When it rains it snows…

Just once I’d like to go to bed at night and think, “What a boring uneventful day.  Nothing happened, no major weather issue, no major political headlines, no one in my family had any drama, nothing went wrong with the house, or the dogs or the people I love.  Nothing.”    Hahahahahahahahah…

So it is supposed to be -20 tonight with wind gusts of 45 mph.  Everything has a coating of ice from all the rain yesterday.  Hahahahahahahahah…..

For now, I have power, and internet, and I’m going to try to post this way overdue blog, because, it isn’t like anything important happened this month…  I read a lovely funny meme on Facebook, 30 days hath September, April, June and November, all the rest have 31 save January which has 374…  I use to love January, it was dark and cold and there was no travel, and no drama, and I got to hunker down in my studio and just make stuff.  It has been that way since I started doing craft fairs in 1979.  I loved January because it was so dark and uneventful.  I didn’t want it to end, because that meant February and craft fairs started with the ACC show in Baltimore.  This is 40 years later, and nothing has changed, I get on a plane next week for the first trip of the season, to Southern California for a five day garment construction class.  

This January was an anomaly.  Just like everything else in life.  It goes from 40 degrees and raining to -20 overnight.  The world is an anomaly.  My family is an anomaly.  My life is an anomaly.  But I finally broke through all the things that were pulling at me preventing me from doing what I love and buckle your seatbelts, its going to be a wild ride…

I finished the first draft of my article for Heddlecraft. 16 pages. Toughest article I have ever written.  Meanwhile, I had applied to a number of exhibitions last fall, and not only was I accepted, I received the print copies and found out I had won an award.  At the Blue Ridge Fiber Show, when the work was returned to me, there, attached to my yardage, was a third place ribbon.  This was the yardage, Chaos, the draft is available as a download from my eShop.

 

And of course I already knew that my other entry, the duster, won the HGA award. The draft for that is available as well. 

And the latest Fiber Art Now magazine arrived  within days, featuring the Annual Excellence in Fibers Catalog, an annual print exhibition.  There I am on page 63.

And then a few days later, when I dropped my artwork off at the Montclair Art Museum, they handed me the catalog for the exhibit, New Directions in Fiber Art, 2019 NJ Arts Annual – Crafts.  The exhibit runs through June 16, 2019, unfortunately I’ll miss the opening Friday night February 8th, because, well I’ll be teaching in Southern California.  I hope it is warmer than 20 below.

I loaded the car with my 16 Structo looms and set off to teach a one day Learn To Weave class for my guild.  It was a nail biter, the weather was iffy right up to the day of the class, with a major storm due in late in the afternoon.  The governor had already called a State of Emergency.  I’m happy to say, there ended up not being a major weather event, you might say the afternoon was uneventful, except that there were more than a dozen new weavers and some very happy people.

I said goodbye to my son, he is off to war, first to Texas and then onto a location in the middle east, which I can’t name for safety reasons.  I’m very very proud of him, I wish his father could have been there.  Meanwhile I put all his stuff in storage, vacating the basement apartment he has inhabited for the last 14 years.

I had my handyman come in and paint and fix up the basement space.  My daughter is slowly moving in down there.  She has stuff all over the house.  Way too much stuff for a 26 year old.  But she is the creative sort and so everything has potential use in some grand piece of artwork.  I totally get this.  Which is why I’m working with stuff from my stash for my current project that dates back to 1981…

Meanwhile, the last big project I wanted to do on the house was to have the wood stove removed and replaced with a similar stove except gas fired.  No mess, no chimney cleaning, no wood to haul, no ashes to clean up.  The installation was completed last week, and I’m just waiting for the rest of the inspections before the final hook up.  I want to curl up in the living room with my dogs and my knitting, flip on the fire, and then when it is time to go to bed, flip it off.  

