Instant Gratification

It is no surprise that weavers have incredible patience, we by nature have to be the kind of person to whom process, no matter how slow, is the whole point. I will sit patiently threading 1000 ends, or painstakingly plod along following a complex treadling sequence, or methodically develop a new weaving draft. In garment making I relish the joy of a series of perfect bound buttonholes, a seam well sewn, a zipper perfectly installed. I’m not a stranger to ripping out, unweaving, or starting over.

I started this 3 color Baltic Pick up based on a new book I got from Annie MacHale. It is soooo slow. But with patience, I’ll get faster and really be able to follow the pick up sequence. I might edit the graph to be more in the way I like to follow pick up. Another few hours of work. No problem.

I just finished the third virtual conference in a month. I taught at the first one, the MAFA conference, but also took some classes, and I attended the second and third, the ASG conference with the American Sewing Guild, and yesterday and today, NEWS, that’s the New England Weavers Seminar. The second two were a series of lectures open to all those who signed up. I’m pretty cross eyed from all the Zoom meetings but the wealth of information and inspiration I’ve immersed myself in this past month has felt like I earned a 2 year college degree. So many techniques to explore and think about and appreciate.

When I come across something that makes my heart sing that took no effort at all, I almost feel like I’m cheating. It can’t be that easy…

I’d listened to ice dyeing programs and lectures before and was really curious about the spontaneity. There is nothing spontaneous about anything I do in the studio. Can you achieve anything decent from just tossing cellulosic fibers into a basin, tossing on ice and then some fiber reactive dye and get something that doesn’t look like you did the craft project du jour?

I listened to Jessica Kaufman in a two hour class I signed up for at the MAFA conference. This past week was the first chance I’d had to actually try this. I thought you needed a lot more equipment, set up, whatever. I thought as everything in fiber turns out to be, it would be way more complicated. Jessica is with Waxon studio, and she is obviously a pro at this technique and teaching it, and teaching it online.

I watched the replay mid week before the replays expired, and decided to gather up some yarn, fabric, scarves and an old vintage cotton napkin that I can’t imagine why was in my stash. The yarns were probably cotton, the scarves rayon, and the fabric a couple yards of rayon challis.

All I needed was some buckets, and some ice. Yes, I presoaked overnight, all the fibers in Soda Ash. I keep that in the studio because I regularly dye yarn with Fiber Reactive Dyes. Then I just scrunched stuff up, secured with rubber bands, and laid gently in hospital tubs. I acquired a huge amount of them during my husband’s long illness. The only thing positive about an extended hospital stay is the great tubs they give you.

I picked up a bag of ice at the grocery store, sprinkled some on, and then sprinkled on some fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading. And I let everything sit for 24 hours, as Jessica warned, 24 hours after the ice melts. Jessica also said to Trust the Muck. Meaning it is OK if the ice melts and all the dye pools around the cloth. Trust the Muck.

Well, everything was ready to rinse about 1am going into Friday morning. And yes, I couldn’t wait, so I stayed up and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed and then couldn’t sleep all night because I was so freaking excited by what came out.

Here are a few skeins of yarn…

Here are a couple rayon challis scarves…

Here is my new favorite thing in the whole world, my vintage table napkin that I now use with every meal.

And here is the most gorgeous rayon challis fabric, I’m just gobsmacked looking at this across my cutting table, I can’t wait to figure out how to use this, almost too gorgeous to hide inside a garment as a lining, (which was the whole point in trying this technique, ways to get interesting linings…)

And while I listened to lecture after lecture over the last couple weeks, I came across this drop spindle I had tucked in a bag, with an alpaca silk blend fiber that I had started to spin eons ago. The fiber was from Gale Evans at and I was sad to read that Gale closed the shop in May of this year, to move on to another medium, giving up fibers and dyeing all together. I know how Gale feels…

And I actually finished a garment in the studio. I’ve been slowly working on handwoven garments, bits at a time while I write script and demo the techniques for my YouTube videos. We just finished shooting the last techniques for this dress, installing an invisible zipper which just dropped Friday, and one for next week on installing a neck/armhole facing. So the dress, which is made from the handwoven Antique Jewels Fabric I wove last year, the draft is a free download available here, is finished and I can’t wait to wear this. The fabric was perfect, it held its shape and was a joy to sew. The pattern is my 1000 swing dress. That’s available as a download (not free) here. It has pockets!

