Going Home…

And I’m home.  It has been a challenging, wonderful, inspirational four months, I’ve met so many wonderful people, saw some incredible things, reconnected with old friends, taught some pretty terrific students, and the support along the way has been absolutely critical.  A huge thank you to all who put me up, put up with me, who picked me up at airports and restaurants, who made my life manageable, and who cheered me on from the sidelines.  It is all a fitting end to a well done year.

My last stop was Wisconsin Handweavers, a quick in and out, direct flight to Milwaukee, and though my plane was a couple hours delayed getting in, we still had time to hit the Milwaukee Art Museum to see what treasures we could find.  I adore art museums, I’ve been able to see so many this year, not just on the road.  The week before I left my daughter and I spent a Saturday at the Newark Museum, and saw the Kimono as Fashion exhibit.  The entire museum has been updated, renovated, and though I worked in it teaching in the arts workshop for many years, I didn’t recognize much.  It is fresh and interesting, with exciting mini collections from all over the world.  The Kimono exhibit was worth the trip just by itself.

So my lovely hostess Paula took me to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the one with the famous gull wings that open to the sun. 

I’ve been there a few times, but this museum has also been renovated, it was fresh, with wonderful collections and the current exhibit was really unusual.  The website description says it all

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America explores the projects of over 40 designers who advocated for playfulness and whimsy within their creations for corporations, domestic interiors, and children. The exhibition presents play as a serious form of inspiration, experimentation, and problem solving. In midcentury America, such playful design occurred against the backdrop of a booming consumer market and as a counterbalance to Cold War–era anxiety. Furniture, toys, textiles, films, posters, ceramics are among the objects featured.

It was an eclectic collection of stuff from the middle of the last century, a lot of Eames designs, and curiously, or sadly, I’m not sure which, I found myself wandering around thinking, “We had that in our kitchen growing up, or I played with that, or I remember that!”  It was very eerie to see your childhood in a museum.  That said, there were treasures to be found and I came around a corner and saw this…

Wow, just wow.  This is a rug designed for ALCOA, Aluminum Company of America, woven by Marianne Strengell in 1957 for an ad showing the new aluminum fibers.  A copy of the ad was also featured.  I have used metallic fibers throughout my weaving career, and I haven’t ever given them a thought, that prior to 1957, they were not a thing.  This was a gorgeous textile, beautifully preserved, and worth the trip to the museum.

Paula and I wandered through the permanent collections.  I came across this Georgia O’Keeffe I had never seen before.

And I saw a few works by Gabrielle Münter, a German artist that has only recently come across my radar, there are a couple of her works in the Neue Gallerie of German and Austrian Art in NYC.  This was painted in 1912.

And there is an exhibit of Haitian Art, and I fell in love with this painting, which I took a picture of and made it my wallpaper on my computer.  It is by Jasmin Joseph and was painted in 1958.

And then I did a two day workshop.  I will say that hands down this was the best workshop space ever provided by a guild, at least for this particular workshop.  I had four tables to lay out my newly numbered and ordered patterns and though there were a couple minors errors, this all went swimmingly well.  So thank you to all who complained over the last year about how tough it was to keep everything straight, I seemed to have solved all the problems in one fell swoop!  This is a great two day workshop for a guild, called Custom Fit and Fabulous, and we even had time to explore sewing with handwoven fabric and things you need to know to sew the garments together.

Saturday I gave a lecture on Color and Inspiration to the main guild, and there must have been 100 people in the audience.  I even had beloved friends come down from Washington Island, and there were a number of my Sievers students as well.  I got a photo of Crystal, LuAnn (in a short sleeve version of a Daryl Jacket) and Cindy, all wearing stuff they made in my class or as a result of my class.

One of the cool perks of what I do is the interesting people I get to stay with.  Husbands of weavers are just the best.  Paula’s husband was just one of the most interesting people I’ve ever come across, (although the geologist with the succulent collection in Northern California is a pretty close second), Andy has traveled to the most amazing places like Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, places I wouldn’t ever imagine people travel to on purpose, and taken gorgeous photos.  We spent hours pouring over his vast collection of books, not only of photography, but mostly botanical illustrations and illustrators.  We both love a good botanical illustrator, and I told him  about Mindy Lighthipe, who was a former weaver in the 1980’s, and he immediately bought a book she wrote on botanical illustration, Amazon delivered it the next day, and he turned me on to Margaret Mee, whom I had never heard of, but immediately bought the book and it was waiting on my doorstep when I returned.  

