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…

Saturday in Michigan

Hopefully I can make this a short post, it was a busy day, I’m tired, and I have one more full day of seminars to teach before I make my way home to NJ.

I started the morning, picking up where I left off last night, by doing the final judging of the fashion show.  Having seen the pieces on the runway, made it so much easier to do my job.  I was through judging, writing comments on all of the garments, withinfashion_show1 3 hours.  I did a few quick shots of the gallery before I left to go to lunch.  There were some lovely pieces in the show, and I was pleased with the results and the winners.

Barbara VanDyke wove the fabric and constructed the beautiful white and lt. blue Chanel Style coat below, with a hand painted lining.  I gave it Best in Show, it was a perfect blending of handwoven fabric, classic design, exquisite construction skills, and surface design applications.





fashion_show6One of the things I love about traveling, is seeing things I don’t see at home.  I remember walking through Grinnell College Campus at the Midwest Weavers Conference last month in Iowa, and having Robyn Spady stop suddenly to ask if I was also seeing these tiny blinking lights all around.  She had never seen fireflies!  I remember the last time I taught at this conference in Michigan, it may have been 2003, and I was taken with the black squirrels.  I’d never seen black squirrels before.  We have bucket loads of grey squirrels back in NJ, but not black ones.  I was hoping to see them again, I wasn’t disappointed, and towards the end of the afternoon, a lovely black squirrel posed for me at the base of a tree.squirrel

I was able to breeze quickly through the vendors, picking up some beautifully dyed silk hankies for spinning, though I will use them for felting, from River’s Edge Weaving Studio in Grand Ledge, MI.  And I did get to the Holland Art Center to see all the exhibits.  I got lots of photos there, but I’ll save them for another post.

A Great Saturday

class1In spite of my exhaustion, and all the past couple days’ events, the workshop went really well.  I had a terrific group of 14 women, 13 of whom had actually handwoven their class2fabric for their jackets.  They were all so supportive, and eager, and talented, and I was privileged to work with them.  They worked so hard, we kept each other going, they were as tired as I was, so it became a real group effort!  And we all rose to the occasion.

Each of the fabrics was so unique, and it was great to see how each of the jackets progressed, students’ confidence grew, old habits were broken, and new skills acquired.

We broke for dinner, and on the way across campus to the student center, I passed a lovely installation between the trees, hand dyed warps drying on the line.

painted_warpsI found out from the conference community that I had won a door prize.  Apparently all conference participants’ names and those of the faculty had been entered.  I won a beautiful silk scarf from Lantern Moon.  I looked at it as a new raw material, and spent a couple minutes draping it around my body to see what the fabric would do.

Then I quickly dressed into my Frosted Florals Gown, and headed to the concert hall for the fashion show.  I was the moderator.fashion_show

The figure to my left, was a vintage handwoven garment by the late Mary Pendleton, an icon in Sedona, Arizona.  She founded the Pendleton Fabric Craft School and Studio, which became a mecca for fiber enthusiasts from all over the world.  Two of her garments were loaned for the fashion show, and one of them kept me company while I moderated the show. vest_classOne of the highlights of the fashion show for me was the trio of students from my pieced vest class from two years ago.  Three of the garments worn came from or were influenced by techniques learned from my class.  Each had a story and the artists modeled their own work.  The commentary had been written for me by Margaret, the hard working fashion show coordinator.  And what was even more fun, was the addition of items like art quilts, and non wearable items.  We all laughed and clapped, and had a great time.  Three of the garments had actually been previewed at the Convergence Fashion Show in Tampa last summer.  This is a talented bunch!

Stay tuned…

Day 2 in MA…

The weather is getting warmer here, more like summer.  But there was a lot of commenting at breakfast at the almost record low this morning of 48 degrees.

firstaidI got my classroom  set up for the all day Inkle Weaving class, and welcomed 17 students.  We dove right in, and by lunch time almost all were ready to weave.  One of my favorite New England Weavers, who is originally from England, lesliefootis Leslie who proudly informed me she was 18 months shy of 90!  She was happily working on her inkle loom when she said to me, “I wonder if there is a first aid station on campus?”  I sort of looked a bit panicked, and she very gently said, in her lovely British accent, “Well I sort of fell off the curb this morning, and I’m afraid my foot is swelling up.”  I looked down at the very badly swollen purple ankle, bulging out of her sandals, and we all jumped into action.  Someone had an ice pack in a cooler, I pushed it into one of my little handwoven bag samples, with the inkle trim handle, and wrapped it around her foot while someone called campus security.  Bless her, she wanted to stay and finish the class.  They whisked her off to the hospital, and three x-rays later, on a pair of crutches, Louise came back to class by 2pm with her badly sprained ankle all wrapped up, and continued the class.  We weavers all have our priorities…  We laughed about it tonight at the fashion show, she said her friends wanted to come pick her up and she said no, she still had to take another of my classes…

I had been told by friends that Smith College has an amazing Art Museum right on campus.  They weren’t kidding.  Imagine my shock when I walked around the walls and saw a Georgia o’Keefe, paintings by Edward Hopper, Max Ernst, Diego Rivera, Ben Shahn, Robert Motherwell, and Willem De Kooning.  And a wonderful sculpture by Louise Nevelson.  I had never seen any of these particular pieces before in an other exhibits so that was a real treat.  What a treasure.  And in the lower gallery, there was an installation by Brooklyn artist and Smith alumni Lesley Dill.  To say this artist’s work was powerful would be an understatement, her materials are largely found, and her voice huge.  Take a look at some of her images on the website of the George Adams Gallery.  And if you Google her name, there are lots of photos of images of her work available.

