Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A new baby for the studio

A baby wolf loom, that is. We were able to purchase another baby wolf loom for sutherland from a friend of mine in New Jersey, which brings our family of available floor looms for classes to four. That opens up more space for students when classes snew baby wolftart in January.

The first class is scheduled for Jan. 8-10, and is called Just Weave. I will warp as many studio looms as needed in rayon chenille. Students may reserve one of them on any day that weekend and come in to “just weave,” a scarf in one day. I’ll provide instruction for those who’ve never woven before and let those familiar with weaving just weave away the day enjoying the rhythm.

For those novice weavers who become hooked during this taste of weaving and want to learn more, I have scheduled an in-depth introduction to planning, warping and weaving that will actually allow students to warp the loom three times before the class is finished. Weaving I-Three Warps, Three Towels begins Jan. 17 and continues on Sunday afternoons from noon-4 pm for eight weeks. It is my hope students leave that class much more comfortable with warping on their own and more likely to continue weaving.

If our students fall in love with the Baby Wolf, as we have, we are also working on a dealership arrangement with Schacht Spindle Co. to help them adopt a “baby,” “wolf pup” or bigger Schacht loom of their very own.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Talking about design, and things

A few years ago, a group of spinners and weavers from my South Jersey Guild launched a design challenge after a field trip to see a museum exhibit. Over the next few months, we got together every 4-6 weeks to share our progress and get feedback from our design guru, Kathy Remsa. Kathy designs high end upholstery fabric for one of the few remaining textile mills in the US.

We had so much fun with the project that we continued to meet as a design study group. Kathy took us back to school with design theory and lots of exercises to practice the concepts. About a year later, we decided to focus our periodic discussions on our particular design challenges, promising at each meeting to accomplish another step toward our goals before the next time.

The group has dwindled to four. Betsy focuses on her designs for tapestry weaving. Meg has returned to quilting for the time being, though she said she plans to get back into weaving very soon. Kathy is interested in pushing the limits beyond weaving to what she can do to the fabric once it’s off the loom. She also keeps us apprised of the challenges of her job and the next big things coming in design. I share whatever’s next on the loom, and for the past several months I’ve been thinking about the Certificate of Excellence Level II from the Handweavers Guild of America. I earned the Level I COE in October 2008, and I’ve been tossing around a couple of ideas. I think I have landed on a good one, and the next step will be preparing the study outline for submission to HGA.

Today was the last meeting I’ll have with the group probably for some time, as plans for sutherland and the classes I’ll be teaching there in January will limit my trips back to New Jersey. This experience has been so valuable for me. We’ve become good friends, and our discussions usually include recaps about our families and lives outside weaving. But the most important benefit of this group is that it keeps us all moving forward toward specific goals, especially knowing that our friends will be holding us accountable for our progress.

That was part of the thinking behind what Barb and I are calling “Web Chats AT sutherland.” We want to host small groups of WNC weavers a couple of times a month to discuss our design challenges, get feedback on ideas, troubleshoot problems and share ideas for future projects. These “chats” will start Jan. 11. I’m looking forward to getting to know the talented weavers in and around Asheville and making more close weaving friends. I just wish I didn’t have to say goodbye to those in Jersey.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our first RAD Studio Stroll

While I was stroll11-09digging through the Silk City Fibers Warehouse Outlet this weekend, Barb, my partner in sutherland, was busy demonstrating, handing out weaving class schedules and selling our items at the fall Studio Stroll hosted by the Asheville River Arts District. Even though we don’t take occupancy of our studio there until December, our gracious landlord, Pattiy, invited us to set up a sales table in her studio.

Barb snapped these photos of our make-shift gallery. Barb recorded a few sales, one of which she is sure resulted from her weaving on-site. She also handed out all the class schedules she had printed and had to email a few stroll closeup11-09more when she got home. Hopefully that interest will result in students when I start teaching in January.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Silk City Fibers Outlet

While in New Jersey, I decided to drive to Paterson to check out the monthly warehouse outlet sale at Silk City Fibers. Silk City is strictly wholesale except for the open-to-the-public outlet. However you can see the yarns they carry on the website without a wholesale account.

