Monday, December 28, 2009

Please check the sutherland studio blog

I invite everyone to visit the new blog we’ve set up for sutherland handweaving studio. I will continue to post to my personal blog, but will be posting more studio related news to the sutherland blog.

Upcoming posts will detail our classes and events calendar for January, including the Just Weave class Jan. 8-10, our first Web Chats AT sutherland, Jan. 11, and the 8 week Weaving I class that begins Jan. 17.

We’ll also have pictures to show our expansion into the room next door, which will provide more floor and display space and allow us to fit our fourth Baby Wolf loom into the studio.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowed in and making do

I am writing this post with no idea when I’ll get to publish it on the blog. Shortly after the last post, while the snow continued to fall, we lost power, including our internet connection. Two hours later the power returned, briefly, but went out again about 7 pm. It stayed off until after 1 pm Saturday. Fortunately our energy efficient house held enough heat that we stayed warm with extra jackets.

We ended up 009with about 12 inches of snow outside the front door, but closer to 16 inches in the driveway where it drifted. That meant the car was going nowhere outside the garage. It’s now Sunday night and the “maintenance-free” management company here has yet to clear our driveway. Our shovels remain in New Jersey, along with our boots.

The cable, and internet connection, has never returned. Lots of reading, and playing cards. I started to bake cookies, but my pantry isn’t completely stocked yet and I had no vanilla. Thankful we had gone grocery shopping before Friday, we have been able to prepare meals. The investment in the gas range paid off during the blackout.

So what’s a weaver to do with all this time on her hands? Warp a loom, of course. I have some yummy sock yarn I picked up at Woolbearers in Mount Holly before I left that was meant for the Handwoven sock yarn challenge. I scoured the books I have here for an interesting draft, finding one in Sharon Alderman’s Mastering Weave Structures. Then I headed up to my still-pretty-sparse home studio to wind the warp. Alas, the yarn was in a skein and my swift and ball winder are in, you guessed it, New Jersey. Barb has one at sutherland, but that didn’t help me here.

I looked at my husband and almost asked him to hold the skein for me, but thought better of it. There must be something here the right circumference to hold the skein. After turning over a couple of small tables and chairs to no avail, I spotted the step stool I had out to decorate the Christmas tree. I slipped the skein over the top and it slid about 3/4 of the way down before resting co015mfortably. Up we all went to the warping board where I patiently wound the warp directly from the skein. I had to unwind a bunch from the step stool and drop it on the floor before winding it on the warping board, but only had a few nasty snarls. And with a little silk in it, this yarn felt wonderful in my fingers.

Sunday, with no snow plows in sight, I started warping. Again, some of my good warping tools are in a bag at 014sutherland and others are in New Jersey, including my long raddle. Front to back it was. Thinking the sett should be 8 epi, I looked for the reeds I’d remembered to bring down this time. A 10 and a 12. I opted for the 10 and settled for 7 1/2 epi. But now that I have it on the loom and have woven a few picks, I think I’ll resley to 10 epi. The sock yarn is a lot thinner when it’s stretched out under tension, and the weft was packing in too much.

I’ll leave that for Monday, although I’m supposed to work at sutherland in the afternoon…if I can get out of the driveway. (Monday morning update: still stuck)

By the way, I talked to my  Philadelphia son earlier who told me they got 2 feet of snow in New Jersey. Good thing I’m in THE SOUTH.

For Doris’ girls

Another of weaving’s great mentors and teachers has gone. Doris Boyd, who operated a continuing weaving class in her cellar in Tabernacle, NJ, died two weeks ago from complications of Alzheimer’s. I was unable to make it back for her memorial service Saturday, but she and the rest of Doris’ girls were on my mind.

I started studying with Doris and the Thursday Pineland Weavers more than 10 years ago, and I’ll never forget the first day I met this petite, slim, agile, happy, patient woman who never let any weaving challenge fluster her.

A few years ago, I wrote a story for Handwoven about four such weaving mentors, including Doris. The story was edited for publication, so i112_1282 (1) thought I’d include the entire segment I wrote about Doris here. It’s how I’ll remember her and the wonderful weaving sisterhood who will always be Doris’ girls. Pictured here are a few of the girls (Rita, Diane, JoAnn and Naomi) with Doris leaning on the loom.

“Across the United States and Canada, small pockets of weavers fortunate enough to have met the right person at the right time come together to study under the watchful eyes of outstanding teachers and mentors who challenge and inspire them to master the fundamentals and push the creative envelope.

Some of these teachers, who learned to weave in the 1950s and 1960s, have become not only masters of the craft, but its strongest champions, training new weavers, leading and supporting guilds and conferences, writing books and adding to the industry’s collective knowledge with insights gained during decades of experience.

