Instagram-ma

My husband has (once again) supplied me with my blog title. . .   I have received some recent input from a couple of young relatives in the realm of my social media presence (such as it is) to the effect that my site is old fashioned, no one blogs anymore (good news since my posts have been so spotty:) and I have to be on instagram.   I have been thinking about updating my site , but I need to carve out some (a lot) of time to really think about and work on it. The style that my young advisee likes it visible on quite a few websites. It is severe, lots of white, lots of empty space.  I actually love the serene look of the sites he showed me, but I am not sure the textiles I make will work in it.  I am a fan of warm, saturated colors, cozy, fabric-y spaces with lots of texture. But I am game, and will start thinking hard.  Input welcome.

I did take the step of starting an instagram account. When I told my husband, he said, “that probably means that instagram is on the way out, instagram-ma.”  My most ardent supporter! But I have been having fun looking at all the amazing weaving being done by yes, young! weavers. Now if I can just figure out how to tag . . .

IMG_0948Winter is showing her beautiful, fierce face around here, and Fiona and I are trying to figure out how to enjoy her while keeping our toes intact.  I recently acquired a pair of Kathoola Micro spikes for my boots and they have been incredible.  Fiona and I have been out in all forms of winter-y precipitation with no fear of her dragging me off my feet, as she snow dives.  It is fun to see, writ large in the snow all the little critter trails that drive her mad.  In other seasons her leaping and sniffing seems loony and random, but now I can see all the woodland activity that her nose shows her all year round.

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In weaving news, I have been prepping for teaching beginning Weaving at WEBS starting in March, re-training myself to do things the way I learned instead of the idiosyncratic way I have developed over the years.  That means returning to the warping board after years of reeling!  It has been interesting, but amazingly slow to re-teach my “old dog” self.

I have also been working on some rep pillow for the Fall edition of HW.

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First try . . .

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Second try . . .

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Done!, but I will now refer to on-loom rep as “fake news” because (and I did read about this . . . but . . .) the on loom version which one meticulously squares, relaxes when off the loom a lot! Resulting in some oval-y circles.

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Got it right in the sample, and then messed with it during the weaving – damn me!

 

I have also been working on a herd of cowls.  These were inspired by a beautiful garment I saw while watching a Hunger Games video with one of my son’s art school friends.

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And to cap the winter fiber fun off, I participted in a fabulous Dimity workshop held at our town library and run by (who else) the inimitable Ute Bargmann.  We had a week-long dimity fest, and the capper was when we were moving looms out of the library in fear for our lives as a massive ice floe hovered over our heads – we ran for our cars (carrying looms!).IMG_0883

Lovely winter . . .IMG_0899    Not Fiona’s, but whose?IMG_0926

And I got a turned Ms & Os off the loom only for it to be rejected by my product tester.IMG_0965

How Did It Get So Late So Soon

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How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

Dr. Seuss

My husband and I often have chats about time, and how the nature of it sees to change so dramatically as one ages.  The holidays bring on a “What? I just took the tree down. How can it be time to put another one up?”  This sense of the compression of time has been exacerbated this year by a glimpse at the date of my last blog post. September? How can that be?  But it can be apparently, and there have been many wonderful weaving adventures compressed within that compressed few months.

I got to travel up to Chautauqua, NY, and work with a wonderful, lively, talented  group of weavers, and visit the original Chautauqua (on Lake Chautauqua) that was the start of the Chautauqua educational movement, which Theodore Roosevelt called, “the most American thing in America.”

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I was able to host a weaving retreat for some of my best weaving buddies on Cape Cod.

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I was able to partake of the crazy beauty of the Smokies in (cognitive dissonance) honky tonk Gatlinburg while teaching at Arrowmont. This is particularly poignant for me considering the terrible fire that has swept through Gatlinburg, damaged the Arrowmont campus, and destroyed the houses of dear friends since then.

img_0302 My teaching assistant and traveling buddy, Emily Walsh Gwynn looking out at the mountain view.img_0326 Samples woven by the wonderful/creative/open-hearted Arrowmont studentsimg_0327Taking a break for some goofiness after epic weaving marathon

I was able to spend time in the woods with my trekking partner Fiona.img_0442 Misty morning woodsimg_0131Color inspiration fungiimg_0475 Massachusetts looking unlike itself . . .img_0473 Strange November blooming Yarrow

I was even able to do some weaving . . .img_0457 img_0386 img_0200

And see two mortal enemies become friends over the course of a sweet, sweet family holiday pile-in. Gives me hope . . .

