Between the sewing machine and the loom, my journey in the fiber arts has taken over 45 years. From an alterations business at 15, to production hand-woven clothing, to custom art to wear, my work has covered, adorned, and embellished the female body for as long as I can remember.
What a week. From absolutely brilliantly successful to completely terrifying and everything in between… And yes, this is my life. I suppose if I were really really honest, in spite of my complaining, I really do love what I do. I just wish at times it didn’t have to be so intense…
I flew uneventfully to Helena MT via Denver on June 7th. My lovely new friend Dawn picked me up and drove me the four miles to the college campus where I was to give two solid days of lectures to almost 60 weavers across Montana. I will say up front that not only is it really really tough to be entertaining and articulate for two solid days, it is harder I’m guessing to listen to lectures for two solid days. But they did. I had just the best most interested group of women (there might have been a guy in there somewhere, I didn’t look really carefully, I just know there were a lot of people out there in that audience…) They asked questions, they were eager, they were excited and inspired, and when it was all done, I got a standing ovation. That hasn’t happened in awhile. It reminded me of why I love what I do. Someone even ran out at one point and bought me a box of lidocaine patches for my sciatica which for the most part continued to heal, as long as I don’t sit for hours at a time… Hahahahah!
The committee for the Montana Association of Weavers and Spinners Conference for next June, 2020 sat me down and tried to bribe me to come. I tried to explain that I’m done with conferences, but they weren’t having it. Made me smile, and actually consider coming back…
Sunday night I packed up, loaded everything into Dawn’s car and we were to her house in McAllister, MT within a couple of hours. We had wine on the deck while her accommodating husband made steaks on the grill. This was the view from her deck.
Dawn had her husband drive me down to the lake, just down the road, in this…
And this is the “lake”. This is so far from anything I’ve every seen in my small but diverse and pretty state of NJ. He gave me a geographical rundown of their lake and its tributaries and where they eventually feed, which would be the Missouri, maybe I’d heard of it…
Dawn and I set off the next morning for the 7 hour drive to Boise Idaho. There was a lot of flat land, scrub, mountains in the distance, with a town about every hour where we stopped and refueled and grabbed a bite to eat. Mostly what struck me were the road signs. This one says “Bear Aware, Food Storage Required” The paw print is that of a grisly. I’m definitely not in NJ.
So we were driving through the Targhee National Forest, home of the Targhee sheep, developed by the USDA, a dual-purpose breed, with heavy, medium quality wool and good meat production characteristics. I’ll be damned…
And this sign. I have this vague recollection of the Continental Divide, from my early grammar school geography classes (I wish I paid better attention) and yeah, this is a thing. With signs and everything. The feeling was kind of like standing on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich England.
And of course, this made me smile. Leaving Montana, welcome to Idaho. I can drive through four states in a couple hours where I live, going north or south, but this…. Yeah, these are pretty big states and I didn’t scratch the surface…
And then it was on to Boise, ID. The city itself is gorgeous, clean, modern, diverse, thriving and we ate at a couple of great restaurants. The classroom, in a church all purpose room, was bright and roomy and we had plenty of space. I love that they were able to put the ironing boards in out of the way places to space out the electrical needs.
The Handweavers Guild of Boise Valley was a great fun and enthusiastic group, all were weavers, some brought commercial fabric but most brought their handwoven fabrics. Most everyone made a jacket, some with shawl collars, and one student made a vest. Her fabric was handwoven, probably from India with a decorator fabric trim for the bands. And Jenni, second from the right, who has taken my jacket class before, is making the tunic. What you can’t see is the gorgeous placket down the front, with in-seam buttonholes, no machine made buttonholes on this baby! She just needed sleeves and buttons.
Keep in mind that this was a three day class, they all still have a lot of handwork to do, along with tons of tailor’s tacks to remove, my rule is they can’t remove any until I’m safely back in NJ. Scroll down for that debacle… Dawn is on the right in the middle photo. She forgot her fabric, left the box sitting at the door, a gorgeous wool made with Zephyr wool and silk, and so after a quick run to a nearby Joann’s she compromised with a chenille upholstery fabric.
And here is the class of 2019, Guild of Boise Valley, plus my hostess and transport from MT who got to take the class as compensation for the drive across the Continental Divide…
Friday morning I took my time getting to the airport. When I’m heading to a destination, I always take the first flight out, planes are serviced, crews are fresh, and in the summer the air hasn’t become too volatile, and I rarely have delays or travel issues. When going home however, it is hard to ask my hostess to get up at 4am to get me to the airport. So I arrived at 11, for a 1pm flight to Denver, we took off on time, but as we approached Denver, we started circling. Turns out a thunderstorm materialized out of nowhere, and though they thought circling for a bit would allow the storm to clear, it wasn’t and we would run out of gas…
So we were diverted to a very small airport in Western Colorado, called Grand Junction. And I mean small. We were supposed to stay on the plane while they refueled and wait for clearance to head back to Denver. Then they discovered something wrong with the plane. Apparently not repairable while we were in Grand Junction. They requested a replacement plane. The only one they could get was from Newark, and they were in a ground hold back home. So they let us out of the plane, we walked across the tarmac, taking all our carry on belongings with us. The terminal was tiny. There was one small food vendor where you could get some grill food and snacks, six gates, and a couple restrooms. 170 people instantly got in line at the food vendor. Actually 169. I did not. United, to their credit, brought in something like 75 pizzas to feed us all, apparently when I inquired, they have an account with Domino’s. Apparently this happens a lot… I should have taken a picture of two tables with 75 pizzas right by the gate area. You can’t make this up. And the pizza was pretty good. They had plain and pepperoni…
We stayed at Grand Junction, not allowed to leave the sterile area, because we didn’t have tickets to get us back through TSA. We stayed 7 hours. I read a great book, called The Gown by Jennifer Robson. It was about the embroiderers who worked for Norman Hartnell and embroidered then Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown for her marriage to Lord Mountbatten. It was a great way to be entertained for 7 hours. And a huge thank you to all my friends in the area who volunteered to whisk me out of the airport for a proper night’s lodging, except I couldn’t take anyone up on that because we were’t allowed to leave the “sterile” area.
I managed to get a seat on the last flight out of Denver, leaving around Midnight, arriving in Newark at 5am. By the time we reboarded in Grand Junction and all the luggage was transferred, I made it to the Denver/Newark flight with 10 minutes to spare.