Meanwhile, once I finished the first draft on my 16 page article I promised my fiber friend Linda, who sponsors my wonderful five day retreat in the Outer Banks the end of October, that I would make her vest for her, that she wove out of Kathrin Weber Blazing Shuttles warps, in exchange for a pair of clogs from Chameleon Clogs, using a gorgeous hand dyed Tencel scrap from one of my students, Victoria Taub.  I love my clogs and Linda loves her vest.  Done and done…  (There might still be a spot or two left for next year’s retreat, leave a comment if you are interested…The vest is one of the options to make in my workshop)

I will say that one of the major obstacles in my life right now is the inability to function in my studio.  When my daughter moved back home to take a job closer to me, she brought four looms with her (leaving one with a friend), more yarn than any 26 year old should have, and a cat.  The two 8 shaft 45″ looms had no where to go but into my already too small studio, the one I just had renovated.  I struggled for a few months, falling over equipment, barely able to lay out a piece of fabric and the plan to move one of them to the basement once she settles down there, is still probably a couple months away, because there is a huge warp on it that has to be woven off first.  I’ll keep my original 8 shaft, the first one I bought in 1978, and work around that in the studio, but the second one is making me nuts.  I got a brain storm yesterday, since we hadn’t moved the second bed down from the attic to the guest room she just vacated, and in a fit of shear craziness, with help from my willing studio assistant Cynthia, we folded that baby up and pushed it right across the hall into the guest room.  Done and done…

Now I can actually move in my studio.  It isn’t great, but I can function in it.

So with my new found freedom of space and major projects crossed off my to do list, I dove in head first.  My looms are screaming at me to put warps on them.  They have been naked for months.  I have requests to exhibit work this summer and I have no new work.  I bought some new fiber reactive dyes from Dharma a couple months ago and want to see what’s inside.  So I started up the dyepot again.  First batch is something called Mars Dust.  Gotta love the name.

Second batch is drying, called Muir Glen.  I misread the calculations and put 3 Tablespoons instead of 3 teaspoons.  Hahahahahaha….  I’ve never gotten such a gorgeous deep gray before.

Third batch is in the pot, called Kingfisher Blue.  Meanwhile, I started winding a warp.  Way back, a couple of years ago, I bought some Noro Taiyo Lace on sale at a knitting shop somewhere in the Pacific northwest.  I made this jacket from the cloth I wove using one of the colorways.  

I still had four balls of a different color way, and I’ve been dying to weave that off into a similar kind of fabric.  

So I looked at my stash, and I had about 21 ounces of Harrisville Shetland Singles from my early craft fair days, circa 1981 or 2.  They don’t even spin singles anymore, well actually they do, but they ply the yarn and don’t sell it as singles.  I wound a seven yard warp until I ran out. 

Then I looked around for something else since I wanted the fabric wider than the 14 inches I would get from the Harrisville.  I found four 2 oz tubes of Maypole Nehalem, a 3 ply worsted very close in grist to the Harrisville, and in a close enough color to blend.  So not ask me how long they have been in the stash.  I think I inherited them.

I got about 6″ worth of warp out of those babies, and then sat down at the computer with my trusty Davison and picked out a draft where I could use the two warps most effectively.  I chose a Finnish Twill, page 37 if you have the book, and figured out exactly how to use what I wound.  I love to wind first and then decide what to make later.  

Meanwhile, my studio assistant sat all day perched on a stool winding 2 yard skeins of some of my vast stash of dyeable cellulose yarns.  She wound a lot but didn’t make a dent.  I have hundreds of pounds of natural yarn.  Don’t ask…

And between us we cleared a lot of cones.  Unless you are a weaver, you don’t understand the importance of a trash can that looks like this…

Because I was running around like a distracted crazy person, enjoying the space in the studio and finally getting to do something fun, and running back and forth to the dyepot and the washing machine which I use for rinsing skeins, I did the most stupid thing a weaver can do, I don’t think I’ve made this mistake in 40 years if ever, I forgot to tie off the cross of the first bout of warp.  If you aren’t a weaver the magnitude of this mistake will be lost on you, trust me, it is a big deal.  Fortunately it was only the first 6″ bout, and each 1/2″ was carefully marked, so the warps won’t be too out of order.  But this is a sticky singles warp, of all warps to screw up…   Sigh…

