Just do it…

I’m in the final prep stages for my fall teaching extravaganza, I’ll be bouncing all over the country for the next couple of months, with sometimes only 48 hours to change suitcases and head out again.  I’d like to think I’ve got this, and having an assistant has really helped me stay on task and focused.  

I’ve spent the last week redoing all of the handouts I’ll be using, increasing font size, rewording things that could be worded more clearly, I do this kind of regularly, but this revamp involves hundreds of slides and there are days I’m completely cross eyed.  Cynthia and I laugh when we do really stupid stuff and can’t remember where we were and what we were working on.  I’ll apologize in advance for any minor mistakes in the rewrites because, well, you know that’s going to happen.  No matter how many times you proof something…

I had cut out a spread in the NY Times a while ago, and pinned it to my bulletin board in the mud room, of a couple exhibits I really wanted to see.  At the time, I thought, no problem, they are in NYC and I should be able to skip in this summer.  Hahahahahah…..

I revisited that article, and to my horror, one of the exhibits I wanted to see was closing on the 3rd of September.  I’m leaving on the 25th for Harrisville, coming back Labor Day weekend, have to immediately drive to Peters Valley to pick up my piece in the faculty show on the 3rd, and then ship it out to Blue Ridge Fiber Show by the 4th.  I’m not going to get into the city to see anything if I keep on this path.  

I woke up this morning to a rainy dreary Sunday, all set to jump back into handout edits and I thought to myself, just get in the car and drive into NYC and see the damn shows already.  Just do it.  

And so I did.

In fact, I hit four museums and was home by 2pm, knocking off a number of exhibits that had been on my list.  Driving into NYC on a Sunday morning is actually pleasant, the GW Bridge is beautiful and majestic and the Henry Hudson Parkway that follows the river south is dreamy with joggers running along the river on a Sunday morning, so NYC.  I parked under the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which put me in walking distance range of three of the museums with exhibits I wanted to see.

First stop was the MET Breuer.  There was an exhibit I had read about called Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Thayer Collection.  These were mostly drawings and sketches, little known works from these artists, and rarely exhibited for a number of reasons.  But it is the 100th anniversary of the death of both Klimt, whom everyone knows, and Egon Schiele, whom almost on one knows, but is one of my most favorite artists.  And of course Picasso.  You can’t take photos of course, but I’ve gotten into the curiosity of well known artists’ sketch books, considering my own quest to draw daily (which I of course have not done, no surprise there) and it was a pleasure to look at these sketches and see the raw talent each of these artists possessed.  I actually hadn’t been to the MET Breuer, since the MET took over the building vacated by the Whitney Museum when it moved to the Meat Packing district in lower Manhattan.  I don’t know why, but more contemporary art, which it mostly houses, doesn’t appeal to me the way classic work does.   The original MET Fifth Avenue is still my favorite place in the world to spend an afternoon.  

Anyway, I walked about 10 blocks north to the Neue Galerie, Museum for German and Austrian Art.  The gallery is best known for its acquisition of Klimt’s portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I, known as the Woman in Gold.  They were also having a centenary exhibition of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele’s work, because they have a heavy collection of both artist’s work, and both artists died 100 years ago this year.  Schiele died at only 28 of the Spanish Flu.  Klimt was his mentor, and he left an impressive body of work for his short life.  His portraiture was erotic, raw, graphic and I fell in love with it the first time I heard about him.  And I even love his landscapes.  Since I’d been to that museum before I’d already seen many of the pieces and I was in and out of there pretty quickly.

I walked back to the MET 5th Avenue, and decided to pop in and give another once over, as long as I was there, to the exhibit Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.  This has to be one of the best fashion exhibits they have ever done.  And it ends October 8th.  When I went when the exhibit opened in May, it was super crowded and difficult to navigate, but the brilliance of it all was to incorporate fashion into galleries that the public doesn’t usually visit.  There were exquisite fashions placed strategically all over the medieval wing, you had to look up sometimes and and of course bump into people trying to capture everything on their tablets.  The background sound track was haunting and I did a quick cruise around before checking on a couple other exhibits that were on my list.  

One was a pretty obscure little exhibit, in a pretty obscure gallery, in the basement, called “The Secret Life of Textiles: The Milton Sonday Archive.”  So this guy Milton Sonday was a pretty big authority on the structures of handmade fabrics, particularly woven works and lace.  And I’m into weaving and lace.  Apparently he created little looms and paper weavings to illustrate basic structures, and large scale lace fragments to show the interlacement or path of the threads in bobbin lace.  I didn’t take any photos, silly me, except this one which I absolutely adored.  

Last spring I did a research piece for a recorder group I occasionally play with, on the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a Flemish painter, juxtaposed to musical works by Susato, who lived and worked at the same time as Bruegel in Antwerp.  Both lived and worked in the early part of the 17th century.  In my research I came across Bruegel’s mentor, Pieter Coecke van Aelst, a painter of considerable merit, but not one I knew.  So I was completely enchanted with this work that hung over a display case of paper woven works.