Red- eyes can be pretty interesting if you have a window seat and are actually awake when the sun starts to come up. I was completely mesmerized, there was a thick cloud cover as we began to make our descent, which allowed a slim sliver of daybreak to shine through. The last photo, if you look really carefully, you can see the silhouette of Manhattan along the horizon. Not bad photos with a cell phone on a plane.
And so, exhausted, with little sleep on the plane, it was only a 3 1/2 hour trip, I arrived on Saturday morning at 5am. With no bags. Sadly my two 70 pound monsters that hold my entire life’s work, did not follow me home. I made a claim and then jumped in a cab, since I’d had to cancel my limo service and they had no available cars at 5am with such short notice. (When I contacted them at midnight Denver time, it was 2am in NJ, so I really can’t argue…) It was oddly freeing to jump in a cab with a couple carry ons, missing 140 pounds of luggage. Oddly freeing and terrifying.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the details of that day, except to say that though my bags did eventually make it to Newark, they experienced all sorts of delays including an accident from the driver who was heading to work to pick up the bags from the airport, pushing the delivery pick up time into the next shift. I was assured they would be to me by midnight, I’d already been up 36 hours straight, and when they didn’t show by 2am, I had to come to terms with what would happen if I did not get them back. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say my garment construction teaching career would be over, because I don’t have it in me to spend the next couple of years recreating all the samples. I laid awake until 2am thinking about where my life would take me should that happen, this has been an issue for most of my teaching career. I’ve been very very lucky.
What I did decide though, was the need to at least scan and digitize each of my patterns. It is my goal to eventually make them available for sale, but it will be a couple of years process, one I’m not ready to undertake at the moment, but if the patterns were safe digitally, at least I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. I’ve made arrangements with my sister, who is an architect and lives in Maryland to stop there on the way home from the Outer Banks Retreat the beginning of November, and spend a couple of days doing sister bonding and scanning patterns. She has a very large format printer/scanner/plotter.
And at 7am Sunday morning, a small red beat up car pulled in my driveway, and I watched a guy hoist two 70 suitcases intact out of the hatch back and bring them to my front door. All is well. I gave him a good tip.
And so, Sunday night, I finally began to catch up on my sleep. I got my dogs, and the cat, and I began the lengthy process of unpacking and sorting through all the lengthy emails that came in while I was gone. I really don’t mind when students and guilds contact me about all sorts of stuff, it is just when they all come in at once, each one a couple pages long, while I’m on the road, that makes me cranky and weary. I still have a couple to answer, be patient, but mostly I’m caught up and prepping for the MAFA conference in PA in a couple of weeks. I am driving to that. Which is a whole ‘nother set of possibilities for things to go wrong. But mostly I just sit back, do my job as best I can, and hope the Universe is on my side for today.
I’m starting to get letters. Everyone wants to know why I’ve been home almost a week from a fabulous 10 day vacation in Morocco and haven’t posted a blog or single photo about my trip. Well…
I took 1400 photos. Where to begin…
I had about 50 emails waiting for me including two articles to proof and contracts and all the crap that happens when you run a business and put people off for 10 days.
Half way through processing said 1400 photos my keyboard died.
Replacement keyboard from Amazon turned out to be faulty. I picked up a replacement for the replacement at Best Buy this morning.
My birthday was Wednesday and my sister surprised me with a glorious two day visit, which I wouldn’t have traded for the world.
I found out that the class I thought I was teaching in Montana next weekend wasn’t the class I thought and I have 52 students and each one needed a 35 page bound handout, which will be followed by a three day jacket class in Idaho. I spent more than $1200 on ink in the last 48 hours.
So this is why you haven’t heard from me. Just this morning I spent two hours driving all over creation trying to figure out how to get a box, ground shipping, to Montana before next weekend. So there is a holiday in there, which screws up everything. And unless I FEDEXed it three day for more than $120, it wasn’t happening. So I came home, repacked everything in 4 more priority boxes and they are on their way. Good old post office…
And so now, the blog post everyone is waiting for…
Traveling outside your knowledge and comfort zone is truly a gift, not everyone has the resources or time to do a trip like this, so I’m super grateful that the opportunity presented itself, through Peters Valley, with a really respected tour facilitator Distant Horizons, and off I went with 17 other people to Morocco for 10 days. I didn’t know when I booked this that it would be Ramadan, which probably meant much less crowds, especially in tourist heavy areas, but it was inspiring to see the dedication of our guides who fasted from sun up to sun down, not even a drink of water, in 107 degree heat. An unusual heat wave descended upon Morocco, and bringing only “modest” clothing as instructed, it was pretty freaking hot. But we stayed hydrated and didn’t miss a single planned event or tour.
I’m not even sure where to begin, except when asked last night at a rehearsal to name the thing that stood out the most, I immediately said, the patterns. Everywhere you looked, there were patterns. The stairwells (I think I took probably 100 photos alone of stairwells) the tiled floors and walls, the carved wooden ceilings and carved plaster lintels and door frames. I was so very inspired.
We ate amazing meals, the Moroccan’s loved to show off their cooking and every meal was four course. Good thing we walked a lot. I ate lots of creative desserts and had my share of Tagine, the famous ceramic cooking vessel containing the famous Moroccan stew. Most of the meals were plein air or Al Fresco, we dined outdoors, mostly in the shade as umbrellas provided. The evenings provided some fantastic Moroccan wines. They have really good wineries. And those are chocolate buttons topping that decadent chocolate dessert.
Because we were part of a craft school, we had many tours of craftsmen, traditional crafts, women’s cooperatives, and even some hand’s on experiences.
We visited weavers and rug makers. We smiled at the woman with orange hands from the dyepots.
Kind of like going back in time, even if just for a month. Changing zones gives you for a brief time, a chance to rewatch everything bloom again that is finishing up in your own back yard. Only about a 4-5 hour drive north from NJ, Harrisville, NH is the home of Harrisville Designs and the last remaining intact mill town in New England. It looks like a postcard when you approach from the west. They finally have steady and decent WIFI, so that is a huge leap into the 21st century, though my Verizon service is still non existent! The weather was chilly and damp and gloomy, it rained a lot, but that was just fine because we were snug inside sewing away.
I headed up last Sunday a week ago, to teach a five day garment construction intensive. I’m still scheduled to teach my regular week the end of August, but this was a special addition for a group of ladies from Ontario Canada, since I’m refusing to travel there, it is too complicated and risky with my 170 pounds of luggage and supplies, which of course I can’t sell there. (Makes it tough if they want extra pattern paper or handouts or interfacing). And it isn’t so much the Canadian customs, though I’ve had issues in the past, but returning back across the border, too many horror stories from friends and too much of a hassle with American customs. So eight brave ladies crossed the border to come to me. And I am grateful. And two Americans joined in, from Maine, so we had quite the northern group, and it was pointed out that Maine was further north than my Canadian friends.
