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.

Yet Another Dreary Day…

I’m getting as tired of writing this headline as you are I’m sure, of reading it.  And the cold dreary rain continues…

But today I felt a little better.  I have daylight fluorescents all over the studio along with a number of OTT lites.  I put all of them on which brightened the atmosphere considerably,  and I didn’t feel the gloom as acutely.  So, after my morning routine, I decided to finish up the dress, and got the lining cut and sewn, inserted it into the dress, and now all I have is the handwork.  I’ll take it to the meeting tomorrow night to finish it.

frontbackI couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.  It is so pretty, especially from the back, and it fits well, at least for the moment.  I have a feeling the dress will continue to grow, but I can take in the seams more, if I need to, there are worse things in life!  🙂

The colors really look like a summer splash, and I’m glad I have something to remember the whole Challenge project, that I can wear, because the original ensemble will travel with the HGA until 2010, when the next group of designers will present their work, and Loretta and I will get our ensemble back.  I told Loretta she could have the coat, most of her contribution was on the coat, the beading, collar, and felt godet in the back,  I’ll get the long teal tencel dress, since it was mostly my work, but I’ll have this dress to remind me of the Design Challenge for Tampa Bay!

When I started this blog, way back in December, I had outlined six projects I wanted to work on over the next few months.  With the completion of this dress, I have finished four.  I still have to formally photograph the Arctic Sky Jacket, and this Splash Dress, but here is a recap of the last few months of work.


All this and a new website, and a blog, and a website for my sister, I’m realizing how well I used the time I’ve been out of work.

I spent some time getting the contracts together for my guild for our workshops for next year, lots of follow up there, but the board meeting is tomorrow night, and I want to be ready.

Meanwhile, good things are coming up!

First, The Fashion Show, a Bravo TV fill-in for Project Runway, (which was sold to Lifetime Network, and won’t air until late summer 2009), starts on Thursday, May 7th for it’s first season.  It is a complete Knock-off of Project Runway, except instead of Tim and Heidi, Isaac Mizrahi will be the host.  The reviews are great, and hey, it is a design competition, just like Project Runway, and what’s not to like?  So, I won’t be blogging on Thursday nights 10pm/9c, while I watch the latest episode.

And my favorite bloggers, Tom and Lorenzo, formerly of Project RunGay, have launced a new blog, combining a couple of their blogs, which feature fashion, and reality TV, have the absolutely best up to the minute photos of what’s happening in the fashion world and on the runway.  I tune in daily, there is always something fabulous to see.  And the comments are a terrific part of the blog.  This is fashion at its best and worst, and if you play around on the site, you will find the actual final runway shows of the top three designers of Season Six of Project Runway, no designer names of course, but I had my little taste of PR today, enough to keep me going until August when the actual season airs.

Late last night I decided to weave another placemat for the exchange, which is due next month.

Score:  Mom 5, Bri 4…

Another Dreary Day

I feel like I should stop reading HTML manuals and start doing a Google search for information on building Arks.  The rain poured steadily all day, what was a beautiful spring green is now looking a bit waterlogged.  And it is a cold, bone chilling rain.  I was really glad when I woke up this morning that I work from home.  Going to work means a pit stop in the kitchen, unload the dishwasher, reload all the dirty dishes that appeared in the sink after midnight (don’t ask, I have a 19 year old), making breakfast and tea, putting on garden clogs to wade to the front of the driveway to get the morning paper, removing two layers of protective bags from two different papers (we have his and hers papers), and thinking as I am throwing the plastic bags away, that I should be weaving some kind of throw rug or tote bag with them.  Then I wander upstairs, throw in a load of laundry, dress in real clothes instead of pajamas (sometimes I skip this step) and wander into the studio, power up the computer, look around, and decide what adventure needs my attention most.

Today it was hard to get motivated.  Monday morning blues?  Not so into a project that I lose sleep at night on what direction to go next?  The interminable weather? Hmmmm….