I am going to curl up now and watch the next episode of Project Runway All Stars. And hope that the rest of my life will be uneventful.  Or maybe just tomorrow.  Or maybe just get through tonight and hope the pipes don’t freeze or my trash cans don’t blow down the street…

Stay tuned…

Bliss

The house is quiet.  It is morning.  My husband has gone off to work, my daughter is off to her second day of Junior year of HS, and my 19 year old son is asleep in the basement, no surprise there. There is nothing major on the calendar calling me to actually leave the studio.  For today, life seems almost normal.  Big exhale…

I have one more big push of a workshop to teach, I leave on the 20th to teach at Sievers Fiber School on Washington Island in Wisconsin.  I have to start printing handouts, and getting interfacing and pattern paper cut, and shipped ahead, but not today.  I have a lecture to give to the American Sewing Guild local chapter on Saturday, but not today.  Today, I’m going to try a repeat of my routine yesterday, which was simple, healing, and mind clearing.  I did some housework in the morning, 20 minutes of yoga, took care of business stuff, paperwork, emails, got in my blog, and then spent the day in the studio creating something.

Sidebar:  In November, the 14th and 15th to be exact, my guild, The Jockey Hollow Weavers, has its annual show and sale.  Timed to take advantage of the upcoming holiday season, it has been a hugely popular event, and the members of the guild spend all year producing items to sell, handwoven, knitted, crocheted, felted, whatever their specialty, it can be found at the sale.  And there are demos, and things to eat, it is a great weekend.  I have never put a single thing in the sale.

Bigger Sidebar: I sold my work in craft fairs for 10 years.  When I quit doing craft fairs, in 1989, I swore I’d never sell my work again.  That was 20 years ago.  I’ve raised two kids since then (my son was born in 1990, six weeks after my last craft fair), and lots has changed in my life.  But I have held steadfast to my rule.  That all changed last month when I was contacted by a woman who saw one of my pieces in the Small Expressions Exhibit in Grinnell Iowa, and wanted to buy the piece titled Survivor.  Since the gallery was not authorized to act as a selling agent for the work, she contacted me directly.  She bought my small postcard size work, the show ended this weekend, the work should be making its way home to me shortly, and I will forward the piece on to her as soon as I get it back.  This experience has made me realize that 1) I am hoarding my work and running out of room to store it and 2) others might want to share a bit of me and own something I do.

Since I mostly make complex garments from my handwoven cloth, and they are made to fit me, it makes it really hard, and very expensive to sell my garments which are largely one of a kind.  I’ve had pressure from teaching venues to develop smaller project like workshops and seminars, and I can see where all this is leading.

So here is a no pressure/no cost to me opportunity to put some of my work out there for sale, the absolute worst that can happen is I sell nothing.  But I will have forced myself to experiment with techniques, on a smaller scale, and potentially make seminars out of them, which is what I do best.  Think of the samples I’d have.  At the moment, I could root around in the archives and come up with a few things to put into the show, but I have some time in the studio, during the next six weeks, minus the trip to Wisconsin, to actually come up with some concrete ideas and small salable pieces.

Of course this means applying a deadline and pressure to myself.  I know the previous paragraph started with “So here is a no pressure opportunity…”, but pressure and deadlines are what I do best.  If there isn’t any pressure, then it goes to the bottom of the very substantial to-do list.  Since I work for myself, there is no boss plopping something on my desk telling me he or she needs it “yesterday”.  I do that very nicely to myself thank you very much.  I’m always asked how I get things done.  I set impossible deadlines and expectations, and kill myself trying to meet them.  The best part for me is when I actually accomplish what I’ve set out to do, and I get the most enormous sense of pride, in having met my impossible goals, that I’m spurred on for the next big impossible task I set for myself.

