OK, I’m really really tired.  I’m not even sure I can write with any clarity at all.  Yet I’m almost too tired to even sleep…

slatermillThe weekend was wonderful.  I taught one of my favorite classes, on color and inspiration, and the location was so appropriate and so special.  I gave two workshops to the Weavers Guild of Rhode Island.  I’ve taught for them before, and was thrilled to see so many old friends.  The guild has moved to new quarters since I’ve taught there, in the most wonderful of all places, considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the beautifully restored Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.

“…in 1793, when Samuel Slater, an immigrant, built the first successful water powered, cotton spinning mill in North America on the banks of the Blackstone River at Pawtucket village, with the talents of local artisans and the entrepreneurial verve of Moses Brown.”

The Slater Mill is now home to many of the area fiber guilds, and the space was so filled with history, wall murals, and ghosts of young women who worked so hard to build American industry.  I felt privileged and proud to be teaching there.

YarnSaturday’s class was on Color and Inspiration, and after throwing out some yarn, the participants did some fun exercises, ending up with beautiful warps inspired by magazine pages.

I keeping this blog unusually short, since I’m completely brain dead.  I have only three days to get ready before I head out again to Missouri, and I spent all day today at the Frances Irwin Guild meeting listening to an amazing program with Hitoshi Ujiie, who is the Director of the Philadelphia University Center for Excellence of Digital Inkjet Printing for Textiles.  Hitoshi gave a program called Digital Printing on Textiles, and he brought the prototype for a new digital printing system available for the consumer from Epson, after April 1st.  How funny that I should be in Rhode Island yesterday, in the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and be in western NJ today, listening to a presentation about the future of digital textile printing.

So, enjoy the photos of some of the participants warp wraps and the photos that inspired them.


It’s official…I’ve come completely unglued!

Well it was inevitable.  I hung on, one foot in front of the other, trying to stay on top of the lists, and ahead of the schedule.  Best laid plans.  I was doing pretty well, going into the weekend.  Really wishing I could just sit down and sew, or paint a warp, or do something other than prepare for my trip, I never-the-less plowed ahead, after all, this is my job, and I don’t get paid unless I fly someplace and teach.  And I haven’t done that since last November.  So, if i want to continue living in the manner in which I am accustomed, I need to work, and therefore, I need to do this prep work, though I probably shouldn’t have said yes to the guild commitments in March.

Anyway, on Sunday morning, my husband, for many many reasons which I won’t dwell on here, decided that we would be better off if we moved all our email accounts off the host server for my website, and onto Google as a host server, apparently there is an APP for that.  And for many of those reasons, I agreed to let him make the switch, they all made sense, but I will say I wasn’t expecting it to happen on Sunday, six days before I leave for a 6 week marathon.  Of course moving his account was no problem.  When he went to do mine…  well lets just say that we finally got it up and running properly on the new server, today, that would be Tuesday.  And I’m slowly losing all my hair from ripping it out.  It makes nice curls when it hits the floor in clumps…  So, Amy, my mail to you won’t be blocked anymore, since I probably shared space on the old host server with a porn site or two, and now, I can access my mail files from my laptop on the road, or any place I can access Google and still keep my original email address.  It is a wonderful thing, but, don’t try this at home, or at least don’t try this six days before you plan to go out of town…

I think I printed over 300 monographs and handouts, and I have a serious wrist sprain from all the binding.  I’ve trekked boxes to the shipper, I’ve cut bolts of pattern paper, interfacing, and assorted materials, organized and categorized, and made my poor brain explode.  But I was doing pretty well, in spite of the mess with my computer, until the weather report yesterday.  That put me over the edge.  Yes I know an 18″ of snow blizzard is out of my control, yes I know I just need to not stress about it and keep breathing, yes I know I’ll eventually make it to LA, hopefully in time to teach Saturday.  And yes, I know there is a good chance of a power outage during that blizzard and I won’t be able to print, back up and transfer files, download books on tape onto my iTouch for the trip, or any of the 4000 things on my to do list that require electricity for the next 48 hours.

