Just chugging along, singing a song…

I am making progress, or else I’m completely delusional…  It is hard to stay focused, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.  Having severe ADD can come in handy when you are trying to take care of 20 tasks at once.  They eventually all get completed, and sometimes all at the same time, and that’s cause for celebration.

mugmatsmugmat_backingreworked_mugmatI took a little detour, because I had these little things sitting on my sewing machine, and they were just calling to me saying, “Fix me, fix me…”  So of course, I got knocked off course temporarily.  I blogged about my guild mug mat exchange last December (you have to scroll way down to find that part of the blog to see my mug mats).  I never showed the mats that I got.  Let me say that I love the fabric, and the colors, and the pattern of the mug mats I received at the exchange.  And I love the gorgeous wool backing my guild mate used to make the mats.  What I didn’t like, I’ll be honest, was the way they were constructed.  It was a sewing thing.  And I’m a sewer.  And I own a pair of shears and I’m not afraid to take something apart when I don’t like how it is constructed…  🙂

So I spent about an hour, I had already taken the six mats apart, and trimmed them and fringed them, and added a piece of interfacing to the back.  I re-pinned the wool, and did a fine zig zag around the perimeter of each mat.  Now they lay flat, and don’t have the lumpy uneven corners that could cause a wine glass to tip…  🙂

I’ve been working steadily on updating all the of the presentations/lectures/workshops I’m going to be giving on my southwest tour in February.  Since I’ve started the blog, I’ve spent hours documenting all of my projects, step by step photos, working out new techniques, and generally having a good time of it all, but I realized looking back over some of my lectures/workshops/monographs, that they could use a bit of updating, with some of the newer techniques/photos/projects.  The Leftovers Monograph needed a major overhaul, with all the new totes I did earlier on in the year.  I have much better step by step photos now, many of the ones I originally used were scanned from slides from storyboard techniques I used for demo purposes.  I finished reworking all the lecture/workshops for the trip, just proofing them now, but while I was working on updating the step by step PowerPoint slides, I had one of those slap yourself upside the head and yell, “Duh…” moments.  I had made a couple of placemats from leftover scraps, and developed a half day workshop out of it, I’ll be giving it this summer at the American Sewing Guild Conference in Atlanta in August, but I never resolved the edge binding.  I tried binding them a couple of different ways, and both attempts were too time consuming and clumsy for a four hour class.  Speed and ease in a class like this is so critical.  Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean a class of 25 students, sharing machines, in four hours, of mixed skill levels can do it.

cut_lining_apply_bindingstitch_bindingWell, suddenly it hit me.  So simple.  No need for a separate bias binding here.  Just cut the lining for the mat bigger, and fold around the front and stitch.  It worked.  So easy.  I undid all the binding on both of the mats, and tried out this method, I was so excited, and loved the finish.  I gave the mats a final pressing and…

This would not be a good time to mention that I failed to follow the most basic of all sewing rules.  That would be preshrinking the fabric.  I of course would never take such a short cut as to not preshrink the lining used as the backing for my lovely mats.  So I don’t need to mention here what happens when you iron something that hasn’t been pre-shrunk.  Lets just say I wanted to kill another couple of hours and remove all the stitching again so I could prove how important it is to pre-shrink fabrics before you make stuff.  🙂

rayon_boucleIn the middle of that escapade, I got one of Webs emails, you know the one with all the cool knitting yarns on sale.  Since I don’t as a rule buy knitting yarns, I’m not so inclined to check it out, but I lie…  If you search, there is always something in the weaving yarn mill end clearance that just has to come live with me, and I always groan audibly whenever the Webs sale ad comes into my inbox.  I can’t not check…  And of course Webs is too quick to ship…  yarnSo I got a little additional diversion, a back order I forgot I had from Halcyon, and my cheap yarn from Webs both arrived the same day, I unpacked everything and was sort of surprised at this huge cone of rayon bouclé in a lovely soft variegated color.  I thought I had ordered something else, but this is pretty cool, and I think the whole two pound plus cone was something like $15.  Works for me…

And finally, I finished a piece I’ve had on the loom since last fall.  This is one of my Personal Post Series artworks, small woven images in a Theo Moorman inlay technique, I’ve blogged about this technique numerous times, just do a search for “Big Sister” and there are all kinds of how to’s out there in my archives.  I was doing a pair of images, that I wanted to somehow use to create a diptych, images that play off of each other, bound in a way to make them book like, which I have done, but I don’t want to show the final images just yet.  I am hoping to enter this piece in the Small Expressions exhibit for HGA, but there is a query going around the blog-o-sphere about the definition of “published work”.