In January of 2008, I decided to enter all eight of the Convergence 2008 Tampa Bay exhibits.  There were categories I don’t usually play in, like basketry and functional textiles for the home, but I entered them anyway.  And I got work accepted to 6 of the eight shows.  But it wasn’t about the acceptance, it was about applying.  And this guild show and sale for me is not about actually selling work, though that would be nice, it is about having a couple dozen items to put into the show.

loomscarfSo, I’ve embarked on yet another impossible deadline, to create as close as I can, to one item to sell per day during any day I don’t have a major calendar event.  Yesterday was one of those kind of days.  So I put in my headphones, listened to the first few chapters of The Devil Wears Prada on my new iTouch, and I wove one scarf.  It helped that the loom was already set up, there are two more scarves to go on this warp.  But it is a start.  I love the warp here, it is inspired by a class I took with Barbara Herbster at the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild last May.  The class was in Supplemental Warp, and after I finished the two scarves from the class, I rewarped the loom with whatever I had in the studio, and just had fun.

Today is another non calendar event day, though I do have to warp a small portable loom for an ongoing project for my other guild, Frances Irwin Handweavers.  We are suppose to set up the loom and bring it with us to the meetings to try a series of rug techniques at each meeting during the fall.  That should only take an hour or two, it is a small 4 shaft table loom, and the rest of the day, I get to create.  Stay tuned…

Earth to Daryl…

timeYou know that feeling, the one where your wheels are spinning and you aren’t moving forward? My wheels have been spinning so fast for the last few weeks, and I feel like I am not getting anywhere, I’m making mistakes, I’m struggling to keep my head above water, and I look at the clock and declare, “Oh no, the time”!

We are busy here, wrapping up the summer, getting the kids back to school, but there is so much else going on I’ll be blogging around the clock for a week!

millbrookhillhouseLast weekend, my daughter Brianna (16) and I did our yearly volunteer stint at Millbrook Village, near the Delaware River in Western NJ.  It is an 1850’s farming village, that has been kept alive by the National Park service, and has a wonderful weaving and spinning house, Hill House, kept alive by an industrious group of volunteers supported by the Frances Irwin Handweavers and the Jockey Hollow Handweavers,  organized by Sally Orgren.

We dressed up in costume and showed off the myriad looms and spinning equipment in the house.  My daughter elected not to wear the dress she wore last year, one because she hates dresses, and two because she decided that she needed a cap to cover her blue hair (yes, I know it was fuchsia, but now it is blue, happened some time while I was away this summer).

rugloomtableloomHere Brianna is demonstrating on an 1850’s Weaver’s Friend rug loom, which totally fascinates her.  She figured it out pretty quickly a couple of years ago when we first started demo-ing, it is a two shaft loom with a mechanism like the top of a carousel, where the horses ride up and down on a revolving cog, when one is up, the other is down.  When she beats the rag weft into place, a cog mechanism rotates the two shafts so the opposite one jumps into place.  It makes an incredible racket, and she loves to warn the little kids to put their fingers in their ears before she uses the beater.

In the second photo, Brianna is figuring out the overshot pattern on a nearby table loom.  She loves patterns and figuring them out.

barnloomI’m growing fond of the big barn frame loom, that sits next to the rug loom in this very cramped tiny building.  The beater is worn so smooth, it is like glass, and members of the guild re-threaded the loom at the beginning of last season, so we would have something to weave since a few critters found that the linen warp made a nice warm winter bedding making it tough to weave with so many broken threads.

So I demonstrate this old 1700’s barn frame loom, which is clunky and graceful at the same time.  I often think, if only this loom could talk.  Where has it lived, who has woven on it, what children have played around it, and how many beautiful functional items for the home have been woven on it?

While we were at Millbrook, we stopped next door and chatted with the coopers, two woodworkers who were demonstrating making barrels, very technical work, and they are both trying to perfect the technique.

Sidebar:  Last summer, I taught a class at Peters Valley.  This particular class, which was designed to give an overview of basic fiber techniques to anyone interested in teaching fiber in a classroom, or using fiber techniques in their work, is one of my favorites.  Every three hours we move on to a new technique, it is a whirlwind of activity and creativity, and I bring a carload of equipment and supplies for it.  One of the techniques is of course, spinning on a drop spindle, made from a couple of CD’s, and when they have a sufficient amount of yarn, they wind it off onto a Niddy Noddy, an old measuring device used to skein yarn.

