Quarantine recap…

I’ve talked to so many people who secretly admit to loving the simplicity of being at home and enjoying what little treasures life has to give.  It is no secret that though financially it is tough having all of my work cancelled, I’ve been able to make use of the time, creating new work, and developing digital product.  There are enough Zoom meetings a week, to keep me connected with knitting, weaving, and critique groups, and now a free artist lecture series at Peters Valley every Friday night, that I feel like I’m still part of a bigger whole.  I’ve had friends come and sit on the deck and play recorders, and we have enjoyed the gardens, the weather, and just the simplicity of being together.  I have not been out of the house except for a couple of runs to the post office, and the eye doctor and the dentist since March 15.  I’m not complaining…

I’ve always done my own photography, I sort of have a degree in it, I’m not a novice around a camera, and early on in my career, I invested in a set of used strobe lighting and decent equipment, which after all these years, I’m grateful is still going strong.  It has been on my “list” to do a photo shoot, long overdue, of all the work I’ve done recently, along with my daughter’s work, all of her knitted dragon shawls and cowls.  She has those photos, so I won’t include them here, but suffice it to say we worked from about 10 am until about midnight, and shot more than 600 photos between the two of us.  This is the first time using my office as the photo studio;  prior to that I always spent a couple hours cleaning out the front end of my weaving studio, and then a couple hours putting everything back.  You need a pretty sufficient amount of floor space to do an indoor photo shoot of garments using strobe lights.

Of course the major issue we had was the four animals, three large dogs and a cat, who insisted they had to be exactly where we were working.  No matter how much we separated them, gave them marrow bones to chew, threw them outdoors, then kept coming back to be right under where we were working. (Yes, he is wearing a diaper.  I have two intact champion males who enjoy pissing contests in the house.  Belly bands made my life bearable again!)

The shoot went really well.  I got everything photographed I had on the list, and so did my daughter.  It was a really long day.  But I felt really good about how well I used my time since I returned from Oregon in mid March and the entire world came crashing to a halt.  It was really great to document what I’ve done.  Of course at this point I’ve launched 7 patterns, and we are close to launching the swing coats.  If you are interested, my digital patterns are available here.  

I did photograph the princess seam jacket and the swing dress, though they aren’t made from handwoven, formal photographs were needed for use in the pattern directions, and promotional materials.  Shooting stuff on me in the mirror isn’t the best advertisement for my patterns!

I also shot this vest, which I made last fall, for the guild sale.  It didn’t sell, and I made it in a much larger size than I am, and I love it so much in the photograph, that I’m tempted to take it apart and cut it down to fit.  The Pendleton Woolen Mill Worms are woven into a Theo Moorman inlay.  All of the details can be seen on my website, the link to the gallery is here.

And so I was quite amazed at all the pieces I’ve done since I got back in March.  One of the first things I tackled was a remake of a vest I made a few years ago, from the fabric I made in a Dianne Totten Crimp Cloth Workshop.  I never liked the way it turned out, and it sat in the back of my closet for a couple of years.  I finally dug it out and re-draped it and cut a lot out of the sides…  Now I love it!

Then I worked on creating a swing skirt from my swing dress pattern.  The fabric was woven a year or so ago, called Vertical Barriers.

I followed that by working with the Driftwood fabric.  I created this dress with a semi attached leather yoke with sleeves.  And I couched an embroidered design on the yokes, both front and back, and added beads.

The leftover Driftwood fabric and leather, went into making this motorcycle vest.  Leather is pretty tough to photograph, there is no way around the glare of the lights.  Even using diffused lighting with umbrellas.  Leather shows everything.  But I’m pretty happy with the photos.

I went from there  to the swing coat from the handdyed wool/mohair yardage I wove at the end of last year.  This one was a challenge, it is a combination of my 400 swing coat, which should be released shortly, and the hood and in-seam buttonholes from my 7001700 tunic.    One day I’ll write up a PDF of how I actually did this.  It is on the list.  The list is very long…  I need more quarantine time…

And then I dove into a loom that has been sitting idle for years.  It had about 30″ left of a Theo Moorman threading, poly sewing thread tie-down warps on a linen ground.  I played with novelty yarns and stripped recycled fur.  I had so much fun with this, I’m waiting to set up a loom specifically dedicated to this technique so I can play and create in a spontaneous way, which is so not what a weaver usually does…

The end result is this walking vest, it is a combination of my 600 walking vest pattern and the 800 zippered vest pattern with collar.  Both are on the table for creating digital downloads, but it may be another couple of months.  