HGA (that would be the Handweavers Guild of America), who sponsors Convergence which will be in Albuquerque this July, is sponsoring four exhibits, one of which is the yardage exhibit I just applied to with work from my last blog.  The requirements are that the work cannot have been published.  Two years ago when I asked for more specific information about this subject, I was told that website content didn’t count, that they were mostly concerned with magazine publishing, or books/catalogs with the work, that would have a national RestInPeaceexposure before being exhibited at a Convergence.  I understand that policy, and respect it.  The piece I had done for the fashion show, earlier in the year, I stupidly let Threads publish, and now I can’t enter it in Convergence, because of this policy.  No matter, I have other work to enter.  But the question has come up, do blogs count as publishing?  I hadn’t given that much thought, because website content was safe and I think of my blog as an extension of my website.  But blogs are a form of publishing.  So I have a query out to HGA, and hopefully will get a response in a timely fashion because the next three deadlines are lurking around the corner…  Meanwhile, here is the piece just before I cut it off the loom.

Eventually I’ll show the finished piece and the story behind it.  I think it is a pretty powerful piece, because it is about something important to me.  And that is what art is.  A form of communication.  Whether it gets accepted to the exhibition is a whole separate issue, and that will be what it is.  But for now, I am proud of this piece, and will eventually show it to you when I find out if blogging is actually publishing.

Dreary Day #37

Well it seems like it anyway.  The headlines of the newspapers talk about how much rain we have had for how many days straight.  It starts out promising in the morning, but by mid afternoon, thunderstorms, dreary rain, what else can one do but stay inside and play?  🙂

This was a great day for just laying low, and doing a mindless but necessary project.  My goal now is the conference next week, I leave for the New England Weavers Seminar in Massachusetts on Wednesday.  And I’m teaching an unusually large number of very different seminars, all needing specific prep.  There is the Inkle Weaving class, and though I will have students rent looms from WEBS , they may not have enough, and I need fifteen anyway for the following weekend when I teach a class down at the Jersey Shore for the Shore Guild.  So my daughter helped me out with that one.  She is quite the assembler…  Now they are all lined up across two of my looms, like little soldiers looms2waiting for active duty.

looms1Meanwhile, the crock pot is still going.  I gave up drying anything outside, and found two lovely pans that would keep my floor neat and avoid using all my bath towels.  So I’ve got a lovely green cooking in the pot, and the blue and a pinky taupe color are drying on the floor.  The burgundy from Monday is finally dry and in a bag.  I tried carding a little bit of the burgundy color and it is a really nice fleece.  I think it is a Corriedale cross.wool crock

While all that was happening, I worked on the Photographing your Work Seminar, and in this particular version, workshop participants are sending images of their work ahead so I can load them into PowerPoint and then critique the images after the main presentation.  I have a great group of images to work with, but they all had to be sized and popped into the PowerPoint slides.  So that’s finished.

I’m also giving another Color and Inspiration Seminar, like I did in Iowa last Saturday.  All those little quills of yarnmess I dumped on the table for the students to play with, are in a horrid jumble and really needed to be rewound onto the quills and refilled.  Students added to the pile, and those little reelings needed to be put onto quills as well.  I use to just carry a suitcase full of little balls of yarn, but those got just as unruly and it was a huge waste of space in my precious luggage allowance, so I got the idea a couple of years ago to wind off yarn onto bobbins.  There are too many to waste my plastic shuttle bobbins, though a fair windingamount of my plastic bobbins were in the bags.  I really needed to empty them.  I started by making paper quills from business card stock, but it was my daughter who came up with the idea of drinking straws.  They slipped perfectly on my small shank Swedish Bobbin Winder, and weigh almost nothing.  I’m all for weighing almost nothing…

So I sat today, for a number of hours, untangling, rewinding, tidyrefilling, and organizing a massive mess of yarn, carefully onto skinny plastic drinking straws, and turned the above disaster into this lovely organized bag of color.  I still have another bag to go, but tasks like this are what make my mind still and my creativity soar.  It’s like refolding fabrics neatly on a shelf, organizing fat quarters by color, or sorting buttons.  This is meditation for fiber enthusiasts.