Lively dinner conversation, I meet such interesting wonderful people at these conferences, many who share their stories with me, especially since I bared my soul at my keynote address.  Then it was off to the informal fashion show, followed by the formal fashion show, followed by the announcing of awards.

marjoriewheelerbackThe informal fashion show was a treat, and one of the garments modeled was a great variation on the “Daryl Jacket”, the pattern I use for teaching my garment construction workshops.  Marjorie Wheeler modeled her jacket, she made the bias yoke in the front and back, the fabric is all handwoven, and she looked so happy in the jacket.

The final garment in the informal fashion show, was actually not a garment, but a guild exchange from the Mainely Weavers.  They paraded in a clothesline stretched from one end of the chapel to the other (odd place for a fashion show), and all the members displayed their miniature kimonos, made from what I understood to be three folded kimonoshandwoven towels, based on an Erica de Ruiter article in Handwoven Magazine, which I believe they said was Nov/Dec 2007.  I did a search on Interweave Presses’ index, and I think this is the article, though I’d have to confirm it when I get home. What a great idea for a guild exchange!

Three Towels or One Wall Hanging—
or Both! (de Ruiter, Erica).

The fashion show itself was wonderful, they always are, I don’t have photos, but as a judge, I can’t tell you how differently a garment looks when it is on the person who made it and coming down the runway, or in this case, the church aisle.  So many of my comments during the judging would have been different had I seen the garment on the real body it was designed for.  Looking at a garment on a table, or trying to try it on the body it doesn’t fit, doesn’t do justice to the garment or the maker.  I’m looking foward to judging the Michigan Conference fashion show because I will get to see the garments on the runway before I make my final selections.  Finally!

Oh, and the weaver/designer of that lovely plaid jacket I modeled in the previous post was done by Sharon Baker Kelley.  I didn’t know the piece was Sharon’s until tonight, and obviously I couldn’t say yesterday that we had given it the ‘judges’ choice’ award!  Congratulations Sharon!

Iowa Day Two…

So I finally got to teach today in my miracle classroom.  The class was wonderful, enthusiastic, and a joy to work with.  I had sixteen women of all body types make a jacket pattern from my basic jacket design, that would fit them.  It was a long day, but they were all great sports, and I can’t wait to see the jackets they make from them.  There was a small glitch when I couldn’t figure out how to get the projector to work, odd since it worked the day before, and reluctantly I called for tech support, and while I was waiting for them to arrive, I figured out I was pushing the wrong button to power it up.  Duh…

A hurried late afternoon, I had to pack up, get over across campus to eat a quick dinner, race over to the Theatre for the fashion show rehearsal, and then the actual fashion show.  I love fashion shows at conferences.  And I love it when the weavers/makers wear their own work.  So here are a few highlights while we were all milling around the dance studio waiting for line-up.

backstagefrostedfloralsHere I am once again, modeling my Frosted Florals dress, which made it back from Kansas City and the Surface Design Fashion Show on time to bring it to Iowa.  This dress has seen a lot of mileage so far.  Literally.

berrywalkingskirtberry2I just loved this Victorian Walking Skirt by Christy Berry from Kansas City, MO.  It has a gray warp and yellow weft, from 20/2 perle cotton, plain weave.  The design is original.

mayerThis is an Anita Luvera Mayer of Anacortes, WA, garment titled “Woman Warrior”.  It is a vest of Melton cloth with rows of beaded and hand sewn mosaic pieces.  It was inspired by a bone warrior vest from Sumatra.  Anita was one of the instructors here at the conference.

Speaking of warriors, this piece was amazingly original,warrior from Melinda Raber McCain, of Indianapolis, IN.  The piece is titled Warrior Princess, it is handwoven armor, in a Shadow Weave, 5/2 cotton, black and gray.  It is an original design.  And it was modeled by one of the Grinnell College tech support students.

ekholmAnd I loved the colors and textures in this vest by instructor Collyer Ekholm, from Swisher, IA.  This is called  Shaman’s Vest, and is woven from cotton and silk, in a variety of weave structures for the panels.  Japanese braids done on the Marudai, Takadai, and Ayatakedai are all couched onto the fabric.  Collyer teaches kumihimo on the Marudai and Takadai.

After the fashion show there was a lovely reception in the rotunda outside of the Faulconer gallery.  I had four garments in the fashion show, and my finale piece was one called Aurora Borealis, which I made draping a couple yards of an old plain weave fabric I had floating around, on my dressform, making heavy use of the bias, and holding it all together with one seam. darylandjohnWe were asked to mill around the reception in the garment we wore for the fashion show, so I wore Aurora Borealis, and was thrilled to grab a shot with John Mullarky.  John was also an instructor here, he is a fabulous tablet weaver, and author of a terrific book of tablet woven patterns, known for his amazing braids, and I just had to get a shot of him in his jacket, which he made in a workshop with me, using the same pattern I fit on sixteen women today.  I love the versatility of this jacket! And he trimmed the whole thing with his own tablet woven braids.  The jacket is really beautiful.

wingsThis next shot needs some explaining.  Wednesday night when I gave my gallery talk at the Small Expressions Exhibit, I was actually standing in an adjacent gallery when I gave my talk, where they had an exhibit of images of butterflies and other natural wonders.  I happened to be standing to the right of the screen and was unaware of what was on the wall behind me.  Later, one of the audience members came up and told me that I had wings behind me the whole time I talked.  She pointed to the large butterfly print behind me on the wall, and was able to grab a photo of me in front of the butterfly print after the reception tonight.  I thought it was pretty funny.  Course I wasn’t wearing this dress, but never-the-less, the wings added to the whole aura of the evening.

Stay tuned…