photoshootI converted my weaving studio into a photo studio for the afternoon yesterday.  That means I have to move all the looms into the spare room/hallway, except the big one, which won’t really fit through the door.  That one gets pushed as far away as possible.  The background paper goes up against the wall, hanging with skirt clips from a shelf above (how convenient is that, not really, I planned it that way!)

I set up my umbrellas, the strobe lights, and covered my dressform with a matte jersey fabric, that is a pretty neutral gray.  And then the fun began….

evolutionfrontevolutionbackevolutiondetailFirst I shot an older piece, from around 2002, that had originally been shot in slide form, and I was never happy with the results.  This piece is called Evolution.  It is an 8 shaft shadow weave, with bands woven separately on an inkle loom.  The vest is a variation on the jacket pattern I use for my classes.  I like the square armhole, it is easy to alter.



Then I photographed the Arctic Sky Jacket.  This is a twill weave structure, on eight shafts, in wool, cotton, synthetic, just about anything I had on the shelf that would work for the color palette I was trying to create.  The bright lime green piping, in case you weren’t following my blog a couple of months ago, is the natural felt edge cut of off a nuno felted belt I made with Loretta Phipps while we connected for the Design Challenge for Convergence 2008.  The pattern for the jacket is from Burda Magazine.  The bound buttonholes and pocket welts are Ultrasuede, and the top stitching is actually couching with a lime green embroidery floss.  I backed the entire jacket with a fusible weft interfacing.

splashfrontsplashfrontdetailsplashbackNext I photographed the Splash Dress, and as you can see, I had a lot of fun with the detail shots on this one.

This dress, a modified Vogue pattern, was made from the two remaining hunks of fabric from the Designers’ Challenge for Convergence 2008 in Tampa Bay.  I blogged about this project considerably, so if you want to see the original garments from this handwoven collaboration between me and Loretta Dian Phipps of Texas, click here.  This was another combination twill weave, 8 shafts, in silk, cotton, rayon, and some knitting novelty, all of which were given to us by the HGA.  The challenge was to come up with a runway ensemble.  I love the simplicity of this dress with the wonderful splash of summer colors.

sandstonelayersfrontsandstonelayersbacksandstonelayersdetailI’m really happy with the way this jacket photographed.  The colors are rich, and the angles of the jacket played well against the background.

This is yet another combination twill weave structure on 8 shafts, I dyed the warps to coordinate with a palette I did called Sandstone Layers when I was writing the color forecast column for Handwoven Magazine. The pattern is from Burda Magazine, and the topstitching is couched with a rayon novelty weaving yarn.  The buttonholes are handworked from a 6-ply rayon weaving yarn, and the jacket is unlined.  The seams are all finished with a hong kong seam finish.  The belt and skirt are purchased.  (The belt was a gift from my dearest friend in the whole world, you know who you are, and I have cherished it and worn it to death for many years.  It remains timeless and coordinates with just about everything in my wardrobe.  The signature on the back of the belt is fading, so I can’t read the artist’s name.)

So, now I have to put together a gallery talk for Wednesday and pray my plane via Houston to Des Moines isn’t delayed.  That would be really unfortunate.

Sandstone Layers Jacket Finished!

Just a quick post before I get on a bus to circle Manhattan chaperoning a group of new High School Graduates,

buttonholesWhen last we left off, I still had to finish the buttonholes, I had done a test, but I still had to do the three on the jacket.  I slipped a piece of tissue paper under the fabric, the bouclé slub of the fabric kept getting hung up on the feed dogs.  The tissue paper allowed the fabric to slide easily over the feed dogs, and the buttonholes went in without a hitch.

cutI used a buttonhole cutter which cuts the fabric between the stitching much more clean than scissors.  This would be a good time to check to see if the button fits the buttonhole, before I do all the hand work.

detailSo now I finish all the handwork, and do a buttonhole stitch all around the cut edges of the buttonhole, using the yarn I wove with in the weft when I made the fabric.