When I was first dating my husband, in the early 1970’s, his mother, an avid lacemaker and spinner, would suggest gifts for me for Christmas or my birthday.  One year, he bought me a beautiful Danish lace pillow.  Another year, Kevin bought me the most gorgeous hand carved Niddy Noddy, which I have cherished over the years.  I have no idea who made it, but it was purchased at a weaving store on Croton on the Hudson, somewhere in NY State.  The store is no longer there, I’m sure.

niddynoddyLast summer, one of the students in my Peters Valley class, wound off their yarn onto the Niddy Noddy, and failed to hear the part where I explained how to remove the yarn from the Niddy Noddy, over the smooth spoke, not the curved spokes.  To my horror, and I’m sure her’s as well, the Niddy Noddy snapped off at the neck, and I nearly cried.  Later, after the workshop was over, I wrote to a woodworker I had met the year before when I was demonstrating at another historic festival, who had remarked on the uniqueness of the design and loved copying old textile equipment.  He had made a lovely lucet and had given it to my daughter who proceeded to become quite the expert on the lucet and will give a program on it for the November meeting at the Jockey Hollow Guild.  But I digress.

steve_wayneWayne Grove, and Steve Wenzel, two very enthusiastic woodworkers, told me to send the niddy noddy to them, and they spent a few months trying to find the best way to repair a very splintered neck, too thin to be doweled for strength.  They ended up epoxying the neck back together, and repairing the finish, so the break is nearly invisible, but they used the opportunity to really copy the design and create a few new ones, with a slightly thicker and doweled neck that won’t be so fragile.

Wayne and Steve were the coopers demonstrating barrel making on the porch of the building next door to where Brianna and I were working in Hill House.  Wayne had brought my now flawlessly repaired Niddy Noddy, and the improved copy, and presented them to me, I can’t tell you how drop_spindlethrilled I am to have my cherished Niddy Noddy back, and a new one I can actually use without fear.

I bought a dozen lucets from Wayne, for the November class, and I also bought a Turkish drop spindle, which is a fascinating tool, it comes apart, into three pieces, leaving a wound ball of yarn.

Bri and I were exhausted by the end of the weekend, but had a great time, and I was thrilled with my new and repaired spinning equipment!

If anyone is interested in having one of the Niddy Noddy’s that Wayne and Steve made from my original, they cost about $150. and you can contact Wayne Grove at swgro78@embarqmail.com.  Wayne not only makes beautiful textile tools, he is better known for his Windsor Chairs.

Tomorrow: My adventures with Liz Clay

Placemat Exchanged!

Grab your coffee, this is going to be a long one!

Wow, what a meeting!  Bri and I attended last night’s last Jockey Hollow Weavers’ meeting for the year.  We start up again in the fall.  We had a lot to accomplish.  There was the stash sale, unload what you no longer want.  There are a number of retiring members of the group, who are de-acquisitioning and moving to smaller digs in a far away location.  Since we have a number of new weavers with paltry stashes, this is always a good thing.  Equipment, yarns, books, and back issues of weaving magazines, all find good homes.

Next there was the Pot-Luck.  Weavers are always terrific cooks.  The food was excellent.  The only group who edges out the handweavers for first place in the pot-luck catagory are the lace makers.  I’m not sure why this is, but suffice it to say, no one went home hungry!

Of course there was the entertaining show and tell, we had the supplemental warp workshop scarves to show off, and we have a couple of outside of the box creative fiber members who never cease to impress me with their energy and creativity.  One member crocheted a spiral rug from plastic grocery bags, and started making curtains by randomly stitching colorful halves of zippers in a haphazard way on a bedsheet.  I love show and tell!

But the highlight was of course, the placemat exchange.  It is always a bit disappointing when not everyone finishes on time, and we had one in the group of 16 who dropped out at the last minute, and one of the guild members graciously stepped in to try and weave her set over the summer.  But no matter, I’m amazed at how many of the participants were new weavers, including my daughter, who wove a set of overshot placemats, this being only their 3rd or 4th project ever.  I’m so excited to see the passion these new weavers throw out into the group, infusing it with youth and creativity, and enthusiasm.  It is sad to see older members retiring and moving away, but happily there is some new fresh talent to keep the guild going.

bri_placematsd_placematsSo here are the results.  Bri was able to get seven of her eight purple placemats, and they are beautiful.  They still need to be washed and hemmed, but she is so excited.  The eighth one is as I understand, on the loom as I write.