It is amazing to look back over how productive you’ve been when the world is falling apart.  I admit that it is sort of unusual to be so productive when everything looks so bleak.  My daughter just rolls her eyes at me.  I can assure you she is responding to all of this in a much different way.  I’ve always thrived when the chips are down, by losing myself in my work.  There is something about designing and executing something really difficult to take you away from current reality.  It has always worked for me, through my own bout with cancer, through my husband’s cancer and subsequent death, through the raising of two young adults, to my son’s military deployments in the middle east.  Keeping busy has always gotten me through.  

And now come the tedious part, where I process the photos, update all of my social media, website, even the new patterns, because I have new images for the 1000 Swing Dress and the 200 Jacket with Princess Seam variation.  

It is very satisfying to cross off a large project on the to-do list.  Now I can move onto the next major hurdle, but I know that the new photo space in the office is quick to set up so I won’t have to wait a couple years between shoots!

Stay tuned…

 

‘Tis the season…

And so it begins…

Dear readers, I haven’t abandoned you, and I can’t even claim I’m so busy I just haven’t had the time to write.  Truth is, my days are busy and full, but I’m not out of my mind insane.  I have help, people for that if you will.  I am ramping up for Reno, ready to ship 160 handouts, 10 inkle looms for rentals, kits are made, and I just spent the whole day working in the yard, puttering around, weeding the vegetable garden, and hanging by the pond, or one of them, while my pond guys rebuilt the waterfall spillway, which was leaking, and restocked the fish and plants.  Everything was holding when I came in for the night, and we will see how things look in the morning.  The weather here this week has been as perfect as weather can be.  This is a hard week, this time two years ago, we brought my husband home to die.  The two year anniversary of his death falls on Father’s Day this year, my kids are both feeling the loss.  We are all just a little off our game, but I have my beautiful gardens, and people to keep them beautiful, the ponds which remind me of him every day, and I just spent the weekend teaching up at Peters Valley, which was a really important part of our lives together.  His presence was definitely felt all weekend, especially for my daughter who accompanied me there and took a five day woodworking class.

Before I show you the photos from the beginning weaving class up at the Valley, I need to go back a month and share the photos from another valley, the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center, in Elkin, NC.  I adored teaching there.  They want me back next year.  I had six lovely students, one of which I’d worked with before.  We had only three days so most chose to make the basic Daryl Jacket with band.  One brave soul, who had a very cool cotton patchwork handwoven fabric, spent a lot of time in the layout, because her goal was a cuddly cotton bathrobe.  We cut the jacket into a duster length, with side pockets, and all she needs are hems and a belt.  

Gaila brought narrow fabric from a Kathrin Weber workshop, and sewed like the wind to create this beautiful vest over the three days.  She finished up the armhole binding as we were packing up the last day.  This is my new vest pattern, great for small pieces and narrow fabrics.

And the rest made the standard jacket pattern with band, it is always remarkable to me how different they all look depending on the sizing and fabric.  I was proud of them all!

And so Friday afternoon, I headed out to Peters Valley, my favorite place in the world, for many many reasons, and I had eight wonderful eager students who wanted to learn to weave.  Peters Valley has 11 full size 8, 10, and 12 shaft looms, in pretty good shape.  I was able to really tweak and fine tune the brakes and other metal odysseys that are common to Macombers.  By the end of the two days they were all just about perfect.  

The sampler/gamp I had the students do, explored two different threadings, and many different treadlings, plain weave, twills, ribs, basket weave, color and weave, and more.  They were all really good sports about threading, patience is a virtue, and a necessary sort of skill when threading the loom for the first time.  They were tired and cross eyed, but there were very few mistakes and all easily correctable.  Here are some of the samplers.  I pre-wound the warps, so they didn’t get to pick the warp colors, but all were amazed at how the weft influenced the cloth.  There was more than one squeal of delight by Sunday afternoon.

And a shout out to Jamie, who is the summer assistant in fibers at the Valley.  She was a terrific sport, jumped in with great patience and really helped me when it seemed that everyone needed me at once.  She even got to set up one of the looms with an extra warp.

I brought examples of a lot of my work, scarves, table linens and dishtowels, and of course clothing, but I also brought one of my small Theo Moorman technique tapestries I did in the early 1980’s.  It helps give a range of what’s possible on the loom.  Jamie and the studio manager Beth quickly rigged up a way to hang the tapestry on the newly painted wall.  Everyone loved it so much I decided to leave it there for the summer.  It was sitting in the bottom of my closet and it looks so happy here.

And that’s two workshops I can cross off my list.  I’ll be teaching another beginning weaving class at Peters Valley the first part of August, though this one is five day and also sold out.  Meanwhile, Reno calls.  I am in final countdown mode, and actually looking forward to the conference, and the Tuesday when I fly home and it will be another one for the books.  