 The piece is called “Interlace after Pieter Coecke van Aelst and an anonymous lace designer, 2015.  It is woven completely of paper strips.

I went from that basement gallery to the second floor of the MET, the ultimate treasure hunt to navigate this monster of a museum, to an exhibit of drawings of Eugène Delacroix.  Again with the sketch book.  Small treasures that show skill and yet the beginnings of something wonderful with no regard to the end product.  I took a single photo here, of a lovely simple watercolor and pencil that is the kind of thing I’d like to see in my own sketch book, simple rendering of a lovely scene, captured quickly.  This piece was the size of a post card and still in the opened sketchbook.

I got back to my car, and decided that if I didn’t head up to the Cloisters and see the second part of Heavenly Bodies, I’d never get to see it, as it also closes October 8th and I’ll be traveling most of September.  The Cloisters is about 15 minutes up the parkway, only a few minutes from the GW Bridge, which I had to cross anyway to get back to Jersey.  I love the Cloisters, it is part of the MET Museum, and though I’ve been there many times, I had never seen the cloistered area gardens because I always seem to get there in the winter.  Usually for a concert or something.

So just seeing those lovely wild gardens was a treat.  Made me want to sit and paint.

And the Heavenly Bodies exhibit continued.  I have to say, this was even better than the first part at the MET 5th Avenue.  Everywhere you looked, contemporary fashion was hidden in a way that you totally believed it was there all along.  I actually did take a couple photos, since they were allowed, and this one, though not my favorite garment, looked amazing in one of my favorite galleries that houses the famed Unicorn Tapestries.  This is a Thom Browne wedding ensemble from the Spring/Summer 2018 collection in white silk organza with white mink.

I came into this chapel, and audibly gasped.  Ave Maria was playing over the sound system and I just stood there with my jaw dropped.  This wedding dress from the House of Dior from 2018 was apparently modeled after the original design from 1961.  It is also white silk organza.

And then I came upon these lovely pieces, there were about six in the collection, set up in a stone hallway that led to yet another outdoor cloistered area. 

 They were a series of ensembles from 2015 by Jun Takahasi for Undercover.  I was not familiar with his work.  But I was very familiar with the images printed on the fabrics, they are digital prints from Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.  I studied Early Netherlandish painting quite extensively back in the 70’s as part of my Fine Arts Degree, and this artist was front and center.  He died shortly before Pieter Bruegel the Elder was born, and his work heavily influenced Bruegel.  Bosch was a whack job, his images were all over the place, haunting, erotic, grotesque, but the kind of imagery you can’t look away from.  As a 20 something, I found a kind of naughty pleasure in his work. This is the triptych, it starts with the Garden of Eden on the left, and a grotesque hell on the right.  A total expose on the fate of humanity, we are all doomed…

I was pretty proud of myself for achieving the Triple Play, all three MET museums in one day. 


And so I had my fill of inspiration, that should last for a number of months.  I will be packing of course my knitting and my sketchbook and pencils and watercolors, and armed with newly updated handouts, and some new patterns and samples, I start with Harrisville in NH next weekend, followed by a five day class in Inkle Weaving at John C Campbell in western NC, immediately followed by Sievers on Washington Island WI.  That’s the 48 hour turn around.  I’m going to try not to unpack after Harrisville.  I immediately head to Arkansas and the Ozarks followed by three days of video shoots for Threads Magazine and then my retreat at the Outer Banks of NC.  My guild show and sale is in November (I’m the treasurer) and I end the year in December with a trip to the Milwaukee Guild.  And then I write an article for Heddlecraft.  I do love my life, and I especially love when I can spend an unexpected day getting inspired.  I’m madly trying to finish off this Krokbragd band on the inkle loom, so I can take it as a sample to John C. Campbell, and of course my shadow has returned, now that my daughter has moved back home to take a new job in central Jersey.  

And about that daily sketching thing…

I did manage to finish up a drawing I did of the kitchen, that I started while I was at Peters Valley teaching a couple weeks ago.  

But now I’m inspired to draw people.  I know my portfolio of life drawing subjects from the 70’s is floating around the attic somewhere…

Stay tuned…


Over the Rainbow…

I did it.  My tech crew and I did it.  This has been an issue for so long I can’t remember when I didn’t have tech issues.  I had a lovely old fashion cry this afternoon, I haven’t done that in a long time.

Last Monday Pair Networks took on the job of moving my sites, both weaversew.com and daryllancaster.com, which are linked, to their hosting services.  I’ve needed to move off the hosting company I had for a long time but couldn’t until all the other items were in place.  Which they finally were.  I’ve been emailing back and forth between my personal tech support and their moving team, trying to figure out what they are talking about when they ask specific questions and very proud of my self when I figured it out and answered them.  All by myself!