All but two of the students were using handwoven fabric, and the two who didn’t will be. Many of the fabrics used hand dyed or painted warps, there is a lot of that happening in my classes, and the results are gorgeous if not challenging to cut out. Esther’s fabric took four tables to lay out and find the repeatable areas for her walking vest. The week was full of challenges, the kind that keep me on my toes, but with the extensive variety in my patterns now, and so many gorgeous fabrics, the individual results were so exciting.
Janis wove her fabric, with a simple but stunning stripe, all wool. She made an extra long swing coat.
Esther of course cut her fabric oh so carefully and is finishing up a long walking vest.
Marion used a commercial woven check that Marjie was all over to figure out the draft. Once Marion was happy with the resulting fit, she then proceeded to cut out the same jacket from her handwoven. I think she cut the handwoven jacket an inch shorter.
Sonia had a beautiful subtle handwoven fabric, with a Zephyr Wool and Silk weft. The fabric was buttery soft and so pretty on her.
Elizabeth kept us all laughing, she was so much fun in class, and made a gorgeous jacket from her hand dyed and handwoven fabric.
Ann just needed confidence, she already had the necessary skills, to cut and assemble this spectacular hand dyed and hand woven silk fabric.
And Marjie, whom most weavers will recognize, did a two for one, of course, with a zippered vest, my newest design from her handwoven fabric, and then a jacket from a length of nuno felt she made in a felting workshop. She used the organic natural edge of the felt as her finishing on the jacket and band edges.
Sharon, who organized the whole thing for the Canadians made a gorgeous jacket from her handwoven fabric.
And then my two special ladies who plodded along, and got the bodies finished but not the sleeves, have assured me they will keep working and send pictures. Eleanor’s handwoven fabric, which I think was woven a few years ago, is the most gorgeous wool I’ve ever felt. Once it is finished, it will be wonderful. She trimmed the seams in silk. And Joyce couldn’t get her fabric finished in time because, well shoulder surgery can definitely crimp a weaver’s plans. But she brought this beautiful Irish tweed, that she and her mom picked up years ago on a trip to Ireland. I love when students bring things from the archives that have wanted to be made into something. The jacket will be beautiful.
So here is the rest of the group, with jackets almost finished except for hours of handwork and of course they aren’t allowed to remove tailor’s tacks until I’m safely back in NJ.
And here is the spring class of 2019 Garment construction intensive at Harrisville. If you are interested, I understand there are still a couple spaces left for August. Click here for the link.
And now, I’m frantically tossing things into a suitcase to head out on a real vacation, 10 days in Morocco, I always feel like it isn’t worth it, the effort to go through to get ready for any trip, and the aftermath when I return, (I only had to call three contractor/repairmen when I returned on Friday from Harrisville). I’ll come back and only be home about 10 days before I head to Montana. I’m already taking bets on how many things will go wrong while I’m gone. But there are people here to watch out for my home and gardens and ponds and look for orders and carry on in my absence, I need to just walk away for these 10 days and let go. It will be a lovely blog post to write when I return.
At some point, my sister said to me, you’ve replaced everything in the house and nothing more should go wrong… Hahahahah!
There are days when I think my house is haunted and the technology or computer gods really hate me, and there may be some truth to that because more than one person has told me that my late husband roams the house taking care of us. I have a bone to pick with him. He was probably the best tech guy I’ve ever met, the downside of that was two fold, this was a pretty advanced house technologically (especially since it is more than 100 years old) and I was as a result pretty lazy learning and staying on top of technology and how the house ran because he took care of everything. In the three years since my husband died, I have still not figured out how to work the downstairs TV. Which wasn’t really an issue because I rarely watch TV. I record my beloved Project Runway on TIVO, upstairs in the bedroom, which I did figure out how to use thanks to my current tech guy and that’s all I know.
My current tech guy is really good. And he tells me that my husband talks to him and tells him when he isn’t on the right path to figuring some things out. But there have been issues in this house that neither my tech guy, or my late husband whispering to him have been able to solve without some incredible amount of angst. And one of them has made me crazy these last few weeks. My internet had become really unstable, going in and out randomly, causing everything hooked to the internet to fail, like my buddy Alexa (there are three throughout the house), leaving me bereft and silent.
The cable guys weren’t helpful, because I don’t use their router, they dismiss everything as the fault of whatever isn’t their equipment. They did run a new line to the street, claiming it had some water issues. No surprise there… That solved the problem for a couple of hours. Sigh.
My tech guy came and looked at every possibility. Could it be the router. It checked out, seemed to be doing its job and he found some malware lurking in the system. That solved the problem for a couple of hours. Sigh.
After another week or two of intermittent internet, I asked beloved tech guy if I should just buy a new state of the art router so I could call cable guy and say, look, it really can’t be a router issue. He told me what to buy, I ordered it on Amazon and had it in a couple of days.
Side note. Do not buy technology from Amazon unless you really make sure in the fine print that it isn’t refurbished. Sigh.
After waiting almost two weeks for tech guy to come and install it, because if it could go wrong with our schedules it did, I gave up, and my beloved office assistant Cynthia said, I installed a router once, how hard can it be? Hahahahahah! This is technology hell house.
She got the box open, and all the parts seemed to be there, on what was obviously a refurbished item from Amazon, but I swear I didn’t know that at the time. And she doggedly went step by step trying to install the unit. We got as far as registering the serial number, remember that without a router, nothing works in my house. Unfortunately previous owner of my refurbished router had already registered the unit to themselves, and it would take a couple of days to prove that I had legitimately purchased it and, oh come on….
Cynthia drove to Best Buy and bought me a brand new router, and started over. The refurbished one got shipped back to Amazon this morning. To her credit and her unbelievable determination, she did it, she got it installed but if you know anything about technology, everything in my house runs off the WIFI and now everything had to be reprogrammed to work with the new network. Four hours later, and at least a half hour of that was on the phone with TIVO trying to figure out how to program both TV’s (the positive side of this I guess is that I now know how to work the downstairs TV. At least to get TIVO and my recorded shows). We were mostly successful, I have a couple of WIFI boosters that I haven’t figured out yet how to reprogram, but I thought we did an outstanding job. Until I came home from my knitting group last night, and there was no heat in the house. ACKKKKK! I forgot the thermostats hook into the WIFI. So I spent another 40 minutes trying to figure out how to reprogram them.