The stitch is tedious, but then again, that shouldn’t bother me, for goodness sake, I hand wove the fabric that went into this jacket.  I found the process difficult though, I kept breaking tapestry needles, and the rayon yarn kept splitting.  And it is actually hot in my studio, so my hands were sweating.  I know, I have no business complaining about the heat, the sun finally came out for good today, it shown bright, which will make the cruise lovely this evening, and it got up to 80 degrees.  We still haven’t put on the air conditioning yet for the season, there hasn’t been any need.

jacketI also did a hem on an commercial skirt I had, that was pretty dated, I chopped off 13 inches, and did a preliminary shot with the skirt.  I’ll do a final shoot on Sunday I hope!

I’m happy with the jacket overall.  There are a few things with the fit I would tweak if I had it to do over, and the fabric acts like linen, one false move and it wrinkles all over the place, I wanted that kind of casual look, and I got it.

It has been a productive few months, I’ll really feel it when I see all the new work photographed.

Meanwhile, I have a bunch of 18 year olds to chaperone,  stay tuned…


The weight of the last nine months has been lifted off my shoulders, and no, I didn’t actually give birth, rather metaphorically, I finished the Website Success seminar that I agreed to put together many many months ago.  I struggled with this, because there is so much information, and much of it is rather technical and dry, and I had so much research to do.  I still want to run it by a few more of my technical friends, and tweak it here and there, but the 80 slide presentation is largely finished, well in time for my August preview, and I couldn’t be more relieved.  And I’m happy with it.  Course I wouldn’t do anything I wasn’t happy with, but I’m also proud.  This was a huge stretch for me, and I learned sooooo much, mostly that I haven’t even scratched the surface.  I think of web design a lot like weaving.  Weaving can take a lifetime of study, and there are so many different aspects of it to consider.  You can have momentary beginner’s success with a very simple project that a teacher helps you set up, but no matter how old and experienced you are, there is always more to learn.

Now I can focus on the next fires to put out…

yarnsurpriseMeanwhile, the surprise box of yarn arrived from WEBS.  (see previous post).  This is an enormous amount of yarn for $139. including shipping.  And the large $5. cones of cotton flake in the background are in perfect colors to overdye.

Which brings me to the current weather, which has been positively ghastly.  I am looking for some beautiful sunny days so I can start dyeing some of this yarn I’m sitting on, into some beautiful warps that will keep me busy weaving all winter.  Alas, we saw the sun for about an hour this morning, after yet again another violent thunderstorm.  The forecast for the next couple days says sunny in the 70’s, but I’m not buying it.  We have had dreary cold rain for so many days now I’m rather thinking I’m still in Seattle…

The only good thing about all this rain, is the gardens, which are positively exploding with color and greenery and lush tropical plants (I’m talking rainforest here…)  And of course, not to be completely depressing, there is the explosion of the weed plants as well, those that don’t belong where they are popping up.  So, even though the sun is non existent, I managed to snap a quick couple of shots before it has started to rain again.

gardens1gardens2In the first photo on the left, there is a glimpse of our pool, which so far no one has used because it has been so rainy and cold.  Somewhere in there is a beautiful iron gazebo, completely covered with a canopy of vine-y things.  And all of the rain has made the climbing rose bush in the foreground, shed all its petals like snow.  We have lots of outdoor sculptures, largely because we love to collect art and fine craft, and all the walls and surfaces in the house are completely filled, but there is always room for one more out door tchotchke.  And they never need dusting!

The photo on the right has a lovely sculpture in the foreground, called “Drunken Wheelbarrow”.  (Actually we needed to keep it turned on its side so it wouldn’t collect 84 gallons of rainwater which will breed mosquitos).  Hidden in the back of that photo, under lush vegetation is a sizable pond complex of spillways and waterfalls.  It is a delight to hear the gurgling of the water, the twittering of the birds, and the tones of the Monogolian Windchimes my husband gave me for my birthday.

