I did it!

This has been a long haul, I’ve been mostly on the road non-stop since August.  There is one more brief venue I need to fly to in December, but my marathon is done.  I still have buckets of stuff on my plate, including the guild show and sale this weekend, and though I probably won’t have any work to show, I’m the treasurer, and will need to spend the three days locked in the kitchen of the facility processing lots and lots of sales.  And then the follow up.

But for now, as I drove up the Eastern Shore of Virginia into Maryland and then Delaware, over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, finally heading up the length of the NJ Turnpike, the leaves were at their peak, and the traffic minimal on a Saturday morning, and I listened to NPR Now on Sirius XM and all was well with the world.  I arrived home much earlier than I thought I would, in time to get my doggies from the Kennel, stop at a Trader Joe’s for my favorite yogurt, and completely unpack and put everything away, getting ready for my heavy calendar on Sunday.  I had a recorder performance in the morning followed by a rehearsal, and then theater tickets at my beloved Shakespeare Theater of NJ.  My daughter and I saw Charlie’s Aunt, and if you are in the area and want a raucous time, laughing until your sides hurt, this is a welcome diversion on all things political.  The perfect British farce.  

That said, I’ll say it now, OBX wins.  For those not in the know, OBX is an abbreviation for the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, coastal, Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk and the Wright Bros memorial and museum.  This is my third year teaching at this lovely five day retreat.  It is organized by Linda Ihle of Island Fiberworks, and she did a bang up job with this one, held at a beachfront resort called Sea Ranch. 

We stayed in condos, I got a beach view and every morning I woke up to this…

And went to bed looking out my balcony to this…

The view is lovely, but mostly I was in the classroom, from 7:30 when I went down to breakfast to well after 10pm each night.  So I didn’t spend my time sitting on my balcony listening to the surf drinking wine.  Actually I spent no time at all.  Sad.

The reason OBX wins is the participants, or rather their fabrics.  I have never seen such a combination of handwoven fabrics, the Blazing Shuttle influence is definitely here, but not everyone used hand dyed or hand painted warps.  I believe everyone but one student used handwoven fabrics.  And the one who didn’t has taken this class with me before, a couple of times, and used gorgeous handwoven fabric, but this time, she was interested in fitting a pile of test garments from patterns she brought, or ready to wear she wanted to copy, to presumably use eventually on handwoven fabrics later.

The gauntlet was thrown down and the first night I arrived after a long drive from north of Baltimore, I was greeted with a lovely spread of food and of course wine!  It flowed regularly and often (after happy hour of course!)

Participants spent the first couple of days with challenging layouts.  This is one of the toughest parts of working with fabrics that combine hand painted warps, finding common areas for matching across the fronts and backs of a garment.  I spent a number of hours the first night of the workshop with one student alone trying to find the best layout.

Because there were wonderful photographers in the group who hardly missed a shot, I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do, and so many of these came from Leigh and Natalie and some of the other students, I swiped them off of Facebook. Mea Culpa dear ladies, I hope it was OK.  There were some really fun pictures of me in action, I rarely ever get into the shot!

Margaret was the participant who brought her own patterns, and she cut out a number of them, including this lovely paneled dress, after I showed her how to copy a beloved piece of ready to wear.  She thought up the pocket treatment herself.  She used a Guatemalan babywrap for the fabric.  Then she made a purple linen bathrobe that will eventually have a belt.  She modified my swing coat pattern, creating more of a duster.

Elizabeth, Dornan, and Cyndi all made Daryl Jackets with the Shawl Collar and Gaila made the same, except without sleeves.  

The rest of the class dove right into my new collared vest pattern that zips up the front.  Natalie led the pack with fabric she wove using Blazing Shuttle Warps and a modification of my Chaos draft, available here. She was hilarious with her camera taking all sorts of documentary selfies.  She made me smile.

Linda, Peggy and Leigh also wove gorgeous versions of my vest, all with fabrics they wove.  