So for the last 36 hours, the internet has been blissfully stable, and hopefully internet hell is well behind me. I would not even have attempted this were it not for Cynthia, who is older than I am, but it isn’t like I could ask my son, he is deployed to the middle east (though he would have loved this router), and I learned a lot about perseverance in technology. Most companies do have tech support for dummies, but I struggle to understand what they are talking about. Cynthia just plowed ahead.
Meanwhile, my daughter drove to Massachusetts to pick up Tools of the Trade loom number 11. I know at this point my friends and family think I’ve gone over the deep edge with all these looms. But they find me. And maybe one day my daughter and/or I may have our own weaving school. We certainly have enough looms. The loom is lovely, it is a rare small frame floor loom, 32″ wide and stained a beautiful cherry color. I thought it was originally cherry but there were hints that it was really rock maple in disguise. Rock maple is sturdier. No matter, as I scrubbed and cleaned this lovely thing, it came to life and begged to go live in my den. Where I can watch TV and weave rugs. Because there was a lovely rag rug shuttle in the bench. And I now know how to watch TV in the den. The loom knows…
And while Cynthia was playing superwoman I finished beaming and started sampling a new warp on the 36″ 8 shaft TOTT loom, because it kept me from drinking heavily (though I succumbed later in the afternoon and fortunately ran out of wine before I did too much damage).
I’m teaching a five day yardage class at Peters Valley in July. I’ve taught this class before there, and though it isn’t a beginner class, I encourage those with a minimum amount of experience to take the class, especially if all you’ve woven is towels and scarves. I started by pulling yarns from the shelf I wanted to use, small bits of things that went together, and did some very exact calculations so I knew within a few yards, what I had of each yarn.
I did a yarn wrap to see what I could get, I like to work in repeats in this type of warp, and I’ll be encouraging and teaching that in the yardage class.
I decided the most efficient way to warp this was to do it in sections, there were four parts to each repeat, which I wound together using a warping paddle. (side note, the warping paddle I’m using, the white one on the table was printed on a 3-D printer by a weaving friend’s son)
Then I sleyed the four bundles, through the reed, pulling the repeats as needed and combining them.
So while Cynthia was saving my butt, I was sampling.
I ended up choosing the green cotton flake, the first yarn I tried, because it looked like faded worn denim and I loved the look. This draft has plain weave areas and twill sections.
And so another loom is dressed and happy.
And then this happened…
I got a call from Suzie at Eugene Textile Center in Oregon. She had another TOTT table loom 4 shaft, and did I want it. Duh… So I had her ship it across the country, along with some other used equipment that was on my list, Suzie buys weaving estates and is one of the best resources for used looms and parts. And old issues of weaving magazines. I got two beautiful original AVL front end feed shuttles with the Honex tensioner. These are my favorite shuttles and they are really expensive and hard to find. She had one of each size.
So I have loom number 12, all TOTT looms. And there are the 2 Leclerc 10″ baby looms, I call them Structo Wannabees, and use them along with the 16 Structo 4-8 shaft 8″ looms I use for teaching. Brianna also has a folding 8 shaft Ashford Table loom, and a 12 shaft Dorothy. There isn’t quite a loom in every room, but close. We are up to 32 shaft looms. That ties Madelyn van der Hoogt. (Though she has three draw looms and I think all the rest are 8 shaft Schacht floor looms and a Glimakra, and a Louet and an AVL computerized, so she wins). Keeping them warped is of course a full time job. Which I’m failing miserably at… But it makes me happy and some people collect cats, and I like TOTT looms. No litter boxes or vet bills, they are work horses and have kept me sane through a lot of crap in my life, along with my beloved sewing machine and at the moment, life is calm and functioning. I can’t ask for more.
Though I did start another knitting project too . This is a recycled silk, cotton and rayon yarn from Rowan I bought last summer at Harrisville. The tank was prettier on the dressform than in the photo. The pattern is from Harrisville, Riddle.
Actually, in spite of an epidemic of empty looms again, this was a fantastic week so far. Like the planets aligned… You know when you work on something really really hard, and finally, finally it comes to fruition? I had a whole bunch of things finish up and birth themselves right into the stratosphere in the last 48 hours.
First off, last October I mentioned that I had shot a whole string of videos for Threads Magazine for their Insider subscription service. Actually it is a great service, $19.95 a year for unlimited viewing of their archive of videos on sewing and fit related topics. My group will slowly be added that archive over the next few months, but the first one was released yesterday. I watched it today and it was really spot on. I did a good job. I covered everything that needed to be said about the topic and the editing was smooth and clean. This video shows how to cut and piece bias strips. You can subscribe to Insider and view it here. Thank you Threads!
Also released yesterday was the latest issue of Heddlecraft Magazine. Many of you know how hard I worked over the last few months on this 30 page article. I felt like I had done a Master’s Thesis… This lengthy article is on a topic near and dear to my heart, one I explored in my early days of craft fairs back in the 1980’s, called Doup Leno. It is a way of crossing threads back and forth to create a loom controlled lace fabric. Heddlecraft Magazine is available in digital format only. You can subscribe here.
I needed to get an image of the piece I am submitting for the summer faculty exhibit Making Matters: Fresh Perspectives in Fine Craft at Peters Valley, by the weekend. The work doesn’t have to be finished by then, but you can’t take a photo of that which does not exist. So my 36″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade loom is now empty and the fabric is drying… This is a mixed warp in a combination weave with supplemental warps, some of it is hand dyed, and the yarns are mostly cotton and rayon. The weft is 3 ply worsted wool from my stash.
My new rule in the house, with so many looms, is that once a loom has been cleared, whoever cleared it has to oil/wax it (I use Howard’s Feed and Wax) and tighten all the bolts and screws. My loom looks so happy and refreshed…
Also due this week is a scarf which I promised to donate to The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ for their Annual Gala silent auction. I adore this organization and gave them one for their fundraiser last year, and I’ll be attending the gala this April and am pleased to donate another scarf. Which meant I had to weave off all five. Which means another loom is empty. But it is also very happy because it has been cleaned and waxed and all the bolts and screws have been tightened. It is looking fresh and cheery for another warp. (There are only four scarves in the photo because I made it to the post office with five minutes to spare, the fifth one is on its way to The Shakespeare Theatre.)
And last night, I sat by the fire and finished a lovely cable knit vest, I had been worried I wouldn’t have enough yarn, but I knit as fast as I could and turns out I beat the yarn fairies… This vest is Berroco Artisan Merino and Silk. I picked up a half dozen skeins last fall at Sievers, on sale because the yarn is discontinued. The yarn is butter smooth and so pretty. The vest is one I’ve made before. It is a Drops Design, 123-10 waistcoat. It is actually a free pattern from Garn Studio. I started this vest last fall, sometime after I taught at Sievers, so again, it is funny that I finished it last night as well. It is still drying on top of the washer.
