Mom of 3000…

Mother’s Day is tomorrow. I honestly don’t pay too much attention to Hallmark holidays. This time last year we were in Japan. My daughter bought me flowers last night, and a small piece of my favorite cake, Tiramisu. That’s a holdover from my late husband, something we both loved… And she made these tiny arrangements out of a Lego knock-off that are lovely and will sit in my window in the kitchen. My son is half way across the world doing military duty. I wish he were home.

This has been a crazy few weeks. I wanted it that way. With my son away, and drama all around me, I wanted big projects to stay as busy as I can to focus on that which I cannot change.

Everything came together in the last week. Last Sunday my music group, Montclair Early Music had their spring concert. Called Myth and Magic, it celebrated the Renaissance, and fantasy, video games, and Harry Potter. I borrowed a dress that was more fantasy than Renaissance. So I can now cross that off my list of things to focus on.

I finished the cat appliqué quilt block number 4, and this one was really really hard. All that feathery cat fur was very challenging to appliqué.

I’m working on block 5, my goal is one a month and finish by the end of the year when I can give it to my mom. It was her project, quilt block of the month from Maggie Walker, purchased in the late 90’s. She asked me to make it for her since she is in her 90’s and her eyesight and arthritic fingers make it too difficult for her to work on. I found the endless stitching to be centering, soothing, and really really good for my mental health.

This past Thursday night, my retrospective at County College of Morris, in Morris County, NJ reopened. Though the magic of the first opening will never be matched, a number of my guild members came and we had the most lovely time, chatting, talking about weaving, and we met a new fellow weaver wearing an awesome handwoven scarf, which we were all over, and convinced him to join the guild. Which he did. Our numbers are growing…

Monday I give the keynote address to the Morris County Teen Arts Festival, and then that will be behind me. The exhibit will be open through the summer, now through August 22. Hours are M-F 9-6. There is hope that there will be Saturday hours, but a lot of people have to agree, including security, and they aren’t always on the same page.

Meanwhile, this week, my landscape designer, who has been here for more than a month, finished planting more than 3000 perennials, with a couple dozen bushes and trees, almost all native, and designed to attract pollinators, and bloom from early spring into late fall. I have so much to learn. But I’m starting with something.

My job is to keep everything alive for the next few weeks until root systems are established. A couple hours of watering a day will be required. I knew what I was getting into, but what I didn’t know, was how magical early mornings are, with robins, and butterflies, and bugs, and nature all doing its thing. I’ve never spent so much time outside. There is a robin that comes and finds me every morning. And a pair of cardinals that lurks nearby. And there is a painted lady butterfly that is checking out all the new plants. I’m learning each type of plant the designer put in. We went around today and labeled things so I’d be able to learn to recognize plants from their earliest spring sprouts through blooming, and dying back in the fall. The ponds continue to be a challenge, but they are full of happy fish.

The designer laid two palettes of gorgeous bluestone. Some of it is surrounded by grass, but the rest will eventually be buried in beds of phlox and violets. All those little plugs will fill in and there won’t be visible dirt to weed.

I’ve had well meaning friends wonder why I don’t just invest in sprinklers. Not only is that an indiscriminate waste of water, but what I water and how much depends on each plant and its location. And if it rained recently and how much. This is sort of like having a new baby, scant directions, developing new instincts, flying by the seat of your pants, because you have little idea of what you are doing. But I’m trying, and hoping to keep my 3000+ charges alive. And make sure the southern Magnolias and American Holly don’t get root rot.

And I’ve been clearing a decent size bed, between my property and the edge of the backyard next door, of bags full of Creeping Charlie. And other invasive nasties. I’m thinking this is where I want to put my dye garden. I just have to look up what to plant. I’m going shopping next week! In search of dye plants… And maybe start a watercolor gardening journal, there are some really beautiful things in my yard…

I’m doing what I love, learning something new. Discovering a new magical world. And I am willing to work hard to keep it all alive. We didn’t kill all the invasives, there are still a lot on my property. Mostly what’s left serves a purpose, privacy, screening, shade, beautiful fall color. Bit by bit, as the newly planted trees and bushes grow, I’ll be taking a lot more out. And I’m finding things I didn’t know I had, violets, fleabane, and some other cool things the landscape designer identified, but I’ve already forgotten. And yes, that is an Alaskan Weeping Cedar, and no it is not native to NJ, but as my landscape designer said, it is a really cool tree…

So Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and everyone out there who cares for something, whether it be a child, a dog, a cat, goldfish in a pond, or a tree. There is something healing about caring for something outside yourself. It takes a village, it takes a planet.