And so, my trip home was uneventful except for the 150 MPH tailwind which got me to Newark from MKE in less than an hour and a half.  Gotta love tailwinds…

And that threw me back into instant reality.  Right before I left my daughter did this…

Which has been declared a total loss.  So I’m down a car, which isn’t actually a terrible thing, since I had three after my husband died.  She still can’t afford her own, so at least I have something for her to drive. 

Monday I drove to CT to the annual Threads Magazine Holiday Party, it was great to see everyone, and I was thrilled to have an office party to attend, I’ve worked for myself since 1979, and never had an office holiday party, this is my third one at the magazine and I feel like family.  And I spent some time talking to Pamela Leggett, a fabulous designer, her patterns are mostly for knits,  author and frequent contributor to Threads Magazine, and she gave me some insight to creating digital versions of my patterns.  So I’m mulling that over in my head.  It is far down on the to do list, but it is at least on the list…

The ice maker on the brand new refrigerator failed after the first week, so now that has been replaced. The gas stove people have been here and I’ve put a deposit on replacing my wood stove with a gas one. That should happen towards the end of January once all the permits are in.  I’ve been to the eye doctor and ordered new glasses.  And the towel run is off the loom, washed and ready for hemming.  That’s tomorrow.  And today I started planning my next article, this one for Heddlecraft Magazine.  This one will require a lot of loom sampling…

It never ends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way… stay tuned…

They made me do it…

Wow dear readers, lots to catch up on!

It is snowing.  Before Thanksgiving.  Sigh…  Sorry everyone, I don’t care what side of the political fence you sit on, but weather patterns are changing rapidly and it isn’t a pretty thing.  My heart bleeds for all those who lost everything between the devastating hurricanes this fall and the wildfires on the west coast, storms seemed to be vying for cable news attention in a big way.  Knitting was cancelled tonight for bad weather.  We shouldn’t be having snow days in November, not in NJ.  I have always joked that one day NJ will no longer be here and that the Delaware River will be beach front property, but I didn’t think I’d be seeing it in my lifetime, or my children’s lifetime.

That said, I’m doing what any self respecting fiber enthusiast would do, I’m making stuff.  

First off, my guild held its annual show and sale this past weekend.  The guild did really well.  Which is a wonderful thing.  I’m the treasurer, I do numbers.  This will help with our wonderful programs, two of which were rebooked from snow events last spring, which blew our budget this year, which I wrote, and we haven’t reached December yet!  In a last ditch effort to have something to sell, I made two totes out of scraps from one of the last handwoven garments I made, currently on exhibit in Asheville at the Blue Ridge Fiber Show.  I made two, forgot to photograph the second one, it was nearly identical, and both sold to the same person in the first hour of the show on Saturday.  This person, who has bought a ton of stuff from me over the years, loved that they were the same but with different color linings, and bought both for two different sets of files.  Go figure…

When I was in CT filming video for Threads magazine a couple weeks ago, I had partially made five garments to illustrate specific techniques we were going to be filming.  I have since finished two of them, and have already worn both and am enjoying the newest additions to my wardrobe.


The first one is this lovely pencil skirt, from an old Vogue pattern 8677; I’ve made it before.  It has a high waist with waist stays, which I made from plastic cable ties with the box end cut off.  The skirt is really comfortable.  It is made from a Ralph Lauren cotton I picked up in Nashville a couple years ago, and the skirt is completely underlined, which was the point of the video I was shooting.

The second garment I finished up in the evenings at the OBX retreat last week, or was it the week before!  This is a quilted cotton vest, with a raw silk lining on the inside, trimmed around the perimeter with bias cut linen strips.  There is a thermal interlining between the layers and it is toasty.  The vest is supposed to be reversible, and I trimmed it that way on purpose.  The video I designed it for was specifically for illustrating how to bind off a perimeter edge, miter corners, and join the two ends together.  There was a lot of handwork on this but it is really fun to wear.  The pattern is from my class patterns, the collared vest.

Speaking of…

Because of the number of patterns I offer, when I teach a class like I did in Reno, and like I will be doing in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks, the biggest takeaway I got was that I need to present the patterns in a way that people can keep track, of what goes with what and what pieces are needed for each silhouette.  I’ve been mulling this over for a long time, and making notes, tweaking and reworking because once I assign a number to a piece, and write it on, I can’t change my mind without retracing the entire pattern section.  Just to let you know, in a class where students are all tracing different things, I have 9 different silhouettes, with multiple views, and multiple copies of each of the half dozen pattern pieces in that particular silhouette.  We are talking hundreds of pattern pieces floating around.  Things get put back in the wrong envelopes, and in the case in Arkansas where space was tight, students were falling all over each other trying to find the next piece they were looking for.  I know it is an issue.  I have additional silhouettes in mind, but had to first get control of the pattern situation.