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And as we entered the crazy holiday scramble, I was able to spend a week sewing (sew fun!) at Vavstuga with a troupe of old and new friends.img_0510 img_0526

Looking back at the last few months, and how the time has “flewn”. I feel so fortunate to have the world of hand weaving for such vivid and varied inspiration, challenge, experience and companionship.

 

Head, Heart, Hand . . . Heart, Head, Hand . . . Hand, Heart, Head . . .

I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.” Vincent van Gogh

In an (recently) unprecedented period of calm, I have been able to get 5 of my looms warped, and a couple of blankets woven.  One of the warps is a stash busting experiment with 8-shaft double weave using a very fine silk noil, and a very fat brushed alpaca, one of the warps is a 18-shaft deflected doubleweave, one is a 4-shaft, mohair throw in plain weave, and one is a transparency on the rigid-heddle and finally a pick-up dog collar on my inkle loom.  When I look at the projects I am working on, I am reminded of something (I may have mentioned before) that David Johnson of the Rocky Mountain Weavers’ Guild said to me while I was teaching there.  He said, “you have to have your head, heart and hands balanced in everything you create.”  My interpretation of this is that you need to balance your aesthetic/creative impulse (heart)  by both honing your skill (hand), and applying knowledge (head).  When they are out of balance in weaving you get a deadened, complexity (too much head), a wild mess (not enough hand/head) or a technically perfect blah (hand without head/heart) and many other possible permutations I’d imagine.  But what I find interesting when looking at the projects I’m currently working on is that each one of them is either tilting in a head, heart or hand direction.  I would characterize the doubleweave as a head/hand production with too little heart . . . see below:

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I wanted to do a double weave using 2 very different densities/setts, and it is working-ish, but the block arrangement is dull and it is taking me forever to make progress because both yarns are super sticky and cling to each other making it necessary to clear each shed by hand.  Now that I have seen that I can make one layer 6x the density of the other, my head is satisfied, my heart is sad (boring) and my hands are frustrated.

The next warp is the 18-shaft def dw.  I would characterize this one (in its conception) as fairly balanced – a little low on heart.  The motif in the center was supposed to be “Z” in morse code, which is dash dash dot dot . . . I wanted Z z z z z as a nap throw, but didn’t have enough room. The funniest thing is that I messed up and only put dash dot dot or dot dot dash depending on which end you’re starting from which are “D” or “U” . So I now like to think of it my Du(h)! throw.  I like it okay, but want a little more pizazz . . . (see below).img_6461

The next project is pure heart (some might not think so because it is hard to photograph, but it has a beautiful subtle color combo of gray browns that I love). It is the 4-shaft plain weave, so simple, but does take a bit of technique to weave because of the mohair’s crazy clinginess.

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The next is a possible balance (yet to be realized)  It is a rigid heddle transparency that I warped up to take to a weavers’ retreat.  I wanted a project that was small enough to transport, open enough for the retreatees to create their own designs and something of a weaving challenge.  The warp is 16/2 linen which is a little difficult on the RH (tip is to tie on with the heddle in the up or down position so the difference between the moving and stationary threads is taken into account at tie-on).  I am hoping we get a good array of ideas that balance the elements. Right now it just has a little bubble fest test segment for me to practice getting ROUND circles (a little head/hand combo!).

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And finally a head/hand directly from Inkle Pattern Directory, the only bit of my heart (creativity) in this one is that it is for a collar for Fiona?.img_0031

I just noticed that there are only neutrals in all these projects. Funny – summer is over, fall is around the corner, and I have drained color out of my weaving life . . . Dr. Freud? Any insight?

Nothing Could be Finer

I recently returned from teaching at the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, and nothing could be finer then to be in Carolina at the folk school!

