It’s October and you know what that means!

That’s right, it is the month of fundraisers! Seems like  every day my daughter has brought home yet another large envelope bulging with the catalog of all the wonderful things I need for my house, my bathroom reading basket, and my freezer.  Let’s see, I have one here for Yankee Candles.  That would be the HS Junior Class fundraiser.  Did I mention I am terrified of burning my house/studio down with a candle accidentally left unattended?  My ADD is too severe to stay in the same room and watch a burning candle.  I have a hard enough time remembering to shut off the iron… (My studio iron is an industrial…)  At least I can get wrapping paper…

And, do I support the PTO, or the Girl Scouts, both have magazine subscription fundraisers on my desk…  Alas, we get about 20 magazines or more a month, but the bathroom reading baskets are always entertaining and educational.  I think I won’t renew Martha Stewart Living this year, I stopped looking at it when she had an article on the well organized garage and it had four things in it.  Hell, I can organize four things…  I want to see Martha do an article on organizing a garage with real people using it…

And the yearly music department cheesecake order brochure is coming in tomorrow I believe.  We still have frozen choco chip cookie dough in the freezer from last year.  I know, it’s pathetic.  No time to even make a batch of frozen cookies.  But the cheese cakes are pretty good and they are already cooked!

Excuse me while I go spend a few hundred dollars in useless things I don’t need…

So, I took a look at my to do list, which is a pretty cool strip parked next to my now well functioning Google Calendar.  I’ve successfully moved my calendar off my Palm Pilot, and now it syncs with everything I own that’s sync-able…  (I’m sure that has to be a word…)  I leave Thursday for my last trip of the year, two workshops and a lecture for the Hudson Mohawk Guild outside of Albany NY.  I’m driving for this one, so I’m not worried about luggage or weight.  I am going to try to bring a loom too.

monographsThat means it’s monograph/handout printing day!  Oh joy…  My poor laser printer gets quite a workout, and I get to spend hours at the binding machine.  I’ve got my daughter working on this mega task tonight so I can blog and attend to other things!  🙂

double_corduroyMeanwhile, yesterday was the Frances Irwin Guild meeting, and my trusty Leclerc “Stucto” wannabee, and I learned all about Double Corduroy, and how to do it on the loom.  For the non weavers reading this, it is a popular pile rug technique, done on a loom. The idea is similar to corduroy fabric, the wales are cut once the fabric is woven, and in this case, the pile is creating by cutting apart the long floats.  I’ve done a few pile rugs in my past, and the technique I used was rya, tying small pieces of wool around the warp threads with a Ghiordes knot.  Tedious…

Here are two images from my vast archives, I did these two rugs in 1976.  They are about 3’x5′.Argent_76Daleth_76 Tying individual knots is much better for achieving imagery, which was critical in these two rugs.  But the double corduroy goes faster, and makes more of a flokati look, and less of a precise color placement.  It was fun and I’m amazed what I can do on this little loom that fits in a tote bag…

While I had to sit all day and babysit the laser printer, I decided to look ahead on my long range to do list, and the first thing that popped out at me was to make another tote bag, the next_toteingredients were just falling off my shelf into my hands.  The scrap in the foreground is from the sandstone jacket I finished in the spring.  On the left is a wrinkled cotton sari from India, I love the wrinkled quality, and I might fool around with trying to capture that in the tote bag.

Meanwhile…  I am now offering a workshop, a two day class, in making a vest.  I’ve done this vest as a pieced class, similar technique to the tote bags I’ve been working on, but students never get to actually make the vest in the class.  They just get to do the piecing. Since I’ve had so many requests for a two day jacket class, which I can’t do in two days, I thought I’d try to have classes make the vest, no piecing, and I have about half a dozen bookings already.  The next one will be at the Newark Museum in November.