In addition, I finally got to vacuum my poor house.  I seriously thought about bringing in the heavy artillary, a rake, but my old vacuum did the job, and I filled a vacuum bag with all the debris, tracked in crud from all the drenched blossoms and tree detritus, tracked yarns and threads from my studio, and general dust.  I’m a bit grateful we no longer have a dog, that would have really added to the mix.  Then I would have definitely voted for the rake…

Success!

The weight of the last nine months has been lifted off my shoulders, and no, I didn’t actually give birth, rather metaphorically, I finished the Website Success seminar that I agreed to put together many many months ago.  I struggled with this, because there is so much information, and much of it is rather technical and dry, and I had so much research to do.  I still want to run it by a few more of my technical friends, and tweak it here and there, but the 80 slide presentation is largely finished, well in time for my August preview, and I couldn’t be more relieved.  And I’m happy with it.  Course I wouldn’t do anything I wasn’t happy with, but I’m also proud.  This was a huge stretch for me, and I learned sooooo much, mostly that I haven’t even scratched the surface.  I think of web design a lot like weaving.  Weaving can take a lifetime of study, and there are so many different aspects of it to consider.  You can have momentary beginner’s success with a very simple project that a teacher helps you set up, but no matter how old and experienced you are, there is always more to learn.

Now I can focus on the next fires to put out…

yarnsurpriseMeanwhile, the surprise box of yarn arrived from WEBS.  (see previous post).  This is an enormous amount of yarn for $139. including shipping.  And the large $5. cones of cotton flake in the background are in perfect colors to overdye.

Which brings me to the current weather, which has been positively ghastly.  I am looking for some beautiful sunny days so I can start dyeing some of this yarn I’m sitting on, into some beautiful warps that will keep me busy weaving all winter.  Alas, we saw the sun for about an hour this morning, after yet again another violent thunderstorm.  The forecast for the next couple days says sunny in the 70’s, but I’m not buying it.  We have had dreary cold rain for so many days now I’m rather thinking I’m still in Seattle…

The only good thing about all this rain, is the gardens, which are positively exploding with color and greenery and lush tropical plants (I’m talking rainforest here…)  And of course, not to be completely depressing, there is the explosion of the weed plants as well, those that don’t belong where they are popping up.  So, even though the sun is non existent, I managed to snap a quick couple of shots before it has started to rain again.

gardens1gardens2In the first photo on the left, there is a glimpse of our pool, which so far no one has used because it has been so rainy and cold.  Somewhere in there is a beautiful iron gazebo, completely covered with a canopy of vine-y things.  And all of the rain has made the climbing rose bush in the foreground, shed all its petals like snow.  We have lots of outdoor sculptures, largely because we love to collect art and fine craft, and all the walls and surfaces in the house are completely filled, but there is always room for one more out door tchotchke.  And they never need dusting!

The photo on the right has a lovely sculpture in the foreground, called “Drunken Wheelbarrow”.  (Actually we needed to keep it turned on its side so it wouldn’t collect 84 gallons of rainwater which will breed mosquitos).  Hidden in the back of that photo, under lush vegetation is a sizable pond complex of spillways and waterfalls.  It is a delight to hear the gurgling of the water, the twittering of the birds, and the tones of the Monogolian Windchimes my husband gave me for my birthday.

Oops, I’m posting this quick, violent thunderstorm just struck…

2 Hours later…

I’m back, whew, what a storm.  Anyway, I was commenting on how beautiful our gardens were, the latest storm caused rivers of water down and across the yard.  But usually there is a lovely eco system happening, fish swimming in the ponds, frogs hovering just below the surface or on a lily pad, chipmunks scurrying all around, and birds everywhere.  From the height of the balcony out my bedroom, I zoomed down and captured these two shots.

frogschipmunkIn the shot on the left, there are two frogs hiding, can you spot them?

