A Colorful Diversion…

Our handweaving guild decided to sponsor a “Dye Day” for our members as a celebration into the start of the summer.  Typically dye days provide large pots of color for members to immerse their yarns, warps or yardage, but we did something a little different.  Lead by our fearless president Caroline, who is an avid dyer, we all met in the community room of the condo pool complex where Caroline lives.  We all brought our things to dye, and Caroline provided her vast collection of MX fiber reactive dyes, (I seriously think she has every color Pro-Chem and Dharma sell) and all the little yarn samples to help us in our selection.  Her idea was to allow each member to select the colors they wanted, and make up 8oz containers and paint the yarns/warps/fabric directly.  I was thrilled.

I took advantage of this event, even tough my calendar is full, because Caroline has practically EVERY color, and social events like this are really really fun.  AND, I had a ton of white warps and skeins already pre-wound from last November when I paid my kids to wind up everything in sight that was white.  So I loaded up a laundry basket with white warps, and all the white skeins, and some white rayon scarves for dye-mops, and some silk chiffon scarves I had bought from Kerr Grabowski last summer during a different guild’s workshop with her on Deconstructed Silk Screen Printing.  I had no idea how much I’d need, but it didn’t cost anything to bring everything.  And I threw in all my dye supplies, everything but the actual dyes.

There was a flurry of activity when I arrived, everyone set up quickly, and Caroline showed the beginning dyers how to put two glugs of white vinegar in a gallon of water as a mordant for protein fibers, and for the rest of us with cellulose fibers, we made up batches of soda activator.  I had done a quick check online before I left, doing a Google search for Color Forecasts for Spring/Summer 2011.  I got a couple of sites, with pretty palettes, and I did a quick print and brought them down along with some color chips, and my notebook.  I quickly selected a palette, with lavenders, melon, butterscotch, and mauve.  I was a little nervous with the melon color, it looked so Orange when I was applying it, but the color is lovely and pale and perfect now that I’ve rinsed it.

I ended up painting three ten yard warps, all with the same palette, so the idea is I’ll run them together and create a yardage next time I’m home long enough to warp the loom.  I had a great time sitting and painting, listening the sounds of chatter amongst the guild members.  I ran out of speed about half way through the third warp.  Most of the members had cleaned up and left, since it was nearing dinner time, but I slogged along, since this wasn’t something I could put away and come back to another time.  Once I finished,  I still had some excess dye left, and Caroline noted that there were about 20 bottles of other excess dye from the members who had left already.  She hates throwing away unused dyes, as do I, and I had a basket of white skeins, and some scarf blanks, and I asked her if she cared if I tried to use up some of the extra dye.

This was the most fun I’ve had in a studio setting in a long time.  Too exhausted to over think anything, faced with a bunch of unlabeled bottles of dye, I threw everything white that I had brought into the soda soak and dove in.  I squirted and painted, and threw scarves in  baggies with dye, and I stayed another two hours.  I’m very grateful to Caroline and Andi who agreed to stay and do all the clean up while I used up the extra dye.  What was so much fun is the total lack of control.  I had no idea what was in the bottles and cups, and I mixed small amounts of dye together and made pot luck.  I dyed everything I’d brought except for a couple of the 10 yards warps, and finally called it quits about 7pm.

All of the things I dyed sat overnight on the floor of my warm car, and I started pulling out the bins around lunch time today.  Rinsing warps and skeins is fun for about the first half hour, and then it gets to be a real chore.  I worked around the house for most of the morning, putting off the inevitable, and then I got a brainstorm.  I asked my lovely talented 17 year old, who was watching television if she would please go out and help mulch the yard in the 95 degree heat.  When I got the expected face, I offered as an alternative, that she could rinse out all my dyed yarn, sitting in the bathroom in air-conditioning.  I’m sure you can guess which option she chose and she was actually excited about it.  I know it is sort of cheating, but hey, why not?  We actually worked together, she washed skeins and scarves in the bathroom sink, and I used the tub to wash the warps.  We worked for a few hours, and she’d squeal every once in awhile over some wonderful combination of color, all of them total surprises.  The only thing I planned were the warps, and that’s always fun to see them rinsed out.  But the serendipitous skeins and scarves were so much fun to see once they were rinsed, and hanging to dry.  We lined them up on the back deck, the silk chiffon scarves dried quickly and they will be fun for nuno felting.  While we were rinsing in the bathroom, we both screamed in dismay when we heard a sudden sound of pouring rain, from a thunderstorm that sprung up while we were busy in the bathroom.  A mad dash to the balcony to grab the yarns and skeins, and we hung them instead, now dripping again, in my studio with buckets to catch the water.

So I now have lots of inspiring skeins of yarns to invent projects with, and enough dyed warp for another wonderful colorful piece of handwoven yardage.  Stay tuned…

Deconstructed Screen Printing

I will admit, I am exhausted. It is hard to believe, this time last night I was somewhere over Kansas…

I promised you photos of my studio, after my bout of jealousy with Joy’s studio floorspace.  There really isn’t any in mine.  But it is what I have to work with, and it serves me well, and it stores a lot, and if I keep it picked up, I can actually function in it.  And I’ve often said, though this is really just a justification for my 350 square ft oversized bedroom, “It isn’t the quality or quantity of space, it is what you make in it that counts”.

studio11studio2My studio is actually an old 10 x 10 bedroom where we knocked the outside wall out and extended over the downstairs den.  There are beautiful floor to ceiling windows at the far end, but I keep the shades drawn for fear of fading of all my yarns and textiles.  The loom in the foreground is my big 8 shaft 45″ Tools of the Trade Loom.