So this is what I came up with.  Each of the silhouettes will now have a hundred number to identify beyond the description, and each pattern piece will be numbered accordingly.  Plus each pattern envelope will have an image and description of what’s in there, with a line drawing of each pattern piece and the match points clearly marked.  I have four of the nine silhouettes completed, at least that envelope part, but I won’t write on the actual patterns until I’m really really really sure!  Even this morning, I looked at what I had done yesterday and found mistakes.  This kind of task takes a lot of proofing.  A lot.  And still, I know I’ll get something wrong.  But my wonderful students don’t hesitate to point out when I do! (Which I’m really really grateful for.  Really)

Please don’t write and ask me if I sell my patterns.  I do not.  I can’t.  Not yet.  Mass producing these for sale will take a whole other block of time, research and investment and that will be a goal down the road when I give up teaching but for now, these are for student use in my workshops.  

Meanwhile, the latest issue of Threads Magazine is here, issue 200, a very big milestone in publishing.  I have an article about Crocheted Edges in the Embellishment Column, four pages.  Great technique for handweavers.  I also shot a video of the techniques which will come out sometime next year.

Because time is getting close and I’m an overachiever anyway, I needed to get my holiday towels on the loom so they can be woven off by the first holiday party, which is coming up right after I return from Wisconsin.  I’ve got this…  While I was in Arkansas, Debbie the owner of Red Scottie Fibers and I spent a lot of time talking about Bockens Nialin Cotton and Linen vs Brassard Cottolin, which I can get from Webs much cheaper.  Though I don’t want to come across as cheap, these towels are all gifts and I’ve never had a problem with the Brassard Cottolin, and its Webs American predecessor Valley Yarns Cotlin.  They both made nice thirsty towels.  I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and bought the Bockens, which is Swedish, from Debbie and will report back what I find, though I won’t be able to say how good they are to use or how absorbent they are because they aren’t for me.  So if you are on my list this year, you know who you are, you’ll have to give me feedback on the more expensive yarn.  So far, winding the warp was a dream, the yarn is smooth and clean.  I’m using a draft I picked up at Webs awhile ago, for their Cabana towels. The towels are woven in a mock basket weave, and look to be quite dense and lofty.  We will see. 

The biggest thing is to keep the cat away from my 11.5 yard warp.  That would not be pretty.  I’m getting use to this cat thing, which my daughter brought with her when she moved back home, and I can’t trust it to even leave my charging cords alone.  I just got this one with my new tablet.  We hadn’t treated it with BenGay yet, which is supposed to keep cats from chewing phone chargers.  They cost about $17 to replace from Samsung, ask me how I know that, and they are specific for fast charging.  The things I learn that I wish I didn’t have to know…

So dear readers, stay safe in this first winter storm of the season, to my fiber friends in California, there are no words to describe how my heart bleeds for all of you.  To those who have lost homes, studios, businesses, animals and even loved ones, this is a cruel world and I hope that in all this pain and darkness we find a way to come together as one family.

Stay tuned…

A surprising afternoon…

Yesterday morning I woke to beautiful spring like sunshine, the gardens exploding in color, and the promise of a day in the yard, weeding, mulching, staking peas, and generally enjoying my private oasis.  I did a quick check of my email, and my Google Calendar Alert popped up reminding me that within an hour, I needed to be in Dover at the Hilton Garden Inn for the American Sewing Guild Spring Fling.  This is an annual event sponsored by the North Jersey Chapter of the ASG.  Insert audible groan…  There goes my day in the gardens.  However I have no one to blame but myself, I signed up for this event, only Wednesday, because I to need to get out of my studio, get some inspiration and support my local sewing chapter.  I went off to the shower…

What a great day this turned out to be.  The speaker was Anna Mazur, you would know her if you’ve subscribed to Threads Magazine in the last few years.  What a gifted and talented sewer, dressmaker, designer, fabric artist, and inspiration.  Anna is a Contributing Editor for Threads, and many many of her intricate garments and techniques have been featured over the years.  She began her program with her experience with beads, how she works, organizes, and lays-out her projects.  I intentionally listened with only half an ear since I did NOT want to run the risk of getting into yet another area of study.  After all, I just bought this new loom…