I only came home with four, but two more will be exchanged at Monday’s meeting of the Frances Irwin Guild, members of that guild graciously jumped in to give us two groups of 16.  One member dropped out at the last minute, and her mats, picked up by another member, and the mats from the other member who wasn’t finished in time, will be delivered in September.  What a beautiful collection of overshot patterns!

We had a special guest at the meeting, Alison Giachetti, who is a partner in the new Weavolution, a web gathering place for handweavers, which is scheduled to launch next week.  I did some brief alpha testing, and posted some project notes on the site for my Frosted Florals dress, and talked to Alison briefly about moderating a handwoven clothing forum on Weavolution, but that won’t happen immediately.  There is a lot of buzz about this, so stay tuned…

Coffee Break!  Lots to cover today before I leave for Seattle….

I spent the day yesterday tying up loose ends.  I got two pieces of work accepted to the Fiber Celebrated 2009 exhibition, at the Center of  Southwest Studies Gallery at Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO.  The show opens July 27th and runs through September 20, 2009.  So yesterday was the paperwork day, artist statements, technical information, all that had to be back fairly quickly.  I struggled with the artist statement.  The limit was 70 words.  Can you imagine?  I can’t say anything in 70 words.  🙂  My average blog posts are over 1000 words.  I’m already at 647 words in this blog alone!  And I had a lot to say about these two seemingly unrelated pieces of artwork.  So, I’ll just use my blog to tell the story that I couldn’t say in 70 words.

watchingdeathcomewatchingdeathcomedetailThe first piece is one of my small artworks, woven in an inlay style, with strips of silk cut from a digital print on treated fabric.  I’ve blogged about this technique in past posts, just search ‘Big Sister’, and you should find the technical stuff.  I want to talk more about the inspiration.

Many of us have had the privilege of staying with someone, holding their hand, keeping the vigil as we wait for their soul to depart from their old frail, used up body.  In 2006, I had the privilege of the long vigil watching and waiting for my mother in law to pass.  I adored this woman.  She was one of my fiber mentors, and I wrote a piece about our relationship, which you can read, titled Circle of Life.  I was so moved by the grace and beauty of a dying woman, the angle of her head on the pillow, eyes half open, yet not seeing.  I sketched her profile on a small notebook I keep in my purse.  Later I scanned in the sketch, and printed it on silk, cutting the silk apart and reweaving it back together, a metaphor for her life, connecting each row of her profile, until she was whole again.  I titled the piece, Watching Death Come.

steppingstonesteppingstonesdetail The second piece, which seems unrelated, (I entered both the nonfunctional 2D and the Wearables catagories), is actually an extension of Watching Death Come.  After the death of a loved one, there is the awesome and overwhelming job of disposing of a lifetime of collected treasures, household goods, the cleaning up of one’s life.  My mother in law lived to be 99 years old.  It was a long life and she had a stash!

I did my best to merge her fiber stuff with mine, but she was primarily a spinner, and lacemaker, so I have more lace pillows than I know what to do with, as I rarely make lace anymore (can you imagine no time?).  And everytime I opened another box with a Romney Fleece inside (her sheep breed of choice as a spinner), I groaned.  I do spin, and have two wheels, which I also mentioned in a previous blog, but I’ll never get through all these fleeces and don’t really have the desire to…

Enter felting.  Boy is this a great way to use up wool.  OK, I know Romney isn’t the sheep breed of choice among the felters, but it was free, and it was my mother in law’s.  So, I began to carefully card the washed fleeces into individual gallon ziploc bags, layering the thin carded strips of wool.  I wish I had taken photos of this process, it was such a scream felting on my kitchen counter, but alas, I hadn’t started blogging yet, so that didn’t occur to me.  I added hot soapy water to each bag and started the felting process, first rubbing, and then rolling, occasionally heating up the wool in the microwave to aide the felting process.  Since everything was sealed in a ziploc bag, there was no mess.  🙂

I eventually ended up with something like 18 8″ x 10″ rectangles,  in white, of lovely felted Romney.  I took my glass 9 X 12 baker, and put each rectangle in one at a time, sprinkling some powdered Cushing Dyes, random colors, I just grabbed a packet and started sprinkling (yes I was using a filtration mask, outside when I did this), added some salt to the felt which was still wet and soapy from the ziploc bag, and covered it in plastic wrap, venting a corner.

