It lives…

Most of the handweaving community by now is aware of the F & W Media debacle over the past few months, F & W Media owned just about every craft, art, farming, woodworking, and a slew of other publications in the country, with the exception of Taunton Press, still valiantly publishing up there in CT (They publish Threads Magazine).  F & W had been on an acquisition frenzy over the past few years, and had acquired Interweave Press, publisher of Handwoven Magazine, among other important fiber publications in knitting and spinning.  F & W declared bankruptcy early this past spring.  All of use who were owed royalties will never see them paid.  More importantly, the fear in the fiber community of our print institutions’ survival was a complete unknown.

In June, a “fire sale” as the legal rep I talked to handling the whole affair called it, (I was of course one of the people who will never get paid royalties due from last spring) was held, I think somewhere in Delaware.  I sat glued to my Google search engine for a week to find out what happened.  The F & W Craft Division, was successfully bid on by a company…

Macanta Investments, a private-investment partnership for Terence O’Toole and his family, put up $2.85 million for F+W’s crafts group that includes a network of 10 knitting, sewing and needlework magazines, along with nine quilting titles.

O’Toole is a managing partner of Tinicum Inc., an investment firm that bought a majority interest of F+W in 2014.

This mediapost article has a few more details, but F & W Craft Division including Interweave’s Handwoven Magazine will live on assuming the goal of this acquisition was to keep publishing.  The book division was sold just prior to the auction to Penquin Books, so hopefully it is in good hands.  A quick perusal of the Interweave Press website shows all the books gone, but digital content is still available for sale and is being heavily promoted.  These would include my five webinar series on Sewing with Handwovens.  

There is a lot of buzz on social media that makes me sort of sad.  Full disclosure, I was the Features Editor for Handwoven Magazine from about 2002 to around 2007, writing in every issue for 35 issues straight.  Madelyn van der Hoogt was my editor and I enjoyed every minute I spent under her careful and watchful eye.  I’d like to say she was responsible for my career as a journalist, as I’ve now written more than 100 articles in various publications and have even branched into video.  

But it all started at Handwoven Magazine.  The buzz on social media complains that the  magazine isn’t what it used to be, that the projects are mostly for rigid heddle weavers, that there isn’t a lot of content, that it is very thin, and a discussion ensues about cancelling subscriptions in protest, or stopping advertising, because, well no one reads the magazine anymore.  In fact I stopped writing for them because of the reduced rate of author compensation.  That said, Handwoven Magazine has been around for 40 years.  How do I know this?  An advance copy of the September/October issue is sitting on my desk because I have an article in it.  

There has been no other weaving publication that has hung in for so long and provided so much content as Handwoven Magazine.  I have every issue on my shelf and it is an incredible wealth of knowledge.  Many of the issues are available digitally, so they don’t take up shelf space, but I’m a paper kind of gal.  My art and weaving library is huge, because I’m a writer and a researcher and a creative person and well, there is nothing like a spread of a half dozen reference materials across my floor or cutting table as I compare content for an article.  I did a quick perusal of this issue, their 40th anniversary, Issue XXXX number 4.  (Yeah I know that the Roman Numeral for 40 is XL which is also a size, and XXXX reads better!)

The issue is thin.  Publishing print isn’t what it use to be.  My favorite current weaving magazine is of course Heddlecraft, published by Robyn Spady, but that publication is digital only with no advertising.  It is theme specific, provides extensive drafts, and has some lovely features columns.  But I doggedly continue to subscribe to Handwoven because it still provides inspiration, articles, and advertising, so I’m on top of what’s new, who is selling what, who’s who and who is writing what, and I will often use one of their dishtowel drafts for my annual dishtowel warp.  This issue is about remembering.  It has a look back over the six editors of Handwoven Magazine, and comments from them.  It has projects that reference many of those editors.  It has a sweet article from Sherrie Miller, whom I adore, about the Weaving Hall of Fame, a look back over those who have contributed most to the craft.  I get a mention at the end, which I totally did not expect.  I have an article on Weaving a Memory.  It is a technique I’ve taught in the past, and have a full monograph available for more content. (The link is for the digital version, there is also a bound paper version available.)