Oops, I’m posting this quick, violent thunderstorm just struck…

2 Hours later…

I’m back, whew, what a storm.  Anyway, I was commenting on how beautiful our gardens were, the latest storm caused rivers of water down and across the yard.  But usually there is a lovely eco system happening, fish swimming in the ponds, frogs hovering just below the surface or on a lily pad, chipmunks scurrying all around, and birds everywhere.  From the height of the balcony out my bedroom, I zoomed down and captured these two shots.

frogschipmunkIn the shot on the left, there are two frogs hiding, can you spot them?

And this little creature on the right, scurried onto a pathway, covered with drenched rose petals.

briWhen the storm started, my daughter and I quick shut down our computers, and then played around in the studio, waiting for it to pass, tidying up the cutting table which was completely out of control.  One of the piles on the table was the mats from the Placemat Exchange, so we took advantage of no electronics for a couple hours, and we got the hems pressed in.  Bri, my daughter sat and started handsewing, notice that purple is NOT her favorite color, <g> and the gorgeous 34 strand knotted ankle band she is wearing, which she just completed over the weekend.

And finally, I’m making slow progress on the jacket.  I did get one of the sleevesbackshoulder in, and the second pocket, but I’m concerned with the fullness across the back now that one of the sleeves is in, and I’m thinking I need to remove the sleeve, undo the shoulder seam and take out the excessive ease across the back shoulder the pattern called for, and recut the back armhole.  The fabric is giving quite a bit, and I don’t want it that slouchy.

sandstonejacketI love the colors in this fabric.  The green wash is so unusual next to the rust, and it is so textured.  If you are new to my blog, I should mention I wove this fabric, from hand dyed warps, and there is more of a description in a past blog.  The jacket fabric  is called Sandstone Layers, based on one of the palettes from one of my fabric forecasts in Handwoven Magazine, and the fabric hung in the yardage exhibit at Convergence Tampa Bay 2008.  I cut some of the fabric into a window shade, which also hung in a functional textile exhibit in Tampa.  I had just enough left to create this jacket.  So here is what I have so far, I only need another sleeve, and the large belt loops.  (And handworked buttonholes…)

Stay tuned…

Just Plodding Along…

Well, I’m getting caught up on house work, and paperwork, and I’m actually making substantial progress on the Website Success seminar.  It is coming together easier than I imagined.  So most of my days are sitting in front of the computer, surfing the web for sites I like, plugging in data, using things like Webopedia as my technology dictionary.  I’m learning so much,  that’s never a bad thing.


This seminar is costing me a little fortune…

So, picture this….  I’m sitting at the computer for 8 hours straight.  An email comes in, I hop over and answer it.  Especially when I get one granting me permission to use their website home page in my presentation.  And then I get a WEBS alert…

For those of you who don’t know WEBS, it is this wonder of a yarn store, near Amherst, MA, that carries tons of knitting yarns, and more importantly TONS of weaving yarns.  They give nice volume discounts, and I buy a lot of stuff from them.  Hence the “alerts”.  This is a lot like an alert.  “Since you bought this particular book, you might want to know about…”  OK, I’m a sucker for books.  And about 30% of the time, I just have to have the book they are steering me into…

WEBS is just as bad.  The WEBS alert comes into my inbox, appearing on the lower right corner of my screen, no matter what program I’m in, and I’m really torn…  Do I open it knowing full well I’m probably going to have to get out my credit card?  Or do I just hit delete…..

OK, so I glanced at the subject line, BAD MISTAKE…  It said, “…great cone sale“.  That’s all I had to see, and I clicked on it.  So, $125. later, I am back to my website seminar…   It was really the rayon bouclé that did me in.  $15. for a two pound cone.  It is normally $16.95 a pound.  What else could I do?  And there was that cotton flake, in surprise colors (I love a surprise), you don’t get to pick, but it was $5. for a 2 pound cone…

sandstone_layers_jacketSo I’ll get a nice surprise package in a few days…

Meanwhile, I get about an hour in the evenings to sew, which is a nice treat at the end of a long day of staring at a computer screen.  The Sandstone Layers jacket is moving along, it is hard to see much of a change from the last post I did of this jacket, but all the couching (with a rayon bouclé yarn) is finished around the collar, the fronts, and the hem.  And I have one pocket attached.  I’m really liking how this is coming out, at first I thought it was really busy and detailed,  but that’s actually appealing to me in a military sort of way, the belt is very cool, but I’ll know better when the big belt loops are on.  There is a two piece sleeve as well.  Lots of details left, the second pocket, handworked buttonholes, lots of big belt loops, and of course the sleeves.