Stay tuned…

But where are the pictures…

This has been one crazy month, just like old times. Which I would have been happy just leaving in the past. But I have no one to blame but myself, adding so much to the calendar, I felt like I was running on five cylinders for a month straight. It was all good stuff, but oddly enough, bad social media influencer that I am, I took almost no pictures.

I had a pair of students in for the week just prior to my guild sale. They made lovely jackets. I took no pictures.

My guild sale the first weekend in November was a smashing success. Record sales. I was there for the Friday night opening and all day on Saturday. Selling my little heart out. Just like I used to do in the 80’s when I did craft fairs. I took no pictures. There were others assigned to that job. But nothing to share with you. Except these two images of my work packed up ready to go to the sale on that Friday morning.

In the end, I sold a lot of stuff. All of the bunnies are gone, and three of the four squirrels. Almost all of the totes went, and a large number of greeting cards. Almost all the work I showed in the last post has gone to new homes. One of the buyers of my handwoven ginger jar was so pleased with it, she posted a photo in her own blog after her husband picked up some pretty fronds.

The rest of the leftover goodies from the guild sale that didn’t sell, went on to the Shakespeare Theatre for their Pop-Up Shop during their final production for the season, A Midwinter Night’s Dream. The show opens December 6th. This is a particularly complex set of costumes and I’ve spent a lot of hours there volunteering as a stitcher. I’m heading there tomorrow as well. Of course, there are no pictures.

The Shakespeare Theatre had its annual gala/cabaret fund raiser the weekend after the sale. Lots of glitter and sequins. I wore this long vest. I took no pictures of course. It was a fabulous event. There is a knitting group associated with the Theatre, called ShakesPurls. I sat at a table with them. Lovely to be with like-minded people when surrounded by incredible theatrical talent.

And work continues on the complete destruction of my yard. My invaluable handyman, who has taken all this on as a personal project, has removed nearly 30 invasives, mostly Japanese Barberry, and couple of surprise Callery Pears, and a few Japanese Honeysuckle. There is lots more, but I managed to find maybe a handful of plants that aren’t invasive, a few hiding American Holly, and a Ninebark, which I didn’t know I had. I took no photos. Except, before all the leaves dropped, I tried to identify what’s left, using a plant finder app, and each time I focused in on a plant I got something like this… Sigh…

I, of course, live in the northeast, that little smudge next to Pennsylvania, little dense NJ. Lots of corporate landscaping. All lawn and invasives.

I had another student, one of my dearest long time students who studied with me at Sievers, came for the week. We worked on a gorgeous Harris Tweed plaid she bought in Scotland. We made a fantastic coat. I took no pictures.

Thanksgiving was Thursday. My daughter and I drove to my son’s apartment in the next county, where he cooked a lovely Thanksgiving salmon dinner. She grabbed a photo of him cooking. I took one picture, of my dinner plate.

However, my head has not been idle… I look at my yarn shelves, which are overflowing, no more room at the inn so to speak. I picked a random style of yarn, a 3.75/3 cotton, in eight colors, from Peter Patchis, and sat looking at it for a couple weeks. It is a bulky unmercerized 3-ply yarn, and rugs came to mind, but I’m not really a rug weaver. I’ve always wanted woven bath towels, but could this really work? I looked at Waffle Weave structures, and have been thinking and perusing ideas, looking at books in my studio, and along comes an article by Elisabeth Hill in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue of Handwoven Magazine, talking about tutu’s. Not what you are thinking of. Apparently, when you weave a very collapsible weave structure, and do a plain weave hem on either end, once washed, and the structure collapses, the ends don’t and you are left with a ruffling tutu. I had never thought about it, and duh… That would have been an issue on a large bath towel. The article goes on to explain that by breaking the hems into two layers and doing double weave, that would resolve the density of the warp ends juxtaposed to a collapsed structure.