And there are projects, one rigid heddle, one for a pin loom, and plenty for four shaft looms and one for an eight shaft.  The ads are colorful and remind us of who is still out there selling supplies to handweavers.  There is a great look back over the 50 year career of Schacht Looms.  And a wonderful side bar about the decision to start offering projects at Handwoven Magazine, and why.  I never knew that part of the story. And Tom Knisely has a great article on weaving borders.  So here’s the thing.  There aren’t many print publications left.  Heddlecraft is digital only, and Weavers Craft will publish their last issue, #32 this year.  They also had no advertising.  You can still get back issues of Weavers Magazine (44 in total, have them all) and Prairie Wool Companion (16 in total, have many of them, still looking)  and the Weavers Journal (I’m still collecting them as well).  There is VAV magazine, a Swedish publication, really wonderful, which has been translated into English since 2006.  You can get back copies of that magazine from The Loom Room.  And so we have Handwoven Magazine.  It is important for the handweaving community to rally around and support what we have left, because even though you can find anything you want to know on youtube, there is something to still be revered and respected about holding the latest issue of anything.  I get very few magazines anymore.  I get this one. And of course, Threads.

And since I have every issue, I still use them for reference.  Especially my own articles.  Especially the Color Forecast.  I have almost all of the original content that was photographed for the magazine, the color chip cards and the yarn wraps.  I use them all the time for instant color and inspiration.  I just leafed through my binder and randomly picked the palette for Jan/Feb 2004 issue, called Retro, part of the Fall 2004-5 forecast.

And I gathered all of the yarns I had on all of my shelves, leftover bits in bins, hand dyed skeins, and wound a scarf warp in four parts…  The last part was the supplemental ribbons.

I spent yesterday threading this baby, and this afternoon I’m going to get it beamed, mostly because I don’t want 14 yards of warp chains lying around the floor to tempt my animals.  Hahahahah!

I often thought that it would be fun for Interweave Press to put together a digital collection of all of the forecasts I wrote, there are some pretty inspiring palettes.  I would know since I researched and wrote them!

I’m heading off to renew the Handwoven Subscription for our weaving guild.  I’m the treasurer so I get to write the checks.  Keep those issues coming…

Stay tuned…


All week I felt as though I were moving through Jello.  I slept as much as I could, and just accomplished what absolutely needed to get accomplished.  And I mourned that, although I’m having a wonderful year teaching, I haven’t done anything creative in the studio, except write, for a long time…  My adventures on the road though interesting, from a blogger’s point of view, get redundant after awhile, there isn’t anything new to say, and I long for a meaty project, and for that matter, to just put warps on my looms, any of them would be great, because they are looking like that girl from who goes to the party naked because she has nothing to wear.  (If you watch Project Runway, you’ll know the ad.)

My handweaving guild, Jockey Hollow Weavers, has an exchange every September.  The goal/project for the year is set,  we have all year to come up with whatever is expected of us, and we present it in June.  Well of course that means I don’t look at it until April, and then maybe start on it in May.  The meeting comes early in the month, first Wednesday, so I really only have about another month to pull this off.  You might remember last year this time, my daughter and I were working frantically on eight overshot placemats each, the loom wasn’t cooperating, and we were pretty much down to the wire on that one. My daughter is participating this year as well, but I have my own project to worry about, so I’m not nagging her, yet…

This year, the guild chose a creativity project, each participant put cones of yarn in a brown bag, and then chose from the bags on the table; the assignment was to weave something from the contents of the bag, and then return it to the person whose bag it was in June.  This isn’t unlike the  Challenge project I did for the Tampa Bay Convergence in 2008.  Here is yarn, make something.  Sort of a Project Runway parameter.  Except I had nine months, not one day. My bag of yarn was from my guild-mate Sherrie Miller.  She put a very large cone of pink kid mohair, with a cone of beige Homespun unmercerized cotton, and a small cone of some unlabeled rust cotton, and about 100 yards of a fat, soft, hairy variegated knitting yarn.