And so dear readers, my life is starting to fill up again, and I’m not sure how I feel about that, but the opportunities are just too much fun, and there are too many fun things to do out there. I managed to get into NYC for the day last week, to the MET, and the Jewish Museum, and to meet up with a dear friend and have sushi down near 28th street. Except for when I was actively eating I wore a mask the entire day, and had no problem doing so, even though I’ve been vaccinated for months. Scary times, covid cases are on the rise, and I’ll continue to wear a mask wherever I go.

Stay safe out there, and learn all the things!

NEWS Final!

I’m home!  It is the Monday morning after, and I’m feeling the workout of the weekend!  Surprisingly I’m in pretty good shape, I’m unpacked, and organized, the cutting table is clear, the bank deposit ready to go.  Mail is sorted, (I still have a couple dozen emails to work through), but I’m doing better than I thought, and my wrenched shoulder is mending.  I just have to be careful and not lift or reach with my left arm.  No weaving on the big loom this week!  (Not that there is anything on the big loom to weave…)

It was a very inspiring weekend, and I was grateful for the opportunity to teach some workshops I haven’t taught in awhile, ones that I think are important, but I don’t usually get asked to teach them because I’m more of the Go-To girl for sewing, and no one thinks to look at proposals from me on Multiple thread warping techniques, like the warping paddle, and Photographing your Textiles.  I’m hoping that the variety of things I taught this weekend (which was everything except sewing, which is what I’m most known for), will help get the word out that I am not a one trick pony!

Somewhere in hauling my support materials from one end of campus to the other, I managed to pull a muscle, or wrench my back left shoulder, so by mid morning, I was in a huge amount of pain, and I was struggling to focus.  During the break in the color class, one of the workshop participants did a bit of Reiki on me, and that really helped get me through until lunch!  Plus the conference sent a couple of strapping guys to haul me back across campus for the afternoon session.  That was a real treat, to be followed along by a couple of guys toting my supplies.  🙂

Speaking of campuses, Smith College, which I’ve never been to, is gorgeous!  Like all New England campuses that have been around for the last 150 years, there is an architecture, a tradition, a landscaping, that creates a gardens1gardens2wonderful environment, and community that envelopes you with a tradition and grandeur that I know I didn’t feel on the campus where I attended college back in the 70’s.    The main road into the campus takes you by the lake and boat house, and the Botanical Gardens.  I did a couple of quick inspirational shots of the perennial wall along the road, and the glass conservatory.

colorclassteaMy morning class was all about color and inspiration.  Like the class I gave last month in Iowa, I love teaching this one, because it is just a jumble of color and texture and yarns, all thrown into the middle of the table wrap2and everyone is given a couple exercises where they get to loosen up and really play, without the constraints of the loom.  These little warp wrap3wraps are like sketching exercises, and weavers don’t usually walk around sketching.  One of the final exercises involved interpreting a magazine photo into yarn, and I snapped a couple shots of my favorites, including one that used a box of tea as the inspiration instead of a magazine photo!

wrap4I had to include one additional shot, from my infamous workshop participant Leslie, who is planning a 90th birthday party during the 2011 NEWS, the same Leslie who seriously sprained her ankle on her way to my Friday class in Inkle wrapleslieLoom Weaving.  Leslie not only made it to the Color and Inspiration class, but she did a couple of beautiful interpretations, the one on the left of a honeybee in a flower, and the one on the right, a room interior, interpreted with Color-Aid strips to represent a color palette.

The afternoon class, was all about using multiple yarn ends together when winding a paddlewarp.  I started the class by giving a demonstration on using the warping paddle on a warping mill (see photo right), followed by one on Sectional Warping, and then one on using the AVL Warping Wheel.  I love my AVL Warping Wheel, though it is one pretty pricey piece of equipment.  Thankfully I bought mine when they were first introduced back in 2000.

