Everyday feels like a year…

This is the weirdest year I’ve ever experienced, and there have been a lot of them.  You’d think by 65, especially having lived through the 60’s and 70’s that you’ve seen it all.  Hahahah!

I’m not going to comment on any of the current world situation.  You don’t need one more voice in the cacophony of voices and events and situations screaming at you for attention.  Because you all know or should know that the world is imploding like some sci-fi novel and that we just all have to buckle our proverbial seatbelts and hold on for the ride.  A bottle of wine or something more powerful would help for fuel.

That said, my last couple of weeks have been wild and crazy, and that has nothing to do with all the drama and sturm und drang happening in the world.  

In case you missed it, I did finish my Confetti vest, lined with a vintage leopard coat.  It makes me smile in so many ways when I look at it.  I’m ready for winter, this will be warm as s**t!  

So this week is Spinning and Weaving week.  It is a big deal in the fiber community, usually full of events, and gatherings and all sorts of fibery happenings.  The Handweavers Guild of America is giving it the valiant try of doing a bunch of fiber related events virtually.  While not ideal, in essence it allows participation by anyone, anywhere, in the comfort of your own home.  I know our homes are getting too comfortable and we are looking to get out and go anywhere, but inspiration comes in odd packages, and basically all this is free and all you have to do is register for a specific event.( I think it helps if you are a member, because everything is free, but there are modest fees if you aren’t a member.)  All this coming week, the HGA is sponsoring studio tours of various fiber artists they have selected, whose studios they think might be of interest to the fiber community at large.

And guess who is featured Thursday at 4pm EDT.  Yeah, so there is that hanging over me.  In preparation for a virtual studio tour, I mistakenly said, when they inquired if I would be willing to be a part of this, that sure, I’ll even have something on every loom that I can talk about and explain, and fill up space for an hour.  I need to learn restraint!

So, in anticipation of Thursday’s live virtual studio tour, filmed by my daughter who will be tethered to the laptop, camera and sound system, we will walk through my wonderful new garage space, and then on to the basement where I have my cozy sewing room.  But all the looms had to be warped…

So, my 8 shaft 36″ loom was unwarped and very lonely.  I still had a couple of cones of Silk City Fibers yarns to test out, one was a Cotton Bambu, in Silver, and the other was a Chenille Tapestry variegated called Japanese Red Maple.  I envisioned a light dark shadow weave, something sett well enough to keep the chenille from doing silly things like worming out of the structure.  Some day I’ll recount my early experiences with chenille, but with a lot of experience behind me, I thought I’d give it another go.

I used the Powell book for inspiration, but since I’m aiming to publish the draft and specs for this fabric, I needed something that was mine.  I started out with this 8 shaft version, and wasn’t completely happy.  (Actually I started out with 24 epi, alternating the CottonBambu and the Chenille.  Resleyed to 20 epi, and then resleyed again to 16epi.  Don’t ever be afraid of changing course mid stream.)

The change might not be obvious, but I redesigned it to reverse in a more pronounced way, and to better square up with the sett.  I’m pretty happy with this.  Now I just have to weave it off, but not before Thursday…

And my big loom, the 45″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade, my first loom and first love, still with me after all these years, purchased in 1977, delivered in 1978 was also naked and really not happy.  Since every fall I put on a run of dishtowels for holiday gifts, I decided that that would be an appropriate thing to put on the loom, and then at the end of October into November, I could weave it off and have my holiday gifts.

Social media can be really challenging and full of untruths and misinformation and a lot of passionate people on both sides of the fence no matter what the subject.  But the social media sites dedicated to fiber and specifically weaving has some very dedicated moderators and some very talented contributors and every morning when I wake up I feel like I have just been to a fantastic inspirational gallery opening.  

The Facebook site Strickler in Color has been a tremendous source of inspiration.  Carol Strickler wrote a lovely book, now considered essential for every weaver with 8 shafts on their loom, full of patterns, all black and white, and you could spend a lifetime with this book and not make a dent.  So this Facebook site has talented contributors who post what they’ve woven, but in color, with a nod to the draft.  Strickler 728 keeps coming up, and if you looked at it in the book, you would have just turned the page.  It really is rather boring and not very inspiring.  But I’ve seen so many people use this draft in eye catching ways that it was on my list to try.