So I sat with software, and a calculator, and the article, which had examples that didn’t quite work for what I wanted. As a matter of fact, one of her drafts shows a “double weave” that isn’t exactly plain weave top and bottom. But I got the idea. I wanted the waffle cells deep, because of the size of the yarn, so I drafted, and redrafted, and came up with something, on 8 shafts, straight draw. The treadling is a five-end point threading.

I took a deep breath, and wound 10 yards, because that’s how much yarn I had, which would give me four 75″ x 45″ bath towels. Which I knew would shrink probably 25%. This was all a giant guess…

I got the whole thing on the loom last weekend.

It was pretty important that I sampled, cut it off and washed it, though I’m not sure if it didn’t work what I would do with the 10 yards on the loom. I chose a sett of 12 epi, and it seemed to weave pretty square. I did a double weave hem.

I cut the whole thing off after about 6″, and tossed it into the washer and dryer along with the sheets from my last guest. Hot water wash and a hot dryer.

Damn I’m good…

I even tried to dry myself off after the last shower with the small sample. It got wet pretty quickly, but the sample wasn’t enough to wrap myself in, so I really don’t know how well they will perform, and they certainly won’t match my bathroom, but my whole point was to turn yarn on the shelf into something interesting that pushed my skills.

I’m all tied on again, and weaving the first towel. I thought the color changes and treadling sequence which are all carefully orchestrated would be really difficult. It is very easy, though I did have to dig out my widest temple to maintain width on the loom, since this structure collapses even under tension.

Oh, and right after the guild sale, I made a down filled pillow from a large square of handwoven fabric I found in my stash, which I wove back in 2005 I think? My first hand painted warp project. Leftover from this jacket. It is mine, and I have it on my bed when I want to sit up and read all about invasive plants.

And so dear readers, I am furiously rehearsing for my last recorder concert of the season, you can find the info here, December 3rd in Montclair NJ. And tech week starts next weekend for the Shakespeare Theatre, so my roll as a stitcher will be finished. And my yard work is done. I hope life settles into a lovely winter routine, winter is when I usually get out the dye pots, so I’ll do a bit of that, which sketching out what I want to plant where in the gardens.

Hoping for a lovely holiday time for all of you my friends, no matter what you celebrate, fill it with things that make you happy and bring you joy, and surround yourselves with those who hold you in the light.

Stay tuned…

Dog Days of Summer

The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius (known colloquially as the “Dog Star”), which Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. -Wikipedia

Hahahah! Yes, it is summer, and yes there are sudden thunderstorms, this is July in New Jersey. I’ve had just a few visits to the basement with all the animals as they quake in terror at the thunderboomers, but that’s July in NJ. I’m not experiencing lethargy, but a gentler period in my life, where there are some fun things on the calendar, (we just saw the Barbie movie last night!) but mostly my days are figuring out what to do with all the produce from my garden, weaving off my many many looms, visiting with friends, and staying inside where it is air conditioned. We haven’t had the extreme heat of the southwest, but it is July in NJ, and temps in the 90’s are part of the deal. I’ll take it

I’m a methodical worker. Slowly but surely long term projects are completed with dogged determination an hour or so at a time. I finished the 144 slide presentation on my trip to Japan, and already have two guilds who want me to show it. I’m happy to share the experience, my only thought is how am I going to cull 144 slides to a reasonable amount to show in a 1 hour guild presentation…

Here are some more images…

Meanwhile, Handwoven magazine, (I used to be their features editor back in the day) asked me to record a podcast, they are in season 7 now of the Long Thread Podcast. Long Thread Media now owns Handwoven Magazine. So last week, I had the most lovely chat with Anne Merrow, co-founder and Editorial Director of Long Thread Media, and midnight Saturday, the episode launched. Listen to it here.

It was fun to revisit some of the articles I wrote for them over 35 issues.

I’ve mentioned in past blogs that I joined an early music group, where I play bass recorder. We have frequent concerts, and I get to dress up and play cool music. We had a lovely outdoor concert at a historical site in Northern NJ, out on the lawn, during a Revolutionary War Reenactment day. We played all kinds of 18th century marches and colonial period music. One of the recorder player’s wife took this photo of her husband and me. I was also the commentator for the show, challenging juggling a microphone and a bass, in the 95 degree heat!

