The computer gods smiled at me today…

I spent the last couple of days really focused on the guild website I’m building, wanting to get it put to bed so I can concentrate on getting this yardage done.  I am not proficient with the software at all, the learning curve is huge, and I find that I occasionally get something I just don’t know how to correct.  That happened last night.  I actually had the whole site created, and uploaded, and when I checked the web pages, I just couldn’t get rid of the ugly blue active link boxes around all the little menu buttons.  I knew I had to code the fix somewhere in the CSS, but I went to bed frustrated and depressed, and not sure how I was going to fix the problem.  So of course, no way to shut my little brain off.  I really didn’t sleep at all last night…  🙁

I got up this morning, determined to figure this out, or redesign the whole website, and my wonderful buddy Sally tossed me an email that said, why don’t you query the problem in Dreamweaver online help?  Duh (she says as she smacks herself on an already bruised side of the head…)

And of course, Sally was right on target.  It took about 45 seconds to find the little piece of code necessary to fix the problem, which I embedded and viola!  I had a site that looked the way I envisioned.  Now I’m just waiting for feedback from the group, typos, missed links, weird things happening with obscure browsers, and whatever else they can come up with.  Check out the site if you are curious…   Frances Irwin Handweavers

So the computer gods were my friends today, and after a frustrating week, I’m happy with the final product.  And I made a big ceremonious cross off my to do list on that project.  I still have to build the gallery, but I don’t feel so pressured on that part at the moment.

ReginaMeanwhile, I got a couple of calls/emails today from former students, just checking in on how much my workshops meant to them, and one of them Regina Novotny sent photos of what she’s done with the information from the class.  Regina wove the fabric for this coat, and tailored it from the pattern we used in the jacket class. Talk about a great big vote of confidence.  I felt really proud of my students, and how they’ve taken what I’ve given them, and run with it.  Two of the students who called today, want me to come and do a private session at their studio in the mountains of West Virginia in June.  I’m really really looking forward to that…

cutting tableSo, having a huge smile on my face, and a finished website, I turned to my cutting table which was completely unusable and cleaned it off.  There is nothing like a clean workspace to get the muses dancing…

MSU3On Sunday, I attended the opening at the George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University, for the Art Connections 6 exhibit.  I have two pieces in the show.  The opening was packed, hard to see the work, which was hung salon style, filling the walls floor to ceiling, and of course, one of my pieces was near the floor.  We all had stiff knees after squatting down discussing the imagery and iconography of the piece.

I had one of my smaller Personal Posts pieces there as well.  It was sort of lost between two bright and colorful pieces, yet there were a lot of people peering close to really see what was happening in the piece.

MSU2MSU1I met a couple of women I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years, one of them I went to art school with in the mid 1970’s.  I love the connections one makes at these kind of openings, and lots of business cards were exchanged.

So, now I’m going to focus on getting this fabric off the loom before the end of the month, so I can get it photographed and entered in the Convergence yardage exhibit.  I would have liked to have submitted more than one piece, but that’s not going to happen…

loomweavingfabricThe fabric is weaving pretty well, the sticky springy cotton lace is still giving me a bit of grief, but I just ignore it and build up a rhythm.  I’ve finished about a quarter of the yardage, and I’m hoping to blow through another couple of yards tomorrow.  It is so pretty to weave, each time the cloth is advanced a whole new color section reveals itself.  🙂


I’m going to blame it all on having the flu, or too many mojitos, or the weather, or whatever.  Today was one of those days where I gave myself a headache from smacking my self upside the head too many times.

First I woke up with a panic attack.  You know the kind, your to do list stretches across the desk and onto the floor and you only have 28 days to get it all done.  I leave February 13 for a two week teaching tour of the southwest, and all of this has to be done before I go, plus a hundred other things that aren’t even on the list.  No pressure whatsoever…

The general way things are going, isn’t conducive to getting 200 things off my to do list in that short of time.  Some of the things are easy quick tasks, like Pay NJ Sales Tax.  Others, like build website for Frances Irwin Guild (which I’ve promised them for over a year), can’t be done with a quick phone call.

