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 appliqué. 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 🙂

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…

Arctic Sky Completed

Yippee!  I finished the jacket.  I am so happy with it.  As a matter of fact, today was a pretty good day, I accomplished a lot.  And this is actually my second blog today.  First the previous blog, with the spinning wheel caper.  While I was in the middle of that, I actually started sorting through all the magazines my textiley friend send the other day, largely because I have a guild meeting on Monday and want to unload all the duplicates, my shelves are starting to bend from the weight!  There weren’t too many, and I did get to put away a whole stack of my own recent acquisitions.  I hadn’t done that in awhile.

jacketclosedSo, I got the lining in.  And it is beautiful.  I love using these sari’s as linings, a gift from my husband’s last couple of trips to India.  I blogged about it in early February.  I sat chatting with a girlfriend yesterday while I started the hours of handwork, a really good friend who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.  It felt good to just sit and sew and chat, she lives on the west coast, and in this day of 160 character bytes of information, texts, emails, and twitters, an old fashioned hour and a half chat while I sewed in my lining was just the best treat for both of us.

I spent the afternoon (after organizing my magazines and fixing the cracked hub on my spinning wheel) writing an article for Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot.  Sandra Bowles asked me to do a series of articles for the next three issues of SS&D, publication of the Handweavers Guild of America, on the Challenge Project I’ve been talking about in recent blogs.  So I did a synopsis of Loretta’s and my experience as collaborators and team members, and wrote the article today.  I just have to proof and upload all the images.  Future articles will be about the other two teams.

So after dinner, I chatted simultaneously with my husband in New Hampshire via instant message on my computer, and my girlfriend Dawn via text message on my cell phone, and continued the hand sewing on the jacket.  I will say that was a bit of a juggling act.  I kept having to put the thimble down and answer the two sets of messages, and eventually just gave up in favor of the old fashion chat via speaker phone.  I finished the lining, took some quick photos, and voilá!

jacketopendetail

The Planets have Aligned!

For a day that started out poorly, it ended most spectacularly!  I didn’t sleep well last night.  I had too much partying, more alcohol than I usually consume (which is almost nothing, hence the problem) and rich food, and too much of it, and I laid awake most of the night, trying to sleep, but finally giving up and reading. (Joan Dideon’s Year of Magical Thinking).  Which meant I was a wreck in the morning.  And my daughter called from school to have me make a doctors appointment to have her checked for strep.  So by the time I finally got up, made the appointment, drove to the HS to get her, took her to the doctor (she did not have strep, only a virus, and the doctor sent her back to school) and drove back home, it was lunch time.  My plans of all I was going to accomplish were rapidly sifting through my fingers.  And on top of that, a miserable cold rain made everything soggy and frigid.  One of those bone chilling days where you just can’t get warm.

But I decided to try to make some headway on the new website.  I only had four pages to go, and one of them was pretty critical.  My schedule.  I hadn’t updated the old site in awhile, and a lot needed to be entered.  Once I decided on a format, I just had to look through all my files and emails to plug in as much information as I had, all the dates and contacts, and the topics I was teaching.  Then to simplify the site, I linked PDF files for the prospectuses instead of all the lengthy descriptions like I had on the old site.

So I plodded along, got my son to take my daughter back to the HS tonight for jazz band, and sent him out for a Chinese Food run.  And I continued to plod…

The upshot is, I FINISHED THE SITE!  I can’t believe it.  I’m done.  I’m so proud of what I’ve done.  And I put a temporary home page on the old site to direct to the new site, eventually when I’m sure everything is correct, and my husband returns from New Hampshire, I’ll wipe out the old site, and park it with the new one, so whether you go to www.weaversew.com or www.daryllancaster.com, you will end up in the same place.

Just as the last file uploaded, an email came in from Sandra Bowles, executive director of the Handweavers Guild of front-lrAmerica, Inc. telling me that they have approved my presentation for the Challenge Project I did last year for them, and I’m OK to market the presentation on a CD, to any guild that would like to show it for a guild meeting or program. I have to say that Sandy went out of her way, doing way more than I asked, by carefully working through all 81 slides, and proofing, editing, and watching for copyright issues, in a very professional and thorough manner.  I am very grateful Sandy.  So, give me a few days and I’ll have the CD up on my eShop.  I think I’ll offer it as both a PowerPoint and a PDF file on the same disk.  If you are a member of a guild, weaving, sewing, whatever, or just plain curious, this CD presentation is intended to stand alone, without me, as an inexpensive hour and a half program, following the year long challenge presentation, where I was paired with a designer I had never met, given yarn I’d have never picked to work with, in colors that don’t appeal to me, and we had a year to come up with a runway ensemble to debut at the Convergence 2008 Tampa Bay Fashion Show.  The 81 slide presentation starts with the design process, which was completely done with emails, and then the step by step sampling for the woven fabric, the design and pattern making , the cutting out and construction of the coat and dress, and the final embellishments, hand felting and beading that kept my partner Lorretta Dian Phipps up too many nights in a row.  There are some great production photos, and I’m really proud of the finished ensemble and the presentation as well.

And I even got an hour off to watch the latest installment of the new HBO series, #1 Ladies Detective Agency, starring Jill Scott.  (I had recorded it from Sunday night since I was driving to the airport while it was airing). It is as delightful as the series by Alexander McCall Smith, and I have to almost say, I like it even more.  The gentle life in Botswana, the interesting cases that fall into the lap of Precious Ramotswe, the endearing characters, and the spectacular scenery all keep me captivated and yearning for more.

Dare I hope to get the lining done on the coat tomorrow?