Friday, January 2, 2009

It took a couple hours, but I've recreated all the posts in the new blogging site. I'm happier with the new site, it allows user comments easily, and has a wider appearance, plus it is integrated into my website. So all of you who are following my blogs, I apologize, hopefully you will be able to switch over to the new address.

I was born the end of May, which would make me a Gemini. That means there is two of me, and though it sounds great in theory, instead of working as a team, the two of me are at constant battle with ourselves. My techie husband spent all yesterday, unbeknownst to me, figuring out a blog site that would integrate with my existing webserver. Apparently eBlogger doesn't. So when he announced first thing this morning that he had it all laid out and I should check it out, I panicked. My one half was instantly annoyed that I would have to relearn something I've just started, figure out how to redirect everyone to a different blog site, and was that even the wisest thing to do, and the other half of my two selves thought it made a lot of sense, to work directly through my own server, and I'd have more flexibility with add-ons and viewer comments, etc. And since I'm only just started the blog, now would make the most sense. Still...

So, for now, until I have the new blogging site figured out, and apparently I can bring in the posts from the old one for continuity, I'll blog duplicate postings.

My new Blog Site is

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! I love January. It is my favorite month of the year, because it is a long month, uninterrupted by holidays, calendar events, school activities, and it is too cold to do anything outside, like gardening. I've traditionally done my most productive work in January, plus I adore the idea of a fresh start. I'm not big on resolutions, just the idea of a clean page, sort of like opening a new journal, where I can begin the new year with fresh ideas, and see where the year takes me.
I have a lot to accomplish in the next few months. I won't really start to travel again until the summer, when conference season begins, except for the Association of Southern California Handweavers Conference in Riverside, the beginning of March.
So I have an unusually large block of time to explore things, work on the projects I've been outlining, and among other things, learn more about website development, redo my whole website, and develop one for my guild. I got the new Adobe Creative Suite 4 for Christmas, which contains Dreamweaver, which will help bring my poor Microsoft Front Page developed website into the 21st century! I love learning new things...
So, my daughter (who actually has a name, Brianna) is winding the 12+ yard warp behind me as I write, for our placemat exchange, she initially balked when I said she had to wind 384 ends, but with two cones of 10/2 warp, it goes twice as fast, and every couple of minutes she calls out that she has done another inch worth of warp. I showed her how to use a counter I made up, from a small basket, pierced with a bamboo skewer, where I've strung sewing machine bobbins from a machine I no longer have. With two threads in her hands, finger in-between so they go through the cross independent of each other, each pass up and down on the mill equals 4 warp threads. If she does that six times, then she has 24 threads which equals 1" of warp. The mats are 16" wide. So she settled down when I mapped it out that way, only 16 times instead of 384 threads. Each time she goes up to the top of the mill and back down, she slides a little bobbin on the skewer. That way she can listen to tunes and only moderately pay attention. Which is great for a 16 year old with ADHD!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It is the last day of 2008. A quick note as I fly out the door to yet another holiday celebration. The fruit salad is made, the house tidy, the wood stove warm and inviting, the blustery wind howls and swirls the new six inches of snow, and for today, all is right with the world. At least here in my corner of NJ.
I spent the afternoon setting up the draft for an overshot placemat exchange that my daughter and I are doing with the Jockey Hollow Guild. 10/2 natural Perle Cotton warp, and a 5/2 Perle weft, my daughter and I are both participating, each one part of a group of eight. So we will be weaving a total of 16 placemats, I want to get her winding the 12 yard warp we need, so she can get the threading started while still on vacation. She is a new weaver, at 16, and as a member of Jockey Hollow, she participated in her first sample exchange last June. She did an 8 shaft huck sample, nothing like starting out with eight shafts for your first project! She did a great job, and at one point, looked up from behind the loom and said, "Mom, I'm really enjoying threading these heddle things, I've figured out the pattern and this is like a logic game."

The placemats are overshot, I picked a simple overshot pattern, called Dog Tracks, I had done in a class of 18th Century structures I took at the Cincinnati Convergence in 2000. (see above sample in red). I liked it because it was simple, and because my daughter works on Saturdays at a dog kennel.

This was going to be her adventure, but as luck would have it, the placemat exchange had more volunteers than it needed and not enough for two groups of eight. So I agreed to be part of a second team, and thought I'd streamline the process by piggybacking onto my daughter's warp. This is probably a huge mistake, but I didn't want to tie-up two looms all spring.

