Ready to Go!

As chaotic as the couple of days before I leave for a trip are, I sort of like the frenzy and the tying up of all the loose ends.  And once I am on the road, I don’t have to think about anything that goes on while I’m away, I have a very competant husband, and the kids do just fine without me.  As a matter of fact they appreciate me more I think.  Course now, with a nineteen year old son living in the basement, he doesn’t have a whole lot of need for me anymore, and my daughter is away at camp.  So my husband will get into all sorts of adventures while I’m gone, like having a new driveway put in…

The weather here has been glorious, and yesterday was no exception.  After I did what I had to do in the studio, I took my lunch outside, and enjoyed the deck, except the neighbor decided to have a monstrous dump truck back into his backyard, and dump a gazillion pounds of stone down the back of the hill.  I sort of needed ear plugs to enjoy my lunch.  Once the truck left, I gathered my yellow legal pad, and a pencil, and the journals for one of the Designers’ Challenge Teams from 2008, and sat in my gazebo, listening to the birds, and the waterfalls, and the Mongolian wind chimes, and wrote my article for Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, the old fashioned way.  There is something to be said for a yellow legal pad and a pencil albeit a mechanical one.  (I love mechanical pencils, there is something about always having a crisp fresh point!)  It felt good to get that out of the way, and really good to just sit outside and enjoy the gardens.  I really tried hard to avert my eyes to all the myriad weeds that have sprouted with all the rains.  We have about 300 maple trees springing up all over the place.  They are only an inch tall, but they grow fast!

wool1fleeceThe crock pot is getting a much needed rest.  I have quite a collection of beautiful shades of wool, and there is still one batch drying on the rack in my studio.  There is plenty more fleece to dye, so I’ll crank that puppy up when I return.  I did scrub the bathrooms down today, so I’m not leaving a dye ring around the bathroom sink.  Since I’m dyeing the fleece in the grease, there is a bit of a lanolin ring around the bathroom sink, tinted with whatever color I used that day.  Comet is a wonderful thing…

My husband figured the crock was never coming back to the kitchen, so he went out and bought me a new one from Sears.  🙂

So today I worked on updating my files in the laptop, moving over presentations, my keynote address, burning additional CD’s and pen drives, just in case.  And this particular conference has me doing 6 different talks/seminars/workshops, so there is a huge amount of different materials to pack.  Because I’m not getting on an airplane this time, I have more flexibility in the suitcases, and I’m bringing equipment I can’t fly with that I don’t normally bring, packedlike a warping mill, and cone holder, for the class on Paddle Warping, and my larger inkle loom for the inkle loom workshop.  I have a suitcase or totebag for each of the seminar/workshops I’m teaching, that way I can be organized for each changeover, and I never know if my classes will all be in the same place.  I HATE when they aren’t!

I’ve printed out driving directions to the Amherst Inn where I’m staying for the conference.  The conference itself will be at Smith College, in Amherst, MA.  So I found an address for the college to plug into my trusty GPS.  And I loaded up a book on tape, except now it is a book on MP3 player, to listen to during the three hour car trip.

Now that I’m working again, there is a big discussion about updating my electronics, exciting on one hand, but a huge roll your eyes headache on another, while I adjust to new equipment and a huge learning curve.  I would dearly love to reduce my 25 pound computer/projector bag to just a few pounds, this is getting sort of critical with airplane travel.  So I’m looking to get a NetBook, and a much smaller digital projector, and upgrading from my trusty Palm Pilot (Ok so I live in the dark ages, it works for me…) to an iPod touch.  My tech savvy husband and girlfriend convinced me last night at dinner to try Google Calendar which syncs with my Outlook Calendar, and can also sync with my husband’s Google Calendar, and will eventually sync with an iPod Touch, and my head is already reeling…  I want to go back and play with wool…  So I tried to load into my Google Calendar two months worth of data, to see how I like using it, instead of the one I’ve used for years on my Palm, which sync’d up well with my computer.  And of course I desperately need to upgrade my office suite to Microsoft Office 2007, (I’m still using 2003) and I have to install and move all my bookkeeping over to Quicken because Microsoft Money is no longer being supported…  So much technology and so little time to learn it all.  The stupid thing about technology is you work at learning something, finally get a working proficiency at it, and the software and/or hardware changes and you have to start all over again.  Blissfully, handweaving is NOT like that.  You can hand weave the old fashioned way and get great satisfaction from four shafts, throwing the shuttle back and forth, and watching the threads slowly become cloth.  And sewing too, I have a high tech machine, but I sew my garments the same way I did when I learned 40 years ago, with a straight stitch, that goes forward and backward, a good pair of shears (now there is something that hasn’t changed since the beginning of time…) and a needle and thread, and yes, I still use a thimble.  So, sewing and handweaving are my antidotes for the swirl of technology that leaves my head in a frenzy.  And if the power goes out, I can still hand sew and throw a shuttle.  🙂