I microwaved it in 2 minute increments, and honestly, I can’t remember how long I did this, I just sort of did it by feel, maybe a total of three 2 minute sets, turning the baker each time, until I thought it sufficiently cooked.  Once I had this riot of colorful felt rectangles dyed, I cut them apart into random shapes and called Bri into the room, who is a master puzzle maker, future geneticist, who sees patterns where no one else does.  I had all the garment sections cut from a fusible knit interfacing, laying out across the table, and let Bri start assembling the pieces in whatever way she liked.

After trimming and fusing the pieces to the backing, I carefully stitched the butted together edges of the cut felt, with a decorative feather stitch on my machine, and where the natural edge of the felt occurred, I used my Janome Expressions needle felting machine to needle felt the overlap.

Then I assembled the jacket, adding a creative buttonhole, and some buttons.  I call the piece Stepping Stones.  Each component in our life, each experience, builds on the next and paves the way for the next part of our lives.  We are all a series of chapters, and no one chapter should be the one that completely defines us.  My mother in law was a lot of things to me and the people who loved her.  She is missed every day, but her stash lives on!

Finally, I shipped out another one of my pieces to Peters Valley Craft Center, for their summer faculty show.  I am scheduled to teach a Fiber Boot Camp, basic fiber techniques, great for those wanting to get into fiber as a medium, learn some of the techniques we all know and love, spinning, felting, kumihimo braiding, tapestry, and inkle loomsurviving_words weaving.  This is a great class for art teachers who want to bring fiber to the classroom.  I’ve taught it a number of times now, last year I had a full class.  I’m not sure if the class is running at this point, the economy has taken its toll on a number of art centers, but the class is suppose to run over the 4th of July weekend, and when it does, I really enjoy being out at the Valley.  They offer a number of fiber workshops, in all disciplines, as well as wood, blacksmithing, metals, clay, photography and related topics.  I’ve supported the Valley for years, and am always happy to send them a faculty piece for the exhibit.surviving_words_detail

So the piece I sent is a collage titled Surviving Words. This is a very personal piece, I collaged together images printed on silk, with themes of breast cancer, I am a survivor, and that chapter in my life, though behind me, and by no means the one that completely defines who I am, is still an important one and only now, are the themes from that chapter showing up in my work.  I glued all the collage components down with gel medium, and once dried, I went back in and stitched all those horrid medical words that defined my life for a year.  It is a celebratory piece, colorful, yet feminine, and I hope it is well received in the exhibit.

Whew, thanks for reading this if you made it to the end.  I think this is my longest post.  I’m off to pack, and hope to blog along the way during my quick mini vacation to Seattle.  Happy weaving, sewing, or whatever it is that gets you up in the morning!

Dreary Day Reprieve

Finally, some sun shine.  Honestly, I haven’t been home enough to even notice, since my last blog Wednesday afternooon, I have been largely out of the studio/house.

Wednesday night was the business meeting for my guild, Jockey Hollow Weavers, and the new board was “sworn in” so to speak.  So now I am officially the program chairperson, and I am off to a running start.

rosesMy daughter is a member of the guild, and they always welcome her and are so supportive of whatever she comes up with.  While we were going through the show and tell, she happily sat sculpting rose candles from the red wax left over from the Bonne Belle cheeses at the snack table.