The class was finished by 4:30, and I had some really helpful workshop participants stay behind to get me packed up and down to the basement level of the building where I could pull up with my car, waveafter retrieving it from the parking garage down the road.  I was loaded in and ready to hit the road by 5pm.  I listened to the rest of my book on tape, The Other Boleyn Girl, on the 3+ hour ride home, and once home, I got to spend some time with my fuschia haired daughter who had successfully completed her first week of CIT training at Girl Scout Camp.  We took her back to the bus this morning to start week two!

Now I need to start thinking about the next conference in Durango Colorado!  I leave July 30th!

Day 1 in Massachusetts.

judgingBusy day, after a lovely breakfast at the Autumn Inn, I headed over to the campus, just down the road, and parked myself for the day in the jury room for the fashionfashionjudging show.  I was one of three jurors, and we had to judge 48 garments on all kinds of technical criteria, and we worked hard.  Other than a break for lunch, we worked until 4:30 pm, carefully looking at each garment, trying them on when appropriate, see photo at right, and then awarding all kinds of special awards, and I was thrilled that my co-jurors all had the same sensibilities that I did, and we quickly agreed upon the pieces that really stood out.  Since this was all anonymous, I have no idea whose jacket I tried on, but it sure was lovely.

I had about 20 minutes to run over to the auditorium before the tech crew left, to do a sound check and make sure my presentation worked.  Initially we couldn’t get my images to size correctly, they looked like they were stretched to fit a wide screen format on the stage, but I had an ah-ha moment, (my husband would have been proud) and I changed the output resolution in the PowerPoint program.  So all was well, and I ran back across campus for the barbeque.  I gobbled my food, had someone drive me back to the inn, changed into my gown, threw on some makeup, and back to the campus and the auditorium with five minutes to spare.  I got all the equipment turned on and after the initial housekeeping anouncements, I was on stage and beginning my hour keynote address to officially start the conference.  I had my buddies from Michigan drive to Massachusetts to hear me speak, (I’m sure that wasn’t the real reason they came, but it made me feel really good when they said it!)  I gave them the camera and they got a few pictures of me in action.  I am a pretty animated speaker, and most of the shots were hilarious, as I was caught in all kinds of awkward facial expressions.  But some of them came out quite nice, thanks guys, and I thought I’d share them.  When the image on the wall of my now infamous dress came up, everyone asked me to step out from behind the podium to model the real dress.  It does look great on a stage.keynote1keynote2keynote3

I share some pretty personal stuff when I give a keynote address, especially about my journey with breast cancer, and more than one tear was shed, including mine.  At the end, there were a couple of standing ovations in the back, which makes me feel like I made a difference for a brief moment, and afterwards, there were a lot of hugs and support and I think it all turned out well.  Later there was wine back at the inn…

I’ve arrived!

I rarely drive to wherever I’m teaching, so this was sort of a treat, and I just headed up the interstates, guided by Thomas, the British guy who lives in my GPS, listening to a book, The Other Boleyn Girl.  I’ve had it in my Audible file for awhile, and even though I saw the movie, and know how it all turns out, (she gets beheaded, duh…) it is a really good read.

I arrived at the Autumn Inn in Northhampton, MA, just in time for dinner, a lovely old inn, I have a beautiful room, private bath, and it is very quiet.  I met up with the other fashion show judges, there are three of us, and the committee took all of us out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Smith College, called the Eastside Grill.  For my dinner, I had the appetizer of Seared Tuna with Wontons, which was pan-seared spiced tuna on crispy wontons, with sesame carrots and creamy wasabi sauce.  And I had a mesclun salad with Gorgonzola vinaigrette.  What a great way to start the weekend!  And of course there were lively conversations all around, weavers are so well read and informed and opinionated!

drivewayI have to share this photo, as I was packing the car, the red one parked on the lawn, we were having a new driveway put in, something that’s been on the list for years, we have lived in this house for almost 30 years and the driveway is way older than that.  It was time.  So the lovely smell of hot asphalt wafted through the house, I was glad to see it finished, with no cars parked on it, and leave.

I checked the schedule and room assignments for the weekend, and UGH!  All five of my classes are not only in different rooms, they are in different buildings.  So I don’t have a clue how I’m going to change classrooms/buildings every three hours, and my car will be in a parking garage down the street.  Well, as it always does, it will work out…