Brochures are out for the Newark Museum, Sievers and more!

If you live in the Northern NJ/New York area, and are free Tuesday afternoons, starting March 23, I’ll be teaching an eight week class called Jumpstart Your Sewing Skills at the Newark Museum Arts Workshop.  Here are the particulars:

Jumpstart Your Sewing Skills
with Daryl Lancaster
Is the sewing machine in your closet covered with dust bunnies? Have you
spent a fortune on alterations lately? Is your closet packed with clothing that
is slightly outdated, that maybe needs altering, but is too good to give away?
Then now is the time to dust off that machine and get re-acquainted. This
course is structured to meet individual needs and help with everything from
simple alterations to full garment make-overs. Learn to sew clothes from
scratch or tailor for that special elegant touch. Machines provided (if you don’t have one); course
limited to eight. All levels
Eight Tuesdays, March 23 – May 11, 1 – 4 pm
Member: $189, Non-member: $210 Materials: $10

If you are looking for a summer vacation in August, come to Sievers Fiber School on the lovely Washington Island off the northern coast of Wisconsin, or come to Harrisville Designs in beautiful New Hampshire, both locations are wonderful for escaping the heat of the summer.

Shadow_PlayLGSievers Fiber School: A Wearable Extravaganza (August 29-September 3) – Class Fee $ 380

Daryl Lancaster Wrap your body in clothing from your own hands.  This is a terrific class for those wanting to learn to fit and sew clothing from their own handwoven, hand-printed, dyed, quilted, felted, commercial or other special fabrics, as well as those more experienced students wanting more polished and professional results.  You will construct a basic unlined jacket with pre-washed fabric you bring to class, custom-fit to yourself, while learning all sorts of inspiring techniques to make your clothing reflect your creativity.  You can expect to gain confidence in your garment construction skills, no matter what level, and will learn to work with your chosen fabric.  Daryl’s goal is to have participants look at sewing as a creative process.  Skills will be taught using samples, handouts, storyboards, Power-Point presentations and demonstrations.  A supply list will be sent to you prior to class.  Materials fee of $35 includes twill tape, interfacing, pattern paper and extensive bound notebook.  (Repeating students who have already made the jacket may opt to make a pieced vest or bring their own pattern/s.)  Sewing machine in good working order and some minimal basic sewing skills required.  A limited number of sewing machines are available to rent for class use.  For all levels.

Harrisville Designs: A Wearable Extravaganza (August 16-20) – Class Fee $ 435

Daryl Lancaster Wrap your body in clothing from your own hands. This is a terrific class for those wanting to learn to fit and sew clothing from their handwoven, hand printed, dyed, quilted, felted or other special fabric, as well as for those more experienced students wanting polished and professional results. Students will construct a basic unlined jacket, from their own fabric, custom fit to themselves while learning all sorts of inspiring techniques to make their garments reflect their creativity. This class is designed to teach creativity and technique. Students who have already made a jacket with me in any other class may opt to bring their own patterns and agenda.

As I travel around, I have lots of requests for the jacket class, and this is a great opportunity to make my classic jacket, or even better, if you have already made my  basic jacket anywhere else in the country, you are welcome to come and bring your own patterns, fabric (it isn’t necessary to be a handweaver to take advantage of any of my classes listed here) and work on your own agenda!

Wrapping it up…

I’m all packed.  For the most part.  I’m leaving early in the morning for Green Bay Wisconsin, via Minn/St. Paul, where I’ll be picked up and driven two hours north, through Door County, hop a ferry, and end up, if all goes as scheduled, at Sievers Fiber School on Washington Island, WI, tomorrow night.  I love this island.  It is pretty remote, and fall is the end of the tourist season, there isn’t much going on there but the Fiber School and the fall air and turning leaves.  It is a fabulous time to travel to this island.

I managed to streamline what I needed to take.  I went through all my lists, eliminating anything that I deemed non essential.  I have to fit all my teaching materials into two 50 pound bags, not my usual 70.  I’m not flying my usual airline, where I have baggage perks, though Northwest is a codeshare of Continental, at least for another 10 days, until they part company, so my elite status on Continental got me a first class upgrade for the trip from Newark to Minneapolis.  The trip to Green Bay is on a little RJ jet, so there is no first class cabin.  I actually like to fly RJ’s, sort of like a bus in the air, they are quick, easy to board and deplane, no baggage to drag on board, it doesn’t fit, and I love the single seats on the left of the plane.

matsI did manage to get nearly all the proposals for the American Sewing Guild conference written, and I made a couple of placemats to see if it was possible to do this piecing technique I do, in four hours or less.  I don’t really offer any hands on workshops that can be done in four hours.  Maybe the inkle loom class, but that’s it.  So I finished a mat, and shot a photo of it, for the proposal, and then my husband walked in.  He is such an engineer.  He picked it up and looked at it carefully, turning it over, and said, in his methodical engineer voice, “Can you wash it?”.