I largely puttered, trying to quell the overactive brain I have, which hasn’t traveled since the beginning of March, trying to keep motivated, working alone all day long, especially with a couple of cancellations, and lack of teaching opportunities.  It didn’t help that my favorite columnist, Anna Quindlen, just wrote her last “Last Word” Essay for Newsweek, stepping aside for newer younger talent.  I’m feeling that way myself.  I’m struggling with the idea that I’ve peaked in the area I’ve been working in for a long time, teaching what I know, and that there isn’t the demand for what I do like there once was.  As an artist it is important to constantly reinvent oneself, but I’m not sure what the next step is.  At almost 54 years old (birthday in a couple weeks), starting all over again doesn’t sound appetizing,  plus I have two kids to put through college, I don’t have a masters degree, only a lowly bachelor’s, and I don’t have teaching certs, nor do I want to start teaching in a school system at this point in my life.  I like what I do, and to find a steady paying job will prevent me from being able to travel to teach, anyway, you can see what a cranky cluttered mood my brain was in for most of the day.

too_bigSo I sat down to finish sewing the dress.  Should have been a simple job, n’est ce pas?  I only needed to seam finish the side fronts and the front panel, put the dress together, and then cut the lining.  🙂

Sadly, I forgot I was working with handwoven fabric.  Silly me.  The first thing I teach in any garment class is the major fact that handwoven fabric, without a reinforcing backing, will grow from here to Trenton.  Even though the fabric is quite stable, it is a quirk of handwoven fabric, that it will continue to expand until it is a couple sizes too large.  So I almost always back my fabrics, but in this case, because I was making a summer dress, that step wasn’t desirable.  So I used the same pattern as the muslin which was made from a non yielding brocade, which fit me like a glove.  So why was I surprised when I sewed up the same pattern from the handwoven fabric that I could slip it on without even undoing the zipper and it hung like a sack?  🙁

So, I took a break, spent more time with my nose glued into my HTML manual, and then surfed the web for awhile, looking at websites for Regional Weaving Associations, Guilds, other artists, and looking over the HTML codes for each of the pages.better_fit

Later on in the afternoon, I decided to bite the bullet, and undo all the main seams, remove the zipper, and take in the dress more than 3 inches.  I’m much happier with the result, but I could probably take it in even more, I’m not sure how much the fabric will continue to grow, and it still has to fit the lining which I can’t take in, since it won’t yield the way the handwoven does.  It is a drop lining, so it is only attached around the neck and armhole edges.

A quick look at the radar shows more steady rain through tomorrow, partly sunny by Wednesday.  My guild meets Wednesday night, so that should bring some cheer into the gray days.  Thursday and Friday I have a workshop to attend, so that should be a great diversion as well!

I did manage to do an outline for my Website Success Seminar, which I am debuting at the Michigan Conference in August.  Having an outline means I can now begin the tedious process of filling in all the content, but at least I have begun……

A Dreary Day

UGH!  The weather was awful today.  So cold and rainy, and dreary.  I managed to slip between the raindrops this morning, and check on the garden.  The weeds have taken over, mutant size, covering everything.  The rain is so important for the growing season, but the weeds love the rain as well.  Well there is nothing else to be done but wait for the sun, and get on my knees, and start pulling!

kevinMy poor husband went into Manhattan this morning, to do his annual 5 Boro Bike Tour, with his friends.  The loop, starting in lower Manhattan, and finishing up in Staten Island, taking the ferry back to the starting point, is about 42 miles.  He looks forward to the tour every year.  He called me from the ferry,  soaked through to the bone, kevin_bike_tourwith both knees frozen in pain.  But he was happy he finished and it was worth every minute on the bike.  So he is warm now, both knees braced,  I made him his favorite dinner, and he is watching the hockey play-offs, life is good.  The photo above shows the Queensboro Bridge, and to the right is the route through the five boroughs of Manhattan, at this point he was in Brooklyn.


The mice played!

briannaMy daughter took advantage of the dreary day and finished another placemat, so we are now tied at four each!  We are at the halfway point!  It was a joy to watch her effortlessly throwing two shuttles one after another, and whipping through an overshot structure at 16.  No more broken threads, total control of the loom, lovely rhythm, and while she wove on the placemat warp, I sat next to her working on my other 25″ floor loom, and finished off the tencel warp left from my class last fall with Bonnie Inouye.  The class was on complex structures, called “Advance”.  Most who took the class were intermediate to advanced weavers, and most had 8-12 shaft looms. scarf Sadly I only had eight, which was just fine, and I must say I was shocked at what I got out of an eight shaft loom.  The samples were gorgeous, we explored network drafting, advancing twills, all sorts of complex stuff, and I ended up with about a yard of additional warp, which had to be cleared by Thursday when I do another workshop with Barbara Herbster on Supplemental Warp.