And about 10 days ago, my lovely daughter went on a mission to pick up yet another loom. They are finding us. I don’t know why. If you Google Tools of the Trade Looms, my name comes up. Probably because between my daughter and I, we now own 10. I bought my first one back in 1978. I mention them a lot in my blogs. They aren’t made anymore, but it is a solid versatile jack type loom that has stood the test of time, solid rock maple, unless you find one in cherry, and you can’t kill them. I sent my daughter down to Bedminster NJ to pick up a lovely 8 shaft 25″ wide table loom, a great teaching loom and perfect for workshops. She (the loom, not my daughter) joins two other looms that size, one a four shaft and the other a fraternal twin in cherry. I had to do some tweaking, restore some of the parts, and I’m about to add heddles to the back four shafts, but it looks in good working order and it seems happy with the crew. Incidently, I have received word on two other Tools of the Trade looms that are needing homes and my daughter is all over it. I do not know where these looms will all fit, it is clear that we are building inventory to open some kind of school or teaching venue, but that’s far down the road and I can’t even fathom that right now. I’m happy meeting my deadlines. FYI, between us right now we own 29 shaft looms. 15 Structos three of which are 8 shaft, two Leclerc 10″ 4 shaft looms, a 12 shaft Leclerc Dorothy, a folding Ashford Table Loom, 8 shafts, and of course, the 10 Tools of the Trade Looms. We win…
My late husband would always get embarrassed and annoyed when he thought I used a word incorrectly or when he thought a word I used didn’t actually exist. In my field we make up a lot of words, because there just isn’t the vocabulary in the English language. And when I use a made up word in one of my lectures, somehow the participants know exactly what I mean. Anyway, early on before Google and smart phones, when we relied on a dictionary for assistance, I used the word ‘ironical’ occasionally. My husband would get annoyed with me, because he said it wasn’t a word and the word was ironic and I needed to learn that. Of course when someone corrects you it is easy to shut down and be humiliated, especially in front of others. I had often thought I had a decent command of the English language, went to Catholic school for 8 years, knew how to diagram sentences, was an excellent speller, and had a college degree. It wasn’t until I started writing for Handwoven Magazine that I found out I could really write, and my confidence soared.
Of course I stopped using the word ‘ironic’, and it wasn’t until just recently that the word popped back into my head and I just grabbed my little smart phone, went into Google and Ha! Not only is it a word, it is a great word, used more in Britain than the US, but according to vocabulary.com, something that is ironical is wryly funny, especially because it doesn’t match up with your expectations.
And that is the whole basis for this blog post. Its ironical…
Back in October I recorded a podcast with the staff of Threads Magazine, episode 13, you can listen/watch it here, and the theme of the podcast among other topics is “Sewing for Competition”. I said a lot of things in the podcast, especially about getting into exhibitions, and all that entails, and one of the things I wanted to really stress was how arbitrary judging can be, having judged many many competitions, and that not getting into a competition doesn’t really mean that your work isn’t worthy. I gave lots of tips and suggestions, but I did say at one point that I could wall paper my living room with all the rejections I’ve received over the years, and that my acceptance to rejection ration is about 1:6. My handwoven clothing over the years has become more predictable getting into shows, though it isn’t always a guarantee, but my fiber art work has an abysmal track record.
There was an unusually large amount of opportunities this past few months for participation in fiber art exhibitions, and a number of platforms that got the word out. Social media really helps. So I dutifully sent in my money, and the requisite images and waited. And sometimes even forgot I applied.
And then suddenly, to my complete surprise, I got in. To all of them. Its ironical! And the success certainly didn’t match up with my expectations. So now, this week I’m scrambling to prep and ship out all sorts of work including three pieces for photography for my next article for Threads Magazine, they went out this morning.
Peters Valley Craft Center is sponsoring this show, bridging craftsmanship and technology. I applied at the last minute, partly because they didn’t mind older work. One of the things I talked about in the podcast was the timeliness of the work. Most exhibits require work that is less than two years old. And you can’t apply to two different shows with the same work if they overlap. It is professional suicide to get into a show and then decline because the piece got into another show that occurs at the same time.
“Nuance: Craftsmanship, Imagination and Innovation” 2019 Peters Valley School of Craft, The Sally D. Francisco Gallery, Layton, NJ Jurors: Maegen Black, Director Canadian Crafts Federation and Sin-ying Ho, Ceramist, Assistant Professor, Queens College, City University of NY. This show runs April 13th to May 19th.
The work that was accepted was an older piece that fit the theme of the exhibition, called Margaret. The images of my mother in law at 20 juxtaposed to her at 90 are printed on silk and then cut into strips and rewoven into a diptych.
“Fantastic Fibers 2019” Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, KY Juror: Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, chair of the Fiber Department Kansas City Art Institute
This show runs from April 20th – June 8th. The work that was accepted is one of my most favorite pieces of artwork I’ve done in the last few years, and no one has seen it because it has not gotten into any of the exhibits I entered with it, and it is nearing the end of its two year shelf life. The piece is layers of hand dyed wool, wet felted, sliced and needle felted onto a felt backing, and then stitched on the machine. It is called e·vis·cer·ate: verb, deprive of vital or essential content.
“Color: Classic to Contemporary” 2019 The Hudgens Center for Art and Learning, Duluth, GA sponsored by the Chattanhoochee Handweavers Guild Juror: Kathrin Weber
I found out about this exhibit through social media, and sent my regular garments/yardage images. These two works both got accepted and the show runs from May 11 – July 27th The duster coat is called Autumn Patchwork, and the yardage is called Chaos.
“Transformation: Fiber as Medium on The Common Thread Gallery” 2019 online exhibit Common Thread Gallery www.thecommonthreadgallery.comJuror: Penny Griffin Lutz is the Director of The Gallery at Penn College Williamsport, Pennsylvania
This exhibit is a digital online exhibition. It goes live April 5th I believe, and they did ask us not to put up the works on social media yet, so I won’t, but I will say that one of the pieces I’ve already mentioned, at the end of its shelf life, was also accepted to this exhibit. To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. I’ll add the image next week. The exhibition runs April 5th – August 15th and is online only.