And this little creature on the right, scurried onto a pathway, covered with drenched rose petals.

briWhen the storm started, my daughter and I quick shut down our computers, and then played around in the studio, waiting for it to pass, tidying up the cutting table which was completely out of control.  One of the piles on the table was the mats from the Placemat Exchange, so we took advantage of no electronics for a couple hours, and we got the hems pressed in.  Bri, my daughter sat and started handsewing, notice that purple is NOT her favorite color, <g> and the gorgeous 34 strand knotted ankle band she is wearing, which she just completed over the weekend.

And finally, I’m making slow progress on the jacket.  I did get one of the sleevesbackshoulder in, and the second pocket, but I’m concerned with the fullness across the back now that one of the sleeves is in, and I’m thinking I need to remove the sleeve, undo the shoulder seam and take out the excessive ease across the back shoulder the pattern called for, and recut the back armhole.  The fabric is giving quite a bit, and I don’t want it that slouchy.

sandstonejacketI love the colors in this fabric.  The green wash is so unusual next to the rust, and it is so textured.  If you are new to my blog, I should mention I wove this fabric, from hand dyed warps, and there is more of a description in a past blog.  The jacket fabric  is called Sandstone Layers, based on one of the palettes from one of my fabric forecasts in Handwoven Magazine, and the fabric hung in the yardage exhibit at Convergence Tampa Bay 2008.  I cut some of the fabric into a window shade, which also hung in a functional textile exhibit in Tampa.  I had just enough left to create this jacket.  So here is what I have so far, I only need another sleeve, and the large belt loops.  (And handworked buttonholes…)

Stay tuned…

Just Plodding Along…

Well, I’m getting caught up on house work, and paperwork, and I’m actually making substantial progress on the Website Success seminar.  It is coming together easier than I imagined.  So most of my days are sitting in front of the computer, surfing the web for sites I like, plugging in data, using things like Webopedia as my technology dictionary.  I’m learning so much,  that’s never a bad thing.

BUT…

This seminar is costing me a little fortune…

So, picture this….  I’m sitting at the computer for 8 hours straight.  An email comes in, I hop over and answer it.  Especially when I get one granting me permission to use their website home page in my presentation.  And then I get a WEBS alert…

For those of you who don’t know WEBS, it is this wonder of a yarn store, near Amherst, MA, that carries tons of knitting yarns, and more importantly TONS of weaving yarns.  They give nice volume discounts, and I buy a lot of stuff from them.  Hence the “alerts”.  This is a lot like an Amazon.com alert.  “Since you bought this particular book, you might want to know about…”  OK, I’m a sucker for books.  And about 30% of the time, I just have to have the book they are steering me into…

WEBS is just as bad.  The WEBS alert comes into my inbox, appearing on the lower right corner of my screen, no matter what program I’m in, and I’m really torn…  Do I open it knowing full well I’m probably going to have to get out my credit card?  Or do I just hit delete…..

OK, so I glanced at the subject line, BAD MISTAKE…  It said, “…great cone sale“.  That’s all I had to see, and I clicked on it.  So, $125. later, I am back to my website seminar…   It was really the rayon bouclé that did me in.  $15. for a two pound cone.  It is normally $16.95 a pound.  What else could I do?  And there was that cotton flake, in surprise colors (I love a surprise), you don’t get to pick, but it was $5. for a 2 pound cone…

sandstone_layers_jacketSo I’ll get a nice surprise package in a few days…

Meanwhile, I get about an hour in the evenings to sew, which is a nice treat at the end of a long day of staring at a computer screen.  The Sandstone Layers jacket is moving along, it is hard to see much of a change from the last post I did of this jacket, but all the couching (with a rayon bouclé yarn) is finished around the collar, the fronts, and the hem.  And I have one pocket attached.  I’m really liking how this is coming out, at first I thought it was really busy and detailed,  but that’s actually appealing to me in a military sort of way, the belt is very cool, but I’ll know better when the big belt loops are on.  There is a two piece sleeve as well.  Lots of details left, the second pocket, handworked buttonholes, lots of big belt loops, and of course the sleeves.

Stay tuned…

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.

MEANWHILE…

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…