Where to Begin…

I feel like I’ve been away for a year!  So much has happened!  So this blog doesn’t top out at 2000 words, I’ll probably do it in 2 or 3 parts.

BriannaLucetStarting with last Wednesday, my lovely talented daughter with the pink hair, gave a presentation to the Jockey Hollow Guild on braiding with the lucet.  I couldn’t get her to hold still long enough for any decent photos, and then I got too into helping people with their braids to take a group shot, but here is a slightly blurry photo of Brianna holding two different types of Lucets.  The Y and the Lyre.  Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, and we sold a number of the Lucets we had purchased last summer from woodworker Wayne Grove.

Side bar: Bri turns 17 tomorrow.  She is focused on her driving test, which is also tomorrow.  We all hope she passes her test, no one wants to be around a 17 year old who just failed their driving test, so we are all crossing our fingers she’ll do just fine.  She is a good driver, and I’m looking forward to her being a little more independent.  Meanwhile, she is working on so many different things, it makes me look like a slug!

BjornBearInkleShe showed her latest Inkle Loom band, a collar and leash for her new dog named Bjorn (Norwegian for Bear), at the guild show and tell.  She heard you could do an alphabet on the inkle loom, I directed her to an article in Handwoven Magazine,  May/June 1999, about weaving an alphabet.  So she looked up the article in my vast archives, and figured it out.  I love the way she just dives in.

She also has been watching one of our guild members crochet.  She sits next to Cathie at the meetings, Cathie is as creative as Brianna is, and the two of them always have their heads together.  Cathie crochets, and Bri has been dying to learn, and I haven’t had five minutes to teach her.

So Bri got tired of waiting for me, and last night, after taking a Vivarin to keep her awake to finish her psych paper, which she finished, but the Vivarin hadn’t worn off (Vivarin is straight caffeine), she tried to figure out how to crochet based on what she remembered BriannaCrochetfrom watching Cathie.  But she couldn’t figure out how to start.  This is where I’m so jealous of this generation of kids, who have never known a life where you couldn’t get an instant answer on the internet.  So she Googled how to crochet a scarf, and got a photographic tutorial, and when she came down in the morning, she had already crocheted about 4 inches of single crochet from yarn we picked up the other day at Michael’s Craft Shop (like I don’t have enough in the studio…)

I did however, teach her how to do a double crochet, which goes a lot faster and will make a scarf more pliable.  She immediKennethColeVestately ripped out what she had done and started over in double crochet.  Bri loves fat variegated acrylic  knitting yarn for finger weaving, another of her skills, so that’s what’s in her stash.  It is fun to have separate mother and daughter stashes…

I promised a photo of one of the vests I picked up in Atlantic City last month, or was it last week?  Here is the Kenneth Cole vest, I loved the styling and the details.

VestClassOn Friday morning, I headed into Newark to the museum, to teach a two day class on making a vest.  I was thrilled when I got there to find out I already knew everyone in the class, they all had taken classes with me before, or I knew them from my guild, and we had a lot of fun together.  One of the students had a family commitment the second day of the class, so I only have photos of three.

The vests need finishing, and  a lot of handwork, but they are really pretty and so individual.


Vest3The fabrics ranged from handwoven, to upholstery tapestry, to light weight Indian cotton.  And one of the students used the selvedge of the upholstery tapestry to make a fringe-y effect on the bands.

InkleClassOn Sunday, I returned to the museum, to teach a one day class in Inkle Loom Weaving.  I had four students, an easy class, and I already knew two of them.  They made some really pretty bands, and we had a lot of fun.


I’m missing a photo of the fourth band, a really pretty one, and I’ve emailed Dolly to see if she can get me a photo.  Dolly is a felter, I met her at the Felter’s Fling a couple of years ago.  It is great to see the cross over of fiber disciplines, felters can use Inkle Woven bands as handles for felted bags, and all sorts of trims.  I CompCelebrationBagCompCelebrationBagDetailfelted this bag after attending the Fling, and combined Ultrasuede with an inkle woven band for the handles.  I love the dancing woman pin I purchased from one of my favorite craftswomen, Cheryl Olney, who goes by the name of Louise’s Daughter.  I called the bag, “Celebration Bag”.

Thursday through Saturday night, we raced over to County College of Morris,  after I finished teaching each day, to attend the evening performances of their fall musical, “Once on this Island”.  I’ll post about that tomorrow, since I worked on some of the costumes for the show, as soon as I can get the photos from my husband, who took about 500 images during two of the performances.  And then there was the guild meeting today where we all learned how to twine a mat.  Stay tuned…

On the run…

I promise to just touch base and be off again, it is very late and I have to get up early in the morning to leave for the Newark Museum to teach all day.  I’ll be there Friday and Saturday, and then on Sunday I teach a one day class in inkle loom weaving.  Meanwhile, last night my daughter gave a lovely presentation on braiding with the Lucet, I’ll try to get a couple photos up later on, but she had everyone braiding away, and they all looked like they were having fun.

My son has a role in County College of Morris’ fall production of Once on this Island.  I helped with the costumes, and my peacock coat is on the god of water.  It looks amazing on him.  The show opened last night.  I caught tonight’s performance, it was magical.  If you live in the north Jersey area, it is a real theatrical treat, great story, colorful and beautiful.  Shows are Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 and there is a Saturday matinee.  Tickets are only $15.  I’ll be there Friday and Saturday night as well.  So it will be a busy couple of days, and I doubt I’ll have a chance to blog.

