Puttering days…

I love to putter around, when I’m not super focused on any one project, and I’m reluctant to get focused on any one project because I’m leaving in less than a week for two back-to-back conferences, with a 12 hour turn around time in between.  (I’m trying not to think about the whole airline situation, and how one missed connection can snowball into a nightmare…)

Anyway, there is nothing I can do about any of that, just let go and hope for the best, so I’m just doing what needs to be done, and enjoying the little stuff.  I’ve made such tremendous progress on the book shelves, they are pretty much sorted in my studio, with a huge bag of trash removed, I can hear the studio breathing a little sigh of relief.  I still have to organize the fashion books in my bedroom library, some of those are so big, they wouldn’t fit on the proverbial coffee table if I chose to display them there.  They could actually be a coffee table…

The crock pot is still cooking away, yesterday’s color was “myrtle green”, which is a pretty teal, and today I’m cooking Rose, and I’m getting to the bottom of the fleece.  At this rate, I’ll have the whole fleece plus some other errant stuff I found, dyed by the time I leave for Colorado next week.

rollsYesterday afternoon I spent a couple of hours, cutting two yard packages of  interfacings, some for orders, some to ship to the conferences, and some to refill my supply in the studio.  This is a boring job, and it requires a complete clean off of my productcutting table, because I need the room to layout 100-200 yard bolts of 60″ wide interfacing to be able to unroll and cut off two yard pieces.  Then they have to be bagged and tagged, and ready for shipping.  So I listened to the last couple of episodes of Weavecast while I unrolled and cut, tagged and bagged.

In case you are wondering what interfacings I’m cutting, I use two primarily, for a fusible underlining with handwoven fabrics, one is a fusible knit nylon tricot, and the other is a texturized inserted poly weft interfacing, both have a crosswise give.  Each gives a different kind of support, the tricot gives a crisper flatter feel, and the poly weft gives a loftier fuller kind of feel. Both come in black and white.  I encourage sampling…   🙂

purple_paramentsgreen_paramentsUpdate on the reworking/salvaging of my poor design journal.  I added the pages for the purple and green paraments and was pretty surprised to find out I had no notes on sett/size/yarns, etc.  I’m going to assume I just used all the information from the previous paraments, and there wasn’t much to figure…

evolutionNow I get to the fun pages, these are ones where I took all kinds of copious notes, and figures, and I’ll be damned if I can decipher half of what I wrote.  I spent an hour or so earlier today, just trying to recreate what I actually did, what I didn’t do, and what information I needed to actually transfer.  I added photos of the finished item, and I was able to beautifully recreate the notes for my infamous Evolution piece, that appeared in Issue 111 of Handwoven Magazine. (Sept/Oct 2002).

I thought I took great notes, but if there is anything I’ve learned, it is how important note taking is, and how important it is to label what every number is.  Never just write a number, always identify what the number is, like 3200 yards per pound, or 20 e.p.i.  This is a great exercise in note taking, and recreating old work.  I’m glad I’m taking the time to do this.  I also found a copy of the inkle draft I used (my design) to weave the inkle bands that made up the neck trim.  The fabric for this vest was an 8 shaft shadow weave which I found in the now defunct Weavers Magazine, Spring/Summer 1999, pg. 48.

eeepcAnd last night, I spent a number of hours playing with my new puppy.  No, not that kind of puppy.  The electronic kind.  I got my new EeePC yesterday, a little mini laptop NetBook.  It is sooo cute, and sooooo tiny.  It will slip in my Vera Wang purse.  I’m trying to load in all the software I need, and figure it all out myself.  I do rely on my techie husband way too much, he is so good at what he does, but I don’t stay with something and try to figure it out, like I would with the loom or the sewing machine.  I usually quit too soon and just ask him.  And I won’t ever be any good at this if I don’t keep trying.  So this morning, I managed to figure out how to manually configure my email account into it.  And it worked!  🙂

I’ve got Photoshop Elements loaded in, and I transferred my PowerPoint presentations over manually, because I still haven’t figured out how to access the in house network.  But I’m working on that…

A “Small World” Story

I have a great story to share, one of those “Small World” stories, one where I have been waiting for a final chapter for many years, and now I can put some closure on it.

So here is the set-up.  One of my favorite seminar/lectures I give,  is one I do on finishing fabric, and selection of setts, for handwoven yardage, which is quite a bit different than the sett you would chose for a hand-woven scarf. (For the non weavers reading this, sett is how many threads you put together in one inch).  I love this lecture for two reasons, one, it involves a whole pile of touchy-feely samples, lots of before and after, as in a) straight from the loom, b) gently washed in the bathroom sink and air dried, and c) thrown in the washer and dryer along with the regular laundry.  The other reason I love this lecture, is the look on the participant’s faces when they see how the washer and/or dryer can be a fabulous part of the design team.  Most handweavers lack the courage to plunge their yardage, into the washing machine, and then throw it in the dryer, thinking it will produce a mess, or cardboard.  This is one place where sampling is a fantastic and absolutely essential idea.  Sharon Alderman, author of Mastering Weave Structures from Interweave Press,  wandered into my classroom during one of the breaks and happily added her support of “It isn’t finished until it has been washed”!