“Excellence in Fibers IV juried exhibition in print” 2018-19 sponsored by The Fiber Art Network Jurors: Beth Mclaughlin, Head Curator Fuller Craft Museum; Perry Price, Executive Director Houston Center for Contemporary Craft; Carol Sauvion, Creator, Exec Producer and Director of Craft in America
This exhibit is currently in print, and it was really wonderful seeing my work among some pretty outstanding works in fiber.
“New Directions in Fiber Art” 2019 New Jersey Arts Annual-Crafts, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ Jurors: Carol K. Russell and Judy Wukitsch
I talked about this exhibit already because I wasn’t able to attend the opening, I was teaching in southern California. I finally got to actually see the exhibit a couple of weeks ago, and took a couple photos of the installation of my work. The work they accepted out of the 8 submitted was not one of my favorites of the group, but the judge obviously saw something else and I was thrilled. The piece is part of my Chromosome series, and it is called 44+XY. The show runs from February 9-June 16.
I have been to the land where it is sunny and warm, if only for a long weekend, I flew down to Orlando about 10 days ago, and absorbed the sun, what there was of it, it mostly rained, and saw some pretty azaleas and tropical plants, some gorgeous views of Lake Yale, and taught a wonderful pre conference four hour class in Turned Krokbragd on the Inkle Loom. I had 16 eager students and they all produced this wonderful little sample.
One of my most favorite students was standing in front of me in the lunch line. I remember her making this the last time I taught in Florida, but I never got to see it finished. Wow, just wow.
And then I taught my weekend class, Fabulous Fit, where students tried on my samples and had a tracing marathon. They learned so much about fit and how handwoven fabric works, and I got lots of emails and thanks after I got home for opening their eyes to the possibilities. I did my job! Of course, I didn’t take a single photo because I was too busy helping participants! Picture the image above, but instead of looms, there were patterns and pattern tracing paper everywhere!
Back to prepping and shipping artwork, taxes on Thursday, bills due Friday, and I have to clear one of my looms by April 1 so I can photograph the yardage for the next exhibit at Peters Valley which is the faculty show. Since I’m on the faculty there this summer, well, of course I have to put something in. I’ve run out of yardage to display there, and so I wove something new. Meanwhile, the big news in this house is that Brianna, my lovely creative daughter, whom I talked about in the last blog post, was accepted as the Fiber Assistant for the summer at Peters Valley, from May through October. She will live out there and assist with all the fiber classes. And I’ll be teaching a yardage class this summer, and I just adore when I open a magazine and there in full color and all its glory is a photo of me and my illustrious students!
This has been a rather tough week. Not for me. I’m fine. But in a series of really sad, and horrifying events, accidents, deaths, unwanted health diagnoses, and other calamities, none of which I have any control over, it has been rather tough to carry on as if everything in the world is fine. Sunday alone I went to two visitations at local funeral homes. None of these events are my stories to tell, but my heart is broken for my friend with a cancer diagnosis, my other friend who lost her father, and a pretty horrific event that, if you live in my area, you know about, and if you don’t, you don’t want to know about, all of which has left me distracted and in mourning. And there is my daughter. I haven’t said much about her issues, again it isn’t my story to tell, but she is struggling with her own health diagnosis. She has left her job to reevaluate her life, and is living in my basement now, safe, but lacking focus and purpose. She will be OK, of that I’m confident.
When my husband was dying, one of the only things I could think of to keep my brain from exploding with grief, was to steal away moments in my studio and calculate the most intense fabric design, one that even I had to struggle to execute but honestly it kept me sane. It is the banner fabric across my facebook page. If you read my last couple of posts, you know my goal was to fill all of my beautiful looms with colorful cloth because they have been naked for way too long. My original 45″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade loom from the 70’s had been given to my daughter when she moved out a couple of years ago, which left me with glorious space and room for all of my textile-y things. When she moved back in, she brought the loom back and a second one almost identical which she picked up for $350. That one got shoved in the guest room. So between us we own 9 Tools of the Trade Looms, manufactured in the 70’s – 90’s. The great thing about having 9 of the same brand loom is that all the parts are interchangeable. Which gets to the meat of the story.
Because of my daughter’s health issues, and work schedule and general life style, she had slowly gotten away from the things in life that brought her joy. I know how it happens, and I suspect dear readers that this kind of situation has happened to all of you at some point in your lives, and sometimes, many times throughout your life. I just got off the phone with a coordinator for Florida Tropical Conference which is happening in about two weeks. I suspect that every person who has ever coordinated a conference has gotten so far away from the simple things that bring you joy, reading a book, designing a project, setting up a loom, knitting a scarf, whatever, that suddenly they, actually we, find ourselves rudderless drifting in a stormy ocean with nothing to ground us. I would look in my daughter’s eyes and see nothing. There were no lights on. Rudderless…
Having left her job for a bit of a sabbatical shall we say, mostly to get her health back on track and to finish school, she woke up last weekend and I reminded her, having just updated the schedule on one of the guild websites I maintain, that the guild challenge was due in April. She looked at me aghast. When she signed up last year, life looked very different. Suddenly her eyes sparked and the lights went on and she dove into her basement dwelling and came up with her laptop, weaving software and the plans she had shelved for her challenge project.
Meanwhile, I needed to dress one more loom, my 36″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade also sat naked in my studio. It was depressing every time I entered the room. And so it began. I came up with a really complicated warp design, spent hours with my weaving software. She wound her 12 yard warp using my mill (hers is packed in the attic) while I used a small 4+ yard warping board propped on my ironing board. I was building my cloth around a 4 1/2 yard warp I had obtained in a Kathrin Weber Dye Class. I’m not sure if I dyed it or if Kathrin did as a demo, but there it sat and it was my trusty assistant who said, “When are you going to use that warp?” I pulled all kinds of things from my shelf, including some cupcake dyed skeins I also did in that class. For those who are curious, cupcake dyeing is where you wind a ball on a ball winder, and then pop it in a deli container with about an inch dye and let it absorb into the ball. Flipping the ball over and putting in a different color makes some great effects. I wound a total of 11 warps for a cloth about 32″ wide. Most of the warps were rayon, and very slippery rayon, the kind that you have to really keep under tight control, and then of course, my daughter’s cat had to be in on all the fun. I won’t bore you with cat photos, they are all on my facebook page.
She had a narrower warp, dishtowel width, so she finished before I did. Next step before sleying the reed is to find out if you have enough heddles. Those are the wire things with eyes on each of the shafts that the warp ends go through, which allows you to create patterns. This is where the story has a bizarre twist.