Mary combined my jacket pattern with the collared vest pattern and made this gorgeous jacket.

And Victoria, who has also taken my class a couple of times before, experimented with working on some of her vast collection of smaller cuts of fabrics, thinking of pillows and bags, and then at the end of the class, brought out the walking vest she made two years ago, to finish it up.  It is one of my favorites of all the fabrics, as a matter of fact, I got some of her scraps and am having another pair of clogs made from them.  I wish I had gotten better photos, it looked really lovely on her.

Kathrin Weber came in a few hours before the end of the class, to begin the transition to her class which followed mine starting this morning actually.  As I was packing she was laying out all of her dyed warps for her students to purchase.  I got a great shot of us, she is wearing the collared vest I made, using fabric I wove from a class I took with her last year.  Or was that the year before…  Time flies when you are having fun surrounded by glorious color.

I’ll be back next year, last week in October, all of you who are booked for 2019 in other classes in the country, this one will be a hard act to follow!  

If you are in the area, the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild annual show and sale will be held at Grace Lutheran Church in Mendham NJ, Saturday and Sunday, the 10 and 11, 2018.  I’ll be in the back all weekend doing the numbers!

Stay tuned!

Loose Ends

Just a quick post (if that’s ever possible from me) to tidy up some unfinished business.

First off, I got a wonderful surprise yesterday afternoon when Jerri Shankler, one of my guild mates from the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild, stopped by to deliver the yardage she wove for me from the yarn she got from me for the Potpourri Exchange.  I love the fabric, and the random warp across the width.  She added a few of her own yarns, like the burgundy stripe, and though the crackle structure wasn’t obvious most of the time, the fabric had a texture and dimension that made it just a bit more interesting than if it had been plain weave.  Jerri and I both agreed that this whole Potpourri Exchange we participated in was a great skill stretching experience, and of course Brianna was there, squealing with delight, as only a 17 year old can do, and asking if we could do this whole experience again!  I told her I’d be happy to give her yarns and tell her to come up with something any time she wants!

So now I have another four yards of handwoven yardage to look at and mull over and figure out what to make from it, the hand is weighty and I’m seeing a jacket here…

Meanwhile, my haul from the Saturday dye day in Central Jersey continues to dry.  The scarves are fun, and the skeins turned out bright and colorful and again, I’ll be thinking about fun stuff to do with them.  And one of the 10 yard warps still hadn’t completely dried, so I photographed the two that have, and can I say I love the palette?  Everyone has their own color preferences, but this one is unusual for me, it was riskier with so much orange, and the effect of the pale melon against the lavender is really lovely, at least I think so, and after all, this is all about me, and if I’m happy, then that’s all that counts!  And once it is woven, it will look entirely different, so stay tuned.  Lots of weaving and sewing to come once my schedule from hell ends around mid-October.

I’m heading out shortly for a weekend getaway (yes I know it is still only Wednesday).  My baby sister turns 50, and my middle sister and I are heading to the Catskills with her, where she has a cabin in the mountains, for a little R&R and quality sister time.  The actual party is Saturday, and I’ll have to return Friday afternoon for a concert in Newark, my husband got us tickets for the James Taylor/Carol King event, and then head back up on Saturday, but all the festivities should be over by Sunday when my husband gets back on a plane for another two weeks in Saudi Arabia.  I’m hoping the home gods are a bit more cooperative this time around.  I’ll be working frantically trying to finalize everything for Convergence and teach a four day fiber boot camp at the Newark Museum.  Though the timing is bad, I really do enjoy teaching this class, every three hours students learn a new fiber technique, spinning, dyeing, felting, weaving, braiding, great if you want to enter into the world of fiber and need a crash course!  I’ve stocked up on green and blue Kool-Aid for dyeing (those colors are really hard to get) and I’ve got lots of fleece and a fresh supply of needle felting needles.  If you live in the north Jersey area and are free the week starting July 5th, come play with us at the Museum.