So my daughter picked purple for her weft, and instructed me to pick something that would work with her purple, as she was confident that when I died, she would get my set of mats and then have 16 total. I love the way teenagers think... So I picked a celadon green, it sort of goes with my dishes, but I know my daughter will want to put them away for her future.
Oddly enough, I've never woven a dish towel. I do yardage, I've always done yardage, and I'm not so much into functional textiles. At least ones that I weave. She is on her way, and I have a suspicion that she will weave her first dish towel long before I do...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The end of the year holiday season is a mixture of endless social opportunities, fabulous food, upset stomachs from too much fabulous food, family drama, unproductive days, and general disruption of any semblance of a routine or schedule. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. My contribution in the studio today was the annoying task of paperwork, and end of the month bill paying, but alas, those tasks are important, and must be accomplished before any of the play time!
After a lovely holiday dinner party last night, with a group of women friends I've had for almost 20 years, and then a quick trip into NYC this afternoon with my husband to see an entertaining holiday musical called 'Striking 12', an original musical by an amazing jazz ensemble called Groove Lily I'm ready for the holidays to be over and get back to some serious work. I loved 'Striking 12', the title has to do with the strike of midnight on the last day of the year, overlaid with a modern day recreation of Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Match Girl'. My favorite song of the musical was of course, the original "Screwed-Up People Make Great Art". It was a reference to Hans Christian Andersen's miserable childhood and dysfunctional life and how he produced such timeless stories that have fed generations. It reminded me of one of my favorite NPR quotes, which I've said to myself on more than one occasion in my life, "Nothing bad ever happens to artists, it is all fuel for their work!".
Anyway, after the matinee at the Zipper Factory, which is an old zipper factory turned intimate theater, in the heart of the garment district, (who knew?), my husband and I walked up to Times Square for the most amazing show of the city of NY preparing for the onslaught of the New Year's Eve Celebration tomorrow night. Living in NJ, oddly enough, I've never experienced New Year's in Times Square, only on TV. But seeing the Times Square preparation was an amazing thing, the 2009 was already lit up on top of the tower where the ball drops, and the vendors were out in full force. The police barricades were being installed, and the flood lights in prep for all the Television crews were so bright, you didn't realize it was actually dark outside. We slipped into a Starbucks before heading back to the garage for the car.
The stash is calling, but so is life, and there are still opportunities to do once in a life time things, see old friends, celebrate friendships and family, and end a year that has been filled with drama, both good and difficult, a turning point in the world, with the hope that the new year will bring better times. Stay tuned...

Monday, December 29, 2008

My husband is a systems analyst for a telecommunications company, and travels internationally. A couple years ago, he spent a number of months in Hyderabad, India, and on his return, brought me a suitcase full of silk Saris. I've used them in many garments, as linings and trims, and because of their very long length, and interesting borders, they make a terrific addition to my stash.
My husband made 10 trips to Dublin, Ireland this year, and on one of them, he made a trip into County Wicklow, where he found Avoca Handweavers. According to Wikipedia, it is the oldest surviving woolen mill in Ireland.
My husband knows me well. He skipped all the clothing products, blankets, scarves, and went right to the pre-cut lengths of yardage, gorgeous wool tweeds, and picked out two different plaids to give me for a Christmas present. So, in addition to the six projects I've been outlining (don't worry, I haven't talked about project 5 and 6 yet) I have another mission, to sew something fabulous from the two lengths of handwoven wool tweed from Ireland.
I subscribe to Burda World of Fashion, which comes in monthly. The January issue just arrived in the mail yesterday, and there are a number of great ideas for using these two plaid fabrics. Oddly enough, there is a whole section devoted to the new plaids! I love the design of Burda, and especially love the fact that all the patterns for all the garments featured in each issue, are included in the center section. I now have more than 10 years worth. If I can think it, I have a pattern for it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The last minute scramble is on, as I write I'm still thinking of last minute gifts to wrap, hand-made soap to put out for the postal carrier, (did you know they aren't allowed to accept money for a tip?), (Oh, and don't be impressed, I didn't make the soap, my friend is a bee keeper and makes fabulous soap, check it out on I did work in the studio today, making and finishing up last minute gifts, trashing the studio, working on a collage to celebrate a milestone birthday for one of my friends. I'm finishing up one of the muslins for project one, the frosted florals dress. Pictures will eventually come, but I'm going to take the next few days away from the computer, the blog, the studio, and spend time with relatives, family, friends, and the spirit of the season.
Remember to take time for yourself, time to create, time to celebrate that, for today, you are alive and the stash is calling!