Stay tuned…

Wednesday Already?

Where did the last few days go?  A blur of holiday gatherings, family fun, outdoor gardening, and playing catch-up!

First, the crab fest.  This is for all of you out there who have never experienced a good old fashioned Maryland Crab Fest.  My mother’s entire family is from Maryland, and we grew up, attending family weddings and funerals, always followed by the crab fest.  It was an event!  I have fond memories of my Aunt Joy and my mom chasing crabs all over the kitchen trying to stuff them in a pot with Old Bay Seasoning  to get them steamed.  My sister, who now provides the crabs, buys them by the bushel, from a local merchant who steams them while you wait.



So here we are getting started!  Dump the crabs on a table covered with newspapers and dig in!


And here I am working hard!  Note:  I did NOT drink all that beer, and OK, it was a bad hair day, but I was “down” the shore, salt air and breezes, and hair isn’t important in a crab fest, you definitely don’t want it hanging in your face!

I managed to clean up my out of control studio, and catch up on many many emails, and follow up on some much needed correspondence.  The inbox on my desk is overflowing (my inbox for my email is out of control, but that’s another story), but that’s normal for the end of the month, as Friday is my bill paying day, all the paperwork for the month gets sorted and filed, and dealt with!  I hate bill paying days, but must admit, it is nice to see my inbox with nothing in it for about 24 hours.

I’m making slow progress on the jacket, sidetracked by some fun creative adventures, yesterday morning I judged the Middle School Invention Contest, along with some old friends of mine, retired teachers, and had a blast interviewing these 5th-8th grade would be inventors.  There are some pretty talented, outside of the box thinkers coming up in the world!

My neighbor’s daughter, who is graduating from HS, and going on to college for the arts, is interested in learning about garment construction, and engineering garments for the body.  I’m thrilled, since quite often I hear, “I love to design clothing, but don’t have a clue how to sew…”  As a matter of fact, that’s one of the biggest issues on the new Bravo TV replacement show for Project Runway, The Fashion Show.  Most of these designers can’t seem to sew.  One actually was quoted as saying, “I have people for that”.  Anyway, this lovely 18 year old neighbor, has attempted garments from non traditional materials for her AP Sculpture class, and does actually recognize the wisdom of having a bit of a background in garment construction and engineering.  It isn’t enough to know how to use a sewing machine.  Garment Construction is a bit like architecture, except the covering for the body has to move and perform and fit the structure (body) underneath in a way that a wall of windows and steel doesn’t.  Same idea, different application.  So my 18 year old neighbor spent some time in my studio yesterday afternoon learning some of the basics.

hong-konginside_backI’m playing around with the ways the Sandstone Layers Jacket needs to be finished, I’m happy with the Hong Kong seam finish for seams that are pressed out flat and open, like the center back seam.

The side back seams are handled like a welt seam, where one layer of seam allowance is trimmed back, and the remainder of the two seam allowances are pressed to one side, finished off, and topstitched.  Except in this case, I used a partial Hong Kong finish to keep the look consistent, pressed to one side (so I actually had to do the Kong Kong finish upside down on the side back seams), and couched from the front.  Topstitching gets lost in a handwoven fabric, any tweedy fabric for that matter.  So I make more of a statement by using my cording or couching foot to feed a thicker yarn, preferably one of the weaving yarns used in the original fabric, and stitch a shallow zig-zag from the front to keep it in place.   I couched embroidery floss on the Arctic Sky Jacket if you remember.

couching_footThe couching foot shown here is on my Janome 6600 Professional.  I love this machine!

couching1And here is the finished seam from the  front!

It is cold and rainy here in the north east, so that leaves me with less garden guilt and more studio guilt!