OK, of course this will be an issue, and of course I’ll have to throw these two puppies into the machine to see what happens to all the components and my construction skills once they swish around in the wash, but that wasn’t the response I was looking for.  Yet, my engineer husband has kept me grounded and focused on practical issues for our 35 years together, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything, but I still hate when his first response is, “Can they be washed”, and not “Wow, this is so cool”.  ( note to husband who is reading this at some point, “I love you!” He gets to find out what I’m up to squirreled away in my studio by reading my blog.)  And of course, my engineer husband, in short order, figured out why my new Eee PC had to recover twice from the blue screen of death, while I was updating all my lectures and files before I set out tomorrow. Something that had to do with parental controls?  I am incredibly spoiled married to a techie.

So, I’m off tomorrow, to a place with no internet service.  There will be a computer in the office at Sievers, but no wireless, and they are still sadly on dial-up.  So I’ll be vacationing from blogging for a week while I focus on my students and teaching them whatever I can about sewing, designing, fitting, pattern alterations, and life, should they ask…  At least my opinion of it anyway!

And, while I’m away, I have a feeling that my husband and my daughter will be madly shoring up our fencing because I think, I’ve been weakened sufficiently to finally say, albeit quietly, it is OK for my daughter to bring a dog into the house.  I did last a whole year, my daughter works in a kennel, and has been working on me for the last year to replace the dog we had to put down back in 2007.  It all started with the fact that the kennel, where she works, breeds Norwegian Elk hounds, which I adore, almost as much as I adore Siberian Husky’s (our first dog was a husky, a male, mellowest dog you’d ever want to hang with).  They have 5 girls in heat, and have to move some of the males off the premises quickly.  And you know once the dog comes into this house, it will be staying for the next 10 years or so…  So I’m not sure what I’ll find when I return next Friday night, we will all be surprised!  Stay tuned…


Well best laid plans…

I’m listening to The Devil Wears Prada on my new iTouch.  I’ve seen the movie of course, but I never got around to reading the actual book.  I was looking for something light, to download from my library service for audio books.  They don’t have a lot of the type of literature I like, but this caught my eye.  If you haven’t seen the movie, rent it, a great chick flick.  New college journalism graduate lands her first job as the assistant to a wickedly sadistic boss, Miranda, the editor in chief of Runway magazine played by Meryl Streep, sort of an obvious take off on Vogue.  There is a scene, repeated quite often in the movie and the book, where the poor overworked assistant, Andrea, is sitting at her desk, and “Miranda” sweeps into the reception area, dumping her sumptuous full length fur coat on Andrea’s desk, completely covering her and sashays off into her private office, leaving Andrea to deal with the coat.

This is a great visual for how my week has been going.  I feel like the planets are having a field day dumping huge fur coats across my desk, so many I’m drowning in them.  There are some wonderful, sumptuous opportunities being thrown at me from all directions, and I am accomplishing some really fun things in the studio, but I feel like I’m drowning in too much of a good thing.  Can you imagine?  So I don’t want this blog to sound like I am complaining…

First, there is the opportunity to send proposals to the American Sewing Guild conference in Atlanta next summer, then there are a number of late fall/winter art exhibitions that I should apply to, and there is my article to write for SS&D.  Orders have been coming in, and I’ve been invited to participate in a Fiber Arts telesummit, in November, a weekend virtual event where participants listen to and interact with presenters on the phone.  The roster of speakers looks great, and I need to send bio, lecture title, write up, etc., by yesterday.  I’ll talk more about this event as I have promotional material to post.