The Folk School offers instructors a class as part of the compensation package. You can use it for yourself or offer it to a friend or family member as you choose.  I asked my mom if she would like to take a class, and she and my dad flew up from Texas to visit family on the east coast, and then she and I loaded up the minivan and set out for our Carolina adventure. We decided to drive down over the course of two days and stop driving when we got tired.  We were in Virginia after about 10 hours on the road, when I was ready to stop.  We like to avoid chain motels if possible, and try to find convenient, quirky places to stay. As we were thinking about stopping I saw a sign for Strausberg, VA.  I had a vague memory of the name of the town, and I told my mom that it might be the town where I stayed with my daughter 15 years ago when we took a road rip to pick up a new puppy.  My daughter was obsessed with Victoriana at the time (she was about 11-years-old) and I picked an old hotel in the center of town for its Victorian decor.  My mom and I decided to see if it was the same town, and took the exit.

IMG_6191As soon as I pulled into town I remembered it, and found the Straussberg Hotel.  And as soon as I stepped out of the car I remembered the smell – old brick and boxwood!  Sure enough it was the same place, and my mom and I had a great walk around town, dinner, and a comfy bed.IMG_6189

I called my daughter to see if she remembered the hotel, and she descibed it perfectly.  She was delighted when I sent her pix.IMG_6188

The next day we set out again and drove through the the mountains with breathtaking vistas coasting into Brasstown, NC at about 5 pm. after a funny (not-so-funny) hour driving on fumes.  I don’t know if anyone knows if this is true, but I had a 1/4 tank of gas and my GPS said that Brasstown was 30 miles away. I was confident that I had plenty of gas to get there, but over an hour later I was still not there and my tank was close to empty.  My only thought was that the GPS was measuring a straight line, and I was driving on a ribbon candy road going up and down through the mountains??? Anyway, we finally got into Brasstown and stopped at Clays Corner. I hoped fervently that the old non-digital gas pumps in front of the general store worked, and they did!  The owner helped me work the old pump and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I was so grateful that I bought my son a tee-shirt that said “Possum – The other, Other White Meat”possum-glowindark

My mom and I stayed in Murphy, NC that night, ate fried dill pickles at Brothers and found out that it was the shopping center where the fugitive Eric Rudolph was apprehended?

The next morning we headed to the Folk School and wandered around the beautiful campus until we met with my studio assistant for lunch.

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Studios are open from early morning until late at night.IMG_6219

Lillian, my studio assistant was a godsend.  She knew the school and the studio backwards and forwards and led me through the set-up process.  We had a great tour and I met the class participants that night for intros.  As usual, the class was made up of a wide spectrum of weavers, some 40-year veterans, some relatively new, but all fellow fiberistas.IMG_2755 IMG_2779 The spirit of JCC is remarkable and fosters a sense of community across disciplines as well as cooperative, non-competitive practice. I felt that vibe resonate. As I walked through the campus for coffee, etc. I would meet other artisans on the paths and was always met with a good-natured greeting. The meals are family-style, and so I had the opportunity to eat with many of the other teachers and students – as you can imagine meal-time conversations were lively and fascinating. People from all political, religious, educational and ethnic backgrounds ate and chatted together in harmony.  IMG_6204For the final Show and Tell, all the studios showed their products from a week of work, and the results were jaw-droppng. Carved mantels, curve-topped chests, caned chairs to name only a few.  We were serenaded by the mandolin class – only a week and they gave a wonderful concert!IMG_2784 Lillian supported me while I gave my brief recap (public speaking – yikes), but I was inspired by the week’s morning song during which we were regaled with lively anecdotes told by really great storytellers.

IMG_6318 Our outputIMG_6333Caned chairs

IMG_6327 Bad pic of the stunning carved mantlesIMG_6341and my mom’s repujado (embossed) book cover plate for a book of poetry by her friend Teal Sales.

I just read Patti Lamb’s blog post about JC Cambell, and I highly recommend it – great pix! http://lambontheloom.weebly.com/blog

Busy Bees

Since my last post I have been busy, but who hasn’t?  I am tired of busy!  “Busy” can contain, engagement, curiosity, creativity, fellowship, community as well as worry, toil, and grind, but we always seem to condense it into “busy”.  I read recently that responding with “busy” when asked how one is is defensive and pushes people away.  I think that that is true to some extent, but it also prevents us from moment to moment pleasure.  By thinking of ourselves as perpetually busy, we have already said no to the small joys in our daily lives like the softness of a well-worn kitchen towel or the smell of a summer tomato. . . .