The lunch was surprisingly good, and then came the best part.  Anna brought a car full of her most amazing garments, spanning 30 years of dedicated workmanship, including some amazing coats tailored for her daughter when she was just a toddler (she is now graduating from college).  She brought garments from her articles, and garments from the Bernina Fashion Shows.  She brought award winning garments, and some of her mistakes.  It was a pleasure to listen and to be inspired, she has a sense of humor and an easy spirited demeanor that is engaging and encouraging.  And it was great to spend time with someone who is way more skilled than I am…   🙂

I actually learned a thing or two…   🙂

After the luncheon, I stayed to help Anna, introduced to her by our chapter president Carla, I am an experienced garment packer from years of schlepping and hauling my garments all over the world.  While we were packing, one of the attendees Sara Ann Megletti, owner of PB&J Stores in Newton, NJ covered one of the round banquet tables with the most beautiful Polymer Clay buttons I’ve ever seen.  Not only were their surfaces rich, but the color palettes fresh and current, and the shapes interesting and playful. I of course bought the olive green button in the center of the group photo, out of all of them, it kept calling to me…

Sara said that the buttons, from Crone Art, will be sold through distributors like herself, and she is feverishly working to get the collection up on her webstore.  She anticipates availability within the week.

So Anna will be teaching at the American Sewing Guild Atlanta Conference in August, where I will be as well, and we hugged and promised to reconnect in August.  It will be my pleasure…

On a sad note, my poor techie Kevin, stayed up until 3am last night, doing what a techie does when all else fails.  Uninstall/Reinstall.  I have had, as you have probably experienced, continual Fatal Error messages when trying to read, post or post comments on my blog, referring to Out of Memory Errors, since December 19th, 2009 when the first error was recorded in the log.  When I say this techie of mine is good, I think he is the best, his tenacity to stick with a problem until it is solved puts me to shame, and he has worked tirelessly on this problem for months.  The problem seems to be getting progressively worse, and the only thing left to try was a complete uninstall and reinstall.  Scary, but I trusted he would be able to do it without losing my data.

At 3am, he came to bed confident that the problem was corrected.  Sadly, three sentences into writing this post, I got the fatal error message.  I wanted to cry…

So, we will keep trying, be patient….

The Fashion Show

What a great day!  We concluded the three day workshop in Garment Construction Techniques, with a seminar in Closures, starting the morning with Bound Buttonholes, and then moving into Triangular Bound Buttonholes.  When the students took a break to sample, I saw some really lovely triangular buttonholes coming from their sewing machines. We went on to discuss many ways to close a garment.  Lots of ideas, some simple, some fun, no more excuses for outerwear with no closure!

I really loved this group!  There was a huge range of skill levels in the class, some felt like they were beginners, and others were very skilled, needing some inspiration, there was even an experienced educator looking for ways to teach these kinds of techniques.  I hope all got something from the class, and I’m looking forward to the weekend seminars.

After I packed up and brought my two 70 pound suitcases over to the dorm room, I went over to the fashion show rehearsal.  I wasn’t actually participating in this show, but I wanted to preview the garments back stage, as I will be the judge.

As it turns out, because of the scheduling, I will have to actually judge the fashion show garments after the fashion show takes place. So I requested the privilege of actually judging the fashion show garments during the fashion show.

OK, so here is the problem.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  I have judged many many fashion shows over the years, and judging a fashion show, usually means, sitting in a room, with the garments,   each one laid out in front of me, like a dead carcass on the table.  See, I am looking at a piece of fabric, more often than not handwoven, sewn into a garment, laying on the table in front of me.  I have nothing to judge the garment on but technique, suitability of weave structure, and originality of design.  That isn’t really the problem, the problem is, I’m only seeing a very small piece of what this garment is about.  A garment is designed to be worn, to be viewed on a body.  A real body.  A post menopausal female, with  graying hair, and a wonderful outlook on life. I never get to see that part of the equation, who the garment was designed for, how does it fit them, does it wear them, or do they proudly wear it?  Later, after judging, I get to view the real fashion show, and 40% of the time, I want to change my comments and my judging scores, because I find that the pieces come alive when they are filled out with the person whose hands created them.  I love when the maker wears their own garment.

So tonight, I had a chair, and a clipboard, and a list of the garments at my disposal, and I felt like Nina Garcia on Project Runway, judging the work as it came down the runway.  Wow.  I cannot say how this experience has changed the way I judge a garment.  I did get to preview the garments backstage before the show, but the garments came alive as they walked across the stage, and down the runway, I was really really blown away by some of the garments that just looked like nothing on the hangers.