Meanwhile, I did talk about trying to make something to sell for my guild show and sale in November, (the same weekend as the Telesummit).  And did I mention I’m leaving on Sunday to teach for a week at Sievers Fiber School in Wisconsin?  I made it to UPS today, with a huge box of handouts, monographs, and interfacings and such, since I’ll need to be prepared for whatever the returning students want to make.  And I took a quick drive to Montclair State University this morning to drop off an application for an exhibit next January.  The application was of course due today.

sweatshirtI have been somewhat successful in making a couple of things for the sale.  Here is where it gets a little difficult.  I am perfectly capable of making stuff.  The hard part is making cheap stuff.  I mean affordable stuff.  Once into a project, it twists and turns, and usually turns out wonderful, but at a price point that would be way beyond what someone would pay at a guild sale.  I purchased a yam colored pigment dyed sweatshirt from Nancy’s Notions.  Nancy has gorgeous sweatshirts, in wonderful colors, if you like sweatshirts, and I bought one to try it out, and cut it into a jacket, and trimmed it with a handwoven scarf I had laying around.  I made one of these last spring after an American Sewing Guild chapter meeting, where the seminar leader took a sweatshirt, cut it into a jacket by cutting up the center front and removing the bottom bands and sleeve cuffs, and adding quilt fabric for trim.  I took it a step further, and used a handwoven scarf.  There were two tiny scraps left when I was finished.

Next I started on a tote bag using the piecing technique I teach in my pieced vest class, called Vested Interest (which I’ll be teaching at the John C. Campbell Folk School in NC in January).  I am trying to see if I can develop a one day hands on seminar, using the technique and developing a project that will appeal to everyone, and can be completed in one day.  bagWell, I was partially successful in making a very cool tote bag, (almost finished, just some handwork) but failed miserably trying to make a reasonably priced item for the guild sale and something that could be made in one day.  I’ve been working on it solid for three days, and yes, I take photos every step of the way, about 200 so far, and I am constantly ripping out and redoing as I think of a better way to accomplish something, but I’m at least moving in a direction full of possibilities.  I basically have to simplify, simplify, simplify, and sadly, I never learned the meaning of that word…

inkleI’m trying to finish up the inkle band that coordinates with it, and maybe use it as trim, though I’m liking it just the way it is, and think I may use the inkle band for something else…

And then there was the guild meeting on Monday.  The Frances Irwin Handweaving Guild is embarking on a fall study of rugs and rug structures, and we had to bring a loom warped to try sampling the September theme of Summer/Winter and Taquetté in rugweaving.  The directions called for a 10 1/2″ wide sample warp, and though my little sample loom is only 10 1/4″ wide, I went with it.  And the recommended thickness of rug yarn was heavier than anything I have laying around in the studio, so I went on an attic hunt and procured a bag of  yarn, some bright pink wool, and some brown handspun from my mother-in-law’s stash.  Even though she has been dead for three years, she still guides me to her stash when I need something, as though her spirit is still hanging in my studio and telling me, “Use this…”yarn

So I dusted off my trusty Ashford wheel, and plied the pink wool, and brown handspun, to make something closer to the required weight of rug wool.plying

I got the loom warped, and took it off to the guild meeting yesterday, and was pretty happy with the first samples off the loom.  I will say this is about as foreign as it gets for loomme in weaving, one because I’m using a table loom which is awkward and slow, I’m use to speed yardage, and the weight is really unusual for me, I think I’ve woven two rugs in my whole life, maybe not even that many.  I weave yardage for clothing, so this is a stretch.  But I love the colors.

So, I’ll continue working as hard as I can, because that’s what I do.  My daughter is also putting out fires, apparently there was a major summer assignment for her Spanish 4 class in High School, which was never given to her, and she found out about it only a week ago, the teacher graciously allowed her a week to complete the hugely labor intensive assignment, and my lovely pink haired daughter is alternating between ripping her pink hair out, and suffering complete meltdowns.  And trying to keep up with all the other work assigned, and the extra curricular activities, is killing us both!  And my wonderful adorable, lazy 19 year old son has finally made the decision to join the Army National Guard, the appointment with the recruiter is tomorrow, to finish the paperwork and make it all official.  Part of me of course is immensely proud of him, and part of me is scared to death.  And part of me is snickering, because when he acts like the lazy 19 year old he is, I think to myself, “The army will never put up with sleeping until lunch time…”  And there is his room in the basement…  🙂


The house is quiet.  It is morning.  My husband has gone off to work, my daughter is off to her second day of Junior year of HS, and my 19 year old son is asleep in the basement, no surprise there. There is nothing major on the calendar calling me to actually leave the studio.  For today, life seems almost normal.  Big exhale…

I have one more big push of a workshop to teach, I leave on the 20th to teach at Sievers Fiber School on Washington Island in Wisconsin.  I have to start printing handouts, and getting interfacing and pattern paper cut, and shipped ahead, but not today.  I have a lecture to give to the American Sewing Guild local chapter on Saturday, but not today.  Today, I’m going to try a repeat of my routine yesterday, which was simple, healing, and mind clearing.  I did some housework in the morning, 20 minutes of yoga, took care of business stuff, paperwork, emails, got in my blog, and then spent the day in the studio creating something.