I’m not one to plan projects.  I like to weave yardage.  How much yardage?  How much yarn do I have?  I spent a day with my McMorran Yarn Balance, and a scale, and did lots of calculations.  The knitting yarn, I just measured by hand.  I wasn’t sure how else to be completely accurate and I didn’t want to waste an inch playing around with the balance.  Then I played with yarn wraps, getting a feel for how the yarns looked together.  I loved the knitting yarn, but with only 100 yards, and I was determined to use every inch, how could I get that to work with 30 ounces of fine kid mohair weighing in at 2750 yards per pound.  And the cottons seemed coarse next to the mohair.  So I was thinking of trying to minimize their impact.  I started leafing through my vast collection of weaving books for structure inspiration.  I have acquired some new ones, and I pulled Ann Dixon’s Handweaver’s Pattern Directory from Interweave Press.  I found a lovely Swedish lace pattern, and started to see lace boxes with plain weave horizontal and vertical stripes of the cotton with a center of the knitting yarn.  I worked out how many warp and weft stripes I could get for varying widths of fabric, until I came up with something I liked.  It was relatively easy to work out using weaving software.  I use Fiberworks PCW.  I have for years.  I plugged in one of the lace blocks into my software, and to my surprise, the software showed it wasn’t actually weaving.  There were warp floats that were the size of the entire block.  Hmmmm……  I checked it about six times, thinking my brain must be really fried, and then it dawned on me, could there be an error in the book?  I went to the Interweave Press website, to check for errata, we can do that now you know, and sure enough, to my horror, there were pages of errata.  But not the page I was using, page 191.  Could it be I discovered yet another mistake in the book?  I quick emailed my guild-mate Sally, there isn’t a structure she doesn’t know or can’t figure out, and I figured if she had the book, she could look at it and confirm that I wasn’t nuts.  Sure enough, she wrote back within five minutes, had the book, and declared I was correct, there was an error. I quickly corrected it, and felt vindicated…  small silly victory, but hey, it made me feel competent for about five minutes.  I love the internet…

Since I only had eight shafts, I chose to use only one of the blocks of the Swedish Lace, and then set out to figure out how to make the knitting yarn act as a supplemental warp AND weft, which took most of the remaining shafts.  It took me quite awhile to figure how to get it to float and intersect like a cross in the middle of the stripe.  I love challenges like this.  The world disappears and I am so focused…  When I clicked on the correct shaft, suddenly the draft wove perfectly and I was cheering from my desk.  The rest of the family did the proverbial eye roll, you know how we get, but I was really happy with myself, and now all I needed to do was actually weave it, sample first once the warp is threaded and wound, and then adjust the sett if needed.

So I pulled out my warping mill, and wound three separate sections of the warp.  There will be less distortion on the yarns for 30″ across, and I’m not sure how fragile the kid mohair is.  I found some breakage, maybe from old rodent or insect damage near the bottom of the cone, so I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary stress on the yarns.  Since I had so little of the knitting yarn, I didn’t want to lose any to loom waste, I added a 20″ header of junk yarn, to each of the knitting yarns in the warp.  Since this is eight shafts, the waste is more because of the depth of the castle.

So I’m all wound and ready to start threading.  I’m feeling a bit more rested, and I’ve given my mind a creative stretch, and I’ll soon have a warp on the new loom.

