi Arabia (I hear this will be a year long back and forth commute, and I’m trying hard not to think about that). ¬†He came in an with a few swipes of a utility knife, he sliced off the offending inch, and now my canvas backboard is 18″ x 23″.

I wrapped the canvas board in two layers of craft fleece, and lashed it on the back side in both directions so it was really drum tight. I covered the lashing with two layers of fleece, and stitched that all the way around. ¬†Then I decided that I’d like that side to be face up. ¬†It was slightly more rounded.

I wrapped the entire panel in grey silk, and carefully pinned that together. ¬†Then I stitched the grey silk all the way around. ¬†I laid the woven panel on top of the grey base, and turned under the edges until everything measured perfectly and pinned. ¬†I wisely decided not to stitch the panel permanently at this point, until I mounted the second panel. ¬†So I started the process all over again for the remaining panel. ¬†Now I’m seriously into day two of this project. ¬†And it isn’t looking good for finishing any time soon.

I got to the part where I started to pin the second panel to the second grey silk covered backboard and I did a big fat groan. ¬†Bet you heard it all the way to Canada. ¬†See, when I printed the second ¬†8 1/2″ x 16″ silk strip to create the image, at the very top of the strip was a little plop of yellow ink jet ink, right at the top edge, in the sky over the twin towers. ¬†There were only two choices, to reprint the strip, but that would mean replacing the cartridges, which I didn’t have, and then it would more than likely not match the first half of the image, or make the whole image a half inch shorter. ¬†I chose option B.

No matter now I stretched and shrunk, and manipulated the second panel, (which was actually the original panel, woven in full last year), there was nothing to be done but take out two rows of the design. ¬†Because you know, fabric only stretches and shrinks and can be manipulated when you don’t want it to…

So I pulled out two silk strips, and then carefully pulled out the tie down threads at the top of the panel. ¬†Each thread had to be pulled through to the back and tied off. ¬†Now I’m seriously into day 3. ¬†I’m groaning because my to do list is already off by a couple of days and I don’t know where to put all the things that were on the list that haven’t gotten finished. ¬†Or started for that matter.

But the good news is now the panels are exactly the same size and the second panel (which is really the first, is anyone still following this whole escapade?) perfectly fits the back board.

I stitched the panels onto the grey silk back boards, all the way around with invisible stitches. ¬†Then I had to invent some kind of spine in the middle. ¬†On the original piece, the spine represented a child’s copybook or a photo album, and alternately represented the barbed wire that wrapped the perimeter of the roof of the World Trade Center. ¬†You can see it if you look carefully in the photo of my two kids on top of the World Trade Center Tower, which we took two weeks before September 11. ¬†I remember at the time looking at the barbed wire and asking about it and being told that it was there so the public wouldn’t climb past the railing and do something like try to jump. ¬†And I thought about all those people jumping off the towers two weeks later and I remembered the barbed wire…

I found the perfect spiral wire in a sketch book at the art supply store. ¬†I could only find it twelve inches long, but I figured I could splice two end on end and come up with the 24″ length I needed. ¬†And turns out there was enough spring in the wire binding that it could be squished to 23″. ¬†I carefully removed 100 sheets from two sketch books to get the binding wires. ¬†Then I had to figure out how to stitch them onto the two panels. ¬†With a series of long straight needles and a curved one and some strategically place T-pins, I managed to lash the wire spine to the two panels. ¬†Now all I have to do is mount some kind of hanging device on the back, take a formal photo of the piece, label the back, and figure out how to invent an additional two days over the next couple of weeks to accomplish everything I didn’t do while I was working on mounting this diptych… ¬†No sweat…

Re-Entry…

I’m home now, having safely returned from Monterey, VA, where, in spite of actually being paid to teach, I had a wonderful restful, restorative week with two women whom I adore. ¬†Both creative spirits, felters, not weavers, but both interested in using their skills to create art clothing, and it was a pleasure to work with both of them.

