Busy Days…

It has been a busy but productive couple of days.  Lots of social stuff, and progress in the studio.

First an update on the book organization.  I now have all the spinning and natural dyeing books in one place, which follow the weaving books, which makes sense since there are a few ‘Weaving, Spinning, Dyeing” books.  Especially “Early American”!  And I have two copies of “Your Handspinning” from Elsie Davenport!

book2book1Did you every have one of those books, that just doesn’t fit on the shelf with the rest of the books?  Either too tall, or too long?  I’ve got a copy of Spinning and Weaving with Wool by Paula Simmons (I think that came from my mother in law’s stash), and The World of Wooden Bobbins, the Story of Old Wooden Textile Bobbins, both of which are very wide.  So they stick out from the shelf about 3-4 extra inches from everything else around them.  There are all kinds of stressors in life.  (Yeah I know that isn’t a word, oh well, it fits!)  And I usually am able to deal with each one that comes my way, I would like to think, with grace and flexibility.  But I’m an organized and anal person, yes I admit to that, and these two books, that stick out on the shelf, make me sort of nuts.  They are ruining the order in my system!  Would it be too much to ask for publishers to have some kind of standard?

I spent the last two days polishing the new seminar on Website Success.  This is a killer of a seminar to develop, one because I am trying to condense years of study into 2 1/2 hours, and because the information changes almost daily.  I am scheduled to give it again at Convergence in Albuquerque in 2010, and I fear I’ll need to completely rewrite the seminar by then.  What was I thinking?

I took a copy to my neighbor/friend, who is a media specialist at a local high school.  Though website design is not her expertise, presentations are, and conveying the complex world of technology to a world of non technological people website_successis well within her experience level.  She was really helpful, though I didn’t want to hear it.  “Way too much information” (Am I not famous for that?), “Boring slides”, she was correct, but how many visuals are there to explain such things as FTP, IP, ISP, Host Servers, HTML, etc.  So I went back to the drawing board, and added lots of clip art, figures with question marks coming out of their head, guys looking at road maps, call-out shapes that ask questions the audience is probably thinking (like “What’s a .png”), construction sites, and whatever else I could find to jazz up the otherwise pretty static overload of information.  I will admit, it is more colorful.  That there is too much information, I can’t help.  That I may run over my allotted time, I can’t help either, the first time through a presentation is always the roughest because there is no way to time it and know what things the audience won’t understand.  So, I am plowing forward, and I have a cover, and I am waiting until my techie husband goes through it one more time to check for technical boo b00’s.

Last night we had the privilege of attending the opening night of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Summer Musical Program with the New Jersey Youth Theater Program, Sweeny Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  All I can say is WOW!  First, this is a Sondheim sweeney_largemusical, and probably his most challenging.  It is almost all sung, and it is dark and difficult.  Secondly, it was performed by the NJ Youth Theater program, which trains young adults for serious work in musical theater.  My neighbor/friend (the same one who proofed my presentation) has an 18 year old daughter, who is very gifted, and was accepted to participate in the ensemble in this summer’s production of Sweeny Todd.  All of the cast members were under the age of 24.  Many were still in High School.  The ensemble resumes alone are totally impressive.  I will say it was every bit as good as the original production I saw on Broadway, and again at the Papermill Playhouse years ago.  I’m so fortunate to be able to see good theater on a regular basis.

inkleToday I drove to the shore.  Actually that would be in Jersey speak, “Down the Shore”.  There is a difference!  There is an active weaving guild “down the shore”, called the Shore Fiber Arts Guild, and they invited me down for the day to teach a class in inkle weaving.  I had 16  in the class, and an assistant, who was amazingly helpful.  There were a lot of non weavers in the group, and surprisingly a couple of teens with their parents, there was a mother/daughter and father/daughter team.  There were a couple  mother/daughter teams, from what I understand.  It was great seeing such a range of ages, and enthusiasm.  Did I remember to take a photo of the group?  No, duh…

Anyway, I sold 11 of the little Inklettes by Ashford, so there are 11 more small looms out there in the world to be woven on!  🙂  (Note to Rita, I do have a couple left if you are interested!)

So I’m unpacked, and catching up on my blog, my daughter is back from her second week of CIT training at the Girl Scout Camp.  The fuchsia hair is fading somewhat! She leaves again on Monday for two weeks of volunteer work at the camp.  This camp has probably been one of the best influences on her, teaching social skills, responsibility, confidence, and maturity.  I would like to take credit for all of it as her mother, but her experiences at this camp have been amazing.  It is great to watch her come home each summer, full of stories and adventures, and to be able to articulate them with a maturity beyond her years and still exhibit a sense of fun!  Their motto as CIT’s is “If you don’t feel like a fool, then you aren’t doing it right!”  Now isn’t that a quote we can all live by?

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……