And there are all the exhibit deadlines.  No one will die if I don’t enter the yardage exhibit, or Small Expressions for Convergence this year, but it is sort of important to me.  So I push myself.  And of course, nothing is cooperating.

skipsSo I got myself up this morning, well enough from my flu bout to kick it into high gear.  I carried my tea to my loom and sat.  I worked on this fabric all day yesterday, trouble shooting, correcting crossed threads (only a couple, not bad for more than 1100 threads) but the stripes of cotton lace yarn, set in a 2/1 birds eye are giving me all sorts of grief.  It is a springy yarn, and very sticky.  I’m getting all sorts of skips.  And that can’t happen when you are trying to blow through ten yards of fabric on a loom.  This fabric has to weave like butter and all these problems need to be worked out somehow.  On top of the sticky yarn, the treadling sequence I designed to simultaneously weave the three different structures is really difficult to follow.  I can’t see where I am in the sequence, and it isn’t logical.  So I sat with my weaving software, and re-figured the tie-up and treadling sequence, and came up with something that was a lot more logical.

tie_up1tie_up2tie_up3The problem with the second version, was I would be lifting 5 very heavy rock maple shafts on a 45″ wide loom, every time I pushed a treadle.  I’m out of shape for that, and I’ll never make it for the remaining 9 yards of fabric in a timely fashion.  I need this to weave like butter.  And it doesn’t address the sticky warp problem, it will only compound it.  I had spent about an hour this morning retying all the treadles with the new tie up, when suddenly it was one of those aha moments, I smacked the side of my head and went, “duh…”

What I needed to do here was weave the fabric upside down.  That way I only need to lift 3 of the 8 treadles, and that should also solve the sticky warp problem.

So off I went, back under the loom (how convenient that my weaving software has a button that says “change face” and it automatically gives you the inverse tie-up.)  I retied everything a third time, and then resumed my sample.

In my sample, I am playing with different weft yarns, dark, light, cotton, rayon, wool, blends, thick, thin, and once I’ve exhausted those possibilities, I cut the fabric I’ve done off the loom, usually about 3/4 of a yard, and then I cut that apart into three pieces.cutting_offsamples

Now comes the fun part.  I keep the first sample for my notebook.  I can clearly see what wefts I used, and it is a great right off the loom reference.  I stitch well around the perimeter of the other two samples, and take the second one and throw it in the bathroom sink with some shampoo, swish it around for a few minutes, and roll it in a towel, hanging it to dry.  The third sample goes through the washer and dryer with a load of jeans or towels.

washed_sampleyarnHere I have all of the finishing options at my fingertips, and I can really see how a yarn will perform and check my sett.  I was surprised at the results, and ended up selecting a dark plum rayon weft, and yippee, a quick calculation says I’ll have enough to actually weave this puppy off.

So I loaded up a shuttle, and started weaving and I’m very happy and confident that I can weave this fabric off, get it washed, dried and photographed, by the January 31st deadline.

I still have two pieces to finish on another loom for Small Expressions…

Fashion Show exhibit pieces are already done and photographed.weaving

While my swatches were drying, I went back to the website I’ve been working on sporadically for the last couple of months.  The design I’m working on has these menu buttons for the navigational links, and I wanted to make them from pictures of handwoven fabric.

The site is coming together, I’m still creating in Photoshop, trying out different options, once I’m happy with everything, and my guild buddy Sally who is collecting all the data approves, I’ll move over to Dreamweaver and start to actually construct this thing.  But I couldn’t figure out how to make an oval button template, I was index4.htmldoing it in a really convoluted way, and I knew there had to be an easier way to do this.  After all, this is Photoshop, there should be six easier ways to do it.  I tossed Sally, an email, something like, any idea if there is an easier way, and the response came back, how about making a Path and then just moving the path from one image to another.  Paths, paths, paths, I’m scratching my head, so out comes the manual.  Let me just say here, that making paths in Photoshop is probably in the beginners manual.  I apparently skipped over that part.  Duh…  It took me about 15 minutes to figure it all out, and then I went crazy making little oval menu buttons from all the guild photos Sally gave me.

The end result is I got a site I’m pretty happy with, and now I only have to go and build it.  I got a thumbs up from Sally, and I’m on my way.  So today was one of those days where you sit back and say, Wow!  I crossed two huge hurdles, and accomplished a lot.  My to do list is still spilling off my desk, but I’m a little less stressed than I was this morning…