I was looking for rayon chenille to use for the “Just Weave” class I’ll be teaching at sutherland in January. This class is designed for beginning weavers who want to try their hand at weaving without a lengthy commitment or experienced weavers who would simply like to spend a day throwing the shuttle without warping the loom.

I will pre-warp the studio looms with rayon chenille for a scarf. Students simply reserve a loom and pick one day during the designated weekend. They arrive in the morning, get a little instruction as needed, and weave off the scarf by

rayon chenille

the end of the day. My hope is that most of the students will be smitten with the process and want to learn more.

Here’s a look at the rayon chenille I found Saturday. I’ll be adding it to my current stash for the class.

Of course, I found a few other treasures I couldn’t pass up. From left to right, 3 cones of wool crepe/velveen, two cones of Ecocot organic cotton, superfine merino, a cone of a silk/cashmere blend and a cone of silk. Yummy.

Barb and I are wondering whether to establish a wholesale account with Silk City and invest in the sample books. Please let us know if you might like to order these yarns through us.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Becoming a better teacher

At the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association conference last summer, Sharon Alderman told me how she occasionally likes to step into the role of student to become a better teacher. It’s important, she said, to remind yourself how difficult and awkward it can feel to walk into a class where you know nothing and try to learn something new, because then you’ll have a better understanding of how your own students are feeling.

I put her words to the test this week while warping a dozen or so fingertip towels for sale in the new shop. I warp front to back or back to front depending on the project and the lotowel warpom I’m using. Recently I acquired one of Peggy Osterkamp’s warping books and noticed in the first few pages that she recommends a lot of things  I have never done. When I watched Peggy’s warping video at my October guild meeting, I decided to try some of her techniques with my next warp.

I haven’t felt so awkward warping since my days as a beginning weaver, not because the techniques didn’t work. It was simply new for me. I finally got the hang of the “claw technique” by the time I finished sleying the reed, even though I discovered some missed dents. And the “crank and yank” method of winding the warp on the beam was kind of fun. Well maybe it was just more fun to say “crank and yank” for 8 yards of fuzzy cottolin. It’s clear I haven’t perfected the technique as the two picks separating the towels are “smiling” in the picture.

But the warp is on, weaving fine and the towels are nearly finished. I may not incorporate all of Peggy’s techniques in future warping, but I will definitely include several. I also will try to remember the frustration I felt the next time one of my students is struggling with a warp.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Have you been outside today?

Some days are meant for simply enjoying and being inspired. Today I’m in New Jersey drinking in one of those rare, perfect November days. Temps in the high 60s, perfectly clear blue skies, no wind. The sun is making those long shadows that remind you this weather won’t last long, so take advantage.

This is my excuse for not going into the basement to finish threading a long warp of fingertip towels for the shop. Julia Cameron calls it filling the wells and stocking the ponds of our creative, artistic reservoirs. (The Complete Artist’s Way) Maybe I’ll take the sketchbook outside and look at my trees and shrubs in a whole new way. With the leaves down and the sun glinting off the bark, they look sculptural, almost architectural.

I did want to share pictures of a scarf I finished last week. It is one in a series of deflected doubleweave experiments with differential shrinkage. This one is red tencel for the non-shrinking yarn and peacock green merino for the shrinking one. I think they look like rose blossoms. Look for more of my experiments in the January/February 2010 Handwoven.  new tencel roses scarf-donde

new tencel roses closeup-donde

Monday, November 2, 2009

Barb’s been busy

When I met Barb at Convergence in 06, we were both warping looms we’d rented for our workshop that started the next day. I  noticed she was working with pretty fine silk, which surprised me as we only had a few hours of pre-workshop warping time. I was warping 5/2 cotton. I was even more surprised when she said she was a relatively new weaver, and she just loves fine threads. Really fine threads.

So it surprised me aalpacascarf211-09gain when she sent these pictures of the latest project to come off her loom, a scarf made with comparatively thick handspun alpaca she picked up at the Blue Ridge Fiber Fair last month. She was surprised herself at how much she likes it. She also discovered how quickly it weaalpaca scarf closeup11-09ves, especially with a loose sett. On and off the loom in one day. It feels so good, she plans to weave another, sett a bit closer.





The batch of purplepurple scarves11-09 scarves is more her style. Expect to see all at Sutherland in December, unless she sells them at the River Arts District Studio Stroll Nov. 14 & 15.