Meanwhile, I found out that my swing coat, which I had submitted to Fiber Celebration 2018 sponsored by the Northern Colorado Weavers Guild won first place in Wearables, along with a general award and the Pikes Peak Award.  I’m pretty psyched about that, and hopefully the coat will be heading back this way shortly since I need to take it to Reno.  I’m starting to think about what I’m going to wear to the fashion show in Reno, since I’m the judge and have to get on stage to present the awards.

Stay tuned…

Quiet rainy day…

I knew this summer was going to be tough, since all my teaching this year was condensed into about three months.  I was having stress attacks last spring just thinking about it.  Now that I am in the middle of it, I’m kind of enjoying the fact that I didn’t really plan anything else, just to do what I had to do between trips, and go easy on myself.  I am not trying to keep up with the yard or the house, I clean when it gets really bad, which isn’t ideal, but my sanity is more important at the moment.

So, I went on a lunch date yesterday.  You may recall I have a standing lunch date on Thursdays, during the school year, with a group of women whom I adore, all teachers from the middle and elementary schools in my town.  Years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the things I encouraged friends to do, since everyone wanted to philosophy-clubhelp in some way, was to have lunch with me.  It got me out of the house, and focusing on something other than my health issues.  Some seven years later,  we still meet during the school year, on Thursdays, even though 2 of the 5 teachers are now retired.  We call ourselves the Thursday Philosophy Club, and we talk about all kinds of global issues, literary choices, our kids, grandkids (though I’ve nothing to contribute to those conversations yet…) and anything else that comes up in a luncheon with 6 interesting women.  (These are art, music, and gifted program teachers!)

So, we all got together yesterday,  for a summer luncheon, great food, and a dip in the pool.  What a great treat, and what great friends!

I’m making progress on the book sort, today I tackled the Bobbin lace_booksLace books.  This is a tough section, because it is disproportionately huge, many of the books were my mother-in-law’s, since she was a master bobbin lace maker.  I did bobbin lace for many years, because it was her specialty, and I enjoyed that bond with her.  I have more lace pillows than I know what to do with, and I have a large shelf of Bobbin Lace books, many of them in Swedish, since she spoke that language.  I can’t part with them.  Though I know I’m moving away from lace making, it will take many years before I can even think of reducing that group of books.

One area I do need to address, is my slides.  I have binders full of my images from when I did craft fairs, in the 1980’s, and had to have 10-15 sets of duplicate slides.  I need to cull down the copies, one slide is enough, especially since there is a digital version saved in about 15 places.  But that’s for another time.  I cleared three slide carousels off the shelves, putting the slides in archival slide sheets, and I’ll dump the carousels.  No crock1need for those anymore.  (Please don’t tell me that there is an installation artist making sculptures from old slide carousels!)  🙂

I got the crock pot going again this morning.  And I found more fleece to dye in a bag in another cabinet I cleaned out.  This time I am using an olive green.

And, I started to tackle a project I’ve needed to work on for some time.  notebookMy sketch book/record book/project notebook for all the woven pieces I’ve done in the last 9 years, is in a small journal that is bulging at the seams, falling apart, and losing all the contents every time I pick it up.  I try to travel with it, because I’m always asked for drafts and details of the work I show, and I need to rely on my little journal because I can’t keep it all in my head.  When someone asks what sett I used, I can look it up!

The whole book needs to be taken apart, and carefully recreated in a larger format, with a spiral bound notebook.  And I want to be able to add the photos of what the fabric turned out to be.

white_paramentSo, I tackled the first two pages, which were for a set of paraments I did for a couple churches in the area.  The first page was for the white set where I used a doup leno technique with a gold thread.  I found the photos of the minister from one of the churches, wearing the stole, with the pulpit banner and communion table runner.  So I glued that into the new book with the fabric, draft, and notes.

The second page was for the red set of paraments, an altar cloth for one church, two stoles, and a pulpit banner and communion table runner for the other church.  These were done in plain weave 5/2 red_paramentcotton with black crosses inlaid in a Theo Moorman technique.

I am feeling encouraged by all the comments and support as I sort through, weed out, make decisions to toss stuff that doesn’t need to be in my life anymore.  And though I’m happiest when I am learning new things, I’m even happier when I’m organizing.  There is something very satisfying when I stand back and see something organized and tidy, and I can view with fresh eyes.  And I get inspired by finding stuff I didn’t know I had.  ( I’ve been looking for a copy of Anita Mayer’s I Don’t Do Guilt, and guess what I just found on my shelf?)  I’m really looking forward to some down time in the fall to just sit in my studio and make stuff, and enjoy my newly organized library!