And one final note, I’ve updated my Inkle Loom Weaving monograph to include some of the additional advanced techniques I recently taught in South Jersey.  Now included are supplemental warps and a unit on 1:1 Name Draft.  The monograph is now $20.  If you already own a copy of the monograph, don’t despair, I’m offering an Advanced Supplement to add the missing information.  This monograph costs $3.00 plus $3.50 shipping (I know the shipping is excessive, but the computer figures it out that way.  The real cost of the monograph is actually $5. so I figure what you are really paying is $5. for the monograph, and $1.50 for the shipping).  Anyway, if you are interested in purchasing the advanced supplement, remember I’ll be in hiding in the Catskills until Sunday, so orders won’t go out before Monday.

Happy Summer!  It’s officially here!

Rested…

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 Bluefly.com 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…

Not a great start to the year…

OK, true confessions… I’m a baby when it comes to getting sick. I’m miserable, cranky, and very whiny. Fortunately my husband is on the other side of the world, and my son is safely in Boot Camp. That means poor Brianna has to listen to my misery…

This hit me like a ton of bricks, and I never saw it coming. As a matter of fact, I kept blaming my not feeling quite right on all kinds of stupid things like the jalapeno pepper I put in the cole slaw yesterday, and overdoing it at a new yoga class last night. Truth is, I’m sick. There is no denying it. How long I’m sick for, and what actually I have, remains to be seen, but I am achy, feverish, and have a deep rattling cough. Bummer…

I’m guessing that my body did what it had to do, got through the holidays, got through the New Year, got my husband off to Israel, and my son off to Boot Camp. I cleaned out his room, and his car (it would take a blog post by itself to describe those adventures, but I’ll be kind and just say, everything is now clean, beds are properly made, and nothing is currently growing or unidentifiable in the downstairs refrigerator.) 🙂

And now I’m sick… 🙁

I did manage to finish sleying the reed with the new marble inspired warps, and I did manage to update my sister’s website, but it was painful. Everything on me aches. I had to cancel attending the guild meeting tonight, which was tough because I was one of the panel speakers. Brianna is driving, as I write, to Mendham to take over for me as program chair, for the Jockey Hollow Guild meeting tonight. She is a trooper (and I think she welcomed the excuse to get out of the house since I was so cranky…).

I have to say I’m really really lucky. I can lay low. Other than dropping off my work tomorrow in Montclair at the George Segal Gallery for the Art Connections 6 exhibit, I have nothing on my calendar requiring me to be out of the house, and I can hopefully sleep it off. I have a slew of deadlines, but it is more important I get over this thing quickly, so I’ll cave and be a good girl… And I just started an 800 page book, the final installment of the Outlander series, Echo in the Bone, by Diana Gabaldon though I hear it really may not be the final installment. This is book 7 I think… It was a handweaver in Connecticut who turned me on to this series, many many years ago when I stayed with her.  So I’m off to curl up in bed and read, and hopefully sleep…

pulling_thread_from_crossHere are the photos from my loom adventures today.sleying I slowly but surely worked my way across the reed, pulling the appropriate amount of threads from the cross on the appropriate warp bundle.  I loved the colors, and it was peaceful to just sit and thread, but I sure wish I didn’t ache all over…

sleyedHere is a tip, I found this out the hard way of course.  If you are using hand dyed warps, always save a couple of extra threads, or wind a couple of extra threads to include when you are dyeing, in case one breaks while you are weaving.  You’ll always have a way to correct the break with the right color.

heddle_countThe next step is of course, threading each of those warp ends, one by one through the heddles in the shafts.  Here is another tip, one I also learned the hard way.  Check how many heddles are on each shaft BEFORE you start threading.  My loom is the type where you can’t add heddles once you start.  You also can’t remove them.  And I’m going almost the full width of my loom.  So having a bunch extra squeezed on the sides, or heaven forbid not enough, can make the most easy going handweaver resort to hair pulling…