Barbara Herbster was the speaker for the evening, and she talked first about how she uses a supplemental warp to create her beautiful scarves, some of the supplemental warp threads containing lycra to make the middle ruffle up.  barbara_scarves

Barbara has one of the best senses of color, and it was inspirational looking at her work.  Barbara was one of my most creative weavers who wove for me during the years I worked on the forecast column for Handwoven Magazine.  I could always count on her to come up with something spectacularly original, keeping with the palette, theme and inspirational photograph I’d give her.

warpedThursday morning I packed up the 8 shaft loom, and headed out to a workshop with Barbara at the guild, it was a two day workshop on supplemental warp.  Barbara pre-wound the warps, and gave them to us to beam, some were chenille, and some were bamboo.  I got one of the bamboo warps.  I struggled a bit to get it onto my loom, I had a sectional beam, which normally shouldn’t have been a problem, but there was a mis-communication about size and spacing, and it beamed incorrectly.  So I spent the day struggling through the first scarf, finally cutting it off at the end, and re-beaming the warp.  scarf1scarf_loom

Barbara wound each warp based on a photograph of some kind of flowers she took during her last vacation.  It was a great way to wind a warp, much like I used to do with the forecast column.

Friday night, after the workshop, I unpacked the loom, and the bags of stuff one carries to these kind of workshops, and headed over to the Paper Mill Playhouse, to see their current production of 1776.  May I say that was one heck of a piece of theatre.  A standing ovation, the passion of the times of the days leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the total dysfunction of the first Continental Congress, and the hilarious witty lines which could have been written about the current Congress some 200+ years later, made for a terrific evening.

This morning I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a truck.  Actually, I am coming down with a cold, I feel crappy, but still managed to get to my American Sewing Guild meeting, where the speaker was one of the guild members, Tomasa, who is currently attending FIT, and she demonstrated to the group how to draft a bodice pattern on a dress form.  I actually learned a few things, she was a very good teacher, and the group was really enthusiastic.  I am liking this group of women more and more, and look forward to the meetings.

I came home from the meeting, and jumped into the car with my husband and we made the hour long trek south to car_plantsRutgers, for their spring plant sale.  Plants from Rutgers University you might ask?  Who knew?  They have gorgeous gardens, spreading over acres, duh, they do have an agricultural school, and have a fabulous plant sale every spring as a fund raiser.  My husband and I always look forward to spending a weekend each spring at some nursery or garden center picking through the usual perennials, and shrubs in search of that one plant that catches our fancy.  Well, we hit the mother-lode here.  We were like two starving children in a candy shop.

We filled the car with all sorts of unusual specimens, trying to figure out where we were going to plant all these gorgeous creatures.  We have about a half acre of great gardens, ponds, perennials, all sorts of wet and dry areas, sunny and shady, and it is all pretty lush at the moment, due to all the buckets of rain that have come down in the last week or so.  So lush in fact, I was sort of shocked at how everything had grown about two feet since I last checked.

We found some really unusual things, including the small fern like tree on the left of the photo above, which is actually called Dawn Redwood, yes, that kind of redwood, it is a sequoia from China, thought to be extinct until discovered by the Japanese after WWII, grows to be more than 80 feet.  We couldn’t pass it up.  And we think we have the perfect spot for it, but will have to fell a dying birch tomorrow, before we plant it.  We have lost all of our birches in the last few years, from some birch blight, but happily that just gives us more room to plant stuff.

mahoniapulpit2pulpitThe photo on the left shows a Mahonia, an odd looking holly type of plant, with even odder flowers, which will be perfect in the shade by the bay window in the front.  After I paid for all our specimens, my husband went to get the car, and when he didn’t return, I found him back in the nursery talking to one of the volunteers, about this jack-in-the-pulpit variety, that he couldn’t resist.  So I went back to the check out table for one last plant.  Apparently this one is a male, which it is when it is suffering from transplant shock, and will eventually settle down and become a female and produce seeds once it likes its new home.  I looked at both my husband the volunteer like they had two heads each, but snatched up the plant, the story is too good to pass up.

So, tomorrow, after church and recorder practice, I’ll put on my gardening clothes, and start digging.  I’m looking forward to a mother’s day in the gardens, I promise I’ll come back with some amazing photos of our yard.  It is really gorgeous.  I just hope my cold doesn’t get in my way from spending the day outdoors.  No rain for the next few days, yippee!