It’s that time of year when the days become cooler. Leaving the house in the cool morning air is a bit easier with a little something extra around your neck.
I’ve been working on the loom to fashion these scarves and now all I have left are the finishing touches. I love sitting in the evenings twisting the fringes on the scarves and sewing my labels on. The last touch is handwashing them and watching the threads relax around each other to create a supple fabric.
Hello sunshine. Hello noisy birds. Hello open windows. I think I have woken up after a long winter’s nap. The winter wasn’t even that hard, but I missed the longer days.
While house renovations and visits to parents have kept me from weaving as much, I’ve been teaching a lot. This winter I taught a series on applying block weaves. Once a month for four months we met and I introduced a new block weave. I taught about the weave structure itself and then how to apply it to a profile draft. The students helped each other as they analyzed and applied new techniques. Some were inspired enough to go home and weave projects using the information they learned. What a joy it has been. The last class will be on May 18, when we’ll wrap up what they’ve learned and consider how to continue to incorporate it into their weaving. We may even give birth to a study group.
I love teaching. I know I learn as much as my students. This series was especially fun as I watched the lights go on as students got the hang of profile drafting and block weaves. It’s so exciting to see them grow in their confidence as weavers.
Wow, it was a busy weekend at the Fall Fiber Festival. I came as a vendor for my 2nd year after helping a friend for 3 years. The Fall Fiber Festival (hereafter called FFF) is held at Montpelier, James Madison’s home near Orange, Virginia, every year on the first weekend of October. In addition to fiber-ish activities and vendors FFF hosts an amazing 2 day sheep dog trial. Most attendees come looking for craft supplies, yarn and equipment rather than finished items. My work tends to be at the high end of what folks want to spend.
When I set up on Saturday morning I looked around at the other vendors with plenty of merchandise displayed on tables. They had cute props and lots of inventory at a variety of price points. I had a standing vertical rack on which I hung a couple of dozen scarves. I also had a card table (covered with a tablecloth) where I laid out my towels, business cards, a mirror for customers to use when trying on scarves, and a receipt book. When I looked around, my booth seemed pretty sparse and I figured I’d be lucky to sell a couple of scarves during the weekend. That would be okay, I always enjoy the crowd and have fun.
What I had forgotten is that last year I thought the same thing, yet managed to sell most of my scarves. This year was no different. Folks began to arrive. Many stopped in to admire my scarves. I got to talk about what inspires me, what my design process is, how I learned to weave, where I learned to weave, where my studio is, how long I’ve been weaving and answer countless other questions. I had the privilege of sharing my passion by describing how I liken weaving to painting, how I decide to match design and materials to function, how my trip to Maine inspired a series of scarves. I left without most of the scarves and towels I brought, but with a sense of satisfaction and pride in what I do.
What fun I had and what work I now have ahead of me as I prepare for the next show, The Artisans Studio Tour in November. I have some inventory to replace.
Hubby and I returned home this weekend from a wonderful vacation in Maine. What surprises me most this time is how refreshed and renewed I still feel, even after a few days of reentry. One day, Bill indulged in a nap in the car while I wandered through Halcyon Yarn in Bath. The family is used to me drooling over the yarns, paging through books and considering new weaving tools. This time was no different. I bought a copy of Oelsner’s Handbook of Weaves and the most recent issue of VAV Magazine.
Of course shopping isn’t what I most love about Maine. Besides visiting with my parents, my favorite pastime is kayaking. We spend so much time on the land looking out at the water and it’s such different perspective from the water looking at the land. Bill and I managed to find a seal watching us, as curious about us as we were about him. In shallow areas it’s possible to see through the clear water down to rocks and shells, sea grass and seaweed. The water acts as a medium to magnify what lies beneath.
I think my next series of scarves needs to be based on the water in Maine. It’s not bright blue like the Caribbean, but greenish brown and deep. I think I have just the right shade of tencel for the warp. Stay tuned for pictures.
I love finding buried treasure in my studio. Yesterday I went on a cleaning spree and came across stuff I brought home from my last trip to John C. Campbell Folk School. This past JanuaryI went down to take a class from Kathrin Weber, owner of Blazing Shuttles. (Yep, I dumped all the stuff in a corner of my studio when I came home and am finally dealing with it. Life ensued.) Kathrin dyes and weaves with beautiful warp and weft. In her class we spent the weekend dying and the week weaving with what we had dyed. I had enough time to dye an extra warp to bring home. I also purchased a few warps that Kathrin had dyed. Yesterday I unearthed all that dyed yarn and got excited again.
It’s funny how I put off tidying up the studio. I dust and vaccuum but put off the picking up. I feel the push to be producing something instead of doing chores. I forget how my mind wanders and I become inspired when I’m puttering. I’m likely to pick out a few new yarn or color combinations to consider. I’ll look through that last issue of Handwoven magazine as I’m putting it away. When I’m done, I’ve come up with new inspirations.
Now it’s time to take that treasure I found yesterday and weave it into something. What to weave, what to weave? I’ll figure it out.
I spent the day touring the Textile Museum and Phillips Collection in D. C. There’s plenty of inspiration at both. The Jasper Johns exhibit at the Phillips Collection showed his work as printmaker. The marks he makes and his mantra “Take and item, do something to it and then do something else” (a rough interpretation) create layers of design. I think I could spend hours looking at some of his later works.
The Textile Museum invited a group of well-known textile artists to take a piece (or two or three) from the museum’s collection as inspiration for new work. The results are fun, intriguing, playful and meditative. The new works are displayed next to the historic pieces, contextualizing contemporary design within the tradition of textile art.
Both exhibits are well worth a trip to D.C., even in hot, muggy July.