Dreary Day #37

Well it seems like it anyway.  The headlines of the newspapers talk about how much rain we have had for how many days straight.  It starts out promising in the morning, but by mid afternoon, thunderstorms, dreary rain, what else can one do but stay inside and play?  🙂

This was a great day for just laying low, and doing a mindless but necessary project.  My goal now is the conference next week, I leave for the New England Weavers Seminar in Massachusetts on Wednesday.  And I’m teaching an unusually large number of very different seminars, all needing specific prep.  There is the Inkle Weaving class, and though I will have students rent looms from WEBS , they may not have enough, and I need fifteen anyway for the following weekend when I teach a class down at the Jersey Shore for the Shore Guild.  So my daughter helped me out with that one.  She is quite the assembler…  Now they are all lined up across two of my looms, like little soldiers looms2waiting for active duty.

looms1Meanwhile, the crock pot is still going.  I gave up drying anything outside, and found two lovely pans that would keep my floor neat and avoid using all my bath towels.  So I’ve got a lovely green cooking in the pot, and the blue and a pinky taupe color are drying on the floor.  The burgundy from Monday is finally dry and in a bag.  I tried carding a little bit of the burgundy color and it is a really nice fleece.  I think it is a Corriedale cross.wool crock

While all that was happening, I worked on the Photographing your Work Seminar, and in this particular version, workshop participants are sending images of their work ahead so I can load them into PowerPoint and then critique the images after the main presentation.  I have a great group of images to work with, but they all had to be sized and popped into the PowerPoint slides.  So that’s finished.

I’m also giving another Color and Inspiration Seminar, like I did in Iowa last Saturday.  All those little quills of yarnmess I dumped on the table for the students to play with, are in a horrid jumble and really needed to be rewound onto the quills and refilled.  Students added to the pile, and those little reelings needed to be put onto quills as well.  I use to just carry a suitcase full of little balls of yarn, but those got just as unruly and it was a huge waste of space in my precious luggage allowance, so I got the idea a couple of years ago to wind off yarn onto bobbins.  There are too many to waste my plastic shuttle bobbins, though a fair windingamount of my plastic bobbins were in the bags.  I really needed to empty them.  I started by making paper quills from business card stock, but it was my daughter who came up with the idea of drinking straws.  They slipped perfectly on my small shank Swedish Bobbin Winder, and weigh almost nothing.  I’m all for weighing almost nothing…

So I sat today, for a number of hours, untangling, rewinding, tidyrefilling, and organizing a massive mess of yarn, carefully onto skinny plastic drinking straws, and turned the above disaster into this lovely organized bag of color.  I still have another bag to go, but tasks like this are what make my mind still and my creativity soar.  It’s like refolding fabrics neatly on a shelf, organizing fat quarters by color, or sorting buttons.  This is meditation for fiber enthusiasts.

In addition, I finally got to vacuum my poor house.  I seriously thought about bringing in the heavy artillary, a rake, but my old vacuum did the job, and I filled a vacuum bag with all the debris, tracked in crud from all the drenched blossoms and tree detritus, tracked yarns and threads from my studio, and general dust.  I’m a bit grateful we no longer have a dog, that would have really added to the mix.  Then I would have definitely voted for the rake…

Sandstone Layers Jacket

I’d like to be able to do a photo shoot of all the new work I’ve done over the last few months, before I leave next week for Iowa.  So it makes sense to focus on finishing the Sandstone Layers Jacket, since I’m so close.  I spent all day yesterday working on it, in between last minute conference details for NEWS (New England Weavers Seminar) and for the Midwest Conference next week.  It’s those little details that can drive you nuts, and end up taking the entire day.  But from my lengthy experience in traveling to guilds and conferences, it is the details that can make all the difference between a success and a disaster.  There are so many things that can go wrong, especially if there is an airline involved, and those things that involve an airline are completely out of my control.  But what is in my control, is my responsibility, and I’m pretty good with the details.  The hardest part here is keeping all the conferences straight, and remembering who I’ve emailed what to!

On to the jacket…

shoulderI took apart the shoulder, as far into the neck as I could.  This pattern called for a back shoulder with considerable ease, and I was able to remove most of the excess ease, and that allowed me room to trim the back of the armscye (armhole opening on the jacket).  So, first I restitched the shoulder seam, with the excess back shoulder extending beyond the front.

armholeYou can see in the photo on the right how broad the back armhole was cut, so I recut the back armhole to reduce the width across the back of the garment.