In keeping with the need to stash bust, because I’ve acquired a lot of 8/2 cotton in the last year or two, I pulled a length from all of my cones and sat with weaving software until I was happy.  I decided to put 15 yards on the loom because turns out, I can never have enough dishtowels.  I’m always needing one as a gift, and I’m tired of running out in July. (I still have two left from last year because I haven’t been anywhere since March, but hey…)

My table top warping mill technically holds 10 yards.  I’ve successfully pushed it to 14, but I decided that my AVL warping mill, now 20 years old, would probably serve for this purpose.  I rigged up way to make a cross, and I wound 15 yard bundles in 2.5″ widths.

I threaded the loom.  My ott-lite magnifier has changed my life!  

I beamed the 15 yards.

And I started weaving.  I am completely in love.  This is why we do this.  I am so thrilled to have been forced to fill up my looms, because now, after Thursday, I can walk in my studio and just weave.  A lot.  I have a whole fall’s worth of looms to clear.  Which will mean, except for the dishtowels, a lot of sewing this winter.  I can’t wait when we reemerge from this protective cocoon to wear half the stuff I’ve made this year.

Speaking of…

In addition to studio tours and virtual vendor halls, the Handweavers Guild of America is also sponsoring a virtual fashion show next Sunday.  Not the same as sitting in an auditorium at a conference and watching cool handwoven garments strut across the stage, but they are trying to put together a virtual fashion show.  That would be next Sunday at 2pm EDT.  Of course I’ll have a piece in the show, but I hear they could use more participants.  WHERE ARE ALL MY STUDENTS, AND WHY ARE THEY NOT SHOWING OFF THEIR WONDERFUL GARMENTS!  This isn’t like where you have to be juried.  Just sign up!  You need the ability to Zoom, log in and they will tell you what to do.  The rehearsal was today, but I think they still want more participants!  Come on guys, you have some great work!  The link to enter is here.  I know the deadline has passed, but I believe they are still looking for participants.  The link to view the virtual fashion show next Sunday is here

And finally, there is my new Youtube site.  We now have four episodes of The Weaver Sews.  Every Friday we film a new episode on something related to sewing handwoven fabric.  Four are launched with Closed Captioning, which my daughter writes, so it is accurate and synced.  Two more are shot and I’m planning the topic for next Friday as I write.  I will create a script, which makes it easier for my daughter to write the Closed Captioning, and then I work all week on creating the samples and supplies I need for the video shoot.  We are having fun with this and I hope it is helpful and informative.  Sales of my patterns are certainly picking up!

So my head is spinning with all that is on my plate.  I’m old enough to remember The Ed Sullivan Show, and the guy from some Baltic country that did plate spinning.  He would keep 10 or 20 plates spinning all at the same time.  I remember watching with fascination and thinking, “How does he keep them all going at once?”  Well now I know.  Somehow that skill managed to rub off on me and I’m doing that every day.  And I wouldn’t wish for anything different.  My days are full, I have plenty to keep me busy.  I am lecturing virtually almost every other day, somewhere in the country.  It is so great to log in and see familiar faces.  I can do this… (though sometimes I wish I could redesign the plates).

Stay tuned…

Deconstructed Screen Printing

I will admit, I am exhausted. It is hard to believe, this time last night I was somewhere over Kansas…

I promised you photos of my studio, after my bout of jealousy with Joy’s studio floorspace.  There really isn’t any in mine.  But it is what I have to work with, and it serves me well, and it stores a lot, and if I keep it picked up, I can actually function in it.  And I’ve often said, though this is really just a justification for my 350 square ft oversized bedroom, “It isn’t the quality or quantity of space, it is what you make in it that counts”.

studio11studio2My studio is actually an old 10 x 10 bedroom where we knocked the outside wall out and extended over the downstairs den.  There are beautiful floor to ceiling windows at the far end, but I keep the shades drawn for fear of fading of all my yarns and textiles.  The loom in the foreground is my big 8 shaft 45″ Tools of the Trade Loom.


I have a great cutting table, that my husband built for me, and there are old kitchen cabinets


above the sewing machines and the computer desk.  I do have a lot of storage for such a little room.  The hardest part is keeping the cutting table cleared.  🙂

You’ll notice I have stuff stuck all over the face of the cabinet doors.  I put up cards, notations, quotes, sketches, things that inspire me, small cartoons, and photos of classes or people I love.  It is a happy wall to look up at as I work.  Robyn had the same sort of thing in the form of a bulletin board next to her desk, and on it was a great quote, one I have to add to my own wall…

Powerful Woman’s Motto:

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says,… “Uh, Oh, she’s awake!”

Well, damn, I like that.  It left me with a big smile, and isn’t that what inspirational things are suppose to do?