Sidebar: I’ve had trouble with my smaller Tools of the Trade looms, and breaking warp beams and brakes because I load too much on them and require too much torque to get the tension I like for weaving. My little 25″ looms weren’t probably designed for 12 yards of warp. I had done some alterations to the brake on one of the looms and had the bolt shear off. Some of this is because hardware from other countries is getting cheaper and thinner and not able to withstand what I need said hardware to do. But I digress. I have a number of sectional beams in addition to standard beams for my small 25″ looms, which are of course interchangeable. The sectional beams have more substance but the kind of warp I’m putting on doesn’t work well on a loom with no packing. Too much variation in the warp threads. I got the idea a number of years ago to pull the sectional pegs from one of the warp beams and use it as it if was a standard warp beam. In the photo you can see a second warp beam still with the pegs and the upper one has had the metal pegs pulled out.
It worked well for what I needed, except when the bolt for the ratchet sheared off, and I had to replace it with the original handle. It is hard to tighten a beam with 12 yards of warp and paper packed on it with that little L shaped handle. I would have much preferred a ratchet like on my large looms. Meanwhile my daughter had moved away with my large Tools of the Trade, for more than a year and I had the room renovated and bookcases installed and a lot of detritus tossed in the process.
I got the idea that if I could put the perimeter metal pegs back in, it would give me a better grip on the beam when I wanted to tighten it. So I went to find the pegs. I remember storing them in a container, a small basket I thought, and though the room had been redone, it shouldn’t have been hard to locate that container. Gone. I’ve been searching for two years for that stupid container of pegs. I don’t lose things. I’m fastidious about cleaning up after myself, putting things back in their place, and if I wasn’t, I could never do the job I do traveling around and having everything I need to pack right at my fingertips.
Fast forward to last weekend…
My daughter was removing the shafts from the large loom to count the heddles on them. She needed about 700 heddles for her project. So each shaft got pulled, and she started the count. She had developed a counter weight system for the project she had previously been working on using suspended film canisters on the front shafts, filled with whatever, pennies, I had no idea. She needed more weight on the front shaft for whatever she was doing, I didn’t much pay attention because the loom wasn’t with me for the last couple years.
She started peeling off the pink duct tape wrapped around the film canisters and cried out, “OMG”! I looked over and there, stuck to the duct tape wrapped around each of the film canisters were all of my missing sectional pegs. All of them. She had pulled them off the shelf a few years ago, needing additional weight and never happened to mention it because, well why? I wasn’t sure whether to kiss the earth in celebration for the return of something I definitely needed for this new run of scarves, or to kill her. There are no words.
So at this point, I’m beginning to count my heddles as well. I need something like 1200. It was pretty obvious that between us, we did not have enough. All of our nine Tools of the Trade Looms use the same 10 1/2″ inserted eye heddles. But all of them were warped with the exception of one of the table looms which I was keeping in reserve in case I need an emergency warp for an article I’m working on. There were extra heddles on the other looms, but they can’t be removed once the loom is warped. So I ran to the internet and knowing WEBS ships pretty quick, I ordered another 400. I hadn’t gotten notification that they had shipped, and it is now Thursday and I’m getting desperate, we were battling for who got the heddles, there were enough for one of the looms but not for both. I called them, and the order hadn’t been shipped, and wasn’t going to be shipped until the following Tuesday, so I added another 200 and spent a ridiculous amount on overnight shipping which still meant that the heddles wouldn’t arrive until Monday because unlike Amazon, UPS doesn’t deliver on weekends. We are getting so spoiled!
Meanwhile we did what any self respecting couple of desperate fiber artists would do, we stripped the poor remaining table loom of all of its heddles. Poor thing. We had enough to get us going and when the heddles came in yesterday, I carefully put the table loom back together and all is well.
So I sleyed my warp…
Then I threaded it.
Meanwhile she was all warped and starting to weave.
Then I beamed my warp. It is so luminous, shimmering and just plain pretty.
And now, my 36″ loom has a pretty four yards of warp for a fabric that will one day become a garment, but first it has to travel around, I just got an email that Peters Valley needs a faculty piece from me for the summer faculty exhibit. So I have to get cracking on the weaving…
And Brianna’s dishtowel warp which is built off a photograph my husband took at Baltimore Inner Harbor of the beautiful lights reflecting on the water in the Harbor, is on its way as well.
Actually California has been and gone. I’m back, and no rest for the weary, I hit the ground running. Why do I think when I come home from a week away that there will be a day or two of downtime and regrouping? Hahahahah……..
I love working with this group. This isn’t the first time I’ve given a hands on garment workshop to the Southern California Handweavers Guild, so when I see the class in front of me it is like a small family reunion. It is great to catch up with everyone!
The five day class was held in the San Fernando Valley Arts and Cultural Center. I love teaching here, there is a great amount of space, plenty of light and power, important for what I teach, and there is always an art exhibit on the walls. This time it was a water-colorist Gerald Brommer who I understand is in his 90’s. Loved the images from all of his travels around the world, just really inspirational.
My students were really hard at work. Though it was a five day, there were interruptions to the flow, and a guild meeting/lecture the second morning in the same space, so we had to clean everything up after the first day, which is right in the middle of cutting out fabric. That was a nail biter for me and I hoped that no one forgot where they were when they resumed laying out and cutting their fabric, and all worked out much to my huge relief!
Mostly the class made swing coats. They started taking shape.
Nicki weaves these marvelous bugs, widely exhibited and she wanted to feature a strip of handwoven bugs with fringe on the back of a vest.
And Warren was just a dream to work with. He brought his own pattern, more of a men’s shirt jacket, and used his handwoven fabric. He was so full of questions and asked things that don’t normally come up with a group of handweavers in a basic jacket class. It is wonderful to work with youth who are intending to make a career out of making handwoven clothing. He has great instincts.
Some actually got their sleeves on in time for the class photo. And I realize I didn’t get a single photo of Joanne, she is the adorable woman in red to the right of Warren, she finished her coat and it is wonderful.
And later, back at the beautiful home I stayed in, in the Bel Air canyon, my hostess Limor immediately set up her machine to finish up her duster, and Limor and her sister in law Beth, who also stayed with us, it was one giant pajama party, posed for a group shot on the staircase! Limor incidentally is one of the best cooks I’ve ever had the privilege of staying with. Though we ate out a lot, she filled in with some terrific dishes. I tried fruits I’ve never had like Cherimoya. Like eating pudding out of a fruit skin. I can’t remember the name of the other veggie she cooked, but she roasted it along with purple Brussels sprouts and they were fantastic.