I know the costume isn’t 18th century, but for an hour on the lawn, my Folkwear pattern Walking Skirt and Gibson Girl blouse would have to do. I started making the silk cap years ago at a workshop in a reenactment conference, and never finished it. Found it in a basket of UFO’s. So I did finish it and it protected me from the sun and at least gave my costume some authenticity.

I am methodically working through the looms in the studios, weaving an hour or so a day, clearing looms, but leaving the finished cloth on them, so they don’t look so naked.

I talked about finishing the mohair yardage in my last post, but I’ve since finished the 10-yard ice-dyed Crackle warp, and the 8-yard combination structures on 8-shafts from my hand dyed yarns.

And then there is this project… I’ve mentioned it before I think in a blog post from April 7th, 2023. This is a Webs Complete Kitchen and Dining Set, 4 Summer/Winter placemats, 4 plain weave napkins and Summer/Winter runner, all on 6 shafts. I posted this photo talking about it. I was admiring the photo and looked more carefully and immediately saw that the last couple of picks were in error.

Those were easy to fix. But on closer inspection, and looking carefully at the warp in front of me on the loom, I realized that the pattern wasn’t weaving square, especially in the beginning, and this was pretty important for such a lengthy project. Whatever I did, I had to replicate throughout this warp, and it was clearly wrong to start with. I spent a week trying to decide what to do. In the end, I took out the half mat I had woven and started over, adding a temple, which the original directions called for, which I despise using, but when someone else designs a project, you really need to follow someone else’s directions if you want the same results. In addition, I was able to switch the doubled 8/2 pattern thread to a doubled 10/2, slightly thinner, and I was able to get a perfectly square beat without much fuss.

So I continued along, through the four placemats, through the four napkins and on to the runner, which they suggest to weave last, so you can adjust length based on how much warp was left.

I posted a photo of my progress last night, on Facebook, very proud that I was nearing the end. I was about half way through the runner when I noticed some comments coming in and I picked up my phone to read them. I scrolled back up to the photo and as I was admiring it, to my complete horror I saw an error, some 2 feet at this point, back at the beginning of the runner. There are no words…

Here is the photo I originally posted…

I’ve indicated the error with an arrow.

Somehow, transitioning back to the Summer/Winter pattern from the plain weave napkins, which had a different type of header, I failed to put in the header for the Summer/Winter runner. There was only a 1/2″ seam allowance turn under from Sewing Thread. I was appalled at the stupidity and right away decided I was not ripping out two feet of Summer/Winter runner. I played out all sorts of scenarios in my head, very disappointed at my stupidity, and then it hit me. I’ve dealt with situations like this in sewing. Unfortunately a lot, especially when commercial patterns are incorrect. I know how to add an invisible false hem, and I already had a built in seam allowance to attach it to.

So I finished the runner, with plenty of warp left. And I wove an additional piece that will act as a false hem… I didn’t feel quite as stupid…

Meanwhile, I got hearing aids on Thursday. The entire world opened up. I don’t really have a hearing loss, my hearing issues have been lifelong, more processing issues, if there is any peripheral noise, I don’t understand conversation and can’t can’t process words to music, dinner table discussions, etc. I’d been told over the years that hearing aids really wouldn’t help my situation. I recently went for a hearing test, which showed very minor age related loss, but the technology has changed immensely for hearing aids, which apparently are using AI now, in some higher end models, and so, $6,000 later I have some incredible technology stuck in my ears and the entire world is brighter and the clarity in conversations is just awesome.

Meanwhile, I wrote a script for a Studio Tour I’ve been wanting to do, since October of 2020, when I was asked to participate in HGA’s Spinning and Weaving week. The original tour was recorded on Zoom, clarity is challenging in a Zoom recording, but it was never made available after the Spinning and Weaving Week was over, and I’ve had a lot of guilds ask if there was any way they could show it.

Now that all the looms are warped, I thought it a good time to record the studios at this time in my life, but my security and tech support guy thought it unwise to just post it on YouTube for anybody to view. He is right. So we shot the tour last weekend, with a separate audio track, and now it is all in the hands of my daughter, when she can fit into her schedule a massive editing and merging many many pieces. My goal now is to offer it as a guild lecture, for a nominal donation to the HGA Fiber Trust. Since this whole thing was their idea in the first place. I’ll let you know when this becomes a reality. It will be a YouTube video, but with restricted access.