So, I went into emergency plans, that is to re-prioritize my to do list in order of electrical usage.  So all the books/handouts/monographs are printed, (there was a huge delay there since the $500. worth of ink I ordered got stuck in Tennessee and was late coming in on the Fed Ex truck).  All the books on tape are downloaded.  I’ve transferred back up files of my presentations to my thumb drive.  The only thing remaining that requires the computer, is entering the remaining four shows.  I will do that first thing tomorrow morning.  The snow isn’t suppose to start until later tonight anyway.  And I’ll finish vacuuming my house tonight, leaving the bathrooms and kitchen to clean tomorrow and Thursday(which don’t take electricity), I’d like to leave behind a clean house so it won’t be cited by the health department when I return in two weeks.  🙂

rockerBut the good news is, I did manage a couple of creative escapades in spite of everything, so I can show you a couple of pictures that don’t involve comb binding spines and an HP laser printer…

Remember the rocker I recovered starting last October 31st?  I finished recovering the rocker pretty quickly, but decided to weave the braid for the trim, which was about 6 yards.  I had the inkle loom warped for the final couple of yards, but never got around to finishing it, and since it was the back of the rocker, and no one saw it, I wasn’t real driven to put it on the top of my priority list.

Sunday night, I curled up on the couch, the way I imagine knitters do in the evenings.  My husband and I watched the Super Bowl together, eating Super Bowl junk food and watching the silly commercials.  I brought the little inkle loom down and sat and wove off the remaining two yards of trim, and glued it on this morning.  I can’t be happier with it.  The rocker is done, and my mother-in-law, who gave us the rocker as a wedding present 32 years ago, is smiling down at me.  🙂

And yesterday morning I went to my guild meeting, Frances Irwin Handweavers.  We’ve been focusing on some surface design technique for the last couple of programs, and this month (I missed last month with the flu), Jenny taught us all to do some needle felting.  Since I’ve done needle felting, and I didn’t really have all the required tools she wanted, and I read the newsletter too late to request a kit, and because I really didn’t have time to plan too much, I just brought along my needle felting machine and cheated.  So sue me…

But, it was just what the doctor ordered.

dedednAnd, on top of that, I answered a challenge from Donna Kallner, who writes a creativity blog, and suggested a creative exercise, using a dictionary and finding a word and making up a definition and basing a design exercise on the definition.  I had commented that it would be fun to use the funny words you get for what’s called a Captcha, the group of letters that come up, that you have to retype when you comment on some blogs.  So Donna challenged her readers to pick a medium (I picked felt, don’t have a clue why, thought it would be quick?) and a time frame, (I picked an hour), and send it to her in a comment, and use the Captcha you were assigned as inspiration.  Well I answered the challenge, and my word was “dededn”.  I read it as a sort of mythical dead end, and I had that in mind when I started drawing out a design with the pencil for my needle felted piece yesterday at the guild.  Am I efficient or what?  🙂

I still have to do the other edge of the piece, but I can’t tell you what fun I had just playing.  I worked both sides of the cloth, and I’d love to be able to sit down and finish but it will probably have to wait until I get back.  OK, I’ve already spent an hour, so my time is up, but another 15 minutes won’t hurt anyone.  Anyway Donna, I’m doing my best!

In case we do lose power and I can’t blog, or I just completely run out of time, I’ll do my best to write in from the road, and send photos when I can.  I’m looking forward to the trip, the crazy part is getting ready, leaving stacks of stuff for my husband to deal with in my absence, making sure everything is in order and all the details are covered.  Once I’m on the plane, there is nothing to do but sit and read a trashy Janet Evanovich book and relax.

Oh, and if you notice that once in awhile, a message comes up that says there is a memory problem and my blog isn’t available, we are aware of the problem, that accounts for the other pile of hair on the floor, that pile is from my husband ripping his hair out, and we are basically convinced that my current host server (the one that shares porn sites), doesn’t offer the full capabilities of Word press and what we really need to do is dump the server completely, go to Pair Networks, and bring in Word Press directly, and start over.  And that’s why ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come completely unglued.  Just keep trying my blog, it eventually comes back…

The computer gods smiled at me today…

I spent the last couple of days really focused on the guild website I’m building, wanting to get it put to bed so I can concentrate on getting this yardage done.  I am not proficient with the software at all, the learning curve is huge, and I find that I occasionally get something I just don’t know how to correct.  That happened last night.  I actually had the whole site created, and uploaded, and when I checked the web pages, I just couldn’t get rid of the ugly blue active link boxes around all the little menu buttons.  I knew I had to code the fix somewhere in the CSS, but I went to bed frustrated and depressed, and not sure how I was going to fix the problem.  So of course, no way to shut my little brain off.  I really didn’t sleep at all last night…  🙁

I got up this morning, determined to figure this out, or redesign the whole website, and my wonderful buddy Sally tossed me an email that said, why don’t you query the problem in Dreamweaver online help?  Duh (she says as she smacks herself on an already bruised side of the head…)

And of course, Sally was right on target.  It took about 45 seconds to find the little piece of code necessary to fix the problem, which I embedded and viola!  I had a site that looked the way I envisioned.  Now I’m just waiting for feedback from the group, typos, missed links, weird things happening with obscure browsers, and whatever else they can come up with.  Check out the site if you are curious…   Frances Irwin Handweavers

So the computer gods were my friends today, and after a frustrating week, I’m happy with the final product.  And I made a big ceremonious cross off my to do list on that project.  I still have to build the gallery, but I don’t feel so pressured on that part at the moment.