Following are the stories of four such mentors who together have nearly 200 years of weaving experience. The youngest is 90, the oldest 102. Whether weavers are simply born of heartier stock or weaving itself has kept them young, they, and the many mentors like them, are excellent examples of what most weavers want to be “when we grow up.”…

For nearly 30 years, openings in Doris Boyd’s weekly weaving classes were rare. Only so many looms fit in her 20 ft. x 20 ft. cellar, and probably half are at least 36” wide. With some careful maneuvering, though, Doris has fit as many as 12 devoted students down there at once, all weaving at their own pace, but challenging themselves to learn everything Doris knows before they graduate.

That partly explains why many students lucky enough to land seats at her looms never left. Doris knows an awful lot about a lot of things, including weaving. One 17-year veteran of Doris’ Thursday class said her husband once asked, “You’ve been going to weaving class every Thursday for years. Haven’t you learned it yet?”

Those students fortunate enough still to be weaving with Doris continue to make every effort to schedule doctor’s appointments, vacations, even jobs around Doris’ class. Every hour spent studying with Doris and her Pineland Weavers is an hour that inspires creativity, soothes the stresses of daily life, stimulates the psyche and teaches something new, whether it’s about weaving or life.

The driving spirit of this tight sorority of very diverse weavers is a slim, petite woman whose 90 years have only slightly diminished her ability to rearrange the looms that fill her basement weaving studio. Until a recent hip injury, from which she has recovered nicely, it wasn’t unusual to find her crouched under a loom repairing the tie-up cords, and the next minute climbing on a chair to retrieve a particular cone from the top shelf of her wall of yarn.

Her enthusiasm for weaving, and the myriad other crafts she has mastered, is as boundless as her energy. A high school business teacher by trade, Doris didn’t start weaving until she and her husband retired to New Jersey’s Pinelands in 1969. During a break from formal teaching to raise her two children, she ran a ceramics studio in Philadelphia. A lifelong fascination with birds prompted her to produce three films for the National Audubon Society, handling all the photography and writing herself. The films launched a national lecture tour. With her husband, Howard, a naturalist, author and authority on the New Jersey Pinelands, she has traveled the world.

Once she finally “retired,” she focused her energy on learning every conceivable craft: painting, watercolor, pottery, doll and doll house making, beading, quilting, knitting, crochet, jewelry, copper enameling, paper making, leatherwork, basketry, china painting, embroidery, lacework, felting, spinning, dyeing and weaving.

But she has always been a teacher at heart, and the nearly 30 weaving students she has mentored over the years are forever grateful she focused her teaching on weaving. In the beginning, she insisted every student master the basics, with carefully prescribed lesson plans and samplers. She has mellowed over the years, guiding beginners through projects and yarns of their choosing and letting them learn from their mistakes. Her goal has always been not just to teach people to weave, but to help them learn to love it.

Some lessons her students will never forget: “Never give up. You’re not going to waste the rest of that warp, are you? If the knots are not up against the heddles, keep weaving. You’ll never know until you try. Don’t worry, everything will work out fine. I think it’s time you tried something new. No, you cannot hire someone to warp your loom.”

Doris was one of the first members of the South Jersey Guild of Spinners and Handweavers and has always contributed to it and other local guilds, teaching and hosting workshops, providing an unending inventory of show and sale items, participating in public demonstrations, sharing her extensive library and attracting new weavers. As Doris looks back over her weaving career, one of her biggest concerns is for the future of the craft itself and who will continue the teaching tradition.

Fortunately, some of her students have become weaving teachers. But Doris’ passion, patience, determination and contagious enthusiasm are unique. Her cellar has become the foundation for a true community of weavers who learn from and are inspired by her and each other. That is her greatest gift. We treasure our time together and wish only for more lifetimes, so we can finally learn it all.”   

Friday, December 18, 2009

You’re not going to believe this

Working from home today because…IT’S SNOWING. Seriously snowing, like it hasn’t snowed in Asheville fo003r 10 or 12 years. We’re expecting up to 10 inches of snow before it stops tomorrow, and that’s at the low elevations. Our mountain neighbors may not make it out for days.

Good day to catch up on home things: decorate the Christmas tree, try to convince our new puppy that she really does need to go outside and walk around in this stuff, finally getting the Chr001istmas cards out, and borrowing a snow shovel from the neighbor because we left ours in New Jersey. This is, after all, the SOUTH!

I may not make it to the studio tomorrow either, unless it stops sooner than predicted and the plows make their way to my road. It will be a good day to plan my next warp using sock yarn. I’m hoping it will be successful enough to enter in Handwoven’s sock yarn weaving conte002st. If it keeps snowing, I might just warp and weave it here.