So that’s my summer so far, I’m heading down to the kitchen to make some hummus for lunch, and put on a pot of tomato sauce, since I have a large bucket of tomatoes from the garden. I’ll come back up after lunch and add all the photos and links.

Stay tuned…

Above all, be flexible…

These last couple of weeks nearly killed me. So much so that today, I went back to bed after taking care of all the animals, and I curled up with a very trashy novel and had a real day off… I haven’t done that in years. The trashy novel was book four of the Bridgerton series, got it cheap on my Kindle, and it was the perfect thing to curl up with, and actually catch my breath..

This all started the weekend before Thanksgiving. I promised my 91 year old mom a long overdue visit. She lives about 3 1/2 hours from me in Maryland. I arrived on a Friday for lunch, she had chicken soup waiting for me. It was the best. From a completely weary and overworked daughter, coming home to mom and having chicken soup put in front of me, well I’ve never been so grateful for anything in my life.

We had lots of fun over the next couple days, picking up puzzles at the barn sale at her complex, she gave me half, and she kept half and we will eventually swap. I took her around for her errands, and Sunday afternoon, we had a lovely lunch of Crab Imperial. I carried the lunch dishes to the sink, and I heard an oof and then a thud, and I turned, and just like that, mom tripped over her rug, and landed flat on her face, taking out a dining chair in the process.

I can’t begin to tell you the myriad of things that went through my mind. And of course, the first thing was, damn, this happened on my watch, and my sisters are going to kill me. The ambulance came, she was transported to the hospital, x-rays, CT scans, lots of blood work, and because no one is available for rehab on a Sunday night, I sat with my mom in the ER, who broke her right shoulder in two places, same as me almost a year ago, in the hospital, for 30 hours. I’d like to say it was the longest day of my life, but I’ve had worse. I adore her, and she was really trying to keep her spirits up.

Above all, be flexible…

I stayed an extra day in Maryland, making sure mom was safe in the rehab in her complex. My Maryland sister will take over. And my heart bled for my mom. My broken shoulder was my non dominant side, and I’m only 67. She broke her dominant side. Though when she said to the medical staff, actually anyone who would listen, that this is the 14th broken bone she has had since she was 14, I did break a smile. I come from a strong stock of women who always find a way. But this will be a painful year to come. Ask me how I know this.

Above all, be flexible…

So I made my way home on Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, not what I planned. But I did my best to prep the house, buy the food, and though my guest list was small, just my kids and my NY sister and her husband, I was hosting Thanksgiving.

I set the table, with my favorite dishes, a wedding present back in the 70’s, with my new handwoven napkins, and my lovely daughter did all the cooking. My son made his infamous charcuterie boards. We had a 2 pound slab of fresh organic salmon with crab meat stuffing. The house was presentable, though I didn’t invite anyone upstairs.

Above all, be flexible…

Friday after Thanksgiving I promised I’d work a day at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, where I volunteer as a stitcher in the costume shop. They are in the final prep for costumes for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which opens next week. They save all the really hard stuff nobody wants to do, for me! Which challenges me and makes me think!

My private student Kyrie, whom I’ve rescheduled three times, once because I broke my shoulder, then a conflict with her schedule, and the last time, two days before she was to come, I got Covid, was due in Sunday night. I had two days to grocery shop, and clean the house again, including upstairs. I have multiple animals, I’m always cleaning the house…

Above all, be flexible…

Sunday morning, I was about to head to the grocery store, and I got an email, Kyrie was sick. Covid negative. But she wasn’t well enough to travel until Tuesday.

I thought I’d have a couple days to breathe. Hahahahah!

Above all, be flexible…

Monday night I got the first draft of my long awaited Heddlecraft article, all 36 pages, to start my editing. I suppose the timing was perfect, since Kyrie was delayed, but dear Lord, is there no rest for the weary?

Anyway, I furiously edited, checked links, checked .wif files, compared my original manuscript. We got through five versions as Kyrie was walking in the door Tuesday afternoon. The issue was released shortly after, and I’ve never been so proud of anything in my life. Here is the link if you don’t have a subscription (if you are a weaver you should) or you can get a single issue.

My student was an absolute delight. She was still getting over the remnants of some respiratory crud, but I’m beyond caring anymore. We wore masks and carried on. we worked hard and she proved to be a wonderfully adept student.

