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…


It’s been years since I got ready for a show.  I did craft fairs for ten years, that was a long time ago, and I’ve blogged ad nauseum about how I never wanted to sell my work again, and how I’m trying to overcome my need to hold on to everything I make, and how I might need it as a teaching tool, and well I could waste the whole blog on all my woes about my years of selling and how burned out I got.

So fast forward…  I have too much stuff I’ve made, and no where to put it.  The airlines are restricting my luggage so badly, that I have to basically travel with nothing when I teach, and all these wonderful teaching pieces are now in photos and in PowerPoint presentations.  I don’t wear most of what I make, or I wear it once for a fashion show, and exhibit it a few times, and that’s it.  The pieces sit in cleaner bags in my closet, taking up valuable space.  (I actually don’t have the lifestyle to wear and use all of what I make…)

So, with a critical eye, I’ve started to gather pieces that I think I might actually want to part with if someone really wanted to buy them.  I’m not convinced that will ever happen, someone wanting to buy something I made isn’t something I’ve come to grips with, largely because a) I’m not in production anymore, I’m not buying in bulk and raw materials are expensive, b)I’m not interesting in making things in an inexpensive way, if I want to spend two days carefully edging the binding on a tote bag with couched yarn, well I’m gonna do that.  Too bad if the tote is $300. c) I’m personally too cheap to buy anything that isn’t on sale for 50% off the lowest sale price or I have a 30% coupon at Kohl’s.  I wouldn’t buy my work (because it is too expensive) so it is odd to me that anyone else might…

But I digress.  This isn’t about selling my work, it is about making the commitment to tag and bring my work to the guild sale. In order to do that, I have to properly photograph everything I’ve done recently that hasn’t already been properly photographed.  Blog shots don’t count.  Because if I actually did manage to find someone who wanted one of my pieces badly enough to pay good money for it, I’d never see it again, and if I don’t have a proper photo of it, I can’t even use it for a teaching tool.  In my “Photographing Your Work” Monograph, I believe the first slide in the presentation says,

I’ve gotten into trouble before not following my own advice…   🙂
The_MessToday is photographing day, which means I try to take my tiny weaving studio and turn it into a tiny photography studio, and since I’m doing small things, I need the table top set up, which means there is shit stuff all over the place.  🙂  It is really hard for me to work in this chaos, which is why I am blogging at the moment and not photographing like I should be, because I needed to just look at a computer screen for 45 minutes and not my studio.photographing
I’ve turned my cutting table into a photo area, and I climb up and over and under and around to get the shot I need, crawling around lights, cords, shit stuff on the floor.  I can’t get out of my own way.  But I’m slowly working through the pile.  And the images are coming out well.  I have a list of 33 items, and I took all of yesterday to figure out how to work the computerized forms that the guild set up, which will generate inventory/price tags for each item on the inventory sheet.  It’s a mail merge thing done between Excel and Word, and I’ve never done anything like that before, so there was a lot of tweaking and hair ripping.
labelingOnce I’ve gotten a good photo of the piece, I carefully tag it with my own labels, and the inventory tag, and then bag it into one of those very large, no, jumbo, Ziploc see- thru bags with handles, that every fiber enthusiast on the planet has purchased by the industrial case!  bagging
At the moment I am working on inventory item #7, and there are 33 items on the sheet.  Many of the items, especially the garments, are already photographed so I’m hoping they go a lot quicker.  I only have tonight and tomorrow…
I have received a few comments about the Structo Loom I’m working with, there are apparently others who are looking to repair old Structo’s or add heddles, and I did another Internet search yesterday and found that Texsolv heddles do indeed come in 6 1/8″ length’s and they should fit on the heddle bars which would be a perfect solution to the non available heddles that plague Structo owners.  I called Halcyon Yarn, and spoke with Susan yesterday morning, and had her StructoCollapsedmeasure the heddles in the warehouse, and it looks like they might work.  So I ordered 400.  They were shipped today and I should be able to play with them next week.  However, the remaining partsparts I have from the two Structo looms I started with are not enough to make a second loom.  Specifically I’m missing the rods that hold the beater assembly together.  They are small rods, with threads at the ends to hold a wing nut or a bolt at each end.
With 400 heddles coming, I want to be able to get the loom to actually work next week, and my husband is flying to Israel on Saturday to do some consulting work for Palestine Telephone.  So I asked him about the threaded rods.  Which prompted the following discussion when he wandered into my studio…
Kevin: “What’s this for?” (As he is fingering the small Allen wrench in a baggie on my loom bench)
Me: “Actually it is for the tension adjuster for my small AVL end-feed shuttle (you don’t have to know what this is to appreciate this story…), but I’m so mad I could spit.”
Kevin: “Why?” (He is a man of little words…)
AVL_shuttleMe: “I tried using my 20 year old shuttle with 10/2 tencel which is too fine for the tension the way it is set, and I found the original allen wrench that came with the shuttle, (be impressed, it has been in storage for 20 years and I put my finger on it in 45 seconds) and alas, the shuttle is actually defective.  The whole thread carrying mechanism wasn’t installed right, because the set screw for the allen wrench is off just enough that the allen wrench doesn’t engage when you stick it in the little hole.  I can’t return a shuttle that is 20 years old and this is the first I’ve noticed the problem…”
AVL_shuttle2He takes the shuttle and looks in the light and verifies what I’m talking about.  I felt sort of smug that he couldn’t fix it either. Then he turns the shuttle over to the back side and sticks the allen wrench in the rear hole, which I failed to notice was there, having owned the shuttle for 20 years, and he adjusts the tension.
So now I know where my daughter gets her amazing ability to just waltz by my studio, assess the situation in 30 seconds and throw out the solution on her way down the hall.  I hate when my whole family is smarter than me.
KevinBack to the Structo.  So, now my husband looks at the rod I need for the Structo repair, and says, oh, you can get a rod that is threaded the entire length and then you can just cut it to the length you need.  And he disappears.
He reappears with the threaded rods I need.  ?!?!?!?
Me: “Where the hell heck did you find them?”
Kevin: “I saved the threaded rods from the attic stairs when we pulled them out to replace them.  Thought they might come in handy…”  beater repaired
OK, now I’m rolling my eyes and taking back all the crummy things I’ve said/written/complained about my husband and his champion pack rat status.  We replaced those stairs a couple of years ago.  And he knew exactly where in our junk hole of a garage the rods were stored.  A size 6 rod, 32 threads to the inch, 12″ long will fit through the drilled holes on the beater assembly.  He continued to tinker around, and within about 10 minutes he had the beater back together.  All I have to do now is add the heddles when they come in next week, and make an apron for the back hex beam.  And I’ll have another working  4 shaft sample loom.
I love my husband… (But I still can’t stand all the piles of shit stuff all over the house…)