I couldn’t actually take pictures of the pieces, I was too busy scribbling notes!  After the fashion show, dessert was served, and then, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Michigan League of Handweavers, a vintage garment retrospective fashion show took place.  This was so much fun.  I laughed and squealed in delight, as I recognized fashion looks from the early years of handwoven clothing.  I have been weaving clothing since the 1970’s, and this represented a history I really remember.  I did manage to snap a few shots, the first model out wore, what else, but a 1950’s handwoven apron!

vintage_3Of course every weaver remembers the horse blanket reversible poncho from handspun yarns.  And then came the 60’s cotton shift, this one had cutouts in the waist area, it even had the fringe at the hem!  And then who hasn’t made a leno skirt and shawl!  I loved the orange color of this set.

Millie Danielson, a long time member of MLH, moderated this retrospective of vintage works, and some of the pieces were actually hers.

vintage_2This very vintage ensemble of Millie’s featuring yellow hotpants, brought the house down.  The commercial decorator fringe really completed the outfit!  All that was missing were the white go-go boots!

vintage_1Millie also created this outrageous coat, woven with warp remnants tied into the structure with Ghiordes knots.  I don’t know what year she wove it, but it was a pretty impressive piece.  And the model carried the whole look off effortlessly!

The finale of the retrospective show, featured none other than our own fashion icon, Anita Mayer, who wore Ann Flora’s  contemporary felted coat and hat.anita_annflora It was a stunning piece, and she looked fabulous in it.

I of course, wore my now infamous Frosted Florals dress.  Not only did I get to sign a few autographs on page 81 of the current issue of Threads Magazine where it appeared in the Readers’ Closet pages, but the latest issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot has just come out on the newstands, and there were a number of copies floating around, with my new article on the Convergence Challenge project.  I’ve gotten some very kind emails so far, telling me what a wonderful piece Loretta and I created.   I got to autograph a number of those issues as well.  My friend Robyn Spady has two articles in that issue, and since she was teaching across the hall from me, there was a lot of autographing going on!

So, tomorrow I do the final judging for the show, and I will write all my comments and choose the winners.  Stay tuned…


I just got an alert, my dress, Frosted Florals is on the front page of the Threads Magazine website!  Thanks Tien!

The conference is going well, course I haven’t done anything all day but hang out, chat, and set up my class room.  It is beastly hot here.  I’d say 110 degrees in the shade.  And the poor vendors, are in an airless gym with no AC, and people are dropping like flies.  Still, it is a feast for the eyes, enjoy the photos, looms, yarn, shuttles, books, too much to look at!yarn1

yarn3loomsshuttlesbooksThe cute looms are from Glimakra, I spent a lot of time in their booth, though I’m not in the market for a new loom, I can’t help but be impressed by their ability to keep up with new trends in looms, always thinking and redesigning, and they are always a joy to chat with.

I spent some time with Joanne Hall getting a real demo of their band loom.  I like this loom, and I think I’ll put it on my wish list, it is for making inkle bands, and has a warp and cloth beam so very long lengths of bands can be done without having to rewarp the inkle loom every couple of yards.  Hmmmm…….


I was able to get back to the Faulconer gallery this afternoon to take a better look at the Small Expressions Exhibit, and grab a couple of gallery shots.  gallerygallery2This is a beautiful space, and I enjoyed the intimacy they were able to achieve with all of these very small works, if you can believe, my tiny post card size works are in the first photo  all the way in the corner furthest away from the camera.  Sort of the last pieces on the wall on the left.  You can’t even see there are two pieces side by side.

So I don’t cause you any further eyestrain…

exhibitedworkI got my classroom set up, and I have to say this, I have died and gone to faculty heaven.  I want to be buried in this classroom.  It is high tech, just popped my little pen drive into the system (and after much fiddling, etc.) my presentation came up on the huge wall, I played with the little wall switch for awhile, making the window shades go up and down electronically, the table space is huge, and there is a nice wall in the back to hang my garments for display.classroom

And as I walked across campus, I grabbed some shots of the gorgeous colors in the gardens, I think these would make beautiful palettes for fabric, especially the ones with the greys.

flowersflowers2The keynote address is tonight, it is always a joy to listen to Madelyn van der Hoogt, editor of Handwoven Magazine from Interweave press.

I have to say, I adore mid-western weavers.  They are so great to work with, so helpful, and so kind.  Lots of smiles, and lots of hugs, though we are all doing virtual hugs because of the heat…   And there isn’t a lot of handwoven stuff being worn today, I can assure you.

Stay tuned…