The specs on this might be of interest to the weavers, I am using 8/2 tencel from Webs, sleyed at 36 epi, 3 threads/dent in a 12 dent reed.  I am including the draft below, the technical term would be, “An 8 shaft advancing curves threading (from Bonnie) with an advance of 3, twill tie-up, and an expanded advancing points treadling for 8 shafts.”  Whew!  That was a mouthful.

draft_smThe black on teal tencel is pretty, and wove up fairly quickly, unlike the placemats, this is only one shuttle.  The hardest part was keeping track of where I was in the draft, which I had sort of memorized, with my daughter weaving about 2 1/2 feet away from me.  When she stopped, or her rhythm changed, I looked over, and lost my place!  🙂splash

I also managed to squeeze in some time to start sewing on the dress.  It is really pretty on the form, the color placement, purely chance, is lovely, accentuating the curves of the garment.  The dress really does look like the “Splash” yarns it is based on, and I can’t wait to finish it, and wear it when the weather gets warm.

In case you were wondering about the odd color combination of the blog, the background is now mauve, I am trying to change the code of the template I’m using, to get the blog to look more like my website, until I figure out how to actually build a blog using my own logo and color scheme.  I found the code for the background, but can’t seem to find the code in the CSS style sheet for the header background, so I can changed it to the dark purple.  So, be patient while I search…

Big Splash!

After a day of bill paying,  paperwork, printing monographs, and errands, I made myself clear my cutting table and dive into getting the next project underway.

You may recall I had pulled out the leftover handwoven Splash fabric from the Design Challenge Project I worked on all last year for the HGA Tampa Bay Convergence fashion show.  The Design Challenge has been on my mind in recent days, because the latest issue of SS&D is out and the next group of designers have been selected for the 2010 Convergence Albuquerque Challenge.  The yarn is gorgeous, I’m a bit jealous, because these are my colors, I sadly had to contend with a  Floridian palette.  And the yarn for the latest challenge is bamboo and tencel, not the fat cotton knitting yarn, we were given.  So maybe I’ll just have to order me up some of this great yarn (at $100.00 a pound!) and see what I can do with it, without the pressure of the challenge hanging over me.  Then again, maybe I’ll open up my dye cabinet and see what lurks there…

Anyway, my best west coast weaving buddy Robyn Spady is one of the designers, she lives in Seattle and I’m going to visit her the beginning of June.  I know she will have the same trouble I had keeping everything top secret!  Congratulations Robyn!  What a ride it’s gonna be…  (Don’t worry Sally, you’re still my best east coast weaving buddy!)

Anyway, I digress…

layoutI had made up the dress in a brocademuslin to make sure I liked the fit.  I did some additional tweaking to the pattern pieces, and then laid out the two panels left from the original Challenge Fabric, side by side on the cutting table, so I could get a feel for how the colors would run from one panel to the other.  There are two widths of cloth on the table, both with the same magenta running through the upper portion, which I’ll have banding the bustline.  Though the pink was my least favorite part of the yarn and subsequent fabric, (which is why I had it leftover), it made splicesense to cut it out this way.  I couldn’t have fit the pattern pieces any other way.  As it was, I technically didn’t have enough for the center front and center back shoulders, and I didn’t even try to match them, but I was able to use my famous trick of butting selvedges together to achieve a wider width of fabric in that area.  I try when designing fabric, to have the selvedge edges contain half a design motif, so when they are butted together, which happens more often than you would imagine, the pattern runs flawlessly across the garment.

cutting_outI carefully cut out the pieces, cutting each pattern piece singly, using a single strand of embroidery floss for the tailor’s tacks, and then flipping the pattern pieces to get the second half.  That way I could really control the grainlines and color.scraps

When I was finished cutting out, I had the smallest pile of scraps, some of them should probably be tossed, but this little pile represents the remainder of a year’s worth of work, and a grand adventure, and I’m going to save this little pile, that started out as 10 yards of 36″ wide handwoven fabric!  I know I can still use it for something else!

Now I really should go clean my dreadfully dirty house, make dinner, and read another 50 pages in my HTML manual…