I’ve done about three yards of the eight yards of trim I need for the rocker.  It is coming out quite well.

More later…

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

Jacket Workshop, Final Call

Workshop Jacket

I don’t often get a chance to give the jacket making workshop I just gave to the ASCH Conference in Southern California, in the north east.  Since I’ve taught this workshop in this area for many years, there are fewer opportunities to offer it.  I spoke with Steve McKenzie from the Arts Workshop at the Newark Museum yesterday, and he said there were still some openings in the workshop, it isn’t too late to sign up.

This is a terrific class for anyone, not just handweavers, to get into sewing clothing, I guide you through the process step by step, starting with a basic jacket which is drafted to fit your body.  At the Newark Museum, we are able to do the class over four days, instead of three, to ensure participants will finish.

So if you live anywhere within driving distance of the Newark Museum in northern NJ, this is a great opportunity to take this class, I don’t have another one on the calendar in this area in  the next couple years.  The goal here is to get you sewing again, or even just sewing, if you are new to this skill.  All the information is below.  The museum has a number of Bernina sewing machines, so no need to drag a machine to Newark.  Parking is safe, the museum is beautiful, the cafe delicious, and the studios are well equipped.  And there is plenty of public transportation from NYC.

If you have already taken this workshop with me, and are looking for “what next”, I encourage you to take the workshop again, and this time, bring your own pattern and work out a muslin for your next sewing adventure.

Sewing 101: Garment Construction – Making a Simple
Unlined Jacket
with Daryl Lancaster

This is the perfect class for anyone who feels “sewing challenged.” Participants make a well-fitted jacket using an instructor-provided pattern and store bought, handwoven, or felted fabric. Making the jacket is an easy way to learn the basics of sewing and garment construction.
Students who have taken the class before may bring their own pattern. Sewing machines provided.

All Levels
Four Days, Friday through Monday, March 20 – 23,
10 am to 5 pm
Members $290; Non-members $320; Materials $30


Windy Day

I woke up early, the intense wind made the house creak, and the eerie moaning of the bare trees, brushing against the house, made it pretty clear I was up for good.  So I jumped into the day, starting the morning routine, empty dishwasher, make breakfast, reload dishwasher, tidy up kitchen, mail piles, newspapers, the house was quiet except for the wind, which I understand topped 50 miles an hour and killed three people in NJ, everyone in my family left for work or school and I was blissfully alone.  🙂

I continued my routine, cleaning the bathrooms, mentally making a list of everything I needed to get done today, water plants, call my supplier and order pattern paper for the California conference, get tickets to the show I altered the 27 dresses for, fill an internet order for interfacing and get that shipped, toss in the laundry, three loads total (my goodness teenage kids can go through clothing…)  make an appointment for my annual GYN exam and mammogram, AND, make a very long overdue appointment to get my hair cut.  You know how when you pass by a mirror and do a double take and it isn’t good?  Well it was time.  And with the conference coming up in sunny California, I needed a haircut, badly!

All that got taken care of, and I had a scheduled lunch date with the Thursday Philosophy Club, my group of friends, teachers, we’ve been doing this little Thursday routine since my daughter was in elementary school.  In the middle of our eggplant rollatini pizza and arrugula salad, the power went out.  We kept on eating, at least our food was finished cooking.  It was adventurous when I had to use the ladies room, making my way to the back of the pizza place in the dark with a flashlight.  We finally left the restaurant, I had intended to do a bit of grocery shopping, but with no power, I didn’t feel like getting to the register and finding out that the charge machines were down.  Fortunately the power came back on in time for my haircut!  🙂

peacockbackI needed to ship a garment for a faculty exhibit at the Newark Museum for the spring season of workshops, so I decided on the very dramatic Peacock piece, which I did back in 2005, since they hadn’t seen it at the museum, and knowing the space, I thought it would be perfect.  Plus garments like these don’t do any good hanging in my closet in cleaner bags.  It isn’t like it is something I’m going to wear to the next social gathering.  There are pieces I make that I really wear, and there are pieces I make that I do because I want to push the envelope a little bit, and make a spash in an exhibit or on the runway, and a conservative, very wearable little jacket like I’m about to make for Project 5, just doesn’t always fit the bill.

So I raced it over to the shipped, boxed it, and off it went, I’ll see it back at the end of the season.  This piece was actually assembled from leftover pieces of a series of production plain weave fabrics I wove back in the 1980’s.  I saved all the scraps from the garments I made for craft fairs, and sometimes I’ll even find unsold work still in a box in the attic, and I’ll cut that up as well.  Here is another piece I did that way, cutting up old work or scraps from old yardage (I use to weave 30 yard bolts of fabric when I did craft fairs, that’s a lot of scraps).  I wrote about the process of piecing the handwoven fabric using a fusible knit backing, in the first article I wrote for Handwoven Magazine back in December of 2000.  The article was called Slice and Dice, and you can access a PDF of the article by clicking here.cocoon-front-lr

If I never wove again, there is enough work/scraps in my attic to keep me busy for a long time.  I’ve had family clean out closets, and give me back some of the old dated garments they bought from me at craft fairs, they can’t bear to give the garments away, but giving them back to me somehow will make sure they live on.  I enjoy reworking, giving life to something that just isn’t working anymore, style, size, whatever, as long as there is still a trace of an interlacement, handwoven fabric can live indefinitely!

Maybe next time I’m set up to do a photo shoot, I should photograph some of the interesting things that have found their way back to me, back in the 1980’s, I didn’t record everything I made, just what I needed to produce 5 good slides to get me into shows…