This is a hard day for New Yorkers.  For the rest of the nation as well, but especially for New Yorkers.  We mustn’t forget, we can’t forget.  It is raining steadily here, from a nor’easter hitting the Atlantic coast, unlike this day eight years ago, where the day bloomed gloriously, blue sky, cool dry air, the most perfect day.  I had been offered the job as Features Editor for Handwoven Magazine that day, eight years ago, and as the days unfolded, my emails to Madelyn van der Hoogt, editor in chief of Handwoven Magazine from Interweave Press, netted this letter to the editor, written September 12, 2001.  It appeared in the following issue of Handwoven Magazine.

I live approximately 20 miles from ground zero. I put my children on their respective school buses and sat down with my morning coffee. My husband called to tell me to turn on the television and my life, and the lives of all my fellow countrymen were in that instant changed forever. I watched in horror as a second plane crashed into the symbol of the free world, a structure built to stand up to bombs, earthquakes, even a 747 direct hit. Within the hour, the World Trade Center towers were a twisted pile of ash and debris. All of us will remember this date for the rest of our lives, where we were at the exact moment we heard the news, the powerlessness, anger, and fear that gripped a nation who never thought it could happen here. I turned the television off, I couldn’t watch anymore. I went into my studio, my hair still in hot rollers; I had a class to teach at the university, in about four hours. I am a professor of fine arts in the fiber department at Montclair State University, an artist, and a handweaver. I sat down at my loom and began to weave. Although the structure I was weaving, an 8 shaft shadow weave, was complex, I blindly, numbly, and mechanically, treadled the sequence, threw the shuttle, and found my mind wandering back to the devastation occurring just over the river. How many friends, community members, parents of my children’s friends were in those buildings? I called my mother. We cried together, we watched as the horror of the day unfolded. Over the next few days I watched with grief, fear, anger, uncertainly, my whole world crumble like the dust of the mighty structures that stood like a beacon to the abilities of mankind.

I wandered aimlessly in my studio, unable to motivate myself to create, weave, sew, suddenly all of it seemed so pointless. I sat at the computer and began to write. Fiber is a slow medium for self expression. I am a fiber artist, my pieces take upwards of 6 months to complete. I was to teach a class that day to a new fresh group of university art students, mostly educators, and the first lesson was in two element plaiting. Basic under/over… We use newspaper strips. We make mats, vessels, enclosed forms. Over/under… I couldn’t face a class, I knew they couldn’t concentrate; most of the roads in this part of New Jersey were either closed or clogged anyway. The university cancelled the class.

WTCPlaitedLRWhat is the role of the artist in a society that is grieving the loss of its countrymen and basic freedoms? I kept asking myself, since, it is the artists who record the events, question, criticize, and document the emotions of a nation. I am an artist and a weaver. It was a simple gesture, but for me a profoundly cathartic one when I went to the computer, printed two identical photographs of my children standing atop the South Tower of the World Trade Center less than three weeks ago. They had never been and I wanted to share New York with them. I sliced the two photographs into horizontal and vertical elements and wove, in a simple over/under pattern, the two photographs back together. Because of the process of the interlacement, the images have an eerie offset quality. I made sure my children’s faces were whole and readable, and the rest of the photo, the World Trade Center became shaky and unreadable. It was a small gesture. I shared the piece with my students on Friday. A different class, we had already met once. We cried, we shared, we talked about the role of the artist in our society, the role of the art educator helping students too young to write, who can’t express themselves any other way but through art. It was a very healing experience. As I thought about those elements passing over and under each other, the most simple of interlacements, the most basic tool of the weaver, I thought about how each of us must find a way to heal, to share, to communicate, and to move forward. I will go back to my loom; I will find comfort in the gentle rhythm of the shuttle. I will sit at the sewing machine again. Work will come from my hands again. I feel centered and strong and very, very grateful.

-Daryl Lancaster

September 12, 2001

Earlier this year, I wove this image using the technique I’ve been playing with  for the last two years, an inlay technique, stripping treated silk fabric, printed with an image, and reweaving it back together again.  I believe I wrote about this piece in an earlier blog.  The piece is titled

“Remembering: On Top of the World”


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

A More Focused Monday

When I walked into my studio this morning, the looms were clearly more content, no longer naked, except my poor big guy.  So I removed all the piles from the big loom, which started a process, filing the programming information for my guild, which meant making room in a file cabinet for that, and that turned out to entail purging all the old files from all my articles I wrote over 35 issues for Handwoven.  Boy was that a stack of papers.  I still have all the computer files, and I do refer to them from time to time, but the hard copy stuff needed to go.bigguy

So now my loom is just naked, no longer a catch all for what I hadn’t gotten a chance to put away.   And I have a number of little baby looms, a couple Structo’s, and a Penny Loom, they sit on top of the other looms, and my inkle looms haven’t come back yet from California, they sit on top as well.