So I used my handy dandy computer drafting program (I use Fiberworks PCW) and it gives me the heddle count for each shaft.  Now I just have to pull each of the eight shafts out of the castle, and lay them on my cutting table, and add the correct amount of heddles.  I keep my heddles stored on knitting needles, so they just slip on the heddle rods effortlessly, checking first to make sure they face in the correct direction.  🙂

knitting_needlesdetail_heddlesThis process takes time.  And I really don’t enjoy this step.  But it is an important one, on most of my shafts I had to add at least 100 heddles…

Now they are all back safely in the castle, fully loaded with the correct number of heddles, and I can start threading tomorrow.  If I can get out of bed…heddles_in_castle

I’m in heaven…

Phyllis Hirsch led the guild in making a holiday ribbon ornament.  What fun!
Phyllis Hirsch led the guild in making a holiday ribbon ornament. What fun!

Wow, this was one of those rare gifts of a day, where the planets just align and someone says, Daryl, you are going to spend the whole day having fun.  Actually, the fun started last night, in the dreary cold rain, my daughter and I drove to our Jockey Hollow Guild meeting, where one of the members, Phyllis Hirsch led us in a holiday make-it-take-it project, making a ribbon ornament.  I like little projects like this, first because it is quick, and I can see doing something like this with handwoven scraps, and secondly, it is one of those kinds of projects that allows you to work on it and chat non stop through the whole meeting.  🙂

In the middle of the meeting, my dearest friend Candiss Cole called on my cell phone.  A rare treat, I didn’t expect to hear from her for awhile, since we got together and played last month!  Candiss, turns out, was in NYC, and had an extra day to hang out, and called to see if I could come out and play.  Woo hoo!  We scheduled a lunch date for today, and I went back to the guild meeting.

This morning, after I got my daughter off to school, I headed over to the cancer center, and had my annual check-up with my oncologist.  There is always this tiny bit of apprehension when I go, fear that maybe she might find something that could start the whole breast cancer scenario all over again.  But I went, and the visit went well, and I got a clean bill of health and was told to call in December of 2010 for my next visit.  Woo Hoo!  🙂

A shoe shopping extravaganza at DSO
A shoe shopping extravaganza at DSO

I picked up Candiss at a hotel in NJ, and off we went to play.  We hung in the studio for awhile, catching up and looking at each others ideas and directions, something we always use to do regularly.  We headed off to lunch, Candiss knows my Thursday Philosophy Club ladies, and we all had a delightful lunch, and afterwards Candiss and I  went  SHOE SHOPPING!  This is one of those things that works so much better with a shopping buddy.  A new DSW opened not far from me, how did Candiss know about it and not me?  She lives in Arizona!  So we went to the new DSW and OMG!  I headed right for the back room and the clearance shoes.  We had so much fun trying on the Steve Madden and the Stuart Weitzman shoes, I tried on shoes that nearly broke my ankle, after all, I’m over 50.  And I ended up buying some very practical pairs of casual shoes, and one killer pair of leather lace-up boots.  Candiss and I both wanted them but I won!

I dropped her off at her hotel, quick hugs to her husband Rodger for giving her up for the day, and I headed home to find a quiet house, and boxes everywhere in my living room.  UPS, and the USPS had a field day at our house.  We are buying most of our Christmas presents online, we usually do, so we let the Brown Santa do all the traveling.  Speaking of the Brown Santa, my son is now working as a seasonal driver assistant for UPS, and it was so cute when he walked in around dinner time, in his brown uniform.  Since he leaves for boot camp on January 4th, the seasonal work was perfect for giving him some extra cash and a reason to get out of bed in the morning…

Anyway, if you are a handweaver, you are most likely following Tien Chiu’s blog, she is a very talented complex weaver, embarking on weaving her wedding dress.  We had some correspondence earlier in the year about some interfacing issues.  And you should know that Tien is one of the founders of the online weaving community Weavolution.  Tien has been taking a break from weaving and has picked up one of her other specialties, making chocolate, and I’m not talking a couple of milk chocolate eggs here, I’m talking combination’s that I can’t even begin to imagine.  She has been carefully blogging about the whole chocolate experience, and I had to replace my keyboard twice this week for drooling too much while reading about it.