She brought a gorgeous handwoven fabric, using hand dyed warps from Blazing Shuttles.

She finished the jacket, all but the handwork, late Friday night, and was out of here Saturday morning, making a five day class work in three.

Above all, be flexible…

And that gave me the opportunity to frantically do multiple final rehearsals for the Montclair Early Music holiday concert, last night, Christmas in King Arthur’s Court. Beautiful music from the English Renaissance. I played bass recorder. It was so very much fun, I remembered why I love playing recorders with a group, and we even got a standing ovation.

Meanwhile…. There is a difference between what I need to do, what I have to do, and what I want to do. And sometimes there is a very grey area between those things.

Mostly what I need to do, is to constantly create, and life is certainly interfering. Silk City Fibers, whom I’ve had a long relationship with, periodically sends me yarn they are thinking of bringing in, or have brought in, or are just curious about. I’m always happy to make a test run, because that’s something I adore doing, I need to do, and I excel at; throw something at me and I’ll see what I can invent.

This yarn is a lovely silky rayon, two four ply yarns loosely wrapped together, in an exquisite purple. I had about 9 ounces, and so I immediately thought of a Spot Bronson structure, and did some fast calculations, and wound a warp.

I started weaving and my sett was spot on, pun intended. I ultimately made three samples and washed them in different ways, and then wove a lovely scarf. Took about a day, which was just before the Heddlecraft proofs arrived…

Meanwhile… My guild meeting is Wednesday night. We usually have some make it-take it project for the December meeting, and since we are still meeting via zoom, it was decided that we would all make an Anni Albers Bauhaus necklace.

You can buy them as a kit from the Philadelphia Art Museum. The kit is simple enough, a 1/4″ ribbon, with a bunch of washers. I’ve always been curious how this necklace works, but I really didn’t have the time or thought to plan ahead and order the kit. I was sort of busy… And besides, I’m a handweaver… Duh…

I bought a sample pack of some 60 different Sulky 12 wt. thread colors many years ago at a sewing conference. It remained untouched. Until now.

This was something I really needed to do, to keep my hands busy, and I knew that once my student started sewing her jacket, I would just be hanging out at the ready for a number of days, to make sure questions got answered, and that any mistakes were rapidly fixed, and she could keep going.

So I designed a 1/4″ ribbon, full length on my Bekka inkle loom, which is longer than the 84″ necessary to make the necklace.

Easy weaving…

And ultimately, I have long ribbon for my necklace project for Wednesday night’s meeting.

I keep trying to figure out how my life has become so out of control, and I’m hoping that things will quiet down soon. I needed today, to curl up with a trashy novel, but this afternoon, I tackled the last of the major projects on my overdue to-do list. I finished the Index for my YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews. You can find it here. Alphabetical by video, and alphabetical by topic. There were many labors of love I completed this past week, the Heddlecraft article finally got published, the Shakespeare Show will open next week but my work there is done. The concert was last night, my student finished and made it home safe, and the Index is finished. And I have a 1/4″ inkle woven ribbon for the meeting Wednesday night.

I’m tired. But above all, I’m flexible…

Stay tuned…

Where do I begin…

I feel like I am still spinning around wildly on that Merry-Go-Round, and my poor painted pony is running out of breath!  But I’m getting closer to the finish line, if that’s actually a thing.  Truth be told, I seriously doubt it!  

So I went off to Sievers.  Sievers is a wonderful fiber school on Washington Island, WI, and we determined this is my 13th year there.  I’m thinking 13 is a charm?  I had an uneventful trip there, made all my connections, bags were waiting cruising around the baggage carousel when I got off the plane in Green Bay.  The Sievers Staff sends someone to pick me up, we stop at a Walmart for my week of groceries and the all important box of wine, and off we go onto the ferry and my get away home for the week.

The weather was cold, and crisp, and some days bright and sunny, and other days, raining like the end of the world was coming.  It even snowed one day.  

Sunsets were beautiful, and I actually caught the moon peeking through some gorgeous cloud formations as I crossed the road to my cottage about 10:30 pm, leaving students still working, this is one committed group!

Sievers always sponsors a “Getting to know you” breakfast with all the students from both classes at one of the local breakfast places, this time the Sunset, and the beach outside the restaurant didn’t disappoint.