One of the ways I have stepped outside of “busy” is by walking my dream-girl Fiona.  Walking the dog is part of my “busy” day, but it creates a strange kind of space for me not to be busy.  Fiona cannot be rushed.  Every clump of grass, pile of rocks and hollow log need to be fully investigated. While accompanying Fiona on her sniffing rounds (my husband calls it “checking her email”) I get to look closely at the wild flowers, rocks and leaves in my path.  It is a way of defying busy while being busy, and I’m looking at many of my daily chores in a new light.  It is well-covered territory, i.e. “being in the moment”, etc., but it is becoming more and more important to me as I age and think of how little time I/we have on this earth and how full of busy it is.

I have a few pics to share.

Sample woven in Vav Immersion “Nordic Deflections” classIMG_5575

I cleaned my studio thoroughly for the first time in . . . . nevermind.IMG_5583

Towels woven on the “seagull” warp – fun in the tie-up playground_DSC0611 Happy Weavers of Western MA             IMG_5960

Bee Bag sewn from an old sampleIMG_6006

Little pouch sewn from another old sampleIMG_6039

Sleepy fiona wearing her lovely Necklace made by Becky Jensen using split-ply braidingIMG_6070

Natural dyeing at Fiber of Life camp.IMG_6115 Quiet moment at Fiber of Life – note warp weighted loom in background.IMG_6125

In process apron by Vavstuga apprentice Tonya. It’s hard to see, but the pattern on the fabric is tiny tulips.  Adorable!IMG_6149

 “Little House” coaster set made with my neighbor’s wool (really her sheep’s) by Sue KranzIMG_6180 IMG_6184

I had several wonderful classes since I returned from my mid-western odyssey.  I worked with the Immersion Class at Vavstuga (a 12-week weaving/spinning/tatting/linen/and more class) and it was a miraculous group of students who worked tirelessly for 12 weeks with Becky, all living, working, weaving together and accomplishing a huge array of projects including draw-loom pieces. I briefly worked with the group on a color/deflected structure class, and it was a pleasure to work with young women (some in age some in spirit) who are really determined to make weaving a big part of their future careers/lives.

I taught an Off-the-Grid class for my guild members (and a few equally fab non-guild members!) that was so collaborative and so much fun. The area where I live is in the hills surrounding the 5-college area of Western MA, often jokingly called “happy valley” because of the hippy ethos that abounds.  I set the goal of doing a stress-free, happy-valley-style round-robin and we succeeded in covering 15 different structures in 3 days virtually stress and panic free!  Everyone got on board, cooperated, helped each other, set themselves manageable goals, and boy was it a ball. Hooray for the wonderful Weavers of Western MA!

I also joined Becky for her annual Fiber of Life camp, where we (along with a group of pretty amazing middle-schoolers) collected natural dye stuffs from around her gorgeous property, sun-dyed hand-spun wool, did collaborative weaving on a warp-weighted loom, sewed, spun, wove and picnicked.  Becky even managed to have a maypole dance (in July) using handwoven ribbons for the maypole.

I then joined Becky for a Vavstuga Kitchen class as the apron lady.  The class all wove gorgeous kitchen textiles, while I assisted those that wove yardage for matching aprons.  Again, the spirit of collaboration and fun was ever present and made the textiles produced extra special.

I left immediately afterward to join my family for a pile-in on Cape Cod.  My kids came from near and far as did my parents, siblings, aunt, cousin, niece and new baby cousin to add the necessary baby fun to the mix.  Somehow, despite huge variation in age, temperament, politics and religion we had a great time, ate great food, yakked endlessly and even got my septuagenarian/octogenarian parents to try ocean kayaking and paddle boarding.

Now I am prepping for a much-anticipated trip to teach at John C Campbell folk school.  My mom is joining me for the road trip down (we may have even talked my New York lawyer brother to come with us and take a blue-grass mandolin class while I teach)  I have been reading about the origins of the Folk School, the commitment to a non-competitive, collaborative environment that fosters the perpetuation of the folk arts and music of the area, and it makes me more eager than ever to partake.

So instead of a “busy life”, I am deciding to have a “full life”.  And in an goofy, alliterative mood I will embrace a life full of fiber, food, family, flexibility, and fun and push away a life of brittle, bitter, blind, bland, bogus busyness.  Feel free to add to the list . . .