ReginaMeanwhile, I got a couple of calls/emails today from former students, just checking in on how much my workshops meant to them, and one of them Regina Novotny sent photos of what she’s done with the information from the class.  Regina wove the fabric for this coat, and tailored it from the pattern we used in the jacket class. Talk about a great big vote of confidence.  I felt really proud of my students, and how they’ve taken what I’ve given them, and run with it.  Two of the students who called today, want me to come and do a private session at their studio in the mountains of West Virginia in June.  I’m really really looking forward to that…

cutting tableSo, having a huge smile on my face, and a finished website, I turned to my cutting table which was completely unusable and cleaned it off.  There is nothing like a clean workspace to get the muses dancing…

MSU3On Sunday, I attended the opening at the George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University, for the Art Connections 6 exhibit.  I have two pieces in the show.  The opening was packed, hard to see the work, which was hung salon style, filling the walls floor to ceiling, and of course, one of my pieces was near the floor.  We all had stiff knees after squatting down discussing the imagery and iconography of the piece.

I had one of my smaller Personal Posts pieces there as well.  It was sort of lost between two bright and colorful pieces, yet there were a lot of people peering close to really see what was happening in the piece.

MSU2MSU1I met a couple of women I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years, one of them I went to art school with in the mid 1970’s.  I love the connections one makes at these kind of openings, and lots of business cards were exchanged.

So, now I’m going to focus on getting this fabric off the loom before the end of the month, so I can get it photographed and entered in the Convergence yardage exhibit.  I would have liked to have submitted more than one piece, but that’s not going to happen…

loomweavingfabricThe fabric is weaving pretty well, the sticky springy cotton lace is still giving me a bit of grief, but I just ignore it and build up a rhythm.  I’ve finished about a quarter of the yardage, and I’m hoping to blow through another couple of yards tomorrow.  It is so pretty to weave, each time the cloth is advanced a whole new color section reveals itself.  🙂


I’m going to blame it all on having the flu, or too many mojitos, or the weather, or whatever.  Today was one of those days where I gave myself a headache from smacking my self upside the head too many times.

First I woke up with a panic attack.  You know the kind, your to do list stretches across the desk and onto the floor and you only have 28 days to get it all done.  I leave February 13 for a two week teaching tour of the southwest, and all of this has to be done before I go, plus a hundred other things that aren’t even on the list.  No pressure whatsoever…

The general way things are going, isn’t conducive to getting 200 things off my to do list in that short of time.  Some of the things are easy quick tasks, like Pay NJ Sales Tax.  Others, like build website for Frances Irwin Guild (which I’ve promised them for over a year), can’t be done with a quick phone call.

And there are all the exhibit deadlines.  No one will die if I don’t enter the yardage exhibit, or Small Expressions for Convergence this year, but it is sort of important to me.  So I push myself.  And of course, nothing is cooperating.

skipsSo I got myself up this morning, well enough from my flu bout to kick it into high gear.  I carried my tea to my loom and sat.  I worked on this fabric all day yesterday, trouble shooting, correcting crossed threads (only a couple, not bad for more than 1100 threads) but the stripes of cotton lace yarn, set in a 2/1 birds eye are giving me all sorts of grief.  It is a springy yarn, and very sticky.  I’m getting all sorts of skips.  And that can’t happen when you are trying to blow through ten yards of fabric on a loom.  This fabric has to weave like butter and all these problems need to be worked out somehow.  On top of the sticky yarn, the treadling sequence I designed to simultaneously weave the three different structures is really difficult to follow.  I can’t see where I am in the sequence, and it isn’t logical.  So I sat with my weaving software, and re-figured the tie-up and treadling sequence, and came up with something that was a lot more logical.

tie_up1tie_up2tie_up3The problem with the second version, was I would be lifting 5 very heavy rock maple shafts on a 45″ wide loom, every time I pushed a treadle.  I’m out of shape for that, and I’ll never make it for the remaining 9 yards of fabric in a timely fashion.  I need this to weave like butter.  And it doesn’t address the sticky warp problem, it will only compound it.  I had spent about an hour this morning retying all the treadles with the new tie up, when suddenly it was one of those aha moments, I smacked the side of my head and went, “duh…”

What I needed to do here was weave the fabric upside down.  That way I only need to lift 3 of the 8 treadles, and that should also solve the sticky warp problem.