My very own box of Tien's Chocolates!
My very own box of Tien's Chocolates!

So, back to my living room full of boxes.  I worked through the Amazon boxes, hiding the presents from the family, and then I got to a box that had Tien Chiu’s return address on it.  What could be in this box?  I opened it and well, I screamed for 20 minutes.  Good thing no one was home.  I don’t know what I did to earn a box of Tien’s chocolates, but there is was, in the Priority box from the USPS, and I ran right up to the computer to write a thank you note.  Wow.  The first one I sampled was the square white one in the front, Coconut Tequila Lime fudge.  OMG!  Tien if you are reading this, I LOVE YOU!

I'm having fun making hot mats and mug mats from coiled handwoven strips and the sewing machine.
I'm having fun making hot mats and mug mats from coiled handwoven strips and the sewing machine.

Writing this blog has been a wonderful experience this year, I’ve met so many readers through it, and gotten some terrific feedback.  After my last post, reader Diane thought that the little bowls I was making from coiled scraps of handwoven fabric would make great hot mats for the kitchen or table.  I had actually made a hot mat first, to get back into the technique, and then played around with the bowls.  Diane had a point, a hot mat is a usable functional item, and would be a great gift, a fiber bowl isn’t the most useful thing, and it is hard to dust.  It is a lot easier to just zoom around in a circle on a flat mat, and so I did.  I made a couple of 8″ round mats, and then thought about how smaller versions would make great mug mats.

Caution Spoiler!  If you are in the Frances Irwin Guild, do not read this paragraph!  For everyone else, the guild is having its annual exchange at the holiday luncheon this year, and this year’s exchange is mug mats.  Weave six and get six in return.  I hadn’t planned on participating, but these little mug mats are so cute.  So I am going to make up a half dozen of the 5 inch size and take them to the holiday luncheon on the 15th.

Speaking of my blog…  Jenny, one of my most prolific commenters (and I do love when people comment!), mentioned to me last night at the guild meeting, that my anniversary was coming up.  I took a minute to think what she was referring to, and then I realized, I’ve been blogging for almost a year,  December 16th, 2008 was my first post.  With almost 250 posts, I’ve had a great year of writing about and celebrating the creative spirit and am really grateful for all of you who take the time to read my posts.

And, in case you haven’t gone back to follow the comments for one of the previous blogs, the one where I made the plaid skirt from the handwoven skirt panel from Avoca Handweavers from Ireland, there was a string where I attempted to locate a source for the Burda Style Magazine, the current issue, for one of the blog commenters who loved the skirt pattern.  I did an online search and didn’t find anything but how to order a subscription, which won’t help the commenter get the December issue.  I called the US distributor for the publication, and they were completely sold out.  But they sent me an email with two online retailers who sell individual issues, and have the November and December issues available.  One of the retailers is Fashionista Fabrics and the other is Sew Baby.  I love this magazine, and I’ve been subscribing for more than 10 years.  Each issue contains over 60 patterns, and I love the style and engineering of the garments.  The directions are scanty, one needs to know how to sew, and the pattern pieces have to be traced off of a large sheet of paper that looks like a road map from hell, but once you get use to it, the patterns are always at your fingertips and just leafing through each of the monthly issues gives me tons of ideas and possibilities.

And, on a final note, I caught the first episode of Bravo TV’s newest launch for a fashion design reality TV show, and I actually enjoyed it.  Called Launch my Line, it involves fashion designer wannabees who are already known in another field, and they are paired with  designer/experts, who can actually sew, and there was some exciting stuff.  So, until the next season of Project Runway starts in January, this is a nice early winter treat.

Did I cover everything???