Sidebar:  In November, the 14th and 15th to be exact, my guild, The Jockey Hollow Weavers, has its annual show and sale.  Timed to take advantage of the upcoming holiday season, it has been a hugely popular event, and the members of the guild spend all year producing items to sell, handwoven, knitted, crocheted, felted, whatever their specialty, it can be found at the sale.  And there are demos, and things to eat, it is a great weekend.  I have never put a single thing in the sale.

Bigger Sidebar: I sold my work in craft fairs for 10 years.  When I quit doing craft fairs, in 1989, I swore I’d never sell my work again.  That was 20 years ago.  I’ve raised two kids since then (my son was born in 1990, six weeks after my last craft fair), and lots has changed in my life.  But I have held steadfast to my rule.  That all changed last month when I was contacted by a woman who saw one of my pieces in the Small Expressions Exhibit in Grinnell Iowa, and wanted to buy the piece titled Survivor.  Since the gallery was not authorized to act as a selling agent for the work, she contacted me directly.  She bought my small postcard size work, the show ended this weekend, the work should be making its way home to me shortly, and I will forward the piece on to her as soon as I get it back.  This experience has made me realize that 1) I am hoarding my work and running out of room to store it and 2) others might want to share a bit of me and own something I do.

Since I mostly make complex garments from my handwoven cloth, and they are made to fit me, it makes it really hard, and very expensive to sell my garments which are largely one of a kind.  I’ve had pressure from teaching venues to develop smaller project like workshops and seminars, and I can see where all this is leading.

So here is a no pressure/no cost to me opportunity to put some of my work out there for sale, the absolute worst that can happen is I sell nothing.  But I will have forced myself to experiment with techniques, on a smaller scale, and potentially make seminars out of them, which is what I do best.  Think of the samples I’d have.  At the moment, I could root around in the archives and come up with a few things to put into the show, but I have some time in the studio, during the next six weeks, minus the trip to Wisconsin, to actually come up with some concrete ideas and small salable pieces.

Of course this means applying a deadline and pressure to myself.  I know the previous paragraph started with “So here is a no pressure opportunity…”, but pressure and deadlines are what I do best.  If there isn’t any pressure, then it goes to the bottom of the very substantial to-do list.  Since I work for myself, there is no boss plopping something on my desk telling me he or she needs it “yesterday”.  I do that very nicely to myself thank you very much.  I’m always asked how I get things done.  I set impossible deadlines and expectations, and kill myself trying to meet them.  The best part for me is when I actually accomplish what I’ve set out to do, and I get the most enormous sense of pride, in having met my impossible goals, that I’m spurred on for the next big impossible task I set for myself.

In January of 2008, I decided to enter all eight of the Convergence 2008 Tampa Bay exhibits.  There were categories I don’t usually play in, like basketry and functional textiles for the home, but I entered them anyway.  And I got work accepted to 6 of the eight shows.  But it wasn’t about the acceptance, it was about applying.  And this guild show and sale for me is not about actually selling work, though that would be nice, it is about having a couple dozen items to put into the show.

loomscarfSo, I’ve embarked on yet another impossible deadline, to create as close as I can, to one item to sell per day during any day I don’t have a major calendar event.  Yesterday was one of those kind of days.  So I put in my headphones, listened to the first few chapters of The Devil Wears Prada on my new iTouch, and I wove one scarf.  It helped that the loom was already set up, there are two more scarves to go on this warp.  But it is a start.  I love the warp here, it is inspired by a class I took with Barbara Herbster at the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild last May.  The class was in Supplemental Warp, and after I finished the two scarves from the class, I rewarped the loom with whatever I had in the studio, and just had fun.

Today is another non calendar event day, though I do have to warp a small portable loom for an ongoing project for my other guild, Frances Irwin Handweavers.  We are suppose to set up the loom and bring it with us to the meetings to try a series of rug techniques at each meeting during the fall.  That should only take an hour or two, it is a small 4 shaft table loom, and the rest of the day, I get to create.  Stay tuned…