The flight home was a bit frustrating, though I’ve had much worse experiences, I was anxious to get home, since I hadn’t seen my husband in almost a month. ¬†We were to fly in 10 minutes apart. ¬†Sadly it wasn’t meant to be, he made it in, and then a line of severe thunderstorms moved in, over the mid-Atlantic region, and our plane had to turn around and land back in Richmond. ¬†We waited out the storm, and finally got clearance to return to Newark, where I battled lines and angry New Yorkers, and traffic, and delays, and I exhaled slowly and remembered that this is home and I really do love to live in the metropolitan NY area. ¬†Mostly…

I took some lovely photos, and I hope to refer back to this blog periodically to remind myself of this lovely get-away, in this lovely mountain town, in lovely western Virginia. ¬†Did I mention it was lovely? ¬†From the sunrise in the morning, tea on the porch before walking into town for Evelyn’s egg, bacon and cheese croissant, across the street from the studio.

There were dinner parties in the evening, Lisa’s friends joined us or invited us to dinner, each night I got to share in some of the wonderful stories of small town life. ¬†They write books on this kind of stuff. ¬†Everyone was so gentle, so friendly, so helpful, and I feel like I have a new family there. ¬†We visited Deborah in her home further up the mountain, isolated, and full of the sounds of the tree frogs, and the birds. ¬†She cooked us an excellent meal, including fresh garden pea croistini, and cold avocado soup. ¬†I wanted to live on her porch. ¬†The view was incredible. ¬†(And then the rational part of me took over and all I could think was, who cuts that lawn?)

Gisela and Lisa worked hard, we all did, Gisela created patterns for simple garments, we did two and three muslins before we got them right, fine tuning the fit, so she can use the basic shapes as templates for her lovely nuno felt.

Lisa got a bit sidetracked on one of her muslins, and dug out some felt scraps, and veered off onto an adventure that netted this amazing vest. ¬†She worked furiously to finish it so she could wear it to the final dinner party at Deborah’s.

We talked at great length about turning this into an annual retreat. ¬†There was a lot of interest from the local residents of the town, in joining the class, there were quilters, and those interested in making garments, and we are looking at dates in May of 2011. ¬†Once a decision is made, I’ll post the dates in my schedule on my website, and consider joining us on this retreat next year, for a Wearable Extravaganza. ¬†We will more than likely be limiting the class to 8, and Lisa has an entire house available for lodging, which from what I understand will be included in the cost of the retreat. ¬†There is so much to see and do in the area, I wished I’d had a few extra days to play tourist. ¬†As it turned out, I settled for lunch time wanderings in the local craft shops and galleries. ¬†Of course I did my best to support the local economy. ¬†And Hap’s Sweet Potato Fries are the best!

I’m still unpacking, but I managed to get through the stack of mail. ¬†One media mail package intrigued me, I didn’t recognize the return address. ¬†I did one of those, “Gee, wonder what I ordered?”

I couldn’t believe it when I pulled out of the envelope three Award Certificates. ¬†My Frosted Florals Dress took first place at the Fiber Celebration 2010 exhibit sponsored by the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild, held in the Tointon Gallery for the Visual Arts,¬†Greeley, CO . There were some photos of the exhibit posted on the internet, though I didn’t see my dress in any of the photos. ¬†There was a monetary award with the first place certificate, and then to my incredible surprise, there was another certificate under it, for second place (with another monetary award) in the functional division for my Celebration Bag. ¬†I’m really thrilled to get this award, since I had entered that bag in the Convergence Tampa Bay Functional exhibit and it wasn’t accepted. ¬†And so it goes…

The final award of the three turned out to be the Halcyon Yarns Award, no mention of the criteria, but with it came a book on Collapse Weave by Anne Field, creating three-dimensional cloth. ¬†I already have the book on my shelf, but I’m sure one of my guilds could use it in their library, or I’ll start a library collection for my daughter… ¬†Maybe this is a sign from the universe that I have to actually open the book and experiment with the structures…

So now, I have mapped out a strategy for preparing for two very intensive workshops, one at the Newark Museum, a fiber boot camp, no experience necessary, just four days of all kinds of fiber techniques, great for fiber artist¬†wannabes, and of course, the¬†unwieldy¬†Convergence, where I’ll be entertaining more than 230 students in six seminars and a day long workshop. ¬†I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little overwhelmed… ¬†So the next couple of weeks, interspersed with some family events and getaways, will be all about printing, prep, packing, and preparing for both of these events. ¬†Oh, and there is my Weavezine column to write… ¬†But first, a trip to Jerry’s Art supply in search of a 24″ spiral bound notebook so I can use the spiral ring in my Rest in Peace faculty piece… ¬†Stay tuned…