Oh, and what am I going to make with this fabric?  I don’t have a clue, I’ll wait until I actually make the fabric, and since Sherrie is a fantastic sewer (she was one of my favorite weavers who worked with me on the forecast column for Handwoven Magazine) I might just give it to her as yardage.  🙂

Stay tuned…


This is a hard day for New Yorkers.  For the rest of the nation as well, but especially for New Yorkers.  We mustn’t forget, we can’t forget.  It is raining steadily here, from a nor’easter hitting the Atlantic coast, unlike this day eight years ago, where the day bloomed gloriously, blue sky, cool dry air, the most perfect day.  I had been offered the job as Features Editor for Handwoven Magazine that day, eight years ago, and as the days unfolded, my emails to Madelyn van der Hoogt, editor in chief of Handwoven Magazine from Interweave Press, netted this letter to the editor, written September 12, 2001.  It appeared in the following issue of Handwoven Magazine.

I live approximately 20 miles from ground zero. I put my children on their respective school buses and sat down with my morning coffee. My husband called to tell me to turn on the television and my life, and the lives of all my fellow countrymen were in that instant changed forever. I watched in horror as a second plane crashed into the symbol of the free world, a structure built to stand up to bombs, earthquakes, even a 747 direct hit. Within the hour, the World Trade Center towers were a twisted pile of ash and debris. All of us will remember this date for the rest of our lives, where we were at the exact moment we heard the news, the powerlessness, anger, and fear that gripped a nation who never thought it could happen here. I turned the television off, I couldn’t watch anymore. I went into my studio, my hair still in hot rollers; I had a class to teach at the university, in about four hours. I am a professor of fine arts in the fiber department at Montclair State University, an artist, and a handweaver. I sat down at my loom and began to weave. Although the structure I was weaving, an 8 shaft shadow weave, was complex, I blindly, numbly, and mechanically, treadled the sequence, threw the shuttle, and found my mind wandering back to the devastation occurring just over the river. How many friends, community members, parents of my children’s friends were in those buildings? I called my mother. We cried together, we watched as the horror of the day unfolded. Over the next few days I watched with grief, fear, anger, uncertainly, my whole world crumble like the dust of the mighty structures that stood like a beacon to the abilities of mankind.

I wandered aimlessly in my studio, unable to motivate myself to create, weave, sew, suddenly all of it seemed so pointless. I sat at the computer and began to write. Fiber is a slow medium for self expression. I am a fiber artist, my pieces take upwards of 6 months to complete. I was to teach a class that day to a new fresh group of university art students, mostly educators, and the first lesson was in two element plaiting. Basic under/over… We use newspaper strips. We make mats, vessels, enclosed forms. Over/under… I couldn’t face a class, I knew they couldn’t concentrate; most of the roads in this part of New Jersey were either closed or clogged anyway. The university cancelled the class.

WTCPlaitedLRWhat is the role of the artist in a society that is grieving the loss of its countrymen and basic freedoms? I kept asking myself, since, it is the artists who record the events, question, criticize, and document the emotions of a nation. I am an artist and a weaver. It was a simple gesture, but for me a profoundly cathartic one when I went to the computer, printed two identical photographs of my children standing atop the South Tower of the World Trade Center less than three weeks ago. They had never been and I wanted to share New York with them. I sliced the two photographs into horizontal and vertical elements and wove, in a simple over/under pattern, the two photographs back together. Because of the process of the interlacement, the images have an eerie offset quality. I made sure my children’s faces were whole and readable, and the rest of the photo, the World Trade Center became shaky and unreadable. It was a small gesture. I shared the piece with my students on Friday. A different class, we had already met once. We cried, we shared, we talked about the role of the artist in our society, the role of the art educator helping students too young to write, who can’t express themselves any other way but through art. It was a very healing experience. As I thought about those elements passing over and under each other, the most simple of interlacements, the most basic tool of the weaver, I thought about how each of us must find a way to heal, to share, to communicate, and to move forward. I will go back to my loom; I will find comfort in the gentle rhythm of the shuttle. I will sit at the sewing machine again. Work will come from my hands again. I feel centered and strong and very, very grateful.