But that isn’t the actual story.  A number of years ago, I was giving the lecture at a conference, the name of which escapes me.  It may have been 2001, at a conference called Creative Strands, a small venue in the mid-atlantic region, which was held at Bucknell College in PA.  Anyway, I do know the conference where I gave this lecture was somewhere in the north east, I can picture the classroom, but not much else.

detailI gave this lecture, on finishing your handwoven fabric, and after the lecture, one of the participants handed me a lovely, drapey piece of yardage, which she said, after listening to my lecture, wasn’t finished properly, sett properly, or was even pretty.  I didn’t agree about the pretty part, I loved the combination of aqua, plum and brown, and the gorgeous collection of knitting yarns that were used for the weaving.  It was at least three yards of fabric as I recall, and the participant, (whose name escaped me shortly after the conference and I’ve been wracking my brain ever since to remember), didn’t want the fabric anymore, and insisted that I take it.  Not one to ever pass up a free addition to the stash, and very confident that this fabric would really be great once I washed it aggressively, I agreed to take it off her hands.  I assumed that the workshop participant was actually the weaver.  Little did I know…

So after I returned from this conference, many years ago, I washed and dried the yardage, as I normally would, seven times.  Nothing happened.  Which led me to finally realize that the yarns were mostly acrylic, and no amount of washing and drying would change the ultimate structure of the yarn.  So I was left with a lovely, poorly sett fabric, for garments purposes, it would have been great for a scarf.  Which means, we go onto plan B.

Plan B would probably require fusing something onto the back of the fabric, like Fusi-Knit or a Texturized Weft product, and then the yardage would be fine for a jacket or vest.  There probably wasn’t enough fabric for a jacket, but all the fall fashion catalogs were showing the cutest tweed skirts with just fringe on the bottom.  My rule for handwoven yardage, is it must be stable enough to support the construction details for the garment design I have selected.  If it isn’t, then I support it in some way, like a fusible interfacing, or possibly the Chanel method of mounting the fabric directly onto the lining with rows of machine stitching, which I outline in my book on Seams and Edge Finishings.skirt

So what if the garment I am making has little in the way of construction details?  What if I made one of those cute little tweed skirts, and interfaced the waistband, and then just let the skirt hang from the waistband, with fringe on the bottom?  I had just enough fabric for this adventure, and I decided that this piece of donated fabric would become a skirt.

I made the skirt up, and put in a drop lining.  I have worn the skirt for years, it is one of my favorites, still in style, with black tights and black boots, it fits neatly in my suitcase, and I just love it.  I always get compliments, even after all these years.  and the sett has held beautifully, no sagging, and I’m thrilled to have been the recipient of the yardage.

So fast forward to the second day of my three day jacket class at the conference last week in California.  I am giving this lecture to my students, and as I tell this story, and pass around the fabric sample I keep in my bag, one of the participants gets the oddest look on her face.  She holds onto the fabric, studying each of the little visible warp threads, and suddenly says to the class, in a sort of embarrassed way, “I think I wove this fabric!”.  We were all sort of speechless, and then once I recovered, trying to figure out how the fabric got from this student in California to a conference in the north east, we started putting together the puzzle pieces.  Some are still missing, because it wasn’t Patricia Martin, my student in the California workshop, who originally gave me the fabric.

patricia_martinApparently she wove a lot of yardage like this about 15 years ago.  A prolific weaver, Patricia has a great eye, and churns out work effortlessly.  This particular yardage, which she became increasingly confident she had woven because she recognized all of the warps used, some were still on her shelf, was one she didn’t particularly like once she was finished with it, and passed it on to some unknown person in some unknown situation, maybe at a guild swap.  How it traveled across the country is still a mystery.

So, I am really thrilled to include Patricia Martin in this blog, she shouldn’t be embarrassed, we all have things we aren’t particularly drawn to, even after we make them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderful and someone else may think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  My only regret is I didn’t weave this, because it is actually one of my favorite pieces of yardage, and one of my favorite skirts to wear.

Take a good look at the jacket that Patricia is wearing in the photo.  Patricia brought to class, three small cuts of handwoven yardage, some with additional shibori dyeing, none of which were enough to make a jacket by themselves, but with a lot of patience, and some creative cutting and piecing, Patricia combined all three pieces of yardage into one wonderful jacket.  There are still a lot of pins holding it together, but she looks terrific, and it gets the gold star for being one of the more creative jackets made in one of my classes.

So I’ve now discovered the original weaver for my skirt.  I couldn’t have been happier.  I am wearing the skirt as I write.  Thank you Patricia, for taking the class, and being a great handweaver, and generously allowing me to tell the story!