The Vest of the Vest (I am not responsible for this title!)
with Daryl Lancaster
Vests are multi-purpose garments that allow you to go from
work to play. The vest is simple to sew, will have a lining
and looks fabulous in whatever fabric you choose for its
construction. The instructor will custom fit you to be sure
all looks good when you are done. Beginner/Intermediate
Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7, 10 am –5 pm
Member: $153, Non-member: $170, Materials: $25

patternI realized when I used my vest pattern at Siever’s a couple weeks ago, that I really needed to grade down another size, I am starting to have really tiny women in classes, and I needed the next size down. So I took out one of my multi sized patterns, and following my vestgrading schematic, I graded down to the next size.  That meant of course, I needed a muslin.  So I rooted through my stash to fine some fabric scraps that I wouldn’t be caught dead using for any real garment purpose.  So, as odd as it looks, the vest above is the muslin for the smallest size vest I offer.

Now I need to actually make a really nice sample, one that I would wear.  All the vests I have are  pieced.PassionFruit So I want to make a vest I can use for the class, and do all kinds of cool techniques on it, and have it fit me, so I can actually enjoy wearing it a few times…

Off to search through the stash, my favorite thing to do…

This exercise netted me a large hunk from an old production throw (called afghan back in the 1980’s), from Harrisville singles wool in graduated shades with an alpaca weft.  I had woven them for sale in four colorways.  My Aunt had asked if I could make one of them into a vest for my Uncle, this would have been back in the very early 1980’s.  I remember Afganmaking the vest and finding out I made a major mistake in copying one of my Uncle’s vests, and had to redo it, so I had a huge hunk of a second throw just sitting on my shelf for 25 years.  I liked this color combination, though I have to say, I never really liked the hand of the fabric I wove for these throws. (Pictured is the one in the blue/gray colorway and I know the wrinkled sheet is a big no-no, but that’s what I did back in the 80’s).  So I decided I had nothing to lose by tossing the wool/alpaca throw in the washer and dryer.  🙂

throw_detailOMG!  It is gorgeous.  The fabric is unbelievably soft and fluffy, and for all you weavers out there, take a scrap of something you made years ago, where you didn’t machine wash and dry a fabric, and see what happens!  This is all part of a class I teach on washing your fabrics when they come off the loom, but I’m still surprised when I take things from the archives, that were washed, though not very aggressively, and run them through the washer and dryer and see what would have happened.  I even found some balls of the original Harrisville singles I used for the warp.  Wonder what I can do with that…

Anyway, I rooted some more in the stash and came up with some items that I thought had potential to work together.throw_stash The wool challis in the upper right corner would be perfect for a lining, and in case I didn’t have enough of the alpaca throw, I did have a light gray wool in the stash, but I was pretty determined to make this small hunk of a throw work for the project.

pieced_bandI managed to cut out the vest, in my size, and got everything but one armband, but there was enough small scraps to be able to piece.  And I had to cut it on the Scrapcrosswise.  I’ll add piping, so the conflict of grainlines won’t be so noticable but all I had left once I finished cutting this vest out, was a handful of dust!  I love when that happens…

Enough creativity for one day, my brain is tired.  I won’t get to make the vest until after my trip to Albany, I’m thinking of trying to do triangular bound buttonholes on the center front band, I need another teaching sample using this technique.  Plus I still have the pile of stash for the next tote bag…

I’ve had a couple people request the text from the survivor’s statement I wrote that accompanied my photo in the Pete Byron exhibit at the Morris Museum, The Faces of Breast Cancer.  So here is the text in case you couldn’t make it out from the photo.

Looking back over the years since my 2002 cancer diagnosis, I can honestly say that my diagnosis and the year of treatment that followed, though truly difficult at times, became one of the most life changing, positive experiences of my life.  I learned to trust, to let others in to help. I learned to live without fear, living my life in a fuller way, grabbing at opportunities, not being afraid to try. This has completely changed the way I work and think as an artist.  My own fiber artwork, has become more narrative, I have a voice now, and though my body has been altered, my scars are a road map of my journey, and I celebrate that journey.