-Daryl Lancaster

September 12, 2001

Earlier this year, I wove this image using the technique I’ve been playing with  for the last two years, an inlay technique, stripping treated silk fabric, printed with an image, and reweaving it back together again.  I believe I wrote about this piece in an earlier blog.  The piece is titled

“Remembering: On Top of the World”


A date!

I love Tuesday’s.  Especially after a week away.  Monday is always so chaotic, but Tuesday feels like the beginnings of a familiar routine.  I tidied my house, dusted the downstairs, had my tea and toast (with Nutella, OK, I’m an addict…), checked my emails, read my favorite blogs, and then got everything together to finish up my next article for SS&D.  I am writing a series of three articles for Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, about the three design teams who created ensembles for the Convergence 2008 Tampa Bay last year.  If you are new to the blog, I was part of one of the teams, we were given yarn dyed for the conference in Floridian shades, and we had a year to create an ensemble.  I spent the beginning of this year, recounting my yearlong experience, partnered with Loretta Dian Phipps, a surface designer and felter from Texas, whom I didn’t know, and I published that experience in a CD, PowerPoint or PDF presentation suitable for a guild program (without having to fly me there) which is available on my website.

Anyway, I am also writing a condensed version for Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, and the first installment, is going to print as I write, due out soon for the Summer 2009 issue.  I just finished up the second installment, on handweaver Nancy Peck and pattern designer Diane Ericson.    The third installment is due in mid-September, which will feature handweaver Irene Munroe and pattern designer Louise Cutting.  It was really great fun for me to explore one of the other teams, and how they approached the collaborative process.

Of course, sitting at my computer all day, I can get into so much trouble.  I am slowly working my way through all the non essential emails cluttering up my box from my week away, and I got another one of those wicked emails that I have to sit on my hands not to click on.  I lost…  This one is from Interweave Press, publishers of Handwoven and a gazillion other magazines and publications, and they were having a “Hurt” book sale.  I am assuming these books have been damaged in some way, but a book is a book.  And a sale is a sale.  Curiousity got to me and $53. later, I have about 8 books coming to me I didn’t have on my shelf.

library1library2library4library3library5This prompted me to start looking at my book shelves, which span a couple of rooms, I have a serious addiction to books, since some of the titles on sale seemed familiar enough I was sure I already had them, but realized that my shelves were in such a disarray, I couldn’t find anything.  I fear I’ve ordered duplicate books.  I’ve done that before.  All this means is I have to start reorganizing my shelves, and finding ways to make more space…  I need all the weaving books in one place, the art books in another, the fashion, spinning, knitting, surface design, lacemaking, and sewing books, all in their own sections.  We are talking major out of control here…

scarvesI did manage to finish one of the four scarves on my 8 shaft 25″ loom.  I had showed the warp layout in the Color Class I gave in Iowa and in Massachusetts.  It felt good to just sit at the loom.  Once my article was put to bed, I packed it up to send out in the morning, and I went in to my husband and I said, “I’m done in the studio.  Lets go out!”  He works down the hall, and blissfully he was at a stopping point as well, and with no kids for the evening, we headed out, caught a movie, dinner, and just enjoyed each other’s company.  A rare treat.  So I went out on a date, with my husband, and for a brief couple of hours, felt like I came out of my rabbit hole and saw a bit of life.  We went to see Hangover, which was hilarious, and poignant.

My friend just bought a Netbook, and I went to visit her last night and play with her new toy.  Wow.  I couldn’t get over the size.  I took my presentations down, and ran through them, they read with no problem, and the keyboard was comfortable, actually it was bettered suited to my hand size.  The Netbook weighs nothing, and we will be ordering one this week, as my regular travel laptop is having issues with the Power Button.  Meaning it won’t turn on.  After struggling with it over the weekend, and getting it to finally power up, I haven’t turned off the computer since, for fear it won’t work for the workshop I’m giving this weekend at the shore.  So, I expect within the next couple of days, I’ll have a new toy, and some more books to play with…

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!