Fortunately there’s food in the fridge and the pantry is stocked with Tazo Joy tea, a holiday favorite that a good friend turned me onto last Christmas.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My first sale!

It’s my first day at sutherland by myself. Even Pattiy is off today. And I made my first sale. A nice man bought my corduroy handbag and the black and white star check scarf I just wove as gifts. What a nice uncle!

I’ve been catching up with online-marketing stuff and haven’t woven a pick except for the three I threw showing my customer how the scarf was made.

We also believe we now have two students for my Weaving I class, and I’m thrilled about being able to test out my new three-warp format for this class.

I got a visit today from a woman who wove blanket samples for Beacon Blankets for years. When she’s not at her new day job, she weaves scarves and shawls at home using a loom and yarn she got when Beacon closed down. She reminded me of my friend JoAnn, who also learned to weave in industry in New York. She can’t read my drafts and I can’t read hers, and JoAnn can tie on a new warp in about 10 minutes with her special knotting technique. JoAnn and Carolyn, my visitor, would have hit it off great.

By the way, Carolyn came in because she saw Barb and I on the local TV news. Jason from WLOS-TV came by Sunday morning to interview us and take video of the studio. I had sent a press release about the grand opening. The story was shown on the 6 pm news Sunday, and I MISSED IT! I was distracted by a new puppy my husband and I picked up from a local rescue that day. I’ve ordered a DVD, and if I can figure out how, I’ll post it here for your amusement.

And here002’s a picture of Cara, a young woman with multiple craft skills who stopped in to see us Sunday during our grand opening. She wove the wall hanging in a class she took in Peru and bought the belts from a backstrap weaver there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

sutherland is open!

The studio in Asheville’s River Arts District is open. Barb Butler and I are so excited sometimes we just look across the room at each other and start grinning.

We will eventually have two rooms in Curve 004Studios, sharing wall space with another artist who works in clay and jewelry. For now we’re cozy in our front studio, weaving away on two of our baby wolf looms.

We also just signed up our first weaving student for the Weaving I class starting in January. Yeah! Our grand opening is this weekend and we’ve been handing out invitations and postcards to spread the word.

I’ve included a few pictures of our studio and merchan011dise displays. The top one is the front door. We’re the red door on the right (signage to come); Pattiy Torno is the double door on the left. It was actually snowing that day! The center pic is the merchandise display you see walking in the front door. The bottom one is a view from our future second room back into the corner where Barb’s loom is set up. By the way the painting on the wall is by her husband. We’re a multi-media studio.

It’s a work in progress and we’re missing a bit of fur015niture, which should arrive tomorrow. We are learning something new every day about gallery retailing, and Pattiy has been sharing great advice.

If you’re in Asheville this weekend, please stop by our grand opening for snacks, coupons and conversation. We welcome your comments and suggestions.  

Tabby Two-Step

Just a note before posting the following. I actually wrote it last week when I was on my way to Asheville. I arrived last Thursday and have been working full out to get the studio organized. I’ll post again with pictures of the new studio, but here is the Two-Step for now.

Testing out the new rayon chenille before the Just Weave class scheduled for January, I put on a warp for two scarves before I left Jersey. One is for my husband who not only drove me 010to Silk City, but waited around for me while I shopped, with only a couple of references to the time. He fancied a super fine cashmere and a black/ivory tweed rayon chenille. The cashmere would have been at least 45 epi, and a fortune even at outlet prices, so I threw the tweed chenille in the basket.

I set up a 2 dark, 2 light color-and-weave warp with black for a little variety. With my warping board in North Carolina already and only the horizontal warping reel left in the New Jersey studio, my first challenge was trying to use the warping paddle with the reel. Couldn’t figure out how to make the crosses with the paddle and the pegs on my reel, so I wound two separate warps and warped front to back, not my preferred method.

Once the warp was on, it wove very quickly with a wonderful tabby rhythm, even with two shuttles for the color-and-weave pattern. I don’t weave a lot of tabby, preferring structural patterns, but I had fun with this. The color-and-weave houndstooth check with the tweed and black held my interest and made a nice subtle patterns for both scarves. I let my husband choose his favorite, which was the one with only a block of the color-and-weave on each end. The other is houndstooth all over except for black ends. It’s headed for the sutherland studio in Asheville, where I am headed this week.

I added a picture of the scarves before I cut them from the loom. The extensions from the apron rod let me weave until the knots were within inches of the heddles, a little trick I learned while working on the COE Level I sam004ples. Multiple times, I ran a little short of warp when what were supposed to be final samples became more practice samples.

I also have a tendency to estimate warp length a little tight. Blame my mother. During our trips to the fabric store, she always looked at the fabric requirements on the back of the pattern and declared, “We don’t need that much.” As I recall, she never ran short of fabric, but she did do some very creative pattern layouts.