So off I went, back under the loom (how convenient that my weaving software has a button that says “change face” and it automatically gives you the inverse tie-up.)  I retied everything a third time, and then resumed my sample.

In my sample, I am playing with different weft yarns, dark, light, cotton, rayon, wool, blends, thick, thin, and once I’ve exhausted those possibilities, I cut the fabric I’ve done off the loom, usually about 3/4 of a yard, and then I cut that apart into three pieces.cutting_offsamples

Now comes the fun part.  I keep the first sample for my notebook.  I can clearly see what wefts I used, and it is a great right off the loom reference.  I stitch well around the perimeter of the other two samples, and take the second one and throw it in the bathroom sink with some shampoo, swish it around for a few minutes, and roll it in a towel, hanging it to dry.  The third sample goes through the washer and dryer with a load of jeans or towels.

washed_sampleyarnHere I have all of the finishing options at my fingertips, and I can really see how a yarn will perform and check my sett.  I was surprised at the results, and ended up selecting a dark plum rayon weft, and yippee, a quick calculation says I’ll have enough to actually weave this puppy off.

So I loaded up a shuttle, and started weaving and I’m very happy and confident that I can weave this fabric off, get it washed, dried and photographed, by the January 31st deadline.

I still have two pieces to finish on another loom for Small Expressions…

Fashion Show exhibit pieces are already done and photographed.weaving

While my swatches were drying, I went back to the website I’ve been working on sporadically for the last couple of months.  The design I’m working on has these menu buttons for the navigational links, and I wanted to make them from pictures of handwoven fabric.

The site is coming together, I’m still creating in Photoshop, trying out different options, once I’m happy with everything, and my guild buddy Sally who is collecting all the data approves, I’ll move over to Dreamweaver and start to actually construct this thing.  But I couldn’t figure out how to make an oval button template, I was index4.htmldoing it in a really convoluted way, and I knew there had to be an easier way to do this.  After all, this is Photoshop, there should be six easier ways to do it.  I tossed Sally, an email, something like, any idea if there is an easier way, and the response came back, how about making a Path and then just moving the path from one image to another.  Paths, paths, paths, I’m scratching my head, so out comes the manual.  Let me just say here, that making paths in Photoshop is probably in the beginners manual.  I apparently skipped over that part.  Duh…  It took me about 15 minutes to figure it all out, and then I went crazy making little oval menu buttons from all the guild photos Sally gave me.

The end result is I got a site I’m pretty happy with, and now I only have to go and build it.  I got a thumbs up from Sally, and I’m on my way.  So today was one of those days where you sit back and say, Wow!  I crossed two huge hurdles, and accomplished a lot.  My to do list is still spilling off my desk, but I’m a little less stressed than I was this morning…

The social season is in full swing…

The last days of any year are always a mixed bag.  I find it hard to get any meaningful work done in the studio, there are so many social events on the calendar, some seasonal celebrations, some gatherings of friends, and on the other hand, there are so many social events on the calendar, seasonal celebrations and gatherings, that I’m forever grateful that I have opportunities like this to celebrate and see the world outside of the four walls of my studio.

BlankCanvasBenefitAlmost every night, since my last post (was it really almost a week ago?) I’ve had a major event on the calendar.  Saturday had three events back to back!  Friday night, I attended the reception at the NJ Center for the Visual Arts in Summit, NJ, for the artists who donated work for the Blank Canvas Benefit.  You may remember my blog post last month while I worked on my piece.  Since the handwoven scraps used in the artwork were from one of my jackets, I thought it would be fun to wear the jacket to the reception.

It was great to see all of the other interpretations of the claybord we were given to work with, we could pick the size, and many of the artists chose to use the claybord as a flat box/container, as a standing shadow box, as a canvas, some two sided, and there was my piece, wrapped like a present, completely encased in fabric.  The food was delicious, and in any art venue, there are always interesting people to meet and chat with.