I spent most of the day processing photos for my sister’s website.  I’m sort of bleary eyed.  I welcomed the break in the afternoon, to run over to the breast center for my annual mammogram.  I know most people dread getting one, but I love the huge relief of hearing those wonderful words, “everything is fine, see you in a year…”  So if you have been putting off getting one….

After dinner I drove to the Westfield Weavers, a guild I’m not actually a member of, it is a bit of a distance away, but I wanted to hear my old college professor Carol Westfall give a lecture on her 2007 trip to Europe to see the Venice Biennial, and the Documenta Kassel in Germany.  The work was politically charged, lots of recycled materials, and I felt like I had just been through a major textile/art exhibit at the MET.  A great evening.  I met Carol in 1974, in my first weaving class in college, (Montclair State University in NJ), we have remained friends ever since.  A great lady, she touches all those she meets in very positive way.

My husband and son finished their first day of skiing in Utah, so far, no broken bones!  They are having a great time, conditions are excellent.

Sunday the First

I can’t believe it is March already.  Unfortunately, it feels like January.  At least in the north east.  We have a snow storm on the way, up to 12″, depending on what forecast you listen to.  This is making me very nervous.  I know what Newark airport is like the day after a snow storm, and I am flying to California on Tuesday.  If I miss my connection in Houston, I am most likely going to miss the start of the conference and my class.  But my brain is famous for running amok with just a little bit of information.  It makes me really good at what I do, but miserable to live with…  🙂

So, I am in overtime drive here, trying to calm my frayed nerves, remembering this is all out of my control, and that what will be will be, and that it always works out.  Weavers are really flexible, and know how to get out of difficult tangled messes!

The show last night was a lot of fun.  We attended the musical Footloose at a local private school, this is the show where I altered 33 dresses for the production.  Back in early February I was asked to so some alterations and dressmaking, and I did have a lot of fun with it, but now that I’ve seen the show I have an interesting perspective here.  The dance scene is the final scene in Footloose.  Most of the dresses I altered were for that scene.  The scene was maybe two-three minutes long, tops.  The entire ensemble was on stage, so many of the dresses were in the back row, and couldn’t even be seen.  I have to wonder if all the work I did was really necessary for two minutes of time on stage.  That’s the funny thing with costuming.  Always weighing, how long will this actually be seen, versus the cost of the alteration and will it even be noticed.  I was sort of sad the cast wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to inspect all my hard work!  But of course, it wasn’t about me and the alterations.  The girls looked great, colorful, and much more current than some of the original dated dresses.  The show was fun, and I enjoyed watching the kids sing their hearts out.

Today I spent updating my laptop in preparation for the trip, that meant 13 Windows updates, and virus definitions updates, and 329 emails off the server, and moving over all the updated presentations, and realizing I didn’t have Photoshop Elements 6 in the laptop, only version 4, I had to install that as well.  I also backed up my Palm organizer, and other critical things along with the access codes to my blog.

This afternoon I had a real treat, I headed over to the local County College, the one where my son is a theatre major.  They were having a retrospective weekend of their 40 years in the arts, and Friday night we attended an overview of the entire fine and performing art department, theatre, gallery exhibits, dance, and some beautiful music.  This afternoon was a two hour Dance retrospective, some really terrific original modern dances, some award winning, and all of it current, thoughtful, colorful, and even humorous.  It was a wonderfully spent $15.   I think if I had unlimited funds and nothing else to do with my life, I’d attend the theatre daily, all sorts of things, living in the NYC area, we have access to so much it can be overwhelming.  Montclair State University has a fabulous new performing arts theatre, it is 7 miles from my house, and I could attend some event weekly and not break the bank.  And there is some fresh new original work being seen at some of these colleges and universities. So little time, so much to see…

Well, there is nothing to do now but ride out the storm, pack tomorrow, and hope I get out of Dodge on Tuesday!  My intent is to blog while I am on the road.  Since I haven’t done it before, and we are trying to locate my travel camera which mysteriously disappeared off my desk (could either of my two teenagers have anything to do with its disappearance?), I can’t guarantee there will be posts from sunny southern California, but I’m going to try.  Speaking of ‘sunny’, Continental sent me my trip notes, and it isnt’ so warm there, in the high 50’s and low 60’s.  I think I need to change what I was planning to bring for clothing…