My class was amazing.  8 of the 12 students, really 9 of them had worked with me before, 2 at other venues, but all jumped in pretty quickly.  The remaining three were excited and kept up easily with the rest of my Sievers’ Achievers.  The space is glorious, well lit, lots of tables, and all important cutting tables that are always in demand.

The students took advantage of all of the patterns I now offer, many of them making multiple garments over the 7 day class.

Of course there are always my jacket people, Margaret, one of my new students, but a pretty experienced garment maker did a gorgeous collared jacket with bound buttonholes from a commercial wool.  Cindy D (there were three Cindy’s in the class) made a longer jacket with a neck band for her yardage she wove from a Blazing Shuttles Handpainted Warp.  She worked hard on the layout to get everything to line up.  

I had a lot of tunics happening in this class.  Cindy M made up a tunic in a commercial fabric she had laying around just to see how it all went together.  Linda made up a lovely tunic from a commercial fabric, and Janene made two tunics, the first one, in beautiful watery blue chenille handwoven with Zephyr wool/silk she cut out last year and never got a chance to make it up, so came to class and picked up where she left off.  The second one she made in a new handwoven cloth from a superwash handpainted knitting yarn.  This one she made with a button placket.  Helen also made a tunic out of contrasting quilt fabrics.

Helen was also one of my new students, and in addition to the tunic, she made a vest from her handwoven fabric.

Gerri made a vest from handwoven fabric, this was a commercial pattern we needed to alter a bit.  I love the contrasting band, also handwoven.

In addition, Gerri started in on the pattern and then the test garment, for probably the most unusual vest I’ve ever fit on anyone, from the Sewing Workshop, the Fillmore Vest.  She had some beautiful handwoven, which apparently I didn’t get a photo of, but once we tweaked the pattern, adding bust shaping, she got everything laid out and will cut and assemble at home.  Can’t wait to see photos of that finished.

Terry also made a vest, this one we created a pattern from a drawing she brought in to show the kind of vest she wanted to really show off these two cuts of wool she bought on a trip to Scotland.  She had a car full of gorgeous fabrics and started in on a swing dress/jumper, from one of my newest patterns.  I missed getting a photo on her, but at least I got one on the table showing off what a terrific match job she did on the plaid.

Dawn for her first project also made the dress.  And that gave her enough scraps to make the same vest that Helen made.

Cindy M also made the dress from an old fabric from the stash, working hard to get those red and white checks to match.

There is a pattern that has been shared around the class, many of the students have made it up multiple times.  The pattern I’m sure is no longer in print, but turns out I have a copy in my own stash of patterns, and so it is on my list to make one of these knit blouses too.  There is an interesting twist of the two fronts right at the bustline.  Linda and Cindy S both made knit blouses from Today’s Fit Vogue 1477.  

And then we have the new jacket, which is like my zippered vest with sleeves.  Dawn had planned to make it up, but had lots of tensioning issues with her handwoven fabric and kept cutting it off the loom when her tension went astray.  There was a bit of warp left on the loom, and she hoped that she could get the last sleeve out of it after she got home and finished weaving what was left.  She couldn’t quite get the jacket finished without the sleeve, since it is lined edge to edge and then the perimeter binding and zipper are applied.  A few days ago I got a text from Dawn showing me the remaining fabric is off the loom and with not a quarter inch to spare, it exactly fits the remaining sleeve!

The collared zip vest is fast becoming my most popular pattern.  Janene made one last year from a gorgeous handwoven from a Noro knitting yarn.  She brought it back because she wanted to alter it to create a side vent.  So of course everyone wanted that.  Ginnie made one from the fabric she wove with me in my designing yardage class back in July at Peters Valley.  And she made a vent too.

Cindy M also made a gorgeous vest from her handwoven, again, really spending time to get the panels to match as best she could.

And Cindy S brought her jacket she made last year, back to class because we could not get the collar right.  She had put bound buttonholes in my jacket collar to put onto a commercial jacket pattern she had used before, and for some reason, we just couldn’t get the collar to lay right.  We ran out of time last year, so she brought it back.  Turns out, there was an oops moment, when I removed the entire collar and we laid it out on the table, and discovered that the whole collar had been put on in reverse, the shawl edge against the body.  Which complicated things because the bound buttonholes were now on the outside edge instead of the inside edge.  With some tweaking and tiny seams, I managed to reverse everything and she got it all back together and once she puts the lining back in and finishes handsewing, and gives it a good pressing, the collar now does what it is supposed to do.