Yesterday they had copied all the files from the website, the blog and the store and made up a dummy site that I could check before everything went live.  The website was pretty easy to run through, and the store as well.  There isn’t that much on them.  Links seemed to work, and photos for the most part went where they were supposed to go.  I did find a couple of errors that I never caught initially which I made a note to fix.  I also noted that my prospectuses needed serious updates.  They aren’t incorrect, they just aren’t current.  Add that to the list.  

But the blog.  My lovely life story.  I have almost 800 posts spanning just about 10 years.  There have been 46,000 comments and lots of views.  There is a counter at the bottom of each post to show how many people view a post.  Recent posts always give me a little thrill when the count goes over 1,000.  Which it eventually does.  I have about 600 subscribers, but a lot of people just view my posts on an RSS feed.  Occasionally I’ll get spikes in posts like the one from Cuba, where people share it with friends since it has nothing to do with weaving.  

I clicked on and skimmed over a little less than 800 posts over the last day and a half.  It was gut wrenching when I saw the ones where my husband passed, and the ones where we said goodbye to my son when he went off to boot camp, there is a lot of history there.  I often search my blog when I can’t remember when I did something or what I saw when I was there.  Like last night.  I watched the final episode of Project Runway All Stars, which is the only show I watch on TV, I adore it, and last night was no different.  I was rooting for all three finalists.  But one of the episodes this season took place at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan where the contestants toured an exhibit about Isaac Mizrahi.  I did a head scratch because I went to that exhibit.  It was fantastic.  But that exhibit ran between March and August 2016.  In fact I went to the exhibit 6 weeks after my husband died.  Which means that series of PR All Stars was shot in 2016.  I knew that because I did a blog search and there it was.

Anyway, as I went further back in the blog I started seeing some pretty respectable numbers of page views, most were in the 5,000 range.  I was blown away that anybody cared about what I did back in 2013.  Then I hit a couple that had 70,000 page views!


I kept going back and hit this one and nearly collapsed on the floor.  

Yeah, 123,000 pages views.  I’m going to guess that because I had keywords and people did searches that the site popped up.  They might not have actually stuck around and read the post, but for a brief moment let me bask in the love that 123,000 people saw my page.

Note to self, always add keywords to the metadata of each post…

It was almost anticlimactic when I saw this one at only 110,000 views.


So the move is finished.  I had my office assistant place a store order and all was working there.  And I got the FTP transfer information from Pair and by myself, all by myself, I changed the settings in Dreamweaver so I can just click on the little “put” arrow and any changes to my web pages and content will actually happen.  The speed was so fast I wasn’t sure anything actually happened.  But it did, and I burst into tears.  I did it.  Kevin, I did it.  I hope you are watching.  You said I’d figure it out, and with a lot of expensive help, I actually did it.  The final test of course is if this blog post gets to all of you, that it loads quickly without timing out, and that you all get your notifications.  The I’ll go off and have a well deserved celebratory glass of wine and pack for a lecture tomorrow in South Jersey. (In fact it did not go as planned, I couldn’t load images, I had to tweak some more things, talk to Pair tech support, and I’m going to try this again…)


I finished the jacket I started last week.  All of the handwork is done now, the photo still has pins everywhere.  I love this jacket.  I love the fabric  and can’t wait to weave more.  I searched my blog for a photo of the original yarn when I bought it on Bainbridge Island, WA back in 2016, I had only purchased two skeins, the ones on the left, but the dog ate one of them forcing me to purchase two more at full price from Yarn Barn of Kansas.  I was lucky.  I have four of a different colorway and I can’t wait to warp up a loom to use those skeins.  The yarn is Noro Taiyo Lace.  The warp was a 2 ply shetland, mill end from WEBS.

And I looked longingly at my shelves of stash, which my studio assistant has spent the better part of the last week organizing, refolding fabrics to keep the edges from fading in the light, and generally moving things around.  She pulled the bulky Krokbragd sampler I wove last spring in a Tom Knisley workshop with the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild, and asked me where it should go.  I looked at it, re-looked at it and then did this…

I love this tote.   I love that I have things that make me happy and make me proud and make me just smile because life can be pretty dreary and depressing what with those proverbial handbaskets we are all traveling in and a spring that has seriously failed to launch…  (There was another dusting of snow this morning). All of my outdoor waterlines froze and ruptured over the winter, yes I drained them and blew air through them.  They all still ruptured.  The ponds are in terrible shape, the pumps are shot and if they do manage to go on, they blow the circuits in the house.  There is a lot of money going to be poured into the exterior again this spring. 

But for today, just for today, I did it.  I crossed over that rainbow into hopefully a smother future technologically and that Pair Networks will be way more reliable and responsive and the upgraded speed will be felt all around.

I love you all, thanks for your patience…  Stay tuned…