Saturday morning was the holiday party for my American Sewing Guild neighborhood group.  It was a pot luck luncheon, and a lot of fun.  Hand-LoomWeaving

One of the members had been to a book sale, and she saw this little tome and because it said Hand-Loom Weaving on the front, she thought it was something I could use.  She herself isn’t a weaver.  It is little kindnesses like this that make the world a better place.  I was THRILLED!  I have never seen this little treasure, written by Mattie Phipps Todd, in 1902.  The book was revised in 1914, and that’s the version that you see here on the right.  It is a small little book, and it primarily focuses on teaching weaving in a classroom situation, using the new modern loom, which looks remarkably like one of the 25 small frame looms I have stacked up on a shelf for those occasions when I am demonstrating to a school group.  They have end rods that run through the frame to keep the weaving square, and adjustable end caps so the weaving can be sized.  The book, discarded from the New City Free Library, in New City, NY, (I’ll bet that’s a story in and of itself!), starts out with a fascinating chapter called “A Chat on Weaving”.  Small phrases in the side bars act like little highlighters, phrases like, “Community feeling continued”, and “Nature knows no hurry”.  Since this is a teaching manual, there are lots of phrases like “A child’s work should be suited to his capacity, without regard to grade”, and “If you would develop morality in a child, train him to work.”  This particular paragraph gave me  a huge smile:

“The child not only recognizes the value in honest labor, but his sympathy with all labor is aroused through his own efforts and through the stories told of weavers in all lands.  He realizes, also, although in a limited way, the interdependence of the whole world.  If the sun did not shine, and the rain fall, there would be no grass.  If there were no grass, what would the sheep do?…

Could it be this little treasure, discarded long ago from a library in an unknown city, holds the key to world peace?  🙂

TSO1Saturday afternoon my husband and I drove to western NJ, where we attended an annual holiday gathering of friends, more interesting people to meet, share, and enjoy.  We raced back home, in time to meet my step-sister and her guy, have a quick bit to eat, and race over to the IZOD center to watch the holiday extravaganza of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.  Wow!  I actually had never heard of this very popular orchestra, a combination of rock, opera, classical remakes of the greats, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, with an added twist of pyrotechnics, fireworks, laser lights, and some pretty mean guitar work. The newest member of the Orchestra was a keyboardist from Russia who began his number with a rapid fire run on the keyboard of the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata!

TSO2Our seats were amazing, and the moving banks of lights, parts of the stage rising up, and walls of video images, made for quite the show.  I enjoyed it a lot, and it really set the stage for the holiday spirit.  The whole first half of the three hour show, with no break, was a lovely Christmas story of an angel flying the world in search of world peace. TSO3

Sunday I set out for my recorder consort rehearsal, we have a performance Friday night, and was horrified to see the havoc the unexpected freezing rain was having on the roadways.  I almost turned around a half dozen times, but decided it was more dangerous to do that than just keep on going.  I’ve never seen so many accidents.  When SUV’s are creeping along at 20 miles an hour on a slick interstate, with their flashers blinking, you know something is up!  And once I made it to Morristown, the sidewalks were complete sheets of ice.  I teetered along, digging the four inch spike of my new killer boots into anything I could to stay upright.  I made it to rehearsal, late, but safe, and by the time I headed home, the road crews were out spreading copious amounts of road salt and the traffic began moving at a steady pace of 45 mph.

Eric_GuardSunday afternoon, my son returned from his weekend at the Army National Guard.  This is his last weekend there, before he ships out to Boot Camp on January 4th.  It is the first time I’ve seen him in uniform, and I will say, there was a little bit of pride and a misty eye, my son has grown up.  That’s me over there lurking by the front door.

Sunday night, I had the annual holiday gathering with my “mom’s group”.  This is a group of six powerful women who all raised their kids together, meeting monthly for lunches for about 15 years, and then, once jobs took over, and crazy school schedules took over, a quarterly dinner is about all we can manage.  Still, there is a bond there that goes back 20 years, and we celebrate each time one of us hits a birthday milestone.  We celebrated Patty’s 50th birthday as well as the holiday, and everyone loved my coiled hot mats I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks.

This morning, I’m about to shower and head out to the Frances Irwin Handweavers annual holiday luncheon, I’m really looking forward to that, and I actually bought an additional luncheon ticket for my husband, he has never attended a guild function, and I know there will be other DH’s there, so I decided it might be fun to have him along and accompany me on the hour long drive to Pennsylvania.

Tomorrow night is the High School Holiday Concert, my daughter will be playing the trombone.  And Friday night is my recorder consort performance.  Saturday we have tickets for a performance of the Baltimore Consort at the Cloisters in NYC, you cannot imagine how spectacular an early music performance is in this particular venue, the vaulted stone ceilings of the 15th century cathedral like space, it is positively haunting.

And tomorrow is the one year anniversary of this blog.  I have completely enjoyed the year, writing about my creative adventures, as they parallel my life and all of its crazy meanderings.  And I find it a great resource for me when I can’t remember how I did something.  Makes for a great record keeper… Stay tuned…