She went on to make a new jacket, this one also from handwoven, and after watching a video from an old Roberta Carr tutorial, inspired by a Threads Insider Video from Louise Cutting on Spanish Snap Buttonholes, she made one for this jacket.  Turned out perfectly.  I was peripherally aware of this technique, but will now make a garment with them and possibly use them for my closures lecture.  They are perfect for a thinner weight handwoven.  

And then there was Joy.  She sat quietly in her corner of the room, making a gorgeous black duster coat, using my long shawl collared jacket pattern from a commercial wool fabric.  Her line of bound buttonholes down the front turned out perfectly.  I can’t wait to see it finished with the lining installed and all the handwork done.

Here is my Sievers Achievers Class of 2019!  And we had great fun at our newest tradition, Monday night Island Pizza night, we get take out pizzas and bring the wine (and beer, this is after all Wisconsin!)

Speaking of Threads Insider, my latest video is up, this one on making a full bust adjustment.  Threads Insider is a subscription service, about $5. a month, and that gives you access to everything Threads, including all the videos, online archive and print magazine.  There is a 14 day free trial.  You can binge watch a lot of videos in 14 days!

And so I started the trek home on Wednesday around lunch time, knowing full well that there was a wicked storm on the east coast and that most likely I would not make it home and have to spend the night in O’Hare.  The ferry crossing to Door County Wisconsin was enough of a ride!  The water was rough, surf pounding and that tiny ship got tossed around!  I got to Green Bay early and was able to hop onto an earlier flight, which was boarding as I was going through the check in process, I was the last one on the plane, pretty sure my bags wouldn’t make it on with me.  

We made it to O’Hare, where the Club lounge ticket agent also put me on standby for an earlier flight, the trick was finding my bags and hoping they would make it on the earlier flight as well.  She knew they made it to O’Hare, and asked me to describe them.  Hahahahah!  Very very big and very very heavy.  Both were soft sided, zippered, on two wheels.  None of this spinny wheel thing, I’d break those suckers right off.  Both weighed in at 70 pounds and had large straps holding them together.

I made it on the earlier flight to Newark, in spite of the hour and a half air traffic control hold for weather.  Apparently they hadn’t closed Newark airport, in spite of 60 mile an hour gusting winds, but were just spreading out the planes coming in.  We took off, and all was well until landing.  I started looking for the barf bag in the seat pocket.  Everyone was holding on tight while the plane pitched in the wind, I have to give a lot of credit those two United pilots who got that plane safely on the ground.  We sat on the tarmac awhile waiting for a ground crew of marshals to escort us in and I described the plane rocking back and forth in the wind, just sitting on the tarmac like two hippies doing it in a VW Microbus.  By now it is about 11pm, two hours earlier than I was originally scheduled to land, and to my complete surprise and extreme joy, my bags came zipping down the chute of the baggage carousel.  United, you made me very happy.

And so, I had only a couple days for the final prep for the recorder concert I’ve been working on for the last year for Montclair Early Music.  The Rembrandt concert, shows the life and artwork of Rembrandt along with music of his time.  Not having rehearsed with the group for the last month because I’ve been on the road made me a little nervous.  The concert was yesterday, and just about everything went wrong like my windshield wiper flying off the car in the middle of a torrential rain storm on the way to the concert, not having a long enough extension cord, finding the 19th century church building where the concert was held didn’t have a three prong outlet, but once all of that was worked out, with only minutes to spare before showtime, the program went off without a hitch.  I did the narration and played bass, some of the photos surfaced this morning and I’ll post them here.

Meanwhile, the Jockey Hollow Show and Sale is coming up November 9-10.  During the evenings at Sievers, I had brought a bunch of scraps from old work and created a number of small bags to sell at the guild sale.  I continued that, now that I’m back and have been making a bag a day, I’m really having fun watching YouTube tutorials and seeing all the ways that people put together zippered bags.

Final prep for the Outer Banks retreat, I leave on Saturday!  Last retreat of the year.  I’m so tired!  My daughter is going with me on this one.

Stay tuned…

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