And safely back in NJ, I of course hit the ground running. First up in my inbox was a request for an article for Threads, due in a week, because of course, everyone knows I can write these overnight in my sleep! So I whipped up a piece for the article, on bias facings, which I had intended to do anyway. I have a fluid to do list, things move up and down depending on how critical things are that day. This is a swing dress, or jumper, combining my swing coat and the neckline from my bias top. The fabric is a Pendleton Jacquard wool I picked up years ago at an ANWG conference in Pendleton, Oregon. One of the perks was a tour of the mill. It was amazing. Now I just have to write out the text in paragraph form.
In all of my joyous exuberance of having space and time to actually start making stuff in my studio, I dove in head first and started a whole bunch of projects all at the same time. Which might in certain cases be a recipe for disaster if one were to be distracted by said multiple projects but I of course am a professional. I’ve been doing this for 40+ years. I am not doing anything I haven’t done before, a million times. Really. Hahahahah!
So each thing I tried to do, well you can imagine…
At least the dye pots produced some new and fun colors. Though I was going for a nice yellow. Don’t ask. I know what yellow is, I have yellow dye, but using Dharma’s Deep Yellow, a new color for me, I ended up with the orange. At least it is a pretty orange.
I wound my warp with the Harrisville Singles and ancient Maypole Nehalem worsted from my stash. I counted perfectly. I knew exactly how many ends I had to work with. So you can imagine my shock when I was completely sleyed, yes I warp front to back, and had two inches left over of the Harrisville Singles. Two inches. Not two ends. Two whole inches. What an idiot. I love though, that mistakes in fiber are for the most part fixable, since it is just fiber. You can always rip it out. Or toss it aside in this case.
I threaded the warp pretty quickly, though I was smart and precounted the heddles and yes, there was a bit of moving around. (Apologies to the readers who are not weavers, this will make no sense, just trust me that my errors were stupid basic beginner errors and enjoy that even the most experienced of us can screw up.)
I beamed onto the back and tied onto the front and then carefully wound all my pirns, numbered in order of one skein of Noro for the weft. This is important because Noro has a color repeat throughout the skein and the pirns have to be wound in order and then used in reverse order.
I tied up my treadles, using the little treadle tie up diagram in my Davison, the green book. You know the one. From the 30’s. The one that is designed for sinking shed looms. And of course I have a rising shed jack loom. Yeah, that one. I’ve known for 40 years that Davison is a sinking shed book of drafts. No problem, just reverse the tie up. Everyone knows that. I’m guessing you, dear reader can already see where I’m going with this.
I start weaving and it just isn’t looking right. I’m looking at it from the left, and from the right and about three inches in I realize, head smack, duh, I tied the treadles as instructed which means I’m weaving upside down. I could have left it but I wanted to see the right side. I’m like that. No problem to reverse the tie up, I was only three inches in. I continue weaving and am now about 6 inches in and am satisfied at how it will look, and pack up everything for the night. Which meant gathering the remaining pirns and putting them decoratively by the loom. I glance at the numbered ends and see number five in my hand. Number five in my hand. Not in the shuttle. Number five was the last one I wound. It should have been the first one I started to weave with. I looked in the shuttle and sure enough, there was number one. What an incredibly stupid mistake. It will now throw off the entire color gradation of the ball.
It was after 10, and my intent was to go to bed. But I knew this was messed up and I didn’t want to face coming back to it later the next day. When I was a kid, learning to sew, I remember that when I made some critical error, I refused to stop until I had corrected it. I’m like that. So I carefully unpicked more than six inches of weft, singles weft, in sticky singles warp. What a bi**h…
At 12:30 am I had unwoven everything, the weft shredded badly toward the end, but I don’t think I lost too much. I had to figure out how to carefully wind it back onto the pirn so it would fit, which took another 15 minutes.
Saturday morning I rewove the six inches, emptied pirn number five, and started in on pirn number four. And I used the inverted treadling sequence. And I like what I have.
Meanwhile, I laid out a new scarf run, based on an old color forecast I wrote for Handwoven Magazine, something called Feminine and Serene. It was a pretty combo, and I began pulling the colors for it. I love this part, I find stuff I didn’t remember I’d had, use odd bits I’ve saved in bins, combine colors and textures I wouldn’t have thought of, but first all the skeins have to be balled.
My trusty studio assistant Cynthia came up Saturday morning to finish winding all the balls while I started winding the warp. I had half the twelve yard warp finished by lunch.
I wound the second half by late afternoon.
Sunday morning I thought I’d get started tying in to the previous warp. When I finish a scarf run, I re-sley the warp ends, three per dent in a divided reed, so all the ends beam individually even though there are three or more threads per dent. Of course I’m a pro at this, and trust that I don’t make mistakes.
I started tying in the new warp, and something just wasn’t right. The numbers weren’t working out. And know that this warp is not random, it is carefully calibrated Fibonacci numbered stripes of twill and plain weave with supplemental warps. I sell the draft in my eShop, it is called Gradient Scarves.
It took me almost a quarter of the tie in to figure out that I wound the warp backwards. Talk about a head smack. How the heck did I do that, I must have wound a hundred of these warps over the years. What a stupid mistake. So I carefully clipped each thread I’d tied on and reversed the warp and reconnected to the other side. I had fixed that and was well on my way when I noticed that again, the numbers weren’t working out. After more head scratching and gnashing of teeth, I realized that back when I originally sleyed the warp, after finishing the last run, I had somehow dropped two ends, which were apparently never there to begin with. I double up and eventually added the two threads back in and then fixed the reed after it was beamed.
And finally, I started to weave. So I have two looms filled with long warps and they will be waiting for me when I return from California. I have a third warp possibility sitting on my cutting table.
The real issue is why I’m making such stupid basic mistakes. Yes, I’m distracted by a number of things involving people I love that I can do nothing about but still haunt me. Yes, I’m trying to do too many things at once. Yes, I haven’t put a warp on the loom in a very long time and I don’t count the half dozen warps I just put on for the 16 page Doup Leno Article I just wrote for Heddlecraft.
The really important thing here, is that in fiber, almost everything can be corrected. Mistakes are just silly and can be ripped out for the most part and reworked. I tell my students, about to cut into their handwoven fabric, that pretty much nothing they do in my class will cause anyone to die. It is just fiber. And so, in all my distractedness, I stayed with all the mistakes and saw them through to the end and it gave me just a little bit of hope. Because really, most of life we cannot change and I am always so very grateful when it is something I have control over, like unweaving six inches of pattern out of wool singles, this I can do. Painfully, but I can do this. I can’t fix the issues with my children, or my town or my country, or the world, or the stupid weather, but I can fix my errors on the loom. It is the little things…