I have a great cutting table, that my husband built for me, and there are old kitchen cabinets


above the sewing machines and the computer desk.  I do have a lot of storage for such a little room.  The hardest part is keeping the cutting table cleared.  🙂

You’ll notice I have stuff stuck all over the face of the cabinet doors.  I put up cards, notations, quotes, sketches, things that inspire me, small cartoons, and photos of classes or people I love.  It is a happy wall to look up at as I work.  Robyn had the same sort of thing in the form of a bulletin board next to her desk, and on it was a great quote, one I have to add to my own wall…

Powerful Woman’s Motto:

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says,… “Uh, Oh, she’s awake!”

Well, damn, I like that.  It left me with a big smile, and isn’t that what inspirational things are suppose to do?

After getting to bed last night after 1pm EST, I woke up at 7am, to throw on some grunge clothes and pack up the car, and drive an hour west, almost to the New Jersey border.  My guild, Frances Irwin Handweavers, was having it’s end of the year one day workshop, free to members, and I was thrilled I made it back in time to finally get to take one of Kerr Grabowski’s seminars.  First, I’ve known Kerr for 20 years, I met her when she first came to Peters Valley as their fiber resident.  She is amazingly talented, creative, and a wonderful teacher, and she lives in the Surface Design World.  It is odd that I’ve never been able to take a workshop with her, as a matter of fact, back in 2001, we both taught together at Montclair State University in their fiber department when the department found themselves without instructors for a couple of semesters.  I handled the structural fiber classes and she taught  surface design.

kerrSo it was with great anticipation and excitement that I finally got to spend the day with Kerr, learning deconstructed screen printing.  She has a wonderful DVD of her class, available for about $40. and you can preview it on her website.  Of course I bought the DVD…

(That’s Kerr in the red apron)

silkscreenShe showed us some very playful and spontaneous things, and I can’t wait to build a screen surface for my cutting table, and get a couple screens.  I have everything else.  A cabinet full of dyes, all the materials for dyeing, even the fabric, which I picked up on Friday in Seattle.  My head is spinning with possibilities.

silkscarvessilkscarfHere are a couple of my attempts at the medium, the silk chiffon scarves are still curing in a black garbage bag in my car in the heat.

I’ll take a photo when they are rinsed and dry.

One final note as my excellent adventure winds down, I picked up a birthday card in one of the galleries in Bremerton, WA during our Art Walk Friday night.  It was actually a belated birthday card to me.  It featured the artwork of a local artist Amy Burnett, who was actually there to sign the cards.  In addition to the artwork, the year 1955 was written.  She has a series of cards for all different years, as a celebration to women.  Inside is a list of all the special things that happened that involved women in the year you were born.

I didn’t realize that Rosa Parks, refused to move to the rear of the bus in December of 1955, the same year I was born, and I didn’t realize that Rosa Parks was a seamstress.  I didn’t know that Doris Humphrey founded Julliard’s Dance Theatre in 1955.  I didn’t know Louise Boyd at 67 years old was the first woman to fly over and around the North Pole in 1955.  I knew Annette Funicello was one of the original 24 Mouseketeers in the Mickey Mouse Club, but I didn’t know it debuted in 1955.  It was one of my favorite shows.  And most importantly, I didn’t know that Lenore Tawney, weaver and sculptor, exhibited nonfunctional weaving in shapes departing from the traditional two dimensional fabric form, thus introducing a new range of artistic expression, fiber art, in 1955.  I feel like I am surrounded by women who made a difference.

“Uh, oh, she’s awake!…”

I don’t usually do commercial announcements, but I know two of the brave souls who have worked tirelessly on the project below.  I did a brief bit of alpha testing, and the site has real potential.  Of course I’m still hoping you’ll stop by my blog after getting your fill of online technology!  🙂

Today at noon, Weavolution the much anticipated new online gathering place for handweavers launched, and I have a brief press release here:


Weavolution.com, an online social network designed to meet the unique needs of handweavers, launches its beta test on June 8, 2009. Designed to bring handweavers together from around the world, Weavolution.com is a one-stop resource for every type of handweaver.

From hobby to production, from peg to dobby, Weavolution provides a place for weavers to meet, discuss and participate in moderated user groups and forums.

Members may post projects, looms, yarns, books, and accessories to share with others and solicit feedback from other members.

But you don’t have to be a member or even a weaver to explore the site and learn about weaving free of charge.

Weavolution aims to become an inclusive, global community that encourages weavers by enabling them to discover and follow trends in weaving; find local, national and international resources; and find businesses catering to their needs. Weavolution members can search the site’s databases to view items, group postings and research information catalogued by others.

weavolutiond32ar12ap01zl_mdmWeavolution’s goal is to provide a website for handweavers that is useful, fun and helpful, and to be a resource for shops, products and ideas from around the corner and around the world.

The project began in 2008 when three weavers from across the United States, Claudia Segal, Tien Chiu, and Alison Giachetti, met online and formed Weavolution. Working together with a host of dedicated volunteers, the team forged Weavolution.com into a website with the potential to become a community.

Come, take a look. Weavolution.com is available for anyone to explore. You don’t have to sign up to see our site. But if you do, we hope you’ll decide to JOIN THE WEAVOLUTION