After getting to bed last night after 1pm EST, I woke up at 7am, to throw on some grunge clothes and pack up the car, and drive an hour west, almost to the New Jersey border.  My guild, Frances Irwin Handweavers, was having it’s end of the year one day workshop, free to members, and I was thrilled I made it back in time to finally get to take one of Kerr Grabowski’s seminars.  First, I’ve known Kerr for 20 years, I met her when she first came to Peters Valley as their fiber resident.  She is amazingly talented, creative, and a wonderful teacher, and she lives in the Surface Design World.  It is odd that I’ve never been able to take a workshop with her, as a matter of fact, back in 2001, we both taught together at Montclair State University in their fiber department when the department found themselves without instructors for a couple of semesters.  I handled the structural fiber classes and she taught  surface design.

kerrSo it was with great anticipation and excitement that I finally got to spend the day with Kerr, learning deconstructed screen printing.  She has a wonderful DVD of her class, available for about $40. and you can preview it on her website.  Of course I bought the DVD…

(That’s Kerr in the red apron)

silkscreenShe showed us some very playful and spontaneous things, and I can’t wait to build a screen surface for my cutting table, and get a couple screens.  I have everything else.  A cabinet full of dyes, all the materials for dyeing, even the fabric, which I picked up on Friday in Seattle.  My head is spinning with possibilities.

silkscarvessilkscarfHere are a couple of my attempts at the medium, the silk chiffon scarves are still curing in a black garbage bag in my car in the heat.

I’ll take a photo when they are rinsed and dry.

One final note as my excellent adventure winds down, I picked up a birthday card in one of the galleries in Bremerton, WA during our Art Walk Friday night.  It was actually a belated birthday card to me.  It featured the artwork of a local artist Amy Burnett, who was actually there to sign the cards.  In addition to the artwork, the year 1955 was written.  She has a series of cards for all different years, as a celebration to women.  Inside is a list of all the special things that happened that involved women in the year you were born.

I didn’t realize that Rosa Parks, refused to move to the rear of the bus in December of 1955, the same year I was born, and I didn’t realize that Rosa Parks was a seamstress.  I didn’t know that Doris Humphrey founded Julliard’s Dance Theatre in 1955.  I didn’t know Louise Boyd at 67 years old was the first woman to fly over and around the North Pole in 1955.  I knew Annette Funicello was one of the original 24 Mouseketeers in the Mickey Mouse Club, but I didn’t know it debuted in 1955.  It was one of my favorite shows.  And most importantly, I didn’t know that Lenore Tawney, weaver and sculptor, exhibited nonfunctional weaving in shapes departing from the traditional two dimensional fabric form, thus introducing a new range of artistic expression, fiber art, in 1955.  I feel like I am surrounded by women who made a difference.

“Uh, oh, she’s awake!…”

I don’t usually do commercial announcements, but I know two of the brave souls who have worked tirelessly on the project below.  I did a brief bit of alpha testing, and the site has real potential.  Of course I’m still hoping you’ll stop by my blog after getting your fill of online technology!  🙂

Today at noon, Weavolution the much anticipated new online gathering place for handweavers launched, and I have a brief press release here:


Weavolution.com, an online social network designed to meet the unique needs of handweavers, launches its beta test on June 8, 2009. Designed to bring handweavers together from around the world, Weavolution.com is a one-stop resource for every type of handweaver.

From hobby to production, from peg to dobby, Weavolution provides a place for weavers to meet, discuss and participate in moderated user groups and forums.

Members may post projects, looms, yarns, books, and accessories to share with others and solicit feedback from other members.

But you don’t have to be a member or even a weaver to explore the site and learn about weaving free of charge.

Weavolution aims to become an inclusive, global community that encourages weavers by enabling them to discover and follow trends in weaving; find local, national and international resources; and find businesses catering to their needs. Weavolution members can search the site’s databases to view items, group postings and research information catalogued by others.

weavolutiond32ar12ap01zl_mdmWeavolution’s goal is to provide a website for handweavers that is useful, fun and helpful, and to be a resource for shops, products and ideas from around the corner and around the world.

The project began in 2008 when three weavers from across the United States, Claudia Segal, Tien Chiu, and Alison Giachetti, met online and formed Weavolution. Working together with a host of dedicated volunteers, the team forged Weavolution.com into a website with the potential to become a community.

Come, take a look. Weavolution.com is available for anyone to explore. You don’t have to sign up to see our site. But if you do, we hope you’ll decide to JOIN THE WEAVOLUTION