I chose not to have reconstruction for the missing breast, partly because I just wanted to get back to work, to life, and to do what I love most and be with those I love most.  And partly, I wanted to remember how life was before cancer, and the celebration of life now, without fear, with confidence, with passion, and with living only in the day.

— Daryl Lancaster

Special Event pt. 2

Last night was a very special night for me, and for Photographer Pete Byron. Pete has spent the last two years photographing breast cancer survivors, in joyous playful moods, in spite of their scarred and misshapen bodies.  The Morris Museum, along with huge support from the The Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital have put together an exhibit of Pete’s images and public awareness programs for the month of October.

In June of 2007, my friend Misa called me, her former neighbor, whom I’d met at a party at her house a year or so before, was a freelance photographer, and beginning to explore this personal subject, and was looking for breast cancer survivors who might be interested in working with him.  I spoke with Pete, and was instantly taken with his approach to the subject, and agreed to a photoshoot.  Pete was generous of spirit, and easy to trust, and I’m thrilled at the end result of images now on exhibit at the Morris Museum.

Last night was the opening reception, it was packed, with all sorts of dignitaries, the press, the women who shared their experiences with Pete, modeling for him, allowing this exhibit to take place.  Families and friends, and supporters of the museum and the cancer center at Morristown Memorial Hospital (where my children were born),  were there, as well as medical students and other breast cancer survivors.  The food was excellent, and the wine flowed.  It was a beautiful evening, celebrating the many faces of Breast Cancer.

MorrisMuseumExhibitI got a great shot of my family, beside one of the two images Pete used of me, all of the images he shot were of me at the loom, doing what I love, and I was proud of the support.  I hadn’t originally invited my son, he isn’t usually around anyway, but he ended up coming with his friend (I think the free food was partly the draw) but it meant a lot that he came and looked at the exhibit and understood the importance of what it represented.  My sister even drove up from Maryland.

DarylwithFriendsTwo of my friends came as well, Misa is on the right, she introduced me to Pete, and my neighbor and good friend Deb is in the middle.

PhotoDarylartistStatementI’m including the statement I wrote, that hung next to one of the images of me.  As I read it I thought about how important this whole cancer thing has been to me and my work and how I view my life.

This has been a privilege, working with Pete, and being part of this event of celebration and friendship.

And, if you’ve been putting off getting that mammogram, this is breast cancer awareness month, early detection is critical!

Pete is looking to expand this body of work, and hopes to publish a book as well.  If you are interested in working with Pete, or know of someone, toss me an email and I’ll put you in touch with him.

Special Event

Most of you know I am a breast cancer survivor.  I had a mastectomy more than seven years ago, six months of chemotherapy, and no reconstruction.  That was a personal choice and I am happy with that decision.

Pete_ByronFast forward a few years.  One of my good friends has a friend, Pete Byron, who is an art photographer.  He was embarking on a project to celebrate the faces of breast cancer, a very intimate and personal journey for the women who agreed to model for him and share their bodies and experiences.  Pete spent the last few years assembling an impressive group of photographs, and has successfully gotten the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ, to host an exhibit of some of these photographs.  I understand Atlantic Health Care has underwritten part of the exhibit, and that the images have been printed very large, and will command quite a presence in one of the upstairs galleries at the museum.  And I also understand there is a book in the works.

I was one of the models who shared my experience with Pete, and I am looking forward to seeing the end results of this special encounter, Pete is talented and has a sensitivity that made it easy to work with him.   I don’t have the exact dates of the exhibit, just that it runs the month of October.  Here is the blurb from the Morris Museum’s website,

The Faces of Breast Cancer:  Photographs by Pete Byron

Upper Level Gallery

October 2009

This exhibit of intimate photographs incorporates not only powerful images of breast cancer survivors, but also documents their stories as real tributes of courage. The project will be inspiring for survivors of breast cancer all across New Jersey…sending them a message of hope.