Once I reset in the sleeves, I tried the jacket on and with a couple of bathroom mirrors, I was able to get a clean view of the back armhole and it looked so much better.  Sorry, I couldn’t hold the mirror and take a photo too!

beltloopsThe next step was the belt loops.  I got these pinned on, but had a real time getting them stitched on, they were so thick, I busted a number of #16 needles, (my #18’s seemed to have disappeared, hmmmm…….)  Usually I blame my 19 year old son when things in the house disappear, they usually reappear in his room months later, but I can’t blame the disappearance of size 18 sewing machine needles on a 19 year old…

I ended up sewing the tucked under top and bottom of the belt loop to the jacket, the belt loops were long enough to get the machine foot underneath the loop and zigzag in place.buttonhole

That leaves the buttonholes, which I saved for last.  I didn’t want to do a fussy bound buttonhole on this jacket, there are too many details as it is, and this is a drapey sort of casual jacket to begin with.  I was hoping to do handworked buttonholes, using a machine made one as a sturdy base for the buttonhole, because handwoven fabric can be too ravelly to support a handworked one.  I spent about an hour figuring out how to do a machine worked buttonhole in my Janome 6600, usually I just use the old fashioned Grist Buttonholer Attachment on one of my other machines, but I wanted to see what this Janome could do.  The size of the stitching of the buttonhole is very narrow (see gray buttonholes below in the photo right), but the ease of doing one that matches the button length is pretty convenient.  Actually this works well as a base for a handworked buttonhole, since the stitching is narrower than one from the old fashioned Grist Attachment.  I took a cone of the same yarn I used for the weft, and did a hand worked buttonhole over the machine made buttonhole, after I cut it open.  I am a real fanatic on this , having been taught tailoring when I was 12, I have a really hard time with a regular machine made buttonhole on outerwear, the cut raw edge looks like a wound to me in an otherwise gorgeous garment.  It is one of the things I point out when I do my infamous fashion show tours of “inside” the garments, at handweaving conferences.

sandstonelayersjacketI still have to actually bite the bullet and put in the buttonholes, (this part is really scary because if I don’t like what’s happening, ripping out a machine made buttonhole is virtually impossible…)  But the jacket is really coming together.  I like it, and am thinking of what to put on the bottom, I have a commercial skirt that I’ve been wanting to recut to a short above the knee pencil skirt, so the mind is off onto another project before I even finish this one, which is as it should be…

I leave you with this wonderful quote from a good friend and weaving buddy, Ruby Leslie from Vermont…

“Either it’s a good time, or it’s a good story!”

I’ll be chaperoning a cruise around Manhattan tonight, well into the late hours, with a bunch of newly graduated high school students, so the above motto most likely will be really appropriate tomorrow morning…

NEWS New England Weavers Seminar



No weaving experience necessary!  The inkle loom is portable, easy to warp, easy to weave off, and makes beautiful belts and bands.  Daryl uses it to trim her garments.  Every weaver should own one.  They are inexpensive and children as young as third grade can learn to use them.  Schacht type Inkle Looms or Ashford Inklette Inkle Looms and yarn will be provided.

Starting with a PowerPoint presentation, participants will learn to make heddles for the loom, follow a draft and warp the inkle loom.  Proper techniques for weaving a tight even band with good selvedges will be explained.  A more intermediate technique of Inkle Loom Pick-up for interesting design options will also be demonstrated.  Participants will be able to finish a small project by the end of the day.  Materials Fee


Often handweavers are rejected from exhibits because of the poor quality of their images.  Find out what works and what doesn’t.  Even if you use a professional photographer, knowing what jurors are looking for will help improve the quality of your final presentation.  Using Power Point, the basics of photography, both film and digital will be discussed, as well as composition and lighting, and basic digital image manipulation using Photoshop Elements 4.0®.  Lots of images illustrating what NOT to do!  In addition, participants will be asked to send examples of their images in film or digital format ahead of the workshop, for critique.


Through a series of creative exercises, participants will learn to confidently place yarns of different colors and textures together to make beautiful warp combination’s. This is a fun, hands-on class, and participants will be asked to bring a bag of assorted odds and ends of yarns to work with and to share with others. In addition, participants will learn to create palettes using Color-aid blocks and photographs.  Based on the Color/Fabric Forecast Column from Handwoven Magazine, participants will experiment with palettes based on mood using photos for inspiration and see illustrations of how to translate them into handwoven fabrics and ultimately a garment.


An interactive exploration behind the “seams” of the garments from the Fashion Show.  You saw them on the runway, now see them up close and inside.  Participants will experience a technical critique of garments on display, seeing the inside finishing techniques as well as the outside appearance, and fit.  This kind of experience provides the participants with many ideas for finishing, what works and what doesn’t.  A terrific “behind the seams” look allowing participants to view first hand, some of the choices used by experienced fiber artists.


Through a series of slides, students will learn about the fast method of sectional warping.  Explore the advantages and disadvantages of this production technique.  The AVL warping wheel will also be discussed.  In addition, use of the inexpensive rigid heddle warping paddle will be demonstrated. This device allows the weaver to chain warp up to 24 ends at a time.  Calculating warps for repeats will also be covered if time permits.